This year's shortlist for the, um, Shortlist Music Prize has been announced, and oh Nelly, you won't be surprised, enthused, or even amused by the nominations. Reaching deep into the upper crust of alternative music and scanning P4K's front news page for a week-and-a-half, the esteemed Shortlist Organization has chosen the following Wunderkinds (and Tom Waits) for recognition:
Band of Horses, Beirut, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Cat Power, Girl Talk, Hot Chip, Joanna Newsom, Regina Spektor, Spank Rock, and yes, Tom Waits.
How, you may ask, did an organization esteemed as the Shortlist Organization come up with such a veritable paté of a final list? It wasn't easy: First, a longlist of 60 albums were nominated by a grab bag (possibly ill-advised) panel of judges, all of them musicians themselves. And it's clear that most musicians, outside of their own contributions, are very, very insulated. Notable panelists, for better or worse, are Franz Ferdinand, Wayne Coyne, Snow Patrol, KT Tunstall, Panic! at the Disco, and last year's Shortlist winner, Sufjan Stevens. To his credit, Sufjan picked albums including my personal fave, Matmos' The Rose Has Teeth in the Mouth of a Beast.
The winner of this year's list (mark your calendar, Ronnie Vannucci!) will be announced sometime in May, so until then, we have the soothing sounds of Greg Spotts, co-founder of the Shortlist: "This is the year of the storyteller. More than half of our ten finalists are wordsmiths who create unique characters and narratives, interpreting our complex world in new ways." SPANK ROCK!!
Ghosts and Cats and Pigs and Bats With Brooms and Bats and Wings and Rats: Caroline Distribution Release Schedule to Include Humans
Owned by EMI, Caroline Distribution is the "indie" distro that packs your favorite chain stores, sub-distributors, and mass merchandisers with artists such as Animal Collective, El-P, !!!, Panda Bear, Air, Grizzly Bear, and Femi Kuti. Next Tuesday (May 8), Caroline will be even more prominent in the indie world when it floods stores with Spiderman of the Rings, the much-anticipated, much-hyped album by Dan Deacon.
But music ain't the only thing on its release schedule. According to Billboard, Caroline has penciled in June 1 as the day it will "release" its entire regional sales force, which aligns nicely with EMI's "Cut the Fat Cuz the Fat Ain't Cuttin' It" plan. With regional sales passed off to major label distro EMM (EMI Music Marketing), Caroline will now act as a national sales force out of New York.
"We now have to pitch to Caroline sales people who then have to pitch to EMM sales people who then have to pitch to the retail buyers," a label head told Billboard. "Everything is going to filter through EMM, and that means more competition for their attention."
With physical music sales on a downward slope, Wal-Mart is considering reducing its CD shelf space for more lucrative products like DVDs and video games. Needless to say, the prospect of this event would be highly damaging to the music industry. Along with other "big-box" stores like Best Buy and Target, Wal-Mart accounts for roughly 65% of total CD sales, according to a report in Wall Street Journal.
"Recently, Wal-Mart has quietly circulated word to major-label distribution executives that it will reduce the space devoted to music, perhaps by as much twenty percent, in hundreds of its stores," said the report. "Some record label executives say they have heard similar warnings in the past that have not materialized."
What would this mean for independent music? With the demise of Tower last year, a company that supported the medium-to-bigger-sized indie labels, the effects on independent music were financially damaging. Wal-Mart, however, isn't known for its staunch support of independent music. Sure, the big boys of indies will likely lose space on the shelves, but this move would be much more devastating to the future of major label domination.
On the digital front, Wal-Mart intends to increase focus on its 88-cent digital downloads. But with a teeny independent music selection and downloads that only play on portable devices that support protected WMA files (Mac is not supported!), Wal-Mart will continue to remain virtually insignificant to independent music supporters. Major labels, on the other hand, better hope Wal-Mart's shitty digital service improves, or they will have to search elsewhere to pick up the slack.
I once worked at an elementary school. There were many perks: free cafeteria fish sticks, bucket loads of finger paint, and as many Cold War-era history and geography textbooks as I could carry. On my daily rummaging through the boiler room, I came upon a dusty suit case-style record player labeled Califone. I plugged in the 58 lb. audio monstrosity and played the paper-thin National Geographic vinyl Whale Calls of the North Atlantic that must have been sitting inside the case since the Carter administration. Years of neglect, a warbly belt, and a cheap tube amp later, and what to my wondering ears should appear but the greatest post-rock album I'd ever heard. Needless to say, I'm glad I didn't pick up the mosquito surrounded brown paper bag with Red Red Meat scrawled across it in magic marker.
I like to pretend that Tim Rutili and Tim Hurley had the same kind of experience before crafting Califone's 1998 self-titled debut, but I should probably come to terms with the fact that they didn't. Well, with a 23-stop 2006 tour under their belts, Thrill Jockey's beautifully subtle roots rock soundscapers will be setting out on a May/June cross country excursion to promote their understated masterpiece, Roots & Crowns.
Check out their video for "3-Legged Animals" here. It warms my heart and freaks me out like those hot summer day trips to Coney Island with my crazy aunt.
Here are the days and places:
Long Live the White and Green! White Stripes and Greenhornes Members Continue to Downplay Hideous Faces by Recording Another Raconteurs Album, Involutarily Supporting Saudi Arabia
Well America, love him or hate him, that incorrigible Jack White continues to offset (or is it "contribute to"?) his absolutely ghastly appearance by ferociously ping-ponging between so many different projects that we can't get a good look at him.
According to a recent report from Billboard, the pallid White and his somewhat less monochromatic cohorts (a.k.a. Brenden Benson, Jack Lawrence, and Patrick Keeler of The Greenhornes) have been holed-up in Nashville's Blackbird Studio (sorry, but I'm all out of color jokes) working on the follow-up to their 2006 debut, Broken Boy Soldiers (TMT Review).
The band has been at work for almost two weeks and currently has 12 songs written, White told Billloard. His (pale-ass) lips are pretty sealed about the sound of the group's sophomore effort though, describing the songs only as "very different" and adding, "it's coming out great, man."
I am Jack's complete lack of surprise.
Anyway, the plan is apparently to get as much of the album done as possible before Jack's other no-name band gears-up for its June tour in support of Icky Thump, due June 19 on Third Man/Warner Bros. "We don't know if were going to finish, but we wanted to get everything down before we got busy," White said of the three-week session. "We have a lot bigger ideas about certain things, so we will see how far we get."
Steady as she goes, you might say...
The production for The Raconteurs album is being handled by none other than White himself, as per last time. Engineering is still proving to be the hardest button to button for White though, as those duties were apparently once again handled by Joe Chiccarelli (Beck, The Shins, Frank Zappa), who also also twiddled knobs on Icky Thump.
The Raconteurs, while currently signed to White's own Third Man Records, lack a marketing and distribution partner in the wake of V2 Records' implosion back in January. But they hope to have all of that noise sorted out and have their new album hitting Best Buy, Wal-Mart, and Target stores everywhere by 2008. Sadly, the album is as-of-yet untitled, but not to worry... I've got some suggestions of my own to keep us all occupied in the mean time. How about these, Jack:
- The Raconteurs: Broken Boy Soldiers II: Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen
- The Raconteurs: I Heard Jack White's from 8Mile...
- The Raconteurs: A Dash of Competence and a Pinch of Not-Meg
- The Raconteurs: We are Jack's Raging Bile Duct
- The Raconteurs: New White Stripes Album In Stores June 19!
In other Raconteurs-snubbing, Jack White-lauding news, millions of music news magazines, newspapers, and blogs have recently reported that Jack's former band The Hentchmen will be reissuing a handful of limited-edition 7-inch singles as a "new," full-length album entitled Hentch-Forth.Five on Italy Records. The album is due this summer, as the band hits the road for some U.S. dates... you know, without Jack White...
I Am Jack's Smirking tracklist:
Enjoy your Summer of Jack, everyone. I know I will.
Mitch Bainwol, RIAA chairman and former drummer for Young Marble Giants, gave a keynote speech on Tuesday at the Digital Summit in Nashville. His message was notably juicy for the way it defended the use of digital protection in the music industry -- in spite of record low sales for the major labels, Bainwol remains optimistic and committed to making no changes and listening to no other alternatives. "Excuse me?" he asked in response to a question regarding EMI's decision to go DRM-free. "You're going to have to speak up; I simply can't hear you from all the way back there. Does... does anyone else have a question? Good."
Earlier this year, the RIAA started a more aggressive push toward litigation, specifically targeting college campuses. Their strategy was to offer discounts and copies of Mew albums to any suckers willing to fork their dough over to the RIAA directly. Bainwol offered up a real brain-twisting quote at the time ("Our job is to provide sufficient oxygen for the legal marketplace to show its true promise"), and when asked for an update on this strategy's progress, he secluded himself in a room with a dictionary and a pack of Big League Chew for two months before emerging to declare that the strategy is, indeed, "changing the risk calculus."
This is the story of two "indie" bands that have had very little in common in the past. Caribou started life as Manitoba, Canadian Dan Snaith's moniker under which he released dreamy tunes for four years, until receiving a cease-and-desist letter from a punk footnote and changing his moniker to Caribou for 2004's Milk of Human Kindness (Domino). It's good for him that animals know little of the legal system.
Meanwhile, on a different continent, Sweden's Shout Out Louds formed in 2001, with the unspoken (but known to me) goal of making all your indie-pop dreams come true. They had previously put out a few singles, an EP, and an LP, Howl Howl Gaff Gaff, when the American (music industry) Dream, a Major Label contract, was delivered to them by Capitol Records. The label released an updated version of Howl, which came out in the Fall of 2003 and in the band's homeland in 2005, augmented with a few tracks from the SOL's singles and EP. What followed was a year-and-a-half of touring and promoting the record, culminating in the band being dropped by Capitol who instead, allegedly, preferred to use the money earmarked for the Shouts on more National Geographic photos for Interpol record art.
Now it's 2007, and one critically lauded Canuck and one group of under-appreciated Swedes have something in common; a new home. Merge Records has announced that it has signed Caribou and Shout Out Louds, and new albums from both will appear in late summer.
Caribou comes first on the new release schedule, giving unto the world Andora on August 21. The nine-song record, which Snaith has been working on for the better part of a year, is said to have more of a full-band feel to it, but without all the full-band hassle. Yup, it is still just Dan the man making all the racket, although the Junior Boys' Jeremy Greenspan appears on the track "She's the One," which he also co-wrote with Snaith. In advance of the LP, look for a CDEP of "Melody Day" on July 10.
The Shout Out Loud's latest, Our Ill Wills, which came out Wednesday in Sweden, will emerge on U.S. shelves September 11. The 12-track LP was recorded last fall with fellow countryman Bjorn Yttling (of Peter Bjorn & John) behind the board. The band will also be issuing a CDEP before the album comes out. The EP will contain the album's first single, "Tonight I Had To Leave It" with other, as-yet unannounced tracks. Information on things like tracklists for the CDEPs (or are they CD5s?) and fall North American tourdates for both groups are said to be forthcoming, so make sure to check TMT and click on all the ads everyday, and the info will undoubtedly appear at light speed.
I wonder what The Fucking Champs say when their parents ask what their band is called. Recent addition Phil Manley can technically say Trans Am, in which he does double duty, and Tim Green can (and does) very easily pull the “Shut up, mom, I was in Nation of Ulysses and I can do whatever I want” routine. With the recent release of VI on Drag City, though, drummer Tim Soete is going to have some explaining to do. For him, I have compiled a list of excuses:
“I’m holding the Fucking for a friend.”
“The older kids named it. They’re in college. You don’t know them.”
“I learned it from you, dad.”
“When kids say ‘bad,’ they mean ‘good.’ When kids say ‘fucking,’ they mean ‘bad.’ ”
“My dog ate it.”
“That says ‘The Cramps.’ I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Fortunately, the band are skipping town before Soete gets grounded:
All dates with Birds of Avalon and Red Fang:
When I think of The National, many things come to mind. The first memory I have is of the 2005 album Alligator, along with the self-deprecating lyrics and the sonorous vocals of Matt Berninger. I think about Mr. November and Reggie Jackson too, of course. If anyone knew how to work under pressure, it was Reggie. And there is a decent amount of pressure being placed upon The National with the May 22 release of Boxer on Beggars Banquet. But pressure is meaningless.
The third thing that I think about when I think of The National is the ill-faded sitcom Brotherly Love, which starred Joey Lawrence and his two younger brothers, Matthew and Andrew. Those brothers knew what they were doing just like Aaron and Bryce Dessner and Scott and Bryan Devendorf of The National. I think wholesome values and savory high-fives for minor accomplishments. That's The National I've grown to know and love. Brotherly love also reminds me of the incest masterpiece Harry + Max, which reflects more on the brotherly love of Nick and Aaron Carter. But that is neither here nor there.
Boxer was written in the span of 13 months at their home in Brooklyn, NY, which is not the city of "brotherly love." But since Boxer was produced and mixed by the band and Peter Katis (Interpol, Spoon) and engineered by Greg Giorgio, there shouldn't be too many worries for its success. So will Boxer be another happily depressive high-anthem album with a catchy single worthy of another ghastly One Tree Hill montage? Or will the album be a worthy follow-up to a critical darling? These answers will all be revealed on May 22, unless of course you're too busy making out with your brother. Boo-yah! Now, that's brotherly love.
I used to be flipped off by cheerleaders; tourdates:
05.01.07 - Atlanta, GA Atlanta - Civic Center $
05.02.07 - Asheville, NC - Thomas Wolfe Auditorium $
05.04.07 - Washington, DC - Constitution Hall $
05.05.07 - Upper Darby, PA - Tower Theatre $
05.07.07 - New York, NY - United Palace Theatre $
05.08.07 - New York, NY - United Palace Theatre $
05.09.07 - New York, NY - Radio City Music Hall $
05.28.07 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom w/ The Broken West
05.29.07 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom w/ Doveman
05.30.07 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom w/ My Brightest Diamond
05.31.07 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom w/ Elysian Fields
06.01.07 - New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom w/ Philistines Jr
06.02.07 - Philadelphia, PA - Johnny Brenda's
06.04.07 - Montreal, Canada - Caberet
06.05.07 - Toronto, Canada - Opera House
06.06.07 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick
06.07.07 - Chicago, IL - Metro
06.08.07 - Minneapolis, MN - 400 Bar
06.09.07 - Madison, WI - High Noon
06.11.07 - St. Louis, MO - Off Broadway
06.12.07 - Louisville, KY - Headliners
06.13.07 - Atlanta, GA - The Earl
06.14.07 - Manchester, TN - Bonnaroo Festival
06.15.07 - Cinicnnati, OH - 20th Century Theater
06.16.07 - Columbus, OH - Little Brothers
06.18.07 - Cleveland, OH - Grog Shop
06.20.07 - Washington, DC - 9:30 CLUB
06.21.07 - Cambrdige, MA - Middle East
06.25.07 - San Diego, CA - Casbah
06.26.07 - Los Angeles, CA - El Rey Theater
06.27.07 - San Francisco, CA - Bimbos
06.28.07 - Portland, OR - Berbatis Pan
06.29.07 - Vancouver, BC - Richards On Richard
06.30.07 - Seattle, WA - Neumos
$ Arcade Fire
According to a post on The Ladybug Transistor's MySpace page, drummer San Fadyl passed away this morning in Zurich, Switzerland. Fadyl was resting in his home after having been hospitalized a few weeks prior due to "serious asthma problems" and experienced a "severe attack" related to his asthma.
"It's hard to put into words just how much we will miss San after 10 years of music and friendship," said the group's MySpace statement. "He was a genuinely beautiful person that touched everyone who met him with his warmth, kindness, generosity and humor. His wide smile is something people often remember first. We know there are lots of you out there who love him and will miss him as much as we do already."
Tiny Mix Tapes' deepest condolences go out to Fadyl’s family, friends, and fans. He will be missed. Please visit The Ladybug Transistor's tribute page for more on San Fadyl.