No Band Is an Island. Except Islands. Islands Is an Island; Also, Diamonds Reported on the Human Highway

When you look past the trees and see the forest, you know you’re in a safe, sane state of mind. When you look past the trees and see islands, you know you are in for a long time spent McGyvering tools, spearing fish, and talking to yourself and to painted volleyballs. Not all is lost if you see the right Islands, however. For example, if you see the six good-time goofs that comprise the band Islands, consider yourself blessed for the opportunity, regardless of the given geographical location. Islands have been playing dates already but have announced a more expansive tour that will take them throughout North America, starting May 22 in Washington, DC. Forever exuding optimism, a bit of deadpan comedy, and a love of patchwork quilts (possibly), Nicholas Thorburn and co. are a perennial audience favorite.

La isla bonita:
05.01.08 - Birmingham, AL - Bottletree
05.22.08 - Washington, DC - Black Cat
05.23.08 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unit
05.24.08 - New York, NY - Webster Hall
05.25.08 - Boston, MA - Middle East
05.27.08 - Ottawa, Ontario - Babylon
05.28.08 - Montréal, Quebec - Le National
05.29.08 - Toronto, Ontario - Phoenix
05.30.08 - London, Ontario - Call the Office
05.31.08 - Waterloo, Ontario - Starlight
06.01.08 - Detroit, MI - Crofoot
06.02.08 - Chicago, IL - Logan Square Auditorium
06.03.08 - Minneapolis, MN - First Ave
06.04.08 - Fargo, MN - The Aquarium
06.05.08 - Winnipeg, Manitoba - West End cultural Centre
06.06.08 - Saskatoon, Saskatchewan - Amigo’s
06.07.08 - Edmonton, Alberta - Starlite
06.08.08 - Calgary, Alberta - Warehouse
06.10.08 - Vancouver, British Columbia - Plaza Club
06.12.08 - Seattle, WA - Neumos
06.13.08 - Portland, OR - Hawthorne
06.14.08 - Eugene, OR - U of O Grad Fest
06.16.08 - San Francisco, CA - Bimbo’s
06.17.08 - Los Angeles, CA - Henry Fonda Theater
06.19.08 - San Diego, CA - Epicentre
06.20.08 - Tucson, AZ - Club Congress
06.21.08 - Phoenix, AZ - Club House
06.23.08 - Austin, TX - Emo’s
06.24.08 - Dallas, TX - Granada
06.25.08 - Houston, TX - Walter’s
06.26.08 - Baton Rouge, LA - Chelsea’s Café
06.27.08 - Atlanta, GA - Masquerade
06.28.08 - Charlotte, NC - Neighborhood Theatre

If seeing the Montréal-bred sextet bounce around on stage isn't your bag, you have to at least pick up Arm's Way, Islands' second coming, which will be available May 20 through ANTI-. To not do so would be a crime against both good judgment and sanity. Period.

The Ways of The Arm:

1. The Arm
2. Pieces of You
3. J’aime vous voir quitter
4. Abominable Snow
5. Creeper
6. Kids Don’t Know Shit
7. Life in Jail
8. In the Rushes
9. We Swim
10. To a Bond
11. I Feel Evil Creeping In
12. Vertigo (If It’s a Crime)

Thorburn (don’t you hate it when musicians grow up and revert to their given surnames? Bring back Nick “Niel” Diamonds!), together with Canadian singer-songwriter, former Islands player, and Royal City/Three Gut Records lynchpin Jim Guthrie, have formed an old-fashioned r ‘n’ r combo called Human Highway. Human Highway will release its album Moody Motorcycle August 19 on Suicide Squeeze (Secret City Records in Canada). Expect an orgy of Everly Brothers-styled oldies and, according to label monkeys, “hot man-on-man vocal action.” Hmm, about time!

In addition to Jonathan Richman’s assertion that Pablo Picasso was never called an asshole, the chameleonic Cubist was good for a quote or two, too. Speaking about the still-life paintings of Cezanne, he said, “If there were not anxiety behind those apples, Cezanne would not interest me any more than Bouguereau.” The same thing can be said about the music of Ray Raposa, who plies his trade under the guise of Castanets (minus the Bouguereau thing). Although he often adds a deft dose of experimentation to his brittle beauties, it is what is not on display that is so admirable and intriguing. There's always tension beneath the sparse but passionate surface.

Few labels embrace the audio/visual relationship quite like Asthmatic Kitty Records. Not that long after issuing their first DVD collection Encyclopedia Asthmatica, which details the rich history of the label from early, charming (I won’t say amateur) works to full-bloom works of art, comes the announcement of Tendrils, a DVD of Castanets cover songs to be released May 22 by the label. In keeping with his own declaration that “The recorded version of the song is not necessarily the definitive version of the song,” Raposa sees his songs interpreted by a host of friends and past collaborators, including Phosphorescent and members of The Dirty Projectors and Vanishing Voice, as well as original vids by director Mia Ferm. Pre-orders and orders will come with a download card for an exclusive new Castanets EP.

1. Rain Will Come (Dave Longstreth)
2. Remix On Post Apocalyptic Music (G. Lucas Crane)
3. This Is The Early Game (Golden Ghost & Silver Spokes
4. Jump Cuts And Hip Hop (John Chavez)
5. Strong Animal (Sayard Egan and Angel Deradoorian)
6. Dirty Jokes & Billiards (Jesse Ainslie)
7. Sway (Marla Hansen)
8. Lost Lyrics (recited by Matt Lorenz in Farsi with Polish subtitles)
9. Three Months Paid (Jesse Ainslie)
10. Interlude At Miller's Pond I
11. Night Is When You Can Not See (Tucker Dulin and Ben Piekut)
12. Interlude At Miller's Pond II
13. Noise Prelude To City Of Refuge (Ray and G. Lucas Crane)
14. On Genre/Spaces (Ben Piekut)
15. And the Swimming (Phosphorescent)

Well, you can call him Ray, or you can call him Jay... um, on second thought, you should call him Ray because that is his name! Ray being Ray Raposa, Castanets’ one steady soul, who will be playing a bunch of dates, with Meg Noe in tow. Go and see these, Euro buuuu-ddies (and you can call me Pauly Shore)

05.02.08 - Haarlem, Netherlands - Patronaat
05.03.08 - Offenbach, Germany - Hafen 2
05.04.08 - Lille, France - La Malterie
05.05.08 - London, England - Windmill
05.06.08 - Hove, England - Greenhouse Effect
05.07.08 - Manchester, England - Dulcimer
05.08.08 - York, England - The Basement
05.10.08 - Coventry, England - Taylor John's House
05.11.08 - Nantes, France - Cafe Grimault
05.12.08 - Rennes, France - 1929
05.13.08 - Paris, France - Le Point Ephemere
05.15.08 - Basel, Switzerland - Kaserne
05.16.08 - Düdingen, Switzerland - Bad Bonn
05.17.08 - Ravenna, Italy - Hana Bi
05.18.08 - Trieste, Italy - Tetris
05.19.08 - Zagreb, Croatia - Kset
05.20.08 - Maribor, Slovenia - Pekarna
05.21.08 - Prague, Czech Republic - Skutecnost
05.22.08 - Berlin, Germany - Schokoladen
05.23.08 - Hamburg, Germany - Ãœbel und Gefährlich #
05.24.08 - Bremen, Germany - Spedition (Guterbahnhof)
05.25.08 - Cologne, Germany - Kulturbunker-Mulheim
05.26.08 - Trier, Germany - Ex_Haus
05.27.08 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - Paradiso
05.28.08 - Utrecht, Netherlands - Ekko

# Stereo Total

Get Me A Double-Disc of Patti Smith, Stat. Kevin Shields and Grandmother of Punk Team Up To Save Your Soul With Coral Sea Release

Oh, shit! Insipid enemy pop music has infiltrated your brain, triggering a meaningless obsession with sing-song melodies and catchy, vapid lyricism that makes you both docile and boring as hell. Is it too late for you? Probably. But look! Here comes bad-ass musical vigilante Patti Smith, arriving live, on the scene to save your soul from the black hole of Vampire Weekend CD-Rs from which there is no return. And by her side? None other than Bloody Valentine/upcoming ATP curator Kevin Shields.

Their master plan: take two live recordings of sold-out performances of The Coral Sea, Smith's posthumous tribute to friend and photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, dust ’em off, shine ’em up, and inject them into your C-G-D chord progression-loving veins.

The double-disc is set to be released July 11 on the duo's own imprint, PASK, and will be the first official issuing of the 2005/2006 recordings of the two London shows. Now, this ain't no pussyfooting around. Shields and Smith are serious about emotional resuscitation, and you best not let them down. Dealing with Mapplethorpe's terminal illness by way of frenzied spoken-word prose and backed by a climactic storm of drone and noise, Coral Sea is an epic elegy of what can only be described as "a kind of screaming requiem." Nineteen years after Mapplethorpe's death, Smith's performance is as raw and anguished as ever, which should move your cold heart to feeling a little compassion, a little distress, a little empathy -- anything? No? You selfish bastard, you.

Lemuria Touring with The Queers, Bomb the Music Industry; What the Hell Kind Of a Band Name is Bomb the Music Industry

Lemuria are from Buffalo, New York. I’m told there’s a house in Buffalo that used to be a funeral parlor where they put on shows and have loud parties. The basements of funeral parlors are traditionally (and probably) used to hold terrifying things. As a person entrusted with an audience of millions, I feel obligated to inform any potential attendees of the shows listed below that Lemuria is probably haunted.

Lemuria are, however, a fine band. You may be considering taking the risk and seeing them anyway. I certainly am. As such, I have included here a list of notable ways to ward off various kinds of popular monsters:

- Vampires: Garlic, holy water, wild roses, sprinkling mustard seeds on your roof -- sometimes vampires can’t come into your house unless you invite them.

- Werewolves: Wolfsbane and pure silver (which will cause more pain) are the easiest ways. Contrary to popular belief, you probably can’t become a werewolf just by being bitten by a werewolf. You usually need to be the seventh son or to run afoul of a satanic sorcerer.

- Cthulhu: Neither your memory nor the written word itself will have any use, but if you know one of the Air Beings, you might want to give him or her a call.

- Banshees: Don’t worry too much about banshees; they probably only mean one of your friends or family is about to die. They are also attractive.

PS: Lemuria’s newest LP, Get Better, was released a couple of months ago on Asian Man Records.

News You Can Use:

^ The Ergs!

% Los Nervios, Hay Silencio

# Anti Sociales, Gio y Los Policias

& Diente Perro, Juventud Crasa, Un Final Fatal, Jenny Fatale & Los Degolladores

* The Queers, Bomb the Music Industry, Andrew Jackson Jihad, and Kepi Ghoulie

The Byrds to Release Previously Unreleased Archive Recordings, Proving Once Again That There Really IS a Season for Everything

Well, kids, you know the ol' saying, "A Time for every purpose under heaven," right? (You know, Ecclesiastes 3.1? Ring a bell? Helloooo?!? What the heck are they teaching you in school, anyway!?!). Well, whatever, never mind. Either way, it just means that everything has its proper time and place in a sort of "grand plan" that we have no control over. It's supposed to be comforting or something.

And apparently, sometimes the current "time under heaven" just happens to be set aside for the purpose of, you know, siphoning some bottom-of-the-barrel cash for an aging ’60s-’70s folk-rock band named The Byrds. Neat how that works out, huh?

And so, never ones to ignore the subtle forces of heaven, the influential L.A. psych-jangle-folk pushers are gearing up to release a recording of their 1971 appearance at London's Royal Albert Hall. This historic (?) concert features the then-lineup of Roger McGuinn, Clarence White, Skip Battin, and Gene Parsons.

The recording itself is seeing the light of day courtesy of founding (and only constant) member Roger McGuinn's private collection. And don't look now folks, but he's got plenty more where that came from. "We've carried these tapes around for 30-something years. We just never paid much attention to them. Bob Irwin (from the Sundazed record label) came down, and he's a genius at discerning these things. He could look at a box, and go ‘Oh, this is that, and so-and-so was there, this is wonderful.’"

Irwin has taken additional tapes from McGuinn's archive and is hoping to release them in the subsequent future (a.k.a. whenever money is tight).

Meanwhile, the release of this particular ancillary monument to fast-fading baby-boomdom is slated for June of this year, though the final release date will most likely be determined by asking God what He thinks...

Major Labels Don’t Get Their Way in Arizona File-Sharing Case, Cry About It

The RIAA is pretty accustomed to winning file-sharing court cases by now, taking down everyone from single mothers to homeless men. But yesterday, the winning streak was broken with a ruling in Arizona that spared Kazaa users Pamela and Jeffrey Howell the wrath of the RIAA.

A federal District Court judge ruled that files found in a shared Kazaa folder could not be considered unlawful distribution of a copyrighted work, and that the owner of the files must give proof of "actual dissemination of copies or phonorecords" to slap the Howells with a punishment. Adding insult to injury, only 12 of the 42 files in question were proved to be infringed at all, since the RIAA can't prove its investigator downloaded any more than that. Finally, the RIAA would have had to prove that the Howells were responsible for the allegedly stolen music on their computer... just in case some naughty neighborhood kids snuck in and downloaded some Miley Cyrus, I guess. Gotta cover all the bases.

Bummer status, though: this case will only set a precedent in the state of Arizona, since its verdict was a District Court decision. In an official statement, the RIAA referred to the case ruling as "strange" and said that it is "currently considering all options going forward." I guess that's a departure from its usual post-case ritual of uncorking a bottle of champagne and proclaiming, "YES! MORE MONEY TO MAKE UP FOR OUR EVER-SINKING PROFITS!"

Broken Social Scene Get High And Name Their Upcoming Spring Tour “Impregnate The Skies”

Kevin Drew: Hey Brendan, let me get a hit of that.

Brendan Canning: Sure thing, man. [Passes bong to Kevin] You know, we still need to come up with a name for our May tour.

Drew: [Exhaling smoke] Oh, I know, totally. Amy and Evan were telling me that we should just carry on with the Broken Social Scene Presents thing and call it “Broken Social Scene Presents: A Tour.” But I thought that was pretty lame.

Canning: Yeah, that is pretty lame. Well, let’s think; we’re playing all over the world from Turkey to England to Finland and etc, all across the great skies.

Drew: Hmm, skies, maybe you’re onto to something, man.

Canning: [Takes another hit] Yeah, what about, like, Take Back The Skies? Or Across The Skies?

Drew: No, no, dude, listen to this: Impregnate The Skies.

Canning: Whoa, man, that’s deep. Let’s do it.

Burning Star Core Releases New LP And Tours, Could Have Footjob Fetish And Not Know It

It's hard to keep up with C. Spencer Yeh's projects. I always feel one step behind him. Maybe it's because he's consistently releasing high-quality music at a dizzying pace, or maybe it's because I had to chew off one of my legs to get myself out of a bunker in ’Nam, but whatever the case, thank god for the internet. Not only did I find a plastic leg on eBay (that matches my skin tone even!), I've been exposed to tons of fetishes that I didn't even know I had. Who knew I was so into footjobs!

Which brings me to the internet website of Burning Star Core, Yeh's most-acclaimed, well-known project. Ignoring his many recent releases, let's concentrate on what's coming up: First and foremost, Burning Star Core has a new album out on Hospital Productions (run by Dominick Fernow, a.ka. Prurient), with the LP and digital downloads on Plastic Records. Titled Challenger, the album will be a bit of a departure from his previous work, as it'll have more emphasis on composition (melody, field recordings, etc.) than improvisation. According to Yeh:

I felt I was working while very much in the rapture of these feelings. Though in I was committing these emotions to sound, I was pretty engrossed in this project in a discreet manner, and I can’t say I didn’t end up allowing the project itself to influence my ‘real life’ decisions instead of what should be the healthier reverse.

Check out the video for "Beauty Hunter," a track off Challenger, here.

Additionally, Burning Star Core will receive reissue treatment for Physical Culture (on Chondritic Sound) and a 10-inch reissue (on NO-FI). He also plans to release a few more things on Hospital, including a CD titled Inside The Shadow, a couple 7-inches, and if we're lucky, some footjob fetish videos with a cameo appearance from Chris Corsano.

Finally, dates:
05.02.08 - Cincinatti, OH - Feralmade (Milk Money lit mag release party)
05.10.08 - Riga, Latvia - Sound Forest/Skanu Mezs Festival
05.12.08 - Riga, Latvia - Academy of Arts (discussion/workshop)
05.12.08 - Amsterdam, The Netherlands - DNK
05.16.08 - New York City, NY - Knitting Factory (No Fun Fest)
05.23-24.08 - Hasselt, Belgium - Kunstencentrum (Open Circuit Festival)
05.28.08 - Cincinatti, OH - Art Damage Lodge

Check out the details of these shows at C. Spencer Yeh's MySpace.

[Photo: mtt-r]

Beggars Group, 4AD, And Too Pure Together at Last (Well, More So Than Ever Before)

Imagine going to your favorite restaurant for a delicious salad made-to-order by a world famous chef. Imagine the succulent lettuce, the crispy croutons, and the subtly flavorful dressing. Now imagine that the chef is 4AD imprint Beggars Banquet, the lettuce is 4AD, the croutons are imprint Too Pure, and the dressing is people's jobs.

Never fear! Although this simile may be awkward and forced, and Billboard recently reported that the two awesome imprints won't be seeing any action "in the near future," the artists and albums previously assigned to Too Pure and Beggars will not be without a home. Instead, 4AD will house the imprint staffers and artists alike, starting with the release of Stereolab's Chemical Chords album, due August 19. And wonderfully named 4AD A&R dude Ed Horrox will get a little help IMPRINT-STYLE from Too Pure's Jason White, Beggars' Roger Trust, and Ms. Jane Abernethy.

Damon Albarn To Release Album Featuring 130ish Musicians, Apparently Monkeys Also

Damon Albarn (Blur, Gorillaz, various British supergroups) has announced plans to release his first solo album in nearly five years. To call it a “solo” album would perhaps be a misnomer, however, as there will be somewhere in the range of 80-130 musicians participating, a move sure to upset Polyphonic Spree members everywhere. After close analysis, the math remains unclear to me. Albarn told BBC 6Music: “This one's got about 80 or 90 musicians on it – something in that region” but also mentioned “It's got a 100-piece Chinese choir on one of the tunes, so that plus the orchestra probably goes to about 120 or 130 people." Whatever.

Albarn has not released a title for the album but has announced it will feature “a monkey or two... at least” and that the lyrics will be entirely in Mandarin. If this sounds familiar to you, maybe it's because you've been following his work with Jamie Hewlett and Chen Shi-Zheng, Monkey: Journey to the West, an adaptation of a Chinese opera. First staged in 2007, the opera will makes its U.S. debut May 22, with 17 more shows May 23 - June 8 for the 2008 Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina.

It's unclear whether or not Albarn's new album is related to the opera, but he did tell BBC 6Music that "It's not an opera [though]; it's a proper record." Confusing. In any case, what is Damon Albarn’s deal with lower primates?

When asked about his extreme prolificness -- that is, working on solo material on top of at least three other major bands at any given time -- Albarn stated: “It's nice that things kind of stick around a while, so it gives the impression that there are lots of things, but I do one thing at a time generally.” He added, “I have only two arms, two legs,” officially laying all doubts to rest.

Albarn’s new album is due for release this July.