CSS And The Merry Holiday Tour: A Christmas Tale

Once upon a time in jolly olde England, there lived a little chimney sweep who loved CSS. His name was Basel Pennyweather, and he lived in a tiny house with an old man named Dusterbottom and his six Irish setters. Dusterbottom was old and mean and never let Basel play with the other children in the neighborhood. Instead, Basel had to work in the cold and the dark, cleaning chimneys while other people ate plum pudding and read Dickens novels and laughed merry laughs. The older boys made fun of Basel for his sooty garb and cramped home, and the little girls turned their noses up as the chimney sweep passed by.

You might think Basel was a miserable little waif, but he was not. You see, little Pennyweather believed in the power of music and love, and he had made a very special Christmas wish. Everyday he looked for old copies of the NME in his customer’s rubbish bins in hopes of reading about his favorite band, CSS. He repeated the lyrics to “Let’s Make Love and Listen to Death from Above” as he worked. And when he was done with his work, he perched on the corner outside the American Apparel store to catch a glimpse of young women wearing shiny neon tights, like his beloved Lovefoxxx.

After many days of being used and abused by the neighborhood boys and his guardian Dusterbottom, little Basel sat hiding on his doorstep, shaking and in tears. Suddenly he looked up to see the heavenly glow of the computer screen across the street. With all his might he hoped that it would be a music news website announcing the return of CSS to the British Isles. He wished and prayed, and at that very moment, a beautiful Christmas star fell from the sky and spelled out these glowing words:

CSS Holiday Tour:

* Justice

** Joe Lean and the Jing Jang Jong

Note: Metronomy play on all dates

Sigur Rós Delays Release of 2-DVD Documentary To Ensure You Starting To Get Pissed Off Because This Just Happened Last Month

Arrgh: Strike this from the record. Heima, the band's dub-disc concert documentary, has been pushed back to a release date of December 4, in order to get just the right glacial shimmering on select scenes. On the plus side, an individually numbered, Limited Deluxe Edition of the film will be available on that day, which includes a 100-page
bound book, and, according to reliable sources at some blog I've forgotten the name of, a bonus necklace made of human teeth.

Got it? Extra month. Hang in there. Write a kōan or something.

VHS Or Beta’s Upcoming Tour Provokes Intense Thought

The world has already decided the fate of the second half of VHS Or Beta's name, and neither medium is widely used anymore. Hmm. Interesting. While we're in such a pondering mood, let's consider some of life's other important choices that could alternately serve as names for a VHS Or Beta tribute band:

- HDDVD or Blu-Ray
- Vinyl or Cassette
- TI-89 or 91 (I am doing my calculus homework right now)

Of course, we could all wish for a simpler time when things were more like:

- TV or No TV
- William Howard Taft or William Jennings Bryan
- Plague or Syphilis

Or we can talk about fate again:

VHS Or Beta's frontman Craig Pfunder: "As far as the industry, people are buying less and less records. I feel like the trends that happen are short-lived and quick... I try not to think about that or I'll spiral into depression. You go out there and you do the work and you tour and you try to convince people that what you're doing is worthy and real, and they'll judge for themselves."

Or how about the tourdates in support of the Astralwerks-released Bring on the Comets? Okay!

Nick Drake Box Set Re-Released Today with Bonus Goods, Fuzzy-Haired Kids to Play Guitars in Front of Apartment Buildings and Tap Asses in Celebration

Mark your calendar, oh acoustic-strumming kids, for, well, today. Because November 6 means pulling out all the stops, like:

(1) rubbing that Sunday-best flannel shirt down with a lint brush;

(2) sliding into your Birks;

(3) changing the strings on that supahh-wickkkkeddd-sweet D-28.

Mmmmm. Music never felt so... dirty...

As luck would have it, my favorite sticky-smelly-reader-muffin, Nick Drake's Fruit Tree box set, (which has now been out of print for seven years) is back. Not only will it include three studio albums (Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon), but buyers can also expect a limited-edition biographical DVD A Skin Too Few, and a feature book, says a recent press release. Only 10,000 copies of this exclusive set will be released, with a limited number available on vinyl.

The limited-edition biographical film recently debuted at the 8th Annual San Francisco Documentary Festival.

The book, at 108 pages, includes a "song-by-song analysis" of Drake's work from producer Joe Boyd, engineer John Wood, arranger Robert Kirby, and music journalist Robin Frederick, says the press release.

THE IMPACT:

The fuzz kids (you know: flannel shirts, all love, no worries) will get gussied up, play Nick Drake covers before a webcam, record their masterpieces, sit outside, look at the stars, and blaze until the moon turns pink. They may stop playing guitar for a few moments to tap girls' asses in celebration.

Smell that? Beauty. Roses. La vie est belle, reader baby.

Radiohead Webcast, Box Set, Etc., Etc.

Since we're contractually obligated to "hype Radiohead up" -- yes, we have that much sway, and yes we're making loads of money off it -- here is some brand new exciting awesome incredible amazing fantastic information about Radiohead:

- According to Adam Buxton on BBC 6Music, Radiohead are doing another webcast from Oxford this Friday. This will be Radiohead's first in five years.

- It's Jonny Greenwood's 36th birthday today.

- EMI/Parlophone is capitalizing on the Radiohead hype by re-releasing the group's first six full-length albums, as well as the live mini-album I Might Be Wrong (why the FUCK would they include this over, say, the Drill or My Iron Lung EPs??) as a box set. $70 will get you downloadable MP3s (320 Kbps); $80 will get you the CD version; and $160 will get you WAV files on a 4GB USB drive shaped as the Kid A bear. WHAT, NO VINYL??

The set will be available December 10. Which means: Parlophone is using Radiohead's first six albums and a mini-album to fight head to head with the "discbox" version of In Rainbows (TMT Review)!!! Parlophone Radiohead vs. Independent Radiohead. God, this is so fucking exciting awesome incredible amazing fantastic exciting awesome incredible amazing fantastic exciting awesome incredible amazing fantastic exciting awesome incredible amazing fantastic exciting awesome incredible amazing fantastic.

Donovan Teams Up with Director David Lynch to Impose Transcendental Meditation Upon The World at Large Via “Invincible Donovan University”

"Dude...pause the movie for a second, I'm getting another beer. This Inland Empire (TMT Review) shit doesn't make any fucking sense."

"It's not supposed to, man; it's just a collection of images Lynch assembled to explore a theme and suggest a mood, to talk to your subconscious mind rather than your waking consciousness. He's super into that stuff, check out this book he wrote on dreams and meditation. Wait, where's the remote?"

"Man, fuck that. This is giving me a headache. If I wanted a bad dream, I'd go to sleep thinking about my ex-girlfriend."

"Look, Lynch isn't about giving you bad dreams; he's trying to show you how to deal with the ideas and impulses that cause them while you're still awake, so you can work it out and move on, you know?"

"Is that screwdriver still sticking out of that lady's stomach? Is that fucking Beck playing??"

"Yeah, okay, so he's not great integrating popular music into his movies. Just be glad it's not Donovan playing; I guess they're hanging out a bunch and opening this school on Transcendental Meditation..."

"Trans-what?" *burp*

"It's this vague school of thought founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi back in the ‘60s, the idea being that specific meditations can reduce stress and increase one's general state of well-being by hooking your brain up to the Unified Field or the Collective Unconscious or whatever the hell you want to call it -- they used to ‘levitate’ on TV a bunch back in the ‘70s and made some headlines. It's this huge trademarked money-making machine now, but it's nice to see the idea of meditation becoming mainstream. I kind of agree with Lynch and Donovan; I think if there was mandatory meditation and yoga in schools and in the workplace we'd be on our way to solving a bunch of society's problems..."

"Oh fuck off. Even if this shit works, it's not like anyone's going to take it seriously if these two Mellow Yellow crackpots are in charge".

"Yeah, I guess. Whatever. Here, pass the binger."

EMI Canada Introduces Recycled Music in Recycled Packaging

EMI Music Canada is going green with its new "Platinum" series of releases featuring digipaks made of 100% recycled material. The releases repackage hits by EMI, Capitol, and Virgin greats such as The Band, Miles Davis, Blondie, Fats Domino, Al Green, and MC Hammer.

If EMI really wanted to show its commitment to the environment, maybe executives should have put a bit more thought into releasing an MC Hammer retrospective at all. Record store bargain bins are already straining to hold all the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2: The Secret of the Ooze soundtracks, Now That's What I Call Music compilations, and Train albums as it is. And experts speculate that an MC Hammer greatest hits release could stress sales racks to the breaking point, spilling countless copies of Jennifer Love Hewitt records and endangering record store employees, shoppers, and goths who just hang out there all day.

"This could not come at a worse time," said Environmental Protection Agency spokesman Ken Lorraine*. "We've been tracking the capacity of record store bargain bins for decades. Throughout history, they have swelled and emptied on a predictable cycle. But, in the past 10 years, they have become increasingly full. This pre-holiday MC Hammer release, coupled with a massive sell back of the new Mandy Moore album, could be too much."

With MC Hammer Greatest Hits still taking up space despite 10 years on the shelves, Lorraine said now is not the time for another Hammer album, no matter what it's packaged in.

Though many people already own compilations by other "Platinum" artists, Lorraine does not consider re-releasing hits packages by Chet Baker or Nat King Cole to be as detrimental to bargain bins as the MC Hammer collection.

"Typically, people either own a Kenny Rogers collection and would not purchase this new release, or they would realize they need a Kenny Rogers collection that includes his Sheena Easton duet, 'We've Got Tonight,'" Lorraine said. "In the latter case, the album would remain a part of that buyer's record collection for years and stay out of the bargain bins we're trying to protect."

An MC Hammer album, on the other hand, may be purchased for "U Can't Touch This" or "2 Legit 2 Quit" alone, Lorraine said. He added that once listeners got to Hammer's second-tier hits, like "Have You Seen Her," the album would be a likely candidate for a sell-back to the record store.

"Only time will tell if the world's used bins will survive this," Lorraine said. "But one thing's for sure, it's not going to help."

* Ken Lorraine is not employed by the EPA, nor does he exist.

Gold Standard Labs Shuts Down; Bummer

God help the musically curious, Epitonic-browsing 17-year-old in all of us. Mostly me, probably. In case you haven’t read it on every other blog on the planet (sorry for the delay, P), Gold Standard Labs, perhaps better known as GSL, the record label that helped introduce the world to the likes of The Locust, The Rapture, !!!, The Mars Volta, and Gogogo Airheart, has closed its metaphorical doors.

A press release cited “onsets of factors” and “an industry in flux,” but as a completely benign longtime fan, I can’t help but wonder how a label with such artists as the above under its belt, as well as part-ownership by Omar Rodriguez-Lopez of The Mars Volta, managed to go under. It's probable the reasons aren’t entirely financial, and the label’s proprietors simply decided that the scene the label chronicled had been overdocumented, turned inside-out, and eventually run its course.

Whatever it was, thanks for the memories, GSL. During my salad days, I right-click/save as’ed every single MP3 you had on your website, and while I didn’t like all of it and some of it has since aged poorly, I now annoy my roommates with the likes of Blues Control, enjoy every minute of it, and it’s all your fault. May your sons have the jawlines of kings and the names of brands of whiskey.

John Vanderslice Tours in Support of Emerald City, Visits the Motherland

And so begins round two of the Vanderslice Tour for Emerald City (TMT Review), not counting a small jaunt last spring to drum up a little buzz in the smaller clubs of Ah-murica. If you haven't given the new album a spin yet, I suggest you do the next best thing and listen right here, where you can stream the whole (s)hebang and check out live videos from the last tour.

Lucky ducks with tickets (purchased with euros and pounds, of course) to any and all of these dates will no doubt be treated to musical sweets in the vein of a "Keep the Dream Alive" (Time Travel Is Lonely) sing-along in the center of the venue floor, and if the previous tour’s backing band is hopping across the pond with him, attendees are in for a treat. My prediction for best show of the tour would be none other than November 18, when the Slice gets down with his Dutch self in Rotterdam, Holland, a country he’s already likened to “elements of paradise.”

So get on that mildly frightening discount airline and go! It’s worth it! Don't believe me?

These dates don't lie:

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Release Jukebox Singles On CD & LP; Can A Butter 08: Deluxe Edition Be Far Behind?

An authentic, vinyl-playing, Happy Days-lookin' jukebox is a lot like an old organ. You sometimes see them for sale at thrift stores and garage sales, and on rare occasions, a person you know may even try to give you one that has been broken for a "couple" (meaning, in this instance, a number that could be acceptably rounded up to 10) years. Getting it to work for any reasonable amount of time is pretty much impossible, but not as impossible as lifting one of these monsters without doing irreversible damage to your back.

While the dream of having a working jukebox to play 7-inch singles in your rec room might be tainted due to my pessimism, there is good news to go along with the bad. Last week, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion released a compilation of all five out-of-print singles (A- & B-sides) in their Jukebox Singles Series, which ran from 1992-2002, as well as eight previously unavailable songs from the band's early days. The 18-song collection, entitled Jukebox Explosion, is available as a download from the usual suspects and on CD/LP (ironic?) through In The Red Records. The long-promised collection features covers of songs originated by artists such as Charlie Feathers, Andre Williams, and The Chain Gang, mingling with some of JSBX's wildest, most raucous (rawk-us?), and highly regarded originals.

Granted, this news may not be as cool as a working, 7-inch-playing, feather-light jukebox, but still, not too shabby.

Jukebox Explosion tracklist:

  

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