Good day consumers! Why the happy greeting, you ask? When your dependence and concerns over shares and other equities about your portfolio are at an all-time high, when subprime losses are turning everyone into headless investment chickens, when you throw good money after bad in the vain hopes of recovering some market and personal respectability, when both big-wig hedge funders and half-penny stock players are running for life's exits doors, why have I dared to open this otherwise asinine news story with that pert and positively perky welcome?
Because all news is not bad.
Drag City's financial advisers are standing by to give you some much needed respite from your anguish with this following optimistic portent: Silver Jews will return with a new album, Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea. The band, the label, and a frothing pack of industry experts say that June 17 is the day when you should divert funds normally headed to your over-padded 401(k) or to your over-spudged collection of vintage Oui and Cheri skag mags and put them toward the latest effort by the incomparable David Berman and his current gang of touring, and now recording, collaborators: partner Cassie, Tony Crow, Brian Kotzur, Peyton Pinkerton, and William Tyler.
Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, Lookout Song Titles:
1. What Is Not But Could Be If
2. Aloysius, Bluegrass Drummer
3. Suffering Jukebox
4. My Pillow Is the Threshold
5. Strange Victory, Strange Defeat
6. Open Field
7. San Francisco B.C.
8. Candy Jail
9. Party Barge
10. We Could Be Looking for the Same Thing
Berman seems hellbent on making up for lost time lately, jumping into mundane muso activities like press and promotion and touring, with a zest that he used to reserve for things like shunning the telephone and daylight. When a Silver Jews North American tour is announced, we will bring it to you, but for now, the following dates are on Berman's sched:
05.07.08 - Brighton, England - Concorde 2
05.09.08 - Glasgow, Scotland - ABC #
05.16-18.08 - Minehead, England - Butlins Holiday Resort *
05.29.08 - London, England - Indig02
05.30-31.08 - Barcelona, Spain - Primavera Sound Festival
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# Deathbomb Arc/Cock Rock Disco/Load Records SXSW showcase
Pitchfork Media Lends Its Name, Discriminating Taste to Video Game Soundtrack; TMT Maybe Gets Back to the Future Pinball Machine for Office
Consummating a collective wet-dream for scrawny, irony-loving music hipsters everywhere who have longed for years to reconcile their fanatic love of music and geeky appearance with their severe phobia of all things athletic into a singular, unholy, masochistic mashup of love-to-hate-it, "cool-because-it's-not" clusterfuckage, 2K Sports (you know, the sports publishing label of Take-Two Interactive Software, Inc.?) has announced plans to partner with influential music outlet Pitchfork Media in support of their highly anticipated new game, Major League Baseball 2K8.
2K Sports has invited Pitchfork -- who, according to... ummm, Forbes Magazine... uh, "shares a passion for the game of baseball" -- to select half of the music to be featured in Major League Baseball 2K8, with the somewhat monstrously capitalist hope that the nerdy and jobless will be able to enjoy a pointlessly cutting-edge selection of the most intimidatingly discriminating music around (along with the deepest and most authentic baseball simulation experience available, of course). Artists include Modest Mouse, Peter Bjorn & John, The Cure, The Strokes, LCD Soundsystem, and Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. Apparently, the old bleacher mainstays like Van Halen's "Jump" and Mungo Jerry's "In the Summer Time" just don't cut it anymore, huh?
"Baseball and video games are two of Pitchfork's favorite hobbies, so the opportunity to select music for Major League Baseball 2K8 is a dream come true," says Chris Kaskie, associate publisher at Pitchfork and lover of free video games. "Partnering with 2K Sports is a natural fit for Pitchfork, as they're a like-minded company that shares a passion for music and a desire to promote forward-thinking and exciting new projects instead of following a more traditional path. We're thrilled to work with 2K Sports to select one half of the Major League Baseball 2K8 soundtrack, and can't wait to play the game."
Oh, but the brand-building doesn't stop there. Each artist and song selected for the game by Pitchfork will also be denoted as a "Pitchfork Pick," when and wherever it shows up in the game, and each tune will supposedly include "additional bio information" as well. That way, you can stop to read a highly detailed review of the track you’re listening to before you, you know, play a simulated game of baseball from your couch.
"Pitchfork Media is a respected and reliable part of the independent music community and an integral part of the lives of hundreds of thousands of music enthusiasts worldwide," says director of brand and lifestyle marketing at 2K Sports Tim Rosa. "This is the first time Pitchfork Media has partnered with a video game publisher, which is exciting since we share the same dedicated passion for highlighting new artists and being involved in independent music. We've always respected their impeccable taste and no-holds-barred voice in the music industry because it complements our approach to games -- we both want to push our respective industries further by supporting independent substance over mainstream smoke." You heard him, people; give that little indie game Major League Baseball 2K8 a chance!
And speaking of awkward assimilations into "indie rock" culture, 2K Sports will apparently also join the 3rd Annual Pitchfork/Windish Agency Day Party at SXSW this year on Friday, March 14, because they are bros now. The lineup will include, duh, "Pitchfork Pick" Jay Reatard among others. Don't miss it! Meanwhile, Major League Baseball 2K8 (rated E) is due March 4, 2008 for just about every game system that is still competitive (sorry, Virtual Boy owners).
* denotes a "Pitchfork Pick" selection
All You Want In Life’s a Little Bit of Love to Take the Pain Away; Your Disgusting Ass is Gonna Have to Settle For a New Spiritualized LP and Short Tour
In which I ask a random selection of my fellow employees at a call center “what they’ve been doing since the last Spiritualized record came out”:
“Lost a lot of money in real estate.”
“Graduated from college.”
“What’s up, Swedish? You want some whiskey when we go on break?”*
“I got these stars shaved in my head last week.”
“I’ve been working here for over ten years.”
“The hell are you talking about, Swedish?”*
Songs In A&E will be released May 19 (June 3 in the U.S.) and will be supported by these here dates:
& Acoustic Mainlines
$ Electric Mainlines
*Several months ago, some of my coworkers observed me becoming furious when the vending machine refused to dispense the Swedish Fish I’d paid for.
The following consists of important issues and specific quotes that would only be obscured if I ran them through the puerile TMT filter. Hope you understand.
- Wikipedia (Kosovo context): Kosovo is a region in the Balkans, presently under the ad interim control of the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo and protection of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Kosovo Force. Its Provisional Institutions of Self-Government have recently declared independence from the Republic of Serbia, which contested the act; as the Republic of Kosovo, it has received partial recognition.
- Wikipedia (Tibet context): The opinion of the PRC [People's Republic of China] is that the TAR [Tibet Autonomous Region] has ample autonomy, as guaranteed under Articles 111-122 of the Constitution of the People's Republic of China as well as the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy of the People's Republic of China. However, many human rights organizations around the world accuse the Chinese government of persecuting and oppressing the local population
- IcelandReview (Kosovo): Iceland’s Björk, who is currently on a world tour promoting her latest album Volta, dedicated her song “Declare Independence” to Kosovo during her concerts in Tokyo on Tuesday and Friday, causing her concert in Novi Sad, Serbia, in July to be cancelled.
- Billboard (Tibet): Icelandic singer Bjork's first-ever concert in mainland China on March 2 may have been her last, after she chanted "Tibet" several times during "Declare Independence," the closing song in her set at the Shanghai International Gymnastic Center.
- Björk: i have been asked by many for a statement after dedicating my song "declare independence" to both kosovo and tibet ( amongst others ) on different occasions. i would like to put importance on that i am not a politician, i am first and last a musician and as such i feel my duty to try to express the whole range of human emotions. the urge for declaring independence is just one of them but an important one that we all feel at some times in our lives. this song was written more with the personal in mind but the fact that it has translated to its broadest meaning, the struggle of a suppressed nation, gives me much pleasure . i would like to wish all individuals and nations good luck in their battle for independence. justice !
- Mango Starr: I'm so in love with Björk.
Major Label Artists Still Waiting For Promised Copyright Infringement Settlement Money, Radiohead Just Smoking Weed and Hanging Out
Don't look now, kids, but many a manly, rippled artist manager and music lawyer are about to grease themselves up, tag themselves in, and enter the ring to square off against those heavyweight major labels in yet another frenzied fight to get their clients (and naturally themselves) paid.
So, what have those ‘roid-popping majors done this time? Well, it turns out that many bands haven't seen one red cent of the payments negotiated last year in a series of copyright-infringement settlements between the labels and various insidious file-sharing websites like Napster and Kazaa. Universal Music, Warner Music, and EMI have all settled claims with the sites, but many managers say that little to none of that money has actually trickled down to their clients. The solution? A possible cage match full of action... hot, sweaty, semantical, nickel-on-dime legal action!
"Artist managers and lawyers have been wondering for months when their artists will see money from the copyright settlements and how it will be accounted for," told lawyer John Branca, who has represented such heavyweights as Korn and The Rolling Stones, to the New York Post recently. "Some of them are even talking about filing lawsuits if they don't get paid soon." Gee, a bunch of lawyers are "talking about filing lawsuits"? Get me tickets to that!
Ah, but seriously, folks, all wacky wrestling metaphors aside, with the music industry's much publicized (and much lampooned) financial woes, it has been increasingly difficult for any artist of any status to get any extra money out of their label in the first place, let alone something as ambiguous as file-sharing settlement royalties. However, most labels argue that "corporate bosses" (yeah, totally sounds made up) are still deciding on how to split the money, as not every artist is owed money, and it must be calculated (like, on an abacus, I guess) with regard to the level of copyright infringement for each artist. Also, once the labels recouped their legal expenses from the whole ordeal, there wasn't much left to pass along to the artists anyway. So, you know, they should just forget about it... probably...
Oh, also, a spokeswoman for EMI has apparently stated that the label has started the process of "sharing proceeds from the Napster and Kazaa settlements with artists and writers whose work was infringed upon." Meanwhile, Warner Music's rep says that the company "is sharing the Napster settlement with its recording artists and songwriters and at this stage nearly all settlement monies have been disbursed," and Universal Music's spokesman insists that the label's policy "is to share its portion of various settlements with its artists, regardless of whether their contracts require it."
Well, isn't that just nice! I guess we were wrong about the labels hording that money. Sorry everyone, never mind. Cancel the report. Guys? Hey, yeah, Phil, why don't you go ahead and cut those cameras... right... yeah those mics too. Just take it all down. Dish and everything. It can all... no... right, yeah that stuff goes in the van. Hey, Jerry? Where's the van parked at? Can, can you take the keys from me? I've got to call HQ... "Hey, Mr P, it's me... yeah turns out it's a no-go... no, the labels are on top of this one... yeah, might as well kill the presses. Thanks. See you soon." Okay guys, are we outta here? Can we get the next news story up please? Oh, okay, here... looks like we've got one online here. Here it comes. Sorry again, folks. Let's go home, everyone... Phil, is that camera still on?? I thought i told you to kill it, alr...
What does Kevin Shields (different one, dude), Foot Village, and Friends Forever have in common? Probably a lot! Which is why they're embarking on a teeny tiny tour across the beautiful U.S., one that starts in Arizona, STRETCHES to New Mexico, and, if they have enough gas, ends with a handful of Texas dates for some SXSW and anti-SXSW events.
Okay, it's short. But if you know what's good for you (and what I tell you is good for you), then you'll go to one of these shows. And if you REALLY know what's good for you (I also tell you what's "really good" for you, btw), you'll check out the Deathbomb Arc/Cock Rock Disco/Load Records SXSW showcase, March 15
at Red Scoot Inn. Three fantastic labels spread over two stages, with a TON of fucked up artists. You like that. Guaranteed to get your "cock"'s "load" flying in a wonderful "arc." Quick, somebody give me a mic!
03.11.08 - Phoenix, AZ - Trunkspace $
03.12.08 - Albequerque, NM - The Stove #
03.14.08 - Austin, TX - The Opera House ^
03.14.08 - Austin, TX - Ms Bea's @
03.15.08 - Austin, TX - Red Scoot Inn *
$ Old Time Religion, Twin Crystals, Soft Shoulder, & Andrew Jackson Jihad
^ The Smell's Anti-SXSW event (TMT approved)
@ Todd P/Upset The Rhythm SXSW Showcase
* Deathbomb Arc / Cock Rock Disco / Load SXSW Showcase
It's only the beginning of March, yet Sunburned Hand of the Man already have four releases under their belt:
1. Attica Rectangle
2. The Loft Tapes - 1996-97
3. Sugar Mongolia
4. Animal Andrew Crew
At this rate, they'll end up with roughly 24 albums this year! Crazy huh? Well, even crazier is that Sunburned released 25 albums just last year! You probably knew they released Z (Ecstatic Peace) and Fire Escape (Smalltown Supersound), but did you know they released Terminator 9 and Weekend at Burnie's 2 -- Lost Treaures of the Underworld? No joke!
Anyway, if you know anything about Sunburned, it's that their releases are often released in small runs. Sugar Mongolia, for example, is limited to 10, and Animal Andrew Crew, a painting/colllage+CD-R, was released in an edition of ONE. Soooo, not to discount their lengthy discography or anything, but THAT'S CHEATING!!!
Stop, or my mom will shoot:
Thom Yorke Was Vice-President, Invented the Internet, Inspired “Love Story,” Wrote “Everything In Its Right Place,” Then Put it All in a Lock Box To Save the World Instead
Late last month, Radiohead singer Thom Yorke added to his already impressive résumé by helping to launch an international campaign in order to raise awareness about climate change. The Big Ask Europe took off (without fuel) in Brussels last week, with Yorke as spokesman, aiming to convince the European Union to approve annual cuts in carbon dioxide emissions. Seventeen countries have come together under the umbrella of Friends of the Earth groups, each proposing legally binding emission cuts in their respective nations. Yorke first helped launch the UK branch of The Big Ask in 2005, and since then, the group has been responsible for pushing the Climate Change Law through parliament, with the legislation likely enacted by summer, and making Great Britain the first country in the world to have legally binding emissions targets.
Yorke had this to say in a press release:
We will never wake from the nightmare of climate change unless our national governments and the European Union act. They are the only ones who can put the structures in place that will help us tackle climate change. That is why we are launching The Big Ask in seventeen countries across Europe. By committing to annual cuts in our emissions at a national and European level we can play our part in tackling climate change, and set an example for the rest of world to follow. Hundreds of thousands of people want to see their governments doing more about climate change. If you are one of them you can find out more about The Big Ask campaign in your country at www.thebigask.eu.
Never the hypocrite, Yorke's Radiohead have declined an invitation to play this year's Glastonbury festival because of the lack of public transportation to the concert site, the singer told British paper The Sun. He also shared his plans to build a natural heating system for his home and Radiohead's strategy for minimizing their ecological footprint. "That has included buying two lots of equipment and keeping one in Europe and one in America so we never have to fly our kit around the world again," he said. "We also use new technology for our lighting rig. One of the interesting things we discovered is how people get to our big shows. A lot of the time people are driving with one or two people in a car, and that’s an ecological disaster.”
A nice thought, indeed, but I suppose the air is already clean up there on that tall, tall horse.
In FLAC, too! The new Merge Records digital store is just now opening its doors and promises to offer not only all your favorite Merge classics by the likes of Pram, Honor Role, and renowned international superstars The Music Tapes, but also rare and exclusive material from the very depths of their collection, such as the "much sought-after out-of-print" Superchunk Clambake Series Volume One: Acoustic in-stores East and West, made available today. Their timing couldn't be better, as more and more artists and labels (see Bleep.com, NIN's Ghosts story below) begin cutting out the middle man that is Apple's monstrously successful iTunes store in favor of DRM-free, lossless alternatives, while still providing MP3s for the average consumer.
So, if you've been feeling shitty about ripping off all those unsung, penniless Merge signees such as The Arcade Fire and Spoon by downloading their tracks for free, get your ass on down there and spend some dough already!