It's been a long nine years since Merge released First Imaginary Symphony for Nomad, the debut full-length by The Music Tapes. That's the bad news. The good news is that The Music Tapes, a.k.a. Julian Koster -- best known for his saw work and creative vision for Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea -- will keep it to nine, as he has announced the release of a brand, possibly spankin' new LP, Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, due August 19 on Merge.
Part tape collage, part indie pop, and singing saws all around, The Music Tapes' music definitely has a lot of heart -- yet it doesn't sound completely human. Why? Because Koster is as much an inventor as a musician. His band consists partially of E6 friends, but primarily of musicians that he created, including The 7 Foot Tall metronome, Static The Television, and The Clapping Hands Machine. And he's even created new members for Music Tapes for Clouds and Tornadoes, such as the Orbiting Human Circus Tapdancing Machine. According to Koster:
I just find the imaginary more real than the physical. Magic, the way we find things beautiful, the light behind eyes, kindness, and how we want to serve and protect the things we care about -- these things seem like the real foundation of the world to me. I hope that the songs on this record can be more than just postcards from a world, but an invitation to it, to anyone at all who may find such a place comforting and nice.
In addition to Clouds and Tornadoes, The Music Tapes are quietly working on a few other projects, including the official release of the much-anticipated 2nd Imaginary Symphony for Cloudmaking (which features some music from Clouds and Tornadoes), a film project, and an as-yet untitled album featuring Koster's father on flamenco guitar. Meanwhile, Julian, along with Static the Television, the 7 Foot Tall Metronome, and some sentient buddies, are scheduled to perform August 15 at Athens Popfest 2008. I hope the 7 Foot Tall Metronome malfunctions and kills someone in the crowd. Wouldn't that be hilarious?
Music zines will have you believe that the news of Gang of Four losing two members (rhythm section, have you) is an opportunity to exhibit some comical irony. But those ‘clever’ writers are supreme douche nozzles. I think it's tragic that Dave Allen (bassist) and Hugo Burnham (drummer) have decided to call it quits, especially since the post-punk had just reunited back in 2005. Yes, writers, we all know that Gang of Four is now a "gang of two." Good job.
Here are some departing words from Allen:
At the beginning of April, I decided that I could no longer continue to be a member of Gang of Four. My ability to give 100% to the band is limited and I feel that if I can't do so, then I shouldn't continue. As I expand my research and thinking about contemporary music distribution on Pampelmoose.com, and as I focus on online technology and social networking at Nemo Design here in Portland, I find myself conflicted about how the band's new music should be released. To retain any credibility for Pampelmoose.com about what the future of music distribution will look like, I have to move on and not hold back Jon and Andy's music plans. I have had a side project for a while now with John Askew of Tracker and Menomena's drummer Danny Stein called Faux Hoax, and I look forward to fun times finding ways to get our music into peoples' hands in unique ways.
And now Burnham:
It was a great couple of years of intermittently reminding people old and new, far and wide just how powerful the original four of us were together. Age only increased our power and focus onstage, and it was a rare pleasure to work with the original band once again. Being in a band requires handling the business side of it too, and that became boring and the constant travel became debilitating. I am soon to start my Doctorate, as well as broadening my teaching at more than one college here in Massachusetts, so my free time has become increasingly limited, making it difficult to be involved with them going forward. Musically, I am recording and writing with members of Boston noise-merchants, The Bags and I have also been doing some recording lately with Mike Watt. I wish Jon and Andy luck with their new musical endeavours; I am sure they will be interesting.
Jon King (vocalist) and Andy Gill (guitarist) still plan on releasing a new album this year as Gang of Four, which will be their first new material in over 15 years.
Four Out of Five Comrades Proclaim New Russian Circles Album and Tour Better Than a Kick in the Cossacks
Last year, for the first time, the human race became more urban than rural. Soon, more than half of the world's population will live in urban centers. Some will point to a rise in development among third world countries, some to megacities getting mega-er, and still others to the sustained and stable nature of urban rents for people and businesses. It's all hooey. The real reason peeps have congregated to metropolitan areas rather than staying in the sticks was to align themselves in time to see Russian Circles on their forthcoming tour! It's not that the heavy trio are only playing monster municipalities, but they ain't playing Arrowsic, ME or Fredonia, KY. Nor does it look like they will anytime soon. Poised to be one of the most acclaimed riff ‘n’ smash albums this year, Station (out this week on Suicide Squeeze), is a brusque and aggressive display of power that is deliriously satisfying.
Here is the tracklisting for Station and a list of towns that Russian Circles will be tearing apart in the very near future.
2. Harper Lewis
05.10.08 - Chicago, IL - Subterranean #
06.03.08 - Iowa City, IA - Picador $
06.04.08 - St. Louis, MO - Bluebird Theater $
06.05.08 - Kansas City, MO - the Riot Room $
06.06.08 - Denver, CO - Marquis $
06.07.08 - Salt Lake City, UT - Burt's Tiki Lounge $
06.08.08 - Boise, ID - Neurolux $
06.09.08 - Seattle, WA - Neumos $
06.10.08 - Portland, OR - Doug Fir Lounge $
06.11.08 - Chico, CA - Café Coda $
06.12.08 - San Francisco, CA - Slim's $
06.14.08 - Pomona, CA - The Glasshouse $
06.15.08 - Los Angeles, CA - Troubadour $
06.16.08 - San Diego, CA - The Cashbah $
06.18.08 - Phoenix, AZ - The Clubhouse $
06.20.08 - Austin, TX - Red 7 $
06.21.08 - Fort Worth, TX - Lola's Saloon$
06.22.08 - Houston, TX - Rudyard's $
06.23.08 - Baton Rouge, LA - Spanish Moon $
06.24.08 - Birmingham, AB - Bottle Tree $
06.25.08 - Atlanta, GA - The Drunken Unicorn $
06.26.08 - Chapel Hill, NC - Local 506 $
06.27.08 - Wilmington, DE - Harmony Grange $
06.28.08 - Cambridge, MA - Middle East Upstairs $
06.29.08 - Brooklyn, NY - Music Hall of Williamsburg $
06.30.08 - Baltimore, MD - The Ottobar $
07.01.08 - Buffalo, NY - Mohawk Place $
07.02.08 - Detroit, MI - Magic Stick
# record release show with Call Me Lightning
In the olden days, consumers would frequent establishments that made profits by selling music on various forms of physical media, at a premium. When new, popular albums were released, the "kids" would run to these stores in droves, plunking down money made from part-time jobs (instead of their parents' wallets, as today's children do). The more popular an album, the less it cost. The establishments understood that a lower price would attract more consumers when the demand was high.
The unfortunate underbelly of this tactic was the overpricing of music that was not currently in demand. Albums that were perhaps a few years old, containing a level of quality far surpassing the current pablum, cost a small fortune. Often these albums were located in the back of the establishments, covered in dust, and requiring grueling trials of unforeseen sadness to acquire them.
Warner Music Group, a large multinational corporation currently possessing the rights to a buttload of music, have decided to bring this "old-school" selling tactic to the new frontiers of digital delivery. Through a partnership with Digonex, a company that specializes in glossy Powerpoint slides and marketing jargon, Warner intends to "dynamically" "optimize" the pricing of "digital media" in their "online marketplace." In other words, they're gonna fuck with the prices on iTunes.
From the press release itself: “Digonex’s technology provides us a unique window into one of the key variables that impacts consumer behavior and by employing tools such as these we can continue to refine and improve our digital offerings,” said Larry Mattera, Senior Vice President, Digital Sales & Marketing, WEA Corp, WMG’s U.S. sales and marketing company.
i.e., they will make more money.
Sheffield, England quintet The Long Blondes came on all fast and enticing last time with their much-loved LP from 2006, Someone To Drive You Home (Rough Trade), which was chocked full of advice for women, a little admonishment for men, and hooks for everyone. If you can think of three better bands than Pulp, Blondie, and New Order to combine, you let me know. Actually, let The LBs know; it was their idea.
With their new record Couples (TMT Review), the deck is now slightly reshuffled. They now play the part of the cool cucumbers (particularly singer/audience focal point Kate Jackson), who possible suitors shouldn't even try to pin down, a whirlwind that might include you one minute and not the next. One element that definitely is included in these possibly autobiographical songs is the synthesizer, which vies with the guitar for attention on Couples.
To find out if the band can walk the effortlessly cool walk in person, let me direct you to their North American tour, which will be comin' atcha about a week after that hot platter drops (Warning: if the way you talk resembles that last sentence, you are nether effortless nor cool, just so you know. Do you hear me, Gary?). You can brave the throngs of style-mavens and admirers when the tour starts May 14 in Philly, with support from two-piece twang-rock cuties Drug Rug.
* Drug Rug
Confession time: I am a local news JUNKIE. I love their low-budget advertising campaigns. I love their cheesy news anchor banter. And I especially love to reminisce about hard-hitting, in-depth investigations. One of my personal favorites was a shocking story concerning Red Bull and Jagermeister, and how downing a ton of the shit can be bad for you. But how bad? The consensus of the story was "we don't really know how bad, but let's just say pretty bad, because you wouldn't really think it'd be good for you, would you?"
That's kind of the verdict of a recent Billboard report on America's new favorite holiday, Record Store Day. Except the consensus of this story is more along the lines of "we don't really know how good, but let's just say pretty good, because you wouldn't really think it'd be bad, would you?" Evidence points toward Record Store Day charting somewhere around "kick ass" on the "good" scale, but opinions differ. Nielsen SoundScan results for the inaugural Record Store Day, held April, 19, 2008, reveal that sales for indie stores rose 1.6% from the previous year while chain stores' sales dropped 20.8% from 2007. Sounds good right? Well, album sales dropped 8.1% for the week.
Store owners held varying opinions as to the effectiveness of Record Store Day. In Philadelphia, overall indie record store sales were up 13% from the previous week, and in the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose area sales were up 12%. Special events such as the Metallica in-store at Mountain View, CA's Rasputin's drew 400 people and added significantly to the figures. Statistics varied across the country, with the Boston area reporting a 4% increase in sales and Nashville-based Grimey's experiencing a 400% increase. At the same time, however, some stores reported no surges in business whatsoever, and some, such as Atlanta's Criminal Records, reported an 18% decrease from the week before. Indie store managers in some locations were uncertain whether sales were up due to nice weather, amazing Record Store Day tie-ins, or Boston area creeps' desire to watch Dresden Doll Amanda Collins paint her underwear.
Bill Callahan to Tour, Me to Not Make Fun of Him, Find Happiness, Appreciate Life, Subsequently Appreciate High Art
The truth is, dear gents: There’s nothing us ladies love more than an elusive, ever-smoggy dude repping deep commitment to, um, sound. Ah, sweet instrumental sincerity!
Callahan's tourin' with Swell Season and Alasdair Roberts.
Stealing hearts (abroad!), taking names:
* Swell Season
# Alasdair Roberts
Monday, May 5, Tom Waits held a press conference:
Yes, you heard right, Waits’ 13-date tour forgetfully bypasses 42 of the U.S.’ 50 largest cities. What bad luck. Maybe the whole thing is just an excuse for Tom to stop by that really great diner in Tulsa or to visit Aunt Bea in Mobile.
Now, instead of making the drive you’re thinking of making, I have a few suggestions for you. Get your money, go to a bank, put your money in that bank, use your plastic card to get that money in small usable increments to spend on things like groceries and beer, try to use another bank’s ATM and get charged $4 for the convenience, put your elbow through the glass of the ATM’s screen, DON’T YOU KNOW IT’S A RECESSION PEOPLE. ITS ABOUT DRUGS NOT TRAINS WAKE UP!!! PAECE BABY OLIVER BABY OLIVER THANKX GOD. F*CK IPOD TRY SOME WAX WAKE UP! 1972 NYC BORN AND RAISED.
Tom Waits Glitter and Doom Tour:
Living in North America just got a little sweeter. My Bloody Valentine announced today that their country club set in upstate New York for All Tomorrow’s Parties won't be an isolated appearance (TMT News), as The Roseland Ballroom receives the honor of being the second stop on My Bloody Valentine’s first North American tour in 16 flippin’ years! I’m so excited I stopped doing actual work, closed Gawker.com, and jammed on my headphones to listen to Loveless. (BTW, headphones are totes against the rules at the Real Job.)
Tickets aren’t listed yet, but I would advise keeping a close watch on the MBV website and doing a ceremonial chant or five. And this might be pushing it, but our luck seems to be on the up-and-up, so maybe Patti Smith will decide to relive her two onstage experiences with Kevin Shields in ’05 and ’06, documented on The Coral Sea (TMT News). Eh?
My Bloody Valentine tourdates:
David Letterman appearances, MTV's Artist of the Week... just who the blue fuck does Beth Ditto think she is? Brilliant and bodacious, you say? I'd be inclined to agree. The Gossip just released a full-length live album on Kill Rock Stars, aptly titled Live in Liverpool, and it can be yours and yours alone if you click here.
What's more, The Gossip have done something totally weird and booked a tour in support of the live licks. Freaks. I mean, what do you expect from people who wanted Daisy to win Rock of Love 2? COME ON!
I bet Ambre would listen to The Gossip: