Post-Punk’s Not Dead: These New Puritans Release Full-Length on Domino

When I was 19, I probably would've considered my biggest achievements to be (a) accidentally causing the evacuation of a 1,000+ capacity dorm building after putting a Pop-Tart in the microwave for too long and (b) figuring out that dumping alcohol into a coffee mug made it possible to drink in the common areas of my dorm without getting caught. Fortunately for the music world, there are young people with more motivation, better skills, and higher priorities than the young Liz. My current favorite example would be Southend, UK four-piece These New Puritans.

These New Puritans have definitely listened to their share of records by Gang of Four and The Fall, and while their music sits comfortably alongside the output of these seminal artists, it never sounds trapped in the past or derivative. Their tense rhythms and intelligent lyrics have given These New Puritans a reputation as an exciting and inventive live act in the UK music scene and beyond. The band has released one limited-edition EP entitled Now Pluvial and wrote the epic "Navigate, Navigate" for the Fall 2007 catwalk preview of Hedi Slimane's Dior Homme collection in Paris. After signing to Domino Records, These New Puritans recorded their forthcoming full-length Beat Pyramid with Gareth Jones, whose previous credits include sessions with Wire, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Liars.

With Beat Pyramid's stateside release planned for March 18, 2008, the band already has a South By Southwest date planned, as well as extensive touring in the UK and Europe.

Beat Pyramid tracklisting:

* Afrikanboy

** British Sea Power

U-God Is Mad As Hell And Isn’t Going To Take It Anymore, Sues Wu-Tang Over Unpaid Royalties

U-God wants his money. $170K, to be exact. Apparently, RZA neglected to pay U-God his $40K advance for 8 Diagrams (TMT Review) ("money means nothing to us!") or the $50K owed to him for the Rock The Bells tour, amongst a variety of other fees. While one might be inclined to not give a shit due to his being a "lower-tier" member of the Wu, it brings to light the still-unhealthy relationship RZA and GZA have with the rest of the group -- after lawsuits from Ghostface and Rakewon, who have been treated by The RZA to much more successful solo careers in comparison to Masta Killa, Inspecta Deck, and U-God (who claims it took him seven years to convince RZA to produce a single track for his 1999 solo album, Golden Arms Redemption), it's not hard to be overcome with nostalgia for those family vibes that made 36 Chambers and Wu-Tang Forever such strong releases. It's an unfortunate scene, after all the supposedly resolved beefs between Mr. Lamont Hawkins and the higher profile members of Wu-Tang that went down in 2004. But by this point, Wu-Tang fans have become more or less accustomed to the ridiculous and unfortunate drama sparked so often between its members, taking it in stride as just another facet of the Wu's most epic story (and, of course, a brilliant tactic to stay in the headlines, despite a steady stream of comparatively sub par material).

Meanwhile, The Universal God of Law keeps on keeping on, putting together yet another solo album without the support of his group, entitled Spitta, due out later this year. Spitta follows a series of solo albums made after Uey's conclusion that RZA was an unnecessary hindrance to his solo career; he's instead put together his own posse known as The Hillside Scramblers, who released their debut album in 2004, which U-God followed with 2005's still RZA-less Mr. Xcitement.

EMI Cuts 2,000 Jobs, Saves $392.2 Million a Year; Coldplay and Other Artists Revolt

Terra Firma, the private equity firm that bought EMI for $6.26 billion last year, has officially confirmed that it will cut up to 2,000 EMI jobs worldwide (roughly 1/3 of its staff), all in the Recorded Music division. The company will now save up to $392.2 million a year, a move that essentially makes its investment one hell of a payoff. Shifting away from just selling CDs to focusing on A&R, digital music, and corporate sponsorships, the new EMI is now in the "hands" of Guy Hands, who is most notably rich from his experience in the train and aircraft businesses. Yup. No worries though; I'm sure he listened to the radio at those jobs.

The next six months or so will see a lot of restructuring at EMI as it "respond[s] to the needs of artists and consumers," while current artists like Robbie Williams and Coldplay are withholding their forthcoming albums in a "revolt" against the company, fearing Mr. Hands is behaving more like a plantation owner than a savvy business man. Beyond that, it's hard to say whether Terra Firma invested in EMI to make a quick buck (it's happened a million times before) or whether these changes truly reflect something positive. Of course, job cuts are inevitable for the four major groups, especially when having more employees is now more of a liability than anything, but it'll be interesting what kind of follow-through EMI has up its sleeves.

Here's the full press release:

EMI Group announces fundamental restructuring of Recorded Music Division to respond to the needs of artists and consumers

London, 15 January 2007 -- EMI Group is today announcing a series of wide-ranging initiatives within its Recorded Music division to enable the group to become the world’s most innovative, artist friendly and consumer-focused music company.

In a series of presentations to staff, artists and managers, Guy Hands, EMI Group’s chairman, is unveiling a fundamental reshaping of the business to reflect the rapidly-changing nature of the music industry. The changes include:

- Repositioning EMI’s labels to ensure they will be completely focussed on A&R and maximising the potential of all their artists
- Developing a new partnership with artists, based on transparency and trust, and helping all artists monetise the value of their work by opening new income streams such as enhanced digital services and corporate sponsorship arrangements
- Bringing together all the group’s key support activities including sales, marketing manufacturing and distribution into a single division with a unified global leadership
- The elimination of significant duplications within the group to simplify processes and reduce waste

The changes, which will be implemented over the next six months, will enable the group to invest more in its A&R operations both to identify and sign promising new artists and to maximise the potential of its existing roster.

The restructuring is being carried out following an intense three-month consultation review of the business by Terra Firma since it acquired the business last year and many of the measures being implemented have come at the suggestion of staff, artists or their managers.

The restructuring will also enable the group to capture significant efficiencies and cost reductions which are expect to reduce costs by up to £200 million per year. The restructuring is also expected to lead to a worldwide headcount reduction within the group of between 1,500 and 2,000.

Guy Hands commented: “We have spent a long time looking intensely at EMI and the problems faced by its Recorded Music division which, like the rest of the music industry, has been struggling to respond to the challenges posed by a digital environment

“We believe we have devised a new revolutionary structure for the group that will improve every area of the business. In short it will make EMI’s music more valuable for the company and its artists alike. The changes we are announcing today will ensure that this iconic company will be creating wonderful music in a way that is profitable and sustainable.”

The Dirtbombs Ready To Explode With A New LP & Tour. Do You Get The Whole Bomb Thing & The Fact That They Explode?

This could be quite the banner year for many established Detroit bands. Along with those rumors of a Jack White solo and/or Raconteurs album this year, we in the TMT newsroom also have more concrete info regarding releases from The Von Bondies, Pas/Cal, SSM, and others. But none of that should fill your heart with excitement like the news of a brand new LP from one of the local masters of rock ‘n’ roll and R&B (think Ike Turner, not Akon), Mick Collins. His current band, The Dirtbombs, are scheduled to release their fourth proper full-length record, We Have You Surrounded, February 19 via In The Red Records.

The 12-track platter, the band's first since their 2005 clearinghouse odds & sods LP, If You Don't Already Have A Look (In The Red), will no doubt be another raw, powerful, and moving (as in your ass) album from a man who has yet to disappoint. The title, We Have You Surrounded, could be a proper way of describing, sonically, The Dirtbombs' live show. Two drummers (Ben Blackwell, Pat Pantano), two bass players (Troy Gregory, Ko Melina), and Collins front and center, blasting forth, as the sound fills every nook and cranny of the room, much louder and more enjoyable than most punk bands ever could be.

Don't believe me? Your next chance to check them out will be coming soon. The band will be embarking on a small Midwest tour in late February, followed by a nine-day Australian excursion and a bigger tour of the U.S. East Coast in March and April. Western U.S. dates should be forthcoming as well, so stay tuned here for all the latest.

We Have You Surrounded tracklist:

* Kelley Stoltz

Okkervil River Announce Tourdates, None of these Tourdates Are in the U.S.

Okkervil River, though not in the good ol’ US of A, will obviously rep us so well by:

(1) feasting nightly on hefty portions of meat, potatoes, and apple pie,

(2) curing world hunger with aerial drops of freedom fries,

(3) democratizing other nations.

Obviously, all the while with waving American flags announcing their presence.

Good luck, boys! Make us proud!

Liberty, justice, tour dates:

Holy Fuck to Watch Their Language, Tour with Super Furry Animals and A Place To Bury Strangers

Last year, my New Year's resolution was to make a resolution and stick by it, but seeing as that was the resolution, I had nothing to stick by. So this New Year's was actually the one when I had to pick something to uphold. As a writer, I figured examining my frequent use of "fucking" and "hella" (as opposed to more descriptive adjectives and adverbs) would be a good start. That said, it's pretty fucki-- I mean, fairly challenging to keep my language under control, especially when it comes time to discussing things that completely unhinge my enthusiasm, like Canadian, lo-fi supergroup Holy Fuck (which being a proper noun cannot be considered profanity) and their upcoming tour.

Utilizing toy ray guns and other non-instrument instruments, Holy Fuck's improvisational EP kicked fucking a-- err, I mean... was a strong debut landing them festival gigs worldwide, such as Coachella, CMJ Music Marathon, All Tomorrows Parties, and given their past propensity to reach out, slap you around, and draw you in (figuratively speaking), I predict that every show on this tour will hella rock the house-- fuck, I said "hella."

Golly, I'm excited.

* Super Furry Animals

$ A Place to Bury Strangers

Why I have more in common with Enon than the United Kingdom ever will: a short list.

Reason number one: The band's name is Enon, a town northeast of my hometown of Dayton, OH. Incidentally, also the hometown of band founder John Schmersal. Daytonians are supposed to be closed-minded and unworldly, John. We DON'T travel to England.

Reason number two: I know the whereabouts of and have played Brainiac's old Micromoog synthesizer. Sorry John, I'm afraid you'll never get it now.

Reason number three: Clotted cream. Who are these guys kidding with a name like that? I already know it will fill my body with lipids and all kinds of unhealthy cholesterols, they don't have to advertise it. Plus, it's impossible to eat scones and jam without looking pretentious. Talking with a British accent can have the same effect.

Reason number four: Profit.

Alright, my argument isn't as convincing in text as it was in my head. Maybe I like using verbs of being when action verbs could be used! They are are essential to righting a well wrotten newsstory, and I efuse too list to your English Oxford bullbabble!

I must be losing my mind... I need you Enon, more than you'll even know.

Dates and oats:

Flipper Gets Their Replacement Tour Bassist to Play On Their New LP. Who Cares? The Replacement Bassist is Krist Novaselic. Oh Cool!

It’s been a good 15 years since Flipper last released an album. Suddenly, they find themselves compelled to re-enter a rock ‘n’ roll market now full of kids who aren’t even familiar with the maritime heroics of the original Flipper.

Shrewdly, the group appears to have realized they needed a hook, something to pull today’s adderall-riddled kids (read: me) away from their Hannah Montana body doubles and their Nintendo Wiis they got for Christmas. Luckily, the band has been playing some shows with former Nirvana bass player Krist Novaselic (TMT News).

When it came time for Flipper to re-enter the studio, they asked Novaselic to play on their currently untitled new record, and he not only said he would, he also said that he would setup a makeshift studio in his house and that he that he would tap Jack Endino (Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Nirvana’s Bleach) to produce. What a nice guy!

Drummer Steve DePace claims the album is “99% done” and also that they “can write songs with Krist now that sound just like Flipper.” The group wants to be on the road again by “the spring and summer,” so here’s hoping we all get to see that gangly Andy Kaufman-looking motherfucker in a town near us sometime soon.

Industry Alphabet: RIAA, EMI, IFPI, LMNOP

"Guys, this is fucked up. We've got to re-evaluate our game plan," EMI was reported to say before filing a letter of resignation to the IFPI, effective March 31, 2008. Upon receiving said letter, the IFPI was all, "Dude, we totally suck," and then the RIAA was all, "Hey, if we merged, we could be, like, Kings of Assholes worldwide," and the IFPI was all "Stoked."

And that's pretty much how it might have and could have possibly went down. For months now, industry officials have been undergoing ball-crushing discussions in hopes of bearing an industry merge/restructure that will save them all, like a major label Jesus. Besides a possible merging of the IFPI (an organization that represent worldwide recording interests) and RIAA, which would become the somewhat ironic PIRAATE (Phonographic Industries and Recording Associations for the Amelioration of Troubled Earnings), industry sad-men are looking to consolidate functions with minimal overlap, which, yeah, sounds like a more solid business structure.

"What can be accomplished by one global trade group would be preferable and more cost-efficient than two," said a greasy, unnamed EMI source involved in the discussions. Essentially, EMI is saying that it will drop out of the IFPI by March 31 unless there is a "solution" it can "support," as it is undoubtedly worried about the cost of paying two industry groups on top of its piling bills. Whether that solution means a consolidation of the RIAA and IFPI or a 25% off coupon remains to be seen.

Like a Rhinestone Cowboy, Castanets Are Riding Out on a Tour Through The West Coast

I always envied that Castanets guy. He tested out of high school at age 15! And then he traveled around the United States on a Greyhound bus for four years! This is like, my life dream! (Well, maybe I'd choose a train or a car instead of a Greyhound bus, but still.) Just imagine the diner waitresses and railroad tramps and wily bluesmen he must have encountered!

Not to mention the three amazing albums Mr. Castanets, Raymond Raposa, has released on Asthmatic Kitty Records. Sparse, haunting, and thoroughly lovely, the latest of these releases, 2007's In the Vines (TMT Review), is setting Raposa and friends on the road for a series of dates on the West Coast.

In the Vines features performances from frequent collaborators like Vanishing Voice's Nonhorse, Viking Moses, Jana Hunter, Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck, Rafter Roberts, and Shaky Hands' Nathan Delffs. The album was inspired in part by Raposa's experiences on the road and by a Hindu fable about the inevitability of fate.

  

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