I used to work for a record store called Cheapo. It was a fun job. After a year or so, I was one of the lucky few to get transferred to the vinyl department in the basement. The manager down there, Tony, was and is one of the coolest, funniest, friendliest persons I've ever met. At night, I had the pleasure of working by myself, pumping discordant tunes while a combination of older, mentally ‘unstable’ patrons and young idealistic DJs would peruse through our vast collection of vinyl.
Aside from the pay, the only shitty thing about the job was the owner, Al. He was an egotistical jerk and, worst of all, couldn't give a shit about his employees. After about a year-and-a-half, I had the pleasure to discuss with Al face-to-face about my thoughts on the company. He predictably undermined all my suggestions for improvements, which I guess was okay. I could only half-care about a company that hardly cared for me at all.
But then we got on the topic of DRM. Even though no major music group had taken the DRM-free plunge at the time, all signs were pointing toward a DRM-free world. Al, being the naïve businessman that he is, argued with me about the future of digital music as inextricable from DRM. His points were valid from a business standpoint, but they were far from practical. Since most people at Cheapo seemed to fear him for whatever reason, it felt really good to debate on this topic, even though it lasted less than 10 minutes.
That said, it is with exceedingly great pleasure for me to announce that Sony BMG has officially become the last major music group to drop DRM. And according to Hypebot (adding onto a story by Business Week), Sony BMG isn't half-assing this whole thing -- the group intends to make its entire catalog DRM-free. The decision was apparently made last month, and the reformatting of the MP3s could be completed within month.
Of course, a shift to DRM-free MP3s is a business move like any other. With all the negative press DRM has received, the majors are simply trying to create more flexible paradigms in which to sell MP3s in the future. Going ahead without digital restrictions will enable the groups to more fluidly penetrate social networking possibilities, Amazon, and any future businesses/networks that will surely arise. And it will also of course help them fight Apple's clear dominance in the digital music market (estimates are around 75-85%).
Besides, even though the idea of DRM was born out of P2P concerns, the restriction was always more annoying for "legal" purchasers of major label MP3s, not the "illegal" downloaders. Will these consumers have to repurchase their collections in order to get DRM-free MP3s? Will these DRM-free files be watermarked? The majors better suck up to their consumers, as they and the RIAA have been building houses on sand for quite some time now.
After my face-to-face with Al, he asked if I wanted to leave early or help him sort through vinyl. I decided to leave, of course, catching someone stealing a book on the way out the door, and then hopping in my car and listening to King Geedorah on the drive home.
The original classic album.
A mustache comb.
Two compact discs.
One of those wind-up plastic toy nuns that shoots sparks from her mouth. Nunzilla? This thing.
Two unreleased tracks produced by the Dust Brothers from the original Odelay sessions, “Inferno” and “Gold Chains.”
Your dignity, returned after losing it at the Xmas office party in the supplies closet with “Steve, from accounting.”
International-only B-Sides “Clock,” “Electric Music and the Summer People,” “Lemonade,” “SA-5,” “Feather In Your Cap,” “Erase the Sun,” “000.000,” “Brother,” “Trouble All My Days,” and “Strange Invitation.”
A signed promo pic of actress Greta Scacchi. Whatever happened to her anyway?
“Deadweight,” from the film A Life Less Ordinary.
A Crystal Light single-serving packet (pink lemonade flava).
“Richard’s Hairpiece” and “American Wasteland” (remixes of “Devil’s Haircut” by Aphex Twin and Mickey P., respectively).
A Crystal Waters “Gypsy Woman (She’s Homeless}” cassingle (that’s the one that goes “la-da-dee, la-da-da”).
A cover of Skip James’ “Devil Got My Woman” recorded at the original Sun Studios.
A “2008 Already Sucks” button.
“Burro,” a Spanish version of “Jackass” recorded with a mariachi band.
A pair of socks. Argyle socks (favorites of dapper TMT scribe Chris Gaerig!).
The U.N.K.L.E. remix of “Where It’s At.”
A dried pickle. Gherkin, not dill.
“Thunder Peel,” co-produced by Mario Caldato Jr.
A jewel case. Or a soft pack cover. Or a jewel cased boxed in a cardboard sleeve. Or something wrapped in cellophane. With a stupid inventory sticker on the top of it. Whatever the outer package, be prepared to spend two beers, two Advils, and two hours opening the thing.
That is all.
Death Cab for Cutie are set to release their second album for major label Atlantic this May. Although the record won't feature one continuous "song" -- a concept considered during its initial stages -- the album was described as "really weird" by guitarist Chris Walla & His Completely Objective Ears.
"It's really, really good, I think, but it's totally a curve ball, and I think it's gonna be a really polarizing record," said Walla to Billboard. "But I'm really excited about it. It's really got some teeth. [...] louder and more dissonant and... I think abrasive would be a good word to use." So has Death Cab embraced Messiaen discordance? Doubtful. But the fact that the album's partly influenced by metal and Brainiac is a positive sign.
We don't have an album title or tracklisting for you just yet, but we can tell you that David Bazan (Pedro the Lion) and John Roderick (The Long Winters) are guesting on the album. Is that enough to tide you over? Or... I know!
Who says Mr P don't care about you?
Meanwhile, Chris Walla is releasing his solo album, Field Manual, with the cool guys at Barsuk. It's due January 29. Be ready to swoon.
The Mars Volta Delay – Almost Cancel –New LP Because of A Curse; Sometimes Writing Music News Is Extremely Easy
Mars Volta guitarist Omar Rodriguez-Lopez bought a Ouija board in Jerusalem. Shortly afterward, their studio was flooded twice, “equipment was ruined,” the band and their engineer watched tracks disappear from computers at random, and the board “spoke” to the band.
- “All other things being equal, the simplest solution is the best.” – William of Ockham (paraph.)
- “The Ouija board we bought contained supernatural powers that we choose to identify as a curse, so we will bury it at an undisclosed location, finish our album a few months behind schedule, and then tour.” – The Mars Volta (paraph.)
- “Are you afraid of the dark?” - Nickelodeon (verbatim)
Anyway, if any of you readers are recording what will no doubt be a sprawling, psychedelic, prog-influenced LP this holiday season, you might want to ask for a new octave pedal or something instead of that Ouija board from an age-old holy land.
As the surgical masks imply, the members of Liverpool's Clinic are specialists. Indie rock's cardiologists can cure one ailment only: Clinic deficiency. This isn't the health clinic that will treat your syphilis, broken arm, or fill your cavity. This Clinic has stuck to the same formula it debuted with on 2000's Internal Wrangler and, over the course of four albums, has only tweaked the dosage. But when you're low on Clinic, there's simply no substitute.
According to the official Clinic website, April's mini tour is just the start of things to come from Clinic HQ in 2008. A female robot tells us "2008 will see the release of the new album (their most psychedelic yet), singles, films and more..."
One of these things doesn't belong/neeeener neener neen, or so goes the opening line to 2008. It happened, folks -- it's real, and it's here. DRM is toast. It's on the way out the door, and you (the consumer) is at least partially responsible. Did you know that? That you're responsible for something? You twenty-something shiftless layabout slurping Ramen noodles through your scraggly beard, getting salty broth all over your ironically hilarious clothing? Your refusal to support the economy has done some good for once -- getting Warner to drop DRM, instead of hindering my daily trek down to the local mom & pop brothel. The big box wank establishments just don't get the job done properly. I mean, where else do you get specially contoured dinky wipes for the extra bit of sauce that the BBW's roll missed?
Granted, these DRM-free major label goodies are only available through Amazon, an obscure online retail establishment, but it's still a step in the right direction for freedom-loving "liberals." Warner Music Group was the second-to-last last holdout of the four major music companies to offer music from their catalog without draconian restrictions that bind consumers into ridiculous contracts only understandable by a team of highly paid attorneys. Amazon has clearly signed a deal with WMG similar to the ones it signed with the other labels, because the DRM-free music is only available in the U.S. Assumptions could be made here that Amazon is working on deals with the international branches of the RIAA to allow the sales of DRM-free music to other countries, but there's nothing concrete available to the public. So, we'll have to play with a few instances of ‘probably’ here, disguised as the playful circumflex, to gauge what made this possible.
Amazon forked over some change to EMI and Universal earlier in 2007 to allow the sale of unrestricted music in its store, in hopes of carving out a spot in what is clearly Apple's marketplace. This upfront payment came with a promise of a steady return from music sales, and free vouchers to the local brothel. Warner, sorely lacking in the boner department, was worried about getting teased and decided to see if there was any snickering behind closed doors concerning catalog size. Fears were allayed by the retailer; there would be no teasing, but Warner still waited until it became fashionably uncool to be associated with the old way of getting it done. So really, Warner is the dude you know that's concerned about what other the other kids think, which is lame. Like, totally lame.
So, it's all well and good that Warner is finally on the bandwagon, but I want to point out that their jump was one of hesitance.
In other news, WMG's stock dropped to its lowest point at $5.81 on Wednesday.
George Carlin Comes from the Future to Tell Us That Destroyer Will Save the World With a New LP Next Year
Hello, my name is Rufus. I’m from the future, where we have lived for years in a cavernous room and always rock out to music produced by Keanu Reeves and some guy with curly hair. They saved the world once and delivered us to peace. Unfortunately, when Keanu left the future to star in The Matrix, he brought back a lot of guns, which created violence that spread back to the past. We also think he got a lifetime Botox injection; he doesn’t really do much other than say “wow” anymore. It’s been too long since he told us to be excellent. Oh, times were better then.
Anyway, I’m here to tell all of you that there is another chance to really set things straight. On March 18, 2008, a band you all know as Destroyer will release a new album on Merge. Titled Trouble in Dreams, its melodic blend of chaos and calm will surely set the world at peace. The cavernous room will be filled no longer with ‘80s guitar wails, but with the musical stylings of Lords Bejar, Lowen, Bragg, Rose, and Bois. Of course, none of this can happen unless you believe me and give these men a chance. The future is in your hands, brave readers. Make the right choice and spread their gospel.
Trouble in Dreams Tracklisting:
1. Blue Flower/Blue Flame
2. Dark Leaves From A Thread
3. The State
4. Foam Hands (MP3)
5. My Favorite Year
6. Shooting Rockets (From The Desk Of Night's Ape)
7. Introducing Angles
9. Leopard Of Honor
10. Plaza Trinidad
11. Libby's First Sunrise
You have to give credit to Von Bondies main man Jason Stollsteimer. He has stuck it out in Detroit, while the state's economy and local garage scene have been on a down slide for some time. JS's frenemy Jack White moved to Nashville (taking fellow Raconteur Brendan Benson with him), Meg White lives in LA (eek!), and worse than that, fellow Michigander Iggy Pop lives in goddam Miami-fucking-Beach. Now, some might say that without the Detroit connection, The Von Bondies would be just another unexciting rock band, so maybe he needs Detroit more than it needs him.
It has been three years since the release of their sophomore (and major label debut) album, Pawn Shoppe Heart (Sire), and the band has gone through some changes, not of location but of membership. Mainstays Stollsteimer and drummer Don Blum have lost guitarist Marcie Bolan, bassist Carrie Smith, and replacement bassist Yasmine Smith in those three years. Currently, The Von Bondies are a five-piece, with newbies Matt Lannoo on guitar, Leann Banks on bass, and Alcia Gbur on keyboards. The band plans to release their second album for Sire in 2008, and to promote that LP and their existence, they are embarking on a two-month tour.
The winter-time trek begins for the band January 9 in the town that wasn't fake or sunny enough (I'm guessing) for the the Iggster, Ann Arbor, MI, then takes the band around the East Coast (with a little Canada thrown in), before a hop across the pond for a round of European dates. A band that is taking Detroit rock into outer space, SSM, and another band from the D, Freer, will be along for the U.S. and Canadian dates. Look for all that, as well as the band's new album, Love, Hate and Then There's You, sometime next year.
* SSM, Freer
Xiu Xiu, Fucked Up, and 186 Independents File Class Action Lawsuit Against RJ Reynolds and Wenner Media
Looks like Canadian anarcha-core band Fucked Up are taking it, not to the streets, but to the courts. It's the people vs. the man, and this time "the people" are 186 of your favorite bands. Joined by Xiu Xiu, which the complaint describes as "often thematically dark, marked by non-narrative, evocative lyrics delivered in small fragments," the two groups have motioned for action, seconded that action, and filed a class action lawsuit against RJ Reynolds and Wenner Media on behalf of all 186 bands name-checked in the four-page Camel "Indie Rock Universe" spread featured in Rolling Stone's November issue.
The suit, filed in Alameda County on December 17 and which reads like it was written by a devoted-reader-of-Pitchfork attorney, alleges the unauthorized use of artist names, unauthorized use of artist names for commercial advantage (right of publicity), and unfair business practices. The lawsuit, the first calling for accountability by Rolling Stone for its part in the ad, requests that the magazine issue an admission that the artist names were used without consent in a spread equal to the size of the original advertisement in question, along with punitive financial damages. The equation conceptualizing damages at $750 per issue, per band, could amount damages at nearly $200 BILLION. Zing!
The bands cited in the ad -- in what Rolling Stone is defending as a "special editorial fold out" -- were surprised to find their songs streaming through Camel's thefarmrocks.com without authorization from both the artists and their labels, inciting the Kill Rock Stars letter of complaint sent to RJR on December 13 (TMT News). As an interim solution to the accusations, Camel has suspended the website and disabled the tracks, but the damage has been done.
Reprehensibly, Rolling Stone claimed the spread had nothing to do with Farm Rocks' (committed to "supporting and promoting independent record labels") nine-page ad campaign appearing on either side of it, which is not only shameless bullshit, but an insult to readers' intelligence. As section 17 of the Fucked Up lawsuit states, "It is obvious to any reasonable person viewing the actual offending foldout... that it is the star attraction of a carefully designed and executed marketing and advertising pitch for Camel cigarettes. Indeed, that is the only possible impression that can be left on the mind of any sentient twenty-first century being with eyesight." And as such sentient beings, we can conclude that Reynolds and Stone are trying to play us for fools, attempting to reduce the indie community to a mindlessly consuming and unquestioning target audience, which Fucked Up and Xiu Xiu have asserted we certainly are not.
We could go even further, interpreting the legal action as a refusal to allow major corporations to appropriate independent culture simply for product endorsement. This is calling bullshit on wolves in sheep's (or in this case indie kids') clothing, who were trying to gain credibility with their next generation of smokers, as section 16 reads "The intendment of the entire multi-page advertising pitch generally, and the foldout in particular, is in its essence an effort at ingratiation, insinuation into target readership favor, and association in readers' minds of Camel members of the target audience, which defendants planned, predicted or hoped would be generated by the use of the ersatz taxonomy of 'indie rock.'"
So, Jann Werner, come on down! You're 2007's embarrassment to us all! And Xiu Xiu, Fucked Up -- our heroes.
The "Indie Rock Universe" spread, name-checking the following bands in the November 15 "fold out":
!!!, 1990s, A Place to Bury Strangers, Against Me!, AIDS Wolf, Andrew Bird, Animal Collective, Antony and the Johnsons, Arcade Fire, Architecture in Helsinki, Arctic Monkeys, Art Brut, Babyshambles, Band of Horses, Bat For Lashes, Beirut, Belle and Sebastian, Biffy Clyro, Bjork, Black Dice, Black Mountain, Bloc Party, Blonde Redhead, Boards of Canada, Bonde de Role, Boredoms, Boris, Bright Eyes, Brightblack Morning Light, Bucks and Gallants, Built to Spill, Cat Power, Celebration, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah!, Coco Rosie, Comets on Fire, CSS, Daft Punk, David Pajo, Dean and Britta, Death Cab for Cutie, Deerhoof, Devendra Banhart, DeVotchka, Diplo, Dirty Pretty Things, Dirty Projectors, DJ Mehdi, Dr. Dog, Dungen, Ellen Allien and Apparat, Emily Jane White, Emma Pollack, Erase Errata, Explosions in the Sky, Fall Out Boy, Feist, Fields, Franz Ferdinand, Frog Eyes, Fucked Up, Fugazi, Ghostland Observatory, Girl Talk, Godspeed You Black Emperor!, Gogol Bordello, Grizzly Bear, Guided by Voices, Guitar Wolf, Gym Class heroes, Handsome Furs, High on Fire, Home Blitz, Hot Chip, Husker Du, World/Inferno Friendship Society, Interpol, Iron and Wine, Jans Lekman, Japanther, Jesu, Joanna Newsom, Jose Gonzalez, Joy Division, Junior Boys, Justice, Kaiser Chiefs, Klaxons, Last Days of May, Laura Veirs, Lavender Diamond, LCD Soundsystem, Le Tigre, Les Savvy Fav, Liars, Lightning Bolt, Little Claw, Low, M. Ward, M.I.A., Mates of State, Matmos, Minus the Bear, Modest Mouse, Mogwai, Mountain Goats, Mum, My Chemical Romance, My Morning Jacket, Neutral Milk Hotel, New Pornographers, New Young Pony Club, Nirvana, Oakley Hall, Octopus Project, Of Montreal, Panda Bear, Panic! at the Disco, Parts and Labor, Pavement, Peter and the Wolves, Pissed Jeans, Pixies, PJ Harvey, Plain White T's, Prinzhorn Dance School, Psapp, Radiohead, Ratatat, Ryan Adams, Scout Niblett, Sea Wolf, Shitdisco, Sigur Ros, Simian Mobile Disco, Sleater-Kinney, Sonic Youth, Sons and Daughters, Spoon, St. Vincent, Stephen Malkmus, Sufjan Stevens, Ted Leo, The Cribs, The Cure, The Decemberists, The Fiery Furnaces, The Fratellis, The Futureheads, The Go! Team, The Gossip, The Hold Steady, The Killers, The Magik Markers, The National, The Nightwatchmen, The Ponys, The Rapture, The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, The Rogers Sisters, The Shins, The Silver Mt. Zion, The Smiths, The Stills, The Strokes, The Thermals, The Thrills, The USA Is a Monster, The World, TV on the Radio, Tyvek, Vampire Weekend, We Are Wolves, White Denim, White Magic, White Stripes, Wilco, Will Oldham, Wolf Eyes, Wolf Parade, Wolfmother, Xiu Xiu, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Yo La Tengo
Boredoms Announce U.S. Tour Without Monday Dates. Chuck and Heroes Air Monday Nights. You Figure It Out.
Fresh off last month's release of CD/DVD Live at Sunflancisco on Commmons (TMT News), Boredoms have announced a pretty fucking fleshed-out U.S. tour. Okay, so they're not hitting any smaller cities, but cut them some slack -- it's not easy to get eYe's hair looking so radiant, you know.
As we already reported, Yunnan Colorfree, Yoshimi's soundtrack to the documentary of the same name, was released last November. So, purchase that too before you buy tickets. An informed listener is a cool listener, to paraphrase Heidegger.
$ "in the round"