The Times They Are A-Changin’… Back To How They Used To Be? Universal Music Group Posts Improved First Quarter Earnings

Not so fast, suits. Although a recent blog post over at the music industry news website Coolfer has taken notice of the improved Universal Music Group's Q1 earnings in 2008, it would be nothing if not premature to say that the nightmare is over for our favorite major labels. Undoubtedly a step in the right direction, the increased profits may have some at the top breathing a little bit easier, but music fans remain well aware that little, if anything has been done to combat the ever increasing schism between corporation and consumer that has plagued the music industry since their heyday in the mid-to-late 1990s. Business buffs can pour over the report themselves, but the highlights outlined on Coolfer are as follows:

- Digital sales have increased 33% year over year
- Fiscal 2007 saw a 51% increase in digital sales (totaling 14% of total revenue)
- A 54% increase was seen in digital sales from Q1 of 2007
- Revenue increased 0.6% with operating profit rising 94.7%

So, while showing signs of life, the numbers remain far from ideal. In fact, many are pointing toward UMG's recent business acquisitions, not increased sales, as the reason for higher, somewhat flashy top line numbers. Snappy statistics may be pleasing to the ear and the bank account of a few, but what's clear is that the growth of digital sales is nowhere near great enough to account for the rapid decline in actual CD sales. We hear chatter of new business models aimed to simultaneously help artists and labels, and innovative solutions for piracy that will finally usher us all into the digital era together (and without lawsuits), but walking into our local music retailer, we're still too often met with increasingly outdated, lackluster product and a system of marketing with the same bloated price tag. Improvements? Maybe next quarter.

The British Are Coming! The British Are Coming AGAIN: UK Post-Punk Band These New Puritans to Invade U.S.

There comes a time in every young person's life when he/she must set aside his/her schoolwork, take up his/her angular guitar jams, and take to the road in order to promote his/her new post-punk album on Domino Records. Okay, so obviously "every young person" might be a stretch, but if you were, say, one of the gifted members of UK four-piece These New Puritans, you would understand. Jack Barnett, George Barnett, Sophie Sleigh-Johnson, and Thomas Hein are about to take on the mighty U.S. market with an upcoming summer tour in support of their recently-released full-length Beat Pyramid (TMT Review).

If you're one of those people who hears about 21st century post-punk bands and thinks "glossy production, The O.C. soundtrack, matching dress suits -- ICK," then listen up. These New Puritans make complex, forward-thinking, intense rock ‘n’ roll music that doesn't seem stuck in the past or too intent on making it into an iPod commercial. In short, they keep it real, and real loud. Check them out on tour and regret your misspent youth.

Best known for accidentally breaking Screech's mom's Elvis statue and throwing a party to raise funds to replace it, Sigur Rós are set to release their fifth album, Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust -- translation: "With a buzz in our ears we play endlessly" -- June 23 in Europe on not-doing-so-great EMI and June 24 in North America via XL. The album, co-produced by Flood (Smashing Pumpkins, Nick Cave, NIN), is being released "just one month after completion," according to a press release. It continues:

The album glows with the perfect imperfection of live takes, the sounds of fingers playing guitar strings, cracked notes, and a stark, upfront presence not found in previous Sigur Rós recordings, moving away from the reverb-induced guitar sounds of old to something altogether more fragile and affecting. It also contains some of the most joyous music the band has ever recorded.

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust also features the return of string quartet Amiina, the first appearance of the Mellotron, a five-piece brass section, Jón Thor Birgisson singing his first song in English, and a track featuring 90 musicians, including the London Sinfonietta and the London Oratory Boy’s Choir. A deluxe version, comprised of a book, film, "Making Of...," and more, will see release later in the year.

Pre-orders for the album and book begin June 2, with a full stream of the album starting June 9. You can catch the album's first track, "Gobbledigook," tonight on Radio 1 or when it becomes available as a free download at 7:30 PM GMT. All this can be found at Sigur Rós' website. More information on the Elvis statue here.

As of press time, Sigur Rós have "Online Now!" status at their MySpace.

Með suð í eyrum við spilum endalaust tracklist:

Harvard Kids Plan “Funeral” for DRM To Be Held Tomorrow In Cambridge, MA

The witty kids at Harvard Free Culture have prepared a public funeral for DRM (Digital Rights Management) that'll take place at JKF Park, Memorial Drive tomorrow at 6:30 PM in Cambridge, MA. As part of the service, The Harvard Free Culture Group will be burying (wasting) a first-generation Zune and a fourth-generation iPod in a red bucket. Following the burial, a reception will take place to "reminisce of the short life and accomplishments of DRM and to grieve together."

The event is incredibly relevant, as it would seem that DRM is becoming a thing of the past. But it's not horribly timely, as the funeral feels a bit premature since many major media companies still use DRM to protect their products from being illegally copied and distributed. Either way, more information on the DRM funeral can be found here.

Parenthetical Girls Tour with Au and Los Campesinos! Avoiding Curly Bracket Boys in the East Coast

Being from the Midwest, I have always been an ampersand/umlaut kind of guy. That is, until I recently discovered the true nature of East coast men. While in a New Jersey rest stop, I was abruptly harassed by a group of truckers, who catcalled to me "Hey, little sexy white boy. Wanna play swords in my truck?" I had never been so insulted. Before calling the cops, I noticed a symbol on their hats -- BOYZZZ.

Once I was back to the normality of Indiana, I decided to write my "Monthly Letter Written in Blood" to a group of musicians called Parenthetical Girls, known as (((GRRRLS))) to hyper-sensitive fans.

Dear (((GRRRLS))),

I hope you go on tour soon with Au. That'd be cool beans. Hey, before you map out the tour, I'd like to warn you from traveling to the East coast. It consists of a bunch of curly bracket boys there, and they have really huge obelisks.

Your Fan and Monthly Blood Writer,


And what do you know, Parenthetical Girls will be staying on the West Coast, close to their home of Portland, Oregon, for a short tour in support of their contribution to the David Horvitz 7-inch Picture Series. Their song from the series, a cover of Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark's "Joan of Arc (Maid of Orleans)," is currently streaming on the Slender Means Society site.



^ Abe Vigoda

~ Los Campesinos!

Forgotten Chinese Zodiac, Year of The Dance Party, Continues To Reign Supreme As Hot Chip Announce September North American Tour; Tickets On Sale TODAY

At this point, my coffee is cold because I neglected it when I checked my email and then talked to my mom on the phone. Then I sent some texts and waited for answers, but when no one replied, I figured I would start writing this article. Then as soon as Microsoft Word opened, I got a text, so I read it and then replied and then they read it and replied, and now it turns out I'm going to an ’80s dance party in the city where everyone's going to be wearing tube tops and doing lines of coke off bellies in the bathroom.

Now if that doesn't have everything to do with Hot Chip's newly announced September North American tour -- tickets on sale today May 23 -- then I don't know what does. Having released their latest album, Made In The Dark (TMT Review), this past February, Hot Chip are geared up and ready to tour with the material made explicitly with live shows in mind, which means you can expect to dance a lot harder than I will tonight, sequin tub-tops aside.

Full tourdates, including the new North American dates:

Suck on This, Bono; Thievery Corporation Attempt To Save the World, Still Have Time To Make and Support Good Music, Tour Outernationally

They are not ready for shows on the moon. In fact, outernationally actually means within the United States, but this experience is far more intellectual than geographic for Thievery Corporation. For six carefully selected live dates this summer, dubbed the Outernational Music Tour, the band will serve not only as performers but curators in this educational music endeavor.

Assembling an extremely worldly bunch for the occasion, Thievery Corporation have invited Brazilian artists Seu Jorge and Bebel Gilberto, Argentinean soul musician Federico Aubele, and Venezuelan funk band Los Amigos Invisibles to play alongside well-known favorites TV On The Radio, Ladytron, and Gnarls Barkley. Indie rock and world music colliding? How disgustingly bohemian. But with the expert international electronic purveyors of Thievery Corporation playing tastemaker and host, it sounds crazy, but it just might work.

With a broader endgame than eclectic musical flavor, the tour will also feature representatives from the United Nations World Food Programme to support the "global outlook" of the concert series. The World Food Programme, the world's largest humanitarian group, will aim to raise the awareness of concertgoers about the global hunger crisis and, of course, get their celebrity partners in Thievery Corporation on the cover of Time magazine.

Do your part:
06.20.08 - Greek Theatre - San Francisco CA (with Bebel Gilberto, Los Amigos Invisibles and Federico Aubele)
06.21.08 - Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino - Las Vegas NV (with Gnarls Barkley and Bebel Gilberto)
06.22.08 - Hollywood Bowl - Los Angeles CA (with Bebel Gilberto, Los Amigos Invisibles and Federico Aubele)
06.24.08 - Stubb's BBQ - Austin TX (with Ocote Soul Sounds)
06.26.08 - SummerStage - New York NY (with Bebel Gilberto, Turntables on the Hudson and Federico Aubele)
06.28.08 - Merriweather Pavilion - Washington DC (with TV on the Radio, Ladytron, Turntables on the Hudson and Federico Aubele)

“Re-Issue! Re-Package! Re-Package! Re-Evaluate the songs!” The Red Krayola Re-Issue Jim O’Rourke’s Re-Mix of Fingerpainting, Re-Named Fingerpointing

Some things just take time to bore their way into your pleasure center. Take Jim O’Rourke’s original mix of The Red Krayola’s Fingerpainting album, recently revisited and to be reissued by Drag City in July as Fingerpointing. For some reason, O’Rourke allegedly spoke to The Frothy Knob, the favored magazine of brewing and recording enthusiasts everywhere, about the evolution of his work on the album:

“In 1999, I was collected by Mayo Thompson from the cool, crisp catchment areas around Players Hill Summit, an area in Illinois known for a certain purity and softness that tends to breed musicians particularly suited to mixing acts, and especially atypical ones like The Red Krayola. I was brought to Treehouse Studio, and in the grand tradition of 17th century Huguenot engineers, I vigorously mixed a mash of songs, which we called ‘wort’ at that point. We transferred it from filtering vessels to 20-ton storage kettles and I added hops and some other shit to the brew, giving it a pleasant tanginess, but a bit of an uncompromising taste. The Red Krayola did not use my finished mix of its Fingerpainting album. They also called me a ‘spaced-out twiddly wanksta.’

“So we left the mix to ferment and allowed the songs to mature and condition for nine years. Brewmaster Thompson uncovered the long-forgotten version while cleaning out the trunk of his car, and after playing it again, he and Drag City both liked what they heard. I’m happy that this record has been rediscovered so that people can experience the rich texture of my mix, which contains songs, ‘freak out’ interludes, and contributions from Frederick Bathleme, Steve Cunningham, David Grubbs, George Hurley, Albert Oehlen, Stephen Prina, Elisa Randazzo, Mayo Thompson, Tom Watson, Sandy Yang, Thompson, and myself. Drag City is dedicated to this variant and will release the album I recorded, now called Fingerpointing, to an eager audience July 22. It will be a limited edition, but hopefully all connoisseurs of the craft, from the pub down the road to the farthest point in the antipodes, will be able to get a copy.”

Drink up bitches! Yes, we’re Fingerpointing at you!

1. FFF00
2. Bad Medicine
3. FFF01
4. There There Betty Betty
5. FFF02

6. Vile Vile Grass
7. FFF03
8. Mother
9. In My Baby’s Ruth
10. FFF04

Treasure Island: A Grocery Store, A Casino, A Robert Louis Stevenson Novel, And Now A Music Festival Too!

Maybe it’s because I don’t live in San Francisco, but I had never heard of the Treasure Island Music Festival until a few days ago, when the lineup for the 2nd annual edition was announced.

I had, however, heard of the following Treasure Islands:

- The casino/hotel in Las Vegas
- The famous novel by Robert Louis Stevenson about pirates
- The grocery store in Chicago (now with seven locations!)
- The furniture store chain in New York and New Jersey, which apparently filed for bankruptcy two-and-a-half years ago

But, none of those are as important as the music festival, so let’s get down to the details, shall we?

The Treasure Island Music Festival takes place September 20-21 on an island in the middle of the San Francisco bay. Pretty sweet, I know. Tickets go on sale Friday, May 30 at 10 AM via the festival’s website. It costs $65 for single day tickets and $115 for two-day passes. In addition to a sweet lineup, the two-day celebration will also feature interactive activities for the audience, including a Ferris wheel, a vending village featuring local artists and designers, and a wide array of food and beverages.

And no story about a festival would be complete without a lineup, so here it is:

- Saturday, September 20:

Justice / TV On The Radio / Goldfrapp / Hot Chip / CSS / Antibalas / Aesop Rock / Amon Tobin / Foals / Mike Relm / Nortec: Bostich + Fussible

- Sunday, September 21:

The Raconteurs / Tegan & Sara / Vampire Weekend / Spiritualized / Okkervil River / Tokyo Police Club / The Kills / Dr. Dog / John Vanderslice / The Dodos / Fleet Foxes