One of my favorite movies is Pepe le Moko. Jean Gabin plays the title character, a suave and powerful criminal trapped in the Casbah of Algiers. The police are after him, as are his rivals, but Pepe is safe in the fortress of the winding streets and alleys of the Casbah. If he leaves, the police will surely pick him up, and Pepe wants to leave. A lovely woman from Paris takes his heart, and Pepe risks safety for love and freedom to catch her before she leaves Algiers.
Pepe le Moko came out in 1937. In 1938, it was remade for America as Algiers> It pales in comparison, but nonetheless gained a few Oscar nominations.
In 1942, a movie called Casablanca came out. Rick, a criminal in a different light, is stuck in his purgatory of Casablanca. In pain if he stays, unable to go because of his past, Rick is in limbo. You know the rest.
Ten years or more have gone by since the initial appearance of this Casbah criminal-lover character cropped up. Why have I gone through this? Well, Casablanca is a movie that's remembered, but it is important to know the history behind it. The influence on Casablanca, a great movie in its own right, is obvious, and it is indebted to Julien Duvivier's film.* It is worth noting, however, that it could have easily been another forgettable movie that the Hollywood system of the time churned out. Algiers comes to mind. So again, why have I gone through this?
Knowing history is important to artwork, for consumers and artists. A tradition is established and new forms are built and influences from years past are worked and reworked. Traditions are enriched by serious artists because they are at the very least known, if not appreciated. The danger comes when we forget our origins and believe that the present artwork is wholly original. Bogart's Rick didn't begin in 1942 but in 1937.
In that respect, it takes some ego to call yourself an artist today. To think that you have something new to say, and that it is important for everyone else to hear -- that's something, that's really something. I don't think William Elliott Whitmore, a folk-blues singer who is constantly touted as "unique," who has "the voice Tom Waits wished he had," has that kind of ego. I think he's an artist who knows his history, and I think his marketers and apologists are doing him a disservice by not knowing theirs and comparing him to Tom Waits and Iron & Wine -- the Casablancas, the Algiers, the followers. William Elliot Whitmore is a follower too, in a larger and deeper tradition, and he's singing about death and sin and the typical fare, but I hope, I hope he knows his history, whether he's saying something new, or in his case, building on the past by not.
# Tim Barry, Josh Small
* Cartoon character Pepe le Pew (Looney Toons) debuted around the same time, if not a couple years later. His origin, at least the name and Mel Blanc's voice-acting, comes from Algiers.
Saturday is the official start of the weekend, and we always equate the weekend with good vibes 'cause we typically don't have to work our day jobs. But since nothing in this world is perfect, is it possible that Saturdays can bring up terrible memories and evoke a sense of dread? Of course. So, I've asked some of my fellow TMT writers to help me paint a portrait of the collective psyche regarding Saturday not looking good here at TMT. One person responded. ONE. Either everyone is apathetic, has really good Saturdays, or dislikes me. You decide. Hopefully it's 'cause everyone has really good Saturdays though! In either case, the following is only one actual account of a Saturday being horrible, wrote so kindly by our residential Automatic Mix Tapes Editor, Trillian:
My worst Saturday was during my senior year of high school. I'd focused all my energies that week on being prepared to compete at the forensics tournament Saturday morning (public speaking, not dead people) and was consequently somewhat worn out. I performed in an event called Impromptu Speaking, chosen because it required little from me besides being debonair, full of shit, and attractive in a suit. I was a god. Judges and competitors alternately feared, respected and lusted after me. I was tired but composed and immaculately arrayed that particular Saturday for the most difficult tournament of the year. As I moved to my first point during the last round, I remember thinking my first place medal was in the bag.
Then my garter snapped. My stocking came slithering down to the top of my knee, just under the hemline of my provocatively tailored pencil skirt. I was so flustered I stopped mid-sentence (cardinal sin) and stared at the audience like a deer in the headlights (another big no-no). I blathered out a few disconnected thoughts, then made an attempt to move to my last point with knees firmly clenched together. No luck, the stocking fell to my ankle and I was barely able to hold myself upright for a half-assed conclusion and an awkward limp to my seat.
I lost the tournament, and was so shook up about it that later I shouted at my little cousin over something stupid until she cried at her birthday party."
If you feel Trillian's pain, go see Saturday Looks Good To Me on these dates, preferably on the Saturdays.
MTV has long ago made it clear that it's not in the business of music, it's in the business of culture. Accordingly, MTV is making a two-year, $500 million investment in one of the most profitable cultures around: videogame culture. In the past, MTV has manufactured and sold culture so successfully that investing in videogames seems like a logical step, but according to Reuters, the move is vewed as a risk, as most traditional media companies have failed to penetrate the $30 billion global videogame market (that's a lot of Marios!).
In addition to its strategy of emphasizing accessibility, "casual games" (like those found on AddictingGames.com), and omnipresence through TV, cellphones, and the internet, MTV will be banking on its forthcoming game "Rock Band" to put food on the plate, get a new pair of shoes, bring home the bacon, put the kids through college, etc. The game, which received the coveted "Best of Show" award, allows up to four cocky assholes (of any race, gender, or ethnicity) to play guitar, drums, or sing real-time to new and old rock songs with instrument-based peripherals. In addition to the tracklist below, gamers will be able to download additional tracks and even full albums (including Who's Next by The Who) online, made available every subsequent week after the game is released.
"Rock Band" will be released in North America November 20 on Xbox 360 and PlayStations 2 and 3 (a Wii version is "absolutely" a possibility, though no official announcement has yet been made). The price is still unknown, but rumors place it as high as $200.
Anyway, the real story is that MTV's not just a music channel anymore. But I guess you already knew that.
Featured songs on "Rock Band":
Dan Deacon’s been all over the news like a teen idol on a post-rehab coke bender. But is he satisfied? No, he’s not satisfied. He’s the farthest thing from satisfied. If satisfied was Earth, he’d be the Andromeda Galaxy of satisfied. Which is probably why he’s putting out a DVD. Listen.
One day, Dan Deacon and Jimmy Joe Roche created a video-music performance piece that premiered in 2006 as part of Wham City’s Whartscape. This winter (brrr), they’re putting it on DVD for Carpark Records. It’s called Ultimate Reality. Now, initially you might confuse that with Ultimate Realty. Don’t. They are different.
Ultimate Reality is comprised of an electronic music composition, two live drummers, and alluringly seductive clips of Arnold Schwarzenegger in films from the ‘80s, psychedelic style. No word on whether or not the drummers come with your purchase.
And, of course, Deacon is still circling the globe:
With the 2008 Presidential Election on the horizon, politicians have been experimenting with new ways to attract attention. One example is the hip usage of YouTube and the Obama Girl video, which might as well have been paid for by the Obama Campaign Committee. In light of these hip advances by the political machine, particular Republican presidential candidates such as "America's Mayor" Rudy Giuliani and "America's Mormon" Mitt Romney have decided to temporarily team up with Democratic presidential candidates Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama and give "opening act" debates during The National's tour this fall. Apparently, "indie culture" and "indie music" in general is extremely hip, and the demographic that participates in "indie culture" is one that the politicians want to successfully connect with to get these young folks out to vote in 2008. Using my excellent Tiny Mix Tapes press cred, I was able to get Mitt Romney, Hilary Clinton, and Matt Berninger (vocals for The National) to deliver a patented political one-liner about their upcoming "tour."
"I think The National is the perfect band to choose for our debates. Think about it, "The National" is the most appropriate band name for my political agenda. It'll definitely be a success." --Mitt Romney
"I wasn't sure about the tour at first, because I listened to 2005's Alligator and I heard some bad words. Thankfully, I got their label to slap "Parental Advisory" stickers on the album -- now I'm on board." --Hilary Clinton
"We should have never switched labels to Beggar's Banquet. They're not even based in the United States. Fucking British humor" --Matt Berninger
It should be really exciting to see what these politicians have in store this fall; hopefully they discuss meaningful issues and convince me that I should vote in 2008. Oh, and if you're not going for the debates, you can check out The National afterward in these wonderful cities:
* Hilary Clinton & Barack Obama
# Mitt Romney & Rudy Giuliani
(Note: The Chemical Brothers' soundtrack to Fight Club is expected to play throughout the 25-minute opening act/debates.)
Jason Collett Tours, Is Really, Honestly, Seriously, Making Worthwhile Commitments to Culture Without Broken Social Scene, Is Really, Honestly, Seriously Wearing His Heart On His Sleeve, One Fitted Blazer At a Time
E! ENTERTAINMENT NEWS SEGMENT:
Announcer girl with cheap extensions who attempts to shake it like La-Lohan but fails miserably: OH WOW; THIS JUST IN! Jason Collett fans can rest easy: our ex Scenester Jas Baby is hitting the road to tour. That’s right, ladies. Your ticket means seeing JC. In person!
Kinda-too-tan guy announcer counterpart: OMFGOMFGOMFG LIKE I TOTALLY LUV JC OMFG!
Announcer girl with cheap extensions who attempts to shake it like La-Lohan but fails miserably: Woah! There’s only so much of Jas to go around. And if he’s in, GASP, a fitted blazer, there’ll be plenty of lustin’ ladies and jealous gents. So, cool them hotpants, girls! Don’t get too excited, now, but it’s rumored he may even reunite with past group members, who will all dress as marionettes and fly down from platforms, crooning tracks from the hit album No Strings Attached.
TMT reader, baby, sweetheart: ...??...!!...?!?
Kinda-too-tan guy announcer counterpart: Want Jas to notice you? JC GET WIT’ ME, sponsored in part by Pantene Pro-V and Pontiac, wants ya’ll to show your love by making a CLASSIC cardboard sign of affection. Like, the ones you use to get attention from onstage. What are you waiting for? Visit the Pontiac or Pantene Pro-V websites to enter your affectionate poster for the chance to win a makeover, Pontiac G6 convertible, and AUTOGRAPHED blazer from Jas Baby himself.
Announcer girl with cheap extensions who attempts to shake it like La-Lohan but fails miserably: Get on making those signs, ladies! Or it’ll be soooooo hey-hey-bye-bye-bye!
JC, if you were homework I’d do you, if you were a booger I’d pick you:
Forget shitty cell phone service, corporate giant AT&T has recently been under fire for an entirely different consistency problem -- their Orwellian practice of political censorship. As TMT and every other internet outlet has reported, during AT&T's webcast of Pearl Jam's set live from Lollapalooza, fans noticed Vedder's most inflammatory, anti-Bush lines mysteriously missing from the live stream. And if there's one thing we've all learned from early '90s alt.rock, it's don't mess with these fans; we've all seen a Rage Against the Machine mosh-pit.
Following an apology from AT&T, citing a "mistake" at the hands of an outside party, more information has surfaced. While the release sent to the recorded bands does not mention the right to censor, a crew member has indeed confirmed that he was told to remove speech if things became "too political," prompting further investigation by angry fans of groups including the John Butler Trio and The Flaming Lips. Eventually, AT&T copped to editing artists in the past "in a handful of cases." Other artists who are rumored to have been quieted include Tom Petty, Nightwatchmen, Lily Allen, and Lupe Fiaso, among others.
Is anyone really surprised? Of course not. But does that mean this is okay? Hell-fucking-no. The practice itself, which showcases fascist tendencies, is ridiculous enough, but AT&T's upfront dishonesty when initially presented with the facts is even more disconcerting. Now that these practices are out in the open, one can only hope that bands will think twice before committing to webcasts in AT&T's Blue Room or affiliated practices. After all, as Wired so vehemently points out, in the absence of net neutrality, where will the filtering end?
Dude 1: Oh yeah? Did they run a news story?
Dude 1: Nah, I clicked on one of their banner ads. You heard ‘em?
Dude 2: Nope. They good?
Dude 1: Yeah. Hey, I bet you haven’t heard No Age either. They’re on FatCat too.
Dude 2: No, man. I was heretofore unaware of FatCat’s stellar stable of artists.
Dude 1: Ain’t you got eyes? Those ads, it’s all flashy and blinkin’ and on and off -- you just gotta click it.
Dude 2: I use Adblock, Dude 1. You know that.
Dude 1: Shhhh. Not kosher, man. We’re on TinyMixTapes right now.
Dude 2: What? How?
Dude 1: You see that guy over there with a pen and pad?
Dude 2: Whoa, he must have gone to journalism school; no one can transcribe that fast. Is he wearing a fedora?
Dude 1: Hey! Hey! You, come back here! Shit, he’s gone.
Dude 2: Damn, I just wanted tell him to let bands know that if they format tourdates in TMT's house style, it’d make everyone’s life a whole lot easier.
Dude 1: Until next time, mysterious little TMT dude.
No Age tourdates:
* Revenge Of Shinobi
# Frightened Rabbit
TMT Writer Refuses to Take High Road, Eschews Obvious “Shopping” Metaphors to Explain Earlimart’s Fall Tour, Is Damn Excited About Having Used The Word “Eschews”
Okay, kids. Class is just about in session again, so I figure that the only responsible thing that we can do here at TMT is help you ease back into that rusty ol' learning process by steering away from the glamorous, festival-filled, dance-partying sex-romp that was "Summer '07" by making our music news a little more mentally stimulating (read: obtuse). How's about we gear up with a few cognitive exercises? (Look, just deal with it, okay? I know it's only day 1, but this IS fair game for the midterm).
First up: Let's bone up on our checklist of plaintive, rusted-out, psych-tinged chamberfolk that evokes (among numerous other things) the broad, breathable spaces, big, open sky of the American West and the inevitable, paradoxical complexities of human longing that leave our proto-typical, loner hero rasping and breathless from endlessly trudging around in said dusty void in a frantic but ultimately-doomed search for human contact.
- Elliott Smith? Deceased.
- Lee Hazlewood? Deceased.
- Grandaddy? Defunct.
- Earlimart? De... hey, wait a second!
That's right, class! Let that be a lesson to always do your research. Despite their dower dispositions (and contrary to most scholars' accepted theory), Earlimart haven't yet imploded on themselves and are actually still alive and kicking! And front-man/"loner-hero statistic defier" Aaron Espinosa and his band of melancholy marauders will be buckling-down this fall themselves when they kickoff a lengthy North American tour tonight in support of their (let's see, one, two, three, four) fourth studio album Mentor Tormentor, which was released -- anyone? Anyone??? ... Okay, it was released today, folks, on Majordomo Records. You're going to have to learn to memorize these things, people! Sheeesh.
Oh, and speaking of dull, repetitive list memorization; there will be a pop quiz on the following tourdates on FRIDAY, people (never mind that you can't go to any of these shows because you're in school now). Yes, yes, it'll be a "matching" quiz...
In what is beginning to look like an overzealous bout of experimental filmmaking, director Todd Haynes has not only enlisted six thespians to play the role of Robert Zimmerman (including Richard Gere, Heath Ledger, Christian Bale, and Cate Blanchett -- yes, the woman), but he has also gathered a (sometimes) impressive list of musical contributors set to reinterpret Dylan numbers ranging from classics to demos (and occasionally both). Dylan himself, who has had no part in the process, has apparently given the filmmakers the a-okay, in essence telling them "Go ahead, knock yourself out."
And boy did they ever. Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo produced the film's house band, The Million Dollar Bashers, who backed artists including Eddie Vedder, Stephen Malkmus, Tom Verlaine, and Karen O on their respective takes. Calexico filled a similar "session band" role in versions fronted by Jim James, Willie Nelson, and Iron & Wine. A veritable who's who of indie rock stardom of the moment, Sufjan Stevens, Yo La Tengo, and Antony & The Johnsons, will also contribute. Music supervisor Randall Poster was quoted in USA Today saying, "We went with a lot of outsiders and outlaws. That's the connection they share with Dylan." Consequently, Mr. Outlaw himself, Jack Johnson, takes a stab at "Mama You've Been On My Mind."
Elsewhere, Charlotte Gainsbourg will be sure to sex up "Just Like A Woman" with some breathy coos, Cat Power will slow down and make smoky "Stuck Inside Of Mobile With Memphis Blues Again," and Craig Finn of The Hold Steady will nasally sing-speak "Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window." With such a list of willing and eager musicians, there won't be enough time to play each in the film, which is why the film's creators hope to release an expansive two-disc compilation, the tracklist of which has yet to be decided. Find out for yourself which ones score the action when I'm Not There is released in November. Be there, if only to see David Cross as Allen Ginsberg.
A full list of contributions:
"All Along The Watchtower" - Eddie Vedder & The Million Dollar Bashers
"As I Went Out One Morning" - Mira Billotte
"Ballad Of A Thin Man" - Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers
"Billy" - Los Lobos
"Can You Please Crawl Out Your Window" - The Hold Steady
"Can't Leave Her Behind" - Stephen Malkmus & Lee Ranaldo
"Cold Irons Bound" - Tom Verlaine & The Million Dollar Bashers
"Dark Eyes" - Iron & Wine & Calexico
"Fourth Time Around" - Yo La Tengo
"Goin' To Acapulco" - Jim James & Calexico
"Highway 61 Revisited" - Karen O & The Million Dollar Bashers
"I Wanna Be Your Lover" - Yo La Tengo
"I'm Not There" - Bob Dylan
"I'm Not There" - Sonic Youth
"Just Like A Woman" - Charlotte Gainsbourg & Calexico
"Just Like Tom Thumb's Blues" - Ramblin' Jack Elliot
"Knockin' On Heaven's Door" - Antony & The Johnsons
"The Lonesome Death Of Hattie Carroll" - Mason Jennings
"Maggie's Farm" - Stephen Malkmus & The Million Dollar Bashers
"Mama You've Been On My Mind" - Jack Johnson
"The Man In The Long Black Coat" - Mark Lanegan
"Moonshiner" - Bob Forrest
"One More Cup Of Coffee" - Roger McGuinn & Calexico
"Pressing On" - John Doe
"Ring Them Bells" - Sufjan Stevens
"Señor (Tales Of Yankee Power)" - Willie Nelson & Calexico
"Simple Twist Of Fate" - Jeff Tweedy
"Stuck Inside Of Mobile With Memphis Blues Again" - Cat Power
"The Times They Are A Changin'" - Mason Jennings
"Tombstone Blues" - Richie Havens
"When The Ship Comes In" - Marcus Carl Franklin
"Wicked Messenger" - The Black Keys
"You Ain't Goin 'Nowhere" - Glen Hansard & Markta Irglov