Grammy Awards to Include Striking Writers

Shifting away from their peers in the television and film communities, the music industry has decided to include striking writers in its upcoming Grammy Awards show. The ceremony, which will be broadcast live from Los Angeles February 10, is the first such awards show to utilize the work of striking writers. A press release was issued Tuesday, January 22, by The Writers Guild of America stating that it will not protest the upcoming Grammy Awards like it has other award shows in the recent past.

Since there will be no picket line to cross, recording artists with sympathies toward the striking writers are more likely to attend the Grammys. The decision allows the Grammy Awards to sidestep problems fraught throughout the Golden Globe Awards when actors refused to cross picket lines.

There had been growing concerns lately expressed by members of the music industry regarding the writer’s strike and its effect on the Grammy Awards. In a statement with last week, John Silva, manager of The Foo Fighters, articulated his concerns. “We are hopeful that we will see a resolution to the current situation affecting our entire industry.” It appears that John Silva and others in the music industry will not have to be concerned any longer.

The Grammy’s have taken a great step forward with the strikers by including them in the Awards show. Hopefully the strides that the music industry is making will show the television and film community how very important these writers are and will increase the chances that this continuing strike will come to a quicker conclusion.

TMT 101: Intro to Getting Your Shit Together, Pass/Fail; Something About Pinback

The beginning of every semester is always tedious, with professors of overcrowded journalism classes struggling to cater to both nervously inexperienced underclassmen as well as the hot-shit "I already have a writing job" students. Yesterday's meeting of JMC 330, for example, consisted of a painful 1.5 hour review of "the keys to good journalism" that left me bitter and bored. As such, I will now sadistically (albeit briefly) reproduce that very information for those of you who may be ignorant to the facts, yet are still aspiring to partake in the Unofficial 2008 TMT Reader News Story Pledge Drive (if you can't say that 6 times fast, you ain't ready to play with the big boys) as recklessly proposed by a TMT staffer yesterday at approximately 9 AM CMT.

There are a few very simple rules for ensuring that your article qualifies as "good journalism." By following these rules, you can create an outline that you may surround with fluff and details -- and voila, a well-rounded article. Don't worry -- being witty, clever, creative, endlessly informed, and intensely talented all come later.

To start the class session of which I'm recreating, the anonymous professor gave the either intensely clever or painfully idiotic advice that, "to write something great, you must first start writing." Writing what, you may ask? Some people begin by making a general outline and then going back to fill in the gaps, while others start from the top and work their way down until they're done. I personally, cannot write a single word until I have a solid lead. So if one were writing an article about, say, a Pinback tour, one may want to start from the top with something like this:

Whether you've been listening since 1998's This Is A Pinback Album or only just picked up their latest release Autumn of The Seraphs (TMT Review), every Pinback song feels instantly familiar, playing like the soundtrack to a High School memory of an aimless summer road trip with your girlfriend in the driver's seat, best friend in the backseat, and an empty pack of Djarums in the center console, which you now vehemently deny ever smoking. Or maybe that's just me.

With an established lead, you'll now need three or more sources with which to flesh out the piece. Optimally, these sources will be credible experts on the subject and should say everything so that you don't have to. Your roommate, by the way, does not count as a credible source on anything, ever, no matter how sagely they may seem after you've both lit up.

"Pinback is shamelessly indulgent indie pop," said Esteban Svenska, age 22, when asked his opinion of the San Diego subterranean heroes. "It's for people who take pictures of their sneakers to post on their MySpace profiles. That said, I'm a huge fan."

Others when approached were equally torn on the subject. "Autumn of The Seraphs sounded way overproduced," said Eve McClain*, age 27, "too clean for me. But the first single off the album was drummed by that guy Mario from Earthless, which I'm cool with."

"I heard they're touring." said Jeff Dalwick, age 20, refusing to comment much further, "I don't actually know that much about the band."

Three sources: check. But you're not done yet. Like sex, baseball, and important business commitments, follow-through is important, so you may want to include supplemental data that supports you and your sources' assertions.

Said a press release sent out by the band's label, "Pinback is back from their European tour and anxious to reconvene with their West Coast chums. The band will be kicking out the jams starting February 5 for two nights at Chula Vista's House of Blues. They'll continue up and down the coast for two weeks and then head over to Japan for three dates in late February."

Hear the new single from Autumn of Seraphs here.

And that's when the lecture ended and I rolled my eyes and said to the guy sitting next to me, "Thank fucking god," to which he replied defensively, "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" making me feel awkward and effectively expediting my departure.

Oh shit. Yeah, don't forget to list the tourdates. That would be amateur of you.

Pinback, Rocking Your Body The Way You Like It:

* my roommate, who's an exception to the rule because she actually is a credible expert on everything at all times.

This Picture Show Means Old Time Relijun Is Touring

+ Wildlife

$ monotonix

! Clipd Beaks

& Gil Mantera and Friends, Mahjongg

* Beachouse, Papercuts

^ Foot Village

( Clipd Beaks, Oh Sees

# Panache SXSW Showcase HEALTH, Monotonix, Clipd Beaks, The Apes, RTX
) The Apes

% The Slits, Shellshag

Def Jam Denies Dropping Nas Due To Controversial Album Title, The World Groans, Rolls Their Eyes, And Says “Yeah Right.”

There are certain things in life you can always count on. Observe the following examples:

- Britney Spears will never fail to make headlines.
- If you wear a Red Sox hat at Yankee Stadium, you’re going to get your ass kicked.
- That Thai restaurant on the corner may be cheap, but that doesn’t mean your stomach will thank you for it.
- If you title your album Nigger, you will risk being possibly dropped by your record label.

Yes, Nas, I’m talking to you. Okay, okay, so Def Jam claims that it's not dropping Nas, but the mere fact that it was brought up means that most likely (1) Def Jam thought about it and decided against it, (2) Def Jam intends to drop Nas in the future, or (3) the drop was fabricated, which means, no matter how you slice it, there's some cultural dissonance here about the word "nigger."

But don’t worry; if Nas can handle Kelis’ “Milkshake,” I’m sure he can deal with anything that Def Jam throws at him. Nigger is still due to be released sometime next month.

It Will Be a Great Day When Kimya Dawson Has a Best-Selling Movie Soundtrack and Alicia Keys Has to Hold a Bake Sale to Buy a New Piano… Wait, Really?

Behold the power of folk. The Juno soundtrack, which heavily features songs by sometimes-Moldy Peach and world-class mommy Kimya Dawson, has officially knocked Alicia Keys' As I Am out of the #1 spot in the Billboard Top 200. Let me take a moment here to tell you about the time Kimya Dawson played a show to 30 kids in my friend's basement. This was, oh, I dunno, six months ago? My friends hung out with her babydaddy Angelo Spencer and fed her daughter Panda vegan snacks. Good times were had.

Girl is now mostly responsible for record label Rhino's first #1 on the Billboard charts. Ever. It's also the first time an Academy Award-nominated movie's soundtrack has topped the Billboard charts since Titanic in 1998. I don't think I'm alone in suggesting that the quality of music on the Juno soundtrack just might be a step up. A smidge, anyway. And even if people aren't buying it for the Dawson tunes, it does mean that they're interested in hearing Mott the Hoople, The Kinks, Sonic Youth, and Belle and Sebastian, as they are also featured. I can live with that. God damn, can I live with that!

UPDATED: Jim O’Rourke Reissues, New LP Wake Mr P From Deep Slumber

TMT God Jim O'Rourke is finally back in the news, and to echo Drag City's sentiments: "It's been way too long!" Okay, so we expected a new album quite awhile ago, but now it sounds as if the album -- the long awaited follow-up to Insignificance -- will be completed sometime early this year. Eureka! Whether or not this is the same album he was working on years ago, well, doesn't really matter, as O'ROURKE KIND OF TRANSCENDS TIME.

Case in point: Drag City intends to reissue Tamper (originally released on Extreme in 1991) and Osorezan (Polystarr Jazz Library in 2006) in May, with another treat called Long Nights ("a double-disc release of pure drone" from 1990) set for release in the summer or fall on DC imprint Streamline. I'm guessing Long Nights is from the same dusty box o' goodies discovered a few years back, which has since resulted in a string of ‘experimental’ releases.

And since this is Jim O'Rourke we're talking about, he's probably got several other projects up his sleeve, too. Maybe a film? Maybe a comp track? Maybe some production/remixing projects? We've got secrets!

Calvin Johnson on Tour, Ken Griffey Jr. Upper Deck Rookie Card Available At Merch Table

The “Mona Lisa” of indie rock trading cards has sold for a record $2.35 million. The Calvin Johnson card is considered the most valuable cards in existence, according to SCP Auctions, the new minority owners of the card. SCP said on Tuesday the primary purchaser, a Southern California collector, wished to remain anonymous, though many believe him to be either Chris Noth (the guy who plays "Big" on Sex and the City) or Jon Cryer (best known as "Alan" on Two and a Half Men).

Calvin Johnson, a K Records shortstop, was one of the first five players inducted into the Indie Rock Hall of Fame. Originally released in 1909, there are no more than 60 known cards in existence. The card just sold is believed to be in the best condition of all the known Wagner cards. “I’d consider this card’s condition an eight out of 10,” said SCP acquisitions director Allen Miller. “The next closest card is maybe a five out of 10.”

The card last sold for $1.26 million in 2000, and has nearly doubled in price three of the last four times it has been sold, according to SCP. Previous owners have included film director Todd Solondz and Warner Music Group CEO Edgar Bronfman, Jr.

Check it out for yourself:

French Toast with Molasses, Croquet and Baked Alaskas:

The Most Serene Republic to Tour, Canadians to Maybe Get Naked

Things that seem serene:

(1) Canada

(2) Indie Rock

(3) Being naked

TMT Review.

The Most Serene Republic Tourdates, Being Serene with Ladies Wins You Spicy-Hot Dates:

Gibson Screws Contest Winner, And Not In The Typical Way With Its High, High Prices, But With Baffling Musical Racism! Play Fender, Everyone!

I always knew there was something I didn't like about the Gibson Company. Maybe it stemmed from the fact that their holier-than-though guitars were always leagues out of my modest, "regular-guy" price range. Or maybe it was just that many of my musical idols growing up preferred to use Fender gear. But no matter how biased, unfounded, or unfairly personal my reason for mistrusting that Mecca of music companies seems to have been, I am proud to be able to report to you today a very sweet retroactive vindication of one of my (many) irrationalities! And boy, oh boy, there's nothing like uttering the sentence "See, I was right all along!" to brighten up another dreary work day.

So, exactly what happed? Well, like all good tales of corporate music's exposed fucked-upedness, this one is just plain FULL of Grade A douche-baggery. Observe:

There's this kind-of douchey music festival with the kind of douchey name of "Lollapalooza" that takes place in the otherwise relatively un-douchey city of Chicago. And every year, they do this incredibly douchey contest called Last Band Standing in which a whole slew of unknown acts (yes, most of which are HORRENDOUSLY douchey) pointlessly internet-battle it out for a horrible slot on the shittiest stage on the crappiest day of the festival. The whole thing is based on fan "votes" and stuff like that, so it's supposed to be all grassroots and "anyone can win, even YOU!" and shit... Sounds douchey, huh?

Yeah, well, it turns out that back in 2006, Lollapalooza and Gibson, the douchey sponsors of this-here contest, got a bit of a curious surprise when the winner turned out to be NOT the douche-tacular Velvet Revolver knock-off that they were imagining, but a fresh, un-douchey hip-hop artist instead! The unfortunate musician's name was Tonedeff.

See, part of the supposed prize package was supposed to be "$10,000 worth of equipment from our friends at Gibson. (yes, believe it!)." Well, poor Tonedeff believed it, but he should have known better than to underestimate the douchey powers-that-be at Gibson and their TOTAL aversion to anything that's not rock ‘n’ roll-related... lest it make a (shudder!) bad ad campaign!

Sadly, Tonedeff has spent the last year-and-a-half trying to get Gibson to make good on their promise, finally going public with his woes on his blog last week in an effort to let the world know "how they tried to weasel their way out of this, and how they tried to play me cause I'm a Hip Hop artist."

According to the persecuted hip-hopper, when he finally reached Gibson (they never called or e-mailed him after he won), Don Pitts, the certainly douchey Entertainment Liaison for Gibson Guitars, told him to go online and pick out what he wanted. Tonedeff promptly picked out a Baldwin piano. Pitts wrote back, "Baldwin is the only division that's not part of the deal..." Bummed out and suspicious though he was, Tonedeff picked out a list of guitars, using Sam Ash and Guitar Center to check prices because Pitt refused to provide a price list. Pitt responded this time with revised prices that were at least 50% higher, reducing Tonedeff's prize list by... that’s right, kids, 50%. After some back and forth on MSRP ("manufacturer’s suggested retail price") versus MAP (the “retail” price that stores like Guitar Center and Sam Ash would actually sell this gear for), Tonedeff gave up and opted instead to pick a single item, the most expensive he could find that came in under $10,000, which turned out to be a Gibson mandolin with an MSRP of $9,999. But alas, the great pundit Pitt just stopped talking to him at that point.

The details and back-and-forth e-mails dutifully posted on the blog weave a truly convoluted and amazingly douchey tale of gross irresponsibility, empty promises, and semantic bullshit that is well worth reading to get all of the excruciating details. As of last week, Tonedeff STILL hasn’t gotten his promised $10,000 from Gibson, MSRP or otherwise, and the douchey folks at Lollapalooza haven’t exactly been much help. But, as Tonedeff muses, maybe he should have seen this veritable genre-hate-crime-action coming when Don Pitts allegedly told him, "I mean, this is kind of weird, because you know, you DON'T play the guitar or drums."

See??? Told you it was douchey.

Looks like I’ve been behind the times, ladies and gents. Apparently, steroids (seriously) are set to join the ever-decadent, always delicious smörgåsbord of mainstream hip-hop accessories, in between the platters of AK-47s, bitchin’ hoes, and velveteen leisure suits.

Earlier this month, 50 Cent, Timbaland, and R&B performers Wyclef Jean (..really), Mary J. Blige, and others were accused of steroid use.

However, none have been accused of lawlessness, which is probably unfortunate considering the kickin’ political-minded anti-establishment collabs that could come from these beefed-up, toned, hunky hunky performers.

Like, Wyclef Jean. He’s jacked, right? Totally.