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Archive for June, 2009

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Licensing Issues Shut Down Pandora Outside US

“I’m in France for the summer and have been listening to Pandora at work. I tried logging on tonight and was greeted with a surprising message: ‘We are deeply, deeply sorry to say that due to licensing constraints, we can no longer allow access to Pandora for listeners located outside of the US. We will continue to work diligently to realize the vision of a truly global Pandora, but for the time being we are required to restrict its use. We are very sad to have to do this, but there is no other alternative. … The pace of global licensing is hard to predict, but we have the ultimate goal of being able to offer our service everywhere.’ I’m not sure what the deal is or what licensing requirements suddenly changed, but Pandora in France is no more…” (via Slashdot)

Pirate Bay Sold To Swedish Company for $8M… Wants To Go Legit… What Does This Mean For the Site?…

Reuters:

Global Gaming Factory X AB, which operates internet cafes and provides software, said on Tuesday that it had agreed to buy Pirate Bay for 60 million Swedish crowns ($7.7 million).

Global Gaming said it believed the website was a viable business with its plans for a new, legal business model.

“We would like to introduce (business) models which entail that content providers and copyright owners get paid for content that is downloaded via the site,” the company said in a statement.

Digital Music News:

The acquisition is expected to close in August, though Global Gaming is stepping into a messy pile of legal problems. But Global is planning to introduce a more copyright-friendly model, usually a death-sentence for free-riding users. “The Pirate Bay is a site that is among the top 100 most visited internet sites in the world,” said Hans Pandeya, CEO of GGF. “However, in order to live on, the Pirate Bay requires a new business model, which satisfies the requirements and needs of all parties, content providers, broadband operators, end users, and the judiciary.”

Boing Boing:

Sounds more or less what the VCs who backed the original Napster were hoping for: buy the music industry’s most hated, most successful enemy, then shop around to the industry and see if they’ll give it a license and help it go legit. Ten years ago, the industry figured it would get a better deal by suing Napster into oblivion (they even tried to sue for the assets of the pension funds that backed the VCs that backed Napster!) and then buy it at firesale prices and run it themselves (except they ended up running it into obscurity by larding it with a bunch of junk that reflected wishful thinking about what the market would bear; meanwhile, competing rogue services took off and filled and expanded the niche Napster had occupied).

So here’s the question: will Big Content learn from the Great Stupidity of 1999, or are they so emboldened by their domination of the legislative and judicial arms of the world’s governments that they’ll once again kill the most successful rogue operation and leave yet another niche for yet another group of even-less-cooperative rogues to fill?

Pirate Bay blog:

If the new owners will screw around with the site, nobody will keep using it. That’s the biggest insurance one can have that the site will be run in the way that we all want to. And – you can now not only share files but shares with people. Everybody can indeed be the owner of The Pirate Bay now. That’s awesome and will take the heat of us.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse:: Dark Night of the Soul (Album Review)

Dark Night of the Soul is a collaboration between Sparklehorse and Danger Mouse, with David Lynch adding musical contributions as well as a complementary 100-page book of original photography. It features appearances, vocally and otherwise, from the Flaming Lips, Jason Lytle (formerly of Grandaddy), Suzanne Vega, Iggy Pop, Black Francis, Vic Chesnutt, James Mercer of the Shins, Gruff Rhys of the Super Furry Animals, and Julian Casablancas of the Strokes.

That’s the good news. The bad news? It isn’t available in stores or online due to a copyright beef on the part of EMI. As a nose-thumbing stopgap, the trio is releasing Lynch’s book of photography (meant to provide a visual narrative for the music) with a blank CD-R and the message, “For legal reasons, enclosed CD-R contains no music. Use it as you will.”

The album is streaming at NPR.org here, and is available for download on various file-sharing web sites. While buying the blank CD-R may seem silly, it includes a full-color book of Lynch’s haunting accompanying photography—thus the $50 price tag.

The copyright issues that have blocked the album’s release have gotten it a fair amount of press, but Dark Night of the Soul deserves the attention based on the merit of the music alone. The all-star cast, which rivals that which appears on this year’s much ballyhooed (and spookily similarly titled) Dark Was the Night compilation, turns in nearly universally stellar performances. But the real star here is Sparklehorse’s Mark Linkous. His first full-length since 2006’s Dreamt for Light Years in the Belly of a Mountain (which also featured contributions from Danger Mouse), Dark Night of the Soul is easily the most cohesive and consistent product of his heretofore only occasionally brilliant career.

Much has been written about Linkous’s 1996 overdose on Valium, anti-depressants, and alcohol (and the several-minute “death” that followed when his heart stopped) while on tour with Radiohead. There’s no need to recount the sordid details here. But it’s impossible to separate Linkous’s artistic output from his troubled past when it so often deals in such dark subject matter. That’s what makes David Lynch such an interesting foil for Linkous. While Lynch has spent his career creating a freakishly dark world, Linkous has spent much of his living in one.

Not to be forgotten in the equation is Danger Mouse, who also has a history of imbuing his projects with a weird, sometimes sinister atmosphere—most famously in Gnarls Barkley, but also with the Gorillaz, MF Doom, and others. On Dark Night of the Soul, he does far more than just supplement the soundtrack with his signature trippy laptop wizardry. He has a preternatural ability to play to the strengths of the contributors, who, it must be said, bring far more to the table than their voices. It’s clear most, if not all, were involved in the songwriting process, and many of these songs could easily be mistaken for works by other bands. Jason Lytle’s two contributions—“Jaykub” and the show-stealing “Every Time I’m with You”—sound like cuts from a lost Grandaddy album. Likewise, album-opener “Revenge”, featuring the Flaming Lips, hearkens back to their Soft Bulletin days. “Little Girl”, featuring a intoxicating turn by a self-deprecating Julian Casablancas, echoes a more electronic-sounding Strokes, all the way down to the noodly guitar solo.

It’s tempting to credit the greatness of Dark Night of the Soul (and it is unequivocally great; a shoe-in candidate for best album of the year) to the excellence of its contributors. But longtime Sparklehorse fans will hear Linkous’s fingerprints all over it. Tonally and thematically, its a tall glass of the same emotional cocktail of world-weary depression and wide-eyed wonder that Linkous has been serving up since he recorded the song that best sums up his ethos, “It’s a Sad and Beautiful World”, for his 1995 debut, Vivadixiesubmarinetransmissionplot.

What sets Dark Night of the Soul apart from prior Sparklehorse albums—aside from the superlative collaborators and contributors—is its narrative ambition. It’s not exactly a concept album; it’s too impressionistic, and doesn’t follow a traditional narrative arc. But its goal is obviously to lead the listener on a moody, existential journey. From meditative monologues about romantic angst (the Wayne Coyne-sung “Revenge”), to fuzzed out rave-ups about self-loathing and misanthropy (the Iggy Pop-crooned “Pain”), the songs all either describe, confront, bemoan, or reflect on the deep spiritual crisis the album title suggests.

But it’s not all necessarily depressing. Linkous’s biggest strength is his uncanny way of viewing even the bleakest circumstances with a whimsical detachment, and, in fleeting moments, to transform them into something joyful. This is exhibited late in the album on two consecutive female-sung tracks: “Daddy’s Gone”, featuring Nina Persson, and “The Man Who Played God”, featuring Suzanne Vega, both of which strongly resemble Linkous’s finest earlier work. They’re effervescent little pop gems strummed out on crunchy guitars that beguile the listener with their radio-ready melodies.

But the pop pleasantries don’t last for long. Linkous and Danger Mouse close out the affair with two mercilessly dark tracks featuring a ghoulish-sounding Vic Chesnutt and an eerily distorted David Lynch, respectively. The album’s coda is also its title track, a funereal dirge on which Chesnutt sings in a despondent howl—a reminder of the inevitable encounter with mortality that awaits us all, and the primal despair that’ll accompany the moment.

Few contemporary pop albums have spoken to the human condition so eloquently, and given the listener so much pleasure in the process, than Dark Night of the Soul. It’s no exaggeration to say Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse have crafted a near-masterpiece. Its only real blemish is the plodding, misguided “Angel’s Harp”, on which Black Francis’s talents are sadly wasted. But Linkous would be be the first to concede that nothing’s perfect—and if it was, it wouldn’t be nearly as beautiful.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson’s First Moonwalk, Billie Jean
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UgPKc9FUC6Y&hl=en&fs=1&]

AEG Facing $85 Million Refund For Michael Jackson Shows

The O2 Arena in London, operated by AEG, has informed Michael Jackson fans that details of how to obtain refunds will be revealed “in due course.”

Billboard understands AEG Live will hold a meeting at 9am L.A. time to discuss the situation regarding the 50 dates. As reported yesterday, the promoter and its ticketing partners will have the cost and logistical challenge of refunding more than $85 million on 750,000 ticket sales.

“At this moment our thoughts are with Michael’s children, family and friends. We will announce ticketing details in due course,” said a statement on the O2 Arena Web site.

It also published the following UCLA Medical Center statement, which revealed that attempts were made to resuscitate Jackson for more than an hour.

“The legendary King of Pop, Michael Jackson, passed away on Thursday, June 25, 2009, at 2:26 p.m. It is believed he suffered cardiac arrest in his home. However, the cause of his death is uncertain until results of the autopsy are known,” said the statement.

“His personal physician, who was with him at the time, attempted to resuscitate Jackson, as did paramedics who transported him to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Upon arriving at the hospital at approximately 1:14 p.m., a team of doctors, including emergency physicians and cardiologists, attempted to resuscitate him for a period of more than one hour but were unsuccessful.”

Ticketmaster’s customer service line played a recorded message advising customers to “await communication” from the company regarding refunds.

It continued: “We understand this is an upsetting time for all Michael Jackson fans and we want to thank you for your patience in this matter.”

Seatwave, the official secondary ticketing partner for the O2 residency, assured fans they would get a full refund.

“We are all saddened by the news of Michael Jackson’s death,” said CEO and founder Joe Cohen in a statement. “All customers who purchased tickets for his O2 shows from Seatwave are covered by our TicketCover guarantee and will get a full refund. Full information on how to do this is on our Web site at www.seatwave.com. We advise customers to use the Web site rather than our phone lines to obtain this information.”

However, fans who bought tickets from unofficial sources, such as from sellers on auction sites or agencies, may lose their money.

Michael Jackson’s Lawyer Blames “Abuse of Medications” For Death

After the mourning comes the inquisition. According to reports, doctors tried to resuscitate Michael Jackson for over an hour yesterday (June 25). Jackson was taken to the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he died at 2:26pm (PST) after suffering what is believed to be a cardiac arrest.

The center has issued the following statement:

“His personal physician, who was with him at the time, attempted to resuscitate Jackson, as did paramedics who transported him to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Upon arriving at the hospital at approximately 1:14 pm, a team of doctors, including emergency physicians and cardiologists, attempted to resuscitate him for a period of more than one hour but were unsuccessful. Jackson’s family requests that the media respect their privacy during this tragic period of time.”

Meanwhile, Jackson’s lawyer, Brian Oxman, believes the singer may have been abusing his medication. In an interview with CNN, Oxman said: “I do not know the extent of the medications he was taking but the reports that we have been receiving in the family is that it was extensive. This was something that I feared and warned about.”

Oxman believes some of the people surrounding Jackson should take responsibility for their actions. “The people who have surrounded him have been enabling him,” he said. “We warned people that this was what was going to happen, then it happens. Where there is smoked there is fire, this was a case of abuse of medications, unless there was something else involved.”

Michael Jackson’s autopsy is due to be conducted later today (June 26).

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Wilco: “You Never Know” (Live on Conan) (Video)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2TxLT-Xg8c&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]

Patterson Hood: Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs) (Album Review)

Patterson Hood, the leader of the Drive-By Truckers, recorded his first solo album in 2001 as a series of rough four-track demos, and when Killers and Stars finally received an official release in 2004, it sounded like a set of songs too eccentric and too personal to fit in with the Truckers’ hard-driving approach, even though the quality of the material was certainly consistent with what he’d created with the group. In many respects, Hood’s second solo set, 2009′s Murdering Oscar (And Other Love Songs), is also dominated by songs a little too odd and close to the vest to make it onto a DBT album, but if Killers and Stars sounded heartfelt but tentative, Murdering Oscar is confident and full-bodied, and not just because most of these songs include a full band rather than just Hood and his guitar. With each album, the Drive-By Truckers have shown a willingness to reach for deeper themes, and Murdering Oscar consistently cuts closer to the bone than Killers and Stars; the post-9/11 malaise of “Pride of the Yankees,” the wasted but honest romantic plea of “Back of a Bible,” and the title tune’s tale of a morally elastic hitman are all trickier, more complex, and more satisfying than anything on Hood’s solo debut, and even the relatively lightweight numbers like “Walking Around Sense” (addressed to the daughter of a seriously dysfunctional rock star) and “Foolish Young Bastard” show an impressive amount of weight and muscle. Hood may not have a silky-smooth voice, but he’s learned to work wonders with the smoky texture of his instrument, and Hood has rarely been in better form as a singer than he is on this album, conjuring a beautifully rough-hewn blue-eyed soul. And with a band featuring DBT drummer Brad Morgan, Scott Danbom and Will Johnson from Centro-Matic, and Patterson’s father, David Hood (longtime bassist with the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section), and sympathetic production assistance from David Barbe, Murdering Oscar has a sound that’s not entirely removed from the Drive-By Truckers, but possesses a personality and feel that sets it apart and well suits this set of dark but compassionate character studies. Presumably it’s not enough for Patterson Hood that he fronts one of the best rock bands in America — Murdering Oscar shows him stepping into an equally impressive solo career, but when the songs he’s set aside for himself are this good, you can’t blame the man for wanting to share.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Sunny Day Real Estate Classic Lineup Reunites For Tour

Pioneering Seattle rock band Sunny Day Real Estate will return to the road with its four original members this fall and will reissue its first two Sub Pop albums on Sept. 15. These will be the band’s first shows of any kind since November 2000, and the first with its classic lineup since 1998.

Dates begin Sept. 17 in Vancouver and run through Oct. 16 in Seattle. The reissues of 1994′s “Diary” and the following year’s untitled follow-up (commonly known as “LP2″ or “The Pink Album”) will include as-yet-unspecified bonus tracks and new liner notes.

Sunny Day Real Estate’s bracing blend of emotionally resonant hardcore struck an immediate chord with listeners on “Diary,” which was produced by Brad Wood. A second full-length record with Wood arrived in 1995, but internal tensions, including frontman Jeremy Enigk’s conversion to Christianity, had already broken up the group by the time the disc was released.

A three-year hiatus followed, during which time Enigk released a heavily orchestrated, pop-leaning solo album, “Return of the Frog Queen,” while drummer William Goldsmith and guitarist Nate Mendel joined Foo Fighters. But in 1998, the band suddenly regrouped — minus Mendel, who remained with Foo Fighters and was replaced in SDRE by a succession of bassists — to record the acclaimed album “How It Feels to Be Something On.”

That set was supported with several tours, as well as the 1999 concert document “Live.” But Sunny Day imploded again following the release of the 2000 album “The Rising Tide,” although Enigk, Mendel and Goldsmith regrouped shortly thereafter minus SDRE guitarist Dan Hoerner in a similar sounding new band, the Fire Theft. That group released a lone self-titled album in 2003 on Rykodisc.

Enigk has since released two solo albums and an EP, the latest of which, “OK Bear,” came out May 12 on his own Lewis Hollow label and features a return to a heavier, Sunny Day-ish rock sound.

The band reconvened in March for rehearsals, and decided to give a full tour a go. The set lists will largely stick to material from the first two albums that were written and recorded by the original lineup.

“Some songs make me cringe, and some still blow me away,” Enigk told Billboard in 2003 about the legacy of Sunny Day Real Estate. “Some songs that made me cringe once, blow me away now. I think it’s best to realize that these albums were documenting a certain time in our lives — where we were then, emotionally, spiritually. Ultimately, I feel we wrote some pretty timeless music, and that’s just fine with me.

Here are Sunny Day Real Estate’s tour dates:

Sept. 17: Vancouver (Commodore Ballroom)
Sept. 18: Portland, Ore. (Crystal Ballroom)
Sept. 20: Salt Lake City (Murray Theatre)
Sept. 21: Denver (Ogden Theatre)
Sept. 23: Minneapolis (First Avenue)
Sept. 24: Chicago (Metro)
Sept. 25: Detroit (St. Andrews Hall)
Sept. 27: New York (Terminal 5)
Sept. 28: Boston (House of Blues)
Sept. 30: Washington, D.C. (9:30 Club)
Oct. 1: Philadelphia (Trocadero)
Oct. 3: Atlanta (CW Center Stage)
Oct. 5: Dallas (Granada Theatre)
Oct. 6: Houston (Warehouse Live)
Oct. 7: Austin (La Zona Rosa)
Oct. 9: Tempe, Ariz. (Marquee)
Oct. 10: Anaheim, Calif. (House of Blues)
Oct. 11: Los Angeles (Fonda Theatre)
Oct. 13: San Francisco (Fillmore)
Oct. 15: Spokane, Wash. (Knitting Factory)
Oct. 16: Seattle (Paramount Theatre)

Beastie Boys’ ‘Hot Sauce’ Due Sept. 15

The Beastie Boys have confirmed that their eighth studio album, ” Hot Sauce Committee Part 1,” will be released Sept. 15 by Capitol. The set will include 17 tracks, including “Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win” featuring Santigold and “Too Many Rappers” featuring Nas, which the artists performed together at the Bonnaroo festival in Manchester, Tenn. on June 12. The album will be available in multiple configurations, including a 5.1 surround mix.

The first Beastie Boys headline date confirmed to follow the album’s release, Sept. 24 at Hollywood Bowl, has sold out. Further dates will be announced as they are confirmed.

Meanwhile, the band has a busy summer ahead on the U.S. festival circuit, with headlining slots at events including Lollapalooza, All Points West, Outside Lands, and Austin City Limits. Prior to the Lollapalooza appearance, the Beastie Boys will perform at Chicago’s Congress Theater on August 6.

The Beasties have also announced they will release a remastered and expanded version of 1998 album “Hello Nasty,” available as a 2-CD/vinyl box set beginning with an August 17 pre-order/digital release. The set will be in stores August 25.

A deluxe edition of 1994’s “Ill Communication” will be available for pre-order on July 6, with physical release on July 14.

Here is the “Hot Sauce Committee Part 1″ track list:

1. Tadlock’s Glasses
2. B-Boys In The Cut
3. Make Some Noise
4. Nonstop Disco Powerpack
5. OK
6. Too Many Rappers (featuring NAS)
7. Say It
8. The Bill Harper Collection
9. Don’t Play No Game That I Can’t Win (featuring Santigold)
10. Long Burn The Fire
11. Bundt Cake
12. Funky Donkey
13. Lee Majors Come Again
14. Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament
15. Pop Your Balloon
16. Crazy Ass Shit
17. Here’s A Little Something For Ya

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jay Bennett Autopsy: An Accident

Musician Jay Bennett’s death last month was caused by an apparent accidental overdose of a common prescription pain-relief medication.

Bennett was found dead last month in bed at his home. Duane Northrup, the Champaign County Coroner, said that tests show the 45-year-old musician died from an overdose of Fentanyl, a drug commonly found in patches and prescribed to treat chronic pain.

Bennett for years suffered from pain caused by a stage dive back when he was with the band Titanic Love Affair. He had recently learned that hip-replacement surgery would relieve his pain, and was preparing for surgery.

Spinal Tap: Back from the Dead (Album Review)

These mock-rockers spent spring on tour, revisiting Spinal Tap’s pair of real-world albums and other material. The nostalgia continues on Back From the Dead with reworked versions of tunes from the Rob Reiner flick that started it all; six so-so new tracks reveal why the throwback vibe was probably a good idea. More amusing is the commentary on a bonus DVD, where David St. Hubbins unpacks the concept of animal husbandry vis-à-vis ”Sex Farm.

Flaming Lips Offer ‘Embryonic’ Sneak Peek

Fans who use the Internet to purchase concert tickets to the Flaming Lips’ forthcoming U.S. summer tour will receive a sneak peek of the alternative-psychedelic band’s new double-album, “Embryonic,” scheduled for release later this year on Warner Bros.

The Flaming Lips will perform at a handful of music festivals in Europe, the United States and Japan through mid-August before beginning a brief stateside amphitheater trek. The 10-date stint begins with an appearance at the Del Mar Summer Concert Series near San Diego, and wraps Aug. 30 at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston.

Concertgoers who buy Flaming Lips tickets online will receive a digital EP with new songs “Convinced of the Hex,” “The Impulse” and “Silver Trembling Hands.” Those ticket-buyers will also be given three digital B-side tracks that the band members will handpick from its vault of rare material. Additionally, fans will be sent a digital download bootleg of the concert they attended.

Following the online ticket purchase, concertgoers will receive a unique code that leads them back to the Flaming Lips’ Web site, where fans can download the music. One code will be sent for each ticket purchased. Since music is involved, concert tickets purchased online will cost about $4 more than buying at them at the box office, according to band representatives.

The ticket promotion does not apply to the band’s appearance at the Del Mar Summer Concert Series, according to a news release. Tickets for select shows have already gone on sale.

The Flaming Lips are also schedule to appear at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago on July 19, where the band will perform select songs from its extensive catalog voted on by fans who are attending the festival.

In May, Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne said about the concept of writing a double-album. “Somewhere along the way it occurred to me that we should do a double album,” he said. “Just this idea that you can kind of weave a couple of themes into there and you can sort of sprawl a little bit. Our past couple of records we’ve always had this little dilemma, like how many songs do you put on? How many instruments do you put on? What’s the focus?

“And some of my favorite records – thinking Beatles ‘White Album,’ Zeppelin’s ‘Physical Graffiti’ and even some of the longer things that the Clash have done – part of the reason I like them is that they’re not focused. They’re kind of like a free-for-all and go everywhere. It’s not necessarily because we’re prolific, I think we always stay in a sort of
perpetual panic of like we never have more songs than we need and we always wonder if any of them are any good to begin with. I do think we probably work best in a panic, so maybe it’s best that I planned it this way.”

“Embryonic” follows the Flaming Lips’ 2006 effort “At War with the Mystics,” which has sold 216,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. A specific release date for the new album has not yet been announced.

Monday, June 22, 2009

KING KHAN & BBQ SHOW + BLACK LIPS RELEASE SELF-TITLED ALBUM ON SEPTEMBER 22nd

When the Black Lips had to flee India after almost getting arrested (long story) and getting their passports confiscated (longer story), they fled to Berlin to hole up with their old pal and label-mate King Khan. Mark Sultan (aka BBQ, one half of King Khan & BBQ Show) also happened to be there, and it happened to be freezing in Berlin that week so no one really wanted to leave the house. So what do a bunch of garage-rock all-stars (and international refugees) do in the middle of winter in cramped conditions? They give birth to an album and band of the same name, The Almighty Defenders. The guys went to Moon Studios and recorded these tracks, brimming with soul, earnest shouts, cries and hand-claps over post-modern gospel-rock anthems.

This album is being released on LP and digitally on Vice Records on September 22nd

Art Brut: “Summer Job” (Live on KEXP) (Video)
[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27jKqQBG6ws&color1=0xb1b1b1&color2=0xcfcfcf&feature=player_embedded&fs=1]