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Archive for February, 2010

Friday, February 26, 2010

Joanna Newsom: Have One On Me (Album Review)

The inlay to Pulp’s Different Class memorably told listeners not to read the lyrics while listening to the album. For Joanna Newsom’s third record, each song’s lyric is so long, beautifully phrased – “Even the ghosts huddled up for warmth,” she whispers on Autumn – and dense with detail that it’s difficult to keep up without study aids. Suffice to say, not many records in 2010 will contain phrases like “faultlessly etiolated”. The music, as anyone who devoured 2006’s Ys will expect, is equally open to exposition. Ryan Francesconi’s arrangements may be subtle – Newsom’s harp remains central almost throughout – but they perfectly complement the looking-glass mystique of compositions like Good Intentions Paving Company and Jackrabbits. At two-hours-plus, it’s a record that demands concentration to appreciate its splatterings of beauty. But pour yourself a glass and listen, because they don’t make them like this too often. Grand, long and bold – Newsom makes it sound like the first word she sings here: easy.

21% fewer american’s buying music

The number of U.S. music purchasers declined by 24 million between 2007 and 2009, a drop of 21% during a period when consumers were purchasing far fewer CDs but beginning to experiment more with digital music, according to data presented by market research firm NPD Group at Digital Media Wire’s Digital Music Forum East conference in New York this week. The market lost 33 million CD buyers between 2007-2009; the number of Americans purchasing digital song downloads also dropped, from 35.2 million in 2008 to 34.6 million in 2009.

NPD analyst Russ Crupnick attributed the digital falloff to consumers experimenting with downloads and then losing interest.

Meanwhile, the amount consumers are spending on digital song downloads rose from an average of $33 per year to $50 per year.

NPD also found that free Internet radio services like Pandora lead to a 41% increase in paid downloads, while free, on-demand services like Spotify actually led to a 13% drop in paid downloads.

“For some people, more listening just means more listening and tends to lead to less purchasing,” Crupnick remarked.

NPD also found a precipitous drop in the number of songs being shared on peer-to-peer networks, which was attributed to growing competition from legal services; fear of spyware; and music shared via other means, like swapping hard drives.

Check out Broken Bells’ on WNYC’s “Soundcheck” program

Forget the super group. The super-duo Broken Bells unites The Shins frontman James Mercer with producer Danger Mouse of Gnarls Barkley and The Grey Album fame. The two join us to give us a sneak peek at their upcoming self-titled debut.

Jack White’s Third Man Records Reveals Jon Wayne Reissue, SXSW Details

Earlier this month, Jack White leaked the news that his next Third Man Records pop-up shop would be, um, popping up in Austin, Texas for SXSW. The where/when/how/etc. were still unknown, however, until today. Third Man Records has announced that their “most ambitious temporary store” to date will set up shop at Austin’s Frank Restaurant and Grocery on 407 Colorado St from March 17 – 20, 12-8pm.

As with Third Man’s previous stints in Los Angeles, London, and New York City, there will be a slew of items available for purchase exclusively at this one-time event. One item, in particular, caught my eye: a reissue of 1980s band Jon Wayne’s out-of-print cult classic album Texas Funeral, which will debut Third Man’s forthcoming reissue series.

Other notable exclusive merch includes 150 handmade wooden boxes “containing the complete Texas Sized Vinyl set of 45s,” a Third Man Branding Station (“you bring it down, we’ll brand it with the Third Man logo”), and more.

Jaga Jazzist: One Armed Bandit (Album Review)

In the wrong hands, jazz-fusion and prog can be dangerous musical fodder, but when undertaken by Norwegian alt-musos Jaga Jazzist, the results can be spectacular. While 2005’s ‘What We Must’ explored post-rocky Sigur Rós territory with mixed results, ‘One-Armed Bandit’ sees them back to the electronic wonk-jazz that they do so well.

Big layers of instruments dual with and complement each other via weird time signatures, and inspired, complex riffs that sound like they’re scoring a car chase from a cult Seventies film, mixed with bursts of electronic futurism – perhaps best displayed on the album’s title track – a manic, brilliant piece of instrumental songwriting that shows Jaga Jazzist to be at the top of their game.

Eno launches Brighton Festival

Brain Eno is plotting a month long residency in Brighton after launching the 44th festival in the city.

Bringing a distinct flavour of experimentalism to the table and what he describes as the “greatest night of his life” when he curates an Afrobeat night, he says the role is far from what some people describe as ‘work’:

“It’s not that demanding, it’s like a gift. It’s like somebody saying to you, would you like to have a long party, where you have all your favourite bands playing.”

The festival kicks off with Eno’s visual feast of 77 Million Paintings which has been unveiled world-wide over the last few years, to critical acclaim and during the 242 performances at the festival, 9 other events bear his individual stamp.

“There are some things that I have dreamed of seeing that I have never been able to catch before like a whole evening of Afrobeat music. I’ve loved Afrobeat for 40 years, and now I have the people who started it actually, playing it here,” he said.

He does, of course, refer to Tony Allen the legendary Nigerian drummer, who started the whole movement in the late ’60s.

Allen will perform with his band, Africa 70, and also be joined by Seun Kuti, the youngest son of Fela and the rest of his father’s band, who Eno told 6 Music he inherited as a family heirloom.

“Here son, have a band,” impressions Brian with a wry smile, before singing the praises of the pair, leaving us in no doubt what will be the festival highlight for him.

“I’ve seen Tony Allen play a few times and I’ve seen Seun Kuti with his band and they are the most amazing musical events you will ever experience. They are unlike anything else.”

“There is so much I want to see in this festival that I didn’t have anything to do with!”
Brian Eno

The date for that night is 14 May, the night before Eno’s birthday, which he says will be like a personal present to him.

Acapella is another one of his passions that comes to the fore on this year’s line-up, with one whole night dedicated to it.

Eno has curated the bands playing and The Persuasions, Naturally 7 and Reggie Watts will all team up for what Eno describes as one night of magic.

“Acappella is a little bit like magic, you can see the guy only has two things in his hand, and suddenly there’s a third one there,” he explained. “How does that work? It’s magic. There is nothing other than the human voice, yet the music that emerges is so astonishingly moving.”

Underworld’s Karl Hyde is a key collaborator for one of the events which Eno has lined up called, ‘This is Pure Scenius!’ Previously seen once at The Sydney Opera House, seven individuals, headed up by Eno will hook up on stage to experiment with spoken word and music for a six hour extravaganza, that he says may see them call in the tea making facilities on stage.

“It’s difficult to tell you anything much about it in terms of predicting what will happen ‘cos it could go in a lot of different directions, but it will be a very long concert, the audience will change but we won’t. It’s a new approach to improvisation I think.”

Aside from the bottom numbing music marathon, Eno will provide a lecture on ‘Reasons for Optimism’, an illustrated talk, a night dedicated to celebrating the Apollo Moon landing and a night looking at books with Anna Calvi.

The former Roxy Music man says he plans to stay in the city for the duration of the month of May and is hoping to bag himself an Access All Areas Pass: “It better mean that. There is so much I want to see in this festival that I didn’t have anything to do with!”

The festival kicks off on 1 May, with tickets going on sale from 1 March.

Thom Yorke Names ???? Atoms For Peace, Unveils Tour Dates

Thom Yorke has finally replaced those pesky question mark placeholders for his new solo outing with producer Nigel Godrich, percussionist Mauro Refosco, bassist Flea, and drummer Joey Waronker. Now dubbed Atoms for Peace (a named which “seemed bleedin’ obvious”), the quintet will finally venture outside of Los Angeles this April. In addition to their previously reported slot at Coachella in Indio, CA, Yorke and friends will play 8 more dates in 5 U.S. cities (New York, Boston, Chicago, Oakland, and Santa Barbara).

If you live near one of these cities, trust me, you don’t want to miss this. For Yorke’s Dead Air announcement, tour dates, and ticket info, go here.

Massive Attack Announce North American Tour

On the heels of their KCRW performance yesterday, trip hop dynamic duo, Massive Attack, have announced their first North American tour since 2006. Kicking off May 7th, the pair will hit up four stops with 2 peformances each, before wrapping up at this year’s Sasquatch Festival. Their latest record, Heligoland, debuted at #46 on the Billboard 200, marking the highest U.S. chart position of their legendary career.

Massive Attack Tour Dates:

7 Toronto, ONT – Sound Academy
9 Toronto, ONT – Sound Academy
11 New York, NY – Terminal 5
12 New York, NY – Terminal 5
18 Los Angeles, CA – Wiltern Theater
19 Los Angeles, CA – Wiltern Theater
25 San Francisco, CA = Warfield Theater
27 San Franciscos, CA = Warfield Theater
30 George, WA – Sasquatch Festival

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Wilco Up for ‘Honorary Citizen’ Distinction

Jeff Tweedy wants to be honored by the city of Madison, Wis. Last Saturday, the Wilco frontman made his feelings known during a performance at the locale’s Overture Center.

“Last night, the mayor of Duluth made us an honorary Duluth band,” Tweedy told the audience, after receiving the distinction from that Minnesota community. “And we’ve only played there twice. How many times have we played Madison? A lot. No key to the city, no certificate, nothing.”

Now it looks as if the Wilco frontman just may get his wish. The city has since hustled to try and make it happen. Not to be outdone by Duluth, Madison’s Alder Satya Rhodes-Conway and Mayor Dave Cieslewicz promptly penned the “Wilco honorary-citizen proposition” and introduced it at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.

According to local paper the Cap Times, the proposal, which cites Wilco’s 13 visits to Madison since 1995, will be brought back for a vote on March 2.

LCD Soundsystem finish new album

Ever since he jumped on the Twitter bandwagon late last year, LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy has been micro-blogging about working on the band’s forthcoming record, and his tone’s been getting persistently more exasperated. (Last week: “is so desperate to socialize with another human being not in a studio that he might go to the deli and buy a sandwich he doesn’t want.”) But this morning, Murphy chimed in with some very encouraging news, both for us and for himself: “mixing last song right now to send to the amazing bob weston to master. meaning, record DONE. i hope people like it.” Jyeah!

On the official LCD site, Murphy was even more plainspoken: “looks like we added another paris gig. oh, and something else. the fucking record is done.”

Depending on how fast Weston works, we might even get the album in time for that projected March release date, though I wouldn’t bet money on that. A second behind-the-scenes video chronicling the making of the record was recently posted on the LCD website. We’ve embedded it below.

Meanwhile, Murphy’s got a busy few months coming up. Alongside the album, he’s also been at work on the score to the forthcoming Noah Baumbach movie Greenberg. And come April, Murphy will hit the road on a tour that’ll take him to both sites of the Atlantic. Stops will include Coachella, Sasquatch, Bonnaroo, and our Pitchfork Music Festival. Dates below.

LCD Soundsystem:
04-16 Indio, CA – Coachella
04-20 Dublin, Ireland – Tripod *
04-21 Dublin, Ireland – Tripod *
04-23 London, England – Brixton Academy *
04-24 London, England – Brixton Academy *
04-26 Birmingham, England – Academy *
04-27 Leeds, England – Academy *
04-28 Glasgow, Scotland – Barrowlands *
04-29 Glasgow, Scotland – Barrowlands *
05-01 Manchester, England – Academy
05-02 Bristol, England – Academy *
05-04 Amsterdam, Netherlands – Paradiso *
05-05 Brussels, Belgium – Ancienne Belgique *
05-06 Berlin, Germany – WMF *
05-08 Paris, France – Bataclan *
05-09 Paris, France – Bataclan *
05-30 George, WA – Sasquatch Festival
06-11 Manchester, TN – Bonnaroo Festival
07-17 Chicago, IL – Pitchfork Music Festival
09-12 Isle of Wight, England – Bestival

* with YACHT

M.I.A. Album Out in June?


Which seems to suggest the U.S. government still believes she’s some sort of threat and that her much anticipated third album is coming out in June. Either that, or she just really likes the month of June and wants to tell people about it. (She also posted a link to photos from a Jeremy Scott fashion show, saying “IRANIAN PRINCESS SADE IS SPREADING.”)

M.I.A. worked with producers Diplo, Rusko, Switch, Blaqstarr, and Sleigh Bells’ Derek Miller on the LP. (Could the currently label-less Rising duo Sleigh Bells be one of said “DOPEST ACTS”?) Last week, Rusko Tweeted that the album is finished. And she posted a version of new song “Space Odyssey” on her Twitter last month. More info as we get it.

NYC Assistant Convicted In Ex-Ramones Manager Killing

The personal assistant of punk-rock pioneer and celebrity real estate broker Linda Stein has been convicted of bludgeoning her boss to death with a piece of exercise equipment.

Jurors spent less than a day reaching a second-degree murder verdict in the Manhattan trial against Natavia Lowery, the personal assistant to Linda Stein, who managed the Ramones before becoming a real estate agent with celebrity clients including Madonna and Sting. Lowery showed no reaction when the verdict was read Feb. 23.

Prosecutors said Lowery stole more than $30,000 from Stein, then clubbed her to death to try and hide the theft.

Lowery’s lawyers had acknowledged she stole from Stein and at least one previous employer, but they denied she killed Stein. The 28-year-old woman’s attorney said in closing arguments Monday that police plied Lowery into a false confession after 12 hours of questioning.

Prosecutors had presented evidence showing Lowery had a troubled history, which included arrests on charges of stealing a roommate’s identity and being fired for embezzling from a church while working there. The allegations hadn’t been reported to authorities or had been dropped, prosecutors say. Stein apparently didn’t know about any of the incidents.

Lowery had worked for about three months for Stein before the 62-year-old woman was bludgeoned to death in her Fifth Avenue apartment on Oct. 30, 2007. Blood was spattered in her living room and her skull was fractured as she was hit about two dozen times.

Lowery initially denied any knowledge of the killing, then blamed it on a masked stranger who told her not to report it, and finally gave her videotaped account of beating Stein to death with a piece of exercise equipment after the broker badgered her about the pace of her work and blew marijuana smoke in her face.

Authorities later determined there was no marijuana in Stein’s body when she died, and she suffered far more than the roughly six blows Lowery described.

Surveillance videotape showed Lowery leaving Stein’s building soon after the estimated time of the killing.

Muse Speak Out Against Warner Withdrawal From Streaming Services

In the wake of Warner Music announcing they will stop licensing their artists’ tracks to free streaming services such as Spotify, Muse, one of Warners biggest-selling acts, have come out against the idea.

Muse bassist Chris Wolstenhome expressed his disappointment at the prospect of Warner’s plans going ahead.

“It’s like taking your song off the radio isn’t it?” he said. “You’re instantly taking your song away from a group of potential listeners.”

Wolstenhome also emphasised that such initiatives as these are not being instigated by the bands themselves.

“The corporations are setting the rules on these things because they’re clutching at straws,” he said. “I do sometimes feel that this whole restriction that’s been set on how your music can get out there these days doesn’t ever really come from the bands. It’s coming from the corporations behind everything.

“As far as bands are concerned you just want people to hear your music whichever way they can.”

Warner Music CEO Edgar Bronfman last week said that free streaming services are “clearly not net positive for the industry” and “is not the kind of approach to business we will be supporting in the future.”

Other artists who will be unavailable on Spotify,, Grooveshark and the like include R.E.M., the Flaming Lips and Madonna.

CocoRosie Unveil New Label, 4th Album Details

Sub Pop announced today that they will release the 4th album by sisters Bianca “Coco” and Sierra “Rosie” Casady, aka CocoRosie on May 11th. The album, Grey Oceans, was written and recorded with “amazing and diverse musicians” that the duo discovered while traveling to Buenos Aires, Melbourne, Berlin, and New York in 2008.

Bianca Casady described their plans for the follow-up to 2007’s The Adventures of Ghosthorse and Stillborn to Quebec’s Le Soleil last fall:

We want to return to a more stripped-down, acoustic sound the time of [our first LP] La Maison de Mon Rêve. This is not a is not a setback, just a less stringent way of making music.

Check out the Grey Oceans tracklist below:

1 ) Trinity’s Crying
2 ) Smokey Taboo
3 ) Hopscotch
4 ) Undertaker
5 ) Grey Oceans
6 ) R.I.P. Burn Face
7 ) The Moon Asked the Crow
8 ) Lemonade
9 ) Gallows
10 ) Fairy Paradise
11 ) Here I Come

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

‘The Runaways’ Trailer (Video)

The Runaways, which opens on March 19th, starring Twilight’s Kristen Stewart alongside Dakota Fanning. Highly musically charged, The Runaways describes the groundbreaking all girls 1970s rock band, originally comprised of the legendary Joan Jett, and Cherie Currie.