Fuck Coachella, This Is Where The Action Is

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Watch your back, Barry Hogan. Someone else has a wildly ambitious rock fest in the works.  From the Voice Of Korea (link swiped from Ken Freedman and WFMU's Beware Of The Blog)

If you are a band playing any kind of rock, including heavy metal, then you can participate 'ROCK FOR PEACE' in Pyong Yang, the capital city of North Korea. This is the very first time in history that North Korea allows western musicians in the heart of DPRK territory to play capitalist popular music. There are few restrictions and conditions on participation but any band will be considered even though you are from USA. The lyrics should not contain admirations on war, sex, violence, murder, drug, rape, non-governmental society, imperialism, colonialism, racism, anti-DPRK, and anti-socialism. The concert will be held from March 01 to March 04, 2007 under the management of Voice of Korea. We currently received requests of 35 bands from 19 countries and participations are increasing everyday. ROCK FOR PEACE will be the 2007 version of Woodstock rock festival in 1969 but in different location and in different goals, We welcome every musician as long as they are purely music based without political intentions. For inquiries, email to Jean-Baptiste Kim, the head of Voice of Korea.

Campers In Front Of Best Buy On 622 Broadway Not For The Ponys’ In-store

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Hey – can someone make sure Nils knows that I did go downstairs and check on that line of campers in front of Best Buy.   No one, I repeat, no one had ever heard of The Ponys. So we're still good to give Pitchfork the exclusive on that April in-store announcement.

 

 

SM & The Jicks – ’07 Dates

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(SM and the no-longer Jicked up John Moen, Irving Plaza, June '05, photo swiped from One Louder)

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks, featuring the drumtastic talents of new addition Janet Weiss, have just announced the following live outings

January  2007

9-Tucson, AZ @ Plush
10-Tempe, AZ @ Marquee Theatre
11-Flagstaff, AZ @ Orpheum Theatre
17-Bellingham, WA @ The Nightlight

(more West Coast dates to be confirmed, shortly)

 

Strangely, There’s Little Demand For The 1986 Mike Love Action Figure

"What no giant indoor sandbox or canopy bed to lay in for a year?" writes Bedazzled's Spike Priggen. And while I must admit, this would be quite the Xmas gift for the collector skum or skumette in your life, I'll concur with Spike. The idea isn't quite fully realized.  Unless and until further dolls in the series are introduced (Murray Wilson with-removeable-eye, Dr. Landy with a couch) I'm sticking with something conceptually solid

In Poor Taste, Probably. More Fun Than Watching “Elephant” On DVD? Mos Def

DISCLAIMER : My own expertise in the world of zippity-zappity ran outta steam shortly after the introductions of "Escape From Max Fish" and "John Madden's Colostomy Bag."  The former's depiction of Ann Marlowe was far too scary and realistic, while the latter provoked something approaching an epileptic fit….before I even opened the box.  That said, "The Top 10 Worst Games of All Time" by PC World's Emru Townsend includes at least one title I really wish I'd tried.  "Lee Carvallo's Putting Challenge", it ain't.

 

Super Columbine Massacre RPG (or SCMRPG), re-created Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's 1999 massacre at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, from the perspective of the two disturbed teenagers. Deriving the game's content largely from video footage of the events, the pair's diaries, and quotes from various media figures, creator Danny Ledonne strove for a certain level of verisimilitude–though the part of the game where Harris and Klebold find themselves embarking on further adventures in Hell after their suicides is, presumably, conjecture.

Like the developers of JFK Reloaded, another re-creation of a historic murder, the creator of SCMRPG claimed lofty aims. On his Web site–whose illegible look (blue and red text on a black background) is some sort of crime against good design itself–Ledonne says the game "asks more of its audience than rudimentary button-pushing and map navigation; it implores introspection." The site also links to press coverage of the game (typical example: the Denver Post's "Columbine Game Makes Us Ill") and a forum for discussion of the game and the actual shootings.

Whether Ledonne's site has any constructive value whatsoever is still up in the air. But as a game, Super Columbine Massacre RPG is appalling.

Brooker’s Latest Unnovation

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Already in a foul mood after having his teeth whitened (just read the whole article, I can't cut and paste everything), TV Go Home / Screen Wipe's Charlie Brooker flexes his knowledge-sharing muscles in today's Guardian.

Presenting an exciting first in interactive technology! The Ignopedia is the world's first* paper-and-ink encyclopaedia. Unlike Wikipedia, which is created by hundreds of users, the Ignopedia is written entirely by a single sub-par human with little or no awareness of the facts – building week by week, entry by entry, into a uniquely unreliable resource. *apart from all the other ones

Whee Whee Telly Windmill, 3pm, BBC1

Desperate 24-hour experimental broadcast aimed at brightening the national mood, consisting of face-on footage of a brightly coloured novelty paper windmill accompanied by captions urging the viewer to blow each time it starts revolving, thus enabling a depressed and alienated populace to momentarily amuse themselves by imagining this charming toy from an altogether more carefree age is spinning on their behalf.

Music by Lemon Jelly

Producer Limp Substitute

Subtitles … 888

Goblin
A goblin (pronounced "goblin", or, if you're a cartoon Frenchman, "goh-bleeene ") is a mythical green-skinned, pointy-eared creature that hangs around dungeons attacking people with swords. Appearing in the easier stages of computer games, they are rarely elevated to "end of level boss" status, which goes to that fire-breathing dragon which flashes red when you hit his weak spot, and, just when you think you've killed him, he sort of spins into the air and, if you don't jump at just the right moment, the shockwave takes half your health off and I've been stuck on it for five hours and I'm sick of it; I mean, I've already got one job I hate, I don't need another, especially one that pays in those stupid little virtual coins that bounce around when you split open one of the treasure chests, guarded by goblins, green-skinned pointy-eared creatures that DON'T EXIST, which is why I suggest you concern yourself with something worthwhile, like Iraq, or tooth-whitening, you trivial bastards. You sicken me

I’d prefer a chocolate teapot for Christmas

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…but I'll settle for this:

AUSSIE SCIENTISTS INVENT AIR GUITAR T-SHIRT

A team of Australian scientists [That's an oxymoron if I saw one], presumably with too much time on their hands, have created the air guitar t-shirt, which turns air guitarists fake
strumming into real music. The shirt, developed by the Australian
Commonwealth Scientific And Industrial Research Organisation
, has sensors
within the elbows that send information to a computer, which creates music
based on its wearer's air guitaring. Richard Helmer, one of the scientists
behind the t-shirt, told reporters the t-shirt was "an easy-to-use, virtual
instrument that allows real-time music making" and that it could be used by
"players without significant musical or computing skills".

Asked about the new invention, Metro quote Jeff Disaster of UK Air Guitar,
the people behind the previously reported Air Guitar Championships, as
saying: "I would love to get one but I don't think they would be allowed in
air guitar championships. The rule is there can be no guitars on the stage;
this is essentially a midi-guitar, so it violates the main rule of air
guitar".

It's the next step up from playing music from your mobile phone without headphones on all forms of public transport to the delight of everyone around you. What a great way to make friends and keep them.

On second thoughts, don't get me one. 

Black Dawn

Black Dawn

After a long and frankly depressing day, I arrived home at about 9 last night intending only to slip into a slow catatonia in front of the TV, but found my only real non-involving option was the new series of 'I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here!' – not sure if you have a variation of this in the US, basically a bunch of people who quite patently are not celebrities are sent to Australia to eat insects or something – which didn't really seem like an option at all, despite the presence of smiley cello-playing, astronomy enthusiast Myleene Klass (she seems nice).

So instead, I decided to watch the new Steven Seagal opus 'Black Dawn'. I don't know if you've been keeping as close a watch on Seagal's recent activities as I have, but post-'Executive Decision' his films have gone from straight-to-video to straight-to-cable TV in Estonia. And then eventually, DVD releases. How can straight-to-DVD feel cheaper than straight-to-video? I don't know, but it fucking does. Anyways, theres a few constants in the last 12-odd films that he's made:

  • In the international world of espionage, nobody is what they seem. Apart from Seagal. He's ex-CIA, he has a daughter and he just wants to live his life normally in Japan where people think he's a native because of his quiet restraint and knowledge of local customs. But the FBI keep trying to FUCK WITH HIM.
  • Seagal is mainly filmed from the waist up. The reasons for this are sadly obvious, particularly when you notice that he's holding his coat together in every scene. Just buy a bigger coat, Steve.
  • Speaking of which, he's abandoned the totally ridiculous coats of his early films – the ones that are three times as big as him, and have a wealth of tassles. Theose coats had a really great kind of 'Fuck you, it's a Native American thing, I'm going to wear a big coat and that's that' kind of vibe. I miss them.
  • Beacuse of the only-filming-above-the-waist rule, theres a whole lot of hand-to-hand combat, even when a kick would be more useful. Hand-to-hand combat is, of course, just slapping someone very quickly. Seagal uses a gun a lot more these days too, cause actually running after someone would tire him out very easily.
  • The baddies are always international terrorists. Their cause is often unclear, but their aim is always the same: kidnap Seagal's daughter. Not sure why they think this is a good idea, to be honest.
  • Mystical shit. It used to be that Seagal would sneak in some philosophical elements to his Waner Bros. era films, most notably in 'On Deadly Ground' where he breaks somebody's neck in a bar fight, and then asks the horrified onlookers 'What does it take to change the essence of a man's soul?'. I had a few sleepless nights with that one, let me tell you. But Seagal has abandoned philosophy like he abandoned his big coats. Now his films have all kinds of weird mystical shit in them. Case in point: In 'Belly Of The Beast', Seagal takes time out from a car chase to visit a woman in the back of a shop, who takes her clothes off to reveal a message in chinese lettering glowing on her breasts. Then they disappear. I am not making this up.
  • Seagal's one-liners are nowadays the kind of thing your mate's alcoholic dad used to grunt. 'You're a real piece of shit' was a highlight in Black Dawn.
  • He generally runs into a protege of his during his adventures. She will be 20 years younger than him, and they will have sex. Of course you won't actually see this, but there again, why would you want to?

So, the one I watched last night was 'Black Dawn' and almost all the ingredients were there, save for two essentials: no kidnapped daughter, and no mystical shit. The plot concerned Seagal….oh, I can't remember, there was some plutonium being stolen and I think the Russians were the bad guys. At one point their evil leader says 'Don't dilly-dally' which makes me suspect that the actor playing him may not actually be russian. Anyways, a redeeming feature was just how degradingly cheap the thing was. There's some incredibly bad blue-screen work here that has to be seen to be believed – mostly during a scene where Seagal and his protege are escaping in a truck, and it looks like the background is a photograph that's being waved about by some hapless runner. During the truck chase theres a point where its fairly noticable that Seagal's stunt double is a) wearing a wig, and b) black, which kinda ruins the gritty realism of the piece. The big finish concerns Seagal throwing a nuclear bomb into the sea from a CGI helicopter, and the whole thing looks like a demo for the Sega Megadrive.

Still, it's Seagal, and I can't stay mad at him. At the end of the film, his protege answers a phone call inviting her to be honored by the President of The USA for saving the world and that, and Seagal, knowing that his work is done, waddles off into the sunset. He'll be back, and God help me, so will I.

Sir Henry

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"I dont' know what I want but I want it NOW"

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Let us celebrate the DVD release (in the UK) of Vivian Stanshall's comic masterpiece "Sir Henry At Rawlinson End" . Originally released in 1980 and not readily available on VHS for some years I had not had the opportunity to submerge myself in the dark, complex and surreal world created by Stanshall until now. Should you enjoy a vision of the underside of olde English life with drink sodden aristocrats careless shooting at each other and at the lower orders and other barmy yet joyous behaviour this is the movie for you.

I look forward to my alcohol befuddled family Christmas, shot gun in hand.

"If I had all the money I'd spent on drink – I'd spend it on drink"

Yo La Tengo, Kentish Town Forum, 11 November

(from clakao's flickr page)

From the customer is always wrong dept : what better way to punctuate a fantastic marathon performance by Ira, Georgia and James than to have some drunken oaf hollering "c'mon, play the old shit" repeatedly in your correspondent's ear?

Never mind that Yo La Tengo, were in fact, playing LOTS of "the old shit" (including an encore of "Autumn Sweater" the third and final time my neighbor decided to vent), but what's with these delusional types who think a band can hear them from 300 feet away?

I do hope the subsequent cover "Rocks Off" sufficiently filled the old shit quota, but if not, rest assured, ATP's Don't Look Back : 'Ride The Tiger' should be coming to a a sit-down venue in the greater London area, sometime between now and 2010.  

…and the cunted circus leaves town

So I sequestered myself in an elevated position at the Scala, good view of the stage, thinking 'Finally, I'll be able to take a decent photo for the Matablog', and my camera/phone died as I attempted to take my first picture. It would appear I am cursed.

I was at the Scala for the London date of Arab Strap's farewell tour. Those of you who only have a scant knowledge of Arab Strap's ouevre might imagine that it's basically two dudes; one plays some sublime post-rock guitar figures against tinny disco beats, while the other rambles incoherently about sexual dysfunction and bathroom troubles. And you're kinda right. They were one of our greatest ever bands. Malcolm's compositions were constantly surprising, from the guitar and house beats of first single 'First Big Weekend' through to the doomy full-band cacophony of 'Fucking Little Bastards' – breathtaking low-key sadness abound. Yes, they had a song called 'Fucking Little Bastards'. The profane griminess of Aidan's lyrics were revelatory to most, and too tuthfully ugly to bear for everyone else. Whoever it was that said 'Profanity is a crutch for the inarticulate' has never heard Aidan spit 'This cunted circus never ends' – it's all in the delivery. I thought of trying to argue that Arab Strap are a romantic band, but I'm nowhere near that clever. Pretty much all their songs deal with relationships, and there is hope and happiness in there, but Arab Strap were at their most incisive when railing against romance – the tone and delivery always suggested to me that they were men who believed in love, they just believed that it was faintly ridiculous and harrowing. Pragmatists – I'm surprised how few of them there are in music. But talking about Aidan's lyrics is pointless, they're as naked as he was on the front of 'Philophobia'. Essentially, everything I've ever been told about the Smiths is more true of Arab Strap. Their songs are better, they're funnier and infinitely more incisive. 

But anyways, the gig. They were in their current 5-man formation for most of the show. Aidan told the audience a couple of times that this would be the last London show, once at the start (the crowd boo, Aidan says 'Well, it's happened. Nothing you can do about it'), and once at the end ('This is our last song, and then….that's your lot'), but apart from that it felt very much like a typical Strap show. I've really enjoyed them live in recent years, and they raise a pretty fierce racket on the noisier songs, which is awesome, but the real treat was the end of the show – Malcolm and Aidan alone doing 'The Shy Retirer', as fitting an end point as there could be, I suppose. 'We'll all be here….until the pigs chuck us out', and then they were off. Sad as I am to see them go, Malcolm and Aidan are too talented and, y'know, interesting for this to be the end. Arab Strap, I salute you. 

A Most Incendiary Act Of Civil Disobedience

"I too love God and Country, and feel called upon to serve. I can only hope my sacrifice is worth more than those brave lives thrown away when we attacked an Arab nation under the deception of 'Weapons of Mass Destruction'. Our interference completely destroyed that country, and destabilized the entire region. Everyone who pays taxes has blood on their hands."

"What is one more life thrown away in this sad and useless national tragedy? If one death can atone for anything, in any small way, to say to the world: I apologize for what we have done to you, I am ashamed for the mayhem and turmoil caused by my country. I was alive when John F. Kennedy instilled hope into a generation, and I was a sorry witness to the final crushing of hope by Dick Cheney's puppet, himself a pawn of the real rulers, the financial plunderers and looters who profit from every calamity; following the template of Reagan's idiocracy"

The above is culled from the suicide note of Chicago free jazz archivist Malachi Ritscher, who committed suicide this past Saturday.  The Chicago Reader's Peter Margasak has the full scoop

Another Side of Jennifer O’Connor

JOC-emusiceMusic is now selling an exclusive EP called "Another Side of Jennifer O'Connor". As you might have guessed, it starts off with a cover of Dylan's "To Ramona" and features 3 brand, spanking new songs.  This is being released to commemorate Jennifer's performance tomorrow night at the Bob Dylan tribute concert at Lincoln Center in New York City.  She'll be joined by both Ramblin' Jack Elliot and an able back-up singer by the name of Patti Smith to perform "Knockin' On Heaven's Door".   The event is a benefit for Music for Youth and complete details here.  Here's the tracklisting:

1. To Ramona
2. I Never Loved You
3. Waste My Time
4. (Take Me On A Ride Around The) Sun

Click here to get it (requires a subscription).

Tom In Non-Sucking Shocker

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(he could really go for some bones right about now)

From FMQB (link taken from Vinyl Mine)

In the era of MySpace, having an easy-to-find page is key to a band's success. Baton Rouge-based indie rock band Bones lost their MySpace URL to the Fox TV series of the same name. Not so coincidentally, MySpace owners News Corp. also own the Fox network. However, after the story became public, the band was given their URL back by MySpace founder Tom Anderson.

"Tom" wrote the band, saying, "I heard about what happened with your URL. I gave it back to ya…Sorry about that! As we grow in size, sometimes people make decisions I don't know about. This was obviously the wrong decision. The Bones URL is yours once again. 🙂 "

"We're shocked!! And grateful," said drummer Scott Campbell.  "Not only did Myspace give us back the www.myspace.com/bones URL, but we received a huge outpouring of moral support from the whole indie rock community over this. It went from being a really horrible experience, to really amazing, and we just want to thank everyone. See you on the road!"

"Losing our URL was a complete surprise to us," Bones singer/bassist Michael Miller said yesterday. "We logged on one day and found David Boreanaz staring back at us. It sucks because we've used that URL for almost two years to build our band name and fan base, and it's on all of our product and posters. We're as indie as it gets and can't afford to reprint everything.

If only all MySpace related disputes could end so happily.

Cat Power in Paris Nov 5

Le Grand Rex in Paris is a glorious example of the extravagant art deco picture palaces that were built in the thirties to impress the general public with the magic of the moving picture and the fantasy of exotic places. Worlds away from production line, snack dispensing, surround sound cinemas we have now. The Rex, like others of the era, takes the term picture palace literally and the three tiered auditorium is themed around an Alhambra styled Moorish castle. All the public areas outside the have beautifully preserved wood panelling and chrome detailing. This is not a regular rock circuit venue and only the lucky properly feted musicians get to grace its stage. Cat Power is such.

The set starts very much as the recent London show. The Memphis Rhythm Band ably warm up the audience and the sound engineers with their sinuous funk. Chan kicks off with the Greatest which has now cemented its place as her theme tune. Having pulled rank for a photo pass for the first three songs in a vain attempt to get something adequate to illustrate this dispatch, the first section of the show passes in a flash (not photographic however as these are barred).

Chan is on top form. She later claims to suffering nerves. Perhaps it is playing in Paris or the venue size but her nerves are not apparent in her vocal performance or her playful onstage manner. One of my favourite moments is her miming swimming strokes and surfing a board in the introduction to "Islands". The slightly fractured grain of Chan's voice in "Where Is My Love" is immensely powerful and simultaneously very sensitive. In a slightly self mocking move Chan holds her lighter aloft to symbolise an ironic power ballad nature of the song.

The solo section features "House of the Rising Sun" and beneath the glorious deco arch and purple curtains Chan is bathed in blue and green lights making her seem to be underwater. "Wild As The Wind" has an exquisite beauty and as "I Don't Blame You" is sung the stage lighting evokes the light of a shimmering green forest. The audience listen in rapt silence.

"Nude As The News" was a minor hit in France and its opening is very warmly welcomed. The version is a little fast for me but builds into a compelling crescendo and then blends into a rocking full band version of "I Can't Get No Satisfaction". If you watch closely you can catch Chan  flapping her hands behind her bottom a la vintage Jagger.

After a surprising yet highly entertaining version of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy" Chan starts throwing white roses into the audience. Has she gone all Morrissey on us? To dispel the image she launches into a long story about her childhood and it eventually evolves as an explanation about her life long love of Paris. And Paris loved her back.