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.

World’s Greatest Record Label Vs. Sniveling Ingrates, Continued

From Billboard.com :

Victory Records has sued Virgin Records and EMI Music North America for interfering with its contractual relationship with the band Hawthorne Heights. Victory claims that the major-label "poached" the band from the indie even though the group still had two more records to deliver under its contract.

In the suit filed yesterday (Nov. 2) in the federal District Court in Chicago, Victory alleges that the band was happy with the indie until Virgin executives convinced them to sign with the major. The band then hired a national litigation law firm and a public relations company to help extricate itself from its contract with Victory, the suit says.

I find it disheartening to consider H.H.'s claims that Tony Victory dragged them into a race war and their chart numbers were "tainted like Barry Bonds' statistics" were in fact, the construct of a P.R. firm.  Can't anyone come up with a funny idea on their own anymore?

Madman Across The Water

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Elton John, at his concert last night at Nassau Coliseum in Hempstead, NY:

"Interscope is the worst record label ever"
"They spent not one penny advertising the album"
"They can fuck off"
"Please drop me from the label"
"Sorry about all that label stuff…. But I really hate their fucking guts."

(Words by Bernie Taupin)

His new album may not have a hit like "Island Girl" ("what you wantin' wid de white man's world…black boy want you in his island world") but it does feature Elton's dog Arthur and cowbell (more cowbell!) on the single "Just Like Noah's Ark", in which Elton sings about Interscope's radio team:

"Italiano promotion men/Chomping a big cigar/Slapping backs and making cracks/About the fags in the bar/Radio boss dipping his nose in a little white packet/You put it out son and we'll all back it"

Mona lisas and mad hatters, indeed!

The beginning of the end (of the year)

Not to toot our own horn too much but it’s been a bit of a bumper crop for Matador press in the music magazines this month.  First and foremost we’d like to congratulate CHAN MARSHALL on being ‘WOMAN OF THE YEAR’ in Uncut.  That’s right, she beat off stiff competition from Girls Aloud and the Sugarbabes to achieve what is, quite frankly, the highest accolade to be bestowed on a woman since Cilla Black was awarded an OBE.  It’s also no mean feat that her counterpart as ‘Man Of The Year’ is her favourite man, Bob Dylan and the legendary Neil Young is ‘Hero of the Year’, she’s in good company!

Accompanied by a 3 page feature with some spectacular photos by Pieter Van Hattem (some of which you can see here) CAT POWER’s “The Greatest” also ranks at number 14 in the end of year polls, which coming out at least a month before everyone elses, shows Uncut as a forerunner of good taste.  The list features no fewer than three Matador artists in the top 30.   Yo La Tengo are number 27 with their masterpiece “I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass”and the magazine calls Ira Kaplan “a truly innovative guitarist”. High praise indeed but not quite as great as To Hell With fanzine’s Bush Hall show review a few months back where they describe Ira as being “the best guitarist I’ve ever seen in the flesh. That might be a bold claim, but one I’d stay firm on, such is the power, spontaneity and energy of his guitar playing. It’s a dazzling sight.” And that’s from a new convert to the band’s awesomeness, long may they bring new followers into the fold!

For the full Uncut list you can try various blogs etc but this is one of my favourites (by Beggars’ own Annette Lee!).

Not forgetting one of the other great UK publications, Mojo features Dead Meadow in the Buried Treasure section. Ok, it’s not technically a Matador release as it’s a reissue of their first album originally on Tolotta and now available again through Xemu, but we’re not picky.  We *heart* Dead Meadow. The article is written enthusiastically by number one Dead Meadow fan Gruff Rhys from the Super Furry Animals and it is a WHOLE PAGE, which in these days of cutting space and copious advertising, is excellent coverage.

Cat Power at the Roundhouse

I tells you what, if theres one thing you can count on in one of my Matablog posts, it's the consistency of my photography. They're either rubbish or not there at all, and today it's the latter (the above was taken by Carlos – thank you Carlos).  But believe me, the Roundhouse is a lovely venue. It's only recently reopened, and it feels like one of those all-purpose venues, equally adaptable to band shows or yr more esoteric fare. Another nice thing about the Roundhouse is, being newly reopened, theres no stigma in regards to what sort of venue it is. Cat Power's June show at the Barbican was going to be a seated, serious, classy affair cause that's what you get at the Barbican. It became apparent fairly early on that this show would be pretty different – the standing audience rapturously getting into the Memphis Rhythm Band's pre-Chan soul workout set the tone for the evening. Everything seemed a little more pronounced to me, as if Chan and The MRB didn't think they had the crowd in the palm of their hands, and were playing harder than ever to win us over. I've heard all the amateur psychobabbble from journalists over the last few months over how audiences now feel 'proud' of Chan etc etc, but I did get a wee bit emotional when they played a taut, muscular version of 'Cross Bones Style' (with added 'Nude As The News' lyrics) – for some reason, I thought I'd never see her perform that song live. Elsewhere, it's business as usual: 'Where Is My Love?' is still arrestingly beautiful, and 'Love & Communication' is as rousing a finale as you could hope for. It seems like every show is different, and happily they're getting better and better.

YLT at the NFT

This year's London Film Festival has been pretty good – screenings for the new Lukas Moodysson, Lars Von Trier and Claude Chabrol films, as well as new American fare like 'Shortbus' and 'Old Joy', both of which feature soundtracks by our own Yo La Tengo. Acknowledging their awesomeness, the London Film Festival last night held an 'In Conversation' event for them to discuss their soundtrack work. 

After some introductory chit-chat, we were shown a clip of 'Shortbus'. This was slightly disappointing because a) there was no Yo La Tengo music in that particular scene, and b) it was the only 3 minutes of the film which doesn't feature WALL TO WALL SEX. YLT scored the following scene apparently, and James assured us 'It's really good', but we didn't get to see that. Dammit. 

We also got to see the opening 4 minutes of 'Game 6', which hasn't been released here yet – I think it's cause distributors assume Europeans are afraid of anything remotely to do with baseball (unless it features Kevin Costner). A shame too, cause the score sounded great – a claustrophobic krautrocky thing. My personal favourite are the scores for Jean Panleve's aquatic nature films – we saw 'The Love Life Of The Octopus'. Nature films from the 60s/70s are a bit seedy though – the colours, degraded film stock and inappropriate zooming made it look like vintage octopus porn. Happily, YLT's score raises the tone somewhat. We were also treated to the trailer for 'Old Joy' which Ira assured us 'implies more plot than there actually is in the film'. The trailer does kind of make it look like one of those naturalist indie movies where something horrible happens to ordinary people, Deliverance-style. Lucy's seen it though and informed me that this is not the case. And she was impressed that the dog that bonds with Will Oldham in the movie is called Lucy.

Of course, anyone who's ever read a YLT interview knows that they're great conversationalists, and they were very thorough and funny in explaining how it is that they came to do soundtracks, how they approach them, and the actual business of recording them. I was left with the feeling that they quite enjoyed having restrictions and deadlines forced on them – at one point Ira talked about how he enjoyed being told to specifically write a jazz piece, as if they went into recording their own work with that kind of mindset 'it would feel kinda indulgent'. Matador Records should probably take advantage of this latent masochism by making some ridiculous demands on the next record: 'We need it tomorrow. And if you could throw a klezmer jam and a cover of 'Laffy Taffy' on there, that'd be great.'

Anyway, it was a very illuminating evening. And I'm pretty sure that none of the other 'In Conversation' participants espoused love for the musical scores of both John Carpenter and Spongebob Squarepants.

Jennifer O’Connor: Always A Guest Blogger Never A Blogger (just how she likes it)

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If there's one thing Jennifer might say about her life to date with Matador, we keep the lady busy.  Not OSHA infringement busy, but busy.  Whether it's guest blogging on the Portastatic blog, espousing her love for Fiddy on her Popmatters tour diary, the post cards she's giving out on tour, or her upcoming eMusic EP (no link yet, stay tuned for more on that)…Jennifer manages to keep up with all this while playing just about every day for the past two months.  We got one word for that….Trooper!  So when asked to contribute her "weirdest concert experience" for Marathonpacks, Jennifer not only oblidged but penned up a hum-dinger of a Mark Eitzel tale (we all have at least one Eitzel experience we wish we could blog about, don't we?).  Hit up Marathonpacks for all the juice.

Ian Rilen, RIP

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Rose Tattoo bassist Ian Rilen passed away yesterday at the age of 58. 

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In addition to being the co-author of Tattoo's "Bad Boy For Love", Rilen was a founding member alongside guitarist Steve Lucas and drummer Cathy Green, of the Sydney trio, X, whose first two albums, 'Aspirations' (1979) and 'At Home With You' (1981) are as propulsive, jagged and wildly original as any punk recordings from that era. 

Dubious Benefit Gigs Of The 21st Century

From the Boston Globe's Joan Anderton.

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Staind frontman Aaron Lewis is performing a concert at his alma mater, Longmeadow High School, to benefit the creative arts department there. Tickets to the show, Nov. 4 at 7:30, are $100 (includes a meet-and-greet with Lewis) and $60 and are on sale now in the school office.

Lewis, while possessing all the talent and charisma of a cardboard box, is clearly a benevolent sort.  And based on his body of work, I think we can all agree that Longmeadow's creative arts deparment is sorely in need of help.  With that in mind, let's consider the ticket prices ; $100 to witness a solo performance by Lewis is quite reasonable (compared to say, a $600 toilet seat), so why not up the ante a bit?  $100 to enter, another $200 to leave early.  $1500 for Lewis' frontal lobe.  Either you're serious about helping the kids or you're not. 

Let Me Sleep On It, I’ll Give You An Answer In The Morning

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Attn : Ladies and Gentlemen.  The following serves as evidence that my spam filter really sucks. Thank you.

FIRST 200 ABSOLUTE MEAT LOAF "FANATICS" WIN RESERVED VIP ACCESS TO A SPECIAL LIVE PERFORMANCE ON THE TODAY SHOW IN NYC THIS FRIDAY, 10/27!All are welcome, but only a few deserve the VIP section. 😉
To enter to win, please send an email no later than 6PM EST, Tomorrow, October 26th to meatloaftodayshow@yahoo.com. Your email should include:

-Your full name

-Your phone number

-Your date of birth (18 and older only)

-You must type this out beneath your date of birth: "If I win this VIP access to see the legendary Meat Loaf perform and promote his new album Bat Out Of Hell III. (releasing on 10/31), I PROMISE that I can be in New York on 10/27 between 5:30 and 6:30 AM EST for the show. I also authorize Meatloaf.net to email me in the future for Meat Loaf-related news only."

You will ONLY be notified if you've won VIP access. If you are chosen as a winner YOU MUST HAVE LEGAL ID FOR ADMISSION TO THE SHOW!

Pitchfork Scraping For News?

extraI have much love for Espers, but since when did a $600 mahogany Martin getting dinged up on a flight make the muster for a longish Pitchfork news item.  C'mon, this ain't akin to a van full of gear getting stolen nor is it a couple of mild-mannered indie rocker kids getting beat up by Houston's finest.  I mean, if you're going to give some ink to La Familia Espers, why not talk about Meg Baird's freshly-minted solo album.  Warning:  It's okay to delete your copy of Pink Moon on the Nano to make room for this one.  Don't sweat it, it's a worthy replacer.

Meg Baird: "Waltze of the Tennis Player"  (mp3 deeplink thanks to Philebrity.com)

It’s Official : Kurt Cobain Bigger Than Snoopy

From Billboard.com :

Elvis Presley has ceded his crown to Nirvana lead singer Kurt Cobain (above, middle) on Forbes.com's list as the top-earning dead celebrity. The list, published yesterday (Oct. 24), said Cobain earned $50 million between October 2005 and October 2006. Presley wound up in the No. 2 slot with $42 million, down from last year's $45 million.Forbes.com bases its dollar amounts on licensing deals for using the deceased celebrities' work or image in advertising or elsewhere. This was Cobain's first time on the list in its six years of publication. Presley has ruled the roost since its inception, said Forbes.com staff writer Lacey Rose.

Cobain's coup was thanks to his widow, actress and singer Courtney Love, who sold a 25% stake in the Nirvana's song catalog to New York music publishing company PrimeWave.

Ranked after Presley is "Peanuts" cartoon strip creator Charles Schulz at $35 million. Rounding out the top five were the Beatles' John Lennon at $24 million and groundbreaking physicist Albert Einstein at $20 million, whose estate profited from such licensing deals as the popular "Baby Einstein" educational videos.

No disrespect to the 1921 winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics, but if Tupac's estate isn't beating Einstein, someone is screwing up royally. 

To Hell With The Cell : Nawlins Docs Say Extreme Gabbers Are Shooting Blanks

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(a photograph of a sperm sample would be highly inappropriate for a family blog such as this, so let's enjoy the wonders of Sea Monkeys, instead!)

From the Guardian's Ian "I'd Like To Collect A" Sample.

Men who use mobile phones for long periods at a time may be at risk of damaging their sperm, according to research by American scientists.Samples taken from men attending a fertility clinic revealed that their sperm declined steadily in number, quality and ability to swim as mobile phone usage increased. Where men used their mobiles for more than four hours a day, researchers found a 30% drop in sperm motility or movement and viability when compared with men who did not use a mobile phone.

Scientists believe the study is too preliminary to prove an unequivocal link between mobile phones and falling sperm counts, but the work received a cautious welcome from other scientists who called for further studies to rule out other factors known to influence sperm quality, such as age, weight, smoking, stress and whether people had sedentary jobs.

Ashok Agarwal, who presented his findings at the American Society for Reproductive Medicine conference in New Orleans, stressed the study did not prove mobile phones were damaging male fertility, but urged scientists to investigate the possibility.

On behalf of the cellular phone industry, I'd like to challenge these finding. Not me, personally (I stood too close to a microwave oven while watching "Three's Company" as a youngster, and well, the rest is history), but there's a mountain of evidence that runs contrary to Dr. Argwai's claims.  For instance, Lee Atwater hasn't impregnated anyone in years.

The New Pornographers – Barcelona & Australian Dates Confirmed

12/2- Barcelona, ES at Primavera Club 06 – ESTRELLA DAMM STAGE:
(with Teenage Fanclub, The Rapture, The Wrens, Bob Log III and more) 

12/8-Melbourne AUS at Meredith Music Festival

12/10-Sydney NSW at The Factory

12/11-Adelaide SA at Governor Hindmarsh

12/13-Melbourne AUS at Prince of Wales

14-Melbourne AUS at Prince of Wales

15-Sydney NSW at Gaelic Club
(tickets available from All Moshtix outlets including Fish Records, stores, Electric Monkeys, Red Eye, Coogee Bay Hotel, Central Station or moshtix.com.au, phonecharge Gaelic Club (02) 9211 1687 or moshtix (02) 9209 4614

16-Brisbane AUS at Alfred's Block Party