Monthly Archives: April 2010

Report: Tallest Man On Earth in D.C.

 

Following a
grating set by Nurses, Kristian Matsson – aka The Tallest Man On Earth – showed
a sold-out April 23 crowd at hipster venue the Black Cat how things get done.
Screaming fangirls not optional.

 

By Roxana Hadadi / Photos By Adam Fried

 

The Internet is a peculiar thing. About 10 months
ago, when The Tallest Man on Earth a.k.a. Swedish singer-songwriter Kristian
Matsson opened for John Vanderslice at the Black Cat in Washington, D.C.
,
barely a fraction of the already small audience (about one-third of the venue’s
700-person capacity) had any idea who Matsson was. In fact, the Black Cat
itself got the artist’s name wrong on a sign outside – calling him “The Tallest
Man in the World” – until someone pointed out the mistake and it was hastily
corrected with handwritten marker.

 

And sure, Matsson had a few screaming fangirls in
attendance, but for the most part, people were there for Vanderslice – and the
blueberry pie he was handing out to the audience was definitely an added bonus.

 

But on Friday, April 23, the Black Cat was mysteriously packed
– sold out, even – just for little ol’ Matsson (that was literal, because, you
know … he’s short). Maybe it had to do with his latest album, “The Wild Hunt,”
which came out earlier this month, or maybe it was because of his MySpace
profile, which has gathered hundreds of thousands of listens on some tracks.
Either way, the venue was overrun with Tallest Man on Earth fans jonesing for
the singer-songwriter’s mesh of old-school Americana and bluesy folk.

 

They weren’t alone, though – the crowd was also mixed with
pastel-wearing, Teva-donning upper-middle class yuppies who made it seem like
Georgetown had vomited all over the little club on 14th Street. And
those paunchy suburbanites cared a whole lot more about the Black Cat’s drinks
than Matsson’s songs, leading to a few uncomfortable instances where the
singer’s emotionally wrenching ballads were interrupted by far-too-loud lushes.
Keep it classy, D.C.

 

The night began with an opening set from Portland band Nurses, whose heavy use of
synthesizers and drum machines got real old, real quick. During their 45 or so
minutes, more than a few girls swayed and gyrated back and forth to the band’s
droning, Animal Collective-like songs – but they all seemed to be wearing some
variation of an outfit including cut-off denim shorts, tights and boots (new
D.C. hipster uniform, apparently), so what do they know?

 

 

 

Yet when Matsson took the stage, it was those same girls
that fueled much of the maniacal shrieking that met him. And during his 12-song
set, which drew heavily from his 2008 album, “Shallow Grave,” and “The Wild
Hunt,” Matsson did a lot to encourage their wide-eyed fanaticism: Much like his
performance last year, there were lots of stares off into the distance; leaning
over the edge of the stage into people’s faces; and sheepish facial
expressions, as Matsson seemed genuinely surprised by the dedication of the
crowd. That modesty seemed most evident on some of the crowd’s most favorite
tracks, like “The Gardener” and “Pistol Dreams” from “Shallow Grave,” when
Matsson let the crowd take over singing duties as he strolled around the stage,
ducking into shadows.

 

Metaphorical? Maybe. But Matsson still delivered. He started
things by immediately launching into the title track from “The Wild Hunt,”
which introduced listeners to the fractured English, but simplistic beauty, of
his lyrics: “I left my heart to the wild hunt a-comin/ I live until the call/
And I plan to be forgotten, when I’m gone/ Yes, I’ll be leavin’ in the fall.”
Similarly inquisitive about the nature of life and salvation was the next
track, “Thousand Ways,” in which Matsson half-mused, half-snarled, “I have lived
for ages, I’m a thousand turns of tides/ I’m a thousand wakes of springtime,
and a thousand infant cries … But I’ll always be blamed for the sun going down
with us all/ But I’m the light in the middle of every man’s fall.” A little
spiritual, a little metaphysical … Matsson does it all.

 

 

And of course, the man was overwhelmingly gracious,
numerously thanking the crowd – “I’m so happy to be back here,” he stammered
out before “Thousand Ways”
– while also singling out his manager Niclas Stenholm, whom he invited onstage.
Really, the only time Matsson even bordered on rude was when he shushed the
crowd to announce his gratitude for Stenholm. Be quiet, people! A bromance is
upon you.

 

 

But no one was going to quiet down, not even when Matsson
littered his setlist with seriously somber picks like “Where Do My Bluebird
Fly” and “You’re Going Back” from “The Wild Hunt,” which elicited many off-key,
impassioned sing-alongs (especially during the line “You’re just a target in
the sky” from the former song). And when he struck up the intro for the set’s
closer “King of Spain,” it was like he had just handed out his cell phone
number or announced he was opening up a free kissing booth after the show:
Girls squealed, friends clung to each other, spasms of glee abounded – and,
expectedly, Matsson blushed. What else is new?

 

 

 

Colin Meloy Inks Kids Book Deal

 

 

“A collaboration they’ve
been dreaming about for years” Meloy + artist Carson Ellis.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Decemberists mainman Colin Meloy, no stranger to
flights of lyrical whimsy, and an author in his own right, is now set to deploy
his active imagination in the field of children’s literature. HarperCollins
Publishers announced yesterday that it has acquired North American rights
to Wildwood, a middle-grade series by Meloy,
illustrated by acclaimed artist Carson EllisWildwood is described as “a
classic tale of adventure, magic, and danger, set in an alternate version of
modern-day Portland, Oregon.”

 

It’s a 3-book deal for Meloy, with the first one due in the
fall of 2011.

 

“Storytelling and rich imagery are hallmarks of Colin’s songs, so
writing a novel seems like a perfect next step for him,” said Donna Bray of HarperCollins imprint Balzer & Bray.
Wildwood is both incredibly original yet timeless – nothing
less than an American Narnia. We’re thrilled to introduce such an exciting new
voice in children’s literature.”

 

Steven Malk of Writers House added, “Colin
and Carson tap
into the greatest potential of an illustrated novel; the words and images
invigorate each other in a way readers rarely get to experience.”

 

“The germ of this series goes back a long way,” Meloy said.
“For me, this is the culmination of a long-term collaboration with Carson, matching words
and art.  I grew up on a steady diet of Lloyd
Alexander, Roald Dahl, and Tolkien; this is
our humble paean to that grand tradition of epic adventure stories.” Artist
Ellis, who first rose to prominence as the artist who created the band’s iconic
visual look, and has gone on to illustrate bestselling books such as The
Mysterious Benedict Society
 and Lemony Snicket’s The Composer
is Dead,
commented, “Wildwood is a project very close to
my heart – the collaboration that Colin and I have been dreaming about for
years.”

 

BONUS BEATS: Name the two separated-at-birth celebrities, below.

 

 

Congotronics Box Set Due in June

 

 

5-LP vinyl box also
includes exclusive 7″ single of Akron/Family collaborating with Kasai Allstars.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Here’s one for you, world beat-cum-indie rock fanatics.

 

The acclaimed Congotronics series gets the deluxe vinyl box treatment this summer courtesy Crammed Discs,
the Belgium-based
label that has been documenting the electrified traditional music of Congolese
acts including Konono N°1, Staff Benda
Bilili
and Kasai Allstars. The limited edition, one-time-only pressing will
contain all 5 Congotronics albums to date (full list below), an exclusive
7″ featuring a collaboration between Kasai Allstars and US psych-rock-folk
adventurers Akron/Family, plus a
re-usable Congotronics USB pen drive with videos & mp3s and a
specially-designed book featuring photography from Kinshasa.

 

Here’ what you get:

 

– Konono No 1 Vinyl LP: Congotronics
Congotronics 2
/”Buzz’n’Rumble From The Urb’n’Jungle”
Vinyl LP (feat. five
different Kinshasa bands)
– Kasai Allstars Vinyl LP: In The
7th Moon, The Chief Turned Into A Swimming Fish And Ate The Head Of His Enemy
By Magic

– Staff Benda Bilili Vinyl LP: Très
Très Fort

– the brand-new Konono No 1 double vinyl LP: Assume Crash Position
– a Congotronics book with exclusive photos from Kinshasa, Congo.
– a customized, re-usable 2Gb USB pen drive containing 9 videos, and mp3s
(in 320 kbps) of all 5 albums.
– 7″ vinyl with two exclusive tracks by Kasai Allstars, one of them
featuring a collaboration with Akron/Family
 

The five
albums above, including Konono No1’s Assume
Crash Position
will also be made available to the customer for immediate
download when the orders are processed on May 15th (i.e. prior to the release
date of the new Konono album). Orders should be shipped out around June 30.

 
Each vinyl
(180 gr) will come in an original sleeve, and an inner sleeve of a different
colour, reproducing the Congotronics fabric which will be on the box (with a
design resembling that of the fabrics used for dresses & robes in the Congo,
based on the Congotronics logo).
 

Full details and ordering info at the Crammed Discs site, natch.

 

Stooges w/2010 Raw Power Live Album

 

Helps if you’re going to one of the London concerts, of course…

 

By Blurt Staff

 

This Sunday, May 2, fans of
Iggy and the Stooges will be able to purchase RAW POWER “LIVE” on USB stick and MP3 download when the band
perform their seminal 1973 album at the London HMV Hammersmith Apollo.

 

The instant digital live
concert recording is the brainchild of Music Networx (whose other digital live
recordings includes KISS, Alice Cooper, Madness, Simply Red, Brett Anderson,
Foreigner and Simple Minds) – you’ll be able to either pre-order the concert
stick or MP3 download from www.simfylive.com/iggypop,
or they can pick up the USB stick in person right after the May 2 concert.

 

The same goes for the second
Raw Power London Apollo concert on
Monday May 3rd. The USB stick will retail for £20 pounds sterling, or can be
downloaded via MP3 for €14.95 euros from www.simfylive.com.

 

Check those currency
converter charts, North American fans!

 

 

Lala: Where Music No Longer Plays

 

Streaming service set
to shutter on May 31 with no details yet disclosed. We’re betting that
President Obama already has a subscription to Spotify…

 

By Fred Mills

 

Boy, here’s one you didn’t see coming… well, that depends on
whether or not you subscribed to Rhapsody (reportedly on the rails) or listened to music at MySpace
Music
(in 2010 the equivalent of a 26k dial-up connection). Come to think
of it, pretty much everybody saw this coming. Especially music consumers NOT in
North America, enviously eyeing overseas folks (and occasional lucky-ass people
Stateside; Lefsetz, we’re talkin’ to YOU), whose dewy-eyed testimonials about Spotify have pumped up the volume to
the point where nobody in their right mind would sign up for any kind of music
streaming service not clearly and definitively looking at least, oh, 6 months
into the future. Like Spotify. Which the major labels seem determined to, if
not stymie, at least bow to their will. Time will show the wiser.

 

Lala (aka lala.com, aka www.lala.com) unexpectedly posted this message at
their sign in page today:

 

“Lala is shutting
down. The Lala service will be shut down on May 31st, 2010. Unfortunately,
we are no longer accepting new users. Members, you can still use Lala through
May 31st, 2010. Log in for details.”

 

 

Members who did log in received a generic message expressing
thanks for the “support” and indicating that they would “receive a credit in
the amount of your Lala web song purchases for use
on Apple’s iTunes Store.”

 

As we all know, Lala was bought by Apple not long ago. Like
we said – if you didn’t see this coming (given Apple’s deep pockets and
history), well…

 

It’s not like the Lala music player(s) and interface(s) were
particularly intuitive or helpful in the first place. Music websites viewed the
partnerships as stupid money, but consumers rarely were heard singing Lala’s
praises, so  smart money is on no tears
shed in the long run. Prediction: Apple fine-tuning and expanding iTunes (no
pun intended) to the point where the government files an antitrust suit. Guess
who will have deeper pockets? No doubt Lefsetz will have a commentary set for
an email blast any second now, too…

 

 Read more about this news here.

 

Holy Crap, Wishbone Ash Is Back!

 

Despite membership
shuffles and even the occasional legal tussle, they never completely went away.

 

By Fred Mills

 

The mighty Wishbone Ash, extant in various forms since the
late ‘60s – anybody who doesn’t own their classic album Argus really doesn’t know much about rock ‘n’ roll – but often
consigned in the minds of fans as an old dinosaur/classic rock act, is about to
release their first new studio recording in ages.

 

 

 

The good news? “Reason to Believe,” due May 17 at iTunes,
sounds like they never left. (The band can be found at WishboneAsh.com, btw.) The
bad news? Their ain’t any. Check out the official video, below. That’s followed
by a vintage live clip of “Warrior” from 1973.

 

The other news? Well, this is the Andy Powell-led Ash.
Powell was one of the founders. There’s also the other founder, Martin Turner,
who tours under the Wishbone Ash name as well; check him out at WishboneAsh.co.uk.
(Hint: both outfits have their merits.)

 

 


TSOOL Issues limited-ed. Live EP

Five songer recorded
at Stratosphere Sound in NYC.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

On a rainy afternoon in February, Göteberg,
Sweden’s The Soundtrack of
Our Lives made their way to Stratosphere Sound (which counts ex-Smashing
Pumpkins guitarist James Iha as one of its owners) in New York City. Only hours after landing, they
plugged in their equipment and cranked out the five numbers that now comprise Live at Lime with The Soundtrack of Our Lives,
an exclusive EP for LimeWire Store. It’s the followup to last year’s Communion studio album.

 

“We didn’t really think about the songs we
played,” said vocalist Ebbot Lundberg about the band’s Live at Lime session. “I can’t really analyze how it works. If it feels good, it feels
good.”

 

“TSOOL embody what we hope for when recording these
sessions – great musicianship, a fun attitude, and a willingness to play around
and give us fresh takes on their material,” said Tom Monday, LimeWire Director
of Partner Relations. “Add an award-winning engineer like Geoff Sanoff to
the mix and it’s like magic – it was a joy to watch these guys at work.”

 

Go here to get the EP: Live at
Lime with The Soundtrack of Our Lives

 

You can also watch the band lay down “Second Life
Replay” in the studio here in this exclusive
video
.

 

 

EP tracklisting:

 

1.

“Pictures of Youth (Live at
Lime)”

2.

“Lost Prophets In Vain (Live at
Lime)”

3.

“Galaxy Gramophone (Live at
Lime)”

4.

“Second Life Replay (Live at
Lime)”

5.

“Flipside (Live at Lime)”

 

 

 

 

 

Cap’n Jazz Reunion Gig Free Download

 

Joan of Arc extended
family tree has a zillion branches (and at least 24 songs). Check the Cap’n
Jazz video from the reunion, below.

 

By Blurt Staff

 

Back in January, Cap’n
Jazz
played a surprise four-song reunion set at the Don’t Mind Control
Variety Show, and as one reviewer put it, “The
building almost crumbled under the weight of nostalgic tremor upon the first
few licks of opening (Cap’n Jazz) song, ‘Little League.'” Hosted
at Chicago’s Empty Bottle, the event was a sold-out, one-time gathering of the Joan of Arc family tree that featured
nearly 30 musicians – culled from bands such as Euphone, Vacations and
Birthmark – who have performed with the band during its 15+ years in existence.

The organizers made a soundboard recording of the show that’s now being made
available as a free 24 song, 320kbps MP3 download. See the full tracklisting
below, and then go here to download the music. Incidentally, Cap’n Jazz is doing a pair of reunion concerts on July 17 and 18 at the Bottom Lounge in Chicago, although both shows are reportedly sold out; the band has indicated it will be announcing more dates soon.

 

Tracklisting:

1. Euphone w/Tim Kinsella – Friend
in Common
2. Euphone w/Tim Kinsella – King Missile Lizard King Jam
3. The Zoo Wheel – The Prize/Water
4. The Zoo Wheel – Hi Honies
5. Owen – No More No Where
6. Litesalive – Tele / Shoulders / Alone and One / Blue-Bronze Player
7. A Tundra – Beer Plugs
8. A Tundra – Fallen Awake
9. A Tundra – The Doug McComb Over
10. Jeremy Boyle – Thanks Todd and Theo
11. Disappears – The 15th (Wire cover)
12. Disappears – Sound of Confusion (Spacemen 3 cover)
13. Cap’n Jazz – Little League
14. Cap’n Jazz – Oh Messy Life
15. Cap’n Jazz – We Are Scientists
16. Cap’n Jazz – Que Suerte
17. Joshua Abrams – [amalgamation of many tunes]
18. Birthmark – Untitled New Song
19. Birthmark – Untitled New Song
20. Birthmark – Untitled New Song
21. Vacations – Friday the 13th Pt. 2
22. Vacations – New Friends
23. Vacations – Ewoks in Domes
24. Slick Conditions – Spit in Layers

 

 

UPDATE 2 Lips’ Drozd in Hospital

 

“Undisclosed illness”
causes cancellation of two key gigs; full details being withheld.

 

By Fred Mills

 

Invoking the ominously pregnant terms “unforeseen
circumstances” and “undisclosed illness,” the Flaming Lips have canceled a pair
of concerts following multiinstrumentalist Steven Drozd’s hospitalization yesterday.
The band was set to play Florida’s
SunFest tonight (April 29) and the Beale Street Music Festival Memphis on May 1.
A hastily-drafted statement from SunFest yesterday read thusly:

 

“Due to
unforeseen circumstances SunFest is announcing a last minute schedule
change,” a statement from the event reads. “The Flaming Lips have
withdrawn from the festival. We regret any inconvenience that this may cause.
… SunFest has been informed that the cancellation is due to due to the
hospitalization of Steven Drozd and therefore extends wishes for a speedy recovery.”

 

For the time being the Lips camp is remaining mum about the
source of Drozd’s hospitalization, although the group’s publicist did tell
Spinner.com that Drozd is “expected to make a full recovery” from the ailment,
whatever it may be. No other dates have been canceled yet, and the band has a
number of high-profile festival dates slated for the summer, including Bonnaroo
and Glastonbury.

 

 UPDATE: Pitchfork is reporting that drummer Kliph Scurlock posted a short note to Facebook last night that still doesn’t specify what happened but is intended to put fans’ minds at ease:

“Kliph Scurlock
wants everybody to know that Steven will be just fine as soon as he
gets some rest. He (and the rest of us) really appreciate your kind
thoughts and well wishes, but please don’t worry yourselves.”

 

UPDATE 2: Yesterday Drozd posted his status on his Twitter feed which read:

Thank you,
everyone, for your concern. I had to do this and I’m getting it
together.