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T.I., Lil Wayne, Chamillionaire on Crunk Hits Vol 4

Crunk Hits-- for serious, maybe the most surefire compilation series on the planet-- is back like it forgot something on this, its fourth incarnation, due December 4 on TVT.

The eighteen-track collection documents crunk at a crossroads, with genre godfather Lil Jon's oft-delayed Crunk Rock still on the back burner and the all-encompassing mega-genre "ringtone rap" eating everything in its path. Despite all that, Crunk Hits still manages to wrangle eighteen of the wildest Southern rap cuts of the last many months for its latest volume. Though much of it may not be explicitly crunk per se, one is never wrong where "Stuntin' Like My Daddy" is concerned, and highlights include basically everything here.

On a somewhat sad note, unlike the last time we reported on Crunk Hits, there's no accompanying Hyphy Hitz collection to tell you about. Door's open, man. [MORE...]

Maximo Park Celebrate Hometown With Beer, Bus Tour

Newcastle, England mischief makers Maxïmo Park would probably make their hometown plenty proud just by showing up to their December 15 show at the Metro Radio Arena, but by re-branding the famous Newcastle Brown Ale as Maxïmo Brown Ale, they must be something like local heroes.

According to, Newcastle Brown Ale brewery Tyneside Brewers asked the boys if they wanted to create their own one-off version of the beer, and they accepted. It seems the beer's taste difference from the original will be similar to the taste difference between colors of M&M's, so Maxïmo Brown Ale will distinguish itself via a label designed by the band.

Maxïmo lead singer Paul Smith was honored by the opportunity, saying, "So many amazing things have happened for our band in a short space of time, and to have our image emblazoned on a Brown label is another addition to that list. It would be great for our band to be as synonymous with Newcastle as the mighty Brown Ale, and it's both amusing and an honor to be able to deface the label in this manner!"

Maxïmo Park's beer launches around England on December 15, the same day as their Newcastle show. But it's not the only neat tie-in the band has planned for the date. They're also holding a contest for ticketholders to get a chance to go on a bus tour of the city inspired by the video for Our Earthly Pleasures single "Karaoke Plays", which came out today, December 3, via Warp.

By sending an email with their phone numbers to (subject: "MAILOUTBUSCOMP"), show attendees will have a shot at a pair of tickets for the tour, featuring the same bus and driver from the video. The winners, contacted December 10, will see Maxïmo's favorite places around town as well as a few of the video's locations. The tour also features earthly pleasures such as "food, drink and lots of secret extras!" [MORE...]

Constantines Issue Limited Edition 7"

Despite their punk ethos (perceived and otherwise) and a mess of vinyl-era sonic touchstones in their back closets, when Toronto's Constantines issue a single for "Hard Feelings" from their forthcoming LP on January 15, it'll be the band's very first 7".

Unlike "Feelings", the limited run single's B-side "Easy Money" won't appear on the as-yet-untitled album the recent Arts & Crafts signees are presently knocking out in Toronto. The disc will reportedly emerge in April, though you can check out the band's progress in a series of "web shorts" the guys are posting on their website. How newfangled!

Radiohead Firm Up Tour a Wee Bit
Not quite everything in its right place

That rather vague list of Radiohead tour dates we mentioned last week became slightly less vague over the weekend, as the band firmed up venues and specific dates for their shows in Paris, Nimes, Amsterdam, and Berlin. Additionally, pairs of shows in Dublin and Nimes appear to have been shaved to a single date apiece. Of course, there's still plenty about the itinerary that remains to be seen, including a North American jaunt.

In other Radiohead news, folks the world over began receiving e-mails this weekend assuring them that "Your Discbox has been despatched," (sic) and a few lucky folks even got the thing itself already.

What else? In Rainbows drops in more traditional form December 31 on XL in the UK and the following day in North America on ATO. "Jigsaw Falling Into Place", the first single from In Rainbows, emerges in the UK mid-January, while the giant box set that seems a little silly is due next week. [MORE...]


Born Ruffians to Issue Colorful Debut LP in Spring
LOL @ "Badonka Donkey"

Born Ruffians (whose members, I would wager, collectively own every Animal Collective release ever) will issue Red, Yellow and Blue, the first full-length collection of their sprightly, circular pop blasts February 25 on Warp in North America. Fans of the Ruff stuff in the UK, Europe, and Japan, fear not; the disc will emerge from Warp in your lands come May 26. Hey, remember when Warp was an IDM label?

The band just wrapped a sizeable tour with their countrymen in Caribou. They promise to "tour a ton in 2008," although at the moment it appears they've only begun to sketch out the dates. [MORE...]

Califone, Sparhawk, Kozelek Help Do Presidential Songs
As do Wooden Wand, Charalambides' Tom Carter, Rosie Thomas, Denison Witmer

In most journalism circles, one of the biggest stories of the next year will be the 2008 U.S. presidential election, but since Obama, Clinton, and Giuliani have yet to form a shoegaze supergroup, we here at Pitchfork must stick to the Radiohead tour updates, Grizzly Bear collaborations, and indie rock nudity.

Nonetheless, Standard Recording Company has thrown us a bone in the politics department in the form of a three-CD box set tentatively titled Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs About 43 U.S. Presidencies. The set's subject matter is apparent, and its backstory doesn't disappoint.

Christian Kiefer, Matthew Gerken (Nice Monster), and Jefferson Pitcher (ex-Above the Orange Trees) wrote nearly all of Of Great and Mortal Men's songs back in February 2006 as part of February Album Writing Month, a songwriting challenge to write 14 songs in 28 days. They pooled their efforts to pen a song apiece about all of the U.S. presidents (3 x 14 = 42, with the George W. Bush tune arriving later), and they came out of it with a heap of demos.

Then, they fleshed (and are fleshing) the songs out with studio contributions from Califone, Alan Sparhawk (Low), Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon/Red House Painters), Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, Rosie Thomas, Denison Witmer, Marla Hansen (Sufjan Stevens's band), Vince DiFiore (Cake), and Tom Carter (Charalambides), among others.

Kiefer calls the resultant box set "a walk through American history and an inquiry into what makes us Americans as filtered through the lens of our highest public office. There's heartbreak and beauty and criticism and revelation. We're trying to make it work like a big beautiful historical novel."

Of Great and Mortal Men does not yet have a definite release date, but Standard plans to put it out in the summer. The tracklist is here (seriously, it's that simple). Susan Archie is scheduled to design the art for the box itself, and the package will come with 43 cards, each with an image of one of the presidents done by one of 43 different artists.

Finally, Standard will supplement the set with a 44th song, available next November following the election. As soon as the results are official, everyone who bought the box set can go to the label's website and download Mr. or Mrs. 44's song.

Pumpkins, JAMC, QOTSA, Air, CSS Rock Aussie V Fest
Also: The Tough Alliance and Duran Duran

For the traveling Australian edition of the widespread V Festival, organizers have amassed no shortage of talent-- though darn near all of it is imported. Personally, just as we prefer an icy cold novelty-sized can of Foster's to a tallboy of Budweiser, we would prefer Kylie Minogue to Billy Corgan, but that's just us.

Still, the imports V has lined up oughta pack plenty of wallop. The Smashing Pumpkins, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Queens of the Stone Age, Duran Duran's hip-hop tribute to itself, CSS, Sweden's phenomenal Tough Alliance, and the very Australian Presets and Plug-In City will take the stage at four Australia locales in late March and early April. Air and the dreaded Mika will join in on the action in Sydney and Gold Coast, and there only.

Note that these performers are, in fact, just the beginning: more acts can be expected in the coming months. [MORE...]


Lupe Fiasco Talks The Cool, Cheeseburgers, Retirement
"I'm in a dark, melancholy mood. I'm not a happy camper right now."

Lupe Fiasco's got a mind that runs a mile a minute, and a mouth that can keep up with it. The sharp-tongued Chicago MC will follow-up last year's well-received Lupe Fiasco's Food & Liquor with Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, due December 18 from 1st & 15th/Atlantic. We phoned Lupe and did our best to keep up as he talked about the character-based concept behind The Cool, the album's darker hues, the infamous cheeseburger track, radio and comic book spin-offs, Child Rebel Soldiers, Cornel West, and his plans to "retire" after his third album.

There's a lot going on on The Cool, but the basic idea revolves around three previously mentioned characters-- what Lupe calls his "three evil angels"-- depicted in symbol form on the record's cryptogram cover. The first character, the Cool, is a zombie hustler of sorts based on the Food & Liquor song of the same name.

"I expand on the story," Lupe explained. "I introduce two other characters, the Game and the Streets. The Streets is a female. She's like the action personification of the streets, the street life, the call of the streets. The Game is the same way. The Game is the personification of the game. The pimp's game, the hustler's game, the con man's game, whatever."

He continued: "Then they've got supernatural characteristics. Like the Cool, his right hand is rotted away. The only thing that rotted away was his right hand. It represents the rotting away of his righteousness, of his good. And the Streets and the Cool kind of have a love affair going on. So she's represented by this locket. And the locket has a key and it's on fire. And as a gift to the Cool on his rise to fame, she gave him the key. And the key represents the key to the Streets. So she wears a locket around her neck at all times.

"And the way the story goes, she has given that key to tons of people throughout time. Al Capone, Alexander the Great, whatever. She's giving them the key to the Streets. Fame and fortune-- but also the prices.

"The Game, he's represented by a stripped-down skull, a skull with dice in his eyes and smoke coming out of his mouth. The billowing smoke is actually crack smoke."

"It's not a full concept album; it's more spread over like five [tracks], really abstractly."

It's also apparently going to spawn a franchise. According to Fiasco, there are plans afoot to spin The Cool into a horror-themed radio program, complete with Vincent Price-inspired voice-overs. "To really tell it," says Lupe. "Because I think it would be corny to try to be spooky on a hip-hop record. We're actually going to tell it as it is, like a horror psycho-thriller kind of situation."

Indeed, folks will notice a less-than-sunny vibe to the new disc on the whole. "This album was influenced more from the dark side. It's more because of the loss I experienced at the beginning of the year," Lupe explains, referring to the deaths of several loved ones. "I'm in a dark, melancholy mood. I'm not a happy camper right now."

After the radio show, according to Lupe, "we're going to do a comic book." [MORE...]

Mahjongg to Finally Issue New Record on K

The last time we spoke of Mahjongg (right after they'd signed up with K Records), Chicago's herkiest, jerkiest, motleyist crew of post-punkers, we mentioned how long it'd been since the last time we spoke of Mahjongg. That was nearly twelve months ago.

The time away from these pages has paid off in spades for the band, and-- like a well-played round of the game for which they're named-- Mahjongg have methodically stacked all their tiles and victoriously emerged with Kontpab, their sophomore set, due on K February 12.

A brief tour will go down next year in the weeks leading up to the album's release, with dates conveniently located under the jump. I guess this means goodbye for a little while, Mahjongg? Don't be strangers, now. [MORE...]

Blood on the Wall Ready Third Album
This album is brought to you by the letter "Z"

Blood on the Wall, that trio of Brooklyn buds (and, in Brad and Courtney Shanks' case, siblings) with impeccable taste, have combined their powers once again for their third full-length. In keeping with previous LP Awesomer's slightly askew but kinda great title, the album is called Liferz. The Social Registry will release the record on January 22.

And that's it! There's no news of tour dates or a Girl Talk remix or a green screen video contest in sight. Maybe that's kind of refreshing, but man, you three could at least play a couple shows, no? [MORE...]

Sufjan's Literary Event Back On for December 17

Well, that didn't take long. Sufjan Stevens' on-again, off-again PEN American Center-hosted literary event, originally scheduled to take place this past Wednesday, November 28, has been rescheduled. It's now taking place December 17 at Brooklyn's Southpaw. There, our boy Sufjan will chat with Wesley Stace, aka songwriter John Wesley Harding, in an evening hosted by author Rick Moody. (Thanks again to BrooklynVegan.)

This nice little tidbit brings us again to the Cliff's Notes edition of all that is Sufjan in late '07: he's fresh off "The BQE", he's got a little tour in the works, he's got some stuff up for auction tonight, and that song contest ends tomorrow. [MORE...]

Klaxons Go Crazy for France on Latest Single

And here you thought the last Klaxons release we reported about was a little bugged out. The latest single from the Mercury Prize-winning Myths of the Near Future is "As Above So Below", and though the single confounds many an expectation, it looks like it's plenty awesome regardless.

The A-side features a remix from Klaxons' pals Justice. And the b-side? It's Klaxons doing "As Above So Below" in French. Zut alors!

Oh, and though the single is out now, don't go running down to the record shop just yet, unless you live in France. Because that's the only place Because is releasing it (though it is available elsewhere on import).

So, to recap: it's a record sung partially in French, with a remix from a French dance act, sold only in France. Mais oui! Erm, rather than continuing to exhaust my single semester of middle school French, I'll just stick the Klaxons' current live schedule after the jump. [MORE...]
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