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Country Music Legend Porter Wagoner, 1927-2007

Country music legend and Grand Ole Opry star Porter Wagoner died Sunday, October 28, from lung cancer at the age of 80, according to a Reuters report. The report cites Wagoner's publicist, Darlene Bieber, who said Wagoner entered a hospice facility in Nashville several days before his death.

A Grammy winner and member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Wagoner was known for his penchant for flashy rhinestone suits. In addition to his solo career as a musician, entertainer, and television host, he nurtured the career of a young Dolly Parton as both a mentor and duet partner. He was allegedly the inspiration for Parton's classic song "I Will Always Love You".

The Howell County, Missouri native was a fixture of the Grand Ole Opry for 50 years, though he didn't shy away from controversy just to tow the party line. For example, in 1979, he invited James Brown to perform on the Opry stage, despite the objections of other Opry members.

Just this past June, Wagoner released his last album, Wagonmaster on Anti- Records. He opened for the White Stripes at Madison Square Garden in July.

Pumpkins Prep Another Best Buy-Only Zeitgeist

Why, Billy, why? Just when some people we know made up had finally finished paying off the credit card interest after buying FOUR different versions of Smashing Pumpkins' Zeitgeist-- which, let's face it, is no Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness-- at FOUR different retailers, you go and plop another one on us.

Zeitgeist: The Umpteenth Unnecessary Edition or whatever drops at Best Buy locations and only Best Buy locations October 30 (aka tomorrow). It seems indie retailers (not to mention fans) can suck it once again.

Why, when you already have the regular edition, the Target edition, the iTunes edition, and the original Best Buy edition, might you actually consider possibly wanting this artifact too? Well, it has a few bonus tracks-- one from the first Best Buy Zeitgeist ("Death From Above"), one from the iTunes Zeitgeist ("Stellar"), and one that appears nowhere else ("Ma Belle"). It also comes with a DVD sporting the full-length documentary Inside the Zeitgeist. And, um, somebody put the cover art in Photoshop and desaturated it. (They're calling this a "metallic silver color scheme"; it's a "scheme" all right.)

Well, at least they got one thing right. Excess is very much in the spirit of the times. [MORE...]

New Magnetic Fields Album Gets Release Date, Title

Thanks to reader Joe Roberman, this morning we discovered the following announcement on Stephin Merritt's website:

"The Magnetic Fields are happy to announce that their new album, titled Distortion, will be released on Nonesuch Records on January 15, 2008. The band will perform a small number of U.S. tour dates in February and March. Specific details regarding venues and ticket pre-sales will be announced shortly."

Nice. It's been awhile since we've heard from the Magnetic Fields; their last record, i, came out in 2004. In the meantime, Merritt's kept busy writing Showtunes, hanging with the Gothic Archies, appearing on Fox, and shilling for Volvo, but we're glad to see he's back to the main event.


Xiu Xiu, Deerhoof, Why? Members Help AIDS Orphans

Jamie Stewart has taken on AIDS in song (see Knife Play's "Hives Hives"), and he'll soon take it on in real life as well.

Along with Deerhoof's Satomi Matsuzaki and Why?'s Yoni Wolf, the Xiu Xiu mastermind will DJ at a benefit he helped put together for Kenya's Nyumbani, whose Children's Home houses orphans of parents claimed by AIDS. The event, called "Give In", takes place November 16 at Oakland, California's LoBot (Lower Bottom) Gallery.

Attendees are asked to present a donation of $7-$20 at the door, with proceeds going to Nyumbani. Nyumbani also sponsors outreach programs to increase AIDS and HIV+ awareness, and runs Nyumbani Village, "a self-sustaining community to serve orphans and elders who have been left behind by the 'lost generation' of the AIDS pandemic."

Even if you can't make the benefit, you're encouraged to learn more and donate directly at the Nyumbani website.

UPDATE: Kill Rock Stars has announced that they will match the amount of money raised at the party with their own donation.

As reported last week, Xiu Xiu deliver Women as Lovers, their sixth proper LP, January 29 via Kill Rock Stars. They also have that Polaroid book-cum-compilation out in November, and cover a Why? track on the U.S. version of Why?'s forthcoming single "Hollows", due November 19 on Anticon (the European version, sans Xiu Xiu, is expected November 18 on Tomlab). Deerhoof, meanwhile, play the ATP-sponsored Release the Bats Halloween shindig in London November 2.

PB&J; Nab Besnard Lakes as Openers; Peter Goes Solo

It's like a Neil Diamond song come to life, really: From the wilds of Canada to the snowdrifts of Sweden, they're coming to America! Montreal's Besnard Lakes have been added as support on all dates of Stockholm residents Peter Bjorn and John's forthcoming U.S. tour, which kicks off November 23 in Houston. It's a short tour, sure, but a good fit nonetheless. If anybody could help kick that jammin' PB&J set-ender into the next municipality, it's the Lakes.

Peter Bjorn and John have a short string of gigs in the UK with Maps early next month, while-- what's this?-- Peter Morén plays a solo set at NYC's Joe's Pub November 19. The same night as cabaret legend Ute Lemper, no less! Apparently, this show isn't a one-off thing either. According to the Joe's Pub website, Peter's got a whole solo album in the works:

"Peter writes a lot of songs-- too many to fit in the prospect of just one band with three songwriters, so in his spare time he has recorded a solo album that bears some kinship with Paul Simon, Tim Hardin, Brian Eno, John Cale, Caetano Veloso, Robyn Hitchcock, the Go-Betweens and maybe the Shins' acoustic ballads."

Sounds good! As for the Joe's Pub gig, "Peter will mostly play by his lonesome, but may invite guests or have some special treats up his sleeve."

And Peter's not the only one doing his own thing. Björn Yttling is producing the debut full-length from Swedish singer and Röyksopp/Kleerup collaborator Lykke Li; he'll join her for two NYC gigs this week, playing various instruments.

Seems PB&J have also made good on their promise to make up those Canadian dates they scrapped in favor of MTV last month. The trio has lined up Toronto and Montreal gigs in January, plus two more shows to boot.

As for the Besnard bunch, as previously mentioned, Jagjaguwar just last week reissued the Lakes' 2004 debut Volume 1. [MORE...]


Natalie Portman's Mixtape Tracklist Revealed

Upon reading the story we ran mere hours ago about the forthcoming Natalie Portman-curated Big Change: Songs for FINCA compilation that heads to iTunes on October 30, Portman herself flew to our Chicago headquarters outfitted in full Padmé Amidala dress, rang our buzzer, and stormed into the office demanding that we pay for her dry cleaning.*

She then politely handed us the compilation's tracklist, which is the after the jump. Turns out Tokyo Police Club, Vetiver, Wooden Wand, and Thee More Shallows, among many others, join the Shins, Beirut, Antony and the Johnsons, Devendra Banhart, M. Ward, and Norah Jones on the list of contributors. Also, Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn & John did the Shins remix. Those freakin' guys are everywhere.

* This did not happen. [MORE...]

Ipecac Recordings Roster Becomes Toys
Mike Patton, Qui, Isis, Melvins, Dalek-- now tiny and adorable!

Once a month next year, teeny boutique toymakers UNKL will issue a series of limited-edition figurines inspired by the Ipecac Recordings roster. Yep, that Ipecac: The Mike Patton co-founded label with a bent for dumping disc after disc of weird-ass experimental punk/noize/sludge/rap on a gleefully suspecting public. And that UNKL, the people responsible for those Wilco figures. It is, to say the least, a strange pairing.

Still, these Ipecac toys are really nifty-looking, with a lot more personality (if a slightly higher chance of coming to life and murdering your face) than, say, a Kindercore set might. Each figure will be available individually in a limited edition of 500, with a new one arriving each month.

Stay tuned for updates from our "Mike Patton regresses into childhood watch '07" as they come.

As for Ipecac, their next release is Brian Retzell's score to the recently released vampire flick 30 Days of Night, out October 30. [MORE...]

Le Loup Sign to Memphis Industries in the UK, Tour
You know how we like to keep you in the Loup

Photo by Brian Stansfield

Seems Sam Simkoff and his Le Loup have been snapped up by Memphis Industries in the UK, home to the Go! Team, the Pipettes, Field Music, and more.

Memphis will issue Le Loup's debut with the super long, folk art-inspired title-- The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly, don't you know-- December the 3rd over there. The disc is already out in the States on Sub Pop-sidiary Hardly Art.

Le Loup had been playing shows alongside fellow District of Columbia residents Georgie James; illness, however, caused the James gang to cancel their plans for the next few weeks. Le Loup will soldier on sans Georgie for two more shows, then pick things right back up in December on another quick jaunt, this one with Margot & the Nuclear So and So's. [MORE...]

Burrito Brothers Set Kicks Off Parsons Archival Series

The Flying Burrito Brothers "Live" at the Avalon 1969 is but the first volume in the newly inaugurated Amoeba Records imprint's "Gram Parsons Archives" series, set to raid the vaults of the late country-rock legend.

showcases Parsons' twang-psych supergroup (also boasting Parsons' fellow ex-Byrd Chris Hillman) spreading its wings on a pair of April 1969 gigs opening for the Grateful Dead at San Francisco's legendary Avalon Ballroom.

Recorded by sound engineer/acid maker Owsley Stanley, the gigs are packed with some of Parsons' trad-country favorites never before heard on other Burrito Brothers records. The set also features the debut of a couple home-recorded bonus tracks, as well as a 24-page photo book with rare images of Parsons and company. Get "Live" November 6. [MORE...]

Caribou Extends Tour

Caribou is how we North Americans refer to our wild reindeer, and it's also what Dan Snaith's been calling the smiley psych-outs he's been making ever since he left Manitoba in the rear view. But whaddya call a Caribou who's managed to make its way to Europe? Superintelligent, you say? Dan does have that doctorate, after all.

Allow me to cut the crap: following his string of North American dates currently in progress, Dan "Caribou" Snaith will head to Europe in mid-November for a monthlong tour. Of course, these are merely the most pressing of Dan's plans for trans-Atlantic travel: he and some stellar company will keep the peace at next May's Pitchfork vs. ATP festival in Rye, England. [MORE...]


Georgie James Cancel Dates Due to Illness

Better up that vitamin C intake pronto, and don't skimp on the zinc, neither: there's a bug going around, and it's reducing hardened indie rockers to puddles on the floor. Err... metaphorical puddles on the floor. Because that would be gross.

Take, if you will, the case of Georgie James' John Davis, who-- due to that pesky illness of his-- has been forced to pull the plug on a couple weeks' worth of dates. Consider the nastiness that follows, lifted from their MySpace blog, to be your tonic:

"Basically, I've been sick for the past few weeks and things haven't improved at all. Since it's been four nights in a row onstage of me wondering if I can remain conscious til the end of the set, we decided to just take two weeks off to recover."

Good plan. Now through November 8 in Omaha, all Georgie James appearances anywhere beyond the Robitussin aisle are off (though the shows they've ducked out on, with Le Loup, Aqueduct and others, appear to be going on without them). Dates have yet to be announced for a planned European tour in December, but we're assured it's still on, and the band promises to make up the missed gigs on a U.S. tour next March. Here's hoping you kids don't suffer from hay fever! [MORE...]


Decemberists Kick Off "Long and Short of It" Tour

Photo by Rich Orris and Marina Teper

While the Decemberists themselves are prepared to give fans (except those in the UK) both "The Long and Short of It", we'll just skip to the good part: The band's blazillionth tour in support of last year's The Crane Wife kicks off this weekend-- Sunday, October 28 to be exact, in Chicago.

As a reminder, the tour's dates come in pairs, with the first night in each city dedicated to the band's proggier side (the "Long of It" shows) and the second night showcasing their pop tendencies (the "Short of It" shows).

There are a couple exceptions sprinkled into the schedule, however. On November 13 in Pittsburgh, the band will perform a regular set (that is neither Long nor Short) at a WYEP-organized benefit show for CASA and Family Resources. And then on December 7 in the Decemberists' hometown of Portland, Oregon, they'll play a show at the Crystal Ballroom that is also neither Long nor Short. Rather, it's a "fan's choice evening", with the set list made up of fan requests made over on the Decemberists message board.

Or, if you are among those who feel that recorded documentation of live shows beats the shows themselves, there is always the option to stay in and listen to the Decemberists on that 93XRT live comp that just came out, you grump. [MORE...]

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Do you have a news tip for us? Anything crazy happen at a show you attended recently? Do you have inside info on the bands we cover? Is one of your favorite artists (that's not somebody you know personally) releasing a new record you'd like to see covered? You will remain completely anonymous, unless we are given your express permission to reveal your identity. (Please note that publicists, managers, booking agents, and other artist representatives are generally exempt from this rule, but will also be granted anonymity if requested.)


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