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Various Production Leave XL, Plan Releases

UK dubsteppers Various Production have ended their business relationship with XL and ushered in a wave of typically vague new release news in the process. Various wasn't technically signed to XL to begin with. Instead, the group licensed XL the release of The World Is Gone from its own Various imprint. Despite the seemingly relaxed nature of the arrangement, both parties have reached what a press release calls a "mutual decision" to part ways, and that's about all the juicy insight we have into the split.

This means the ball is in Various' court when it comes to releasing their second album. Might we suggest perhaps "doing a Radiohead"? We hear it's all the rage.

However they release it, the currently untitled album will come out next year, but a bunch of other Various miscellany (redundant?) comes first. There's the remix of Ian Brown's "Sister Rose" that's out now. Then, a Christmas bundle with a 12", USB bracelet, and t-shirt comes to the UK on December 17 via a newly formed imprint called Misc001. Finally, Various' album-length collaboration with Glaswegian poet Gerry Mitchell-- not to be confused with Various' second album-- will see release next year.

Clark Sneaks Out New EP, Preps Album, Tours

Surprise! Warp knob twiddler Clark has a new album coming out January 28 in the UK called Turning Dragon, and he's already released an EP to promote it. The EP is called Throttle Promoter, and you can pay for the download (alas, no doing of any Radioheads with this one) here. There's a vinyl version available now as well.

As for the sound of the new album, Clark says, "Alongside Body Riddle I'd written a lot of full energy dancefloor tracks, and Turning Dragon just came from honing and building on these." IDM dance party, anyone?

Clark has a handful of European tour dates scattered throughout next year and the remains of this one, starting with two December shows. [MORE...]

Wilco to Play "The Complete Wilco" in Chicago

Photo by Kathryn Yu

With all the solo love Jeff Tweedy's been giving his hometown recently, Wilco's recently announced 2008 U.S. tour looked a little strange without a single date in Chicago. The band has remedied that situation, however, with a five-show residency at Chicago's Rivera Theatre, which will kick off the tour in mid-February.

According to a press release, the residency is "five shows exploring the band's complete recorded works," and Tweedy had this to say about it: "Over the five nights we will attempt the 'complete Wilco' and try to clear out the dusty corners of the catalog that we haven't attended to in a while."

What better way for Wilco to celebrate Sky Blue Sky's Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album (the band's fourth Grammy nod)? [MORE...]

Silver Mt. Zion Overcome Triskaidekaphobia on 13 Blues

Photo by Mark Slutsky

Allow me, if I may, to blow your mind just a smidge: 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons, the forthcoming LP from Thee Silver Mt. Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band, doesn't start with Track 1 like, uh, every other album ever. No, 13 Blues begins at Track 13, fittingly. (The first 12 tracks are brief continuous drones.) An unlucky omen from the post-rockers, or just a way to confuse the heck out of your iPod? You'll find out March 25, when Constellation Records releases the album on CD and 180- gram double-LP.

13 Blues was recorded at Montreal's Hotel2Tango studios and co-engineered by ex-Arcade Fire drummer Howard Bilerman and Silver Mt. Zion's live soundman Radwan Moumneh. It's also the band's first LP to feature former Hangedup drummer Eric Craven behind the kit, and the first to include a lyric sheet. Guess Efrim Menuck doesn't mind us knowing what he's singing about this time out. The band also has plans to tour in 2008.

For more Silver Mt. Zion, check out Vic Chesnutt's latest LP, North Star Deserter, which features contributions from all of the band members. [MORE...]


David Pajo's Dead Child Plan Attack on Quarterstick

It seems that Dead Child has gone from being "kind of a midlife crisis thing" to more of a full-time band thing for (ex?) Slint guitarist David Pajo. (The band also includes Michael McMahan and Todd Cook, who played with Slint on their reunion tours.)

The morbidly named, Louisville-based metal fivesome has signed to Touch and Go subsidiary Quarterstick for the release of its debut full-length next year. Titled Attack, the record will come out on April 8.

Dead Child are still recording in Louisville with producer Brad Wood, but once everything's in the bag, they will embark on a U.S. tour in the spring. [MORE...]


Cat Power Plans Charity Mission Abroad
Jukebox tour in the works

The past year or so has been quite kind to Chan Marshall. Since releasing The Greatest in 2006, the artist better known as Cat Power has seen her act get cleaned up, her star rise considerably, her fanbase swell, and her record receive accolades left and right. So now, guess what? It's time to give back.

As Marshall revealed in a recent MySpace bulletin (we take it her caps lock key done broke), her charitable endeavors have been a long time coming:


And return to Africa she will this coming January, on a trip sponsored by NYC-based organization charity: that also includes stops in Bangladesh and India. As she puts it,


Charity: lists among its goals "stimulating greater global awareness about extreme poverty, educating the public, and provoking compassionate and intelligent giving," and its the awareness in particular that Marshall hopes to bolster. She plans to have her trip filmed, and she'll also journal about her experiences and share photos; internet pending, she may even release a few dispatches directly from the road.

Cat Power will return in time for her birthday, January 21, which doubles as the first night of an in-the-works tour in support of Jukebox. The disc, Chan's second collection of covers, arrives (as you know) the next day via Matador-- now with 100% more Hot Boys! The tour, still coming together, begins in Paris and will whisk Marshall hither and thither worldwide over the ensuing months.

As for charity:, you can do your part as well. Marshall points us to the organization's second annual gala benefit, charity: ball, going down December 17 at New York City's Metropolitan Pavilion. A "special live music performance" is promised; gather from that what you will.

Bonde do Role Cancel Remaining Tour Dates

Once again the three feisty Brazilians known as Bonde do Role have canceled tour dates. The shows that have been nixed were a string of Australian dates in late December and early January.

No reason for the cancellations was given, but we imagine the old "exhaustion and illness" could still apply, considering the band's frenzied pace that continued even as they were canceling dates the first time around. Guys, really, it's okay! You can relax for a bit. We don't mind!

Rumors are also making their way around the internet that there might be a bit of ill will festering in camp Bonde. Sounds like everybody needs a break. [MORE...]


Photos: Primavera Club Festival [Barcelona, Spain; 12/03-12/08/07]

Photos by Daniel Cantó; Above: Crystal Castles

Just because the Northern Hemisphere is bracing for winter doesn't mean an end to festivals. Some clubs have climate control and roofs, after all, and a bunch of bands we like gathered under such roofs in Barcelona (not exactly known for frigid temperatures, anyway) this past week and weekend for the celebration they call Primavera Club.

A companion fest of sorts to the other solstice's Primavera Sound gathering, Club packed in the likes of Liars, the New Pornographers, Thurston Moore, No Age, Crystal Castles, the Ponys, Mouse on Mars (who were to perform with Mark E. Smith as Von Südenfed until Smith fell ill), Stars of the Lid, Earth, Castanets, Bishop Allen, and, playing their final gig before that so-called "hiatus", Deerhunter. A number of Spain's finer acts turned out as well, including Nisei and El Guincho.








Mirah, the Blow Team Up for West Coast Tour

The Blow photo by Sarah Cass

After a merry winter holiday of their choosing, and a happy New Year as well, fellow Pacific Northwestern staples Mirah and Khaela Maricich's the Blow will join forces to take the Golden State by storm. They've got a handful of co-headlining gigs scheduled at the end of January, all in California.

Before the two women hit the road together, they each have shows of their own scheduled. Maricich plays a show in Portland this weekend, and Mirah tours with her Share This Place collaborators Spectratone International in January. [MORE...]


Black Mountain Announce West Coast Dates

Photo by Jessica Miller

The lads and lass of Black Mountain might seem like friendly folk, and they are. That is, until they harness the powers of rock'n'roll and melt your face clean off.

The Canadian riffmeisters have busied themselves doing just that to onlookers all over the globe this fall, drumming up anticipation for Jagjaguwar's January 22 release of second album In the Future. And they're set to do it again to brave souls on the West Coast come February. We're told these gigs represent just an initial batch of 2008 dates for the band, so you can expect the puddle of facial goo to stretch on indefinitely as the itinerary is expanded.

In other Black Mountain news, Josh Wells and Matt Camirand side project Blood Meridian's Liquidate Paris dropped recently. [MORE...]


Albert Hammond Jr. Talks New LP, Songcraft, Strokes
"When you feel like you're doing something over again, it gets stale. And nobody has fun and bad stuff starts to happen, like fights and things like that."

Photo by Valerie Jodoin-Keaton

With his band the Strokes on the back burner for the moment, guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. has been keeping plenty busy. His solo debut, Yours to Keep, is barely a year old (and only hit the States this March), but Albert's already played-- by his count-- 128 gigs to support the record. And in October, he hit the boards to lay down its as-yet-untitled follow-up, tentatively due in the spring. Yesterday, we checked in with Albert in the studio as he prepared to mix the tracks he'd spent the last month or so perfecting. We spoke about his swift return to the recording booth, letting others make the tough decisions, and what's going on with the Strokes.

Pitchfork: So what's the status of this new solo album?

Albert Hammond Jr.: We just finished five weeks of recording and now we've got to mix it. So about another week and a half of mixing and then mastering on January 8th and then we'll be done.

Pitchfork: You set a five-week deadline for yourself for recording the album. Was there any particular reason for that?

AHJ: Well, the first record, we didn't even know we were making a record until the end when the songs came together. It was done a day here, three months off, a day here. So it was nice that we were going to be able to go in for a chunk. And so I figured all these songs-- we recorded like 16 songs-- I thought three weeks would be too short. Four is probably right, but five just seems like a nice round-off kind of number. And it was cool. We had a lot of different challenges to do. We had strings on this one, some weird long songs to do. So I just thought five weeks seemed appropriate.

Pitchfork: Do you feel that you got everything accomplished that you needed to at this stage?

: Well, you always want to do a little more, but I couldn't be happier with what we did get. We got 16 very different songs and we were able to get everything we wanted. So I can't complain. But I feel like you're always shooting for more.

Pitchfork: Tell me a little bit about how it came together.

AHJ: I have a studio at home, so I did a lot of pre-production at home with an engineer I work with, Gus Oberg, and we did quite a lot there. [Drummer] Matt [Romano] would come and lay down drums on MIDI, so we still have a lot of problems there, but the songs range from an eight-minute instrumental to a two-minute-30-second pop song to... You know, the biggest difference, I'm thinking about it now, is just the different extremes that we didn't really have on the first record. Just from the softest thing I think I've ever written to the hardest thing I think I've ever written, to everywhere in the middle. That's kind of why we went in to record so many songs-- we didn't know which direction the album was going to go in. And now we have to sit down and pick which ones really fit the record. Maybe all of them, maybe ten. [MORE...]


Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings Add Winter Dates

That thing that Sharon Jones and the Daptones do-- brushing the thin layer of film off of some dusty grooves and making them shine again-- they do mighty well. And they've been doing it, as you know, all over the stages of North America this fall, and as they head into winter, well, they're gonna do their thing well into February. The band have added a number of dates to their itinerary following their stint at sea on the "Jamcruise," listed for your looking pleasure after the jump. Do note: Their gig next Saturday in Washington, D.C. has been moved to January 17.

As for Sharon, she's all over the forthcoming Great Debaters soundtrack, and even pops up in the movie. Oh, and that record she just made, 100 Days, 100 Nights? Still rules. [MORE...]

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