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Blitzen Trapper Kick Off Fall Tour, Drop EP

Photo by Jade Harris

Blitzen Trapper, the mostly-bearded, Best New Music-making melders of slack-rock and Molly Hatchet, are taking the show on the road on a North American tour kicking off tonight in Walla Walla. From there, the boys'll make moves across this wild mountain nation of ours in a roundabout fashion, with the odd day up in the wilder, more mountainous nation of Canada. Their slow-rollin' country caravan added a few pit-stops this week (and a couple gap-fillers besides) since last we reported 'em; when these fellas saddle up to ride, they're heading all the way into the sunset.

What's more, there's a new Blitzen Trapper EP in the works. October 9, the band will self-release a 7" and digital download of Cool Love #1, a four-song set of Wild Mountain outtakes and a spin through "Jericho" from their Daytrotter session. Also fresh from the Trap: a vinyl version of Wild Mountain Nation, out November 6.

In other Blitzen Trapper news, the recent Sub Pop signees show themselves on the forthcoming For the Kids comp. [MORE...]

Shudder to Think Reunite!!
...for one show

Photo by Jim Saah

NYC: 2. Everybody else: 0.

Continuing in the Chavez vein of totally incredible indie rock bands reuniting for an extremely limited number of shows, the mighty Shudder to Think will sorta reform for a single date at New York City's Mercury Lounge this coming Monday, September 17.

We say "sorta" because the band's lineup for the night will consist of hella magnetic frontman/vocalist/guitarist/songwriter Craig Wedren, integral guitarist and songwriter Nathan Larson (whose ups and downs with Wedren were part of the reason for the band's dissolution in the late 90s), and late-era drummer Kevin March (who is in Wedren's current band). Missing is bassist Stuart Hill.

Still, this is the first Shudder to Think reunion of any kind since they disbanded, and there's no way we'd pass up the opportunity to see one of the best glam-prog rock bands ever if they came to Chicago (hint, hint).

As long as we're on the subject, this gig is just a one off, and there are not plans for any full-blown reunion activities like tours or albums that could come out very soon (hint, hint).

Sharing the bill with STT at this show will be papercranes, Luke Schurman, and A Camp, a side project of the Cardigans' Nina Persson. Larson will join Persson for her performance; he has collaborated with her in A Camp in the past.

Craig Wedren's only other scheduled show is at Washington, D.C.'s Rock and Roll Hotel on October 13.


PJ Harvey's White Chalk U.S. Release Bumped Back

Like anything written in White Chalk, the U.S. release date for PJ Harvey's latest opus was something less than permanent. Today comes word (confirmed by Harvey's publicist) that the follow-up to 2004's Uh Huh Her has been bumped back one whole long, agonizing week. White Chalk is now slated (ha) for an October 2 release in the States (instead of September 25). It's still due September 24 in the UK and still on Island, though.

What's more, first single "When Under Ether" still drops next week in the UK. And PJ is still coming to get you, if you live in/near Bristol, London, NYC, or L.A., you lucky bastards. [MORE...]

Photos: Aesop Rock, Octopus Project [Chicago, IL; 09/13/07]

Photos by Sanchez and Kitahara

New York MC Aesop Rock brought his rhymes to Chicago's Metro last night, gigging in support of his new LP None Shall Pass on Def Jux. At one point during the show, Aesop called a pint-sized collaborator to the stage, a young boy he said appeared on the record. But the headphone-wearing li'l hip-hop fan quickly got fussy and returned to his mom in the crowd. Aww.

UPDATE: We have identified the boy! He's Hollis Frazier-Herndon, son of Aesop Rock's publicist Kathryn Frazier and Tortoise's John Herndon. And we even have video of his big moment-- click HERE to watch. When Hollis is a huge rock star one day, you can brag about how you saw his first on-stage performance.

If you just can't get enough Aesop Rock right now, tune in to MTV. Yes, regular MTV. They apparently are pretending to care about music again, and they've made Aesop Rock their "Artist of the Week" for this week. That means you get to see a little snippet of the man performing or doing weird stuff every time they go to a commercial break. This somehow involves a call-in talk show called "I'm Trying to Help".

Opening for this leg of the tour is Austin's Octopus Project, who unleashed their unique brand of instrumental miscellany, employing not only guitars, drums and synths, but also a theremin and what appeared to be a giant glowing cat. Their new album, Hello, Avalanche, is due October 9 on Peek-a-Boo.

Photos of Octopus Project's cat, and more, plus a bunch of tour dates, below.





Hot Chip Do Gigs, DJ Dates, Single, Shrigley Benefit
Two words: Todd Rundgren

What's shakin', Hot Chip? Besides, you know, my ass to your songs? Quite a few things, as it happens, are astir in camp Chip of late, so let's set the ass on simmer, pull up a chair, and brush up on the latest.

First up, Hot Chip's Alexis Taylor joined forces recently with Gang Gang Dance's Brian DeGraw to create what Taylor called (on the HC website) a "one-off audio-visual piece." The piece, which marked the first Taylor/DeGraw collaborative effort, premiered at the ICA in London on September 6 as part of the Beck's Fusions series, alongside new offerings from Matthew Herbert and others. No word yet whether it will turn up elsewhere (the "one-off" part is less than encouraging), but here's hoping.

Hot Chip as a whole, meanwhile, have a limited edition 12" due this month with "Shake a Fist"-- perhaps you caught it in Forkcast?-- featuring none other than Todd Rundgren. While a Chip publicist could not confirm whether it's a sample or whether Todd actually worked with Hot Chip, our dads are still thrilled to see the name.

Furthermore, the latest and third Hot Chip album, which may be called Shot Down in Flames or 4 or Made in the Dark or something else entirely, is coming along nicely. The quintet hope to have it out, via DFA/EMI, in February 2008. Fingers crossed!

And remember David Shrigley's Worried Noodles project, where Shrigley provided lyrics and tons of your favorite bands, Hot Chip among them, made the music? The two-disc/three-vinyl set isn't out until October 23 (on Tomlab), but folks in London can taste an early portion of Noodles on October 14, as Hot Chip and others perform at Scala. Shrigley himself will be there providing animation, while HC, Max Tundra, Psapp, Simon Bookish, Cibelle, James Chadwick, Munch Munch, Scarlet's Well, and more wiggle their Noodles contributions. It's both a launch party and a benefit for Amnesty International, with all proceeds going to the organization. You really don't want to miss that.

Finally, Hot Chip's Joe Goddard has been out there setting dancefloors ablaze like some kind of party arsonist. Catch one of his upcoming DJ dates, listed for your convenience-- alongside a brief run of Hot Chip South American fest dates-- below.

Oh, and don't forget Hot Chip's Kraftwerk remix action, coming atcha next week. [MORE...]

Film School Hit the Road, Play Dates With Land of Talk

Photo by Marla Aufmuth

Ah, film school. 'Tis a storied time in the life of every young undergrad, the left-field urge to cast off the shackles of biomechanical engineering and make that angsty semi-autobiographical black-and-white feature that's been kicking around in the back pages of your calculus notebook for years now. Of course, dreams of film school are fleeting, and the reality-- as your local middle-aged burger-flipper can tell you-- can be a little limp.

Not so for the songcraftin' Scorseses of Film School, who've got themselves lined up with a number of screenings of their recent Hideout, which dropped this week on Beggars Banquet. Following a couple dates in their native California, they'll head out on location for a few wide shots of their tuneful shoegazing antics. Sounds more like a Wim Wenders thing, actually. For quite a few dates they've casted Land of Talk to co-star. [MORE...]

Slaraffenland Gig Across Continents

Slaraffenland-- the purty, proggy Danish five-piece with the larynx-clearing gutteral moniker-- will make their way to the land of the corn dog for a month or so starting in late September. Sandwiched between a lone homeland gig and a bundle of dates upon their triumphant return to the land of the kroner, they'll play a series of shows culminating at the CMJ festival/conference/cause of much jealousy in New York City. [MORE...]

The Cinematic Orchestra Kick Off Fall Tour

The Cinematic Orchestra are all tuned up and ready to play music on stages this fall in support of this year's Ma Fleur.

The trek, almost as epic in length as the group is in name, begins tonight, September 14, in Los Angeles.

In late September, the Orchestra will head back over to Europe for a month of shows culminating in a handful of dates in their native UK. [MORE...]

Devastations Beckon With Yes, U, Epic Tour

Photo by Joe Dilworth

Hey you! Yes, U! The glum-rock superfriends in Devastations have announced plans for their next LP, and they're practically begging you to pay attention. Yes, U asserts itself September 17 in the UK and the rest of Europe on Beggars Banquet, though U.S. audiences will have the choice between import fees and a February 5 release. That's, like, next year!

Speaking of next year, Devastations have a devastatingly long line of tour dates to come in the wake of Yes, U, stretching well into '08. [MORE...]

Austin City Limits Fest Starts Today

It's getting darker out earlier, and the weather is starting to cool off ever so slightly, which means festival season is...still happening!

We realize that festival-going is practically a year-round activity now, and apparently, not all parts of the planet plunge into winter at the same time, thanks to the crazy voodoo of this thing called "the equator." But traditionally, the arrival of the Austin City Limits Music Festival heralds the end of a summer full of sunburns, overpriced water, and unbelievably long lines for portable toilets that have just run out of TP.

So put on your SAD faces, because ACL goes down this weekend (September 14-16) at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas, naturally.

Again, here's a meager helping of bands who will play this year's festival (White Stripes not included, alas):

The Arcade Fire, Bob Dylan, Björk, My Morning Jacket, Wilco, LCD Soundsystem, M.I.A., Spoon, the Decemberists, Queens of the Stone Age, Yo La Tengo, Bloc Party, Arctic Monkeys, Peter Bjorn & John, the National, Common, Andrew Bird, Blonde Redhead, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Muse, Midlake, the Killers, St. Vincent (just added), Crowded House, Kaiser Chiefs, Lucinda Williams, Regina Spektor, Patterson Hood, Stephen Marley, Ziggy Marley, the Broken West, DeVotchKa, the Little Ones, and many more.

Finally, for those who can't make it down to Texas this weekend, AT&T's blue room will webcast the event live. Head on over to for the action.

The Walkmen Announce Fall Dates

Having recharged their batteries following some time in the studio-- where they're wrapping up work on the follow-up to the 2006 double-dose of A Hundred Miles Off and Harry Nilsson redo Pussy Cats-- the Walkmen are ready to play music for you once again.

Fast forward to October and you'll find the NYC quintet, led by lumbering Hamilton Leithauser, playing a trio of dates up north. They'll then put the gigs on pause for a month or so, before returning for another round in November. Oh yeah, and they're set to rock Williamsburg tonight.

As the combo wrote on its website recently, "we have a ton of songs and scraps to sort through before we can finish up" the fourth LP proper. Expect to hear some new tunes and works-in-progress at these autumn engagements. [MORE...]

Johnny Cash Pardoned for Picking Flowers!?!
Star Wars fans pardon George Lucas for sixty years

While he was alive, Johnny Cash made a name for himself with his charismatic presence, a host of cultural achievements, and, you know, a ton of awesome music. But it seems the city of Starkville, Mississippi is only now giving him the respect he deserves.

After holding a 42-year grudge, the city will soon issue a posthumous pardon to Cash for the night of public drunkenness he had there on May 11, 1965, according to an AP report.

Cash documented the night in jail in the song "Starkville City Jail", which points to his flower-picking and curfew-breaking as the reason for the arrest. There are plenty of other versions of the story, but the point is, the city of Starkville is posthumously pardoning Johnny freakin' Cash for a petty crime he committed over 40 years ago!

To celebrate the occasion, which is as much about the idea of redemption as it is about the ceremonial pardoning, the city will hold the Johnny Cash Flower Pickin' Festival from November 2-4. The festival will include musical events, religious events, a charity auction, and a possible discussion by authors who have written books about Cash. Admission to the festival is free, but there is a suggested $10 donation that will go to a local Boys and Girls Club and the Oktibbeha County Heritage Museum.
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