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Gibbard, Decemberists, McKay Play Aimee Mann Xmas
Nellie McKay plans other dates too, cuts "charity" Xmas single

For the second year in a row, songwriter Aimee Mann has gathered a few of her closest friends for a traveling Christmas variety show. Joining Mann on the musical side will be Ben Gibbard, several indeterminate Decemberists members, Nellie McKay, Josh Ritter, Grant Lee Phillips, Ben Lee, Joe Henry, Chuck Prophet, Patrick Park, Sean Hayes, and the Honeydogs' Adam Levy.

But not all at once. Comedians Paul F. Tompkins and Morgan Murphy will join Mann at every stop on the tour, but the musical lineup changes from night to night, so we've done that thing with all the symbols down there below the cut to help (that's our hope, anyway) sort through the confusion. More guests are expected to be added soon, but we're running dangerously low on punctuation over here.

Thanks to reader Ben Hasler for the tip.

Speaking of Nellie McKay, you gotta admit, gal's got a sense of humor. And now McKay, whose knack for snicker-worthy songwriting is ably demonstrated across her three collections of tunes thus far (including this year's Obligatory Villagers), is taking the laughs all the way to the bank.

McKay recently issued a "charity" Christmas single via her website, the charity in question being "The Nellie McKay Disaster Fund". Ha, say what? "All proceeds," writes the songstress, "will go directly into Nellie McKay's bank account." LOLz.

Before you cry foul, however, know that donations are purely voluntary, and you may download the one-song mp3 single for free if you so choose. The tune's subject matter, however, is no laughing matter. Titled "A Christmas Dirge", it addresses the dark underside of the Yuletide log, including cruelty to plants and animals during this season of supposed merriment.

McKay will also appear on the November 21 episode of NPR's "Fresh Air With Terry Gross" and make her feature film debut in the previously discussed P.S. I Love You, which hits theaters December 21. She's got a few dates sans Mann too, and those are below. [MORE...]

Band of Horses Turn Down Wal-Mart TV Ad
Ben Bridwell: "Once I saw our fans were let down by it, I nixed the TV commercial, and said, 'You know what, this isn't for me. Keep your money.'"

Band of Horses took a bit of flak a couple months back-- on the interwebs, anyway-- for licensing a song to Wal-Mart (and another to Ford) for a net-based ad campaign. "My personal stance," Band-leader Ben Bridwell wrote in response to the haters, "is that once that music is recorded and released to the world then I don't really care where it goes."

But despite this apparent nonchalance, Bridwell has drawn a line. Speaking to Fargo, North Dakota publication The Forum this week (linked via Brooklyn Vegan), Bridwell confirmed that while it could have taken quite a leap forward, Band of Horses' dalliance with the mega department store chain with the questionable ethics has come to an end.

"I called my family, talked to my girlfriend about it, talked to the guys in the band and decided it's no big deal," Bridwell said of the initial decision to license the song. "We tested it with that Web site thing that I figured nobody would really even see. But in the Internet age, you can't do anything without someone catching wind of it.

"Some fans, they don't even give a crap," he continued. "They're like, 'Whatever, bands got to get paid.' But at the same time, I was reluctant to do it in the back of my mind, and some fans reminded me there is a reason to feel that way about it.

"So once I saw our fans were let down by it, I nixed the TV commercial, and said, 'You know what, this isn't for me. Keep your money.'"

The TV commercial Bridwell mentions was an option Wal-Mart put before the band following the success of the web campaign (which has since ended), according to Band of Horses' label, Sub Pop.

So, in summary: Band of Horses could have gone all the way with Wal-Mart, but they didn't. Yay for them. Meanwhile, life goes on, Cease to Begin is out now, and Band of Horses continue their recently upsized tour in Montana this weekend. Go see them, and please people, leave the cameras at home. [MORE...]

Stones Throw Roster Kicks Off B-Ball Tour

Paging all Arcade Fire members basketball fans! The Stones Throw roster launches its B-Ball Zombie War campaign tonight, November 16, in San Francisco. Barring two exceptions, the tour features Madlib, Peanut Butter Wolf, J. Rocc, Percee P, Guilty Simpson, Karriem Riggins, and MED on every date. So brush up on your jump shot, and don't panic!

Of course, Stones Throw wouldn't be Stones Throw without a full court of other activities. Soon, the label will release Percee P's Perseverance: The Madlib Remixes, and Percee will also join MF Doom and Heliocentrics on a 12" called "Distant Star", which is planned for release in January.

Then, there is Peanut Butter Wolf's Badd Santa Christmas mix CD, which is available now exclusively at the following stores: Urban Outfitters & (U.S.), Carhartt Flagship Stores (Europe), Beams Records + Beams T (Japan), and Goodfoot (Canada). For a preview of the mix, check out the video trailer here.

The basketball/zombie tour isn't the only Stones Throw tour on the label's plate, either. Madlib has a handful of December dates, and Aloe Blacc will play London's Cargo on November 20. [MORE...]

White Williams Announces 2008 Tour

Photo by Sanchez and Kitahara

While his well-documented fun with Girl Talk and Dan Deacon may be over (except for one more show this month with the former-- in Atlantic City, bay-bee), the good times will continue to roll for White Williams in 2008. The singer/songwriter/melodica player has announced the dates of a January/February tour in support of his recently released debut, Smoke. It's his first headlining trek.

Among Williams' touring partners are Dirty Projectors, HEALTH, and Ecstatic Sunshine. [MORE...]

My Bloody Valentine Add Reunion Gigs

Who could've guessed it? Just yesterday, My Bloody Valentine announced their first proper gigs in, oh, forever, and it turns out quite a few of you out there showed some interest. So much interest, in fact, that the band has added four dates to its brief comeback tour, bringing the current grand total of ATP-presented MBV reunion gigs to a lean, mean seven.

All the new dates stick to the same venues as the previously announced set; guess the thought of packing up all those effects pedals night after night is a bit too daunting just yet. [MORE...]

Lupe Fiasco Reveals The Cool Tracklist
He can has cheezburger

Lupe Fiasco has descended from the parapets of his mind and found his way out of the maze of all those tongue-twisting extended metaphors to deliver actual concrete info about his sophomore album, The Cool. Thanks to a report from that was confirmed by his publicist, we now know the Food & Liquor follow-up's tracklist.

Due December 18 via 1st & 15th/Atlantic, The Cool features production from Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump, UNKLE, Chris & Drop, and Soundtrakk, according to Billboard.

True to form, the report says Lupe has fashioned The Cool as a concept album of sorts, featuring recurring characters such as Michael Young History, the Game ("a male personification of a hustler's damaging influences," not the Compton rapper), and the Streets ("a female embodiment of an urban area's corrupt allure," not Mike Skinner). Billboard also says The Cool features two mentions from Lupe of his plan to quit music after releasing the album's follow-up, titled L.U.P.N.

And yet, out-wtf-ing every other detail related to The Cool in the article is this morsel: "Perhaps the oddest song is 'Gotta Eat', which is apparently written from the perspective of a cheeseburger and is rife with food/life metaphors." [MORE...]

Smashing Pumpkins Extend Tour

Photo by Shervin Lainez

Just a few days before wrapping their run of rescheduled U.S. dates, the Smashing Pumpkins have already made plans to tour European early next year. After a lucrative holiday season for the band, Billy's bunch will leave his beloved America and head to Serbia in late January to set off nearly over a month of gigs. UPDATE: More gigs added! And yes, this means the Smashing Pumpkins reunion tour will have played Budapest before it hits the band's hometown of Chicago.

Meanwhile, uh, did you know there's a post-grunge now? [MORE...]


Daniel Johnston Drops Vinyl, Sends Found to U.S.

Early next year, Daniel Johnston's 2006 UK release Lost and Found will make its way to North America for the first time ever on CD thanks to Johnston's own Eternal Yip Eye Music. The label will also serve up reissues of 2003's Mark Linkous collaboration Fear Yourself and 2004's Johnston tribute album Discovered, Covered, though release dates for those are also TBD at the moment.

But enough about next year, what about this one? Well, two of Daniel Johnston's most beloved albums were recently reissued in North America from Eternal Yip Eye. Both Hi, How Are You and Yip/Jump Music have been pressed into vinyl for the first time in a decade and a half, and both come with a digital download of the disc from Johnston's new digital download site And it's a good thing, too, since people are always looking at me funny when I take my portable turntable on the train.

Following a busy summer of touring, Johnston appears to be taking some time away from the road at the moment. His art, however, is always mobile, and it'll make its way to Philly next month for a show at Space 1026.

Howlin Rain Sign to American Recordings, Prep LP

Photo by Eden Bakti

Comets on Fire lead singer/co-founder Ethan Miller's Howlin Rain will unleash a downpour of San Fran psych rock from coast to coast next year, when the act's new label American Recordings (under the Columbia umbrella) joins with its old label Birdman to release Magnificient Fiend on CD and LP.

The new disc from Rick Rubin's latest signees is due sometime in the coming spring. A vinyl reissue of the band's self-titled debut will reportedly also emerge around the same time, whenever that may be. These left coasters and their laissez-faire attitude, I tell ya.

Watch for the Rain to move eastward along the Gulf Stream over the next few weeks, as the band heads from Cali to Europe to close out 2007. [MORE...]

Pixies Tribute LP Out Digitally, CD Due Soon
Tracklist amended: Mascis out, Mogwai, British Sea Power, Elk City in

You probably awoke this past Tuesday to a barrage of email alerts and Blackberry dispatches and carrier pigeons reminding you that Dig for Fire, that star-studded Pixies tribute LP we told you about many a month ago, is finally coming out. Indeed it is: Dig hit iTunes this week thanks to American Laundromat Records, with a seven-song bonus EP besides.

On November 27, a CD of Dig for Fire will land in stores worldwide, featuring a cover photo by Simon Larbalestier, the guy who contributed the art to Surfer Rosa, Doolittle, and several Pixies EPs. It is not his best work.

A few things have changed in Dig for Fire's lengthy gestation period: the rumored Mogwai contribution has become fact, the participation of J Mascis/Dinosaur Jr. is kaput, and, well, now you know who's playing what. They Might Be Giants, the Rosebuds and OK Go each appear as expected; Elk City, British Sea Power, ex-Blake Baby John P. Strohm, and Joy Zipper have since joined on. [MORE...]

P.T. Anderson/Elliott Smith Film to Surface in 2008?
Jon Brion, Fiona Apple, Bette Midler, Rastafarian basketball players involved??

Everyone loves a good mystery. Quite a few people love Elliott Smith. And quite a few people love Paul Thomas Anderson as well. So here, how about a story that rolls all three into one?

According to "DVD Magazine of Rare and Unseen Short Films" Wholphin (linked via fan mecca and "definitive P.T. Anderson resource" Cigarettes and Red Vines), the beloved director of such films as Magnolia, Boogie Nights, and the forthcoming, Jonny Greenwood-scored There Will Be Blood once made a little film involving the late Elliott Smith.

In this film, wrote Wholphin, Smith plays "a Rastafarian basketball player." Um, yeah.

While Smith's publicist confirmed said short film exists, further details on it are scant at best. We don't know its title, for one, nor whether it indeed, as Cigarettes and Red Vines has suggested, spun off from a proposed variety show featuring Smith pal Jon Brion.

The P.T. fansite quotes an unidentified Anderson interview from 2003 in which the director mentions a "thing we did as a test a few years back with Fiona [Apple], sweet Elliott Smith, the great Brad Mehldau, and Jon [Brion] at [Los Angeles'] Cello Studios."

"Look for a bizarre and wonderful Bette Midler cameo," added Anderson.

That thing, however, is "very simple, straightforward, no flashy pants-- just music." So, probably not the same as the basketball thing. Does this mean there are two P.T. Anderson-directed Elliott Smith films? Ack, my head hurts.

Whatever Anderson's got, it's presently stashed away in some storage unit in L.A., and the director won't have a chance to get at it until he wraps up promotional duties surrounding There Will Be Blood. At that point, Wholphin-- which originally intended to showcase the short in its Fall 2006 issue-- may very well share it with the world via Issue 6, due in mid-2008. Or they may not.

This wouldn't be a mystery without suspense, now would it?

Modest Mouse/Built to Spill Covers LP in the Works
Love as Laughter also in on the action

Sometimes, being the kind of nerd who reads Billboard magazine cover to cover every week can be rewarding. In the November 3 issue, the "Inside Track" column reported that the Shins are being heavily courted by Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock's Glacial Pace label, an imprint of Epic Records. But that isn't even the most interesting part of the column. That would be this sentence, tucked away at the end:

"In related news, word is that an album featuring Modest Mouse, Built to Spill, and Love as Laughter covering each other's material is in the pipeline for release by Epic next year."

Ooh, now we're talking.

According to Modest Mouse's publicist, the project is "not set in stone, as nothing has been recorded yet," and Built to Spill's publicist didn't know anything about it. UPDATE: Built to Spill's publicist says, "apparently this is only a rumor stemming from something Issac mentioned and nothing firm." But hey, it's still enough to fire up the imagination, right? I bet BTS would kill "Whenever You Breathe Out, I Breathe In (Positive Negative)", and I'd love to hear Brock tear into "The Plan". But that's just me. So let's make this happen, OK guys?

Built to Spill are quiet for the moment, taking a break from the mammoth tour in support of their last album, You in Reverse. Modest Mouse and Love as Laughter are on the road now, along with buddies Man Man. And from the looks of these photos posted on the Modest Mouse photoblog (taken by Pat Graham), their recent Canadian trek sure was fun:


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