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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:



The Fiery Furnaces Add More North American Dates

Photo by Amy Giunta

From their Widow City to yours, the Fiery Furnaces are en route. Embroiled in their current whirlwind spin around the world, the band have added a handful of North American dates leading up to their appearance at the Thrill Jockey Anniversary bash in Chicago.

Joined on this tour by Sebadoh's Jason Loewenstein and longtime drummer Robert D'Amico, the Friedberger siblings have reportedly been cutting back on the massive medleys that generally characterize their gigs in favor of playing a song, then letting the audience applaud, and then playing another song. Could this deliriously odd band finally be going, like, normal? Nah, not a chance of that. [MORE...]


Interpol Add 2008 Dates

Photo by Matt Ziegler

All dressed up with somewhere to go, the restless lot in Interpol have extended their tour into 2008, with a series of shows planned in February Down Under and in March in Brazil. The dates follow what's been quite a 2007 for the band, with the release of Our Love to Admire and an accompanying incessant touring schedule.

Perhaps a February-March trek to the southern hemisphere is their way of getting back the summer they toured straight through up here?

In other Interpol news, they've got that well-stuffed "bonus DVD deluxe" version of their Love coming to the UK next week. And reader Viktor Horst just pointed out yet another spiritual brother shared by the album art for Our Love to Admire: Kosheen's Resist.



Regina Spektor Collapses Before Nashville Gig
Nashville, Atlanta shows rescheduled

According to a report in Tennessee's Dickson Herald passed along by several alert readers, singer-songwriter Regina Spektor collapsed last night (November 14) in Nashville before a stop on her previously announced tour in support of Begin to Hope. Pitchfork contacted Spektor's publicist, who shared the following statement:

"Last night in Nashville, TN, following her sound check at The Ryman Auditorium, Regina Spektor was taken to a local hospital after collapsing due to a severe inner ear infection which caused a sudden case of vertigo. Regina was released late last night and is resting comfortably. Regina is extremely disappointed that she had to cancel on her fans but will return to The Ryman on December 6th, where all tickets will be honored or refunded."

Word on the status of Spektor's remaining tour dates (including tonight's show in Atlanta) is expected later today. Get better, Regina!

UPDATE: Spektor has postponed her Atlanta show tonight (November 15) until December 5. She plans to continue the rest of the tour as scheduled, beginning November 16 in Norfolk, Virginia.

In other Spektor news, she's got that new 7" and a track on the Dan in Real Life soundtrack, plus she'll pop up on TV January 12 as part of "Austin City Limits". [MORE...]

Photos: Kevin Drew with Emily Haines, Scott Kannberg, and Friends [New York, NY; 11/14/07]

Photos by Kathryn Yu

Even when he's not performing under the banner of his Toronto collective Broken Social Scene, Kevin Drew still knows how to draw a crowd. Collecting some of his more prominent collaborators from this year's Spirit If... (but no Tom Cochrane, alas), Drew played New York's Webster Hall last night beside Metric's Emily Haines and James Shaw (sometime BSS members themselves), Pavement's Scott Kannberg, and, predictably, a few more of his own Broken Social Scenesters.

Sadly, J Mascis, scheduled to appear, had family business to attend to and couldn't make it. But they seem to have managed without him. More photos and tour dates below.


My Bloody Valentine Announce Reunion Shows!

People, it's on. Dust off your tremolo pedals, don your best pair of kicks, and get ready to gaze like its 1991. The time has come to announce a return to the live stage for a little band called My Bloody Valentine.

The news comes fresh off Kevin Shields' confirmation that the massively influential shoegazers are indeed back together, and follows months of speculation about a MBV live return.

But you want details, don't you? Well, UK residents, you're in luck. Of the three reunion shows My Bloody Valentine have revealed thus far, precisely 100% of them occur in your fair land. London, Manchester, and Glasgow can look forward to blissing out to the sweet undulations of "To Here Knows When" and getting floored by the noise freakout on "You Made Me Realise" in late spring/early summer 2008. Not on the itinerary right now: Coachella.

The performances are being presented by our pals at All Tomorrow's Parties.

And if Shields wasn't pulling a fast one last week, we have plenty more to look forward to from the Valentines in 2008. Actually, we're supposed to get a new album this year, but seeing as it's mid-November already, we won't be too terribly shocked if that doesn't happen. Apparently another disc is in the works too.

Welcome back, guys. We still love ya. [MORE...]

Battles, Of Montreal Lead PLUG Award Nominees

It's that time of year again-- PLUG Awards! That's right folks, time to look back on 2007, as the best and brightest artists in independent music are once again battling for such honors as Artist of the Year, Album of the Year, Song of the Year, and Live Act of the Year, among many others, and they need your votes.

Battles and Of Montreal look to be the kings and queens of 2007, with seven nominations each. Justice and Arcade Fire follow closely behind with six. Last year's big winners, Band of Horses, are up for five awards.

Here's how it works: From right now through February 8, 2008 head on over to the PLUG website and cast your vote. In addition to the overall categories, PLUG also celebrates the best in various genres (hip-hop, metal, Americana, punk, electronic/dance), extra-musical aspects such as music videos, album packaging, record labels, and concert venues, as well as many media categories, including Record Store of the Year, Radio Station of the Year, and Magazine of the Year.

So who picks the nominees? Why, it's the scary-sounding PLUG Cartel, a not-so-scary group of artists, journalists, label employees, and other music industry insiders (including, yes, myself and several other Pitchfork staffers). But the winners are completely decided by the voters.

The winners will be announced at the PLUG Awards Ceremony and Concert on March 6, 2008 at Terminal 5 in New York City.


Rufus Wainwright's Judy Garland Tribute Hits CD/DVD

Photo by Akmal Naim

On April 23, 1961, Judy Garland took the stage at New York City's Carnegie Hall and, by all accounts, tore the roof off the sucker. The performance is the stuff of legend: Just ask Rufus Wainwright, who's spent the past years performing a tribute to the performance and to the memory of Garland herself. A CD/DVD set collecting a pair of Wainwright's recent performances of Garland's material will be released December 4 from Geffen.

Featuring musical direction by noted Broadway maestro Stephen Oremus, the Rufus Does Judy at Carnegie Hall CD finds Mr. Wainwright taking the same stage as his late muse in an October 2006 performance. The accompanying DVD, Rufus! Rufus! Rufus! Does Judy! Judy! Judy! Live at the London Palladium, captures Wainwright's antics in the UK earlier this year. Both were reportedly inspired by the comfort Wainwright took in Garland's music following the September 11 attacks, a rejection of "this blissful ignorance of the state of America" which Wainwright felt took over in the wake of that tragedy.

Wainwright, currently touring Europe, has quite a few gigs all over the world in the next few months. Those dates after the jump. [MORE...]

Sigur Ros Working on New Album With Flood
Uproot from Sundlaugin studio to record in Reykjavik

When Pitchfork spoke to Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi Þór Birgisson earlier this month, the conversation ended somewhat abruptly. Sure, Birgisson had plenty to say before that point. And while it's useless to speculate, one wonders if, had the discourse continued, he might have elaborated on, say, this new LP they're preparing.

No matter, really. Now, thanks to a report today in Icelandic newspaper Fréttablaðið (translated to English via email by a representative of the paper), we have the initial details on the next Sigur Rós record and follow-up to 2005's Takk. Gotta love the interwebs, erasing oceans with a few clicks and scrolls.

Sigur Rós drummer Orri Páll Dýrason spoke to the paper and revealed that the Icelandic quartet will shack up with veteran producer Mark "Flood" Ellis (U2, Nine Inch Nails, Smashing Pumpkins, PJ Harvey, and so many others) next week to do some preliminary work on the record.

"We're gonna try working with him for two weeks and see where it takes us," said Dýrason.

Where they'll shack up might raise a few eyebrows, as it won't be the band's own beloved swimming pool-turned-studio, Sundlaugin. Instead, they've opted for a more urban locale. "We want to take a break from Sundlaugin, distance [ourselves] a bit," Dýrason explained. "We will be renting a house in downtown Reykjavík and record[ing] the album there."

These guys aren't always keen to discuss their art-- "[It's like] you're erasing the magic of the music or something by talking too much about it," as Birgisson put it last week-- and Dýrason didn't really let on much to Fréttablaðið either. "We really don't know what this new album is going to be like," he said. "Right now we only have ideas for new songs and they always change when we start recording." So, basically, it will probably sound like the other ones. Which is more than fine with us.

As a reminder, live DVD Heima checks in Stateside on November 20 (it's available now elsewhere), while the rarities/acoustic collection Hvarf/Heim is out now all over the place thanks to XL. Heima's screening in quite a few places too; find out where by clicking here.
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