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Tweedy, Oldham, Deal Sisters Play Second City Benefit
Also Steve Albini, Sally Timms and Jon Langford of the Mekons, Robbie Fulks

Improv comedy: It's not just for telling strangers to act like proctologists anymore! Beginning at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, December 4 and going until 7 p.m. on Wednesday, December 5, the folks at Chicago's famed Second City comedy institution will take to their own e.t.c. stage to perform a full day's worth of improv, with ticket sales going to buy holiday presents for needy children. This is the sixth annual "The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters to Santa" event, and though the whole thing makes us a little drowsy just thinking about it, it also warms our Grinchian hearts.

We at Pitchfork enjoy a good chuckle now and again, but we especially like our chuckles with a side of music. And indeed, Second City will yet again spike their eggnog with a liberal splash of music, with guest appearances from Jeff Tweedy, Will Oldham, Steve Albini, Kim and Kelley Deal, Mekons Sally Timms and Jon Langford, and (as ever in Chicago) Robbie Fulks. No word on whether or not the musical lot will join in all the improv games, though we'd sure be curious to see Albini do "charming." Just funnin', Smiley!

Gorillaz Documentary Bananaz in the Works

In their ongoing effort to exhaust every possible monkey-related pun ever mustered, Gorillaz-- the Damon Albarn-helmed cartoon band-- will release Bananaz, a feature-length documentary on the animated ape act, according to an report and confirmed by the primates' publicist. The film will be directed by one Ceri Levy, who knows the guy behind the pen-and-ink well, having produced the 1994 Blur doc Starshaped.

While a few screenings of the film may be held, Bananaz appears to be primarily aimed at the DVD market. A release date has yet to be confirmed, though it's gonna be at least 2008 before you see it: word from Gorillaz's camp is that the film is still in production.

In other Gorillaz news, the group's second double-disc b-sides, rarities, and remix compilation D-Sides is out now on both sides of the pond. Meanwhile, the spinoff opera Monkey: Journey to the West swings into Berlin next year. Details here.

Andrew Bird Drops Tour EP, Adds Dates

Photo by Joseph Mohan

On his current European tour, Mr. Andrew Bird has brought along a little something special. Nah, no fiery bowls or mysteriously produced eggs or any of his usual accoutrements. Instead, Bird's got himself Soldier On, an eight track tour EP collecting some choice odds and ends.

Along with a handful of outtakes, alternate mixes, and early versions of Bird classics, the disc sports Andrew's cover of Bob Dylan's "Oh Sister", his contribution to the Janet Reno-curated Songs of America compilation, and a tune from the dance project he cooked up alongside Molly Shanahan/Mad Shak. There's a new track, too, the somewhat improbably titled "The Water Jet Cilice". The disc is currently only available at the Birdman's gigs, but should head into wider availability early next year.

To pass the time until then, Bird's soldiering on on tour, with several more European dates, a return to the States, and an Australian tour (including a stop at the awesome Sydney Fest) in the works. [MORE...]

Tweedy, McGuinn, Some Mekons Play School Benefit

It's been half a century since Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music set up shop, and they've finally figured out something a lot of Chicagoans already know: Northside rent don't come cheap. To celebrate their birthday-- and to help keep those classes, workshops, and concerts coming-- the school will host a benefit concert at the city's gorgeous Auditorium Theatre December 1.

Jeff Tweedy, former Byrd Roger McGuinn, the Mekons' Sally Timms and Jon Langford (as part of "The Bloodshot Family Band"), one-time Old Town School "dean of teachers" and former Weaver Frank Hamilton, Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn, Chicago staple Robbie Fulks, bluesman Lonnie Books, David Bromberg, and plenty of other folks (get it?) will perform. Proceeds will go to scholarship funds for Old Town School students, youth outreach programs, and the continued utilization of the Old Town School's performance and practice spaces.

Phil Elverum Cancels Remaining Mount Eerie Dates

Aw shucks. Phil Elverum and his traveling Mount Eerie roadshow/book fair have been forced to shelve any and all forthcoming tour dates. Phil had this to say about the change in plans on his website (emphasis his):


No, thank you for letting us know! And thanks to several readers for the tip. Take note of the scrapped dates after the jump, and get lost in the pages of Mount Eerie Pts. 6 & 7 in the meantime. [MORE...]

T.I. Speaks Out in Video Statement, Names New LP

"It's not over, and the king ain't dead," Clifford "T.I." Harris notes at the end of a video statement issued from the Atlanta rapper's home, where he is currently under house arrest stemming from an October gun charge. Thanking his lawyers and his judge, reasserting his innocence, and briefly touching on Paper Trail, the album he's working on while locked up, T.I. had plenty to say in the first of what he promises will be many video blogs (via Idolator).

And according to, T.I.'s calling the LP Paper Trail due to a resurgence of an old method. Though he wrote out his verses on his 2001 debut I'm Serious, each subsequent LP found the rhymeslinger committing his lines to memory. On Paper Trail, he'll return to longhand as, according to his rep, "he wanted to take more time to really put something down."

Harris, a convicted felon, was charged last month with the purchase of illegal weapons after his bodyguard was caught by ATF agents reportedly buying guns on T.I.'s behalf. His prior convictions make the acquisition of said weapons a federal offense. A search of Harris' home also turned up a number of other weapons, which Harris is also forbidden to posess. According to, he is currently restricted to his home while awaiting trial, with a limited number of visitors allowed at any given time. A recent proposal which sought permission to allow additional guests to attend a Thanksgiving dinner at Harris' home was withdrawn this week by Harris' attorneys.

Air Tour Europe With Au Revoir Simone

A mellow mood will almost certainly hang heavy on any proceedings featuring slinky French ambient popsters Air or tantalizing trio Au Revoir Simone. Put them together, and you may just find yourself comatose with pleasure.

Indeed, the salute to smoothness is happening right now, and will hit quite a swath of Europe before the two part in early December. Au Revoir have a couple dates on their lonesome once the joint tour wraps. I guess even with a name like theirs, saying goodbye never gets any easier. [MORE...]


Neko Case Big Ups Poetry in Poetry Magazine
"My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum"

Williams, Eliot, Pound, Frost... Case? That's right, scarlet-haired singer Neko Case has joined the esteemed ranks of those published in Poetry magazine (three guesses as to what it covers).

In Poetry's November issue, which features art by David Byrne on its cover, Neko Case explains her history with poetry in an essay titled "My Flaming Hamster Wheel of Panic About Publicly Discussing Poetry in This Respected Forum". The essay is just one in a series called "The View From Here", where folks reflect on their personal experiences with the form.

The full text of Case's "Hamster Wheel" is available online here, but here are some choice bits:

"I am an awkward, heavy-handed mule of a high school dropout. I guess I just need permission to be in the same room with poetry...

"Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus haunts me. Aaron's death speech is veiled, venomous gospel music...

"W.H. Auden scares me under the couch (even when he's being funny)...

"Dorothy Parker makes me manic! I can't even make it through the first three lines of 'The Godmother' without bursting into tears...

"Lynda Barry and Sherman Alexie save my life constantly..."

Thanks to reader David Congdon for the tip!

Case will pick back up with the New Pornographers for a European tour on November 17, but she has solo dates in Tucson and L.A. on November 15 and 16, respectively. UPDATE: NEKO WILL NOT BE ACCOMPANYING THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS IN EUROPE If for any reason you need to prep for those solo shows, her entire back catalog was recently reissued. [MORE...]


Manu Chao Preps Digital Releases, Reissues

You'd think a year filled with big festival appearances, a sold-out tour, and an internationally successful new album would be enough for Manu Chao. [Cue Belushi] But noooooooo! He's got to go plan reissues and digital releases of a bunch of his old records too. Dude is insatiable.

The first of these "new" Manu Chao releases appears on November 20, when a good portion of his back catalog makes the jump to (legal) digital format.

Then, in late January, physical reissues of three Manu Chao releases will hit stores. Proxima Estación: Esperanza, Manu Chao's 2001 album, comes expanded with four videos, for "Me Gustas Tu", "Merry Blues", "La Chinita", and "Mr. Bobby". The 2002 live album Radio Bemba Sound System is the other CD getting reissued, and it comes with three clips from a 2007 Manu Chao concert in Paris as bonuses. The third reissue? Why, it's live DVD Babylonia en Guagua. That reissue comes with bonus documentaries Babylon's Fever and Todos a Genova, plus two other bonus films: Proxima Estacion...Esperanza and Infinita Tristeza.

All of these things come courtesy of Nacional/Because.

R.E.M., Beasties, Roots Play Langerado 2008
Also: National, Of Montreal, !!!, Dan Deacon, Walkmen, Blitzen Trapper, Shout Out Louds

Leave it to the organizers of South Florida's Langerado Music Festival to announce their fest's lineup before we even have time to get used to cold weather and limited daylight. We don't really want to start thinking about summer just yet, which is okay because Langerado takes place in early March. Still technically winter!

Langerado 2008, the sixth annual version of the event, takes place March 6-9 at a new location: the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in the South Florida Everglades ("mile marker 49 on Alligator Alley," according to a press release.)

But wait a second-- didn't we say something about a lineup? Why yes, we did. The first round of confirmed artists includes R.E.M., Built to Spill, Of Montreal, the Beastie Boys, the Roots, the National, !!!, Dan Deacon, the Walkmen, Blitzen Trapper, Dr. Dog, Minus the Bear, Shout Out Louds, Pelican, Matt Pond PA, Busdriver, the Postmarks, and Vampire Weekend. Also: 311, which, despite recent claims to the contrary, is still eh'thang.

Opeth Unleash a Live Album, Play a Cruise Ship

Emerging from the peak of proggy Swedish death metalsmiths Opeth's epic tour in support of 2005's awesome Ghost Reveries LP, The Roundhouse Tapes is a live record captured at a gig at London's Camden Roundhouse. The set features the group at the height of its powers, rolling through nine tunes over two discs. Tapes, available now in Europe and due November 20 in the U.S. on Peaceville Records, even boasts an "exclusive box set" package for its first edition.

Though there's not a goddamned thing mellow about them, Opeth will play the Melloboat-- a daylong cruise between Stockholm and Helsinki that'll also feature Katatonia, Leafhound, a reunited Comus, and others-- March 8 of next year. They say don't rock the boat, but, uh, yeah.

Opeth will also play Bloodstock 2008 at Derby, England's Catton Hall next August 17. [MORE...]

Former Dismemberment Planners Prep Statehood LP

Photo by David Holloway

Almost a year ago, Pitchfork reported the formation of Statehood, a new band featuring former Dismemberment Plan/ex-Maritime bassist Eric Axelson and former Dismemberment Plan drummer/actual rocket scientist Joe Easley. For their background, you can read that story. But now, the band has finally finished its debut album, and the talk from here on out is Futuretown, USA.

Led by songwriter Clark Sabine and rounded out by guitarist Leigh Thompson, Statehood will release Lies and Rhetoric, the aforementioned debut record, on November 19. That's a Monday (the industry norm is Tuesday), but since they're self-releasing, they can roll like that.

Also taking place in times yet to come: Statehood's tiny East Coast tour, which starts November 16 in Philly. And since we're talking about the D-Plan, don't forget Travis Morrison is also touring out East this month. [MORE...]
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