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Califone, Sparhawk, Kozelek Help Do Presidential Songs
As do Wooden Wand, Charalambides' Tom Carter, Rosie Thomas, Denison Witmer

In most journalism circles, one of the biggest stories of the next year will be the 2008 U.S. presidential election, but since Obama, Clinton, and Giuliani have yet to form a shoegaze supergroup, we here at Pitchfork must stick to the Radiohead tour updates, Grizzly Bear collaborations, and indie rock nudity.

Nonetheless, Standard Recording Company has thrown us a bone in the politics department in the form of a three-CD box set tentatively titled Of Great and Mortal Men: 43 Songs About 43 U.S. Presidencies. The set's subject matter is apparent, and its backstory doesn't disappoint.

Christian Kiefer, Matthew Gerken (Nice Monster), and Jefferson Pitcher (ex-Above the Orange Trees) wrote nearly all of Of Great and Mortal Men's songs back in February 2006 as part of February Album Writing Month, a songwriting challenge to write 14 songs in 28 days. They pooled their efforts to pen a song apiece about all of the U.S. presidents (3 x 14 = 42, with the George W. Bush tune arriving later), and they came out of it with a heap of demos.

Then, they fleshed (and are fleshing) the songs out with studio contributions from Califone, Alan Sparhawk (Low), Mark Kozelek (Sun Kil Moon/Red House Painters), Wooden Wand and the Vanishing Voice, Rosie Thomas, Denison Witmer, Marla Hansen (Sufjan Stevens's band), Vince DiFiore (Cake), and Tom Carter (Charalambides), among others.

Kiefer calls the resultant box set "a walk through American history and an inquiry into what makes us Americans as filtered through the lens of our highest public office. There's heartbreak and beauty and criticism and revelation. We're trying to make it work like a big beautiful historical novel."

Of Great and Mortal Men does not yet have a definite release date, but Standard plans to put it out in the summer. The tracklist is here (seriously, it's that simple). Susan Archie is scheduled to design the art for the box itself, and the package will come with 43 cards, each with an image of one of the presidents done by one of 43 different artists.

Finally, Standard will supplement the set with a 44th song, available next November following the election. As soon as the results are official, everyone who bought the box set can go to the label's website and download Mr. or Mrs. 44's song.

Coil Issue Naples as Vinyl Box Set With Bonus LP

The Ape of Naples, the 2005 Coil album assembled partially from late co-founder Jhonn Balance's final recordings, will see a vinyl box set release via Important Records on December 11.

The four LP set spreads the album out over three discs, each featuring laser etchings on their B-sides. The last disc is an exclusive full-length called The New Backwards, which consists of-- Avey Tare & Kria Brekkan style-- backward mixes of Coil tunes.

The set is limited to a run of 1500, and a poster is included in the package. [MORE...]

Animal Collective 2008 Plans: EP, LP Box, Recording
Special prize at the end if you read this whole story

What a year it's been for Animal Collective! Cue the checklist:

* New label: secured
* Globe-trotting tour: wrapped
* Network television: conquered
* Youth: corrupted
* Person: pitched
* Hair, Eye: pulled and rubbed, respectively
* Strawberry: jammed

Time to hibernate, right guys? Hardly. As revealed in a recent AC message board post from Avey Tare (confirmed by the band's publicist), Animal Collective already have a good part of 2008 mapped out. Surprise, surprise, it'll be plumb full of activity.

Thanks to reader Lee for the heads up.

Among their resolutions: a new EP, that LP box set, a couple extracurricular sessions for web and radio (those should actually appear before 2007 is up), some more touring abroad, and a return to the recording studio. And if this sounds an awful lot like a story we ran last year, well, it is, but all the specifics are different save for the LP box.

Anyhow. The EP will include "Street Flash" and three other Strawberry Jam-era tunes. It's being mixed right now by Nicholas Vernhes at Brooklyn's Rare Book Room, and Avey and the guys hope to have it out by the coming spring.

The LP box set, in the works for some time now, should soon see the light of day. Wrote Avey, "plans to start working on the artwork for the 3 lp box are hopefully it wont be much longer on that." He also asked that folks cease bugging Catsup Plate, the label that will release the box. They'll let you know when that's ready, and you can bet we will too.

The recording studio return happens "early next year," and while we can't yet forecast just what will come out of it, know that Animal Collective "are excited about it and that yes, we are trying to record near the beach!"

As for the radio/web sessions, keep your eyes and ears peeled for a forthcoming "Take Away Show" from the guys, as well as a BBC broadcast featuring "our most recent live versions" of "Doggy" and "Hey Light", plus "two newer jams." UPDATE: The broadcast in question is the Monday, November 19 session of the Rob da Bank show on Radio 1. It will happen at 2:00 GMT, and will be archived here for seven days afterwards.

Hang in there, you've reached the home stretch, patient reader! And it involves touring, naturally. In addition to a forthcoming fest appearance at the Explosions in the Sky ATP, AC have confirmed a few dates in Japan and intend to hit up Europe in the Year of the Rat. Plus they'll "perhaps [play] at least one show in April in the USA," so there's that.

Annnnd if you've made it this far, congrats, here's your prize. [MORE...]


Psych Pop Rarities Collected in Remastered Rubble Box

You got your Nuggets, sure, but when you run those nuggets through the sifter yet again, you wind up with a whole lotta Rubble.

Volumes 11-20 of the legendary Rubble psych-pop series (mining similar chronology as the famed Nuggets set, if a largely different slew of artists) have been remastered and re-boxed as The Rubble Collection: Volumes 11-20, due for reissue November 20 via Fallout Records. Each of the 1,000 limited edition, numbered boxes features over 150 tracks from names familiar-- the Lovin' Spoonful, the Pretty Things, Blossom Toes, Soft Machine-- rubbing up next to the likes of Boeing Duveen & the Beautiful Soup and the Portobello Explosion. Tasty!

The new edition of Rubbles comes with a revised booklet chock full of band histories, rare photos, and discographies, because, really, the Crazy World of Arthur Brown isn't half as crazy until you've learned just what led Arthur down that loopy path.

Radiohead Box Set: Label's Idea, Not Band's

The announcement earlier this week that Parlophone/EMI would be issuing a box set of Radiohead's previously released albums took many fans by surprise. Sure, the set looks purdy, but it doesn't come with any bonus tracks or new artwork or liner notes. And that USB stick sure is clunky. Plus, why would Radiohead want to release this thing on December 10, right when everybody will be getting their pre-ordered discboxes of In Rainbows? Seems a little fishy.

On Monday, Boing Boing posted an item about the box set. Yesterday, it was updated with the following:

"A publicity-shy reader writes, 'I think people need to know that the band isn't some greed machine. I can tell you with 100% certainty that EMI is putting out all those reissues without the band's participation, blessing, permission or involvement at all. They are doing it as retribution for the band's decision not to go with them in releasing the new album. Despite their contract being expired, EMI had been counting on the revenue from the forthcoming album. When the band put out the digital version of the album themselves, EMI threatened them with re-releasing their entire catalog on the same day the discbox of IN RAINBOWS was being sent out, Dec 10, unless the band gave EMI the standard physical release of the album. Of course the band/managers told EMI to piss off and were appalled that at such an important point in the band's career that their former partners would do this to them.'"

We checked in with representatives from both the band and the label. According to the Radiohead camp, the box set was indeed not the band's idea. They did not confirm any in-fighting, though. EMI agreed that the box was a label initiative, and said that the band's management was offered the opportunity to participate in the project, but declined. As for the release date, EMI maintained that no maliciousness was intended. Rather, it's simply box set season--who doesn't want to find a nicely packaged multi-CD bundle under the tree on Christmas morning?

As for that other Radiohead release we're all looking forward to, it's maybe possibly coming out January 1, maybe possibly on ATO/Side One in the U.S., the band is maybe possibly doing a webcast about it on Friday and maybe possibly touring behind it next year.


Radiohead's First Seven LPs Collected in Box Set
No, the seventh album isn't In Rainbows. It's the live album.

Each and every one of Radiohead's Parlophone albums will be re-released in a brand new box set December 10, the perfect holiday gift for the music fan who either doesn't own any Radiohead albums or wants to own all of them all over again.

The box includes all six pre-In Rainbows studio discs, from 1993's Pablo Honey through 2003's Hail to the Thief, plus 2001's live set I Might Be Wrong. The limited edition CD version of the set comes tucked snugly into new digipacks featuring the original album artwork.

Reserving those last inches of space on the shelf for your pre-ordered In Rainbows discbox? Well, the box set is also available as a DRM-free 320 kbps MP3 download, as well as a limited edition USB stick (made to look like that spooky grinning bear thing!) collecting all the records in CD-quality .WAV format, complete with digital artwork.

As you've probably heard already, Radiohead are on XL now... outside North America, anyhow. And they'll be touring next year, although where and when exactly we don't know just yet.


New From Dust-to-Digital: Field Recordings, Tuvan Throat Singing, Global Music, Old Music

Like they say: ashes to ashes, Dust-to-Digital, field recordings and Tuvan throat songs to iPods. Fine, no one actually says that, but nonetheless, fans of folk songs, world music, and lots and lots of field recordings are in for a treat this fall with three releases on the schedule from the trustworthy Dust-to-Digital label.

The first is a four-disc box set called Art of Field Recording Volume I, and it comes out on November 6. Assembled by archivists Art and Margo Rosenbaum, the box set includes 110 tracks of "ballads, blues, spirituals, work songs and slave songs, religious singing such as the African-American ring-shout, and other traditional folk music from Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Michigan and New York," according to a press release. The package comes in an 11" x 11" x 1" color cardboard box with a 96-page 10" x 10" book featuring more than 100 illustrations and photos.

A release party for Art of Field Recording will take place on November 24 at the Melting Point in Athens, Georgia. Several artists from the box set will perform.

The other two compilations come out on November 20. One, Melodii Tuvi: Throat Songs and Folk Tunes From Tuva is pretty self-explanatory: It consists of 16 tracks of Tuvan songs originally issued in the Soviet Union in 1969. The University of Helsinki's Dr. Pekka Gronow unearthed them and provides liner notes for the release, where the tunes appear on CD for the first time.

The other compilation, Black Mirror: Reflections in Global Musics (1918-1955), is not, to our knowledge, named after the Arcade Fire song. (Yes, we know you were confused.) It's an Ian Nagoski-compiled collection of 24 tracks from the titular years, representing the music of countries from Yugoslavia and Laos to Cameroon and Java. All the tracks were newly transferred and mastered from 78 rpm vinyl, and 18 of them have never before appeared in CD form.

"But what crazy sounds am I going to hear?" you may ask. Well, according to the previously quoted press release: "zamr, naa phaat piphat, gong kebyar, Northumbrian piping, periya melam, rhumba, Carpathian weddings, Rulin opera, Uilleann piping, Bollywood, dan bau, Handel, rembetika, gusle, tembang sunds, flamenco, fado, prayer, djanger, kabuki and yien pwe."

In other words, the next ten years of Timbaland sample sources.

Also, though it's not immediately forthcoming, the label will release Victrola Favorites: Artifacts From Bygone Days in December. It's a 144-page, full-color clothbound book that comes with two CDs of "Burmese guitars, Chinese Opera, Persian folk songs, Fado, hillbilly, jazz, blues, and much, much more," according to the label's website. It was compiled from the 78 and design artifact collections of Climax Golden Twins' Rob Millis and Jeffery Taylor.

Finally, Awake, My Soul-- the DVD companion to Dust-to-Digital's Sacred Harp-chronicling I Belong to This Band compilation-- will air on public television early next year. [MORE...]


Pink Floyd Studio Catalogue Reissued in Box Set
I'm in the high fidelity first class traveling set/ And I think I need a box set

For their 40th anniversary, Pink Floyd could have gone out and bought red convertibles or taken a month-long vacation in Cabo or ran off with their secretaries. Instead, they've taken a more civilized approach to being "older, shorter of breath, and one day closer to death" (as they themselves said in "Time"). And that approach involves reissues.

Just last month, they reissued their essential debut, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, in two- and three-disc 40th anniversary editions. Now, they've packaged Piper with their other 13 studio albums for a box set called Oh By the Way.

Capitol/EMI will release Oh By the Way on December 4, and the set presents each CD in a miniature vinyl-style wallet, complete with original artwork. Some of the longer albums are on two CDs, and some of the sleeves are gatefold. There are also various stickers, posters, postcards, and other extras included in the package, as well as a 40th anniversary fabric poster designed by Pink Floyd album artist Storm Thorgerson. [MORE...]

Bowie-Inspired Clothes Hit Target, New Box Set Due
It's a far better idea than a Low/Heroes/Lodger-inspired line of coke straws

Noted fashion designer Keanan Duffty isn't the first of his kind to ship a ready-to-wear collection to emporium of merchandise Target. He is, however, the first to rope one of rock'n'roll's true mavericks down into the realm of low-low prices along with him. Duffty's fall men's collection-- hitting stores just in time for this Sunday's circular-- "drew inspiration" from the music, persona, and the years and years of wacky ensembles of Mr. David Bowie.

According to a press release, "Several of the collection's key pieces draw direct inspiration from characters and songs by David Bowie. The tuxedo, vest, and pants were inspired by David's Thin White Duke persona, the song 'Station to Station', and his most recent album Reality. The dress shirts and trench coat are references to David's first movie role as Thomas Jerome Newton in The Man Who Fell to Earth. In addition, the gray button-down shirt features Bowie's 'Let's Dance' lyrics scripted onto the fabric."

That flowery frock from The Man Who Sold the World cover must not have made the cut.

To go along with the threads, Target's got a new Bowie compilation called Strangers When We Meet meant to be "displayed alongside the fashion collection." The thing, which "features tracks from forthcoming and proposed Virgin/EMI David Bowie catalog releases" (including live versions of "Jean Genie, Young Americans" and "Word on a Wing") should be available Sunday.

Thanks to reader Myk Martello for the heads up!

Despite its pitifully uninspired title, even reasonably ardent Bowie fans may want in on David Bowie Box Set. According to, the collection packages the two-disc international editions of Bowie's five most recent LPs-- Outside, Earthling, Hours, Heathen, and Reality-- in vinyl-replica digipaks, complete with a buncha remixes, a few soundtrack cuts, etc. You know the drill, but you might not know these records. That's out November 27 on ISO/Columbia.

In other Bowie news, the man recently donated $10,000 to a legal defense fund for the Jena Six, calling it a "small gesture". Seems pretty big of him to me! And on a slightly more silly note, Bowie guests on SpongeBob SquarePants on November 11.


Robyn Hitchcock Looks Backward on Retrospective

Though still actively recording music, Robyn Hitchcock's gaze of late has been focused over his shoulder. Along with the folks at Yep Roc Records, he's compiled I Wanna Go Backward, a healthy hunk of Hitchcock that gathers three of his 1980s solo discs-- Black Snake Diamond Role, I Often Dream of Trains, and Eye-- along with a double disc collection of B-sides, outtakes, home demos, and the like called While Thatcher Mauled Britain Part 1 & 2.

The set, along with an individual release of each album with enhanced material and an eight LP Backward box, will be released October 16 November 13.

Not enough Hitchcock for you? First, you're crazy, but second, you're in luck: early next year, another box entitled Bad Case of History is due. History will collect Fegmania, Gotta Let This Hen Out, Element of Light, and another outtake collection entitled Dynasty. Plus Yep Roc is making another out-of-print Hitchcock goodie, 1982's Groovy Decay, available digitally. And, if you're still fiending for some Hitchcock after all that, Robyn's got a U.S. tour in the works for November. Phew! [MORE...]

Nick Drake's Fruit Tree Box Reissue Due

Fragile folk-rock icon Nick Drake coaxed three albums out of his brief recording tenure, all of which have grown in reverence from fans in the years since Drake's death.

Once upon a time, far before the folks at Volkswagen gave Drake a boost, those albums-- Five Leaves Left, Bryter Layter, and Pink Moon-- were collected together in a box set that served as the perfect encapsulation of Drake's majestic ways to blue. That box, titled Fruit Tree (and not to be confused with this year's Family Tree), has been out of print for seven years. But come November 6, as previously mentioned, UME/Fontana will give fans a crack at accruing a good chunk of Nick Drake's discography all at once.

Apart from the classic trio, the 10,000 copies of the Fruit Tree CD box and the 2,000 vinyl sets will come with a 108-page book "featuring song by song analysis by producer Joe Boyd, engineer John Wood, arranger Robert Kirby and songwriter/music journalist and friend Robin Frederick," (says the press release) as well as a DVD copy of the recent Drake documentary A Skin Too Few. This is, the manufacturers warn, a one-time-only run, so acting fast is advised.

In addition, the San Francisco City Arts & Lectures series will host "Remembering Nick Drake", which finds Nick's sister Gabrielle, his producer Joe Boyd, and songwriter Jolie Holland in conversation. That'll take place at San Francisco's Herbst Theater October 2. Both Ms. Drake and Mr. Boyd will be on hand in L.A. October 5 when the American Cinematheque presents "A Place to Be - A Celebration of Nick Drake", which features more dialogue, the L.A. premiere of A Skin Too Few, and a series of short films inspired by Drake and composed by the likes of longtime video lensman Tim Pope and Aussie dreamboat Heath Ledger. A Skin Too Few will also screen October 3 as part of San Francisco's Documentary Festival.

Early John Coltrane Collaborations Collected on Box Set

Forty years after his death, one is still compelled to speak of John Coltrane-- iconic saxman, composer and bandleader-- in hushed, reverent tones. Coltrane's massive body of work is frequently studied, raved about, wept over, and anthologized. And rightly so.

On September 18, Prestige will release Interplay, a five-CD set of recordings from 1956-1958, an incredibly fruitful time for Coltrane. Interplay collects seven full albums: Tenor Conclave, Interplay for 2 Trumpets and 2 Tenors, The Cats, Wheelin' & Dealin', Modern Jazz Survey 2 (later issued as Dakar), Cattin' with Coltrane and Quinichette, and Kenny Burrell and John Coltrane.

Many of these recordings feature Trane in unusual collaborative configurations, ceding the marquee to others and periodically recording without a true bandleader. A good number of Interplay's tracks are by bands with more than a few horn players-- a relative scarcity in Coltrane's catalog-- and the album-length collaboration with guitarist Kenny Burrell represents a rare meeting of Trane's horn and six strings. In addition to Burrell, collaborators featured on the set include Paul Qunichiette, Hank Mobley, Mal Waldron, Art Taylor, Jimmy Cobb, Paul Chambers, and Tommy Flanagan.

Though many prefer his later, more unrestrained mid-60s albums, Coltrane's work during the time period covered by Interplay is, in a very different way, just as unparalleled. The recordings come from around the time that Trane and Monk were busting skulls at their infamous residency at New York City's Five Spot, and Trane had just rejoined a recently reformed Miles Davis Quintet, who would go on to record such milestones as, well, Milestones, and Kind of Blue. Trane himself was busy holding court at what would become some of the most famous sessions in jazz history. Both Blue Train and Soultrane were recorded in this period, with the landmark Giant Steps to follow shortly thereafter.

In other Coltrane news, Live in '60, '61 & '65, a DVD collecting highlights from three live European performances put on between 1960 and 1965 will be released September 4 as part of the Jazz Icons DVD series. The performances on the DVD feature Trane onstage with his legendary quartet (Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones), as well as with Eric Dolphy, Oscar Peterson, and Stan Getz. Other editions in the DVD series are devoted to Charles Mingus, Duke Ellington, Sarah Vaughn, Wes Montgomery, and Dave Brubeck.

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