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Sunset Rubdown Kick Off Random Tour

We're not really sure what Spencer Krug is singing about most of the time (except when he does that cover of "Nothing Compares 2 U"), but Best New Music knows no language. It also knows few geographical bounds, since Krug and the rest of his Sunset Rubdown crew begin a tour this weekend that will cover a good deal of North America.

So memorize Random Spirit Lover (out October 9 on Jagjaguwar), eat your dinner in a fancy restaurant, and hop on over to one of these shows, starting with the Secretly Canadian/Jagjaguwar Showcase at Pop Montreal in Montreal tomorrow, October 6. Fellow Wolf Parade offshoot Johnny and the Moon opens most of the shows. [MORE...]
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Kanye Designs Jewelry With Murakami
But are the diamonds from Sierra Leone?

Below photo from Lorenzo Santini / WireImage

Kanye West's history of contradictions is well documented, so it only makes sense that we'd run a story about how he's designing a collection of jewelry at the end of the same week we reported that he was nerding out over on his new blog.

Kanye revealed the news of his jewelry line to WWD.com (Women's Wear Daily's website, via Jezebel) at a Givenchy fashion show in Paris on Wednesday, October 3.

He was sitting front row at the show and sporting a "huge gold Manga-style diamond-studded pendant," which he designed with the help of Graduation cover artist Takashi Murakami. The chain is a prototype for the forthcoming collection, but West made sure to mention that the pieces in the actual line will be "more accessible. They won't be all diamonds."

True to his "my flaws are part of my perfection" form, Kanye also revealed that the prototype's "eyes are not perfectly done. Murakami cringes when he sees the eyes."

The jet-setting Chicago MC still starts touring again in Nashville on October 12.

In other Kanye-related news from the same Givenchy show, he apparently <3's Hole 4 life:


[MORE...]

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Photos: Jose Gonzalez Live on KEXP [Chicago, IL; 10/04/07]

Photos by Sanchez and Kitahara

Because his records are so unadorned, because he is largely disinterested in flourish, because I suspect there is a strong streak of perfectionism running through his every gesture, there's really very little separating a live performance by José González (like the one I caught at Chicago's Engine Studios yesterday afternoon as part of a live radio session for KEXP) and his records. That said, the serene beauty you've heard etched into wax is preserved in concert, as is that nagging feeling that you wish he wasn't so goshdarned straightfaced about it.



Not that José isn't lovely, as a person, singer, and guitarist. That voice, those plucked strings, that gentle hush seems to emit from the core of Mr. Gonzélez, and he (rather admirably, considering) batted KEXP DJ John Richards' overager softballs right back with a genial shrug. His songs seem more delicate on first blush than they truly are, and "How Low" and "Fold", however indebted to Nick Drake, could never be as sweet coming from anyone else.



But whether it was the air conditioning or the forced friendship from Richards or José's gossamer voice and the soft strings of his guitar, I felt a bit sleepy. No complaint: I suspect perhaps this is the idea. These are political songs, some of 'em, and love songs otherwise, and both those things, when done just right, oughta ooze passion. José's passion, I suspect, is closer to perfectionism, and though I'm sure it made for fine radio-- as it makes for fine records-- it wasn't a sight to behold.



Setlist:

Down the Line
How Low
Fold
Abram
Killing for Love

Hear it HERE. [MORE...]

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Lily Allen To Play Lydia Bennet in Austen Spoof Flick
Suddenly, 300-level English TAs all rewrite their syllabi in unison

In a role one suspects won't be too great a stretch for the sassy (and very funny) British songstress, Lily Allen will portray Lydia Bennet, the bratty, class-obsessed younger sister of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice in the forthcoming "parody" flick Jane Austen Handheld, according to RollingStone.com.

Though it's unclear at this point what kind of liberties will be taken with Austen's beloved narrative, in the book, Lydia Bennet (spoiler alert-- though you should really read more) runs off under false pretenses with a George Wickham, to be portrayed in Handheld by British TV/radio personality Russell Brand. No word on who'll take the other roles in the film or just who's directing this thing, but shooting is set to begin next spring.

Apart from lining up acting gigs, digging on Chrissie, and kicking it with Common, Lily's been keeping fairly quiet lately. Though she's doing Fashion Rocks (hosted by Uma Thurman and Samuel L. Jackson!) at London's Royal Albert Hall on October 18, no proper live dates have been announced for the fall, and no new jams have emerged as yet. A recent MySpace blog mentioned that she'd "spent the past couple of weeks in a twee little cottage in the cotswolds starting on the next album," which has "gone so well." She added that "I won't say much but it's a different musical direction and really quite exciting. Everything just seems to be falling into place." Well, good! Remember, Lils, we fell in love with your music, not your way around a cue card.

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Be Your Own Pet Announce Little Tour
Kicks off with awesome Halloween party

Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Be Your Own Pet will come out of the studio to pla-ee-ayy! on a short tour that starts with a Warriors-themed costume party on Halloween. As you can see in the flyer for the event (after the jump), the Bravery will host the D.C. party, which will also feature the DJ talents of Leave the Lights On and Deep Sang.

BYOP are still hard at work readying the follow-up to their self-titled debut for release early next year, though a specific title and release date are still forthcoming.

Those with a completely insatiable appetite for Pet can tide themselves over with two CMJ appearances by guitarist Jonas Stein and drummer John Eatherly's Turbo Fruits side project. The shows are on October 18 and 19. [MORE...]

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Photos: Imperial Teen Live on KEXP [Chicago, IL; 10/04/07]

Photos by Sanchez and Kitahara

Roddy Bottum and his Imperial Teen crew kept things rolling at KEXP's remote session from Chicago's Engine Studios yesterday, jamming through a set of their twisted pop tunes, mostly culled from this year's LP, The Hair the TV the Baby and the Band.



Host John Richards' typical fanboy gushing took on a more personal tone at the Teen's appearance than the previous few bands. "I've been a DJ as long as you've been a band," he revealed. "I think I've played you since the first week I was on the air, so it's a particular honor to have you on the show."



"Now that I've buttered you up," he added, "I'm ready for a great show. No pressure." If they did feel any pressure, they certainly didn't show it, and quickly launched into Baby and the Band's "Do It Better". They later revisited their late-1990s hit "Yoo Hoo" to wrap up the set.






Setlist:

Do It Better
One Two
Baby and the Band
Shim Sham
Yoo Hoo

Hear it HERE.
[MORE...]

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Ratatat Open for Bjork, Soundtrack the Birth of a Child
Baby born doing this: \m/

Björk's infatuation with beatmakers has grown to encompass the lovably scruffy guys of Ratatat, as she has asked them to open for her at shows on December 12 in L.A. and December 15 in Vegas. Being sane, they of course accepted, and those are now the only tour dates on the duo's schedule.

Accepting Björk's invitation isn't, however, the only thing Ratatat have done recently. A few weeks ago, Public Radio International's "Weekend America" ran a story in its "Listening In" series about what women choose to listen to while giving birth. A listener-generated playlist consisted of songs by Neil Young, the Grateful Dead, the Ramones ("I Wanna Be Sedated", har har), and Jimmy Buffet (life is full of disappointments, son). In the story itself, though, one woman revealed that Ratatat's "Wildcat" was her song of choice.

In a follow-up piece prompted by a listener's letter asking for more info about "that song with the cat's reeaaarrrrgh in it," "Weekend America" caught up with Ratatat for an interview on the subject, which you can listen to here. They explained how they recorded the roar, apparently obtained by going outside and capturing the sound from an actual wildcat, though one of the Ratatats pointed out, "I don't think it was giving birth at the time." They also revealed their own cheeky pick for Baby's First Song: "The Happy Birthday Song". Touché, gentlemen.

Also, we're sure that tons of people have noticed this already, but still:

[MORE...]

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Justice Launch North American Tour
Add dates with CSS

Whether or not Kanye decides to crash their party again and appear on stage saying "Hold up, hold up, this is my crowd. I paid a million dollars for this crowd!", we fully expected Justice to hold it down on their tour of almost-- but not quite-- everywhere in the world.

That tour's North American leg begins tonight, October 5, in Mexico, and, as if their own crunchy beats weren't enough, they've added a handful of UK dates in December with notorious party-starters CSS. Not a bad addition to a tour that just keeps going, and going, and going, until December 15.

Lest any one of us forgets just how giving Justice are, there is also the matter of that "D.A.N.C.E." remix EP, which is out now. [MORE...]

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RIAA Wins File-Sharing Suit, Woman Fined $222,000
Now they can buy 222,000 Radiohead albums

$9,250 per song. According to the New York Times, that is how much Brainerd, Minnesota's Jammie Thomas will have to shell out for each of the 24 disputed tracks she reportedly shared on the Kazaa network. This is due to a decision made by a federal jury in a Duluth, Minnesota court yesterday, ruling in the favor of lead plaintiff Capitol Records, along with Universal Music Group, Sony BMG, and Warner Music Group.

Thomas is the first person in the United States to be convicted of music sharing copyright infringement in a jury trial, and the decision sets a startling new legal precedent and serves as a major symbolic victory for the RIAA.

Thomas' case is particularly interesting, as she was convicted of having copyrighted material in her Kazaa shared folder, but not necessarily sharing them herself. The Times reports, "Earlier, the judge in the case, Michael J. Davis of Federal District Court, ruled that for jurors to find her liable, the record labels did not have to prove that songs on Ms. Thomas's computer had actually been transmitted to others online. Rather, the act of making them available could be viewed as infringement."

In the last four years, the labels have brought around 30,000 lawsuits against file sharers, but Thomas is the first to be found guilty in a jury trial. Most opt for a settlement, with an average payout in the $4,000 range. The Times points out that "the verdict is likely to reinforce the notion that computer users who do become targets of lawsuits-- a small fraction of the population using file-swapping networks-- are better off settling." Thomas maintained her innocence throughout the proceedings, claiming she'd never even had a Kazaa account, but evidence was presented that she had replaced her hard drive in order to eradicate the files.

According to the Chicago Tribune, Thomas shared files by such artists as AFI, Aerosmith, Green Day, Journey, and Guns n' Roses. Thankfully, now these struggling entertainers will be able to feed their families.

In other RIAA news, they recently sent a back-to-school present to 22 U.S. universities in the form of 403 "pre-litigation settlement letters," which, with this new decision, just became a lot more serious. Be careful out there, folks.

For more about the RIAA and how it operates, read J.T. Ramsay's 2006 feature "Live at the Witch Trials"

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Photos: The Twilight Sad Live on KEXP [Chicago, IL; 10/04/07]

Photos by Sanchez and Kitahara

Watching the members of Glaswegian noise-pop group the Twilight Sad warm up for their live KEXP broadcast yesterday afternoon at Chicago's Engine Studios, one might have thought the band had come from their hometown's school of sensitive, navel-gazing popsters like Belle & Sebastian. Singer James Graham timidly slouched in front of the microphone, drummer Mark Devine crouched unassumingly behind his drum kit-- until they cranked into song number one, they seemed like the shyest guys in the world.



That perception, of course, was shattered about a minute into "Cold Days From the Birdhouse" (the lead-off track from the band's fantastic debut Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters), when Graham unleashed his Scottish brogue on the line "but this is where your arm can't go," as if to prove that this is where they can go. And once they'd gotten there, they really didn't stop over the course of four songs.



Devine had to keep a concrete block in front of his kick drum to keep him from pounding the whole kit into the sound booth (where the songs sound properly mixed; inside the studio, his endless pounding is the only thing anyone can hear). Host John Richards exclaimed, after their second song, that it was the most noise they'd heard all week.



But after a half-hour offering of such Fourteen Autumns tracks as "And She Would Darken the Memory of Youth" and "I'm Taking the Train Home", the fellows' meek demeanors returned. They gave a quiet, polite "thank you" to their host, and began packing up for two more U.S. gigs before heading back across the pond.


(The Twilight Sad with KEXP's John Richards)

Setlist:

Cold Days from the Birdhouse
Watching That Chair
And She Would Darken the Memory of Youth
I'm Taking the Train Home

Hear the full performance HERE.
[MORE...]

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Debbie Harry Gets Evil on New Album

Photo by Joe Gaffney

It wouldn't naturally occur to us to think of a new Debbie Harry album as having anything in common with taxes, public transit, and doctor's office waiting rooms. Quite the opposite, actually. But the Blondie frontwoman insists on calling her first solo album in 14 years Necessary Evil, and who are we to contradict her?

Harry's supporting cast on Evil includes Blondie collaborator Chris Stein, the Jazz Passengers' Roy Nathanson and Bill Ware, the Toilet Boys' Guy Furrow, and NYC production duo Super Buddha (aka Barb Morrison and Charles Nieland). Alas, no Lily Allen.

Five Seven Music/ADA will release Necessary Evil on October 9. Harry has a few dates in support of the new album scheduled for this fall. [MORE...]

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Pitchfork Seeks Video Editor for NYC Internship

Pitchfork is seeking a fast, efficient video editor/production assistant for an internship in New York. Our ideal candidate is a film major with experience in Final Cut and/or Avid (After Effects a plus) who is available to work two days a week during business hours, for credit if possible. To apply, please send your resume to jobs@pitchforkmedia.com, along with a link to your demo reel. Submission deadline is Tuesday, October 9th at 6:00 p.m. eastern.
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Do you have a news tip for us? Anything crazy happen at a show you attended recently? Do you have inside info on the bands we cover? Is one of your favorite artists (that's not somebody you know personally) releasing a new record you'd like to see covered? You will remain completely anonymous, unless we are given your express permission to reveal your identity. (Please note that publicists, managers, booking agents, and other artist representatives are generally exempt from this rule, but will also be granted anonymity if requested.)

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