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The Streets' Skinner Retires the Beats Label

Mike Skinner, aka the Streets, put his label the Beats out to pasture last month. In a little ceremony that took place the Friday before Christmas, Skinner and fellow label head Ted Mayhem gave a speech and had a poetry reading, while Skinner performed a song as a sort of eulogy in the presence of friends of the label.

While it existed, the Beats served as the home of the Mitchell Brothers, Professor Green, Trim, Example, and Neon Hitch, among others. A limerick addressed from "Warner Bros Promotions" and pictured below (via Skinner's MySpace blog) explains the Beats' retirement concisely: "the profit margins got thinner and thinner."

Skinner spoke to NME.com today and elaborated a little on the decision to end the Beats (no rhymes here, alas): "It just comes down to the fact that the traditional record label is dead. The Beats represents me growing up. Spectating was more nerve-wracking than performing. What I'm doing now is looking for the thing you can create that embraces the next generation. I'm really into what you can do online and I'd rather be at the center of it." Insert obligatory Radiohead mention here.

As for Skinner's live-instrumentation follow-up to 2006's The Hardest Way to Make an Easy Living, it's still coming along slowly but steadily. He's obviously overshot his goal of a release by Christmas, but he hasn't announced a make-up release date. May we suggest he title the album It'll Get There When It Gets There?

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Raveonettes Plot Tours of North America, Italy
Lust Lust Lust North American bonus tracks revealed

Bolstered by a pair of bonus cuts not available on the UK edition (out now on Fierce Panda), the Raveonettes' Lust Lust Lust is-- as previously reported-- coming to North America this year thanks to Vice Records. Now we know exactly when: February 19.

To herald Lust's transatlantic voyage, the Raveonettes will hit the roads of North America throughout winter and into spring. SXSW is indeed on the docket. It all kicks off proper February 29 in San Diego, although the Danes have a lone NYC date and a jaunt through Italy planned for the weeks leading up to then. [MORE...]
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Robyn Announces U.S. Tour Dates!
Rakamonie EP coming to the States as well

For months-- gosh, years-- we've been thinking wishfully about Robyn making her way to the States for the first time in forever. Occasionally, rumblings could be heard about a U.S. trip, but still we waited. But guess what, my fellow Americans? Robyn is (coming) here. So what am I supposed to dream about at night now?

Following a few European dates next week and an exhaustive search for a suitcase big enough for all the costumes, Swedish sensation Robyn will meet the bright lights of big city New York February 5. She'll then make her way to California for a pair of dates later in the week. Indeed, that's it for Stateside appearances at the moment, but those three gigs beat the hell outta the zero we've been getting these last few years. Thanks to BrooklynVegan for the tour tip-off.

It seems Robyn herself will make it to the States before the (still awesome) Robyn does, as that's tentatively scheduled for an April release over here. Not at all tentative whatsoever: a slightly updated Rakamonie EP, which will hit North American shelves January 29 on Konichiwa/Cherrytree/Interscope. And fans the world over should be alert to the many versions of her "Be Mine" single still trickling out as I write this. [MORE...]
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Jose Gonzalez Goes Green for North American Tour

Photo by Akmal Naim

José González
sees trouble down the line, and-- like a singin' Swedish Al Gore-- he intends to do something about it. He's partnered up with sustainable energy boosters Reverb for a month-long "Green Tour" of North America that kicks off in Florida on leap day.

Reverb will assist González in calculating and then canceling out the carbon emissions his tour produces, provide his crew with biodegradable catering supplies and reusable water bottles, and occasionally reenact their favorite scenes from "Captain Planet".

All of these efforts will help make Mr. González's tour carbon-neutral. Hey! That's today's A.Word.A.Day!

A portion of ticket costs will go to support Reverb's mission, while those who preorder their tickets from Ticketstoday.com can opt to support NativeEnergy's carbon offset program as well. What's more, any and all show-goers can further bolster González's green efforts by purchasing a special decal.

José's got a few dates this month in that Southern Hemisphere before he goes green on us. And, in a delicious morsel of irony, he'll break up his energy-saving tour with an appearance at the PLUG Awards, where he'll perform and possibly accept trophies for Male Artist of the Year and Americana Album of the Year for In Our Nature. Get it? Plug? Energy? You were right not to laugh. [MORE...]
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Under Byen Enlist Symphonic Help on New EP

Of all the nifty little hooks you can use to unload an EP, Under Byen's Siamesisk EP employs perhaps the perfect trifecta. It's live, it's symphonic, and it casts a new light on a few old favorites from the Danish octet's back catalog.

Set to tape at an April 2007 concert in Under Byen's native Copenhagen and featuring the 42-piece Danish Radio Orchestra Sinfonietta, the Siamesisk EP strings along four tracks from UB's fine Samme Stof Som Stof LP and one old favorite besides. The disc emerges in Denmark February 18 on Morningside, though it'll hit North America March 27 from Paper Bag Records. Both issues are strictly limited to 2,000 copies.

And heck, why not, here are a few photos from the gig, taken by Hans Hauge:


[MORE...]
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Black Mountain Add Dates With Bon Iver
Plus: Blood on the Wall, Ladyhawk

Black Mountain photo by Jessica Miller

If joint tours were breakfast cereals, the upcoming Bon Iver/Black Mountain jag would be (an actually good) granola to Girl Talk and Dan Deacon's mixture of Trix and Count Chocula.

The Jagjaguwar labelmates' stars will align for a run of North American dates together beginning February 19, the same day the label releases Bon Iver's For Emma, Forever Ago to a wider audience. In the more immediate future, Black Mountain's In the Future comes out January 22 on Jagjaguwar.

Both bands have dates apart as well, with Black Mountain's trek with Bon Iver bookended by runs with Blood on the Wall, Ladyhawk, and, as previously reported, Howlin Rain. Black Mountain kick the whole thing off January 31 in Seattle. [MORE...]

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Nick Cave's Lazarus Gets Tracklist, U.S. Release Date

Photo by Richard Sharman

Nick Cave fans, here's a little news you're likely to dig. Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!, the forthcoming platter from Cave and his perennial partners in crime the Bad Seeds, now has itself both a tracklist and a precise U.S. release date.

Lazarus
was already set to grace UK shelves March 3 from Mute, and Anti-, we've learned, will resurrect the disc for Stateside spelunkers April 8. The tracklist follows the jump, and, wow, I simply cannot wait to hear "Jesus of the Moon".

As you know, a single for the album's title track hits UK stores February 18 from Mute, and a physical version of the Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford soundtrack Cave crafted with fellow Seedy character Warren Ellis is due in the U.S. February 5. Nick and company have yet to emerge from the Cave to lay any tour plans on us, but that, we're told, can be expected soon. [MORE...]
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The Long Blondes Set Up Couples, UK Tour

Looks like romantic entanglements-- and all the wrench-ups that go hand-in-hand with 'em-- are once again at the forefront of the beautiful minds who make up Sheffield, England's great, glammy Long Blondes. Yup, so much so that they've dubbed their forthcoming sophomore album Couples.

Kate Jackson and her lot will precede Rough Trade's April 7 UK release of the LP with a single for "Guilt" (perhaps it's about relationships?), due March 24. Couples hits the States April 8, also via Rough Trade. Both "Guilt" and the whole of Couples were produced by electro whiz Erol Alkan, who's worked with the band before.

Having found that special someone to drive them home in the wake of their last disc, the Blondes are ready to hit the road anew on a brief UK tour in March. [MORE...]

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Antony Designs Dress for Charity

Nothing shouts "Antony Hegarty" like fashion and gender expression, and the singer's most recent project combines both. Antony has partnered with online boutique YOOX.com to design a dress for auction on eBay starting February 14. Proceeds from the sale will go to the Sylvia Rivera Law Project, a U.S. grassroots organization specializing in legal aid to help people "self-determine gender identity and expression, regardless of income or race, and without facing harassment, discrimination or violence," according to its mission statement.

The dress Antony designed was made by hand from white silk jersey and signed by Antony himself. Though it's pictured above, we quite enjoy the press release's description of the dress:

"Evoking a kimono, the sleeves are short, the hems are unfinished, and the front is adorned with an elegant abstract design. Following the lines of a tunic, the opening is at the rear and can be tied on both sides, which makes it suitable for all body shapes and silhouettes.

With its essential and refined lines, exalted by an immaculate whiteness, the piece expresses the same qualities found in its creator's poetic musicality."

Side note: How kickass would it be to see Antony get catty on a season of "Project Runway"?

Antony's dress is the first in a series of YOOX.com collaborations with musicians.

Finally, since our last report on Antony and the Johnsons' new album, The Crying Light, its release on Secretly Canadian was pushed from the spring of this year to the fall. Boo! But we've still got the video for the Björk duet "Dull Flame of Desire" to look forward to. Get the scoop on that clip in our Björk interview from earlier this week.
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Amplive Nixes Radiohead Remixes at Warner's Demand
Amplive to Radiohead: "Thom, holler at me, man."

Recall wayyyy back in 2007 when we told you about Rainydayz Remixes, the record of Radiohead In Rainbows reworkings put together by Oakland DJ and producer Amplive? The one with Too $hort on it? Sounded pretty cool, and cooler still, Amplive was all set to release it next week using a revolutionary pricing model we like to call FREE.

Was, because one faux-polite cease-and-desist letter later, Amplive won't be able to put this thing out without unleashing the legal wrath of Warner/Chappell, Radiohead's longtime publisher.

On December 18, Amplive received a missive from Warner/Chappell informing him that he had "created musical arrangements / remixes" without proper "approval" and must cease distribution of them at once. Rather than tangle with these suits and their armies of lawyers, Amplive has agreed to suspend the project for the time being.

He did, however, express hope that members of Radiohead would hear his remixes and help him gain approval. Radiohead themselves, of course, most likely had nothing to do with the cease-and-desist letter. Check out what Amplive had to say in both a video message and a written statement (reprinted in full below).

"I really feel if Radiohead's team was able to hear these...remixed songs," writes Amplive, "they would feel differently." Amplive also calls upon others who have posted his remixes-- which he acknowledges as "illegal"-- to remove them for now.

Amplive maintains that his remix project is intended as a "celebration" of one of his favorite records, and that would seem consistent with the fact that 1.) it's free, and 2.) he was only going to share it with folks who had supported Radiohead in the past in some fashion via W.A.S.T.E. or donated to Radiohead-approved organization Friends of the Earth.

No word yet what the producer will have to do to gain this elusive "approval" (something tells me it involves $$$), but here's hoping all parties involved can reach some kind of agreement where art-- not profit or bureaucratic malarkey-- prevails. [MORE...]
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The Fiery Furnaces Add Dates, Surprise Surprise

A prediction: The Fiery Furnaces will win a Guinness World Record for being the first band to find a way to make more than 24 hours' worth of music in a single day. Between crafting sprawling album after sprawling album (with the odd solo sprawler in the mix), the Fiery Furnaces tour. And tour. And tour. And, though they've apparently located some extra hours in the day to craft a third video from October's Widow City, they've planned another tour, kicking off January 17 in Hoboken. Where do they find the time?

Other Fiery Furnaces news? Yep, you guessed it, yet another album is apparently in the works called Back to Begamo. And that's just the one we know about. [MORE...]
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Casiotone Drops a Few Singles, Plays a Few Gigs
Also creates cover versions of songs by Mr. Bruce Springsteen

Photo by Laurel Nakadate

There are the My Bloody Valentines and Portisheads of the world, who slave over a single recorded artifact for years on end. And then there are the Casiotone for the Painfully Alones, who relentlessly toss out singles, EPs, and compilation tracks like so much confetti. That isn't to say what Owen Ashworth puts out under the Casiotone moniker is disposable-- just that we're pretty much blinded by this guy's prolificacy.

Case and point: not one, but two new slabs of Casiotone vinyl are blowing up turntables this month. The first, which pairs Owen with his brother Gordon (aka Concern), has the siblings covering a couple of Bruce Springsteen standouts (as if the Boss recorded anything but): "Born in the U.S.A." and "Streets of Philadelphia".

People in a Position to Know Recordings has pressed the Casiotone/Concern covers onto vinyl. Not 7" vinyl, not 10" vinyl, but 8 3/8" vinyl. No joke. A mere 1,000 copies exist, in two colors, and they're available for purchase now via the label. Please note that this single was originally intended as part of the previously reported PIAPTK singles club, but that said club is now "sadly in a state of indefinite hibernation." PIAPTK hope to give some other intended club singles a regular ol' release in the near future as well.

The second Casiotone single, meanwhile, finds Ashworth enlisting a couple guest vocalists for an Aagoo Records 7" picture disc. Nick Krgovich (P:ano, No Kids) lends his pipes to a tune called "Old Panda Days", while one Jenny Herbinson sings on "Lesley Gore on the TAMI Show (version)". Look for this one, limited to 500 copies, later this month. Oh, and did we mention the disc was designed by Xiu Xiu associate David Horvitz?

Alternately, you can score both singles at the merch booth as Casiotone for the Painfully Alone sulks around the Northwest and the Windy City this month, with brother Concern in tow for most of the trek.

Or avoid human contact altogether by downloading a special version of "New Year's Kiss" that Casiotone has made available gratis on his website. Shucks, you'd think a guy this generous would have friends by now. [MORE...]
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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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File-icon Fri: 01-04-08: 04:00 PM CST
Radiohead Manager Explains Amplive Remix Snafu

File-icon Fri: 01-04-08: 03:15 PM CST
MMJ, Wrens, Mekons Folks Aid New Orleans Musicians

File-icon Fri: 01-04-08: 02:45 PM CST
The Go! Team Tour Away Winter Languor

File-icon Fri: 01-04-08: 01:50 PM CST
The Streets' Skinner Retires the Beats Label

File-icon Fri: 01-04-08: 12:45 PM CST
Robyn Announces U.S. Tour Dates!

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