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Rafter Crafts Sex Death Cassette for Asthmatic Kitty

Commercial jingle artist, musician, Sufjan BFF, and professional weirdo Rafter, like any renaissance-person should, has plenty on his mind. Three of those fixations-- fornication, our earthly demise, and analog recording material-- will get their proper exploration on Rafter's second LP, Sex Death Cassette, dropping January 22 on Asthmatic Kitty.

Over 19 tracks, Rafter delves into candy sprinkles, cuddling raccoons, and an odd thunderclap, all in the strange, sprawling fashion we've come to expect from the sonic diddler. And Rafter's got so much to say, he's putting a new MP3 on the Asthmatic Kitty site every week from now through late next year.

Though neither Rafter nor his band Bunky have any extensive plans to tour at the moment, Rafter's got himself a spot opening for the Fiery Furnaces October 21 at San Diego's Casbah. Rafter also appears on Castanets' new one, In the Vines, due next week from Asthmatic Kitty. [MORE...]

Radiohead, Pumpkins, Mondays on Oakenfold Comp
Plus: Massive Attack, Underworld, Justin Timberlake

World-renowned DJ, remixer, and Crazy Town enthusiast: Paul Oakenfold gets around. And, like a lot of folks who've gotten around some in their day, he's primed to pare down his body of whirling thumps to twenty choice solo cuts, collaborations, and remixes for Greatest Hits & Remixes, out October 23 on Perfecto/Ultra Records.

We bring this up not so much because of the name at the top of the marquee-- as long as Ibiza remains above sea level, Paul Oakenfold doesn't need more press-- but because a few of those getting worked over by the dude may raise an eyebrow or three.

Both Radiohead's "Everything in Its Right Place" and Smashing Pumpkins' "Perfect" get their pulses raised by Oakenfold, with takes on slightly more predictable Happy Mondays, Justin Timberlake, Massive Attack, Madonna, and Underworld cuts besides. The "DOOF DOOF DOOF" quotient of this collection: off the charts! [MORE...]

N.W.A. Compton Reissue, Eazy-E Comp Due
Some drop science, but they're dropping English

Street knowledge: come December 4, get ready to bear witness to its strength all over again, as N.W.A.'s landmark Straight Outta Compton-- in all its grisly glory-- is reissued on CD, vinyl, and digital download formats from Capitol/Priority.

On the new Compton, the second-to-none progenitor of West Coast gangsta rap is amended with five bonus tracks, including covers of choice Compton cuts from Snoop and C-Murder, Bone Thugs-N-Harmony, Mack 10, and WC, as well as a live rendition of "Compton's N the House" by Dre and MC Ren.

On the same day, Capitol/Priority will issue Featuring... Eazy-E, a collection of rare and notable solo tracks and guest appearances from the late great Eric Wright. Several tracks on Featuring have been out of print for years, making them exclusive to this disc. Parental discretion for both iz, as always, advised. [MORE...]

Lemonheads Tour, Dando Opens for JAMC

Lemonheads: first, a delicious citrusy candy. Then, a scuzzy pre-grunge punk act turned scene casualty. After that, a candy again. But now, the Lemonheads are back... in band form!

Evan Dando and a couple of Descendents who played on last year's self-titled Lemonheads LP will tour around later this fall, following a month's rest and Mr. Dando's short stint opening up for the Jesus and Mary Chain next week. One question remains, though: will they play their "Mrs. Robinson" cover? Remember, kids, if you yell hard enough, anything is possible. [MORE...]

My Morning Jacket, Pajo Cover Misfits on Comp

Even though they both tend to involve candy, it's hard to think of a more different pair of holidays than Halloween and Valentine's Day. And yet, Louisville, KY-centric sorta label Louisville Is for Lovers has created a common thread between them by expanding its catalogue from V-Day comps to include an H-day Misfits cover compilation called Louisville Babylon 2007.

The "2007" in the compilation's name comes from the fact that LIFL has actually done this before, an unlucky 13 years ago to be exact. Louisville Babylon 1994 included Misfits covers by Rodan, Falling Forward, Crain (featuring Matmos half/Pitchfork contributor Drew Daniel on vocals), Hula Hoop (Rachel Grimes' pre-Rachel's band), and Slo-pok (featuring Silver Jew Cassie Marrett on bass).

Louisville Babylon 2007, on the other hand, features contributions from My Morning Jacket, Dave Pajo, Wax Fang, and the Slow Break, among plenty of others. Naturally, it comes in a number edition of 666, and it is available for purchase right here, right now.

LIFL has also reissued the 1994 edition of the comp, which is available either by itself or packaged in a limited edition with 2007. [MORE...]

CMJ: Wednesday [Amy Phillips]

Photos by William Kirk; Above: Kid Sister

You know those sweatshirts you see at truck stops with dreamcatchers and wolves on them? (Like THIS.) Well, that's Yeasayer. They're new age mixed with yacht rock mixed with un-ironic cheese mixed with some intangible quality that somehow makes them cool. And they probably come across best performing at a camp-out under the stars for an audience smoking peace pipes.

Yeasayer [Music Hall of Williamsburg; 9 p.m.]

The Brooklyn band's debut album All Hour Cymbals (out next week on the Baltimore label We*Are*Free) is a bit too hippy-dippy for me on the whole, though "Sunrise" and "2080", the two singles, are killer. But on stage, Yeasayer were less annoying and more likeable-- quite a feat, considering the amount of hair these guys have, and singer/keyboardist Chris Keating looking like "he took too many Brandon Flowers pills today" (as my friend Caryn put it).

Everything sounded brighter and less mushy, and the low end was stronger and grooved a bit harder than on record. But I was most impressed by their vocals. These guys have strong voices, and they seem to have worked hard on their four-part harmonies, which is quite unusual for an indie band. It all came together into something endearing.

In the same way that when you see someone wearing one of those dreamcatcher sweatshirts and you think, "Wow, I could never wear that without looking like a fool," Yeasayer are pulling off something that most bands would never be able to get away with.

The Cool Kids [Hiro Ballroom; 11:30 p.m.]

As much as I admire the big tent approach, there's something satisfying about a unifying aesthetic when it comes to record labels. Think about early Sub Pop's grimy realism or early Factory's minimalism: sonic and visual aspects all wrapped up into one easily identifiable package.

DJ/entrepreneurs A-Trak (aka Kanye's DJ) and Nick Catchdubs, head honchos of upstart label Fool's Gold, understand the value of the total package. The music they release and the artwork they use to promote it is bright, colorful, energetic, fun-loving, and childish (in a good way). And, most importantly, charmingly nerdy.

Take Fool's Gold signees the Cool Kids, the Chicago duo of Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish. They rap about bikes and radios and how much they rock over big, broad beats and slicing guitar riffs. Their track "88" boasts of bringing (19)88 back, and it sure sounded like it did. For another song, they encouraged the packed crowd to take their house keys out of their pockets and jiggle them to form a beat. The result was a kind of twee version of hyphy's chain-rattling sound effect.

While the Cool Kids performed, a screen above the stage showed footage of the Chicago skyline, BMX bikers, and Michael Jordan. The duo's logo was omnipresent as well, in big, puffy yellow letters. And for a few seconds, I swear I caught some Muppet Babies clips up there.

Kid Sister [Hiro Ballroom; 11:30 p.m.]

Kid Sister, another hot Chicago rapper, might be a star in the making, but she, too, isn't afraid of risking looking uncool in the name of having fun. Wearing a constant smile, she delivered her rapid-fire rhymes like the sassiest prom queen ever. She even introduced her set-closing "Pro Nails" (which appeared on Kanye West's Can't Tell Me Nothing mixtape and features Kanye in its forthcoming video) by talking about what it's like to get ready for the prom: visiting David's Bridal, throwing a wrap over your shoulders, and, of course, getting your motherfucking nails did.

She did the wax-on, wax-off dance and skipped around the stage like it was a hopscotch course. And the whole time, the screen displayed her logo: "Kid Sister" in girlie script, as if doodled on a Lisa Frank binder.


Vampire Weekend to Open for the Shins
Make UK live debut

Columbia University grads Vampire Weekend will gives fans the chance to study them abroad this fall when they play their first live shows in the UK. Also featured on three of these dates (and another one in France) are life-changing profs the Shins. Then it's back to the States for these Vampires for a bunch of late November and December shows.

We'll have to wait until January for the full-length VW curriculum, though we already know their class will be in the XL building. For a peek at the syllabus, check out the "Mansard Roof" single, out in the U.S. on October 23 and in the UK via XL/Abeano on November 12. [MORE...]

Radiohead 2008 Tour Tidbits Emerge

When Jonny Greenwood spoke to a couple press outlets on the day of In Rainbows' digital release, he sent the world's hearts racing with but a sentence, one which disclosed that Radiohead plan to tour in 2008.

Radiohead's publicist has confirmed that this is indeed the plan, and, adding more fuel to the fires of anticipation, today spoke with Radiohead's management, who offered a few more details on the travel plans in progress.

"We plan to tour next year, starting in May through to probably the end of the year. With lots of holidays in that period," Courtyard Management rep Bryce Edge told Um, save the, er, dates!

"At the moment we are talking with our agents in North America and for the rest of the world, trying to get a schedule which works for the band and works financially."

Expect larger venues than those Radiohead played back in 2006. Also don't be surprised if you detect a trace or two of reluctance in Thom Yorke's visage onstage. "He likes to do shows, but the whole business of schlepping around the world is not top of his list of favorite things to do. He really enjoys playing to the fans-- it's just the process of how to do that which is the pain in the neck.

Added Edge: "They're not road dogs. They never have been."

Edge also claimed rumors that Radiohead had moved 1.2 million digital copies of In Rainbows were "exaggerated" (the data has not yet been analyzed), but suggested folks may have paid an average of £4 (roughly $8.18) per copy. Radiohead may not be road dogs, but they are cash cows.

Bjork Expands World Tour

Photo by Ashley Williamson

While those of us who live in U.S. cities that aren't L.A. or Vegas quench our thirst for live Björk with the promise of her "Live Session Album," the songstress has added some flesh-and-blood live shows to her already respectable fall and winter itinerary-- or, should we say, spring and summer itinerary, as most of these gigs go down south of the equator.

Alas, the only North American shows are in the aforementioned pair of cities, where her openers will be Ratatat, and in Mexico. But South Americans, New Zealanders, and Australians, rejoice! The pixie carnival is headed your way.

Björk will begin her South American shows on October 26 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. [MORE...]

CMJ: Wednesday [Marc Hogan]

Deerhunter and Dan Deacon photos by Jason Bergman; Xiu Xiu and Mary Timony Band photos by Kathryn Yu; Above: Dan Deacon

Marnie Stern was originally supposed to be performing in this time slot. I'm still not sure exactly what happened, but whatever. Washington, D.C.-born Mary Timony, formerly of Boston noise-pop outfit Helium, is an artist I've long respected more than listened to, and if her set lacked the fret-tapping pyrotechnics of Stern, the muso in me could still geek out over her jarring tunings and sudden rhythm changes.

The Mary Timony Band [Blender Theatre at Gramercy; 9 p.m]

Backed by Medications members Devin Ocampo on drums and Chad Molter on bass, Timony worked through a couple of older songs as well as a few from her latest album, The Shapes We Make. The high point was the Kim Gordon-like "Killed by the Telephone", which shifted between ringing guitar arpeggios and double-time aggression.

Xiu Xiu [Blender Theatre at Gramercy; 10 p.m.]

The cellphone-texting, camera-toting biz aspect of CMJ can put an unpleasant distance between audience and performer-- every show is a press conference, right? Jamie Stewart of San Francisco experimental trio Xiu Xiu cuts through some of that divide with his impassioned mien and flitting, dolorous, almost Antony-like vibrato.

Performing songs like the minimal, eerie "Sad Pony Guerrilla Girl", from 2003's A Promise, Stewart would close his eyes and gaze upward, accompanied by multi-instrumentalist cousin Caralee McElroy and the moody beats of drummer Ches Smith. Unfortunately, I had to leave after only a few songs to make sure I could see Dan Deacon at the Bowery. I guess I'm part of the problem.

Dan Deacon [Bowery Ballroom; 11 p.m.]

Seeing Dan Deacon doesn't necessarily entail actually seeing him at any point. Huddled at the foot of the stage behind his lo-fi electronic setup-- "All my equipment is total bullshit" he said in a less absurdist moment-- the Baltimore party gonzo was visible to most of the audience only as a succession of blinding camera flashes.

Accordingly, though the first few songs of Deacon's set, including Spiderman of the Rings favorites like "Rattlesnake Gun", sounded great, the crowd's enthusiasm dwindled visibly as you moved out further and further from Deacon ground zero. Not so up in front: "This level of shoving is just ridiculous," Deacon announced mid-set, calling for the house lights. Like an expert school-assembly leader, he then reorganized us throughout the room and started sending audience members running up and down the Bowery stairs.

Even in the incandescent glow, it was still tough to spot Deacon through the bodies, but getting a good look at ourselves-- narcissistically, performers too (New York is weird)-- seemed to restore a communal energy that subsided little when the lights went back out. Spiderman highlight "Crystal Cat" prompted frenzied dancing, and finale "Wham City" became an epic sing-along, as glowing and trippy as that flickering green skull perched above Deacon's bullshit equipment.

Deerhunter [Bowery Ballroom; 12 a.m.]

A show by arty Atlanta psych-rockers Deerhunter has become an unpredictable thing in every way but the music. Will beanpole frontman Bradford Cox don a dress? (No.) Will guitarist Colin Mee, who recently hinted that he was leaving the group only to apparently rejoin, show up onstage? (Yes.) Will Cox subject whatever rubberneckers stick around for the encore to a rambling, intoxicated therapy session, repeatedly intoning, "I miss my family" and berating anybody who leaves even if it's just to take a piss? (Um, yup.)

Cox expressed reservations throughout the show about being able to top spazz extraordinaire Dan Deacon's just-finished set. In terms of showmanship, the band didn't even try, wisely leaving aside the drag and horror-show sleepwalking of their early-2007 gigs for a performance underscoring their strengths as a deceptively accomplished live band-- from the "Texas Never Whispers" rush-rattling of "Hazel St." to the gauzy Spacemen 3 fantasia of "Spring Hall Convert", plus the clanging drones of "Cryptograms" and "Wash Off".

Cox certainly isn't the first young punk to light up onstage here in smoke-free New York, but his encore cigarette was a well-deserved indulgence. No matter what ridiculous shit he was saying by that point. Wait, did he just thank Jesus? (Yes.)


Rivers Cuomo Dishes on New Weezer LP, Alone Demos

You've already run your red Sharpie outta ink drawing hearts around December 11 on your "Faces of Brian Bell '07" calendar; for that, of course, is the day Alone, Rivers Cuomo's collection of solo demos, hits shelves thanks to Geffen.

But one gets the feeling that, sometime in 2008, you're gonna wail on another writing implement anew, as the next album from the 100% not broken up Weezer is apparently nearing completion. recently spoke with the band's most esteemed dweeb, who claims the band is "done recording" their follow-up to 2005's Make Believe, and "just waiting to find a mixer" for their "very fresh and experimental" forthcoming LP. There's still no release date set for the disc, but Rick Rubin has been attached as producer.

While they were at it, squeezed a bit more out of Rivers regarding Alone. Apart from a demo of "Buddy Holly" and a cover of Ice Cube's "The Bomb" (sample lyric: "still dropping more shit than a pigeon"), the disc is comprised of several tracks from the unfinished space rock concept album/musical Songs From a Black Hole, which Cuomo planned as a follow-up to the band's blue-hued debut.

The rest of the disc's roughly 18 tracks will be made up of demos from the last decade and a half from the Cuomo backlog. I hope the catchy, lovelorn one makes the cut!

CMJ: Wednesday [Zach Baron]

Mika Miko, Marnie Stern, and Mary Timony photos by Kathryn Yu; No Age and White Williams photos by Jason Bergman; Above: No Age

Marnie Stern is a 31-year-old New Yorker with a fondness for exclamation points ("Put All Your Eggs in One Basket and Then Watch That Basket!!!") and finger-tapping guitar technique, the latter of which she reportedly learned from 1990s math-rockers Don Caballero. Early on Wednesday-- CMJ's unofficial start date, after Tuesday's official one-- she had the toughest spot: in a Gramercy Theatre more full of colored spotlights and idle waitresses than actual people. She took the stage with her new backing band (two guys from the Brooklyn-based Pterodactyl) like the entire festival depended on her starting things out right.

Marnie Stern [Blender Theatre at Gramercy; 7 p.m.]

A bad sound mix actually worked to her benefit, downplaying the shred-heavy, technical aspects of her chirping sound in favor of a more ecstatic, beatific roar; she'd incite the crowd with a head nod during a tough guitar run, or cut the instruments out, Deerhoof-style, to light up her microphone. Part spoken-word session, part confessional-- part mood music, dream therapy, guitar lesson, leadership seminar, and basement show-- Stern was all chorus.

Mika Miko [Blender Theatre at Gramercy; 8 p.m.]

Following her were the L.A. five-piece and all-female act Mika Miko, worth mentioning since this one-two punch-- with songstress Mary Timony waiting in the wings for round three-- was the rarest of occasions in the midst CMJ's reputed wealth-of-riches: three frontwomen in as many acts. Kill Rock Stars, who put together the evening's lineup, deserve credit here, and they own the precedent, too-- see last year's Erase Errata, Timony, and Deerhoof string at Hiro Ballroom.

"We need more guitar and more phone" is the way MM soundchecked, bumping the levels on their dual microphones, one of which was in fact a bright red plastic telephone receiver. Vocalist Jet Blanca showed off a trick, running from side-to-side until her Rushmore-like red beret slipped off the back of her head yet hung in the air miraculously, attached by rope to her pixie outfit. The LPs, 7"s, and CD-Rs that have leaked out of their camp since 2003 have contained various blasts of energy and chaos, but live it was all eyes on their virtuoso bass player, who channeled Erase Errata's Ellie Erickson in churning out sped-up Gang of Four rhythms and quick, unlikely turnarounds (Blanca's sax playing didn't hurt either comparison). Michelle Suarez's skittering, uptight Monorchid guitar parts anxiously played counterpoint-- there was a lot more going on than all the noise might suggest.

I was just out the door-- this is CMJ, you know-- when I heard familiar strains: Blanca shouting "Attitude, you got some fucking attitude," the band covering Misfits in what's become an unofficial marathon tradition-- the third year straight I've seen a band take that particular Danzig song on.

White Williams [Bowery Ballroom; 9 p.m.]

23-year-old local Joe Williams, who performs as White Williams, has already charmed New York some; as the icy, restrained heir to traditions in this city as diverse as Blondie and the Talking Heads, Williams is our city's antidote to the hyper, sweaty, out-of-town antics of Dan Deacon and Girl Talk-- not coincidentally, the two guys with whom he just went on the road.

An early show at the Mercury Lounge, the first with his three-piece backing band (though at the time, only two of them made it), saw Williams onstage but frozen, distant, specific-- perfect qualities for his laptop syncopation and cool-guy vocals. At Bowery Ballroom, after weeks on the road with his veteran buddies, the band was loose -- more of a wall-of-sound, bass-thump, stretch-it-out kind of a thing, less restrained-- and some in the crowd looked confused. Perfect, though, was the addition of a neon video narrative projected at the back of the stage: pulsing airplanes, palm trees (fitting for Williams' faux-reggae bounce), and dancing dollar signs; in just a month, this guy went from completely distant to full-on immersive, and his record's still not out yet.

No Age [Bowery Ballroom; 10 p.m.]

Next were the night's undisputed guests of honor, No Age, and they knew it: "How fucking stoked are you guys?!!!" Like sister band Mika Miko, the two-piece No Age are Los Angeles natives who came up in a creative scene that has roots in the art and punk worlds going back as far as Raymond Pettibon and SST. Weirdo Rippers, their first full-length, merges the various strains of creative Los Angeles-- noise bands, aging hardcore guys, skaters, visual artists, designers-- into raw charisma.

At Bowery, they dispensed some with the pretty shoegaze that pads out Rippers in favor of feedback, screaming, and frenetic drumming-- their builds were shorter, and the choruses bigger. Before long Randy Randall was teetering on top of an amplifier, the stage was stormed by an adoring crowd, and guitar duties were relegated to a particularly sweet and young-looking kid who sheepishly took the axe when Randall handed it to him; Randall then hoisted the kid up on his shoulders, like a father with his son, to finish the band's night.

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