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Neko Case Schedules Winter Shows

Neko Case doesn't get around nearly as much as that band she's in sometimes, so when she does, it's worth taking note. Ms. Case has announced her first plans for the road in 2008, currently comprised of six dates up in the northeastern part of the U.S. It's not much at the moment, but we'll take it, especially since Neko's website promises new songs.

Eric Bachmann, of Crooked Fingers and ex-Archers of Loaf fame, will open all dates.

In other Neko news, she recently expressed a fondness for poetry in Poetry magazine, as appropriate a forum for such a thing as I can think of. And the entirety of her back catalog was recently reissued, which we hope cleared out all the cobwebs in anticipation of yet another fine solo disc. [MORE...]


Photos: Wu-Tang Clan [Chicago, IL; 12/15/07]

Words by Paul Thompson. Photos by Matt Taplinger

No RZA! Nothing from 8 Diagrams! As Ghostface and Raekwon took the stage Saturday night at Chicago's Metro to the strains of "Wu-Tang Clan Ain't Nuthin Ta F' Wit", the leaders of the potential secession from the ranks of their ramshackle crew made two things pretty clear: the Wu-Tang Clan we'd all been fucking with for a decade and a half were in the building, and that weird new "hip-hop hippie" shit had no place on that stage.

You'd think an 8 Diagrams nut like myself would balk, but nah. With the emphasis on back catalog bangers and temporarily sans their (arguably) weakest lyrical link, the Wu completely destroyed the crowd who'd battled a snowstorm and sorta ridiculous ticket prices for a night with rhyming heroes. Once the initial disappointment from the lack of RZA wore off, it became clear that the Wu, however fragmented, was ready to do this.

Following the undeniable opener, the Wu swung their swords deftly through several dozen tracks, mixing classic posse cuts with gems from solo albums. Of the solo tracks, Method Man's ("Bring the Pain", "What the Blood Clot") went over the best, due largely to the fact that Meth was at least twice as live as everyone else onstage. A cool and unassuming GZA held down the back of the stage most of the time, eyeing the proceedings cautiously and exuding the same sage wisdom when blazing through "Duel of the Iron Mic" as he did hanging back and occasionally whispering in U-God's ear.

It was clear that everyone-- not just you and I-- reserve their greatest respect for GZA, Ghost and Raekwon out of the entire Clan, and every time one of them took the spotlight, the dozen-plus folks onstage were well-versed in every word. Inspectah Deck stalked the stage, looking for any spot to interject some of his trademark gangly weirdness. "We like the Isley Brothers, ya heard?," he added at one point. Sure.

Every song you'd imagine to be a highlight was, even in their oft-truncated live forms. In fact, there was almost too much music going on. I'd wager nearly 50 tracks were touched on in one form or another, and when U-God reminded us that there were "too many fly-ass rappers onstage," well, he might've had a point. Watching those guys storm a stage, climb on the hands of fans, drink cheap white wine straight from the bottle (in Cappadonna's case) , inspire weeded-up white dudes to yell silly things like "Shaolin's finest!" at you, and, oh yeah, spit some nasty shit for the better part of two hours is a lot to take in. I went to the john just before "Triumph", and when I returned halfway through Ghost's still-fierce verse, the whole crowd felt like they could use a break, too. As it is with 8 Diagrams, the Wu offered perhaps a bit too much to absorb in a single sitting, and when they announced to the ladies where they'd be staying for the night (the show was 21 and over, in case you, uh, think that's a skeezy gesture) , folks seemed almost relieved to file out into the sloppy Chicago snow. That is, once Meth slapped the hands of every single person in the first five rows, grinning from ear to ear as he had all night.

Yeah, so this rumored intra-Wu rift has got to go. (Hey, Ghost and Rae, if you don't like RZA's new beats, maybe you should stop being so awesome over them?) The only real acknowledgement of 8 Diagrams' existence was them asking a dozen or so times whether we'd copped it-- a disservice to a truly beautiful and bizarre piece of work. And, sure, "Life Changes" from the new record still seems like it would be a better eulogy for their fallen brother Ol' Dirty Bastard than that song of his about liking it raw. But most of the Wu was there Saturday night with murdering game on their minds, and, squabbles aside, we in attendance were sufficiently slayed.



Los Campesinos! Reveal Album Tracklist, Release Date

Hold On Now, Youngster..., the ravenously anticipated debut LP from the Welsh wunderkinds in Los Campesinos!, now has itself a release date and a tracklist. The disc can be yours in the UK February 25 on Wichita, the same day a digital release hits North America from Arts & Crafts. The latter label will get the album onto North American shelves April 1, no foolin'.

From the recently-Forkcasted "Death to Los Campesinos!"-- out in UK-only single form February 18 from Wichita-- through the cheeky "Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks", the band will likely touch on all the glorious vagaries of being young and alive and in a really cracking band.

Old favorites "You! Me! Dancing" and "Don't Tell Me to Do the Math(s)" appear, as does the seasonally-appropriate (well, now, anyway) "The Year in Lists" and the extremely lengthy but nevertheless hilarious "This Is How You Spell. 'HAHAHA, We Destroyed the Hopes and Dreams of a Generation of Faux-Romantics'". Ya'll got longer titles than Fall Out Boy, yo!

Shucks, there's even a tune on the album called "Knee Deep at ATP", which helps me right along to my next point. Before they themselves are knee deep at this May's ATP vs. Pitchfork festival, Los Campesinos! are touring! They've added a few UK dates around our previous rundown of their European trek, which kicks off in late January in Denmark. Until then, I guess you and me will have to do our dancing elsewhere. [MORE...]


Mission of Burma Have a Burmese Mission

Photo by William Kirk

The urge to pun is strong with this one, but it's for a good cause, so I'll be brief: Boston post-punkers Mission of Burma will take the stage at Allston, MA's Great Scott January 20 to benefit the politically and economically troubled Southeast Asian nation of Burma (aka Myanmar).

The veteran band has teamed up with the U.S. Campaign for Burma for the event, and will be joined at the show by pals the Neighborhoods and the In Out. In addition to the music, show-goers will have the opportunity to take in an audiovisual presentation about the current state of Burma, along with speakers discussing the manifold problems the nation faces.

When they're not getting political for a good cause, Mission of Burma are getting political just cuz they don't know any other way. The night before the Burma benefit, they'll make their way to Brooklyn's Music Hall of Williamsburg, which, presently, stands as the band's only other live plan.

No word yet on the status of those Mission of Burma reissues we mentioned late in the summer, but hey, these dudes have been relevant for nearly three decades now, so a few more months' wait isn't gonna hurt anything. [MORE...]

Photos: GZA Performs Liquid Swords [New York, NY; 12/13/07]

Photos and text by Drew Katchen

Wu-Tang Clan have been all over the place in late 2007, with Raekwon performing at the J.A.M. Awards last month, Ghostface doing Hip Hop Live!, RZA on the road, and Wu about to set off-- not to mention the arrival of Ghostface's Big Doe Rehab and the first Wu record in six years, 8 Diagrams.

And then of course, we have GZA's pair of performances at the Knitting Factory, the first of which went down last night and saw his 1995 classic Liquid Swords cut up, reworked, enhanced by enthusiastic crowd participation, and temporarily abandoned in favor of Wu-Tang or Ol' Dirty Bastard songs. Pitchfork Music Festival attendees this past summer will recall GZA swinging through Swords in between Slint and Sonic Youth.

Here, GZA-- backed by an on-stage entourage at least 10 deep-- didn't make mention of the canceled McCarren Park Pool Liquid Swords show that would have closed out the park's series of summer live concerts. But just before "Gold", he did playfully acknowledge the Knitting Factory's intimate size and his recent UK trip for ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas show. Ultimately, the showcase took Swords' eerie verses and frigid beats and made them into something warm and revelatory.

After a second run through Liquid Swords tonight, GZA will join up with the Wu for a jaunt across the U.S. Dates and more photos below.



The Decemberists to Return to the Road in January

Photo by Rich Orris and Marina Teper

It's not quite a month-long concept tour, but after the cancellation of their "Long and Short of It" trek due to illness earlier this fall, any news of the Decemberists hitting the road is welcome.


Colin Meloy and his merry men (and woman) have announced a quartet of dates in January-- two shows in the band's hometown of Portland and two more in Seattle.

In the MySpace bulletin announcing the shows, the band said, "We know this may be a small consolation to those of you outside of Portland and Seattle that had tickets to the fall tour, but the band has rested up and was excited to play some dates close to home. These shows will be neither Longs nor Shorts, just good ol' fashioned Decemberists shows."

Hey, we'll take what we can get. [MORE...]


Lupe Fiasco Plots Sizable U.S. Tour, Cool Happenings

It's starting to dawn on us that, no matter how many times Lupe Fiasco explains this whole three-headed, patty melted LP to us, we're gonna have to spend some time with The Cool to figure out just what he's talking about. So, kindly enough, Lupe's scheduled a series of symposiums around the country in hopes of spreading Cool awareness and hopefully dropping some Cool knowledge. Sure, those lectures are taking the form of electrifying rap concerts and other entertaining affairs, but where Lupe's concerned, no matter the context, you just know you're gonna get schooled.

So, then, a sizable U.S. tour has been scheduled-- dates listed below the jump. Lupe Fiasco's The Cool, as you know, drops December 18 on 1st and 15th/Atlantic. The day it hits stores, Lupe will perform at New York's Irving Plaza, and relaunch with a ton of new stuff, including a video game called "THE COOLest" that, considering the source, is probably worth checking out.

Two days later, he'll hit Chicago hip-hop culture shop the Bassment for an in-store appearance. Then he'll head to Honolulu just after Christmas for his first ever Hawaiian gig. The proper tour kicks off in Portland January 10, and more dates can be expected. What I wouldn't give for this guy's work ethic.

In other Lupe news, he was recently nominated for a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance for Food & Liquor's Jill Scott-boosted "Daydreamin'". [MORE...]


Beach House Team With Papercuts for 2008 Tour
Papercuts preferable to sand in shorts?

Hey, it's the newest episode of "2 bands, 1 tour"*: Baltimore's Beach House and San Francisco's Papercuts are pairing up for a 2008 tour that will bring them not only to their respective coasts but pretty much everywhere in between as well. Principal Papercut Jason Quever will serve double duty on the tour, as he'll sit in on drums for Beach House.

Beach House will be touring in support of their sophomore album, Devotion, out February 26 on Carpark.

* Don't worry, it's not that video. [MORE...]


Sambassadeur Let Migration Free in the States
Shh, don't tell the border guards

Their melding of the delicately wispy and the heavily orchestrated may be strictly Swedish, but Sambassadeur's Migration is headed all over. Already out in the homeland, the disc will migrate to the States January 22 thanks to Labrador/Darla, with a UK release planned for April on Creeping Bent.

The band has also crafted a Sweden-only single for Migration's "Final Say", followed on its CD by "Crooked Spine", laced with vocals from bandmember and infrequent crooner Daniel Permbo. Look for that one come February 6.

As for other domestic concerns, the indie-poppers have a couple of tour dates over the weekend in their native Sweden. However, with their minds set on Migration, tours of both the UK and Spain can be expected in 2008 from these goodwill Sambassadeurs. [MORE...]

Liars, No Age Announce Joint Tour

How's this for an inspired pairing? Earth-scorching noise-punks Liars and squall-pop up-and-comers No Age will link up for a month-long U.S. tour that kicks off in San Francisco come late January.

This, of course, will hardly be the first meetup between the two bands; tonight, as we mentioned yesterday, No Age drummer/vocalist Dean Spunt and Liars guitarist Aaron Hemphill will join the Sissy Spacek 13-Tet at Los Angeles' beloved Smell. But the prospect of dueling distortion rigs and unbridled rock'n'roll enthusiasm is far more than just one night can contain. Hence, a tour.

Liars have no other big plans at the moment, though No Age have plenty to chew on, what with their Sub Pop debut and their set at this May's ATP vs. Pitchfork festival on the horizon. [MORE...]

Justice Release "Phantom" Single
Featuring remixes from Soulwax, Boys Noize

Photo by Natalie Kardos

Releasing singles ain't no thang for Justice. They're a dance act; it's what they do. So the December 17 UK single release of track "Phantom" via Ed Banger/Because is less remarkable for its existence and more remarkable for the fact that the group releasing it can now claim to be "Grammy nominated electronic music duo Justice."

That's right, the two Parisians have been nominated for three Grammy awards: Best Dance Recording and Best Short Form Music Video for "D.A.N.C.E." and Best Electronic/Dance Album for .

Otherwise, it's business as usual for Justice, who'll play a couple handfuls of live dates to close out the year, starting tonight, December 12, in Milan.

Also, the single artwork is pretty great:



Robyn Invites Us to "Be Mine" on Latest Single, Dates

UK Robyn fans wondering just when "Be Mine" might be theirs ought look no further: the stellar track from the Swedish pop starlet's 2005's self-titled masterstroke (released in the UK just this year) finally gets a single this winter from Konichiwa.

Starting December 21, you can download a "top notch remix package" for the tune at digital outlets worldwide, sporting, as you may have guessed, a whole bunch of "Be Mine" remixes. The "Ballard Version" of the single hits digital outlets January 11, while CD and 12" versions-- bolstered with various remixes from the "package" folks and others-- hit UK shelves January 14. Confused? We don't blame you, so everything's all spelled out after the jump.

In other Robyn news, her album is finally coming to the States next year, which means we'll have to think up a new closing line for all these Robyn stories. Ooh, how about this: Robyn's touring! She's got a number of live dates lined up around Europe next year, including a stop at the Netherlands' EuroSonic festival. And, though she hasn't yet made good on her promise to personally visit the States, we'll gladly keep reminding her about it until she does. [MORE...]

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