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Daft Punk, Hot Chip, Pipettes, T.I. Design Playboy Shirts
As do Iggy Pop, Duran Duran, Tokyo Police Club, Gogol Bordello, the Shins (um...)

Hey, Playboy Magazine, that ever-reputable institution of letters and boobies, is hooking up with the rock'n'roll community yet again for this year's edition of their Rock the Rabbit series. Just like last year, Hef and the ladies have invited musical artists to put their own spin on the Playboy logo, in conjunction with the magazine's annual Sex and Music special issue, which hits a dark-colored plastic bag near you February 12.

And who, you may ask, have they lined up for this celebration of restraint and good taste? Why, none other than Daft Punk, Hot Chip, T.I., Iggy Pop, the Pipettes, Tokyo Police Club, Gogol Bordello, New Young Pony Club, Working for a Nuclear Free City, Ghostland Observatory, Duran Duran, the Little Ones, Jamie T, Margot & the Nuclear So and So's, Office, Dimitri From Paris, the Heavy, the Beasts of Eden, and the Oohlas. Also, the Shins... who might want to stay as far away as possible from anything having to do with the objectification of women right about now.

A far-flung bunch, sure, but it's always nice when a bunch of people can come together in support of unrealistic body images.

Each logo will be scrawled on limited edition t-shirts, which will be available at select Bloomingdale's locations and ShopTheBunny.com. The original designs from the artists themselves will be auctioned off with all proceeds going to Rock the Vote.

Remember: good cause or no, you're not gonna get away with buying a t-shirt "just for the articles."

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Dizzee Rascal Expands Winter Tour

From coast to coast, Down Under, and then back to his native England in the span of just over a month: it's enough to make even the steadiest rascal a little bit Dizzee.

Grime kingpin Dizzee Rascal will travel along the aforementioned path on his current tour itinerary, which has the professor of Maths + English heading out in earnest January 18. Dizzee has added a number of dates around his previously reported Big Day Out festival stops down there in the Southern Hemisphere, plus a week's worth of UK dates.

In other Dizzee news, he recently penned a fine eulogy to UGK's late Pimp C on his MySpace blog. "Listening to Pimp C and UGK got me through a lot of hard times growing up...he will be sadly missed but I know his legacy will live on," Dizzee wrote. The grime MC worked with the Texas duo quite a bit in 2007, featuring on UGK's Underground Kingz and making room for both Pimp C and Bun B on the awesome "Where's Da G's" from Maths + English. [MORE...]
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Shins' Crandall, Girlfriend Arrested for Domestic Assault

Sacramento County police arrested Shins multi-instrumentalist Marty Crandall Friday evening (January 4) after an alleged physical altercation with his girlfriend, model Elyse Sewell, in a Sacramento hotel. Crandall has been charged with domestic assault, a felony, and is presently being held on $25,000 bail, according to the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department website. Sewell-- who previously made headlines as a contestant on the first season of "America's Next Top Model"-- was arrested and jailed as well, but released Saturday.

What we know of the situation thus far comes from Sewell herself, who explained her side of the story via her blog yesterday: "On the drive home (home?) from Albuquerque to Portland, my ex-boyfriend got shitfaced and roughed me up in a Sacramento hotel. I escaped from the room through a blitzkrieg of violence and talked to hotel security, who called the fuzz.

"Because he had a bite mark, inflicted in self-defense, on his arm, Marty told the police to PRESS CHARGES OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE AGAINST ME. Now I am a felon. I spent the night in jail." Sewell goes on to describe her tactless treatment at the hands of Sacramento County police, and includes a couple photos, including one depicting her injuries [see above]. The entirety of her post can be found after the jump.

Representatives for the Shins, meanwhile, have not yet responded to requests for comment. Crandall and Sewell are both due in court in the coming week. [MORE...]
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Silver Jews' David Berman Talks Lookout, Outlook
"It sounds like a joke, you know, 'you were so fucked up you didn't know that you couldn't see out of your eye.'...But I was asleep for a lot of things."

In closing 2005's stellar Tanglewood Numbers, the fifth and most recent LP from his artful country act Silver Jews, David Berman touched on a "place past the blues" he never wanted to see again. It didn't take long for us rock critics to latch onto the phrase and its obvious connections to Berman's own stormy life, troubled by remnants of years of extreme chemical abuse and his then-recent decision to clean up.

In the two years since the release of Tanglewood Numbers, another phrase from "There Is a Place" seems to be more appropriate: "I took a hammer to it all." It's as apt a metaphor for Berman's recent trajectory as we'll get until Drag City's release of Lookout Mountain, Lookout Sea, the forthcoming new Silver Jews album. (Originally scheduled for release in April, the album has been pushed back until later in 2008.)

Soft-spoken, and seemingly quite sober, David Berman circa late 2007 really does seem a different person. Excited by the prospect of touring, writing songs when he doesn't have to, and preparing to be "useful in the event of an emergency," Berman speaks of this album like it's his first.

On the phone from the Nashville home he shares with his wife, Silver Jews bassist and occasional singer Cassie Berman, David discussed his new attitudes, new routines, and-- oh yeah-- the new record he's preparing to mix.

Pitchfork
: How has the process of making the new album been going?

David Berman: It's been really good. I'm real happy about the writing. I've never really been completely satisfied with a release. I have always felt like you start to write a song and you can stop where you want to. And I always felt that I didn't know what would happen if I went on ahead. In a way, I kind of built in delays into the process. I really thought it was going to be done in September, but the other part of my mind knew it would take longer. When I went into the studio, the songs were about half as good as they are now. Just sitting with them for a couple months, I just couldn't leave them alone and they got better and better. I don't think I'll ever stop so early in the songwriting process again.

Pitchfork: You referred to the songs as "epic" in a recent interview. Can we expect these to be longer songs? Story songs? I can see that meaning a lot of things for you.

DB: More story songs, I would say. Even to the point of saying one of them I could define as picaresque, and another one as burlesque. One of the rules that I set up is that there's no songs that doesn't mean anything that uses oblique language or anything like that. Each one is self-contained, and it just starts in this unraveled place where things have happened, kind of a hangover kind of mood. The second side is happier but more pragmatic, like it's made its peace with the corrupt world. So it's a general arc, with the first side being the problem and the second side being the solution.

Pitchfork
: It's not much of a stretch to see that as a metaphor for some of the recent events in your life.

DB: Well, all of my other albums always ended with a death or a goodbye. This one ends with a song that Cassie and I sing together that's more like Johnny Lee or some kind of urban-country love song. But even in that, it's like we could be looking for the same thing. Which is the sentiment. It's post-romantic. It's very pragmatic, almost in the way I would see older couples. Like my mom has a boyfriend and it's impossible, after a certain point... people who've been through a lot of bullshit and hard times. They no longer seek a perfect match. They're educated to know that that's impossible. They seek a compromise of some sort as just a common feature. The kind of writing I do would never, ever feature such a cop-out. In the context in this record, it means a lot.

Pitchfork: As bleak as your lyrics have been in the past, Tanglewood Numbers might've been the bleakest set yet. You seem to be suggesting that there's a little more hope here.

DB
: Oh yeah. It's definitely more about human possibility. Even if the characters themselves are just kind of like rogues or whatever living by their wits, they're much more of an indomitable character, like a Saul Bellow character or Henry Miller's voice in his books. They're definitely more persistent. And I think that, in general, there's a moment of morbidity in one song. Maybe. Which is really like that.

Pitchfork: You're talking about this album like it's the first one you've ever made.

DB
: With the first four records, I kind of felt like I was trying to write the same record over again in different ways, or better. And then [Tanglewood Numbers] I think is my first shot at documenting what life might be like after hell. And so this is me with my footing, and it's smarter than the last record and it's less eager to please. I turned 40 this year. I feel like now, as a writer, I'm just figuring out how to do it. I feel like all those years of not being a working rock musician, I hope has given me a different period in which to be peaking because I really feel like these are the first songs where I'm happy all the way through. I feel like as far as the writing goes, I pretty much feel peerless. I might sound like one of the British bands for a second, but I just don't hear anything that means anything to me. I don't know if this album is necessarily so good, but it's so much better than what's out there. To me, it appears to be really, really good.

Pitchfork: Actually, I recently spoke with your friend Stephen Malkmus, and he pretty much said the same thing about his new record.

DB: [pauses, then deadpans] I'm sure his will be very non-verbal. [MORE...]

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Facing Lockup, Rapper Prodigy Turns Video Blogger

Prodigy, one half of the pioneering Queens duo Mobb Deep, doesn't have much time left before the January 9 onset of the three and a half year sentence he'll serve following a 2006 gun charge. Like anyone might, he's not wasting any time, charging ahead on a new album called H.N.I.C. 2-- tentatively scheduled for a spring release-- and hanging around with those closest to him. And, through the magic of modern technology, we too can kick it with the Mac during his final days of freedom for a while.

Over the last few weeks, P's been posting a bunch of video over at kyte.tv and his own HNIC2.com. There's quite a bit of film of Prodigy in the studio working on H.N.I.C. 2, and a healthy dose of Prodigy clowning into the camera. There's also a few videos of Prodigy shedding some light on his current situation via monologue, seeming dismayed but resigned by his impending incarceration. And, then, there's the video of Prodigy peeing, and Prodigy and his wife in various states of undress. Tender moments for all the world to see! Also, NSFW.

Real talk, though: it's a fairly illuminating portrait of one of the realest rappers to ever do it keeping it unerringly real, and it should be interesting to see how the next few days play out. And, if you're feeling particularly forward about your own voyeurism, you can submit comments and video responses to P's dispatches.
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Belle & Sebastian's Jackson, Oakley Hall Do Guitar Fest
Plus: Jason Isbell, Laura Cantrell

While Guitar Hero is only on its third installment, the axe-celebrating New York Guitar Festival has announced the lineup of its seventh season of shows at venues around NYC. This year's festival will take place January 12 through February 6, and its festivities include a Brazilian guitar marathon and tributes to Bob Dylan, Loretta Lynn, Merle Haggard, Lefty Frizzell, and Hank Williams, Sr.

One of the biggest draws of the festival is the free opening night tribute to Bob Dylan's controversial 1966 concert at London's Royal Albert Hall. Recreating the show's set in sequence will be Stevie Jackson (Belle & Sebastian), Jason Isbell (ex-Drive-By Truckers), Laura Cantrell, Oakley Hall, Marshall Crenshaw, the Last Town Chorus, and Nicole Atkins & Lenny Kaye, among others.

Also of note is Cantrell's contribution to the Loretta Lynn tribute, which takes place January 31.

There are currently no plans for a festival-wide group rendition of "Hit Me With Your Best Shot".

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Flipper Recording New Album With Krist Novoselic

Photo by 200pockets.com

Lauded hardcore/noise-rock pioneers Flipper have extended their partnership with Krist Novoselic-- the former bassist of some group called Nirvana-- from touring to the recording of a new album, Flipper's first in 15 years, according to a Billboard.com report.

The album is currently untitled, but drummer Steve DePace told Billboard.com that recording is "99% there, if not done. We've got 10 songs, and we just did another round of mixing. The album sounds great. I think it's some of our best work ever. That also is an indicator for more future songs to come. We know we can write songs with Krist now that sound just like Flipper."

Among those new songs are "Be a Good Child", "Night Falls Like Dirt Rocks", and "Triple Mass Murder Suicide", which drew its inspiration from the Virginia Tech shootings, according to the report. Hey, if Nirvana could make "Rape Me" work...

DePace also explained in the interview how Novoselic's 2006 entry into the band came about. After previous bassist Bruno DeSmartass left before Flipper's performance at the Thurston Moore-curated All Tomorrow's Parties, "I chatted with Thurston and told him that I had this idea to contact Krist Novoselic. Thurston called Krist, and he said, 'Absolutely, I'd be honored.'"

The Billboard.com story also mentions a few other Flipper projects scheduled for this year: a possible tour in the spring and summer, a DVD of archival performance footage called Flipper Live: Target Video 1980-81 coming out February 19 via Music Video Distributors, and tentative plans to reissue the band's entire back catalog.

In other Novoselic news, the dude is still political-blogging once a week for Seattle Weekly right here.
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Radiohead Manager Explains Amplive Remix Snafu

It was only yesterday when we left you with the sad tale of Oakland producer/DJ Amplive and his awfully sticky run in with some red tape.

Amplive, as you may recall, recently whipped up a little treat entitled Rainydayz Remixes using Radiohead's In Rainbows as the jump off. He planned to give the thing away to any interested parties willing to prove they'd ever done something (for instance, screaming real loud) to merit an e-mail from Radiohead's W.A.S.T.E. online store. Things were both peachy and keen until December 18, when Amplive was contacted by Radiohead publishers Warner/Chappell informing him he'd better cease and desist, or else. He did, and that's where we left off.

Today, Radiohead's manager Bryce Edge explained to Gigwise (via ateaseweb) just exactly what's up with the missive fired in Amplive's direction. After declaring that he wasn't aware whether or not "the band have even heard [Rainydayz Remixes]," Edge claimed the Radiohead machinery took some umbrage with the fact that Amplive posted an image of Thom Yorke on his website when promoting Rainydayz Remixes, which they claim implies the man's participation in the project.

He went on to add, "When we heard that you had to send a confirmation email from W.A.S.T.E to get the album, we thought, 'That's a bit naughty!'" Never mind that the point of that "naughty" gesture was, ostensibly, only to get this material into the ears of bona fide Radiohead fans. Or that Amplive was giving away something for free to a bunch of people who probably didn't pay a cent for it and almost certainly already owned it in its original form.

Edge also noted that "Amplive had never even come to the band telling them about his idea, which would have been nice. I know he had good intentions, but I think he's misled people." Leaving well enough alone the feasibility of a relatively obscure Oakland DJ getting a word in with one of the biggest bands in the world about his pet project, is this argument really about a friggin' JPEG?

Edge wraps his comments by proposing that "what needs to happen is that [Amplive] needs to make a statement on his website telling people that the album has nothing to do with Radiohead and he should advise [the band] to listen to the album there." Amplive has already complied with the first part of the suggestion (see: his MySpace), but the second, one reckons, is contingent on further directives on the matter from Radiohead or the hungry phalanx of lawyers that follows them around.
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Califone, Fugazi Members Soundtrack Brent Green Films

Photo by Sanchez and Kitahara

Now that their shows with Iron & Wine are over, the dudes in Califone are basking in the glory of a tour well done and plotting their next collaborative venture. That venture takes the form of some gigs providing live soundtracks to animated movies by Brent Green. Green, as you may recall, directed the spooky clip for Roots and Crowns' "Spider's House".

These shows take place everywhere from Houston to NYC to Park City, Utah for the Sundance Film Festival, and honestly, the entire schedule gets a little bit confusing because there are different lineups at every stop (including one with Fugazi's Brendan Canty!!).

Nonetheless, the full list of Califone/Green collaborative shows can be found after the jump, with all the relevant info simplified a bit. [MORE...]
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MMJ, Wrens, Mekons Folks Aid New Orleans Musicians
As do Kimya Dawson, Timothy Bracy (ex-Mendoza Line), Janet Bean (Freakwater)

The "Musicians Bringing Musicians Home" series is doing more than just that in their New Orleans homebase; they're bringing musicians of all locales to the Crescent City January 10-11 for Musicians Bringing Musicians Home III, a pair of concerts to benefit Sweet Home New Orleans, an organization dedicated to helping native New Orleans musicians displaced after Hurricane Katrina.

January 10, in the Parish Room of the New Orleans House of Blues, Jon Langford and Sally Timms of the Mekons, Patrick Hallahan of My Morning Jacket, Charles Bissell of the Wrens, Kimya Dawson, Janet Bean of Freakwater, Timothy Bracy (ex-Mendoza Line), and a bunch of dudes from Bonerrama will perform at an event co-sponsored by the Future of Music Coalition and Air Traffic Control.

The following night, Bonerrama and OK Go will perform at Tipitina's, with proceeds from that gig going to both Sweet Home New Orleans and Al "Carnival Time" Johnson, author of the unofficial Mardi Gras theme from which his nickname is derived. OK Go and Bonerrama jointly recorded a charity EP entitled You're Not Alone, out February 5. The disc sports a cover of Dylan's "I Shall Be Released" featuring Johnson on vocals.
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The Go! Team Tour Away Winter Languor

Photo by Nilina Mason-Campbell

You know that friend of yours who's really into the Go! Team? The one who uses, say, "Huddle Formation" as their auditory double-shot, blasting that sucker every time he or she needs to get things accomplished? That's an awfully efficient friend, I'll bet. Just imagine how much your pal Zippy would get done if he/she were actually in the Go! Team, and lighting that particular fire under his/her own hindparts? Why, they'd be a human dynamo!

Well, your productive pal is (almost certainly) not in the Go! Team, but guess who is? That's right, the Go! Team are! And the self-powered Brightonites will blast through both the UK and Portugal in the weeks ahead, right after they wrap up their previously announced journey Down Under. Hurry on up and see these guys already, willya? [MORE...]
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Walkmen, White Williams, Bon Iver Play Chicago Fest
Plus: Cadence Weapon, White Rabbits, Nomo, John Vanderslice, Cloud Cult

Each year, smack in the middle of yet another dreary, dull upper Midwestern January, Chicago's Schubas hosts a little festival within its four walls and, miraculously, the city is yet again safe from mass exodus. They call it Tomorrow Never Knows, because, well, February's no picnic 'round here either.

20-odd acts will take the stage of the Lakeview club over five nights in mid-January, from the likes of the Walkmen, White Williams, Bon Iver, Cadence Weapon, and White Rabbits to Nomo, Cloud Cult, Illinois, John Vanderslice, Ecstatic Sunshine, and Young Galaxy. It all begins January 16.

In addition, the Paul Green Chicago School of Rock Music will perform its Southern roots rock tribute set during the afternoons of January 19-20, while DJs will spin upstairs each night. [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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