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Mountain Goats Add Dates, Darnielle's Book Revealed
""John Darnielle describes Master of Reality in the voice of a fifteen-year-old boy being held in an adolescent psychiatric center in southern California in 1985."

Front page photo by Kyle Gustafson

Mountain Goat is in season these next couple of months. Following the February 19 release of Heretic Pride via 4AD (check out the pretty cover right up there), John Darnielle and co. will saddle up for a recently extended North American tour, starting with a release date show in Anchorage, Alaska.

Shortly, the band will unleash the first video from Heretic Pride, for opener "Sax Rohmer #1". The video's director is Ace Norton, who directed Darnielle in Aesop Rock's "Coffee" video.

Then, on April 15, we will all come one step closer to world peace, with the publishing of Darnielle's take on the Black Sabbath album Master of Reality, as part of the 33 1/3 series of books about albums.

According to the book's description, "John Darnielle describes Master of Reality in the voice of a fifteen-year-old boy being held in an adolescent psychiatric center in southern California in 1985. The narrator explains Black Sabbath like an emissary from an alien race describing his culture to his captors: passionately, patiently, and lovingly. This album has a genuinely remarkable historical status: as a touchstone for the directionless, and as a common coin for young men and women who felt shut out of the broader cultural economy."

For a 10-page sample of the kick-ass-sounding book, email sabbathsampler@yahoo.com.

Or for more-- lots more-- writing by John Darnielle, read his excellent blog Last Plane to Jakarta.

Thanks to reader Bryan McKay for the book tip. [MORE...]

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Radiohead to Take Over BBC Radio 1 Airwaves

If those recent webcasts further proved anything at all, Radiohead are nothing if not superbly entertaining folks. So it comes as little surprise that BBC Radio 1 host Zane Lowe has asked the band to guest host an episode of his show while he's away on holiday.

The BBC station will turn Radiohead 1 on January 17 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. UK time, and if the band's stint goes anything like the ones before it (whose stand-in hosts include Dizzee Rascal, Klaxons, and others), we can look forward to a Radiohead-curated playlist, goofy photos and videos afterward, and even a minute-by-minute recap courtesy of a lucky fan. Just go easy on the Asian Dub Foundation, okay guys?

Thanks to reader Nick Middleton for the tip.

If you live in or near a major North American city, Radiohead may very well be visiting it this year. European residents already know where to find them. The band is also set to perform on "Later... With Jools Holland" on BBC Two television February 1. [MORE...]
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Thermals Kick Out the Jams for Live Band Karaoke

Ahh, karaoke... eradicator of shame, seller of so much sake, the reason we can all mumble our way through "Radar Love" when called upon. It's a deliriously hedonistic pastime, but one generally reserved for a group of easily embarrassed and far from sober chums and some sort of magical music machine.

But on January 31 at Studio B in Brooklyn, the hyperkinetic kids in the Thermals will be your friends, your enablers, and, yes, your music makers. Following a regular Thermals set, Hutch, Kathy, and co. will morph into the backing band for a night of karaoke sponsored by New York magazine.

The full song list is being worked on at the moment, though we've been told that Bowie, Madonna, and the Ramones are in the mix. With this lot, we'd guess the faster the jam (and fewer the chords), the better your shot.

The evening should run much like the one Of Montreal did with New York mag last April, which apparently devolved into a two-way reading of "More Than a Feeling" between actor Paul Rudd and "State" associate David Wain. Can the Thermals inspire that level of soused silliness in the evening's as-yet-unannounced celebrity MC or the madding crowd?

Alas, as their MySpace so indelicately puts it, the Thermals are "NOT on tour" at the moment, so the set they do before the karaoke pops off is their only proper show to speak of for now.

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Low Tour, Retribution Gospel Choir Prep Debut LP

Photo by Tim Soter

The beat of Drums and Guns marches on, and it will carry Duluth's beloved digital grindcore trio Low around the world in the coming months.

In addition to previously squawked about stints at the Sydney Festival and a pair of ATP/Don't Look Back-sponsored events (where they'll melt face to the tune of 2001 scorcher Things We Lost in the Fire), Alan, Mimi, and Matt will bring their distinctive musical offerings to all corners of Australia this January.

Then, after a two-month nap, it's off to Northern Europe and the UK for another round of mind obliteration.

Perhaps not coincidentally, said two-month nap occurs around the release of Retribution Gospel Choir, the debut LP from, you guessed it, Retribution Gospel Choir. Hard to believe the Alan Sparhawk-led side project is only now serving up a proper release (after a couple tour EPs), but we swear it's the truth and nothing but.

Retribution Gospel Choir arrives March 18 on Red House Painters/Sun Kil Moon man Mark Kozelek's Caldo Verde imprint, and was in fact produced by Mr. Kozelek himself. Joining Sparhawk on the release are drummer/back-up vocalist Eric Pollard and bassist Matt Livingston (also of Low). Low's Mimi Parker lends back-up vocals to a tune called "Breaker", and if that and "Take Your Time" sound familiar, it's because these RGC originals were also performed by Low on Drums and Guns. Share and share alike, we always say. [MORE...]
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Islands Return to the Road

Photo by Kathryn Yu

For a band that was supposedly "forever," Islands sure spend a lot of time in hibernation. (Not to mention all those various side projects.) But at least temporarily, the band will break the silence since Return to the Sea with a tour. First, they'll head across the sea to Europe for a couple weeks' worth of shows. From late February through early March, they'll travel from the UK to the Netherlands and Belgium. Then in mid-March and late April, they'll return to the States.

Thanks to reader Jono Henderson for the tip. [MORE...]
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Morrissey Reveals Greatest Hits Details, Bonus CD
Moz freaks given chance to shine in Greatest Hits ad

The man they call Moz has accrued quite a catalog of hits since his days fronting the Smiths. But don't take our word for it, just scope the tracklist for Morrissey's latest Greatest Hits set printed below. "Everyday Is Like Sunday", "The More You Ignore Me, the Closer I Get", the indomitable "Suedehead", and a whole lotta material from the last two albums-- it's like somebody made you the perfect latter-day Moz mixtape, and then, um, made you pay for it.

Greatest hits UK shelves via Polydor/Decca in CD and double vinyl formats on February 11, one week later than previously reported (U.S. details forthcoming). Along with classic jams, most from the man's post-millennial catalog (every one at least a top 20 UK hit, if you'd believe it), the collection also includes two all new cuts: "That's How People Grow Up" (which gets its own single, now on Feburary 4) and "All You Need Is Me". Don't we know it, Morrissey, don't we know it.

Cooler still, a limited run of Greatest Hits sets will come bundled with an eight-track, self-explanatory bonus disc titled Live at the Hollywood Bowl.

And speaking of people who need nothing more than Morrissey in their lives, the Moz MySpace (MozSpace!) has put out a call for the most dedicated/obsessed of fans to step forward. Let's let them explain:
How do you show your devotion to Morrissey?

HAVE YOU ANY MORRISSEY TATTOOS? HAVE YOU EVER GRAFFITI'D MORRISSEY'S NAME ON A WALL? DO YOU OWN AMAZING MORRISSEY MEMORABILIA?

WE'RE LOOKING FOR IMAGES OF YOUR DEVOTION FOR POSSIBLE INCLUSION IN THE NEW MORRISSEY GREATEST HITS ALBUM ADVERT.

PLEASE SEND HIGH-QUALITY JPG IMAGES TO: morrisseyadvert[at]googlemail.com

BE QUICK, WE MUST RECIEVE ALL ENTRIES BY 19 JANUARY 2008.
And speaking of January 19, that's, well, the third night of Morrissey's winter tour. Perhaps he'll bust out a few selections from his next studio album, now due in autumn 2008? [MORE...]
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Annie Returns With New Single, Preps Album

Annie! Where the heck have you been, girl? Aw shucks, who even cares. What matters is you're back, and 2008 is quickly shaping up to be quite a year for you.

The gal who once jacked Pitchfork's collective "Heartbeat" up to dangerously high BPMs (before gnashing us up and spitting us out like so much "Chewing Gum") will herald her return to the dancefloor fore with a new single produced by long-time associate Richard X. According to X's "international production empire" website, Black Melody, Annie will tackle Stacey Q's 1986 dance hit "Two of Hearts" on the A-side, while the B will boast an original tune called "Songs Remind Me of You".

No word yet on a release date for the single, but Island Records UK will be responsible for making sure it gets to our turntables and iPods in a timely fashion. Don't let us down, you guys.

And where there's a single, can an album be far behind? A recent story on Bergen, Norway newspaper Tidende's website suggests Annie may have her Anniemal follow-up out as soon as April. (Thanks to contributing photographer Eirik Lande for the heads up and translation.) And an Annie rep has confirmed that the album is indeed being wrapped up pretty much as you read this. We won't hold our breaths, but we may have to see a cardiologist about those BPMs.
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Blonde Redhead Plan Brief East Coast Tour

Photo by Sebastian Mlynarski

It's not much, but it'll do: the swirling colors of Blonde Redhead will be on full display on a very brief East Coast tour starting January 16 in our nation's capital. These are the band's first live appearances in a few months, and the only real news we've got from Kazu Makino and those Pace brothers in a while, too. Perhaps they've been working up a proper comeback to the glorious numbers racket of 2007's 23? A boy can dream(pop), can't he?

In other Blonde Redhead news, the DNA song from which they lifted their name is available-- along with plenty other rare post-punk relics-- on the soundtrack to the film Downtown 81. [MORE...]
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Dan Deacon Inaugurates Wham City Records With 7"
Gives away much of back catalog, records museum gig for single, next album

Photo by Jason Bergman

Time was, to make your way onto a Dan Deacon record, you'd either have to be some sort of Ecto Cooler-induced day-glo hallucinatory animalia or Dan Deacon himself. But a lucky few non-Deacon human-types who can make their way to the Big Apple on February 8 will find themselves pulled into the freaky, friendly fold of crystal cats and hateable bees, as Deacon immortalizes them in song. Really, truly weird song.

According to a MySpace post, Deacon will record his February 8 performance at New York's Whitney Museum of American Art for use on his next record. He will also tape the audience singing live favorite "Silence Like the Wind", which will show up as his next single. That 7" will serve as the very first release from Wham City Records, a new label from the Baltimore collective.

Deacon is in the process of relaunching his website right now, and when it's ready, he promises to post "the scores for pieces I'll be doing at the Whitney show." He's also going to offer all of his pre-Spiderman of the Rings releases as free downloads. They're all worth the trouble just for the titles alone. Look for Acorn Master, Silly Hat vs. Egale Hat, Meetle Mice, Goose on the Loose, Twacky Cats, and Porky Pig, among others, to grace your ears at no cost to you shortly, as well as "some unreleased stuff like the score to Ultimate Reality."

Speaking of Ultimate Reality-- the collaborative audiovisual mind-boink Deacon and his Wham City associate Jimmy Joe Roche crafted up and are currently parading around the country-- check in on the action at Jimmy Joe's YouTube blog of the proceedings with a single click right here. [MORE...]

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Cat Power Checks in From India, Bangladesh
iTunes edition of Jukebox gets bonus track

Photo by Scott Harrison

Before we hear her take on others folks' tunes with the January 22 release of Jukebox, we continue to learn about Cat Power giving back. The lady born Chan Marshall has been making her way through India and Bangladesh on her previously reported mission for charity: water, and she recently checked in once again via MySpace and the charity website with some photos and words from abroad.

In her January 5 dispatch, penned while she was in Bangladesh capital Dhaka, Marshall tells of her visit to the country's Barguna District, devastated by last November's Cyclone Sidr. The singer beseeches us to consider donating toilets to the people of this area. At $150 apiece, they're a steal; more info on how to contribute can be found here.

Marshall's scheduled trip to Kenya has also been cancelled in light of the dangerous situation the country is facing right now following the elections. "charity: water and myself have friends there," writes Chan. "We are hoping for their safety and security, as with all the people of Kenya."

A follow-up posting points us to photos from the expedition's visits to Bangalore and Bhubaneswar in India, viewable here. Expect future installments from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Tanzania.

Now for an awkward segue from people without toilets to people with computers (seriously though, click that donation link). iTunes users all primed to download the aforementioned Jukebox can look forward to a little something extra: a bonus "cover" of The Greatest's "Could We", exclusive to the Apple online retailer's version of the release.

Before Jukebox even hits streets/hard drives, however, Cat Power will begin giving something else: concerts, kicking off January 21 in Paris and wrapping up February 11 in Minneapolis. [MORE...]
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Xiu Xiu Announce Spring Dates
Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down open

Fleshing out your lineup with extra band members is fine, but what good is a, um, fleshier lineup without a full-fledged tour to prove things like your "on-stage chemistry" and "chops"? Well, the newly fleshy Xiu Xiu have solved the problem by scheduling their first big tour as a foursome. It's a jaunt across North America in the spring with fellow Kill Rock Stars signees Thao Nguyen and the Get Down Stay Down opening.

The tour comes in support of Women as Lovers, Xiu Xiu's sixth album, which comes out in all its bolstered glory on January 29. However, you can hear the whole album on the band's MySpace page now. [MORE...]
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Serena-Maneesh Compile Early Tracks, Rarities

Photo by Andreas Frøland

It's been a hot minute since we last heard much from Serena-Maneesh, who wowed the Pitchfork fold with their self-titled offering back in 2005. And those looking to this piece for news of fresh new jams from the Norwegian psych-gaze troupe may not find what they seek in these pages. Still, just as the television folks justify their endless parade of reruns, if you haven't heard it, it's new to you. And chances are you haven't heard much of SM Backwards, the band's upcoming release.

Come May 5, Smalltown Supersound will issue SM Backwards, a double CD/LP featuring a glut of rare tracks that predate the eponymous debut. Though much of this material has been released in Norway (on the Fixxations and Zurück EPs), none of it has made it past the border in any non-import form. And "Death Parade, Slow" has never been heard outside of the band! The set also includes video clips for "Drive Me Home the Lonely Nights" and "Degenerate".

The band has a single gig in the works, scheduled for February 23 at Oslo's SubScene. [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 Thu: 01-10-08: 02:30 PM CST
Mountain Goats Add Dates, Darnielle's Book Revealed

File-icon Thu: 01-10-08: 01:15 PM CST
Radiohead to Take Over BBC Radio 1 Airwaves

File-icon Thu: 01-10-08: 12:45 PM CST
Thermals Kick Out the Jams for Live Band Karaoke

File-icon Thu: 01-10-08: 12:15 PM CST
Low Tour, Retribution Gospel Choir Prep Debut LP

File-icon Thu: 01-10-08: 11:45 AM CST
Islands Return to the Road

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