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The Walkmen Leave Label for New Album

Photo by Natalie Kardos

Their very name is made for walking, and that's just what the Walkmen have done in preparation for their new album. According to two interviews with frontman Hamilton Leithauser, the forthcoming LP will be released on a label other than Record Collection, which put out Pussy Cats, A Hundred Miles Off, and Bows and Arrows.

"We're actually in negotiations right now with a new label, and we're all happy about that too. I think a little fresh blood will be good for us," Leithauser said in an interview with the Baltimore blog Butter Team.

A representative from the label said, "Record Collection's deal with the Walkmen expired after the release of Pussy Cats. We've had an amazing time working for the Walkmen, we're all still friends and we wish them luck as they move into the future."

Leithauser revealed more about the contents of the new record in an interview with Apparently, it features "a lot more instrumentation" than previous records, including turns on the trumpet and viola from member Paul Maroon. "It's sort of our sound again, but when you have it with a new instrument you can modify it the slightest bit, which to us sounds completely new," Leithauser explained. reports that the band has finished recording nine songs, with six to go, and they plan to finish those this month in time for a spring release date. Between the two interviews, Leithauser confirmed that "If Only It Were True", "Red Moon", "Around and Around", "Blue Route", and "I Lost You" are all in the running for the record's tracklist. He told that "I Lost You" was the album's "breakthrough song," adding, "We wanted to do, like, a big Roy Orbison song that ends with a big [crescendo]. We tried a lot of different strings and horn parts and finally found a few that go together. We think it's fantastic. It's, like, power rock."

And finally, Leithauser let Butter Team in on the progress of the band's novel: "We really are trying to finish it even though it might take us 20 years."

The Walkmen will display this newfound power on the road, including some shows with Vampire Weekend. [MORE...]


Silver Mt. Zion Lend Tune to "Lost" Ad

Hey, remember when a bunch of folks from the Godspeed You! Black Emperor/A Silver Mt. Zion axis locked themselves up in a dilapidated Montreal apartment for five days straight without sleep and made the first Set Fire to Flames record? Cut off from the world, left only to their own devices? Forced to thrive under trying conditions? Sounds just a wee bit like trials faced by the beloved characters of television's "Lost", trapped as they've been on a creepy tropical island for three seasons now.

But that's hardly the only thing these parties have in common now. Not since A Silver Mt. Zion-- excuse me, Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band-- went ahead and approved the use of one of their treasured tunes in a commercial for the forthcoming fourth season of the hit ABC series (premieres January 31! OMG!).

The advert includes a bit of "Tho You Are Gone I Still Often Walk W/You" (Guess "Long March Rocket or Doomed Airliner" would have been too obvious?) off 2001's Born Into Trouble as the Sparks Fly Upward, along with the promise that the people of "Lost" will, in fact, be found this season... or will they? Fans who caught it flocked to message boards to huff and puff-- Silver Mt. Zion's Constellation Records has, after all, maintained an ardent anti-corporate ethos over the years.

But why the ire? A publicist has confirmed that the song was used with the band's permission, and the ad will likely be off the air soon enough. This is an age, after all, where Of Montreal shill steaks and Ian MacKaye has OK'd a Minor Threat hot sauce.

And hey, here's what folks ought to be getting all in a tizzy about: their favorite Memorial Orchestra & Tra-La-La Band has a new album out March 25, as previously reported. 13 Blues for Thirteen Moons descends via Constellation, and who knows, perhaps they'll funnel some of those "Lost" dollarz into a super-sweet extensive tour?

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 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?


Jay-Z Leaves Def Jam Presidency

Photo by Kyle Gustafson

Though he'll always be President Carter in our hearts, as of December 31, Jay-Z will no longer hold the position of President of Def Jam Recordings, according to various sources. He made the announcement on Christmas Eve; Variety reports that he made the following statement: "Now it's time for me to take on new challenges. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to build upon the Def Jam legacy."

According to The New York Times, Jay-Z's Presidential exit was caused by money matters. His current contract expires at the end of 2007, and Universal (Def Jam's parent company) "declined to renew the contract under more lucrative terms he sought."

Although Jigga won't be Def Jam's head honcho anymore, he will still record for the label, and has plenty of other activities to keep him busy. He's one of the owners of the New Jersey Nets basketball team, he oversees the 40/40 nightclub empire, and, of course, he's Beyoncé's boyfriend.

But now that he's quit his main day job, Jay's doing what any good multi-millionaire would do in his first days of freedom: he's going to Vegas, bay-bee. He'll perform at the Pearl at the Palms on December 29.

Labels Seek Apology From Rolling Stone for Camel Ad
Kill Rock Stars, Touch and Go, Skin Graft, others send angry letter to magazine

Pour bad journalism, shady advertising, and the music you love into the media cauldron, let simmer for a few weeks, and you get that ugly mess we reported about last week. Camelstonegate, let's call it. In summary: In a recent issue, Rolling Stone tucked an editorial section name-checking heaps of indie bands into a big ol' advertorial promoting a Camel cigarettes campaign targeting indie rockers. A huge no-no for a number of reasons.

Nine states have already sued Camel over the fact that the "Indie Rock Universe" section was basically one big cartoon. (Using cartoons to sell cigarettes violates the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1997.) Now, not surprisingly, a bunch of labels representing bands unwittingly lumped into this whole scheme have stepped forward to demand an apology from Rolling Stone.

Today, an open letter to Rolling Stone signed by Kill Rock Stars, Touch and Go, Skin Graft, Lovepump United, Lucky Madison, the defunct 5RC, Audio Dregs, and Fryk Beat, was sent out by Kill Rock Stars' Maggie Vail. It begins, "We, the undersigned independent record labels wish to share our indignation regarding Rolling Stone's November 15th pull out editorial, which featured the names of our artists in conjunction with an ad for Camel cigarettes."

The full text of the letter is available after the jump, but basically, these people are pissed that their artists' names were used without their consent to push product, and rightfully so.

As previously mentioned, Rolling Stone has insisted the ad and editorial content came together by mere coincidence, but KRS and the others are calling the publication's bluff. Ultimately, the labels "ask that Rolling Stone apologize for blurring the line between editorial and advertisement, and in doing so, implying that the bands named support the product being advertised."

Individual artists have also begun expressing their displeasure as well. The Daily Swarm points us to a Toronto Star report that suggests post-hardcore maniacs Fucked Up-- one of the many stars of Rolling Stone's "Indie Rock Universe"-- are planning to pursue legal action. They also weighed in on the issue in humorous fashion on their blog.

Fucked Up's litigious ire, however, appears to be directed toward music service Rhapsody, which allegedly licensed bands' music without their consent to the online version of the Rolling Stone piece.

UPDATE: Rhapsody was not involved in the Camel advertisement at all. The online version of the piece contains no links or references to Camel. [MORE...]


Harry Potter Bands Rock Against Media Consolidation
Or, if you will, "Voldemedia"

Ah, well that explains a lot: Media consolidation-- that unfortunate trend that has humongous corporations snatching up their tiny competition right and left-- is actually all the work of the nefarious, nose-less, all powerful half-blood wizard hellbent on killing Harry Potter!

And we have the legions of Harry Potter fanatics the world over to thank for this alarming discovery. Best of all, these Potter-philes sure as hell aren't going to let Lord Voldemort get away with it. They've launched an all-out war against the perils of "Voldemedia", complete with an informative website and a free mp3 compilation packed with bands indirectly born of the pen of J.K. Rowling.

Our dear friends Harry and the Potters join acts like the Remus Lupins, Roonil Wazlib, and the Whomping Willows on Rocking Out Against Voldemedia, available for free right now on the Harry Potter Alliance-helmed, Stop Big Media-allied campaign's website. You should also swing over to said site to learn what you can do to fight media consolidation. Even if you're just a muggle.

Just a hunch, but maybe this atrocity is the work of Voldemort as well?

And hey! Speaking of Harry and the Potters, those funny dudes have a New Year's Eve gig planned at Boston's Hynes Convention Center. Sure beats another lonely night with Dick Clark. [MORE...]

Dan Deacon to Greyhound Buses: Fuck You!
"These rats stink like rotten cum. Fuck them with 1000 fires...Eat my shorts you dickless pig fuckers."

Something strange is afoot on the Greyhound bus, and for once, it's not that guy in the trenchcoat who won't stop staring.

Included in this month's issue of electronic music mag XLR8R is a four postcard pullout advertisement emphasizing just how easy it is to traverse America's rock'n'roll underground via the notoriously slow transit system named after the notoriously fast dog. The insert bears the likenesses of Dan Deacon, Baltimore laptop-noise act Wzt Hearts, Japan's Ruins, and a crowdsurfer at a Team Robespierre gig. They say there's no such thing as bad publicity, but there are probably better ways to handle publicity concerns than the way Greyhound allegedly did with this foursome. Both Deacon and Wzt Hearts' Jason Urick have publicly complained that they were not contacted about the use of the photos, and, naturally, aren't too pleased.

Urick apparently caught wind of this business first, and made a post to's message board alerting friends and well-wishers to the budding controversy (his alias is "airplaneglue"). His first post asks, simply, "Can you sue if a company uses a picture and a blurb of your band without asking... because apparently Greyhound just did that with us. wtf?" The resulting discussion finds Urick and the rest of the board readers trying to determine just what Urick's legal rights might be in this situation.

In the meantime, Urick contacted friend and fellow B'more resident Dan Deacon, whose history with Greyhound is, apparently, a bit rocky. In a MySpace bulletin posted this afternoon entitled "IN NO WAY DO I ENDORSE OR PROMOTE GREYHOUND BUSES", Deacon railed against the corporation, claiming that no one had asked the permission of either him or New York's Silent Barn, where the shot was taken. He then went on:

greyhound bus company is one of the worst run, bullshit companies i have ever had the misfortune to use. they are a total monopoly and take advantage of that with poor service and price hikes and route cancellation. they have bought all the other smaller companies and run them out of their office in dallas. they treat both their employees and customers like shit. they are a cancer.

since i do not drive i used to use them to get to shows (when nothing else was available). on many occasions i had to cancel shows because the bus would be late, my luggage would get lost/stolen, the over sell their buses, and fuck i fucking hate them.

it really upsets me that i am being used to promote them. if i had my way i would see all their buses transport guns to all the people they have fucked over.

like many evil companies they are trying to use subversive advertising and i will not allow myself to be a cog in their wheel of lies and deceit. these rats stink like rotten cum. fuck them with 1000 fires.

in case this message finds its way to someone in the advertising department of greyhound: eat my shorts you dickless pig fuckers.

Oh, Dan, you always know what to say! [MORE...]


Camel, Rolling Stone Under Fire for Indie Rock Ad
Cigarette company pulls campaign after class action suit

You don't see creepy Joe Camel anymore these days, and that's because he-- and any cartoon used to sell cigarettes-- has been made illegal, thanks to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement of 1997 (Google it).

Yet if you scooped up a copy of the November 15 issue of Rolling Stone, you probably did see a four-page fold-out editorial section titled "Indie Rock Universe", rife with faux notebook doodles, ridiculous music/cosmology puns (Lost in Bass! Planet Twee!), and the names of pretty much every huge-to-marginally popular indie/indie-ish act you can think of. Laughable at best, but harmless-- were it not for the item's placement in the publication.

"Indie Rock Universe" fell amid several pages of advertisements for Camel cigarettes' "The Farm" campaign. The Farm's tagline? "Committed to Supporting & Promoting Independent Record Labels". Coincidence? Rolling Stone would have you think so, according to a New York Times report linked via The Daily Swarm. Publisher Ray Chelstowski, quoted in the NY Times piece, claims Camel's parent company R.J. Reynolds Tobacco "had no idea [the Indie Rock Universe piece] would take a cartoon format." Likewise, "the editors don't see the advertising."

Yet that plea of ignorance hasn't stopped Rolling Stone-- and, of course, Camel-- from drawing the ire of everyone from anti-smoking advocates and promoters of journalistic ethics to fans and the indie rockers themselves.

Amid increasing pressure and a lawsuit filed this week by nine state attorneys general, Reynolds has, for the moment, ceased the Farm campaign, according to a Winston-Salem Journal report (also via The Daily Swarm). Indeed, the campaign's website is presently down. The Journal also suggests Reynolds could face a fine of up to $100 million for violating the Master Settlement Agreement.

Still under debate are Camel-sponsored gigs, a number of which have popped up in recent years featuring big name indie acts like the Flaming Lips, Band of Horses, and the Faint. Camel has no plans to discontinue these right now, according to the Journal.

Meanwhile, Rolling Stone has come under fire from bloggers and message board pundits who believe the publication complicit in an alleged scheme to dupe lovers of indie rock. If some breach of ethics surrounding the advertorial/editorial divide is discovered, Rolling Stone could find itself in what we like to call the "Nasty Litigation Universe". (Regardless, it's pretty funny that this list is probably the only way that many of these bands would have ever appeared in Rolling Stone.)

Still, the greatest crime in all this may be the puns. "Lost in Bass"?!? C'mon, people!


Radiohead Freeloading to End December 10
Philosophical proposition: doesn't everything they do count as "doing a Radiohead"?

It seems all good things really must come to an end, even potentially free downloads of albums that change the face of everything everywhere forever and ever, amen. That is, Radiohead will turn the lights out on the pay-what-you-will download option for In Rainbows on December 10, according to a post made on their Dead Air Space blog today. The band has also ended production of In Rainbows discboxes; they will only be available via the band's w.a.s.t.e. online store until the current supply is exhausted.

But don't worry, we can all still get our hands on the physical release of In Rainbows on New Year's Eve (via XL everywhere but the U.S.) or New Year's Day (via TBD/ATO in the U.S.).

And finally (yeah right), according to a report from Radiohead fan site Ateaseweb (and confirmed by the label), it turns out that the Parlophone/EMI-spearheaded box set of the band's first seven records will come with access to a stream of Radiohead's performance at Eurockéennes in Belfort, France from July 4, 2003. Perhaps not coincidentally, the set comes out December 10, the day the downloads die. [MORE...]


Band of Horses Turn Down Wal-Mart TV Ad
Ben Bridwell: "Once I saw our fans were let down by it, I nixed the TV commercial, and said, 'You know what, this isn't for me. Keep your money.'"

Band of Horses took a bit of flak a couple months back-- on the interwebs, anyway-- for licensing a song to Wal-Mart (and another to Ford) for a net-based ad campaign. "My personal stance," Band-leader Ben Bridwell wrote in response to the haters, "is that once that music is recorded and released to the world then I don't really care where it goes."

But despite this apparent nonchalance, Bridwell has drawn a line. Speaking to Fargo, North Dakota publication The Forum this week (linked via Brooklyn Vegan), Bridwell confirmed that while it could have taken quite a leap forward, Band of Horses' dalliance with the mega department store chain with the questionable ethics has come to an end.

"I called my family, talked to my girlfriend about it, talked to the guys in the band and decided it's no big deal," Bridwell said of the initial decision to license the song. "We tested it with that Web site thing that I figured nobody would really even see. But in the Internet age, you can't do anything without someone catching wind of it.

"Some fans, they don't even give a crap," he continued. "They're like, 'Whatever, bands got to get paid.' But at the same time, I was reluctant to do it in the back of my mind, and some fans reminded me there is a reason to feel that way about it.

"So once I saw our fans were let down by it, I nixed the TV commercial, and said, 'You know what, this isn't for me. Keep your money.'"

The TV commercial Bridwell mentions was an option Wal-Mart put before the band following the success of the web campaign (which has since ended), according to Band of Horses' label, Sub Pop.

So, in summary: Band of Horses could have gone all the way with Wal-Mart, but they didn't. Yay for them. Meanwhile, life goes on, Cease to Begin is out now, and Band of Horses continue their recently upsized tour in Montana this weekend. Go see them, and please people, leave the cameras at home. [MORE...]

Black Kids Have a Manager, Gigs, No Label Yet

Like a million and one other bands, Best New Music-makers Black Kids are set to slay CMJ this week with a handful of shows that are sure to be packed, sweaty, and spread out all over town (NYC, that is). Their plan for total domination relies heavily on their self-released Wizard of Ahhhs EP, but now it seems they'll have some extra ammunition in the form of a management company-- but not, contrary to some reports, a label.

A previous report (now updated and corrected) indicated that the band had signed to Almost Gold Recordings, home of Peter Bjorn and John. The band's management cleared up the confusion in an email to press outlets, however: "Black Kids have not signed to Almost Gold Recordings...The confusion may stem from the fact that Almost Gold Recordings is part of Quest Management. Quest Management handles Björk and Arcade Fire and we just recently picked up Black Kids for management as well. A number of labels have expressed interest but nothing has been decided yet." So, there you have it.

After their CMJ shows, Black Kids have two Georgia dates in mid-November. [MORE...]

Ted Leo to Taco Bell: WTF?!
"I have no desire to be attached to the Pepsi corporation"

Yesterday, we ran a story about how Ted Leo-- along with Girl Talk, Enon, Blitzen Trapper, and several other musicians-- had won a Taco Bell contest entitling them to $500 in free Taco Bell food. The information in the story came from a press release from Taco Bell themselves.

One problem: Ted Leo never even entered the contest, as far as he knows!

This morning, Leo emailed us and posted the following on his website, under the heading "For the Record (Re: Taco Bell)":

Here are two letters I sent to Pitchfork today:

Hey Peeps - for the record, I know nothing about this Taco Bell thing - I'll try to get to the bottom of why my name is being used here, but I'd appreciate a clarification from someone at Pitchfork as to where they heard/saw this...
(I'm referring to this story:
-Ted Leo

Friday 10/12/07 10:11 AM

Yo - upon further research, I have found that the web site ( says that "hundreds of bands submitted applications" - I knew nothing about this until this morning, and obviously, did not submit an application. Maybe it's a hoax, maybe someone else did it and didn't tell me, but I have no desire to be attached to the Pepsi corporation, which also runs KFC, etc., and anything you guys can do to help me get that point across would be greatly appreciated.
xo - Ted

Friday 10/12/07 10:24 AM

And also for the record, Taco Bell will be hearing from me (not a big threat to them, I know, but still...)

Wow. We are really, really sorry about that, Ted! Thankfully, after we sent Ted's label, Touch and Go, the Taco Bell press release, it all got worked out. Ted updated his site with this message:

UPDATE 11:11 AM - We have contacted Taco Bell (that's a sentence I never thought I'd have to type - ed.), and have found out that someone submitted an application from a G-mail address that is not ours (Heck of a job, G-mail!), so we have, in fact, been pranked, which, since Taco Bell is now removing our name from everything associated with this dumb-ass "Muy Caliente! Side Stage at the Altell Garden Party Pavillion" bullshit, I have to appreciate on some levels... but anyway, it was fake, we weren't involved with Taco Bell, and now it's over. Thank you for your participation!
Yo quiero the internet.

(For the record, Ted Leo's Touch and Go labelmates Enon did, in fact, enter the contest knowingly.)

Another reason why Ted probably isn't so happy with Taco Bell using his name is that he's vegan, and a PETA spokesman.

Ted Leo and the Pharmacists are on the road now. Go spend money on their shows and merch, and not on crappy fast food. [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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