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Trembling Blue Stars Return With The Last Holy Writer

Although he's sworn off the whole playing live thing, Bobby Wratten hasn't forgotten the kids who'd prefer to pine away their hours in dimly lit bedrooms, watching the raindrops roll down their windowpanes, lost in wistful reverie-- all while indulging in the Sarah Records catalogue.

Hence, Wratten's present, post-Sarah outfit Trembling Blue Stars returns May 14 with the UK release of The Last Holy Writer, on Spain's Elefant Records. Produced by longtime Wratten associate Ian Catt and available on CD and 2x10", Writer also hits the U.S. on June 4 via Darla, and France and Germany on June 7.

The disc follows up 2004's The Seven Autumn Flowers and features 12 tracks of what Wratten and company do best, including quite a few with lead vocals by Beth Arzy (formerly of Aberdeen). Fans may rest assured, as Wratten's fixation with nautical metaphors is very much intact on this record.

Field Mouse/Northern Picture Librarian Wratten (who also plays in the Occasional Keepers, his collaboration with members of the Wake) has promised another Trembling Blue Stars release, the Exploring the Shadows EP, for later this year. TBS will also appear on the forthcoming Love Goes On tribute to the Go-Betweens' Grant McLennan, due September 25 from Rare Victory. [MORE...]
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Lewis & Clarke Deliver Blasts With Man Man, Rachel's

There's a kind of hush all over the world tonight; must be pastoral folkies Lewis & Clarke, whose Blasts of Holy Birth will gently lull its way into release May 15 from La Société Expéditionnaire. Blasts features eight tracks of delicate beauty, boosted by guest spots from Man Man's Russell Higbee and Eve Miller of Rachel's and Matt Pond PA.

Those looking for a Lewis and Clarke expedition will have to expand westward on their own time; the band's got a single New York City date slated for mid-June, although the La Soc website promises more to come. [MORE...]
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Betty Davis Being Reissued, Kicking Ass

Betty Davis's growling, gale-force grooves are the stuff of legend, and the former Mrs. Miles Davis-- not to mention early Commodores songwriter and Ebony model-- is responsible for some of the deepest funk ever committed to tape. Two proper documents of Davis' badassery have been given life anew from Light in the Attic Records, who will reissue Betty's self-titled debut and its follow up, They Say I'm Different, May 15.

Betty Davis was produced by Sly Stone and recorded with his storied rhythm section, while They Say I'm Different was a self-made effort on both sides of the board. Both reissues feature previously-unheard bonus tracks and liner notes by soul scholar Oliver Wang. The reissues mark the first time Davis will receive royalties for the sales of her music on CD. [MORE...]
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Madlib Putting Out a Gazillion New Records, As Usual
In the works: Yesterdays New Quintet Offshoots, another Beat Konducta, Erykah Badu and Talib Kweli collaborations

Considering the amount of material the man has released-- not to mention the fact that he probably has months of music that has yet to see the light of day-- my theory about Madlib is that he is actually a bubble-man of sorts, rolling around all day in a human-sized, music studio version of a hamster ball.

As usual, the latest recorded emissions from the Madlib hamster ball are plentiful. Though the deluxe re-release of his J Dilla collaboration Jaylib's Champion Sound has been pushed from its previously reported date of May 8, it is still coming out. Stones Throw will now reissue the album on June 12, with an advance release to iTunes on May 22.

The producer has also gone almost completely down the rabbit hole to put Yesterdays New Quintet-- the jazz/funk/soul/hip hop fusion "band" consisting entirely of his own alter egos-- on something of a hiatus. How is it possible to put an imaginary group on hiatus, other than just forgetting about it, you ask? For Madlib, it's pretty simple: create new imaginary groups and focus on their full-lengths. He is currently prepping full-lengths by YNQ offshoots/side projects/diversions Kamala Walker, the Last Electro-Acoustic Space Jazz & Percussion Ensemble, and the Jahari Massamba Unit for summer and fall releases.

Despite Madlib's work on these new projects, there are two new YNQ releases planned for the summer.

The first is the "Jewelz" 12"/EP, credited to the Otis Jackson Jr. Trio. Jackson "was" a "member" of Yesterdays New Quintet who shares Madlib's given name.

The second YNQ-related release is titled Yesterdays Universe, which, according to a press release, "will feature the next phase in the YNQ universe: 10 new groups produced by Madlib, all of whom will have records released in the next 12 months."

So it's a compilation composed entirely of contributions from new Madlib alter egos. Actually, that's not entirely true. In addition to tracks by the three aforementioned YNQ new groups (and others), real people Karriem Riggins and Ivan Conti (aka Mamão of Azymuth) play drums on the record. It turns out Riggins is even a de facto member of the Jahari Massamba Unit, since he drums on all of "their" tracks.

Stones Throw will release the "Jewelz" 12"/EP in mid-June and Yesterdays Universe on July 17. The label will also release the third volume of Madlib's Beat Konducta series, Beat Konducta Vol. 3: Beat Konducta in India, in the first half of July.

And of course, there's more. In addition to working with Riggins on a forthcoming full-length from their new Supreme Team project, Madlib has also been busy collaborating with the likes of Talib Kweli, Erykah Badu, and Percee P.

He contributed production to Kweli's forthcoming Ear Drum (July 24, Blacksmith/Warner Bros.), and he is producing the entirety of Percee's Perseverance (August 14, Stones Throw). His work with Badu has been a little more untethered. They have collaborated on seven songs together so far, and they could all potentially appear on Badu's new album, though there is no official word on what that record will look like. You can, however, download one of tracks they did together, "Real Thing", at the link below.

Madlib has a single U.S. DJ date scheduled for May 18 at Chicago's Sonotheque with Riggins and Stones Throw colleagues J. Rocc and Egon, and on June 2 he will appear at the Taico Club Festival at Suge Kiso Village Festival Grounds in Nagano, Japan. Rhythm & Sound, Sleeparchive, Rub-N-Tug, Daedelus, and more will also perform at that festival. [MORE...]

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Exclusive: Shout Out Louds Proclaim, "EP! Tour!"
EP features Essex Green guest spot, remixes by Kleerup, Russian Futurists

The vociferous Swedes of Shout Out Louds are wasting no time consummating their recent marriage with Merge. Knowing well that four whole months is a hopelessly long time for U.S. citizens to wait for the fivesome's forthcoming full-length, Our Ill Wills (out September 11 Stateside), they've announced a special EP to escort us through the summer months.

The Tonight I Have to Leave It EP arrives June 5 via Merge, including the title track (taken from Wills), a tune featuring fellow Merge indie-poppers the Essex Green, and a pair of "Tonight" remixes by the Russian Futurists and Kleerup (responsible for last year's wonderful Robyn jam "With Every Heartbeat"), plus one more jingle.

Shout Out Louds howl and gaff at four U.S. gigs this July, with a full-on tour of the red, white, and blue to follow in October. At present they're cavorting about Europe, where Wills has already dropped (in Sweden) or will soon drop (in Denmark May 21; in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland May 25). [MORE...]
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Mirah Reveals New Album, Tour

Bug out, if you please; K Records songstress Mirah, along with Spectratone International-- who sometimes moonlight as Lori Goldston and Kyle Hanson of Black Cat Orchestra— will release Share This Place: Stories and Observations on August 7.

The album, which explores such tried-and-true lyrical themes as the lives of insects, was inspired by French entomologist Jean Henri Fabre. The record was produced by Steve Fisk (Nirvana, Low, Beat Happening) and frequent Mirah collaborator Phil Elvrum of Mount Eerie.

And Share This Place isn't just an album. It's a multi-media experience! The music is meant to accompany a series of twelve animated short films by Britta Johnson. The film Credo Cigalia is included on the Share This Place CD.

Mirah will also saddle up her pony right on a few dates, including a string of mid-May appearances at Seattle's International Children's Festival. [MORE...]

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Lady Sov's Tour Tomfoolery Revealed in Video Diary

Ever wonder what goes down before the masses make way for the S-O-V? Yearn to learn how Lady Sovereign keeps busy while tourmate Gwen Stefani winds 'em up and Akon, er, dances with some young people?

Well you asked for it, and thanks to the world wide web, you're going to get it. Since her tour with Stefani and Akon kicked off in Cali late last month, Lady Sov has been posting little video tour diary nuggets on her website and MySpace-- one minute-or-so long clip per tour stop.

Marvel as Sov vacuums in Vegas, goes into cold storage in Albuquerque, races her scooter around Dallas and Denver, mucks up the green room in Houston, and plays Hacky Sack with edibles in Salt Lake City. I mean, no wonder this gal got all exhausted and whatnot.

Folks who sojourn to Sovereign's website have to sign up for some V.I.P. privilege to view the vids, but those who troll to her MySpace can watch them unabated. Sov's mammoth trek with lonely goatherd and hump-happy hook-man, meanwhile, continues tonight in the ATL. [MORE...]
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R. Kelly's Double Up Tracklist Revealed
Still not revealed? R. Kelly's trial date

"Everything I did in the past," R. Kelly says of his new album, "I'm about to double up on it." Double the pleasure, double the fun, double the extended metaphors for his bone; it's all there on Double Up, Robert Sylvester Kelly's latest epic, due May 29 on Jive.

Like every R. Kelly album before it, Double Up will eagerly and inexplicably soundtrack any church picnic, hotbox session, or freakin' of dat booty you might be partaking in. Fans of TP.3 Reloaded might've wondered how their boy Kells could possibly top the untoppable two-fer of "Sex Weed" and "(Sex) in the Kitchen", but Double Up's got that on lock: "Freaky in the Club"? "The Zoo"? "Sex Planet"? The man gets around.

Of course, we couldn't leave this little track-order curio uncommented-on: "Sex Planet"-- we delight in the possibility of a line rhyming "Venus" with, well, you know-- immediately proceeds "Rise Up", the track R. penned to commemorate the victims of the Virginia Tech shootings. That R. Kelly; he's nothing if not tactful.

And, like every R. Kelly album before it, Double Up is doubled-over with guest spots; this time, from the likes of Snoop, Luda, T.I.P., Polow Da Don, and, on "Rock Star," Kid Rock. From this, we gather R. Kelly hasn't met a rock star in, like, eight years.

In addition to crafting Double Up, Robert's apparently been working on the next "Trapped in the Closet" installments (13-23 due this summer, allegedly!) and surfing the web (parents: now might be a good time to invest in that Net Nanny). He's started a YouTube channel in hopes of revealing the inner life of the man they call Kells. If the first episode is any indication, R. Kelly's life consists of singing silly sex songs off the dome to unsuspecting ladies. Exactly as I'd hoped. Observe:



And me? I accept! [MORE...]

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Lauryn Hill to Play Rare Shows
Collaborating with Conor Oberst?!

Though her official website doesn't seem to contain any information from later than 2002, singer/rapper Lauryn Hill will play three rare live dates in England in July. The former Fugee will do that thing she does starting July 8 in London and ending in Manchester on July 10.

Thanks to reader Nathan Haldane for the tip.

UPDATE: SHE'S ALSO PERFORMING IN THE U.S.! TWO CALIFORNIA DATES ARE SCHEDULED FOR LATE JUNE.

AND IN BRAZIL!

Also, Conor Oberst recently told Performing Songwriter magazine that a collaboration with Hill is in the works, but since she hasn't released an album since her 1998 solo debut (unless you count her 2002 installment in the MTV Unplugged series), she'd have to be a pretty big Bright Eyes fan for that to happen. [MORE...]

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CSS, Okkervil, Bonde Play Seattle HIV/AIDS Benefits
So do Handsome Family, Matt and Kim, Sera Cahoone

Seattle area showgoers: skull-jackhammering hangover and instantly-regrettable stop at the merch table aside, your next trip out might be one of the best things you do for yourself, and way better for a deserving group of young folks.

Noise for the Needy, a series of Seattle area shows put on to help children and teenagers afflicted by HIV/AIDS, will make a racket on the philanthropy tip at a variety of Seattle venues June 5-10. Some of your favorite bands-- including CSS, Okkervil River, the Handsome Family, Matt and Kim, Sera Cahoone, and Bonde do Role-- will generate some revenue for the AIDS advocacy group Rise n' Shine, as will a super-secret cadre of rappers playing a pre-Noise benefit May 26 at Chop Suey.

In addition to the week of concerts, Noise for the Needy will host an online auction beginning May 30; among the prizes are VIP passes to benefit shows. A current schedule of all the do-goodery is available on the Noise for the Needy website.

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Pretty Girls Make Graves Farewell Tour Begins Tonight
Speakers will push the air for the last time

And so, we begin to say our fond farewells to Pretty Girls Make Graves, who will toss their final pop darts at the target that is our hearts on their retirement tour. Their last hurrah kicks off tonight and wraps in what's sure to be a blowout in the band's Emerald City home June 9.

They leave us with three fine records, one heck of an EP, a history of audience-pleasing live shows, and many a memory inextricably linked to "Something Bigger, Something Brighter", "Parade", and all the rest. [MORE...]

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Jonny Greenwood, Beirut, Final Fantasy Do Wordless
Plus: Do Make Say Think, Max Richter, Múm, Nico Muhly, Colleen, Jan Jelinek, Triosk

On a diligent quest to marry the contemporary classical and indie rock worlds-- or at least let them mingle for a few magical nights a season-- the New York City-based Wordless Music Series returns this fall with another generous helping of eclectic aural delights, sure to enchant folks from the highbrow to the underground.

Set for the Series' 2007/08 season are Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood-- who'll oversee a performance of his British Composer Award-winning composition Popcorn Superhet Receiver-- along with Beirut, Final Fantasy, Do Make Say Think, and the U.S. debut of indie-friendly modern composer Max Richter.

Other series highlights include Icelandic dream-weavers Múm, ambient loop mistress Colleen, string savant and indie arranger of choice Nico Muhly, experimental electronic artist Jan Jelinek, and Australian avant-jazz trio Triosk. The complete schedule for the new season (with dates and venues) is still shaping up, but scope the events confirmed thus far below, and bookmark the Wordless website for updates.

Thanks to reader Jason Schupper for the tip!

Closing out a 06/07 program that included Explosions in the Sky, the Books, Amiina, Eluvium, Andrew Bird, and more, Wordless pays homage to the Kranky label with its final performance of the current season, going down May 26 at NYC's Good-Shepherd Faith Presbyterian Church. Loscil and Stars of the Lid's Brian McBride will perform, along with the Caleb Burhans String Quartet, doing Steve Reich's Grammy-winning Holocaust meditation Different Trains. [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 Fri: 05-11-07: 02:42 PM CDT
The Hives Tour, Record, Collaborate With Raconteurs

File-icon Fri: 05-11-07: 01:35 PM CDT
Madlib Putting Out a Gazillion New Records, As Usual

File-icon Fri: 05-11-07: 12:06 PM CDT
Mirah Reveals New Album, Tour

File-icon Fri: 05-11-07: 11:00 AM CDT
R. Kelly's Double Up Tracklist Revealed

File-icon Fri: 05-11-07: 10:25 AM CDT
Lauryn Hill to Play Rare Shows

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