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Photos: Thrill Jockey 15th Anniversary [Chicago, IL; 12/14-12/15/07]

Photos by Sanchez and Kitahara
Pictured above: Trans Am

Some bands you fall in love with. You catch every single show, memorize the lyrics, decorate your personal items with their buttons, patches, and stickers, and-- more often than not-- break up with them as your tastes evolve or something new comes along.

Other bands are best kept as friends. Your heart may not skip a beat at the mention of their names, a missed show here and there won't make you cry, and perhaps you haven't quite gotten around to hearing that latest album, but that's okay, because you can commit to bands like this for life. They're consistent, reliable, and, as with any true friend, they have nothing to prove; the respect and admiration you and these bands share for one another is implicit. They've sorta always been there, too, and you get the feeling they always will be. These are the kind of bands, by and large, that populate the Thrill Jockey roster.

So you won't find many MySpace profiles gushing OMG I <3 SEA+CAKE x 1000000!!!!!11, but you can, it seems, always count on a sea of serene faces at any Sea and Cake show. It was just this vibe-- communal, comfortable, and decidedly low-key-- that marked the 15th anniversary celebration for Bettina Richards' Thrill Jockey Records, held this past weekend at the Logan Square Auditorium in Chicago, the city in which the label has operated for most of its decade-and-a-half.

The Sea and Cake were there, of course, as were label stalwarts Trans Am and Eleventh Dream Day, both of whom provided most of the reserved evenings' showiest moments. Tortoise served as the not-so-surprising surprise guest, kicking off Saturday's festivities. Califone went surround sound, briefly positioning their horn section up in the balcony behind the audience.

The Fred Anderson Trio and Frequency flew Thrill Jockey's jazz flag high, and ADULT. stood in for the label's strong electronic contingent, doing what they could to rattle us out of our state of comfort. Thalia Zedek covered Freakwater's "Flat Hand", while an un-billed Sue Garner appeared to help Eleventh Dream Day through a cover of her own "I Like the Name Alice". (Both covers appear on the recent Plum box set). The band returned the favor by backing Garner on a few tunes.

Recent Thrill Jockey signings were on display the first night: Arbouretum capped off a fine set with "Pale Rider Blues", one of the finest songs heard all weekend, while the Fiery Furnaces plowed through much of their latest album Widow City. Amid the Windy City-centric proceedings, School of Language's David Brewis came all the way from Sunderland, England to make his U.S. live debut. How appropriate that he was joined for the occasion by drummer Ryan Rapsys (Euphone, Ambulette) and Zincs bassist Nick Macri, two Chicago music scene regulars whom Brewis claimed to have met barely a day prior. This is a label community that embraces its own, in a city that has always embraced kindred spirits.

As with any gathering of friends, these nights were as much about the chummy moments between songs as they were about the music: Tortoise's Dan Bitney asking audience members how they traveled to the show and marveling at how many folks had walked; Sam Prekop and Doug McCombs playfully heckling Archer Prewitt from the balcony during his set ("Look! It's the two old men from the 'Muppet Show'!" cracked Prewitt's keyboardist); Califone's Tim Rutili ad libbing a silly conversation with his horn section, who responded the way the off-screen adults do in Charlie Brown cartoons.

Later, when Rutili noted the unceasing snow outside and suggested we all might have to have a sleepover, no one really laughed. Given this friendly, like-minded company, that wasn't such a ridiculous idea at all.

Here's to 15 more years and then some, guys. [MORE...]


Thrill Jockey B-Day Bash: Become Yr Fave Album Cover!
Single tickets available, final night-by-night lineup revealed

As if 16-some ace acts spread over two nights of Windy City rocking weren't enough, Thrill Jockey has gone and spruced up its previously reported 15th anniversary bash with a little party attraction straight out of Coney Island.

An exhaustive, page-by-page search of our office copy of the O.E.D. has yielded no concise term for these things, but you've surely seen them before. Head-putter-througher thingers, let's call them-- only for the TJ par-tay, as depicted above, they've been made to resemble classic Thrill Jockey album covers! I mean, who hasn't dreamt of looking like Bobby Conn decked out in his Sunday morning best?

Chicago's own Busy Beaver Button Co. created the cut-outs especially for this festive occasion. (Special thanks to model Eric Harms of Picture Books.)

That bash, once again, goes down tonight (December 14) and tomorrow night at Chicago's Logan Square Auditorium. The lineup has altered slightly since our last report-- Freakwater and Angela Desveaux are no longer on it-- and although Thrill Jockey still won't reveal who plays when, they have shed some light on which acts you can expect each night. Check those below. Accordingly, they've also made single-night tickets available.

You can still scoop up two-day passes, of course, and those still come with the excellently-named Super Epic Thrill Jockey Mega Massive Mix by Trey Told 'Em, aka Gregg Gillis (Girl Talk) and Frank Musarra. Copies of the just-released, massive, cover-swapping 7" box Plum will be up for sale as well.

And, last but not least, surprise guests are still promised. [MORE...]

My Bloody Valentine Headline Benicassim Festival
Also playing: the Rumble Strips, Babyshambles

The 14th annual Festival Internacional de Benicàssim in Benicàssim, Spain has announced the first three names in its 2008 lineup, and the reunited My Bloody Valentine is one of them. (Via AngryApe.) Holy OMG, Batman!

The other two bands in the Benicàssim lineup right now are Babyshambles and the Rumble Strips.

The festival takes place July 17-20, which places it at the end of MBV's currently scheduled reunion shows, but we have a feeling there are quite a few more of these puppies to come. [MORE...]

Final Fantasy Song Jacked for Ad Leads to Anger Lawsuit Totally Sweet Music Festival
Pallett-curated traveling shindig boasts Deerhoof, Dirty Projectors, Frog Eyes, Six Organs

Once upon a time, a Vienna-based public works company called Wiener Stadtwerke wanted to use a Final Fantasy song ("This Is the Dream of Win & Regine" from 2005's Has a Good Home) in a commercial. The song's creator, Owen Pallett, politely declined, on the grounds that Wiener Stadtwerke was not in fact publicly owned.

Recalling what they learned about tenacity in business school (and ignoring what they learned about scruples), Wiener Stadtwerke went ahead and used the song anyway, soliciting an unauthorized cover version with a few swapped out lyrics and a new title, and crediting the whole thing to some mysterious entity called N.A.S.C.O. The commercial features ordinary citizens being attacked by white wispy graphics over Pallett's familiar string sorcery; you may view it right here:

Pallett caught wind of the devious move and was, naturally, less than pleased. But here's where things go all Disney ending. Rather than sue the asses off the shady company, Pallett was prepared to let the whole thing slide-- until Wiener Stadtwerke approached him, hat in hand, with an even better offer. The company agreed to help finance a festival co-curated by Pallett and his European booking agent.

Wait a minute, a festival?? You bet. "So far I think we've got all the 'best bands in the world', plus my lousy excuse for a band," Pallett joked in an email to Pitchfork, and indeed the folks already lined up for this thing make for a fine bunch. Dirty Projectors, Frog Eyes, and Six Organs of Admittance will play all three dates of the fest (in London, Vienna, and Berlin), while Deerhoof will headline the latter two. A bill-topper for the London gig has not yet been named.

All three events-- collectively dubbed the Maximum Black Festival-- go down as February turns to March next year. Many thanks to reader Christian Prügger for the tip.

Apart from finding himself on the good side of karma, Final Fantasy hasn't done too terribly much since unleashing a Zach Condon-boosted Tomlab 7" last month and, um, doodling. Most signs, however, point to a He Poos Clouds follow-up sometime in the '08. [MORE...]

Photos: ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas [Minehead, England; 12/07-12/09/07]

Portishead Photos by James Cadden; Above: Portishead

'Twas the night a couple weeks before Christmas, and all through Bultins Holiday Centre in Minehead, England, quite a few creatures were stirring to the sounds of a reinvigorated Portishead, a Liquid Swords-swinging GZA, and the elusive ghost of IDM's past, present, and future, Aphex Twin. These jolly souls and more partook of the Portishead-curated, All Tomorrow's Parties-sponsored Nightmare Before Christmas bonanza, which capped off Sunday night at the seaside locale.

Also on Santa Pitchfork's "good" list: Madlib, Sunn O))), Boris, Fuck Buttons, Glenn Branca, Silver Apples, Sparklehorse, Om, Oneida, Julian Cope, Oren Ambarchi, and Primavera Club two-timer Thurston Moore. Kick back with an egg nog and check out all the usual photo action below. And if you prefer your Portishead live images with motion and sound, make Forkcast your next destination. why does that sound familiar?











Photos: Primavera Club Festival [Barcelona, Spain; 12/03-12/08/07]

Photos by Daniel Cantó; Above: Crystal Castles

Just because the Northern Hemisphere is bracing for winter doesn't mean an end to festivals. Some clubs have climate control and roofs, after all, and a bunch of bands we like gathered under such roofs in Barcelona (not exactly known for frigid temperatures, anyway) this past week and weekend for the celebration they call Primavera Club.

A companion fest of sorts to the other solstice's Primavera Sound gathering, Club packed in the likes of Liars, the New Pornographers, Thurston Moore, No Age, Crystal Castles, the Ponys, Mouse on Mars (who were to perform with Mark E. Smith as Von Südenfed until Smith fell ill), Stars of the Lid, Earth, Castanets, Bishop Allen, and, playing their final gig before that so-called "hiatus", Deerhunter. A number of Spain's finer acts turned out as well, including Nisei and El Guincho.








Robyn, I'm From Barcelona, Shining Play EuroSonic
Plus: Lightspeed Champion, Kleerup, Familjen, Hanne Hukkelberg, Para One

EuroSonic (aka Noorderslag Weekend) is a bit like the CMJ of Europe: 250 bands, few of whom could carry a marquee on their own, gather in Groningen, Netherlands over three days to make themselves known to the industry and just about anyone else who sees fit to pack a long weekend with rock. (Also like CMJ, there are panels and talks too to help the industry folks justifying writing off their bar tabs as business expenses.)

This year's EuroSonic takes place January 10-12, with the likes of Robyn, I'm From Barcelona, Shining, Familjen, Lightspeed Champion, Kleerup, Para One, Hanne Hukkelberg, Does It Offend You, Yeah?, Reverend and the Makers, Mugison, Calvin Harris, Blood Red Shoes, Hooverphonic, Yelle, Ida Maria, Lykke Li, Little Dragon, and oh so many others making the trip. If you're stuck behind a desk that weekend, fret not, as much of EuroSonic will be broadcast on the radio via the European Broadcasting Union's many services.

Pumpkins, JAMC, QOTSA, Air, CSS Rock Aussie V Fest
Also: The Tough Alliance and Duran Duran

For the traveling Australian edition of the widespread V Festival, organizers have amassed no shortage of talent-- though darn near all of it is imported. Personally, just as we prefer an icy cold novelty-sized can of Foster's to a tallboy of Budweiser, we would prefer Kylie Minogue to Billy Corgan, but that's just us.

Still, the imports V has lined up oughta pack plenty of wallop. The Smashing Pumpkins, the Jesus and Mary Chain, Queens of the Stone Age, Duran Duran's hip-hop tribute to itself, CSS, Sweden's phenomenal Tough Alliance, and the very Australian Presets and Plug-In City will take the stage at four Australia locales in late March and early April. Air and the dreaded Mika will join in on the action in Sydney and Gold Coast, and there only.

Note that these performers are, in fact, just the beginning: more acts can be expected in the coming months. [MORE...]


Jens Lekman, A Place to Bury Strangers Join P4K ATP
Also Yeasayer, Redd Kross, Marissa Nadler

What do a Swedish crooner, Brooklyn noisenicks and hippies, Cali punk stalwarts, and a Boston folkie have in common? They're all heading to Camber Sands Holiday Centre, near Rye in Sussex county, England for the ATP vs. Pitchfork extravaganza.

Pitchfork picks Jens Lekman, A Place to Bury Strangers, and Yeasayer, and All Tomorrow's Parties picks Redd Kross and Marissa Nadler have joined the already stellar lineup for the festival, going down May 9-11, 2008.

And that lineup again:

Chosen by Pitchfork:

Jens Lekman
A Place to Bury Strangers

The Hold Steady
Black Lips
Hot Chip
Les Savy Fav
No Age
Of Montreal
Man Man
Los Campesinos!
Glass Candy
Dirty Projectors

Chosen by ATP:

Redd Kross
Marissa Nadler
Wooden Shjips
Meat Puppets
The Black Angels
Shit and Shine
Pissed Jeans
Fuck Buttons

Much more to come, of course.

Once again, passes are £140 and include accommodations at Camber Sands' chalets, which feature private bathroom suites, bars, a swimming pool, restaurants, a supermarket, go-karting, and mini-golf! Tickets for the weekend can be purchased through ATP's website in blocks of four, five, six, seven, or eight.

Circulatory System, Daedelus, Liz Janes Play Athens Fest
As do Diane Cluck, Chris Schlarb, Dark Meat, Grampall Jookabox

Perhaps they're calling it Next to Last Fest because they know something we don't. Perhaps that's just how the Boggle letter-dice fell when they realized they needed a name, pronto. Or perhaps it's due to the "ludicrously low" ticket prices, which may assure this sort of thing only happens once more.

Whatever the reason, Athens, Georgia's Next to Last Fest ought to be the next to last thing you think of skipping the weekend of December 8-9, when Circulatory System, Daedelus, Liz Janes, Chris Schlarb, Dark Meat, Diane Cluck, those Grampall Jookabox characters, and many others join together in song and sodality. This penultimate party goes down in, well, the woods. Hope you like nature.

There'll be art, a farmer's market, and fire acrobatics, too, if music ain't your bag. Proceeds from the festival's tickets (which truly are quite reasonably priced) will go to the Athens and New Orleans chapters of Common Ground, dedicated to providing "short term relief for victims of hurricane disasters in the gulf coast region, and long term support in rebuilding the communities affected in the New Orleans area."

Justice, Peaches, 2 Live Crew, A-Trak Do NYE in L.A.

Big surprise here: in Los Angeles, on New Year's Eve, Steve Aoki's gonna be playing records at a party.

But, hey, so are Justice (doing a DJ set), Peaches (performing, and counting down to midnight), that Spank Rock cover band 2 Live Crew, A-Trak, Busy P, Whitey, Softlightes, and a full roster of the usual suspects as well.

And you, too, can be there for Hard New Year's Eve, provided you're 21 years of age and can make your way to the city's Premiere Events Center on the evening of December 31. Auld acquaintance will be wiped clean over the minifest's generous eight hour run time, and all those DayGlo hoodies ought to keep you upright well into 2008.

Mountain Goats, Magnetic Fields, Cursive Do Noise Pop

Like those bratty girls with the rich daddies on the MTV, Noise Pop is getting what it wants for its 16th birthday. Lucky for us, the annual San Francisco festival possesses far better taste in tunes than most of those young ladies, and for its 16th edition-- popping off February 26-March 2 at a bevy of Bay Area venues-- organizers have already lined up a winner.

The Mountain Goats, the Magnetic Fields, Cursive, and the relatively new Gutter Twins (aka Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan) will be joined by several dozen unnamed others over the festival's nearly week-long run, along with music-themed films, art, panels, vendors, and the like. You'll know more when we do.
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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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