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Coxon Rep on Blur/Coxon Reunion: "Nothing Concrete"

Weary, perhaps, of one-upping The Great Escape over and over on his own, Graham Coxon has apparently given in to years of speculation at last and jumped back onto the good ship Blur. Most of this reunion chatter stems from a widely- circulated quote from Blur bassist Alex James, whose autobiography, Bit of a Blur, hits UK shelves June 7: "We're all heading into the studio this summer," he said. "Graham's coming too."

The quote has been generally attributed to this story on Yahoo!'s Dotmusic, although it appeared two days prior (April 28) on several other websites, none of which names a source. James purportedly added that the reunion is fairly tentative, and that the boys are "gonna see if they've still got it... if not, I think we'll just call it a day." We're hopeful-- at this point, Damon Albarn could form a band with Matt Damon, Damon Wayans, Damon Dash, and Johnny Damon of the Yankees and make it work.

While not exactly denying the studio rendezvous, Graham Coxon's management, meanwhile, isn't confirming anything at this point. "There's a lot of rumour and conjecture around about Blur at the minute," Coxon's manager wrote today in a statement to Pitchfork, "but I can tell you that nothing concrete has been planned for the band."

No word on how drummer Dave Rowntree's potential post as Marylebone district councilman might affect the possible reunion plans; guess they'll hash that out after the results arrive from today's elections. Wait, election day is Thursday in England? Buncha tea-sippin' weirdos.
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Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Beat Happening on Vera DVD
Plus: Sebadoh, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Dead Moon, Gun Club, Gories

Vera Club, the Groningen, Netherlands alt-rock aggrandizing institution, is as well known for the shows they host as they are for the unique posters that accompany each band's visit to the the north-country locale. Graphic designers Niek Schutter and Ricky Van Durren have collected 330 posters from past Vera Club shows and called it Rockin' on Paper, a book featuring images and text pertaining to the perennial project.

Out now in limited edition, Rockin' also includes interviews with members of Sonic Youth and more. And to help us relive the memories even more vividly, the book comes complete with a DVD featuring live vintage Vera Club performances by Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr., Beat Happening, Sebadoh, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the Gun Club, Dead Moon, the Gories...and Monster Magnet. Memory lane, here we come. [MORE...]
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Mike Watt Collab Fever: Petra Haden, Go! Team's Kaori

As inspiring as the Minutemen lyric is, if Mike Watt were in a group today who said, "Our band could be your life," the real question would be, "Which band?" Between his time spent on tour with the Stooges (and writing about it here) and various records and shows with side projects like the Missingmen, Unknown Instructors, and Dos, Watt's 2007 is shaping up to be a typically busy year. And that's not even including his contribution to the previously reported Guilt by Association compilation or his weekly radio show, "The Watt From Pedro Show".

It is in the spirit of Dos, his two-bass duo with former Black Flag bassist Kira Roessler, that Watt has added even more to his plate in the form of two new duos.

The first is Pelicanman, with Watt's longtime friend and collaborator Petra Haden, who is working on a record of a cappella songs from movies in her own free time. Pelicanman started when Haden asked Watt to play with her at an upcoming benefit on May 6 for the Society for the Activation of Social Space Through Art and Sound (SASSAS). From there, Watt gave her a handful of songs he had written, and now they practice every day in preparation for the benefit. They hope to record at some point, but right now, they're working mostly on adding original, collaborative songs to their repertoire.

Watt's contribution to the Guilt by Association comp featured Haden as well as Nels Cline (Wilco guitarist), Chad Smith (Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer), and "Money Mark" Nishita (one of a few "fourth Beastie Boy"s). It's a super-fun cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Burnin' for You", and you can download it via the link below. Haden also contributed to the GbA comp with her own cover of Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'".

The second of Watt's new duos is with Go! Team guitarist Kaori Tsuchida. Going under the name Funanori (Japanese for "shipman," a nod to Watt's sailor father), the duo features Watt on bass and Tsuchida on vocals, flutes, drums, and an Okinawan stringed instrument called the sanshin. Funanori will make their debut on a forthcoming Transduction Records split EP with Tokyo quartet LITE. The EP doesn't yet have a title or a specific release date, but Watt informed Pitchfork that Funanori's songs for it are due at the end of May.

Finally (if that's even possible to say with Mike Watt), Watt and Kira Roessler will release the fourth Dos album soon, and he also has plenty of tour dates to keep him busy through the spring and the summer. [MORE...]

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Pipettes Songwriter Monster Bobby Unveils LP Details

Monster Bobby-- the songwriter behind the polka-dotted pop machine known as the Pipettes, and the author of a forthcoming book about the BBC Radiophonic Workshop titled Hauntologies-- will release his previously reported debut full-length July 16 in the UK via Hypnote (July 17 in the U.S.).

The album's title, Gaps, is a play on the fact that it features "the almost complete absence of any gaps between tracks, each one segued into the next with the aid of field recordings and other assorted noises and soundscapes," according to a press release. In addition to those noises and soundscapes, Gaps features bassoon, glockenspiel, tuba, and cornet in the Monster mash.

Monster Bobby apparently has a sense of humor: Gaps' tracks include "Let's Check Into a Hospital Together" and "The Closest Experience to That of Being With You Is the Experience of Taking Drugs". Ryan Morey, who mastered an album called Funeral by some band with an awful name (Video Game Flame or something?), is mastering Gaps as well. [MORE...]
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Madonna Charity Tribute [ft. Devendra] Details Emerge

At times, it's no cinch to justify one's love for EstherMadonna; every "Hung Up" comes paired with a Swept Away, reminding us that even greatness can benefit from a forthright editor from time to time.

But a whole bunch of wonky indie artists are making it okay to love Madge again, thanks to Through the Wilderness, a loving freak-folk-heavy tribute to Madonna from the freaky folk at Manimal Vinyl. Way back in February, we told you just a bit about the CD/LP, but we're just rolling in the details now: there's a full tracklist, a few new artists on the roster (Ariel Pink chief among 'em), a September 4 release date, and a worthy cause Wilderness will support: a quarter of the profits will be funneled to Raising Malawi, the Madonna-helmed organization designed to support the million HIV/AIDS orphans in Malawi.

The CD version of Through the Wilderness comes complete with a megamix from Doctor Awesome, whose other awesome job involves pounding on shit; pull back the curtain, and Doctor Awesome is none other than Gabe Serbian of the Locust. We're also told of a pair of release parties in Los Angeles and New York featuring many of the compilation's artists, plus "a special guest." No details yet, but could it be the former Mrs. Penn herself? [MORE...]
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Low Reschedule West Coast Shows

Their records may be a little slow, but when it comes to business, Low are anything but. The momentous Minnesota trio, currently trolling around Europe for the next few weeks before embarking on a string of dates with Son Volt associates Wilco, have rescheduled the West Coast dates we reported a few weeks back they'd been forced to postpone due to their stint on the Wilco wagon. Those dates (still two-night runs at four of the left coast's famed venues) have, as promised, been pushed back to September. [MORE...]
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Report: Bjork [New York, NY; 05/02/07]

Photos by Kathryn Yu; text by Ryan Dombal

If the true worth of an artist is directly related to the amount of goose bumps they induce-- as artistic authority Jennifer Lopez suggested on "American Idol" a couple weeks back--then Björk is without a doubt the greatest singer performing today. (Speaking of which, could somebody start a web petition to get Björk on "Idol" as a mentor? Potential advice: "When you sing, think of an acorn being bashed into a million pieces and then being put back together by a pack of bears who walk on their hands. Be that acorn.")

Bright flags decorated with fish and frogs hung high above Björk's motley touring crew, giving last night's Radio City Music Hall show the feeling of a particularly eccentric national convention. A convention, that is, featuring Antony, thumb pianos courtesy of openers Konono No. 1, a 10-piece female Icelandic brass ensemble wearing glow-in-the-dark dresses, electronic wizards Mark Bell and Damien Taylor, drummer Chris Corsano, pipa guru Min Xiao-Fen, and keyboardist Jónas Sen.

Though most of the six songs played from perplexing new album Volta sounded more at home on the live stage than on record, show opener "Earth Intruders" still isn't the floor-shaking call-to-arms Björk wants it to be. But the veteran iconoclast quickly won the crowd over with its follow-up, a hushed take on "Venus as a Boy" refashioned as a sparse keyboard piece. Several other songs were revamped to accommodate this tour's unique personnel: Medulla favorite "Oceania" turned into a winning marching-band-meets-lounge pop hybrid and Homogenic's "Joga" proved to be the night's highlight, its swooping strings replaced with beautifully arranged brass. Originally an all-vocal heavy metal freakshow, "Where Is the Line?" didn't fare as well when translated through real instruments but, relatively speaking, it was still considerably wicked.

Björk concert perk No. 237: Not even the biggest asshole even attempts to sing along for more than a few lines, because it's just not possible. Simply, her voice remains astounding. And when Antony joined her for a mesmerizing take on their Volta duet "Dull Flame of Desire", it sounded like a missing hymn. As Björk swayed to and fro while Antony started to jump up and down, it looked like the two most awkward weirdos in high school finally getting their due at the annual talent show. Björk may be 41, but she bobbed, weaved and head-banged like a hyperactive tween the entire night.

The set ended with a rumbling take on the new Thomas Jefferson-approved rave-up "Declare Independence", which sounded like an apropos national anthem for the strangely inviting Land of Björk, where voices carry and goose bumps are aplenty.

Setlist:

"Earth Intruders"
"Venus As A Boy"
"Aurora"
"I See Who You Are"
"Oceania"
"Dull Flame of Desire"
"All Is Full of Love"
"Pleasure Is All Mine"
"Pagan Poetry"
"Joga"
"Where Is the Line?"
"Army of Me"
"Innocence"
"Wanderlust"
"Pluto"
"Anchor Song"
"Declare Independence"

Björk's tour continues with two more New York City shows this coming Sunday and Tuesday. Dates and more photos below.






[MORE...]
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Gang Gang Dance Sashay Around the U.S.

Brooklyn-based boogie-backers Gang Gang Dance's all night super rockin' disco party won't stop 'til the break of dawn; they've got projects aplenty, from the Retina Riddim DVD out May 22 via The Social Registry, an as-yet-untitled EP, and a similarly title-free album.

We don't know too much about the album that Brian DeGraw didn't already share with us when we chatted with him the other week, but we are up on a few more EP details: it's about 20 minutes long, features the live GGD fave "Nicoman", and will be headed shelfward on both CD and 12" near the end of the summer.

And if that wasn't enough soft-shoe action, there's a Gang-ly tour afoot, with dates at discos and roller rinks the nation over. [MORE...]
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Caribou Chats Andorra, Funk/Prog Past, Trampolines

As previously reported, Dan Snaith's latest opus as Caribou-- Andorra-- hits August 21 via new Caribou home Merge in North America, and the day before in Europe via City Slang.

Pitchfork caught up with Snaith for a little chat about the characters who inhabit Andorra, his collaboration with Junior Boy Jeremy Greenspan, palette-cleansing trampoline lessons, and his sordid past in a short-lived "white suburban P-Funk" band.

Snaith visited the real Andorra, a tiny tax-haven of a European nation with a chart-topping life expectancy, while traveling last year. "I was there passing through the South of France into Spain," he told us. "I kind of imagined what the name evoked: It sounds like the name of a place and the name of a person as well-- which is very romantic and has a lot of vivid or imaginative connotations for me.

"While I was recording," he continued, "these characters living in my imagination ended up in the songs. I recorded in this kind of introspective fashion where I'd be imagining something much more than the bedroom that I was actually recording in. I kind of wanted a place for all these characters to live and that's why I wanted the name of the album to be a place." Hence, Andorra.

If talk of characters has you queasy, you may put your Caribou-goes-concept-rock fears to rest. "The characters are just kind of sketched to the degree that they're needed to, to write the song around," said Snaith. "It's not like there's a narrative that runs through all the songs or anything like that."

You may put your autobiographical naval-gazing fears to rest as well. "I find it more exciting to look inside somebody's imagination," Dan offered. "That's how I see this album, as being a window, and those kind of fictional things are imagination going on inside my head. It's more of a headspace album than it is documenting people that I actually know-- but certain elements may creep into it from my life, I suppose."

Indeed, longtime fans should be thrilled to find a record that's "not going to really really surprise people that've heard my last two records"-- and one that has Dan at his most focused: "Since January 2006 until a month ago," explained Snaith, "for the first time in my life, I wasn't having to do two things at the same. I wasn't in school [where Snaith completed a Ph.D in mathematics] and working on music. It was just recording, recording, recording."

Snaith, who admits "I tend to be an obsessive, controlling personality," indeed controlled the album's creation, playing, recording, and producing everything on it. The results, in Dan's words: an album "packed [with] as many musical ideas as possible. As many strong melodies and harmonies. I tried to make every single second maximized as much as possible, cram as many musical ideas as possible." [MORE...]
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Be Your Own Pet Offshoot Turbo Fruits Prep Debut
Selling limited edition single on BYOP tour now

Photo by Becca Gillespie

While Be Your Own Pet are adventuring around North America this month with Arctic Monkeys, two of the band's members are hawking a single from a side project of theirs called Turbo Fruits. Call it a pet project, if you will. Or don't. Makes no difference to us.

BYOP drummer John Eatherly and guitarist Jonas Stein go by Turbo John and Turbo Stein in the trio, which is rounded out by otherwise nameless bassist Turbo Max.

Their aforementioned three-song single is available at the BYOP/Arctics shows, but because it is limited to an edition of 200, they request that people limit themselves to buying only one each. Please be nice. The band will release their self-titled debut album in a much larger edition (we hope) on July 17 via Ecstatic Peace (Ark Recordings in the UK).

Turbo Fruits have one show scheduled in New York City for May 14, i.e., right in the middle of the Be Your Own Pet tour with Arctic Monkeys. After that tour is over, Be Your Own Pet will hit the studio this summer to record the follow-up to their own excellent self-titled debut from last year. [MORE...]
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JAMC, Stooges, Devo, Sunn O))) Do Jarvis' Meltdown
Plus: Roky Erickson, Clinic, Scout Niblett, Cornershop(!), Melanie(!!), Motörhead(!!!)

Photo by Anoulay Tsai

You always knew Jarvis Cocker was brilliant, but in the back of your mind, you wondered if he was a bit whacked (he is, after all, the cat who penned the poker-faced paean to infidelity "Pencil Skirt"). Both sides of the Cocker coin are at play with the announcement of the lineup of the previously mentioned, Jarvis-selected Meltdown Festival, June 16-24 at London's Southbank Centre. It's brilliant, sure, but it's also a bit whacked.

It begins with a bang; Jarvis has pegged thunderous kill-meisters Motörhead to kick off the festival's first night. The same evening sees swarthy ivory-tickler Gonzales, and roller-girl/folk-relic Melanie Safka.

There's no shortage of left-field choices over the rest of the fest, either, with the kid's TV theme cover act KPM Allstars, dirge-metallurgists Sunn O))), "Brimful of Asha" Punjabi-poppers Cornershop, purportedly recovering acid casualty Roky Erickson (his first UK gig), a freak folk supergroup with members of Espers, Fursaxa, and Fern Knight (The Valerie Project), and-- in perhaps the most conventional selection contained within this overlong sentence-- Devo. Standing out amongst all that oddball stuff is tough, but the "Lost Ladies of Folk" collective manages the task, gathering together 60s era starlets Bonnie Dobson, Wendy Flower, and Susan Christie.

There's a smattering of the standard summer 07 fest-fare, too: reunions abound with the Jesus and Mary Chain and the Stooges, alongside Clinic, Scout Niblett, and, of course, a set from Jarvis himself. You know you're in for a wild week when Jarvis seems straight-laced by comparison. Perhaps that was his intention?

In other Jarvis news, he'll be the subject of a June 10 episode of ITV's "The South Bank Show", discussing his life's work with host Melvyn Bragg. Fellow pop savant Scott Walker will speak to Jarvis' credentials on the show as well. And Jarv's hitting the road for a spell following the fest, dates for which are available after the jump. [MORE...]
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Polyphonic Spree Plot Army Campaign

The newly macabre Polyphonic Spree will kick off a U.S. tour in Nashville on May 7. The tour is in support of their previously reported new album, The Fragile Army, which comes out June 19 on the Spree's new label, TVT.

The Fragile Army's tracklist has changed slightly since our last report. The seventh song is now Wait EP track "Mental Cabaret" instead of "Oh I Feel Fine", and the tenth song is actually called "Watch Us Explode (Justify)", not "Watch Us Explode/Justify". Spree is in the details.

Right now, the band/choir/robe enthusiast club's calendar is pretty wide open after May, with just three festival dates scheduled for this summer. Don't be surprised if more dates crop up soon. [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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