THE MAGIC NUMBERS "may not yet reek of rock'n'roll excess but their journey along pop's perfumed highway grows more intoxicating daily." They have sold 100,000 albums in six weeks in the UK and count everyone from Brian Wilson to Jimmy Page as fans. You can give them a listen at their official website.
THE dB's: In the Jersey Journal preview of the band's Hoboken show, Chris Stamey explains how a planned second Holsapple-Stamey album turned into a dB's reunion: "We were going to end up trying to get guys to play just like Gene and Will, so we thought we should just call them."
CLAP YOUR HANDS SAY YEAH on the Billboard Top Independent Albums chart last month without a label. Although the band just signed a U.S. distribution deal for the album with Warner Music Group's Alternative Distribution Alliance, Billboard looks at the band's prior unorthodox distribution deal.
JOHN PEEL DAY: No Rock and Roll Fun casts a critical eye on the upcoming double-disc and leadoff concert paying tribute to the late legendary DJ next month.
NEKO CASE: Her album due in February will be titled Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, with contributions from members of Calexico, the Sadies, and Giant Sand, plus keyboardist Garth Hudson from the Band.
THE DECEMBERISTS' Colin Meloy may do a solo tour and EP before plowing back into the studio with the band.
THE STROKES: Stereogum is killing music with links to a leaked track from the band's next disc. Judging from the comments, it's a departure from their standard sound.
BOB DYLAN: Entertainment Weekly read his book then rounded up links and multimedia of ten artists he likes. Some obvious stuff, like Woody Guthrie and Johnny Cash, but also Roy Orbison, Ice-T and more.
THE WRENS were darn impressive at the Intonation festival. *Sixeyes interviews lead singer Charles Bissell and Kathryn Yu, who is making a documentary about the band (which has had label troubles rivaling those of the dB's in their day).
SWEET SOUL MUSIC: Singer-songwriter Joe Henry, who has produced albums for Bettye LaVette and Solomon Burke (winning a Grammy for the latter), launches the Work Song label with I Believe to My Soul, featuring newly recorded performances by Allen Toussaint, Irma Thomas, Mavis Staples, Ann Peebles and Billy Preston. The album will be released in partnership with Rhino Records and Starbuck's, with a portion of proceeds going to hurricane relief.
PETE DOHERTY-KATE MOSS UPDATE: Fashion giant Hennes and Mauritz has canceled an advertising campaign using Moss. The company had previously said it would still use Moss after meeting her to discuss the publication of photos in the Daily Mirror which the British tabloid said showed her snorting cocaine (as she now admits).
HALLE BERRY has sworn off men.
CHRISTINA AGUILERA reacts to the birth of the Son of Federline: "Wow, she had a baby! That's crazy!" Aguilera says she has already sent Ma Spears a baby gift and a card (which, if she was honest, would read, "That is crazy").
BRADGELINA UPDATE: Jennifer Aniston tells Oprah she is ready to date again. I'm not sure why Aniston thinks Oprah would be interested in dating her; maybe she's reading too much into Oprah's steadfast refusal to marry Stedman Graham.
LADIES! Failed Reagan assassin John Hinckley, Jr. is looking for a girlfriend!
ASHTON KUTCHER VOICEMAIL HACKED? That's the claim at AshtonHacked.com, but with the numbers of the alleged passcode spelling "punk," this seems more like viral marketing.
DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES: Page Six claims that Teri Hatcher was sore about not getting an Emmy, refusing to pose with winner Felicity Huffman and her co-stars backstage. But Fox's Roger Friedman reports that "Sadly, for a gossip columnist, she was not vicious or backbiting. She was, however, extremely and noticeably thin."
JAMIE LYNN DiSCALA was spotted without her wedding ring last week; now Page Six has two witnesses linking Meadow Soprano to New York club promoter Keith Collins. Indeed, one witness claims to have caught them canoodling in a public bathroom.
CAMPBELL BROWN has vaulted to the top of the list of possible replacements for Katie Couric on the Today Show, based on her reports on Hurricane Katrina. Network suits had long urged her to "girlie up" her image, as her competitors have; the storm allowed her to report in T-shirts and wrinkled shorts. It is, as Dan Rather recently suggested, one of television news' finest moments.
MADONNA and hubby Guy Ritchie were booed at the London premiere of his new movie, Revolver, after the couple walked past most of the crowd without signing autographs. Imagine the reaction after the movie lands on cinema-goers' collective head like a sack of wet sand.
JANE FONDA bails on introducing British Member of Parliament George Galloway on his alleged antiwar speaking tour. "There's nothing anti-American about me. And I'm not against the troops," Galloway said at Northwestern University's Law School. Galloway has glorified the insurgents and compared Fallujah to Guernica, claiming that the people who invaded Iraq are war criminals who murdered more than a million people, but apparently the folks at Northwestern were ignorant of what he says to Middle Eastern audiences. Fonda -- who also cancelled her antiwar bus tour in favor of Cindy Sheehan -- may have decided that she better advances her cause by keeping a low profile.
TOP TEN WORTHLESS CELEBRITIES, listed by the Pittsburgh Tribune.
REBECCA ROMIJN got engaged to actor Jerry O'Connell. I saw this reported on E! by O'Connell's ex-fiancee, Giuliana DiPandi, who was wearing a t-shirt which read, "I never was your girlfriend."
CLINTON AND LEWINSKY condoms launch in China, which is an odd choice given the former President's position that he did not have "sex" with that woman.
DON'T ASK, don't put it on a coffee cup. Especially at Baylor University.
MANY WOMEN AT ELITE COLLEGES plan to get on the mommy track. And some academics are wringing their hands. Apparently, feminism was about giving women choices... as long as they don't choose to be stay-at-home moms. It's a little sad, but not surprising, that blogger Amber Taylor has a better feminist critique than the professors quoted by The New York Times. Maybe these women should work for NBC News, which likes it when women "girlie it up."
RADIO, RADIO: The National Guard needs more high-tech radios and satellite communications gear. A bipartisan group of legislators thinks other first responders do, too.
CRONYISM: Julie Myers, nominated to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (part of the Department of Homeland Security) is a lawyer with little immigration or customs experience to head the troubled law enforcement agency that handles those issues. Her uncle is Air Force Gen. Richard B. Myers, the departing chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. She married DHS Secretary Chertoff's current chief of staff, John F. Wood, on Saturday. She may return from her honeymoon to find the honeymoon is over.
LT. GEN. RUSSEL HONORE, head of the active duty forces responding to Hurricane Katrina, let reporters have it when they persisted in dwelling on past mistakes, rather than informing people about New Orleans' evacuation plans for Hurricane Rita: "Let's not get stuck on stupid." The whole thing is worth a listen.
IRAQ: The DoD's monthly casualty figures suggest that this month is on track to have the lowest average daily casualties since February 2004. Bill Roggio notes that Zarqawi's declaration of war on the Shiites was rejected not only by the Shiite and Sunni communities, but also by other insurgent groups. Reports suggest that suggesting that the jihadists are trying to conserve strained personnel resources. Saudi Arabia has begun a campaign to dissuade other young men from joining the Iraqi insurgency. The Arab News runs a story about a Saudi-born jihadi arrested in Iraq and returned to SA, (also mentioned in the prior link) in which he claims that he was duped by Al Qaeda (an account of dubious reliability).
DEAN ESMAY compares the "hate America Left" with the "hate America Right."
THE WAR on PORN: A new FBI squad will employ eight agents, a supervisor and assorted support staff to gather evidence against "manufacturers and purveyors" of pornography -- not the kind exploiting children, but the kind that depicts, and is marketed to, consenting adults. "I guess this means we've won the war on terror," said one exasperated FBI agent, speaking on the condition of anonymity because poking fun at headquarters is not regarded as career-enhancing. "We must not need any more resources for espionage."
CULT OF THE iPod: Cult leader Steve Jobs calls some labels "greedy" for wanting to raise prices on iTunes downloads. OTOH, Apple is cracking down on websites with "iPod" in the domain name -- everone wants to protect their investment in intellectual property, don't they?
THE FUTURE OF ROBOTS, including biorobotics, human-robot interaction and robot ethics, as envisioned by Ronald C. Arkin, Regents' Professor in the College of Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the Director of the school's Mobile Robot Laboratory.
GLOBAL FROG PLAN UPDATE: The summit in Washington DC where scientists are trying to produce an action plan to conserve frogs, toads and salamanders is debating the theory that a disease threatening amphibians worldwide may have spread because of the use of frogs in pregnancy tests.
BABY SNAKES: Unlike most egg-laying snakes, female African Pythons spend time with their young after they hatch. The discovery underscores how little we know about the world of snakes and suggests their ways may be far more elaborate than scientists previously thought.
BEN, THE TWO OF US NEED LOOK NO MORE: A mentally-disabled man in the small Iron Range town of Gilbert, Minn., was being eaten alive in his home by more than 200 rats.