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Replacements, New Releases, 1K Albums, LOL Cats   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, November 27, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


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Okkervil River, Tegan & Sara, Led Zeppelin, Combat Camels   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, November 26, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


PUSHING MAXIMUM DENSITY: On Black Friday, I followed Thanksgiving dinner by taking friends to Mr. Beef for lunch.  Oof.  I am Mr. Creosote (nsfw).

OKKERVIL RIVER frontman Will Scheff talked to Harp magazine about the various ways the band's latest album, The Stage Names, reflects on celebrity and fandom.  The band's latest video, "Girl In Port," actually features Scheff playing solo.

BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN:  E Street Band keyboardist Danny Federici has dropped out of the group's current US tour to undergo treatment for skin cancer.  The Boss and Arcade Fireman Win Butler gave a joint interview to SPIN which is excerpted online, in which we discover that Bruce watches stuff on YouTube -- the clip mentioned is linked and discussed at the 'Gum.

ST. VINCENT:  Annie Clark talked to the Times of London about family matters, starting with her mother's reaction to her debut album, Marry Me.

THE ACORN, led by singer and multi-instrumentalist Rolf Klausener, based the new album's material on interviews with his mother, Gloria Esperanza Montoya, a half-Mayan Honduran emigrant.  You can stream a few from Glory Hope Mountain via AcornSpace.

NELLIE McKAY played WHYY's Fresh Air show, so you can stream the whole set on demand via NPR.

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS have announced the title and tracklist for their next album, due February 19th, 2008.

BILLY BRAGG has announced the title and tracklist for his next album, due next March 3rd.

TEGAN & SARA:  The Canadian acoustic pop duo did an interview, mini-set and video for the Bryant Park Project you can stream on demand via NPR.  The are also one of three bands you can see in the current family-themed 3x3 show streaming via Spinner.  The Cleveland Free Times notes the twins' differing songwriting approaches on The Con.  DC's Express profiles them, noting that friend and filmmaker Angela Kendall documented the making of the new record, and even helped them stage a daily call-in show in the basement of their rental house when they weren't busy recording.  There are embedded videos in the piece as well.  There is also a new Aussie video for "Monday, Monday, Monday."  Perhaps I should have included them on my Faves 2007 list.

LED ZEPPELIN are trying to get in shape for their big reunion gig.  Jimmy Page is a little rusty, while Robert Plant cannot hit those high notes the way he once did.  Bassist John Paul Jones had a fitness trainer visit him.  Fans can brush up with Zeppelin A to Z from London's Observer.

YO LA TENGO:  Bradley's Almanac has posted one of the band's "Freewheeling" shows at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston (presumably not the room where they keep the Cezanne), which you can jukebox via the ol' HM.

INDIE SELLS OUT:  CSS (Cansei de Ser Sexy, a Portuguese translation of "tired of being sexy," taken from a Beyoncé Knowles quote) released its debut LP in July 2006 and sold about 340 copies a week.  Then Nick Haley paired the band's dance-pop song "Music is My Hot, Hot Sex" with his 30-second amateur video, displaying the capabilities of Apple's new iPod Touch -- which Apple liked so much it became the basis for Apple's newest iPod commercial.  In the next two weeks, CSS sold 2,000 records and climbed to No. 15 in song downloads and No. 5 in ringtone sales at Apple's iTunes Store.

WEEN:  Dean and Gene were interviewed on All Things Considered, which you can stream (plus three songs) on demand via NPR.

BEIRUT:  Zach Condon talked to Drowned In Sound about how the songs on The Flying Club Cup album were inspired by an old piano, on which none of the black keys worked except F sharp.

AMY WINEHOUSE wiped away tears as her incarcerated husband Blake Fielder-Civil was denied bail, which means he will spend Christmas in jail awaiting a Jan. 18 hearing.  Peter Pepper, the singer in much-hyped band Palladium, accuses Winehouse of killing his hamster.  Meanwhile, Pete Doherty claims he and Amy were helping each other to battle drugs.

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE:  Enchanted certainly was for Disney, as its chart-topping 35 million (50 million five-day total) was its most successful Thanksgiving opening since Toy Story 2 in 1999.  This Christmas placed surprisingly strong with 18 million (27 million five-day) on a budget of only 13 million.  Beowulf continued to do just okay biz with 16 million.  Hitman debuted in fourth with 13 million.  Bee Movie and Fred Claus took punishment from Enchanted, earning 12 and 10.7 mil, respectively.  August Rush debuted in seventh with 9.4 million.  American Gangster dropped from No. 3 to No. 8, making another 9.2 million.  The Mist opened in ninth place with 9 million.  No Country For Old Men dropped from seventh to tenth, but almost doubled its total receipts with 8 million earned in near-wide release.

ENCHANTED:  I'm sorta reluctant to review a movie that so many people already saw this weekend, but Amy Adams really deserves (but likely will not get) a second Oscar nomination for playing Giselle, the would-be fairytale princess.  It's a role that would be easy to get spectacularly wrong by veering too far toward either the saccharine or the ironic, but Adams nails it.  I would say the same of James Marsden's Prince Edward, but he's had too much experience in this type of role (which is the most I can say without a spoiler).  Patrick Dempsey is okay as the wronged divorce lawyer, though he (or director Kevin Lima) should have had him more annoyed during the Central Park number.  It's Disney's Shrek, which means that the Mouse is now poking fun at himself, though not as sharply as others.

BRITNEY SPEARS has taken up with a waiter.  Her CD and single are spiraling down the charts.  As it becomes more likely that Fed-Ex will maintain full custody of their two boys, her family are banding together to ask the pop tart to give rehab another try.  But Spears reportedly is in talks to adopt Chinese twins, according to the uber-reliable News of the World, which puts it in the "likely untrue, but too funny not to share" bin.

CHRISTINA AGUILERA having criticized her fellow Mouseketeer Spears as lacking self-control and acting like trailer trash, should know that the paparazzi will be sure to photograph her going commando, even if she's pregnant.

THE McCARTNEYS:  Sir Paul was... wait for it... caught canoodling Rosanna Arquette, according to the News of the World, which at least has some photos of them together.  Meanwhile, Heather Mills claimed she is being treated worse than a pedophile and murderer by the media.  Mills and her new mouthpiece are threatening to permanently cut off any news media outlet that dares make fun of Mills.

I'M NOT THERE was the second half of my double-feature this weekend, and it's a bit of a fairy tale as well.  Ostensibly a biopic of Bob Dylan, Todd Haynes succeeded in making a Dylanesque film "based on the music and many lives" of the folk-rock icon.  Most of the plaudits will go to Cate Blanchett, who does a remarkable job portraying the Don't Look Back-era Dylan -- but I wonder whether if that is in part because that Dylan is the one that most (or most Dylan fans, anyway) have seen.  For example, Christian Bale credibly takes on some of Dylan moments that were in their own way more controversial; should he get less credit simply because these episodes show Dylan turning on the liberal, secular crowds who helped boost him to fame?  Other Dylans are even less recognizable, though they all in their own way follow a similar arc in their intertwined journeys.  I would recommend this for Dylan fans, but those unfamiliar with his general bio and the range of his aesthetic may be baffled.

TOM-KAT UPDATE:  Cruise's secretive life is to be revealed in a new book by bestselling British author Andrew Morton , making allegations about why Cruise has been dogged by rumors about his sexuality, what went on in his past marriages and relationships, etc.  Cruise's lawyer is already making noise about defamation.  And coincidentally, pr0n star-turned-private investigator Paul Barresi tells In Touch magazine: "Everything I've found and everything I know points to Tom being heterosexual."  NTTAWWT.

KATE MOSS smoked spliffs, got high on poppers and begged a DJ for drugs at a showbiz pal's birthday party, according to a report in London's Mirror.

BRADGELINA:  Jamie Oliver, a/k/a "The Naked Chef," reportedly incurred Jolie's wrath by accidentally making a spoonerism of Shiloh Pitt during a congratulatory phone call about Beowulf.

WHEN BACHELORETTES ATTACK:  Mary Delgado was arrested for assaulting the fiance that proposed to her at the end of The Bachelor's sixth season.

BOY GEORGE was ordered to stand trial after a Norwegian man claimed the singer handcuffed him to a bed and threatened him with sex toys.

HEIDI KLUM got more than a little crazy -- and maybe nsfw -- shooting a commercial for the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, which airs December 4th.  Among the topics is the effect of cold weather on certain parts of human anatomy.  Yes, it's gratuitous Monday.

CONSPIRACY THEORIES:  Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the federal government had warnings about 9/11 but decided to ignore them, a national survey found. And that's just for starters.

PAKISTAN:  Exiled former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has returned to Pakistan. The army has begun the ground offensive in Swat; 30 Taliban and two soldiers were reported killed. The Taliban destroyed food stocks destined to feed pregnant women suffering from malnutrition in South Waziristan.

IRAN:  Police responsible for moral crimes have announced death sentences for 50 people in the latest clampdown on what the authorities term as "immoral behavior."  In a rare attack on Pres. Ahmadinejad, a hardline newspaper has accused him of behaving immorally towards his political rivals.  Meanwhile, Iran has produced its own nuclear fuel pellets of enriched uranium for the first time to power its under construction heavy water research reactor, according to Vice President Gholam Reza Aghazadeh.  Of course, the Russians are to provide uranium for the plant being built at Beshehr, which raises the question of why the mullahs are gung ho to be enriching uranium.

IRAN and IRAQ:  Iraq's most influential Shiite politician said Sunday that the US had not backed up claims that Iran is fueling violence in Iraq.  OTOH, more than 300000 Shiite Muslims from southern Iraq have signed a petition condemning Iran for fomenting violence in Iraq, according to a group of sheiks leading the campaign.  The petition, which the organizers said was signed by 600 sheiks, calls on the UN to investigate what it termed crimes committed by Iran and its proxies in southern Iraq.  Four members of an Iranian-backed Shiite cell confessed to bombing a public market in central Baghdad, a US spokesman said Saturday.

IRAQ:  The CSM has a piece on Ammar al-Hakim promoting a federation of nine provinces where conservative Shiite Islam would reign.  The Chicago Tribune has a piece on Abul Abed, a disgruntled Sunni insurgent leader who helped kick AQI out of its stronghold in the Amariyah neighborhood of Baghdad.  The NYT/IHT reports that the Bush Admin. has lowered its expectation of quickly achieving major steps toward unifying the country, focusing on reconciliation.  The NYT's Damien Cave  did a Q&A on the State of Iraq, reconcilaition and whether progress can be held as the US "surge" recedes.  Elsewhere, the NYT reports that remaining US troops will (return to) training and supporting Iraqi forces.  Bill Roggio argues that the rapidly expanding Iraqi Army is where the real surge in forces is occurring.  Both the Times of London and the Washington Post have pieces on returning refugees; the latter reports that Iraqi officials say 1,000 are arriving each day.  FNC reports that a map drawn by the late AQI leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi turned up last December in an AQ safe house and essentially gave US war planners insight into the terrorist group's methods for moving explosives, fighters and money into Baghdad.  The map can be downloaded at the link.

SUMMER the RABBIT is tending to six abandoned kitties.

A GANG of TORTOISES have gone missing after a raid at the Pet and Aquatic Centre in Wales last week.

COMBAT-TEAINED CAMELS are being dispatched from India to solve the transport headache facing a fledgling UN-African Union peacekeeping force in Sudan's strife-torn Darfur region.

MAN SHOOTS GOAT after his wife refused to buy him beer.  The man, that is.

MAN SHOOTS COW he claims he mistook for a coyote.  The authorities and the owner are skeptical.

BABE the BLUE OX has been beheaded.  Axe-wielding Paul Bunyan is not a suspect?

THE THRESHER SHARK that became entangled in Roger Nowell's net is believed to be the largest ever caught, weighing in at 1,125lb (510kg) and measuring 16½ft (5m) from its snout to the tip of its vast, sickle-shaped tail.  Nowell's boat sustained heavy damage in the process.  Cue Sheriff Brody (nsfw)!

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The Pipettes, Faves 2007, Cutout Bin, Thanksgiving   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, November 22, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



...with THE PIPETTES!  Chances are I saw them last night at the Double Door (where Barry Jive and the Uptown 5 play at the end of High Fidelity; spoiler alert).  Having reviewed their gig at the Empty Bottle in June, I'm guessing I'll still think they brought the house down -- and the video links there still seem to work.  There is actual video from that gig on the Tube now -- pretty dark, but a clip like "Pull Shapes" shows the energy these women brought, even in a sweltering, packed club.  (Update:  Another fab show, though the pre-holiday crowd was more subdued.)  Anyway, rather than rehash that review, I'll note that the discerning Frank Yang was won over by their latest gig in Toronto, esp. because his review makes a point similar to the one I have made about Pate (in the liner notes to the box set) and a select few other bands, like the Replacements (Westerberg, anyway), Guided by Voices and the Hold Steady.

The Pipettes, similar to these bands (albeit in their own way) are thoroughly post-modern.  Frank characterizes them as calculating yet genuine, which captures the idea that they (and the other bands I mentioned) really think about what they do in a field where authenticity is prized and tends to be equated with pure emotion and an anti-commercial attitude.  Particularly, they aspire to artistic and commercial success (of some magnitude) in the sub-genre of indie, which generally attracts those most likely to reflexively dismiss The Pipettes' act as phony or manufactured.   As Frank notes, they do not take themselves or the act too seriously -- even though the indie audience usually wants its bands to have some level of gravitas.  And if those were not big enough challenges, The Pipettes can veer from pure pop fluff to deliberately melding pre-feminist girl-group music with second-wave feminist lyrics.  It is quite the juggling act, yet The Pipettes make it seem near-effortless.

FAVES 2007:  I occasionally hear from folks who want to know what -- from among all of the posts I do here -- I recommend.  To some degree, I recommend all of it, unless I expressly write otherwise (e.g., it's not my thing, but it might be yours).  With the holiday shopping season upon us, I have tried to make a list of reasonable size.  It's an unordered list, some of which is not readily available in the US, and I likely will have overlooked something that I really dig.  And some of these are grouped together, because that's the way they occurred to me at the moment.  And note these are my faves; I'm not purporting to list the "Best" albums of the year.

THE PIPETTES, for the reasons stated above, I obviously recommend We Are The Pipettes, which became easily available in the US this year. Like Frank Yang, I would recommend Lucky Soul's The Great Unwanted, which is in the same retro ballpark though more Northern Soul than girl-group pop.  Unfortunately, it's an import-only at the moment, so maybe I'll list Lucky Soul again next year.  The same is true of Candie Payne's I Wish I Could Have Loved You More, the title track of which could have been the theme to a Bond movie in the 60s.

SPOON:  The commercial success of Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga horrifies some hipsters, but it does not deter me in the slightest.  The LP retains Spoon's trademark minimalism, with an occasional nod to the warmth of the classic Van Morrison albums.  I have the same general attitude toward the double-bounce success of Feist, whose Reminder hit the charts in the Spring, only to return in the Fall with that iPod Nano ad as a reminder.  And, for that matter, the meteoric success of The Arcade Fire's Neon Bible.

SHARON JONES and the DAP-KINGS: 100 Days, 100 Nights puts just enough mild twists on the classic soul sound honed on their first two LP's to let you know they aren't resting on their laurels after the Dap-Kings backed Amy Winehouse to international stardom (and infamy).  Similarly, Bettye LaVette got nice, gritty backup from the Drive-By Truckers at The Scene of the Crime.  Ryan Shaw, whom I mentioned on Monday, also rolled out the retro R&B this year.

THE GO! TEAM:  Proof of Youth may not make most "Best of" lists, but it was no sophomore slump, either.  It is metaphorically like The Cars' Candy-O -- arguably a notch less than the debut, though hard to say whether that assessment is due to the loss of the element of surprise.  Ian Parton cites Sonic Youth and Vince Guaraldi's Peanuts music as touchstones, which is my musical version of the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup.  They are still "Doing It Right."

BEIRUT:  Paralleling the prior entry, The Flying Club Cup was a nice follow-up to Gulag Orkestar -- not veering from the Gallic and Slavic-influenced sounds of that breakthrough LP.  Cabaret pop of a slightly different flavor turned up this year from the Pale Young Gentlemen.

DUNGEN:  Paralleling the prior entry, Tio Bitar cannot shock the way Ta Det Lungt did, but you'll be hard pressed to find a better Swedish psychedelic rock album this year.

JENS LEKMAN:  Speaking of Swedes, Jens Lekman hit it out of the park with Night Falls Over Kortedala, his second proper album, iirc.  Unlike Dungen, he sings in English.  Sad songs, funny songs, sometimes both at the same time.  Songs like "A Postcard to Nina," in which he tries to play the beard for a lesbian friend at her father's house.  It's one of my favorite songs of the year.

THE NATIONAL:  Boxer lacked the dramatic range of Alligator, but its subtlety gives it legs, able to withstand heavy rotation.  If Paul Miller still owned a record store, it would be the sort of LP from which you could sample bits of its brilliance as it ran all day in the background.

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS haven't made a bad album yet.  Challengers is another album I could listen to for hours without tiring of it.

OKKERVIL RIVER:  The Stage Names may have disappointed some who wanted another helping of angst in the style of OR's excellent Black Sheep Boy album (and its appendix).  But the somewhat lighter tone here shows a versatility that helps cement Will Scheff's rep as one of rock's better songwriters.

CARIBOU:  Paralleling the prior entry, Andorra sounds more like a modern take on what Syd Barrett would have sounded like fronting the latter-period Zombies.

WILCO will probably suffer a bad case of hipster backlash on "Best of" lists this year -- both for the less experimental sound of Sky Blue Sky and for licensing a bunch of its songs to VW.  But a decade from now, will we care about either issue, or appreciate the way the latest lineup can cross The Band with Television?  It being Thanksgiving, here's the bonus track, "The Thanks I Get."

WHITE RABBITS garnered blog buzz a-plenty and landed on Letterman for bringing a funky Caribbean edge to the sharp songs on Fort Nightly without sounding like an 80s ska revival band.  Nicely done.

THE WEAKERTHANS are another band I discovered via Chromewaves, though I suspect I would have found the Reunion Tour album after Hold Steady frontman Craig Finn began championing songwriter John K Samson.

PANDA BEAR:  Person Pitch was often likened to a modern indie take on Pet Sounds-era Brian Wilson, which pretty much guarantees I'm going to like it.  Indeed, I liked it more than Strawberry Jam, the latest album from Animal Collective (of which Panda Bear is a member).  I'm sure that's probably heresy in some circles, but I live without fear.

RICHARD THOMPSON:  The darkly witty songwriter and guitar virtuoso transcends genre, and thus tends to get overlooked by most.  NPR has a concert from his Sweet Warrior tour for your streaming pleasure.

CUTOUT BIN:  This Thanksgiving Thursday's fortuitous finds from the ol' HM are: "Bob Dylan" - Those Fabulous Sixties; Scott McKenzie - San Francisco; Echo & The Bunnymen - People Are Strange (The Doors); Peter Sellers - Hard Day's Night; The Beatles - Here, There And Everywhere; Yo La Tengo - Fourth Time Around (B. Dylan); Bob Dylan & Johnny Cash - Girl of the North Country; Elvis Presley - In The Ghetto; Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings - Nobody's Baby; The Pipettes - Your Kisses Are Wasted On Me; Arctic Monkeys - Baby I'm Yours; Lee Hazlewood - Boots (Original Melody); The Raveonettes - Dead Sound; U2 - Desire; The Rolling Stones - Miss Amanda Jones; Off Broadway - Full Moon Turn My Head Around; The Posies - Dream All Day; Broken Social Scene - 7/4 (Shoreline); REM - It's The End Of The World... ; The Replacements - Customer; Okkervil River - Plus Ones (demo); Supertramp - The Logical Song; Boz Scaggs - Lido Shuffle; ABBA - Take a Chance on Me; and Art Brut - Good Weekend.

A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING:  Tubed for your seasonal enjoyment (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3).  BONUS:  Peanuts creator Charles M. Schulz is the subject of a new biography by David Michaelis, which has received mostly glowing reviews -- including one from Calvin & Hobbes creator Bill Watterson -- but which has been sharply criticized by Schulz's family.  Michaelis recently defended the book on MPR.

NOW SHOWING:  I forgot to mention that Wednesday's wide releases for the Thanksgiving weekend are: Disney's fairy-tale come to life (and perhaps satirical) Enchanted, currently scoring 91 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Hitman, currently scoring 12 percent; Stephen King's The Mist, which again brings in Frank Darabont ("The Green Mile," "The Shawshank Redemption") for a 73 percent score; the drama August Rush, which is scoring 53 percent; and the Yuletime family dramedy This Christmas, which is also scoring 53 percent (but 70 percent with the "cream of the crop" critics).  The Coen Bros' No Country For Old Men opens near-wide on 860 screens with its 96 percent score.

THANKSGIVING has a lot of myths, both traditional and the new "Pilgrims were evil" o­nes taught in some public schools. However, if you read the journal of William Bradford -- who served some 35 years as governor of the Pilgims' colony -- you quickly discover that the Pilgrims' relationship with the natives was complex and that the colony was ultimately saved when Bradford started doing away with collectivism and granting property rights.

SPEAKING OF THANKSGIVING MYTHS, while there is an amino acid in turkey that induces sleepiness, experts say it's much more likely the reason you're tired after having Thanksgiving dinner is a combination of simple factors: you ate and drank too much and didn't sleep enough.

TURKEY ADOPTERS brave the holiday.

TURKEY WRAP:  A not-safe-for-most-family-gatherings holiday geek crunk original from Boing-Boing TV.

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Vampire Weekend, Hold Steady+Art Brut, NPs, Cowboy Monkey   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, November 21, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


VAMPIRE WEEKEND is a combo from Columbia U that's getting plenty of blog buzz for a sound that's sorta the indie rock version of Paul Simon's Graceland album.  Their first video is for "Mansard Roof."  Though they don't have a proper album release until next year, you can find plenty of audio to jukebox on the ol' HM at the moment.

THE HOLD STEADY and ART BRUT played DC's 9:30 Club last night, so you should be able to stream them both on demand via NPR.  Plus: Hold Steady guitarist Tad Kubler talked to Austinist about Art Brut and evocative bands.

OF MONTREAL frontman Kevin Barnes talks to Pitchfork about political songs, funk music and exploring the dark and gloriously detestable sides of his consciousness.  Idolator has posted the band's T-Mobile commercial.

THE TOP 12 VIDEOS of 2007, as nominated for the Plug Independent Music Awards.  Brooklyn Vegan rounds 'em up off the Tube.

THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS did an interview and unpluggedy mini-set for KEXP you can stream via NPR.

ROBERT PLANT & ALISON KRAUSS... and producer T-Bone Burnett talk to the Scotsman about making the Plant/Krauss collaboration, Raising Sand, which to their surprise is turning out to be one of the most talked-about albums of the year.  The piece mentions that Burnett, Buddy Miller and Mark Ribot are all in the band.

THE PIPETTES:  I'm seeing them tonight, so I note that RiotBecki tells Spinner that fans are turning up knowing both their moves and their songs.  I guess I'll be brushing up with The Pipettes' instructional dance video.

SPLINTERS of ROCK:  David Brooks writes in the NYT about the fragmentation of American music and notes that Steven Van Zandt has drawn up a high school music curriculum that tells American history through music.

ANIMAL COLLECTIVE previewed new material on the BBC, which you can jukebox on the ol' HM (via GvsB.).

BOB DYLAN:  At ComingSoon.net, the director of the bizzare biopic I'm Not There, Todd Haynes, explains what he wants audiences to get out of the movie: "I just want them to have a really rich experience, and an experience that is not dissimilar from a musical experience, like listening to a whole record, listening to all of Blonde on Blonde."  I'm Not There opens on 125 screens today.

DAVID BOWIE was a ratings bonanza for Spongebob Squarepants last week.

AIMEE MANN embarks on her second annual Christmas variety show tour next week, with Josh Ritter, Ben Gibbard, Nellie McKay, and members of The Decemberists slated to cameo at various dates.  Links to Tube clips from last year's tour at the link.

BRITNEY SPEARS:  US Weekly has posted a teaser for their cover story on Britney's Twisted Childhood.  The pop tart has decided to hire a driver to avoid more dangerous incidents with the paparazzi.

THE RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS have sued Showtime Networks and others over the new television show called "Californication," the same name used by the band for their Grammy-nominated 1999 album.  The show has been on for months, so the RHCP is really up on things.

MARY-KATE OLSEN has been hospitalized with a kidney infection.

DENNIS QUAID's newborn twins are fighting for their lives after being inadvertently overdosed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

BRADGELINA:  Star magazine is hopeful for a disfunctional Thanksgiving at the Pitt family home in Missouri.

MADONNA hubby Guy Richie reveals they banned Christmas presents several years ago.  Does Kabbalah include Hannukah?

THE McCARTNEYS:  Heather Mills former sister-in-law says the accusations Mills leveled at Sir Paul during her recent television rants are the carbon copy of stories she made up about her ex following their divorced in 1991.

OJ SIMPSON is pleading with Cuban leader Fidel Castro to let him move to the Socialist island nation, which has no extradition treaty with the US -- according to the ever-reliable National Enquirer.  Probably untrue, but too funny to not share.

WILL SMITH tells Men's Vogue that he's studied Scientology through Tom Cruise, while a source tells US Weekly that Jada Pinkett Smith is "more gung-ho about Scientology than Will."

SIENNA MILLER is the first to enlist in the cast of Paramount's big-budget 2009 tentpole "G.I. Joe."

GEORGE CLOONEY & RENEE ZELLEWEGER talk about their upcoming movie, Leathernecks, and their longtime friendship, in W magazine.

THE OTHER BOLEYN GIRL trailer is online.  Looks like it's good to be the King.

PAKISTAN:  Bill Roggio argues that the Taliban appear to have gained the upper hand in the fight against the Pakistani military in the settled districts of Swat and Shangla in the Northwest Frontier Province.

IRAQ:  Newsweek's Rod Nordland, who has periodically been to Baghdad during the past four and a half years, notes the "New normal" in the capital: "For the first time... returning to Baghdad after an absence of four months, I can actually say that things do seem to have gotten better, and in ways that may even be durable."  He notes that volunteer forces have even calmed neighborhoods like Ameriyah, where AQI fled when the Anbar sheikhs turned on them.  NPR has a similar report on Ameriyah.  Nordland reports that the US military says it has forked over about 17 million to the volunteers to enroll some 67000 fighters -- less than the cost of one Apache helicopter.  The terrorists are also cash-driven, looking more like The Sopranos than jihadis.  Iraqi refugees are returning home in dramatic numbers, concluding that security in Baghdad has been transformed.  On Monday, Iraqi Army forces killed and arrested over 75 terrorists in separate military operations in Mosul, Baghdad, Diyala, Kirkuk and Salahdin.  A mass grave full of dozens of bodies of men killed during the 1991 Shiite uprising against Saddam was found on Tuesday near the Shiite holy city of Najaf, an Iraqi official said.

WHIPLASH the COWBOY MONKEY:  Let's go to the video, y'all!

THE SQUIRREL THREAT:  A militant squirrel knocked out electricity to 177 customers in Ashland, WI on Monday, while "by coincidence," another squirrel took dowwn the grid for 1,400 customers in Ironwood, MI the same morning.  And yet another squirrel forced the early closing of the main campus of Lewis and Clark Community College in St. Louis.  Someday, Congress will investigate how Homeland Security failed to connect the dots.

...AND NOW FOR SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT:  A cat with three eyes and two faces.

A PIGLET was discovered in a truck loaded with toilet paper.  Ella Herring, deputy manager for the Radcliffe-on-Trent animal shelter, said: "There is no doubt the piglet's ordeal would have been traumatic and stressful...."

A JUVENILE HUMPBACK WHALE got tangled in fishing gear and had been stranded off the Rhode Island coast over the weekend, but freed itself and swam off Monday as rescuers sought to aid it.  Kids! What are you going to do?

PETRA UPDATE:  The black swan from Münster, Germany who fell in love with a swan-shaped pedal boat, will once again be allowed to spend the winter with her heartthrob.

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New Releases, Gang of Four, Kevin Drew, Italian Spider-Man   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, November 20, 2007 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


BLITZEN TRAPPER has dropped a video for the title track of the "Wild Mountain Nation" album.

NEW RELEASES:  Bloc Party, the Brit Box set, The Great Debaters soundtrack and more are streaming via Spinner.  Bonnie "Prince" Billy releases a covers collection.

SHARON JONES -- sans Dap-Kings -- talks to PopMatters about Washington, Winfrey and Winehouse. (Oh. my!)

GANG OF FOUR bassist Dave Allen has posted a demo of a new song, "Password," on his blog, Pampelmoose.

ROBYN HITCHCOCK explains to Canada's Hour how he selects a setlist from his vast catalog.

KEVIN DREW of Broken Social Scene played a solo gig at DC's 9:30 Club Sunday night. You can stream the whole gig via NPR.

BOB DYLAN & JACK WHITE are finishing some "lost" Hank Williams songs.

URGE OVERKILL:  Their killer '93 single "Sister Havana" and their even more famous cover of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon" are your Twofer Tuesday.

MAGNETIC FIELDS:  You can download and stream the opening track from Stephin Merritt's next LP, "Three-Way," via the 'Gum (and the 'Gum Mix).

BAND OF HORSES frontman Ben Bridwell tells JamBase why he started the band: "(T)he band I was in broke up and there was really nothing for me to do. I don't have any skills to go into the work force and actually make a living for myself, which I've proven by being totally down and out many times. So, if anything, there is the drive I guess to just, to fing succeed."

THURSTON MOORE stopped by the World Cafe for a chat and mini-set you can stream from NPR.  Plus, he talked to WXPN about some of his favorite acoustic guitarists.

EDGAR BRONFMAN, the head of Warner Music, admits that it probably was not a good idea to wage war on consumers.

ERIC BACHMANN talks to Donewaiting about making Cuban sandwiches and maybe another Crooked Fingers record.

BRITNEY SPEARS was out reckless driving hours after being forbidden to drive with her kids.  Video at the link.  Meanwhile, Louis Vuitton won 171K in damages and a court injunction to keep the pop tart's 2005 "Do Something" video - in which Spears, 25, drives a pink Hummer with a counterfeit Vuitton "cherry blossom"- monogrammed dashboard - from airing on European TV stations.  And a real estate broker claims Spears trashed a rented apartment in California.

JONATHAN RHYS-MYERS was arrested Sunday at the Dublin airport, facing charges of public drunkenness and breach of the peace as he tried to get on a plane to England.

THE FRENCH HOTEL:  Some old, but previously unreleased nsfw footage of the heirhead taking a shower has turned up on the Internet.

NICOLE KIDMAN told a courtroom Monday how she was reduced to tears and feared a car accident after a celebrity photographer pursued her two years ago.  She was testifying in the photographer's defamation suit against a Sydney newspaper that slammed him for allegedly hounding her.

JESSICA ALBA:  Knocked up or burned out?  Most likely the latter:  "I've worked the last two and a half years without stopping," she said to Roger Friedman. "This is the time to do it."

BRADGELINA:  Contrary to tabloid reports, Zahara's Ethiopian birth-mother is denying that she ever tried to fight Jolie's adoption.

GEORGE CLOONEY has donated 25K to writers hurting from the recent strike and plans to make periodic donations to the New York-based Actors Fund, which provides emergency relief for workers in the entertainment industry.

THE WRITERS' STRIKE, btw, has halted the sequel to "The Da Vinci Code" and Oliver Stone's planned movie on the investigation of the My Lai massacre in 1968.  So there is a silver lining.

JULIA ROBERTS and her cameraman husband Danny Moder parked their Mercedes SUV in a handicapped zone at the grocery store.  No doubt she buys carbon offset credits for the SUV, but where do you buy handicapped offset credits?

JACKO is a homeless drifter.  He reportedly spent the last three months living in Franklin Lakes, NJ, in a family's private home, trying to be normal.  Why didn't he cut a deal for that to be a reality TV show?

USHER:  The R&B artist is said to be converting to the Church of Scientology.

SPIDER-MAN TRIFECTA:  Stories about a five-year-old boy dressed as Spider-Man saving a baby girl from a burning house in Brazil, and the Spidey-inspired pepper-spray bracelet are just prelude to the sheer genius of the heretofore lost 1964 trailer for Italian Spider-Man.

SAVE THE CHEERLEADERS, save the world.

CARTOON JIHAD:  Britain's contemporary artists are fêted around the world for their willingness to shock but fear is preventing them from tackling Islamic fundamentalism. Across Europe there is growing evidence that freedom of expression has been curtailed by fear of religious fundamentalism.

MIDEAST MYSTERY:  Counterterrorism consultant Olivier Guitta looks at Iranian involvement in the Syrian arms program in light of the September 6 Israeli airstrike on a suspected nuclear site in Syria.

PAKISTAN:  Pres. Musharraf has decided to resign as Army chief by the end of the week, it emerged today.  Supreme Court judges hand-picked by Gen. Pervez Musharraf quashed 5 of 6 legal challenges to his disputed re-election as president.  The ruling paves the way for Musharraf to quit as army chief soon and perhaps ease the state of emergency, but it also enraged his most embittered opponents, who denounced the purged court's decision as illegitimate.  A new and classified US military proposal outlines an intensified effort to enlist tribal leaders in the frontier areas of Pakistan in the fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.  The proposal is modeled in part on a similar effort by US forces in Anbar Province in Iraq that has been hailed as a great success in fighting foreign insurgents there.

IRAQ:  Despite persistent sectarian tensions in the Iraqi government, war-weary Sunnis and Shiites are joining hands at the local level to protect their communities from militants on both sides, US military officials say.    US and Iraqi troops have arrested dozens of militants loyal to Muqtada al-Sadr in a massive crackdown in the central city of Diwaniyah.  Since June, Iraqi civilian casualties were down by 60 percent nationwide, 75 percent in Baghdad.  Trendy juice bars, cozy restaurants, fruit shops, roadside eateries and fish vendors are starting to flourish in many neighborhoods of the capital.  Baghdad's hard-working ambulance drivers now find time to sit and sip tea instead of each rushing to four or five emergency calls a day.

IRAQ and the MEDIA:  According to today's NYT, "In more than 50 interviews across Baghdad, it became clear that while there were still no-go zones, more Iraqis now drive between Sunni and Shiite areas for work, shopping or school, a few even after dark."  According to today's WaPo,"Large swaths of Baghdad remain no-go zones for most Iraqis, as they were before thousands of U.S. reinforcements began arriving nine months ago in an effort to bring stability."

HEATHCLIFF the CAT somehow hitched a nearly 800-mile ride from Sicklerville, NJ, to Lawrenceville, GA.  Let's go to the video.

JACKO, an eight-year-old female Jack Russell named after Jackie Onassis, has chickens on her mind, according to a psychic.

DANTE the MONGREL is jonesing for curry.

ROBOT COCKROACHES fool the real thing.

A RAMPAGING WILD BOAR ran down a woman at a railroad crossing along along the Tobu Koizumi Line in Japan.

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