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The Curmudgeon

While the rest of world pays attention to college basketball and that terrible Wachowski Brothers film, I’ve spent most of the last month hiding in my bunker listening to loads of new music. This is the best time of year, loads of new bands are releasing music and lots of bands are on tour. What this means for music junkies are that we get to OD on soundage for awhile.

One of the newest bands out there is Tapes n’ Tapes. They have a new album called The Loon that is just smashing.

It has been ages but The Flaming Lips are finally rolling out At War With the Mystics, their latest record. The album’s lead single, “The Wand,” is getting some play on bad commercial alternative radio stations now. Look for them to launch a new touring extravaganza soon.

Gary Numan has released Jagged, his first new album in five years.

White Rose Movement, who is going to be huge when the buzz on this choppy and bombastic pop band busts out of the UK, have released Kick their debut album.

Shirley Manson has taken enough Garbage out for now. While the band is on hiatus, she has begun work on her first solo album with soundtrack guru David Arnold producing.

Cat Power has cancelled her entire North American tour. Inside sources are citing stage fright as the cause for the cancellation.

The Smiths turned down a $5 million dollar offer to headline this year’s Coachella Music Festival.

Speaking of Coachella, Depeche Mode is releasing a new single, “Suffer Well,” as a prelude to their headlining this year’s Coachella Music Festival. Later this year DM will reissue Violator, Music for the Masses and Speak & Spell with extra tracks.

All five original members of Roxy Music are huddled away in a recording studio working on their first new album together since 1982’s Avalon.

The Editors are following the US release of their debut album, The Back Room with a North American tour in April.

You may have heard of The Beatles. They were this huge band back in the 60s. Anyway, they are now suing their former label, EMI, for 30 million pounds in unpaid royalties.

Public Enemy, sans Flava Flav, is touring the UK this month. If all goes well they plan to tour the States this summer.

The now hugely hyped Arctic Monkeys will release an EP of songs around their next single, “The View from the Afternoon.”

After coming out of nowhere to become critical darlings and touring the globe with Nine Inch Nails, The Dresden Dolls are again coming out to play again with their new album, Yes Virginia.

I think the next big reality show should be Bullfighting with the Stars. It could star Jessica Simpson, Jim Carrey and that David Arquette guy.

Chicago’s Grant Park will once again host Lollapalooza 2006. This year’s festival has been expanded by one extra day (August 4-6, 2006) and includes the Red Hot Chili Peppers as headliners. They will be joined by The Smashing Pumpkins, Thievery Corporation and The New Pornographers.

Speaking of Chicago, the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art will host an exhibition featuring the work of comic artist Chris Ware later this summer.

The members of The Pixies will spend some of this summer working on individual projects before rejoining to tour eastern Europe, Spain and France. In related news, Kim Deal is readying new material for her band, The Breeders.

David Yow of The Jesus Lizard has a new band called Model Actress. They will be releasing Synergy, their debut EP, later this summer.

PJ Harvey is finally getting around to releasing a concert DVD, PJ Harvey on Tour–Please Leave Quietly.

The lineup for May’s Sasquatch Music Festival in George, Washington has been announced. The festival will feature The Flaming Lips, Beck, Nine Inch Nails, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Elvis Costello, Bright Eyes, My Morning Jacket and others.

Fans of Belle & Sebastian may want to check out Image ComicsPut the Book Back on the Shelf, a new graphic novel that features contemporary comic writers and illustrators offering their visual interpretation of B&S songs.

DJ wunderkind Diplo has remixed “Golden Lion,” the new single from The Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

When is Tom Waits going into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

I am glad to see Doctor Who doing well on Sci-Fi. However, I know that somewhere along the line they’ll mess it all up. Why? Well that’s because they have no appreciation for SF fans. They tend to view us as sheep or cattle. If you need proof go to a Comic Con and watch how they treat people in lines for their events or even those that just want to ask questions. Plus, one can’t be too confident in them with their great track record of original films and all of that. However, Doctor Who and even Battlestar Galactica offer them a chance to re-launch themselves and show the SF community that they actually care about more than the bottom line.

But wait there’s more…

Since I am cynical: can someone explain to me again why Erin “Joanie” Moran and Anson Williams are coming to Dragoncon? It is stupid stuff like this that makes one pause to think about and ask the question…what the hell are they doing? They need to move forward and get guests that people want to see. For far too long they have focused on Trek or Star Wars guests at the expense of great British guests, comic guests or even guests form shows people want to see. Of course it was cool to get Firefly people last year, but if they didn’t have a movie coming out they’d have long forgotten them. I think they need to invite new comedic talents like Bill Bailey or actors from Doctor Who that people want to see. Most of the time their guest choices are pretty cool, but it seems to me that if you have the resources and manpower to get better guests you should utilize those people and give them a shot. It is an insult to focus on the past when so much new stuff is going on. Erin Moran? C’mon, have we learned nothing from the Soupy Sales debacle of two years ago?

While I am at it please keep Star Trek down like the dead dog that it is.

The word on the street is that the Fantastic Four sequel is going to have Galactus in it. Someone should be fired for that. I cannot explain how much this angers me in words, except for this: Bollocks!

The X-Men film seems a bit rushed and jammed together for my tastes. I think they are doing too much at once and are going to make a big giant mess of the whole thing.

I would rather have scurvy than sit through the shite that is M.I. 3.

Franz Ferdinand and Death Cab for Cutie seem like strange bedfellows, yet both bands are joining forces for a double headlining tour of North America.

The Slits have reunited for some shows in Europe. Look for the band to get back in the studio later this summer.

Fans of The Postal Service may want to spend some time with Casiotone for the Painfully Alone. CFTPA are now on tour supporting their new record, Etiquette. CFTPA make very lovely and fragile pop songs that are tinged with remorse and wit.

The 1981 classic, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts by Brian Eno and David Byrne has been reissued by Nonesuch Records with remastered sound and extra tracks.

Stuff I am reading: writing a good music book is hard to do. That’s because all the good tales have already been told over and over again. That’s why I was someone hesitant to embrace Simon Reynolds’ Rip It Up and Start Again: Post Punk 1978-1984 (Penguin). Reynolds has taken the years after punk and freed them from their previously perceived hokiness and irrelevance. Reynolds explores the territory laid out by bands like The Fall, Cabaret Voltaire, PiL, Wire and Gang of Four. This was an amazing time for pop music because musicians moved away form the DIY ethos of punk and embraced new methods of song structure like lyricism, structure and sonic creativity. Reynolds notes that this era is important for its creativity and influence. As he duly notes Post Punk begat new musical genres like electronica, grunge and modern Britpop.

Finally, as we inch closer into the spring and summer months, make an effort to drag those less fortunate than yourself. Help a loved one or colleague put aside the drek that is American Idol and crap like that and get outside once in awhile and live a little. Better yet get them to read a book or think for themselves. But no matter what the activity is, know that freeing the mind of a dullard is a beautiful thing!

1 comment

  • Erin Moran belongs at Dragcon. She was in “Galaxy of Terror.” One of the classic raped by a giant worm films of the 80s. Not that she was raped. She played the good girl.

    They should so make sure to run that at the con.