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The Curmudgeon

Well here we are in the summer with all of its blistering heat, power outages, expensive petrol and generally sucky summer tours. To make matters worse the quality of books, music and films out there right now is really low, which begs the question, why hurt the trees to make crap? In fact, so far the summer has been one bad buffet of pop culture crap.

Just what is really going on with The Wiggles? I’m convinced there is something more sinister at work there.


Bassist Joe Lally is taking some time away from Fugazi to record There To Here, his first solo album.

What kind of world do we live in when Paris Hilton can have a Top 20 Billboard single? A bloody sad one that’s what I think. And people wonder why record sales are slipping nationally.

The Flaming Lips have remixed “Satin Chic” for the forthcoming Goldfrapp remix album.

Sleater-Kinney recently announced that they were calling it a day and taking a hiatus after their large gig at Lollapalooza and a small club show in Portland.

Weezer have also recently announced that they are going on indefinite hiatus.

Death from Above 1979 has split.

The Cruxshadows, Rasputina, Tori Amos, Voltaire and The Future Bible Heroes are just some of the artists appearing on the new Neil Gaiman CD, Where’s Neil When You Need Him? The CD features various artists recording songs based Gaiman’s various works.

Bob Dylan will make a guest appearance on the next Mudbone album. Mudbone is the brainchild of Parliament’s Gary Cooper.

And I Feel Fine is the title of the new double CD from REM that collects the material from their tenure with IRS records (1983-87). The first disc is a straight forward best of CD with songs from their early career. The second disc contains live tracks, demos and rarities.

Another band milking the back catalog gravy train is Electronic. The band which consists of ex-Smith Johnny Marr and New Order vocalist Bernard Sumner have readied Get the Message, an extensive compendium of the duo’s singles and remixes.

Speaking of Johnny Marr, the ex-Smith has become a fixture with Modest Mouse, producing their new album and agreeing to tour with the band.

In the meantime, his Electronic partner Bernard Sumner is hard at work with his band, New Order, composing the score for Anton Corbijn’s film, Control. Control, currently filming in the UK, is the story of Ian Curtis of Joy Division and stars Sam Riley as Ian Curtis and Samantha Morton as his wife.

After some serious delays The Rapture has nearly finished their new CD, Pieces of People We Love for a fall release.

Another band hard at work on a new record is The Arcade Fire. The Montreal band has been recording new material in the renovated church they converted into a studio. After several sessions The Arcade Fire decided to produce the new album themselves.

The Bravery have put Springsteen producer Brendan O’ Brien on their payroll as they move closer to finishing recording their sophomore album in Atlanta.

Art Brut has been working on their second album which should be out sometime in first half of next year.

The ashes of Tupac are going to be taken to Africa to commemorate the 10th anniversary of his death. The rapper’s family will visit Soweto and meet with some guy named Nelson Mandela.

Lead singer Victoria Bergsman has left The Concretes to pursue a solo career.

The Clinic

October will see the release of Visitations, from Liverpool’s The Clinic.

Hey here’s a shocker: work on the new Portishead album has been delayed again.

Despite the dreariness of records over here, there is some pretty nifty stuff coming out of the UK…

Sarandon have released The Completist’s Library, comprising their first four EPs.

Being 747 are also back with the lovely Health & Safety.

The Divine Comedy is back with Victory for the Comic Muse. Neil Hannon is a wonderfully witty and prolific songwriter and this could be the album to make him properly known in the States.

The Rifles come from London and make noisy indie pop. Their new album, No Love Lost is everything that good indie pop should be.

But the biggest sound in the UK that will rumble over this way is The Kooks. Their debut, Inside In/Inside Out is pretty amazing. It will be out in the US this October via Astralwerks records. They will be very, very big! They recently were tabbed as openers for the Rolling Stones UK tour.

Also watch of for big things from Lily Allen who has a ska, punish record called Alright, Still, which is doing very well indeed. Allen can turn a song and has crafted some lovely tunes here.

UK grime core rapper Lady Soverign, who recently signed to Def Jam, has a new record coming out that in October is going to explode!

Damon Albarn has formed The Good, The Bad and The Queen with bassist Paul Simonon of The Clash, Simon Tong of The Verve and Fela Kuti percussionist Tony Allen. The band will play some UK dates ahead of their debut CD which should be out early next year.

Being a completist sucks sometimes. You have to get Red Dwarf Season 8 on DVD to finish off the set, but you grimace at the thought because it really was a terrible season that never should have happened.

I hope that the new season of Doctor Who isn’t as uneven and choppy as this last one was. All in all, Tennant was a pretty good Doctor, but his story selection was weaker than the previous season. Although “School Reunion” and “Girl In the Fireplace” were both terrific dramas that went a long way in giving Tennant’s Doctor some depth. The premise for “Love & Monsters” was good, but a smarmy ending sort of made it fall flat. I hate what they did with the Cybermen and I got a little tired of Rose near the end. Hopefully the new series will be fresher and better written.

Now that it has gotten some legs and expanded itself out to new audiences I hope that Battlestar Galactica delivers the goods this season. I think that it’s lame how they released season 2 on DVD.

Stuff I’m reading:

I have fallen behind in my reading but have spent loads of time reading my old Jack Kirby Captain America comics. With that in mind, Marvel really does blow chunks right now.

The ACME Catalog by Charles Carney. A wonderfully illustrated fake catalog of some of the gadgets and gizmos from various classic WB Looney Toon cartoons. Just a lot of silly fun!

The Last Man on the Moon by Eugene Cernan. Astronaut Gene Cernan was the last man to walk on the Moon. This is his story and the remarkable story of what it took to get there. Funny, insightful and fun.

McSweeney’s Issue 20. A very nice short story compilation with great stories by Sam Miller, Kevin Moffett and others.

Next month: the sad world of the DragonCon Walk of Fame, more music news and more babbling on about useless stuff!