I'll start by quoting Leonard Cohen, "the summer's almost gone, and winter's tuning up." What this all means of course is that we are now breaching that pop culture gap of summer and Christmas releases.
This is a good thing and a bad thing. A lot of really good stuff is coming out for mass consumption. However, around the corner lies the dark and sinister holiday deluge of crap waiting to pounce on us.
I won't get into the bother of this year's holiday releases until next time, but rest assured there will be a lot of crappy records from crappy artists to choose from...
But one of the side effects of the holidays is the endless supply of best of releases, remastered editions and high profile new music.
Pulp has released three of their gems in a remastered format with extra tracks, His and Hers, A Different Class and This is Hardcore. They each feature a second disc of b-sides, demos and rarities. If you can't wait for more, Jarvis Cocker will release a solo album early in 2007. Right now he can be found in the film and on the soundtrack to Leonard Cohen: I'm Your Man.
Enough already! Depeche Mode is releasing yet another singles compilation, The Best of Depeche Mode, Volume 1 this November. There will be a new track though, "Martyr," so that the completists will have to buy it. At this rate they will out duel New Order in the race for more compilation releases.
Go: The Very Best of Moby is also due in November. Obviously Moby needs some money for the holidays.
One of the most inventive artists of the last twenty years was The Art of Noise. Now they are getting their due with a four CD set, And What Have You Done With My Body God?
Up From the Catcombs is the new best of compilation from Jane's Addiction.
Everything associated with The Simpsons should go away including the TV show which is arguably past its best days.
Ben Folds is working on a new record but in the meantime his label is releasing
supersunnyspeedgraphic, the lp, a collection of tracks, the majority of which appeared on the three EPs he released in 2003 and 2004. Amongst the weirdness are covers of The Cure and Dr. Dre. Folds will be touring Australia this winter with a massive orchestra accompanying him. Look for some of that tour to emerge as a live album next year.
Jessica Simpson is back and as skanky and untalented as usual.
Ashlee Simpson turned down several million dollars from Playboy to pose nude. She should have done it because she'll need that money in the next two years or so when she's been chugged onto the has been scrapheap.
Also crappy, but equally wrong are The Cheetah Girls. I could go on for ages on their dastardly evilness but instead, I'll just start with the name. It's not right for a kiddy/teen band. We also could talk about how weird their audience is as well (this probably also stems from the name). They just should not let little kids on stage much less allow them to make records. Have we learned nothing from Kids Incorporated, Old Skull or Menudo? The Cheetah Girls are bloody awful and I cannot believe idiots are paying fifty bucks a ticket to see them on tour.
What's the deal with Panic At The Disco? Why is such a mediocre band so huge? Oh yeah, I forgot: this is America where we embrace our mediocrity and reward redundancy in recording artists with glitzy tours and lots of useless press. It is tragic that the brilliant Bloc Party is opening for them on this latest tour.
The Avengers, who recently reunited for some live dates, will release a career spanning retrospective sometime next year.
I Am the World Trade Center has called it a day.
Also closing up shop is Scotland's Arab Strap. After six albums and ten years the band feels they have run their course. They do however plan on releasing a retrospective CD entitled Ten Years of Tears early next year.
Keane has canceled their American tour because vocalist Tom Chaplin has recently entered rehab. No word on when the dates will be made up.
The Afghan Whigs has rebanded and are set to begin work on a new album very soon.
PJ Harvey will release The John Peel Show Sessions 2001-2004 late next month. Ms. Harvey has also begun recording her new record.
Gnarls Barkley, Daft Punk, Modest Mouse and Thievery Corporation will headline this year's Bang! Festival in Miami on November 11th
The Whigs have signed to ATO Records.
The Ponys have signed to Matador Records.
Love of Diagrams has also signed with Matador.
Level 42 have resurfaced form the scrap yard of mediocrity with Retroglide, their bland new record.
Snoop Dogg is back and he's teamed up with Timbaland, Neptunes and Dr. Dre for his forthcoming album The Blue Carpet Treatment.
Nick Cave recently won the Gucci Prize for screenwriting at the Venice Film Festival for his film, The Proposition.
Green Day & U2 are joining forces to record a charity record for Music Rising, a charity that helps musicians who were rendered without instruments by Hurricane Katrina. The two bands will cover The Skids' "The Saints Are Coming."
Mystery White Boy is the title of a forthcoming biopic about Jeff Buckley.
The Klaxons are coming to America next month for a short tour. They are going to make some noise. They have just released a new record in the UK called Myths of the Near Future. They will be huge.
STUFF I'M READING
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga. High Fidelity for the teen generation, this powerful story about being an obsessed misfit in the midst of teenage angst resonates.
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman by Haruki Murakami. The master storyteller returns with twenty-four great short stories. His prose is gentle and easy but the depth and resonance of his words does not get lost in translation. Murakami has a way of understanding the emotions and turning them into really moving words with great ease.
The Detonators by Chad Millman. I could not put this one down. In 1916, German spies on American soil infiltrated a munitions depot in New York City and blew it up much to the chagrin and embarrassment of the US government. This is a richly compelling tale of a nearly forgotten event.
Agincourt by Juliet Barker. A terrific and detailed account the famous battle. Barker does a terrific job of bringing the ferocity of this battle to life. This infamous battle from Henry V is amazing to read about because the English were outnumbered five to one and still managed to beat the Frenchies.
Curses by Kevin Huizenga. This is a wonderful graphic novel from the folks at Drawn & Quarterly. Diners, the Sudan genocide and the drollness of suburbia are reflected with reality, poignancy and humor.
Dragoncon. Finally it looks like a measure of vindication is in order for yours truly. As I walked around the Hall of (Lost) Fame at Dragoncon I noticed that hardly anyone bothered to stop by and see the Happy Days people or most of the genuinely non SF guests. It was sad to see Mickey Rooney there because he was completely gone most of the time. Most of the guests were nice and terrific but to be fair the con was massively bigger than the space it was held in and I fear some expansion or reorganization may be the only way to adjust to the surging crowds and swamped space. The programming was better this year but the huge overcrowding all week made it hard to get almost anywhere at night. The Masquerade was disappointing too. I did like some of the panels in the X-Track and Space track, although their fascination with this space elevator project is mystifying. And don't get me started on the Hyatt elevatorsâ€¦.