9/28/2007

Lollapalooza

The dates have been announced for next year's romp: August 1-3, once again in Chicago's Grant Park. Here's more.
Roctober

Our favorite month of the year has many things going for it: great weather, plenty of friends' birthdays (and the partying that goes with 'em), and some pretty happening music. In this last category is the lovely jazz vocalist Sara Gazarek who, along with her trio, will be at Dizzy's Club Coca Cola in Lincoln Center, Oct 9-13. Check her out if you're in the metro NYC area. You won't be disappointed.
Slim Pickins Already?

Among the nine inductees for next year's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremonies are Madonna, Donna Summer, John Mellencamp, and the Beastie Boys. Wow, that's not a really a slam-dunk bunch, is it? And those are the biggest names: Afrika Bambaataa, Chic, Leonard Cohen, the Ventures, and the Dave Clark Five are also up for induction. That is the class of 2008, folks. Imagine what the class of 2018 or even 2028 will be like. Damn!
Spin The Black Circle

Spin magazine is commemorating the 30th anniversary of the Sex Pistols' Never Mind the Bollocks (Warner Bros) with an all punk, class of '77 issue. They've also listed the "30 Essential Punk Albums of '77". (Were there more than 30 punk albums that year, anyway? Also, we feel a wave of reissues coming on...) Here they are; discuss:

Blondie Plastic Letters
The Boys self-titled

The Clash The Clash
Elvis Costello
My Aim Is True
The Damned
Damned Damned Damned
Dead Boys Young Loud And Snotty
The Dictators
Manifest Destiny
The Diodes
The Diodes
Ian Dury New Boots And Panties!!
Eater The Album
Eddie & The Hot Rods Life On The Line

Iggy Pop The Idiot
Iggy Pop Lust For Life
The Jam
In The City
The Jam
This Is The Modern World
Johnny Thunders & The Heartbreakers
L.A.M.F.
Radio Birdman
Radios Appear
The Ramones Leave Home
The Ramones
Rocket To Russia
Richard Hell & The Voidoids
Blank Generation
The Runaways
Queens Of Noise
The Saints (I'm) Stranded
The Stranglers Rattus Norvegicus
The Stranglers
No More Heroes
Suicide self-titled
Talking Heads '77
Television
Marquee Moon
The Vibrators
Pure Mania
Wire Pink Flag

9/27/2007

This Is A Call (to step down)

FOO FIGHTERS
Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace
(Roswell/RCA-2007)

Perhaps it's a bit harsh to compare Dave Grohl’s outfit with his legendary alma mater, but like Nirvana, maybe three studio albums should’ve been enough for the Foo Fighters. The self-titled debut (1995) was a catchy, spirited pop-punk affair—recorded almost in its entirety by Grohl—that was followed up by the Gil Norton-produced The Colour and the Shape (1997), which elevated the band to mainstream stardom. There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999) toned down things a bit and made a further bid for mainstream acceptance—“Next Year” became the theme song to the NBC sitcom Ed—but the muse was still smiling on Grohl and he had the tunes. However, with subsequent albums, it’s pretty much been downhill since.
Once again working with Gil Norton—no Pixies sound-alike production this time—Echoes, Silence, Patience and Grace is simply a pristine production, recording and mix, which is to say it’s quite sterile, unfortunately. Add to that songwriting that updates the sound and feel of classic rock without anything to make it classic. In other words, it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, but is actually a dodo. When the best thing about first single and leadoff track “The Pretender” is a chorus reminiscent of the Sesame Street game “One of These Things Does Not Belong (Not Like The Others)” you know it’s gonna be sad. Even the promisingly-titled send up of the current emo scene "Cheer Up Boys (You're Makeup's Running)" is flatter than week old fountain soda. ESP&G is better than anything Nickelback has ever done, though. (Yeah, enough of the damning with faint praise.) Hey, Dave: You think Tom Petty might still give you that drumming gig?

Ornette Coleman: Jazz Pioneer

PopMatters has an interesting piece on this pioneering musician, who "challenged the prevailing rules of jazz, seeking alternatives to social codes that dictated its parameters." Yes, indeed.
How 'Bout A Residency For Clap Your Hands, Say Yeah?

Yes, there is such a thing as the Pabst Theatre in Milwaukee. Glorious Noise calls it "beautiful and acoustically excellent" in its review of a recent show by The National. We're wondering if it's decorated with blue ribbons. Could it be? Hipster Heaven!
Spector Murder Trial Ends in Mistrial...

...but the Los Angeles district attorney has decided to retry the 67 year-old legendary record producer. Stay tuned.
Just Ask Jack

Boy, has Stereogum been catching hell for posting that alleged Meg White sex tape. Yikes!

9/25/2007

Madonna Covered

On November 17th Ms. Ciccone--nee Ritchie--will be the subject of that '90s artifact that refuses to die: a tribute album. Manimal Vinyl will release Through The Wilderness: A Tribute To Madonna, featuring, among others, lo-fi psychedelic folk-rocker Ariel Pink ("Everybody"), Apollo Heights ("Dress You Up"), and the quite approriately named Giant Drag, contributing their version of that textbook ode to subtlety, "Oh Father". Proceeds will go towards a good cause: Raising Malawi.org
New Releases

Fresh off the presses today we have:

JOSE GONZALEZ In Our Nature (Mute)
IRON AND WINE The Shepherd's Dog (Sub Pop)
MESHELL NDEGEOCELLO The World Has Made Me The Man of My Dreams (Decca)
MATT POND PA Last Light (Attitude)
THE BRIAN SETZER ORCHESTRA Wolfgang's Big Night Out (Surfdog)

(Follow the above links and you can preview both the Jose Gonzalez and Matt Pond PA albums in their entirety. Only 'til Sept. 30th, though.)

Quite a few jazz reissues including:

MILES DAVIS The Complete On the Corner Sessions (Sony)
BILL EVANS The Interplay Sessions (Milestone)
BILLIE HOLIDAY Lady Day: The Master Takes and Singles (Legacy)
RAHSAAN ROLAND KIRK Pre Rahsaan (Prestige)

plus
SOUL ASYLUM Welcome to the Minority: The A&M Years (Hip-O)
Cane

PopMatters reviews the season premiere of Jimmy Smits' Cane, a Dallas-type soap about the rivalries and internal power struggles surrounding a large Cuban-American family running a successful rum and sugar empire in Miami. There's a clip as well.

9/24/2007

What We're Listening To:

ALICE IN CHAINS MTV Unplugged (Columbia)
BECK Sea Change (DGC)
THE RACONTEURS Broken Boy Soldiers (Virgin)

WILCO Sky Blue Sky (Nonesuch)
XTC The Big Express (Virgin)


What are YOU listening to?

9/20/2007

Ugh! A Legal Mess / XTC

In the wee hours of Thursday morning VH1 Classic treated us--both curious and suffering from isomnia--to our first ever viewing of the cult music film Urgh! A Music War (1981) featuring live performances of, among others, The Police, The Go-Gos, Klaus Nomi, Steel Pulse, Pere Ubu, and XTC.

A wonderful document of the "new wave" era, Urgh! has yet to see the light of day in today's home consumer market due to the loss of the original licensing agreement, making it a legal nightmare to secure all sorts of necessary releases to have it transferred to the DVD format. (The double vinyl album and the VHS versions are, sadly, both out of print and fetch a small ransom on eBay and the like.) Former Police manager Miles Copeland, the film's producer --who is said to have enough footage in storage for a potential 6-hour, 2 DVD set, if and when legal hurdles are ever cleared--retains its broadcast rights, which is why it pops up sporadically on TV and on occasional movie house and video club tours across the US.

Our personal highlight was watching XTC perform "Respectable Street", originally from their classic
album Black Sea (1980), at the height of their powers with the simply incomparable Partridge/Moulding/Gregory/Chambers lineup. More so in light of the fact that due to vocalist/guitarist Andy Partridge's crippling stage fright the band retired from live performance in 1982, never to perform in front of an audience again. (They have made very rare exceptions however, such as performing vocalist/bassist Colin Moulding's "King for a Day" live on Late Night with David Letterman in 1989, to promote the Oranges and Lemons album.) We own the hard-to-find 1980 Live at the BBC Concert (released in 1993), caught them on Letterman, and even had the pleasure of meeting Messrs. Partridge and Moulding in the late '90s, but had never seen them perform live in front of a crowd in any way shape or form. And while we weren't surprised by their mesmerizing stage presence, we were in awe nonetheless.

In the years since they stopped performing live, XTC have remained busy as a studio-bound act and released a veritable treasure trove of critically acclaimed albums. Unfortunately, in 2006--the band's 30th anniversary--Partridge stated in interviews that Moulding has lost interest in making music and thus the XTC moniker will be retired until such time as the aforementioned Moulding has a change of heart. In a strange turn of events, Partridge has recently resolved his differences with former XTC guitarist/keyboardist/arranger Dave Gregory--who left in 1998 during the Apple Venus sessions--and are contemplating working together again. Make plans for Colin, guys. Please.

9/19/2007

Wednesday Windup

MINISTRY The Last Sucker (Megaforce-2007)
THURSTON MOORE Trees Outside The Academy (Ecstatic Peace-2007)


Regardless of how innovative they may have been or even attempt to be late in their careers, veteran artists generally become quite comfortable with a particular formula. It may not be a mainstream, chart-topping path but it’s tried and true, and one that is welcomed by their loyal followers. And since at this stage in their careers these fans might be the only ones that have stuck around through thick and thin, they are therefore the only ones that really matter to the artist.

Ministry have never been prone to messing much with their master plan. Aside from their now-forgotten beginnings as a synth pop band in the early ‘80s, Alain Jourgensen’s loud, bone-crunching assault machine gave birth to industrial hard rock in the late ‘80s and has pretty much stayed the course through creative peaks and valleys. One recent thematic constant is Jourgensen’s avowed hatred of US president George W. Bush, to the point of inspiring an anti-Bush trilogy of albums—House of the Molé (2004) and Rio Grande Blood (2006) were the first two—culminating with The Last Sucker, rumored to be the band’s final recording.

If this is Ministry’s farewell they couldn’t have chosen a better final statement, for this is Jourgensen excelling at what he does best. Kicking it off with “Let’s Go,” an in-your-face update of “Jesus Built My Hotrod”, and traversing through monster riffs; pounding, unrelenting rhythms; and eerie, well-placed samples throughout, the album is classic Ministry and as such, refuses to let up for a little more than the first half. Unfortunately, The Last Sucker loses a bit of steam with a cover of The Doors’ “Roadhouse Blues” and the tracks that immediately follow, but the closing epic “End of Days”—featuring Fear Factory vocalist Burton C. Bell and a sample of US president Dwight D. Eisenhower’s noted “military-industrial complex” farewell speech—avoids a bummer ending to what is a damn fine way to go out.

The last time Thurston Moore went into—for him, anyway—singer/songwriter mode was 12 years ago on his album Psychic Hearts (DGC), an enjoyable Sonic Youth-lite recording that garnered some praise but was quickly forgotten for the most part. Trees Outside The Academy, is musically similar albeit with a slightly different instrumentation: there is an abundance of acoustic guitars, and while Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley is back on board, guitarist Tim Foljahn, who’d been Moore’s foil on Psychic Hearts, has been replaced by violinist Samara Lubelski. The absence of a bass guitar throughout is a bit off-putting but a decade of The White Stripes has probably accustomed listeners to a lack of traditional low-end at this point. As for the songs themselves, Moore does not disappoint but doesn’t surprise, either. And considering who this record’s target audience is, that’s not much of a problem anyway.
Goin' Down

Despite the lively chart competition between Kanye West and 50 Cent this past week--their respective albums debuted with sales of 957,000 and 691,000 copies, according to Nielsen SoundScan--overall album sales are down 9% compared to this time last year. It's gonna be a long, cold winter.
Speaking of "Down"...

Ryan Adams tackles yet another '90s favorite with his cover of Alice in Chains' "Down in a Hole" which will appear on his Follow The Lights EP, to be released October 23rd. Adams' most recent album, Easy Tiger, was released this past June.
New Releases

Among yesterday's platters du jour are:

HARD-FI Once Upon a Time in the West (Necessary/Atlantic)
MARK KNOPFLER Kill to Get Crimson (Warner Bros.)
BEN LEE Ripe (New West)
MYRACLE BRAH Can You Hear the Myracle Brah? (Rainbow Quartz)

THE POLYPHONIC SPREE Live from Austin, TX (New West)

9/18/2007

Zack Attack

After an almost decade-long wait, fans will only have to kill a little more time while they anticipate the arrival of Rage Against The Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha's solo album. Work on the album is said to have been completed. De la Rocha is currently without a record deal and is exploring distribution options.
Meanwhile, the reunited RATM will play a couple of festival dates next month:
10/27 New Orleans, LA / City Park (Voodoo Music Experience)
10/28 Las Vegas, NV / Sam Boyd Stadium (Vegoose Festival)
Logical?

Now that it turns out that diehard Red Sox fans Matt Damon and Ben Affleck will not invade one of our beloved pop culture institutions by playing Kirk and Spock, respectively, in the upcoming Star Trek feature film prequel--we're Yankee fans and Trekkies 'round these parts--we hear that one-time Britney Spears co-star Zoe Saladaña has been cast as Uhura in said flick. Leonard Nimoy, will have a cameo as well.
ACL Pics

Stereogum has some nice shots from the recent Austin City Limits Festival.
Rush: Live in Chicago

Last week Glorious Noise's Todd Totale saw the mighty Canadian trio perform for the first time ever, despite being a fan for decades. But more than his account of the band's performance it's his both humorous and heartfelt depiction of what it is to be a middle aged rocker catching a show by his heroes in the 21st century, that is worth the read.
What Year IS This?

A Shudder To Think reunion of sorts went down Monday night at New York's Mercury Lounge during vocalist/guitarist Craig Wedren solo show there. Former STT guitarist Nathan Larson joined Wedren onstage to perform six of their old band's songs with former bandmate/latter period Guided By Voices drummer Kevin March behind the kit. "X-French Tee Shirt," "Red House," "Lies About the Sky," "No Rm. 9, Kentucky," "Day Ditty" and "Appalachian Lullaby," were performed, the latter featuring Cardigans vocalist Nina Persson, who is married to Larson. Plans for an upcoming STT reunion/collaboration are open but not confirmed.
Hey, can we get Quicksand to come back?

9/17/2007

Let's Get The Party Started

Cranky, pissed off, or maybe hungover? Got a case of "the Mondays," do ya? Pitchfork's got an interview for you: Mr. Monday Morning himself, Lou Reed.
Austin City Limits Festival Wraps Up

Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, and My Morning Jacket closed it out. Billboard has the details.
UFOs at the Zoo

Check out PopMatters' review of the live Flaming Lips DVD, subtitled The Legendary Concert In Oklahoma City.

9/14/2007

Blitzen Trapper

We actually just got turned on to these guys by a DJ friend with impeccable taste in music. Yes, we're a bit behind the curve on this one but, hey, we can't always be the first ones out there all the time. Anyway...if you're not familiar with Blitzen Trapper but The Band, classic Neil Young, Wilco, etc. are right up your alley, check out these free downloads. And if the mood strikes you, go see 'em: their fall US tour kicks off today.
What We're Listening To

GUSTAVO CERATI Siempre es Hoy (BMG US Latin)
DESORDEN PUBLICO Estrellas del Caos (Fabrika)
GUIDED BY VOICES Live from Austin, TX (New West)
DAVID SYLVIAN Gone to Earth (Virgin)
TEENAGE FANCLUB Man-Made (Merge)

What are YOU listening to?
Los Angeles, New Salsa Capital of the World (?!)

What up, New York? Down for the count? "5" er Carlina Gonzalez investigates this scary scenario and hopes for the best. It's not looking good, though.
"Back in my day, Sonny..."

The Wall Street Journal bemoans the sorry state of audio fidelity in MP3 files. But will people actually care? Oh, probably not. Too bad.
Will 50 Cent Pack His Bags...

...now that it looks like Kanye West will surely win that bet regarding first week sales of their respective albums Curtis and Graduation? No, wait--Half-a-Dollar already reneged on his vow to stop making solo albums if he lost. Wonder what kinda trash talk would've been involved if Kanye had backed out, huh?

Oh, by the way, Kanye leads by almost 200,000 copies. Ouch.

9/12/2007

Biko

Today is the 30th anniversary of the death of apartheid activist Steven Biko, who died in a South African prison after being beaten and tortured by police. He is best known by music fans for the anthem Peter Gabriel wrote in his honor, "Biko", included on Gabriel's classic, self-titled third album from 1980. Great song. Phenomenal album, too.
What Is And What Should Never(?) Be

The long-awaited Led Zeppelin reunion is to be formally announced today. Since it's supposed to be a one-off show in November--which will double as a tribute to late Atlantic Records founder Ahmet Ertegun--we don't know if it actually qualifies as a reunion, but regardless, Jason Bonham is probably overjoyed at the possibility of a real paycheck.
White Stripes Cancel Fall Tour

According to Billboard, White Stripes "drummer" Meg White "is suffering from acute anxiety and is unable to travel at this time." No further info is available at this time. The abruptly cancelled tour was supposed to kick off tommorrow, Sept 13th, in Albuquerque, N.M. and wrap up Oct. 10th in Honolulu. A UK tour due to begin on Oct 24th has not been affected as of yet by these developments.

Hey, Jack! How 'bout a quickie with The Raconteurs in the meantime?
Peek-A-Boo

The Janet Jackson "wardrobe malfunction" case went to court yesterday in Philadelphia. Let's see how this silly waste of time and money turns out.
New Releases

With all the Kanye vs 50 Cent hubub we neglected to mention other noteworthy albums released yesterday:

EDWYN COLLINS You'll Never Know (Heavenly)
ANI DiFRANCO Canon (Righteous Babe)
JOE HENRY Civilians (Anti)
JOHN SCOFIELD This Meets That (Verve)
ANN WILSON Hope & Glory (Zoe/Rounder)

Reissues include the first three ELVIS COSTELLO albums: My Aim Is True, This Year's Model, and Armed Forces, (Universal) each with bonus tracks; and on DVD, the 40th anniversary edition of The Graduate, which is supposed to be quite superior to the previous editions on the market.

9/11/2007

RIP

Bandleader, keyboard virtuoso and Miles Davis collaborator Joe Zawinul. He was 75.
VH Dress Rehearsal A Success

Blabbermouth has the inside track on the first Van Halen production/dress rehearsal for their upcoming tour, which went down this past Saturday in Los Angeles. So far so good.
The Kanye vs 50 Show

Pitchfork reviews both of today's big releases: Graduation and Curtis. Guess who came out on top?

Stone Revisited

[So, let's crack open the "5" vault and take a look back at an album released exactly 6 years ago today, one that fell through the cracks and undeservedly so. No, not that one.]

STONE GOSSARD
Bayleaf

(Epic-2001)


Talk about bad timing: after much speculation, the rock (heh, heh) upon which the Pearl Jam foundation rests, Stone Gossard finally released his own solo album on Sept. 11th, 2001. A much more laid back affair than those by his sadly overlooked side project Brad, Gossard goes for a Stonesy, funky vibe, even dabbling in reggae on the infectious “Cadillac”. Assisted by a handful of buddies that include singer/songwriter Pete Droge and one-time Pearl Jam drummer and studio mainstay Matt Chamberlain, Gossard plays guitar, bass, piano, drums as well as singing lead on seven of the albums ten tracks. This is a solo album, in the best of ways: loose, unpolished, with good songs and a bunch of talented friends doing them justice. Bayleaf may only be of interest to staunch Pearl Jam fans which is too bad. This one's got some groovy tunes for one and all.

New Indiana Jones Movie Has Title

Check out the official site for more.

9/10/2007

"Just sing, Neil"

Despite the urgings of a few in the crowd to disregard their views and simply be performing monkeys--did these hecklers not realize where they were?--Willie Nelson, Neil Young, John Mellencamp and a host of big-name friends got their messages across as Farm Aid finally made it to NYC this past weekend. It was worth the wait, according to Billboard.
VMA Triple Decker

- Britney Bombs
- Kid Rock and Tommy Lee in Scuffle
- Kanye Throws Yet Another Tantrum
And In Stereotype News...

Rufus Wainwright, whose already done the Judy Garland thing, is composing an opera, according to the New Music Express. What's next, an album of all Erasure covers?
Are We The Only Ones That Think That...

...Dane Cook, Andy Samberg, Sarah Silverman and Ben Stiller are some of the least funny people on planet Earth? Seriously, a one-trick hack like Carrot Top is Richard Pryor next to this lot. The worst of 'em is Stiller, having once hosted an interesting and risk-taking show, and who should be above the crap he's put his name on since. (By the way, Mr. DeNiro, um, Meet The Fockers, really? Why?!) Maybe Stiller was playing himself in Reality Bites...

9/07/2007

SNL Live Album To Be Released This Sunday

Courtesy of the folks at Sony/BMG an 11-track compilation of musical performances from Saturday Night Live will go on sale exclusively at Target, Sunday (?), Sept. 9th. The Live From SNL! Music Performances From Saturday Night Live cd features Franz Ferdinand, the Shins, the Strokes, Beck, Arctic Monkeys, Avril Lavigne, Kelly Clarkson, Foo Fighters, Pink, Maroon 5, and solo Dave Matthews. Did we mention that it will be on sale exclusively at Target? Oh, well...
Toronto International Film Festival

PopMatters is covering it as part of their Fall Movie Preview. First up is the new Jodie Foster revenge flick, The Brave One.
Recording of New Death Cab Album Soon Underway

With 2 weeks of pre-production already under their belt, Death Cab for Cutie are getting ready to start recording their second album for Atlantic Records, the followup to the almost-platinum selling Plans. This upcoming album may also be the first not to feature DCFC guitarist Chris Walla (The Decemberists, Nada Surf, The Postal Service, Hot Hot Heat) as producer. A Spring 2008 release is being considered.
Wilco Rocks The Vote

Well, sorta: Do you want to influence the band's set list choices? Wilco wants you to vote for your faves here. No Uncle Tupelo songs, though. Sorry.
Happy Birthday

Neko Case, sultry alt-country chanteuse and occasional New Pornographer, (37), on Sept. 8th.

9/06/2007

RIP

The great
Luciano Pavarotti had been battling pancreatic cancer. He was 71.
What We're Listening To

LO BORGES self-titled (EMI Brazil)
BILL EVANS TRIO The Best of... (Riverside)
LIZ PHAIR Whip-Smart (Matador)
WOODY SHAW Stepping Stones: Live at the Village Vanguard (Columbia)
YES Relayer (Atlantic)

What are YOU listening to?

9/04/2007

Explosion Outside Imperioli Studio

A pipe bomb blew up Tuesday morning in front of Studio Dante, Sopranos star Michael Imperioli's New York City acting studio/playhouse, located 2 blocks south of Madison Square Garden. No one was hurt. MSNBC has more.
A Poet and a Prophet, Not a Prostitute (part 2)

from the NY Daily News:

"No quantity of sacred herb is likely to pacify Bob Marley's heirs now that they've vowed to stop a plan to turn the reggae legend's freedom songs into ringtones. Bob's daughter, Cedella, tells us, Universal Music 'went behind our back' in giving Verizon Wireless exclusive rights to her father's music. She also charges that the record giant also 'released a compilation of early [Marley] recordings without our knowledge.' Family adviser Chris Blackwell, who'd been in talks with Verizon, adds: 'I'm infuriated. The deal is totally out of order.' A Universal rep calls the dirty-dealing claims 'meritless.'"

Now, as we stated before, we suspect the problem is due to the Marley family not being financially rewarded as amply as they'd like from the Universal/Verizon deal, not the deal itself. If not, why is Chris Blackwell--legendary founder of Island Records who signed Bob Marley to the label in 1971 and produced all of the reggae icon's output with Island--"in talks with Verizon"? Stay tuned.
New Releases

Among this week's debuts and reissues are:

AZTEC CAMERA High Land, Hard Rain (Rhino)
!!! self-titled (Gold Standard)
CROSBY & NASH Bittersweet (Music Avenue)
DAMIEN RICE Dogs (14th Floor/Warner Bros)
VOIVOD Black Pack (Blackened)

9/03/2007

The "Read a Book" Controversy

Generally speaking, we feel it's not appropriate for us to comment on matters of race in this forum due to its music/entertainment/pop culture nature. But since this situation stems from a music video played on BET, we thought we'd at least mention it.

Earlier in the year, poet/recording artist Bomani "D'Mite" Armah released a satirical crunk-style tune via MySpace called "Read A Book," in which he exhorts urban listeners to be responsible parents ("raise yo kids"), buy land, be hygenic, and take heed of the song's title ("not a sports page, not a magazine"). The success of the song led its animated video--littered with black stereotypes who are directed to follow the above instructions by a crunk rapper--to air on BET and become the focus of a heated discussion not heard since Bill Cosby's most recent comments on what he views as the current shortcomings of the African-American community. Yikes!

So, what's the deal with "Read a Book"? Is it a wake up call? Perpetuation of stereotypes? Good message, bad execution?
You decide:

- The "Read A Book" video.

- CNN panel discussion on "Read A Book".

Wao!

The NY Times raves about author Junot Diaz's latest work, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (Riverhead), callling it "a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets Star Trek meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West. It is funny, street-smart and keenly observed...extraordinarily vibrant ...fueled by adrenaline-powered prose..." Here's more.
RIAA Facing Lawsuit in Piracy Proceedings

Depending on the outcome of a lawsuit recently filed against The Recording Indusrty Association of America, the music biz watchdog may have to curtail their aggresive approach to combating music piracy, specifically the pursuit of monetary reparations from individuals accused of unlawfully obtaining music. Variety has more.
The Music Man

Rick Rubin, music business savior?
What We're Listening To

DECONSTRUCTION self-titled (American)
MANU KATCHE Neighbourhood (ECM)
LEONA NAESS Comatised (MCA)
THE POWER STATION self-titled (Capitol)
WAYNE SHORTER Native Dancer (Columbia)

What are YOU listening to?