You have to wonder why more businesses don't install the XLerator in their bathrooms
Is it actually possible to have another great rock band thrust at us from Paris (other than Phoenix, of course)? Where the band sings in English and doesn't have a hint of an accent -- and does it well? Neïmo might just be the next great hope to break through on our side of the pond (although they're kind of cheating now by moving to the US to tour throughout 2008). The band is parts rock and parts glam – think Velvet Underground meets Marc Boland and then runs into Frank-N-Furter doing lines with the Strokes. They have the package: fuzzed-out guitars, electro synts and commanding (sometimes insipid), storytelling vocals. They're going to hit SXSW – and I think they're going to be one of the buzzier bands down there. If CBGBs were still around -- or if Neïmo were around in the late '70s -- they might be mentioned alongside the Ramones and Blondie. Bold statement? Sure. Check for yourself on their MySpace.
My pals over at Rotter and Friends have just released a slew of new T-shirt designs, one featuring an exclusive drawing by former Welcome Back Kotter star Ron Palillo, who you likely remember better as the funny and endearingly annoying Horshack. The intricate design is the first of two limited edition pieces commissioned, and it's printed on a mint-colored T and is available exclusively at the Rotter and Friends pop-up holiday shop at Moli.com for both men and women for $37. Don't walk ... run, because they will likely run out. This is a collector's item.
Hot Aussie indie dance rockers cum DJs (their 2006 FabricLive mix last year was truly amazing and one of my fave mixes to come out of the London super club) just dropped a new mix -- and we're one of the first places in the US to have it (it was sent to my magazine, UR Chicago, as an exclusive from Modular Records). Based on what they've released in the past -- and how they (really lead singer/songwriter Dan Whitford) made me shake my booty with the FabLive mix, this one should be setting dance floors ablaze in no time. The mix features songs from Cut Copy's forthcoming album, In Ghost Colours (gotta love the non-American spelling), out April 8. It follows up their smash 2004 debut, Bright Like Neon Love, which was an album that I at first dismissed but revisited a year later and wondered why I had stayed away so long. Don't make the same mistake -- get on the Cut Copy bandwagon, you won't be disappointed.
Download the new mix here.
After undergoing groundbreaking chemo and radiation to help eradicate the cancer of the mount and tongue (officially called stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma) famed and celebrated Chef Grant Achatz of Chicago's Alinea is in remission. I just received this letter from Grant, sent by his publicist:
"It is with a tremendous sense of gratitude and relief that I have successfully completed my course of therapy at the University of Chicago. It was incredibly important to me to remain as engaged as possible at Alinea while receiving treatment, and during that time I only missed 14 services. I continue to stand committed to innovating fine dining long into the future.
At this time I want to thank everyone at Alinea -- the staff, investors, and patrons of the restaurant have offered their unwavering commitment and support in ways large and small. The community of restaurants, chefs, and industry professionals who reached out to us was exceptionally gratifying.
Most of all, I must make special mention of doctors Vokes, Blair, and Haraf at the University of Chicago Medical Center, as well as the countless number of medical professionals and support staff there who cared for me. Where other doctors at prominent institutions saw little hope of a normal life, let alone a cure, these doctors saw an opportunity to think differently, preserve my tongue and taste, and maintain a long term high quality of life. Through the use of a new and rigorous Chemotherapy and Radiation protocol, they were able achieve a full remission while ensuring that the use of invasive surgery on my tongue was not needed. Onward."
Chicago blues diva Koko Taylor, Bay Area down-tempo/house genius Miguel Migs, legendary (albeit douchey) R&B guitarist/songwriter Ike Turner and indie rockers Joan as Police Woman, Apples in Stereo and the Silver Seas (!!!!) were all named winners in the 7th annual Independent Music Awards. The awards were chosen by an international panel that included the Kinks' Ray Davies, Mavis Staples, Snoop Dogg, Suzanne Vega, Judy Collins, music journo Anthony DeCurtis and many more.
Want a complete list of winners? Go here.
Swedish psych rock (and slightly electronic) outfit the Soundtrack of our Lives are currently working on the follow up to 2005's Origins Vol 1, which, if you're familiar with it, blew your mind I'm sure [Update: just got a note this morning (Thurs) that the album will be available sometime this spring). They're going to announce a US tour soon and will also make a stop at SXSW in March. In the meantime, they've recorded a mellow, melancholy and slightly ironic Christmas song. Stream it and read along with the lyrics below.
Everybody hit the mall again with the piper / Better hurry cause it´s Christmas time in my head
Gonna buy to everyone I can with the piper / Santa is coming and I think I´m seeing red
Here´s a present for you I saw it on youtube / With the the extras on and the making of the songs
And you know the set was really hard to get / It´s a limited edition and your copy was the last they had... / Everybody hit the mall again with the piper / Better hurry cause it´s christmas time my friend
Gonna fill another empty life with the piper / Shopoholics are anonymous again
Here comes Santa Clause / An old man I suppose / Jump into his lap - don´t mind if he´s too fat
Tell him that you´ve been good / As good as Robin Hood / If your wish come true this package is for you... / Only you... / (Old fashioned solo-singalong part makes Ric Ocasek happy)
Everybody hit the mall again with the piper / Better hurry cause it´s christmas time in my head
Gonna smoke up all my stash again with my piper / Santa is coming and I´m waiting here in my bed
Here´s a present for you / If the past is all you do / With the extras on and the things that turned out wrong / So you better be good / While I´m knockin´ on heavens wood / May your wish come true ´cause I wrote this song for you... / For you...
If you jumped on the Cold War Kids bandwagon this year and never got the chance to procure their rare Mulberry Street EP, you are in luck. The band has just made it available for free download at RCRD LBL.com. Since most people know about CWK through their 2006 release Robbers & Cowards, this EP is a look into what went on with the band before they blew up and took the blogosphere by storm. Mulberry Street was their first of three 6-song EPs and was recorded in a garage in one day -- and only cost the band $60 -- in between listening to Iggy Pop and Neil Young and moving the lawn, according to singer Nathan Willett. As for RCRD LBL, it's an amalgamation of online labels and blogs that launched in November and offers free music for users from both veteran and up-and-coming bands from labels including Warp, Dim Mak, Ghostly International, Modular and more. At last check in, we learned that CWK are currently recording their follow up, likely for a 2008 release.
Feeling good about your vocabulary? Want to test yourself -- or enhance your knowledge of the English language? At FreeRice, by knowing the definitions of words, you can send grains of rice to hungry people in developing nations around the world. In partnership with the United Nations World Food Program, FreeRice has donated more than 9 billion grains of rice since it launched in early October. That first month, more than 537 million grains were donated; In November, that number jumped to 4.76 billion for the month. Obviously word is getting out and more and more people are playing the FreeRice game. Not only do you get to improve your vocabulary, but feel good at the same time, knowing you're helping put food on someone's plate. Worldwide hunger is one of the most serious issues threatening people today. According to the UN, 25,000 people (mostly kids) die from hunger or hunger-related causes. So instead of working on that report that's due by 5 pm, spend 20 minutes and see how many words you can get right. And when your boss yells at you, make them feel guilty they're not helping stomp out hunger.
OFFICE, one of Chicago's biggest buzz bands (who I wrote about over a year ago) is getting some major national attention. When their album, A Night at the Ritz, dropped in September on James Iha's Scratchie Records (in partnership with New Line), the band garnered a lot of press from Spin, Venus, LA Times, TimeOut Chicago and, of course, my magazine UR Chicago (which is owned by En Prise Entertainment, who manages OFFICE). The band hit it big late last week with a fantastic plug on MTV News; the segment was shot in LA, during the band's current West Coast tour. Check it...