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By Andy Argyrakis
Bloc Party Weekend Report: Bloc Party tour begins, DMC DVD
Friday, April 13, 2007
After a series of spot dates, including a headlining slot at Stubb's during Austin's annual SxSW Festival, Bloc Party kicks off its official tour in support of A Weekend in the City (Vice). Though not as hook oriented as the band's previous project, the disc has been widely accepted given the gang's creative merger of hypnotic guitars, dance flourishes and even more entrancing vocals from front man Kele Okereke. But fans will have the chance to judge for themselves, starting this Saturday at the Glasgow Academy in Scotland, followed by a pair of performances at London's Brixton Academy April 19 and 20, plus a several week run throughout Europe. Come May 27, the band returns to American shores at the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre in Florida, extending the trek well into June.

Chicagoans can catch a diverse indie rock bill at the Double Door on Saturday, continuing in the club's ongoing tradition of highlighting already established acts and breaking new talent. In already familiar contexts, Shock Stars take the stage led by Stubhy From Lucky Boys Confusion, followed by the burgeoning Swizzle Tree, On A Sun and Thomas Ian Nicholas. Out of the earlier acts, be sure to catch On a Sun's set, Run DMCwho return to the building following an opening spot for Soul Asylum, several slots during this year's SxSW and a "Judges' Choice" nod during the Epic Records' sponsored Music Nation video competition (which currently finds the band amongst quarterfinals nominees at http://rock.musicnation.com/va45). And considering it's all part of the venue's "Low Dough Show" series (www.doubledoor.com), the ticket price promises plenty of bang for merely five bucks.

For those who'd rather kick up their feet in front of the TV (or pop on the home stereo for an audio installment of the same project), Eagle Vision USA just released Run DMC's Live at Montreux 2001. Aside from capturing the legendary hip-hop trio in the confines of the Montreux Jazz Festival, the performance will also go down in the history books as the last recorded appearance by Jam Master Jay before his untimely death in 2002. Both the DVD and CD editions capture the band's biggest hits ("King of Rock," "Walk This Way," "Down With the King" and others), offering a well rounded archival presentation and a touching tribute.
Busdriver Busdriver buzz, Intonation axed, Cash fire
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Not since The Streets hit the States has any hip-hop act been as buzzed about as much as Busdriver. The L.A. based chop-master/mix-maestro (whose real name is Regan Farquhar) follows up his Anti- debut RoadKillOvercoat with an iTunes exclusive EP on April 17th, which features unreleased versions of cuts from that full-length collection. Thus far the unconventional artist has sparked a press frenzy everywhere from Alternative Press and Pitchfork to The New York Times and The Los Angles Times, not to mention appearances at last year's CMJ Music Marathon and this year's Coachella extravaganza. Other recent road runnings include dates with the like minded RJD2 and indie upstarts Deerhoof.

The M.C. would've been perfect for a slot on Chicago's Intonation Festival, though the event breaks its annual streak this summer. According to a Chicago Tribune report, organizers pulled the plug due to vast seasonal competition (which already includes Lollapalooza, Pitchfork Music Festival and Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival), along with the rising prices of artist honorariums. It's truly a shame, especially considering last year's event featured promising headliners Joanne CashThe Streets and Bloc Party, plus producer turned artist extraordinaire Jon Brion, bawdy rapper Lady Sovereign and many more impressive underground talents. No information has been released as to whether or not the event will return in 2008.

In even more humbling news, the Hendersonville, Tennessee home of Johnny and June Carter Cash was destroyed by a fire yesterday afternoon. Since the couple's passing, it was bought by Barry Gibb, though fellow artist (and Cash's one time son in law) Marty Stuart still lives next store. The 13,880-square-foot house was not only a historic landmark in the making, but also the music video location for "Hurt." The following family statement was released by Johnny's sister Joanne (also his frequent duet partner and current solo act) shortly after the tragedy: "Of course we are all in a state of shock. I feel that an era has passed...My prayers are with the Cash family and especially the Gibb family during this time."
Foo Fighters Foos' RCA re-signing, Ozzfest ticketing announced
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Thankfully the Foo Fighters have never been confined to major label clutches when it comes to artistic outpouring. Yet its partnership with RCA has helped the band become a consistently dominant presence throughout the mainstream over the past decade, thus allowing Dave Grohl and company to fully live out the rock n' roll lifestyle long after the demise of Nirvana. That trend is likely to continue well into the future thanks to a resigning with the label that helped distribute groundbreaking albums such as 2000's There Is Nothing Left To Lose and 2003's One By One. "With all the crazy shit that's gone down in the record business over the last 10 years, it's been a huge comfort to know that the people at RCA have always had our backs," Grohl said in a statement. "The support and freedom they've given us has been invaluable and I'm glad to have them continuing with us into this band's second decade." While the behind the scenes signing might not mean much to fans, it does open the door for a new album to be recorded and released in the near future.

After a highly publicized round of hype that Ozzfest would indeed be free this year, details about how to acquire tickets have finally been announced. Long story short, hopeful attendees will have to log onto any of the sponsors' websites (ozzfest.com, livenation.com, monsterenergy.com, jagermusic.com and fye.com) and acquire a password (which will post on May 12). From there, Ozzy Osbournethey'll have to return to that same site a month later (June 12 to be exact) and try to beat the clock during the first come first served distribution system. However organizers (including Ozzy Osbourne himself) are attempting to accommodate as many people as possible, instilling a two ticket limit per person.

In CD release news, acoustic tinged college rockers Sister Hazel plan to release a collection of rarities and B-sides called BAM! Volume 1 on an independent level. Despite rising to fame on Universal with radio ready hits "All For You" and "Change Your Mind," the guys have refined their sound in a less commercial, more artistically satisfying direction as of late. The project releases June 8 and will be supported by a tour covering the band's entire catalogue.
Conor Oberst Street Date: Conor collaborations,
Cave concocts Grinderman

Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Brooding heart Conor Oberst returns for his sixth official offering with a revolving cast of players he calls Bright Eyes. The all star line-up of guest artists includes fellow troubadours Ben Kweller and M. Ward, plus alternative country artist Gillian Welch who turn in an earthy pop/modern folk mixture on Cassadaga (Saddle Creek). The disc takes cues from 2005's I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning and once again moves in a slightly more accessible direction than some of Oberst's experimental, sometimes abstract past. But as the figurehead turns twenty-seven, he's finally shying away from teen angst and emotional aggression to a noticeably more mature, additionally deep disposition.

Though it's not an official Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds project, the self-titled debut from Grinderman has the enigmatic tunesmith's fingerprints all over it. That's because the Anti- act merges his talents with the Seeds' violinist Warren Ellis, bassist Martyn Casey and drummer Jim Sclavuno for this side project of sorts. Nick CaveThe disc is said to be unlike any of the players' previous ruminations, though it does include signature elements, such as Cave's always engaging lyrics and hypnotic voice over compelling instrumentation.

In club contexts, world class turntablist Tiesto turns to an entirely original affair come Elements of Life (Ultra), marking his first album of this nature since 2004. The dance floor packer turns out a mixture of DJ spinning and programming, with occasional samples and special guests. Chanteuse Charlotte Martin turns in vocals on "Sweet Things," while also including collaborations with fellow spinster BT and Maxi Jazz of Faithless fame. Other albums on the docket today include the Sonic Youth inspired Blonde Redhead's 23 (4ad / Ada), plus Nine Inch Nails' two part single release Survivalism (Interscope/Nothing).
David Bowie Bowie curates week-long Big Apple bash
Monday, April 9, 2007
Chameleon rocker David Bowie can now add event co-founder and curator to his extensive resume thanks to the upcoming H&M High Line Festival. The ten day event is being called a "cultural mash-up" bringing together a slew of indie rockers, comics, poets and filmmakers across New York City's most popular venues. From May 9-19, the Big Apple will be even more crowded than usual thanks to an extensive line-up including the Arcade Fire, Air, The Polyphonic Spree, The Secret Machines, Deefhoof, Daniel Johnston, amongst many other. Outside of musical contexts, Ricky Gervais is slated to stimulate fans' funny bones, Ken Nordine offers a spoken word presentation, along with a screening of Bowie's ten favorite Spanish films from the past century. The cavalcade of stars rotates between the Theatre at Madison Square Garden, the Grand Ballroom at the Manhattan Center and Irving Plaza to name a few. For the entire line-up, locations and tickets, log onto www.highlinefestival.com.

In the same spirit of introducing new talent to the masses, buzz band Peter, Bjorn & John rounds out its spring tour with Fujiya & Miyagi, the trio comprised of David Best, Steve Lewis, and Matt Hainsby. The indie rockers' latest album Transparent Things (Deaf Dumb & Blind Recordings) was voted #39 on Pitchfork's Top 50 of 2006 list, pulling together influences including the aforementioned Air, Leeroy StaggerKraftwerk and Talking Heads. Catch the inventive double bill throughout the first two weeks of May throughout America.

After spending the last three years as a solo breakout act on the Canadian underground, singer/songwriter Leeroy Stagger is taking his show on the road. Along with backers The Sinking Hearts, he'll be plugging the new Depression River (Boompa Records) this season, which merges dirty rock n' roll, beer soaked blues and insurgent country. The twenty-three-year old has already drawn comparisons to Ryan Adams and Neil Young, though he also references the early days of Bruce Springsteen and the joyfully schizophrenic sounds of Nick Cave.

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