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By Andy Argyrakis
Gomez Weekend Report: Gomez heads down under
Friday, March 30, 2007
After co-headlining an American run with Ben Kweller, eclectic rockers Gomez head to the land Down Under for two weeks worth of dates. This weekend includes a handful of solo headlining shows, along with a slot at the West Coast Blues N Roots Festival (also featuring the diverse likes of The Roots, Wolfmother and Bela Fleck & the Flecktones Saturday night). The group continues riding high off its 2006 release How We Operate (ATO), turning in an impressive amalgamation between early R.E.M. and Wilco. Following this Australian run, the group returns to the States accompanying The Fray on that band's seemingly never ending tour.

Those who'd rather not leave their house and hangout in cyberspace can log onto www.ebay.com/aetv for a chance to score a dinner date with Kiss singer Gene Simmons and former "Playmate of the Year" Shannon Tweed. Aside from being a publicity stunt for the television show "Gene Simmons Family Jewels," the proceeds benefit eBay's Giving Works program. The winner of this particular The Academy Is...bid will be giving to the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation and they'll not only be rewarded with the dinner, but also a trip (with three guests) to Los Angeles, two nights in a hotel and a limo. Bidding is currently open and runs through Wednesday, April 4.

Punk rockers The Academy Is... will be putting finishing touches on tour rehearsals this weekend before kicking off a new run on Tuesday, April 3 at Chicago's Metro for a record release show (www.ticketmaster.com). That same day the group's Santi (Fueled By Ramen) hits stores driven by the lead single "We've Got a Big Mess On Our Hands." The track already scored instant adds on MTV and Fuse, while the band in general just earned a Rolling Stone nod as an "Artist to Watch" and Blender props as one of the "25 Reasons To Love '07."
Mest Mest front man freed, Arcade cancellations
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The tumultuous week for Mest singer Tony Lovato has finally come to a somewhat comforting conclusion. Though he was arrested Sunday after stabbing Wayne Hughes, the Los Angeles Police Department has since set the singer free, citing his role in the incident as self-defense. It turns out Lovato and Hughes were both dating the same girl back and fourth in a bizarre love triangle, leading to this highly heated confrontation. And even though Hughes died as a result of the wounds, it was determined Lovato's means of protective force was reasonable and justified.

Though not nearly the matter of life and death as the aforementioned, fervent Arcade Fire fans are feeling some serious pain following the band's recent round of cancellations. Despite its latest CD Neon Bible (Merge) only being on store shelves a few weeks, loads of public appearances and performances have weighed heavily on vocalist Win Butler, forcing him to take a break from the road. With parched vocal chords, an extreme sinus infection and doctor's orders committing him to rest and recovery, Minnie Driverseven shows throughout Germany, France, the Netherlands and Belgium have been axed. At this point, there are no plans to reschedule those shows, but the North American dates are still on as originally planned.

Actress turned singer Minnie Driver has better news for her appreciators, though skeptics are sure to raise their eyebrows at her forthcoming sophomore CD Stories on Zoe/Rounder Records. The disc is slated for release this summer pitting the celebrity with Pete Yorn producer Marc "Doc" Dauer. Though her pre-existing fame has proven to be a double edged sword on her musical forays thus far, Driver's found more favor than expected thanks to the fact that she pens her own tunes and adheres to a dreamy pop/folk formula.
Paul McCartney Beatles blunder or brilliance?
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
Some Beatles' fans still haven't forgiven Paul McCartney for "Silly Love Songs," others are still appalled by his 80s duets with Michael Jackson (which led to the King of Pop's purchase of the band's partial publishing), while some could never get past Macca's formation of Wings. For that faction that will always contend John Lennon, George Harrison and even Ringo Starr were much more artistically sound, Sir Paul's latest move could be another nail in the uncool coffin. The ultra famous artist just announced signing with Starbucks Corporation's new record label Hear Music, which is partnering with Concord Music Group to have future projects distributed throughout the chain. While nowhere near the prestige of Apple or Capitol, the coffee conglomerate has used similar methods in selling Ray Charles' Genius Loves Company duets CD, in turn introducing the late great's music to a brand new generation.

Troubadour Ari Hest stays within the Red Ink/Columbia Records family for his forthcoming CD The Break-In, slated to hit stores May 1. The Brooklyn-based tunesmith has spent the last three years on the road in support of his label debut Someone To Tell, but has recently hunkered down in the studio with longtime producer Mitchell Froom Ari Hest(Crowded House, Elvis Costello, Ron Sexsmith). The relative newcomer is currently supporting label mate Brandi Carlile on the road to preview the project, with a round of solo headlining dates likely to follow.

To further demonstrate the reduced role major record labels are playing in prominent placement, unsigned Dallas punk rockers Greyskull have scored major promotion across Asia as part of a Nokia phone campaign. The group's music and pictures have been plastered just about everywhere throughout the entire region, while the band's tunes from the self-released Pretty In Ink will be featured on all the company's upcoming phone line. Since its formation in 2002, the group's been boasting an influence pool ranging from the Ramones to Social Distortion to Bad Religion.
Kaiser Chiefs Street Date: Fresh Kaiser Chiefs, Elton rehashed
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
When the Kaiser Chiefs debuted with Employment (Universal) right alongside Bloc Party, The Killers, Kasabian, Editors and a whole other host of 80s re-creators, it was uncertain if they'd last or be a flash in the pan. Considering the group returns on the same label for an equally acclaimed follow-up Yours Truly, Angry Mob, it's possible the U.K. rockers could outlast the sophomore curse, especially since the guys showcase additional Brit-pop influences like Blur and Placebo, plus plenty of hooks. It may be a bit too radio friendly for fans who discovered the band on the English underground, but the Kaiser Chiefs haven't watered down its aggressive, dance drenched rock. Instead, consider this second offering to open its doors to a wider audience and help turn mainstream attention away from its generally unfortunate, mechanical clutches.

When Elton John released the double disc Greatest Hits 1970-2002 (Island), he covered pretty much all the essential singles spanning that time period. With only two studio albums to his name since, it seems pointless for yet another career compilation, especially since it doesn't include either of that disc's selections. Elton JohnToday's Rocket Man: Number Ones (Mercury) focuses on seventeen of the piano man's chart-toppers in single disc format, which may seem like a concise collection for the extremely casual fan, but leaves out mounds of essential material. While the project is clearly designed for those needing a quick John fix, it's a slap in the face to dedicated followers tired of having his catalogue regurgitated on countless occasions.

Though not nearly as regular with greatest hits releases, Stevie Nicks also has her fair share, (including a box set and a single disc offering). In between 1998's Enchanted: The Words of Stevie Nicks (Atlantic), the frequent Fleetwood Mac singer only released one solo studio CD, making Crystal Visions: The Very Best of Stevie Nicks (Reprise) appear unnecessary. Despite its pointlessness from an audio perspective, the project does come bundled with a bonus disc tracing most of the dark diva's music videos, which up until this collection, have been somewhat hard to find. It's probably worth grabbing for diehards, but not essential for the non-visually inclined who could be perfectly content with the previous packages.
Mest Former Mest singer jailed for fatal stabbing
Monday, March 26, 2007
Former Mest frontman Tony Lovato, 26, was charged and put in jail on suspicion of murder on Sunday, Police said that Lovato confessed to the fatal stabbing of a man who knew his ex-girlfriend. The Los Angeles police department would not give the name of the victim to the media, bvut press reports identified the man as Wayne Huges, 25. It has been reported that Hughes had a relationship with Lovato's ex-girlfriend. The LA Police department said that Lovato called 911 and said , "I've been involved in a fight and can you come here." Apparently the two had an argument and Lovato stabbed Hughes in the chest several times. Lovato is currently being held on $1,000,000 bail. (Posted by Phil Bonyata)

Though Eric Clapton's made many questionable calls in that latter portions of his career (including a slew of adult contemporary albums), old "Slowhand" is starting to come around. First, it was a reunion with Cream, then a collaborative album with J.J. Cale and now the announcement of his 2007 Crossroads Guitar Festival. This year marks the second event of its kind, culling together Clapton's best pals and fellow musicians slated for July 28 at Chicago's Toyota Park.Eric Clapton The roster is nearly endless, covering top bluesmen such B.B. King, Buddy Guy and Hubert Sumlin, country greats Willie Nelson, Vince Gill and Alison Krauss &Union Station, along with jammers Steve Winwood and Robert Randolph & The Family Band. But the list doesn't end there as the event incorporates a hodgepodge of many other genres, including the strum slinging likes of Jeff Beck, Doyle Bramhall II, Robert Cray, Sheryl Crow, Sonny Landreth, Albert Lee, Los Lobos, John Mayer, John McLaughlin, The Derek Trucks Band and Jimmie Vaughan.

With the demise of Tower Records, the major national music chain Virgin Megastore is now the top dog at retail (while simultaneously serving as the last of its breed). As had been the case of previous years, the store is sponsoring this spring's eighteen city Virgin College Mega Tour, bringing together a diverse group of artists with the teen and twenty-something crowd in mind. Though not as large of a draw as previous tour alum Cake, this year's headliner Talib Kweli still has a legion of collegiate fans and always interesting soul/pop/hip-hop conglomeration. Other acts include pop/punkers Sugarcult and ex-Something Corporate guitarist William Tell.Incubus Though the concert calendar continues to fill up with these and countless other new summer announcements, Incubus regrets having to pull out of its recent itinerary. Similar to Tool's recent situation, the eclectic rockers are on the disabled list due to guitarist Mike Einziger's hand injury. Doctors have suggested surgery, which means an 8-12 week recovery period, meaning everything is off until a show in Victoria, B.C. on May 14. The news couldn't have come at a worse time for the recently revived band, who was on a steady course of momentum following the release of November's Light Grenades (Epic/Immortal), which debuted at the top spot on Billboard's album chart.

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