THE DECEMBERISTS are doing a mini-tour. playing with local orchestras. Frontman Colin Meloy talks about it and various other topics with the Baltimore Sun, the Phialdelphia Inquirer, and the Chicago Tribune-affliliated Metromix. I was keen to see the Chicago show -- it was practically in my backyard and free -- but a stomach ailment and heavy rains approaching on the radar put me off. Fortunately, we have some Tubed with the L.A. Philharmonic; if I had to pick one, it would be "The Infanta," from the Picaresque LP... though that's mostly because I like the song so much. The non-orchestral encore of "The Chimbley Sweep" has a couple of amusing moments you may want to see, too. UPDATE: My coworker Debbie attended the Chicago gig and said it was very crowded and awesome. Apparently, at one point, Colin Meloy took someone's baby and ran around with it.
THE FIERY FURNACES are on tour again, and there's a new album, Widow City, on the horizon for fall. Matthew Friedberger says it will feature electric guitar and electric bass -- and Chamberlins once owned by Foghat. On tour, he's playing an organ, "trying to revive the soap opera, minor league baseball stadium Hammond sound. It's meant to really feel like summer." The band's new label, Thrill Jockey, has posted a press kit that seems partially fictional -- at least I hope the imaginary Ouija board stuff is a goof.
MAXIMO PARK stopped by The Current to talk karaoke and play a mini-set you can stream via MPR.
COVER ME: "R.E.M. used them to open shows, Elliot Smith to close them, and the Replacements to wreck them..." Harp magazine briefly essays the history of the cover song.
GOGOL BORDELLO played DC's 9:30 Club last night, so you should be able to stream a set of gypsy folk punk on demand from NPR.
ART BRUT meets Harry Potter; pic at the link.
ST. VINCENT: Annie Clark uses a birdcage, claviettas, melodicas, $25 chord organs and basses you play with your feet, but she professes her love for Iron Maiden to the WaPo-affiliated Express. You can check out her touching cover of "These Days" (written by Jackson Browne, but first recorded by Nico) at GvsB.
THE WHITE STRIPES played their shortest ever gig -- perhaps anyone's shrtest gig -- treating fans to the sound of just a single note in a surprise show to mark the end of their Canadian tour.
JASON ISBELL talks about the factors behind his split with the Drive-By Truckers at the Cleveland Free Times. He also says his solo LP is more "pop like Big Star or Cheap Trick."
ZOOEY DESCHANEL & M. WARD: He's helping the actress with an album, but they play together on a cover of Richard and Linda Thompson's "When I Get to the Border" that will appear on the soundtrack for indie flick The Go-Getter.
KEVIN DREW talks to Billboard about the Broken Social Scene branding of his upcoming solo LP. And here's a newly-leaked (afaik) track from the album "Safety Bricks."
R.E.M.: Music Is Art is streaming a 2001 "black session" from French radio.
LINDSAY LOHAN: A blind item in Page Six had Metro UK asking whether Lohan is taking Ecstasy in a bid to get high without her SCRAM ankle bracelet detecting anything. But the Metro story has gone offline... somebody threaten a lawsuit? Meanwhile, the ever-reliable Star magazine is claiming Li-Lo was getting high in rehab on a mix of "whippits" (laughing gas) and Coricidin.
NICK NOLTE, dripping in sweat and barely able to keep his bloodshot eyes open, passed out cold on the terminal floor at the Kauai Airport this week; pics at the link. At least he wasn't driving!
CATHERINE BELL seems to have gotten a hideous nose job.
JIM CARREY is starting to look like a new age singer, while main squeeze jenny McCarthy is looking like a Vegas floozy from the 1960s.
DREW CAREY is reportedly in negotiations with CBS to host The Price is Right, though Carey has been downplaying the story. Rosie O'Donnell is going to be so mad if they pick someone just because he's better looking.
BRITNEY SPEARS and Mama and Lynne Spears had a "shocking slapfest" in mid-June that "left Lynne shaken and Britney more determined than ever to cut her mother out of her life for good," according to Star magazine. The pop tart has taken over as her own business manager and publicist, which is sure to end well.
THE 25 WORST SEQUELS EVER MADE, according to Entertainment Weekly.
MARK HAMILL calls Natalie Portman "gorgeous and one of the great beauties of the world." Y'know, it was strange enough (in hindsight) that he was kissing Leia in Pts. IV and V... but Padme?
ANNE HATHAWAY tells Marie Claire magazine that she's not as squeaky-clean as you think... and that's before you get to the multi-million-dollar lawsuit alleging that her Italian boyfriend helped to finance their globetrotting lifestyle with "improper" use of corporate funds.
MARTY'S WEDDING was interrupted when when a DeLorean rolled up, and Doc Brown jumped out of the car and yelled, "Marty, you've got to come back to the future with me!" Click through for the slideshow. Of course, if they made the movie today, Marty would have been headed to 1977 for some bad disco dancing.
JESSICA BIEL talks to Parade magazine about playing "funny sexy" in I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and about being persued by the paparazzi.
HARRY POTTER joins the list of stories about which the Associated Press makes things up.
CARTOON JIHAD: Four Muslim men have been jailed for inciting murder and terrorism during protests at the Danish embassy in London, against cartoons satirising the Prophet Mohammed. A fifth defendant was cleared of soliciting murder at his trial in February, but convicted of stirring up racial hatred.
FMR REP. LEE HAMILTON, a co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group and the 9/11 Commission, thinks the US should invade Pakistan to rout al Qaeda from the safe haven it has found in the mountains of Waziristan. Somehow, I doubt we'll hear political candidates rushing to agree.
IRAN: The US says it is "appalled" at Tehran's treatment of two detained Iranian-Americans. An editorial by appointed representative of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei at Kayhan and one of his close advisers suggests the regime may want to assert claims over the former Persian colony of Bahrain.
IRAQ: The US command said Wednesday the highest-ranking Iraqi in the leadership of al-Qaida in Iraq has been arrested, adding that information from him indicates the group's foreign-based leadership wields considerable influence over the Iraqi chapter. Bill Roggio has more details on Khaled Abdul-Fattah Dawoud Mahmoud al-Mashhadani, also known as Abu Shahid. The NYT/IHT covers radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's two-tiered strategy that reaches out to Iraqis on the street and distances him from the increasingly unpopular government. This story and the arrest story suggest that, for all of the sectarian violence, there is a nationalism in Iraq that rejects foreign jihadis; otherwise al-Sadr would not be distancing himself from Iran and pursuing a political track. And for those who think the US is indiscriminately lumping the opposition together as "al-Qaeda," it may be for the Iraqi audience as much as the US audience. Turkish artillery and warplanes bombarded villages in northern Iraq on Wednesday, as Baghdad responded with an appeal for dialogue instead of force. Prime Minister al-Maliki accused Arab research centers and media institutions of leading "conspiracy against Iraq." Col. John Charlton has a progress report from Anbar province.
BIG DOG UPDATE: Here's your big dog robot video for the day.
A MUM was trapped for an hour with her hand stuck inside her pet boxer's mouth.
SPIDERS save a woman from a house fire. With great power comes great responsibility.
TAUNTING HIPPOS is not a good idea, though not a bad name for a band.
THE GOOSE WHISPERER: Martin Hof has become a minor celebrity in the Netherlands, in part for his ability to communicate with fowl, which some say borders on the magical.
A LARVAL INFESTATION of the face can be disturbing and painful.