Thursday News Roundup

Björk, photo by Gregoy A. Perez

  • It’s Bon Iver week over here at KEXP, and today’s headlines come bearing the news that the bearded songwriter’s new album has dethroned the likes of Lady Gaga, Eminem, and Adele to climb to the #2 spot on the Billboard Top 200, selling 104,000 copies in its first week of release – that’s nearly a third of the total sales of For Emma, Forever Ago. An impressive feat, to be sure, but more interesting will be to see how well the album fares over time. If anything, this is a sign of hope for the indie industry.
  • Following the death of E Street Band saxophonist Clarence Clemons, Bruce Springsteen issued a heartfelt statement. But many felt the eulogy Springsteen gave at Clemons’ memorial service to be far more moving, and so Springsteen’s camp has posted a revised version of the speech to his website. Read it here, although the difference between seeing words on a page and hearing The Big Man himself read them aloud must be stark. Either way, it’s a passionate and fitting tribute.

  • In better news, the dearly missed psych-pop quintet Grandaddy are embarking on a series of reissues, beginning with 2000’s acclaimed album The Sophtware Slump outside the U.S. on August 22nd. The two-disc special edition will have one disc of the remastered album, and one disc of various odds and ends – b-sides, non-album singles, EP tracks, etc. In the States, The Control Group will be reissuing vinyl copies of the group’s first three albums: 1997’s Under the Western Freeway (never before available on vinyl in America), Sophtware Slump, and 2003’s Sumday. The albums have been remastered with the band, and will take their original form (no bonus material). However, the band is releasing some of their old merch to coincide with the record releases – check that out over at their site.
  • More news from defunct bands comes from Screaming Trees, the grunge titans who split at the turn of the century. But before the breakup, the band stopped in the studio in 1998-1999 to record a series of songs. The tracks were never mixed or released, until now. Drummer Barrett Martin (who also produced the album) will release Last Words: The Final Recordings on August 2nd, with CD and vinyl releases to follow. The legendary Seattle producer Jack Endino mixed the record, which features guest appearances by R.E.M. guitarist Peter Buck and Queens of the Stone Age ringleader Josh Homme. Currently, there are no plans for a band reunion.
  • The mind of Björk is a strange and tangled place, but one from which creativity knows no boundaries. The latest evidence of this comes with the full details behind her expansive new multimedia project/album Biophilia. It starts simply enough: a 10-track album, dropping September 26. Then it gets Flaming Lips-style weird: 10 iPad apps, one for every song, each featuring “”an interactive game based on the song’s scientific and musical subject matter, a musical animation of the song, an animated score, lyrics, and an academic essay.” Perhaps most interesting is how Björk plans to bring Biophilia to live audiences: for the next three years, she’s planning to play six-week “residencies” in eight cities around the world. Performed entirely to audiences of less than 2,000, she’ll use 10 iPad apps (one for each song) to perform Biophilia in its entirety twice a week. During her off days, the venues will collaborate with local schools to host music-education workshops. Oh, and did we mention that she’s commissioned the creation of a number of new musical instruments, including four 10-foot pendulum harps? Catch the full details at the Biophilia wiki.
  • Wrapping up the week is a series of upcoming album announcements, starting with recent Sasquatch headliners Wilco, who’ve declared that their new record The Whole Love will hit shelves September 27. Elsewhere, folk virtuoso A.A. Bondy will return September 13th with his third LP, Believers, recorded with Rob Schnapf (Elliot Smith, Beck). Finally, the goth queen of noise pop Zola Jesus has unveiled her sophomore album, the long-awaited full-length follow-up to 2009’s The Spoils. Titled Conatus, the 11-song record will head into your hands October 4th. Head over here to check out the lead single, “Vessels.”
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