James Jackson Toth: Waiting in Vain

Toth’s psychedelic combo Wooden Wand provided a promising template for this, his solo debut, but despite his persistent croon and a decidedly dark ambiance, it’s far less cryptic than that previous project. Toth enlists a back-up band with considerable credentials – among them, members of Wilco, Deerhoof, Vetiver and Geraldine Fibers, as well as his wife and foil, Jexie Lynn. – giving him plenty of room to maneuver within their fluid arrangements. “Nothing Hides,” “Do What You Can” and “Midnight Watchman” seem somewhat innocuous on first glance, but there’s a sinister subtext in Toth’s tales, with shady characters, worrisome encounters and a general air of pervading doom tainting the atmosphere. Indeed, lyrics like “Cocaine and bourbon, pinball and pool – look in on me/Don’t leave me to face the slow death of a fool” and an inside cover photo of Toth cradling a revolver confirm his shaded intents. Swagger turns to stagger on the woozy ballad “Poison Oak” and the aforementioned ode to decadence, “Look in on Me,” but overall, this is a most assured collection and a distinctive one at that. (Rykodisc)

Ryokdisc website


Rock of Pages: 45 Books for the Literate Music Fan

Yes, we know that writing about music is like dancing about architecture (even if we’re not convinced that Elvis Costello said it first), but let’s be realistic: if you’re a music fan who likes to read, you can achieve a very special level of bliss when you get the opportunity to dive into a book about music. The Bullz-Eye staff knocked their heads together and came up with a list of 45 books that span several musical genres and include autobiographies and biographies, histories of record companies and music magazines, essay collections, and straight-up reference tomes. It’s not intended to be all-encompassing, nor would we presume to call it a definitive list of the best music books of all time. It’s simply a selection of some of our personal favorites, none of which would be out of place on a music fan’s bookshelf…and you can find it right here.

We also got some of the authors in on the fun, as well as some of our favorite musicians, which resulted in enough responses from folks from Kyle Vincent to Henry Rollins to warrant Rock of Pages: Celebrity Edition.

But we know: we’ve missed one (or more) of your favorites. We always miss one (or more) of your favorites. So call us out already and leave a comment. We can always use another addition to our Barnes & Noble shopping list…


So You Wanna Be a Rock and Roll Star?

UBER.com, along with industry big shots such as Atlantic Records, The Agency Group, Sneak Attack Media and Peer Music Publishing, are launching a contest for unsigned artists and bands called You Bring the Talent. The winner will receive an EP deal with Atlantic, publishing deal with Peer, booking deal with The Agency Group, distribution through ADA from The Rebel Group and a showcase at Hollywood’s House of Blues. To enter, you have to join UBER.com, and upload your band’s music, bio, and photos–then set up a voting module for yourself.

The contest runs until March 31, and your fans can vote once every 24 hours. For more information, please visit www.uber.com/youbringthetalent.


Ari Hest Embraces Being Indie

After three years on major label Columbia Records, New York City based singer/songwriter Ari Hest is on his own again, and is embracing his independent status. Following an alarming trend of artists who feel the need to emancipate themselves from the major label machine to pursue more control and artistic freedom, Hest is launching a subscription based service on January 7 called “52.” The premise is that the prolific artist will deliver to his fans one new song per week with access to blogs, lyrics, interactive voting polls and more.

“After an amicable departure from my record label this summer, I decided it was time to try something a little different,” he said. “It feels great to be an independent artist again, and I’m more inspired than ever to write and record. ”

At the end of 2008, Hest will take the most popular songs from “52,” and record a new album with those tracks in 2009. There will be three levels to the subscription service, and fans can find out more by visiting Hest’s website at www.arihest.com


A small Victory, indeed

It is incredibly easy to get buried in publicity emails, and lose track of what you should actually be covering versus what publicists want you to cover. Our publicist (Mike Farley, take a bow) sends me, on average, dozens of emails a day, all of which scream, “Listen to this right this second!” Before I know it, a band I like, like Travis, has a new album out, and I wonder why I haven’t heard a thing about it. Seriously, isn’t it strange that Travis put out an album and the label did nothing to promote it?

Anyway, at the end of the day today, Mike forwards an email from the Director of Publicity at Victory Records. The title of the email instantly gets my attention:

I’m removing you from the promo mailing list.”

Wow, classy.

Even better, the email is a mass email, delivered to God knows how many other sites that Victory had once called upon. The body of the email is almost as funny as the title:

I have been sending you promotional material for almost a year now and have not seen sufficient action on your site for one reason or another.

If you have an issue with this, please respond within the next WEEK and let me know how this can improve, otherwise, please get in touch when you’re able to give us exposure.

Again, wow, classy.

Okay, here’s the point of my piece. I have been so consumed with putting out the fires in my inbox that it wasn’t until I forwarded this hilarious email to some of the writers on my staff that I even realized (my writers, unlike me, are still in contact with the outside world) that Victory records is in the middle of a veritable shitstorm of negative publicity. All of their biggest bands, including Hawthorne Heights, Taking Back Sunday and Atreyu, have jumped ship following charges of gross malfeasance. The final nail in the coffin came today, when former Victory Records VP Ramsey Dean wrote a lengthy dissertation for Absolute Punk about his time with the label. It has since been taken down but, thanks to Idolator and Google cache, the rant lives on. If you have ever supported this label, you owe it to yourself to read this and learn what is really going on. Racism, hookers and paranoia, oh my!

To read the entire rant (warning: it’s really, really long), click here. As a post script, I was tempted to tell the publicist that we would be delighted to be taken off their promo list, but I care so little about their product that I decided not to bother.


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