We're stunned this market wasn't tapped sooner, but then (hardy-har) maybe they ain't the most motivated folks in the business: The publishers of High Times magazine have finally gotten around to starting a record label, featuring artists who worship the evil weed as much as the long-running magazine's many (500,000!) readers. And contrary to what you'd think, their first release has nary a didgeridoo solo in sight. THC—The Hip-Hop Collection features 14 tracks from the likes of RZA, Pharcyde, Cypress Hill's B-Real, and the Beatnuts, with a reggae record featuring Mad Professor and the Scientist slated next. We foresee many other horrible cannabis-related title puns, and perhaps a few solid releases, from HT Records in the future. . . . Congratulations to Vendetta Red, formerly of local Loveless Records, who are now reportedly making their home on Epic Records. According to our sources, the big-label bucks have already begun to fly, landing one particularly pleased local roadie the kind of salary that should allow for the occasional filet mignon substitution for his regular Top Ramen repast. . . . Forgoing the general Gap trend, Wilco have instead licensed the use of their song "How to Fight Loneliness" (from the upcoming and already infamous Yankee Foxtrot Hotel) to be used in anti-smoking commercials starring former smoker and current spokeswoman/supermodel Christy Turlington. From what we hear though, lead singer Jeff Tweedy hasn't kicked the cancer sticks to the curb himself. . . . Have you wondered what professional bassist/sexy goth chick Melissa Auf der Mauer would do with the rest of her life, post-Hole and Smashing Pumpkins, besides make periodic appearances in the scene pages of Paper and Interview? We have, but now that pressing question has an answer: She's joined one supergroup called the Virgins featuring
Evan Dando, James Iha, and Ryan Adams, which is slated to release a record on Iha's Itchie Records sometime this winter, and another dubbed Team Sleep, the "ambient side project" of Deftones singer Chito Moreno. Joining her in this second motley crew will be Helium darling Mary Timony and Mr. Bungle's Mike Patton, who's in town this week to perform at I-Spy with Lovage, Dan the Automator's latest project. Though the Virgins make sense in a mid-'90s redux sort of way, the Sleep thing flummoxes our little bean brain. Could it get weirder? . . . Silly us—it always can! A while back, we reported that Zwan, Billy Corgan's new "superband" project, had a bass player we knew only as Skullfisher. Alas, he's not quite the Linkin Park outcast we judged him to be from the name—it's none other than Slint founder and Tortoise co-conspirator David Pajo. We don't blame him for the nom de Zwan; if we were Pajo, we probably wouldn't be shouting it from the rooftops, either. . . . Now that we've finally recovered from the shock of seeing Elliott Smith stand next to Celine "My Heart Will Go On" Dion at the 1998 Academy Awards, he's gone and confounded us again by returning to his quote-unquote roots. Current label Dreamworks has allowed his latest work, tentatively titled From the Basement to the Hill and featuring guest appearances from the Flaming Lips' Steven Drozd and Beachwood Sparks' Aaron Sperske, to be released on an indie outpost. We'd love to tell you which one, but we can't, since Smith hasn't actually decided yet. . . . Weezer freaks, take note: On www.weezer.com, frontman Rivers Cuomo's oddly depressed Christmas message ("Thanks for a killer '01. Too bad we couldn't please everyone.") is gone, but 14 new demos available for download as MP3s remain.
They're off the band's forthcoming album, slated for an April release. . . . Though listening to the soundtrack of Vanilla Sky while watching paint dry turned out to be far more entertaining than actually seeing the film, for the Royal Tenenbaums, Wes Anderson was happily able to gather exceptional songs and not make them the film's only saving grace. Eager as we were, we pounced on the arrival of the Tenenbaums' soundtrack, only to let out a primal howl of despair (OK, a pissy little yelp). It's bad enough that Sky filmmaker Cameron Crowe was somehow unable to retain the rights to Spiritualized's "Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space," a song that always brings a tear to our eye and a thump to our heart, but the Tenenbaums' Wes Anderson was shafted on the Beatles' "Hey Jude" and "I'm Looking Through You," the Stones' "She Smiled Sweetly" and "Ruby Tuesday," Van Morrison's "Everyone," and Paul Simon's "Me and Julio Down by the School Yard." Plus, the Clash's "Police and Thieves" makes the transition, but not "Rock the Casbah." Not that we can't find these songs all over the goddamn place, but there's something that sucks about buying a film's soundtrack to recapture the magic of your movie experience, only to see key tracks replaced by crappy instrumentals or "inspired-by" also-rans. Not that we don't appreciate the inclusion of the Ramones and all the Velvet Underground goodies—we just wanted to register our general disappointment in a job half done, due to zillionaire 50-something rock stars feeling not quite rich enough yet. . . . And you thought Country Music Television was all Shania Twain and ads exhorting viewers to "Step into a Slim Jim!" If you've got basic cable, we recommend you tune in on Jan. 13 for the premier of new series CMT Crossroads; the first episode will feature the fabulously talented Elvis Costello
and Lucinda Williams.
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