If you smell smoke, it might just be because CMJ's pants are on fire. The powers that be at the long-running indie bible have admitted

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Days of Our Nights

CMJ gets called out; Christina fights for Pharrell; plus news on Beck, Macy Gray, Tenacious D, and more.

If you smell smoke, it might just be because CMJ's pants are on fire. The powers that be at the long-running indie bible have admitted to lying like rugs on their college-radio playlist charts, after a California weekly's story revealed their wrongdoings in a lengthy expos頬ast week. When DOON received a phone call from the East Bay Express' music editor, seeking contact information for a friend (and former CMJ employee), we innocently gave it, not knowing just how dirty the dirt really was. Turns out the magazine has been removing local, legitimate acts from the playlists of some of the most important and influential college radio stations in the country and replacing them with pay-to-play CMJ comps. This is how it works: The Journal puts together a promotional CD, Certain Damage, that accompanies each issue, and though it's not exactly featured in bold print on the cover, they charge $3,000 per track to record labels that want to have their artist included. With six comps a year and roughly 20 songs per CD, that's a whole lot of cash-and-carry. Publisher Robert Haber used some fuzzy math in the New York Post, claiming that the magazine only inserted its own release if "it could not verify the existence of an album reported"though local, often labelless acts on independent radio stations are frequently, obviously hard to trace from a national standpoint. He added, "As to the allegations that there was some sinister motive behind this utilizing Certain Damage as a placeholder, let me sayand I cannot be any more emphatic about thisthat was not done to promote, or benefit in any way, Certain Damage." Haber also claims, quelle surprise, that the practice will be stopped immediately. . . . Meanwhile, back at the ranch, Belltown Laundromat/club/board gamer's paradise Sit & Spin did not go softly into that good night. A final blowout rock show last Saturday featuring

the Magic Magicians, eXBeSTFRIeNDS, Broadcast Oblivion, and the Charming Snakes shook the house enough to save some in-house laundry doers a few quarters on the spin cycle. . . . According to Andrew Bonazelli, the band(s) played on across town: "S&S's blowout swan song sapped major numbers from Graceland's Ruby Doe/Red Light Sting/Harkonen lollapalooza, but the few on hand to witness Harkonen bassist Ben Verellen's pec-tacular preshow push-up regimen, plus RLS's flock-of-killer-bees keyboard attack? Um . . . they were probably grotesquely lonely, albeit duly rocked." . . . Boys don't cry, they just get new record contracts. Eyelinered princes of pain the Cure have announced their three-album alliance with ArtistDirect imprint I Am Recordings, helmed by renowned producer Ross Robinson. Not ringing any bells, you say? Why, he's the studio man behind KoRn, Slipknot, Limp Bizkit, Sepultura, and many other members of the royal nu-metal family, as well as a self-professed Cure superfan. This should be fun. . . . There is really nothing that warms our cold, calcified gossip-columnist heart more than a good knock-down- drag-out celebrity rumble, and we heart Christina Aguilera for giving us the latest: According to Page Six, Our Lady of the Perpetually Underdressed made a hard-core play for ubiquitous superproducer and N.E.R.D. mastermind Pharrell Williams at a London party last week. Unfortunately, Mr. Williams is currently the property of Mick's eldest daughter, Jade Jagger, and the 31-year-old mother of two did not take kindly to the interference. Says a witness, "We thought Jade was going to kill her." After talking all kinds of Jagger smack to Williamshow Jade is a "rich snob" who "liv[es] off her father's name"Aguilera then followed the pair to another party, where Pharrell tried to pull her aside and gently prevent her from an

imminent ass kicking. When she didn't take the hippo-sized hint, Jagger grabbed her man and headed home . . . . And now for the bitty bits: Has Macy Gray joined the L. Ron Hubbard club? Because we hear Beck is working with her on a track called "It Ain't the Money" for her upcoming album The Trouble With Being Myself (sounds mystical, doesn't it?). Actually, we don't know how the two hooked up, but we do look forward to the collaboration, which has repeatedly been called "funk-fueled." . . . We imagine all you socially aware types have both seen a few Michael Moore movies in your time, and also heard of the political leanings of L.A. agit-rockers System of a Down. You won't be too surprised, then, to hear that they'll be collaborating on a video for "Boom!" off the band's recent Steal This Album. Moore, who also directed Rage Against the Machine's "Sleep Now in the Fire," has already shot SoaD interacting with the crowds at Feb. 15's peace march in Los Angeles, and he plans to combine that with footage of the other analogous marches from around the world that day. Take that, Mr. Heston. . . . If you love Wire, even after last year's iffy Showbox performance, get ready for the band's first studio full-length in 13 years, to be released on their own Pink Flag label. Send will feature four completely new tracks alongside three each from the band's last two EPs, and if you order it straight from the band's Web site, you'll get a limited-edition disc of mixed multitrack recordings from a 2002 live appearance in Chicago. . . . Metallica fans, rejoice: Departed bassist Jason Newsted has been replaced, after a nearly epic two-year search, by Robert Trujillo, formerly of Suicidal Tendencies. . . . Tenacious D are hard at work on their first big Hollywood movie, which is so far sans plot beyond the basic premise of "a creation story based on how the D became the greatest

band on earth." We really don't give a rat's patootie, as long as they go back to being as funny as they used to be in the olden, golden cable days. . . . Finally, proving once again that allegedly taping yourself having sex and peeing into the mouths of sobbing underage girls doesn't stop you from achieving your dreams, R. Kelly tops the Billboard charts this week. God bless America.

Send news flashes, sightings, and bitchy bits to nights@seattleweekly.com

 
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