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The Infamous Stringdusters, "The Infamous Stringdusters" (Sugar Hill)
For this six-piece band of acoustic hotshots, the emphasis is on the second part of their name. This time out, they not only blow the dust off their strings; they also unite into a formidable sound all their own.
Their 2007 album, "Fork in the Road," drew attention for the remarkable playing of each band member: Bassist/singer Travis Book, mandolinist Jesse Cobb, new guitarist Andy Falco, fiddler/singer Jeremy Garrett, dobro player Andy Hall and banjoist Chris Pandolfi.
The collection earned them three top awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association for best album, song and emerging band — a remarkable achievement for newcomers in a genre that expects youngsters to pay their dues.
But the second album banks on more than instrumental dexterity; it also celebrates how the Stringdusters have merged as a unit and emerged as songwriters and arrangers.
The instrumentals, especially Cobb’s "Golden Ticket," dazzle as expected. But what moves them forward is how well the band mixes accessibility with complex arrangements and stunning solo work, as heard on the bluesy "Get It While You Can," the philosophical "When Silence Is the Only Sound" and the breakneck "Won’t Be Coming Back."
Picking up where the recently disbanded Nickel Creek left off, the Stringdusters rise to the challenge of their reputation on this collection. They may soon have to deal with being well-known-rather than merely infamous.
CHECK THIS OUT: On "Lovin’ You," the band transforms songwriter Sarah Siskind’s wondrous love song into something that’s both dreamy and full of surprising turns.
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Rapper Nas’ new album has shifted on the release schedule yet again, this time moving from July 1 to July 15.
In May, the rapper dropped the Def Jam disc’s original title, "N*gger," and reclassified the album as an untitled project.
On the first official track from the album, "Hero," Nas explains that he dropped the original controversial title so that the album’s message could better reach his fans.
Nas’ previous album, 2006’s "Hip-Hop Is Dead," has sold 758,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
CHICAGO - R. Kelly told the judge in his child pornography trial Tuesday that he doesn’t plan to testify.
After Judge Vincent Gaughan told Kelly he had a right to not take the stand, the R&B singer leaned forward at the defense table with his hands folded and, speaking for the first time at the trial, responded: "I decided not to testify."
The jury wasn’t in the room at the time.
Kelly, 41, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he videotaped himself having sex with an underage girl. Both Kelly and the alleged victim, now 23, have denied being on the tape.
Also Tuesday, the judge ruled that jurors can view the sex tape once they begin deliberating.
Kelly’s lawyers had asked the judge to bar jurors from reviewing the graphic video, saying they worried jurors would overemphasize one piece of evidence. But prosecutors argued the tape is the primary subject of the trial and couldn’t be kept from jurors.
"People’s Exhibit No. 1 is the actual nucleus of the case … the evidence centers around this exhibit," said prosecutor Shauna Boliker.
Gaughn agreed, but added that he would instruct the jurors before they begin deliberating that they shouldn’t put too much emphasis on the tape alone.
A prosecution witness also took the stand for a second time to rebut defense claims about the tape. The defense and prosecution both have rested their cases but video expert Grant Fredericks’ testimony is part of the prosecution’s right of rebuttal.
A version of the video that the defense used in presenting their case was misleading because it was such low quality, Fredericks told jurors.
The defense argued that in their version of the tape there is no mole on the back of the man who appeared, proving the man is not Kelly, who has such a mole.
But Fredericks says higher quality versions of the tape clearly show a mole on the man’s back.
The defense and prosecutors also sparred in court Tuesday about who made certain copies of the tape and whether that may have undermined the defense’s case.
Closing arguments are likely to be delivered Thursday.
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Pearl Jam has struck a deal with Verizon Wireless’ V Cast service to sell select tracks from the authorized live bootlegs that will be available in conjunction with the band’s upcoming summer tour, which begins Wednesday (June 11) in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Under this extension of Pearl Jam’s long-running live bootleg program, three tracks from each show (excluding Bonnaroo) will be available immediately afterward via V Cast and PearlJamConcerts.com — one as a free mobile download and two others for purchase.
All V Cast tracks will be "dual downloads," meaning that once purchased, they are sent to both the mobile phone and the user’s computer. They will feature Verizon’s existing digital rights management (DRM) system and will also be sold as ringtones and ringbacks.
The Verizon deal also includes mobile tickets. Any fan downloading any type of Pearl Jam content from V Cast — going back to the beginning of the year — is eligible to win seats to an upcoming show. Tickets will be sent directly to the phones of winning fans, in the form of a barcode that can be scanned at the venue’s entrance.
In addition, DRM-free digital tour bootlegs will be sold in FLAC format. A less expensive MP3 option will also be available, with all digital versions hitting PearlJam.com exclusively two weeks after each show.
In the past Pearl Jam has used a proprietary download tool to help fans manage acquisition of their bootlegs, but it isn’t doing so this time, Pearl Jam fan club manager Tim Bierman told Billboard.com. "Customers will download through their individual browsers. Those needing help with larger files/slower connections will be advised to use a free download manager available on the Web," Bierman said.
The bootleg series, which began on CD in 2000 but went digital-only for Pearl Jam’s 2006 tour, will once again have a physical component this summer. CDs will be manufactured on demand and will be mailed within three weeks of the show.
Los Angeles (E! Online) - There are some people Janet Jackson just doesn’t want to rock with. Like Europeans. And her record label.
The pop icon has called off the European leg of her heavily hyped Rock Witchu tour, blaming the promotional efforts—or lack thereof—of Island Def Jam Records.
"I’m trying to figure out a way to say this, but just to say it and to be quite honest, they just stopped all promotion whatsoever on the album, so I don’t think you’re going to hear another single off this album," Jackson told SOHH.com.
Jackson will continue as planned with the North American leg of her tour, her first in more than seven years, in support of her new album, Discipline.
She also wanted to make clear that her tour cancellation and dissatisfaction with her label should not be taken as a slight against her fans.
"It was definitely in my heart to go to Europe and to support this album…it’s about teamwork, it’s not something I can totally do on my own.
"Unfortunately, things have turned out the way that they have with the differences between the label and myself."
The label, as it happens, is doing its part to distance itself from the decision and resultant ire of the rhythm nation, claiming they are in the business of album, not tour, promotion.
Not that they did banner work on the former, as Jackson’s debut single from the new album, "Feedback," reached just No. 39 on the charts. Since its February release, Discipline has sold 392,000 copies.
"Unfortunately we haven’t experienced the results we would have liked with this new album," an Island Def Jam spokesperson told Billboard. "But we respect and support Janet."
The North American leg of Jackson’s tour kicks off Sept. 10 in Vancouver.
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