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“That ’70s Show” Star Lisa Robin Kelly’s Death Ruled to Be Accidental Drug Overdose

Lisa Robin Kelly, Laurie Forman on "That '70s Show"

Back in August 2013, Lisa Robin Kelly, 43, who played Eric Forman’s older sister Laurie on “That ’70s Show,”  died in her sleep at a rehab facility in California. At the time, details surrounding her death were scant.

Now, it appears that the coroner has ruled that her death was an accidental overdose due to multiple, unidentified drugs. The Los Angeles County Coroner said Kelly consumed the substances orally while staying at the Pax House Rehab Center in Altadena.

A full-length autopsy report is expected in the next few weeks and should name the drugs found the actress’s system.

Kelly voluntarily checked herself into the addiction treatment center on August 12th to “get her life back on track,” her agent, Craig Wyckoff, stated. However, she died within only three days. (via NY Daily News)

Morrissey Is Writing a Novel Because Book Sales Are More Lucrative Than Records – But He’s Also Writing a New Album

Morrissey

According to Morrissey, writing on a Q&A session on his website, he is currently halfway through writing a novel because he found that, thanks to the sales of his autobiography, book sales are more profitable than record sales. Here’s what he had to say:

In 2013 I published my Autobiography and it has been more successful than any record I have ever released, so, yes, I am mid-way through my novel. I have my hopes. The actuality is that radio stations will not play my music, and the majority of people have lost faith in the music industry, and it’s generally assumed – quite rightly – that the number one chart positions are “bought” by the major labels, so there really is no passion left in pop or rock music, and I don’t think people believe for an instant that the faces we constantly see on television and in magazines are remotely popular. It’s all, now, solely a question of marketing. All success stories are safe and dreary, and you will never be taken by surprise by a hit song that sounds out of place. This is not just my view but the view of everyone I know.

 Morrissey is also working on a new album, which will be his first studio effort since 2009′s Years Of Refusal.

(via Stereogum)

Henry Rollins Lists His Top Albums of 2013

Henry Rollins

In his most recent blog entry on LA Weekly, Henry Rollins has named his favorite albums of 2013.

“There really isn’t much for me in the world of big music,” he announces first. “I am glad it’s there for all those who like it, but its existence neither twists my arm nor picks my pocket. You can always look elsewhere. The options are plenty and there is seemingly no end of great music to be had.”

That said, here are Rollins’s picks:

Marnie SternChronicles of Marnia
The Julie RuinRun Fast
David BowieThe Next Day
Ty SegallSleeperGeminiTy Segall Band Live at Death by Audio
White Fence, Cyclops Reap and Live in San Francisco
Thee Oh SeesFloating Coffin and Moonsick
Fuzz, S/T
VUM, Psychotropic Jukebox
Steven R Smith, Ending/Returning
Omar Souleyman, Wenu Wenu
Melt BananaFetch
Ashtray Navigations, Spray
Hisato Higuchi, Otomeyama Bottoms
Fushitsusha, no title provided

To read more, click here.

Five Punk Rocker Politicians Who Ran for Public Office

Jello Biafra

Ever since the Sex Pistols proclaimed in 1977 that the queen “ain’t no human being,” and that “there is no future in England’s dreaming,” punk rock and politics have been inexorably linked. From PunkVoter to ConservativePunk, websites covering the political spectrum have sprung up over the years, while punk rock figureheads have thrown themselves behind ideologies ranging from anarchism and libertarianism, to socialism and environmentalism.

Some musicians have taken their involvement a step further, actually throwing their hat into the ring during election-time. Here are five prolific punks who’ve appeared on a ballot or two.

Joe Escalante, The Vandals

Joe Escalante

In June 2012, Joe Escalante — bassist of The Vandals, owner of Kung Fu Records, and former Hollywood entertainment lawyer — ran for an open seat as a judge in Los Angeles Superior Court. According to The Hollywood Reporter, “the conservative Catholic [spent] about $15,000 to remind people in L.A. who know his name that he’s on the ballot.” Escalante lost to Deputy District Attorney Sean Coen.

UPDATE: On their official Facebook page, The Vandals posted the following:

A couple clarifications.
#1. Joe is not a politician, he ran for a job (like dog catcher) that is non partisan. They make you run to get it.
#2. He spent no money because Shepard Fairey made him a sweet poster that raised all the money he needed.
#3. Joe received over 100,000 votes.

Jack Grisham, TSOL

Jack Grisham for Governor

TSOL vocalist Jack Grisham was one of 135 candidates who ran for governor in the 2003 California gubernatorial recall election/national embarrassment. Grisham, a former anarchist, ran on a social democratic platform, placing emphasis on healthcare and education.

Despite his best efforts, Grisham only netted 2,200 votes — not quite enough to overcome the 4.2 million votes cast for Arnold Schwarzenegger. Also garnering more votes than Grisham in the political free-for-all? Child actor Gary Coleman, baseball commissioner Peter Ueberroth, Hustler publisher Larry Flynt, porn star Mary Carey, watermelon-smasher Gallagher, and pink-Corvette-having billboard model Angelyne.

Krist Novoselic, Nirvana

Krist Novoselic

The tall, goofy bassist from Nirvana morphed into an author, activist, and advocate for voting reform; specifically, “instant runoff voting,” which would allow voters to rank candidates in order of preference, rather than being forced into the all-or-nothing voting structure currently in place.

Novoselic, chairman of FairVote, ran for the office of Wahkiakum County Clerk (in Washington State) in 2009 under the fictitious “Grange Party” — however, Novoselic acknowledged that it was only a publicity stunt to make a point, and that he had no interest in becoming the county clerk.

“As a strong believer in private association, I oppose the way the state has implemented I-872, the Grange-sponsored Top Two primary,” stated Novoselic. “My issue is with the way candidates can appropriate the name of a private group.”

Joey “Shithead” Keithley, DOA

Joe "Shithead" Keithley

In 2013, after 35 years playing, Canadian punks DOA called it quits when bandleader Joe Keithley announced that he would be pursuing a career in politics: “I’ve been working on trying to change Canada and this world into a better place from outside the system for the last 35 years,” stated Keithley. “Now I will do my utmost to effect that change from inside the system. That’s why I am running for the only progressive party, the NDP.”

Upon narrowly losing the NDP nomination in March 2013, Keithley said that his future political plans were “up in the air” — however, he still performed solo acoustic fundraisers in support of the NDP prior to the provincial election.

UPDATE: In reply to Verbicide, via his official Twitter account, Keithley stated, “I will be running for office again in Canada in the not too distant future.”

Jello Biafra, Dead Kennedys

Jello Biafra

Vocalist and Alternative Tentacles label-owner Jello Biafra is a member of the Green Party of the United States and has decades of political involvement under his belt. Notably, he ran for mayor of San Francisco in 1979 with a platform that included forcing businessmen to wear clown suits, hiring unemployed workers to become panhandlers in wealthy neighborhoods, and a citywide ban on cars. Biafra earned 6,591 votes, good for 3.79% of the vote.

In 2000, Biafra sought the Presidential nomination for the Green Party — however, he only nabbed 10 votes, finishing a distant second to Ralph Nader, who received 295 of the 319 delegate votes. Biafra supported Nader’s presidential campaigns in 2000, 2004, and 2008, performing at rallies and speaking about Nader and the Green Party to the press.

Any other punk rock politicians you can think of?

Woody Guthrie’s 33 New Year’s Resolutions From 1943

Woody Guthrie

Need some ideas for your New Year’s resolutions? More than seven decades ago, Americana artist Woody Guthrie concocted a pretty decent set of “New Years Rulin’s” that covered the gamut from politics to family to personal finance. I personally like “save dough” and “wake up and fight.”

Check out the image below, or just read through the transcribed list.

Woody Guthrie's new year's resolutions

Woody Guthrie’s New Year’s Resolutions, 1943
1. Work more and better
2. Work by a schedule
3. Wash teeth if any
4. Shave
5. Take bath
6. Eat good — fruit — vegetables — milk
7. Drink very scant if any
8. Write a song a day
9. Wear clean clothes — look good
10. Shine shoes
11. Change socks
12. Change bed cloths often
13. Read lots good books
14. Listen to radio a lot
15. Learn people better
16. Keep rancho clean
17. Dont get lonesome
18. Stay glad
19. Keep hoping machine running
20. Dream good
21. Bank all extra money
22. Save dough
23. Have company but dont waste time
24. Send Mary and kids money
25. Play and sing good
26. Dance better
27. Help win war — beat fascism
28. Love mama
29. Love papa
30. Love Pete
31. Love everybody
32. Make up your mind
33. Wake up and fight

Now that you’ve got your resolutions in order, check out our top 10 best New Year’s songs.

(via Open Culture)

James Avery, Uncle Phil on “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” and Voice of Shredder on “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” Dead at 68

James Avery

James Avery, best known for his role as Uncle Phil on the ’90s sitcom “The Fresh Prince of Bel Air,” died on December 31, 2013, reports TMZ.

The 68-year-old actor reportedly recently underwent open heart surgery and died from complications from the procedure.

Avery’s wife, Barbara, was by his side before leaving for a brief moment to get food. Upon her return he was dead.

“I’m deeply saddened to say that James Avery has passed away. He was a second father to me. I will miss him greatly,” tweeted actor Alfonso Ribeiro, who played the character of Carlton Banks on “Fresh Prince.” (via NY Daily News)

“Nirvana Day” Declared to Be an Annual Event in Hoquiam, Washington

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana

The small city of Hoquiam, Washington has deemed April 10th to be “Nirvana Day.” In 2014, the first annual community holiday will coincide with Nirvana’s Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame induction.

Hoquiam, Washington (8,500 population) is only four miles from Kurt Cobain‘s hometown of Aberdeen, and Cobain also lived in the city for a short time.

Hoqiuam mayor Jack Durney shared some words to mark the occasion: “They bring great honor, I think as I say, to our entire community. And I think that it’s good Kurt Cobain lived in Hoquiam for a little while, but he and Krist Novoselic are part of our community, and I think it’s good to honor our sons and their great accomplishments.” (via Spin)

Click here to hear 10 awful Nirvana covers.

With the Release of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, All Members of Pussy Riot Are Now Free – The Voice Project Makes Statement

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

On December 23, 2013, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova of Pussy Riot was finally freed from prison, becoming the final member of the collective to win back her freedom. She was released from the Krasnoyarsk prison camp after having served almost two years in prison. Maria Alyokhina was freed earlier in the day, and Yekaterina Samutsevich was freed in October 2012 following an appeal.

The two were released early under a Kremlin amnesty bill; however, in the wake of the release, executive director of The Voice Project Hunter Heaney released the following statement highly critical of the entire ordeal:

We all recognize that the whole amnesty program is a PR move by Putin, likely of course a bit of image clean up prior to the Olympics. Amnesty being ‘granted’ to two women put in prison for a 40 second song performance, who would have been released in a mere couple of months after missing nearly two years with their young children and loved ones is, of course, absurd. Last minute amnesty does not make up for that or the rule of law denied to so many others by the Putin regime and our thoughts are with them today. However, we are so happy that Nadya and Masha are safe, have come through this ordeal healthy and strong, and two young mothers will now be getting to see their children. A very large community of activists and donors around the world have worked hard to help to see that happen. In particular we thank all of you in this community who donated to keep them safe and monitored, supplied and visited, who refused to let this pass quietly and never stopped working for their safety and freedom.
-Hunter Heaney
Executive Director
The Voice Project

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina talk on the phone

(via The Voice Project)

Top 15 Best Christmas Songs (Yes, Holiday Music That Doesn’t Suck)

Shane MacGowan and Kirsty MacColl

Like most people, you’ve probably heard enough Christmas music this holiday season to last you the rest of your life. And if you work in retail, then…well, I tip my hat to you for not offing yourself sometime around December 15th.

We can all agree that Bing Crosby and Nat King Cole tunes should be put to rest — but there are plenty of lesser-heard Christmas tunes you should be listening to.  Many of your favorite artists may have recorded a holiday song or two without your knowledge — so check out these songs and swap them into your playlist in lieu of Rocky Mountain Christmas.

Rancid, “Christmas Eve (She Got Up And Left Me)”

Sitting at home on Christmas Eve, lonely and depressed? Has Rancid got the song for you!

The Kinks, “Father Christmas”

And here I was thinking I was the only one who asked Santa for money and machine guns.

Otis Redding, “Merry Christmas Baby”

This R&B tune was written and originally recorded in 1947 by Johnny Moore’s Three Trailblazers. However, Redding’s version, recorded 20 years later, is a classic. Redding also recorded one of the best New Year’s songs.

The Pogues Featuring Kirsty MacColl, “Fairytale of New York”

An all-time classic that can’t be omitted in this list. It was once voted the best Christmas song of all time.

Leadbelly, “On a Christmas Day”

I have to wonder, had he survived, if Kurt Cobain would have eventually covered this song.

Kurt Cobain, “Silent Night” (From “The Priest They Called Him” with William S. Burroughs)

Kurt Cobain and William S. Burroughs collaborated on a recorded project in 1993 entitled The Priest They Called Him — it featured Burroughs telling a story over feedback provided by Cobain. The story begins on a Christmas day, and the music begins with an eerie rendition of “Silent Night” by Cobain.

Jethro Tull, “A Christmas Song”

Jethro Tull once recorded an entire Christmas album. It was called Christmas Album. While not a particularly inspired title, it’s a great record all the way through, and this is the highlight.



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Pussy Riot Members Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina Freed From Prison

Pussy Riot

Last week, a Russian newspaper reported that the jailed members of Pussy Riot could be released under a Kremlin amnesty bill, which applies to women who have children and have not committed violent crime. Nadya Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina both are mothers, and were arrested and sentenced to two years in prison on charges of nonviolent hooliganism.

Today, December 19, 2013, the two were finally released, three months before their scheduled release, according to Reuters.

In a statement, President Vladimir Putin expressed no regret for the treatment of the Pussy Riot members: “I was not sorry that they ended up behind bars. I was sorry that they were engaged in such disgraceful behavior, which in my view was degrading to the dignity of women.”

First Bands Announced for Punk Rock Bowling 2014 Including Descendents, Cock Sparrer, NOFX, The Adicts, and More

Punk Rock Bowling will return to Las Vegas in 2014 for its 16th year, and with months to go until the festival begins, the first bands on the bill have already been announced.

The first round of revealed bands include headliners Descendents, Cock Sparrer, and NOFX, plus Anti-Nowhere League, The Adicts, Angelic Upstarts, SNFU, and Cerebral Ballzy.

The festival will take place May 23rd through the 26th — three nights and four days of shows and bowling.

 Punk Rock Bowling 2014

Lostprophets Singer Ian Watkins Sentenced to 35 Years in Prison for Sex Abuse Crimes Against Children

Ian Watkins

In November, Lostprophets’ lead singer Ian Watkins pleaded guilty to a long list of sex offenses, including three counts of sexual assault involving children, six counts involving child pornography, and one count involving animal pornography. This included a charge of raping an 11-month-old baby.

Now, Watkins has been sentenced to more than three decades in prison – 29 years in prison for his crimes, with an extended license of six years, which means he’ll be jailed for a total of 35 years.

According to Wales Online, the sentencing judge told Watkins he had “plumbed new depths of depravity,” and displayed “evident delight” in his sexual abuse of infants, as well as “almost complete lack of remorse” for his actions.

Watkins response?

“I’m going to put out a statement [upon being sentenced] just to say it was mega lolz. I do not know what everybody is getting so freaked out about.”

Yes, “mega lolz.”

The two women with whom Watkins conspired to rape babies were sentenced to 17 and 14 years, respectively. (via Stereogum)