Billboard Bits: Siren Festival, Nelson Mandela, Gang Of Four, Tilly And The Wall

Annual Siren Fest lineup revealed; Queen, Lennox rock for Mandela; Gang Of Four becomes gang of two; Tilly and the Wall talk new album

Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks, Broken Social Scene, Annuals and Beach House are among the top acts announced for The Village Voice's annual Siren Music Festival, to be held on July 19 at New York City's Coney Island.

Now in its eighth year, Siren Festival is an all-day, free event that encompasses two stages next to the famed Astroland amusement park.

The Dodos, the Helio Sequence, Dragons of Zynth, Film School, Parts & Labor and Times New Viking are also on the initial bill. More additions are expected.

-- Michael D. Ayers, N.Y.

Queen and Paul Rodgers, Annie Lennox and Simple Minds are among the international acts performing at a charity concert to celebrate Nelson Mandela's 90th birthday.

Billed as the "46664 Concert Honouring Nelson Mandela at 90," the show takes place June 27 in Hyde Park, London. Proceeds from the three-hour concert will go to the anti-apartheid icon's 46664 initiative to fight HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Other international performers include Leona Lewis, Dame Shirley Bassey, Razorlight, Sugababes, Andrea and Sharon Corr, Eddy Grant, and Jamelia, along with 46664 Ambassadors, Italy's Zucchero and Spain's Amaral.

Johnny Clegg, Sipho Mabuse, multi-South African Music Awards winner Loyiso, and Kurt Darren are among the African acts participating. They will join other African artists such as the Soweto Gospel Choir, AIDS orphan choir the Children of Agape (subject of award-winning feature film "We Are Together"), Papa Wemba, and Sudanese "war child" rapper Emmanuel Jal.

-- Diane Coetzer, Johannesburg

The original lineup of esteemed post-punk group Gang Of Four, which reunited in 2005, has been split in half. Bassist Dave Allen and drummer Hugo Burnham have left the group, although singer Jon King and guitarist Andy Gill plan to continue writing and recording new music as Gang Of Four.

Allen said his "thinking about contemporary music distribution" left him "conflicted about how [Gang Of Four's] new music should be released." He added that, "to retain any credibility," he had "to move on and not hold back Jon and Andy’s music plans."

Allen is working on a side project with John Askew of Tracker and Danny Stein of Menomena called Faux Hoax.

Burnham said of his decision to split, "Being in a band requires handling the business side of it too, and that became boring and the constant travel became debilitating."

Burnham is soon to start a Doctorate program and is recording and writing with members of Boston's the Bags, and also recording with Mike Watt.

-- Susan Visakowitz, N.Y.

Omaha indie-pop band Tilly and the Wall spent months hashing out ideas before finally setting in to record their, third, untitled album, keyboardist Nick White tells That album, which is being referred to as "O," will be out on Team Love on June 17.

"We take some time before we start the recording process to sit down and all bring our ideas to the table," he says. "We sort through them and try to make sure everyone is heard. It works well because we all trust each other to build on one another’s thoughts."

The result of that collaboration is a genre-spanning album that kicks off with a slow, moody ballad and then leaps in to pop territory. "We didn’t have a plan; it just sort of happened," says White. "Our main goal was to include as many types of percussion as possible." White credits much of the album's sound to producer Mike Mogis, who has also worked with Bright Eyes.

"Mike helped us a lot, especially when it came to picking tones," he says.

White also told the band is planning to rehearse for a few weeks in June before heading out on tour in July.

Here is the track list for "O's":

1. Tall Tall Grass
2. Pot Kettle Black
3. Cacophony
4. I Found You
5. Alligator Skin
6. Chandelier Lake
7. Dust Me Off
8. Falling Without Knowing
9. Blood Flower
10. Poor Man's Ice Cream
11. Too Excited

-- Cortney Harding, N.Y.