Billboard Bits: Portishead, Toby Lightman, Modest Mouse

News on Portishead, Toby Lightman, Modest Mouse

The glacial pace of Portishead's third album appears to be moving a bit quicker. Group member Geoff Barrow wrote last week on the group's page that its new tracks "are in a right mess but sounding like [an] album for the first time in years." He added, "It [is] nice to think us old gits have a few tunes in us without sounding like coffee table Zero 7 / Moby chill out sh*t!!"

Portishead has not released a studio album since a self-titled 1997 effort. In the time since, vocalist Beth Gibbons released a 2002 collobration with Rustin Man, "Out of Season."

Barrow's writings on his personal Myspace site reflect his frustration with Portishead's place amid current music. "Sometimes I feel like I'm just fu*kin' useless at this lark," he wrote yesterday (June 18). "[We] should hire 'Danger Mouse.' He would knock up a Portishead album in about a week and the kidz would dig it. It would sell bucket loads. Get Damon Albarn to sing on it. WICKED!!!!! DOPE."

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.

Veteran producers Bill Bottrell and Patrick Leonard manned the decks for Toby Lightman's sophomore set, "Bird on a Wire." The 13-track album will be released July 25 via Lava and is the follow-up to 2004's "Little Things," which reached No. 14 on Billboard's Heatseekers chart.

The 28-year-old songstress is currently on tour with labelmates Jewel and Rob Thomas through the end of July and will take to the road once again beginning Aug. 4 in Wallingford, Conn., opening for Train.

A preview of songs from "Bird on a Wire," including the first single "Holding Me Down," is streaming on the artist's
Web site.

-- Katie Hasty, N.Y.

Modest Mouse has scrapped a four-date August mini tour while it continues work on its next studio album, for which no date has yet been announced. According to the group's
Web site, recording is underway in Mississippi with producer Dennis Herring, who also helmed 2004's "Good News for People Who Love Bad News."

The canceled dates are Aug. 6 in Santa Barbara, Calif., Aug. 8 in Sacramento, Calif., Aug. 9 in Bend, Ore., and Aug. 10 in Troutdale, Ore. Refunds can be obtained from points of purchase.

-- Jonathan Cohen, N.Y.