Virgin Records has announced that the first Stooges album since 1973 will be released in March 2007. As former Reader columnist Bob Mehr explained in September, the reunited band, with Mike Watt on bass, cut the new record–called The Weirdness–in October with engineer Steve Albini at his studio, Electrical Audio.

Speaking of Albini, tomorrow night he’ll participate again in “The Second City That Never Sleeps: Letters To Santa,” a 24-hour comedy and music marathon presented by the Second City, which will use the proceeds “to provide holiday presents for needy children.” The Second City crew will be joined by former Saturday Night Live member Horatio Sanz, and the musical line-up includes Jeff Tweedy, Albini’s band Shellac, Sally Timms, Robbie Fulks, Jason Molina, the Blisters, the Detholz, Devil in a Woodpile, and Andy Cohen. It starts at 7 PM tomorrow and ends at the same time the following night.

And speaking of Andy Cohen, his old band Silkworm has just released its final recording, a six-song EP called Chokes! (12XU), with songs drawn from the band’s last sessions before drummer Michael Dahlquist was killed in a tragic car accident on July 14, 2005. (The sixth track, a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Spanish Harlem Incident,” was actually recorded live on New Year’s Eve 2001. It’s credited to the Crust Brothers, which is what Silkworm called itself with they were joined by Stephen Malkmus to play rock covers.) While Silkworm doesn’t tweak their sound much here, it’s an incredibly strong batch of tunes, continuing their years-long refinement of melody without ever surrendering their thunderous firepower. It’s no wonder Cohen and Tim Midgett disbanded Silkworm after Dahlquist died; it was clearly a gesture of respect for the bond they shared together, but musically there was no way he could be replaced. (The surviving pair is still working together in a new band called Bottomless Pit.)