Friday, July 05, 2002

GOD OF SICKNOTE: Marilyn Manson has been hospitalised due to "going too far in the creation process" of his new album, apparently. If only he'd gone a wee... bit... further...
Send no flowers [Dotmusic] - what other euphemisms for 'drugged himself stupid' can you think of, children?

HEY! WASN'T THAT OUR IDEA?: Back before Napster collapsed, XRRF suggested that rather than wasting time and money on pursuing file sharing through the courts, the labels would have been better off merely creating a pile of junk files and swamping the services with them. Guess what? The RIAA have just twigged that it would be a great idea to create a load of junk files, and then swamp Kazaza and so on with them. Maybe a bit late now - fileswapping has become an established passtime, and so the labels have missed their chance to strangle the hobby at birth - but it's got to be better than their threat to start suing kids for copying the Eminem album amongst themselves.
We call it spoofing - but how can you tell a fake disappointing Gomez track from the real thing?

THIMPLY THE BETH: Even if she has committed the solecism of recording a duet with Ryan Adams (we love Ryan, but he's starting to become the new Evan Dando, isn't he? Or the indie Robbie Williams?), we're dleighted to see the return of Beth Orton, and her homecoming interview in this week's Guardian Review. She's especially good on the subject of Lilith Fair:
Didn't she think the idea of a women-only festival was a little, well, patronising? "Yes, completely!" she almost shouts, her whole body jerking up. "I think it just ghettoises women musicians even more, and it lumps us all together." So why did she do it?
"Because my management said it would be a good thing to do. If I'm being honest, I can't really see, politically, what it was about, other than being a gimmick. At the end of the day, people were just saying, 'Yeah, it's just a bunch of birds on stage.' Even I was saying that. It was kind of a cliche."

You can read the whole thing here - and there's the cutest little picture, too

THE EX-MAN COMMETH: Here at XRRF, we tend to think Ex-Rental are a good thing, and so we're chilling a small bottle of Blue Nun to toast the news that they're heading into the studio to make their debut album. Of course, making a record out of nothing but smudged lipstick, a photo of the early human league, pixie dust and talent can involve late nights and early mornings; and since sean and lucy aren't prepared to set foot outside unless they can guarantee their make-up has been correctly applied and their peachy-little butts are free from VPL, they're going to be taking a break from live performance. You can catch their last outing before purdah at Lipgloss this coming Thursday, and if you value your life, you'll go.
Their website will probably have a flyer - keep your hands off Sean and Lucy, mind...

CURIOUSITY ADDS TO CURIOSITY: Rumours that Liverpool's Lomax is set to franchise have now been confirmed, with the news that the good people of Stoke are due to receive a 2000-punter sized version of the former Liverpool legend sometime in September. Meanwhile, the reasons for the move from a self-contained venue in Liverpool into living cheek-by-jowl with Cream, sharing the Nation, seem to have been changed. Now, the line is that while the Hotham Street venue was "great for train access", being in "the city centre should now attract passers-by, not just regulars." So, a venue that people could and would travel easily to is less of an asset than one that might attract vague passers-by, is it? (How many people actually decide to go and see a gig on a whim, anyway? Unless it's a pub band, in for two quid sort of deal?) The Lomax are apparently also now claiming that "every club and venue has a lifespan and the skill of succeeding is knowing when that lifespan is up", which sounds to us as close as we're likely to get to "nobody was coming to the clubnights anymore."
What's even more bemusing is how The Lomax is hoping to balance its historic position as the heart of Indie Liverpool with its new role, having taken over Braveheart, as The Lomax Entertainments Arts Academy. Slightly massaging the truth, the venue that can rightly claim to have resurrected the Bunnymen and created the classic indie nightspot of the 90s is now also trying to take the credit for Kym Marsh and Atomic Kitten. Perhaps the move was so that the people who supported the club in the glory days didn't have to see the 'Max become bland manu-pop's bitch?

POWER OF THE BITCH: The Makers of PopBitch must be grinning this morning, as the power of the gossboard, and more importantly, its mailout, to set the music agenda got a double demonstration yesterday. First, Kylie 'fesses up to Marie Claire about her cellulite and how she looks so good through the magic of the airbrushers art - a nice piece of media management turning the 'bitch 'Kylie's bum job' story into a PR plus ("she's just like us" squeals a nation, hugging the pop pixie ever closer to their hearts); then EMI takes the sorry step of issuing a press release to try and quash the story in yesterday's mail-out that Geri is heading for popscurity and The Dumper. You'd have to wonder whether EMI stopped to think that issuing a statement about something in Popbitch was the best way of managing the media on this one. Meanwhile, why not enjoy EMI denying they were terminating Mariah Carey's contract again?

POP TV: So, Channel 5 is bringing its Pepsi Chart Show into port, retiring the programme which showed us what Dr Fox actually looked like with a highlights package or two, and the channel is set to reveal its "replacement" - does the concept of a show called 'Pop' sound like a horribly cobbled-together concept? Malcom Gerrie, the man who once gave the universe the Tube, describes the show as an attempt to create a show that doesn't stick to the agenda of "what's getting radio play or selling records." Which makes you ask: so, what agenda will be set, then? And what's so new about a show that doesn't stick to the charts anyway? Even It's Lulu would poke about in the music undergrowth. This smacks a little of 'The big stars don't want to bother doing the poor relation of Top of the Pops, so we've come up with a format that allows us to stuff the show with any old-new rubbish." Still, we'll get a chance to see when one of 21 kicks off in August.
Channel 5 Goes Pop [MediaGuardian] - still, by not worrying about what sells, at least they can continue to carry Posh

Thursday, July 04, 2002

QUOTE: "The Harmonica is not an instrument; it's a thing to make records worse" - John Aizelwood

IT HAD TO HAPPEN: We knew the Walker would come to regret using lower case for its 'art of Paul McCartney' signage - the inevitable "f"s which are starting to appear on the roadsigns are looking all-too-genuine from a distance...

LIFE BEYOND THE 'GALAXY: Missing Audiogalaxy? Glummly considering putting on your shoes and socks and a pair of trousers, plodding down HMV, and actually paying for your records? Hang about - Pitchfork Media has a list of the plausible alternatives to letting musicians eat, each considered and reviewed for you to pick and choose.

WHOULISH: Apparently the people at the hotel where John Entwistle died (under a stripper, according to 'It's how he would have wanted it' rumours we suspect are on a par with Mama Cass' ham sandwich) are already managing to make a few bob off people who want to sleep, snog and rut on the bed where the Ox's heart finally said 'No more.'

ANT IN COURT: Alan Ant appeared in court yesterday, facing charges connected to the incidents at the Prince of Wales pub in January this year. He pleaded not guilty and was bailed to appear again for a pre-trial hearing on July 10th.

IS THAT YOUR FINAL ANSWER?: Yesterday, we found ourselves being nice to Hucknall. Today, we nod quietly as Chris Tarrant tells the Radio Academy that radio is being too driven by focus groups and "playing thirty seconds of records down phones to old ladies." Which is, of course, undoutably true, but it's just a pity that one of the most powerful men in local radio only thinks to mention this after he's handed his notice into Capital, one of the worst offenders for this sort of thing.
I ask them what do you think of the Stereophonics, they say it tests well - so, not only research, but pisspoor research, too

Wednesday, July 03, 2002

CREAM? OR HARD TIMES?: Blimey, we knew that things were getting tough at Cream, but they've been reduced to running with a glorified Butlin's talent show to find someone to pick up a contract to be a resident for 2003. Publicity stunt? Genuine way of seeking out new talent? Or has the supply of talent willing to work at the Nation got so thin they're really desperate to discover the Darius of the Decks?
MTV Dance reports - if this fails, Karaoke-dj may be the only option left

WE WILL FIX YOU: Good news for Clinic fans in the States, of whom there are a few and about to be more. Walking With Thee has been picked up by Universal and is going to be reissued on July 23rd. We always said they were better than Mansun.

DOESN'T MEAN WE LIKE YOU, MICK: Strange days when we find ourselves praising Mick Hucknall, but the feisty redhead has done the right thing by going to the House of Commons today to try and argue against the current legislation that makes it illegal for pubs to have live entertainment without copious licenses. If the 'two in a bar' rule gets knocked on the head, it'll free up pubs to enable them to offer a lot more hot band action (in theory) which sounds like it could only be a good thing to us. We're merely curious as to whether Mick was speaking with his musicians hat on, or his hotelier hat on. Just as long as he was wearing some sort of hat.
Mr. Hucknall Goes To Westminster [BBC] - "Please, don't do Holding Back The Years" begs committee

NOEL'S VOTE MUST HAVE GOT LOST IN THE POST: However much Noel and Liam might try and convince us that they're back to form, that they never lost the fire, that it's still with them, their fans seem to disagree. Q have taken a poll of the Best Oasis Songs Ever, and you have to get down below number 30 before you find something recorded since 1995. Live Forever wins, in case you're wondering.

I COLLECT, I REJECT: What's not surprising is that Eminem's old car has turned up on EBay, but that according to the auction report, the discarded purple automobile wasn't dredged from the bottom of some river, or even lost in a poker game, but traded in - are times that tuff for Marshall that he needs to cut a deal with his local Straight Talkin' Al?

You'll find us under 'web design for Christians'

interesting piece in this week's New Statesman reveals that Toyah, high-priestess of post-punk and self proclaimed believer in wanting to be free is running down the alleyway screaming and shouting very loud over the prospect of foreign people in her neighbourhood - they're proposing sighting one of the government's hypermarket-sized refugee 'welcome centres' in her village. Teletubbies might love each other very much, but Toyah seems less keen on outsiders...

this, of course, when that other great star who rode the tail end of punk, Bob Geldof, has come out as being against the Euro. Bob's been all over the papers like a rash saying that he can't think of a single argument for the single currency, which is extraordinary for a man who crossed a border to find fame and fortune, don't you think? On the heels of Joe Strummer's appeals to people to make sure they stay away from Glastonbury unless they can afford a week's worth of minimum wages for a ticket, and Private Eye engages in correspondence over the irony of EMI now owning Virgin Records, and thus making money out of the reissue of the Sex Pistol's EMI, you have to wonder if there are any punks left who have any integrity left...

talking of integrity, the nme has quietly stuck its cover price up twenty pence this week - before the last big redesign, this would cover the cost of slapping on a glossy cover; now that comes as standard, it's not clear why the Glastonbury Review edition merits a larger entry fee - perhaps its taken a leaf out of Eavis' book, and wants to keep out the riff-raff. Certainly the cover - the back of some bloke and no coverlines that aren't related to the fest - is the equivalent of a forty foot fence...

news: Richard Ashcroft is working on two albums right now, and warns us "I'd sit on the fence for a while if you're going to write me off." Though, of course, it's a measure of how his solo career has flopped so far that the nme headline still refers to him as "former verve man"; dave grohl joined the queens of the stone age for their glasto warm-up, which is on a par with Bill Hicks joining the team of TV to Go; Jack has hinted that the White Stripes might not be around for long - probably the strain on Meg's back is starting to tell; oh good - John Squire is working on an album where he's the only talent. So, not unlike the first Stone Roses album, then; the nme gives as much space to the Entwistle obit as an out of focus shot of Jared Leto; an NME reader jumped on the stage and sang 'Yellow' when Coldplay played the Royal Festival Hall: ("It was terrible, we had to listen to this faceless bloke singing really badly - and then this bloke invaded the stage" a gig-goer wasn't heard to say); Liam Gallagher reckons Oasis are close to greatness - presumably this means they're sharing a dressing room with The Charlatans for that Finsbury Park gig...

on bands: D4 - fifty percent shaggable New Zealand Stooges plus; Audio Bullys - zero shaggability brit dance...

United against The Strokes, it's The Icarus Line, looking like, um, the Strokes after they've muddled their laundry with the White Stipes, apparently the coming together of a fucked-up massive...

Mike Skinner, The Streets aka, chooses the ten track for his special CD - Beenie Man and, um, The Streets are on there...

Ashanti. Who she? R&B rent a voice now striking out under her own banner. Um, and forthcoming Sabrina The Teenage Witch cameo actor...

Did anyone order another Oasis interview? Yammer yammer great words yammer new Wonderwall yammer Brian Molko looks like a cunt... at one point, Liam accuses nu punk acts of looking "scruffy". And they're talking about the Osbournes. Not that they've seen it, but Alan has a mate who's seen an episode. Or at least that bit with The Weather Channel that got shown as the teaser everywhere...

albums: idlewild - the remote part ("they're clearing space for Idlewild in the Tate Modern", 9); the vines - highly evolved ("if the Strokes were John the Baptist of rock, then maybe...", 9); various - all tomorrow's parties 2.0 ("no duff tracks", 7); seagull screaming kiss her kiss her - red talk ("another indispensible band from a far-flun corner of the globe", 8)...

sotw is, we're asked to believe, fischerspooner - emerge ("delirious, unbearable, overbearing"), beating supergrass - never done nothing like that before ("they have, but never quite as well"), and the bellrays - they glued your head on upside down ("you'll find yourself becomming aroused")...

live: muse in Imola ("wonderfully rock and roll"); Icarus line in camden ("can't help but sound nasty"); moldy peaches in leicester ("who needs marshall amps anyway?"; the polyphonic spree in camden ("we defy you not to fall under their influence"); suede ("their dark roots show through") and peaches ("alternates dominatrix techno with PJ Harvey blues-rock moans") at the Festival Hall...

and, finally, your pull-out and toss-away glasto review section: top band - the vines; best trousers - jason pierce; most likely to headline next year - doves; band of the people - the charlatans (does this make the Princess Dianas of pop?); shortest visit - nelly furtardo. There, that saved you £100 and/or £1.70, didn't it?

Tuesday, July 02, 2002

WANNA BUY AN ISLAND?: The continued saga of Vivendi Universal makes it look more and more likely that the future of the congolomerate lays in pieces, raising the possibility that the Universal Records behemoth could be splintered into its constituent parts. You'd have to wonder if this would make Chris Blackwell tempted to pick up the total control of Island again, and make the label into something approaching what it once was?

FLAMIN-GO-GO: While we're on the subject of recent record releases, long-time XRRF favourites The Flamingo Fifty have released a debut slab of entertaining noise attention demand through No Concessions Records. We once described them as a cross between The Breeders, The Ronettes, PJ Harvey and, oh, some other people, and they've not done anything to let us down since, so you might well want to find out how to get hold of a copy.

A HIPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY PAPPY: Congratulations to the team behind Liverpool's Bandwagon nights, who celebrate their first anniversary this week with a double-headed twin party thingy. Managing to survive without funding from the Arts Council, ESF, EMF or the lottery, the club has managed to almost single handedly revive and retail the concept of Liverpool as a place with a musical future rather than one large albatross in the past in a way that should shame some other local venues as they sit on their centrally-funded asses wondering where it all went wrong. If Liverpool deserves to be European City of Culture in 2008 - and, you know, I'm far from convinced we do - it should be about the sort of stuff the 'wagon are doing, not as the handsomely retainered Sir Bob Scott believes; basing the bid on the fact that The Beatles Came From Here, You Know. Sadly, ironically, humourously, Liverpool City magazine is running a competition this issue which asks "Which Liverpool band has had more number ones than anyone else?" - obviously went to press before Elvis stole the Beatle's crown, then. Which has taken us off the point we were making somewhat. But, yes, with Bandwagon (and Jump Ship Rat), Liverpool actually has some promise of managing to have some sort of culture left by 2008. That's got to be worth celebrating.

ANYWAY, MUSIC: Let's stop being pink for a moment (but not stop being Pink , of course) and remember music, the fluffy bouncy happy stuff that made us start this thing in the first place. Remember because, of course, Fosca have got a new single out on Shinkansen; it's called 'secret crush on the third trombone' and is up the standard you'd expect of the soon-come album Diary of an antibody. Clearly, Dickon and his gang have given up all hope of dislodging the Dead Icons/Fake Icons from the top of the charts as the single boasts 30 b-sides (26 more than are allowed under chart rules), thereby denying us the opportunity to see them on Top of the Pops.
More Fosca news. All Fosca news.

MORE ON CLEAR: For those of you wondering exactly what the implication of Clear Channel taking over, say EMAP or Capital would actually be, you might like to consider how the Americans are responding to their mopping up of as many stations in each major market as they can. The estimable Future of Music coalition has carried out research into audience's desires there - including the consolidation of ownership, which gets less than one in ten support. [For a journalistic overview of the results, try the Chicago Tribune's report].

CABLE SHOW: Stuart Cable is being given a chat show. A member of the dullest band. The DRUMMER from the dullest band. Michael Parkinson mayn't be very impressed with the current crop of chat show hosts, but what will he make of Stereophonics drummer trying to grab his chair from underneath him?
See, we're not making this up, the BBC has it too - as much thought going into the programme title as went into our headline, then

CLEAR INTENT: So, it's been confirmed then that Clear Channel (currently battering down US radio until it all sounds identical in every market) do want to take advantage of the proposed changes to Media Ownership rules to take control of a British radio group when they can. Clear, who combine juggling of many or most of the stations in a market with owenrship of gig venues and promotions in order to dictate a music scene in the way an IPC sub-editor could only dream of, say they don't intend to get involved in hostile takeovers. EMAP, Capital and GWR might be less than placated by that claim.
MediaGuardian reports - only its debt mountains can protect us now

Monday, July 01, 2002

INDIEHORSE: It's a cartoon. It takes the piss out of indiebands. It elevates weak puns and mild gags to the status of Gods, and then drums the Gods' heads against the uncarpeted floor. The White Stripes one is especially good. It is indiehorse

RADIO TIMES: The new Urban (that'd be what used to be called black) music station 1Xtra is going to launch on August 14th. Playing R&B and hiphop and - oh, you get the score, don't you? - it'll draw on big brother Radio One's talents and be available in pretty much the sort of place you can find 6Music.

TV TIMES: Perhaps the oddest new music TV station of all time has taken to the air in the form of Vibe TV - it may be just test broadcasts at this stage, but for the whole of this week its rotating the same four programmes about newcomer Alisse(?) over, and over, and over again. Since music TV is quite able to run tests with pop videos, we're assuming this might be the biggest act of vanity since that bloke booked the Royal Albert Hall for himself to play in.
Meanwhile, hats off to MTV Dance, which has found a smart new way to stop viewers flicking during commercials - Pong. Press red as soon as the ads start, and you can play Pong superimposed over the messages until the end of the break, whereupon the game pauses until the next natural. Now, if only they could find a way of keeping us from switching over during the godawful videos...

WHO GOES (ON) THERE: Last Friday, he was the irreplacable, best bassist ever in the world. The surviving members of the Who were shocked and stunned by his death. However, Entwistle's cold now, so Daltrey and Townsend have managed to pull themselves together long enough to flick through the phone book, and find someone under 'Bassists', so the show is going on. Erm, as a tribute, of course. It's what he would have wanted, naturally. Besides, Roger's already got someone coming in to feed the fish, so... you know...
BBC News reports - I mean, at the end of the day, he was only percussion...

GLASTOVER: Well, that's Glastonbury over for another year, then, and time to pick over the bones. Six Music had a good time - despite Liz Kershaw actually asking Black Rebel Motorcycle Club if they actually had motorbikes (the follow up was "are you rebels, then?") the coverage from the fledgling station brightened up Sunday nicely. BBC TV seemed to be less comfortable; at times you wondered if they'd run out of tape during Faithless' set and were having to fill desperately until we'd be grateful for another chance to look at Sister Bliss' ripped shirt back. Adam and Joe, it has to be said, were a nightmare. Their style was summed up with a long, rambling and pointless Rolf Harris interview which churned on for about fifteen minutes, before stopping half-way through a sentence, cutting back to A&J who then entered into a long, rambling and pointless piece about how long, rambling and pointless the original interview had been. The sketches they attempted (why?) fell flat; attempting to bridge too-long pauses between the actual entertainment proved beyond them. This wasn't entirely their fault - with sixteen stages of music, surely there must have been more material available than one or two tracks every half hour? - but lets hope for next year they try and get people more relaxed at filling acres of live television.
Meanwhile, what of the fence? It seems to have done its job - only one person actually making it across the million pound barrier - but there's something curious about the way the crime figures are being spun as being well down. Certainly, fewer crimes were reported (516 as opposed to 1,322 in 2000) but the number of arrests didn't fall anything like as sharply - 167 this weekend, 207 the weekend before. It's hard to work out the exact math, with the numbers of people inside the Pilton Wall in 2000 a matter of conjecture, but it's not entirely clear that the festival had a smaller criminal element this year than in its last staging. And, of course, a hit and run murder is unwelcome in any context.
But the good news is that the festival survives - whether this is better news for the Mean Fiddler than it is for Glastonbury goers is debatable, of course. (The reports of 2002 being "mellower" viewed from inside have to be set against the violent muggings amongst the people outside.) Michael Eavis seems pleased with the way everything went - this morning BBC News reports him as saying he was so delighted that he was considering the possibility of increasing capacity to 120,000 next year.
He admitted: "After 2000, I didn't think I would ever get a licence again."
Hmmm. Curious, that, since in 2000 the same BBC reported the same Michael Eavis hailing the 2000 festival "as the best Glastonbury he had known since launching it in 1970. "The feedback from the public has been absolutely amazing this year but I can't take the credit for it - I think the sun takes most of the credit."

OTHER MUSIC BLOGS ARE AVAILABLE: Johnny Walker's blog is pretty fine - we suspect it's not the coke and hooker endorsing BBC presenter but another one - though we think it's a little unfair to have a pop at John Lydon; it's like kicking the confused old man who lives next door and keeps talking about how he won the (punk) war single handed. Nice reports on Pete Murphy. Click here or use our new blogrolling links on the side.