Saturday, October 04, 2008

Let's try and act surprised shall we?

Pete Doherty was due in Manchester last night to play the Ritz.

He was "too ill" to appear.

PJ Harvey weekend: When Under Ether

A visit to the Norwegian State Broadcaster NRK, from September last year:

[Part of PJ Harvey weekend]

Santana: 'it's time to throw over the music business and become a church'

Presumably inspired by the slavish and unquestioning devotion he receives from his fans, Carlos Santana is thinking of giving it up to go and establish a church in Hawaii.

It's not clear if he thinks that Hawaii is especially godless, or if it's just that you might as well pick a warm place to semi-retire; the church bit, though, is clear:

"I'm not sick of what I do, but I find that God gave me the gift of communication even without my guitar and with the ability to get people unstuck with certain sections of the Bible having to do with guilt, shame, judgment and fear," he said.

It's great that god gave him the gift of communicating how unstuck he can become out people from Bible fear sections, isn't it?

As the BBC points out, preaching would only be an extra pie on Santana's wide shelf:
He has his own line of women's shoes, another of sparkling white wine and he is also a partner in a chain of Mexican restaurants.

We're looking forward to getting communion from Carlos; the first church where you get a choice of wheat or corn host's body and the wine has some effervescence.

Meat Puppet manifesto

It's going to arrive too late for the Christmas books market - perhaps, though, they're not aiming for that with a definitive history of the Meat Puppets. It's going to be arriving early in the new year:

authored by Jake Brown and featuring exclusive, first-hand interviews with brothers Curt and Cris Kirkwood, as well as the band's other band members- including ex-drummer Derrick Bostrom, producers- including an exclusive interview with Butthole Surfers' guitarist/MP producer Paul Leary, and related eye-witnesses, this book marks the first authorized study of the writing and recording process behind the band's catalog of 12 studio LPS- including a real-time chronicle of the Pup's recording of their 13th album- this book is a must-have for any MP fan!

Let's hope the book isn't quite as overwritten as the blurb.

PJ Harvey weekend: Send His Love To Me

From Channel 4's coverage of the 1995 Glastonbury Festival - and a performance that, I suspect, you'll remember if you saw it - here's Ms H doing Send His Love To Me:

[Part of the PJ Harvey weekend]

Electroobit: Marc Moulin

Perhaps best remembered for a failed attempt to come in last during the 1980 Eurovision Song Contest, Marc Moulin of Telex has died.

Moulin had initially come to prominence as a pianist, playing acid jazz throughout Europe in the 1960s. His first band, Placebo (not that one), formed in 1974 and released three albums which jazz experts will still argue sound fresh and surprising today. But Marc was about to make a surprising career change.

Established in 1978 in order to create a specifically European sound, Telex were a creation of Moulin, working alongside Dan Lacksman and Michel Moers. Blending avant-garde and punk aesthetics with a rejection of rock and guitars, the band achieved a degree of success with deconstructed cover versions - Rock Around The Clock was their sales high for the UK, although the perhaps-too-obvious, perhaps-too-European reworking of Ca Plan Pour Moi was a better joke.

Telex went to Eurovision at the suggestion of their manager; their plans to come solidly last were frustrated when the Portuguese took to them and gave them ten points (dix points):

So coldly was their performance received that, earlier in the judging process, the host decided that she was hearing things when they were given points from Greece, and tried to redirect the points to the Dutch instead.

Equally confused were Virgin, to whom Telex were signed in the UK; they'd been trying to market the band to the Duran Duran audience only to suddenly be saddled with a Eurovision gag act. Already a difficult sell - not playing tours didn't help - the record companies started to shift the band to their tax loss column.

Even a hook-up with Sparks to provide works for the third album, Sex, couldn't help with selling the band. The band's remix of their work in 1989, showing their influence on the now-popular house music, was something of a point being made.

That was the last of Telex until a 2006 reunion release, How Do You Dance; the reactivated band also took the opportunity to remix other act's work.

In the period between Telex's bursts of activity, Moulin built a reputation amongst jazz fans and working as a producer; he also wrote extensively about music. The Belgian weekly Télémoustique which announced his death had been running a weekly column from him.

Moulin died from cancer on September 26th.

Clause Kruse revisits Smalltown Boy

Some years on from Plastic Noise Experiment's techno-gilded Bronski Beat cover, Clause Kruse has teamed up with Leaether Strip's Claus Larsen to create a new version. Covering themselves, Claus to Claus.

PJ Harvey weekend: Shame

From a Friday Night With Jonathan Ross some Friday in 2004, and with a necklace that would make Rovers barmaid Becky scream with joy, here's Polly with Shame:

It's worth noting that the new BBC rules on end credits - which can no more run over things that people might want to watch, to allow the screen to be squeezed and continuity announcements to appear on screen - means that current stuff from Ross' show comes in a much more YouTube friendly way, without words all over. Don't know if that's as good for the record companies as it is for everyone else...

[part of PJ Harvey weekend]

You can't touch me, I'm part of the union

We're slightly bemused by the founding of a group designed to allow groups to come together to fight for better digital deals: isn't this what the Musician's Union should be doing?

And if the new group creams off the "top" acts like Radiohead, Robbie Williams and The Verve, does that really make the group a leftward leaning social good, or is it merely an attempt to secure for the already rich an even larger slice of the money? It's interesting they've chosen the name of the Featured Artist's Coalition - already excluding the session musicians, then.

The sense that the organisation is more about the already-successful than an initiative to put together a group that is aimed at all musicians getting a better deal is in the press release:

To date, over 60 artists have joined the Coalition by signing its founding Charter. These range from established artists like Radiohead, The Verve, Craig David, Robbie Williams and the Kaiser Chiefs through to newer acts like Kate Nash, The Futureheads and Sia. To read the Featured Artists’ Coalition’s Charter or to see a video of some of the artists who are part of the Coalition, visit

Newer artists like The Futureheads? The band who formed in 2000? And Sia, whose first record came out in 1997?

Sia is the FAC's touchstone, though - she's wheeled out for the BBC to knock down suggestions that this is a cartel rather than a union:
Does Williams, who famously proclaimed that he was rich beyond his "wildest dreams" when he signed to EMI for £80m in 2002, really need any help?

"Robbie Williams' deal was done when CD sales really meant something," Mr [Tim] Clark says. "Those sorts of deals are just not possible any longer."

The coalition is "not about Robbie Williams", he says, instead pointing to former Zero 7 singer Sia, whom his company has managed for the last eight years.

Tim Clark, of course, also manages Robbie Williams - it's questionable if Sia would have been invited to sign up for the launch had she not been so well connected.

It could be that I'm being unfair - Billy Bragg and Radiohead are both involved, so there is some signs of conscience there - but had some actual newer artists been invovled, and smaller acts not signed to powerhouse management organisations, it might have been easier to judge if this is being done in the spirit of Tollpuddle or the top table.

Oregon judge gives RIAA a free pass

In a bizarre interpretation of how a judge is supposed to base his decisions on evidence rather than feelings, Judge Michael R. Hogan considering a motion to quash an RIAA subpoena against the University Of Oregon has decided that the lies the RIAA told the court - sorry, the "misrepresentations the RIAA made to the court" were probably an honest mistake.

Well, maybe they were made in good faith, but they were still wrong - isn't it siding a little too much with one party for Hogan to decide to ignore their errors? And doesn't a representation riddled with "honest mistakes" make their case a little less solid? Should OJ Simpson have argued he was making honest mistakes rather than breaking the law?

PJ Harvey weekend: C'mon Billy

Polly Jean on Top Of The Pops in August 1995:

[Part of the PJ Harvey weekend]

Doowopobit: George 'Wydell' Jones

The death has been announced of George 'Wydell' Jones, a member of the Edsels. Jones wrote - and, as a member of the band, performed on - Rama Lama Ding Dong.

The Edsels were originally formed under the no-less-branded name The Essos in Campbell, Ohio, in 1957. The band were cut a lucky break, as Rama Lama Ding Dong's moment had seemed to have passed without notice before a New York DJ resurrected it following the success of Blue Moon. Suddenly, a song whose time had passed had come again, just stalling outside the top 20 but lodging itself in the psyche of the nation - Grease's We Go Together and Who Put The Bop? both reference the title in their lyrics.

The delay between writing the song and hitting the charts proved difficult, though; the band had lost its impetus and attempts to capitalise on the hit didn't take. The band split in 1963, and although George Jones continued to tour, he did so in such obscurity that Joel Whitburn's book Top Pop Singles 1955-1999 listed him as dead.

George Jones was 71; his son told media that he died as a result of cancer on September 27th.

TV fans switched off

Bit of a snarl-up at the Concrete And Glass Festival, apparently, with reporting that "hundreds" of TV On The Radio fans were "shut out" of their gig last night. The report is a little sketchy on the detail - hundreds? really? And what happened to them? Were they ticket holders? - as instead the NME went inside to watch the gig rather than cover the story.

The problem seems to be a change in venue - NME says the switch came the day before, although actually the announcement the gig was moving indoors came on Wednesday; Hackney Council had imposed impossible licence conditions for the Hearne Street Car Park venue and so the whole thing had to be shifted to Cargo. It appears that you can fit less people in a Cargo hold than in a Car Park, then.

Embed and breakfast man: PJ Harvey

Frankly, there's no good reason why every weekend shouldn't be crammed with video action from Polly Jean Harvey and her confusingly-titled PJ Harvey band, is there? She was doing topless NME covers while Beth Ditto was still eating squirrel fricassee - and with an actual point to make, too. She was sat in Washington on September 11th, 2001, being told by phone that the judges had decided she was the winner of the Mercury Music Prize. She's even worked with one of the Chesterfields. More than this, though, she's one of the most consistently interesting and engaging British musicians of the last forty years. This weekend, then, it's all about the Harvey.

I wish I could pretend the timing was intentional, to celebrate her birthday coming up this week. But it isn't. That's just a coincidence.

Let's start out with Rid Of Me, captured at the Sydney leg of the Big Day Out in 2001:

Official site
Last FM
Fan site
Island Records site

4 Track Demos
Rid Of Me
Rid Of Me: The 33 1/3 series guide to the album
Please Leave Quietly - Live DVD

More videos across the weekend
C'mon Billy on Top Of The Pops
Shame on Jonathan Ross
Send His Love To Me live at Glastonbury, 1995
Down By The Water live in Moscow, 2008
Henry Lee with Nick Cave on The White Room
Broken Homes with Tricky on Letterman
Taut with John Parish on Later With Jools Holland
Grow Grow Grow live on French TV

Gordon in the morning: Ex-minus

Having confused his Macca and his Mucca yesterday, today Gordon Smart's report on Heather Mills alleged building of a swimming pool without planning permission makes an even more surprising error:

The estranged wife of Sir Paul McCartney was threatened with court action after refusing to take down a 130ft by 70ft tent after neighbours complained about noise.

Is Gordon the last person in the country to not have heard about that divorce settlement where Mills ceased to be McCartney's wife in anything other than the "ex" sense? It was in all the papers, Gordon.

Still - well done on correcting the Mucca/Macca slip-up in yesterday's entry. You're still spelling "hear" incorrectly, though.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Beyonce: Too risky

Johnny Borrell hasn't, as far as we know, contributed to Beyonce's new album, but it looks as if his po-faced pronouncement stylings have influenced the PR campaign for it.

Beyonce has written an open letter to her fans, since - apparently - they might need to prepare themselves for when the record emerges:

"I have recorded over 70 songs and have created a sound that reveals all of me. I am in a different place right now, and I wanted people to see the many sides of me," Beyoncé continued in the letter. "The music is upbeat for the dance, fun side, and it is reflective, passionate and serious for the personal side. I have taken risks here. I am not afraid. ... There is no label or tag on my sound. It's me, and I am so excited to share it with the world."

Did you hear that? Beyonce has taken risks, risks for you, dammit, so you better be bloody thankful. Since recording some poppy up-tempo stuff and throwing in a couple of ballads isn't, of itself, very much of in the way of risk-taking, I can only assume that Beyonce recorded this record while under gunfire, or perhaps in a swimming pool as an electric toaster was slowly lowered towards the surface - if you can't nail the song in one take, you'll pay the price.

Or maybe she just means that she's taken the risk that people might think she's exaggerating the dangers involved in making a nice pop record. That could be it.

Razorlight don't put too much effort into new record

That, I admit, is hardly a headline which is going to surprise or shock you. Apparently, Johnny Borrell and Razorlight have recorded a new record - Slipway Fires - and it was a breeze, says Borrell:

"We wanted to record it quickly, not over-produce it or overthink it too much. We felt like we had the strongest songs we've had so far, and when you've got that material there's not a lot else to do but just go in and record it."

I know, I know, it's hard to think believe that they put any thought into the previous ones - how hard would your brow have had to be furrowed before you came up with that song about how America is always on the telly but it isn't really like that in real life?

For Borrell, there were no problems at all:
"People say it every album - difficult first album, difficult second, ah, tricky third, ah, fourth but for me, writing-wise, it was like exploring the shadows cast by the success of the first and second one," he said.

Writing-wise, it was like exploring the shadows cast by the success of the first and second. You can actually taste the quality of Borrell's skills as a writer just from that first "writing-wise", can't you?

Oh dear

Absolute - the new name for Virgin Radio - is promoting itself with a clunker of an online ad campaign:

Like girl bands?

What are you, a Lib Dem MP?

Discover real music...

A station that hears the words "girl bands" and thinks of the Cheeky Girls rather than, say, The Shangri-Las or Sleater-Kinney probably shouldn't be lecturing about "real" music, should it?

Leaving that aside, how dour does the ad make the station sound? It might as well just stick up a picture of Ocean Colour Scene and Coldplay, rotating ever so slowly.

The implication would be the regions are cheaper, less choosy

The producers of the Take That musical which takes any lingering fond memories you might have of the band and rubs chili oil into their eyes has decided to go on tour rather than move to a smaller theatre in London:

Producer Bronia Buchanan said: "We have decided to protect the integrity of the production in its current format."

Ah, yes. The integrity. Who would want to challenge the integrity of a "story about a Take That tribute band"?

Kid Rock goes digital

The unabomber of pop, Kid Rock, has finally struck a deal to sell his music online - but only because Real Networks have agreed that Rhapsody customers will be forced to buy the tracks they want bundled with a bunch of filler - the "only whole albums" injunction.

I'm hoping Rhapsody tries to run an ad which makes a virtue of this: "Why buy only the tracks you want? Come to Rhapsody and pay for the ones you'll never listen to, too".

“The real issue here is flexibility in terms of artists being able to do what they want,” said Ken Levitan, the singer’s manager.

Call me old fashioned, but shouldn't the people who are picking up the tab be calling the shots? Would anyone want to eat in a restaurant where the manager was saying "the waiters will bring you food according to what they think you should be eating?"

Metalobit: Brian Lourie

The death has been announced of Brian Lourie, drummer with Slaughter (the Canadian Death Metal band, not the Nevada-born metal act).

Lourie joined the band in 1987, shortly after the release of the Strappado album - the torture-cum-bondage title of the album would eventually be adopted by a reactivated version of the band.

The bands' lead singer Dave Hewson issued a statement:

just wanted to let everyone know that longtime drummer for SLAUGHTER and STRAPPADO, Brian Lourie, has died of a heart attack at the young age of 39. Brian was one of the best people I have ever met and was a huge part of SLAUGHTER joining in 1987-88 'till we disbanded in 1992. His sense of humor and love for life made him such a wonderful person who will be greatly missed. I will try to [release] more info as it comes. Love you, bro

Gordon in the morning: Senstivity

The actual article is written by Beci Wood, but it appears as part of the Gordon Smaret calvacade. It's published alongside an even-grottier-than-usual long len snap of Angelina Jolie:

ANGELINA JOLIE emerges today for the first time since giving birth to twins VIVIENNE MARCHELINE and KNOX LEON in July.

The sighting at New York airport also marks the actress' first appearance since US reports claimed she is suffering from a form of post-natal depression.

So... this is an invasive snapshot of someone who Gordon and Beci believe is ill. Classy.

And what's that about her "emerging for the first time"? It's not like she's been a shut-in, is it? What they mean is "this is the first time she's been in a position where an idiot with a camera has shoved one in her face and we've persuaded Rupert Murdoch to pay for the results", but that's not quite as snappy.

Oh, and there's a full view of the child's face in it, too - presumably Smart believes that the PCC rules on publishing photos of young people don't apply to Americans? Or to him?

Elsewhere, Gordon himself gets excited by a song he believes is an attack on Heather Mills by Paul McCartney's Fireman sideproject. So excited, in fact, he seems to lose track of his Maccas and Muccas and winds up inadvertently calling Paul a liar:
To say the attack is thinly-veiled would be like calling Macca a bit of a fibber.

Surely, Gordon, you know that people (i.e. your boss) call Heather Mucca - it's because of her porn past, dontchaknow?

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Oh, no, good god, no

There was something inevitable about this, given how many other bands have reunited, and how there's not really anything else for them to do: Limp Bizkit are getting back together.

A bunch of paunchy middle-aged men pretending to be teenagers?

Yes, but now they're getting back together.

Fred Durst has confirmed the worst:

"Yes, it has been a while. But a while worth the wait. It is getting very close to time to drop the Bizkit on the universe. I say this with the absolute best intentions and motivation. We, Limp Bizkit, are excited about the future for us and for you. Let's stir some shit up my friends."

Well, yes, the image of someone sticking a spoon into a bucket of poo and vigorously whisking does seem strangely appropriate, Durst. Given that the comeback announcement is worded 'drop the Bizkit on the universe', the mind boggles at what the actual product of this union will be.

Dig deep, people

James Blunt is prepared to quit music - providing the price is right. He's prepared to quit, if we can scrape together the cash:

"If someone is prepared to pay me enough, I'll stop."

The BBC have already announced plans to turn over cash from this year's Children In Need telethon to Blunt if he just stops; the US Congress is currently discussing if they can find another $700 billion to help out.

More disturbingly, Blunt suggests that not liking him is akin to racism:
"If you don't like my music then listen to someone else.

"It's bizarre that I should attract all this aggression. Any judgment made on that level is a form of prejudice."

Aggression? Eh? People saying you're not very good aren't being aggressive, they're just passing a critical opinion. If you think having someone say 'you make poorly judged singles featuring droning voices and bland lyrics' is aggressive, what the hell were you like when you were in the army?

Natasha Hamilton gets a second chance

H, Natasha Hamilton's alleged gangster honeypot nitespot, has been allowed to reopen on the strict understanding that it installs a metal detector for customers to pass through on their way in.

Because nothing says chi-chi metrosexual sophistication like clattering through the equivalent of an airport checkpoint, does it?

The Echo insists this is a first:

A NIGHTSPOT owned by a former Atomic Kitten star will become the first in the city to have an airport-style metal detector on its door.

Really? Then what was that large beeping thing you used to have to navigate in order to get into the short-lived indie club that took over The State's premises on Dale Street? I'm especially aware of it because one evening - after, admittedly, having over-enjoyed the doubles bar at the Old Post Office - it took me about five goes to get through the bloody thing what with coins, buckles, zippers and so on.

Sony BMG ceases to be

Sony BMG has vanished, vanished a surely as a fairy circle at daybreak - the Japanese partner has completed purchase of the German half, and has announced it now wishes to be known as Valerie.

Sorry, no - got the paperwork muddled. That was an announcement in a postcard from my Uncle Terence. Actually, Sony's music wing will now be called Sony Music Entertainment Incorporated. It's hoping we'll learn to love it as SMEI, though, which is almost an anagram of Smile.

So, that new name, then: a twisted smile with a bit missing.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Apart from swallowing whole Gallagher's claims that The Smell Of White Lightning has got a Krautrock influence, Yahoo's primer's guide to Krautrock is pretty good:

Bands were also anxious to direct their amps and fuzz boxes against the political establishment, which in 1968 still contained many Nazi-era officials, said Guru Guru's Neumeier.

"There was a thick layer of dust everywhere left by Uncle Adolf, and we wanted to really blow it away," he said.

Anglo-American domination of the record industry was a further obstacle to German acts, which needed time to find their own voice in the Cold War aftermath of the Nazis' defeat.

"After the war, we had no self-confidence to put down roots on our own turf, musically or otherwise," said Holger Czukay, bassist for Cologne-based Can. "It only really began in 1968."

Courtney's corrections and clarifications

Whatever else you can say about that artist's plans to smoke Kurt Cobain, she's managed to smoke out something else.

Like a denial that his ashes were ever taken in the first place:

Love's representative Alan Nierob has now retracted Love's previous comments, claiming Cobain's remains "were never taken" and that the story of the burglary had been "erroneously reported", according to

To be fair, anyone who believes anything they read in Courtney Love's blog probably doesn't bother with the news and just waits for the stories to turn up on Wikipedia, but you've got to love the diplomatic way that Nierob attempts to frame an admission that his employer wasn't exactly posting live from reality the day she told that story? It's not that Love just stuck a bunch of horsefeathers on the internet, it was that the phrase "I can't believe anyone would take Kurt's ashes from me" was erroneously reported by other people.

It's not a million miles from the Republican defence of Sarah Palin's inability to answer a question without making a hash of things as suggesting that the fault lay with the question, and not with the candidate.

"But, but... they really did make a KitKat advert..."

The Daily Mail is a little flushed with the news that a bloke - a "civil servant", apparently - is being charged with crimes arising from writing fanfic.

Admittedly, his fanfic was extreme - as the Mail painstakingly details:

Walker is accused of posting the article on a fantasy porn website.

It allegedly described in detail the kidnap, mutilation, rape and murder of Girls Aloud members Cheryl Cole, Nadine Coyle, Sarah Harding, Nicola Roberts and Kimberley Walsh.

Unpleasant, certainly, but is it pornographic? To the point where it requires prosecution rather than, say, the suggestion the author might like to nip out and meet some actual women to talk to?

And isn't there a slight suspicion that the prosecution has been arrived at not because of the content of the stories, but because of the characters? There are lots of tales of kidnap, rape and murder written that don't attract this sort of attention from the police. It's not entirely comfortable to picture people sitting down writing stories about real people being raped and dismembered for fun, but if the worry is that that person is obsessing over a pop star, shouldn't that be the focus of response rather than going "and it's lewd, too, so you're going to court, young fellermelad"?

The Mail seems a bit confused about what it is the accused has actually done:
A civil servant is being prosecuted under the Obscene Publications Act for a blog in which he allegedly details the kidnap and murder of Girls Aloud.

So, it was a blog, was it?

Oh... maybe not:
Walker is accused of posting the article on a fantasy porn website.

So it was an article, then?
Headlined 'Girls (Scream) Aloud' it is said to have run to 12 pages.

Although, admittedly, they do have the margins set incredibly widely on the Northcliffe House printers these days.

Maybe the Mail should hire someone to write technology-related stories for them - twelve pages? Of what? A4? A5?

The Mail rounds off its coverage - and I'm using 'round off' in the sense of 'pads out' - with the biggest ragbag of background information imaginable. It's perhaps the only time the wording of the 1959 Obscene Publication Act has shared space with a brief explanation of the mechanism employed by Popstars: The Rival to arrive at a winner.

Somewhat oddly, then, an article which is supposedly about online obscenity ends with this:
They reached Number One in the charts with their debut single Sound Of The Underground and have had 18 consecutive Top 10 singles - a record.

There's a lingering suspicion that the Mail might be attempting to explain that a "single" is also known as a record, rather than reporting the band's entry into the Guinness Book.

MTV Rickrolled

The MTV Europe Awards are having their leg pulled, as Rick Astley finds himself doing quite nicely in the Best Act Ever category online vote.

How do MTV react? Do they chuckle, admit they've been had and their faith in the wisdom of crowds has been tickled, and move on?

Oh, no. MTV are, with a straight face, attempting to paint this as a genuine result in a scientifically-rigorous poll:

"Rick's fans have obviously decided that he deserves recognition as a pop icon and no doubt they are determined to make sure he wins on the night," said the award show's producer Richard Godfrey.

Yes. That'd be it. Rick's fans, who have - for some reason - kept quiet for all these years are suddenly deciding that he deserves the recognition of an MTV Award. It's in no way connected to Rickrolling, where the unsuspecting are duped into a surprise appearance of Rick Astley online. That that should have been happening this year is just a coincidence.

Nobody believes you, Richard Godfrey. And even you don't believe you, really, do you? If you really thought that the MTV Europe awards audience had a hitherto unprofessed love of Rick Astley, you wouldn't be flying Beyonce in to do the opening number; you'd be asking around on Edge Lane if anyone had phone numbers for the Reynolds Girls. Even Rick Astley knows it's a joke, dammit:
I don't think I'll be buying a train ticket to Liverpool. I think it's a wind-up to be honest.

I never took it too seriously while I was doing it and it's a long time ago now so I don't take this seriously either.

Hey, Astley: you better - those legions of fans are counting on you.

The Dotmusic Awards roll round again

Of course, they're not called the Dotmusic awards any more - if you're going to fund a pointless awards ceremony, you might as well not use them to promote a defunct website. So, now they're the BT Digital Music Awards, and somehow celebrate something or other different from all those other awards:

"The music industry is continuing to evolve, with artists and record companies seeking new ways to communicate with fans digitally," said BT's Matthew Dearden.

"The BT Digital Music Awards recognises the artists and those in the industry, both established and up and coming, who are delivering the best in cutting-edge digital music entertainment."

It must be frustrating for those artists who still only record on analogue machines, restrict their releases to vinyl and only use hand-written fliers to promote their gigs. They must feel so excluded.

So, who have BT judged to be the cutting-edge digital artists?
[Kylie] Minogue was awarded best pop artist and best innovation for the Kylie Konnect site, which allows her fans to create their own profiles on it.

Radiohead were crowned artists of the year and Coldplay won best rock/indie artist and best official music website.

Thank god someone is giving this innovative new acts the kudos they deserve. Without the power of digital marketing, Kylie wouldn't stand a chance, crowded out by the likes of the Monkey Swallows The Universe.

The Cab came back

Death Cab For Cutie celebrate their 10th anniversary - yes, we're all getting old - with plans for re-release of their debut Something About Airplanes. This is going to include an extra disc, with what's being pushed as "a recently unearthed" tape of their first Seattle gig ever.

Recently unearthed? It probably is, but only in the sense of someone saying "have we got that tape of the Daeth Cab Seattle gig? Rootle about in that cardboard box, will you?"

From the album - although not the performance on the free disc - this is President Of What:

Darkness at 3AM: They actually printed this

Russell Brand is going to appear in a Shakespeare - The Tempest, actually - which also features Helen Mirren. For some reason, the 3AM headline on this story is, erm:

She's a dame bird

Let's be generous, and assume they were near the deadline. And there was nobody left in the office except a 3AM Girl and someone for whom English is a second, or maybe third, language.

Gordon in the morning: The market stall of desire

Gordon Smart seems to have given up this morning - the two leading items on Bizarre online this morning is a plug for Dave Hogan's photobook and a plug for a soft porn calendar. It's not clear if he's now just linking his pieces to his Amazon Associates account, but it's certainly reading less like a newspaper column and more like a classified ads page.

Download later

Today have just run a piece on the launch of Nokia's 'comes with music' handset, out of which nobody came out with much honour, to be honest.

A representative of MySpace UK showed off the MySpace music service, burbling about how it turns MySpace into your music hub on the web or something similar - before Rory Clellan-Jones pointed out that it's not if you live in the UK.

Some fans of The Script were given a chance to explain their justifications for not paying for music, which they delivered with the tone of people who had read something on the internet rather than like it was something they believe - "oh, yeah, I see music as pretty much a marketing tool these days" (do you really? But what about the vast majority of songs that don't get used as marketing tools? Is it okay to not pay for a Damon and Naomi song simply because a Kula Shaker song appears in an advert for apple sauce?); "I think the days of paying for music are over, I'm afraid" (what about the billions of tracks getting paid for through iTunes? Or the racks of CDs in HMV?).

Then they actually spoke to a member of The Script - I couldn't work out why they'd been playing a cover version of a Keane song under the piece, but it turned out that it was them. Script man claimed that he was cool with downloading because "if someone downloads your song, they'll tell 10,000 other people" - which seems to be wrong; downloading makes it more likely that people will sample a song than they would otherwise, but surely it's the people who care about your music enough to spring a little bit of cash for it are more likely to turn into your ad hoc promotion force than those who are merely downloading it on the off-chance?

Finally, a bloke from Omnifone, the company which powers the Sony-Ericcson version of Comes With Music, trumpeted that the way to get people to pay for music is to arrange things so "they don't know they're paying for it". Isn't taking money from people for something that they don't realise they're paying for at the more fraudulent end of unethical?

The whole piece seemed to have been constructed from people who had a shaky grasp on the subjects they were discussing, or, at best, hadn't really thought through what they were saying.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Phish market

Phish - yes, yes, they're coming back. But this time they're mad as hell and aren't going to take any scalping nonsense:

Phish Tickets has a zero tolerance for scalping and insists that all patrons of our service abide by our policy stated herein. Tickets made available through this site are intended only for fans who are actually planning on attending the shows requested. It is strictly prohibited to resell any tickets obtained through Phish Tickets for more than the purchase price. If you are found to be reselling, trading or brokering tickets that you purchased through our site for profit, Phish Tickets may at its discretion cancel your ticket order and all other pending orders in your name. This cancellation will result in a refund of the total price for the tickets minus a $7.00 per ticket processing fee and any shipping fees that have been incurred with respect to the order. We reserve the right to investigate all orders suspected to be in violation of this policy.

This is so strictly worded, I'd be a little worried at the "only for fans" command there - woe betide you if you've bought a ticket because your girlfriend wants to go and, while you're not fond of the band, you want to keep her company. They'll know, and you won't get in.

Deathrockobit: Aaron Fuller

The lead singer of Plan 9, Aaron Fuller, has been killed in a motorbike accident in California.

Plan 9 - or at least, this Plan 9 (more than one band has taken their naming inspiration from the Ed Wood movie) - were originally meant to be a one-off Misfits tribute act; the success of their 1997 debut was successfully parlayed into a major death rock force, in California at least. To an extent, their career remained as something of a Misfits tribute, but in a good way.

The band will continue hopes Fullers' family. According to Blabbermouth:

Fuller's family has stated that they "want PLAN 9 to continue because that is what Aaron would want."

It's a sentiment his fellow band members seem to endorse, according to their MySpace blog:
Will we carry on ..? I think so. Aaron would have wanted it that way. It was a true honor to play with him and to know and ride with him. A true friend in every sense of the word. Plan 9 wants to exend our condolences to his family.. He will live on in our hearts and in our music. Godspeed my Brother... Scary Barrie.

Fuller died after losing control of his bike on an off-ramp in Oakland. He was 35.

Pink shocks lightning

There is nothing, not even a smidge, of anything amusing about the Pink single being ahead of the new Oasis effort in the midweek charts. Nothing amusing at all.

Still, Noel will always find some friends don't let you down.

!!! ! boom

From Mania TV - they've slapped an advert at the start - this is the first of eight pieces of !!! on At The Show - this is them doing Myth Takes:

Additional parts will be dribbling up onto the Mania TV website.

Dirty Pretty no longer Things

Carl Barat's post-Libertines adventure, Dirty Pretty Things, are calling it a day. There's a statement:

01/10 Dirty Pretty Things Official Announcement
It is with some sadness we announce the farewell of the Dirty Pretty Things. It's been a glorious three years which we all would gladly live out again, but it is time for us to try new things. (not The Libertines). We are reluctant to give up touring but will give the last waltz everything. We have and are determined to go out as we came in, after which we all have other ventures to be getting on with and splendid future plans. Heartfelt thanks to all who made it what it was, much love and we'll see you on the road.

The "not The Libertines", you suspect, might be telling here - although a perfectly great band in their own right, it must have been grinding knowing there's always a part of your following who really hope you're going to get back with your ex.

Listen again

Real Networks have made time in their busy "being sued by the MPAA for something or other" schedule to bring back The latest idea to try and reverse a website out of a url is to make it a local music blog. Local, that is, assuming you live in a place where one of the Creative Loafing alternative titles is based, as they've signed on to shovel much of the content into the furnace.

It's a bit of a weak idea - if ever a site didn't need an umbrella URL, it was a collection of local music sites, as at a top level you get a bizarre mash of local stories covering hardly any of America. It's probably not a good omen that Creative Loafing filed for protective bankruptcy a couple of days ago.

Let's all look at the wacky artist

Some artist Natascha Stellmach claims to have received the "stolen" ashes of Kurt Cobain and - oh, stop my aching art-school pranked sides - is going to smoke them:

“This final act”, Stellmach told Artworld magazine, “will release Cobain from the media circus and into the ether.”

Asked how she she came by having the ashes, she said "That's confidential and kind of magic. They came to me. And I am setting him free.”

Of course, there's every chance she doesn't actually have Kurt's ashes at all, and is merely engaging in some sort of publicity stunt to draw attention to herself. If she does - she claims the ashes came to her in a way "magical and confidential" - then burning them would seem to be destroying the evidence of a crime; possessing them is holding stolen goods and that's just the legal ramifications.

The damaged moral and ethical judgement, though, is even more obvious - how is turning yourself into a media circus releasing Kurt from his? And condemning every documentary made about him from now until the eventual collapse of capitalism to have to end with "a mentally-ill woman inhaled what remained of his body" bringing an end, rather than just crowbarring a new chapter? What gives Stellmach the right to decide what happens to Kurt, over his daughter, over his wife?

Perhaps she's going to do this for everyone. Perhaps we should all deliver the corpses and bones and ashes of all our deceased to her house - in the same way parents try to stop their kids from smoking by making them do a full packet of twenty in one go, the solution would be to ask Stellmach to work her way through a charnel house.

And if she doesn't have the ashes? Exploiting the loss of Kurt's ashes, publicly announcing to a sixteen year-old girl that the remains of her too-publicly dead father are going to be used in a stunt, even if you're planning to say 'ha-ha not really' at some point in the future, seems somewhat inhumane and cruel. And what worthy sort of artist would lack empathy to such an extent?

Apple threaten to shutter iTunes Music Store

It's a negotiating position, certainly: Apple have made a threat that they might axe their music store altogether if the US Copyright Royalty Board increases the price payable per track from nine cents to fifteen cents.

PaidContent's Joseph Weisenthal reckons Apple is bluffing:

It's understandable that Apple would want to fight this—based on analyst Gene Muster's estimated 2.5 billion tracks sold in the coming year, the hike would cost it $144 million. But the notion that it would willingly give up its dominant position in online music retailing, as well as a key ingredient in what makes the iPod/iPhone franchise so successful, is basically implausible. Perhaps iTunes could go on, sans-music, but then its name would be absurd. If the worse came to worst, and the royalty rate were hiked and Apple could not stomach the $144 million hit to profit, then the company could always raise the cost of music. Apple argues that this would lower music sales—thus obviating any gain to the publisher—but for Apple, it would at least preserve the complementary store and device, which has brought the company such incredible fortune.

But Weisenthal forgets the important detail about iPods: most songs on iPods don't come from the iTunes Music Store. Sure, it makes it easy to get tracks onto the iPod, but then iTunes makes it just as easy to pull tracks off CDs and from elsewhere.

And besides, there's nothing to stop Apple hitching another retailer's back end to the iTunes front end, charge them (Amazon? We7?) a rent for the eyeballs, and sit back comfortably knowing they don't have to remain in the business of selling music when what they really want to do is sell iPods.

Given how uppity the major labels can be, and how keen they are to try and prove their relevancy in a world ten years after they should have vanished, it's unthinkable that Apple don't already have at least a fully-costed Plan B in place in case they needed to drop the store. Closure might not be the hand they want to play, but that doesn't mean it's not cards they're holding.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Gordon Lightfoot is back - back from a coma, back making music, and back giving interviews, like this one to the St Louis Dispatch:

“It’s like you’ve been lying in a great big box—and suddenly, the box is turned over. My eardrums were crashing, like a cupboard fell over in my head and all the plates and cups shattered at once.” Lightfoot paused to take a sip of tea. “Two days later, I was thinking of music again.”


It's been thirteen years since the last Alice In Chains album, but it looks like they think we've forgiven them: They're busily recording a new record. Someone vaguely connected to the band has said so on the internet:

"October will arrive and Alice In Chains will reconvene to record the new album.

"So, as 2008, winds down, band activity will be gearing up, and at some point in 2009 you'll finally hear what I've been raving about for the last several months."

Winds down? There's still three months of the year left - a whole quarter. Only a band who can extend a hiatus for a decade and a half would see October as being the end of the year.

Gordon in the morning: Topless tales

We all know how much Gordon Smart loves it when he gets photos of topless young celebrities arriving on his desk. This morning, he gets something especially juicy:

ALL those glasses of wheatgrass juice appear to be paying dividends for CHRIS MARTIN.

The COLDPLAY frontman, who sticks to a strict macrobiotic diet, whipped off his top at their show in Bologna, Italy, and displayed an impressive torso.

We can only assume that someone was so overcome by the sight of Martin's nipples when they came up with the headline:
Feeling Cold are you, Chris?

Admittedly, he is in a band called Coldplay. But who takes their tops off because they feel cold?

Maybe Gordon has looked closely at Chris' nipples to see if they're showing signs of turning into hard little marbles - perhaps the headline only makes sense if you really bury your head in the photo.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Feist: gigs a bit like harvest festival

Oh, we loved harvest festivals - carrying a tin of food to school to be placed, solemnly, in front of the stage, a couple of verses of We Plough The Fields And Scatter before the whole lot gets swept up into a box and distributed to the needy. Of course, our Grandma got given a box of groceries once - from another school - and was absolutely livid. At the suggestion she might have been financially struggling, but also at the brands that had been chosen for her.

Anyway, Feist is reviving the harvest festival model for her forthcoming Canadian tour, but the recipients of the gifts will be better chosen than my grandma. And there won't be We Plough The Fields And Scatter, either. Instead, attendees are being invited to bring donations for the Canadian Association of Food Banks; one lucky donor will get a bunch of special stuff in return but everyone gets to help a little. It might not be as flashy as Bono hanging out with Presidents, but it's nice to feel there's something we all can do.

New Conor Oberst stuff

"It's no good" sighed Conor, toweling himself off - hair first, then chest - "I'm a serious artist. I'm not some sort of fanfic character for you to toss off over whenever you choose." He flung his towel to the ground, and stood there, hands on hips, thrust forward.

"But really, are you a better musician than you are a smouldering-eyed beauty?" snickered the figure on the bed, concentrating more on the shadows falling across Oberst's thighs than his pleas to be taken seriously. Over the last few hours, he'd learned first to ignore Conor's pleas, and then to enjoy them, up until the moment when the floppy-haired musician half-screamed, half-breathed their agreed safeword: Jackwhite, Jackwhite, Jackwhite... His attention returned to what Conor was saying:

"I did an instore, played some tunes, you can find them on It's Hard To Find A Friend. You judge for yourself... am I a fanfic figment, or am I a great musician?"

Dragging Oberst back onto the bed, his partner silenced him with a kiss: "Oh, I will go and see how that compares... but first, let me remind myself where you've set the bar..."

Swinging out

Reactivated lush-pop act Swing Out Sister are about to go on tour - they're calling the show "an intimate evening with...", as if they've deliberately chosen not to play Arenas this time round. Still, it should be fun - although twenty plus quid a ticket might be pushing it what with all the banks being taken over and turned into charity shops.

The dates:

November 20 - The Lowry, Salford Quays
November 24 - Milton Keynes, Wavendon, The Stables
December 1 - Birmingham Glee Club
December 2 - Worcester Huntingdon Hall
December 6 - Sage Gateshead
December 9 - Sheffield Memorial Hall
December 13 - London Bush Hall

Ebb back

Here's something of a curiosity:

That would be Nitzer Ebb, during one of their very first gigs - Romford, sometime in 1984. It's a gift to YouTube from early Ebb manager Chris Piper, who has lifted a couple of songs from an old VHS.

Caribou carry Polaris

When we first heard someone saying something about Caribou getting a polaris, we'd assumed that Sarah Palin had merely upgraded her war on the natural world and was now using missiles rather than her bare hands to bring down creatures.

But, no, the reference was to the Canadian version of the Mercury Music Prize, which was picked up by the rather lovely Ontario outfit. Congratulations all round. And to see why they won, here's a clip of them doing Melody Day on The Pink Room:

Jackson sick

CNN are saying Janet Jackson was rushed to hospital shortly before she was due on stage in Montreal, and who are we to doubt that they checked the word "rushed" before publishing? If CNN says she was "rushed", then she was rushed, and not merely taken.

'e's off: Pakman quits eMusic

Probably pursued by little ghosts, eMusic's David Pakman has gone off to join a venture capital firm, leaving the company without a leader. Hypebot is wondering if all this doesn't point to times being hard for the company, which it claims has reduced payouts to labels for the first time in its history.

It does seem to be a peculiar day to be deciding to go off and become a professional investor.

NME awards loom on the horizon

Was it Idolator who were taking the piss out of us as a nation last week, with our seemingly non-stop rolling of music awards?

They'll still be snickering, as the NME announces where it'll be holding the prize-giving next February - presumably to allow diaries to be cleared.

Brixton Academy on February 25th, and still sponsored by that stuff you put in your hair.

Could you try and look a little more excited, please? Come on, NME, whip us into a frenzy. It's the awards. Surely you must have someone famous ready with a quote about how it's going to be the biggest ass-kickin' something or other of the year?

NME publishing director Paul Cheal said: "With the Awards night at Brixton Academy, the Big Gig at the O2 and an extensive range of Awards Shows across the country, we're confident that the Shockwaves NME Awards 2009 will be the most exciting yet.

"Voted for by fans and with more opportunities for fans to take part than ever before, the NME Awards will be the most accurate barometer of the best in new music."

Mmm. It's like a barometer, but a finely tuned one. Not like those Q Awards, which really only function to the standard of a little weather house where the man comes out if it's going to be raining and a woman comes out if it's going to be sunny.

I've never quite believed Ugly Betty when Henry somehow finds himself propelled out of the back office to be at the centre of things at Mode, but maybe it does happen.

The question is, though, doesn't this make it sound like the NME believes its readership are a better guide to the best new music is than the magazine itself?

The other question is: isn't this starting to look like a little too much fuss over a reader's poll? It's like the NME's sole raison d'etre is to hope to get through the summer with a Cool List or two before throwing itself on the mercy of the reader's poll. Michael Jackson (not that one) was rumoured to have only given What The Papers Say a berth on BBC2 because he wanted the awards; but unless the brand giving the prizes means something, where is the value of their judgement?

Metallica: It sounds alright to us

The grinding complaints and counter-complaints about the quality of the sound of the Metallica album continues. Now Lars Ulrich has waded in, telling people who've complained they should ignore the evidence of their own ears and accept that they're wrong:

Rick Rubin's whole thing is to try and get it to sound lively, to get it (to) sound loud, to get it to sound exciting, to get it to jump out of the speakers. Of course, I've heard that there are a few people complaining. But I've been listening to it the last couple of days in my car, and it sounds fuckin' smokin.

Isn't the heart of the complaints that it doesn't sound exciting?

Still, Lars can't ignore the complaints from the fans. There has to be a reason for them, right? Hey... you don't suppose it's your old nemesis The Internet, do you, Lars?
"The difference between back then and now is the internet. The internet gives everybody a voice, and the Internet has a tendency to give the complainers a louder voice."

How much happier we all were when people who had complaints had no voice and had to just shut up and swallow it down, eh, Ulrich?

Darkness at 3AM: Postcard from France

The 3AM Girls report from Paris fashion week. Lily Allen turns up in high heels. They do, I'm afraid:

Lily Allen wears her own stiletto eyeful towers

Let's be generous and assume they abandoned a carefully constructed Notre Dame pun after seven hours work, shall we?

Gordon in the morning: Put a dutch cap in it

Kelly Osbourne is on the Sun's payroll, acting as some sort of agony aunt ("I've got a problem, Kelly" "Get your dad's butler to sort it"). So perhaps that's why Gordon Smart treats her ambassadorship of World Contraception Day with a straight face. Kelly, it seems, knows a thing or two about contraception because, erm, she had a pregnancy scare. Sort-of:

“I convinced myself I was pregnant when I was 13 and I hadn’t even got my period.

“There are so many rumours and also so much wrong information being passed around, so it is a really important message the World Contraception Day is trying to give out.”

Surely the solution to Kelly's problem had less to do with contraception than poor sex ed?

Kelly insists that she's not the sort of person to go talking about her sex life, before talking about her sex life in too much detail:
“I am not the kind of person who talks about my sex life, but I am not afraid to talk about contraception.

"I go three, maybe four times a year to get tested for sexually transmitted infections and most of the time I don’t even need to. I just go for peace of mind.”

"Most of the time I don't even need to" is a phrase which will bang around the inside of my head for a while yet.

Is it really a good idea for a contraception campaign to be headed by someone who suggests that "talking about contraception" is divorced from "talking about your sex life" rather than being central to it?

Something neither Kelly nor Gordon find room for is a mention that, far from being a health initiative, World Contraception Day is actually a marketing stunt for the oral contraceptive company Bayer. However important the contraceptive message is, should it be being delivered by a company who have a vested interest in increasing the take-up of one type of system over others? Is it right for an advertising campaign to be disguised as a health message? And shouldn't Kelly be acknowledging who's underwriting her campaign?

A mystery solved

The puzzling appearance of Beyonce on the MTV EMA shortlist may, or may not, be on the merits of her astonishing 2008 she hasn't been having. Or it may be down to her headlining the event.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Glasvegas having some trouble

Glasvegas are reported as having cancelled their Boston gig; James is having troubles with their visas, apparently. It's not known if this is a tit-for-tat action following Busta Rhymes' problems getting into the UK.

Metallica fans don't want anything surprising - Metallica

There are, you suspect, a great many bands who know, in their hearts, that their fans don't really love them for their skills and novelty; all they want is a new album that sounds exactly like the last one. However soul-crushing it might be, the sane financial decision is to eschew invention in favour of repetition.

You don't often hear bands admit it, though, so a small bouquet of honesty to Kirk Hammett of Metallica, who effectively nails his fans as painfully conservative:

I've learned that there's a signature METALLICA sound, and if we stray too far from that, our fans get impatient, or they just don't understand, or they miss the point. And I'm not saying that's a good thing or a bad thing; it's just something we have to contend with.

Same as last time, then, guys? Yep, same as last time.

This interview is also over

Symapthy in the other direction, though, when Ray Davies hung up on a George Lamb interview live on 6Music. Davies, it seems, didn't feel it worth his time answering questions like "are you bald", for some reason.

This interview is over

Not getting enough respect, part one: Boy George cut short an interview when he was asked, not unreasonably, if Culture Club split because he loved the drugs more than the band:

[Smooth Radio presenter Tony] Lyman tells CMU Music, "We were doing the interview via a studio link and I thought we'd got off to a good start. Boy George was giving some very honest answers. But then the air went dead, never a good thing in radio, and I realised he'd gone."

Apparently George didn't think it was worth it to plug his new dancing bear show on Living TV.

Don't get me wet because the bandages will all come off

Trooper of the week award must surely go to Amanda Palmer, run over in Belfast yesterday but still turning up on stage with a plaster cast, for all the world like a character in one of her own songs.

Arnie far too busy to save future Donda Wests

Arnold Schwarzenegger - who is still California's governor as it turns out that wasn't all a dream after all - managed to build up a legislative backlog during the time it took to sort out the state budget. As a result, he's decided he's just going to veto a whole slew of bills because, frankly, he can't be arsed to find the time to do his job properly and, given the choice between listening to the democratically-elected representatives of the people and, you know, his plans, he's going with the plans.

There's an insane number of bills falling because of the Republican's time crunch, but amongst them is what's been known as the Donda West bill. Introduced in response to the death of Kanye West's mother, the legislation would have called for cosmetic surgery patients to be given a medical and a doctor's clearance before undegroing any procedures. Apparently, Schwarzenegger doesn't consider this to be a priority, and isn't going to let saving people's lives keep him from the golf course.

Un-steady: Dates on Hold

The Hold Steady have axed their entire UK tour, apparently on health grounds but nobody seems absolutely certain why.

It's not going to make up for it - indeed, it might make the loss even more tart - but here's the band doing Sequestered In Memphis live in July this year:

Katy Perry: isn't she a doll?

I know that China can react quickly, but who knew that - in between topping up the churn with melamine - somebody could find time to create moulds to make small, plastic versions of Katy Perry so swiftly?

It turns out, though, that the Perry doll is not your mass-market cash-in. Oh, no, it's a limited edition cash-in instead. They're only making 500; so there will be a lot of disappointed children come Christmas day if she hasn't already turned into a American Nightmare by then.

Barker out

Travis Barker has been released from hospital; he's been getting treatment for burns following his escape from the fatal plane crash.

GCap does it again. Twice.

You might have thought that being fined a million quid might have focused the minds a little at Global radio's GCap stations, but it seems not - the new owners are still contacting Ofcom with offences to be taken into consideration: the latest Ofcom bulletin details how one Mercia (soon to be Heart) presenter responded to an April technological breakdown during a competition by, erm, ringing up her neighbour to take part (the neighbour won, surprisingly); meanwhile, on Mercury (soon to be Heart), they simply made up a competition winner's name.

Presumably, though, these will be the last instances to be uncovered?

Great little tour

Emmy the Great has announced a minitour for November:

Saturday November 8th - Glasgow Twisted Wheel
Sunday November 9th - Manchester Deaf Institute
Monday November 10th - London ICA

All in support of the single We Almost Had a Baby, which is out on November 10th. Which isn't that far away now.

NME points a finger

An email from Daniel B points us in the direction of an NME report on file sharing:

Wow - do the NME have a legal team of any kind checking their website postings, or all they all busy fending off suits from Morrissey?

Are they *sure* Sendspace and Megaupload are illegal? And are they
sure the Guardian said they are? Maybe the Guardian site has changed,
but there's no mention of either in the linked piece, which was "last
updated at 07:12 on September 29 2008. "

It's a good question - there's nothing illegal about Megaupload as a service; it could, theoretically, be used to share copyrighted material without the copyright holder's permission, but that would be in contravention of the company's terms of service. You could use a Volkswagen to ram-raid a branch of Dixons, but that doesn't mean the Golf is an illegal car and it's surprising that they've singled out a couple of sites which have serious, legal, business uses at their heart for the pointy-fingering.

It's actually a pity, because it obscures what is a useful piece of research. It's a tiny sample and we tend to not accept these things as being truly representative, but taken on its own terms it's quite revealing:
Some 38 per cent said the [music subscription] services would lead to them reducing their use of illegal file-sharing websites such as Sendspace and Megaupload, reports The Guardian.

The survey also found that 45 per cent of users would buy fewer CDs because of the services, while 47 per cent said they would be discouraged from using digital download stores like iTunes.

So, in other words, the mobile subscription services which the music industry reckons will be their saviour are going to be better at hitting actual legal sales than stopping piracy.

The NME's headline on the article is the bullish
iPhone rivals to kill off internet piracy?

- to be fair, they do put a question mark on there, but given the survey could only find 25% of people with a "keen interest" in taking the services, and only a third of those suggested that doing so would reduce their use of filesharing sites, we're not supposing the lawyers the RIAA keep writing cheques to will be feeling the cold wind of credit crunching just yet.

The idea has gone down like an iron airship

Sun readers will have spent their weekend in a state of heightened excitement, what with Captain Gordon's pages announcing exclusively back on Friday that Robert Plant had signed up for a Led Zep reunion. The only worry, of course, is if their bank would still be solvent by the time the tickets went on sale.

Oddly, though, Gordon's writer Jess Rogers and his unnamed source turned out to be slightly wide of the mark - let's put it down to confusion, shall we? - as Robert Plant has made it clear there's no reunion:

"It's both frustrating and ridiculous for this story to continue to rear its head when all the musicians that surround the story are keen to get on with their individual projects and move forward," Plant said.

"I wish Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones and Jason Bonham nothing but success with any future projects."

We expect Gordon to run some sort of catch-up for those of his readers who still believe the "ridiculous" exclusive he ran last week.

The Zune goes minibreaking

There's something stirring over at Microsoft, who have announced that the online Zune space is going to be closed for 48 hours from today.

Zuneheads got this email:

The Zune service will be down for scheduled maintenance on Monday, September 29, 2008 from 12:01am Pacific Time, for up to 48 hours. During the downtime, Zune Social, the forums on, and all of Zune Marketplace will be offline.

We apologize for any inconvenience this might cause you.

Please check back soon. We look forward to sharing our picks, plays, and recommendations with you in the Zune Social and in Zune Marketplace shortly!


Your Friends at Zune

It might well be something astonishing is about to happen to Zune, but in the meantime - taking everything offline for 48 hours? Even the equivalent of the iTunes store? Isn't that incredibly slapdash? And if Zune was that important to Microsoft, would they not have found a way of keeping the service up during the "scheduled maintenance"?

Playbackobit: Mahendra Kapoor

One of the giants of Hindi film music, Mahendra Kapoor has died after a long period of illness.

Originally finding fame in an all-India singing contest, Kapoor's breakthrough came when he sang Chalo Ek Baar Phir Se Ajnabee Ban Jaaye in 1963's Gumrah:

Gordon in the morning: Shingles chart

In the midst of a pile of jibber-jabber about the making of the new Girls Aloud video, Gordon throws away the one interesting fact he has:

Nadine, now on her sickbed with a bout of shingles, wanted Irish talent in the mix while Nicola no doubt asked for some redheads.

Shingles? Really? But before we're able to focus on this, Smart is yammering away about rubbish again ("she has red hair, so she'd probably want red-haired people in the video"? Why - do they stick together or something, Gordon?)

Even more bizarrely - perhaps as a sign that he's even boring himself - Gordon suddenly starts talking about Duff McKagan's clunking Loaded band instead. The vague reason is that McKagan apparently likes Girls Aloud, but it looks more like Smart was desperate to smuggle a reference to a band nobody cares about into his paper and used this paper tiger as a Trojan horse. Although if you really used a paper tiger like that, your troops would fall out the tiger and everyone would be a little embarrassed.

There's trouble, too, with the non-story about Eva Longoria perhaps being pregnant. The piece is so slight, it's got three headlines on it and none of them make any sense.

On the online front page of Bizarre, it's
Eva is so sexy


On the top of the webpage window, someone has decided that the headline should be
Eva Longoria looks chest swell

On the news page itself, the headline is


When even the subs can't work out what the story is meant to be, surely its a sign to spike the thing?

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hüsker Dü weekend: Eight Miles High

Everything comes to an end, and so we must ring down the curtain on our Hüsker Dü weekend. To wind up, a cover version, from the 1987 Pink Pop Festival - the band take their crack at Eight Miles High:

[Part of the Hüsker Dü weekend]

Means to an end

Canadian band Means have split.

MTV EMAs announced

No sooner has the world struggled to pretend to be interested in the MTV VMAs than their even-less-significant sibling, the MTV Europe Music Awards have announced their shortlist.

This year, Liverpool council tax payers are subsidising the event ("Liverpool hosts the event") and as you'd expect, the line-up of potential winners is absolutely glittering. Littering. Something:
Album Of the Year
Alicia Keys – As I Am
Britney Spears - Blackout
Coldplay – Viva La Vida or Death And All His Friends
Duffy – Rockferry
Leona Lewis – Spirit

Foo Fighters
Linkin’ Park
The Cure
Tokio Hotel

Most Addictive Track
Coldplay – Viva La Vida
Duffy – Mercy
Katy Perry – I Kissed A Girl
Kid Rock – All Summer Long
P!nk – So What

New Act
Jonas Brothers
Katy Perry
Miley Cyrus
One Republic

Act of 2008
Amy Winehouse
Britney Spears
Leona Lewis

Ultimate Urban
Alicia Keys
Chris Brown
Kanye West
Lil Wayne

Rock Out
30 Seconds to Mars
Linkin Park

Rihanna - artist of 2008? A case could be made for her domination of 2007, when you couldn't set foot out the door without hearing a postman singing "ella... ella... ellla", but what has she done for us lately?

More, admittedly, than Beyonce, who seems to have been nominated on some sort of whim.

Managerobit: Bryan Morrison

In something of a grim week for Pink Floyd, their former manager Bryan Morrison has died after two years in a coma.

Morrison had been manager of The Pretty Things when he started promoting Pink Floyd gigs; he later became their manager before moving into music publishing. More recently - and despite originally believing it to be "a game for stupid bastards" Morrison had brought his skills to reinvigorate polo. His aim, he explained to Marq magazine, was to try and bring the spirit of football on Hackney Marshes to the horseback game.

In that Marq interview, he stressed that polo wasn't as genteel as some might believe:

‘I’d always been into fast cars and would have seen polo as too soft to bother with,’ says Morrison. ‘But actually polo’s as tough as it gets. In fact it’s damn near killed me on three occasions.’

The words proved to be prophetic - it was during a polo match that he sustained the injuries which would lead to the coma. Weakened during his two years, Morrison had become increasingly incapable of fighting infections and, it's believed, this is what finally claimed the life of the 66 year-old.

Duffy finds out why 'what you wish for' is a curse

Oh, you know how much it sucks to be a successful pop star? Oh, you little people with your 4am shifts in bakeries just couldn't understand how hard it is being Duffy:

“I just need to get things right because if I take my finger off the pulse I immediately feel the quality isn’t as good,” she explains.

“I don’t know if other people pay attention to the things I pay attention to because I don’t just rush around feeling like the so-called ‘pop star’ that I am.

“I pay attention to all the nitty gritty stuff but there are so many dimensions to it.

“It’s a full-time thing I have on my hands. I can’t just turn up, sing and then go to bed.

“I have to be so hard on myself. I’m my own worst critic.”

If that's true, Duffy, I don't look forward to what you're going to say to yourself when you read how you came over in the Western Mail.

More bemusing questions from the News Of The World

The NOTW gets incredible excited this morning over some really grotty pictures of Ron Wood and Ekaterina Ivanova having supper:

IT COULD be the most EXPENSIVE dessert in HISTORY as Ronnie Wood lets his Russian lover tenderly spoon ice cream into his mouth in our pictures of their intimate dinner together.

For the final chilling bill for the old Stone’s cosy £100 meal with 20-year-old Ekaterina Ivanova could run to as much as £50 MILLION.

On the front of the site, they go further, describing the grimy shots as
Photos that could cost Ronnie £50million

But, clearly, they're not. If it's true that his wife has had enough, and is planning to divorce him, and the settlement does match the paper's back-of-a-condom-packet calculations, it's hard to see why the photo would make much difference one way or another to the already very public and apparent situation. Unless, perhaps, sharing a tiramisu with a woman not your wife is a bigger betrayal than any other.

Hüsker Dü weekend: Live in London

At the suggestion of Peter D down in the comments on the first post, here's a selection from a London 'Dü gig featuring Books About UFOs (and also, before that, Terms Of Psychic Warfare and Powerline.) It's the Camden Palace, a recording for Live In London from May 1985. The whole thing has been given a DVD release:

[Part of the Hüsker Dü weekend]

Rav's dwindling days given a boost

Ah, the worries about Rav Singh's apparent vanishing from the News of the World's website navigation can be calmed; this week, they've given him a giant clickable box right on the front page, leading to exciting news that you won't read anywhere else like, erm, Eminem making a new album.

To be fair to Rav, though, he does come up with a fresh new angle for the comeback story:

The 8 Mile actor has teamed up with fellow hip hop rhymesayer 50 CENT in the studio. I’m told the pair have been spending hour upon hour at the mixing desk in Em’s Detroit home perfecting one of the biggest comebacks since the SPICE GIRLS.

Early drafts of that paragraph ended with the words "since the Wispa bar" and "since they revived Crossroads".

Shiny new band: Nat Johnson

Alright, not really a band, as she's a person. And you might be familiar with her face and her voice, too, as she was in Monkey Swallows The Universe. Now, though, she's gone solo and releases this tomorrow. "This" being a new single, Dirty Rotten Soul - and it's very good, I think you'll agree:

You can see her at the Drill Hall in London tonight, then there's these dates, too:

Oct 5 The Forum, with Champion Kickboxer (solo) - Sheffield
Oct 16 supporting Anni Rossi at the Shakespeare (solo) - Sheffield
Oct 26 Session on Raw Talent (with band) - BBC Radio South Yorkshire
Oct 31 Hallowe’en Party at the Shakespeare (with band) - Sheffield
Nov 2 Sunday Teatime Session at the Notty House (solo) - Sheffield
Dec 14 Club Ifor Bach, Loose Club Xmas Party - Cardiff
Dec 20 Cumberland Arms Xmas Alldayer (with band) - Newcastle
Jan 16 Le Bateaux Ivre, with Les Meatles (Nat and Kev only) - Rouen

You can befriend her on the MurdochSpace.

This week just gone

The most-read stories this month:

1. R Kelly video admissible in court, rules judge
2. McFly have a go at naked stage antics
3. Lily Allen changes on trains
4. Beth Ditto's confused naked NME cover
5. RIP Joaquin Tavares
6. Fabrizio Strokes' side project
7. Video: Noel Gallagher attacked on stage
8. Cliff Richard and his friend, the former priest
9. Apple launch smaller iPods
10. Travis Barker, DJ AM burned in fatal plane accident

These releases were the most interesting:

Jenny Lewis - Acid Tongue

O'Death - Broken Hymns Limbs and Skins

Roses Kings Castles - Roses Kings Castles

Euros Childs - Cheer Gone

Mogwai - The Hawk Is Howling

Cold War Kids - Loyalty To Loyalty

TV On The Radio - Dear Science

Thievery Corporation - Radio Retaliation

Dave Edmunds - The Many Sides Of...

Jackson Browne - Time The Conqueror

Ladyhawke - Ladyhawke

Tori Amos - Live At Montreux

Frasier Chorus - Sue remastered and rebuffed