Saturday, August 13, 2011

Queens of the long stretch: Nick Oliveri in serious trouble

Things aren't looking too good for Nick Oliveri right now - police claim they've found drugs and a loaded rifle at his home, and his girlfriend alleges that he's been beating her.

NME lists the depth of legal help he's going to need:

He has been formally charged with two counts of possession of a controlled substance with a firearm, two counts of possession of a controlled substance, and one misdemeanor count of resisting, obstructing or delaying a peace officer. If convicted, he faces up to 15 years in prison.

Talking of that fire, though...

I've been poking round the Guardian's map of all verified incidents and the Sony Distribution Warehouse fire looks to be unique.

All the other incidents recorded seem to be on High Streets, and attacks on retail units. This seems to be the only time rioting looters took the time to go to a suburban business park and target a business.

Now, maybe the Sony logo made people think this was the place where PlayStations come from, and thus worth a detour.

But given that the focus of the lootathon was on retail units with low-level protection, the targeting of a massive, secure unit away from the High Street seems to be something other.

Don't worry about the warehouse, apparently

There's a long and interesting post from Alexei out of Johnny Foreigner on the PIAS fire and, to a greater extent, why they don't need your help:

this is the same industry that brought you "return to live aid". nothing drives sales better than a palatable tragedy, the only exception here is this tragedy is somewhat exaggerated for dramatic purpose. You know the warehouse was insured right? I didn't, i had to use the google, and 5 pages later i found someone who wasn't alec empire referring to it.

so eventually, all them records will be paid for. losses compensated. I'm not saying that there won't be huge logistical problems and dashed dreams occurring as a result of product loss and the time insurance companies will take to settle, but all the claims of "disaster! label x looses £x000 of stock" are pretty disingenuous. The industry has a chance here to convert thousands of unsold cds into digital sales, and they're gunning for it, they're just leaving the "insured against fire" part out.
This is right, of course, there is insurance. But is there anything more soulless than someone who surveys the loss of a massive part of someone's business, shrugs and says "well, at least you've got insurance."

Yeah, possibly everything was insured. Although who knows what the exclusions, and the excesses, and how long its going to take for money to come through? Larger labels might be able to cope, but if you're a smaller label which runs on fumes for the back end of the month, losing so much of your stock in one go could push you out of business long before Axa get round to sending you a heavily-adjusted-down payment.

Alexei says that there are warehouse screw-ups all the time, but generally we're talking about a box or two going missing, not - as has happened in a few cases - an entire label's stock going entirely.

The whole thing is made murky by the wide variation in size of labels that have been affected. And Alexei is right in pointing to the sense of an original impulse to help rapidly being shaped into a marketing campaign, and how what at the start of the week was a bunch of people buying records is now turning into some dubious sounding charities, and slick PR campaigns, and trying to get people to support Bjork rather than some of the smaller bands involved.

But what's ignored is that starting bit. It was people who love music, hearing that the people who bring them the music they love were struggling, trying to do what they could to help. The rushing to buy music from the affected labels and acts might have a financial aspect to it, and it might be that you're finding money that will, eventually, be coughed up by an insurance company anyway. The main motivation, though, was to show a bit of love to people who had had their work destroyed by idiots with burning wheeliebins.

That's something that insurance cheques can't do; to go up to someone when they've been kicked in the face and try to tell them that, despite what's happened, they're appreciated, and people care, and everything's going to be alright.

That original effort has been wrapped in the usual PR glitz and scent for a sale of the higher branches of the music industry - because that's what the music industry is, that's what it does - but in the rush to be cynical, you risk pissing on the well-meaning instincts of loads of people to just show that they valued something which had been destroyed by others.

[Thanks to @jamesthegill]

Friday, August 12, 2011

Apple sued for piracy by Pretty Boy Gangsters

The appearance of Rollin Like A Star on iTunes has interested Korvel Sutton. Sutton was a member of Pretty Boy Gangsters, who recorded the track and doesn't recall ever having signed off on the appearance of Rollin... on any of the compilation albums which has caused it to be on iTunes. Sutton is suing Apple for pirating the tracks.

Unlike Apple - who tend to use copyright or patent cases to throw their weight about - all Korvel is looking for is the royalties due to him, and nothing punitive. You'd have to wish him luck.

Especially because the band spelled gangsters correctly.

Noel Gallagher comments on current events

Noel Gallagher has shared his views on the riots:

"I can't understand where their energy for these riots is coming from. We live in this age of violence - and I don't care what other people say: Brutal TV and brutal video games are a reason for this pointless violence as well. The people are immune to violence, they are used to it. And if they get caught they aren't punished the right way. The prisons are already full? Then build new ones!

"It's crazy! It's just violence for the sake of violence. The people who are at these riots aren't poor. These are kids with f***ing mobile phones and all sorts of shit. The police and government have to take drastic measures."
You'll notice that it's TV and video games which are setting the bad examples. Not - and let's be very clear about this - certain musicians who have banged on about fighting their brothers or building an image around laddishness and killing pigeons for kicks.
"There aren't any reasons! There's a guy who gets shot - a gangster if I may add that, who had a gun. If you live by the sword, you die by the sword! Then suddenly there are riots everywhere. There is no reason for that. It's just pointless violence of f***ing idiots. When it rains no one is rioting! And you can always rely on rain in London - except for now when we would need it."
Given that Noel is the king of pointless swaggering, it's... oh... you know what?

Metalobit: Jani Lane

Jani Lane, who was lead singer with Warrant, has been found dead in an LA hotel.

Lane - who was born John Kennedy Oswald - hard originally started out as a drummer. Driven by a desire to get a bit more of the limelight, he took singing lessons, adopted a new name, and started singing in Plain Jane, the band which would eventually morph into Warrant.

Lane's relationship with Warrant was on-off; quitting in 1993 and returning the next year; leaving again in 2004; doing a Bet Lynch truncated return in 2008.

Lane was part of a sort-of-supergroup, Saints Of The Underground, which released an album in 2008, but his career outside Warrant was never entirely successful. He'd turned up on Celebrity Fit Club on VH1 about five years ago.

Lane's body was found in a Comfort Inn. He was 47 and is survived by two daughters.

Gordon in the morning: Hung up

Well, Gordon Smart at least has a sense of humour. Not when he's writing, obviously, but for someone writing the column where many at the heart of the News International phone-hacking community cut their teeth, this is pretty funny:

BRITNEY Spears has been banned from owning a mobile phone for fear the gadget could land her in trouble, pals claimed last night.
Really, Gordon? Owning a mobile can land in you trouble? Whoever would have thought.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Gordon in the morning: Stealing from Amy

Given the turmoil in London over the last few days, a headline announcing

Amy Winehouse home is robbed
might seem to be part of the riot coverage.

But it isn't.

Actually, it's not even entirely clear that there has been any robbing:
PERSONAL belongings were stolen from Amy Winehouse's house in the days after her death, it emerged yesterday.

Furious dad Mitch believes one of her acquaintances has taken copies of unreleased tracks, lyric books and letters.
It all sounds a little vague - does anyone know for sure that anything is missing? Does anyone know for certain that if anything, if missing, has been removed by someone and not simply lost? Does anyone know, if anything has been removed, that it's been stolen and not merely put somewhere safe?

Even the finger being pointed at "acquaintances" turns out to be a bit shaky:
Around 20 people - including family, friends, security and police - have had access to the home since Amy died.
Clearly, something murky is going on. I don't think we know yet what manner of murkiness.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

More on the PIAS fire

Distribution is a funny thing, isn't it? Most of the time, it's just there, in the background. People are aware of it, not least as it being some sort of factor in deciding what records are indie and which aren't.

But take it out - as the fire has done to PIAS - and it suddenly becomes very obvious indeed.

Chemikal Underground have sent a mailing on the loss of all that stock:

While we’ve lost a considerable chunk of our own back catalogue in addition to stock of our more recent titles, the repercussions of last night’s events will be felt by all labels and retailers up and down the country for months to come. We also have enormous sympathy for PIAS itself: a wonderful independent distributor and an unfailingly supportive partner for Chemikal Underground over the last twelve years.

Quantifying the financial impact this will have on labels will take time but one thing is becoming abundantly clear: the suggestion that people no longer value music or those who endeavour to make it is myth; the collective support and sympathy being offered online for artists and labels demonstrates that we have a uniquely passionate and proactive community of music fans throughout the UK and it’s this passion and support that can, and will, ultimately, sustain the labels currently under threat.
They suggest buying something from one of the labels who rely on PIAS. I think everyone hearily endorses that idea and - although you've seen this list elsewhere, time to pick your favourites and give them a shout:

2020 Vision
Ad Altiora
Adventures Close to home
All City
Alt Delete
Ambush Reality
Atlantic Jaxx
B Unique
Bad Sneakers
Big Chill
Big Dada
Big Life / Nul / Sindy Stroker
Border Community
Buzzin Fly
Can You Feel It
Chemikal Underground
City Rockers
D Cypher
Dance To The Radio
Def Jux
Dirtee Stank
Divine Comedy
Drag City
Drive Thru
Drowned in Sound
Eat Sleep / Sorepoint
Electric Toaster
F. Comm
Faith And Hope
Fantastic Plastic
Finders Keepers / Twisted Nerve
Free Range
From The Basement
Full Time Hobby
Groove Attack
Info UK
Join Us
Laughing Stock
Lo Max
Love Box
Lucky Number
Marquis Cha Cha
Memphis Industry
New World
Ninja Tune
Nuclear Blast
One Little Indian
Output / People in the Sky / Process
Pale Blue
PIAS Recordings
PIP 555 Productions
Play To Work
Powerhouse (T2)
Propaganda / Ho Hum
Raw Canvas
Red Grape
Red Telephone Box
Respect Productions (PES digital)
Reveal Records
Rock Action
Rough Trade
Rough Trade Comps
Ruffa Lane
Search And Destroy
Secret Sundaze
Secretly Canadian / Jagjaguwar / Dead Oceans
Sell Yourself
Sideone Dummy
Slam Dunk
Something In Construction
Sonic Cathedral
Sonar Kollectiv
Soul Jazz
Southern Fried
Stranded Soldier
Sunday Best
Ten Worlds
Thrill Jockey
Total Fitness
Touch And Go
Track And Field
Try Harder
Twenty 20
Union Square
Urban Torque
Wall Of Sound
Wonky Atlas
Word And Sound
Xtra Mile
You Are Here

Mindless event reported in Manchester

Seriously, the Manchester looters? You looted Pretty Green last night? It really is thieving without discrimination.

Gordon in the morning: Quick, before the corpse goes cold

Given that Blake Fielder-Civil is part of Gordon Smart's personal demonology, if he was going to try and cash-in on the death of his former wife by writing a book about it, Gordon'd be the last person to help out by doing the prepublicity, right?

Of course not.:

AMY Winehouse's ex-husband Blake Fielder-Civil is considering writing a book about the tragic star, it was claimed last night.
I suppose that Gordon realised he'd be on shaky ground calling anyone else out on using tattle about Winehouse's decline as a money-spinner.

Tuesday, August 09, 2011

PIAS benefit comes together

A fundraiser is being pulled together for the labels hit by the loss of the Sony/PIAS warehouse in last night's fire. For full details, or to get involved, follow the #piasfundraiser hashtag on Twitter.

The Guardian reports that every single copy of Charlie Simpson's debut album was destroyed last night, so there won't be a release for that this Monday.

PIAS official statement

As news of the loss of the PIAS/Sony warehouse has been spreading, the PIAS website has been suffering too (well-wishers rather than arsonists this time).

Their statement:

"There was a fire last night at the SonyDADC warehouse which services the physical distribution for PIAS in the UK and Ireland. PIAS is working closely with SonyDADC who are implementing their emergency plans. PIAS's UK offices in London and all other areas of our business are unaffected. More information will be communicated shortly to all our labels and partners"

Joe McElderry: The Omarion of the London Riots

Joe McElderry was in Hackney last night, so we are blessed to have his first-hand report from the scene:

Joe McElderry found himself in the middle of the London riots yesterday, August 8, while filming a new music video.

The talented singer was working "right in the middle of Hackney" on a video shoot and experienced first hand the severity of the situation. Tweeting at about 8pm BST last night, McElderry let his followers know that he was fine, but had witnessed some shocking sights:

"That's a wrap!! Video is done!! We were filming in a location building! Right in the middle of hackney were the riots were!!!"

"It's all kicking off! Cars on fire and everything! So sad that these people are doing this to there own towns!! just left now got out safe!"
Goodness, a three exclamation mark riot.

This comes from PressParty who appear to be slightly distancing themselves from the claim that he was in "the middle" of riots, or even Hackney, by the second paragraph. I'm not entirely sure the claim that McElderly "saw some shocking sights" is actually supported by his second tweet, either.

It's unlikely if Joe really was in the middle, rather than sort-of-near, his first thought would have been "that's a wrap", no? Although Nero did fiddle while Rome burned, so maybe Joe would lip-sync while Hackney blazed?

[via @wadeywade]

Sony Distribtuion Centre destroyed

The Sony Distribution warehouse in Enfield looks to have been

A LFB spokesman said: "We were called just before midnight to a warehouse in Solar Way, Enfield.
"Eight fire engines are in attendance and around 40 firefighters have been fighting the fire.
"They are making steady progress and will remain on the scene into the morning.
"There was quite a lot of black smoke and the building has partially collapsed into itself."
A hit smaller labels could have done without - like too many other small businesses, they've taken a massive hit just because they were in the way.

Countryobit: Marshall Grant

Marshall Grant, the last surviving member of Johnny Cash & The Tennessee Two, has died.

It's hard to believe that the trio actually failed their first audition for Sun Records; luckily for them, and us, they got a second chance to tryout and joined the roster in 1955. Grant remained at Cash's side until 1980, when he moved into management.

He was still playing, though, and was rehearsing for a benefit to restore Johnny Cash's childhood home when he fell ill last week.

Roseanne Cash was clear that her father's success was due in no small part to the work of Grant:

"[Johnny Cash] wouldn't have gone where he did without Marshall, and therefore this lineage not only of me but of the next generations of roots and rockabilly and country musicians would've disappeared," she said. "An entire generation of those musicians owe something to Marshall."

Marshall Grant was 83.

Gordon in the morning: Business as usual

It's almost heartwarming to see Gordon Smart's column there this morning, churning out the usual shitty journalism, casual sexism and rotten attempts to try and bark up an interest in an X Factor remanants. A little bit of substandard normalcy in the midst of a horrible day of news.

Almost heartwarming. But not totally:

LL Cool J joins the Kasabian fan club
Or, in other words, Cool J's desperate comeback has now seen him reduced to doing a Kasabian remix.

Monday, August 08, 2011

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Bismillah! No!

It's forty years next year since Queen started. Apparently this calls for "a year-long celebration" which seems a bit rich, given that the actual Queen has been going for 60 years and is quite happy with just a weekend to celebrate.

And who would be equal to the task of arranging the revels for this grand occasion? Step forward, HMV and Island Records:

Island Records and HMV are partnering to invite fans to nominate their all-time favourite lyric by the iconic rock-band.
This exciting development is difficult to imagine. If only HMV had a spokesperson who could explain it all... hang on...
HMV's Gennaro Castaldo comments: "We're thrilled that Queen are set to join other iconic artists in HMV's 'my inspiration' campaign, but rather than ask the remaining members of the band which song lyric has most inspired them, we felt it would be appropriate in this special anniversary year to flip the question and ask their fans which Queen lyric they would choose. Some of the most memorable and anthemic lines in rock and pop history have come from Queen, so it will be fascinating to see what the public goes for as its favourite Queen lyric of all time."
I hope, with all my heart, that the winning line is "This kettle is boiling over/I think I'm a banana tree". We can only hope.

MIA also comments on current events

On Twitter:

im going down to the riots to hand out tea and mars bars #london
I think you'll find that most of asshats have grabbed Mars bars for themselves, MIA. Also, aren't you tucked up in Malibu at the moment?

Morrissey responds to current events

Morrissey played London last night - Brixton, where apparently there was a minor kick-off later on - and offered his response to the riots:

Performing as rioting erupted in Brixton less than 24 hours after similar clashes in Tottenham, Morrissey criticised the prime minister's response to the incidents.

"Does anyone think that David Cameron has been to Tottenham? I don't think so," he told the crowd.

Later in the gig, Morrissey also referred to the student riots last December, according to the Evening Standard.

"In what our slanted media called the student riots, Charles and 'Camel' came face to face with the British public, without the protection of Buckingham Palace or the police,” he said.

“And what happened to them, I couldn't stop laughing about for weeks - no, months."
He probably has a point on Cameron.

Gordon in the morning: Top of a knackered pile

Gordon hails Cher Lloyd's number one this morning:

CHER Lloyd proved her famous "haters" wrong yesterday by hitting No1 with debut single Swagger Jagger.
I love those quotation marks round "haters", which is the sort of styling you'd expect to see in the Telegraph rather than The Sun.

Oddly, Smart doesn't point out that Lloyd's big chart debut was carefully timed to appear in a stagnant market - there's only one other new entry in the top 40 this week, and most of the records in the chart have been hanging around for so long they can only possibly be selling in handfuls rather than bucketloads.

But, still: yes, well done. Let's not mention that Chico also managed a number one with his first single, eh?

Radiobit: Michael Bukht

Michael Bukht, who helped launch two wildly successful radio stations, died last week.

Although his face was more familiar as part of the team on proto-foodie BBC2 portmanteau grub and guzzle show Food And Drink - where he worked as Michael Barry - it was as a broadcast executive that he really made his name.

He was the first programme director of Capital Radio in 1973, shaping a station which would remain more-or-less on the same lines until the Thatcher-driven competition era led to frequency splits and format screw-downs; in 1992 he co-founded Classic FM and remained there until 1997.

Michael Bukht was 69; he had been unwell for some time.

Sunday, August 07, 2011

Jay Z's Best Buy link up unpopular

So, the new Jay-Z album has its launch all lined up - iTunes get an exclusive first go; then Best Buy get a super-duper special exclusive version.

And what about the smaller stores, the ones that helped Mr Z as his career was getting going?

Ah, they just get the bum's rush. And they're not happy about it. The New York Times reports:

An open letter addressed to Jay-Z and Kanye West and signed by 200 independent record stores, including Mr. Hill’s, was published by Billboard last Thursday, calling the deal “short-sighted”.

Michael Bunnell, a founder of Record Store Day, an umbrella organization that represents the independent stores that signed the letter, said the recent trend of big-name artists aligning with large retail stores to push album sales saddled already suffering independent stores with more pressure.

“These stores are family owned and still have a passion for what they do,” said Mr. Bunnell, 61, who has owned the Record Exchange in Boise, Idaho for 34 years. “They don’t sell appliances on the side.”

Mr. Hill, whose store doubles as a barbershop to stay open, says that he would have ordered 300 copies of the album, but that, given the deal with Best Buy, he is scaling back orders by half.
Mr Z's response isn't entirely encouraging:
“We made this album and it took us eight months,” he said. “We should be able to release it the way we like, without everybody being up in arms.”
Yes, how dare the people who were there for him when he was starting out expect a bit of support in return? How dare they "get up in arms" and try to tell the IMPORTANT MR ZEE what to do?

Z's rather lame explanation for the deal is "mutter mutter probably something to do with piracy":
[H]e said a same-day release to all outlets would inevitably lead to leaked songs during the process of shipping the album all over the country, which would take several days. Ensuring releases go to one retailer first, he said, would prevent that and allow for higher sales.
Because, you know, nothing helps sales like going on the radio and suggesting that somehow small record shop owners are less trustworthy than the people who shove boxes of stuff round Best Buy. Or seeming to imply that somehow a CD in Best Buy is impregnable.

Given you only need one copy for an album to be leaked online, the Z defence is palpably nonsense. Obviously, a very rich man going on the radio and saying "look, I love money, and this way, I get lots and lots more money" would have been unpleasant. But at least it would have been honest.

Chelsea shutters

The Chelsea Hotel has closed its doors for what is either a renovation project, an attempt to break the hotel's unions, or some sort of confidence trick.

The New York Times popped down for the last night, and found an enthusiast:

“Where are all the punk kids? Maybe they don’t know,” said Ms. Ramona, an adrenaline-fueled, self-described “forever teenager” (in her early 30s) who had booked a room, hopped in her car and gunned it to New York City as soon as she heard the news. For a decade, Ms. Ramona has journeyed to the hotel several times a year, drawn by two of its famous guests from decades past. “Sid Vicious in caps, and Dee Dee Ramone,” she said. “If I could be anywhere tonight, this is the place to be.”
That might also explain where "the punk kids" are - somewhere other than a place that meant something to their grandparents, at a guess.

This week just gone

With all the excitement over browsers, here's this week's top ten browsers used by No Rock visitors:

1. Firefox 34%
2. Internet Explorer 25%
3. Chrome 20%
4. Safari 17%
5. Opera 1%
6. Mozilla Compatible 1%
7. Opera Mini 1%
8. IE/Chrome frame
9. Playstation
10. Blackberry

These were the interesting releases:

Hedy West - Ballads & Songs Of The Appalacians

Download Pretty Saro

Pop Will Eat Itself - Box Frenzy (in some way 'expanded')

Download Box Frenzy

Cecile Corbel & Simon Caby - Arrietty Soundtrack

Download Arrietty's Song

UK Subs - Complete Punk Singles Collection

Download Punk Singles Collection