Saturday, August 04, 2012

Embed and breakfast man: Jesus & Mary Chain with Jessica Paré

What do you get if you take the Jesus And Mary Chain and one of the actors from Mad Men?

If you answered 'Don Draper doing heroin in a sea of feedback', you can have an "it's good but it's not right". Instead, you get Jessica Paré doing the Hope Sandoval part on Sometimes Always with the band in Toronto:

[via Slicing Up Eyeballs, who have further videos of band and actress playing nicely together]

Do not let us detain you, Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne has announced that he's finding himself increasingly bored of his rapping, at last giving us something with which we can make common cause:

"I think I deserve that [a break from performing]. I think fans deserve a little-to-no Wayne. I've been everywhere. I've been out on everybody's song. I'm still on everybody's song.

"My artists are doing awesome; I believe the fans deserve some peace from me, so I'll be on my skateboard in the meantime."
You know you've got troubles when even you realise what your fans really want is for you to shut up for a while.

Still, it's easy to snicker at Wayne, but at least he does have enough self-awareness to realise there comes a point when we have been delighted by him enough. If only some other people could take that hint. Kanye, Cent, Vox - we're looking at you. And quite a few others, too.

Universal takeover of EMI hits more grief

In Europe, Universal are pleading with the EU like a dumped boyfriend trying to respark a relationship ("How about if I stop with the Parlophoning? Babes, I'll get rid of Virgin if you want me to...").

Now the EMI takeover is running into trouble in the US, with the Senate starting to wonder if it's good news. MediaGuardian reports on the meddling:

Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Lee, the chairman and ranking member of the Senate antitrust subcommittee respectively, have written a six-page letter to FTC chairman Jon Leibowitz urging him to closely scrutinise the deal to see if it will substantially injure competition in violation of anti-trust laws.

The letter raises several concerns, including that the new combined company could threaten the development of new digital music services and that CD prices could rise.

"We believe this proposed acquisition presents significant competition issues significant competition issues that merit careful FTC review to ensure that the transaction is not likely to cause substantial harm to competition in the affected markets," the letter says.
Universal could always play the "hey, we already act like a monopoly - that's what the RIAA is for" card. But that might not help.

Jeremy Hunt suddenly worries about media plurality

Here's a lovely picture of the wonderfully impartial Jeremy Hunt having fun with Rupert Murdoch at the Olympics:

[It's from eyespymp on Twitter; don't worry, Rupert won't be upset, he loves photos shot from a distance exposing shady dalliances. His papers are full of them.)

Besides being enormous fun, what is the relevance of this photo? Well, hanging out with the boss of a company which the Met Police is considering bringing action against that company's board isn't the only thing that Hunt spent the end of the week doing.

He's also referred the Global Radio takeover of GMG Radio for an investigation.

On one level, this is as it should be - Global is taking on a few more stations and could be seen as reducing choice still further. Although, really, since Global and GCap merged, there's not been a great deal of plurality in commercial radio in the UK.

I might be being unfair to Hunt, but he was shadow culture secretary at the time Global and GCap merged, and I can't find any evidence he was exercised about that much more significant reduction of plurality in the radio world when that happened.

Indeed, Richard Eyre was the chairman of GCap who steered the merger with Global, and for his efforts Jeremy Hunt rewarded him with a position on the review into the plausibility of hyperlocal television in the UK.

So taking two large radio groups and turning them into one makes you an expert in local media plurality in Hunt's eyes, but folding a smaller radio group into a bigger one is a threat to that plurality. Somehow.

It seems even odder that Hunt - a man who we know to have been cheerleading for the UK's largest newspaper group to be given sole control over the UK's largest pay-TV operation - is suddenly worried that the changing hands of a small radio company needs to have a full investigation.

But then... the TV deal featured his chums The Murdochs. Could the detail that it's the Guardian Media Group selling the radio stations in this case be the cause of the sudden interest?

If Jeremy Hunt really believes that radio ownership is an issue, then why not prove that by holding an investigation into the industry as a whole? It's well needed, as anyone who has struggled to find out what's happening in their town using just a commercial radio station will testify.

Otherwise, this looks like just another politically-motivated piece of poor judgement from a man who makes something of a habit of such moves.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Gordon in the morning: You are old

Tony Hadley, out of the past, is convinced that Danny Boyle got the Olympics opening ceremony wrong:

He told Absolute Radio: “If I’m honest I would have liked a really young band to have closed it.

“If you’ve got Sir Steve Redgrave handing over the torch to the youngsters, it would have been nice to have had One Direction. They’re our biggest export at the moment, pure pop.

“One Direction with the Royal Philharmonic, with about 100 singers in a choir, behind them.

“To me that would have been the new generation kind of thing.”
Hadley's acute nose for putting on a great show explains why his former arch-rivals Duran Duran spent the evening of the launch playing a massive date in Hyde Park as part of the Cultural events surrounding the games, and Hadley was sitting at home tutting.

It sounds like Hadley was desperately hoping for a rerun of that awful moment when Leona Lewis popped up out of a double decker bus at the Beijing closing ceremony. Has he heard One Direction? Seriously?

Fox breaks from HMV

A couple of years back, Simon Fox turned down the chance to run ITV to stick the course of turning round HMV. He's sticking the course no more, as he's stepping down.

"I am proud to be leaving HMV with a profitable future secured," Fox said.
The word "future" is rather important there - he's leaving as the company is expected to announce a sixteen million quid loss, so his legacy appears to be a profit for 2012-2013 of ten million he's promised.

As he's not going to be there, he could announce that he fully expects Nipper to be reanimated in the next financial year and claim that as a legacy.

Fox hasn't really been a resounding success - he's spent the last few months of his time at the company trying to offload the live business he spent much of his earlier time trying to build up; his other boffo ideas have pretty much run into the sand - remember when HMV was going to open a chain of teeny tiny cinemas in the space above its stores? And the doomed attempt to create youth-club style games areas? Ooh, and intention to take on the consumer electronics market by flogging headphones?

Worse, the stores would have vanished entirely if it wasn't for a deal with the labels to keep it afloat. It's true that Fox should take some credit for having done that deal, but it has to be balanced out by the severe lack of flexibility in dealing with its new music business partners when shaping the group for the future.

So, it's going to be a tricky task for the new head of the company. Surely HMV have looked high and low for a leader who has experience of turning round failing retailers?
Trevor Moore, the former chief executive of photography chain Jessops, has been appointed as Fox's replacement.
Well, that explains why Trevor Moore was headhunted away from Jessops last month.

To be fair, while hiring someone from a high street photo shop to take over a high street record shop might sound like replacing asthma with bronchitis, Moore hasn't had a totally bad time of it in Jessops - the chain has been selling more digital cameras in an overall declining market; under his time at the top the company has had a significant growth in online sales; and a fusty, failing confused business has been tidied up. Even if Jessops isn't quite a household name, it has remained a strong high street presence and that's something of victory.

But, the bottom line is his last full year still saw the chain make nearly a million quid loss. So he's turned things around, but without moving them forward. It'll be interesting to see if he can actually make HMV profitable.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

Punkobit: Tony Sly

Tony Sly, singer with No Use For A Name, has died. There's a statement from Fat Wreck Chords:

It is with great sorrow that we must say goodbye to Tony Sly of No Use For A Name. We received a call earlier today of his passing, and are devastated. We have lost an incredible talent, friend, and father – one of the true greats. Fat Mike had this to say: “One of my dearest friends and favorite song writers has gone way too soon. Tony, you will be greatly missed.”
Sly joined No Use For A Name two years in, after the second ep, but before the first album.

Alongside his punk day job, he teamed up with Joey Cape for two albums of acoustic reworkings:

Tony Sly - On the Outside / Joey Cape - Wind in your Sail from Fabien Rivenet/Vincent Bergeron on Vimeo.

Sly had reached the point where he was balancing a punky life on stage with a family life at home. Last year, he explained to The Punk Site how that worked for him:
It takes a day or two to adjust to both. Right now, I’m still in dad mode adjusting to the tour. It’s nice not to have that responsibility on your shoulders all the time, looking over your shoulders wondering if someone is writing on walls or grabbing a pair of scissors and running down the street. Touring is a bit more relaxed. It’s a double edged sword, when you are on tour you want to go home, but when you are home you want to be on tour. I think that the key is to embrace the freedom you get when you are on tour. When I come home and I’m a full time dad, it’s hard coming home from a long tour, it’s not easy, but it’s what I have to do. It’s who I am.

No Use For A Name had last released an album in 2008; they'd been working on a follow-up over the last couple of years.

Tony Sly was 41.

Gordon in the morning: Pop acts sell more than indie acts shocker

Yes, it's an absolute shock. Not that One Direction sell lots more records than less popular bands, but that Gordon Smart thinks it's surprising enough to make a news story:

If you add up the album, DVD and single sales of all the best bands in the country they don’t come close to One D’s sales.

Arctic Monkeys, Mumford & Sons, Kasabian, Maccabees, Vaccines and Noel Gallagher’s combined sales still fall short of the wee rascals’ latest achievement.
I'm not quite sure why Gordon chosen to group that lot together to represent "all the best bands in the country".

I'm picturing Gordon, calculator in hand, adding in the sales from another band that he has listed on his "authentic band" post-it note, waiting for it to tip over the 13 million combined sales claimed by One Direction. Like some sort of numerical, Beatle-haircutted version of Buckaroo.

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Kele Okereke is an Olympic-standard misdirection artist

Remember all that stuff last year when Bloc Party and Kele Okereke were supposedly falling apart?

It was all a ker-azzzzzy stunt:

Bloc Party's frontman has something to confess. In 2011, a little over a year after Kele Okereke released his solo record, The Boxer, the singer-guitarist impishly suggested he was worried about being given the axe by his bandmates Russell Lissack (guitar), Gordon Moakes (bass) and Matt Tong (drums), after he randomly ran into them outside of a New York City rehearsal space. "I don't really know what's going on," Okereke said at the time. "We haven't really spoken recently and I'm a bit too scared to ask." This, folks, is what magicians call misdirection. "We were making a record, but we weren't really letting anyone know," Okereke says now, speaking on the phone from a tour stop in Honolulu, Hawaii. "I was just joking and it kind of was taken out of context and became this huge story which was quite funny." Now with the impending August 21 release of their fourth studio album — straightforwardly titled Four — the band is ready to come clean.
Without wanting to be too tart, Bloc Party could have quite happily beavered away in the studio on a fourth album without anyone noticing with or without an elaborate misdirection stunt.

In fact, at the time, the idea that Party had got rid of Kele was a bit like when one of those notices appear in a shop that hasn't opened for a while announcing the landlord has taken back possession; it's just a little further out of business.

The purpose of the stunt was probably less about making people look the other way, as making people look, and it sort of worked. I'm not sure it did much to create desire for another album, though...

Shaggy withdraws from the chart battle

Have you wondered why Shaggy isn't in the charts any more?

Apart from it not being 2002.

It turns out he's just not interested in selling lots of records any more. It's not that he got less popular, it's just that, you know, the charts are no longer as good as he is:

''I make the music I want to make, it's a different game out there now. The type of music that's going out in the charts isn't the type of music I want to make.

''A lot of the stuff that many people are putting out, I really don't think will be classics. They're hot now, but I'm not sure it'll last.

''I like making really classic songs, I don't worry about chart positions and all of that, that's not where my head is. Everybody likes hit records, but there's no point worrying.''
That's clear, then: he's not trying to sell lots of records, because if he did it would mean that his records would be popular now and forgotten later. So, erm, he's just leaping ahead to the 'forgotten' bit.

Billy Corgan has apparently been having a spat with OK Go

Apparently Billy Corgan has moved to stop the idea that he was caught in some sort of deadly feud with OK Go:

Corgan wants to put an end to the spat before it escalates and has taken to his page to insist he is a big fan of the band's work.
He writes, "I don't mind OK Go having a go at me if it gets their music heard. It will never be a fight because I think they are a great band."
No, I wasn't aware that this Godzuki-meets-Kid-Kong scrap was raging. Luckily, Contact Music is on hand to explain what it was all about:
Billy Corgan has moved to end a feud with members of Ok Go after accusing the band of using "gimmicks" to sell records.
It's right that Corgan backs down here, then. If there's one thing you cannot accuse OK Go of ever having done, it is selling records.

Gordon in the morning: Shooting his bolt

Gordon has Olympic-stroke-Royal news this morning:

USAIN BOLT isn’t just hoping for a gold medal from London 2012 – he also wants a tear-up with Prince Harry.
Really? A "tear-up", you say, Gordon? He's going to jump in a taxi, head up West with Harry and drink until he can cry out his own liver, then?
Usain said: “Harry is fantastic. I will invite him to my Olympic after party.”
Offering Harry the chance to pop round to a post-Olympic gathering isn't quite the same thing as plotting a "tear-up", is it?

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

No Joke: Jaz Coleman is missing

Last week, Jaz Coleman was being grumpy about being forced to tour with The Mission and The Cult. Now, apparently, he's gone missing. That's what the band's official Facebook presence claims, anyway:

Official Statement

A statement was posted on Facebook, reputedly by our singer, maligning both The Cult and The Mission and pulling us out of the shows.
He is now AWOL and has not contacted any of his band mates.

We are deeply embarrassed by this and offer our sincere apologies to all involved.

We are all concerned about our missing singer's welfare.

Killing Joke made a collective decision to play with The Cult and The Mission in September.

It was agreed by all of the band that we would do these shows. Indeed, we thought that they were something to look forward to, even though they were downsized.

We would still like to honour our commitment to this tour, the other bands, and all the Gatherers and people who have already bought tickets and made travel arrangements.

If this proves not possible, Killing Joke will make alternative arrangements to compensate for the trouble caused.

Meanwhile we are doing everything we can to make this tour happen and locate our missing singer.

Amongst the band's fans, there seems to be a split over if this is something to be seriously worried about, or merely some sort of stunt. There's a lot of furious pointing to a similar vanishing back in 1982, which Coleman explained - sort of - in his autobiography:
The day I woke up in Iceland, I decided to become a composer for symphony orchestra in order to fully comprehend the workings of the universe. I have recently calculated that I could have quite realistically continued doodling on the piano for another 15-20 years if I had not conversed with my Holy Guardian Angel (or the true location of my genius, for want of a secular description). The subsequent knock-on effect of this very painful process was beyond my powers of explanation at that particular time. Indeed I do not truly believe it would have got me any further if I had explained to Youth and Big Paul. While I regret the hurt I caused, I would point out that if it had not been for this division, Youth would not have suddenly accelerated in the skills of production, making him the great producer he is today.

Indiepsychobit: Bill Doss

Terrible news from America today, as Olivia Tremor Control's Bill Doss has died:

We are devastated by the loss of our brother Bill Doss. We are at a loss for words.
Last year, Bill told Aquarium Drunkard a little about what he'd hoped the band would be:
Aquarium Drunkard: This is what I love about y’alls records, those records…it doesn’t sound to me like 1996, like indie rock of the time, Superchunk, Archers of Loaf…

BD: That’s kind of what we were hoping, that if someone found that record one hundred years from now that they wouldn’t here it and go “Oh, that’s from the 90s.” Or the 60s. With any luck, they would say, “When was this record made?” There are elements of all these things.
As a reminder, here's what the OTC were up to in 1996, a track from Music from the Unrealized Film Script, Dusk At Cubist Castle with a homebrewed fan video -

After the Tremor Control split in 2000, Doss reactivated his older outfit, The Sunshine Fix (more-or-less a solo project) and graduated through tour support into being a full-time member of The Apples In Stereo.

Bill Doss was 44; no cause of death has been made public.

Drowned In Sound no longer drowning in music news

Drowned In Sound have withdrawn from the rush to be first with the news (in the spirit of which, it's taken me the best part of a month to get round to mentioning this):

We are becoming increasingly aware at DiS towers that what people want from us isn't more reviews, more information (or "news" as some sites call it), more more, MORE! People want a hand to hold, and someone to whisper in their ear ideas as to what to focus their time on.

We hear your screams for a refined sense of recommendation, but we want to try to deliver it without seeming like the boy who cried wolf awesome... We're working at ways to do this better (with our limited resources) in an attempt to save you time ploughing through the overwhelming slew of releases which hit the shelves each month. Basically, we're trying to turn down the volume and put quality first.

This is why we've stopped running news that you probably already got from direct from the artist (or festivals) mouth or saw retweeted seconds after it was announced. This is also why we've given up on trying to fight with the PR industry for "exclusives" which for about five minutes generate traffic, before the same info or video gets republished on 3000 other music sites (some even remember to link back to the source). The traffic this sort of thing generates isn't worth the time and compromises that getting into bed with labels is worth.
It must be an intractable problem for a commercial music website - there's an awful lot of places pushing music news out, and once it's out, it's everywhere.

I'm not sure the correct response to this is what DIS are doing - you now get a monthly news mixtape. Because if news gets stale in seconds, there's nothing like waiting a month to hear it again, presumably.

The funny thing is that Drowned In Sound know that their role, if they're to have one, is meant to be that of curator - shouldn't they be bringing that approach to the news as well as music itself? Nobody has to just chunter out every press release they get, or link to every other site's album streams; in a sea of noise, isn't it the role of a news site to wisely select the items that their audience will find useful?

Drowned In Sound appear to have thrown the Marilyn Manson Eats A Live Baby out with the Tour Dates From Band As Dull As Bathwater..

Universal throw more stuff away from EMI takeover

Universal is now so desperately scared of not being able to takeover EMI that it has proposed a deal whereby it'd offload European rights to the EMI catalogue:

EMI chief executive Roger Faxon has written an internal email to his staff outlining which parts of the music business Universal has proposed to sell off, including Mute, Chrysalis (excluding the Robbie Williams catalogue) and Ensign labels.

Included in that disposal would be the Pink Floyd catalogue and the recently concluded new deal with Guetta, along with his catalogue.

Pink Floyd's EMI catalogue includes Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here and The Wall – albums that still sell extensively and are believed to bring in millions of pounds a year.

Faxon said the divestments only relate to the exploitation of EMI's repertoire in Europe.
It's an interesting move - if only because it might raise a question for American regulators about why Universal thinks a combination of it and EMI would distort the European marketplace, but not the US?

Monday, July 30, 2012

Gordon in the morning: Lays, lady, Lays

Somehow I doubt the very basis of Gordon's story that Lady GaGa is eating crisps to put on weight, but let's take that idea at face value:

GARY Lineker shouldn’t get complacent as the face of Walkers crisps.
Lady Gaga has started eating them after being introduced to the snack by one of her British dancers who has them sent from the UK.

She’s asked for packets of salt and vinegar and prawn cocktail flavours.
Prawn Cocktail, maybe, but... erm, Lays flog Salt & Vinegar crisps in most decent-sized supermarkets in America. It's unlikely that GaGa would need to ship 'em in...


Twittergem: Courtney Love

Courtney Love finally uses social networking for something other than yelling at her daughter and claiming that Trent Reznor has stolen the lead from her roof:

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Al Jourgensen collapses, cancels

Ministry were playing Paris last night, only they didn't make it through the set. Al Jourgensen collapsed. There's a statement:

MINISTRY frontman Al Jourgensen collapsed onstage during the live MINISTRY performance and was rushed to hospital via ambulance where he was examined by numerous physicians and diagnosed to have had a full-system collapse due to extreme dehydration and heat exhaustion intensified by the lack of ventilation on stage at the venue. Doctors confirm via blood tests conducted that Jourgensen's alcohol blood levels were well below normal and no narcotics were found in his system.

"As a result, MINISTRY has cancelled today’s appearance at the L'Etaples, France Rock En Stock festival in order to allow Mr. Jourgensen a few days rest to recuperate and receive additional medical attention in Switzerland. Jourgensen fully intends to complete the remaining shows on the MINISTRY 'DeFiBriLlaTouR' European leg.

"Jourgensen extends his most sincere apologies to his devoted Parisian fans who displayed so much love, respect and concern for him before and after the MINISTRY show."
It's lucky Al made it - can you imagine how grim it'd be if you called your tour the Defibrillato(u)r and ended up needing one?

Let's wish him well and enjoy perhaps his finest moment:

Goodbye, Rounder

Today is the final day of trading at Rounder Records in Brighton. A minute's silence, please, played from the runout groove of your choice.

[Earlier: Rounder Records to close]

Where is music shared? Not so much online, it turns out

Here's an interesting little chart that was leaked to TorrentFreak. It's from the NPD survey into Digital Music from the end of last year, and forms part of the RIAA's campaign for a "six strikes" rule in the US:

What you'll spot about this is that the unpaid acquisition of digital music, far from being an internet-centred phenomenon, actually takes place in the physical realm. All these years on from Hope Taping Is Killing Music, and most of the time tracks change hands without cash flowing in the opposite direction, it's still done face to face.

The sheer amount of musician's money the RIAA is pouring into lobbying for control of the net, and the enormous dents to our information rights they're calling for, and they're not even worrying about their bigger challenge.

Of course, a cynic might think that because physical swapping is even harder to do anything about, and attracts less glittery opportunities for RIAA people to meet-and-greet in Washington (always a good chance for them to put out feelers for their next jobs), that might be why we hear a lot less about hard drive swapping. But it couldn't be that, could it?

This week just gone

The most-read stories from July 2012 have been:

1. The Bloc Festival collapses in chaos
2. Plan B accidentally wears a Skrewdriver tshirt for Shortlist
3. Chris Moyles says he's going
4. Susan Boyle gets a prize for contributions to padding out Simon Cowell's programmes
5. Springsteen, McCartney sent home to bed early
6. That G4S corporate theme song in full
7. LiveNation explain why they pulled the plug on the Boss
8. Gordon Smart suggests Tulisa stop pursuing those who made the sex tape public
9. Rounder Records to close
10. What The Pop Papers Say: NME goes to Stone Roses

These were flung out in a hope to miss the oncoming Olympics juggernaut:

Laetitia Sadier - Silencio

Download Silencio

Micachu & The Shapes - Never

Download Never

Purity Ring - Shrines

Download Shrines

Passion Pit - Gossamer

Download Gossamer

Claudia Brucken - This Happened

The Gaslight Anthem- Handwritten

Download Handwritten