Saturday, September 26, 2015

Thomas Dolby is upskilling down-at-heel bits of Baltimore

Thomas Dolby, you're probably aware, has kept himself busy over the years. But he's doing something even more impressive than inventing ringtones and working with Magnus Pyke. Right now, he's working in a run-down part of Baltimore:

Another project in the works — spearheaded by Dolby's colleagues, Lucy Bucknell and Linda DeLibero — will help local ex-offenders make films that tell their personal stories.

“I would just love it if all of humanity that’s out here on the streets looks at this building, and rather than view it as yet another gleaming university edifice that they can’t go near, that they really have a stake in the building,” Dolby says, "and that it can have a positive effect on the community and on the revitalization of Station North.”

Sure, Thomas Dolby knows this kind of “revitalization” can be complicated.

“People get displaced, people will be complaining about the rent and all the rest of it,” he says. “And those are all things that anybody developing a neighborhood has to take into account.”

Especially, he says, if that “anybody” is a relative newcomer who — until his recent move to Fells Point — was splitting his time between the west coast of the United States and the east coast of England.

“I don’t want to steam in here like the expatriate Brit who thinks he can come in and immediately come to grips with the neighborhood,” Dolby says. “I’m learning all the time. So I spend as much time as I can in Station North, talking to people, and I’m trying to make sure that anything I initiate here makes sense, really, for the neighborhood.”
That's a really cool approach - although the "people will be complaining" line suggests he might already have had his fingers burned a little.

Australia might not let Chris Brown in

Australia's Immigration Minister is being encouraged to refuse an entry visa to Chris Brown, on account of his domestic violence:

Australian Minister for Women Michaelia Cash, speaking alongside Turnbull at an event in Canberra highlighting new government efforts to fight domestic violence, urged Immigration Minister Peter Dutton to bar the performer.

"People need to understand that if you are going to commit domestic violence and then you want to travel around the world there are going to be countries that say to you, 'You cannot come in because you are not of the character we expect in Australia'," Cash told reporters.
It would be an important signal to the wider world, although recently Australia has had something of a reputation for not allowing anyone in at all.

Kenny Rogers to walk away

Sad news from MegaCountry. Kenny Rogers is retiring:

Rogers, 77, said that has accomplished everything he wanted to achieve as an artist and that he wanted to spend more time with his children, including his 11-year-old twins.

“I’m sure I will miss it,” he said when discussing his retirement. “I swore that I would do this until I embarrassed myself. And I’m getting to where I don’t walk around well … my mobility’s really driving me crazy.” Later in the Today segment, Rogers stated that he felt that he owed the fans who've supported him for so long the chance to say goodbye during the world tour, and that he plans to "go out with a flurry."
Isn't a "flurry" kind of underpowered for a farewell? You might not want to go out with a bang, but a flurry seems only a step up from going out with a shower.

The rural dean lay inert in his John 3:16 shirt

Pope Francis - his chosen Papal name means 'one desperate to be liked' - is going to release an album of rock music.

Or rather, it sounds like some of his god-related-thinkings have been slapped on top of some "contemporary" music. It's Yet More Christian Rock, not Francis going "Holy child" to the tune of "Gangnam Style".

Friday, September 25, 2015

What the pop papers say: Bloodless coup

Last week, the free NME made a semi-decent bid at suggesting there was a life ahead for the title.

This week? Not so much. You could probably just about get away with a Robert Pattinson cover, if you didn't feel the need to allude to Twilight on it. The NME does, so they don't.

There's also three pages on Jeremy Corbyn but it's not clear who it's aimed at - the information assumes so little background knowledge that it's presumably intended as a 'start here' guide, but why would anyone who hadn't bothered to discover that he's the new Labour leader by now give a shit? And who is this audience who need to have Corbyn's voting record detailed for them, but who will know who Tony Benn is? After a summer where young people have been more engaged with politics - and Labour politics at that - this suggestion the kids need a primer is embarrassing at best.

There's a really confused sidebar, too - the "punkest politicians of all time". It includes Berlusconi, calling his dodgy behaviour as being "in the punkest fashion possible". Apparently either the all-new NME doesn't know much about the fraudulent, sexist Italian politician, or it doesn't know much about punk.

They also include Cromwell, but don't manage to squeeze in the whole being the only non-Royal head of state. It also describes him as "extremely unpleasant", which suggests the NME doesn't like punk. (Their inclusion of Andy Burnham reiterates this.)

There are a full four album reviews this week, which is something. But there's only one music feature - Rudimental - and it looks about two hundred words long.

The first issue they had over a month to work on. The second issue, clearly, didn't have as much time, or as much room for thought, and so gives a clearer sense of what the new NME is trying to be.

What it seems to be is a really watered down Shortlist. Which is a blow to those of us who were hoping it might at least be a watered down NME.

Something better: Art Decades**, which has just* launched its fourth issue, with a 20 page appreciation of Lush. There's interviews with both Miki Berenyi AND Emma Anderson. One of the main revelations is that there's a Lush song which rips off the theme of Reggie Perrin.

* - I say "just"; it's dated July 2015.

** - You can get it via

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Robbie Williams: The Return: The rerun

Robbie Williams is hoping to rejoin Take That again.

The way he keeps popping in and out of the band, and with Gary Barlow's love of ten-pound-note, it might make sense for Williams to be put on a zero hours contract, so we can all skip the tortuous negotiations every time he finds a blank space in his bank statement ("in his diary").

Sunday Mirror seems surprised by children growing up

I know it must be a bore of a job, having to try and interest people in a picture of Mel B, while trying to justify running a photo of a teenager. But... come on, Sunday Mirror:

Mel B's daughter Phoenix continues her grown-up transformation as teen towers beside her mum
"Continues her grown-up transformation". I know teenagers find growing into adulthood can be difficult, but who knew that it was such a struggle for headline writers as well?

This week just gone

Stories from five years ago this week:

Seal puts family ahead of cash
Apple force Harry Hill album name change
Cher auctions follows
Music Week pronounces indie dead; NME kicks the corpse a bit
Carla Bruni did those David Bowie covers
A lovely little story about Peter Skellern

These were already out a week by the time Friday came round:

Welsh Rock For Refugees

Low - Ones And Sixes

Download Ones And Sixes

Nerina Pallot - The Sound And The Fury

Download The Sound And The Fury

Richard Hawley - Hollow Meadows

Download Hollow Meadows

Beirut - No No No

Download No No No