Sunday, August 21, 2016

Svenagliobit: Lou Pearlman

Here's a sentence that might bring you up short:

Figures from the pop music world have paid tribute to Lou Pearlman, the founder of Backstreet Boys and Nsync, who has died in prison aged 62 while serving a 25-year sentence for a $300m (£229m) fraud.
Yes, the death of Lou Pearlman, without whom we'd not have had Backstreet Boys on NSYNC, has got those who owe him everything trying to thank him while not upsetting those from whom he took everything.
The Nsync singer Lance Bass tweeted: “Word is that #LouPearlman has passed away. He might not have been a stand up businessman, but I wouldn’t be doing what I love today without his influence. RIP Lou.”

The US singer Aaron Carter also paid his respects on Twitter:

#LouPearlman my old manager died in prison... Rip Lou not the best business guy really at all but he did discover me karma is real
"Not the best business guy" is how you'd describe someone who tries to sell hamburgers at a vegan festival. Pearlman was a disgraceful con merchant - and even Bass' "not a stand-up business man" doesn't really come close to how huge his deception was:
According to the Florida Office of Financial Regulation, at the time of Pearlman’s investigation he owed his investors $96 million, but had less than $15,000 in the bank. The investigation found that Pearlman’s records neglected to show the more than $38 million he had withdrawn for himself and his companies.
You can see why Bass - one of the minority of people who shook Pearlman's hand and came away with the same number of fingers he started with - would be trying to look on the positive.

He ended up in such disgrace that when the Hollywood Review met with Pearlman in jail, you could hear Simon Cowell walking away backwards from a claim to kinship:
So yes, he is well aware of record-breaking pop juggernaut One Direction and boasts, "I know if I was out there, we'd give One Direction a run for their money." He reminisces about his "friendly rivalry" in the '90s with that band's puppeteer, Simon Cowell. (Responds a spokesperson for Cowell: "Simon hardly knows him. They were only ever introduced once, and there wasn't any kind of friendly rivalry.")
And that's before you even get to the rumours of sexual abuse, most deeply investigated by Vanity Fair in 2007:
In the November issue of Vanity Fair, Pearlman, for the first time publicly, is described by several former singers, aspiring singers and their parents as a lecher, who used the same deceptive charms to cop cheap feels off teenage boys as he did to allegedly bilk 1,400 investors out of more than $300 million.
Talking to The Hollywood Reporter from prison, Pearlman offered a watertight defence:
He adds that fellow inmates have come to know the real Pearlman through the years and never hassle him about the molestation charges: "They realize that none of that can be true."
'The guys on B Wing don't think I'm a nonce, so how could I be?'

The only trouble with this is that while he's saying he's not a sexual abuser, he also denies having run a ponzi scheme too. In fact, the only thing faster than Simon Cowell trying to distance himself from Pearlman is Pearlman trying to distance himself from the likes of Bernie Madoff. Pearlman insists that he was different because he had a way of making money to repay those he fleeced.

Which is puzzling, as a lot of people invested in a fleet of airplanes which turned out to exist solely as photos in a glossy booklet.

Lou Pearlman was 62. He'd been due to stay inside until 2029.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Standon orders

Last month was Standon Calling, and we went to the first day.

There's a bit of a problem, though.

Not with the festival itself - well programmed, lovely location, friendly staff. The Hives were an amazing amount of fun, and they goaded Suede on to giving a brilliant performance.

The problem, though, is with the cashless nature of the festival.

Your wristband becomes your wallet; once inside the festival ground all transactions flow through the little RFID chip on your arm.

I can see the attractions - you don't have to worry about accidentally dropping all your cash into an unpleasant toilet; you shouldn't have your money pinched; it makes waiting behind people as they fumble in their pocket for a card that hasn't been maxed out a thing in the past.

The trouble is, this is a bit of a fiction: unless you're turning up at the festival, Lenin-style, in a sealed train, you're still going to need to have cash and cards on you to buy pasties and petrol en route.

And while removing the payment point as a potential focus for clusterfucks developing, that's not really the cause of slow moving queues at festivals. Sure, paying is a breeze, but you still have to wait ten minutes for a coffee between bands while a family of ten take their time choosing between three types of waffle topping.

There's also something a little philosophically worrying about the idea that you're entering a place where every piece of business transacted on the site is channelled through the hosts.

In action, though, it definitely worked - "here, you have given me a tub of delicious macaroni cheese, in return point your little device at my wrist" is a pleasingly friction-free transaction.

The background organisation, though, wasn't as friction-free.

First, there's the problem of having to preload the wristband. This has to be done in advance, which means I'm having to surrender the liquidity in that amount to Standon.

In other words, the cash that gets locked into the wristband is no longer available to me to spend as I wish - if between preloading and the festival day, I need to suddenly purchase a papermaiche swan with that money, I am unable to.

This might sound like the sort of point that barely matters outside of GCSE economics, but it's important because attendees have no choice but to take part in this scheme.

There's a structural problem, too, of knowing how much to put on the wristband. You don't want to overload it - because you're losing that liquidity - but you also want to have enough to ensure that you're not going to have to face queues at the places in the festival where you can add more money to the band. (Yeah, you can do that - apparently, although the festival is totally cashless, there are sheds where sterling somehow still works.)

We were going for a day, and figured that between the pair of us we'd probably spend about thirty quid. (I've more or less stopped drinking alcohol, and try to avoid buying 'stuff' that is going to need to be carried in the front row. Also, I'm incredibly cheap.)

Here's a problem, though - if we were using money, or cards linked to our joint accounts, it's not a problem if one of us bobs to the bar or the macaroni cheese stall to get food or drink. That notional money flows easily between us. Not so with wristbands, where the money is linked to our actual physical presence. I can't say 'go get yourself a drink at the bar', I have to be at the bar to buy you a drink.

Still, at least you can have a decent stab at preloading the amount you need, right?

Not so much.

Because you preload in £25 increments.

Somehow, a system which allows you to pay £1.50 for a cup of coffee without a problem doesn't allow you to decide exactly how much you wish to spend.

Between the two of us, then, we're expecting to spend about thirty quid on the day. But we're forced to hand over fifty to Standon, in advance, to hold.

What if you underestimate what you load? Well, yes, you can go to the queues to top up - awkward if you're halfway through buying a pizza when you realise you're out of funds.

Helpfully, though, there's an autotop up facility. When you preload, you can choose to allow the organisers to notice when you are low on wristband cash, and take a fresh payment to allow you to carry on spending.

The minimum amount you can allow this to happen with is twenty quid; but you can choose an option to allow sixty quid a time to be moved from your bank outside the site, onto your wrist. To sweeten the deal, if you click on this option, Standon will give you money to spend in the bar.

And if you're as cynical as I am, you'll be thinking "when people are bribing you with beer to do something, that's got to be something you're not going to want to do, right?"

You're allowing a business to dip into your bank account or credit card and help itself to money at will.

But why would that be a problem?

Everything's regulated by terms and conditions, isn't it?

This is where it gets really murky. There is a link on the page about cashless on the Standon website to terms and conditions, and when you hand the cash over, you have to agree to those t&cs.

Trouble is, the terms and conditions are useless. (I've saved a copy of them for when the website changes.)

They're terms about the ticket registration, not about the cashless transactions. Sure, they're mentioned:

Cashless payment service (see further under 4.3.1.)
There is no clause 4.3.1, and section 4 is about intellectual property, not cashless transactions.

Amusingly, the intellectual property clause forbids saving any content from the website - which, in effect, bars you from saving a copy of the terms and conditions you've signed up to for future reference.

When I asked about the cashless terms and conditions, Standon pointed me back to the page that pointed at the pdf:

Except the pdf expressly says that it doesn't:

The present Terms of Service govern the use of the website [] and all of its sub-sites (hereinafter “Website”), housing that “online ticket registration service”. The present Terms of Service do not govern the RFID-services themselves, that may be subject of specific terms and conditions as determined by Standon Calling and / or third parties.
No explanation of who is holding your money, or where it is. No rights to reclaim. No indication of how much all the infrastructure is costing, or any fees levied on transactions. If I have a dispute with a trader, do I take it up with them or with Standon, or the PlayPass company who is running the system? What happens when the festival is over and I want my unspent money back?

It's pretty shabby way of handling people's money. And with 10,000 people attending, even if they're all as cautious as me and only load the barest minimum amount, that's quarter of a million quid we're talking about, being put somewhere, with no proper contract. The truth is, there's going to be a lot more cash involved.

And what of the unspent money? Inevitably, this is a circus, too.

Although your wristband is linked to your account, and your account is linked to the bank which you used to load the wristband with, and they've managed to track your transactions as you move around the site, somehow this data falls apart when you leave the site.

You have to reclaim the money. Rather than it being returned automatically.

And you can't reclaim it as soon as you're done. You have to wait.

Then you fill in a form, and wait again.

And... inevitably, eleven days after putting in a request for my own money to be given back to me, in comes an email:
Hi Everyone,

Alex here, Founder and Director of Standon Calling festival.

As you may know it is now fourteen days since we launched refund requests for any outstanding balance on your 2016 festival wristband.

We had hoped to begin payments today. Unfortunately, and with regret, this timeline has had to change. We will now process all requested refund payments by Friday 26th August.

I would like to offer my sincere apologies to those awaiting their refund. I understand this has been a frustrating process.

Overwhelmingly, feedback on the 2016 cashless experience at the festival has been positive. It is a shame then for you to experience this delay on your refunds.

Be assured we are working with Barclays to process refunds as efficiently as possible. We have learnt lessons from this experience and I am committed to an improved refund system in 2017.
Assuming that this new timetable is stuck to, that's a month after the festival. Four weeks to get back money that you had no choice but to pass to Standon on trust.

It would have been nice for some sort of explanation as to why there's this delay - there didn't seem to be a problem with the system when it was being used to turn wristbands into gin at the bar and - presumably - the cash was being held in a separate, secure account and not just sloshing about in the general Standon accounts, right? Right?

If only there were some terms and conditions governing this, but - that's right - there weren't any.

Now, it's only a few quid, and I'm not exactly sweating on it. But there's a principle here, that Standon are telling customers they're going to look after money for them, that it's a better experience - and then when asked to stump up the refunds, they're patting their pockets like Terry-Thomas when the restaurant bill comes round.

When I started going to festivals, I was at a time in my life when a shopping trip meant adding every penny in a running tally in my head. The ticket was a luxury, but I figured that the experience was worth it and if it meant a couple of weeks on No Frills beans, that'd be fine.

If getting home I discovered that the money I needed to buy the beans, though, was being held for no apparent reason in the account of the organisers, I think I'd have the right to be very pissed off indeed.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

This week just gone

The most-read July stories:

1. Lily Allen's barbecue chums
2. Louise Mensch turns the Bataclan into terrorporn
3. The entitlement of Bring Me The Horizon
4. Bookmarks: Bow Wow Wow
5. RIP: Alan Vega
6. Franz Ferdinand lose a member
7. Viv Albertine unerases the punk women
8. Pop papers: The NME has a cause
9. Bob Geldof doesn't like your trousers
10. The Rolling Stones don't like Trump either

These were out last week:

Martha - Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

Download Blisters In The Pit Of My Heart

Lou Rhodes - theyesandeye

Download theyesandeye

Faun Fables - Born Of The Sun

Download Born Of The Sun

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Emerson resurgent

"Hang about... why are we paying Keith double?"

Emerson downgraded

"Keith, we're not going to make you leave the band. But..."

Sunday, July 24, 2016

This week just gone

Last week's interesting releases:

Jack & Amanda Palmer - You Got Me Singing

Download Oddments Of The Gamble

Nonkeen - Oddments Of The Gamble

Download Oddments Of The Gamble

Various - Eleven Into Fifteen

Download Eleven Into Fifteen

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Stones distance themselves from Trump

You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes
You might just find
You've used something you had no right to in the first place

What the pop papers say: New life through Brexit

Yeah, we've all been wondering what the point of the NME actually is since it went free - but, over the last couple of weeks, it's started to look like the magazine might have found a purpose.

Unfortunately, it's the decision to leave Europe taken in the referendum. Obviously, given a choice between the death of the NME and the death of the European Dream, we'd plump for saving the one with the Ode To Joy soundtrack over the one parping out the Be Here Now re-release.

Still, it's great to see the NME with a little fire back in its belly. This week's issue is part-cri de cœur, part call to arms - a how-to-cope with the new reality. The advice is, to be honest, the sort of thing that Tumblr users have been sharing for the last month anyway - join a party; "trust your generation", write to your MP. The NME isn't suggesting we build barricades or stockpile molotovs.

In fact, it genuinely suggests sorting out your saving account and thinking about getting together a deposit for a house.

And if that isn't enough to give the sense that this is your Dad trying to help you out, there's the way the issue is presented: The cover line is "Anarchy In The UK".

It's a coverline that doesn't make any sense in its own right - why would a magazine talking about anarchy be promoting savings accounts and political party memberships?

But worse, it's slapping a lazy, Summer of '77 model onto 2016. Is that really the best we can do? The answer to Farage and May is Rotten and McClaren? It's not like the NME responded to the rise of Thatcher with calls for a revival of the Blitz spirit, although the time gap is the same.

So, yes: two cheers that the NME has got a cause, and that it's fighting a good fight. But what it desperately lacks is a way to connect cause to culture. If it can find whatever The Clash would be if they formed this year, it might come together.

Bob Geldof doesn't like your clothes

Bob Geldof. Remember when he was a punk?

He almost certainly doesn't.

There's something touching about Bob Geldof, a 64 year-old multimillionaire, instructing people how they should dress for a "rock and roll concert", as if he was Billy Fury in his pomp.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Suicideobit: Alan Vega

As 2016 continues to cut a swathe through the talented, another name to add to the list: Alan Vega has died.

The family issued a statement via Henry Rollins' website. Which is way more stylish than announcing it via Facebook:

Hello. Henry here. I am afraid I have some unfortunate news. Below is the family approved statement.

We will have a special show tomorrow on KCRW, celebrating the great man’s work. Thank you for reading and thank you for respecting the family’s privacy at this difficult time.

July 17 1618 Hrs. PST

With profound sadness and a stillness that only news like this can bring, we regret to inform you that the great artist and creative force, Alan Vega has passed away.

Alan passed peacefully in his sleep last night, July 16. He was 78 years of age.

Alan was not only relentlessly creative, writing music and painting until the end, he was also startlingly unique. Along with Martin Rev, in the early 1970’s, they formed the two person avant band known as Suicide. Almost immediately, their incredible and unclassifiable music went against every possible grain. Their confrontational live performances, light-years before Punk Rock, are the stuff of legend. Their first, self-titled album is one of the single most challenging and noteworthy achievements in American music.

Alan Vega was the quintessential artist on every imaginable level. His entire life was devoted to outputting what his vision commanded of him.

One of the greatest aspects of Alan Vega was his unflinching adherence to the demands of his art. He only did what he wanted. Simply put, he lived to create. After decades of constant output, the world seemed to catch up with Alan and he was acknowledged as the groundbreaking creative individual he had been from the very start.

Alan’s life is a lesson of what it is to truly live for art. The work, the incredible amount of time required, the courage to keep seeing it and the strength to bring it forth—this was Alan Vega.

Alan is survived by his amazing family, wife Liz and son Dante. His incredible body of work, spanning five decades, will be with us forever.
Last year, Rollins, Vega and Martin Rev took part in an In Conversation event, where the time Suicide played with The Clash in Glasgow came up:
MR: The Clash was a riot every single night and that was straight after supporting Elvis Costello, which was also a riot every single night on the continent. But The Clash was a UK tour, the climax of which was Glasgow. And, as probably many of you know - or know from your parents - at that point Glasgow was one of the poorest cities in the world, if not the poorest. They said, ‘If you can survive Glasgow, you can survive anything’ and they were right. It was a riot. Hatchets were thrown.

AV: It’s true!

MR: We found it embedded in a bass drum; an actual hatchet. A fucking axe head.

AV: They threw an axe at me! They threw an axe at me!

Elizabeth Lamere: And nobody believed you… [LAUGHS]

MR: The money that was thrown could be lethal, too. For the guys who cleaned up afterwards it was pretty good though…

AV: See, we started with The Specials. Two bands opened on that Clash tour. I liked them by the way... they were all fucked up [LAUGHS]. They were great, really great. So they got The Specials and then out comes Suicide and it was ‘BOOOO!!! BOOOOO!!!’ We got booed to shit and had to work our way up from there… upwards, or sideways or downwards. I don’t even know. And The Clash were great and always on the drum riser before the show. I loved them.

MR: But you have to remember that The Clash got the same thing. It was the height of punk, so to show your affection you used to spit and throw things. The Clash went on and if you were watching the band - and that was the band that everybody had paid to see - you saw all kinds of shit. And Glasgow was hardcore. Very serious.

AV: But at the front was a bunch of fucking Nazis. Every kind of available filth in the world. And at the back were the poor guys who liked rock & roll and they were exquisite. Go to the back!

MR: And they were fighting each other. The punks, the nazis and the skinheads. They all had their own personal thing. The only unifying factor was that they all hated us.
Here's the band playing without a hail of phlegm and tanners. Wonderfully, it's not clear exactly when and the poster doesn't seem sure if its CBGBs or Max's in Kansas City.

This week just gone

Out a week ago now:

The Julie Ruin - Hit Reset

Download Hit Reset

Shura - Nothing's Real

Download Nothing's Real

Roisin Murphy - Take Her Up To Monto

Download Take Her Up To Monto

Avalanches - Wildflower

Download Wildflowers

The Amorettes - White Hot Heat

Download White Hot Heat

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Bookmarks: Bow Wow Wow

Louder Than Bombs has caught up with Annabella Lwin, who you'll recall as the thirteen year-old McLaren bounced to the front of Bow Wow Wow:

Well I tweet here and there…I don’t know if I’m an official tweeter. I’m excited to be part of a new generation. A lot has changed obviously. It’s a good thing. It just keeps evolving. There’s an old saying, I don’t know where it came from, but it’s “Don’t put your daughter on the stage Mrs. Worthington”, and that’s when i kind of realized what that meant, through all these years. going from being a novice, to being in a band, to doing what I do now actually.

It definitely is not what it used to be when I started out. I think it’s become more homogenized. I don’t know if music is going to get better or worse, let’s put it that way. Everybody’s doing music in their living room now. The Reality TV world, they tried to look behind the door like “The Wizard of Oz”, but it’s a bit of a disappointment, isn’t it?

Punk's not dicks: Viv Albertine unerases the women

There's a punk exhibition at the British Library right now. You might think it perhaps curious that an anti-establishment movement is being celebrated by the establishment, but the process of assimilation has ensured that a familiar narrative has been smoothed over the spikes of punk.

Not least that women have been dropped from the narrative. Viv Albertine - at the library for an event to mark the exhibition - wasn't having that...

Update: it turns out it wasn't Viv who did it:

Update: it turns out it was Viv who did it:

So, erm, hope that's clear.

Bookmarks: Simon Scott

Headphone Commute have caught up with sound artist (and Slowdive drummer) Simon Scott, and takes a peek at his kit:

Can you please share some aspects of sound design in your work?
I always begin by using a field recordings to compose and create. Since 2010 it’s been consistently The Fens in Cambridgeshire where I’m surrounded by a subterranean landscape that fascinates me, and I generally work with these audio segments in MaxMSP. It’s endless in terms of compositional possibility so I’ve stuck to The Fens as a sound source and I actually don’t want too many options so I haven’t started using some of my field recordings from further afield yet. Right now I like the framework I’ve built for myself in Max and the limitations of just using environmental recordings from my small corner of the world, but I sometimes do need to simply just compose if I am working on a score or other project that isn’t a solo record.

Buskers beat the Metro ban

Busker in Washington, DC, have had a tough time of it in the last couple of years. Transit police have been moving them on from their pitches with more-than-required firmness.

Also more than legal firmness, too. Alex Young had already faced down the Metro transit authority and had the courts put a stop to the practice; this week he went back to court and won his costs. Which by that time, had got up to USD50,000.

The Metro had made things worse for themselves by trying to argue down the costs:

Jeffrey Louis Light, a private civil rights attorney who represented Young in conjunction with the Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville group that advocates for civil liberties, said Metro’s decision to contest the fees increased them by about $20,000 as the issue was drawn out in court.

“They’re a business,” said Light, who will take home $33,447.10 in the case at hourly rates of up to $661. “They need to make sensible business decisions. This is not one of them.”
Jeffrey had a further burn for the transportation authority:
“They spent time arguing over whether this guy should have his guitar case open, and for what?” he said.
The head of the Metro, Paul J. Wiedefeld, is currently learning the chords from The Boxer in order to cover the costs.

Mensch & Murdoch turn Bataclan into terrorporn

When terrible things happen to people, it's not unusual for the authorities to withhold some of the worst details. It's done out of respect for the dead, and out of concern for their families.

So it was with the slaughter in the Bataclan - the public was told of the murder; the bestial nature of what happened inside the venue was alluded to. But the fine detail - the horrific fine detail - wasn't made public.

There was no need - if you felt you required something more than 'people murdered because they were at a gig' before you felt it was unacceptable, before you were horrified, you might have a problem yourself.

At this point, enter Heat St. You probably haven't heard of Heat St - it's Rupert Murdoch's version of the Drudge Report, with Louise Mensch as the drudge.

You might wonder why, with a media empire stretching from the Wall Street Journal in the first circle down to The Sun and Fox News in the seventh needs a tattle-based website. It looks like the main motivation is a way to get "things" "out there" without tarnishing his mainstream brands.

And, yeah, if it's something that could tarnish a brand like the New York Post, you can imagine the sort of content they're publishing.

Hence, it was the natural home for an "exclusive" detailing what happened to people inside the Bataclan. Doubtless, Mensch and Murdoch would defend the publication in some vague 'it is important to know what we are dealing with'.

And it is.

But who didn't already know? Why hadn't already imagined the detail? Where is the audience going 'when I thought it was just shooting the people sitting in the area reserved for the disabled and laughing, I was going to cut ISIS some slack but this feels like they went too far?'

There's nobody who needs this terrorporn.

It's funny that the sort of people who wail 'you're playing into their hands' when the BBC forget to add "so-called" in front of "Islamic State" are quite happy to re-up ISIS propaganda and to burnish their reputation when it might get a few extra clicks for a website.

There are monsters everywhere. Why would you work with them?

Sunday, July 10, 2016

This week just gone

Most-read things in the first half of the year:

1. Liveblog: The Brits
2. Record Shop Day brings about The Avalanche's closure
3. Half Man Half Biscuit cycle trip
4. Liveblog: Eurovision
5. James Blunt tries to say the right thing
6. David Cameron's Rita Ora briefings
7. Russia aren't happy about Eurovision
8. Radio X listeners love Oasis
9. Illness causes Prince to break a journey
10. Beyonce makes the right wingers' heads hurt

New releases:

Garbage - Strange Little Birds

Download Strange Little Birds

Various - C87

Shawn Colvin & Steve Earle - Colvin & Earle

Download Colvin & Earle

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Franz Ferdinand: Walk away, walk away

Nick McCarthy, who was with Franz Ferdinand before anyone had heard of them, and was still with them now people don't remember them, has quit the band. There was an official statement on Facebook, which explained Nick wanted to spend more time with his family.

The conclusion was amusing:

We'd love to say this is a result of personal or musical differences, but it's not. Those differences are what we formed the band around in the first place.

Bring Me The Horizon, and peel me a grape

What would the festival season be without a few squabbles round the back of the VIP area?

So lets drop by Spain's Resurrection Fest - imagine Download, if it was somewhere warm and less picky about the bill.

There, Ben Baker - once of Minor Threat and currently part of Bad Religion - spotted something backstage.

I'm going to stop these people every time I see them today and tell them how much their band sucks

A photo posted by Brian Baker (@brianbakers) on

There is something quite cute about Bring Me The Horizon deciding that they're important enough to not need to show passes, but being self-aware enough to know that most people couldn't pick them out of a police line-up, even if the rest of the line-up consisted of drawings of Andrea Leadsom.

They, though, weren't happy. Brooklyn Vegan reports they responded grumpily:
Matt commented on the Instagram:
Hahah I can’t imagine being as old as you are and still acting like a 14 year old girl. Saw you at least 10 times and you didn’t bat an eye lid. You got bigger things to worry about nowadays anyway, like ya pension, or cold weather. Dickhead.

Oli added, “Yeah we are not your enemy, winter is your enemy.”
Here's a pro-tip: if you're going to attack someone for being old, probably don't do it in a way that allows your target to smile patronisingly at you, pat you on the head, and say "oh, you poor child":
It seems you’ve missed the point entirely. The issue here is entitlement. My post was a comment on your collective delusion that working local crew at a thirty band festival should be required to memorize your faces to spare you the indignity of breaking stride on the way to your backstage oasis or even worse, the humiliation of carrying credentials. Your literal display of arrogance (and the hilariously unrecognized irony within it) was what I was sharing with my followers. I honestly don’t know if your music is bad or good – it’s not for old people! I meant that you suck as humans. Sorry for the confusion.
We can help you on the music point, Brian. It's not for any people.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

In these strange times, we need Lily Allen

Long-term readers of No Rock will know that I've never been Lily Allen's biggest fan. But we live in strange days, and she's pretty much made herself invaluable over the last couple of weeks.

In fact, her delightful sharing of Rupert Murdoch, Nigel Farage, and the now-defunct Liam Fox having fun at a barbecue is one of the delights of the summer so far:

Apparently some of the guests tutted that Allen would post these images, but she had a really great riposte for that, too:
Allen also said that other guests at the party had told her she should not post pictures or videos of Murdoch. “His publications have been making money from publishing pictures of me, though,” she said.

Saturday, July 02, 2016

Steve Brookstein joins the Brexit debate

Sorry, Steve, did you have something to say?

Let's just pause for a moment and be impressed that Steve is using both "irony" and "less" incorrectly, almost as if he was trying to flush pedants out of a hedgerow.

How do you know this, Steve? Do you run a YouGov poll on anyone you might have sex with? Or have you gathered this knowledge slowly over the years - "she was willing to break out the nipple clamps and espoused a Friedmanite approach to the money supply. That happens so often."

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Funkobit: Bernie Worrell

Bernie Worrell, co-founder of Funkadelic and Parliament, has died.

As The Guardian's obituary observes, in effect he was paid in exposure:

Worrell’s contributions as a keyboardist, writer and arranger didn’t bring him a lot of money, the source of much legal action and fierce criticism of Clinton, but fellow musicians paid attention.
As a result, when he was fighting cancer it took a fundraiser to help cover his medical expensese. Although it was a pretty impressive fundraiser.

He had a varied career - he was part of the band featured in Rikki And The Flash, the so-so Meryl Streep movie; he played with Talking Heads during their imperial phase. And, perhaps less magnificently, he was part of Buckethead's post-Guns N Roses existence:

Worrell had been inspired to take up the synth by Emerson, Lake And Palmer. From a Passion of the Weiss interview last year:
I have to say when I was in college at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston. I had an Emerson, Lake & Palmer [album]. That’s when I first heard the Moog synthesizer.

It tickled my fancy. That was a big one. [Note: Emerson played an enormous Moog modular synth.] After joining P-Funk, they came out with the Minimoog, which is the granddaddy after the one that Keith Emerson [played]. I bought one, and then came “Flash Light.” And “One Nation” bass line, that’s a Minimoog. Bass line on “Aqua Boogie,” that’s a Minimoog. There’s actually three Minimoogs on “Flash Light.” Everybody gravitates towards the bass line, but there’s two more doing cartoon voices.
With Worrell so influential on black music, this does mean that Emerson, Lake & Palmer are legitimately one of the founding forces of hip-hop. Kind of.

Leave will screw the music industry, too

While as a nation we try to come to terms with just how self-defeating half of our compatriots are, you might be wondering what it means for music.

Before the vote, Pitchfork warned that it would probably be bad:

British media coverage of EU funding trains a negative focus on all the so-called red tape you have to endure to access it. But there are endless EU programs that benefit the music industry, which Britain excels at securing: In 2012, UK applications (in general, not just for music) had a 46 percent success rate, almost double the average success rate of 24 percent. If the UK leaves the EU, in all likelihood, that funding will no longer be available. The benefits of this money are vast, wide-reaching, and often not obvious to the public. The Village Underground, a well-appointed, 1000-capacity warehouse venue in east London, currently benefits from two EU programs. Liveurope pays them to host emerging European bands support slots on bigger bills, giving these acts the chance to get out of their own countries, and prompting venues to have a more diverse program. Creative Lenses is a four-year investigation into new business models for the cultural sector.
The BPI issued a statement:
“The outcome of the EU Referendum will come as a surprise to many across the music community, who will be concerned by the economic uncertainty that lies ahead and the impact this may have on business prospects.
"However, the UK public has spoken, and once the short-term political and macro-economic consequences have played out, this decision will mean new priorities for the music industry in our work with Government. We will, of course, press the Government to swiftly negotiate trade deals that will ensure unimpeded access to EU markets for our music and our touring artists. Our Government will also now have the opportunity to legislate for stronger domestic copyright rules that encourage investment here in the UK and which will protect UK creators from piracy and from tech platforms siphoning off value through copyright loopholes. We are confident that British music will remain hugely popular across Europe and we will work hard to make sure UK labels are able to capitalise on that demand.”

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Half Man Half Biscuit: Ride away

This may be the best thing You And Yours has ever broadcast: A Half Man Half Biscuit cycle trip

Blissobit: Prince Be

Attrell Cordes, better known as PM Dawn's Prince Be, has died.

A Facebook post from Doc G confirmed the news earlier today:

Prince Be has unwell for some time - Doc G spoke to The Stranger in 2011 as he took on the PM Dawn mantle, and wasn't ruling out a return to stage:

I don't know if he'll ever be able to join me again. Prince Be is doing his best to try and get back his health. I think the death of Nate Dogg woke him up. He was slacking a bit. I don't know if Nate had diabetes, but, you know, the strokes... Prince Be can still sing a bit, but he has paralysis in his right hand and it's a little tough. I wish I had the funds for a portable dialysis machine. We'd go on the road. I have this whole vision to get him back out there. I actually had an idea of putting him in a wheelchair and dressing him up like a Utopian Professor X.
Prince Be was American, but PM Dawn wouldn't have been PM Dawn without Britain.

When Be was six, his dad gave him a record by Donovan - and you can see the influence of Donovan's lyrics and worldview on the candy, universal outlook of PM Dawn. More crucially, when the band couldn't catch a cold in the US, the UK liked Ode to a Forgetful Mind to earn the band a deal with an offshoot of Island Records. Prince Be relocated to London, explaining why to the LA Times in 1991:
That spiritual orientation of the late '60s, stressing peace, love and equality, permeates Prince Be's views. He said he even moved to London recently because he finds the atmosphere there less stressful than on the East Coast.

"You can hear the difference in the songs that were written over there," he said in another interview recently. "New York is really stressed out so the songs I write (there) are really morbid. London, though, is (as) if you took New York's fire and poured water on it, so you still have the embers."

But Prince Be also found Britain to be more comfortable on a social level:

"They're not so race conscious over there. They understand me better. It's a shame but it's hard being black and spiritual in this country."
You'll see Prince Be described as an optimist in many places over the web; there can surely be no better proof of his optimism than a man who moved to John Major's England because it felt like a Shangri-La.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

EMI: Hands handed arse; tries to save face

It's been a while since we heard about Guy Hands, the man who borrowed large sums of cash to buy EMI and then discovered he wasn't very good at running a record label.

He's been in court this week, trying to blame his failures at EMI on CitiGroup, in a legal case which was basically Hands' Terra Firma going "waah waah, why didn't they tell us".

The fraud case was supposed to last into July - rather like Euro 2016 - but ended somewhat abruptly with a humiliating defeat - rather like England's Euro 2016.

Hands climbed down:

“Terra Firma confirms it unreservedly withdraws its allegations of fraud,” David Wolfson – standing in for lead QC Anthony Grabiner – told the hastily convened court. Terra Firma will also pay the costs of the US bank, likely to run into millions of pounds.

Hands, who had been claiming at least £1.5bn from Citi, had been questioned by the bank’s lawyer for the previous two days, and his evidence had been expected to last into next week. He had faced repeated questions about his recollection of events in 2007 when Terra Firma took over EMI just before the credit crunch and had been accused of having a “hazy memory”.

At one stage during his questioning of Hands, Mark Howard QC, representing Citi, said: “The problem is, Mr Hands, your story is shifting and it is impossible to reconcile these different versions.”
Much as EMI had relied on releasing poorly-conceived best of 'special edition' collections, Hands was trying to sell a bunch of remixes of old material, but the court wasn't really buying.

His case having crumbled underneath him, Hands was left trying to whistle a brave tune:
Hands, who was not in court, said the latest claim had been brought in good faith. “However, it has become evident that our documentation of the fast-moving and complex events, and memories of these events after nine years, are no longer sufficient to meet the high demands of proof required for a fraud claim in court,” he said.

“The matter is now closed,” said Hands, saying that the Terra Firma business he founded in 2003 was looking to the future. “We have an exciting portfolio of companies, a talented and experienced team, supportive and loyal investors and €1bn of capital to invest,” he said.
It's funny, isn't it, that he hadn't noticed he couldn't remember all that "fast-moving" stuff until he'd been taken to pieces on the stand.

And while Hands might believe the matter is closed, that isn't entirely true. Terra Firma have agreed to pick up all of Citi's costs. That Billion of capital might be whittled down a bit in the coming weeks.

To be alive at this time

Fighting for scraps on the edge of fame:

Real Housewives Of Cheshire star Dawn Ward found guilty of assaulting pop star Sinitta
Justice has been done, though:
Dawn, a cast member of the ITVBe series, stood quietly in the dock as District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe told her that she would be bound over in the sum of £500 for three months and ordered her to keep the peace and be of good behaviour. No costs were awarded.
ITV Be, the cruellest injoke of a channel name (you wonder if they brainstormed other dismissive titles, like ITV Who? and ITV Second String). Still, the thought of having a £500 fine hanging over her will focus the mind; that's going to knock out the earnings from about six series of the programme.

What were the pair fighting over?

Yeah. Nobody cares.

This week just gone

Last week, these releases intrigued us:

Tegan And Sara - Love You To Death

Download Love You To Death

Ladyhawke - Wild Things

Download Wild Things

The Kills - Ash And Ice

Download Ash And Ice

Amber Arcades - Fading Lines

Download Fading Lines

Dexys - Let The Record Show: Dexys Do Irish and Country Soul

Download Dexys Do

Cats Eyes - Treasure Houses

Download Treasure Houses

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Wouldn't Quadrophenia 2 just be Octophenia?

It's not often you find yourself agreeing wholeheartedly with The Who, but their reaction to the plans for a sequel to Quadrophenia are pretty much spot-on:

Pete Townshend and Roger Daltrey have denied involvement, calling the project "a blatant attempt to cash in".

In a strongly-worded statement, they said: "For the avoidance of doubt, this project isn't endorsed by The Who, Who Films, Universal or any of the other rights owners of the original."
Bill Curbishley, the band's manager who produced the original film, added: "Quadrophenia is a significant and influential film based on The Who's music, not some Carry On franchise.

"Any follow-up could only be made by the authors of the original and would need to be worthy of the name. This karaoke sequel announced recently would be totally ridiculous."
The filmmakers, though, think they've got this covered:
the follow-up would be set in the present day and based around events in the book To Be Someone, by Peter Meadows, which was inspired by the original movie.

His book picks up where the narrative of The Who's album (rather than the film) ends, following the hero, Jimmy, through the punk era as he becomes a drug dealing gangster.

Director Ray Burdis - who previously produced The Krays, starring Gary and Martin Kemp - claimed Townshend had given Meadows' book the seal of approval, suggesting this counted as an endorsement for his film.
Yes. That's exactly how that works.

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Spotify: An upside-down pyramid

Digital Music News report on the proportion of users who Spotify rely on:

90% of Spotify’s Revenue Comes from 30% Of Its Users
This, surely, isn't that surprising though - if you're operating a freemium model, it's probable that most of your revenue will flow from the premium end rather than the free end:
89.9% of Spotify’s revenues come from just 31.4% of its users, according to more financial data now surfacing. The 2015 filing, registered with EU regulators last week, showed that paying subscribers generated a hefty $1.96 billion in revenues. By stark comparison, free, ad-supported users generated a relatively paltry $222 million.
It is a problem for Spotify, though, who are currently burning money like you wouldn't believe.
That effectively translates into a cash inferno, with everyone seemingly benefiting… except for artists, a group witnessing deteriorating per-stream revenues over the past few years. According to the same filing, rank-and-file employees are enjoying sharply-rising salaries, with average compensation now surpassing $168,000 per year. At the upper end, top executives and board members are pulling down north of $1.3 million a piece, with stock options potentially minting billionaires after a successful IPO.
Not, of course, that Spotify's business plan is to get close enough to profit in order to cash in its chips. Of course.