Sunday, January 25, 2015

This week just gone

The top ten search terms which brought people to No Rock over 2014, mostly:

1. Simon Bates
2. Arctic Monkeys Glyn Jones
3. Erica Lahn
4. Sam Butcher
5. No Rock & Roll Fun
6. Meg White net worth
7. ac entertainment fancorps
8. I hate Coldplay
9. Jaime Harding
10. lil' url generator

Bubbling under: "carla bruni is being mocked mercilessly across france after having recorded arguably the most dreadful david bowie cover of all time"; daddies sauce face; salt and vinegar crisps; what happened to Fred Durst; "share some of your bookmarks with the world, and keep" boyfriend acting distant; what movie won academy award for best picture in 1976

(That last one? Rocky.)

Sleater Kinney - No Cities To Love

Download No Cities To Love

Menace Beach - Ratworld

Download Ratworld

Scandal - Hello World

Download Hello World

Enter Shikari - The Mindsweep

Download The Mindsweep

BC Camplight - How To Die In The North

Download How To Die In The North

Belle & Sebastian - Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance

Download Girls In Peacetime...

The Decemberists - What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World

Download What A Terrible World...

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Electrobit: Edgar Froese

Edgar Froese, founder of Tangerine Dream, had died.

The band announced his death via Facebook:

Dear Friends,

This is a message to you we are very sorry for…

On January 20th, Tuesday afternoon, Edgar Froese suddenly and unexpectedly passed away from the effects of a pulmonary embolism in Vienna.

The sadness in our hearts is immensely.

Edgar once said: “There is no death, there is just a change of our cosmic address."

Edgar, this is a little comfort to us.

Born in East Prussia, and exiled as a child to West Berlin when the address was still a political statement as much as a geographic fact, Froese was one of the pioneers of the electronic-driven Berlin School. With Moog, Synth and the support of the-then-interesting Virgin Records, Froese and the Dream effectively created an ambient music blueprint that - through years of watering down, mistranslation, and 'improvement' - would eventually lead to the churning out of countless CDs with the word 'chill' somewhere in the title.

But you can't blame the man for what followed in his wake. And you've got to be impressed with the way Tangerine Dream quickly established themselves as the go-to team for film soundtracks where the budget didn't run to a full orchestra. Froese's work underscored Tom Cruise's "what the fuck"ery in Risky Business, and, erm, Tom Cruise's "don't touch the fucking unicorns" in Legend. They also did some films which Tom Cruise wasn't in. A lot of films which Tom Cruise wasn't in.

It's not surprising that the band made the leap to scoring computer games, although they waited for the artform to catch up with them; Grand Theft Auto V was that point.

Froese also produced a body of solo work, although confusingly some of this was released under the name of his collective.

Still working in 2014, Froese was 70. He died Janaury 20th.

TMZ cast their eyes at the courtroom

Kanye West is currently being sued by a photographer, and of course, TMZ are all over it.

They're especially interested in a battle over whether the photographer's previous run-in with Britney Spears can be raised in court:

Kanye West has no right to tell a jury the photog who's suing him is the very same guy who Britney Spears famously attacked with an umbrella ... at least that's what the photog is banking on.

Daniel Ramos is suing Kanye for the 2013 LAX attack. Kanye pled no contest to misdemeanor battery, but now Ramos is suing him.

Kanye wants to prove to the jury Ramos is a bad guy ... not only because of the 2007 umbrella incident, but also because he was so gross he tried selling the umbrella and the truck she struck.
Two things: first, you've got to love TMZ considering the possibility of a thing being kept from a jury while detailing exactly what that thing is.

Second: TMZ complaining that someone tried to make money out of a run-in with a celebrity while calling long-lens fame-gawpers "gross"? Clearly, TMZ is now being produced in a room without any mirrors at all.

The beautiful cap on this? The last words of the piece:
It's kinda like having your cake ...
Yes, TMZ. Fancy trying to hold two different positions at once.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Apparently Israeli police have time to spend on Madonna leaks

Great to hear that things are so quiet in the Middle East these days that the Israeli police force have so little to do they're taking part in raids against someone accused of leaking Madonna songs:

The person allegedly responsible for that hack and leak was arrested in Israel on Wednesday after a joint operation by Israeli police and the FBI. Adi Lederman, 38, was charged with hacking into Madonna's computer and stealing files including the unreleased music.
Apparently Lederman had taken part in a TV singing competition along the lines of The X Factor, although there doesn't appear to be any connection between the two crimes.

Madonna has issued a statement, which appears to confuse 'being charged' with 'being convicted':
"I am profoundly grateful to the FBI, the Israeli Police investigators and anyone else who helped lead to the arrest of this hacker. I deeply appreciate my fans who have provided us with pertinent information and continue to do so regarding leaks of my music. Like any citizen, I have the right to privacy. This invasion into my life - creatively, professionally, and personally remains a deeply devastating and hurtful experience, as it must be for all artists who are victims of this type of crime."
Psst, Madonna - didn't you describe the massive sales of the rush-released music as a "miracle"? Didn't that offset the deep devastation even a little?

Taylor Swift will follow in footsteps of Man In The Moon - reports

Extraordinary news from the BBC, as it's just been announced that Taylor Swift is going to be taken to Norfolk by one of the Corporation's beloved programmes.

At this stage, it's unclear if she's asking Alastair Appleton to show her three houses in the county where she could run a small b&b business on Escape To The Country, or if she's just headlining Radio One's Big Weekend for 2015 in Norwich. More as it becomes clearer.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Actually the most entertaining thing Puddle Of Mudd have done in years

Wes Scantlin, lead lets-say-singer of Puddle Of Mudd, has been arrested in Denver after riding a baggage carousel at the airport.

Actually, not quite for riding it. Like most forms of entertainment, Scantlin couldn't quite manage to ride the carousel and ended up going behind it. Into a secure area.

It meant the band were late - very late - for their show in Denver. They turned up just at that point where everyone was thinking 'well, at least we'll get a refund', which just makes their appearance all the more cruel.

Astonishingly, it took a fan to get Scantlin out of jail on bail. Which says something - not a band mate, or the promoter, or a manager, or a label person. It looks a lot like there were a lot of people kinda hoping he'd stay in chokey.

Of course, they don't like you going into the secure areas at DIA, because of the - ahem - massive secret underground city underneath. Scantlin's lucky he isn't being held by the lizard people three miles under the mountains.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Blunt v Bryant: The bout of the century

As if January wasn't miserable enough, we've now had to sit through an exchange of open letters between James Blunt and Chris Bryant, the main upshot of which has been to undo all that good work Blunt had done by being charming on Twitter.

Because your life is too short, here's what you didn't bother reading:

Bryant: It's nice that Eddie Redmayne has an Oscar nomination, but isn't it a bit unfair that people like him and James Blunt from more comfortable backgrounds are able to build creative careers

Blunt: You are a classist gimp, and a wazzock, because it was harder for me having rich parents not easier, somehow

Bryant: I bought one of your records and I wasn't saying it was wrong for posh people to be working in the arts, just that we should make sure people from poorer backgrounds get their chance too

For all his good-natured jokes at his own expense on Twitter, James is so incredibly touchy about anyone pointing out that when you come from a family who can help you out as you're getting going, it's a lot easier to make a name for yourself. See also Doherty, Dido, etc, etc, ad nauseum.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Venuewatch: Casa

The Casa, the club-cum-venue-cum-community-centre set up by the former Liverpool Dockers, is under threat.

There's a funding crisis - of course there is, this is a socially-valuable service and we have a Tory government - which means the community centre and advice functions of the venue are under threat; while the bar and performance space could continue, they can't support the whole endeavour alone. And, because it's always been more than just a entertainment place, the people who run it think that would be a betrayal of its principles.

So, there's to be a huge benefit gig at the Philharmonic, and a fund-raising push - hopefully raising enough to cover another four years of operations.

Mark Steel, John Bishop, and TV's Bobby Grant are all on board already.

John Boehner tries some populism

I have no problem with Taylor Swift gifs. I'm not even that worried about John Boehner trying to communicate the latest thinking in Republican circles using Taylor Swift gifs, even though it was done so very, very poorly.

How poorly?

And the president knows full well there’s no blank space in the taxpayers' checkbook.
Yeah, that badly.

The real problem, though: apparently it took two people to produce what would take one Tumblr user one hand and five minutes to cook up.

[It was] Penned by Digital Communications Director Caleb Smith and Deputy Communications Director Mike Ricci.
It took two Communication Directors to create "12 Taylor Swift GIFs for you," a post published on Speaker John Boehner's website today that uses animated GIFs of the pop musician in a shrewd play for the hearts of teenagers and 20-somethings.
Presumably, Caleb's role was to go 'is this really patronising' and Mike's to go 'nah, all the kids are doing it. Jiffing is the future, my friend. Ooh - hang on, there's some nuance in point six you might want to edit out.'

Embed and breakfast man: Sharon Van Etten

Sharon Van Etten took her new single, I Don't Want To Let You Down onto the Ellen show last week. (Sidenote: I don't think the book shop set looks very convincing these days. It might be a while since I last watched Ellen.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Nice work if you can get it

A press release arrives:

Australian vocalist Tim Fontaine aka BOROKO releases his latest music video for his single “Because Life”, from his sophomore album Western Child, which is set to release in early 2015. Filmed by the fashion photography team Alex and Iggy in the historic Artist Studio NYC, formerly the Irving Penn Studio, the “Because of Life” video was aimed to depict a conflicted man, heading down a path where his fantasies overtake his reality and he struggles with guilt and the forgiveness he seeks to remedy his “disease”.
That was what he was aiming to do. He wanted to depict that. How fortunate the "conflicted man" was mostly conflicted about a semi-naked woman rubbing herself all over him rather than, say, whether it's worth recycling when the developing world is consuming raw materials at an ever-faster rate, eh?

Frozenobit: Yao Beina

Yao Beina, Chinese pop star, has died.

She had an interesting career - she was a runner-up on the Chinese version of The Voice in 2013, but landed the job of doing the pop version of Let It Go for the Mandarian voice track on Frozen.

In a grizly turn, a Chinese news photographer apparently snuck into the morgue:

[T]he outpouring of emotion was overshadowed by allegations that three reporters from a Shenzhen newpaper posed as medical staff at the hospital and entered the morgue where her body was being kept. They took photographs, according to Yao's family, but the pictures have not been released.

The accusation sparked a debate over media ethics. "The Shenzhen reporters tried all kinds of means to get photos of Yao. It's the result of the current deformed political and social situation on the mainland, as only entertainment reporters enjoy absolutely freedom of news-gathering and reporting," said Qiao Mu, the dean of the Centre for International Communication Studies at Beijing Foreign Studies University.
Yao Beina was 23 years old; she had survived breast cancer in 2011.

Whitney Houston's family help promote biopic

Lifetime, the US channel whose full name is 'We wouldn't be able to make these shitty biopics during the subject's Lifetime', has made a Whitney Houston movie.

Houston's family are outraged, but don't seem to have realised something:

Whitney Houston's family says the singer's fans should "brace themselves for the worst" if they watch Lifetime's television movie about the late singer that premieres Saturday.

Pat Houston, president of the singer's estate and her sister-in-law, issued a critical statement about the movie on Houston's website on the eve of the movie's airing. She said the movie was done without the family's blessing and against the wishes of her mother.

"If you watch this movie, watch it knowing that Lifetime is notorious for making bad biopics of deceased celebrities and brace yourself for the worst," Pat Houston wrote.

She said she didn't think it entered the minds of anyone involved with the project that "what lifts up one person in the headlines may in fact destroy another."
They think this is the sort of statement which will stop people watching; in fact, they couldn't be helping bark up an audience more if they were stood in the street with a placard, wearing a top hat, bellowing 'roll up! roll up!'.

Listen with No Rock: Wild Billy Childish

There's a new Wild Billy Childish record available. Correction: here's a new Wild Billy Childish record that's available:

This week just gone

The stories that were read the most this week:

1. RIP Kim Fowley
2. Michelle Keegan will have a crack at being a pop star
3. The other people's lists from 2005
4. Brits 2015: The Shortlist
5. Video: Allo Darlin at KEXP
6. Unimpressed by Justin Beiber
7. RIP: Curtis Lee
8. Video: Emmy The Great
9. Sarah Brightman is going to space
10. Sam Smith, modern pop star, has no time for modern pop star

These came out:

Panda Bear - Panda Bear Meets Grim Reaper

Download … Grim Reaper

Liam Hayes - Slurrup

Download Slurrup

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Brits 2015: Ordinary people

On Thursday night, the Brit Awards shortlist was announced, packed full of reasonable-sounding people making pleasant enough tunes, I guess. There's so much prospect of Sam Smith waltzing away with armfuls of prizes on the night - Best Okayish Album of the Year; You Could Probably Introduce Him To Your Mother of 2014; Brightest Hope of Smiling Photo Op With Whoever Wins The Election Probably At A Youth Club Or Something; he may even get the Look There's No Soul There At All Which Equals Success prize, the big one of the night.

Here's the shortlists in full:

British Album

Alt-J – This Is All Yours

Ed Sheeran – X

George Ezra – Wanted On Voyage

Royal Blood – Royal Blood

Sam Smith – In The Lonely Hour

British Single

Calvin Harris – Summer

Clean Bandit featuring Jess Glynne – Rather Be

Duke Dumont featuring Jax Jones – I Got U

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud

Ella Henderson – Ghost

George Ezra – Budapest

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

Route 94 featuring Jess Glynne – My Love

Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Sigma – Nobody To Love

British Breakthrough Artist


FKA Twigs

George Ezra

Royal Blood

Sam Smith

British Female Solo Artist

Lily Allen

Paloma Faith

Ella Henderson

FKA Twigs

Jessie Ware

British Male Solo Artist

Damon Albarn

George Ezra

Paolo Nutini

Ed Sheeran

Sam Smith

British Video

Calvin Harris – Summer

Charlie XCX – Boom Clap

Duke Dumont featuring Jax Jones – I Got U

Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud

Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars – Uptown Funk

One Direction – You And I

Rita Ora – I Will Never Let You Down

Route 94 featuring Jess Glynne – My Love

Sam Smith – Stay With Me

Sigma – Nobody To Love

British Producer


Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory

Paul Epworth

Jake Gosling

International Female Solo Artist


Lana Del Ray


St. Vincent

Taylor Swift

International Group

5 Seconds of Summer

Black Keys

First Aid Kit

Foo Fighters

The War On Drugs

International Male Solo Artist



Jack White

John Legend

Pharrell Williams

Critics’ Choice Award
James Bay

In a statement released shortly after the announcement of the shortlists, someone from the BPI apologised for the appearance of Lily Allen, Coldplay, Beck and Damon Albarn on the shortlists. "We reused an old form for typing these things up, and I don't think we quite deleted all the old items from the word doc - we did catch Duran Duran before we hit save, which is at least something."

The Brit Awards will be presented by Joe Pasquale and Bradley Walsh sooner than is comfortable for any of us. The best we can hope is that Taylor Swift will turn up.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The Black Crowes split

Upsetting news for people who never got out of 1996: The Black Crowes have split up. Guitarist Rich Robinson broke the news:

"It is with great disappointment and regret that after having the privilege of writing and performing the music of the Black Crowes over the last 24 years, I find myself in the position of saying that the band has broken up," Robinson said in a statement.

"I hold my time with the Black Crowes with the utmost respect and sincerest appreciation. It is a huge swath of my life's body of work. I couldn't be more proud of what we accomplished and deeply moved by the relationships people created and maintained with my music.

"That alone is the greatest honor of being a musician. I love my brother and respect his talent, but his present demand that I must give up my equal share of the band and that our drummer for 28 years and original partner, Steve Gorman, relinquish 100 percent of his share, reducing him to a salaried employee, is not something I could agree to."
Financial markets are unaffected by the news; David Cameron claims this would never have happened if we just let him read everyone's emails.

Svengaliobit: Kim Fowley

Kim Fowley, the man who brought together Joan Jett and Sandy West to form The Runaways, has died.

Fowley had survived polio in childhood. He attempted a solo career, but it was as producer, writer and general mover-and-shaker that he made his name. He worked with everyone - Lennon, Modern Lovers, Helen Reddy, but The Runaways were his finest hour. After they stopped working together in 1977, Fowley tried to recreate the magic with a number of other acts, but never quite got the formula right in the same way.

More recently, he tried his hand in the movies as well as keeping his hand in the music world.

Clem Burke issued a statement:

"Kim was a great and often misunderstood individual. When Blondie first came to Hollywood Kim was one of the legends we wanted to meet. We did meet him at the Tropicana motel and became friends. I had the privilege of sitting next to Kim at a screening at SXSW of the Runaways film. When it ended, I turned to Kim and told him he was the hero of the film. He seemed happy to hear that."

Fowley had recently been receiving treatment for cancer. He was 75. And he co-wrote this, with Joan Jett:

Embed and breakfast man: Emmy The Great

Emmy The Great's S EP is getting closer... it's due out on the 27th. Here's one taste of it:

Davedeedozybeakymickandtitchobit: Trevor Ward-Davies

Trevor Ward-Davies, bassist (and 'Dozy') with Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick And Titch, has died.

In many ways, Ward-Davies was the key member of the band, having signed up various members of other Salisbury bands to join a group that was first The Beatnicks, then Dave Dee And The Bostons, and finally Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick And Titch. The new name, and the comedy nicknames, were added to the mix by the managers - Ward-Davies became Dozy after he attempted to eat a wrapper rather than a chocolate bar. In the 1960s, that got you a nickname. In 2015, you'd just get a 'U okay hun' meme.

He suffered for his art, getting teeth knocked out during a performance on Ready Steady Go. The band enjoyed four years of solid success, including the number one Legend Of Xanadu before Dave Dee headed off for a solo career.

Ward-Davies had sometimes provided lead vocals on album tracks, so it wasn't a total stretch for the band to carry on as the slightly easier to type Dozy, Beaky, Mick And Titch. They continued to work and tour, splitting for a while in 1972 and reforming in the 80s, gently moving from creating new material to becoming an early fixture on the nostalgia circuit. A second wind reunion saw Dave Dee return to the fold, staying with the band until his death in 2009.

Trevor Ward-Davies was 70; he died 13th January, 2015 after a short illness.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Amputee time: First amongst others

Once again, a piece on Viktoria Modesta describes her as

Viktoria Modesta: the world’s first amputee pop star
It's still not right, though.

And not just because it might be a little early to describe Modesta as a popstar.

A letter in the current Private Eye reminds us of Victor Moulton, drummer with the Barbarians, who had lost a hand to an accident with explosives.

Ella Fitzgerald had her knees amputated below the knee in 1993, although this was pretty much after she had stopped performing in public. Sarah Bernhardt, arguably the prototype popstar, had a leg amputated after an onstage accident and carried on performing.

Over in New York, Isle is building a career which is just as solid as Viktoria's.

Tony Iommi carried on in Black Sabbath despite having lost part of his finger.

Now, you could argue all these cases are edge, or obscure, or not-quite-pop-star enough, or maybe even not amputee enough.

But... what about Rick Allen? Continued drumming for Def Leppard after losing an arm in a car crash, drumming his way onto Hysteria and selling over 20 million records.

It's great that Viktoria is doing well, and the support for her is to be welcomed. And, yes, although she might not be the first, pulling together a list of amputee pop stars shows that she's still amongst the first, nearly 100 years after Sarah Bernhardt. But if one of her main messages is about visibility, probably doesn't help to write the other pioneers out of history.

Taylor Swift rises to the surface

You might think that Taylor Swift fans registering votes for Shake It Off as best song of 2014 in Triple J's end of year poll as 'sabotage'.

Others may think it's simply a correction.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Embed and breakfast man: Allo Darlin

Allo Darlin went to KEXP and did a live set. It's lovely, and it's here:

Sam Smith is right

Sam Smith, talking to Chaka Khan, reveals a terrible truth about modern music:

Even when you meet them. I won’t name names, but some of these pop stars are just awful. And they have not even had half the success that you’ve had and yet you’re so humble and kind.
Yes, they're awful and arrogant and based on very short-term success, modern pop stars. You're right, modern pop star Sam Smith. You're so right.

Sarah Brightman is actually doing this space thing

There was, a couple of years back, a bit of murmuring that Sarah Brightman was going to go into space.

She is actually going to go into space:

Itar-Tass quoted an unnamed Star City representative as saying Brightman would arrive on Wednesday and start her training the following day. The training routine typically runs for weeks. Brightman is due to be launched aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule on Sept. 1 in the company of two professional spacefliers.
It's possible that I Lost My Heart To A Starship Trooper was a true story. Or something.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Surprise: Michelle Keegan reckons she can have a go at being a pop star

Since the length of metal pipe put paid to any chance of a return to Corrie, Michelle Keegan is considering her options and it seems like her people are testing the idea of some sort of pop career by talking to The Sun:

"A fair few record label people are interested in singing her already and she's thinking long and hard about it," an insider told The Sun.

"[People] will be surprised to hear how good her voice is," they added.
It's not entirely clear why people would be "surprised", as if 'playing a barmaid' and 'being able to hold a note long enough to be autotuned' are two states that it is impossible to imagine existing in the same person.

That doesn't, of course, make it a good idea.

After all, Keegans famous in one field trying to shift that into a chart career don't have the greatest track record, do they?

Doowopobit: Curtis Lee

Curtis Lee has died.

He had a short career, helping launch the Dunes label with the Phil Spector produced Pretty Little Angel Eyes. A top ten hit in the US, he then stalled outside the top 40 with a follow-up, Under The Moon Of Love. Five further flops more-or-less made it clear he'd be better off dropping music and heading back to the family building business.

Curtis Lee was 75; he had been unwell with cancer for some time.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Justin Meh-bier

With thanks to the lovely people of Tumblr.

This week just gone

As this is the first one of the year, here's the ten most-read pieces of content for the whole of 2014:

1. RIP: Jon Fat Beast
2. That last Mark & Lard show
3. Simon Bates dumped by Smooth radio
4. KT Tunstall reckons she knows why people think she's gay
5. Video: Le Prince Miaou
6. Liveblog: Brits 2014
7. Aremnia's Eurovision entrant is kinda transphobic
8. Jo O'Meara not sorry about being boorish, racist
9. Scott Stapp gets married
10. Noel Gallagher's secret gay past

And the most popular 2014-published content:

1. RIP: Jon Fat Beast
2. Simon Bates dumped by Smooth radio
3. Liveblog: Brits 2014
4. Aremnia's Eurovision entrant is kinda transphobic
5. Liveblog: Eurovision
6. Allan Jones leaves Uncut
7. Terry Christian has interesting thoughts about disabled people
8. It's hard to believe how popular cassettes are
9. Why is there a U2 album on my computer?
10. Alfie Boe is a bit of an asshat

These were the interesting releases back in a week before Christmas:

Emily Barker - Photos Fires Fables

Download Photos Fires Fables

Various - Lead Kindly Light: Pre-War Music and Photographs from the American South

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Front Porch Step plans to open his own doors

Now, if you want to hear a risible story about a musician investigating potentially dodgy goings-on between celebrities and children, forget Brian Harvey and think instead of Front Porch Step. He's investigating, erm, himself.

Mr Step - or Jake Mcelfresh - has been accused of sniffing round young fans on Tumblr. His reaction to the claims is this:

In response to the claims, Mr. Mcelfresh has said he is suspending his spring tour across the United States, along with dates in Canada and Britain. “I am taking the appropriate time to assess these very serious allegations against me and I am not taking them lightly,” he said in a statement posted on Facebook. “Until I can do that in a complete manner with all the information I have at my disposal, I will not be continuing with any current touring activities for the time being.”
I suppose, given that he has a stage name, he might be able to come out with findings that discovers that it was the other guy what did the bad things.

But let's just take a moment to pause and appreciate the work he's done there - putting out a statement which suggests he might not know if he's been sending sexual messages and photos (and encouraging reciprocity) until he goes through his emails and IMs, while taking some sort of moral high ground over the way he has "all the information" at his disposal. Hey, you guys, suggesting he tried to get 14 year-olds to send him photos - you don't have all the information that Front does. Because you can't access his sent texts file. Classy.