Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Beyonce makes the poor right-wing heads hurt

Poor right-wingers. There they were, enjoying their Superbowls, probably chuckling a little - "look, someone on Twitter has posted a picture of an owl with a monocle because it's a superb owl" and then Beyonce happened.

Pretzels were spat out. Hot dogs dashed to ground. Amusing pictures of owls wearing top hats went unretweeted as the very LOLZ went out of the moment.

Beyonce had brought politics into the Superbowl. And that isn't allowed. How can you sully a sporting event by turning it into a political platform?

Well, obviously that would be different.

But you can't have the NFL's showcase being used to promote an ideology, can you?

The NFL reportedly accepted millions of dollars from the defence department over the course of three years in exchange for honouring troops and veterans before games, the New Jersey Star Ledger reports.

The Pentagon reportedly signed contracts with 14 NFL teams — including the New York Jets, the Indianapolis Colts and the Baltimore Ravens — between 2011-2012 stipulating that teams would be paid sums ranging from $US60,000-$US1 million each (in federal taxpayer money) to pause before the start of games and salute the city’s “hometown heroes,” according to nj.com.
Well, obviously, that would be different, probably.

Amongst the first to rush to the microphones to suggest that saying policemen shouldn't kill black people on a whim was somehow a controversial idea was former Mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani, a man who nowadays spends his time running Presidential Campaigns in his head:
Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani blasted Beyoncé’s Black Panther Party tribute at the Super Bowl, calling the performance an “attack [on] police officers.”

“I thought that she used it as a platform to attack police officers, who are the people who protect her and protect us and keep us alive,” Giuliani said Monday on Fox and Friends.

“What we should be doing, in the African-American community and in all communities, is build up respect for police officers and focus on the fact that when something does go wrong, okay, we’ll work on that,” Giuliani said.
Yeah, come on Beyonce, what more do you want? If the police accidentally choke a black man to death, or shoot him dead, Rudy's saying they'll certainly add it to some sort of list of things they need to think about. Let's not suggest that police need to earn respect rather than be gifted it, right?

Elsewhere on Breitbart - which is pretty much like Craigslist for Americans who believe their income levels means they can have their racism reclassified as "simple common sense" - the inability of the right to hold more than one idea in their minds at a time is displayed in the way they assume nobody else can, either:
But the pop star might have been late to the performance if she hadn’t received a highway-clearing police escort to deliver her to Levi’s Stadium on time.

As some users pointed out on Twitter, police cleared the highway so that Beyoncé could make it to Santa Clara without sitting in pesky game-day traffic
[...]
But during the Super Bowl halftime show, the pop star performed a full-scale tribute to Black Lives Matter and the militant, anti-law enforcement Black Panthers, with her backup dancers clad in Panther uniforms with fists raised in the “black power” salute.
[...]
Needless to say, social media users were eager to weigh in on the pop star’s apparent hypocrisy.
Needless to say.

The possibility that you can see that some police behaving badly and out of control doesn't mean that all police officers are like that doesn't exist in the minds of Breitbart, its readers or some social media users, needless to say.

That you can say 'stop shooting us' without it meaning 'I believe that every single police officer will shoot an unarmed black person at the earliest opportunity'.

That Beyonce isn't attacking the police, she's attacking the police for not doing more to ensure that those officers who are trigger-happy, or choke-happy, and, yes, racist as fuck, don't remain within the ranks and when they commit crimes, get punished for those crimes.

That's not hypocrisy. Knowing it isn't hypocritical, but pretending you believe it is? That's actual hypocrisy.


Sunday, February 07, 2016

David Cameron "too busy" for Ellie Goulding

Ellie Goulding sought an interview with David Cameron, the current Prime Minister of some of the United Kingdom. He couldn't find time:

The Starry Eyed singer wanted to meet with David Cameron in her role as patron for the Marylebone Project, which is dedicated to helping homeless women in London.

But the 29-year-old, who has campaigned for vulnerable people since rising to fame, said she and project chief executive Mark Russell were told the PM didn't have the time to meet with them.

She told The Mirror: "We genuinely just wanted a chat to see what his view was on it. We're not trying to confront him.

"Mark reached out to talk about the recent housing bills and received one of those standard letters, so I don't know whether he even saw it or not.

"I can't say at this point that he's not interested, as I don't know if that's the case. It might be that he's looking for an opportunity to do something."
This story might, then, be 'someone in Prime Minister's office sends form reply to letter' but the Belfast Telegraph decided to go with this as the headline:
Ellie Goulding claims snub by David Cameron over women's issues talks
They repeated the "snub" in a photo caption on the story:
Ellie Goulding claims David Cameron snubbed her after she asked to discuss women's issues with him
And the first paragraph of the story also drops the s-bomb:
Pop star Ellie Goulding said she was snubbed by the Prime Minister after asking to discuss women's issues with him.
The only thing is, she doesn't actually say, or claim, that she was snubbed - just says, with an air of reasonableness, that no meeting was arranged and Dave probably didn't even have anything to do with it.

It's not quite as bad as the claims that circulated this week suggesting she used IV drips rather than food as some sort of diet fad. But it's still unfair. It's even unfair on bloody Cameron, and anything that makes you feel sympathy for the Grinning Pauper-kickbot has to be a bad thing.


This week just gone

The most read January stories:

1. James Blunt tries to say the right thing. Doesn't
2. RIP David Bowie
3. RIP Mark B
4. RIP David Bowie (first thought)
5. Brit Awards shortlist
6. K-Pop star forced to apologise to the Chinese government
7. Steve Sutherland's Bowie memories
8. RIP Ed Stewart
9. David Bowie and gender
10. San Francisco not thrilled with Bieber's daubings

These were the interesting new releases:


Suede - Night Thoughts


Download Night Thoughts



Eleanor Friedberger - New View


Download New View



Savages - Adore Life


Download Adore Life



Tindersticks - The Waiting Room


Download The Waiting Room



Lucinda Williams - The Ghosts of Highway 20


Download Ghosts of Highway 20



Coasts - Coasts


Download Coasts


Saturday, February 06, 2016

Woot-ton: Dan takes a nuanced position

These days, you'll be aware, Dan Wootton, once of the News Of The World is now sitting in Gordon Smart's old chair at Bizarre.

He's really keen that people keep things classy:



Perhaps Dan could show us one conducts themselves with his required degree of class?




Sonu Nigam slightly overestimates how great his singing is

Sonu Nigam was on a chartered flight, and encouraged to sing a song or two over the PA system. He obliged.

Trouble is, nowadays if things like that happen, it gets shared on the net, and people hear about it. Including the safety regulators of Indian flights. They're not happy, and have called in the executives from Jet, the airline involved, to ask why a safety tool was being used as an entertainment platform.

Jet, in the face of a potential punishment for letting this happen, have had to take action; and so they've suspended the flight crew involved to try and head that off by looking like they're taking it seriously.

Sonu, though, has decided to wade into the debate, missing the point and the finer detail completely:

In a statement, Nigam Friday said, “I have witnessed an elaborate fashion show in an aircraft. I have heard of small concerts happening in aircraft. I have seen pilots and crew members cracking jokes to loosen up passengers in other countries, which is so cool. To suspend crew members for asking me to sing on the address system, when the seat belt signs were off, and no announcements were to be made, is nothing less than punishing someone for spreading happiness.” “Pity there’s no one to question such harshness except the media perhaps. Indians, need to loosen up. This act of lack of common sense, according to me, is real intolerance,” he added.
It's real intolerance, people. Punishing people for spreading happiness. I mean, under what circumstances might you suddenly need to make a cabin announcement on a plane, right? That hardly ever happens. That people survive to tell you about, anyway.


Stone Temple Pilots hang a 'help wanted' sign in the window

There is nothing desperate at all in the Stone Temple Pilots search for someone, anyone to do the singing bit:

2016 marks a new year for Stone Temple Pilots…
Point of fact: 2016 marks a new year for everyone. That's pretty much how new years work.
A year of hope, optimism, and most importantly, new music! We are immensely proud of all that we have been able to share with you over the years. Music, music, music. We very much want to continue doing that, but that’s going to take a little help from all of you.

As you know, prior to the untimely passing of our brother in arms, Scott, we had been working with the incomparable Chester Bennington. What you also likely know is that having Chester front two bands of this size and scope was too much for one man to be able to do and so regretfully we had to move onto a new chapter together. This is where you come in…
Let's just look at that sentence there again, shall we?
What you also likely know is that having Chester front two bands of this size and scope was too much for one man to be able to do and so regretfully we had to move onto a new chapter together.
Let's look at it again.
What you also likely know is that having Chester front two bands of this size and scope was too much for one man to be able to do and so regretfully we had to move onto a new chapter together.
That's three times we've read that sentence, which is figure is at least six times more than it was read before it was published.
We are officially announcing that we are seeking a new vocalist to front Stone Temple Pilots. We’ve already heard from many talented people, but want to make this an opportunity for many more so we’ve set up a way for you to do just that.
This is the reverse of when someone calls a place to tell them they've got a bunch of fantastic job offers but just wanted to see if you're hiring right now to give you an opportunity to get on board.

"Hey, look at all these talented people who want to front our band"
"We should definitely see if there are any other talented people who want to front our band by putting a message on the internet".


That free Rihanna album redux

Last weekend I was in Amsterdam, so this is the first opportunity to react to the question why did Rihanna give her album away for free on Tidal?

To which there are two, interconnected answers:

Number one: because it's effectively patting Taylor Swift on the head and saying 'shush now about streaming sites only making you a tiny, tiny bit richer';

Number two: because when was the last time you even remembered Tidal even existed?

Hats off to her for coming up with an advertising campaign for a dying platform in which she's invested while making it look like she doesn't care about money. It's evil, but stylishly evil.


Monday, February 01, 2016

Phil Anselmo can't be a Nazi because he's not clubbable

Phil Anselmo's Nazi salute and "white power" cry during a Dimebag Darrell memorial hasn't gone down well - and perhaps the best thing about this whole story has been the way metal fans have called him out on it.

Phil has tried two approaches now to try and explain what he might have been doing.

Attempt number one was to try and claim he was making a reference to the wine being served backstage:

He claimed at first he had been making a joke about the white wine served to performers at the event, who included Dave Grohl and members of Metallica, and said: “I fucking love everyone, I fucking loathe everyone, and that’s that. No apologies from me.”
In a lot of ways, that's probably a worse claim than the original - everyone expects Anselmo to spout Nazi bollocks, but suggesting that he was organising a protest against the backstage spritzers paints a picture of what happens when entitlement collides with too much time on a person's hands.

Still, he's realised that "I was taking wine" wasn't going to work, and he's now issued a statement:
Philip H Anselmo here, and I’m here to basically respond to all the heat I’ve been getting that I deserve completely.

“I was at the Dimebash, and it was extremely late at night. There was heavy-duty talk between myself and those who love Dime. And heavy emotions were flowing, jokes were made backstage that transpired upon the stage, and it was ugly. It was uncalled for. And anyone who knows me and my true nature knows that I don’t believe in any of that; I don’t want to be part of any group. I’m an individual, and I am a thousand percent apologetic to anyone that took offence to what I said because you should have taken offence to what I said. And I am so sorry, and I hope you just … man, give me another chance to … just give me another chance. I love all of you. And anyone who’s met me, anyone who knows me knows that I love all of you. Bless you.”
This might have worked if he'd not tried to pass it all off as vinicultural humour a couple of days earlier.

Two great problems lurk in this apology, though: the first being that jokes from backstage were "transpiring" on stage, which suggests that other performers might have been having a third-reich yukfest and only Anselmo was gauche enough to take his Hitlerian hijinks the wrong side of the curtain.

The second is that he seems to be pleading with us to believe he couldn't be a Nazi because he's not the sort of guy who joins things.

No, Phil. We'd want to know you're not a Nazi because Nazism is an odious skunk of a political ideology, not because you'd find it a faff to have to turn up to meetings and maintain your membership fees.


Leo Sayer is probably a little disappointed this morning

Back in November, Leo Sayer was talking up the possibility that he was going to play the Legends slot at Glastonbury.

He was sort-of-right; turns out it's going to be ELO not LEO.

Or, rather, whatever the legally allowable format of the Electric Light Orchestra is these days - Jeffy Lyne's Electrish Light Orchestra or something like that.


David Bowie: Tribute oddity

From the YouTube channel of Simon Price, a fairground organ in Utrecht plays Space Oddity:


Djobit: Terry Wogan

Arriving back in the UK from a weekend in Amsterdam, on a TV screen glimpsed through a security window was a grinning, waving Terry Wogan. We already knew, of course - this is the 21st Century and you don't have to wait anymore until the news, on the hour, with James Alexander Gordon, to find out what's going on.

My Mum loved Radio 2, or at least loved it enough to be able to listen to it during the day, and much of my early musical experience came from 233 and 330 (less so Stereo VHF). Both Waggoner's' Walks, Diddy David Hamilton, Pete Murray, Jimmy Young and, every breakfast, Terry Wogan. This was his first run of breakfast shows - the era of Pru Forrest, JR, and suggesting that Super Trouper claims Abba were making telephone calls from Tesco. It seemed to be at the time that doing the breakfast show on Radio 2 must surely be the most desirable job in the world.

Along with Ribena and fried eggs, Wogan was how I woke up every morning - calming and reassuring, especially on those mornings when my eyes had gummed themselves shut and I'd come to in panic and fear. He was the very model of avuncularity and, although my tastes moved on, I'll miss knowing he's around.


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Producerobit: Dale Griffin

Dale Griffin, Mott The Hoople's drummer, has died.

Although it was his work on the drumstool that leads his biography, Griffin's influence on music runs much deeper than that - between 1981 and 1994, he worked for the BBC, primarily producing sessions. And most of those sessions were for John Peel. The John Peel wikia has started on the work of detailing the 2000 or so Peel Sessions that he - often with a grump in his heart, it must be said - produced. They've got as far as E at the moment, but it's already a list that brings together Ex, Terence Trent D'Arby and John Chibadura & the Tembo Brothers. There's not many producers who could claim to have worked with so many acts, across such a wide range of styles, and with such success.


This week just gone

Geeky list: top ten browsers used by No Rock visitors so far for 2016:

1. Chrome
2. Firefox
3. Safari
4. Internet Explorer
5. Opera
6. YaBrowser
7. Edge
8. In-app Safari
9. Blackberry
10. Maxthon

These were this week's last week's interesting releases:


Skunk Anansie - Anarchytecture


Download Anarchytecture



The Temperance Movement - White Bear


Download White Bear



The Anchoress - Confessions Of A Romance Novelist


Download Romance Novelist



Daughter - Not To Disappear


Download Not To Disappear


Saturday, January 23, 2016

The David Bowie I knew, and what it says about me

There's been no end of great (and also rotten) pieces written about David Bowie, but none perhaps as strange as former NME editor Steve Sutherland's bit which appears in the Stratford Herald. Oddly - I suspect as a quirk of a local paper's publishing system - the online version appears under his wife's byline.

It turns out Steve attempted to save Bowie from Tin Machine by sending him a shoegaze mixtape:

Now, knowing his reputation as a magpie, scarfing up other people’s ideas, sprinkling some fairy dust on them and then successfully representing them as his own, I figured Dave might benefit from an earful of some new stuff, so duly made him a cassette.

The tracklisting went something like Lush, Moose, Chapterhouse, Adorable , Slowdive, The Jesus and Mary Chain, My Bloody Valentine, Telescopes, Ride — a veritable who’s who of shoegazers making a name for themselves at the time and a line-up I felt sure would top-up Dave’s creative juices.

Just goes to show how wrong you can be! A few weeks after I sent him said tape, I received a very nicely wrapped package which contained a small broken-up jigsaw of Michelangelo’s David. When the pieces were all put in place, there was a message handwritten on the back in, if I recall correctly, green ink, the gist of which went something like, “Thanks for the lovely tape. Not really my cup of tea. Try this instead.” The “this” was a cassette tape of Different Trains, an interminable modern classical piece by avant-garde composer Steve Reich performed by the dreaded Kronos Quartet. Shudder.
It turns out that Steve - by this point having moved from the Melody Maker to the NME - had a bit more luck with the next generation of British indie stars:
My last encounter with Mr Bowie was not long after I took over editing NME. All the staff hated me for reasons we needn’t go into here but I figured — rightly as it turned out — that if I could deliver a journalistic coup, they might come around.

So what I did was arrange for David Bowie to meet Brett Anderson from Suede, who were then the hottest band in Britain. I sat in on and taped their conversation with Brett, being a big fan, asking tons of questions and Bowie, being Bowie, offering up sage avuncular advice about not doing too many drugs like he once did etc.

Again, a fun day made easy by Bowie’s polite and gracious ease in company, and his genuine interest in what Brett had to say.
Brett and Bowie, coming together to save an NME editor. There's surely a Hollywood movie in that?


Coco is no longer shouldering the blame

Do you ever find yourself, in quiet moments, wondering whatever happened to "don't call me Sting's daughter" I Blame Coco?

After her first album futtered to a halt in the murky depths of the album charts in 2010, she vanished. But now she's back and she's "gone solo" (although I thought she was pushing the IBC as a PJ Harvey style one person with a collective name affair?).

Anyway, there's a new album. And most of the coverage is still stressing at great length how there's more to her than just being Sting's daughter. Because there's no way the only way she's going to get press coverage is through being Sting's daughter. Oh no. Being Sting's daughter is just a detail in the life of Sting's daughter - a life that started at conception, an event at which Sting was very much present. She's now (again) stepping out from the shadow thrown by being Sting's daughter, to be absolutely her own person. And that person is Sting's daughter. But let's not focus on that famous father - who, by the way, is Sting.


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Managerobit: Giorgio Gomelsky

Giorgio Gomelsky, the original manager of The Rolling Stones, has died.

His entry into the music business came by way of London's coffee bar boom - his tiny Espresso bar became such a hit it formed a foundation of a nightclub; then, he helped create The Crawdaddy. This venue gave early starts to the Stones, Julie Driscoll, Rod Stewart and others. Although his stewardship of the Stones career wasn't long, his early support gave them the base on which Andrew Loog Oldham would build; Gomelsky moved on to help The Yardbirds build their career.

By the mid 60s, Gomelsky was running a management/label hybrid, Paragon, releasing music on the Marmalade label. This came apart when the money men for the venture at Polydor fell out with him; Gomelsky headed for France where he would find himself working with Gong and managing Magma, almost single-handedly creating an alternative music scene for the nation.

Since 1978, he lived in New York. He curated a series of music festivals and again got involved with releasing music and managing musicians.

In 2001, he spoke to Eurock about how the business had changed in fifty years:

When I got to London in the mid-fifties, the “pop” scene was just a pale imitation of white US commercial music. At least there was a local “do-it-yourself” music, “skiffle”, (imported to the UK by British bandleader CHRIS BARBER) derived from Lonnie Johnson and other blues/folksters, which allowed young people to take up instruments. The Beatles started out as “The Quarrymen” and were able to inject some freshness into music when they started to make it. The Stones and the other blues bands introduced a new generation to black music thereby rendering an invaluable service too. European musicians were practicing jazz, and although aesthetically more appreciated than in the US, it seemed less urgent, less “dramatic”, less speaking to a new generation. So rock took over. Later the punks kicked everybody in the proverbial ---. This opportunity is still present, but bands/managers/labels are now so focused on making it in whatever category they and the “industry” define themselves to be, that a “major breakthrough” has become well nigh improbable. It’s the old story yet again, the seemingly tragic-comic vicious circle between the true function and merit of art and that of commerce and politics. Ultimately, it’s a question of education. I’m hopeful that the internet will allow the natural curiosity of those attracted to music to explore every nook and cranny of musical production and discover where the real values are and that bands will emerge who know what directions to pursue.
Giorgio Gomelsky was 82. He died of cancer, like so many others.


Onehitobit: Troy Shondell

Troy Shondell, a Transatlantic one-hit wonder, has died.

His hit, This Time (We're Really Breaking Up), sold a million copies in the US - making it to number six (different world, 1961) in America and 22 in the UK. Nothing he did subsequently would worry the chart compilers on either side of the ocean.

Shodell went on to work with Phil Spector, but decided that his professional future wasn't in front of the microphone. He moved into the collections business, becoming an executive at ASCAP.

Troy Shondell died from complications related to Alzheimers and Parkinsons. He was 76.


Chou Tzu-yu forced to apologise to Beijing

If you think that UK pop stars are a little disconnected from the struggles of everyday people, you might want to redirect your attention to South Korea, where a 16 year-old K-Pop star has been forced to read out a cringing apology to the Chinese government. But, happily, Chou Tzu-yu reads the note in such a way as to make it clear she's totally disassociated from the content.

Here's what happened: Chou is from Taiwan, and she went on TV in South Korea with her band Twice to do a song or two. During the course of her performance, she waved the Taiwanese flag about a bit.

Cue a massive shit storm.

The end result? Her panicky, pissweak management forced her to read out a prepared statement apologising to the lovely people of the Chinese government. That a K-Pop star should be forced to dance attendance on the Beijing regime is no surprise - our Chancellor and Prime Minister regularly submit themselves to lick buttholes in the hope of getting a few Yuan shoved into their hands.

But Chung managed to signal so much distance from the words she was being forced to mouth, she managed to create the least authentic pop star video since Sam Smith did the Bond theme:

It's hard to think how she could have distanced herself further from the bit of paper - perhaps if she'd have pretended the words were being dictated to her by a sock-puppet, or maybe made the "Whatevs" sign at the end of each sentence.

The funny thing is, her flag waving and the breeze it created may have helped swung the Taiwanese elections this week against the pro-China Vichyesque regime, and in favour of Tsai Ing-wen's independence party.

She's 16 and making pop music. She's also bringing geopolitical conflict to a head. What have you done today, Ellie Goulding?


This week just gone

The most popular posts from 2006 - you'll notice a theme:

1. R Kelly's sex video is to be shown in court
2. Lily Allen gets changed on a train
3. McFly remove all their clothes
4. Heather Mills strips for PETA
5. The Sun is outraged to discover Heather Mills did erotic photoshoots
6. KT Tunstall thinks people assume she's gay because of her braces
7. The Sun is still outraged thinking about that Heather Mills porn
8. RIP Joaquin Tavares
9. Possibly people interested in a Yop advert
10. Britney Spears offers to remove her clothes for art

These were this week's interesting releases:


Hinds - Leave Me Alone


Download Leave Me Alone



Sea Pinks - Soft Days




Pete Astor - Split Milk


Download Split Milk



Villagers - Where Have You Been All My Life?


Download Blackstar



Derek Bowie - Blackstar


Download Blackstar


Saturday, January 16, 2016

The Brit Awards Shortlist is out

You can understand Adele getting a bunch of shortlist slots. But, really, British music industry? James Bay gets nominated in four categories?

Although, technically, Adele shouldn't have been in the lists at all - her album came out in December, and traditionally the Brits have covered a year running November to November. But a swift rewrite of the rules has ensured she'll turn up.

Here's the full list that people call moribund:

British male solo artist
Aphex Twin
Calvin Harris
James Bay
Jamie xx
Mark Ronson

British female solo artist
Adele
Amy Winehouse
Florence + the Machine
Jess Glynne
Laura Marling

British group
Blur
Coldplay
Foals
One Direction
Years & Years

British breakthrough act
Catfish and the Bottlemen
James Bay
Jess Glynne
Wolf Alice
Years & Years

Critics' choice
Winner: Jack Garratt
Izzy Bizu
Frances

Brits global success award
To be announced

British single
Adele - Hello
Calvin Harris & Disciples - How Deep Is Your Love
Ed Sheeran & Rudimental- Bloodstream
Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do
James Bay - Hold Back The River
Jess Glynne - Hold My Hand
Little Mix - Black Magic
Olly Murs ft Demi Lovato - Up
Philip George - Wish You Were Mine
Years & Years - King

British album of the year
Adele - 25
Coldplay - A Head Full of Dreams
Florence + the Machine - How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
James Bay - Chaos and the Calm
Jamie xx - In Colour

British producer of the year
Charlie Andrew
Mark Ronson
Mike Crossey
Tom Dalgety

British artist video of the year
Adele - Hello
Calvin Harris & Disciples - How Deep Is Your Love
Ed Sheeran - Photograph
Ellie Goulding - Love Me Like You Do
Jessie J - Flashlight
Little Mix - Black Magic
Naughty Boy ft Beyonce & Arrow Benjamin - Runnin' (Lose It All)
One Direction - Drag Me Down
Sam Smith - Writing's On The Wall
Years & Years - King

International male solo artist
Drake
Father John Misty
Justin Bieber
Kendrick Lamar
The Weeknd

International female solo artist
Ariana Grande
Bjork
Courtney Barnett
Lana Del Rey
Meghan Trainor

International group
Alabama Shakes
Eagles of Death Metal
Major Lazer
Tame Impala
U2
There are odd moments of joy in the list - I think the thirty seconds of Courtney Barnett we get when they run through the international female shortlist is going to be the highlight of the ceremony.

But, ultimately, it's the presence of Amy Winehouse which makes this so frustrating. No offence to Amy, but... she's not exactly had the most creative 2015, has she? Yes, there was a movie about her, but the message "to be an exciting female star in British music in 2015, it helped if you'd been dead half a decade" isn't exactly making much of a claim for the scene, is it?

Although if the message to women artists is "you're better off dead", that's probably more encouraging than telling the men that they should be aspiring to be James Bay.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Goodbye, Spaceboy

That's been a hell of a day. You could hear Shaun Keaveny on 6Music trying to keep it as light as possible, but also trying to keep it together. The Today programme was noticeably less interested in the other stories it had to cover; the Archbishop of Canterbury's appearance to talk about the death pangs of the Anglican Communion was cut down.

Twitter - for a while, at least - was united in positive memories. (Tumblr, being Tumblr, less so).

And it's not that Tumblr didn't have a point, it's just that its timing was off - there's time to sift through the Nazi stuff, and the China Girl video, and Tin Machine and the period when he perhaps became detached from a sense of humour. But let's have a moment to fill out the pro column first, shall we?

Here's a quick round-up of some of the coverage from today that you might have missed:

OpenLearn remembering the Banc, the Bonds and the ISP

The Western Daily Press on Bowie at Glastonbury

Vox on Bowie's part in ending the Cold War

The Local (German news in English) takes a photo tour of Bowie's Berlin

The Evening Argus on Bowie's live album recorded in Falmer

Liverpool Echo on alteregos in pop, and 1977 gig photos

The New York Times on Bowie's impact on fashion

Atlas Obscura remembers The Laughing Gnome

Billboard catches up with Peter Schilling, who had a US hit with a "sequel" to Space Oddity

Bustle collects the best Bowie lyrics


Legendobit: David Bowie

The radio alarm clicked on this morning to the words "it's been announced in the last few minutes that David Bowie has died."

So the new album turns out to have been like a bush doing one last fruiting; a coda, not a rebirth.

Fuck.


Sunday, January 10, 2016

Bookmarks: Pop music

Jude Rogers has done a great piece for The Pool on why pop music is brilliant:

Pop music provides emotional links back to our earliest memories and experiences, for starters. Speaking personally, it takes me, The Mum, back to me as A Child, straightaway. (My first memory? Being allowed to wash the dishes with Grandma at two-and-a-half, singing along to ABBA's Super Trouper on the radio.) It also takes me back to my parents as parents, fitting my feet into their shoes. Oh, the times I'd tell my dad what was No 1 in the charts (like The Flying Pickets' cover of Yazoo's Only You in Christmas 1983 – probably the first Christmas I can blurrily remember). Oh, the times Mam would make car journeys better by playing her Sounds Of 1963 cassette (me wiggling my shoes to The Swinging Blue Jeans' Hippy Hippy Shake as we headed off on holiday). Music soundtracked my first impressions of these important people, and it's not a coincidence. It's the way we are wired.


Djobit: Ed "Stewpot" Stewart

Ed Stewart, known as "Stewpot", has died.

One of the many who made the leap from pirate radio to the starting line-up of Radio One, Stewart wound up doing Junior Choice for years, playing Nellie The Elephant and the like.

Ah, Junior Choice. It's become a cliche to cough the word "yewtree" when writing about any DJ from this era, but his own autobiography - reviewed by Danny Baker for Rocking Vicar - did leave "Junior Choice" seeming somewhat appropriately inapproiate:

"I met my wife when she was 13, in 1970…" P.146 (He was 34 at this point)

"…my wife started on my stomach – and nothing else! – when she was 13…" P.147

"I arrived (at her parents) at 7pm and was greeted at the door by what I can only describe as a 13 year old apparition! She was simply stunning." (P147)

"…(the following year, so 14 now) I travelled to Italy to see her. I had just split from Eve Graham of The New Seekers and so, as the song goes, I was "Free Again"! P153

He marries the poor girl when she is 17. Elsewhere –

"We played a charity football match at a girls' school in Lingfield. After the match we visited some of the boarders, who were mostly epileptic. The pupils had just reached puberty and the girls wouldn't let us out of the dormitory. We had to be rescued by the staff!" (P 177)
But it's not all schoolgirls and cheeky winks. Stewpot also finds space to record his contributions to British culture, as Baker records:
And consider this. When you or I get to 66 years old and might, in a drunken orgy of self congratulation actually toy with penning something for the ages about our brief flit across these shifting sands – how much space shall we allow to that one edition of "Celebrity Weakest Link" we pitched up on. A line? A mention in the fulsome notes at the back?

Try NINE FUCKING PAGES! Nine fucking pages in a large print volume devoted to who said what on an edition of "The Weakest Link". That's a full life examined alright, Stewpot!

I swear I got through two complete highlighter pens. Wendy had to call me five times for dinner. Me! For dinner! Five times!
At Christmas 2014, the Daly Express caught up with him for a 'where are the now' piece:
I’m in touch with some of the old faces, including David Hamilton, Paul Burnett and Tony Brandon. We’ll either meet socially or at a convention, such as the tribute to pirate radio in Zurich five years ago
Not entirely convinced that people you saw at effectively a works do half a decade count as people you're in touch with.

He was alright on Crackejack, though. His role was presenter, effectively a headmaster whose idea of dress-down-Friday was to wear a blazer rather than a suit jacket. But somebody had to prove


This week just gone

The most read 2015 stories, in case you're curious:

1. Brits liveblog
2. Eurovision liveblog
3. Suede at Glastonbury
4. Grooveshark finally sinks
5. Emily Ratajkowski can't see why all the fuss about Blurred Lines happened
6. Guido Fawkes is incensed that Charlotte Church has an accountant
7. The NME gives Noel Gallagher the cover again
8. The music industry's poor mental health record
9. Conor McNicholas: The post NME years
10. NME stops charging

These came out just before Christmas:


Jennylee - Right On!


Download Right On!



Grimes - Art Angels


Download Art Angels


Friday, January 08, 2016

The Dandy Warhols are doing something

The Dandy Warhols have made an album; something they haven't done for four years. They never quite split up, so it's not a comeback, but... It's a thing, anyway.


Remixes dragged back from the memory hole

It's not often you find yourself looking at a major label and thinking "that's a worthwhile thing to do", so let's raise our glowsticks to Universal, who have set to work collecting the billions of additional mixes that used to pad out 12 inch singles back in the 90s. They're then sticking them online for the first time:

“Key areas of our catalogue were unavailable to a modern audience, so there were lots of missing reference points to the younger fan on why electronic music sounds the way it does today,” said Universal’s Robin Jenkins.
Six reworkings of I Feel Love; the Mad Thatcher Disease remix of That Petrol Emotion's Hey Venus; four flavours of one-hit-wonder Crystal Water's Making Happy. It's a strange mixture, but worth a couple of minutes of a dig through.


Venuewatch: The Owl Sanctuary

Grim news from Norwich, where the cracking venue The Owl Sanctuary is closing. To make way for some redevelopment that "improves" an area by making it substantially worse. The venue's Facebook page has all the detail:

I had a call just before Christmas saying that our building has been sold to a property developer without me ever being told it was happening or given any notice what so ever as should have happened as per my lease.

Its still not really sunk in but I'll try and summarise.

After 2 years of hard work from my team and myself to create what has become one of the most respected and talked about DIY venues in the country my passion and dream has been kicked in the teeth, all we ever set out to do was create a community venue with a solid ethos that had great beer and great music and didn't have to sell its soul to provide that, it seems this day and age that's just not possible.

To make matters worse the person who has purchased the building is Richard Pratt, who owns the furniture store next door. His plan was always to knock down the back of that store, Warings (the old workshops and last remaining parts of the original cattle market) and build a huge block of flats which will be designed for upper class parasites such as himself to lock themselves away from the rest off the local community.
[...]
For me this just doesn't compute, people so filled with greed that they are willing to do that to fellow humans. All for bits of paper that they already have far too much of anyway.

That said we will close our doors for the final time on Jan 31st after a solid week of shows. Due to this bullshit I am currently in a position where I have invested a crazy amount of time and money in a venue and now have no clue about my future prospects or security for my family, nor do my friends who work here and have done for 2 years since the day we got the keys and started painting by iPhone torch as they power wasn't back on. So all we ask is please support us as much as you can until our closing date to help limit the financial damage this arsehole will inflict on us not to mention the damage to the local music scene, grass-roots touring and even the Norwich Soup Movement who are based upstairs here at The Owl.
There's a fightback brewing in the comments on the post - suggesting the venue be listed as an asset of community value, granting it protection. Good luck, guys.


Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Coachella: The dead shall rise and walk amongst us

This year's Coachella has announced its headliners, and the secret is out. I say "secret", it's been kept so poorly there are Motel Sixes which look down on it.

Guns N Roses and LCD Soundsystem are both returning from the dead to headline.

LCD Soundsystem's comeback is so soon after they stopped working as to probably count as a satire. The Roses is less satirical than inevitable.

Buckethead is keeping April clear, just in case.


Saturday, January 02, 2016

Jazzobit: Natalie Cole

Natalie Cole, who even in death never quite escaped being "the daughter of", has died.

I never understood why she didn't bill herself as Natalie Princess Cole. At least for a bit. You would, wouldn't you?

Her life had been pitted with ill-health and addictions, but she carried on performing through them all.

Natalie Cole died on New Years' Eve. She was 65.