Monday, September 26, 2016

Zos Kia: Pre-Coil uncoiled

You might have thought that everything that could have been re-released has already been re-released, and that we're now in an era where the reissue industry is just bringing things round for a second or third time.

But there are still gems waiting to be brought back to life:

Zos Kia was a group made up of Coil's John Balance, Mekon's John Gosling and Min, as well as occasional contributions from Throbbing Gristle's Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson. Their one and only album, Transparent, was released in cassette format in 1983 as the first released recordings of the group, even before any Coil music was released, by the now closed Austrian label Nekrophile.
As The Quietus reports, Transparent is about to get a reissue. Or, if you don't count tape-only releases, an issue.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

This week just gone

We've been on holiday - these were the recommendations before we went:

Slow Club - One Day All Of This Won't Matter

Download One Day...

The Oh Sees - A Weird Exits

Download A Weird Exits

Wild Beasts - Boy King

Download Boy King

Lisa Hannigan - At Swim

Download At Swim

Dinosaur Jr - Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not

Download Give A Glimpse

65daysofstatic - No Man's Sky

Download No Man's Sky

Saturday, September 24, 2016

They've been torn since Bros was cool

Your first instinct on hearing that Bros are reforming for a ten million quid tour is "ten million? Is it buggery going to be a ten million tour."

They've not even got Ken on board, right? (Craig Logan isn't coming back.)

But it's more an indication of how fucked the economy is - there's not going to be much profit in a Bros tour, but with interest rates now so low, they don't have to make much of a profit to make it worthwhile. Or at least a better investment than letting money sit in an account.

And, with the pound having been sunk by the Brexit vote, and much of the tour is in Europe, which ratchets up the relative costs in pounds.

So, the ten million pound comeback isn't suggesting that Bros are more popular than you thought. Just that ten million pounds is less than you'd hope.

Iron Maiden dump paper tickets

Iron Maiden have announced that their forthcoming tour is going to be "paperless":

Iron Maiden have announced their new UK tour will be their first in the country to use paperless tickets. Bruce Dickinson’s band are aiming to cut down the amount of tickets listed for “ludicrously inflated” prices on resale websites. Fans will not receive printed tickets for the group’s May arena tour, but will have to present photo ID and a credit card when they arrive at the show. “We do not want our fans being ripped off either by counterfeit tickets or through costly mark-ups on so-called secondary ticketing websites,” manager Rod Smallwood said in a statement.
It's the first UK paperless tour - although they did one in the US.

Not clear what happens if your change credit cards in the nine months between buying tickets and the gig, though. Or what happens if you plans change before the gig.

Puff drops a million to his alma mater

Puff Daddy has given a million dollars to the University he went to:

Puff Daddy has donated $1 million to the Howard University in Washington D.C.
Mr Daddy was a business student at Howard, and nowadays he's nudging close to be worth a billion.

If you wanted to be cynical, you might notice that he dropped out of the university after two years. But if Howard have their wits about them, they'd be running "if you can become a billionaire with just two years with us, imagine how great you'd be if you graduated" ads.

Nick Jonas is doing it for the art

Nick Jonas. He's had sex you know.

"Any time I approach writing a song I think about the fact that since I started having sex my creative life changed dramatically, and my ability to write a song with more genuine depth, more reality."
Any time? Really? Any session of songwriting starts with Nick thinking "I am great at sex, me. Probably the best at sex."
"Sexuality is important as an artist, to embrace and use it as ammunition in your creative life, and understanding that part of your life, and how it makes you feel."
There's nothing as wonderful as that moment when two people just click, and you're loading ammunition into your creative life. It's magical, isn't it?

Other careers: One Direction to 18 holes

Niall Horan has branched out since One Direction. Into, erm, golf:

The 1D star, who runs a golf talent agency, is off to Minnesota next week to act as cheerleader for the Europeans.

Niall, 23, told me: "I think I'm going to be involved with the Ryder Cup team to try to do a bit for them and help them concentrate on their golf.

I would have been going there anyway because the Ryder Cup is one of the ones you have to tick off the bucket list. I'm looking forward to it.
There's a lot going on here. If you care about golf so much you run a golf business, the idea that "going to the Ryder Cup" is just a bucket list item seems a bit weird - especially if you have a money-no-object lifestyle.

That's to say nothing of the idea that professional golfers at a major golfing tournament might need help to "concentrate on their golf"; or that the best way to help with this concentration is to have a pop star-turned-golfing Arthur Daly turn up.

And there's that vague "I think" - if it's next week, shouldn't you know whether or not you're going to be involved? Or will this come as news to the European golf team?

Monday, September 05, 2016

1Xtra ticket sale falls apart

You would have hoped that the BBC would have enough tech savvy to avoid a 'ticket sale fail', but...

Two hours ago they put their Liverpool 1Xtra tickets on sale:

And the system fell over almost instantly:

So they pulled the sale:

Trouble is... they'd already been on sale sort-of long enough to cause problems:

And that really needed a clear answer. But all it got was this:

- which doesn't really answer the 'you have taken my money, have I got tickets' question.

And, unsurprisingly, people are pissed off with not just the flop, but the lack of any real clarity about what's going on:

The BBC is struggling to keep an audience with younger people. This isn't the way to build that trust.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Jeremy Corbyn is taking on Napster

Today was Jeremy Corbyn's big digital plans launch. If we boil it down to 'I don't really understand this sort of thing but it's important so I guess we should do... something' it sort-of-all-works as a first stab.

But the detail. Oh, the detail:

Downloading music for free sounds fine, he says. But this means musicians do not get paid. That is why digital rights are so important. He says he has not produced the last word on policy on this yet.
Yes, much as some aspects of Corbyn's industrial policy are still based on the 1970s, his digital rights policy seems to be fixated on sometime around the first flush of Napster.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The X Factor - it's like a total amateur contest

The X-Factor. It's back, apparently. And busily giving a leg-up to acts who wouldn't stand a chance going through normal channels.

A group called Yes Lad did well in the opening weekend of the season.

I don't know this because I watched it - I know it because their, erm, agents sent me an email to tell me.

Two things.

First: what the hell is a group in a singing contest doing with agents already?

Secondly: Yes Lad isn't the name of a band. It sounds like a rejected Arthur Mullard catchphrase.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Jaime Harding goes inside

Sad to hear that Jaime Harding has been sent to prison - sad to hear that his life, which he had got back on track, has fallen apart again.

The band have issued a statement:

- AUGUST 2016 -

"It is with great sadness that we unfortunately have to inform Marion fans of Jaime's incarceration at Strangeways (HMP Manchester), following his arrest due to drugs earlier this year.

This forces us to now cancel the planned Marion live shows for 2016, which we had scheduled following prior notification that Jaime's case would not be dealt with until December.

Please accept our sincere apologies for the disappointment and any inconvenience caused, Jaime is devastated at this outcome and we can confirm that the Marion shows will be re-booked at the earliest opportunity upon Jaime's release. Please stay tuned to here and for updates.

In the meantime, we can end this statement on a positive, with the exciting news that Marion's UK Top 10 selling debut album 'This World and Body' will be reissued as a 3 CD Deluxe edition (with reissued Vinyl to follow) and Marion's Johnny Marr produced 2nd album 'The Program' will also be reissued as a 2 CD Deluxe edition, all through Demon Music Group's Edsel Records on 16th September 2016, with the CD Deluxe editions already available for pre-order on Amazon.

Following on from Edsel's Deluxe CD releases on 16th September, Demon Records will release a special 20th Anniversary Edition of Marion’s debut album 'This World and Body' on 180g Red Vinyl on 4th November 2016, which is now available to pre-order."
I'm not sure the best place to plug your reissues is a post about your lead singer being incarcerated because he burned his girlfriend's clothes when she refused to answer his calls, but I suppose more people will have visited the Marion website as a result of this news than would have come in the last year.

This week just gone

The most popular search terms so far this year:

1. No rock and roll fun
2. Is kt tunstall gay
3. Noel gallagher gay
4. Das psycho rangers
5. Simon bates
6. Drybaby
7. Suede glastonbury 2015
8. James blunt naked
9. Morrisons supermarket playlist
10. Amy Winehouse bondage

These had just come out the last time we updated the side bar:

Johnny Foreigner - Mono No Aware

Download Mono No Aware

Puro Instinct - Autodrama

Download Autodrama

O'Hooley & Tidow - Shadows

Download Shadows

Hellions - Opera Oblivia

Download Opera Oblivia

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Eurovision 2017: Already falling to pieces

To think we were all alarmed when Ukraine won Eurovision this year - would it make things tricky having them host?

We were worrying over nothing, I'm sure.

It'll all be going swimmingly:

It was supposed to be Eurovision's big announcement about exactly where next year's contest will be, but it went a bit wrong.

The 2017 competition is in Ukraine but the host city is yet to be decided.

Fans were told it would be revealed on Youtube Live at 2pm, Thursday, but it didn't happen.

Eurovision organisers said they needed to cancel until further notice and there was no immediate explanation as to what was going on.
So, there's no reason to worry at all. They'll come up with somewhere, I'm sure. I'm sure.

Everytime I turned on the radio, there was somebody else, singing a song about the two of us

Courtney Love believes that most of the songs written in the 1990s were about Courtney Love:

“I remember I used to date this movie star in the ‘90s and we were listening to KROQ,” she continued. “Of six songs in a row, five of them were about me. I told him that, and he was, ‘No, they aren’t!’ I was, ‘Yeah, they are. I dated every one of those guys, dude.’ He was like, ‘You’re such a slut!’”
You'd hope at this point that Courtney kicked the "movie star" in the nuts at the suggestion that having had a lot of songs written about her was "slutty"; the only thing you can really say it proves is that Love has a type.

But this is the 1990s, which wasn't the happiest of times for Courtney, so it's possible she's misremembering the story, or - perhaps more plausibly - that she's remembering something she thought happened. It's possible she was playing a Hole CD when this happened rather than listening to the radio.

Standon update

If you read the piece last week about how Standon Calling has somehow hit difficulties in returning money locked into its cashless wristbands, it probably won't surprise you to know that yesterday's promised deadline for returning the cash floated by again without a recharge.

Shrewed move, making the promise for the start of a Bank Holiday Weekend...

Labour: I pity the Foos

The Labour Party - increasingly the Freddie And The Dreamers of British politics - is having a torrid time of it at the moment, as it struggles to try and find a leader who can get through the day without making Theresa May giggle with joy.

In the midst of the current leadership election, the party is beset by the political version of Do You Remember Bagpuss - purges, entryism, jokes about Derek Hatton's suits. I'm half expecting to switch on the Ten O'Clock News to catch a package where Jamie Theakston, Kate Thornton and Stuart Maconie try to remember the lyrics to The Red Flag.

Ah, but purges are awkward things, and apparently a Labour Party member has been suspended for the oddest of reasons. At least according to the Daily Mail:

Labour has suspended a new member from the party and denied a vote in the leadership election after she posted about her love of rock band Foo Fighters on Facebook.

Catherine Starr, a supporter of Jeremy Corbyn, was shocked to receive a letter from the party's General Secretary Iain McNicol telling her that following a vetting procedure she was being refused full membership as she had 'shared inappropriate content on Facebook'.

It said this related to a post on March 5 when she had shared a clip of Dave Grohl's band and wrote 'I f****** love the Foo Fighters'.
We should approach this all with a level of caution - we're living in a weird period of politics where you can't even trust an old man sitting in a vestibule, and this is the Daily Mail whose last honest piece of reporting on the Labour Party was "Kinnock resigns".

To be honest, it's not clear that Starr was suspended over a Foo Fighters post - the Mail does concede she'd been sharing other prime content that day:
That day Mrs Starr, 33, had also shared a friend's inoffensive poster about animal free cosmetics and a cartoon about veganism.
You know how much the Mail loves animal rights, right?

It is possible that the NEC has some ongoing beef with the Foo Fighters. Or maybe they see "Foo Fighters" as some sort of code for those who have recently joined the Labour Party for nefarious purposes.

It's much more likely that a party which has raised the bar on disarray to a level which would be offputting to Ekateríni Stefanídi have made an honest mis... okay, a dishonest mistake. They probably got the day of the offending post wrong, or the name of the offending poster wrong, or maybe confused the Foo Fighters and Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds.

The party hasn't responded to the story yet, but almost certainly will deny it, admit it but say the details are wrong, look crossly over its spectacles at us, and pretend to never have heard of the Foo Fighters. All at the same time.

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.