Wednesday, January 07, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Facts and Fifty edition
It's been a week where most of mainstream coverage of matters pop has been little more than a straight copying out of press releases - thus, almost every paper that covered it reported as fact the claim that "music downloads have almost halved as a result of the RIAA fines", despite this being wrong in almost every respect, not least of which the "falling by half" claim - a survey of one and half thousand web users in the States is a patchy sample for an activity apparently enjoyed by six million Americans; the RIAA has settled out of court with some filesharers but nobody has actually been fined yet; and if illgeal downloads are falling, it might be as much due to the novelty wearing off or the entry of legitimate services as the RIAA legal action. But that, of course, would require an element of reportage rather than cutting and pasting from press releases, so it went largely unremarked - although, to be fair, the Christian Science Monitor did make a half-decent hand to trying to be balanced.

Likewise, back in Britain, the changing of the lard at Radio One's breakfast show was met with a general willingness to accept the standard line: Moyles has replaced Cox because Cox's audience was falling. Which would be fine, although, as Sara Cox pointed out in her Observer interview, in the last quarter Moyles' drivetime figures tanked far worse than her morning audience had. Indeed, you could argue that Radio One has moved Sara Cox to teatime in a bid to try and save the 3.00 slot. Not that many of the papers seemed that bothered - the Daily Express even reported as news Moyles' claims that he was "the saviour of radio one", despite him banging on with that catchphrase since he first pitched up on the nation's favourite. Curiously, under his saviourship the network's audience has seemed to be plummeting.

On his first morning, The Guardian ran a large interview with Chris, in which he explained how he insisted to the boss (Andy Parfitt) on being able to do what he wanted in the breakfast slot: "I said, 'You need to be able to trust that I'm not going to drop you in the shit.' And Andy said, 'No, I've already thought about that.' I've proved to him that I'm not just some maverick little upstart disc jockey from Leeds." Rather a bold claim from a bloke who's featured more frequently in the Broadcasting Standards Commission Complaints Bulletin than he has in the music press - including being slapped down for offering to take Charlotte Church's virginity when she reached sixteen.

If they'd really wanted a safe pair of hands, they should have moved Steve Lamacq up to the Breakfast Show - in his Guardian diary this week he reveals his struggles to ensure he didn't accidently correctly back announce Selfish Cunt on his Monday night show.

In an NME which still smells strongly of "here's one we prepared well before Christmas", we're promised fifty (fifty, count em) amazing new bands. "New" is a slightly stretchy term - it seems to mean in some cases "quite well established bands we've been too busy with Jet to give proper coverage to", but it'd be churlish not be smile a little to see Franz Ferdinand on the cover, even if one of them is wearing a very horrible orange shirt.

The big picture is, erm, some people at a Libertines New Year's eve gig (you can just bet they were hoping Jack White could beat the shit out of someone else before press time) - as it is, they have to make do with White's mug shot. The Prosecutor bringing the case against him suggested that his attack on Jason Strollsteimer "would have continued had several of the bystanders not pulled him off." Probably a quick peck on the cheek would have done, but I suppose you don't get many opportunities when Jack's so preoccupied with what he's doing to get the chance.

Great news for the Beagle2 project: they might not have heard from their space probe yet, but sometimes patience can pay off: Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler have just had their first contact after ten years of silence - and lets not forget the frozen wastes of their working relationship made them more distant than merely the next planet along. Suede insiders are begging everyone to leave them space to get used to each other again. So far, the Daily Mirror and The Sun have both respected their wishes.

Peter Robinson this week meets Richard X. "It's me watching some schoolgirls on TV, with my sausage dog." Hmm. Mr. Robinson needs to have a word with whoever subbed his piece, though, as the NME's hitherto unknown Woolies Ed interjects with the claim that "Woolworths has always been a US company" - not in the UK, actually; the UK business was bought from the American parent company in 1982.

Useful fact in nme letters page shock: the last Travis single only got to 48. Indeed, it made such a small plop, we and nobody but - apparently - Frank Black of Paris noticed. There's also an angry gay man letter from Gareth Howe of Worthing, angry that Scissor Sisters were described as "gayer than Graham Norton having a picnic on Clapham Common with Elton John" and angry that the Bo Selecta piece was just full of jokes about anal sex. Alex Needham doesn't quite send him packing - in fact, if it wasn't for Alex being able to open his response "As a gayer myself...", then his pay off of 'how can we be homophobic? We voted Rufus wainwright's album sixth best of last year' might have just made matters a million times worse.

Peaches turns up as NME's new sex therapist. Although, unfortunately, rather than real problems it's all "GG from Bradford" talking about having fucked Jordan and so on, so Peache's usefull advice - "free the lactating woman! the ear is the new ass!" which would be more fun if they were real people's problems she's solving. C'mon, Smash Hits lets the likes of bloody Liberty X offer advice to real readers... Although I think we can now, basically offer a summary of Peache's standard response to every problem: If you ain't got a dick to fuck it better with, you need a strap on.

So, fifty bands, eh? Last year, the nme was recommending Kings Of Leon, Sleepy Jackson, 50 Cent and, um, Clipse. So, who do we have this year? Deep breath...

The Futureheads -"cybermen"; Kasbian - "mad"; My Red Cell - "eccentro-energy"; Hope of the States - "post-orchestral"; The Zutons - "zombie soul music"; MC Shystie -"grime-rhymer"; Lady Sovereign - "teeny-tiny"; Lloyd Banks - "razor-sharp"; Supercat - "rizzle jamaican shizzle"; Kiley dean - "Britney backing"; Kayne West - "seeringly soulful beats"; Wiley - "eski"; Dios - "obsessed with the Beach Boys"; Icarus Line/Ima Robot/The Bronx/The Fuse/The Stitches/Hello Fever/The Rolling Blackouts//The Fallen/Irving - LA is the new Detroit/New York; The Ordinary Boys - "to 2004 what the Jam were to 1979"; Eastern Lane - "raucous"; Yourcodenameis:milo - "post-rock geordies"; Chikinki - "evil electro-punk"; The Glitterati - "signed"; The Open - "out"; The Engineers - "and about" (some of the write ups are very vague indeed); Thirteen Senses - "fellow Pack newcomers" (oh, yes, did we mention "The Brit Pack" as a coinage for a new scene that isn't?); The Killers - "near invincible"; VHS or Beta - "daft punks with live instruments"; Selfish Cunt - "racket"; Hot Chip - "gameboy R&B"; HAL - "MOR"; Keane - "recalls Tears For Fears"; Grand National - "sounds like the Police" (um... have we suddenly switched to listing bands who sound as if they should have instruments removed from their persons?); Lil' Jon - "crunk" (southern hip-hop, since you ask); TI - "crunk"; Bone crusher - "crunk"; David Banner - "Citizen Kane to crunk's animal house"; Young Bloodz - "more crunk"; The Bronx - "party hardcore"; Part Chimp - "loudest band in the world"; The Constantines - "Fugazi/U2"; Rye Collection - "New Jersey"; Unlce John & Whitelock/ The Owsley Sunshine/Dogs Die In Hot Cars/Sluts of Trust/Kain - Glasgow is the new Madchester or Oswestry or wherever - and - roll on the drums - Franz Ferdinand, the "best new band in Britain": "camp-as-Christmas disco-drill".

In the midst of all this, there's a report of a growing underground campaign to try and force Shed Seven to reform. Seriously, boys, it won't require all this effort of dolphin masks and chanting - a thruppence increase in the price of strong lager and the work down the builder's yard drying up, and Rick Witter will be on the phone booking the back room in the Roundhay Park Tavern before you know.

We wondered last week who the hell would want eight Oasis posters. This week, it's the musically gifted but physically repulsive Kings of Leon given all 8 full-page glossy shots - and they're rubbish backstage candid snaps too. it's the poster pullout equivalent of being shown someone from your office's snaps of their ski-ing holiday in Vail. But with beards.

reviews
live
the libertines - kentish town forum - "raise a glass to them now", 9
mondo generator - mean fiddler - "like slipping on somebody else's puke and falling downstairs onto a pile of broken glass", 7

albums

ryan adams - love is hell part one - "at times flirting with cliche", 9
ryan adams - love is hell part two - "... sometimes even flirting with other people", 9
the ladybug transistor - the ladybug transistor - "you do yearn for a hint of red meat, but...", 7
grimspoon - new detention - "only a few notches down from 'I like the pope, the pope smokes dope tshirts", 5

singles
sotw - franz ferdinand - take me out - "super fantastitisch"
kinky disco - runaway together - " [has] ambitions to be a ladytron single when it grows up"


Karl Hyde from Underworld loves... Lou Reed and says 'New York' (which we think is the best thing the grumpy old git has ever done, ourselves) is a major factor in how he writes words.

And, finally, thanks to Johnny Dee for the kind words in this weekend's Guardian Guide. Now I feel even more guilty for never quite getting round to ordering Especially Yellow...


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