Saturday, October 10, 2009

Ticketmaster/Live Nation - not so fast...

Given that, working on their own, Ticketmaster and LiveNation hardly work in the consumer's interest, it's perhaps unsurprising that the Competition Commission has come out against them uniting into one near-Monopoly.

Darkness at 3AM: Is this a set-up for a 'four bullets' gag?

I think I can spot a problem here, 3AM Girls:

Jackson 5 reunion as easy as ABC

... alhough you could possibly pull it off with a shovel and some string.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Georgia

Somewhat surprisingly, the FT takes us on a musical trip through Athens and Macon:

Macon does not seem, today, a likely setting for such seismic upheaval. It’s one of those small (population 100,000 or so) American cities whose downtown has been gutted by economic misfortune, leaving blocks of empty storefronts. But whether there is something in Macon’s air, or in the water of the Ocmulgee River, Richard wasn’t the last eruption from this source. Otis Redding was a native of Macon – his widow Zelma and daughter Karla ran a shoe shop on Cherry Street until last year. (Karla, who now runs the charitable foundation established in her father’s name, remembers a steady trickle of pilgrims visiting the shop: “They’d usually just stand there. Until mama asked ’em if they were gonna buy something.”)

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Green shoots

There is good news for the economy - at least in the West Midlands - and delivering it is Gennaro Castaldo:

Other big name retailers including HMV also announced recruitment drives in the West Midlands today. HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said all stores, including branches in Walsall, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Birmingham, would be almost doubling their staffing levels until January.

“We’re looking at up to 150 fixed-term seasonal colleagues in the area,” he said.

Good news all round. Except, erm, for the 150 job losses in early January. But what green shoot can survive the cruel slap of deep winter?

Friday, October 09, 2009

Format madness: SlotRadio

Flicking through American Airline's SkyMall I came across SanDisk's bemusing SlotRadio being pushed. I can kind-of see the brainstorm which led to idea - how do we sell the idea of mp3 players to people who don't really want to spend time working out how to download music onto the device - but is that even a market segment worth aiming at?

The product is small player into which you stick the SlotRadio cards - each has 1,000 songs on, and are - of necessity - the equivalents of those TimeLife themed box sets, so come in flavours like 'rock', 'country'. And, erm, that's it. You can swap the cards out, but that's it.

Sure, there might be enough people who don't want to piss about making digital mix collections and uploading them to a fiddly little iPod - but how many of those are going to be persuaded to spend a hundred bucks on a fiddly little player instead?

Downloadable: Au Revoir Simone

As a curtain-raiser to Au Revoir Simone's new single, Another Likely Story, the band are pumping free remixes out into the internet. There's one from Aeroplane and another from Neon Indian. Enjoy, but buy the single proper.

Little Boots adds three

Three new dates slapped on the end of the Little Boots tour a couple of hours ago - rush, rush, the tickets won't last long*:

10 December Manchester Academy 2
11 December London, Shepherd's Bush Empire
12 December Leeds, University Stylus

* - although, given the way sales have been in larger towns in the North, the Leeds and Manchester ones might a bit.

Bunnymen against Kenickie

I yield to nobody in my admiration for Ian McCulloch - god alive, I even bought the Electrafixion album - but if he comes round here having a pop at Lauren Laverne, there's going to be trouble:

Do you like the Culture Show? "It's about time they had us on it. The Bunnymen are culture. Can they not see it? But where the fuck does that Lauren Laverne get off? Where does she get off presenting a programme about 'culture' when she was in that fucking abysmal band Kenickie! And there is another Northern imbecile too ... can't remember her name but she's starting to resemble a pterodactyl."

Oh, Ian, oh, Ian, oh Ian.

Mac is also a bit annoyed about Melvyn Bragg, too:
"Don't give a damn. I hate that Melvyn Bragg! What a divvy. He's just one of those Northern imbeciles, isn't he? Did you see that South Bank Show about Morrissey? It was just rubbish. And when he referred to the Velvet Underground as the Velvets. Fuck off, they're called the Velvet Underground not the Velvets, how dare he! And besides, they never had the Bunnymen on the South Bank Show."

Yes, you should never refer to a band by a popularly-used nickname rather than the full title you'd find on the record sleeve. You'd never get one of, erm, The Bunnymen making such a mistake.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Age Of Chance

You don't have to be Prince if you want to dance/ you just have to get down with the Age Of Chance...

Exciting to hear that avant-avant-mashers Age Of Chance are having their back catalogue brought to the internet; even more exciting is that they've done an interview with The Guardian about it:

It was while recording a session for Peel that the band decided to tackle Kiss, which was still in the charts. "We changed the lyrics, which was against the law," Taylor says. "We basically removed the sex and replaced it with lump hammers." Released as a single by Sheffield's FON label, the rapped, feedback-drenched cover was their biggest hit: but their moment of cut'n'paste glory – a remix called Kisspower which included chunky samples of Prince's original and Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA – brought the first inklings that their brand of innovation might not be an easy sell.

"When we went to Virgin from FON, they wanted to try to release it," Elvidge recalls. "But we played it to the head of Virgin America, and when it went into the Bruce Springsteen bit, he visibly blanched. And that was pretty much that." Only 500 white label 12in copies of the track were ever pressed: Taylor bought one in the 90s from an eBay seller in New York.

Aerosmith wouldn't want to change a thing

Having - through no fault of their own - let down fans while Steve Tyler's broken bones healed, it's wonderful to see that Aerosmith are pulling themselves back on stage for the people who really matter: a corporate for Oracle:

The group will perform a private concert next week at a San Francisco convention sponsored by Oracle Corp, the software giant run by billionaire Larry Ellison.

"Aerosmith is a go," Oracle spokeswoman Karen Tillman said.

You can't let down the guys at the convention; some of them will have been waiting for months looking forward to the moment when Aerosmith cash the large cheque after playing a half-arsed set to a barely-interested room of people waiting for that guy from Idaho to get drunk enough to propose an illicit, convention-based fumble.

In other Aerosmith news, Joe Perry is striking out with a solo career in case Tyler's hips are no longer up to it full-time. That he's not felt the need to make a solo record in the last forty years might suggest just how compelling this is all going to be.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Griffin done... David Cameron

Oh, lord help us. Zoe Griffin has gone all political on us:

I don’t write that much about politcs, but I am shocked by the Mirror’s front page ’scandal’ of David Cameron holding a glass of Champagne at the Conservative party conference in Manchester.

You mean after all the briefings in advance of the conference have been stressing how the Tories aren't at all triumphant and won't be seen guzzling champers while cutting public spending and grabbing money back from benefits?

You don't think it's a strong visual metaphor which deftly deflates George Osbourne's claims that "we're all in this together"?
Ok, the photo was taken on the day that Tory chancellor George Osborne announced economic policy, but was there nothing else happening in the world that merited front page news?

Yes, couldn't the Mirror have picked up on one of the other stories you carry, Zoe, like a free dress you got or one of Girls Aloud having their photo taken?
Firstly, Cameron was photographed at The Spectator magazine party. That is a magazine whose tagline is ‘Champagne for the brain’. The magazine publishers bought the Champagne and handed it to Cameron - he didn’t pay for it himself. And is he drinking it? No! He’s holding it!

Ah, yes. It's better if he guzzles someone else's champagne, because that makes it alright. Obviously, if you receive benefits without working, that's bad, but champagne is fine.

And he's only holding it. How do we even know he's going to drink it? He could be about to stride to the sinks and pour the stuff away. Or he might be about to give it to a homeless person on a bicycle.
Secondly, the alleged scandal comes from the fact that George Osborne announced plans to bring in a one year pay freeze for public sector workers. However, what they also need to point out is people earning under £18K will be exempt from the ban. Plus there will be direct cuts to ministers’ pay.

Given that most of the Tory front bench have already amassed fortunes, they can afford the odd cut in their own wages. And it's not just public sector workers who are having their money reduced in real terms by Osbourne's plans - what about the people on incapacity benefit who are going to be forced back onto JSA, losing twenty five quid a week?
Thirdly, when you really look at Osborne’s speech he didn’t actually spell out HOW he would get the economic deficit under control. If The Mirror wanted to have a go at anyone, they should have directly challenged Osborne.

Well, perhaps they should. But given how dumb the tabloids have got - in part because they've employed slews of simpering idiots to write about Lily Allen's hemlines instead of investing in their political coverage - a front page of detailed economic analysis isn't going to play well, is it? One with words on?
FINALLY, I like a leader who enjoys the finer things in life like Champagne. Why drink beer when you can have Champagne?

Because the theme of the conference is meant to be avoiding looking triumphant and pretending that we're all going to have difficult times ahead.
Tip Of The Day: Don’t criticise unless you have all the facts!

Perhaps Zoe is being satirical.

Streaming now: Mountain Goats

You have twenty-four hours - minus, erm, some - to enjoy the gift of Mountain Goats new album streaming out the front of Stephen Colbert in full.

Gordon in the morning: Fashion logistics

If I've followed Gordon's coverage of Paris fashion week correctly, he's reporting Lily Allen and Katy Perry not meeting in Paris as the result of some sort of superhuman effort:

But organisers had been forced to work diplomatic magic behind the scenes to ensure that I Kissed A Girl singer Katy was not there.

Because they - apparently - don't get on, which means Katy was forced to not go. Although if they don't go on, it's difficult to see why Katy would have gone in the first place to add more lets-call-it-glamour to Allen's show.

'Woman doesn't go to watch woman she doesn't like'? Hold the front page.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Arrests in Noah And Whale case theft case

Apparently, a lot of the kit is still missing, but Greater Manchester Police have made arrests following the theft of Noah And The Whale's stuff.

Metalobit: Michael Alexander

The bassist with Evile, Michael Alexander, has died.

It's believed he died from the effects of a blood clot.

Alexander had joined the Huddersfield-based metal act in 2000, shortly after they formed. At that time, they were trading as Metal Militia and performing covers, but after four years they decided to knock that on the head. Evile was the new shape of the band, making their own music - and with enough success to land a deal with Earache records.

Having spent most of 2008 promoting debut album Enter The Grave, the band went back into the studio this February to work on a new collection, Infected Nations. It was while promoting this record in Sweden that Alexander fell ill.

Michael Alexander was 32.

Darkness at 3AM: Frappobeatles

I've scratched my head, and tried and tried to work out what this 3AM Girls sentence means:

Well it's only fitting... Goldfrapp have written the score for the forthcoming film Nowhere Boy, about the early life of John Lennon.

Surely the idea of Goldfrapp writing a score for a Lennon movie is intentionally picking an act which doesn't seem to be the obvious choice? Perhaps the "only fitting" is a reference to the music being recorded at Abbey Road:
We're told: "The soundtrack was recorded at Abbey Road studios, which the guys loved."

But if so, wouldn't the "fitting" remark fit better at the end?

The ol-factor

I can just about see the thinking behind an X Factor perfume - the sweet smell of quickly fading success in a bottle.

What seems odd is producing a range themed around the judges. Yes, splashing Cheryl Cole and Minogue about might be attractive; maybe even Cowell might attract a certain sort of man.

But who would want to put themselves into this scenario:

- Darling?
- Yes, darling?
- Is there a funny smell in here?
- I don't... think...
- Like a desperate pantomime dame waving the wrong end of a shitty stick about in a bucket of sweat?
- Oh! I'm wearing Louis Walsh toilet water

Gordon in the morning: Inspector remorse

The trouble with the long line of stories promoting Robbie Williams' new record is that they're now starting to contradict each other.

So the idea that Robbie Williams only checks into rehab when he's staring death in the eyes? Today, it turns out that he actually went to rehab because he couldn't cope with the job he's paid for:

He added: "I felt great when I started to promote a record but it soon began to kill me.

"I felt worse when on tour. I suffered a nervous breakdown and checked into rehab."

In the same story (not entirely clear why) Gordon exposes Dizzee Rascal's love of history:
DIZZEE RASCAL was filming the video for single Dirty Cash in London yesterday while dressed in a top hat and morning coat.

He shares scenes with a woman dressed as MARGARET THATCHER and suffragettes with huge boobs.

It's what Sylvia Pankhurst was working for, you know.

Monday, October 05, 2009

Muse haven't asked Beck to shut up

Further to the earlier piece about Muse asking Glenn Beck to disendorse them, it now seems that Beck was only joking when he said he'd been asked to stop praising them:

Christopher Balfe, the president and COO of Beck's company, Mercury Radio Arts, released a statement clarifying the situation. "After raving about Muse for four minutes, Glenn made a joke about their representatives e-mailing him to stop," Balfe wrote. "While it is entirely possible that Muse does not like having Glenn as a fan, he was making a joke and their representatives never reached out to him."

In fact, it turns out that Muse aren't prepared to say anything at all:
When asked for a response to the retraction of the fake retraction, a spokesperson for the band said there would be no comment from the Muse camp.

So last week, Matt Bellamy was all for revolution and overthrowing things. Now he can't even be arsed to disassociate himself from Glenn Beck.

Guns N Roses sued in copyright case

Reuters is reporting the launch of a lawsuit by two indie labels against Guns N Roses:

Two independent record labels sued U.S. rock band Guns N' Roses for $1 million, claiming the group used portions of two songs by a German musician on their last album "Chinese Democracy."

Guns N' Roses and Universal Music Group's Interscope-Geffen A&M label were sued by British label Independiente and the U.S. arm of Domino Recording Company, who own the licensing rights to songs by German electronic musician Ulrich Schnauss.

We'd normally mumble about this sort of thing, but - just in abstract - if there was a million dollars you could give to either Domino and Independiente or to Axl Rose, there's no question who would do more good with the money.

Rumours that Rose intends to counter-sue Schnauss for taking too long to produce the work for him to plagiarise cannot be confirmed at time of publishing.

Method fails for filing taxes

If you've got a name like Method Man, you'd hope you'd back it up with a decent filing system at the very least. But it looks like Mr. Man's filing is all awry, as it turns out he's forgotten to pay taxes for four years. He now has to find thirty thousand dollars and faces up to four years inside.

Downloadable: My Tiger My Timing

Hook and The Twin get their, um, hooks - and twins - into the forthcoming My Tiger My Timing single I Am The Sound. It's on YouSendIt, and official and allowed.

Chris TT tours out

Chris TT has updated his list of coming dates with the addition of some sets in support of Broken Family Band. This is the diary, then:

10 October London Flowerpot Lexapalooza Lite (raising money for Breast Cancer Campaign)

21 London The Garage
22 Sheffield Academy 2
23 Liverpool Academy 2

24 Cardiff Swn Festival 2009
25 Oxford Jericho Tavern
26 Aberdeen The Tunnels
27 Glasgow Nice N Sleazy
28 London Flowerpot
30 Cheltenham Walk The Line 09

14 November London Brixton Academy Jamm – with Carter USM (full band show)
21 Brighton West Hill Hall

Swine flu grounds Backstreet Boys

I'm not sure what is more puzzling: that anyone still bothers to issue press releases saying they've got swine flu...

The Backstreet Boys are sad to announce they have cancelled today's NYC PINKTOBER Hard Rock Café signing due to member, Brian Litrell having been diagnosed with the Swine Flu. The other 3 members, Nick Carter, Howie Dorough and AJ McLean have seen a doctor and are not showing any symptoms.

... or that a four-piece band is unable to sign stuff if one of them is missing. Does Brian look after the vowels or something? Is he the only one who knows how to get the lid off the Sharpie?

Playing soon: Dean and Britta

Yes, that's what it looks like. Click bigger if you don't believe me. Dean & Britta - yes, Luna D&B, Galaxie 500 D&B - are doing a special one-off London show. At St Giles In The Fields Church. November 18th.

Beyonce "breaks silence" on West

Well, how would you feel if you were the unwilling third party in a publicity stunt that misfired like a '78 Ford Escort struggling with two-stroke petrol in slow-moving traffic?

Of course Beyonce felt she had to say something, but what, but what?

In the end, inspiration strikes. Just make some noises. It's what Whitney would do, isn't it?

"Well, I knew his intentions, and I knew he was standing up for art; and he told me before, when they said the nominees, he's like, 'You have this award,'" Beyoncé told O: The Oprah Magazine editor Gayle King after accepting her award. "And when they didn't call my name he was, like, completely shocked. And when he walked on the stage, I was like, 'No, no, no!' and then he spoke, and I was like, 'Oh, no, no, no!'

And we were like "huh huh huh?" and O was all "ooh, ooh, ooh", and everyone was going like "mmmm."

Still, it wasn't all bad, was it:
"But in the end, it ended up being a great night, and Taylor Swift did get her moment," she continued. "And I didn't have to make an acceptance speech."

So, all's well that ends well, if you ignore Taylor's "moment" having been completely overwritten in history by Kanye's prescripted "moment".

Streaming: Editors is streaming the new Editors album through a We7-y widget.

Them Crooked Vultures: No pictures, please

It's something of a forlorn hope on the part of Promowest that they can turn back the tide of technology.

People going to see Them Crooked Vultures (John Paul Jones, Dave Grohl, Josh Homme and a desperate hope that people don't see the words 'supergroup' as a dire warning) are being told to leave their cameras at home:


Back in the 1980s, sure, you could spot someone with a camera and bully them. But when everyone at the gig will have a phone with a camera built in, how is this even going to work?

Beck off: Muse ask Glen to retract

As if it wasn't bad enough that he's just led to Waitrose dumping advertising on Fox in the UK, Glenn Beck has now had to withdraw his endorsement of Muse:

He described the album as "absolutely fantastic" and interpreted the album's political lyrics as an attack on the Obama institution and the dangers of "one world government".

He said: "These guys are brilliant, they know the time that we live in. They are libertarians from England.

"All of the lyrics are... dead on, on what's coming our way."

Oh, dear. Muse asked him to recant, and he did (although The Quietus doesn't mention if he sobbed as he did so):
They would like me to retract my endorsement," said Beck. "My apologies to Muse for saying that I like them. I didn't mean to destroy all their credibility and all their coolness.

"It's an awful album and you should never go out and buy it."

Of course Beck made it sound like the band were upset at being endorsed by a big ole square, rather than rejecting a political misrepresentation of their beliefs by a hectoring blowhard. But then he's a man who wouldn't be able to keep things straight if he had a plumb line and set square stapled to his forehead.

Perhaps if he'd found out about Matt Bellamy's desire for internet users to be taxed, he might never have mistaken them for libertarians in the first place.

[UPDATED: It turns out this is all Glenn Beck's idea of a joke.]

Such a good thing: Woodentops return

It's not, strictly speaking, a complete return (they were doing stuff a couple of years ago) but it is a return to playing live: The Woodentops will be playing the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the South Bank on October 30th

Pete Wentz: Emo no mo'

Pete Wentz is now, officially, no longer emo because he's knocking thirty, worth squillions of dollars and a mainstream entertainerhe's cut off his hair.

Downladable: New Yorke

From You Ain't No Picasso, four new songs by Thom Yorke, performed in LA.

Darkness at 3AM: Has Cowell really only taken half a century to bring us JLS?

You will, naturally, have heard the tales of Simon Cowell's fiftieth birthday party, a glittering, star-studded event. How do you sum up such a historical event? How to grasp the cultural significance of the celebration of a man, without whom, it's likely Piers Morgan would have vanished into the relatively obscurity his talent would suggest? How would a writer manage to sketch the idea of the corona this day offers to our culture?

the 3AM Girls have a crack:

It's the sign of a proper knees-up... Myleene Klass staggered into her waiting car, bare-footed, with her shoes goodness knows where.

Myleene Klass got a bit tiddly and took her shoes off. In a hundred years, such an event will be endlessly recreated in an attempt to try and capture the spirt of this oh-too-belle epoque.

Gordon in the morning: Trouble in paradise

Hard to believe - mainly because of where it's being reported - but the new-look Sugababes might already be cracking:

The barney kicked off last Friday at a photoshoot in North London when AMELLE BERRABAH's mobile kept going off. It disrupted the session and upset HEIDI RANGE and new girl to the trio JADE EWEN.

This might just sound like the sort of thing that happens all the time in the workplace, but - according to Gordon, anyway - it took a two-hour hiatus before things got moving again.

Elsewhere, Gordon proves he's not one to follow the herd, as he turns out to be the only person in the entire world to find Madonna and Lady GaGa's Saturday Night Live sketch in any way amusing.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Eminem and Apple make peace

Eminem's publishing team, Eight Mile Style, and Apple, have come to an agreement over the Em's complaints that Apple had no right to be selling his music, Variety is reporting.

No word on what the deal is, but the smart money is that the millions of dollars demanded won't be turning up anywhere.

Downloadable: Catherine AD

In a straight tracks-for-email swap, Catherine AD is offering a-track-a-day from her bedroom sessions. They're what she was doing in her room when she was meant to be revising for her literature finals. And, happily, that's what they sound like.

Folkobit: Mercedes Sosa

Mercedes Sosa, Argentinian folk singer, has died at the age of 74.

Using a pseudonym - Gladys Osorio - Sosa accidentally embarked on her career when she won a radio talent show in 1950 (making her the Will Young of her time and place, only good.) Quickly finding an audience, she would become one of the nuevo cancionero movement which offered a 1970s Latin American home-grown counterpoint to the influences coming from the North. Her committed, left- and communist-supporting music made her unpopular as Argentina slumped into its era of political repression and, following an incident when she and her entire audience were detained, she left her homeland.

"I knew I had to leave," Sosa told the AP. "I was being threatened by the Triple A (a right-wing death squad that terrorized suspected dissidents during the 1976-83 military junta). The people from the navy, the secret services were following me."

After time wandering Europe, Sosa returned to Argentina in 1982 as the junta fell.

In her work over half a century, she released more than 70 albums.

Sosa's family announced her death earlier today. She had been suffering from liver, kidney and heart problems.

This is Sosa performing María Elena Walsh's Como La Ciggara:

Glastonbury tickets update

According to Emily Eavis and her stream of tweets, there's still Glastonbury tickets available - 0844 412 4635 on the telephone, or you could try the website. Although, as is now tradition, that's fallen over.

It's not even surprising that Twitter is full of stuff like this:

i have no idea if ive Glastonbury tkts, im 90% sure, but as the booked crashed, im just waiting for email confirmation now!

and this
Still no Glastonbury email. Might be time to go back to bed and stop worrying for a while

Year after year, the booking system fails to support the level of interest. Presumably since it doesn't mean nobody turns up, that's why they don't bother making it work, even though they must know the load levels they should be having to cope with?

This week just gone

September's most-popular things were:

1. Los Campesinos - mp3 download
2. RIP: Jake Brockman
3. Lily Allen withdraws from copyright battles
4. Kings Of Leon issue needy press release
5. James Blunt loves Lily Allen
6. Wogan quits Radio 2 breakfast
7. Madonna uses kids to shift product
8. RIP: Wycliffe Johnson
9. Phil Collins quits the drums
10. Courtney Love takes to Twitter to deny involvement in computer-game Cobain

This bunch came out this week:

Fanfarlo - Reservoir

Hope Sandoval & The Warm Inventions - Through The Devil Softly

download Through The Devil Softly

Sharon Shannon - Saints And Scoundrels

download Saints And Scoundrels

Stephen 'Where's The TinTin' Duffy - Memory & Desire

download The Ups And Downs

Ian Brown - My Way

download My Way

Maps - Turning The Mind

download Turning The Mind

Kill Hannah - Wake Up The Sleepers

KRS One & Buckshot - Survival Skills

Chromeo - DJ Kicks