Saturday, November 14, 2009

JLS too much for West Midlands police to handle

According to Twitter, it looks like the big turn-on of Christmas Lights in Birmingham has been cancelled by West Midlands Police, who were afraid they couldn't control the crowds who'd turned out to catch a glimpse of JLS.

Twittergem: Matthew Mills

From @Spacemanmills:

Downtown Bar in LV. Me to waitress: Where can I find an indie rock bar with Sonic Youth or Pavement on a jukebox? Waitress: Williamsburg

George Best Weekend: What Did Your Last Servant Die Of?

Acoustic, in a record shop in Hamburg:

[Part of George Best weekend]

Sweden's internet piracy rate recovers

Last spring, when Sweden enacted legislation to allow copyright businesses to demand personal details of file sharers, the music and film companies trilled excitedly to see the level of web traffic in the country drop by a third. This, apparently, was a sign that pirates had been frightened off and everything would be alright.

Turns out it was a temporary effect, as traffic has returned to pre-Intellectual Property Rights Enforcement Directive levels. All that lobbying, all that money spent, and the end result was a few months of reduced internet traffic. If they weren't so insufferable, you could almost feel sorry for the RIAA companies, couldn't you?

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: X Factor sells records

The Guardian investigates if The X Factor is killing music, and naturally, a call to HMV's Factor factotum is required:

In a further innovation this year, the Sunday results show has been built around other artists promoting their own singles, leading to a previously unforeseen scale of chart dominance. "In an age when there are very few truly mass-audience platforms left, the X Factor has become pivotal for those labels and artists seeking to reach a family-based audience," says Gennaro Castaldo of HMV, one of the few music retailers that retains a high-street presence. "As soon as an artist goes on, almost overnight we tend to see a huge surge in demand for their single or album, initially via downloads, but then over the course of the following week via physical CD sales instore and online."

Album sales, he says, "can double or treble or increase by even more, so much so that a good chunk of our marketing and planning at this time of year tends to revolve around the show now".

An ingenue might ask why, if the presence of the band on the show is enough to drive all these sales, HMV are wasting their time on further promotion rather than helping something that might need a bit more of a leg-up. But then we're not in charge of a store which is just coming to the end of having its growth figures boosted by the closure of two major competitors.

Embed and breakfast man: George Best weekend

It's cold, it's raining, it's gloomy. What better response than to dip into an albums' worth of comfort food. The Wedding Present's George Best is the Heinz Big Soup of comfort food albums.

Originally released in 1987, and subsequently revised with extra tracks both on CD release and then in a 20th anniversary version. The first 3,000 were sold with the extra inducement of a free plastic bag. To be fair, this was back when you needed something to carry music home in.

Because these things are just flung together on a whim and contain no proper research at all, I'm not sure if all the original tracks will be available in performance on YouTube, but I'm feeling pretty confident with this one.

Track one, Everyone Thinks He Looks Daft, certainly is:

I'm guessing most of the live versions are going to come from the 20th anniversary tour.

George Best on CD
George Best on comparatively over-priced mp3

Hopefully the tracklist will grow over the weekend
What Did Your Last Servant Die Of?
Don't Be So Hard
A Million Miles
All This And More
My Favourite Dress
Something And Nothing
It's What You Want That Matters
Give My Love To Kevin
Anyone Can Make A Mistake
You Can't Moan, Can You?

The faux faux Sugababes

During the squabbles last month, the Sugababes Organisation were reduced to using stand-ins to take the place of actual Sugababes during the making of a pop video.

They seem to have forgotten to swap the proper Sugababes back.

Gordon Russell in the morning: Must we fling this filth, etc?

You'll remember Russell Brand, won't you? It's only a year since The Sun was calling him "smuuty", "vile", "sick", "filthy", a "juvenile... overpaid twerp".

In short, then, he's the perfect man to guest-edit Bizarre.

Still, out of deference to the polite and family-friendly tit-publishing newspaper he's working for, Russell keeps it clean:

JEDWARD mania has given me a novel idea of how one could reunite OASIS - give the band a new name that's a combination of the Gallagher brothers' names.

NIAM or LOEL? Could that work?

Dull as a fishcake without the breadcrumbs, admittedly. But clean.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Liam grinds on without Noel, Oasis, point

Having passed from self-parody into meaningless many years ago, it's not especially surprising that Liam Gallagher is going to press on into becoming s full-blown cultural irrelevance. Yes, he's pledging solo shows:

"I'll be back doing that [playing live] within a couple of months. I've just done a tour, I always miss singing songs. I miss the people."

He's working along with the rest of Oasis, but they're not going to be called Oasis:
"We're sort of doing things at the moment. Not Oasis, Oasis is done. Everyone except for Noel," Gallagher explained.

And it only took five or six years for Gallagher to realise, eh?

There is a question why, if Oasis is done, Liam is intending to press on with the same people doing the same sort of thing. It's a bit like deciding that ice cream has had its day, and then ordering two dozen boxes of cones and chocolate sprinkles.

Downloadable: The Tindersticks

And, as a sample of the new album, The Tindersticks have released a free track, Black Smoke.

Great news from The Tindersticks

January 25th 2010. That's the release date for a brand new Tindersticks album.


The band say so:

Here is a message from the band:

"Our last album, The Hungry Saw, was our first in five years. We didn’t really know what to expect on its release; we had just six concerts booked, and everyone was a little nervous…

That was April 2008. The success of those concerts, including the Royal Festival Hall in London and the Folies Bergere in Paris, took us all by surprise and led to seventy more shows in Europe and the US - ending with a beautiful summer’s evening headlining The Serpentine Sessions in Hyde Park in July of 2010.

In our ‘downtime’, we have scored 2 film soundtracks for Claire Denis: the much loved and critically acclaimed 35 Shots Of Rum and, due for release in the new year, White Material, which stars Isabelle Huppert. Somewhere during that time, we were also commissioned to create the music for the Louis Vuitton summer collection in Paris.

From those nervous beginnings a new unity and sense of direction grew. Where once our touring days were spent hanging around, killing time, now we found ourselves cobbling together acoustic rehearsals for new ideas in dressing rooms and venue corridors. There was a growing need to explore and we quickly started working in the studio.

Very soon this work became Falling Down A Mountain, our eighth studio album. Recorded at the band’s own Le Chien Chanceux studio in rural France and at ICP in Brussels between May and July 2009 and mixed at Le Chien’ in September and October.

With hindsight, The Hungry Saw now seems like an album made within the confines of what we knew; in making Falling Down A Mountain those boundaries became irrelevant.

The title track was borne out of a collection of moments; a dreamed idea recorded into a mobile phone in the night evolving into a spontaneous recording with the band, Terry Edwards’ trumpet (we didn’t play him the song, just gave him some clues, ran the tape and he played into the silence), singing with David Kitt and his great overdubbed guitar… All, more or less, made in one or two takes. Sometimes you just get lucky.

From the dream of building Le Chien’ three years ago, this is the first recording that gets close to what we have been looking for and gives all the effort some meaning.

The album ran on from there in many different directions, but always with a shared feeling between all the musicians and a sense of discovery towards the ideas. Highlights were many and varied: singing a duet with Mary Margaret O’Hara; new additions to the group in the shape of Earl Harvin (drums and vocals) and David Kitt (guitar and vocals) brought with them new colours to the music, and their voices combining with bassist Dan McKinna’s realised a long dreamt of “vocal section” within the band. In addition, Jo Fraser and Andy Nice, who have played a big part in our soundtrack work, provided some great flute and cello moments.

We hope you enjoy."

Quite a lengthy quote from a press release, but worth it, I think.

Twittergem: Manda Rin

From @mandarin:

Is that some Bis news to announce on 24th Nov? Hmm I think so!

What? What? What is it? Tell us! Tell us!

Charity and art in Camden

Next week is pancreatic cancer awareness week. While some cancers get thousand upon thousands of people out jogging against it, and pink-coloured kitchen items, pancreatic cancer struggles to get its voice heard. If cancer had a voice. You know what I mean.

To help with the awareness-raising, there's a rock-meets-art affair at the Proud Gallery in Camden between the 19th and 30th November. The artwork is all by pop stars - Placebo, Maximo Park - and people like The Stereophonics; on the 18th and the 30th, there's a pair of special events which will include auctioning of said artworks.

MySpace hope you'll pay

TechCrunch is reporting MySpace plans for charging visitors to listen to music. Understandable to a point - at the moment, the company is burning through USD20million a month on royalties for streaming music, which is ridiculous from a business point of view.

The trouble is, the big streaming bill is because they're paying too much to the labels. Admittedly, raising a paywall will help by sending most of MySpace's traffic away. But wouldn't it just be quicker to close MySpace down altogether rather than make it dwindle away to nothingness?

MySpace: Friends Reunited is waiting.

When copyright rules, towns fall off the net

Here we are, worrying about what would happen if the record labels forced a household off the internet. In Ohio, an entire town has been disconnected at the behest of Sony Pictures. Because one user of the muncipal wi-fi allegedly downloaded a movie.

[via Boing Boing]

Gordon in the morning: Vindication

Oh, sure, you think that his predictions of Robbie Williams playing with Take That being crushed is going to make Gordon Smart abashed?

Of course not: if you squint, he was right:

OBBIE WILLIAMS was moved to tears last night as he took to the stage with his old TAKE THAT bandmates for the first time in 15 years.

And later came the moment all TT fans had been waiting for - GARY BARLOW and Robbie arm in arm, singing on stage together for the Children In Need gig at London's Royal Albert Hall.

We can only assume that the damn Sun subs removed the words 'joining in together singing along with Paul McCartney' from Gordon's original piece, thus leaving the impression that Williams and the band were reuniting. That must be it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Williams, Take That fail to live up to Gordon's billing

Readers of yesterday morning's Bizarre column knew what to expect:

Not only will the original Take That line-up - Gary, Robbie, MARK OWEN, HOWARD DONALD and JASON ORANGE - play together for the first time in almost 15 years but ex-BEATLE Sir Paul is teaming up too.

A source said: "The reunion is go. Robbie is utterly thrilled about it. He's been dreaming of performing with Take That again for years and now it's going to happen."

So, how did it that big reunion go, exactly?

Not at all, it turns out:
Robbie Williams has joined his former Take That bandmates on stage at the Children in Need charity concert, but there was no reunion performance.

Downloadable: Au Revior Simone

A smattering of Brooklyn indie, as Au Revior Simone get a Social Disco Club reversioning to Another Likely Story.

The hope is that you'll love this so much, you'll buy the single when it comes out next week with this, the original flavour and Aeroplane and Neon Indian remixes as well.

Vivendi play computer games as Universal profits slide

Vivendi had much to be happy about in its latest set of figures, announced today. Helped by its soaring computer games business, it posted profits of €3.58 billion (£3.23 billion) for the nine months to September - that not even counting the money it's making right now from Call Of Duty.

Universal, though, proved a little less glittering, with revenue in the third quarter of the year down 62% year-on-year. The glimmer, though, is that even this mismanaged behemoth in a business whose supernormal profits are evaporating, has managed to make profits of €269 million (£243 million) in the nine months to October. A quarter of a billion in profits. And yet this is a company supposedly being so damaged by piracy that it requires draconian legislation worldwide.

Tour dates: Dougall on a poogle

Rose Elinor Dougall - who has been thriving since dropping off the end of The Pipettes - is squeezing in a couple of dates before Christmas:

3rd Dec - LONDON Wild & Innocent @ Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
5th Dec - CHESTER Telford’s Warehouse
6th Dec - YORK Fibbers

And, as you ponder if it's worth taking Merseyrail to its wildest reaches, here's what you could expect:

Tour dates: Field Music

The first date on this slate of Field Music tours is a freebie; the rest you'll have to pay for but should find it worth the entry:

13th Nov - LIVERPOOL The Bumper - Liverpool Music Week - Free Show
19th Nov - MANCHESTER The Deaf Institute, Manchester
21st Nov - GLASGOW Captain's Rest, Glasgow
22nd Nov - EDINBURGH Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh
27th Nov - NEWCASTLE The Cluny
28th Nov - NEWCASTLE The Cluny
7th Jan - LONDON Hoxton Bar & Grill

This is what you'll get for your pound:

Baria now Ex-X X

Baria Qureshi has decided not to return to The XX, after pulling out of the band shortly before their recent London date. Romy Madley Croft tells the NME that the band will continue as a three piece:

"Baria has left the band," she confirmed. "I guess 'personal differences' would be the standard way to say it. I guess it's just the intensity of being on tour, things are so much heightened."

Hopefully, it won't mess too much with the band's secret magic recipe. Will it?

Morrissey: Stop me if you've heard this one before

The Liverpool gig that got cut short when a bottle bounced off Mozzer's bonce is going to be restaged:

"Event organisers are working with the artistes representatives to explore all ways of restaging the abandoned concert. Everyone involved in the show is deeply upset that the actions of one individual have spoiled the evening for the thousands of genuine fans and for Morrissey himself." They added.

Going on to say that fans who can't attend the event will be given a full refund, they also asked for "Patience while we work to try and resolve [the issue]".

There isn't a new date in place yet - in fact, it seems a bit unclear if Morrissey has even agreed to go back for a second chance.

The X Factor doesn't impress Sting

To save you time: In short, they've never done a Police Week.

Sting doesn't like The X Factor. In fact, it makes his blood boil, possibly even to the point where he'd start smashing up his tiny medieval guitars. This almost makes the X Factor worth it.

Fume Sting, fume:

"They [The contestants] are either Mariah Carey or Whitney Houston or Boyzone and are not encouraged to create any real unique signature or fingerprint."

He has a point. But it's a bit like complaining that John Culshaw doesn't do impressions of the Robert Zoellick or Hakainde Hichilema - it's not really what the audience is looking for, is it?
He also attacked the show's judges - Simon Cowell, Cheryl Cole, Louis Walsh and Dannii Minogue - claiming they had "no recognisable talent apart from self-promotion".

He knows for a fact that Dannii Minogue has never written an opera in latin to be played entirely on balalaikas, for a start.

Sting also doesn't like the way losers are cast aside without a second thought
"How appalling for a young person to feel that rejection," he told the London Evening Standard.

Yes, thrown out with no compensation like they're a pregnant chef or something.
"It is a soap opera which has nothing to do with music. In fact, it has put music back decades."

Not really, Sting: it might have put the charts back decades, but music? That's still pretty robust. If you expect to find interesting stuff on ITV on Saturday teatime, the problem is with your expectations, not music.

Besides, you'd have thought Sting wouldn't mind music going back a few decades. If the journey backwards was long enough, it might turn up at a time when people took Sting's opinions seriously.

Gordon In The Morning: ITV attempt to cross-breed franchises

Talking of the I'm A Celebrity juggernaut, surely the luckiest recipient of a slot on that programme must be Peter Andre? Before, he was a failed pop star with nothing of value to offer the world; ever since, he's been able to charge for being a failed pop star with nothing of value to offer the world.

According to Gordon this morning, he's dating Alexandra Burke. Or, as they're saying in the ITV press office, attempting to pull down synergy between The X Factor and The ITV2 Reality Circus.

Gordon insists Andre is "smitten". Although if he's been wandering about in a daydream with a silly simper on his face, it's hard to see how you could tell the difference from his normal demeanour.

Andre is plannning to cook for Burke:

Pete told a friend: "I think she's really cool. She's seriously hot and once I've cooked for her, she won't be able to resist."

Let's hope Pete's comfort with something being cool and hot simultaneously doesn't influence the way he cooks the fish fingers, then.

If you're in any doubt at all that this is just a publicity-churning piece of cynicism, wait until you get to the end:
The pair have even discussed recording a track together.

A pal of Pete's told The Sun: "Alex was the one who broke the ice first. She was really complimentary about Pete's album."

How? How can anyone seriously be complimentary about Pete's album? "The download time didn't look as if it'd be too heavy"? "They haven't chosen a picture of you and Jordan for the sleeve, which is classy"? "

ITV announce spot-the-celebrity cast

The people who are going on the next series of I'm A Celebrity Although Not So Much That I Can Turn Down Stuff Like This have been announced. It's very, very light on pop stars this time round - there's no "really?" moment like when Cerys was on the list. Indeed, music's end this time is being represented by Sam Fox (she's a bit better-known in some places on the globe for her music than her ability to not wear a shirt) and Sabrina Washington. Yes you do; one of the other ones from Mis-Teeq.

Fox is on the way down - she once had a pointless reality show all of her own - while Washington is on the way up, having previously done Celebrity Scissorhands, the BBC Three programme where celebrities tried to stop Steve Strange from cutting people's hair.

The list in full:

The eleven celebrities heading into the jungle for series nine are: Lucy Benjamin, Gino D’Acampo, Camilla Dallerup, Sam Fox, George Hamilton, Stuart Manning, Colin McAllister, Justin Ryan, Sabrina Washington, Jimmy White and Kim Woodburn.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Ladytron: I'm telling that Danny Hunt it'll never last

Never mind that it's 20 years since the Guardian launched Notes & Queries - can you believe that it's ten years since Ladytron first coalesced in what was (then) a Liverpool back street and is now probably the fridge aisle in the big new John Lewis?

They're celebrating with an album collecting the best bits from the first decade. It's going to be a greatest hits collection, which suggests a reliance on natural justice rather than strict facts.

Downloadable: Le Corps Mince De Francoise

It might be a bit late for some loud electro-punk... actually, it never is, is it? This is Le Corps Mince De Francoise; they're Finnish and ready to download, unzip and play.

You can share your thanks and love with the band over at their corner of the declining empire of the MySpace.

Aerosmith have trouble shifting Steve Tyler

The excitement of watching Aerosmith wandering about tripping over each other isn't through yet: after the announcement last week that Steven Tyler was out, Steven Tyler has now disannounced his departure at a Joe Perry gig:

"I just want New York to know, I am not leaving Aerosmith," Tyler said. Rather than leave it at that, however, he then chose to drop one of the best quotes we've heard in a while. Turning to the Aerosmith guitarist, he said, “Joe Perry, you are a man of many colours. But I, motherfucker, am the rainbow!”

A rainbow only has seven colours, though. Which would constitute a few, wouldn't it? Meaning that Perry's many colours > Tyler's seven colours.

Downloadable: Hot Hot Heat

And the sample sizes continue: Hot Hot Heat are serving up two tracks from their new album, Future Breeds.

They've not done a record since 2007, and I'd chide them for their slow work rate, but they've admitted that themselves:

Singer/keyboardist Steve Bays apologized to fans for "taking so long to finish" the disc in a Nov. 4 post on the band's website, but said Future Breeds is "by far" his "favourite thing we've ever done."

If Gordon Smart starts to point out his own shortcomings, we won't have anything left to do.

Strange ways to sell your band

An odd PR email, promoting The Sun (the band of the same name, not the newspaper). It's full of the sorts of things you'd expect - they're releasing a free album, which we'll come to in just a moment - but the subject line is surprising:

Ex Warner Bros Band "The Sun" Release Free Album

I'm guessing that the idea is to try and make it clear that this is a band who have impressed enough people in the industry to get some investment and support, but instead it makes them sound like the most interesting thing about them is that they've been dropped.

Still, while we're here, there's two songs designed to suck you in: So Long Sundays and In Perfect Time. If those delight you, Rock Proper have got the whole lot for you to download and muck about with.

At last, the RIAA offers top entertainment

HBO are busily working on a film version of the RIAA's headless-rubber-chicken approach to its industry over the last few years, based on Steve Knopper's book Appetite for Self-Destruction: The Spectacular Crash of the Record Industry in the Digital Age.

I'm sure there will be jostling amongst the Hollywood Elite to land the plum role of Guy Hands (or 'the man who bought Tower Bridge').

Major labels lose bid to outlaw CD ripping in Germany

Back in 2003, Germany introduced a law which - quite sensibly - enshrined the principle that if you buy a CD, you can do with it such things as are necessary to enable you to enjoy your property. Making a copy to play in the car, putting the files onto your computer. That sort of thing.

As if determined to waste money on court cases designed to prove their dunerheaded greed, the RIAA labels have been trying to have the law struck out.

The attempt has been thrown out on a technical point - the music industry should have raised its objections in 2004, under German law. I don't think anyone is going be surprised it's taken the labels half a decade to work out how they're going to respond to a new development.

To be fair, their contention was that the law was repeated in a 2008 bill, which they claimed made it 'new' legislation. From an industry which thinks sticking a couple of video tracks on the end of an album makes something a new album, that's not surprising.

And are they taking their defeat well?

Stefan Michalk, managing director of the association of the German music-industry (BVMI), commented: "The interpretation of the German Federal Constitutional Court is controversial, also among experts of German constitutional law. Before filing the claim we were aware of the risks, but we had to take our chance because the fact of whether private copying is legal or not is of such a big importance for the record business. For us it is still very questionable that the court refused our claim for formal reasons."

Michalk doesn't appear to explain why the record labels are pouring money into trying to have a court rule that their product should be less useful than it already is. At a time when hardly anyone wants to buy CDs, they're pushing a court to criminalise their few remaining customers for doing something that has no real impact on their business at all.

Record labels: People are not going to buy two copies of the same CD just to use them in two different places. If you tell them that copying their own CD for their own personal use is a crime, they might well conclude that you might as well be hung for a lamb, and go straight to the not buying anything stage. Thank the German courts for saving what remains of your business from your own stupid impulses, and move on.

Gordon in the morning: The inevitable Williams/That reunion

Gary, Gary... how about you take me back for charity? I could be a good cause, couldn't I, Gary? You could offset me against tax or something

Yes, Children In Need is doing its bit for abandoned, child-like men, seeing them reunited with the families they once walked out on, as Take That find something for Robbie Williams to do.

Gordon's excited, although he hasn't yet seemed to understand that a permanent reunion between That and It will result in a 50% drop in stories for his column.

Come with us as Gordon gives us a glimpse behind the scenes at the preparations:

I also clocked Gary Barlow when I was down there, dunking a digestive into a cup of tea like he'd spent the morning Artexing ceilings - not putting together a set list for a stellar line-up of talent.

He was eating a biscuit. An ordinary biscuit, too - not a showy biscuit like an iced party ring; not something French like a Bourbon. That's how down-to-earth he is. Eating biscuits like you and me.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ting Tings now a subsidiary of Jay-Z

If the Hip Hop Chronicles are to be believed, Jay-Z has signed The Ting Tings to Roc Nation, and is going to mastermind the next stage of their career:

One source said,

“Jay is hoping to lend his production skills to some of the new material, the staccato rhythmic style of The Ting Tings sits well with what he does best, so that was the attraction”. Jay can make them one of the biggest British bands across the pond”

It's like the feeling you get when a small, caring, organic brand is bought up by a multinational food-processing company. You can understand the desire to build the market for the good things you're doing, but can't help worrying that what made them special can only be flushed out by the deal.

Dear America: We're very sorry.

BBC America - using criteria which aren't clear, but might include "size of the thing that dies inside you when you hear their music" - has produced a top ten of British artists in the US:

10. Duffy
9. M.I.A.
8. Adele
7. KT Tunstall
6. Jay Sean
5. Amy Winehouse
4. Natasha Bedingfield
3. Leona Lewis
2. Radiohead
1. Coldplay

No wonder they want to buy our chocolate companies and close us down.

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: Brian May

io9 digs Brian May's Spider-man theme from whatever corner it went off to die in:

Now the city's sleeping
Spy-D do his creeping
Creeping, he is creeping
We'll be weeping, weeping, weeping, woo!

They've got the full weepingm weeping, woo on their site. Thanks to Michael M.

Downloadable: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart

What do you get if you take The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart's Higher Than The Stars, and have it all messed about with by Saint Etienne verus Lord Spank?

This free download is what.

Embed and breakfast man: Tuneyards

4AD are lauching a bunch of showcase sessions, as a way of bringing their roster to the masses without the need for expensively-designed CD packaging.

Tune-Yards are first to get a go. Here's Real Live Flesh:

[You might also like the Tune-Yards weekend]

Folding magazines: Observer Music Monthly

If you picked up the most recent edition of the Observer Music Monthly, you probably won't be surprised to hear that the title is being axed. It's going down as part of a redesign of its parent title for early next year. (Sports and Women are also going; the food title remains. There was a brief period when the Sports Monthly was being sold in its own right on newsstands, if memory serves.)

It's a shame, as the title was pretty good - anything that provides a regular home for Paul Morley to write about music has to be a good thing. Sure, it did tend a little towards the sort of world where your taste would be defined by the judges of the Mercury shortlist, but it also, frequently, remembered that just because music is important, you don't have to always take it too seriously. It'll be missed. But, if I'm honest, I tended to read it because it came for free with my Guardian subscription.

Panjab Radio goes nationwide

At last, something different on DAB: Panjab Radio is going nationwide from December 1st. Assuming they can raise the cash. Their website really needs a giant totaliser.

It'll be interesting to see what this does to the Asian Network's audience, which is already a bit slippery - there's certainly room for the two different approaches to broadcasting, although there might not be room amongst the DAB audiences.

Job vacancy: Keeping the dead alive

The University of California at Santa Cruz are hiring a Grateful Dead archivist. You can be pulling down $52,860 – $68,892 a year - the only problem being you must have a masters in archive management and, as the advert puts it:

Expert knowledge in the history and scholarship of contemporary popular music, or American vernacular culture, preferably the history and influence of the Grateful Dead.

Filing the Cherry Garcia ice cream might prove troublesome.

[via Boing Boing]

S&M Rammstein put on the rack

The German government has told shops to shove the new Rammstein album under the counter and not where children's eyes can see it. Not as a musical judgement, either. It's just the sexual violence that makes them queasy:

Officials were offended by the track "Ich tue Dir Weh" ("I Want to Hurt You"), which includes such lines as "Bites, kicks, heavy blows, nails, pincers, blunt saws - Tell me what you want," as well as artwork showing guitarist Richard Kruspe with a masked, naked woman on his knees.


There's also worries about a public health message, too:
The German Federal Office for the Examination of Media Harmful to Young People in Bonn also criticized the single "Pussy," stating that it incites listeners to engage in unprotected sexual intercourse despite the risk of AIDS. But the song was not officially part of the ruling.

The video for "Pussy" has also caused some commotion as it shows what appear to be members of the band participating in sex scenes, although sources close to the band insist that the band members were doubled.

That's a lovely case of missing the point - "it's okay, the childish sexism isn't actually the band, it's just people who look like them." Apart from furthering the impression that the sort of band who make stuff like this don't actually have sex in real life, what difference does that make?

Let's just look at that public body name again:
The German Federal Office for the Examination of Media Harmful to Young People

I know that's a translation of the title, but... doesn't it kind of imply that the material it's examining has been prejudged as harmful before they get to it?

Gordon in the morning: Looking out for Chipmunk

If Chipmunk has seriously been posting suicidal thoughts to Twitter, and it's really because he's having trouble coping with the fame and attention, doesn't running a massive story about it across two pages of The Sun make it worse?

Gordon tries to tack on some social conscience at the end:

Years ago a young artist would have slowly developed their career. But today they are thrown straight into things.

Really? What about Lena Zavaroni? Or Leif Garrett? Or.... who was that chap, the one with the nose, who was in the papers a few weeks ago when his short, mangled life came to a very public end? Michael something?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Bookmarks: Internet stuff - Darren Hayman

Darren Hayman - late of Hefner and currently of Darren Hayman - talks at length to I Taught Myself How To Grow Old. The piece is augmented by some glorious mp3 action, but even without the music, it's a lovely way to spend your time:

Crikey. Well every creative decision I make is both subconscious and conscious. Themes tend to reveal themselves through an automatic style of writing and those themes are revised through re-writes and then start to be themes that an album can be based around. These days I guess I more consciously choose directions and album themes but then it would have been more about what spilled out.

Beth Jeans Houghton and Stornoway: Joint tour

The next Twisted Folk tour has been announced. It's coming in February 2010, and it's going to be a spot of this:

... and a dash of this:

That's Stornoway and Beth Jeans Houghton.

This is where:


[UPDATE: Spelling Stornoway wrong. I apologise; I am a klutz.]

Polka News Network: Wurstfest

The Grammy academy has tried to wipe polka off the face of American popular music. But you know what? Given the choice between seeing the Grammys and attending New Braunfels Wurstfest. There's pickles, there's sausage... and, of course, there's polka:

Joyce Bohuslav and Ed Volick of the Polka Lovers Klub of America take a spin around the dance floor at Wurstfest in New Braunfels on Sunday, the final day for the annual “Salute to Sausage.”

It's your choice, America: another prize for Bono, or a salute to sausage?

Downloadable: Melissa Auf Der Maur

First fruits de Der Maur, in the form of a free download sailing out ahead of MADM's Out Of Our Minds album.

It's one of those widgets again:

Drummerobit: Jerry Fuchs

Former !!! drummer Jerry Fuchs has suffered a fatal accident in Williamsburg.

Besides the Google-defying !!!, Fuchs drummed for Holy Ghost, Turing Machine, Juan MacLean and Maserati. And he drummed his ass off for them. More into solidity of sound than the rhetorical flourish, Fuchs made the insanely difficult look incredibly easy.

Born in 1974, Fuchs studied graphic design at the University Of Georgia. Alongside drumming, he also did freelance writing and design work.

Fuchs died after attempting to jump from a broken lift. He'd been attending a charity event raising money for women in India, reports the New York Post. He was 34 years old.

UPDATE: I've just received the following statements:

Juan MacLean
Jerry Fuchs was one of my best and most loyal friends. In other situations it might seem trite or misguided to mention someone's music career in light of such a tragic death, but the truth is that music was an integral part of our relationship. Jerry was with me from the beginning of The Juan MacLean. The band allowed us to travel the world doing something we loved more than anything, and we constantly reminded ourselves how lucky we were, pushing each other to appreciate the life we were living when things got tough.

It is not hyperbole to say that Jerry was the absolute best at what he did. He was a legendary drummer. Other drummers revered him and fans were astounded by his playing. He was always the best part of any band of his which he was a member. And in light of all that, he was relentlessly humble to the point of self-deprecation. He exuded qualities that are are rare in the circles he travelled. He was disarmingly sincere and valued honesty above all else.

I have never played with anyone as great as Jerry. I would be hard pressed to name a more supportive and loyal friend. I hope his family finds some bit of solace in the fact that Jerry touched the lives of so many all across the world, as evidenced by the outpouring of support and condolences come flooding in.

Jonathan Galkin - DFA
Today was a really bad day, Jerry, and I could have used one of those big sweaty hugs you gave after a show, when you were genuinely excited and surprised to see me. “Galkin, what the fuck are YOU doing here?!”, you would exclaim, as if i didn’t ever attend the live shows from bands on my own label. You were truly one of a kind, and whether you knew it or not, people wanted to be in the same room as you, or near the same room as you, because maybe just maybe, some of that radiant joy and in-the-moment spirit you exuded would rub off on them. You didn’t take it all with you, because there are a lot of people today who are going to feel mighty responsible to carry and spread that joy with them for the rest of the time they have here. And who knows now how long that might be. You were a really good drummer, some might say the best we had, but you were a greater friend. I love you and miss you, Jerry.

Brian Long - Yes Know Management
Jerry cast an incredible glow on every situation he entered into. It was an honor to work with him. His drumming skills were truly a gift which he used to connect with many people. This is what musicians are put on earth to do. Jerry embodied this to the fullest. He will be missed but remembered with a smile and a laugh.

Alex Kapranos: Wish I was Sid

Ah, the follies of youth - apparently Alex Kapranos was so desperate to emulate Sid Vicious, he was hoping he was going to die an early death:

"I wanted to be like Buddy Holly or Sid Vicious or Rupert Brooke and have achieved everything I was going to do and done it all by the time I was 21 and then die glamorously. Unfortunately, it didn't happen like that."

... so, instead, I did the next best thing and stabbed someone to death and spent time lying about in a pool of my own shit and misery.

Arctic Monkeys records available in Oxfam

No, not just CDs that have already had their guts ripped to a harddrive; they're releasing a 10 inch single, Cornerstone, and making it available only in Oxfam shops.

Just fifty of them, apparently; the ones described as "the top 50 stores" - might have been an even nicer gesture if the record could be shared with some of the smaller stores, too, rather than just the ones that already popular. But that's a minor gripe.

This is what you'll be getting:

Danish anti-pirate group dump lawsuits

Antipiratgruppen, a Danish intellectual property protection group, have decided that it's not worth taking people to court for using unlicensed files because, erm, they can't actually prove anything against them:

“It requires very strong and concrete evidence to have these people convicted. We simply could not lift the burden of proof,” said Antipiratgruppen lawyer Mary Fredenslund when explaining the decision to Politiken.

In just a year, four cases against alleged pirates have come before the High Court in Denmark and the overall result for the copyright holders has been negative. Three of the defendants were acquitted due to insufficient evidence, and in the one case where a file-sharer was convicted, the defendant had confessed.

There's something about Fredenslund's statement which suggests she's a bit disappointed that, in order to convict someone of something, you have to prove they've done something. Pesky old fundamental principles of natural justice, eh?

Amazing Radio complains about BBC 'nicking concept'

One of the things the BBC has always been good at is supporting new music. John Peel and David Jensen, yes, and the Evening Session, yes, but also across local stations with programmes like On The Wire, Turn It Up and Raw Talent.

It comes as something of a surprise to see Amazing Radio, the DAB new acts network, seems to think that playing unsigned music is (a) an idea it came up with and (b) an idea the BBC have pinched from them:

Paul Campbell, the chief executive of parent company Amazing Media Group, has written to the BBC Trust chairman, Sir Michael Lyons, complaining that the corporation's rival service, based around the BBC Introducing website, is an unnecessary copycat of a product already provided by the market that has been massively expanded and now threatens to kill his business plans.

"It is an outrage that the BBC should use public funding to copy our concept and, by default, seek to put us out of business. This is to all intents and purposes a direct copy of our privately funded concept," said Campbell, a former BBC executive, in the letter to Lyons.

Hang about - "it is an outrage" in an angry, half-arsed letter? Is Paul Campbell ripping off Mr Cul-De-Sac from the BBC's Mark Steel Solution? Are we going to get a press release later today that goes "why oh why oh why oh why oh why oh why... haven't finished it, but it's coming along nicely, don't you think?"

Seriously, though: The hyperbrand of BBC new music talent stuff under Introducing (something I'm not fond of as it wiped a lot of the quirkiness from nations and regions music programming) was born in June 2007. Amazing went on air in, erm, June 2009. What time-travelling wizardry does Campbell think the BBC owns?

Besides, it's not like "only playing music from new artists" is a concept that's so novel you could protect it. And there are so many new artists swishing about with bright eyes and GarageBand produced demos, surely everyone can wet their beaks?

The real problem, you'd have to suggest, is that the audience for pure-play new-acts-only radio stations is quite small. I was accused of being neophile the other week, but my iTunes play count doesn't have everything stuck on one. You need to mix the new with the familiar if you want to build a wide, regular audience.

Campbell seems worried that the best acts would have their heads turned and only go on the BBC (as if a band at the whoring-after-fans stage would ever be after an exclusive relationship.

This seems to sum up how little Campbell actually cares about the bands:
Campbell claimed that the flow through of acts from BBC Introducing has on occasion gone as far as appearances on Jools Holland's BBC2 show.

A scheme that allows bands not being supported by major labels to appear in front of the largest music TV audience? How devious these BBC people are! This must be stopped right away.

Gordon in the morning: Liam's trousers drop

Mr Smart goes to the Pretty Green launch, and who is the last man standing punting his overpriced clothes to?

I was shocked to see This Morning's seemingly-sweet host HOLLY WILLOUGHBY chatting to Liam's missus NICOLE APPLETON and on a tear-up with KASABIAN and RICHARD ASHCROFT.

Another surprise guest was Sugababe HEIDI RANGE, there with her bloke DAVE BERRY.

It's probably slightly more surprising that Ashcroft was there than Range, isn't it? This is a man flogging trousers off the back of his name - that's much more This Morning than XFM.
Liam spent most of the night chatting to MILES KANE from THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS. There's talk he's trying to persuade Miles to form a band with him.

Let's hope that's just the fevered imagination of Gordon running hot, and not based in any trufax. The last thing we need is people starting to form semisupergroups from other band's less-interesting members.

And, remember, this is a tribute, not a ghoulish cash-in:
BOYZONE will release a tribute single to STEPHEN GATELY next year featuring him singing lead vocals.

Bandmate RONAN KEATING revealed plans to cleverly remix the song - which the lads wrote with MIKA - so it showcases Stephen's voice.

It just sounds rather like a cash-in when Keating starts saying things like this:
It's going to be the biggest song of next year, I promise.

That's 2010 ruined by the sound of cash registers ringing mawkishly, then.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Le Prince Miiaou weekend: Hawaiian Tree

And a final slice of Le Prince Miiaou, as she performs for Le Cargo's Acoustic Sessions:

[Part of Le Prince Miiaou weekend]

MySpace: In the money to in the doldrums to in trouble

News International announced pretty good profit figures this week, based mainly on the take from the Ice Age cartoon. To be fair, the company relying on making money out of dinosaurs is nothing new, and it's attempts to evolve are so far generating more duck-billed platypuses than leopards.

The latest rumblings from MySpace aren't encouraging: as traffic to the site falls, the money flowing back from Google is scaling down in proportion. Indeed, the public's diminishing affection for broken page layouts and clashing backgrounds is going to cost NI $100million, reports Hypebot:

We’re still losing traffic,” admitted Chase Carey, chief operating officer of News Corp. “It’s a business in transition.”

Ah, now there's a euphemism. "I'm terribly sorry, Mrs. Smith, your husband is in transition. Indeed, he might not still be transitioning by the end of the night."

MySpace is throwing its hopes on music as its rescue pod. But it's not entirely clear that there's much music-related stuff they can add that they don't already have.

QTrax: Another little fib?

The team at QTrax continue to delight with what can only be a prankster's approach to business. The world has been watching for a couple of years as they send out releases announcing something or other, only for a clarification to follow in a few days that reveals that, actually, the deals with the major labels they said they had weren't in place, or it's taking a little longer to get the music on the system than they expected, or it's simply not possible to download the actual Tina Turner to dance round your living room.

This week, they proudly revealed they'd done a brilliant deal with Baidu:

Qtrax ( announced today that Baidu, China's leading Internet search engine, has agreed to direct music related search inquiries from its Entertainment Portal, and Qian Qian Music Online sites to Qtrax's independent, free and legal download service, wherever Qtrax has the queried artist or song in its catalogue.

Allan Klepfisz, President and CEO of Qtrax, commented: "We are very pleased with Baidu's decision. As the dominant search engine in China, Baidu will provide us with substantial traffic from its music and entertainment portals. We, in turn, will provide the visitors they send to our independent free and legal site, a superior music discovery and download experience. In the coming weeks, we will progressively launch in each of nine Asia-Pacific countries and begin to divert and monetize traffic - for the benefit of artists and copyright holders - that previously found its way to non-licensed sites. We believe our offering, including information about the artists, is vastly superior to these unauthorized sites."

Wow. That's quite something.

Trouble is, Baidu - oh, yes - have said there isn't actually any such deal:
But comments from a Baidu representative on Wednesday did not seem to confirm that it would direct any users to Qtrax. "The partnership with Qtrax regards text-based information, such as singer backgrounds; it has nothing to do with the music itself," the Baidu representative said via e-mail.

No links to Qtrax appear to be showing up yet in Baidu's music search section or on its entertainment portal.

In other news, the villagers decided that next time QTrax yells that there's a wolf in the field, they might just not bother going to investigate.

[Story via Hypebot]

Le Prince Miiaou weekend: Live at Chantier des francos

The lighting isn't great, but it's worth peering into the darkness:


[Part of Le Prince Miiaou weekend]

Gordon Brown finally finds someone to kick

It's taken a while for Gordon Brown to find a target he can safely pick on - someone who wouldn't be able to shoot back "well, at least I'm better off than you, matey" - but he's managed it.

He's having a go at Jedward, who are apparently in the current run of The X Factor:

Gordon Brown doesn't rate X Factor's Grimes twins. The PM told a Manchester radio station: "I don't think they're very good."

To laughter, he then asked the audience: "Does anyone want John and Edward to win X Factor?"

Meanwhile, Jedward appear on tonight's The Westminster Hour on BBC Radio 4, pointing out that they've still got a chance of winning their popular vote.

Woot-ton: JLS can't take the attention

The non-stories underlining how utterly fantastic JLS are seem to have started to dry up in the Sun, so they're now punting them to the next tier down. A breathless Dan Wootton pants off:

Band studs MARVIN HUMES and ASTON MERRYGOLD are being forced to flee their luxury pad in London after being hounded with saucy propositions from female fans.

My insider revealed: "Aston and Marvin love living together but they're considering moving for security reasons."

The odd woman is stood in the street saying "lick my privates", and that's a security issue? Really?

Perhaps they should stop using Lynx. I'm given to understand this is a side-effect of that.

Le Prince Miiaou weekend: Football Team

More beautiful stuff from Maud-Elisa Mandeau. She describes this as "a do-it-yourself" video, which means as well as being as gorgeous as a creamy kitten, it's also punk as hell:

[Part of Le Prince Miiaou weekend]

This week just gone

New Thrill! Alongside my actual Twittering at @norock, you can now have stuff from No Rock And Roll Fun itself flung automatically into your Twitter stream more-or-less as it happens. Follow @xrrf. Go on.

The most-read stories in October were:

1. R Kelly sex video. Yes, still.
2. RIP: Taylor Mitchell
3. Glastonbury Tickets updates
4. McFly (remember them?) try full frontal nudity
5. NME Awards 2009<
6. RIP: Stephen Gately
7. Lily Allen swaps her clothes under the sea
8. Eric Clapton needs surgery
9. Susan Boyle launches an album for gifting
10. RIP: Greg Ladanyi

As markets readied for Christmas, there was an outpouring of interesting new stuff

The Hidden Cameras - Origin: Orphan

download Origin: Orphan

Nouvelle Vague - Bande A Part

Deer Tick - Born On Flag Day

download Born On Flag Day

Luke Haines - 21st Century Man

download 21st Century Man

Brett Anderson - Slow Attack

download Slow Attack

Thea Gilmore - Strange Communion

download Strange Communion

I Am Kloot - B

download I Am Kloot Peel Sessions

Skunk Anansie - Smashes And Trashes

download Smashes And Trashes

Julian Casablancas - Phrazes For The Young

download Phrazes For The Young

Jackie DeShannon - You Won't Forget Me

download Put A Little Love In Your Heart

Queenadreena - Djin

download Djin