Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: The Magnetic Fields

If you haven't seen How Fucking Romantic's on-going project to illustrate The Magnetic Fields' 69 Love Songs, you're missing out.

Beachdowners set Anne Robinson on organisers

The still-not-forthcoming refunds for those who bought tickets for Beachdown last year has led to growing disgruntlement.

Now, the ticket holders are getting desperate:

Angry customers are now writing to BBC's Watchdog in the hope that an investigation will hold the organisers accountable and reveal where their money has gone.

A FaceBook group called Beachdown Letdown has 179 infuriated members.

One, Hannah Woodruff, last week called on them to follow her lead and write to the TV programme, which several agreed to do.

There seems to be an acceptance that there's no money to be had - according to The Argus, the approach is more educational:
Tim Knight, who is owed £184, wrote to Watchdog saying: “Viewers of Watchdog who fancy attending a music festival need to be aware of the risks they run in buying tickets.

“Watchdog could do a great public service by getting to grips the organisers of Beachdown 2009 who have left many people feeling cheated.”

To be honest, it's not just people buying tickets for festivals, is it? If you buy tickets for anything, there's a chance that Michael Jackson might die or the aircrew go on strike or the snow makes it impossible, and you're betting that the organisers have a plan to refund you if things go wrong.

In fact, isn't running a story on Watchdog suggesting that people think twice before buying tickets for smaller events going to depress an already-difficult market and possibly wind up with more festivals going down, making the problem worse?

Britney Spears is dead...

...likely to be the subject of a false death claim on the internet. It says here.

Paddy Power are apparently taking bets on it:

Now bookies Paddy Power are betting on the next celebrity to have a hoax death story written about them and the 8-1 favourite is Britney Spears, which surprises me.

Why would you take bets on that? Okay, take bets on white Christmases, because it's unlikely anyone would bother going to the effort of building a machine to change the weather just to win a few quid.

But you're offering the chance to put a bet on, seed a made-up story, and trot down to pick up the winnings? At 8-1? Have you really thought this through, Paddy Power? Have you any idea how the internet works?

Accident at Prodigy gig

Police are still investigating 'did he fall or was he pushed' after a man fell from a balcony at a Prodigy gig in Dundee.

Not quite sure that putting a dance band in a venue where there's balconies to fall over is that wise an idea in the first place.

The man who fell is in hospital, in a "serious" condition.

Pete Doherty: All he needs is a good example

So, now that the drugs-and-driving offences are cleared up, it's time for Pete Doherty to get his life back together again.

All he needs is a good example, to teach him to respect the laws of the land, to drive with more care, and - when things do go wrong - to remind him the right thing to do is 'fess up, and take the consequences.

Perhaps his manager could fulfill this role?

The manager of musician Pete Doherty has admitted dangerous driving after a crash in Suffolk critically injured a pedestrian.
At Ipswich Crown Court, Andrew Boyd, 42, of north west London, also admitted failing to stop at an accident scene.

Boyd was released on bail and is due to be sentenced at a later date.

He also pleaded guilty to failing to report an accident, driving without reasonable consideration, driving not in accordance with a licence and without insurance.

Alright, then, maybe not.

Still, Boyd had a defence of mitigating circumstances:
His barrister Chris Henley told the court that the accident happened when Mr Boyd tried to comfort a four-year-old child who was sitting in the back seat of the Daimler car.

Ah yes. Which of us can truly say we haven't been so distracted by trying to comfort a child in the back of our car we have, erm, somehow accidentally traveled back in time and cancelled our insurance? And then been so engrossed we failed to report an accident?

Boyd has been warned he could receive a custodial sentence.

[Thanks to Olive, who flagged this story in the comments]

Friday, January 29, 2010

BPI suggests behaving like record labels is bad

The BPI have - amusingly - tried to make themselves out as models of restraint by condemning ACS:Law for sending out demands to those suspected of downloading music without a licence:

"We don't favour the approach taken by ACS:Law to tackling illegal file-sharing, which is at odds with the proportionate and graduated response advocated by BPI and proposed in the Digital Economy Bill," the statement read. "We uphold the highest standards of evidence, and our view is that legal action is best reserved for the most persistent or serious offenders — rather than widely used as a first response."

They continued "see, you don't go rushing in demanding money; you gotta spend cash first to get the laws changed to ensure the costs of doing all this are passed on to everyone in the country, whether they download music or not. Amateurs. They're amateurs."

Gordon in the morning: Fashion notes and bidding wars

Has Gordon ever met a woman? One who wears clothes?

Apparently not:

Cheryl's Rip-Off Dress

GORGEOUS CHERYL COLE smoulders in a frock held together by one long ZIP.

How many zips does Gordon think most dresses have?

Cole was punting "her" first solo tour - or, rather, a series of dates while people arrive to see the Black Eyed Peas.

Any other observations on the outfit, Gordon? You haven't mentioned the colour.
Cheryl may be dressed in silver, but she's solid gold to us.

You wonder how long that line took. Is there a pad in Wapping with variations crossed out? "She is wearing silver, but I'd sure like to pewt-er" "She is wrapped in silver like a chocolate bar and we'd all like to unwrap her although there's a risk she'd just end up causing us to have a sticky mess in our pockets" "She is wearing silver which makes us wonder why someone didn't grab bits of her hair and put a plat in 'em"

Elsewhere, Gordon is busily pushing JLS again, with an American 'bidding war':
Jive would mean going on the same books as BRITNEY SPEARS, JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE, BACKSTREET BOYS and USHER.

That's true. It's also the label that brings you Mullage and K. Michelle.
Epic is home to the late MICHAEL JACKSON.

Could JLS fit in on a label which is best known for a moldering corpse?

Still, it's all very exciting, isn't it, Gordon?
JLS are at the centre of a bidding war between two of the world's biggest pop labels, setting them up for US glory.

Yes, a bidding war. Between two very, very different companies.

That they're both owned by Sony doesn't in any way undermine the idea that these two labels are involved in an intense public auction to sign the band, not does it mean the two are involved in a meaningless PR puff to try and make the half-witted believe there's an insatiable demand for JLS in the Mid West.

Grammys 2010: GLAAD not happy about Buju

As if it wasn't bad enough for Buju Banton, still in a Florida jail on drugs charges, he's continuing to be the focus of protests over his homophobia. Seemingly unimpressed by Banton's awkward 'standing near some gay people' photo op from last year, GLAAD have taken out ads complaining about his nomination for the Grammy Awards:

In an advert in Hollywood show business paper Daily Variety, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center urged Grammy organizers to use Sunday's televised ceremony to denounce music "that promotes or celebrates violence against any group of people."

Interestingly, GLAAD don't seem at all bothered about the victimisation of polka music fans. Selective consciences.

Glastonbury 2008: NME gets a bit confused

Surprising news from the NME this morning:

The National Audit Office (NAO) are investigating the BBC's coverage of last year's Glastonbury festival, to see whether it provides value for money.

That's going to come as something of an irritation for the BBC, what with the National Audit Office only having just published findings of an investigation into the costs of broadcasting Glastonbury in 2008 (alongside One Big Weekend and some sporting events).

The report noticed that the 2008 One Big Weekend event came in over budget, and that the BBC had some problems evaluating value for money on these events. Almost as if 'value for money' is a nebulous, meaningless term that depends on where you're standing.

The NME also neglects to mention that the report was requested by the BBC, which is quite a different matter from the NAO simply turning up on the doorstep.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Coachella call single-day visitors "clogging"

Charming. Coachella have axed their one- and two-day tickets for this year's festival. As, you'd guess, is their right. But the official reason is a little unflattering:

"The thing is," [Goldenvoice leader and festival architect Paul] Tollett [told the LA Times], "there’s a lack of hotels in the Coachella Valley, and most have a three-day minimum. Many times what happens is people get a hotel for the three days, and only go to Coachella for one or two of the days. They hit Friday and Saturday, and go home or rest at the hotel on Sunday. That’s no problem, but the problem with that is that there are people who want that hotel and are going for three days. The single- and two-day people are clogging up the hotels and making it so people who want to go for three days can’t find a hotel."

I'm not quite sure this actually makes sense, does it? There aren't going to be any fewer people going to Coachella - the day passes are being absorbed into the number of whole-festival passes being offered - and there aren't going to be any extra hotel rooms.

So this sounds like there aren't enough hotel rooms in Coachella Valley; and that's being used as a problem so that pulling a popular ticket option can be presented as if it was a solution.

Downloadable: The Dears

As we clatter towards the kitchen yelling "halloumi", a quick parting gift - The Dears went to Daytrotter and did a lovely session. "Candle-waxed emotions" ensues.

Tune-Yards tour dates

Just a quick, gentle lob of some Tune-Yards tour dates:

9th February - Brighton The Freebutt
11th – Belfast Speakeasy
12th – Dublin Whelans
13th – Manchester Ruby Lounge
14th – Glasgow Captains Rest
15th – London Cargo

And, if you're wondering why you should care: The Tune-Yards weekend

Embed and breakfast man: Lisa Hannigan

Lisa Hannigan is punting a digital-only live album collection of quite stunning value. Four dollars, six tracks.

If you need further persuasion, have got this reminder of how good she is:

[You might also enjoy: The Lisa Hannigan weekend]

Alan McGee: The modern contrarian

There's a big interview with Alan McGee in today's Daily Record, where the man who brought us Oasis, and then kept on bringing us Oasis rails against... oh, The Brits:

McGee, 49, said: "I saw the Brit Awards nominations and I mean, God, is it that bad?

"They should get rid of the Brits and start again with 20 music journalists who actually care about music getting together, instead of a bunch of self-interested record company people who just vote for their own acts."

I remember you saying the same thing as Oasis were getting a best album prize for What's The Story... oh, hang on, I don't.

He also calls for McCartney to retire, because he's too old:
"Music should be like football. Once you turn 40, you should become a manager or get lost. It's for kids. You lose perspective.

"You don't have 66-year-old football players. There's a reason for that."

Erm, yes. Because football requires a degree of physical fitness and dexterity that declines as you grow older. It's not because you get confused about where the goal is or start thinking it'd be better to concentrate on doing push-ups instead of scoring.

And if you reach an age where you can no longer write a decent song because you no longer have the "perspective", why would you be any good as a manager?

McGee's oh-so-contrary Logan's Run style proposal would, of course, have robbed the world of Johnny Cash doing Hurt and everything from Robert Wyatt from Old Rottenhat onwards. Paul McCartney was 39 when he did the Frog Chorus, so it wouldn't have even spared us that.
The man I was at 24 managing The Jesus and Mary Chain is not the same person at 49.

That's becoming increasingly apparent, Alan.

Gordon in the morning: How very, very proud you must be

Even by Gordon's standards, today's big splash which takes a photo of Lara Stone kissing a mate and turns it into a 'story'.

Not that he's actually saying anything about David Walliams' fiance:

Now, I'm sure nothing untoward happened and I can't blame the Frenchman for his snog. What's more, they are used to smooching. Last year they kissed for a couple of Chanel short films.

Righto. So you know there's nothing going on. So why the hell are you running it as a story? Is this some sort of postmodern tribute to James Burke's Connections and the 'Albert Memorial Still There' episode?

Oddly for a non-story, there isn't an unnamed 'pal', or 'source'. Oh, no:
A witness told me:

A witness to, erm, nothing, that would be?

Elsewhere: A The Darkness reunion. I thought we'd bolted the door?

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pete Doherty gets away with a fine

So you'll recall Pete Doherty turning up for court on a driving charge last month only for him to turn out to have a coat made out of drugs?

In fact, he had thirteen wraps of heroin on him. In court.

Here's a funny thing, though: his defence was going to be that he owns so many coats, he simply forgot the one he pulled on was stuffed with smack.

I mean: as if any court is going to fall for that, right?

It turns out the court fell for that:

On Wednesday, he was fined 750 pounds (865 euros, 1,210 dollars) with 85 pounds costs after the court heard he had simply forgotten the drugs were in one of his many coats.

Judge Joti Boparai told Doherty at Gloucester Magistrates' Court: "Either this was sheer stupidity or a ploy to get more publicity."

Or, quite possibly, both.
[Defence lawyer Bruce] Clark said Doherty's faltering career was now going from strength to strength, with a concert in Moscow on the horizon and even a part in a forthcoming film.

A date somewhere in deepest Europe and a part in a movie? Oh, yes, that puts him somewhere between Stephen Baldwin and Jim Bowen on the career success stakes, doesn't it?
[Clark said] "This (the offence) was an accident. This was the ghost of past offending, not the resurrection."

"It was a headless horseman of criminality, not a Lazarus. Don't call it a comeback, call in Derek Acorah."

A man walks into court with thirteen wraps of heroin in his pockets. There is no punchline, just the sound of one man laughing.

Looky, Lou: Reed clangs out

Lou Reed is going to tour round Europe with his Metal Machine Trio.

This is what it was like the last time:

The tour kicks off in... Cambridge. Cambridge?

The Cambridge Junction
Saturday 17 April

Oxford O2 Academy
Sunday 18 April

London Royal Festival Hall
Ether Festival

La Cigale, Paris, France
Wednesday 21 April

A/B, Ancienne Belgique Brussels, Belgium
Domino Festival
Thursday 22 April

DR Koncerthuset, Copenhagen, Denmark
Saturday 24 April

Sentrum, Oslo, Norway
Monday 26 April

Ole Bull Scene, Bergen, Norway
Bergen Festival
Tuesday 27 April

Teatre Principal de Palma, Mallorca Spain
Festival Alternatilla
Friday 30 April

Booking details and pictures of Lou Reed looking glum over on the official site.

Downloadable: Killing Joke

The press people sharing the news about the new Killing Joke compilation Bustin' Out offer a delicious amuse bouche in the form of a free mp3 of November 1979 release Almost Red, with a plea:

Feel free to re-host this link but please don't deep link.

I suspect they mean rehost the track rather than the link to the file; which is what Vinyl District have done. Rather than duplicate their good work, I'll just point you there.

We7 throws down challenge to Spotify

The big tech announcement of the day - oh, alright, if you discount Honey, iBlew Up The iPhone, is that We7 is launching a premium, ad-free service in direct competition to Spotify.

The headline price is lower - £4.99 a month against Spotify's £9.99. But the main impetus to upgrade to a paid account is less the loss of ads, and more the ability to suck music to a mobile. And this is, in We7 parlance, "Premium Plus" (a premium on a premium?) and will cost another fiver. In other words: it's the same price as Spotify.

Spotify revealed the other day they've had 250,000 subscribers jump on so far. I'm not convinced there's many other people who want to spend £120 a year on a radio.

Gordon in the morning: 48 hours deadline somewhat overshot

Given that last week Simon Cowell was insisting that he only had 48 hours to save Haiti, this Band Aid style single is certainly taking its time coming together.

But Gordon's doing his best to keep the energy up:

BOSSES at the Brit Awards were last night sensationally scrambling to showcase The Sun's Haiti charity single during next month's glittering ceremony.

Scrambling? It's nearly a month away.
A source confirmed: "A special production meeting was called to reconsider the running order to include the song.

"It's something that has NEVER happened before. But the events in Haiti have made everybody sit up and take notice."

They've never made a change to the running order with more than three weeks to go before? Really?

Still, at least this isn't the planned launch date of the single. That's nearer - although...
Its release is being masterminded by X Factor boss Simon Cowell, who set a target date of February 8 to get it on sale.

That's a pretty stretchy 48 hours you've given yourself there, Simon.

In a way, there is an upside to the stately progress - when the record finally comes out, it'll give a boost to the campaign just as donations start to tail off. Let's just be thankful they're pop stars and not emergency workers.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

AC-DC power up the Iron Man franchise

Putting AC-DC on a big, ballsy action movie soundtrack? Yes, that makes some sort of sense. In fact, it makes so much sense that it barely requires any further explanation.

But that won't keep marketing people in work, so they've decided to offer an explanation anyway. Blockbuster Buzz captures the whiff of the flip-chart:

Through this relationship, the band is delivering fans supercharged Iron Man branded music through all our combined consumer touch points, from the movie to retail outlets and even virally with the debut of the new video

They're on a Highway To Hell. Albeit a highway with a full service area, complete with a Costa Coffee and KFC, every ten miles.

Embed and breakfast man: Yeah Yeah Yeahs

So, it turns out Yeah Yeah Yeahs wrote Skeletons during a snowstorm. And so they wanted the video to reflect that feeling, they instructed Barney Clay when he turned up to direct. This is what he did:

[via Stereogum]
[Buy It's Blitz]

Steven Tyler: Clean-up in aisle four

Somewhere between 'a cry for help' and 'send for the lawyers' comes news of Steven Tyler being entertaining in a Home Depot:

According to TMZ, Tyler employed the Home Depot loudspeaker system, which is usually used for price checks or calls for assistance, to sing Aerosmith classics like “Dude Looks Like a Lady” and “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing.” As if this story couldn’t get more shocking, Tyler also reportedly started taking hits off a helium tank and sang his karaoke with a Chipmunked voice. The frontman also signed autographs for all those unsuspecting rock fans who initially just went to the Home Depot to buy plywood and paint.

It's hard to imagine a trip to a hardware store being made worse, but Tyler's your man.

Gordon in the morning: NME awards, you're doing it wrong

This morning's Bizarre gives a double page spread to the NME Awards shortlist. Doubtless IPC will be delighted, but hasn't the idea that the NME prizes is some sort of alternative take on the Brits now vanished totally?

Course, Gordon's coverage is in part driven by his beloved Kasabian having been lined up for so many categories:

Kasabian have proved they are the best in the country on current form and deserve the title of Best British Band.

Last year's No1 album, West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum, was a cracker.

But the Arctics' latest, Humbug, which had a few decent tunes, was a flop by their extremely high standards.

Kasabian are out in front for Best Live Act too.

They upstaged the Monkeys at Glastonbury in 2007 as fans chanted well into their rivals' set.

Pssst... Gordon: that doesn't mean Kasabian are better than the Monkeys, it just means that Kasabian fans are socially ignorant and irritating.

Besides Gordon clicking repeatedly on the 'Like this' button next to Kasabian's name, what other predictions does he have for the event?
One thing's for sure...

...a few ales will be sunk at the bash on February 24.


Also on Bizarre this morning is an eye-catching headline:
Heidi: HMs allowed drugs

Which would be a story worth sharing, were she not talking about how Channel 4 and Endemol let Big Brother housemates who are receiving prescribed medication, erm, take their medicine.

It's almost as if the Sun newsroom is now staffed with people going "I can never remember... is it 'dog bites man' or 'man bites dog' which is news?"

Monday, January 25, 2010

Mablethorpe Cafe outsmarts PRS

The Busy Bee Cafe in Mablethorpe has got so tired of the PRS demanding a £1000 licence to have the radio on that they've dumped their tranny in favour of a Florida based podcast which uses rights-free music instead. It's a cash-conscious move - the PRS are probably hoping that it doesn't start a trend, or anything.

Format madness: MusicDNA at MIDEM 2010

After a few years in which most of the rubbish new ideas for music formats have been physical, the people who bought you the MP3 are trying to fly the flag for a new format, MusicDNA.

As follow-ups go, Dagfinn Bach has come up with something a bit more Second Coming than Space Oddity:

Speaking at the Midem music conference, Mr Bach said: "We can deliver a file that is extremely searchable and can carry up to 32GB of extra information in the file itself.

"And it will be dynamically updatable so that every time the user is connected, his file will be updated."

But why does all that extra information have to be wedged into the file? If you've got a 32GB iPod, you're going to be a bit screwed if all you can fit on is a single tune. Couldn't you just put a bit of extra data into an ordinary mp3 which could suck down the extra data off the internet, instead of saving it all in the file? Isn't carting all that extra gubbins around heading away from the cloud, instead of towards it?

Given that increasing numbers of people have always-on connections to the end, what possible value could there be in forcing clunky, larger files onto people to carry extra data that could just as easily be looked up off the web anyway?
[T]he MusicDNA files are likely to be more expensive than current music downloads.

Oh. That'd be it, then. Wrap a load of old tut into the music, and whack up the price.

Not that it's about that, you understand:
Mr Brandenburg, director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Digital Media Technology in Germany, said: "I think it brings together a number of ideas that have been around for a long time.

"I remember 10 years ago, a lot of people were saying that we need to enrich the user experience, that legal access to music has to give the customers more than just music, and this is certainly one very nice way to do it."

Actually, what people have been saying for 10 years is that legal music must be cheap and convenient. I don't think anyone has ever said "I wish every day the lyrics insert would change every morning", have they?

Brit Awards 2011 shortlist announced: NME awards shortlist published

Well, it's as good a joke as it was last year. Although, to be honest, this year's shortlists for the NME prizes is so conservative, I suspect even the Brits jury might be ashamed of it.

They put on a brave face:

The shortlists for the Shockwaves NME Awards 2010 were announced tonight (January 25). Arctic Monkeys, Kasabian, Muse, Oasis and Biffy Clyro are among the nominees.

Good god. Kasabian? Oasis?

This is what happens when you let your readership bleed away.

The NME Awards 2010 nominations are:

Best British Band (sponsored by Shockwaves)
Arctic Monkeys
Biffy Clyro

Best International Band (sponsored by 4music/T4)
Green Day
Kings Of Leon
Vampire Weekend
Yeah Yeah Yeahs

Best Solo Artist
Dizzee Rascal
Florence And The Machine
Jamie T
Julian Casablancas
Lady Gaga

Best New Band (sponsored by USC)
The Big Pink
Bombay Bicycle Club
Mumford & Sons
The xx
La Roux

Best Live Band (sponsored by Tuborg)
Arctic Monkeys
Them Crooked Vultures

Best Album (sponsored by HMV)
Arctic Monkeys – 'Humbug'
Kasabian – 'West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum'
Muse – 'The Resistance'
The Cribs – 'Ignore The Ignorant'
The Horrors – 'Primary Colours'

Best Track (sponsored by NME Radio)
Animal Collective – 'My Girls'
Arctic Monkeys – 'Crying Lightning'
Florence And The Machine – 'Rabbit Heart (Raise It Up)'
Jamie T – 'Sticks N' Stones'
The Big Pink – 'Dominos'

Best Video (sponsored by NME TV)
Arctic Monkeys – 'Cornerstone '
Biffy Clyro – 'The Captain'
Kasabian – 'Fire'
The Maccabees – 'Can You Give It'
Oasis – 'Falling Down'

Best Live Event
Blur at Hyde Park
Jay-Z at Alexandra Palace
Muse at Teignmouth
Oasis at Heaton Park
The Dead Weather at Shoreditch Church

Best Festival
Reading And Leeds Festivals
T In The Park
V Festival

Best Dancefloor Filler
Dizzee Rascal And Armand Van Helden – 'Bonkers'
Florence And The Machine – 'You've Got The Love'
La Roux – 'In For The Kill' (Skream Remix)
Lady Gaga – 'Poker Face'
Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 'Zero'

Best TV Show
The Inbetweeners
Never Mind The Buzzcocks
Peep Show
True Blood

Best Film
(500) Days Of Summer
In The Loop
Inglourious Basterds
The Twilight Saga: New Moon
Where The Wild Things Are

Best DVD
Kings Of Leon – Live At The The O2 Arena
Flight Of The Conchords – Complete HBO Second Season
The Killers – Live From The Royal Albert Hall
The Mighty Boosh – Future Sailors
Nirvana – Live At Reading

Giving It Back Fan Award
Kasabian and Noel Fielding for free 'Vlad The Impaler' video
Danger Mouse for leaking 'Dark Night Of The Soul'
Lily Allen for her Twitter ticket treasure hunt
Arctic Monkeys for their Oxfam golden tickets
Vampire Weekend for giving away 'Horchata' from the album 'Contra'

Hero Of The Year
Beyoncé Knowles
Noel Gallagher
Rage Against The Machine
Matt Bellamy
Alex Turner

Villain Of The Year
Noel Gallagher
Liam Gallagher
Simon Cowell
Kanye West
Lady Gaga

Best Dressed
Lady Gaga
Liam Gallagher
Noel Fielding
Florence Welch
Karen O

Worst Dressed
Lady Gaga
Matt Bellamy
Katy Perry
Liam Gallagher
Elly Jackson, La Roux

Worst Album
Green Day – '21st Century Breakdown'
Lady Gaga – 'The Fame'
The Jonas Brothers – 'Lines Vines Trying Times'
U2 – 'No Line On The Horizon'
Arctic Monkeys – 'Humbug'

Worst Band
Green Day
Jonas Brothers

Hottest Man
Head to NME.COM now to rate possibles including Alex Turner, Liam Gallagher, Peter Doherty, Matt Bellamy, Brandon Flowers and Julian Casablancas

Hottest Woman
Head to NME.COM now to rate possibles including Lily Allen, Alison Mosshart, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Florence Welch and Karen O

Best Website (excluding NME.COM)

Best Album Artwork
Muse – 'The Resistance'
Green Day – '21st Century Breakdown'
Kasabian – 'West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum'
The Cribs – 'Ignore The Ignorant'
Manic Street Preachers – 'Journal For Plague Lovers '

Best Band Blog
Muse ( and
Radiohead (
Noel Gallagher (
Los Campesinos! (
Paramore (

Those heroes are pretty odd, aren't they? Beyonce? Rage? What exactly did Rage Against the Machine do to be heroic? They were basically 'anyone other that Simon Cowell', which is hardly being heroic, is it?

Mind you, the villains are even worse. How could either of the Gallaghers be villains? This is the first year they've ever done something to make our lives better.

And can we just say: Tuborg? Tuborg lager? Really?

Ticketmaster/Live Nation: Go on, do it

The age of pretend choice in major live events ticketing is drawing to a close, as America follows Britian in indicated governmental relaxity with a Ticketmaster/LiveNation merger.

The Justice Department have pretended to be all strict and pretend to insist on countermeasures:

Under the proposed settlement, Ticketmaster must sell its Paciolan ticketing unit to Comcast-Spectacor which has already signed a letter of intent, or to another company approved by the Justice Department, the agency said.

Additionally, the merged company would be barred from retaliating against any venue owner that uses another company's ticketing or promotional services and must license its primary ticketing software to Anschutz Entertainment Group, the Justice Department said.

Ticketmaster are said to be happy to do this, just as soon as they've jacked up the mysterious booking fee to maximum.

Wilco do their bit

Helping out with Haiti disaster relief fund-raising tonight is Wilco - two gigs for download in return for a donation. It's on the honours system, so don't be an arse.

MIDEM 2010: MTV plan future for music computer games

Highly recommended is PaidContent's interview with MTV’s games SVP Paul DeGooyer. He's firstly trying to put a brave face on the decline in sales of Rock Star type games - "not as sharp" as we might think, apparently; then he ponders where the future might lay:

“Songs and music games need to be a part of people’s self-expression. Developments in terms of console interfaces are going to make it, literally, more gestural to interact with music.”

Literally more gestural. My self-expression will literally be more gestural. Frankly, I can't wait for the future.

It turns out what he means is that you might not need a crappy plastic guitar shaped thing. In effect, he's picturing an air guitar which makes a noise.

Thomas award reduced from offensive to merely egregious

The award in the Jammie Thomas-Rasset has been reduced by District Judge Michael Davis from $1.92 million to "just" $54,000. Davis was unimpressed with the original level of the award:

“The need for deterrence cannot justify a $2 million verdict for stealing and illegally distributing 24 songs for the sole purpose of obtaining free music,” Davis wrote. “Moreover, although plaintiffs were not required to prove their actual damages, statutory damages must bear some relation to actual damages.”

$54k is still silly money, but let's at least be delighted that a judge has noted that the RIAA's current claims are unjustifiable. He could have reduced the figure even further - the minimum amount per song allowed by law is $750 (even that is a stupid figure) and there is a question as to why Judge Davis decided $2,250 isn't too much to deter in itself.

Thomas-Rasset says she still can't afford the lower amount; the RIAA can apply for yet another trial if they object to the judgement.

Downloadable: Justin Townes Earle and Dawn Landes

Something a little country, now. I was going to say 'without the hats', but it turns out that Justin is wearing an annoying hat on the bit of Paste Magazine where you can suck down a free mp3 of Do I Ever Cross Your Mind.

Embed and breakfast man: Beach House

Jimmy Fallon - the one who hasn't been humiliated by being shoved back to late nights, or by being paid off and sent elsewhere, or by having to admit he has wandering hands - is still doing his proper job. As part of that, he hosted Beach House at the end of last week:

[Teen Dream is out today]

System Of A Down: Good news at last

Here's something to cheer up a gloomy winter evening: although they're not removing the threat entirely, System Of A Down aren't planning to get back together any time soon:

"We always have offers to play, from festivals and stuff, but we have not decided to do anything as of yet," [Serj] Tankian explains. "We're in touch. We talk. We call it an indefinite hiatus, and that's how we still look at it. Nothing's really changed."

Yes, the "as of yet" is a bit of a threat, but at least it gives us hope.

Meanwhile, Tankian is working on his, uh, solo project:
"It's pretty wild, musically," Tankian reports. "It's all over the place, from jazz to classical to noise to rock to electronic. And the story's really powerful, a story of tyranny and justice."

'Admittedly,' he continued, 'my decision to sing in a ickle bunny-wunny voice sits a bit uneasily with that, but...' Tankian tailed off. "I mean, nobody's actually going to want to listen to it, so I figured why not?"

Killers axe dates

Nothing makes you wonder what the hell is going on like a tart cancellation announcement that offers only "unforeseen circumstances" for that dropping of dates. Unless you're a psychic going for a punchline, using the phrase is effectively saying "you might as well develop your own groundless speculation for this".

Unforeseen circumstances, though, is the reason The Killers are offering for pulling their entire Asian tour:

"The Killers have been forced to cancel their appearances in Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong, Manila, Tokyo and Seoul due to unforeseen circumstances."

"The band deeply apologizes to their fans and hope to reschedule their shows in these cities soon. At this time the band's Australian appearances remain scheduled as planned."

Our guess: Brandon Flowers has got his toe stuck in a bath-tap, and the rest of the band are currently trying to use gravy browning so that female help can be dispatched without the risk of an accidental glimpse of his penis. Hey, it happened to Pa Glum that time.

[Thanks to Michael M for the link]

Westlife fire lasers into people's eyes

Westlife's appearance on the X Factor has been the focus of an upheld complaint to Ofcom, as it turns out their flashing light show could have triggered epileptic fits amongst the audience:

Ofcom tested this segment of the programme against its published Guidance
concerning PSE. It found that for two sequences during the Westlife performance,
lasting just over three seconds in total, it contained flashing where the brightness,
frequency and screen areas exceeded the “intensity” limits as set out in the
Guidance. The sequences contained flashing at an average rate of approximately 15
flashes per second (the limit in Ofcom’s Guidance being no more than three flashes
per second).

It's a difficult balance - obviously, you have to consider viewers who are sensitive to flashing images, but on the other hand: how do you make something like Westlife interesting, assuming setting fire to them is illegal?

Also in the latest Ofcom complaints: A Cornwall-based radio station ran a competition offering valuables as prizes. The station said they were worth £100; they turned out to be worth less than half that. People complained, the station apologised and fixed the error.

However, given the station was Pirate FM, would people not be expecting some sort of buccaneering trickery? If you tuned in to Radio Highwayman or Talk Cutpurse, you'd be on your guard; surely the same should be true of a company which trades under the name of a group of brigands?

MIDEM 2010: Spotify don't want to get too social

There's a couple of interesting points from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek in MIDEM yesterday. Music Ally has a great report.

First is a clear-eyed explanation about what Spotify is and isn't:

Ek also alluded to Spotify’s current investment in more social features for its service, but warned that this won’t represent a complete about-turn in the company’s strategy.

“We’re looking at that quite a lot, but we’re not Pandora or,” said Ek. “I think they’re fantastic products, but what we’re trying to do… we’re really trying to drive you to create your library and to use Spotify as the cloud-based service where you have your music library.”

Although - actually - Spotify Playlists are probably one of the most successful social networking devices yet created by a music company.

Talking of which, they're hoping playlists might become more of a revenue generator:
He also promised that Spotify is looking at how to improve its integrated downloads offering, including allowing people to buy playlists rather than just individual songs.

A rebirth of the album as a form of paid-for mixtape? It still won't please the record companies - they still see an album as a way of making some money back on the duff tracks they've funded, and this won't do that. But it's still 'buying a collection of songs in one go', so it should cheer them up a little.

Playlists are also driving subscriptions, claims Ek:
He also claimed that it’s not just mobile apps driving Spotify’s customers to upgrade to the premium version:the playlists are important too. “More and more of our users are understanding and building their library in Spotify. Once they invest in that, the willingness to pay increases.”

Which carries a warning for the labels who are currently starting to mutter darkly that they don't see why they should be cutting Spotify goodwill - if people start to 'collect' in the cloud, and pay to do that, there's a real risk if the RIAA whip away the football. It's unlikely anyone would start to pay a new service to do the same thing quite so willingly if Spotify crashes financially and takes their investment and playlists with them. Even if the RIAA cartel doesn't totally care for Spotify, they need to build trust in cloud-located music collections.

Gordon in the morning: Perhaps he thought it was a bank holiday

Considering nobody expects much from The Sun's gossip column, somehow Gordon has managed to fail to even make the usual low bar this morning with an enormous piece about...

What is it about, exactly?

The story seems to be that The Sun has asked Arsenal if they'd let Jay-Z in for free, and the football team have said yes:

Club bigwigs contacted the rapper after reading in my pages that he is a big Arsenal fan.

I suppose at least four people are reading the column, then, Gordon.

I think the idea is meant to show how well-connected Gordon is, but frankly, it doesn't work - it's about as interesting as sitting in a pub listening to someone trying to blag their way in to something.

Mind you, it does generate this from Jay-Z:
He added: "The next time I'm playing in England I would like the Arsenal players to come and watch my gig and then come backstage afterwards.

"I know how hard professional sportsmen work so I want to offer an incentive for the guys."

I don't know what is more ridiculous - the idea that incredibly over-paid footballers need some extra incentive to do the fucking "job" they're paid to do, or that Jay-Z really thinks that going backstage to meet him at a pop gig is such a wonderful thing it's worth two extra goals at the very least.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Midlake weekend: Children On The Ground

Pace David Hepworth, but Midlake have more than one song. A distinctive sound, agreed. But more than one song.

This is not the most visually appealing video I've ever shared, but worth it to hear Children On The Ground live. From a gig in Lyon in 2007:

[Part of Midlake weekend]

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: Massive Attack

The Sunday Times has a big interview with Massive Attack today. Oh... yes, did we mention it's by Will Self?

Somewhere back in the early 1990s, when Britain was dull in a different way, I first heard Massive Attack’s Blue Lines. Then in my early thirties, I already thought I was way too old for popular music. I’d sat out 1987’s so-called Summer of Love in a deckchair, and all the dancey-ravey music of that era struck me like someone stupidly wired beating up on a drum machine. The Wigmore Hall beckoned — and I was looking forward to it — when a girlfriend 10 years my junior plopped a vinyl disc onto my turntable and this sinuous, sensual, subversive soundscape sprang into being somewhere between my ears. Or was it in the room? Or even encompassing the whole block of flats?

This week just gone

Welcome, to our scanty Chinese readership. The cities in China with most No Rock readers are:

1. Beijing
2. Shanghai
3. Guangzhou
4. Tianjin
5. Shenzhen
6. Urumqi
7. Tianshui
8. Wuhan
9. Qingdao
10. Shijiazhuang

Between 2008 and 2009, visits from China halved. Third placed in 2008, Hangzhou, stopped sending any visitors at all in 2009.

In case you're wondering, amongst the key interests of Chinese visitors are Beth Ditto's naked NME cover and a 2005 change to Swedish copyright law.

Bugger. I forgot to swap out the new releases last Sunday. These should have been plugged:

Scout Niblett - The Calcination Of...

Download This Fool Can Die Now

Final Fantasy - Heartland

Download He Poos Clouds

These New Puritans - Hidden

Download Hidden

Bob Mould - Live At ATP

Download If I Can't Change Your Mind (Live)

Blueboy - If Wishes Were Horses
[Re-issue of Sarah Records debut]

Download If Wishes Were Horses