Saturday, April 24, 2010

Noel's attacker: Paying again and again

Alice P writes again from Toronto, where the National Post has run a piece which, while not condoning people shoving Noel Gallagher over, suggests a degree of sympathy for the attacker:

Before he attacked Oasis leader Noel Gallagher in 2008, Pickering contractor Daniel Sullivan was a family man who did community theatre and coached kids’ soccer. Since his drunken rampage on a Toronto stage, Sullivan spent months apart from his family, developed mental issues that prompted him to seek counselling, and was today sentenced to one year’s house arrest.

Sullivan did bad - but it sounds like he's had his life wrecked pretty solidly as a result of the sort of beery laddishness that Gallagher celebrates.

And - as Alice reminds us - Noel still has a civil action pending against Sullivan. What the hell for? He's not rich; he's already had his life ruined. What good would suing a bloke who has nothing and extending the cycle of misery. The courts have punished him. He's apologised. What's the point of a vindictive lawsuit?

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Face/Off

In the history of post-Blur/Oasis limp chart battles, this one is the lettuce left out a month in the hot sun: Weller versus, erm, AC-DC. It's such a non-event, it falls to the Skegness Standard to document what is essentially 'two totally different acts release albums on the same day, which, frankly, happens every Monday, and one of them will, normally, outsell the other'.

Nobody is going to bother to offer an opinion on such a story, are they?

Nobody, that is, save for Gennaro Castaldo - he can't hear the word 'chartbattle' without saying 'yes, that is a proper word, and I have some insight to add'. Although even he struggles:

Gennaro Castaldo of retailer HMV said: "With so many new acts about these days, there aren't as many classic chart face-offs as we've seen in the past. And it's certainly rare to see such iconic 'heritage' artists battling it out for the No 1 album spot in what might be dubbed a bit of a mods versus rockers contest.

"Ultimately, however, the thing that's most important is that, while both acts have very dedicated followings, their music is now being picked up and enjoyed by a whole new generation of fans."

"... there are no losers, everyone will have prizes, and it's the taking part that matters. Play up, play up and play the game!" he concluded, before asking the headmaster to grant a half day's holiday.

Seriously, Gennaro: Mods versus rockers? Despite Weller now being more rocky than poorly-loaded sheep wagon cornering on a slippery hillside, and AC-DC being a metal act? It's more like 'mid-life crisis versus unpaid tax demand', isn't it?

Leona Lewis doesn't need alcohol

The main problem with Straight Edge was that for most Straight Edgers, it wasn't enough to draw an X on their hands, they had to keep banging on about how they were straight. And on the edge.

It was hard to imagine anything could be more dull than listening to a punk go on about how they didn't touch alcohol.

That was until now:

Pop star Leona Lewis has defended her decision not to drink insisting revellers who need alcohol to have a good time have a 'stupid mindset'.

Oh, yes. Leona Lewis can't afford alc... sorry, doesn't need alcohol to have a Good Time.
Which is great, but... why does she sound like she's trying to convince herself?
I find some people's attitude to drinking ridiculous. I think it's so funny that people think you have to drink in order to have fun. It's such a stupid mindset,' she said.

'A lot of my friends are like, 'I need a drink to get on the dancefloor!' I don't need that 'help me to relax' thing. If I'm around my friends then I can really relax and have a good time, that's all I need. I don't need alcohol,' she added.

... she did look like she was going to say something else, but the spoon had just got warm enough at that point and so she focused on that.

Madonna's unruly bush crew upset neighbours

Madonna has been trying to protect her privacy by surrounding one of her many houses with bushes. That, in itself, seems odd - it's like the sun deciding it's shy, or the moon electing to pop up a Chinese screen to give it some 'me time'.

Still, the attempt to create an enchanted forest behind which she can be 'private' has got her in the papers - almost as if the very act of having hundreds of trees driven to your house screams "look at me! Look! Look at me being private!"

Her neighbours are not amused, says the Times Of India, which read it in the Daily Express, who heard it from Star magazine:

They are reportedly being loud, strewing and relieving themselves on other people’s property.

Strewing? They're strewing themselves about? I'm not even sure that I can picture what that would be like.

You have to wonder, though, with grounds large enough for 500 trees, why the gardeners couldn't find part of Madonna's own place to piss in. Or to have a strew.

Adam Ant hits the comeback trail. Comeback trail hits back, harder.

There is little to add to this email from Scary Boots than the sound of scrabbling around on the floor attempting to find my dropped jaw:

Last night I was at Stay Beautiful, a glittery rock and roll club night thing at the purple turtle where they usually have bands like 'An experiment on a bird in the air pump'. Last night they had a godawful tranny-riot girl act. But that is not the point. The point is Adam Ant was supporting. And it was awful.

To start with, it was OK. He's faintly ludicrous in the same way as all older guys who refuse to accept that people are not as interested in their chests as once they were. (Moobs. At least an A-cup, if I'm any judge). It hit a low when he started rubbing strongbow all over himself. The poor girl's Dita, perhaps. But it ended.

And then, after 'Lady Noise' - fantastic outfits, shame about the music and the lyrics - he came back on again. And announced he was going to perform a song he'd been working on for a while. 'It was originally by Bruce Springsteen', he said, 'But I've changed it and made it my own.'

The change? He sang 'Born in the Uuuuuu K' instead of the USA. That was it. And interjected occasionally with 'This is for Sophie Lancaster. Beaten to death for being a punk rocker.' 'Every time I click my fingers a punk rocker dies.' 'Next time it could be you!' Click. Click. "Born in the Uuuuuu K!" Insightful social commentary (although where does he find punk rockers these days?).

It's bad enough being beaten to death by thugs without having hideous songs caterwauled in dedication to you.

I'm not sure my description fully encapsulates how fucking awful it was. With any luck, someone was filming.

Anyway. Thought you might care. All my friends who were there were overwhelmed by seeing 'the real adam ant!!!'. And did not know the original Springsteen.

It's awful and heartbreaking in equal measures - the murder of Sophie Lancaster was a terrible thing, but you'd think Adam could at least get the subculture she belonged to right. Or might have thought a little better of clumsily adapting a song about Vietnam veterans as a misguided tribute.

There is some video footage available - not the Springsteen, unfortunately, but... well, here's a idea of what we missed:

Danceobit: Ann Vervoort

Ann Vervoort, the graphic designer and dancer who spent two years as theoretical vocalist for Belgian dance collective Milk Inc has been found dead at her home in Houthalen-Helchteren.

Vervoort was more of a front person for Milk Inc - her vocals on record are widely accepted to have been recorded by Karine Boelaerts; Vervoort was a presence for live appearances. In 2000, she quit the band when she moved to Ibiza and founded Beni Musa Records with her then-boyfriend Pat Krimson.

She returned to Belgium in the middle of the last decade. Reports say Ann had developed a dependency on painkillers after an accident at work and the Belgian press have claimed that alcohol and drugs were involved in her death. Ann Vervoort was 33.

Here's Ann performing with the band at VRT Summer in 1999:

Major label holds out the begging bowl

One of those moments where the majors behave so terribly, you could almost admire them: Warners' Atlantic imprint is trying to get fans to fund Natty's new album. Hypebot reports:

To encourage fans to invest, Natty's offerings offerings include £8 for the EP, introducing Natty from stage for £70, a private acoustic concert in your own home for £600 - £5,000 (not sure why there's such a wide price range), all the way up to Natty remixing your track for for £1,200. Atlantic hasn't announced if they'll be taking their normal full royalty from Natty on the EP.

Isn't the only point of a record label that they put their money up in advance for the record to be made? What, exactly, will Atlantic be doing to justify their involvement in the project? Providing the sort of marketing and promotion expertise that has proven to not work so well in the modern world?

A major label wanting the audience to put the cash up front is akin to a buffet restaurant wanting you to bus your own table, fetch your own drinks and tip the staff.

BBC Asian Network is worth saving, too

While 6Music is mostly trying a traditional, balanced BBC style approach to its own demise - the odd wink and nod not withstanding, presenters are mostly trying to be impartial when mentioning the review - the Asian Network isn't going so quietly. Some presenters are using their shows to campaign, and this track has even picked up a few plays:

It's actually a pretty stout defence of the network - if the artists who make British Asian music don't believe they'd thrive without the Asian Network, surely that makes it a compelling cultural good? (Especially since they seem to have shunted Desi off 1Xtra entirely.)

There seems to be a structural problem with the station - it does lots of interesting things, but talking to totally different audiences in small packets - but simply shutting the thing down is a bit of a cowardly way out, like breaking something and hiding it behind the sofa before your mum finds out.

Bret Michaels has haemorrhage

Poison bloke turned "one of Donald Trump's celebrity Apprentices" Bret Michaels is in hospital after a haemorrhage in his brain. The lengths people will go to in order to avoid a boardroom with Trump, eh?

He's expected to make a full recovery.

Every time you share a download, Ian Astbury cries

You know the thing about sharing? Sharing is selfish. Don't take my word for it, Ian Astbury says so:

"Whoever was irresponsible enough to decide that music was worth nothing and decide to give away the music, that was a very selfish move," he said.

Yes, curse you, the marketplace.

Astbury, bless him, is getting on a bit and doesn't really understand what he's talking about - confusing the value of music with the price of a recorded audio track.

But do share with us... sorry, not share, sell us your explanation of your thoughts:
"When I look at a 17-year-old kid who's starting out in a band and is hearing, 'You know what kid? Your music's worth nothing.' I think that is disgusting."

Ian, sweetheart - a seventeen year-old will have spent most of their music-consuming life living in a digital world. Most seventeen year-olds will have downloaded, ripped, shared. They come from the new musical world, and they will know how it works, its opportunities and shortcomings.

You're talking as if people in bands emerge from pods, rather than grow out of people who love music. The only way it would be news to someone starting out in a band that some files get shared, and some get shared for no immediate return would be if they were fifty and having a mid-life crisis. After returning from a island they've been stranded on.

Seventeen year-olds don't need to be told about what the digital world means. It's the world they live in, Astbury. It's the world they helped forge.

Ian isn't done, though. He rails against Radiohead, too:
"I thought it was irresponsible what Radiohead did. People watch what they do and they copy it.

How irresponsible to try and find a way of selling music that works. People might try to do the same sort of thing.
"I don't see U2 giving their music away for free. They're smart boys."

Actually, Radiohead didn't give away In Rainbows for free, they... oh, what's the point? Anyone who thinks that U2 are "smart" rather than simply "a multinational corporation who, though in decline, are still large enough to operate in a different way" doesn't really have much of a grip on what he's talking about.

In short: Ian Astbury said "waaah, waah, things have changed and I'm too conservative to operate well in a world where there's fewer big bands getting all the money at the expense of everybody else."

The illustrated Hello: Mary Wilson, Di and Flo

For some reason, Betty didn't get a greeting when the Beloved greeted The Surpemes. Or Barbara.

They were once called the much-less alluring Primettes. First they became The Supremes, and then - Berry Gordy decided his girlfriend was the most supreme of the Suremes, and the became Diana Ross and The Supremes. Primus inter pares.

They still hold the American record for 'most successful vocal act in terms of number one singles', which is quite specific but still quite impressive, although the ease with which acts can get to number one these days means it's probably only going to be a few weeks before Tom Cruise's daughter and Billy Graham's niece get together, throwtogether a baker's dozen of autotuned downloads and change history.

Still, The Supremes, eh? Brilliant:

The Supremes by Bad Dreams Fancy Dress. Oh... the actual Supremes?

[Buy: The Supremes: A Saga of Motown Dreams, Success, and Betrayal by Mark Ribowsky
Meet The Supremes

[Part of The Illustrated Hello, the feature that would never end]

Gordon in the morning: My dinner with Paolo

Gordon Smart enjoyed a supper with Paolo Nutini and - aside from something about Nutini missing a doctor's appointment, what do you suppose the main interest was?

We were sat at a table next to RONNIE WOOD and his Brazilian girl Ana Araujo.

Ronnie must have smoked 20 cigarettes, getting up from his table every five minutes, but he wasn't drinking much. They woolfed down oysters then fish and chips before heading into the night.

Clearly, Nutini is such glittering company Gordon spent the whole night staring at Ronnie's table instead.

Nutini's appointment was at Harley Street to have his voice checked out; he'd managed to miss the first one. It sounds like he's about as bothered about his singing career as most of the world are.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The RIAA say new models will never work

I'm never sure whether the RIAA is actually as ignorant as some of their public statements would suggest, or if they're just happily pumping out any old nonsense that supports their ultimate aim of trying to apply a physical-product business plan to a digital marketplace.

Take Neil Turkewitz's recent blog, for example. Neil is the interational EVP of the RIAA, no less, and he's worried that changing the way the music industry works must fail:

The suggestion is there are ample alternative mechanisms for generating revenues from music -- money from touring, selling merchandise like t-shirts, licensing music for commercials.

It's not a "suggestion", Neil, people are already doing it. But do carry on.
Completely ignored are the pleas for enhanced copyright protection from artists and unions.

Yes, those pleas are completely ignored. You never hear anything about them, do you? There aren't numerous pieces of legislation around the globe directly dictated trying to "enhance" copyright "protection". (Isn't the protection business the one that Capone was in?)
Even more importantly, the reality of the marketplace is ignored in favor of theory.

And it's bad to ignore the reality of the marketplace, isn't it? Unless, apparently, you're ignoring the message from the marketplace that the monetary value of a file of recorded music is tending towards zero. If the market sends that message, then you have to set about rigging the market.
While touring and merchandise sales will work for some bands -- most notably big bands that “made it” in the 80’s, 90’s or earlier (and built on the back of touring support from music labels) -- it is exceedingly challenging for other bands to generate sufficient income just from touring, and touring support from the labels is rapidly disappearing.

Hang about - you're complaining about the heritage bands making money selling t-shirts because their labels helped them out with touring costs which they then recouped anyway?
And of course, without brand/name recognition, merchandise sales are commercially irrelevant.

What does "commercially irrelevant" actually mean? That a band who only sells a few thousand t-shirts at a profit aren't going to challenge Microsoft on the sales list?

Isn't what's important is whether someone who chooses to make music their career can afford to do so? Worrying about "commercial relevancy" is an industry perspective, not a real issue.
One last question: how is generating revenue from licensing of music to sell other products more socially useful than the sale of music itself?

When you say "products", you're presumably excluding "small circles of plastic" from that list - although that's what the major labels business was.

It's a fair question - although just before Neil then attempts to make a case that the music industry is more socially useful than "the sale of music", you could also ask how the sale of music is more socially useful than making music for the joy or the art of it, or supporting EMI is more socially useful than selling phones or pants.
It seems to me that this is the worst of all worlds, one in which all artistry will not be rewarded -- and one in which only music that works well in selling diapers and cars will be commercially produced.

The key word being "commercially" - for the last forty years, only such music as fitted with the business plans of record labels has been commercially produced; it's not so much of a shift from 'songs that won't upset Sony HQ' to 'songs which will help sell the Yaris'. As before, music will continue to thrive away from this focus, and thanks to the wonders of a connected world, that music will find its audience much more easily.
Is this supposed to sustain the diversity of music that we want? Would we have Bob Dylan, Leonard Cohen, Patti Smith, the Sex Pistols under this kind of system for compensating artists?

I suspect Dylan, Cohen, Smith and the Pistols would find it difficult to get a demo accepted by the RIAA four these days anyway. Certainly, if their antecedents are getting deals now, it's hard to spot them behind the sea of Mileys and Bow Wows and Pixie Lotts.
Not remotely.

Well, we probably would - you can imagine Smith taking a route similar to that of Amanda Palmer, sticking her stuff out for herself. What we might not see is visceral, challenging artists being toned down as part of a deal to gain access to a music industry operated as a cartel by a handful of multinational companies.
Exactly what kind of product licensing would have sustained the Smiths or Nirvana?

Sub Pop probably wouldn't have needed product licensing to sustain Nirvana, and Nirvana would probably have not had to sign to Geffen. And Mozzer could probably have kept going on t-shirt sales alone.
Was there anything on Springsteen's first record that would have drawn the attention of advertising companies?

This really is a stupid statement. When Bruce's first album was released, the advertising market was totally different - producing information-based adverts ("this fridge keeps your milk cool") aimed at older, more valuable consumers who wouldn't have responded as well to a rock soundtrack. Jingles ruled the day.

These days, advertising has shifted to selling to younger consumers, and tend more to the affinity, feeling good sell than the "drink this and be better" approach. The advertising industry, for all its sins, has at least accepted the world is different, and changed how it works - there might be a lesson for the music industry there.

So, no, in the 1970s, Rice Krispies might not have approached Bruce to license a track. It's not beyond the imagination that he might have been asked by Nike for a lend if he'd appeared in the 2010. There's no end of artists on their first album who have turned up on adverts in the last few years.
In fact, we never would have had Elvis (either one)!

Didn't Elvis have to make the films because he couldn't sustain himself on music alone? And how many great acts have we lost because of the traditional structure of the music industry - all those acts who split up because their labels dumped them after one album; all those acts who never got a big deal and found attempts to thrive on an indie got crushed by the cartelly-activities of the RIAA companies? Why would it be bad to lose Presley, but not an outrage that Clare Grogan's solo album is locked away forever in a record company vault?

I'm sure Neil must know that saying "well, nobody in the 1970s would have licensed a Springsteen track for an advert" isn't even an argument. It makes you wonder why he would say such a thing as if it was some sort of debate-ender.

Darkness at 3AM: Vickers in a to-do

Diana Vickers 'accidentally' tells the Mirror she's going out with someone:

Blushing, Diana said: “I don’t know why I said that – I am dating someone. I just got really flustered. We’ve been casually dating for a little while.

“He’s just a regular Joe, so he’d kill me if I say his name and because it’s at such an early stage I don’t want to tell anyone yet. I’m so busy it’s hard to fit a boyfriend in, we’re just seeing how it goes.”

How delightful for Vicker's paramour to open the paper today and see himself described as "an ordinary joe." I wonder if she makes him dress up in a boiler suit?

What makes it even more bemusing is that it's Diana Vickers. You're not Lady GaGa. You can imagine Mr. Ordinary Joe telling his mates "yeah, I'm seeing this woman - it's nobody you know, though..."

Gordon in the morning: Weller report

Not everyone at The Sun offices are busy hiding pro-Liberal Democrat poll results or clomping around London like they're The Mitchell brothers. It's business as normal over at Bizarre:

TWILIGHT star ROBERT PATTINSON is tormented about whether acting is really for him.

Well, chicken, why don't try doing some acting some time to find out?

Meanwhile, Gordon's been out to see Paul Weller and Noel Gallagher playing together - or Two Grumps, One Amp. Naturally, Gordon loved it - if Serge had been there, it would have been like a dream he once had - and reports back how thrilling it all was:
Then OASIS axe man Noel pitched up and the pair performed the Gallagher-penned Mucky Fingers as well as Weller's own Echoes Round The Sun.

What would the negotiations backstage have been like to arrive at that choice of songs?

-Should I do one off of the albums people liked, Paul?
-No. This is about me. You'll have to do one of the flabby late-period tracks
-But there's so many to choose from...
-How about that one with the ridiculous Stones rip-off name?
-I've never recorded Demerara Sugar
-No, no, the other one...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Devo on the TIVO*

* - well, actually on web video, but that doesn't rhyme.

Motherboard TV - the notevenslightly geeky kit 'n' shit Dell-sponsored video service - have gone and had a route round Devo's studio:

No sign of them using a Swiffer yet, but early days...

Hold the Daily Mail front page: Kelly Clarkson causes cancer

Kelly Clarkson isn't normally incendiary, but she's managed to generate to fug of outrage as she brings the great news about fags to young people:

US pop singer Kelly Clarkson has been criticised for allowing an upcoming gig in Jakarta, Indonesia to be sponsored by a local cigarette brand.

Promotional materials for the concert on 29 April have a logo for LA Lights featured prominently.

I know for a fact, instead of dry ice, she was going to rely on dozens of small children puffing away at the side of the stage.

Imagine - a major public figure flogging cigarettes to poor people in poorer countries and thinking they could get away with it.

Noel Gallagher's shover sentenced

The bloke who shoved Noel Gallagher over, and sent Liam into Bin Laden like hiding, has finally been sentenced:

Danny Sullivan, the man who attacked guitarist Noel Gallagher on a Toronto stage 18 months ago, has been sentenced to twelve months of house arrest.

The sentence, handed down by Mr. Justice Richard Schneider in a Toronto court Wednesday, will allow Mr. Sullivan to leave his home to run his contracting business. He will have an additional four hours a week to conduct personal matters outside the house.

But - and let's be very clear here - "personal matters" does not involve trying to make Gem Archer get so dizzy he falls over.
In his ruling, Judge Schneider noted that Mr. Sullivan had no prior run-ins with the law, and he will not be a threat to the community while he is serving the conditional sentence. His behaviour at the concert “was not consistent with anything we know about Mr. Sullivan,” the judge said. He declined the Crown’s request to put Mr. Sullivan on probation after his sentence is complete.

To be honest, Sullivan wasn't much of a threat to the community even while he was pushing Noel Gallagher over. It's not like he was then going to start pushing people over wildly, before turning the push on himself.

[Thanks again to Alice P, our Toronto/rockstar shoving correspondent]

Gordon in the morning: Coldplay... do a nice thing, actually

Coldplay. They're meant to be evil. It makes it hard to remember this when they do something nice:

COLDPLAY have emerged as unlikely sponsors for small Gloucestershire village cricket side Slaughters Utd.

Bass player GUY BERRYMAN has offered to fork out for new whites and kit for the club.

Cricket, you say? Why, Gordon, can you think of a crickety pun?
HOWZAT for generosity?

Of course you can. And "delighted insider" at the Great Rissington cricket club, can you come up with one? (In other words, can you think of another, Gordon?)
A delighted insider at the club said: "It's knocked us for six."

Well done, every one.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Embed and breakfast man: Evelyn Evelyn

I know we're supposed to pretend Evelyn Evelyn are conjoined twins, but we all know who they are.

But look: puppets!

Voxtrot: Over and over

Voxtrot are going to do one more tour, and that'll be it. Why? Ramesh can tell you why. It's bloody Fran Healy's fault:

Being in Voxtrot has been wonderful and amazing, but it is only one chapter in the book...

When I was in high school, I was a great fan of the Scottish band, Travis, and I have always harbored a secret desire to meet the band's frontman, Fran Healy. Not so long ago, at my friend Lucy's studio in Berlin, I had the fortunate experience of doing just this. He was buying a painting of hers, and we spent about three hours conversing. Eventually, our conversation drifted towards the ebb and flow of our respective careers, as well as the anger that comes with not knowing how to pull oneself out of a creative rut. Obviously, our two careers have been on different scales, but nonetheless, the associated concepts are universal. At the end of the conversation, he said to me, "You can't to keep writing the same song. You have to throw away the map. AND you have to keep creating, even if it goes nowhere for a while, you have to always keep creating… and it'll be great."

And he's right. I must leave again-take a risk, do something radical, but in order to do that, I need closure. This is not to say that Voxtrot will never play again, and certainly, if Voxtrot has never been to your country (or continent) we are open to ideas, but for all intents and purposes, this series of live shows will be the last.

Part of doing something with love is being able to say "goodbye" at the right time. Thank you for everything. On to the next one...

Way to go, Fran. Couldn't you have broken up some other band?

The wrong Suede

The idea of Suede playing the big room at the Millennium Dome would have been cool. At the Millennium.

Not sure it works now - it has the aura of a bid to scrape in as much cash as possible.

There are also ominous rumours of a new record. With the wrong line-up. It's like going to a school reunion, and discovering only supply teachers and the foreign exchange kids have turned up.

There's nothing wrong with late-period Suede. Providing you approach it as the decline of the band. Why would you go back to the twilight?

Actually, scrap saving 6Music. Close the bastard down.

The suspicion that the BBC are trying to make 6Music as unpleasant as possible in a bid to quell calls for the closure decision to be reversed does linger somewhat.

More than somewhat:

Digital radio station BBC 6 Music is set to let some celebrity music fans loose on the airwaves in a series of takeovers celebrating the music fan in everyone.

Top Gear's James May, The Wright Stuff presenter and former Mirror columnist Matthew Wright, The Sun's Bizarre editor Gordon Smart and Channel 4's Ruth Watson are all taking to the decks to showcase the passion and knowledge they have for the music they love.

Smart is doing Roundtable - shouldn't he be taking care of Radio Sun With Jon Gaunt. That's dodgy.

But it gets a little worse:
Finally, television presenter Matthew Wright unleashes his freakier side on the nation as he takes over presenting duties from Stuart Maconie to step into the Freak Zone on Sunday 25 April (6-8pm).

He's excited at the prospect, which may go some way to making up for the distinct lack of enthusiasm from the rest of us.
"I can't wait! Doing the Freak Zone will give me the chance to show there's more to Matthew Wright than the camp, gurning fool you can see on The Wright Stuff!"

But I don't listen to the Freak Zone in order to discover another side to a person whose television programme only has 'not being Jeremy Kyle' going for it. How would he feel if we turned up to pee in his fridge so that he could see there's another side to music fans?

[Thanks for the alert to @spazhammer]

Bookmarks - Internet stuff: Mark Ellen

Mark Ellen went to the Islington Academy last night. Although he nearly didn't:

I told them [...] there was a tiny cassette machine in the side pocket. They went into red alert as if it was a ticking bomb. Arms across the doorway. “You’re not coming in here with that, mate!”

Michael Jackson: Cirque du oh why

If there used to be one thing in defence of Cirque Du Soleil, it was that they used to use interesting music as a backdrop to their juggling and trapeze doodling.

Not any more, though, as - with people still dangling over arenas to the sounds of The Beatles - the circus folk are going more and more like a fairground dodgem set up. They're now working on a show based around the money of Michael Jackson.

Music of Michael Jackson. Did I say money?

Jackson, who died at age 50 last June after a drug overdose, was described as a "huge fan" of the French Canadian performance group.

He was always going on about them. Had a t-shirt and everything.
"He said he was an acrobat himself," [Cirque CEO Daniel] Lamarre said in an interview. "As an artist he had this amazing way of bringing some visual element to his performances."

I remember Jackson claiming to be an acrobat. Or a juggler, or something. Or at least, he ran a fairground for a bit, didn't he? That's pretty much the same thing.

As this creep towards absorbing back catalogue to build Las Vegas shows around, it's only a matter of time before we find CDS trying to claim that Mama Cass was, really, something of a trapeze artist herself.

Gordon in the morning: An advertising message

Gordon Smart hasn't bothered to do any news today; instead he's just written about an advert for a telephone instead featuring Beckham and that woman out the L'Oreal commercials:

The stylish A-listers appear in the TV promo for [a brand of] phones alongside the slogan "Friends. Fashion. Fabulous."

Journalism will lie in state for two evenings before being buried in a shallow grave round the back of a KFC.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Nihal mishears, panics

There was Nihal, doing a gentle interview on Radio One, when his guest suddenly dropped the d bomb. Yeah, she called herself a digger. Unfortunately, that wasn't what Nihal heard.

Downloadable: Atari Teenage Riot

Look, listen, love: it's ATR doing Activate:


The cloud of ash: Mary Onettes drop US dates

The ash cloud has claimed another batch of tour dates - The Mary Onettes have dropped their planned US tour. Refunds at the box office.

Meanwhile, look at what they're missing out on:

Juno Awards: Canada gives prizes

Who knew there was a still a land where working on a Dolores O'Riordan record would see you win a prize, rather than be detained in a secure unit?

The Canadian version of the Grammys, the Junos, were passed out this weekend. Actually, I say like the Grammys - it's hard to picture them giving proper, non-genre prizes to K'naan and Metric.

Here are the winners:

Presented By Pepsi
Michael Bublé



Haven’t Met You Yet
Michael Bublé



Only By The Night
Kings Of Leon



Sponsored by Canadian Recording Industry Association
Crazy Love
Michael Bublé







Last Gang*Universal








Dine Alone*Universal



“Wavin Flag” – co-songwriters B. Mars, P. Lawrence & J. Daval | “Take A Minute”, “If Rap Gets Jealous” – co-songwriters G. Eaton & B. West



Dance With Me
Johnny Reid

Open Road*Universal



Joel Plaskett





Last Gang*Universal


Crazy Love
Michael Bublé



Billy Talent



Ranee Lee Lives Upstairs
Ranee Lee

Justin Time*EMI


The Happiness Project
Charles Spearin

Arts & Crafts*EMI


It’s About Time
Terry Clarke

Blue Music


As Seen Through The Windows
Bell Orchestre

Arts & Crafts*EMI


Les sentinelles dorment
Andrea Lindsay

GSI Musique*Select


Love My New Shirt
Norman Foote

Inarow Records


Joel Quarrington: Garden Scene
Joel Quarrington



Mathieu, Shostakovich, Mendelssohn: Concertino & Concertos
Alain Lefèvre & London Mozart Players



Adrianne Pieczonka sings Puccini
Adrianne Pieczonka



Lament In The Trampled Garden



So Far Gone



For Lack Of A Better Name



Lonesome Highway



Gonna Be Alright
Dubmatix ft. Prince Blanco

7 Arts



We Are
Digging Roots



Hunter, Hunter
Amelia Curran

Six Shooter*Warner


Good Lovelies
Good Lovelies

Independent*Fontana North


The Corktown Sessions
Jack de Keyzer

Blue Star*Indiepool


Where’s Our Revolution
Matt Brouwer

Black Shoe*Fontana North



Comfortably Mine
Dominic Mancuso



Bob Rock
“Haven’t Met You Yet” | “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” – CRAZY LOVE – Michael Bublé



Dan Brodbeck
“Apple Of My Eye” | "Be Careful" NO BAGGAGE – Dolores O’Riordan



Martin Bernard (Art Director); Stéphane Cocke (Photographer); Thomas Csano (Designer/Illustrator)
Beats on Canvas BEATS ON CANVAS

BOC Records



Little Bit Of Red
Marc Ricciardelli SERENA RYDER



Iron Maiden Flight 666
Sam Dunn, Scott McFadyen Rod Smallwood, Stefan Demetriou, Andy Taylor IRON MAIDEN


But for Michael Buble, all of us might have loved to daydream about moving to Canada.

Gordon in the morning: Coldplay have a wall

Frightening news from the recording studio this morning:

WORK on COLDPLAY's new album is going so well the band have been forced to set up a Top Gear-style "cool wall" just to whittle down the best tracks.

Gordon has a photo of the wall - it actually looks more like something a regional police station might set up in order to try and keep track of petty criminals at work on their patch - nothing too terrible, but the sort of social irritant who really needs to be stopped.
[T]hey have already written more than 50 songs in their new HQ in Camden, north London.

Now, I don't want to sound cynical, but it's been a good few years since even Coldplay would have said they had an album's worth of quality songs. How is it all of a sudden they've got fifty of the things? You might suspect that they're not trying to pick between fifty classics, but trying to pull together a second XI from a convalescent squad.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The illustrated Hello: Leslie Crowther

Yes, yes, there's your record store day. But what of Woolworths? Who fills their void, eh? Here's a 1970s advert with Mr Crowther stocking up on soundalike vinyl and instrumental tunes from his High Street:

(Teenagers: sorry, most of that must have been incomprehensible.)

Interesting that in those days, records were sold "at the prices you want to pay." Try to enforce the price you want to pay nowadays, and you'll wind up having the BPI throw you off the internet.

Crowther, of course, could hold a tune in his own right. Even when singing with Lena Zavaroni:

That was back before she officially changed her name to "tragic" Lena Zavaroni.

Crowther spent some time as chief pencil-awarder on kids' TV catchphrase-heavy gameshow Crackerjack. Besides the musical, um, tributes from Peter Glaze, the show was also one of those odd spots where surprising bands would sometimes turn up. This is Steeleye Span - during next-presenter-but-one Ed 'Stewpot' Stewart's reign of terror:

Stewpot. Perhaps the least menacing mafia nickname ever.

But you know what we're building to here. Crowther's main claim to pop fame - his son-in-law, Phil Lynott:

[Part of the Illustrated Hello]

Downloadable: Pixies

Two pieces of Pixies news. First, here's one of them there widgets-for-mp3s:

That'll get you a live version of La La Love You.

Second, there's two fan-special-shows in June at Troxy. Thirty quid gets you in.

The cloud of ash

Chris Moyles kept off the air because he's trapped in America. John Gaunt off in Tenerife, with no hope of getting back. A Miley Cyrus premiere going ahead without Hannah Montana present.

Surely, it's worth sacrificing a few avocados for this sort of luxury.

Elsewhere, Michael Caine is in a panic: "how will I get out if Brown stays PM?" he's wailing.

In other ash-cloud news, The New York Dolls have proudly turned up for their Koko date tonight. They took the ferry. Is that really punk rock?

Downloadable: John Prine

Next month comes In Person & On Stage, which is John Prine having a stab at both career-spanning retrospective and live album. MusicFansDirect are doing a pre-sale (US based but will ship overseas, or Amazon can help you out in the UK.

While you ponder that, try Long Monday from the album; you can also snaffle another track in return for an email.

Natalie Maines wins costs from dead man's stepfather

The never-ending churn of misery started by the death of three children in West Memphis back in 1993 continues to spin.

Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks had taken part in a rally protesting the imprisonment of the "West Memphis Three", the not-entirely-securely convicted of the killings a while back, during the course of which she made some comments about one of the dead children's families.

Terry Hobbs sued for defamation - an action which was thrown out last year - and now finds he's going to have to pay the costs of Maine's defence, which runs to $17,500.

None of this legal action has got anyone closer to truth; none has got anyone closer to the release of the West Memphis Three.

Darkness at 3AM: Mirror gets the scoop of the century

Prepare for a shock from the Sunday Mirror:

Country singer Willie Nelson reveals he regularly smokes dope

I know. Legendary pot-head, known for campaigning for the legalisation of marijuana, busted for cannabis on his tour bus actually smokes the stuff? I'd always assumed he was using the hemp to weave tote bags.

Jay Elvis? Never heard of you

Normally, Gordon is quite keen to splash a non-story about JLS, but for some reason he's buried today's:

ASTON, MARVIN, JB and ORITSE are across the Pond recording their second album and thought they would go along to a Los Angeles Lakers basketball game on their night off.

But despite their single Everybody In Love getting airplay on US radio, they are still relatively unknown.

They tried to get VIP courtside tickets usually reserved for the likes of DAVID BECKHAM and LEONARDO DiCAPRIO but their request was denied.

Wouldn't you have loved to have seen that conversation? "What? You've been on the radio and you want free VIP tickets? My grandma's been on the radio. She's calling that Bill O'Reilly all the time. And she doesn't get in for free. Go queue over there for the paid tickets, Jay Elvis, and take your friends with you."

Elsewhere, Gordon Smart gets over-excited at the thought there might be naked photos of Kate Moss in existence, despite her being a model who has done dozens of naked shoots.

Bad news for Universal: Amy's apparently move back in with Blake. Next Winehouse album's doomsday clock moves from 'back end of 2012' to 'sometime, never'

You're not rid of me: Gordon Brown enjoys some PJ

Bloody hell, how desperate must Gordon Brown be for votes if he's decided that he's got campaign time to squander watching PJ Harvey doing Let England Shake:

Gordon: she's a fox hunter from the West Country. You might want to move on to someone a little more demographically welcoming.

Seriously, though, I think it's quite sweet that he stayed around to watch Peej do her stuff - it's certainly more comfortable than Maggie doing Saturday Superstore. Or, for that matter, this:

Nobody seems sure if it's satire or an act of misguided passion. If it's meant to help Cameron, it's the sort of helping you get when a drunk guy offers to make toast and burns your kitchen curtains instead. But if it's supposed to be a satire, it's rotten on that score too. Maybe we should just forget The Cameron Girls ever existed. They just want us to look.

[Thanks to @el_paulo for the PJ Harvey; he's not to blame for the Cameron Girls]

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Indiedanceobit: Devon Clifford

Devon Clifford, drummer with You Say Party! We Say Die! has died after collapsing on stage Friday night.

The band were nearing the end of a North American tour when Clifford collapsed in the middle of their Friday night Vancouver date. Paramedics were called to the homecoming gig; Clifford spent Saturday on life support, reports Spinner, before dying early today.

YSPWSD's label, Paper Bag, confirmed the news in a short statement:

"It is with absolute sadness to report that our dear friend Devon Clifford passed away just hours ago in a Vancouver hospital surrounded by his family and friends. He will be deeply missed by everyone who knew him. I request that we respect the family's privacy during this incredibly difficult time."

Formed in British Columbia in 2004, their approach was to treat any building as a possible gig, all hands-on and self-reliant. Their first ep was self-released; they favoured vinyl to a such an extent their digital-only recordings were described as "virtual seven inches". They first toured the UK in 2006; subsequent tours of the United States were made difficult due to what may have been a simple muddle over visas. Devon joined the band prior to 2007's Lose All The Time.

He was an enthusiastic member of the group, embracing both the rushed production process of Lose All The Time, and the luxury to discard and reshape offered when making last year's XXXX. Even if sometimes, he found himself having to rationalise away a sense of recreating rather than creating, as he explained to Exclaim:
"With 'She's Spoken For,' when we first wrote it, I was like 'We can't play this, it's the same chord progression as Pat Benatar's "Love is a Battlefield."' And the others were like, 'I don't think so.' So I went and listened to it and it's totally different. Then I was like, 'Oh, it's like this Pilot song.' But it wasn't. I guess it's just really reminiscent of some classic songs."

The band didn't always find touring easy - that same Exclaim piece details intra-band fights and Becky Ninkovic's breakdown brought on by the misery of trudging round Europe with very little cash. Things had seemed brighter, though, on the current dates.

Clifford had another band, Hard Feelings. He was thirty years old.

Here's a November 2009 performance from QTV. Not that QTV:

Record Store Day: Blur single released as a download

Record Store Day was another massive success on its own terms yesterday, although how far bringing in the sort of people who should be shopping in record stores is a victory is up for debate. There's a bit of a feel that RSD is starting to skew towards the collector and the obscurantist (or at least the hipster) which makes it feel one part 'preaching to the converted' to one part 'giving the impression that record shops really are all like that one in High Fidelity and if you're not interested in short-run 7" vinyl releases or having scorn thrown on your tastes by a bloke behind the counter in a No Sell t-shirt you probably should steer clear'.

One of the few events which might have tempted people less comfortable in record shops over the threshold, the exclusive limited Blur single, has now been slightly undermined by Blur putting the track up for free online the next day:

Blur’s manager Chris Morrison has said it is important that the song was made available to fans legally. "To avoid fans having to illegally obtain an inferior copy of this track from pirate sites – we have made it freely available through the band’s website".

Fair enough, it's a nice move for the fans. But - given they would have been able to get it for free anyway, albeit without the band's blessing - isn't this effectively saying "see? there was no need to schlep down to the shop and buy the thing, as it's been released, with our blessing, digitally, almost simultaneously. Who but a chump would go and buy plastic circles?"

Embed and breakfast man: Sona Walia

Sona's new album, Kuri Punjaban, sneaked out hidden during the bank holiday at the start of the month. It really shouldn't be overlooked, though, as it's as good as this:

The illustrated Hello: Charlie Brown

The son of a dentist, who never grew up. Charlie Brown's life of quiet melancholy could only have got darker once Schulz realised the real money was in tiresome depictions of a dog pretending a kennel was an aeroplane.

It can't have helped that his name was used on this - one of the most irritating songs in the world. Before Simon Cowell was invented, anyway:

Oh, The Coasters, how could you?

Perhaps Charlie Brown's more lasting musical legacy is the soundtracks to the US TV specials - ones where Brown got proper billing in the title, too, rather than coming bemusingly under the name of a popular type of legume.

Created by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, I think it's arguable that the continued affection for Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown; He's Your Dog, Charlie Brown; It's Tax Day, Charlie Brown and the others is down the soundtrack.

This is perhaps the most famous of the Charlie Brown tracks, Skating:

Vince Guaraldi had served in the Korean war - literally, serving, as he was a cook. He was a figure well-liked amongst jazz fans, but lucked out when DJs took a liking to the b-side of his bossa nova single Samba de Orpheus. This was the track on the other side:

Cast Your Fate To The Wind would secure Guaraldi's first Grammy. It was also this track which led to the approach to compose for the Charlie Brown specials, and would secure fifty years and onwards popularity for his music.

His heart, though, remained with jazz:

Guaraldi died in 1976. Playing Butterfield's Nightclub in Menlo Park, between sets he suffered a heart attack. Later Charlie Brown movies would be scored in his style, but none of the later ones quite had the same verve.

[Part of the illustrated Hello]

This week just gone

The ten-most read stories from Gennaro Castaldo Watch of all time are:

1. The launch of Music Matters
2. U2 albums sales disappoint
3. It's all over for VHS
4. Downloads enter the Top 40
5. Mini riot as HMV sells festival tickets
6. Attempting to create a U2-Oasis chart battle
7. Nothing much to add on classical matters
8. Arctic Monkeys fail to beat Arctic Monkeys
9. HMV will never, never die
10. Peter Andre in the ascendent

These were this week's interesting releases:

Hurrah! - The Lost Album

Download The Lost Album

Evelyn Evelyn - Evelyn Evelyn

Download Evelyn Evelyn

MGMT - Congratulations

Download Congratulations

Natalie Merchant - Leave Your Sleep

Download Leave Your Sleep

Being Human - Season II