Saturday, July 03, 2010

Embed and breakfast man: Billy Bragg

This is quite special - Billy Bragg, in a hotel room, covering Joanne Newsom:

This is part of the Voice Project, which works with women in Uganda:

For over two decades war has ravaged Northern Uganda. It is Africa’s longest running conflict and it has spread to Southern Sudan and Eastern Congo. Joseph Kony’s LRA has made abducting children and forcing them to fight his chief weapon of war, even making them kill their friends and family members. Many abductees and former soldiers escape but hide in the bush, afraid to return home because of reprisals for the atrocities they were forced to commit.

The women of Northern Uganda - widows, rape survivors, and former abductees have been banding together in groups to support each other and those orphaned by the war and diseases so prevalent in the IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) camps. And they are singing songs. The lyrics let the former soldiers know that they are forgiven and that they should come home. The songs are passed by radio and word of mouth out into the bush, as far as the Sudan and DR Congo. And it’s working. Former LRA are returning and for the first time 24 years the region has a chance at real peace.

The Voice Project is an attempt to support these incredible women and the peace movement in Uganda, and an effort to see how far a voice can carry.

The project builds a song chain - Ugandan singers cover an artist, then that artist covers another, and they cover another and... well, you get the picture. We watch the videos, generating sponsorship and advertising revenue, and the money goes back to Uganda. That's a good thing.

Embed and breakfast man: The Popguns

Sure, Brighton is seen as a creative place, but when I was growing up there, it wasn't exactly knee-deep in local bands. There was The Groove Farm; Bobby Gillespie would commute to his drug den from the seafront; and as the Evening Argus never tired of reminding us, Annie Nightingale lived amongst us. But supporting local bands was a bit like supporting Brighton And Hove Albion - it was very unusual to find yourself cheering success at a national level.

God, when Mung Bean Jesus got picked up as a running punchline in the NME Thrills! section, it was more attention than the paper had given Brighton bands in a decade and a half.

So what could have been more exciting than a proper Brighton brand actually doing well? ("Doing well" here meaning Peel plays, small features in the pop papers, actually grinding tour duties.) Reading fanzine interviews where the group, asked to pick their favourite piece of water, chose the sea down at the end of Holland Road. Holland Road! Where my Dad bought his cars! And would return them, frequently, as was the style in you drove British Leyland vehicles. That was exciting.

And they were pretty special, too. They were The Popguns. And this is what they sounded like. This is Landslide:

Another Year, Another Address: The best of the Midnight Years
Love Junky

Popguns around the web
The official site
Popguns on Last FM

More Popguns across the weekend
Still A World Away
Waiting For The Winter
Live in Plymouth
Live in Brighton
Someone You Love

Gordon in the morning: Eliza Doshizzle

Not much going on in Bizarre this morning, so Gordon falls back on some Twilight stuff copied and pasted from elsewhere.

Robert Pattinson 'reveals' how he learned to do the American mumbling his part doesn't actually require:

TWILIGHT heart-throb Robert Pattinson has revealed he perfected his US accent for the movie series by copying his favourite rap stars.

If his American accent is anywhere near as convincing as his brooding vampire, he'll sound exactly like Morris Minor.

Friday, July 02, 2010

Pete Wentz forms a new band

Pete Wentz has pulled together a new band. He's called it Bl4ck C4rds.

With '4's for 'a's.

Really, Pete? You don't think that's a bit like drawing a flower over the dots on each of the 'I's in a name?

Lilith Fair turns out to not have a last minute surge

Back in May, Sarah McLachlan was denying that overpriced Lilith Fair tickets were about as desirable as porcupine spines in a codpiece.

"We're working our hardest to have reasonably priced tickets so it can be accessible for everyone and that people will want to come. We might get slaughtered, I don't know, but I kind of have blind faith in the fact we're putting on a really great show and we always have, and that will bring people in the end."

So, how was that faith working out?

They've axed ten dates on the tour.

Terry McBride said it was, you know, down to the economy:
"We are in the midst of one of the most challenging summer concert seasons with many tours being cancelled outright," he said.

Mmm. Perhaps it's hard for everyone, but the eye-wateringly expensive tickets and the idea of luxury seats can't have helped the Lilith Fair sell in such a market.

TSA detain YellowFever's Jennifer Moore

Jennifer Moore, singy-guitarty fifty per cent of Yellow Fever had been due to play New York tonight but got caught trying to take a knife onto a plane.

It was a chef's knife, and she's a chef when she's not in a band. So it was an oversight rather than preplanned spot of the Ian Browns. But the discovery freaked out staff at DFW enough for her to be detained, and plans of playing a gig have been replaced with 'explaining her way out of this one'.

Black Francis: The Musical

The default approach for hearing a record is being turned into a musical is to start waving swords around wildly, screeching "die, Ben Elton, die". But this one might just work, as Black Francis' Bluefinger is getting the jazz-hands and dance-routine deal.

It has the benefit of having been a concept work in the first place, as Spinner reminds us:

the album is about Dutch musician/artist Herman Brood, who took his own life in 2001, after years battling depression, drugs and alcohol

It's not really going to be a firm family favourite. But while Little Orphan Annie might not feel the cold breath of competition breathing down the back of her city-issue blouse, Bluefinger does at least offer a prospect of an interesting night out.

Trent Reznor helps out on a Facebook movie. No, it says so here.

Trent, man, I thought you were tight with the Twitter team? What are you doing writing songs for a Facebook movie?

It turns out the Facebook year zero film had a script that Reznor couldn't turn down:

"When I actually read the script and realised what he was up to, I said goodbye to that free time I had planned."

Facebook has that effect on people. As you'll know if you've ever spent time waiting for somebody to finish feeding their virtual farm animals before you can take them to dinner.

Managerobit: Bill Aucoin

Bill Aucoin, the man who not only drove Kiss to fame but was smart enough to copyright their facepainting, has died.

He hadn't been meant to be managing pomp-rock bands; he had been working in television. A series he directed on the music business led to him getting letters from a Gene Simmons, asking if he could be hooked up with people who would help his band. Aucoin decided he should be that person.

He took over in October 1973, pushing their gentle-toying-with-glam-make-up to toddler-at-the-dressing-table-when-mummy-is-distracted levels, and shaping the various members of the band into 'characters'.

Aucoin made money from his charges, although having funded the band's first proper tour with his chargecard he had invested heavily. He put the figure at something like a third of a million dollars he'd sunk into the project - although, like all things Kiss, this figure may well have been overinflated and only have one foot on the solid ground of fact.

By 1982, Kiss were weary of Aucoin's level of return on investment, and dumped him to claw back the 25% of earnings he was taking.

It's arguable that Bill Aucoin's greatest contribution to the band was his insistence that they split the income (or the 75% they had left after his cut) equally amongst all members. That the band continue operating today probably owes much to this move cutting out the development of petty jealousy over who gets what.

After Kiss, Aucoin operated mainly as a management consultant for bands.

Bill Aucoin was 66; he died from complications related to prostate cancer.

Hiphopobit: Rammellzee

Rammellzee, the New Yorker who went from spraypainting trains to inspiring a whole subculture, has died.

You can argue over whether he was an afro-futurist or gothic futurist, but you can't deny the painty fingers he left all over the street art and hip-hop worlds. There were records, performance art outbursts and manifesto-driven self mythologising interludes; he was the original gangsta duck style rapper and, more importantly, managed to get that term into the New York Times.

Rammellzee was 49; he had been ill for some time. He died Sunday in Queens.

Gordon in the morning: You're still here, are you?

Did nobody learn anything from Maureen from Driving School? Or - god help us - Jeremy Spake?

Just because someone is mildly diverting in a reality show doesn't mean that they should be invited to spread their "character" more widely. Thinly.

Sky has decided, however, that Louie Spence - imagine Chico trying to be Larry David - is too be taken from Pineapple Dance Studios and crafted into a breakout character.

And where Sky leads, The Sun dutifully follows. You almost feel sorry for Gordon Smart this morning, having to splash on a piece of nothing about a show-off showing off at The Ivy:

The Pineapple Dance Studios star caused uproar when he stripped down to his green Y-fronts in the middle of the posh Ivy Club - upstairs from the main restaurant and even more exclusive - on Wednesday night.

By a strange twist of fate - you'll never believe this - The Sun's Ally Ross just happened to be there when nothing ("it") happened. I mean, what are the odds, eh?

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Darkness at 3AM: Because you're worth it

George Lamb mobbed at hair party

Really, 3AM Girls?
George Lamb's appearance at Monday night's L'Oréal Colour Trophy bash started a Facebook photo frenzy after he was ambushed by ladies waiting for the loo.

Really? This happened at the Nestle event, did it?
A source said: "It was hilarious. Staff had to walk him through the back to his car because the hysteria was building. The pictures were soon up on a dedicated Facebook page. He loved it."



Madina Lake bassist badly beaten

Horrible news from Madina Swan. Bassist Matthew Leone has been hospitalised with serious injuries after trying to help a woman being attacked in the street:

A few nights ago, Matthew walked from my apt. a block and a half down the street to meet a friend for a drink. half way there he saw a man severely beating his wife. Being the most amazing, strong, heroic and incredible person I know.. even though the guy was twice his size, Matthew intervened. He managed to subdue this guy for a second and since his wife was beat up pretty good called the cops.. as he did so the guy jumped him from behind and beat him. This guy did things I can’t even type. After words, he and his beaten wife left Matthew unconcious on the street. Matthew is in the hospital with a third of his skull removed as we wait for the swelling in his brain to go down. I’d rather not share any additional information at this time besides the fact that he acted as a hero (as he always would in any of these situations) and is paying a horrific price. Pease send all your love and good energy and vibrations to him.

It's a horrible, horrible story. Wishing Matthew all the best for his recovery.

Gordon in the morning: I Blame Gordon

I imagine that, had things been going to plan, by now I Blame Coco should be able to appear without having a giant sign "Sting's Daughter" hung round her neck.

She's still 'Sting's Daughter' as she does some singing for the other Gordon S.

She shares her insight into - prepare to stifle a yawn - being a woman in music:

"The female music world is very strong at the moment.

"FLORENCE WELCH is brilliant and then you've got Adele and Duffy coming back soon.

"Girl power can work one way or another. It's good for the industry but of course it's competition."

Girl Power? Seriously, Coco?

Who really thinks like that? "I feel like a record sung by a woman - oh, but there's four to choose from; whatever shall I do?"

You've got to worry about anyone whose approach is based on confusing gender with genre.

In other news: Lily Allen has suggested she's going to throw it all, or some of it, in again. I think this is about the fifteenth time this year she's sort-of announced some sort of retirement. Can we just get the bloody clock across to her, please?

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Coming soon: Black Lips and Pierced Arrows

I suspect you'll have to be in the states and near a pretty good record shop and/or chained to eBay to get hold of next week's split 7" single featuring the Black Lips and Pierced Arrows. The people at Scion AV are underwriting the enterprise as part of a running series of free shows in New York, coupled with a quick recording session. Worth keeping eyes peeled for.

Coming soon: Trumans' Water

O Zeta Zunis is the name to bung on your wish lists, as Trumans Water return. Seven years since the last one, they're now hooked up with Asthmatic Kitty records and about to usher a new album into the world.

Amazon are already taking pre-orders; you'll have to wait until August 23rd before you get one in your hands.

Here's Trumans Water playing in a hole in a mountainside:

Downloadable: Talk About The Passion

There's a new edition of Talk About The Passion out, and this one is online-only. Which might be part of a convoluted plot to turn the whole thing into an iPad native app behind a mandated paywall; you'd have to ask Charles Arthur about that.

What we do know is that it's got some lovely bits in it - Saint Etienne, Earl Brutus and a loving memorial bit on Frank Sidebottom. And other odds and ends, too. Download it now. Go on.

Cry, Chris Brown, Cry

During the Black Entertainment Awards - still churning out tributes to Michael Jackson, suprisingly - Chris Brown cried like a baby. He was overcome with emotion remembering Jackson, apparently. And not merely hoping we'd forget how badly he smashed up Rihanna's face that time.

Still, it was an inspired, if cheesy, idea. Lloyd was quick to claim the credit:

“He's back with a vengeance... I think that they're gonna find a place in their heart for him again," he told Rap Up.

"I told him man, you gotta get up there. You gotta cry, you gotta really show your heart to the world.”

That's pretty unequivocal, then: Lloyd told Brown to sob in the hope of putting all that stuff behind him. Right?

Oh... hang on a moment. Here's Lloyd again, a few hours later:
Lloyd said on his website on Tuesday that his comments were taken out of context.

“I consider Chris a friend. He's been through a lot in the past couple years," he wrote.

"I never told him to go on stage and cry. We spoke recently, and I told him as a friend that people hadn't really seen him be vulnerable about his situation last year [with Rihanna]. I thought he was holding back and needed to let that emotion out. Him crying at the BET Awards was real, I could feel it.”

That's clear then - when Lloyd said "I told Brown you gotta cry", journalists have apparently taken this out of context as somehow being Lloyd claiming that he'd told Brown he should cry. I hope that's clear.

By the way, if you've not come across Lloyd before, his actual name is Lloyd Polite Junior - which surely is a much better stage name than just calling yourself Lloyd, isn't it?

Gordon in the morning: Sky Blunt

Could the story about James Blunt playing a gig on a plane get any more toe-curling?

JAMES BLUNT took time out from recording his third album to claim a new world record yesterday - playing the highest-ever gig.

How about if it involves Jay Kay as well?
He performed in a plane at 42,000ft, smashing the previous record set by JAMIROQUAI in 2007 when they gigged at 35,000ft.

And James vowed to rub pal JAY KAY's face in it. He said: "I'm going to ring and have a good gloat. I can't resist."

Heart FM underwrote this jaunt - strange for a radio company which doesn't think it has the cash to do decent local radio that it's chartering planes for drones.

There was one bright spot in the story, though:
After the gig, sorted by radio station Heart FM, [Blunt] said: "I've reached the peak of my career. I'll have to retire."

Well, yes. You actually reached the peak of your career when people bought You're Beautiful in large numbers. But retirement... yes, why not?

Sadly, he's only joking, and fully intends to launch a new album soon. Jay Kay is probably on the phone to NASA.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Glastonbury 2010: It was the best ever

I was away doing other stuff this weekend, so it was nice to return and discover that some things are still as you expect them, even in a world where you can't trust Vince Cable any more.

Michael Eavis issued his traditional 'it was the best ever' statement at the end of Glastonbury:

Speaking at a press conference today, Eavis, 74, said he had experienced the best six hours of his life last night.

"I've never enjoyed myself so much," he said. "I hope you enjoyed yourselves too. It has been the best party for me, it really has been the best – the weather, the full moon and last night in a crowd of 100,000 people there was not one drunk person, isn't that extraordinary?"

Hmm. It does sound almost unbelievable, yes.

The biggest discovery of the festival seems to have been that people who have nothing much invested in the experience prefer the idea of Gorillaz to actually seeing them.

DCMA update: Warners overreach selves again

Fancy that! Once again, it was Warners who were over-reaching their powers this morning. Just had an email from Rich Walker at 4AD:

Warners via ADA are our physical distributors in the States and inexplicably chased this track, among many others for pull downs off blogs and sites. We don't know why and weren't involved. As much as we support them with taking down full albums, remixed tracks off the artist's own sites are not on that same radar. We can only apolgise and tell you that they assure us that the artist sites are on a whitelist now. Sorry for any inconvenience caused.

I'd like to thank Rich for looking into this quickly, and catching the mistake (Rykodisc, I'm still waiting to hear anything from you.)

Perhaps the time has come for someone to have a quiet word with Warners and suggests they talk to the artists before launching scurrilous and baseless attacks on people via the DCMA.

Gordon in the morning: Brand new radio

Here's a surprise - apparently The Sun didn't mind Russell Brand calling up Andrew Sachs at all. Why, Gordon's hopping mad at what happened:

IT'S almost two years since RUSSELL BRAND was last broadcasting his ramblings on Radio 2.

Thanks to the Sachsgate nonsense that glorious reign on the airwaves was cut far too short, leaving a huge hole in the weekend schedules which still hasn't been filled.

Yes, how did that happen, Gordon? It's almost as if popular newspapers like your own spent days shrieking for heads to roll and people to go. Who knew it was all a load of silly nonsense all along, eh? If only Gordon had spoken up at the time.

Gordon is excited now because Brand has been offered a slot on Sirius:
An offer, worth millions of dollars, is on the table for Ol' Russ and his gang of chums to take their talents over the Pond to America.

Sirius Radio, a huge satellite broadcaster, has been chasing him for months with chequebook at the ready.

I think you'd be lucky to find "millions of dollars" - it's not losing money any more, but it's hardly cash-rich.

Could we have some words from a "pal"? Indeed we could:
"The Sirius deal is in its infancy but Russell is well up for it. He has been given the hard sell about how they could make him the new HOWARD STERN."

That's not such a generous offer, given how Sirius effectively broke the original Howard Stern.

DMCA: It's happened again

This was an email from 4AD the other day:

With a pretty extensive summer tour under way, Danish collective Efterklang have managed to take time out to remix tracks by fellow Copenhagen acts and friends and are very generously offering them for as free MP3s to one and all.

Follow these links to download the four MP3s for free:...

And, you might recall, we provided those links in a handy post. Because that was why they were sent to a music blog in the first place.

So, can anyone at 4AD explain why we've had a DCMA takedown notice - again, for files which are HOSTED ON THE BANDS' OWN WEBSITES?

That's twice now I've linked - not even hosted - to tracks that I've been invited to share by press officer/publicity people, only to have some dunderhead in America somehow decide that that "infringes" something and Google, with their understandable but unworkable 'take down first, ask questions to be answered by snail mail much, much later' approach.

Doesn't exactly make me warm to either the bands involved, or their record labels.

You might, by the way, be wondering if I've had the promised results of Jon Bleicher, the press bloke for Seasick Steve, looking in to why I was asked to offer links to a free track, and then got sent a DCMA for it. Bugger all from him, bugger all from Rykodisc, bugger all from Warners.