Saturday, February 02, 2013

Bookmarks: We've Got A Fuzzbox

Arriving on Flickr a few hours ago was a slew of scans from Propaganda, which is described as a "Goth fanzine". I've not come across it before, and it looks like I missed out.

There's much to enjoy there - and some surprises, like the idea of a Goth zine giving space to Curiosity Killed The Cat (or The Duran Poet Society, to give them their full name), but one of the highlights is this interview with Fuzzbox.

Gordon in the morning: Brand new show

Talking of radio stations and the decline from offering an alternative to thinking that just not playing N-Dubz is enough, news from XFM. Gordon Smart - himself a presenter on the station, although he doesn't mention that conflict of interest - brings news of a short series:

THE women in RUSSELL BRAND’s LA yoga class can look forward to a well-earned breather next month.

Bizarre’s four-time Shagger Of The Year is making a return to UK radio with his old on-air sparring partner NOEL GALLAGHER.

The Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid of radio are reuniting with the original team behind the Russell Brand Show.
Although Brand and Gallagher have done the odd radio show together in the past, I'm not sure I'd claim that their pairing was quite as iconic as Butch and Sundance.

Still, Gordon's excited:
Russell told me: “I miss radio. It was lovely when we did the show. It will be great to get the old team back together.”

It was the very show that landed JONATHAN ROSS and Russell in hot water over the Sachsgate business.

You can bet your boots the Ofcom boys will be tuning in and stroking their chins in anticipation of some bad behaviour. Good luck to them — the radio hasn’t been the same without their carry-on.
Yeah, stupid old Ofcom and their rules on taste and decency which forced Brand's Radio Two show off the air.

Remind me, what line was The Sun taking that line at the time, when the paper complained about the programme's 'obscene bullying', "disgusting stupidity", "a childish act of verbal violence" and "foul-mouthed insults".

It turns out what The Sun meant all along was that radio wasn't the same without all that, and you should ignore those "chin-stroking" moralists.

Funny, that.

6Music regret asking

Topping off the somewhat extended 10th birthday celebrations, 6Music asked its listeners to vote for the 100 best tunes released during its lifetime.

That was always going to be a mistake, wasn't it? Apart from anything, 6Music likes to wear the clothes of a station for whom charts and mainstream popularity are of little interest and so this sort of poll feels like one step away from offering the breakfast show to Bruno Brookes.

More importantly, by its very nature, the exercise was doomed to have the more mainstream offerings of the station coagulate at the top of the list. In fact, I believe an identical list of 100 records circulates round advertising agencies whenever they need to come up with a new tune to slap on an ad for Homebase or Vodafone.

And, there, topping it off: Clocks by Coldplay.

If 6Music had planned to run a high-profile advertising campaign that said "you know our reputation for loving new music and seeking out bright new sounds? Fuck that, we're more like a permanent shuffle on your brother-in-law's Zafira stereo", it would be less damaging than this.

I listen to 6Music a lot, and it not being the sort of station where you'd hear Clocks by Coldplay is a major part of the attraction.

In fact, the Last.FM listing of tracks played on the station appears to back this up. Admittedly, Last.FM doesn't track every single track played, and hasn't been gathering data across the whole of 6Music's life, but Clocks doesn't show up in the 500 most popular tracks. (Older songs - DeeLite's Groove Is In The Heart, and the Wu-Tang's Gravel Pit, for example, do make the 500 so age is no disadvantage.) Coldplay do turn up, around the mid 300-teens, with Viva La Vida.

So we're left with the strange situation that the supposed "best" song of the station's lifetime gets played less often than, say, Ladykillers by Lush, or Every Day Should Be A Holiday by The Dandy Warhols.

So what's going on?

A pair of embarrassed Tweets from 6Music last night offers an explanation:

In other words, the chart was hijacked by a big band with a large fanbase. Whoever saw that coming, eh?

Friday, February 01, 2013

Neil McCormick files Observer piece for The Telegraph

Neil McCormick, friend of Bono, has given Telegraph readers a crash course in Kraftwerk.

Some readers got an uncanny sense of deja-vu. Didn't McCormick's piece, "Kraftwerk: the most influential group in pop history?" have more than a passing similarity to Jude Roger's "Why Kraftwerk are still the world's most influential band" that appeared a few days earlier in The Observer.

When challenged about this on Twitter by @theboylightning, McCormick invented a new irregular verb:

It's called sampling. It's the modern way. (I'll give you 2 sentences out of 1200 words on exactly the same story)
I sample, you lift, he/she plagiarises.

McCormick put his hands up to lifting a line from Rogers about a Melody Maker review. By this point, Jude had joined the conversation and pointed out that a big chunk of her research had turned up in his bit:
The huddling together of facts about Afrika Bambaataa, Uranium and The Model also rang a few bells. Ding dong.
McCormick claimed you can't write a Kraftwerk article without throwing those bits in. Which might be true, but it's the way they're folded in. Here's Jude in The Observer:
Afrika Bambaataa fused the melody of Trans-Europe Express and the rhythm of 1981's Numbers to create Planet Rock, one of hip-hop's pioneering tracks. Trailblazing electro group Cybotron used a loop from 1977's Hall of Mirrors; its founder, Juan Atkins, would create techno, and from there came modern dance culture.

Back in Britain, New Order would sample Uranium on Blue Monday, while synth-pop inspired by albums such as 1978's The Man-Machine would set the decade's pop mood. Kraftwerk would even get a No 1 single, The Model, in February 1982, four years after its first release. It was if the world was finally catching up with them.
And here's Neil's scamper through the history:
Afrika Bambaataa’s groundbreaking 1982 hip-hop dance smash Planet Rock was built around Kraftwerk’s Trans-Europe Express. The same year, Kraftwerk’s The Model hit No1 in Britain, four years after its first release. In 1983, New Order sampled Kraftwerk for their breakthrough dance rock hit Blue Monday. By the end of the Eighties, a whole new dance scene was emerging.
It could be coincidence, but it doesn't half read like a precis.

McCormick then offered an even more bizarre defence:
I figured, who actually reads both the Guardian & The Telegraph (apart from me obviously)
I'm sure Neil didn't mean to make that sound like "I didn't think I'd get caught", (and interesting that he doesn't appear to know what paper the article was originally in) but it does sound a bit like that. In much the same way his Telegraph piece sounds a bit like Jude Rogers in The Observer.

HMV "intern" wasn't an intern; didn't hijack account

Today has just done a piece on the HMV Twitter sackings yesterday - there seemed to be a general assumption that the problem was that HMV had given a "junior team member" a Twitter log-in, rather than the perhaps more serious problem that HMV was sacking people in a brutal fashion.

Jeremy B's Twitter feed has pointed the world in the direction of Poppy Rose's personal account. She's the person who was tweeting on HMV's behalf as the axe was being swung about. And, despite the repeated suggestions that she was an intern, she wasn't.

Here's her side of the story, collated from a series of tweets (There's much more on her timeline):

I would apologise for the #hmvXFactorFiring tweets but I felt like someone had to speak. As someone without a family to support/no mortgage

I felt that I was the safest person to do so. Not to mention, I wanted to show the power of Social Media to those who refused to be educated

Just to set something straight, I did not ‘hijack’ the hmv twitter account. I actually assumed sole responsibility of Twitter & Facebook -

- over two years ago, as an intern.When asked (this afternoon), I gladly provided the password to head office. I also set another member of

staff up as a manager on Facebook, and removed myself from the admin list. I didn’t resist any requests to cooperate.
There's also a punchline, posted two hours ago:

Gordon in the morning: Brits adds Timberlake

Gordon is excited this morning by the news that Justin Timberlake will be playing the Brits.

Gordon describes Timberlake as "excellent value at awards shows", which sounds like the sort of thing you'd stick on a weak CV that needed a bit of fattening up - probably underneath "Photoshop Elements trained" but above "Cub scout troop leader [2003-2004]".

The rest of the world is filtering this news as "extended advert for MySpace's latest spluttering relaunch planned for ITV".

NME publisher announces layoffs

On the heels of a story in the current Private Eye that workers at IPC, publishers of Uncut and NME, are facing a year of frozen wages comes news that 8 per cent of the staff is being let go as part of parent Time Inc's canning of 500 jobs globally.

No word yet on if the job losses will directly hit the music magazines.

HMV sacks workers painfully, clumsily

When HMV went into administration, management were quick to stress they'd continue business as usual, and yesterday's sacking of 190 staff at head office and across the distribution network was done in typical HMV style - management behaving carelessly and loading pain on top of humiliation.

The Guardian captured screenshots as staff got wind of what was happening, and took to Twitter:

But, you might be asking, how could the poor management at HMV know that Twitter would be seized by the people who were paying the price for their mistakes?

They might have had a clue from the official Twitter account of the Irish stores, which even now sports an angry cross and the name "Store closed":
There's also some pretty direct criticism of the HMV management, sitting there:

What's that? Maybe it wasn't an officially-sanctioned account, and perhaps the London HMV communications and management people didn't even know of its existence?

Unlikely, as here is a message from the account - sent in (marginally) happier times, but now carrying the piratical 'store closed' and grim cross - in HMV spokestwitterer Gennaro Castaldo's account:

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Girlbandobit: Patty Andrews

It's easy to look at The Andrews Sisters - whose youngest sister, Patty, has died - and see a rather bland, middle-of-the-road act. But a line from Patty's obituary crystalizes what an extraordinary proposition they were with their first single:

But Kapp then heard them sing the tune and realised that three Norwegian-Greek-American girls singing a song in Yiddish – with a great deal of added English – did, after all, have something.
Decca thought that this was a recipe for a "race record" - Decca have a record of poor judgement. America disagreed.

Patty Andrews died on 30th January; she was 94.

Gordon in the morning: Noel did want what he hadn't got

Gordon's picked up a story from this month's Uncut, in which Sinead O'Connor reveals that Noel Gallagher asked for her hand in marriage.

That does oversell it a little bit:

“Noel once asked me to marry him, just before he married MEG MATHEWS.

“He won’t remember as he was off his face at a festival in Amsterdam.”
So this was a marriage proposal with all the veracity of being told that you're somebody's best mate, then, rather than a striking incident in an unexpected romance.

Even so, it's a pity Sinead didn't call his bluff.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Ticketmaster captcha the front page

Ticketmaster are dropping recaptcha captchas in favour of Solve Media captchas instead. Sure, Solve ones are easier to, erm, solve, but they're basically intended as a way of making captchas into advertising. (Getting site visitors to type marketing slogans, in short.)

So why is this change being treated by BBC News not only as a news story, but one that is...

... worthy of a front page slot?

Artrocker: Don't look at it as the loss of a print edition

I'm sure it's not putting on a brave face, as Artrocker closes its print edition:

As of 28th February 2013 Artrocker Magazine will be going 100% digital! We can’t express in words how excited we are about taking the magazine 100% digital and the opportunities it brings for an independent music magazine publisher like us; but we’re jubilant, to say the least.
Hey, don't weep for us, readers. This is exciting, yes?
Since the worldwide, and much-heralded, launch of the magazine on the iPad and the release of our Official Special Edition Gary Numan App, we’ve been overwhelmed by the positive response and the opportunities for forward-thinking, innovative applications of digital when making a new music magazine.
It's like seeing someone being thrown out of their flat talking about how exciting sleeping in a tent is.
“Artrocker has always been an innovator,” says Artrocker Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief Tom Fawcett, “When people were still ‘clubbing’ in the noughties we started a rock’n’roll night and put on the first London shows by the Yeah, Yeah, Yeahs, The Black Keys, Interpol, Maximo Park and so many more great bands that went on to reshape music and culture on a global level. When people were saying the music industry was dead we launched a record label and suddenly the tide turned and vinyl sales rose for the first time in over a decade. People were saying ‘Magazines are over’ so we started a magazine, and here we are, almost 10 years later, still going strong and again utilising the technology and tools available to us.”
"It's brilliant, you don't have to pay council tax when you're sleeping in a tent. When I moved into this flat three years back, everyone said 'paying a mortgage is tricky, you know', but look at me now, still in the neighbourhood, discovering new corners of the park where the police don't check at night."

It's okay to mourn the loss of what was a beautifully-produced physical asset, guys; you can even do that without having to imply that a digital version is a fall-back position. I really hope in ten years' time we'll all still be around to celebrate the tablet version of Artrocker being replaced with an edition that uses the new 'being lasered directly into your brain' technology.

Gordon in the morning: If something doesn't malfunction, isn't it working?

Do you remember just before Christmas Gordon Smart getting very excited over Rita Ora wearing a "nip-slip outfit", which turned out to be a garment that, theoretically, one of Ora's nipples could peek out of?

It's happened again today - Smart's run a piece by Ayeesha Walsh under the headline:

Cop a load of Rita! Ora narrowly avoids nip-slip in leather PC outfit
Once was awkward. To run two "you could almost see her nipples" pieces in two months is creepy. It's starting to make the Bizarre column like a print version of the bit in Gregory's Girl where the horny teenage virgins discuss what they nearly saw at the nurses' home.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Bookmarks: NRA

Chris Willman in Popdust explores how the NRA has found a gun propaganda vehicle through country music:

“I would say the community is conflicted,” says one of the most powerful executives in Nashville, who also requested that his name be withheld. “Only the extreme right has stepped out on this. And that will never be Nashville. That will never be Lady Antebellum or even Jason Aldean. It’s too touchy. Most of our artists will stay quiet and appropriately solemn. But you never know.

“If I could do anything,” the executive continued, “I’d push the NRA out of it. I resent the incursion of the gun lobby into this music, and I think I’m not the only one. NRA Country is subversive. It’s like The 700 Club sponsoring country music artists. In fairness, I wouldn’t want anybody buying up our artists who is trying to counter the view of the NRA, either. I wouldn’t want there to be Anti-NRA country—as if you could recruit for that!”
[At a supposedly apolitical NRA Country event] Academy of Country Music CEO Bob Romero was standing at the podium in front of the participating artists, shaking hands with NRA CEO Wayne LaPierre and mentioning the need to work together to turn Obama out of office. Then Romero chuckled and added that maybe he shouldn’t be saying that.

Funkobit: Leroy Bonner

Leroy Bonner, the foremost of the Ohio Players, has died.

Nicknamed Sugarfoot, Bonner helped bring the band together through a takeover of the Ohio Untouchables.

Bonner took on vocals after the band tired of hiring singers only for them to quit. It was a smart move.

Leroy Bonner died in Ohio on January 26th. He was 69.

Gordon in the morning: Chipping in

The Press Complaints Commission, so wishy-washy in so many ways, is very clear about the children:

Editors must not use the fame, notoriety or position of a parent or guardian as sole justification for publishing details of a child’s private life.
With that in mind, there must surely be some other reason that the Beckham parent's fame for Gordon to run massive, long-lens shots of Cruz Beckham in a chip shop this morning?
WORDS I never thought I’d write – here’s POSH SPICE going into a chippy.

VICTORIA popped into the takeaway in London with her youngest lad CRUZ.

She could easily fit a family-sized order of saveloys in that bag.
Ah, yes - speculation about the number of sausage products a parent could fit into a handbag. That's clearly a justification under the PCC code.

Monday, January 28, 2013

America the beautiful

It's not often I wish I had US TV over the UK stuff, but the late-night line-up this Thursday is quite something:

1/31 - Lisa Loeb on Jay Leno [NBC]
1/31 - Tegan and Sara on Jimmy Kimmel[ABC]
1/31 - Regina Spektor on Carson Daly [NBC]
[via Absolute Punk]

MIDEM: PRS think music made Apple

Remember how music was before Apple came along with the iPod and iTunes, and started to create a workable digital download market?

If you're too young to recall, imagine a headless chicken desperately trying to pull its own legs off so that it could hit anyone trying to buy an egg off it.

Music isn't particularly grateful for Apple's part in sorting out the mess and creating a world where people will pay for something they could get for free. Not at all, actually, as PRS CEO Robert Ashcroft appears to be moaning that Apple treats music bad:

Apple has more cash in the bank than the record industry has ever made in annual revenue, according to Robert Ashcroft, CEO of PRS for music, speaking on a panel about innovation within the music industry at Midem. "I would like to say that the music industry contributed a little bit of that to Apple."
Well, up to a point - although nobody really buys some Universal stuff from Apple, or downloads a bunch of PRS-regulated files. If anyone involved in Music deserves a bit of thanks from Apple, it'd be the artists.

Although, I suppose, you could argue that the industry's failure to sort out its own digital offering over more-or-less the decade it had the field open to itself is something Apple should be grateful for.

Gordon in the morning: Where the mainstream starts

Apparently John Leslie is on the up:

JOHN LESLIE’s trying to take another step back into the mainstream by starring in a video for a new band.
So what is this "mainstream" band, then?
He appears in a promo for VIGO THIEVES’ track Ghosts.
The who?

The Vigo Thieves are a band so far from "the mainstream" that they've had their Wikipedia page deleted due to obscurity.

And where did the band talent-spot Leslies?
The former Blue Peter presenter signed up for a part in the clip after the band’s singer STEVIE JUKES spotted him on daytime TV and thought he’d be perfect for a role.
Is it just me, or is going from daytime TV to a fairly obscure pop video the precise opposite of the moving into the mainstream?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Ronan Keating struggles with time, space

Simon Price, taking his reviewing duties seriously, plodded down to see Ronan Keating play at the Brighton Centre for the Independent On Sunday:

Brighton Centre, Brighton
Simon Price on pop: Lonely Ronan Keating clings on for grim death
The heading makes it quite clear, this is the Brighton Centre, in Brighton.

The review is fair, albeit unenthusiastic:
One song stands tall: the encore "Life is a Rollercoaster", written by Gregg Alexander of New Radicals, is a life-affirming anthem. Before that, however, Ronan goes into a weird, semi-humorous speech inviting us to meet him "on the pier for fish and chips", or "at the bus stop if I miss the bus". When he gets there, though, he'll be alone.
Ronan Keating - or rather, his "official", blue-ticked account - are fuming:

As Price points out on Twitter, this is taking "were they even at the same gig as me" to a new height - yes, he's reviewing a different gig to last night's one at the O2. That's why it's headed "Brighton Centre, Brighton".

What's even more interesting is that Ronan's official Twitter, thinking Price was passing off a Brighton review as a London review, doesn't take issue with Simon describing "an embarrassing singalong", the onstage camaraderie between Keating and his band as "fake", or the fanbase as "dwindling". No, it's just worried that a joke about the beach has been relocated to Greenwich.

Morrissey turning into one-man Prince Philip tribute act

Hot on the heels of the 'moaning on about foreigners' comes the latest part of Morrissey's bid to become the Duke Of Edinburgh with a shrinking quiff: he's copied Phil's 'cancelling engagements due to a bladder infection' schtick.

Apparently he's in a Detroit hospital with the none-more-Carry-On affliction.

Grafton collapses

Stately-but-decayed Liverpool nightlife icon The Grafton edged a bit further into history last night as a chunk of it collapsed.

Mandatory bit here about how The Beatles played there, you know, in 1963. (There was a theft before their second gig at the venue, which saw 100 tickets vanish.)

The Grafton closed in 2008 after over eighty years of mixed fortunes as a nightclub; attempts to find a owner in 2011 failed.

Bookmarks: The Durutti Column

Hardformat lovingly unpacks the packaging of the first Durutti Column album:

For some of us this album approaches the status of a secular holy relic because, in addition to the beauty of the object and the music, Vini Reilly states that Joy Division were paid by Tony Wilson to assemble the sandpaper sleeves to earn some extra money. In another report, Ian Curtis allegedly did most of the work while the other three sat watching television in the next room.

This week just gone

The most-read stories published this month:

1. NME's best singles of 1993
2. RIP: Nic Potter
3. Kimberley Walsh wasn't lip-synching, then
4. Shrag split
5. HMV gift vouchers expire
6. Gennaro Castaldo bullish as HMV cuts prices
7. Cassingles rise again
8. NME Awards shortlist
9. Video: Tindersticks - Marbles
10. Hucknall, Stereophonics honour the Beatles

These were this week's interesting releases:

Ebsen And The Witch - Wash The Sins, Not Only The Face

Download Wash The Sins...

The Joy Formidable - Wolf's Law

Download Wolf's Law

Wave Machines - Pollen

Download Pollen

Matthew E White - Big Inner

Download Big Inner

I Am Kloot - Let It All In

Download Let It All In

Alan Ant - Alan Ant Is The Blueback Hussar in Marrying The Gunner's Daughter

Download Adam Ant Is...