Saturday, October 12, 2013

Full Disclosure

Just to be clear, Disclosure releasing a video full of people taking drugs, and then pulling the video later because they realised it featured people taking drugs is the sort of accident that could befall anyone.

It is in no way an arthritic stunt to make a so-so act appear to be in some way "edgy" or "hip".

False FLAG case dropped

Hey, nothing says hardcore punk like running to the lawyers to sort out a spat over trademark ownership, right?

The battle between two zombie versions of Black Flag is over, with Black Flag's Greg Ginn losing an attempt to slap an injunction on Keith Morris' FLAG.

There was a side-spat, too, over whether Henry Rollins had any right to royalties on the Black Flag tshirts bought by children everywhere these days.

Some poor judge had to come to conclusions:

(1) the court found that SST had no rights in the trademarks;
(2) Ginn seemed to have no individual rights in the Black Flag trademarks;
(3) even if either had had any rights in those marks, they had abandoned those rights through a failure to police the mark for nearly 30 years;
(4) the defendants’ claim that the Black Flag assets were owned by a statutory partnership comprised of various former band members – even if these members only consisted of Henry and Ginn, based on (a) accepting Ginn’s argument that he never quit and given that there is no evidence or allegation that Henry ever quit – has merit;
(5) that even if the plaintiffs had some trademark claim in the marks, there was no likelihood of consumer confusion between Black Flag and Flag given the ample press coverage over the dispute; and
(6) the trademark application and registration that Henry and Keith made was done in good faith (e.g. not fraudulently) – and is thus not necessarily subject to cancellation – given that they understood their actions to have been done on the part of the Black Flag partnership (see No. 4, above).
Yeah, the most interesting part of that is the discovery that, legally, Henry Rollins is still a member of Black Flag. If this sets a precedent, it'll no longer be enough to quit a band by sneaking out a backdoor when the touring group stops over at a Village Inn, or by sleeping with the bassist's husband. It's going to be in writing, with 28 day's notice.

I think, legally, this means that The Beatles are still going and Yoko, as representative of Lennon's estate, is a member.

One from the "that's like getting a telly that only shows Russell Harty" file

There's an elaborate reissue to mark twenty years since Lenny Kravitz released Are You Going To Go My Way.

Apart from trying to make us all feel old and impotent, it's hard to see why.

Tricky channels Morrissey

Tricky has been doing his bit to give the impression British acts never turn up in the States. Brooklyn Vegan has been keeping score:

Tricky's June dates were postponed to early October. Most of those dates were then cancelled, but the NYC show and a few others survived but were postponed again. The NYC date at Webster Hall was set to happen 10/26 but now that is 100% cancelled.
The reason for the cancellations is unclear, but it might be related to a letter he got from the government the other day.

Robin Thicke attempts to rig Amazon's 'other fans of this artist might like' recommendations

Robin Thicke has decided who he should best be compared to.

Surprisingly, it's not Paul Raymond and Peter Stringfellow:

''A lot of good white soul singers, like Hall & Oates and Michael McDonald, did soul music for a while then had their pop breakthrough. That's what's happening to me.
''But I think John Lennon is blue-eyed soul. Bob Dylan is blue-eyed soul, Bruce Springsteen is blue-eyed soul.''
This was in a piece in Vanity Fair. More like a sodding carnival of vanity.

Friday, October 11, 2013

One good reason why Penguin shouldn't have released the Morrissey book as a Classic

Surely the thing that unites the Penguin Classics list is that they are works which reveal essential, universal truths.

Morrissey, on the other hand, struggles with basic, factual truths.

Dreadful Spice Girls musical killed off by people telling others it was dreadful - official

Jennifer Saunders, who helped to create Viva For Seven Months Before The Empty Theatres Forced Closure, the Spice Girls jukebox musical, feels it was culled because of the press:

She tells the Bbc, "I felt there was a certain group of journalists who... were told by their editors to be nasty about it."

Saunders also thinks the world economic crisis was the blame for the show's failure, adding, "It came right at the recession time and I just thought it was unlucky in a way."
Unlucky. Journalists. World recession.

All those things.

Also, being a dreadful idea poorly executed doesn't help.

Robbie sobby, undone by One

Apparently Radio One has taken a bite out of Robbie Williams' arsenal:

"I'm very ambitious," he told BBC Radio 4's Mastertapes programme. "So when Radio 1 goes and is taken away from you, a huge bit of your arsenal goes."

"It's your main oxygen to get your stuff out there."
To be fair, Robbie, you've just released an album of swing covers. It's like sticking out a porn video and wondering why Blue Peter won't invite you on talk about it.

In the BBC News story, though, a much more interesting detail is hanging about:
The station's head of music has also said rock groups Green Day and Muse may have outgrown the station.

"The last Green Day project simply wasn't good enough," George Ergatoudis told trade magazine Music Week.

Muse, meanwhile "are approaching a crossroads" - their last single was the first one not playlisted by Radio 1 in a decade.

"The door remains open to them but we'll have to think carefully about their next album."
Yes, we've now come so far through the Rock & Roll Years that Muse have effectively turned into Cliff Richard.

And Green Day are Status Quo, but that's hardly breaking news.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Gordon in the gloaming: Smart career move

Bad news for fans of Kasabian minutiae, odd promotions for golf computer games and the overuse of the word "bangers": Gordon Smart is stepping down as King Of Bizarre.

He's going to Scotland to edit the Scottish edition of The Sun. Dan Wootton, from the News Of The W... sorry, Sun On Sunday, will take over editorship of showbiz, and if the Bizarre column retains its 1980s name and remit, someone as-yet-unnamed will take over.

Will we never again get to hear about that wrestling sitcom pilot?

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

What the pop papers say: The rinky-dinky Express

I was going to do a quick review of the new-look NME, but it doesn't appear to have arrived yet.

Hang on... what's this, underneath this postcard?

Why, it's a diddy little NME.

Seriously, this is a tiny little magazine. It appears to be smaller than the Melody Maker when it turned into a little magazine shortly before it closed for good. The official line is that this is a tablet-sized format, which makes economic sense - no need to redesign for digital - but a slap in the face of the 20,000 print readers who now get a product optimised for the few hundred electronic subscribers.

Still - it looks great on the front page, and there's a little bit of a secret message down the edge of the page. Yes, it looks like The Face, even down to the plus signs where the downline appears to hover over the crossline. Looks more like The Face than it does the NME, in fact. But it looks like a magazine that has tried.

There's even not one, but two, mission statements - the new slogan "the past, present and future of music", plus a promise of "more new music... more reviews... about %#@!£ time".

It's not quite an apology for the Gallagher years, or the light reviews section of recent times, but it's a start.

It's a front page that wants you to cut some slack, to approach in a spirit of truth and reconciliation.

Sure, it's a Bowie cover, which isn't the most dangerous choice, but last week they had McCartney; as I observed earlier in the week, Bowie was the only strong sales performance in the first half of 2013 and Bowie has appeared on the cover more than any other person, so it's a nice way of tying in history and present. Fits with the mission statement. (Indeed, the Bowie piece shares the new slugline.)

But can the magazine deliver where it counts: inside?

Let's take a peak.

Page 3: There's a full contents page on page three - the index of what bands appear inside is also back. Fela Kuti on page 30; Tindersticks, erm, also on page 30. Oh! Gary Numan. He's on page 30, too. Busy page, then, page 30.

We'll get there in a minute.

Page 4: It's Angst! Or Tool! Or NMEmail! Except now its called Sounding Off. There's only four letters now. One is Abigail Jones in Fleetwood complaining about Haim hanging out with David Cameron; In response, Mike Williams manages to blame this on Tony Blair and Noel Gallagher.

But only four letters? Really?

(They publish a postal address, which is sweet.)

Page 6-7: Double the number of tracks for On Repeat. Kurt Vile, The Wytches and BEEDEEGEE amongst others.

Page 8-19: "The Week", which isn't (just) news. It's basically Thrills, before Thrills became a sarc-muffin.

So there's Jake Bugg meeting someone who is dressed as Elvis, but it gets better. Brandon Flowers talks about playing China. No, it really does get better.

Andy Welch contributes a piece about Muscle Shoals Sounds studios, admittedly inspired by a film that's coming out but feels like a story that hasn't been told to death.

MIA is given space to explain why she gave the finger during the Superbowl. Interestingly, she goes down a 'hey, it used to have a totally different meaning, like the swastika, yeah?' line, which makes her sound like Crispin Mills.

"The only time you'll see a green representation of a woman in the West is a witch, in a musical called Wicked" claims MIA.

I'm not entirely sure I agree, but I can't put my finger on why.

There's a traditional In The Studio bit - this week Metronomy - and an "Anatomy Of An Album" which is Kid A. Not perhaps such a fresh choice.

Back, back, back comes the charts. Not a double page spread, but just a listing for the Official Record Store Chart. Which is sort of like an indie chart, but is more muddled-up, what with Roy Harper and Elton John in there.

Tinie Tempah does the Soundtrack of My Life feature - he wishes he'd written Isn't She Lovely, because it makes women melt.

Pages 21-25: Radar. Dead Coast! Puffer! Jungle!

Pages 26-31: Reviews - albums (and also a book). There's a "play it again" side panel which will remind older readers of Select - the NME column, not the magazine, that repeated sniglets of the last few weeks warmest reviews. (There's a lot of small ideas like this that suggest the team working on the redesign worked their way through a lot of back issues, and with good effect.)

There's probably more reviews than there were before - as promised on the front cover - but it's not like going from a pair of puppies to a hundred and one dalmatians; it's more a few extra. Perhaps it's a quiet week. (Oh, and page 30? That's where five reviews cram into the smaller page size.)

Pages 32-37: Reviews - live. Actually, the smaller format really makes the live photography look a lot better; especially the Nicky Wire and Katy B shots. Not sure what trick has been pulled here - maybe it's with less space to fill, the photos are having to justify every square centimetre they cover rather than cover up gaps in the page?

Theres some adverts then, until we get to...

Pages 44 - 47: Guide.

A moment of silence, please.

The world's most comprehensive gig guide is dead. Effectively, the line-by-line listings have been exiled to the web. Oh, internet, with your tables and mark-up, and real time updating and 'buy ticket' buttons, you are a more obvious home for the comprehensive gig list.

But nobody would ever have heard of Mung Bean Jesus or Who Moved The Ground were it not for the time-killing game of reading the listings for really shit names.

On the other hand, you only ever played that game while waiting for internet to become a consumer product, so swings and roundabouts.

And there's still a list of highlights, plus a nifty collection of free gigs - you can see Pins for less than two pins in Sunderland.

And Staying In rounds up music on TV and radio in the coming days - 6Music sessions given the prominence they deserve at last.

Page 49: Hungerford's crossword, along with a quiz (14. Who was in both the Sesame Street house band and the black panthers?) and... yes... a cartoon.

A cartoon! In the NME! See what I mean about the eye on what worked well in the past?

It's not a great cartoon; it's not a Ray Lowry cartoon, but it's a cartoon.

Pages 52-61: Feature articles. I'm hoping that in coming weeks this space will get a bit of variety in it, but this week it's all Bowie. And it's an awkward taste of 'what had gone wrong with the NME' lingering in the mix because other pop stars have been asked to offer an article about how great Bowie is.

So we're treated to the insight of Faris Badwan, which is a bit like getting Bernard Matthews to talk about Mrs Beeton. I could just be being bitter, though, as Badwan reveals he got loaned the Bowie At The Beeb CD collection when he was still at school, and I listened to it while driving around my wedding venue, so it makes me feel older than even remembering when Ray Lowry cartoons were in the NME does.

And, to be fair, even with Faris on-board the line-up of fellow musicians bowing the knee is pretty impressive: Black Francis, Trent Reznor, St Vincent...

Tony Visconti pops up to talk about the extra tracks on The Next Day Extra - which is surely the first time the NME has offered quite so much promotional space to a 'buy a record you've already bought because we've added some second-string tracks' gambit.

Pages 62-64: An old article about The Sex Pistols. Old habits die harder than old addicts.

Page 65: A look back ten years to a Kings Of Leon cover

Page 66: Brett Anderson does the Does Rock & Roll Kill Braincells, which has been given a new format: The questions are from "the fans". ("Is the window [on Dog Man Star sleeve] open or closed?"). It doesn't quite work, as the questions are mostly 'what job were you doing when you wrote this song' type-affairs. Even so Brett only scores six.

And... that's it. It doesn't quite live up to the promise of the front page, but it shakes up a magazine that had gotten tired, while picking through some ideas that had been dropped in previous overhauls.

Will it find a big new audience? It feels unlikely. But it might just stem the bleeding circulation long enough to allow digital to offer a stable future for the title.

It's a little more new; it's a little bit more musical; it's just been a little expressed.

Bookmarks: Frankie And The Heartstrings

Riley-endorsed band Frankie And The Heartstrings have opened a record shop (which is a bit like a cow getting a job on the cheesecounter). BBC News' Ian Youngs went down to see if they had I Just Called To Say I Love You:

Four out of the five bandmates work there full time and, last month, the venture earned them the title of hardest working band in Britain from the Association of Independent Music.

When I visit, the lead singer is manning the coffee machine, busily grinding beans and frothing milk as the shop fills up before an in-store gig by visiting Manchester band Dutch Uncles.

Drummer Dave Harper and bassist Steve Dennis are behind the counter in a state of harangued dishevelment - passing coffee cups, jabbing the till, fetching supplies, pausing to chat to friends.

Formatwatch: Pure Audio

In an attempt to squeak out a few more years from the physical format, Universal are pinning their hopes on Pure Audio, which is basically the third heavy attempt to do a high-quality CD style format after SACD and DVD Audio.

Imagine Pono in a physical format.

Stop staring blankly at me.

Okay, it's a BluRay disc with songs on it.

The BBC News site suggests that it could be something of a success, given how it's performed in France:

Pioneered by Universal Music, it launched in France earlier this year, where the initial batch of 35 titles have already achieved sales of more than 500,000.

One album, Mylene Farmer's Monkey Me, has sold 84,000 copies on Blu-Ray alone - which would be enough to ensure a top 10 placing in the UK charts.
It's sold 84,000 copies on BluRay alone, has it?

Not really, as it's not been available on BluRay alone - the PureAudio version comes with, erm, an ordinary CD and only costs a couple of Euros on top. So it might work as a heavily subsidised up-sell, but hasn't really had a test in its own right yet.

Monday, October 07, 2013

NME announces new look (assuming you never saw The Face)

Here's a sneaky peak at the new-look NME which goes on sale this week:

Oh, hang on, that's not quite it...
Yeah, that's it. Pretty much the same thing.

Aside from the obvious debt to Imperial-era Face, this is quite an interesting sounding reworking of the NME, as it goes beyond the tinkering. Music Week has looked inside:
The Radar section - which focuses on breaking bands and new music – will expand to four pages and feature contributions from columnists including Dave Sitek and Huw Stephens. The Radar section on will be playlist driven and focus on daily new music recommendations.

In association with the Official Charts Company, the relaunched NME will feature the Official Record Store Chart both in print and online.

New franchises including Soundtrack Of My Life, Anatomy Of An Album and Lost Albums will run alongside more music recommendations via an enhanced On Repeat section.

A Reviews section features analysis of records and gigs over 11 pages in the magazine, a From The Vault section delves into the archive to reprint features from NME’s 60-year history.

Listing gigs on sale that week, a Guide section will also include ‘staying in’ to highlight music radio and TV.
There's a new slogan, too - The Past, Present & Future Of Music - which suggests alongside paper and digital it might be publishing in Christmas Ghost format, too.

Telling that they're relaunching with Bowie on the cover - especially given that this week's issue had McCartney as the cover story. It's not particularly brave - it was a Dave front page that was the only issue in the last ABC period which outperformed the rest; but having the confidence to stick Macca out the back door during wash up is an interesting message.

It sounds like an attempt to restore heart to the title - and coupled with some strong writing over the last few months this could be the start of a new golden age...

We'll see on Wednesday.

Gary Barlow: How deep is your self-love

Gary Barlow really isn't bothered how many copies his solo album sells:

‘This is going to sound wrong, but I couldn’t care less (if it’s not successful). I’m not looking to sell 10million albums,’ he told ES Magazine.
If only there was some way we could measure just how unconcerned Barlow is about selling records.
The 42-year-old is said to have spent thousands of pounds to promote his forthcoming release by paying for advertising posters to appear on the streets of ITV hit soap Coronation Street.
Ah, yes: nothing says "I am unconcerned about sales" like a hugely expensive campaign to shove product placement onto one of the most-watched programmes in the country.

Elton John is a bad influence, says imam

Elton John's decision to play Russia not exactly going down well with everyone there. Seidzhagfar Lutfullin isn't a fan:

Denouncing the British superstar as "the devil's work in the shape of a pederast," the imam warned that God could rain destruction on cities in the style of the Old Testament's Sodom and Gomorrah as punishment for John's sexual delinquency.

" what the world famous homosexual Elton John, (sic) who recently wed a man in public, is promoting," the imam said in remarks published on the Web site of Kazan's Thousandth Anniversary of Islam Mosque.
He then checked his notes, and said "oh... actually, he's promoting his extensive back catalogue of solo albums. But they're probably about sodomy."

Lutfullin hopes that everyone will respond to his concern by staying at home the night John plays Kazan. At their own homes. Alone. WITH THEIR PANTS ON.

It's interesting that the devil chose to shape John like a pederast. Isn't Lutfullin the same sort of basic shape - round head at the top; pair of arms; pair of legs; long, glistening cock; a pair of delicious, yearning, sweat-gleaned testicles swinging free underneath loose cloth?

Sunday, October 06, 2013

Glastonbury 2014: Ticket sale screw-up time

Seetickets & the festival hit refresh again, hoping this time it'll work:

This week just gone

The most-read stories across No Rock for the last week:

1. Lostprophets call it a day
2. Surprise: Miley Cyrus admits that the VMA performance was kind of a stunt
3. Jane Horrocks covers Manchester indie classics
4. Tatu wonder why people assume they're gay
5. Reporters try not to use the word 'ironic' in coverage of Alanis Morissette court case
6. KT Tunstall thinks she knows why people assume she's gay
7. Ronan Keating smarts after Thom York is rude
8. Glastonbury announces first band for 2014
9. AEG not to blame in Jackson's death, says jury

These were the interesting releases from the week before last:

Chvrches - The Bones Of What you Believe

Download The Bones...

Mazzy Star - Seasons Of Your Day

Download Seasons Of Your Day

Laura Cantrell - No Way There From Here

Download No Way There From Here