Saturday, November 30, 2013

Venuewatch: The Hydro

There's trouble at the Hydro, the music venue spin-off of the SECC in Glasgow. A few weeks after it opened with a Rod Stewart gig, the manager has quit. There's a lot of politeness about it public:

The SECC said: "John believes this is the natural time to take on his next career challenge and allow a new successor to consolidate the potential of the new, expanded SECC campus and enlarged business. He will announce his future plans at a later date."

City council chief executive George Black said: "Having driven this complex and successful project to completion, I wish John well in his future endeavours."

Mr Sharkey said: "It is undoubtedly a massive privilege to have had the opportunity to see the SSE Hydro from its gestation through construction to its successful opening and now it's time for me to take on another challenge."
According to the Herald, though, behind the scenes there's been a hell of a battle over the size of salaries being paid by the project. Not to everyone, of course. Just to the management.

HMV pulls Lostprophets from the shelves

I suppose, pragmatically, there's not a person in the country who would want to buy a Lostprophets record in public now, and in that sense HMV's decision to remove their records from stores makes sense.

On the other hand, it's an interesting precedent that HMV has set, now it's decided that conviction for some child abuse crimes makes an artist's work unacceptable. But only some - Roman Polanski's drugging and rape of a girl, for example, is not a a bar to the chain selling his work; and their Gary Glitter artist page even mentions his convictions while still offering a chance to buy his tracks.

I don't think it's a bad move to have a policy on this. It's just not clear what HMV's policy is.

Pixies split again

What is it with bassists called Kim and the Pixies?

They've just lost the second one in a year. Kim Shattuck posted this to Facebook:

Super disappointed to learn that my time with the Pixies ended today. Amazing experience. Looking forward to focusing my attention back on the Muffs and our upcoming new album. All the best to everyone.
This shouldn't be too much of a surprise - if you had suspicions that she was being viewed as hired help, Tom Howard's Pixies piece in the NME last week would have confirmed it. The manager wouldn't let Howard talk to Shattuck; when he asked Black Francis why, he was told to ask the manager.

Lawson suddenly care what other people think

It's about other people:

Lawson want Rita Ora to be in their next video but are afraid of annoying her boyfriend Calvin Harris.
Oh, Lawson, everything you do annoys Calvin Harris. And anyone else who has ears. Why suddenly start worrying about that now?

Friday, November 29, 2013

ITV apparently OK with James Arthur's homophobia

Here's a surprise: homophobic tosser James Arthur is due to appear on The X Factor this Sunday, and ITV are okay with that:

A spokesperson says, "Both Itv and the producers of The X Factor would like to make it clear that in no way do we support, condone or share any form of homophobia or discrimination.

"Following his comments James has since apologised last week, making it clear that he did not mean to cause any offence and explaining the context behind his remarks."
Yes, ITV seem to be endorsing Arthur's tortuous 'it's not hateful providing you know the guy you're calling a fucking queer is straight' logic.

The odd thing, though, is that when Coronation Street's Chris Fountain was revealed to have pushed an ill-advised rap video to the internet, ITV were less forgiving:
An ITV spokesperson said: "Chris Fountain's contract with ITV has been terminated as a result of the unacceptable comments he made in a number of online clips."
But Chris Fountain also "explained the context", said he didn't mean to cause offence and apologised profusely. He was still sacked.

Not quite sure what the difference is, unless ITV really is so scared of Simon Cowell it's quite happy to apply double standards. But it couldn't be that, right?

Only fools and horses: Dappy takes a tumble

I'm sure all our thoughts and prayers are with Dappy, who cannot ride a horse:

Dappy's representative, Terry Mills, says, “I can confirm that my client was involved in a horse riding accident at home where he fell from his horse and was subsequently kicked in the face.

“Dappy was rushed to hospital where he received medical treatment and is now recovering.”
It does appear that, although Mills doesn't make it clear, Dappy's face-kicking came from the horse; it's not like someone saw him fall off the horse and thought 'well, that's an open goal'.

No word on how the horse is.

It's unclear if this is going to cause Dappy to have to cancel any work he has coming up. Actually, it's unclear what Dappy is actually doing these days when he hasn't been kicked in the face by a horse.

Tourism campaign makes poor choice of singer

There's no shortage of poorly-chosen music-related advertising and marketing campaigns, but the people attempting to turn Ebril into a tourist hotspot have managed to bounce themselves to the top of the list. This constitutes some sort of clanger being dropped:

One of the most recent triumphs for authorities in Erbil, the capital of the semi-autonomous region of Iraqi Kurdistan, had was getting their metropolis named Capital of Arab Tourism for 2014. A schedule of events to draw more attention to the city and to attract visitors has been launched, as has a promotional campaign. But the latter has already run into some controversy.

Local officials have brought in Moroccan-born singer, Samira Said, to perform a song called “Erbil”, in which the musical star, who’s well known throughout the Arab world, praises the locale for its beauty.

Apparently Said was chosen, in part, because she is one of the nominees in the Monte Carlo-based World Music Awards, where best selling artists in each region and in various categories are given prizes. Said has been nominated for her single, “Mazal” and she’s also up for the Best Female Artist prize.
Now, so far, that doesn't sound so bad - Samira Said, with something of a global profile - coming over to sing a song about the joys of Iraqi Kurdistan.

What could possibly be wrong about that?
The same singer, Samira Said, was employed by Saddam Hussein to sing hymns to his regime, the same regime that tried to exterminate Iraq’s Kurds.
Yeah. That's taking "ill-judged" to a new level.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Beyonce banned from graves, only not really

The Mail has glossed the results of Beyonce's bad behaviour at the Pyramids:

Beyonce 'banned' from Pyramids by Egypt's Indiana Jones after her 'stupid and rude' behaviour
By "Egypt's Indiana Jones", they mean "an Egyptian archaeologist who loves himself a bit", Zahi Hawass. And by "banned", if you read the Independent version, it turns out they mean that he withdrew an offer to show her around:
"She said she would come at 3pm but she came late. I said 'You have to say I'm sorry I'm late'. But she didn't open her mouth," continued Dr Hawass, credited with modernising the management of Egypt's ancient sites and who claims to have repatriated 6,000 artefacts "stolen" by Western powers.

"I brought a photographer and she also had a photographer and a guard. When my photographer started to shoot, he said 'No, Stop! I am the one who says yes or no, not you.' I said 'In that case since you almost hit my photographer and you are not polite - out! I am not giving you the privilege of having you on my tour.' I said Beyoncé was stupid and I left."
Actually, "Beyonce told she is stupid" is both a more accurate and more interesting headline than the suggestion that she has somehow been "banned" from the World Heritage Site.

Bad times for H

It's not just the Ian Watkins whose Twitter name is an underscore away from the Lostprophets' child-raping singer. Ian H Watkins out of pantomime, mostly, has also been targeted by people who can't tell the difference between Lostprophets and Steps.

Still, at least there are proper entertainment journalists who won't make that mistake, right?

Yes, that's the entertainment experts over at E!Online confusing the two Watkins.

The Mirror says that H is considering legal action over the error, although their actual quote:
When asked if the Steps singer was considering taking legal action, a spokesperson replied: "We're not sure at this point."
... doesn't quite say that so forcibly.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Billy Joel might have made first contact; possibly cured cancer; could steal moon

The world, and all seven billion people upon it, are expected to fall silent next week, as our new leader Billy Joel will address us:

Billy Joel just announced that he will hold a press conference at Madison Square Garden on December 3rd to make an "exclusive and historic announcement." Neither he nor the arena have given indication of what they are going to announce, but the moment will be broadcast live on Fuse, the MSG Network and
A historical announcement, eh? There's no way that's just going to be a few extra gigs, because nobody would attract attention to such a 'man does job' press conference in such terms, would they?

My guess is that he's pulled off cold fusion. I literally cannot wait for this moment of unprecedented import in our planet's story.

They've made Robyn into a robot

How about watching Robyn meet a robot that's been based on her?

The robot is able to detect music and make rudimentary dance moves, giving the appearance of some sort of emotional life. Which already makes it more than qualified for a role in Little Mix.

The team at Sweden's KTH University plan to have the robot completed early next year.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Ian Watkins changes his plea to guilty

I suspect this isn't the greatest day to be called @ianwatkins on Twitter - an underscore away from being the child-raping lead singer of Lostprophets, @ian_watkins.

This, though, is a pretty astute point:

It does look from the evidence reported in court that Watkins used the band as a way of persuading young women to do things that were criminal. The biggest risks aren't the ones on stage.

Shirley Manson: Cyrus c'est moi

There's been an interesting contribution to the chatter about Miley Cyrus from Shirley Manson:

Manson said: “I disagree in some ways with how Miley has been castigated. I think it’s a very complex issue.

“But put it this way - when I was starting out with Garbage in the 1990s, I wore see-through dresses, and I used to grab my crotch and my boobs.

“Nobody batted an eyelid at the time. Nobody castigated me. But she has been treated like the antichrist.

“Artists make their own decisions and know there may be repercussions. It is up to them.”
It's tempting to say 'well, it's not quite the same', but there's a chance that what I mean is 'that was okay because I like Garbage'.

Even allowing for that, though, there's surely some differences, not least of which is the sort of image Shirley and Miley had. Sure, Shirley had a strong, sexual image - but would you have seen her doing Robin Thicke's rape song with her ass in his groin? Would you have given much for Thicke's chances if he'd even asked?

There's a risk in assuming that there's just sexual and not-sexual, rather than a range of different motivations, audiences, messages and attitudes and trying to use a binary filter leads you into the sort of on/off switch of David Cameron's porn filter. It's possible to defend Cyrus' right to artistic self-expression while still not being convinced that it is self-expression.

If Cyrus is delivering her own vision, there's surely a strange coincidence in how much that vision looks like it's the next step in a sideboob arms race with Katy Perry and Lady GaGa.

The wisdom or otherwise of Shirley's suggestion that Miley knows what she's doing, and knows the potential repercussions - well, we'll find out if that's the case over the years to come. Let's hope she's right.

Public Service Announcement: Stay in your homes, disconnect all electronic equipment

Scientists have warned that a dangerous new strain of half-arsed pop has been created, with a strain of X Factor makeweights crossing over into second-string reality television:

Gaz from Geordie Shore has made a record with The Risk.

The surprise? It's actually rather good.

Sorry, that should be, it'd be a surprise if it was actually rather good. It isn't. It sounds like something that Craig David might have done if he'd had a bad cold one day.

However, there is some fun to be had, watching the room-meat dancing in the background, and counting the number who are desperately trying to look like they're enjoying themselves, against those who can't even be arsed to pretend any more.

Monday, November 25, 2013

2013 Steps To Nowhere: Other people's choices

Being a sampling of best of, highlights, sales charts and other cumulative gatherings of lists of the best of 2013.

Part of 2013 Steps To Nowhere

Last updated: 21 December 2013

Brian Brehmer, NME reader: His musical highlights of the year:
The Replacements getting back together
The Songs For Slim project

Glamour's song of the summer:
Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

Drowned In Sound's Top Tracks:
5. Ya Hey - Vampire Weekend
4. The Throw - Jagwar Ma
3. Reflektor - Arcade Fire
2. GMF - John Grant featuring Sinead O'Connor
1. Mirrors - Justin Timberlake

Zane Lowe's 100 hottest records:
Wild For The Night (feat. Skrillex) - A$AP Rocky
Attracting Flies - AlunaGeorge
Echelon (It's My Way) - Angel Haze
Afterlife - Arcade Fire
Why'd You Only Call Me When You're High - Arctic Monkeys
Love More Worry Less - Bipolar Sunshine
Carry Me - Bombay Bicycle Club
Shadow Moses - Bring Me The Horizon
Carry Me On (feat. Chrom3) - Brookes Brothers
Rango - Catfish And The Bottlemen
Be Your Toy - Cerebral Ballzy
Lost And Not Found (feat. Louis M^ttrrs) - Chase & Status
The Mother We Share - CHVRCHES
Get Away - Circa Waves
You & I - Crystal Fighters
Human - Daughter
Baby I Call Hell - Deap Vally
White Noise (feat. AlunaGeorge) - Disclosure
You & Me (Baauer Remix) - Disclosure
Earthquake (feat. Dominique Young Unique) - DJ Fresh & Diplo
Bloodsports - Drenge
Headlights (feat. Nate Ruess) - Eminem
Alive - Empire Of The Sun
The Paddington Frisk - Enter Shikari
The Phoenix - Fall Out Boy
Awkward - FIDLAR
Recovery - Frank Turner
Cool Like Me - Fryars
Hate Or Glory - Gesaffelstein
Ready For Your Love (feat. MNEK) - Gorgon City
The Wire - HAIM
Call Me In The Afternoon - Half Moon Run
Isis - Hot Natured
Messiah - I See MONSTAS
Man I Need - Jagwar Ma
What Doesn't Kill You - Jake Bugg
Retrograde - James Blake
Holy Grail (feat. Justin Timberlake) - Jay Z
Run (feat. Pusha T) - Joel Compass
My Yout (feat. Maverick Sabre) - Joey Bada$$
Love Me Again - John Newman
The War - Josh Record
Crying On My Own - Katy B
Easy Easy - King Krule
Beautiful War - Kings Of Leon
EDM Death Machine - Knife Party
Master Hunter - Laura Marling
Calling - Lewis Watson
Salient Sarah (feat. Sampha) - Lil Silva
Strong - London Grammar
Backroads - Lonely The Brave
Bring The Noize - M.I.A.
Oblivion - M84
Beggars - Mallory Knox
Bath In Black - Marika Hackman
I'm Aquarius - Metronomy
Don't Forget Who You Are - Miles Kane
Panic Station (Madeon Remix) - Muse
Come Back Haunted - Nine Inch Nails
There Will Come A Time - Noah & The Whale
I Found Love - Palma Violets
Follow Baby - Peace
Entertainment - Phoenix
Chain My Name - Poliça
My God Is The Sun - Queens Of The Stone Age
Waiting All Night (feat. Ella Eyre) - Rudimental
Walk Like A Man - Ruen Brothers
Young Blood - Saint Raymond
Nirvana - Sam Smith
Too Much - Sampha
She Will - Savages
Reload (Original i.e. Non Vocal Version) - Sebastian Ingrosso & Tommy Trash
Booyah (feat. We Are Loud & Sonny Wilson) - Showtek
Elastic Heart (feat. The Weeknd & Diplo) - Sia
Rollercoaster (feat. Sam Frank) - Skream
Turn It Around (feat. Kele) - Sub Focus
Get Down Low - TC
Chocolate - The 1976
Fly - The Child of Lov
Shot At The Night - The Killers
Hearts Like Ours - The Naked And Famous
One Way Trigger - The Strokes
Blue Collar Jane - The Strypes
Melody Calling - The Vaccines
Kiss Land - The Weeknd
Your Body Is A Weapon - The Wombats
Sunset (Jamie XX Edit) - The XX
Fragment Two - These New Puritans
Children Of The Sun - Tinie Tempah
Hold Me - Tom Odell
Holding On To You - Twenty One Pilots
Changing Of The Seasons - Two Door Cinema Club
Diane Young - Vampire Weekend
Love Is To Die - Warpaint
There Goes Our Love Again - White Lies
Afterglow - Wilkinson
Blackout (feat. Shakka) - Wretch 33
Sacrilege - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Lived A Lie - You Me At Six
Middle Sea - Yuck

New York Times Artsbeat year of Kanye West:
Is it possible to compare yourself to god in a comfortable, non-weird way?

NME Top 10 albums:
1. AM - Arctic Mokeys
2. Yeezus - Kanye West
3. Like Clockwork - Queens Of The Stone Age
4. Holy Fire - Foals
5. Silence Yourself - Savages
6. Random Access Memories - Daft Punk
7. Reflektor - Arcade Fire
8. Push The Sky Away - Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds
9. Once I Was An Eagle - Laura Marling
10. The Next Day - David Bowie

NME sleeve of the year:
You're Nothing - Ice Age

NME EP of the year:
Tally All The Things That You Broke - Parquet Courts

NME Mixtape of the year:
Acid Rap - Chance The Rapper

NME video of the year:
Nerve Endings - Eagulls

NME book of the year:
Autobiography - Morrissey

NME Tracks of the year:
1. Get Lucky - Daft Punk
2. Reflektor - Arcade Fire
3. Do I Wanna Know? - Arctic Monkeys
4. Disclosure featuring AlunaGeorge - White Noise
5. Sacrilege - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
6. Avant Gardener - Courtney Barnett
7. Xanman - Pond
8. My Number - Foals
9. Royals - Lorde
10. Black Skinhead - Kanye West

Markos Papadatos' Top chart-topping country track:
I Drive Your Truck - Lee Brice

Pretty Much Amazing's best songs of 2013:
1. Step - Vampire Weekend
2= Reflektor - Arcade Fire
2= Play By Play - Autre Ne Veut
4. Song For Zula - Phosphorescent
5. Get Lucky - Daft Punk

Ben Ratliff of the New York Times' songs that transcend the tricks:
1. Womanchild - Cécile McLorin Salvant
2. Sunbather - Deafheaven
3. Coming Apart - Body/Head
4. Mestres Navegantes: Edição Cariri
5. Craig Taborn Trio - Chants

Speedy Ortiz's collective favourite part of the year, via Brooklyn Vegan:
Exploding In Sounds Records

Stereo Sanctity blogs the best live performances of the year:
Helen Love, Indietracks

2013 Steps To Nowhere: The year in review

No Rock And Roll Fun is coming to the end of the year - I suppose everyone is - and that means it's time to gather the best records, in ours and others' opinions, review the year in a twelve-part canter through the months (that's coming closer to Christmas), and remember those who've died over the year.

This post, though, doesn't do much beyond provide an index to all these endeavours. It will grow as the days pass.

Other People's Choices

Most read on No Rock 2013

January in review

Best releases of the year
Valete: A year of obituary pieces

Eurovision 2013 - full coverage
Glastonbury 2013 - full coverage
Brits 2013 - full coverage
Mercury Music Prize
NME Awards

Beastie Boys try to shift themselves back onto wrong side of history

It's easy to forget these days that when they first burst into the world, ripping VW badges from cars and putting women in cages, the Beastie Boys weren't universally adored.

So discovering that GoldieBlox have taken one of their shittiest, most sexist moments and turned it into a girl-positive, pro-engineering advert is going to be embraced by the band as a chance to further distance themselves from their youthful missteps, right?

Oh... apparently not:

Along with Universal Music, the Beastie Boys sent a letter to GoldieBlox threatening a copyright infringement claim. GoldieBlox decided to strike first, and has filed for a declaratory judgment in California, saying that their version is a parody and it's protected fair use.
You know what? If I owned the copyright on a song which suggested a woman who wasn't interested was "probably gay" and dreamed of "girls to do my laundry", I think I'd be delighted to see that someone had come along and fixed that for me.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Twittergem: Gary Kemp

In its eulogy for Tie Rack, BBC News compared the chain and rival Sock Shop with some New Romantic heavyweights.

This sort of thing doesn't go unnoticed:

This week just gone

To, erm, celebrate the anniversary of Doctor Who or something, here's the most popular 'who' questions visitors have asked Google en route to No Rock:

1. Who owns guitar hero?
2. Who Do You Think You Are Kidding, Jurgen Klinsmann?
3. Who is Beth Ditto*?
4. Who put the weight of the world on my shoulders?
5. Who is Lily Allen's dad?
6. Who's gay in hip-hop?
7. Who is Blake Fielder-Civil?
8. Who hates U2?
9. Who is Zoe Griffin?
10. Who manages U2?

*- That's showbusiness

With few releases, a look back at the past, because you can't look back in any direction other than back:

Forty years old this year:

Tangerine Dream - Atem

Download Atem

New York Dolls - New York Dolls

Download New York Dolls

Thirty years old this year:

Cocteau Twins - Head Over Heels

Download Head Over Heels

The The - Soul Mining

Download Soul Mining

Twenty years old this year:

Tindersticks - Tindersticks

Download Tindersticks

Saint Etienne - So Tough

Download So Tough

Ten years old this year:

Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Fever To Tell

Download Fever To tell

Explosions In The Sky - The Earth Is Not A Cold, Dead Place