Saturday, April 05, 2014

Bookmarks: Damon Albarn

It's a pity that Damon Albarn's grumpy-old-manning about the internet is the bit that The Quietus are pushing on Twitter (ironic, given that he's mostly moaning about Twitter). The whole of Jude Rogers' interview with Albarn is a sublime piece of writing and observation:

We didn't film outside my actual house. I’d been there quite a few times before we filmed, just to see it. It's such a personal, strange thing to just stand outside, trying not to get noticed by anyone. And then the day we were filming, the door opened, and I thought, "Oh God"... and this very elegant, conservatively-dressed Muslim girl in her mid-20s came out. And straightaway she went, "Hello Mr. Albarn". And I went, "Oh!" She said, "I know you used to live here," and I went, "How do you know that?" Then she told me that when she was a little girl, around 1995, another film crew came round and she remembered her Mum wouldn’t let them in. "And she won’t let you in now," she said. [laughs] Which is understandable! Then at the end she went, "Good luck, I know you’ve got a new record coming out" – she knew everything, basically, about me. I thought that was really, really nice, so I said, "Give my love to the house", and she said, "I will do." In that little moment, I felt that connection with the house and the people in there...I was really pleased about that.

In case you missed it...

Here's all of yesterday's famous-ish musicians writing about the deaths of more famous musicians in the Guardian boiled down:

Chas Spod on Superbly Fabulous:
I heard about Superbly's death on the news, although I was watching the news someplace incredible, like I was about to get on a flight to Marbella or possibly holed up in a hotel in Slough. I couldn't believe they'd died. I'd always thought that we'd have wound up working together, probably to the point where the pupil would have become the master. Their music is still available to listen to and hasn't changed since they died, really.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Embed and Letterman: Sleater-Kinney

"Okay, okay, we get it, there's a lot of bands who've played Letterman. Make it stop now."

Fair enough, but one last dip into Dave's archives, for Sleater-Kinney, of course:

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Embed and Letterman: Vampire Weekend

There's a limit to the room to say anything interesting ahead of these video clips, giving they all come from the same programme:

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Embed and Letterman: The Bangles

This is from something like 1945. The Bangles doing Hero Takes A Fall:

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Embed and Letterman: Luscious Jackson

More up to date now, with a November 2013 performance from Luscious Jackson:

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Embed and Letterman: Pulp

Late-night American television audiences getting introduced to the concept of rich students from St Martins slumming it:

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Embed and Letterman: Guided By Voices

GBV. 2012.

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Embed and Letterman: Pink

Something a little poppier now, although not that much poppier, as Pink turns up in her teen goth mode to do Family Portrait:

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Embed and breakfast man: Blur

It's easy to forget that Blur once did pop music instead of making cheese and running for council. Back in 1999, they did this version of Tender for Letterman:

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Embed and Letterman: Sonic Youth

1992 was something of a great year for Dave. Here he is, young looking and introducing Sonic Youth:

(There's a less wobbly, but unshareable version over on YouTube)

A couple of years later, they were back to do Bull In The Heather:

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Embed and Letterman: Alabama Shakes

From a couple of years back, Alabama Shakes:

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Embed and Letterman: David Bowie

Here's a poorly-dressed Bowie from the start of the century, pushing the Heathen album and talking about the internet:

Enough talking. Let's hear him do some music:

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Embed and Letterman: Pixies (2)

So, Letterman had the Pixies on when they reformed. Which is good, but he also had them on first time round.

Here they are in 1992:

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Embed and breakfast man: Letterman

With David Letterman announcing his retirement, it's worth recalling that American TV isn't just losing a programme which mined a seam of inspired humour (albeit one which kept on mining after the seam was worked out), but also a show with a brilliant music booking policy.

Let's have a quick look, shall we?

Here's Pixies doing Monkey Gone To Heaven as a kick-off:

[More to come]
Earlier Pixies
David Bowie
Alabama Shakes
Sonic Youth
Guided By Voices
Luscious Jackson
The Bangles
Vampire Weekend

Downloadable: Stacey

So around about Christmas last year, Stacey released her first ep. It sounded like this:

Which is great.

There's more, though, as she's had the builders in and reworked the entire thing. And it sounds great - if anything, they could have pushed the settings for her voice even further, as it travels incredibly well.

You can have it just for liking the idea of it on Facebook.

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Anti-piracy campaign produces list of sites where you can make out like a bandit

The anti-piracy people are publishing a list of websites which offer large swathes of unlicenced music and film:

Here's how the IWL is designed to work: the creative industry bodies provide the initial list of infringing sites, which is then "evidenced and verified" by the City of London Police's Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit (PIPCU), providing a list of undesirables for advertisers to avoid.

PIPCU claims that the pilot resulted in 12% less advertising from "major household brands" on the identified sites. "If an advert from an established brand appears on an infringing website not only does it lend the site a look of legitimacy, but inadvertently the brand and advertiser are funding online crime," said the unit's boss Detective Chief Inspector Andy Hyde.
Now, obviously, if the list was made public, what the diligent work would have done would be offer people keen to get their hands on an m4v of Anchorman 2 the best places to look.

So they're not making the list public.

That's problematic, though - it means the police are circulating documents accusing websites of criminal activity without allowing those site owners a chance to defend themselves, based on a list originally produced by the copyright businesses in the first place. It's not clear what "evidence" is gathered by the City of London police, and it's surely wrong for police evidence to merely be accepted as proof without testing this in an open justice process.

Sure, 'making it hard for pirate websites to profit' sounds great.

But when you realise that means 'private corporations and police working together to undermine websites on the basis of a secret list' it starts to become a little more sinister.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Who theme team apparently don't exist in time and space

You can forgive the Evening Argus in Brighton being excited by a Radiophonic Workshop gig, but they might be a little over-excited:

The creators of the iconic Doctor Who soundtrack are to reform for a special one-off performance.

British electronic group Radiophonic Workshop will play at the University of Chichester on April 11.
And who wouldn't want to be there? Although Who might want to be there.

But regardless, they're "reforming" after a gap of, erm, ten days since their last date in Leeds.
But to be fair to the Argus, it does come a whole three weeks after the group last played in Sussex.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Houseobit: Frankie Knuckles

It's hard to believe that Frankie Knuckles - who has died at the age of 59 - not only didn't need to create a stage name, but actually toned down his birth name of Frank Warren Knuckles Junior before finding fame.

It's perhaps more surprising than it should be that one of the best appreciations of Knuckles' life comes from The Economist's Propsero column:

If there was a year in which house music might be said to have climbed out of its subterranean bunker and into the mass market, it was 1989. That was when Mr Knuckles's “Your Love” filled every dancefloor. Today, it is better known in its later incarnation as Candi Staton’s evergreen hit “You’ve Got The Love”. But ravers of a certain generation will tell you that it still brings to mind a time when the sweat dripped off nighclub walls, the ecstasy tablets were pure and only those in the clan attended.

By the time of his death, Mr Knuckles, like the music he nurtured, had long since become part of the mainstream. In 2004 Barack Obama, another man who made his way to Chicago before taking on the world, declared August 24th "Frankie Knuckles Day" in the city. A year later he was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame. The Windy City named a street after him.
It's perhaps underestimating his value to read the collection of honours collected by The Independent:
Knuckles, who won a Grammy in 1998, had a street in Chicago named after him in 2004. In 2005, he was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.
It's dispiriting that the most interesting thing HuffPo can do is copy someone's tweet:
Fellow DJ David Morales has shared his condolences on Twitter, writing: “I am devastated to write that my dear friend Frankie Knuckles has passed away today. Can't write anymore than this at the moment. I'm sorry.”
It's the Los Angeles Times that explains what he did:
My favorite of [his remixes] is Knuckles' remix of Hercules and Love Affair's "Blind," a glorious 2008 post-disco New York jam that in the Chicago godfather's hands becomes something majestic. An eight-minute slow build that adds layers every 16 bars until this beast of a groove rises, the song features vocalist Antony Hegarty in perfect form. Knuckles understood this, and like much of his work, crafted his music as a pedestal for his singer, giving space to shine by surrounding voice with groove.

My favorite of them is Knuckles' remix of Hercules and Love Affair's "Blind," a glorious 2008 post-disco New York jam that in the Chicago godfather's hands becomes something majestic. An eight-minute slow build that adds layers every 16 bars until this beast of a groove rises, the song features vocalist Antony Hegarty in perfect form. Knuckles understood this, and like much of his work, crafted his music as a pedestal for his singer, giving space to shine by surrounding voice with groove.
It's appropriate to end on something from Knuckles' home town - A Chicago Reader piece which quotes Matt Warren talking about the man at work:
I went to the Power Plant one night because I had heard this guy Frankie Knuckles, who I didn't even know at the time, was a hot DJ. This was an after-hours place where they played the house stuff. We all went down there one night after our nightclub closed, and I remember just walking in and seeing this scene that I'd never witnessed before. He was playing these old disco tracks and he a had a 909 going live and he would blend that in, and just people were going nuts. And he was doing this thing where he'd just drop out all the bass in the system, and their system was so big that after a couple songs you wouldn't really notice it anymore. Then all of a sudden the crowd'd start screaming up to Frankie, saying "Bang the box, Frankie! Bang the box, Frankie!" And out of nowhere he'd just take the bass and go "Ka-boom! Ka-boom! Ka-boom!" and they'd just lose their frickin' minds.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Rita Ora makes a choice

"I was asked to judge that X Factor but said no" very much the mid 2010s "yeah, they offered me a seat in the House Of Lords but I didn't want to compromise my ability to speak out on the issues", isn't it?

She told Capital FM: "I would have loved to have done it. I'm such a fan of the show but if I did that, then i can't do this.

"I didn't want to do an album and do promo and go on tour and have that responsibility at the same time."
"This" is an endless tour of local radio stations talking about, mostly, how she could have been on the X Factor by now if she hadn't said no to it in order to tour radio studios talking about how she said no to the X Factor to free up her time to visit commercial broadcasters giving interviews about the decision to turn down the X Factor so she could spend time calling in at ILR networks communicating about her refusal of the X Factor due to demands on her diary made by visits to breakfast shows and drivetime programmes where she will talk about choosing not to do the X Factor.

But Rita Ora isn't an idiot. She's aware that Aire FM might not always want to be amongst the first to hear about how she's not doing the X Factor, so she's leaving the door open:
She added: "I said I would love to do it when the time is right, so basically a few albums on."
I suspect that very few people outside of the X Factor expect it to still be on air in a few albums time; there might not be many people outside of Rita Ora who believe she's got a few albums left in her.

Pixies: They've gone a bit Blue Peter

The word "fun". It's like a coded cry for help, isn't it?

With the late-April release of Indie Cindy, the first new Pixies studio album in more than 20 years, the band, along with legendary graphic designer Vaughan Oliver, is calling upon the Pixies’ artistic community to participate in a fun contest where art and music converge.
You have Vaughan Oliver. Why would you invite amateur input? "Hey, we've got Duke Ellington offering to do something for the new record, so we thought we'd get some people to send in cassette tapes of them playing piano and he could choose the best one, albeit one which will fall quite short of his piano playing."
Pixies - Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering - are looking for committed fans and artists to create a unique Pixies-inspired design measuring 11” X 17” (279mm x 432mm) that utilizes Pixies logos and the "Indie Cindy” album title - everything else can be a product of the artist’s creativity and ingenuity. All submissions will be personally judged by the three Pixies band members and by Vaughan Oliver, who has designed all Pixies artwork over the band’s career. The winning designer will receive a cash prize of $500 and an autographed copy of the winning design. The design itself will be used as a limited-edition, commemorative lithograph print that will be offered as a bonus item with the purchase of the band’s new album at independent music stores.
"Hello? Is that the guy whose record shop is struggling in the face of an onslaught from digital music shops? We've got a plan to offer something special to tempt customers onto your street. Yeah, does sound good, doesn't it? What? Well, you know Vaughan Oliver? Yeah, you do? Right, well, he's going to choose a fan drawing for you to give away exclusively. Hello?"
"We love the idea that people make our music their own,” said Pixies Black Francis, “that they have their own interpretation of the lyrics and the songs’ meanings. So, we’re really excited to see what the artists in our fan base come up with in terms of visuals, how they ‘SEE’ our music."
That's how the press release renders "see". I don't know why, but I'm sure it's fun.

Kim Deal issued her own press statement, saying simply "you see? Do you understand now?"

Bez: Yougov had some time on its hands

With Bez (real name Bez Outofthehappymondays) planning a run for parliament in Salford, YouGov decided to ask people if they think he'd make a good MP.

It's not entirely clear why this was the criteria, as nobody ever votes for a glitzy celeb candidate on the basis of if they'd be any good at the job - otherwise Louise Mensch would not have become the ex-MP for Corby, never mind the actual MP for Corby.

Still, those were the criteria.

A new YouGov survey finds that, excluding those who don't know enough about Bez to say (43% of the total) or don't have an opinion (19%), 31% think he would make a good MP while 69% say he would make a bad one.
Bez might be worried by these figures, but there's an upside. Most people haven't got a clue who is or have an opinion about him; so the fact that those who do know him wouldn't let him within a country mile of the House of Commons isn't a major problem. There's a massive base of people who don't blink and say "what, the maracas guy?", which is room to build on.

And while barely half the world is aware of him or his work, that's not too bad: according to Pointless, nobody in the country remembers who George Osborne is, left to their own devices.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

This week just gone

These were the most popular March posts:

1. Armenia's entered a transphobic man into Eurovision
2. Is Radio 3 really more expensive than BBC Three?
3. Kiss upset at their entry to the museum
4. RIP: Jill Sinclair
5. Paloma Faith declares pop music to be over
6. RIP: Duffy Power
7. Why Twitter is amazing
8. Kylie is quitting the Voice. Apparently
9. Lorde fans show Westboro how to do respect
10. Pharrell Williams calls it for Hillary

These releases were interesting:

Dean Wareham - Dean Wareham

Download Love Letters

Jasmine Minks - Cut Me Deep

Johnny Foreigner - You Can Do Better

Download You Can Do Better

Metronomy - Love Letters

Download Love Letters

Joan As Police Woman - The Classic

Download The Classic

Mø - No Mythologies To Follow

Download No Myhtologies To Follow

Micha P Hinson - And The Nothing

Download Micha P Hinson

Solvent - New Ways: Music From The Documentary I Dream Of Wires

Download New Ways