Saturday, April 12, 2014

Singersongwriterobit: Jesse Winchester

Jesse Winchester, Memphis born singer-songwriter, has died.

Winchester crossed the border to dodge the draft, and lived 35 years in Canada. Not going to Vietnam was a doubly-wise idea, because not only did he keep out of the war, but it also led to him making friends with Robbie Robertson. Robertson would go on to produce Winchester's debut album.

On the other hand, being a draft dodger did mean that Winchester was unable to play gigs in America, which probably explains why his name recognition is higher with aficionados than the general public. Added to the awkward border problem, Winchester put raising a family ahead of building an audience, and so only released material spasmodically during the 1980s and 90s.

A career renaissance happened during the latter part of the last decade, including this moment on Elvis Costello's Spectacle series, with Sheryl Crow and Neko Case looking on:

Winchester had been hit with cancer in 2011; a storied tribute album in his honour and a fevered period of songwriting during treatment followed.

Although given the all clear in 2012, the cancer returned and it was this that would eventually take his life. (Not before Twitter had prematurely killed him off a week or so early.)

Jesse Winchester was 69; he died at home on April 11th.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Apple worried, reckons Billboard

It turns out that the only people in the world who are surprised by the weak start for iTunes Radio are people at Apple who, according to Billboard, are surprised to discover if you offer people a decent, customisable streaming service, they become reluctant to buy:

iTunes Radio, which launched in September with much fanfare, so far only sees about 1%-2% of listeners clicking the buy button, while overall music downloads have been declining upwards of 15%, according to several label executives.
"Hey, you can come by and pet my kitten whenever you like. Whenever you want, just knock on the door and you can pet my kitten. 24 hours a day. Kittens on demand. Oh... would you like to give me some money and you can take the kitten home? No?"

Perhaps more worrying for Apple than this discovery that people aren't stupid is that, as streaming and other services kick in elsewhere, their importance is waning:
One independent label said that iTunes’s share of the label’s revenue has eroded from more than 70% in 2012 to about 50% today.
Apple have, in effect, have had the labels' nipples in clamps since the launch of the iPod - and the labels have squirmed, but they've liked the experience. Now, controlling 50% of the market is still a couple of screws on the clamp, but if that figure keeps falling the majors are going to start shouting their safe word. Without dominance, Apple's relationship with the mainstream music industry is going to change, and not in Apple's favour.

Apple, of course, aren't saying they're flying around in a blind panic, but you know there are frantic meetings going on where iPads are being furiously poked and boxes being thought out of.

For years, other companies dreamed of an iTunes killer. Turns out the might have just waited for natural causes to do their work.

Kittens robbed by Kylie

Oh, the strange spikes in the road of history. What might have been, had Ferdinand taken a different route; had Hitler's paintings not been so shit; had Kylie not robbed Atomic Kitten.

You heard. She's a thief:

"I'll tell you what was going to be our song - Kylie's 'I Can't Get You Out of My Head'," Liz McClarnon told Digital Spy.

"Can you believe it? She robbed our song. She's a little robber."
Obviously, there's no sense in which the song was ever the Kitten's, any more than a potato you're looking at in Waitrose is yours before you pay for it.

And I think most independent viewers would judge Kylie taking that song out of the jaws of Kerry Katona was an act of rescue, rather than of theft.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Kings Of Leon gigs kinda like an embrace from Typhoid Mary

As if the exposure to pig-ignorance and sexism at a Kings Of Leon gig wasn't bad enough, if you went to see the band parp through their back catalogue in Seattle last month, you might have been exposed to Measles as well.

Jessie J resigns her bisexuality

Obviously, people's sexuality can change over their lifetime - both in terms of what they find attractive, and in how they choose to define themselves.

Having said that, Jessie J's sudden announcement that she isn't bisexual any more gives the impression of someone trying to distance themselves from a marketing campaign for a brand which has moved on.

She wrote: “Remember the thing that you tried/did back in the day. The phase you had? That is so not YOU anymore?! And you look back and think wow how I’ve changed.
Jessie, the idea that bisexuality or pansexuality is a "phase" tends to be a concept used by people who aren't bisexual or pansexual.
“Something that you don’t even talk about or want to talk about anymore. Because you’ve moved on? That was just part of you growing up? Discovering yourself and working out what you liked and disliked…. Remember?

“I have those too. Yet I’ve noticed some people hold onto mine because they were blogged and put into the media."
It wasn't "blogged and put into the media" - you chose to talk about in Cosmopolitan, it was you who chose to take bisexuality and try it on for a bit.
“I have felt under pressure since being famous to be what some people want me to be for them! I have learnt that the hard way. It’s too much!

“[People] can change. As they should. And I have changed and grown up ALOT, and that’s allowed. And I feel more comfortable in my own skin now than ever before. We all are on a journey and I refuse to feel boxed and judged because of how I felt once!”
Let's accept that this isn't just someone trying to disown a bandwagon they once jumped upon, and do J the courtesy of taking at her word the idea that she was bisexual, once, for just long enough to issue a press release and then it went away.

Instead, let's just look at the way she's chosen to de-announce her bisexuality.

There's a general sense that she finds the idea of being bisexual something of a teenage embarrassment - which is a chilli in the eye for those of us who remain as bi as they were yesterday morning.

There's the use of the word "judged". Surely the reaction to someone judging you because you are, or were, bi - especially if you elbowed your way into the community in the first place, and that community were nothing but welcoming and supportive - is to question why people think that's something on which a person should be judged at all.

You'd hope if someone came up to Jessie J and said "ewwww, you're bisexual and that's disgusting", her reaction would be "no it isn't" rather than "no I'm not."

You would hope that someone who had chosen to share the identity of a group which suffers from high levels of mental illness and stress might, at the very least, withdraw from that group without making it look like she was recoiling in horror from a terrible youthful indiscretion.

In an attempt to try and clear things up, she spoke to the Mirror to try and throw a blanket of platitude over the mess:
Brilliantly, she also joked online that “vegetarians eat meat ­sometimes”. When asked about the comment yesterday, she said: “I thought that was quite funny.”
Actually, Jessie, no; vegetarians don't "eat meat sometimes". You're getting confused with people who claim to be vegetarian but actually aren't.

Also, you're comparing standing up, publicly and painfully distancing yourself from bisexuality with a person on a largely meat-free diet having a sausage roll?
She says of her past revelations: “I did talk about it, and I was open about it, and I do support being lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender - love who you want.

“That’s what I’m doing."
I think that's great news there for the bi community - I think we'd all had a nervous 48 hours over whether we'd all have to stop it for good now Jessie's thrown it in. How generous of her to not only licence our sexual identities, but to support us, too. Even if we've chosen the one that is horrible to have blogged.
“I don’t regret anything I ever said."
It's not clear here if J is not regretting saying she was bisexual, or regretting that long series of Tweets where she spoke about how she regretted saying she was bisexual.
"I’m just so bored of it"
Oh, goodness. It turns out being thought bisexual is boring. How lucky to be able to slew it off when it become tiresome.
"I want to stop talking about it completely now and find myself a husband."
It might come as a shock to Jessie, but being bisexual doesn't actually prevent you from finding a husband if you're a woman. Hell, these days it doesn't prevent you from finding a husband if you're a man.

You're in a national newspaper suggesting that bisexual people have to renounce their sexuality if they want to have a permanent relationship. Did you even think how that looks?

It's hard to see how anyone could make this worse, but then she manages it:
She adds: “It’s a true struggle. All the chick flicks that didn’t make sense to me, I now understand – Sex and the City is real!”
Bisexual people don't understand chick flicks. It's true; if you fill a cinema with bisexuals and show them When Harry Met Sally, they literally cannot see anything happening on the screen. There's something about our retinas which means the minute 27 Dresses comes on, we're rendered functionally blind.

That's how you can tell if you've been cured of bisexuality - you suddenly start seeing Richard Gere and Julia Roberts on the Pretty Woman DVD box.

Do you want to just pat us on the head before you leave, Jessie?
“For me, it was a phase,” she says. “But I’m not saying bisexuality is a phase for everybody."
Oh, how very, very generous of you. How very kind.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Gigwise asks the important question

"Where are the stars of Britpop now" asks Gigwise, with the answer coming back that they're mostly all over BBC TV and radio talking about Britpop.

Still, if you've ever worried about what became of Menswear, Gigwise have gone to look for them. (The phrase "does anyone know if there's anyone selling shoelaces on this market" might be useful here.)

Obit: Peaches Geldof

You might not think it from the acres of rolling news and tabloid coverage, but there's not much to say about the death of Peaches Geldof other than what a horrible, horrible end to a young family. And then to step away and leave that family to their grief.

Scarlett Johansson accidentally insults everyone from Madonna to James Arthur*

Oh, Scarlett, how could you?:

The 29-year-old beauty stuns on the May cover of Glamour magazine in which the expectant actress opens up about her hatred for her Hollywood nickname [ScarJo], revealing that she finds the moniker to be "insulting."

"I associate that name with, like, pop star," the Captain America: The Winter Soldier star told the publication (as excerpted by the Daily Mail)

She added that her famous portmanteau "sounds tacky. It's lazy and flippant...There's something insulting about it."
"Good lord, it makes me sound like a pop star, which is soooo tacky" said Johansson, raising her voice to be heard above the sound of mortified pop stars sobbing their hearts out at this callous insult.

* - okay, not James Arthur.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Music project evicted for playing music

An project in a Brighton pub which brought together local people keen to play music is being kicked out for, erm, playing music:

Cat Duval, project leader, said the decision had been devastating for those involved.

“It is such a shame that one person can stop something that is so beneficial for so many and bring legal action against us for playing Ella Fitzgerald at 2pm in the afternoon,” she said.
The pub is the Rock Inn on Rock Street. That's right, someone living on a street called rock, next to a pub called rock, rang to complain about not even rock music coming from the place.

The project is trying to raise £4000 to soundproof the rooms, or they'll be out. You can find out how to support them on their Facebook page.

Bookmarks: Kurt Cobain

There's an interesting and timely bit from The Observer's readers' editor about how the media cover the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death:

Samaritans remind us that suicide accounts for more deaths than road traffic accidents, particularly in people under the age of 35. They have done much to make the media aware of the effect of insensitive reporting, producing very clear guidelines that state: "There may be a higher risk of unintentionally glamorising suicide in the case of celebrities or high-profile individuals... Various characteristics of the reporting of suicide are thought to increase the risk of imitative or 'copycat' behaviour. These include: information about the method of suicide, prominent or repetitive reporting, or where the person involved is a celebrity. Young people are particularly vulnerable to 'copycat' suicides. Research shows they are the group most likely to be influenced by the media."

Media references to Cobain's suicide certainly come under the heading of repetitive: a database search of all national newspapers reveals that 237 pieces have been published in the past year, which, coupled with similar articles in magazines and online, reinforce the myths that surround young death and help create such questionable phenomena as the 27 Club – an online litany of musicians who have died, either by their own hand, accidentally or as murder victims, at the age of 27. They include Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison and, most recently, Amy Winehouse.

Aston Merrygold's jape backfires

Aston Merrygold came up with a jolly jape for April Fools' Day: he made up some phone numbers and tweeted them, claiming they were the private lines of his former JLS bandmates.

I know, what larks.

Trouble is, he didn't think it through, and ended up sharing actual phone numbers of actual people:

The pop star played an April Fools prank by appearing to post the numbers of his former co-stars JB Gill, Oritse Williams and Marvin Humes. The numbers were fake.

But the star was mortified to discover he had accidentally tweeted a genuine number belonging to an innocent victim - who has since been inundated with calls.
It's impossible to imagine how that could get any worse.

Oh, hang on, it does:
[O]ne of the numbers – though apparently chosen at random – was in fact a real number belonging to a cancer patient.
That's pretty bad. Does it get any worse?
Bill Phillips received nearly 5,000 calls and texts, and that his phone was ringing every few seconds for hours. He therefore turned it off in order to get some respite from the relentless stream of calls and messages, however, as he’s self-employed, switching off his phone cost him “thousands.”

Bill told the paper, “I’ve had this number for 21 years and I use it for work. I know of one job it’s cost me.”
Worse than 5,000 calls; it's 5000 calls from JLS fans who haven't got over the split yet.

Aston is mortified and sorry; we know because his agent told the Mirror he was mortified and sorry. He could ring Bill to tell him, but Bill's got his phone switched off at the moment.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Zutons, Coral, Summertyme against fracking

There's plans afoot to smash the bedrock of Wirral to pieces in order to release some fossil fuels, because if we don't burn that gas we might not be able to hit the oil industry's target of making the planet uninhabitable by 2020.

There's protests against the plan, including a gig with some Merseyside luminaries:

The Fight UCG and Fracking gig is being organised by Wirral band The Sundowners with Zutons guitarist Paul Molloy. It will feature sets from Viper Kings with guests Dave McCabe (Zutons) and James Skelly (Coral), Ian Skelly and the Serpent Power, We Are Catchers, Sundowners (acoustic) Edgar Summertyme and Marvin Powell.
There's a petition on 38 Degrees if you'd like to add your voice without having to listen to The Zutons.

The Kings Of Leon are cocks

Kings Of Leon want women to get their tits out at their shows:

Caleb Followill said: ''We're up there pouring our hearts out and if someone wants to show us a little skin, then that will only add a little variety to our show. So anyone out there, preferably of the female variety... but if anyone wants to hang a little dong, we'll look into that too.''
I think there's enough dong on display at your shows, Caleb.

This week just gone

Naver can say goodbye: The most popular No Rock pages according to Naver:

1. Justin Bieber was a child once, says website which believes he's a grown up now
2. The Sun believes Michael Jackson's ghost canm give evidence
3. Video: Allo Darlin - The Polaroid Song
4. Spandau Ballet reform; BBC excited
5. Gary Barlow Day is ruined
6. Video: Cud - Lola
7. The blokiest Grammys in years
8. Liveblog: Eurovision 2013
9. Noel Gallagher has something to say
10. Leona Lewis has an interest

These things went into shops last week:

Patsy Matheson - Domino Girls

Download Domino Girls

Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo

Download Broken Crown Halo

Clint Mansell - Noah OST

Download Noah

Mille & Andrea - Drop The Vowels

Download Drop The Vowels

Chiodos - Devil