Friday, May 17, 2002

DOWNLOAD DEEPER AND DOWN: Another attempt to make people pay for online music (other than irritating ringtones) is being attempted, this time by Freeserve and Peter Gabriel's OD2 service (no, we haven't, either) making music from the likes of Dido, Madonna, and other laundry list type acts. The service is going to cost a fairly reasonable sounding £5 a month, but its not clear if that lets you keep the music you harvest for that, or if it goes poof at the end of the month.
Talking of going poof, the long and frankly embarrassing death of Napster finally seems to be drawing to its conclusion, with Shaun Fanning stepping down from the company this week - presumably he suddenly realised just how pointless Napster had become since it stopped being the home of free cool music and announced its intention to dump the illegal content and go all subscription and legitimate. They might have just had a shot if they'd signed up the major labels and relaunched within a couple of weeks, but as the weeks went on and nothing happened, the Napster brand started to sound less like a hi-tech marque and more and more like the audio SodaStream. Switch it off now, children. The labels beat you.

OZ WANTS MORE: MTV must be grinding its pan-European teeth, as it's been forced to pull the hyper-hyped UK debut of The Osbournes tonight due to "contractual difficulties" - according to mediaguardian, the suspisciously hairy one is holding out for $15million for a second series, and through a process which we don't quite get, this has led to the pulling of the UK launch this weekend. Surely MTV wouldn't have let the juggernaut of prepublicity roll before they got the Oz to sign his permission, would they?

ELTON SHOOTS IN: As if the poor kids in that German school where the bloke turned up and shot the teachers hadn't suffered enough, now Elton John is going to fly over and make them sit through one of his concerts. Cheers, Elton - what could be better than, in the middle of trying to get over seeing your physics teacher slaughtered in front of your eyes, having to pretend to want to hear I'm Still Standing, Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting and Don't Go Breaking My Heart. Elton, not only could you not be the new Princess Diana (although the self-obsession, too much money, poor taste and fucking stupid men would help) but we don't even need one, sweetie.

NOT BORN TO RUN:Springsteen isn't going to run for the Senate after all. He's said that even if he's elected, he won't take up his seat. All we can hope is that this is similar to Jim Hacker's denials of his intention to run for Prime Minister. C'mon, Bruce... your state needs you...

ALSO: The new Brian Molko/Alpinestars track is probably the best thing the baldy sexy one has been involved in for ages. Sadly, it seems that the hardcore Placeboites have moved on to adoring the ridiculous Glam at C&A of Robin Black and the whatever fey name his backing band have been lumbered with, which is akin to having discovered sex, but deciding that dry-humping is a much more sensible way to spend your time.

OLD SKOOL, OLD, OLD SKOOL: One of things that always gives me nostalgia for a time that I wasn't around is when 50's and 60's set Americana shows someone going into a record shop, and entering one of those booths where they could play the entire album before deciding if they were going to buy or not. Obviously, you don't get things like that any more - record companies are sticking out so much sub-standard shite they'd never tolerate a try before you buy policy (and we know this is what lies at the heart of their fear about album leaks, don't we?). However, the New York Times reports a store in LA is trying to revive the idea... of course, Sony and Universal are going to hate this, but lets hope the idea catches on.

I HATE TO SAY THIS, BUT: Having hated the last No Doubt single so much I would gather small groups of people and drive them in a small van to the countryside, in order to play them the record while laughing like a dog, this is odd. Especially since it's called Hella Good, finding that the Gwen Steffani Ego Massive have turned out a piece of plastic that sounds like Bananarama being backed by Nine Inch Nails (i.e. it's excellent) comes as something of a shock. Like discovering the geek in your school is actually Superman, or something...

Thursday, May 16, 2002

SENATOR SPRINGSTEEN?: Can it be true that they're seriously asking Bruce to run for the Senate on behalf of the good people of New Jersey? Apparently it is. But at least it'd be the first time in electoral history that someone's used Born In The USA as their campaign theme and actually knew what the song was written about...

FASCINATING FACT FOR THE DAY: Van Morrison recorded with Jerry Lee Lewis' sister. Just fancy.
See? It's true - more interesting facts as we come across them. Prince and Sheena Easton, anyone?

TALKING ABOUT WRITING ABOUT DANCING: Just heard that as part of a very impressive Writing on the wall lit fest this year, there's going to be the following:
Disco (noun, pl.) an occasion at which typically young people dance to amplified pop records, usually compered by a disc jockey and featuring special lighting effects.
-graphy (n.combined form) indicating a form or process of writing, representing etc.
An evening discussion panel dedicated to 'writing about dance music' with a group of top pop writers who also happen to be great DJs.
With:- Irvine Welsh. Author of "Trainspotting", "The Acid House", "Ecstasy", "Marabou Stork Nightmares", "Filth", "Glue" and a range of short stories and newspaper articles. Ibiza DJ at Manumission and occasional recording artist.
Dave Haslam. Nationally known DJ since his days at The Hacienda in Manchester. Journalist and author of the "Manchester, England: The Story of the Pop Cult City" and "Adventures on the Wheels of Steel: The Rise of the Superstar DJs" .
Hillegonda Rietveld. Lecturer at South Bank University and author of "This Is Our House: House music, cultural spaces and technnologies". Founding member of Quando Quango (Factory Records) and performer at both The Hacienda, Manchester and the Paradise Garage, New York.
John McCready. Long-time music journalist ("The Face", "The NME", "The Independent", "The Guardian") and well-respected North-West DJ. Currently working on the New Order website and completing research for the TV production company "Planet Wild". Also working on a book on situationism and pop music.
Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton. Journalists on "Mixmag", "The Face", "Time Out", "The Big Issue", "The Guardian", "Rolling Stone", and "NME". Authors of the definitive guide to the art of DJing "Last Night A DJ Saved My Life: The History of the Disc Jockey".
The Conference Room, The Flying Picket, Merseyside Trade Union, Community and Unemployed Resource Centre, Hardman Street, Liverpool.
8pm, Friday 21 June 2002 £5/£4 (concessions) For tickets, ring the box office on 0151 709 4988
Sounds pretty good - we've seen Dave Haslam before, and he's entertaining, and the specific dance music angle should be interesting - it's usually seemed to us that the main approach to writing about dance music in the UK has been supplying captions for pictures of barely legal girls with their tits out, or men covered in dayglo paint. On the whole. And interviews with Moby. Pity about Irvine Welsh, mind, a man who, surely, everyone must have rumbled that he was a half-trick pony by now?
Of course, stuff like the excellent Writing on the Wall isn't really being used as part of Liverpool's moronic 2008 Capital of Culture bid. Kids fillijng sweet jars are instead.

Wednesday, May 15, 2002

MOGWAI AND STRAP - TOGETHER AT LAST: Atomic Kitten - XRRF's next-door neighbours - at last receive the respect they - um - deserve, with The Aidan Moffat- Stuart Braithwaite cover of Whole Again. Let's hope they invite them to the Ivors, where this song may yet land Andy McCluskey a songwriting award - it'd be kind of fitting. It might even stay the hand of Pop Manufacturers five years hence, when children who are currently struggling with long division will be forced into boob tubes and cock-shout-pants and made to resweeten the track.
By the way, that Miss Dynamite single is bloody great. Yes indeed.

MOONIE MANIA: So, apparently the Moonies are on the verge - some say cusp, some say edge - of ultrstardom, and they're supporting on the sooncome Easyworld tour this month. And the nice thing is, they're playing some of the gigs at 14 up and 16 up venues, which means that kids who do stick to the rules will be able to get in and see 'em. So a lot of gig virginities will be lost to the Moonies, as it goes, which could give everyother gig a lot to live up to.
Tour details from the easyworld site - and don't worry, kids, you don't have to stay for the so-called headline band

THE DAVE TODAY: It's terribly easy to take the piss out of Dave Stewart - the time he accepted an award at some pre-history version of the Brits and started talking about pissing himself, the beard, the whole career based around being the guy pushing coal into the massive engines which drove Annie Lennox's ego that was the Eurythmics. But having said that, he was mainly responsible for Shakespeare's Sister and Alisha's Attic getting to put records out - so, clearly, had a thing for slightly damaged pop in pretty packaging, with two females and alliterative names. And now the old boy is talking seriously about resurrecting the Marquee and creating a creative co-op.
The advert for a booker at the Marquee suggests they'll be given a pretty free hand in the policy [cvs to Gary Smith, 69 Dean Street, London], which is encouraging, but whether there's any point in reviving a brand that had previously had all its value squished out of it anyway is questionable. How many 18 year olds would choose to go see a band simply because the place had a name that meant something back before they were born? Wouldn't establishing a new venue be, well, more fun and less necro?
Meanwhile, The Artist Network seems like a pretty good wheeze. Ten million - some admittedly raised from bunnybotherer Anita Roddick and Microsoft - pumped into a label and general creative concern designed to stop talented people being scewed over by the record companies. They've already signed up Jimmy Cliff and are apparently talking to eight others. Of course, it might all turn into some bitter, backbiting ego box; or worse, be a bit like Dreamworks; and hearing Stewart predict the company will rapidly expand to be worth hundreds of millions gives you a queasy feeling like you're watching David Icke announce it's only a matter of time before Bush reveals his innate Lizardness, but we wish Stewart luck. Nice to see someone doing something positive for once.
Man with beard opens label [FT] - if you're in a slightly lesbo-looking outfit called Dunkin' Donuts, your future might be looking better...

POP PAPERS -15.05.02
welcome, jack, the new magazine from James Brown. how is it? erm, like the old Loaded Hedonist's handbook, actually. small like glamour, and not relying on holly vallance's tits (yet), its sort-of-okay. Apparently plans to go monthly in october, its review section manages four CDs. For the man who is in a hurry, then. Meanwhile, Bobby Gillespie describes September 11th as "spectacular." He really is drug addled beyond use, isn't he?...

nice to see the Daily Post making space for Mansun last Friday. We would have told you more about this, but, um, we lost the bit with it in. Still, North Wales' morning paper - its the big time this time, boys, innit?...

turning to the nme, then, they continue their recent strange habit of putting nme-type bands on the cover - this week its BRMC. Hurrah. I really wish they'd stop doing the fake stickers, though. They just look shite...

news: Prodigy banned for single about rohypnol - and the nme are saying "its likely to get to number one" - which is interesting, since it won't even be released until the middle of July. What sort of advance chart info *is* that, nme?; Liam Gallagher is going to record with the prodigy - doubtless they'll all be wolfing down the roiphies to forget that one the next day; meanwhile, nme is creaming itself about being able to print the first picture of the new oasis sleeve. It's a picture of an empty, meaningless road with the word "Stop" painted on it; so solid crew are currently working on 12 albums between them, but with good behaviour they might be releasing just four to six of them; 30,000 people turned out to Lisa Lopes' funeral - no smartarse remark here; suede played a gig to 100 people as a secret gig last week, but reckon if it hadn't have been a secret they could have expected half as many again; Mozzer has signed a deal in the states, which the nme seems to believe - no, genuinely - has something to do with the Smiths winning that Meaningless Poll a few weeks back; now the tickets have all gone, they've revealed the line-up for glastonbury, allowing people to realise they've paid £100 to see New Model Army, Rod Stewart, Jools Holland, Bush and Nelly Furtardo; R Kelly has taken the time to explain that his lawyers told him to settle those underage sex court cases because it wasn't worth his time fighting them in court - yeah, because making space in your schedule to refute claims you're a paedophile really eats into your leisure time, doesn't it? R, you've got shit lawyers, mate; the drummer who got kicked out of the Hives seems to think he's still in the band, though the band deny this - that's nothing, Pete Best still believes he's in the beatles and they've been split up for thirty years...

last week, the nme spent a half page reporting "some people think a spoof article was really written by peter buck." this week, they make space for a picture of Liam Gallagher coming out of health food shop...

on bands: sparta - another bit of the splinters from At the drive in and El-P. There are no words for El-P. Yes there are, actually. He looks like the sort of bloke who wonders which dumpster to get his supper from tonight, cause his momma done kicked him out for not being all smart like the other kids; his name is shit for at least a dozen reasons - not least the lame pun and the suggestion that he is actually Emmerson, Lake and Palmer; and he says "It's a dark album. But, yo, shit is dark." Please, someone, take him off our hands...

the Bellrays get a page. They're a "Ramonsey band sounds like MC5 with Tina Turner." Or rather, they say thats what everyone says about them...

Ms Dynamite's real name is Niomi Daley, which sounds more exotic than her real name. "Rome wasn't built in a day, but that's what I'm fucking going to try and do" she says, strangely...

Disappointingly, I'd love to bring you the highlights of the Von Bondies piece, but there isn't very much to chew on. They deserve better, really. Shame, Pat Long...

"We're all dark, fucked up to a degree. We all hide from ourselves, run away into whatever vices we need. But its not about that" - Robert, BRMC...

Tim Burgess chooses ten tracks for a CD - Prince, Gram parsons, James Brown, Wings. No Stone Roses, then, Tim?...

reviews section: lps: hundred reasons - ideas above our station ("here's what they can do - now its your turn", 8); golden boy - or ("collaborations with Miss Kittin stand out", 7); weezer - maladroit ("their bruises are beauties", 8); tweet - southern hummingbird ("agreeable, rarely thrilling", 6)...

singles - sotw is eminem - without me ("funniest and funkiest of the year" - oh, yeah?); wsotw is westlife - bop bop baby...

live - essential festival ("rock jollies are thin on the ground"); the kennedy soundtrack in nottingham ("limitless potential"); the hives in liverpool ("the best live band in the world today" - oh *yeah*?); von bondies in shepherd's bush ("garage punk exocet")...

and the most accurate comment of the week is in angst. Steve, from Durham, observes that Eminem is the rap Jordan.

NOT SO YOUNG, FREE OR SINGLE: Can it really be true that Gary Davies, who once ruled the lunchtime slot on Radio One, is now reduced to grubbing a living making free gifts for cereal packets?

WE NAME THE SPAM BANDS. PERIODICALLY: This one, though, is a bit special - Logan D. You won't have heard of him, of course (unless you got his sticky, crappy spam) but the guy who is masquerading as his fan is proud to announce that he was in "the final 25" of the people chosen for Making The Band - the US series which gifted the world O-Town. Even if you saw the series, however, and are the sort of person who remembers the names of contestants on 100% from a couple of years back, Logan D still won't mean anything to you, as he used to be called David Brooks. So, someone who didn't win a talent show masquerading under the belief that Logan is cooler name than David. Oh, and his management team seem to think that "the name Logan D is protected by International copyright law" - bad news for anyone called Derek Logan who appears in a phonebook, then. If you see him playing at a mall this summer, avoid but remember - don't be rude; he'll be back in the same mall next year making sure the soap dispensers are full.

YOUR HARDDRIVE WON'T GO ON: The copy-protection crisis continues, as it now turns out that if you stick the new Celine Dion CD-style disc into an Imac, it locks up the computer, and won't automatically eject it if you try and reboot. Some people might argue that anyone prepared to play the clunky, ugly tunes of Celine on a beautiful machine like the Imac should expect to be punished for their behaviour, but the problem can occur with a growing number of records that look like CDs from Sony. Trying to listen to the music from Attack of the Clones, for example, could render your IMac useless.
OFFICIAL! Celine's new Cd is a useless piece of junk - MacUser reports

Tuesday, May 14, 2002

CAN YOU SAY OVER-REACHING? HOW ABOUT IF WE SPELL IT PHONETICALLY?: With Ant & Dec having left the "new Morecambe and Wise" tag lying about as they tried on Bewes and Bollam's shoes in the disaster that was the Likely Lads remake at the weekend - Declan, especially, cast adrift ina grown-up world that doesn't suit him - a new pair step up to the wicket. H and Claire from steps are, it seems, so keen to try and pass themselves off as Ant and Dec's replacements, they're even comparing themselves to the Greatest Double Act of all time (betting without Fox and Fleetwood, of course). They're "developing" (mediaspeak for "sucking cock") an idea which is "like" Morecambe & Wise - "it'll have some singing, comedy sketches and some guests." Which sort of misses the key point about M&W, in that it wasn't the format which was important; otherwise they could make a show a bit like the Channel 4 News by getting H a loud coloured tie and sitting Claire by a TV monitor talking. Still, could be worse - it could Fay and Lee.
Ananova tells us to hide - wonder if they'll appear in the same bed like Morecambe & Wise?

SHE'S ELECTRIC: The recent Guardian 'Whither Britpop?' special seemed to suggest that the Electric Soft Parade are the new Belle & Sebastian (i.e. loved by people of all realms who spend hours catalouging their CD collections on small index cards), which is a good thing, we tend to think, but it does make us wonder aloud: Whatever happened to Urusei Yatsuri? Did the impossible-to-spell name finally do for them?

Monday, May 13, 2002

THEY DON'T LEARN, DO THEY?: No sooner did the humiliation of Craig David at the hands of his, um, shoes occur than everyone else lines up to donate their stinking footwear to be auctioned in the name of Charity. Shoes from the likes of Ash, Robbie Williams, Cliff Richard and - oh, you get the idea - will be sold for Aids charidee Terence Higgins in Covent Garden.
Ananova reports - c'mon, though - we want a knicker auction, already...

SLIGHT GOALPOST SHIFTING, PERHAPS: Noticing in the rules for the Official Chart that, to be eligible for The Only Chart That Counts And Is Unbesmirched By Dr Fox, records have to be playable on "standard" equipment, and bearing in mind that Philips - the people who invented CDs - dont consider five inch circles of plastic that won't play on computer CD players to be proper CDs at all - No Rock & Roll Fun asked the people who make up the charts how CDs that won't play on standard equipment such as Celine and Imbroogywoogie's recent attempts still manage to get into the chart. This was the response:

We would consider a PC based CD rom drive as 'non-standard' CD equipment. As I understand it these discs play on the vast majority of regular CD players and so are chart eligible. We have to change the interpretation of the rules to keep step with market forces. For example, we now allow DVD singles, which don't play on CD equipment, but play on standard DVD drives. The rule was devised so that consumers wouldn't have to purchase special equipment to play enhanced cds eg If a CD only played on SONY equipment we would have concerns. However, at the moment, record company's attempts to prevent piracy are not in breach of the spirit of the rules.

Which is, I guess, fair enough although there is an element of doublethink here - there's surely a degree of difference between a single on a different format to a single that has been fixed so as not to play on certain equipment; and it's kind of strange that the chart company don't accept the same definition of what a CD is as, um, the people who lay down the standards for what a CD is, and you wonder which market forces it was that actaully pushed for CDs to be made unplayable on computers - did HMV find itself being besieged by punters returning copies of albums? "This bloody record plays perfectly well on my Compaq PC - I want my bloody money back"? "Ey, Pal, do you have this Sheryl Crow album in a format that I can't listen to through headphones while I'm at work?" It seems unlikely.

MAKE YOUR OWN PUNK: What was the name of the punk in Eastenders? Was it Lucy or Linda or something? Bah, my memory isn't what it was, you know; I feel as stupid as Dane Bowers. Anyway, its no matter, as courtesy of the Dead Milkmen, you can print out and play with your very own punk girl. Disappointed to discover that she-punks wear such dull underwear, mind.
Mary the punk. That was it.

MUTUAL ADMIRATION: At the risk of turning this into some sort of Blog-related circlejerk, the team here at XRRF (which is me, and a cut out of a small bug-like man) are pleased and delighted to be listed in the ten favourite links bit of the mighty New York London Paris Munich, because its one of our favourite links, too. Only its better and more deftly written than ours is, and doesn't have our puerile obsession with Craig David's shoes. Worth visiting; worth bookmarking.

ALL GIRLS ARE GROUPIES: Well, perhaps - we stumbled across a piece about women's reasons for going to gigs which started out as a ho-hum 'Don't assume that just because I go to gigsI want to fuck the musicians" piece suddenly admits, well, yes, going to a gig in the hope of a snog is as good a reason as any. And not just for girls either, of course - unless you're a Catherine Wheel fan, surely there are very few people who'd be able to turn down the chance to lick the balls of their favourite guitarist, or be straddled by the drummer in their favourite band while she makes you scream "Treat me like a bass-player", are there? All music is, in the end, about fucking. Yes, even Nelly Furtado.
All Girls Are Groupies - this might be number one in a new series of Music-based think pieces we single out for consideration. On the other hand, we might forget.

HA! TAKE THAT SECURITY: So, all that security comes to naught, and the whole Eminem album is already slooshing around on the web; of course, the strenuous attempts the label made to keep the lid on the tracks have pissed off journalists so much that they're joyfully announcing that the cat is out of the bag; naughty Ananova even helpfully providing a link to one of the sites that has proved nothing is impregnable. Of course, the record company might have been better off trying to stop people playing the first single from the album - if anything is going to harm sales, it'll be that record's suggestion that the new stuff is going to be another crackden full of self-pitying substandard self-obsession rather than the better stuff which lil'ole'Marshall is more than capable of when he can be arsed.
A more innovative approach to pre-launch is being demonstrated over at Amazon, who are giving people who cough up in advance for baldy hypocrite Moby's new one access to the whole thing in lovely streaming audio until such time as they're allowed to ship the record off - thereby linking pre-release listening to a sale. Of course, this sort of thing will probably be stamped on now EMI have swallowed Mute. Stamped underfoot, like so many ants.