Wednesday, May 29, 2002

GAWD 'ELP US, 'EES GOT RELIGION: Bizarre new edition of Time Out, with Will Young replicating the Kate Moss/Manics take on that Bond movie where the woman gets killed by being painted in gold. Sadly, not the being killed part. Wha's worse is Will, currently on course for number one with his reading of Light My Fire (more 'heat my poptart', actually) seems to think he might be some sort of New Hope for a busted generation:"Through mass pop culture, you can make positive changes. I know this makes me sound like a campaigner for goodness and goodwill. But why am I here? I don't know where I got my voice from, although I had a great uncle who was a baritone. But you have to look beyond it and see what you're responsibilities are." Uh? You think that vocal talent is like a cross between male pattern baldness and the knight from chess (skips a generation, moves two to the right?) And you really think that your "voice" has been given to you by some force (god? satan? John Prescott?) in order for you to solve the troubles of the world? Honey, don't you think that The Force would have equipped you with a slightly more noticeable voice, and perhaps something to say as well?
Time Out website - of course, he needs a Watcher, to show him what the powers of a Pop Idol actually mean...

DOES ANYBODY REMEMBER THE ROXY?: Apparently they don't at ITV network centre, if the Daily Express is to be believed. (Hmm. Now, there's room for debate in itself, isn't there?) ITV are toying with the idea of launching a rival to TOTP - with the Cerebus of Cowell, Fox and Waterman presenting. Where to start? First, ITV already has a rival to TOTP, in CD:UK. Second, this seems to misunderstand entirely the nature of the Pop Idol judges - giving them a chart show is akin to recreating the Muppet Show, but with Statler and Waldorf MCing; if they worked at all, it was as hurler of barbs, not as cheerleader. Finally: Hitman and Her. 'Nuff said? If they really want to please us, they'd bring back The Chart Show.

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

FRED IN THE HEAD: What on earth is going on at Limp First Fred posts a mail requesting that fans write to Wes Borland and beg him to return; then Wes gets pissed off - unsurprisingly - that his private email has been given out by the baseball-capped clown; now, Fred is saying that its good that three quarters of people don't want Wes back in the band, but he does. And that's good as well. We're sure he's just being a bit over-excited, and its not signs of Fred starting to go slightly Mariahcarey on us...

MISSING, PRESUMED DEAD: It's quite easy to snigger at the good people from PPL being unable to find the likes of the dead Screaming Lord Sutch or Bon Scott, but it's still useful to point out the work they're doing trying to make sure everyone involved in making records gets their dues. If you want to see if someone is trying to send you a small cheque, you could do worse than visit the special PPL site set aside for the purpose.

TEN: Top Ten albums played this week on the internet, according to
1    Linkin Park / Hybrid Theory   
2    Eminem / The Eminem Show   
3    System of a Down / Toxicity   
4    Moby / 18   
5    Nickelback / Silver Side Up   
6    Ashanti / Ashanti   
7    Alicia Keys / Songs In A Minor   
8    Eminem / The Marshall Mathers LP   
9    Enya / A Day Without Rain   
10    Celine Dion / A New Day Has Come
- the most interesting thing here, of course, is that A New Day Has Come manages to make the top ten despite being so-solidly copy protected, and the sole effect of all that security round the Eminem album has allowed Linkin Park to keep the number one slot. Finder's fee - Ruari

SMITHS AHEAD: We got excited over a New York Times article promoting a record shop which allowed you to listen to nearly any record in their shop a little while back. We were totally shocked to discover that you can do this in Britain - in fact, in Speke, Liverpool. The WH Smiths there is all set up to allow you to try before you buy by choosing any track from nearly any of its albums. Of course, the downside is that Smiths hasn't got the greatest range of albums on offer, but it's a wonderful step forward. Maybe Smiths are the first to embrace this technology as they've noticed that people flicking through books drives sales, rather than cuts them.

IT'S NOT THE LEAVING OF HOTHAM STREET THAT GRIEVES ME: Been meaning to mention the second closure of The Lomax here in Liverpool - not so long ago, the original Lomax in Cumberland Street was axed, and the club relocated into the loins of its bigger brother, the L2. While we'd had numerous good times at the original Lomax (and some bad, too - Stereophonics as often as Catatonia), it was a good move, making better use of the frankly nicer L2 premises while cutting costs. The new Lomax was more easily accesable by bands and fans, it was more comfortable, had its bar actually in the same room as the stage, fitted more people in... sure, we shed a tear for all that history, but the move worked, and - under the steady hand of John McGee - the place thrived. More essential names passed through the doors - it's always the Idlewild gig we'll remember, and Marine Research, and ... but you get the idea.
Anyway, now the Lomax has moved again, and it's hard to work up either the energy or the interest to even feel upset. Hunkering down in Cream (we can't imagine why this springs to mind, but do you remember that episode of Spin City where Carter and Stewart had no choice but to live with each other, despite hating each other, because it was all they could afford?), and sorely missing McGee's touch, the once mighty listings mailout is looking a bit, well, empty. June is promising Arthur Lee (a legend, yes, but...), Justin Sullivan (yes, you do. New Model Army.) and the James Taylor Quartet. And while none of these acts are a bad choice - NMA fans never die, they just put cornplasters on their clogs and carry on - it's hardly giving the impression of a modern, kick-ass music venue.

STUPID SPAM BANDS: Yup, not only are the Chromatics spamming lists, but revealing themselves to be a bit dunderheaded in the process. "Don't confuse them [us] with the other Chromatics" they warn at the end of a too-long, too-rambly message posted to a Le Tigre list. "One is acappella and the other is Christian" - yeah, gotta hate those Christian rock bands, the way they hijack people's interests and bang on about other things - but, if you're aware there are other bands with the name, and are worried about possible confusion, why not change your name? If you're still getting people to wax lyrical apparently spontaneously about you online, you clearly don't have a large enough fanbase to worry about upsetting them. Jesus. (Please don't confuse that expression of exasperation with the Christian icon of the same name.)

NOT QUITE 'WE NAME THE SPAMBANDS...", BUT: I know it really shouldn't surprise me, but why would someone bother sending an email headlined "Watch me jerk off my nine inch cock" to the Lesbian Singers egroup?

NOT THAT ANYONE BOTHERS ABOUT MY OPINIONS, EITHER: Hey, shuffle a few hours closer to the inevitable sacking you're so sorely tempting by wasting your working day looking at the frankly bizarre DooYoo site, one of those webspaces where people who otherwise would be honking at single mothers on Trisha get to let off steam, in this case, about Music. Three things we learn from this: first, that more people have an opinion on The Lightning Seeds than on Ryan Adams; second, some people think that The Carpenters are indie/alternative, and thirdly, left in the wild, musical opinions tend to gather along the Line Of The Day. Thus, The Stone Roses were, says everybody, perhaps not the greatest band in the world, but they defined a time and were important. While Elastica's second album is still worth three stars - everyone says so - but, frankly, it was lazy and slapdash. Someone, please, add something sparkling. And then tell us:

Monday, May 27, 2002

101 101: This is a little after the event - by about ten years or so, but i finally wound up watching 101 last night, which is such a rubbish music film - the live stuff (which was probably the peak of Depeche Mode's creativity, or at least, just before it) broken up - as in *smashed to pieces* by linking stuff that swallows the whole movie and is, frankly, ropey - it's like DA Pennebaker had the standard stuff (band being interviewed by local radio; band playing pinball in dressing rooms; band sitting on coaches) and then thought "this is pretty dull - how can I make it seem better?" and a little light came on above his head, and he decided the way to go would be by adding in a load of stuff that was even duller. So, we get shots of the stage crew fretting over grass seed in the Pasadena Rose Bowl, and people couting t-shirt money, and a kind of proto-Real World with some fans going to see the gigs. Hello? Who are you? Why do we care?

Here's a tip for aspiring concert film makers: Band. Playing songs. If you must, a ten second shot of the exterior of the venue. No footage of the band being asked "Where does your crazy name come from?" by the drivetime jock in Tupelo. No shots of the band wandering round before the gig with their shirts off (unless its Shirley Manson), and certainly none after the gig. And, frankly: We don't care about the audience. We don't care if they've got difficult to maintain hairstyles, or if the had an interesting journey to the theatre, or if their relationship with their mother is strained. When we go to gigs, we avoid making eye contact with the strangers there - why would we want to suddenly hear about these people just because its a movie of a gig? No, thank you.

Sunday, May 26, 2002

HOLE FILLED IN: No a great deal of surprise in the demise of Hole, in the end, then. It's - what - four years since Celebrity Skin? I don't really know that that many people thought the Courtney Love show was still going, to be honest. It seems to be the weekend for acts who we'd assumed were locked with Uncle Walt in a big, cold room coughing politely and falling over, as apparently Massive Attack are thinking of calling it a day, too. Maybe this is some sort of extreme news management - to avoid breaking the hearts of fans the way the Steps split did, bands are waiting until they've been largely forgotten before dividing the petty cash and arguing about who paid for the drum riser.
Massive Attack in "crisis talks", reports - "making an album takes more than one day a month", claims 3-D. "As much as that?" asks a shocked Travis.

BLIMEY, THAT WAS FAST: In what some people are seeing as a "bold move", maverick are offering a 99c download of a track from the new Meshell Ndegeocello record. Talking to ZDNetPhil Benyola, a digital media research associate for investment company Raymond James Financial, called the MP3 sale an "innovative" marketing maneuver. But he warned it might not be a successful one.
"It's very significant that they would endorse the MP3 format since MP3 has always been a dirty word to the labels. Up until now, everything they have offered has been a secure format," Benyola said.
But "I think you'll be able to count the number of sales on one hand," he added. "As soon as one person gets it, it's all over the (peer-to-peer) networks for free."

Well, duh. Dunno what a Digital Media Research Associate makes in the US, but clearly its too much. They want the track to be swapped, you fool. If you'd been paying attention, you would have noticed that the interweb has been swamped with spam for Ndgecello over the last couple of weeks, and this is obviously just the next step. Sure, they might not make very much in actual cash terms (although a single track for a dollar will give them considerably more than they'd get in profits on a single track on a CD), but Madonna's label is obviously seeing this as a write-off freebie, and if people don't start flinging the track round the interweb, they'll be sorely disappointed. It's a marketing campaign, not a shift in policy. Can we have your job?

DO THE RECORD COMPANYS WATCH BUFFY?: Specifically, the bit in season five where she's got those knight type blokes who say that even if she kills one of them, more will come, and then more and then more and... you get the point. Thing is, see, even Buffy couldn't defeat them with her superpowers. Obviously, Glory did, but she was a God and all, and the record industry ain't godlike. So, sure, they can have small victories over peer-to-peer networking, but all that happens after one is closed down is another six to spring up and take its place. Napster they finally slapped the lid down on this week, but it took so long - as we've discussed before here - all the closure did was offer an awful lot of publicity for the existence of p2p file swapping on the web; in effect, the American Record Industry spent a large portion of its legal bills on advertsing the likes of Napster and creating a huge market and demand for its service. Of course, those people had to go somewhere, so now the RIAA are desperately trying to fight an ever-increasing army of music swapping services. This they're doing, blissfully ignorant of the fact that they're merely giving acres of publicity to the fact these things are out there. No mainstream newspaper is going to endorse the use of Audiogalaxy, but now that the RIAA are going to be duking them out in court, you can expect lots of usefull advice such as "What is AudioGalaxy?", "How does audiogalaxy work?" and "What systems a bit like Audiogalaxy are there?" Likewise, even as The Register reports that Kazaa the original company has been sued to death, the technology and the service has merely mutated on to a different holding company. Sooner or later, someone in the Recording Industry is going to realise that the use of expensive lawyers to stop people sharing their tunes is never going to work. That the use of stupid b-list technology on CDs will not stop determined duplication, and only frustrate the people who do still buy records in shops -copy "protection" being the equivalent of a baker putting poison in his batch of loaves because one or two might be stolen today. The record labels need first of all to start to employ people who understand the way the web works, who understand the relationship people have with music - both paid for and - ahem - borrowed, and then they might see that fileswapping is an opportunity that they can come to an accomodation with, rather than the enemy that will anihilate them. Of course, I also believe that the Easter Bunny is in league with Mossad.

APOLOGY TO JAY KAY: I'd like to offer a full apology to Jamirouquai, for fucking up when ripping the piss out of the behatted cuntspace. The pisspoor Stevie Wonder your terminal dirges sound like would, of course, be the Woman In Red soundtrack, not the Lady In Red. Sorry for any inconvenience caused, although if it has meant you've spent a weekend writhing in agony while sharp-teethed intestinal worms nibbled at your very being, well, so be it.

SPAMBANDARAMA: "Anyone in Manchester?" asks Qualia. Yes, hundreds of thousands of people. You might find you can reach them through the Manchester Evening News and City Life rather than randomly spewing over the entire web. Meanwhile, while it pains me to mention the dreadfully over-rated Robin Black and the IRS here (Like a C&A attempt to create a T-Rex), they get extra stupid marks for having their street team apparently spam a Placebo-themed list that has only just recovered from many of its members confusing the bloody group with something Glammy and Placebo-like. "Have any of you guys heard of Robin Black?" squealed the newcomer, causing shudders. And, from the should-know-better file: is it really neccesary for The Hives to stoop to this level? There's a genuine buzz surrounding you, for crying out loud - you don't need to get people to spam lists with apparently genuine "Have you heard of..." advertomercials.