Saturday, May 03, 2003

MEDIA PLAYERS: We've just got this from GSPM:
just wondering. you mentioned in a post about the apple i-tunes thing and WMP. you mentioned that WMP sucks (or some such).

i won't defend it, I use it. Perhaps I don't know any better. But I would like to know why people think it sucks or is evil. Is there heinous spyware involved that I don't know about? I presume that the media player is a lot deeper than it looks and given that is an MS product there are certain to be idiocies and drawbacks.

with 7 gig of mp3s on my harddrive i found that to be the easiest thing to manage them. i didn't search out anything fancier, but it worked for me.

i like it. but when i keep reading about how people don't like it i have to wonder what it is about it that i don't know.

any hints?

Well, from a purely personal point of view, I used to use Liquid Player before I upgraded my Mac and now I use i-Tunes; of course, this is great for Mac, but PC users aren't as lucky.

I don't think there's anything wrong with WMP as a piece of software - although I don't think its as nifty as some other Microsoft products; the main drawback is the usual problem with Bill Gates using his company's position to squeeze out the alternatives.

Now, when he did this with browsers, it wasn't as pressing a problem as the dangers of a dominant browser weren't really clear. But with the prospect of more and more media content having digital rights management built in, if WMP becomes the only show in town, Bill Gates will actually have greater control over the entertainment industry than anyone actually in the entertainment industry. His DRM will be the only DRM. Microsoft will effectively be able to control what gets played, heard and seen...

As for alternatives... well, Liquid Player might work for you. Real Player is a bit clunky to manager audio on your harddrive, I always find. Maybe other people will chip in with suggestions...

THE SMALL PRINT APPEARS: So, there are shortcomings with the Apple Music Store - not that this has hampered the four-downloads-every-second the site is reportedly managing. But, for example, it appears the ninety nine cents a pop promise doesn't quite work like that - and its down to some artists choosing to only allow certain tracks to be downloaded as part of whole albums. Which does, of course, damage the whole central conceit of the service - if, for example, you have a burning desire to own Don Maclean's American Pie, you have to take a whole album of his work at a time. Or, of course, go to an illegal download site and get the only song you want. Don's only got himself to blame.

I HAVE BECOME BANG-ED-TO-RIGHTS: Finley Quaye admits assaulting ex-partner and ex-partner's friend. Ananova presumably just being lazy rather than humourous by finishing report with the words "[the album] Vanguard was not such a hit."

WILL MISS KIER GET HER GROOVE BACK?: Apparently, Lady Miss Kier out of DeeLite is suing Sega because she thinks that Ulala in the Space Channel 5 game is, for her, like looking in a mirror, or maybe some sort of highly-polished kettle. Sega had, she claims, asked her to licence herself for the game, but when she said 'No' went ahead and did someone a bit like her anyway.
If she's successful, she might consider going after Miles Hunt for that NME cover where he dressed up as her.

PRINCE CHARLES NOT BEING HELD IN CONNECTION*: Bryan Adams was, apparently, shot at in London's busy Old Street while he rode a motorbike. He doesn't think he was being targetted specifically, though, because he had a helmet on and as such wouldn't have been identifiable. Plus, they only used an air rifle. And only shot him once. And didn't haul him from his bike screaming "Everything I Bloody Do..." as they beat him about the head with the butt of the gun.
* - well, Bryan did make that song where he implied that Diana would have been better off with him than with Charles...

BIG RICH ORGANISATION CRUSHES STUDENTS: Presumably realising that the Big Five labels have very deep pockets and eyeing the possibile levying of fines running into millions, the bullying tactics of the RIAA have paid off handsomely for them, as the students it had singled out have agreed to drip cash into the RIAA coffers for the next few years. We're curious as to what Hilary and the guys are going to do with this cash (around USD15000) - surely the only moral thing for them to do would be to pass the cash onto the artists, in whose name they do these terrible acts?

MMMM DROPPED: Actually, Hanson haven't been dropped by island, they've left by mutual consent to go elsewhere and work on their new music. What do they sound like now that puberty has caught up with them? Taylor says the music is a mature pop-rock hybrid "that people can play on the radio and girls can like it, and guys don't have to be offended by it or vice versa." So, that's clear then, I hope.

LIKE WE WANT TO HELP PC USERS: If you have a PC, and - shudder - use Windows Media Player... well, whatever. It's your choice, I guess. But if you do... you might be alarmed that the now-rolling-out Apple download service isn't in MP3 but a fudged-up version of. Apparently, you can download a plug in from which will allow you to play these files on your WMP. Which at least will make a change from that bloody Beck soundclip, won't it? We don't know how well it works as No Rock is i-Tunes powered.

Friday, May 02, 2003

BLACK ARMBANDS ON (OVER BLACK SLEEVES, OBVIOUSLY): The world of indie will be ordering a cider and black to drink a toast to Mansun, who've finally noticed nobody's watching ("called it a day after their successful career as indie underdogs"). This leaves only Shed Seven and The Bluetones as the last surviving indie bands in the world. Shed Seven are being taken into captivity as part of a breeding programme.

HELP WANTED: Talking of the dangers of downloading, we've been contacted by a reader - we'll call him Mike - who stumbled through the download process on an artist called D-vox, a female singer of some sort. He's desperate to find out more about her, but isn't having much luck. Is there someone staring at this who can supply us with some facts to go on?
Email us at, and we'll pass on any information we get to Mike.

THE CHARGES ARE LAID: Thanks to Elanor Oguma, who basically did our work for us while we were off sloshing about Brussels and brought the following letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph to our attention:
"Sir - Having watched the music industry travel down its road of self-destruction over the past decade, I read with interest your report on EMI's internet plans (report, Apr 24).

My anticipation turned to disappointment when I discovered the proposed charging structure. The record company will be saving manufacturing, distribution and retailing costs and the customer will be invited to share in this "progress" by paying broadly the same price as the on-line purchase of the physical product. This kind of naive economic thinking will do nothing to arrest the widespread file-sharing abuse of copyright. It is synonymous with the kind of ignorant strategy that causes the government to encourage tobacco smuggling with stringent and disproportionate duties, rather than reduce taxes, prevent boot-legging and hence maintain the overall tax-take.

Paul Grogan, Birchington, Kent

This is, of course, the crux of the whole issue. It's not merely enough to go "it's legitimate", but also to say "it's really not worth your while downloading illegally." The cost of the Apple downloads are going to be 99cents - at least this is getting nearer a fair price (about seventy pence for a track that you can do pretty much as you please with), but still seems to be double the price we should be looking at. And the comparison of album price costs should be with the more honest average album price - which, when you include those 'best ofs' and cheapo deals can't be much more than five quid each these days, if that.

Meanwhile - thrown away as a side mumble in a long plod through peter gabriel's views - Cooking Vinyl is exploring a link-up with Kazaa. CV has long been the twilight home for bands who otherwise would be without a contract, and it's interesting that a label which thrives on the value of back catalogue is trying a different approach to make file sharing work. In addition, having a deal stitched up with a legitimate record label can't help but help Kazaa's case that if it's network is used for illegal purposes, that's not because its bad in itself.

DANGER, DANGER - FLASHING GENITAL AREAS: Simon Tyers has emerged from the latest Broadcasting Standards Commission Complaints Bulletin, where Electric Six have got the Hits into trouble:
Video for Danger High Voltage
The Hits Channel, 8 February 2003, 1700

A viewer complained about sexually explicit content.

Emap Performance TV said that it did not feel that there was any reason to withhold broadcast of this video. The style of the video was so obviously over the top and played for laughs that it could not be interpreted as explicit sexual behaviour.

A Standards Panel watched the music video in which two characters in a country house setting expressed their growing sexual desire, visibly cued by the use of illuminated lights around their breast and/or genital area.
The Panel acknowledged that the behaviour illustrated in the video was intended to be ludicrous but judged that the level of sexual explicitness had exceeded acceptable limits for broadcast in the early evening on an open access channel. The complaint was upheld.

Simon T, unsurprisingly, has problems with this judgement: Note how nowhere in their overview do they mention the band name. However, acceptable limits for 5pm? MTV2, and it must have been on MTV, The Box, Kerrang! etc too, played it at all hours without worry! Assuming it was a parental complaint, would they then go on to complain against Christina Aguilera or a substantial proportion of MTV Base's output on the same grounds? Maybe they've not arrived in the post yet.

And we tend to agree with him - as far as we know, the BSC never felt itself troubled by the Dirrty Video, or the Thong Song, or Tatu visually cueing their sexual desires by standing about in the school uniforms they'd have worn five years previously while snogging in the rain. Although it's perhaps fair to point out that The Hits is included on Freeview, and so unlike the other music channels, isn't a subscription channel, but that would have to be a very thin justification for forcing a stricter regime on The Hits than on its sister station, surely?

PAIN AND TORTURE... THAT'S THE TUNE: Interesting email from Jona, who raised an interesting point about the version of Hail To The Thief that the nme reviewed last week: speaking of which, if the nme reviewed the album last week, was that the finished version or the internet one? if it's the finished one, they must have got it only about 2-3 weeks after the internet one was out, which to me doesn't sound like enough time for the tracks to be as different as the band were protesting at the time. maybe they were hoping we'd all forget.
but it is crap.

Jona also furnished us with a copy of the email that the band are sending out to the people they believe have been trying to flog tickets on the interweb, which is slightly scary:

you are receiving this email, as we believe you have previously put some Radiohead tickets up for auction on ebay against the terms and conditions of sale.

If we have already cancelled your order, please disregard this email.

We are aware that many auctions have been stopped voluntarily and this is much appreciated.

However, in order to ensure real fans are able to get tickets at a realistic price, we will be holding your tickets for you to collect at the box office.

To collect your tickets you will need photo ID, and you should aim to arrive with your entire party.

For example, if you have purchased four tickets, there will need to be three other people collecting them with you .

You will be escorted into the venue when you receive your tickets.

Tickets will not be issued to anyone other than the original purchaser, i.e YOU !

We apologise unreservedly if this causes you any inconvenience, but hope you will appreciate that we are working in the interest of Radiohead fans.

So, purely on the basis of a suspiscion, if you're on their shit list you have to ensure your party all arrive at the same time at the venue - let's hope there's nobody coming from somewhere else in the country - and then you'll get frogmarched into the venue like naughty schoolchildren. Will the Bad Children have to wear some sort of identifying mark as well, Thom?
And how is throttling off the supply of tickets to touts outside the venue going to be in the interests of Radiohead fans? if the tickets they're quaratining are tout-owned, then all Radiohead are doing are decreasing the supply for sale outside the venue, and thereby actually forcing the prices up. Treating your actual fans like shit AND helping the touts make a bigger profit - well done, radiohead. Can't wait till Thom gets his dream of being Prime Minister and see that sort of planning in action on a nationwide scale...

CHOOSE YOUR PROM: You couldn't accuse the Proms of dumbing down. Oh, actually, you could it seems, but it's a bit unfair to call the chance to select music to be played "a pop idol style makeover" simply because it involves voting. Now, if they have each prom represented by a lady in a bikini... that might be dumbing down.

WHAT HAVE WE DONE TO DESERVE THIS?: Settling down to work our way through the weighty correspondence file here at No Rock, and finding Blogger to be down, we checked to see if the site was still online, and discovered... it's almost too horrible - that googleads was serving up an offer to engage Michael Portillo as an afterdinner speaker at the top of the front page. Now, we're generally happy with the Bloogle merger, but if we see any more offers to help tories scratch a living between company directorships, we might start to think again. Except by adding the words 'Michael Portillo' here, we've probably increased the chances of it happening again. Kim Wilde! Kim Wilde! Kim Wilde! Quickly, quickly...

Thursday, May 01, 2003

THREE HUNDRED LOLITAS - NOW, AXL, THAT'S A RIDER: The tawdry tale of the Tatu tour that wasn't continues to delight - now the organisers of the axed shows are accusing the Tatu management of putting stupid obstacles in the way of the shows - including a demand for three hundred girls dressed in school uniform, which is a tricky demand to deliver for a school assembly, never mind a sapphinfused eurorock droopfest. Wonderfully, the management are also accused of having said that Julia was too ill to sing, but might be persuaded by a little more money. What they need, of course, is a man who can 'fix' problems with Russians odd way of doing things. They could call Barry Kushner...

HAIR PRICE NOT UNCUT: Not that surprising that A bit of Bob Marley's hair has sold for £2,585 - after all, hairclippings with the vague smell of hemp usually fetch about that a pound in areas with high incidences of students in the population.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: For some reason, it's the breast edition:
Being on the continent allows us to catch up with Bravo, the German Smash Hits, against a backdrop of claims that 'local pop' is, for the first time since the Beatles, on the up again. Maybe it is - the continental music channels are jostling to position themselves as the home of "local music"; even MTV, the channel which was once as American as the head of the Iraqi government. But Bravo paints a slightly different picture - while it does find space for Jeanette ("hello, I have no clothes"), the 'local' acts most prominently featured are the winner of the German version of Pop Idol (and if we thought Will was a man promoted way beyond the extent of his charisma, Germany's version - who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jenny Eclair - makes Mr. Young look like a young Sinatra) and the German Big Brother contestant most willing to flash boobs to try and win the big prize.

More curiously, while Bravo always was slightly racier than its Anglo-saxon cousin, in the last few years it seems to have pushed its boundaries further. Thus, in the 'real life' segment, not only do the tales-to-chill-your-blood of drugs and streewalkers now feature the protaginists with their shirts off for no reason (do you really need your tits out to inject crack?) but, under the guise of educational featuring, readers are invited to photograph themselves naked. In the UK, you ask a fifteen year old girl to strip off for publication, you wind up sharing a small room with Pete Townsend. On the continent, you get filed in the kid's magazine titles. We're not sure which side of La Manche has got it wrong.

Talking of naked teens and back in the UK, CosmoGirl promises a feature revealing "another side of Christina Aguilera" - which, seeing as we're familiar with her butt, her internal piercings and every one of her waffle-lite opinions makes us wonder. CosmoGirl has undergone a spot of panic dieting, too, we note - now down to that handbag size which looked fresh and vibrant when Glamour came up with the shape, but now merely gives off the feeling you get when you pick up those Beano Mini Libraries.

Still, at least girls have handbags. Jack, the new-ish James Brown title, seems to be floundering finding enough men wanting a title to slide into their purses. The admission that the title isn't hitting its targets and is thinking again about contents surprised nobody; they'd been desperately fiddling with the wrapping for the last couple of issues, having abandoned the pledge not to do Loaded-style chix pix.

Another cover story: Heat last week carried a strapline about "boob jobs" on its front page. That's except, of course, for the versions of the magazine produced for those bloody irritating adverts, where the phrase was replaced with "plastic surgery." Doubtless 'boob' considered too racy during the Corrie watering slot.

But then, you never know who's going to turn out to be all shy and coy. The Guardian's radio review column noted that when the part-time God of Headfuck co-hosted on Mary Anne Hobbes' latenight radio show, his image took another blow when a caller asked him what his favourite position was. Instead of giving us The Sort Of The The GofHf would say - maybe 'goat on top; mother underneath' say - Marilyn blustered and audibly blushed before stammering "they're all pretty great", like a virgin who's been too nervous to even peek at More's position of the fortnight to at least be able to bluff his way through a couple of playground conversations. We'd always assumed the whole Manson schtick was over-compensation. Maybe it's not compensatory enough.

Is it really Bring It On time again? Hope of the States, the Hidden Cameras, Hot Hot Heat, The Mooney Suzuki, The Seconds (Brian Yeah Yeah Yeah's Foo Fighters), the Applicators and The Raveonettes are the acts carefully kept away from the proper magazine like heavy smokers from Toronto being led away from the World Health Organisation HQ.

NME proper has got an interview with Thom Yorke, a man who always says stuff you can believe in, like "I'm not doing interviews any more", for example. Of course its on the bloody cover - indeed, all other bands have been expunged from the cover. It's rather like a 1980s edition of the magazine. In that respect.

News: Jack White got one of his fantasies to come true with loretta lynn - singing with her, we should point out; Keith Flint has got a new band which he's named after himself - presumably making it easier for his frazzled brain to remember; in a desperate face-saving bid to try and salvage some dignity from the inevitable riposte to Madonna's cack-handed download posing (her site was hacked and her new album given away), a spokesperson said "this is all part and parcel of putting out big records" - really? We can't think of any other official site which has been hijacked to hand out free copies of the title, but we'd like to see it become commonplace - metallica have got something new coming out soon, haven't they?; gwen stefani is working on a solo project - yeah, apparently there were some blokes in No Doubt [factcheck please]; Zane Lowe chats about his plans for the Evening Session, which sounds like he's going to be a really unsafe pair of hands. Which is what you need in that role, of course.

Hell is for Heroes do the CD - public enemy, slayer, fugazi

Kieran from the Cooper Temple Clause once dressed up as a mole.

Turbonegro really do look like kids trying to dress up as the Village People, don't they? Hank Von Helvete announces he's signed three pairs of boobs in the last ten days, which at a breast every tenth mealtime isn't much of a boast, is it?

"Do you remember Primal Scream? All you used to read about them was drugs, drugs, drugs" recalls Peter from the Dandy Warhols. Which is true, but then there was a time when no matter what the Dandys said, the papers merely focused on two things: Zia's left breast, and her right one. Now the band are working with Nick Rhodes. Presumably the Vodaphone funds wouldn't run to David Sylvian.

Thom Yorke says he'd like to run for Prime Minister. He also says he didn't realise until listening back to the new album how angry it all was, suggesting that he didn't set out to write a work that replaced their usual angst with kvetch; that it just somehow happened. But maybe thats what a politician-muso would want you to believe. That its all somehow organic rather than ordered.

The 100 Greatest Rock and Roll Films ever? They've been stretchy with what they'll count - A Clockwork Orange may have inspired more stupid stage costumes than anything this side of Leigh Bowery, but it's surely most noteworthy for its refusal to shackle itself to the dating game of a rock soundtrack. And to include Jackass The Movie on a list of 100 Greatest Anythings immedeatly undermines whatever case it is you're setting out to make. And what, no Grease?

We're not sure about this new Jarvis Cocker side project Relaxed Muscle - yes, on paper it sounds like it has a charming Phoenix Nights air to it, but also, on paper it comes across as a little too arch. We shall see.

harry - the trouble with... - "fucking boring", 2
blur - think tank - "no sense of urgency and ambition", 8
puretone - stuck in a grove - "remember Olive? no?", 4
martin l gore - counterfeit 2 - "go back to counting your money", 2

sotw - dandy warhols - we used to be friends - "synthetic chatter"
shed seven - why can't I be you? - "who is funding this band's career?"

the vines - astoria - "a band that matter when so many don't"
radio 4- cardiff barfly - "gang of four + the clash"
the nme don't review many gigs these days, do they?

and, finally:
"The headline, 'Dixie Sluts fight on with naked defiance', on our front page yesterday, should have had quotation marks round the first two words" - Guardian Corrections and Clarifications, 26th April 2003.

WE FEEL KIND OF RESPONSIBLE: Now that Tatu have finally realised that they're not going to pull an audience that large unless they offer booths, we actually wonder if our shock revelation that they're not actually lesbians hurt their ticket sales. There's something slightly sad about the words "... will now remain in Russia to prepare for their appearance at the Eurovision Song Contest", isn't there? It's like the captions you get at the end of films based on true stories which say things like "Annie moved to Baltimore, where she works as bakery assistant", which really mean "Nothing interesting ever happened to her again."

'WE CAN FIND PEOPLE WITH CHEAP SPECS AND A BAD HAIRCUT, BUT IT'S THE BUGS CRAWLING UNDER SKIN THAT KEEPS CAUSING US THE PROBLEMS: Maybe the agency that is so desperate to find a Jack osbourne lookalike is in such a rush because they're trying to replace the real one, as he's checked into rehab. You have to feel sorry for Jack. A little. Being the least talented out of those two kids must smart like vinegar in a wind-chapped hand.