Saturday, May 24, 2003

BABY, WE DON'T CARE: So, at long last Jennifer Ellison - her from Brookside - has finally got her single out. It's a cover of Baby, I Don't Care by Transvision Vamp, and it is quite, quite remarkable: It makes you appreciate Wendy James. In the video, Jenny from the Close prowls around, ice-bright teeth in an orange face, attempting to hunt down a man who looks like he's come hotfoot from his accountancy class. It's meant to be all predatory and sexy; it looks like the young Judith Chalmers has got drunk and wants to talk about bookkeeping.
The song, if anything, is worse. Let's not even bother to debate if she's got the ropiest voice of any actor from a British Soap - really, she makes Malandara Burrows sound like she could front up for Carmen. It's the complete lack of understanding about what she's singing, reflected in the delivery, that really irks. In Wendy James hands, the lyrics clearly were meant to be a powerful statement about her love of sex - when she tells the guy that he doesn't have to bother with the 'i love you' because she doesn't care, it's clear she wants a good, dirty, meaningless fuck because she enjoys sex for its own sake; she's hunting for her own pleasure. You don't love me? So what. Just be good.
Jennifer, however, seems to have missed this crucial aspect of the song; in her version, rather than being proud and demanding, it comes across like she's begging for the sex - it doesn't matter if you don't love me, please, just fuck me anyway; oh, go on (more on a par with Lovefool by the Cranberries). It's like a desperate plea, it has the"maybe you'll learn to like me" in brackets; rather than disappear off into the night with a tingly feeling, Jennifer will be ringing up on the hour, every hour. Wendy didn't give a fuck about her fuck; Jennifer loves him so much she doesn't care if he doesn't love her back. Whereas Wendy James sang the song of woman passionate about passion, Jennifer Ellison has made a record for the school bike.

I'M IN A POPULAR TV SERIES, TOO: James Marsters, Spike off of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has taken the road travelled by Russell Crowe, Keanu Reeves, Billy Bob Thornton and other actors around their midlife crisis-y point, and gone out with his band. Becky Bamboo went to see them. Hmmm - I wonder if bamboo stakes would kill a vampire?

So Veronica and I went to the city last night, hitting the Great American Music Hall in time to hear about 20 minutes of the second band, Calahan. My inital reaction was: Oasis. The singer had that same kind of nasal tone and trailing off at the end of notes as Liam Gallagher. The music was more power pop type stuff though, and actually wasn't that bad. The lyrics were good, if a little generic. They did a cover of "The Letter" with a guest vocalist who looked like a 21 Jump Street era Peter DeLuise in a really bad blue shirt with the sleeves cut off. Not doing yourselves any favors there, guys. All in all they were okay. I enjoyed their performance and they had a couple of songs that I wouldn't mind hearing again. Luckily they had free cd samplers and I grabbed one as we left. Listening to it in the car this morning on the way into work I realized that I just don't think the singer fits with the sound of the band. He wants to be the Rolling Stones while the rest of the band is too busy lamenting the breakup of Supergrass. If they had a lead singer who fit the power pop sound I could definitely see them making that scene.

While we were waiting for Ghost of the Robot (have I mentioned how lame that name is?) to come out I noticed that the usual San Francisco hipster audience had decided to give this show a pass. There was nary a white boy fro or a pair of black rimmed glasses in sight. No ironic t-shirts even! The venue was about 2/3 of the way full and I'd say a good 3/4 of the audience was female. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Buffy fans.

The members of Ghost of the Robot started setting up and my already low expectations sank even lower. Why, you ask? Well, let me tell you my theory of bands and costumes. All members in costumes = good. e.g. Interpol, The Hives, and, on the extreme end, The Moldy Peaches. Only one member in costume = not so good. The lead guitarist for GotR came out dressed as Luke Wilson in The Royal Tennenbaums. Shorts, sweatband, etc. Not a good sign, people.

They started into the first song and James Marsters took the stage about a minute into it, accompanied by much screaming and glee from the audience. Okay, lets get the music out of the way first. Loud, generic alt.rock. It wasn't as bad as I feared; the band was pretty tight and enthusiastic but the lyrics were fairly generic when they weren't outright crap (despite mentioning the Smiths and dropping in a Radiohead reference). They had a few songs that had decent parts.. a chorus here, most of a song there.. but for the most part it was nothing I hadn't heard and dismissed hundreds of times before. As a performer James' voice is decent, but not artful. I don't know if some of those notes were supposed to sound that way or if he was just really out of tune, but during one song in particular the pitch was downright painful. As a frontman he seemed a little awkward, but looked like he was having a blast. At times it looked like he didn't really know what to do with his hands and other times the performance felt kind of posed. He seemed a little too reticent to really let go and get properly mussed.

James was looking fine though, I must say. He was in jeans and a black long sleeved t-shirt. His hair was very Spike-ish, bleached and combed back, but not as severe looking. He smiled a lot and laughed all the time. That took some getting used to. Every flash of tummy when he raised his arms or appearance of tongue (he stuck it out after every song) elicited screams so loud you'd swear American Idol runner-up Clay Aiken was melissma-ing his way to another glory note. At one point he flapped his shirt, commenting on how hot it was and the resulting shrieks made him turn around and get all embarrassed. I varied between rolling my eyes and feeling a little dirty.

As we were walking back to the car, someone commented behind us, "I wonder if he thinks they're actually good." I have to say I think he does. He has to know that most (if not all) of the audience is there for Spike, but maybe he thinks the music will win them over or something. From what I saw I wouldn't hold out hope for that any time soon. Veronica and I left feeling that it was all a little sad and I was almost ashamed of my reasons for going. Whatever. I'm still getting double prints on the pictures I took.

Friday, May 23, 2003

I'M A BLOKE AND I LIKE GIRLS: Robbie Williams has got in a bit of a flap over something he said in an interview when he was coked off his tits ("being a bit funny") - the Gothamist has the full details of his attempts, when sober, to try and distance himself from the awful thought that he might fancy men, not that there's anything wrong with it, mind. [Ta, ]

GET INTO BRITNEY'S SHORTS: (Those of you on the list will recognise this headline as having been used as a subject line on a similar story about Alyson Hannigan)
Britney Spears is flogging off a load of stage and video costumes for charity - you're looking at about a thousand bucks right now if you want a tight little pair of white shorts, or a bra top that she's rub herself into for the Slave For U video. It's far from clear if the items have been washed, or if you're also getting the chance to scrape Britney DNA off and wait for science to catch up and allow you to clone her. The last dozen or so items seem to be dancers' rather hers, so command a much lower price.

LIKE A VIRGIN? NO, NOT MUCH: For reasons we shan't bore you with, we've found ourselves listening to Virgin Radio a fair bit this last couple of weeks, and it makes us miss Six Music so much we've wept a leopard from our eyes.
Rightly spotting that the repetition of most commercial radio drives people insane, Virgin pledge that they'll never play a record twice during the working day. Fair idea, except rather than using this as the basis for an adventurous playlist, they've somehow managed to remain true to their pledge without making it noticeable. So instead of hearing the latest Coldplay four times, you hear four different Coldplay tracks. And while the tunes might get put away after their play, the whole system is reset the next day, so - for example - Avril Lavigne's Complicated has been trotted out every day this week, despite being so old it gets to buy its own beers and voted in the last election (Green, but then it's young, you have to forgive it). So instead of coming away marvelling at the breadth of Virgin's playlist, you get the feeling like they're just as repetitive as Piccadilly, but a little less up-to-date.
And what sort of listener do they get? Every other advert seems to be for smoke alarms or - god help us - how to fry chips without destroying your house. Are Virgin's audience really at such risk of self-immolation?
FYI: Avril Lavigne has just come on.

WHEN YOU'VE GOT FRIENDS AND NEIGHBOURS: Oddly, people in Wales claim they'd rather live next door to Ozzy and Robbie Williams than Posh and Becks. I think this says more about Wales than it does about Victoria Beckham.

HOW JOURNALISM WORKS: The Music Industry launches a website to tell people where to get downloads. YahooNews covers it. What picture do they choose to illustrate this with? This picture of Tatu snogging. From March.

Obviously, we're disgusted. Although I suppose we should be thankful it's not Hilary Rosen.

BEING FAIR TO MICHAEL: So, to be perfectly fair to Jacko, he didn't instigate the current court case that's been making him queasy, although we're not entirely sure why he felt the need to turn up to it at all. Meanwhile, he's settled the falling out with Sothebys over the large unpaid bill - so, the question "why are you selling your home movies to Fox?" has probably been answered there, then.

S CLUB THROW A BEEGEE: S Club strop out of an interview with Liquid News because the questions turn to money - or, more accurately, whether they've been shafted by Simon 'my bank account couldn't be any' Fuller. Except what's interesting is that although the band stuck to bland, almost contractual verbal shrugging when Claudia Winkelman raised the issue, they didn't walk off the stage; a woman from their management company flounced on and made them leave. The end may be near, but they're still the company's property until the last clocking-off.
And you can't help but feel that their management think 'if they look ridiculous in their final few days, and it harms their solo careers, so be it'.

Thursday, May 22, 2003

NOT PARTICUARLY EXPRESS: We're indebted to Aaron Scullion for pointing out to us that the NME's 'news' about the rail disruption for this year's Reading Festival wasn't quite as fresh as they'd like us to think - indeed, BBC News had the story almost three months before they ran it this week. Next week: Cobain believed dead in shooting incident.
But, hey, we can all fuck up - Mr. J got in touch to point out that I'd said Glastonbury were selling out their tickets. I did, of course, mean "sending out."
And, finally, on this little catch-up - Nestle have changed the soundtrack on the Nescafe advert. No Muse No Mo.

THE OH, NO VELLOS: The Ivors - not so much an award as an attempt to make Mr. Novello spin in his grave - have been announced and, once again, the name of the great man has been insulted by the awarding of prizes to the workmanlike instead of the craftsmanlike. Really, they should rename the bloody things the Ringos. If we must they've chosen Coldplay as songwriters of the year. David Gray's The Other Side - a track so bland it routinely triggers the emergency tapes in radio stations up and down the land as the monitors register it as not being there at all - was the song of the year. That's right, they believe it to be the best song written in 2002.
A break from the outrage came when Weak Become Heroes won best "contemporary" song for The Streets, although choosing a song which lambasts people why buy same-old, same-old songs in the middle of this blizzard of pre-cast mediocrity could just have been a cruel joke.
Then, back to completely-unsurprising: Avril Lavigne won best international hit for Complicated (this is on a par with me winning writer of the year for something that I've copied off another website); Liberty X's Just A Little Bit was most-(over)played song of the year.
Roxy Music, Brian Wilson and U2 were all given awards in return for showing up ("marking their achievements and longevity").

WE LIKE YOU, BUT: Shame on the otherwise-excellent slap dee barnes for crediting Careless Whisper to Wham, when, of course, it was George Michael's solo side project. The track which to Andrew Ridgeley was the musical equivalent for the graffiti at Balthazar's feast, the point where he suddenly realised that Yog had noticed he spent most of the time Wham were in the studios flicking through Autosport and scratching himself. For us, no matter how much we love the song - and we do, we were of that age - we can never hear it without picturing George showering in those tight little swimming trunks, and then... our thoughts... drift a little...

CHARLOTTE MISSES THE POINT: Charlotte Church seems to think that girls want to pick fights with her because they're jealous she's got a 'gorgeous' boyfriend. No, Charlotte, they just think you need a good slapping.

NOT BITTER PEOPLE IN ROCK: There's a really nice interview with Nancy Sinatra where she happily admits that her California album didn't do very well at all, and talks about her reunion with Lee Hazelwood. Insanely, the album they produced together has only been picked up by a label in Australia - Jesus, EMI can move heaven and earth to ensure Robbie Williams noodles get put out, but they can't scrape together a few quid to release something as tantalising as that over here?

CRYPT DESTROYED: Akron has allowed the Crypt to be pulled down. In a move that brings to mind Liverpool City Council's frankly bonkers decision to allow the original Cavern to make way for, um, a car park, the Ohio venue which saw early gigs by the likes of Devo, Pere Ubu and the Dead Boys has been bulldozed. Yeah, it was only a punk club. But what a punk club.

MADWATCH: Jackson gives evidence in court; has to be carted off to hospital straight after. "He doesn't like depositions" explains his attorney "and doesn't take care of himself; doesn't eat [before appearing in court]." You might suggest that - if that's the case - he might be better off not suing the arse off everyone he comes across, then.

THEY MIGHT CALL COLDPLAY BEDWETTERS, BUT...: Ignore the yawn-yawn about shagging in the toilets in this story - you're a grown man, Lee Ryan; sex in the toilets is for teenage parties; you don't come out seeming like a conquistador, more a shady window - and just make for the final sentence: Yet his partners must be said to be lucky enough not to share his bed, which the Charmer Lee has admitted to wet in order to feel comfortable. He has sex in the toilet, and yet pisses in the bed. Eh?

THAT MUST BE FLATTERING: Tussaurds had a competition amongst its visitors to find whose butt was most like J-Lo's. The winner? An 85 year old man. So, it's official: Jennifer Lopez has an arse like a octogenarian bloke. Let's hope they don't have identical breasts, for Ben Affleck's sake.

MEG WHITE, WHAT ARE YOU, MEG WHITE?: Ask the blogs. They'll tell us that:
Meg White is arguably better looking than a 6- to 8-year old version of myself - ryan.anderson
Meg White is dead, and has been replaced by a robot - Glorious Noise
Meg White is mine [Lord Cranky Monster's], not Jack's, not Craig's, not Pelle's, mine! - Sanctum
Meg White is an amazing drummer who has only begun to reach her potential - Where There's Smoke
Meg White is an adorable cherry as well - a whore of different color
Meg White is the cutest person in the world" - I Like Cats
Does nobody have a bad word for the girl?

HANG ABOUT... THEY DATED: Eminem's apparent threat to use answering machine messages left by Mariah Carey on his answering machine when they were dating has caused Mariah to come over all hissy - 'He'll get into a lot of trouble with my lawyers. It's childish. It's like I'm in a cat fight. He's a little girl" pouts Mariah, before proving she's above all that by sticking her tongue out, pulling Eminem's hair and calling him a stinky poo.
What we love about this is the carcrash that is the news that not only did Eminem date Carey - older readers will remember her as a kind of unwashed Jennifer Lopez - but that he's quite prepared to bring the fact to wider attention. Nixing Weird Al and boasting about having seen Mariah's silky drawers. You're rapidly depleting your goodwill stocks. We know that Mariah - who right now is clinging to any passing publicity she can muster - has her own reasons for banging on about it, but... Eminem, Emmy, Slim Boy... what you do with your own life is up to you. But if you must date dimwitted publicitywhores like Carey, please keep it quiet. And wipe the bloody messages.
Interestingly, on the same page, Fred Durst is still trying to remind us that he dated Britney - "I have answering machine messages of her saying the f-word" says Fred, as if the thought of Britney swearing is going to shock us any harder than the thought of her standards being so low that she'd date a sweaty fat bloke in Bart Simpson's cap. We know the album date is slipping further and further back, Fred, but perhaps if you spent some time working on the bloody thing rather than trying to keep your band's profile up, it might have been on sale by now. If the record company lets it go out.

Wednesday, May 21, 2003

DID WE MENTION HE WAS NUTS?: Michael Jackson spends several months on a public scmooch-round to try and undo the damage the Bashir interview did to the public perception of him; a lot of time, a lot of money on the "Hey, I'm not weird, me" campaign. Then he dresses up as spiderman and bursts into a congressman's office while America is on orange alert - to complain about the lack of fastfood restaurants in the area. And, worst of all, he likes Taco Bell.

BARELY TIME TO SELL THEM ON, THEN: After all that bluster about Glastonbury keeping hold of tickets to the very last minute, they seem to have lost interest in the whole idea. Our deepthroat - we'll call him Mr. J - writes to tell us he's just got an email from the ticket agency telling him the tickets are now being sold out. May 21st. With the festival not happening until the end of June, we figure you've not only got time to flog 'em on Ebay, but the purchaser can turn round a sale as well. So, it turns out it was all a load of posturing, then. Ah.

What the pop papers say: The Uses of Shit edition

If you have the internet at home, at work, or maybe just an aunt who has a Teletext enabled telly, you might have already caught wind of the leap from website to magazine taken by Popjustice. In it's media-straddling, it's lost none of its spike, wit or passion, we're delighted to report, and has merely become the same thing it always was, only in a format which you can roll up and use to keep wasps away from your picnic lunch while you slumber during the lunch interval when Sussex play at Hove. Fuelled by a love of pop the way an eight year old gets fuelled by the colouring in supermarket own brand orangeade, popjustice not com's genuine love for its subjects allow it to get away with ideas that would have other journalists being escorted from the plush interview suite. The upside for the bands is that people who we'd had pegged as utter dicks come across as actually rather nice. Thus Busted happily answer the questions Martin Bashir had previously put to Michael Jackson, and Girls Aloud - who, hitherto, we would have had made into some sort of crab paste substitute - appear to be quite witty and smiley, almost to the point where we're thinking of having some sexual fantasies about them.

But the highlight is Ross Trueman's A to Z of pop. Printing the unaltered drafts is quite a wonderful move, especially when he tries to deal with the subject of kiddie-fiddling in music. That, alone, makes the magazine worth it's measly two quid fifty. You can get hold of one by sending a cheque or postal order for GBP2.50 to Popjustice, PO Box 33761 London SW3 5WR, or ordering online at We recommend it highly. And hugely.

Rosie Millard reports from the Madonna public debasement that was the HMV gig for the New Statesman. She reckons it cost HMV eighty thousand in lost sales: “We’ll get letters of complaint. Bound to. Madonna’s a minority interest” sniffs the manager - which really is a measure of how far she’s sunk on the public affection scale - she once was a sniff behind Princess Di; now she can’t even match buying three for thirty quid DVDs for thrills.

“Like all the best parties, Britpop left a lot of fag-burns on the carpet” observes Andrew Collins, reviewing John Harris’ Britpop book The Last Party, also in the Staggers. Praising Harris’ deft linking of politics and music in the nineties, Collins then observes that Britpop was the first musical movement which was all-inclusive. This left the NME and Select fighting for access to ‘their’ bands with The Sun and Observer - and this is probably a state from which the nme never quite recovered.

The Tatler hosts Gwen Steffani as cover girl, offering a couple of pages of pix and some so-so at home guff. They also claim that Gwen’s style has been more inspirational to teenagers than that of Kylie or Britney, which seems a bit of a wild claim - round our way, they still lean to the less-mother-pleasing definition of skank style.

MediaGuardian covers the link-up between Conde Naste and Ministry of Sound to create a new magazine called Trash. Now, with a title like that, it could have been great - it could have been a contender; a clarion call to the discarded and forgotten of the world. Instead, it's going to be another celebrity magazine, clamouring in the increasingly over-crowded market for celebrity exclusives. It's named after - and inspired by - the Warhol film, on the surely mistaken belief that if Andy was alive today "he'd be obsessed with Jordan, he'd be obsessed with the Beckhams, he'd be obsessed with Footballer's Wives." Maybe - if he'd decided to move from New York to Redditch - and this is where the problem kicks in. The business plan imagines they're going to sell one out of every five copies overseas - of the names they've dropped, maybe David Beckham has international appeal. But I've stretched my incredulity down over my knees, and I still can't see a small crowd gathering at Boston harbour clamouring for the latest on Jordan and Gillian Taylforth.

In what we can only assume was some sort of prank, The Guadian invited Dave Lee Travis to comment on the current state of the singles chart. DLT - or 'the Hairy Cornflake' as he (and he alone) would refer to himself to the amusement of none - slams the record industry. Not that he thinks it's all bad - he's just not happy with acts who sell on image, but "Daniel Bedingfield is a good new artist, Kylie is doing some great stuff [there's an artist proud to say 'I don't look good and I'm not going to bare my stomach', as DLT demands], and Eternal, too." (We think he means Mis-Teeq rather than Eternal). But it's a bit rich for Travis to condemn "the load of tosh" that he says is British Music, 2003. Because isn't this the same Dave Lee Travis responsible for the reprehensible novelty hit Convy GB in the 70s? The same DLT whose period in charge of the Breakfast Show came at a time when the likes of Art Garfunkel's Bright Eyes sat at number one forever and a day, until they had to introduce myxamitosis into Woolthworths Record Department to deal with it? We have issues with the British Music Industry - you might have noticed - but if they were producing music that didn't leave Dave feeling sidelined, confused and alienated, they'd have real problems.

Thom Yorke is blue; or at least he is on the cover of the nme. But of course. Icy and miserable, innit? It's another one of those frothing over-the-top review as news story specials – up til page five is taken with 'band return, play some songs'; there'd be more, but they're saving some stuff for next week, of course. The Edge went to the Dublin gig; the nme treats this as if it makes the event legendary, but it smells to us more of Death hovering round at a christening.

Other news: Dave Grohl's made a porn video – a full on, Trisha type affair. Xcept it's just a spoofy old pop video type thing, and it features the increasingly unwelcome presence of Jack Black; the nme runs a map of exactly where the 'Leeds' Festival will be this year – not quite the arse-end of nowhere, but up the motorway from the back of beyond; a confused reader seems to think the Leeds Festival "has put Leeds on the map" – yeah, who'd heard of the place before?; a spokesman for Thames Trains frets that the closure of the London-Reading line during the Reading Festival will cost it money, although they can offset that by not needing the heavy-handed methods to ensure fare dodgers don't slip through the net. Of course, Network Rail claims that even with the Reading Festival "there will be half as many people travelling" – what, less than any other weekend? I'd love to see some figures to back up this statement; having broken her music career in less than two singles, Kelly Osbourne has now decided she'd like to be an actress – "I’d rather do an independent movie because I don't even know if I can act yet" – Kelly, didn't your wooden Doritios adverts give you even a slight hint?; The Matrix are going to work with Bowie – we suspect the thin white duke has got the Lavigne songwriters and Carrie-Ann Moss confused, bless him; meanwhile, Simon Fuller is forcing the unpleasantly named Amy Studt, the British answer to Avril Lavigne (I thought that was 'Please, stay at home'?); there's an interesting story about the trustee of Andy Rourke's bankruptcy looking to sell on his royalty stream that isn't given the attention it deserves – Rourke is, unsurprisingly pissed off – but, boy, what a great gift for a Smiths fan. Or Morrissey, come to that.

Manchester University has been freezing the accounts of students caught file-sharing – "there was no warning to students before that from the university" wails Oli Coleman, who is studying philosophy and politics. Is that the quality of students in Manchester? Now, we have problems with unis being forced to police copyright law, but… the university sent an email saying "You've been downloading movies; delete them and stop doing it; if you do it again, we'll freeze your account", which seems to be fair enough – they could hardly say 'You've got illegal copyright material on your computer, don't do it again', could they? Or are Manc Students running on back-up power and feel that unless there's a sign saying 'shoplifters will be prosecuted' then they're free to thieve?

Ian McCulloch chooses ten tracks that he'd burn to a CD if it wasn't all illegal and everything – the Dandy Warhols, Bowie, Nirvana, and The Coral. Oddly, no Coldplay, despite his claims elsewhere that Chris Martin is the greatest thing ever.

The Agenda: They're Atlantan (Georgia, not under the sea) and punk garage. And they "want to dance to the sound of 'right now'"

In a nifty sidebar to the Electric Six piece, they 'out' four stars who went in and out the closet. Only, erm… Bowie didn't say gay, did he? Nor did Brett Anderson. And wasn't only one of the Village People not actually gay? And as for even considering Tatu… But anyway: Are Electric 6 gay? "Only at weekends" says, erm, Dick.

There's a cuttings Keanu piece, fulfilling the legal stipulation that every magazine must have something about the Matrix Reloaded in.

Sexier than fish: A two page spread of mainly semi-naked Libertine loveliness. Yum.

Oh, we've got posters again, on a Glasto theme: a blurry Jack White; Richard Ashcroft stood in front of a caravan – uniting the two dullest things from England in one image; a not very good shot of Thom Yorke which makes him look like he's taken a bite of a dogshit sandwich; Liam apparently mincing off stage with a can of Stella Artois; a distant Morrissey who could really be anyone at all; Courtney Love looking like she's just woken up and a shot of Nick from Queens of the Stone Age's back. If these are the best shots of the festival in the nme archives, they can save themselves a few bob by not bothering to send a photographer this year.

There's things to do this summer, like a kind of substandard BBC Holiday magazine with the words 'The Libertines' sprinkled throughout.

audio bullys - ego war - "would gain three points if it came out as an instrumental only", 6
shed seven - where have you been? - "disco down sounds worryingly good", 5
various - under the influence - "[Morrissey's, the chooser] most consistent album in years", 7
ex-models - zoo psychology - "the musical equivalent of a DIY trepanning", 8
ten benson - danger of deaf - "you can almost smell the beer, vomit and mild terror", 7

sotw - are weapons - hey world - "something that'll really appal your parents"
skin - trashed - "she's stuck to another skunk anansie trait - writing dogshit tunes"
busta rhymes and mariah cary - I know what you want - "she seems to have tamed Busta somewhat"

evan dando - Bristol anson rooms - "there's the soul of a survivor"
rocket science - Manchester night and day -"awesome"
22-20s - Cambridge boat race - "about as 'now' as steam powered radio, but so 2003"
mogwai - Northampton soundhaus - "crucially, Blur are still shite"
stellastarr* - Camden barfly - "Frank Black shoved through a mangle"

there's a letter in angst from JZ of Chicago, who fucked the drummer from The Music and thinks she may well have been the "pig faced girl" Phil was talking about in a recent NME. She bridles that she'd only gone to see the Vines anyway, and besides, she'd been drunk, and besides, she'd done it for a dare. Julia, honey - we might consider sleeping with the drummer from the Music for a bet - if the stakes were high enough to cover the necessary pre-shag alcohol, the days of post-shag cleaning products and grooming, and still have enough over to make it worth our while. But, for a dare? You really thought you couldn't live with your mates spending the next few weeks going "You didn't sleep with the Drummer from The Music?" rather than the rest of your life marked as Not Merely the girl who slept with him, but then announced to the world that she did. Jesus. An exchange place at Manchester University awaits you.

And, finally: " Here's a suggestion for Rosie Boycott, Charles Moore and those other members of the media nobility who have argued, on a point of principle, for the legalisation of marijuana. Do what I did the other evening and go see The Dandy Warhols in concert. After three hours or so of likeable but interminable wibbling, you realise just what the stuff can really do. It's not an argument against legalisation of the drug, I suppose. But it's a convincing argument against its consumption." Rod Liddle, The Guardian, 21-5-03

[Edited 20-06-07 at the request of JZ]

ARCHIVES OF SPAIN: The froth you can hear is the sound of the dribbling mouths of Record Company people who are furious with Puretunes, an online download distribution outfit based in Spain offering paid-for downloads. Puretunes reckon they've found a cosy loophole in Spanish Law which allows them to do this perfectly legally, and they intend to pay the artists involved royalties as well. Doubtless even if they're legally in the right, we'll see ISPs in the free world bullied into blocking them soon enough, so grab em while you can.

SWEET HOME ALABAMA: What level of spite and hatred would you have to have eating away at your soul to campaign to have a statue taken down and buried? If you need a clue, you could visit Bury Hank Williams Snr, the web presence of a group who want Montgomery, Ala to rip down its tribute to Hank because he was a drinker and abused drugs. "Surely there are more fitting heroes from Montgomery?" they wail - although, apart from being the capital of the Confederacy, Montgomery doesn't have very much going for it - you can go and see Hitler's typewriter nearby, apparently, and they did give the world Nat 'King' Cole, but other than that, it's a bit thin on the remarkables. And even if Montgomery had been like a latter-day Athens, a soft, lush land from which sprang thinkers, doers and visionaries, to not find a space to provide a reminder of a son who brought great pleasure despite his enormous personal miseries - how could such a city feel it deserved its past?
[ Finders fee: Morag]

WIGS? WIGS?: Costello takes opportunity of music industry dinner to worry about the freedom of speech lockdown, and condemn British Politics as people giving each other wigs. Eh?

HOPE IT COMES OUT BEFORE I GET OLD: Pete Townshend now thinks his biography will be published earlier than he originally thought. It's amazing how your work rate picks up once you stop wasting the day looking at porn on the web, isn't it?

'IT SOUNDS A LITTLE RUSHED...': Some bands get attention by releasing great records that sear themselves into your life like a red-hot brand on the ass; others - like Marillion do so by breaking World Records; in this case they've claimed the prize for fastest turnaround of a live DVD. Sixty-three hours, apparently, allowing people to get the video before their ears have stopped ringing.

THE DANGER OF ALTERNATIVE NAMES: 'why is it the charlatan suk?'

PAPA'S GOT A BRAND NEW SLATE: James Brown has been pardoned for all the crimes he may have committed in South Carolina. "God bless America on this beautiful day. I hope my pardon shows the youth that America is a beautiful country," the 70-year-old singer said in a statement. "I feel good!" Yup, a beautiful country where you get high on PCP, threaten people with a shotgun because you think they've used your toilet, drive like a dangerous dick, and get away with it because you're rich and famous. Owww!

YOUR MOTHER WAS RIGHT: If you keep going out dressed like that, you'll catch your death of cold... As Atomic Kitten have to pull a tour of South Africa because one of them has got bronchitis, I'll bet they wish they'd stuck to shirts that actually covered their whole top half.

Tuesday, May 20, 2003

IT'S JUST ROCK AND ROLL TO ME: Billy Joel talks about drinking; fails at first step. He's not an alcoholic, it seems - he only drinks heavily when the demons make him. Right.

MEANWHILE, ON OTHER CHANNELS: We don't often cross-promote our sister service Zapsmart, so we'll break the habit of a few weeks and announce that at the moment, we've just posted a guide to next week's music TV in the UK. Normally this sort of thing is available through email, you can sign up by sending a blank email to

ROMANIA SAYS 'NO' TO ROBBIE: MTV Romania - yes, really - have been bollocked for showing the new Robbie Williams video before ten o'clock. The regulator described the video as "little better than pornography", which is of course, ridiculous - porn is miles better than a Robbie Williams video, as no matter how dirty, filthy or depraved the sex is, it's not Robbie Williams having it, and - much more importantly - it's not soundtracked by Robbie Williams mincing his self-pity into a pie of auto-woe-wank.

MY MELISMA HELL: We're slightly wary about mentioning melisma as the last time we stumbled across the subject we got email suggesting we didn't know our arias from our Elbow, but the subject's come round again with the New York Times slamming the current vogue for cramming as many notes into a word as possible, exemplified by American Idol contestants attempting to stretch sounds as far as possible and cram just more notes in than the other cccc-ooooo-ohoh-oh-mmmm-peeeeeeeeeeh-teeet-teaaai-arrrrrr-zzzz: On the one hand, the quavering voices of today's singers tell us something meaningful about music history. The sanctified sound that migrated from the church to the charts a half-century ago has proven unusually resilient. Listening to hit radio, it is clear that the enduring music of the 1960's is not post-Beatles guitar rock but post-gospel soul.
But that grand tradition has been largely reduced to a signature trick; through sheer overuse, singers are sapping melisma of its expressive power. Soul innovators like Mr. Charles and Ms. Franklin were capable of melisma that could singe the false eyelashes of divas like Ms. Carey and Whitney Houston, but they used the technique more sparingly, and more meaningfully — as fevered expressions of emotions beyond words[...]
Ms. Carey and Ms. Houston are technical virtuosos, but their overwrought melismas communicate nothing but ego. The difference between "Come Back Baby" and Ms. Carey's melisma-saturated "Hero," between Ms. Franklin's transcendent 1972 recording of "Amazing Grace" and Ms. Houston's showpiece ballad "I Will Always Love You," is the difference between a musical performance and an athletic exhibition — the difference between soul and "soul."

WHY DON'T THE RIAA AND THE BPI DO SOMETHING, ANYTHING, TO SAVE THESE COMPANIES IN DANGER?: We might be glib about the threat of piracy and internet downloads, but... you have to face up to the hardships it can cause. Pity poor EMI, for example - they could only manage GBP175 millions worth of profits in the last year - that's less than half a million quid in profit every day. And their revenue has fallen to just GBP2.1billion. That's roughly the GDP of a country like the Democratic Republic of Congo, and enough to pay off Congo's entire foreign debt. But then again, Congo don't have to worry about breaking Robbie Williams in the US.

EXTREME GIGGING: While we're impressed that INXS are showing everyone the way by laughing in the face of sars and terrorism by gigging in Singapore and Bali, we're a little concerned as to their real motives: are they really doing it for moral reasons, or are they just showing off and being macho? Or maybe the whiff of danger gives them a little bit of a turn on? And they, of all bands, should know where that sort of malarkey will get you...

Monday, May 19, 2003

AUTEUR THEORY: Is there anyone who won't crack a smile at the news that Luke Haines is about to release an Auteurs/solo retrospective called Das Capital? Well, he won't, of course, for fear the wind might change and he'd stay that way. But the rest of us should.

BIG MOTHER: Oh, sort of joy - while Catatonia were fracturing and splintering, Emyr Penlan-Davies was following them around filming their death-throes. The resultant documentary is almost ready, reports PlayLouder...

'NO... STOP... WE'LL TELL YOU ANYTHING...' Even the hardest-hearted scorners of the Geneva Convention must wince and feel ashamed at the reports that Americans are playing Metallica to captured Iraqis in a bid to extract information from them. The Americans seem to think it's effective because the Iraqis have never heard Metallica before. We suspect it actually works precisely because they have. Lets hope the US guys are keeping records of the tracks they're using - we'd hate to see Metallica forced to take on the US Army over unpaid royalties, but we're sure they will if they have to.

CHART: As of right now, this is the top five records for 5 - 8 year olds:
1. Stripped Christina Aguilera
2. Say Goodbye [CD 1] S Club
3. The Very Best of Cold Feet Various
4. Say Goodbye [CD 2] S Club
5. Unbreakable: The Greatest Hits Westlife
Righto... so S Club and Westlife we can see (just about) but... Cold Feet? Cold Feet? What is this, infants gathering round the sand tray saying "Yeah, I could really relate to the whole IVF storyline..."?
And - again, we really do worry that we might be coming over a little bit like Tipper Gore, but... surely suggesting an album with lyrics like "Check it - Here's something I just can't understand/ If the guy have three girls then he's the man/ He can either give us some head, sex galore/ If the girl do the same, then she's a whore" or "Sorry I don't give a -what- / Sorry I ain't a diva / Sorry just know what I want / Sorry I'm not a virgin / Sorry I'm not a slut" is appropriate for five year old kids is a little bit - well, misjudged, to say the least?

THE ART OF PUTTING A BRAVE FACE ON: Mariah Carey downsizes her arena tour to theatre dates - not because she's developed a fear of rows and rows of empty seats; oh no; it's because her voice is delicate and wouldn't work in big venues. Probably not, what with the booming echo their near-emptiness would cause.

ALWAYS DOES WELL TO ASK AN EXPERT: "Singles chart doomed" wails Paul Trynka of Mojo, pointing at the decline in singles sales - he speculates that "In America, singles charts include airplay, and I could imagine that five years from now that could be the case here. Or maybe even sooner, since two out of the three major single charts, erm, already are. But Paul's not finished yet, oh no... "To some extent their role has been taken by the internet. Many bands will give away a track to promote a new album." Well, some do - not many, and a lot of those whose albums get promoted by free tracks online tend not to be doing it actively (hello, Radiohead; hello, Madonna). What's really doing for singles, though, is them cheapy album deals - you go to Virgin with a fiver, and have a choice between a Madonna single and an old Madonna album for roughly the same price, what are you going to choose?

SOME GOOD NEWS: Barry White had a stroke earlier this month, but he's on the mend now. No such glad tidings for Luther Vandross, whose stroke recovery has been less well-marked, prompting career obituaries if not the real thing.

WE REALLY HOPE HE WAS SINGING 'MY WAY': We can sympathise with the guy who got so sick of someone hogging the karaoke in a Phillipines bar that he took extreme action, but much as we hate karaoke, we'd probably draw the line at blowing the chap away. In other slayed-singers news, from Baghdad comes the news that one of those Iraqis who earned a crust or two singing awful pro-Saddam pop got a bullet through his head for his trouble.

ROOM FOR ONE MORE ON TOP: A list of buses in pop videos laments missed opportunities, bad choices: Saint Etienne - Action - The video is almost entirely composed of footage of trains (several numbers are seen for the benefit of train spotters), but a solitary unidentified London bus is seen crossing a bridge.

SLIGHTLY MISSING THE POINT: Heather Mills seems to think the accusations levelled at her - that she's a gold digger, basically - are insulting to Paul McCartney. "It's saying he's got nothing going for him other than his bank balance" she simpers. Um... not quite got this, have you Heather?

Sunday, May 18, 2003

COFFEE CRISIS: We were interested to recieve an email from Fabien, webmaster at MuseandAmuse, who tipped us off that the band are hugely pissed off about the appearance of their Simone cover soundtracking a Nescafe advert. Their official website reckons that they'd refused permission when asked by Nestle. And yet the tune still turns up on the soundtrack. Curious, n'est(cafe) pas?