Saturday, June 07, 2003

IT WASN'T THE HULL, IT WAS THE UPGRADE: So, we struggle to keep up with stuff as we're stuck in Hull (sorry, if you're from Hull, but... we were stuck there. And you have an ugly ass station.) Only to discover that we've been thwarted by the upgrading at Blogger.
We don't want to whine about a free service, but... bloody hell, were they really trying to prove the 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it' rule? The archives got fucked. The posts got fucked. The layout got fucked. The last time so many things got fucked in one place at the same time, Angie Bowie was involved. We're still not having much joy with it, and as far as we can see the experience for you, the reader, is unpleasant in a different way according to what platform and browser you're using.

We're trying to do what we can from our end. Let us know if you have any ideas.

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Live, tonight, from Hull:
Ice, which must be the dimmest, nastiest piece of work ever to be sold on a general newsagents shelf, has got Pink in this month - 'she's lewd, rude and nearly nude' they promise. If you think it's odd that Pink is doing press for a shabby mag like this when she's not actually promoting any records, it's because she isn't actually interviewed inside - it's a short cuttings job and some pictures. Wooo. The magazine itself just feels horrible - we have no problem with magazines that print pictures of sexually alluring people looking sexually alluring; but the way its done here is just dismal. Not brave enough to embrace proper porn, but trying to put some degree of distance between itself and Page Three, Ice tries to make itself edgy by just not showing any human restraint. An article about a serial killer-rapist-kidnapper duo in the US illustrates itself with a picture of one of the killers with one of their victims. Now, admittedly they don't choose a still image from the video of him actually raping her, but knowing the context of the picture (she had already been held for several days, they were attempting to brainwash her into being their sex slave, and - oh yeah - she was a few metres from her tortured to death baby) you wonder why even the most stinking of Beelzebub's demons would think this an appropriate image for a knockabout magazine. Yeah, it might not be a picture of the rape, but the point remains - it might as well be. Avoid at all costs.

The John Harris Britpop book continues to do the rounds, and this time it's the Guardian (Saturday) Review which has handed the book out - and it's Mark Lawson who does the honours. Time was, Mark was our leading pop culture grammarian (oh, yes he bloody was) but these days you start to wonder if he's spending too much time on the telly and the radio to be able to relate to it in isolation. It's a nice review, though, if more interested in the Blair aspects of the book than the Blur ones; Lawson does lose it a little suggesting that Harris would have been better off if Justine had shagged Tony as well as Damon and Brett. Not only would that have completely altered the tone of the book anyway, but she doesn't have to: Tony Blair has more than fucked the lot of us up the ass enough this last couple of years.

Radiohead and Glastonbury get their own editions of NME Originals, but The Smiths are accorded only a supplement to the body of the NME proper. Fair enough, it saves us money - and us Smiths fans, now most of us are on pensions, appreciate any chance to save a few bob; but is it really necessary to make The Greatest Guitar Band Of Them All After [add your own list here] relevant to today's youth by slapping Noel Gallagher on the front? "How the Smiths changed my life" says Noel - presumably the carrying of gladioli made it easier for him to spot the namby-pambies to punch in school? Or maybe - having realised that The Smiths pop songs sum up love, life, misery, rejection and the whole damn thing in three minutes flat, he realised he didn't have to try to do that at all?

AFI are on the cover of the NME - "the world's most worshipped band" claims the coverline, which not only ignores The Pope And The Holy Trio but is a dangerous claim anyway. We shall see.

The Libertines have played "the most intimate gig of all time" to seventy people - which not only ignores every gig in Liverpool between 1987 and 2001, where seventy would have been a full-on-crush, but also the Nirvana gig mentioned a few pages seen by just twenty. Ah well.

Kelly Osbourne explains the dropping from Sony thus: "When Mottola left [sony], I got put on a shelf" - which not only ignores the way her records were released by label after Mottola was released from his contract, but the simple evident fact that nobody wanted to buy them. It's not as if Osbourne didn't get a push greater than Kate Moss trying to give birth to a full-grown Robbie Coltrane, is it? She also claims that people at Sony in London "didn't know till last week that I wasn't signed to them any more." This suggests that Sony is the only office place in London without access to the internet.

British Sea Power do the CD thing - Pavement and Julian Cope but also - oh, my - Tatu.

Chris Lester of Jet is proud, but in all the wrong places -"I have never heard one fucking Aphex Twin record in my life and I don't care if I never do. I'm fucking serious about that." This wallowing in musical ignorance may explain a related phenomenon - we've heard Jet records, but we wouldn't recognise them if asked to pick them out of a line-up. We're serious about that.

Compare and contrast with the try-it-and-see attitude of The Thrills' Daniel Ryan - "I don't know a lot of other bands, but I think we're more obsessed with music than any of them." And you know what? It shows.

So, AFI, who are SXE. The main problem we have with straight edgers is that their entire stance is dictated by what they're not, rather than what they are. Don't drink, don't smoke, what do you do? - and look where that got Alan Ant. Having said which, this is one of the best bits we've come across in the nme for a long while and shows - given the length - their writers still have a spark and a talent. There's absolutely no reason to give a cover to AFI, apart from to try and sneak some sales back from Kerrang, but Dan Martin rises to the lack of challenge wonderfully, asking Davey AFI to defend his lyrics 'we dance in misery' - "What sort of dance goes on in misery?" The tone is a gently amused awareness that some people take this sort of self-pitying guff seriously that manages to entertain without patronising the band to their artfully painted faces. And, as anyone who actually knows misery will tell you, misery doesn't spend hours on its make-up.

Metallica - St Anger (can that be right - we're working from notes and we can't read our writing here) "true masters", 9 - yeah, the masters may be great but we'll wait and download the MP3s off Limewire, thanks
Radiohead - as we predicted, this is just a repeat of the earlier review
Mogwai - Happy songs for Happy People - "often complex", 8

sotw - the thrills - big sur - "polyphonic spree on prozac"
afi - girls not grey - "you can't help grinning like a loon" (another nail out of their coffin as gloomiest guys, then)

homelands - "only Mike Skinner could make a beer-can littered field feel like home"

the back page is an advert for a Radiohead album. We're kind of confused as to why Thom Yorke objects to Radiohead music being used for adverts to sell things, but doesn't mind adverts being used to sell Radiohead music. Is the whole concept of the advertising industry suddenly rendered much, much sweeter when the adverts are bringing money to Thom in an indirect fashion?

And finally: in the classifieds, a plea from the makers of Busted who are looking for Males, aged 16-19 to play in a new band. They're having open auditions, and the band, we imagine, will be as real as Busted themselves. That’s why they're looking for a drummer and bassist. Only, erm, good looks are essential, being able to sing is merely desirable. Oh, and the first whittling down of hopefuls will be done on the basis of personality rather than musical skill. In short: Mark E Smith - no; Andrew Ridgeley - yes. There's an email address, too: - if you think you have a future in rock. At least until your balls drop, anyway.

[see note above if the same post appears below...]

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

SOME OF MY BEST FRIENDS...: Just what are Ananova trying to tell us in their report on Cheryl from Girls Aloud being sent for trial over the racially agravated assault charges? "She was carried off in a black people carrier..." Hey - why can't we all travel in the same people carrier, regardless of our skin?

NATIONAL MONUMENT DAMAGED: But the Barry Mannilow breaks nose gags write themselves, so we'll let them lie...

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

SOMETIMES MISSING THE BUS CAN BE BETTER: Leastways, Jim Fairchild of Grandaddy didn't quite miss the bus, but he didn't get hit too badly by it...

MORE BICKLE THAN TRAVIS: Travis have announced a one-off UK gig. Judging by this picture of Fran Healy:

it's presumably because they've lost their Big Issue pitch.

Monday, June 02, 2003

It's clear, then, that if music is free for downloading, the music industry is not viable; all the jobs I just talked about will be lost and the diverse voices of the artists will disappear. The argument I hear a lot, that "music should be free," must then mean that musicians should work for free. Nobody else works for free. Why should musicians? - Lars Ulrich of Metallica, testifying before Congress about the evil cancer of free music downloads

Metallica have made a surprise appearance at the Download Festival.
The band were not part of the published bill, but appeared on the second stage.
Festival-goers are allowed to download free performances by bands appearing at the festival from the internet.
- ananova news report

READING BETWEEN THE LINES: When the Australian Daily Telegraph says New style for subdued Avril , we suspect they're trying to hint that she looked like she could care less about Australian fans. But wouldn't that mean she was getting a wee bit arrogant? Surely not.
Someone offered her a thousand australian dollars for the bottle she'd just drunk from - they probably thought they could develop a movie from it.
But to return to the When Popstars Wane topic, there's a nice examination - also from Australia - of Madonna's long slow slide into Rosemary Clooney status. Of course, it would be dangerous to write Madonna off completely - indeed, if anyone could come back from such a slump, it would be the woman who turned it round so spectacularly after the guff that was Sex and Bedtime Stories - but it does look grim for her right now.
And if you needed any proof that madonna is like a bellweather for the music industry - in the same way the RIAA and BPI blame all sort of factors bar one for the drop in sales, this article considers a range of reasons why Madonna is no longer the bestest - Cher's comeback, people feeling manipulated by her, lukewarm reviews - but doesn't mention the surely most significant fact: that the work she's producing now is just a load of ropey old tosh.

Sunday, June 01, 2003

WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?: See Eminem's Ass is an offer we would turn down at the best of times, but... really...
especially right now.
[Thanks - we think - to rufus for the link]

I WISH I HAD OVARIES: For then I could have Simon Tyer's children. It's the only fitting reward for this:
Say goodbye to absence of cheap rock trinket misery with these Pixies statuette figures :
Click on the group of pictures - they all look slightly demonic, and Kim Deal's likeness could scare birds and small children away. I'll wait for the Husker Du posable
action figurines.

THE VINYL COUNTDOWN?: While we don't shed many tears for the fate of the record labels, the current downturn in the music industry (you might have noticed this - they say it's our fault, we reckon that it's because the great music has dried up) and the shifting of music-selling from shop to screen, and from record shop to supermarket, looks about to claim a large scalp, as Andys records slump into administration. They're trying to save as many of the existing stores as they can.
In the last couple of years, Tower has pulled out of the UK, Our Price has been axed, revamping into some sort of crappy mobile phone store, and Boots have given up record retailing altogether. Now the largest indie chain is in serious trouble. You can almost sympathise with Virgin and HMV's desperate bid to repackage themselves as lifestyle stores rather than record shops.

NEVER MIND THE POP IDOL: You can cruise your way to fame by winning a competition being run by Richard X - he's offering the winner the opportunity to appear as a cardboard cut out in the new X/Kelis video. But be warned: Fame, fame, fatal fame - it can play hideous tricks on your brain.