Saturday, September 27, 2003

SUEDE FOR FREE: Signs that you're getting older: When you play your free gig for fans, like Suede are, Virgin Radio are giving away the tickets.

SINCE IT WAS ON ANYWAY: Still waiting for Sky to come and return us to digital, Saturday morning boils down to a choice of CD:UK or Dick and Dom. So we plumped for CD:UK, and... well, we took notes:

Amy Studt is cooking her breakfast with a boy who looks like he could be the stand-in for that chap who plays Superman in Smallville - the confused sexuality years. She, curiously, is starting to look more and more like Chloe Newsham, who was Victoria in Corrie. She married Steve, much to her grandad Alec's chagrin (her parents had died in a car crash, which is a fate all too common for the children of Weatherfield.) Victoria was a lousy character - all trying to prove her adult credentials but really just whining and dull, which means that Amy Studt doesn't just look like her.

CD:UK proper starts with "the brand new single from Blue" - blimey, are they still going? It's called Guilty and is - surprise - a mulitvocal ballad. The boys all stand with their backs to each other, which suggests we're at the stage where they're about to rush for the single solo career. We're guessing the one who's started to turn up unshaven and spikey-haired thinks he's going to be the shoo-in; sadly, he's probably already blown any money he's ever about to make after Blue split up on his linen jacket. Cat pops on when they've finished - which you can only tell has happened because they stop swaying; the song is such a piece of nothing that you don't really notice if it's there or not. Duncan confides the song was co-written with Gary Barlow, sending a shudder down the entire nation.

CD:UK News reports on the Mobos and the Disney Kids Awards (an awards ceremony so bizarre Dannii Minogue won Best Female Artist) but finds a little clip of Stuart Cable talking about how much he enjoyed recording the last album and how it was more fun than ever - they didn't actually say "Kelly Jones is a big stinking liar", but they might as well.

Inevitably, then it's Gareth Gates. Clearly, they're trying to shore up diminishing returns by steering him away from the Unchained Melodies and given him a very faintly funky tune - kind of like Ricky Martin in Autumn. He's got a woman drumming for him, which is slightly more interesting than anything else about the song.

Emma Bunton files a report on London Fashion Week. "I'll always be a high street fashion girl" confides Emma, although frankly New Look is going to be beyond her budget if that Spice Girls reunion doesn't hurry up and happen. She asks Julien MacDonald if there's anyone in the pop world who is a fashion no-no; he butters and instead takes the opportunity to list the people who he does like - including Ms Dynamite (how does she get that turned up in a trackie look?). Bunton is morphing slowly into Alice Beers.

The Sugababes now appear to have Katy Corrie doing lead vocals. Their Richard X fuelled rebirth has finally wound down as the new single - first of the new album stuff - just lacks any oomph whatsoever. No more great pop from them. The badly drawn cartoon bassist tries - and fails - to end the tune with a bang, smashing his instrument into the amps. He fails to cause anything noticeable - no splintering, no sparks - just a spot of flapping for Deeley. It's all a little embarrassing.

The video panel is Brian Molko, Duncan Blue and Heidi Sugababe-Kitten. Video one is Beyonce jiggling about on the sort of mat we used to have to do PE on when i was at school. Heidi struggles towards some sort of political statement about the Mobos - "the British acts should win them"; shes' quickly knocked down by Brian who points out that urban music is, basically, American in origin. The difference between a man with an opinion and a woman with half a brain is telling. No mention is made of the Beyonce song at all.

Next up, Holly Vallance in her Ramones tshirt and no skirt (not that she likes being sold on her sexuality, of course). "I think she's a girl's girls... erm, i think it's good" chirps Heidi. Brian says he's deeply deeply suspisicous and that she "reeks of stage school" and chides her for jumping on an electroclash trip two years too late. Duncan refuses to accept that having to sell only 4,000 singles to get to number one makes it easier to have a number one; he tries to mutter something about longevity being harder instead, but clearly he's not thought it out.

Final video is the "up and coming" Lostprophets. "This is the first year ever that rock has outsold pop in the singles stakes" claims Cat Deeley, confusingly. Instead of talking about the Lostprophets, Brian takes the opprtunity to call The Darkness "a little spinal tap" before getting back on topic and lambasting the welshmen for not taking any risks. Duncan and Heidi are given two words each. Frankly, I'm none the wiser about the videos - shouldn't there be some sort of vote or something at the end?

CD:UK is sponsored by Ribena. When I was a kid, there was a girl down our street who lived with her aunt because her Dad used to make her drink neat Ribena and it rotted all her teeth, you know. Which somehow seems appropriate when the next segment starts with Robbie Williams on stage in Knebworth. The shots of the crowd show that they're all singing along totally different songs.

It's a mixed up world, says Sophie-Ellis Bextor. To demonstrate the mixed-upiness (which her same-sort-of-stuff-as-off-the-last-album won't do), she's dyed her hair blonde. Half an hour in a salon and she's gone from icy-cool goddess to harsh-faced council girl on a Friday night in Newcastle. Let's hope she's not using one of those shampoos that don't take your colour out quickly.. Let's hope harder that she chose this single as a gentle ease-back and she's got something that's going to startle us up her sleeve.

Also on a tricky comeback trail are Muse - Matt Bellamy now boasting more of face than he had before and starting to turn a little bit into Brett Anderson. "Please welcome Muse" bellows Cat, despite the footage clearly being from another place and another time entirely - unless they clear out the slightly bored looking girls and move some bouncy goths into the studio whenever a grown-up band come in.

In the course of the chart rundown, Cat revelas Big Brotha's next single is going to be a Bananrama cover and Dido is going to play a gig in new York and London on the same day - thus confirming her position as the female Phil Collins.

At number one, Black Eyed Peas - Cat tries to get excited about this, but having already pointed out they only sold 4000 copies to get the accolade, she's facing an uphill struggle trying to make this out to be any great shakes. It is a curious song to be at number one - it's like a Charles and Eddie single has somehow turned up to worry about nuclear bombs. The track is cut short to allow the show to play out with Metallica - "the band who brought rock to a whole new generation"; yes, Cat, the last generation. Ugly, sweaty men playing shit music introduced as being the 'best rock act' - clearly, CD:UK are trying to frighten the kids back to pop as quickly as possible, to clear the charts of bands who might be a little more difficult for them to stage than the S Club 8.

BUGGER:, not

Friday, September 26, 2003

THEY DON'T CALL THEM INDUSTRIAL TRIBUNALS ANYMORE: An understandably bitter Stuart Cable calls in the lawyers over his dumping from the Stereophonics, and saying "You can't sack me, I am the band". We reckon he'll be nipping round Kelly Jones' house with a crowbar by sunrise at this rate.

AND AL GORE INVENTED THE INTERNET...: Pinched from Media Monkey:

It was the most touching reunion since Les Dennis got back together with Amanda Holden. That's right, down wi' da kids DJ "Tim" Westwood interviewed by his one-time Radio 1 boss and now king of late night 5 Live chat, Matthew Bannister. "I don't want to big myself up," said Westwood (forgive us if we paraphrase a little here) in a debate about last night's Mobo awards, "but I discovered Eminem and 50 Cent." Bannister, who sounded like he was having far too much fun, replied: "Well, it sounds like you're bigging yourself up just a little bit there." In a damning indictment of his street credentials, Westwood signed off by telling his 5 Live host: "I'm a big fan of the show, man." Westwood listening to late night 5 Live? Next he'll be telling us he listens in bed with a cup of cocoa and the latest copy of Reader's Digest. Say it ain't so, bro, say it ain't so....

THIS JUST IN: Robert Palmer - solo star and singer with Duran offshoot the Power Station - has died of a heart attack in paris this morning.

MOBO WASHES WHITER: There's already gathering discontent with the Mobo awards, announced last night. This year's prizes were given out with more emphasis on the "O" - the second O, Origin, not the 'of' than the "B" - which while remaining true to the supposed spirit of the prizes (recognition for black music's influence on all music), prizes for Christina, Tim Westwood and - ahem - Justin Timberlake are causing rancour; especially in fields where there were plenty of, you know, actual black artists to choose from - most of whom are better than the more headline grabbing winners. (Justin Timberlake the best R&B act in the world? You really are having a laugh, aintcha, albeit one which garner extra tabloid space.) Maybe it's just the effect we've already seen with the Brats - that every award ceremony set up to work for a section of the music industry supposedly ignored by the Brits will, over time, tend to drift towards giving the same awards to the same people as the Brits anyway.

We've always been confused as to exactly what Black Origin means anyway - all rock is rooted in black music, so why aren't, say, The Strokes nominated? Or the White Stripes? Or do they have to restrict themselves to "Genres that were almost exclusively made by black artists a couple of years ago until it started to be popular, whereupon the industry started to foist watered down, white-faced versions onto the market?" Because the set-up at the moment, where Justin Timberlake is given a prize for being the best R&B singer on the planet, is satisfying nobody. Maybe they should just rename them the Elvises.

Oh: and three awards for - and the ceremony constructed for the convenience of - 50 Cent? Confirming for us: he's the Annie Lennox of rap.

WHO OBSERVES THE OBSERVER: A source writes to us about the OMM:

Just wanted to say - had high hopes for the Observer MM - but went away disappointment. It could have gone either way - but the Miranda Sawyer - "this is what it is like to be me, I'm great" article made me retch..

You'll note that I couldn't quite bring myself to mention that piece at all... if writing about music is dancing about architecture, then writing about writing about music is like building a model village... However, we do {heart} Miranda Sawyer...

If that's really the best they could do for the first article, something's wrong somewhere

Being charitable, I suppose they may have been let down at the last minute and called in a trooper. On the other hand, it did smack a little of Word's 'what it's like...' regular slot.

LET'S JUST RAM THE POINT HOME: Why you should always approach rock stars' opinions with caution:

There is something embarrassing about the thought of smart people either producing or consuming yet another comic strip about how stupid George W Bush is, something almost morbidly narrow-minded and scared to stray from the well-worn path of platitudes. As Bob Geldof said, no one has done more to fight Aids in Africa than Bush - and while he's sitting at his desk, struggling to comprehend all that massive historical shift of wealth and medication and goodwill he's so stubbornly, shockingly responsible for, you're drawing or reading a comic about how thick and useless he is, and sniggering! Who's the dummy?!
Julie Burchill, August 23rd

Who's the dummy, Julie? Probably someone who's prepared to believe that Bush is solving the Aids crisis single-handed because Bob Fucking Geldof told them so:

The Bush administration's ban on funds to family planning clinics which offer abortion counselling is adversely affecting the supply of condoms to countries hit by HIV/Aids, it was claimed yesterday.
Clinics have had to close in a number of African countries because the family planning organisations running them refuse to sign a declaration that they will not offer abortions or even discuss them.

Guardian news report, 25th Septmber.

We notice that "sir" Bob is keeping very quiet about this...

Thursday, September 25, 2003

RIAA - SOMETIMES IT'S OKAY TO STEAL, PROVIDING YOU'RE DOING SO IRONICALLY: The owners of Kazaa have filed a lawsuit against the RIAA, claiming the cartel's efforts to find bad, bad, file downloaders have been carried out using unathorised versions of its software and violating the terms and conditions for use of its network. The RIAA - missing the point somewhat - have responded by calling Kazaa's owner Sharman Network's "newfound admiration for the importance of copyright law ironic and self-serving." Maybe, my sweethearts, but this is Caeser's Wife territory, isn't it? How can the RIAA staright-facedly bring legal suits against twelve year old girls in the projects for violating copyrights when it quite happily does the same thing itself? Or is it only a violation when it's not the RIAA doing it? Two wrongs don't make a right, but that cuts both ways.

Now, we're not experts in American Law, but is evidence obtained illegally admissable in civil actions? And, if so, if the RIAA loses this case, would that mean they'd be unable to present any of the 'evidence' of file-sharing they'd used KazaaLite to gather, or which flowed from that illegal use, in court?

CABLE UNPLUGGED: The Stereophonics have confounded all expectations by doing something interesting, and sacked their drummer.

In a crocodile-teary statement, Kelly Jones weeps Me and Stuart started a band when I was 12.
Emotionally to me this is heartbreaking. I love him like a brother, but commitment wise there have been issues since "Just Enough Education to Perform". We've tried resolving them but things stayed the same. Myself and Richard miss Stuart already, a band is like a gang and a lot of time he simply wasn't there, although it was our fault to allow this situation to develop in the first place.
No one will be replacing Stuart as a band member, Stuart is irreplaceable, but Steve Gorman will continue to sit in on drums for the upcoming shows.
No one member of the band is bigger than our songs.
It's a rock and roll band and the upcoming shows will be rocking.

Sniff. Makes you weep, dunnit? Poor old Kelly, having to take such a decision to put down his favourite dog... oh, hang on, he was talking about royally shafting his mate, wasn't he? What makes this taste so bad is the mealy-mouthed attempt to try and dress-up a cold business decision. "Nobody is irreplaceable, but tshirts and posters featuring new drummer Steve will be available by lunchtime."

It's true, of course, that Stuart has been missing - although, curiously, Richard was writing just last week about his absence from the drums on their current dates: "Stu's feeling alot better after a 3rd diagnosis and surgery, but still got to rest and recover(post some get well messages on the board, that'll keep him smiling!). " So, they've kicked him out shortly after he'd had a mystery illness and a operation. What are they - bloody Victorian Mill Owners? "Not only did he not turn up for the shows, but when I asked him where he was he just gurgled and got blood on my shoes." Somewhat shabby treatment of a childhood friend, isn't it?

CHOIR OF THOUSANDS: Louise what used to be in Eternal has lead the biggest sing-song in the world at a branch of Asda. Somehow, we always had a feeling she'd end up in a supermarket.

It's all in aid of breast cancer, for which Louise makes a pretty spokesperson: "The subject of breast cancer is something that every woman fears and Asda's campaign is a really positive way to help support those affected." We're not so sure that women live in fear of the subject of breast cancer, but if that is the case, we're delighted to hear that Asda is - if we've understood Louise correctly - running a campaign to help people who live in fear of the subject of breast cancer. We'd imagine they'd be called oncologophobes.

RING, RING GOES THE... TWO-ALARM FIRE: Man, does Chuck Berry have bad luck? His motel has gone and burned down now. Not that he was actually using it as a motel - presumably since the police cracked down on the Norman Bates-style peering through walls at naked women activities.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Inserts not included edition

In the past it was a lot simpler - you'd reach a certain age - somewhere between 22 and, at a push, 35 - and you'd freeze dry your record collection, stop going to gigs and, certainly, stop reading music papers. Your daily paper wouldn't trouble you with news of what young people were listening to and, in effect, you retired from being interested in new music. Nowadays, of course, it's all changed, and when you reach the point where, in the past, you would have decided your Cd collection had reached the 'enough' point, there's one of two approaches you can take. The first is to keep seeking out the same sort of stuff, often by the same bands, that you listened to in your youth - the approach adopted by Radio Two, and Uncut - kidding yourself that you're still at the bleeding edge and not noticing the bands who once you though would bring down the established order are now flogging mobile phones; the other route is that you still seek out new thrills, although surrounded by much that is familiar - in effect, everything you're sampling is grounded just as firmly in your past, but you're sampling artists who are still at least three weeks away from the Levis ad deal. You choose 6 Music and, of course, Q.

So, the big question when the Observer announced it was launching a Music Monthly to complement is Sport and Food titles (which originally were meant to be sold as stand-alone titles as well as coming free in the belly of the Sunday paper, but it's been a very long time since we've seen a place flogging OSM after the weekend) was: is it a 2 or a 6 title? That they gave the cover to Blur suggested it was going to be a haven for people who lean towards the former - the ones who'll buy new CDs, but probably won't have to introduce new band names into their alphabetical filing systems. In his welcome message, editor Caspar Llewellyn Smith describe Blur as "britpop's finest", a phrase which strikes more dread into a reader's heart than a promise of Julie Burchill inside (she's there too, though). Even though the Observer might have shed the dreadful torpor of the Tiny Rowland years, it's first edition of Music Monthly starts with all the signs pointing to being a little, well, Dad. You expect Paul Weller to loom at you at any point.

It gets worse before it gets better - there's a run down of the "ten greatest publicity stunts", which has elvis joining the army at one but, erm, Justin Timberlake's 'Cry me a river' video at ten (no, we couldn't quite work out why, either). Ben Thompson, who compiled the list, suggests that a great publicity stunt has to "harness the kind of energy that cannot be orchestrated", which is clearly bollocks - a stunt has to be totally orchestrated, by definition. Otherwise it's just a thing that happened. Oh, and Jarvis waggling his arse at Michael Jackson wasn't a stunt either. Not premeditated, pal. You were thinking of the Chumbas and Prescott, I'd imagine.

Then there's "the secret life of Britney Spears" - it turns out - and you might not know this - she KISSED MADONNA. And... you'll never guess... she WAS A MOUSKETEER... WITH CHRISTINA AND JUSTIN. This is akin to the paper launching a Politics Monthly with revelations that Tony Blair and Gordon Brown did a deal over the leadership, and Peter Mandelson is gay.

Other misfirings are a really, really dull article about Fluxmaster Flex's New York Car Show - there is no magazine anywhere that should run an article which starts with the words "Wyclef was waiting for his sharks", and a piece wanders in having, presumably, been rejected by The Wire, about pygmy musicians in the Central African Republic - it's interesting, but smacks more of the Sunday Supplement than a music monthly. And Record Doctor looks promising - a celeb's record collection is audited, new titles suggested, and their reactions garnered - but it's thrown away by taking Jade Jagger as its subject for issue one. Nobody much cares, really.

But there are better ideas - the always worthwhile Tom Cox writes about Goths - "in goth terms, leeds is the city Nottingham aspires to be"; the albums are reviewed with the "25 best" (this week The Strokes to Arvo Part) and the worst - Limp Bizkit, if you need to ask. Paul Morley, in what we hope is a regular slot, writes about music on TV, taking the brief as a cue to be as wide ranging as possible, allowing him to observe that "Emmerdale is in no way as seedily glamorous as Placebo's gothic pop"; in a more interesting spin on the new Small Ads feature, Rhodri Marsden is going about answering 'musicians wanted' adverts - although it's not clear that this approach will have much in the way of legs, all bands in search of a bassist tending to be much the same.

But where OMM really scores is some excellent, revealing interviews. Kitty Empire meets the Distillers, whose Brody talks of playing with Garbage on tour, claiming that their music went "over the head" of Garbage fans - although, Brody, if you're able to delude yourself that people who cherish Garbage are not going to be able to relate to songs of bitterness and hurt, it's not the Garbag-ites who are missing something, is it?

The Blur piece finds them unguarded - Alex James admits that he wants to "feel relevant" (by doing Fat Les?) and then, in a fabulous moment of self-delusion, Damon sighs that in the US, "we're a cult band here, always will be." Actually, Damon, you're not - you're one hit wonders, the band who did the 'woo-hoo' song, the one in the movie and the adverts and the trailers. In the States, you're not viewed as a Moldy Peaches' kind of band; you're more a less successful Blink 182.

But there's more - when the talk turns to politics, Damon says "it is WITHOUT QUESTION that our energy was used as a smokescreen for New Labour" (our emphasis) - really, Damon? You really believe that the sweeping to power of the Blairs was done behind a front of the Blurs? These, at best, sound like the words of someone who's grip on reality has loosened to the point where the shopping's about to tumble over the floor; surely Damon hasn't got to the point where he actually believes that, has he?

Then, the quiet man of the band pipes up about Damon's anti-war campaign. Dave: "I'm not a pacifist. i think that sometimes war is an appalling thing [sometimes? are there some jolly wars we've missed out on hearing about?] but sometimes people killing each other can be justified as the lesser of a whole bunch of evils. Damon's view is not mine. Absolutely. I took a decision early on out of respect for him not to turn around and contradict him" - presumably the Observer isn't considered "public", then, which might account for the candour.

More surprising open mouths for the Hearsay piece - Bill Holland, from Universal Classics & Jazz, talks about their new signing, the million-pound-handed Myleeene Klass. "Myleene is not the world's greatest pianist; we're not pretending that she is, [although encouraging her to insure her hands for one million quid might suggest otherwise], but she's so attractive, she appears in hello... that makes it easier for us to target a broader market - after all, we're a business and we've got responsibilities to the shareholders to make money." Yeah, you know they think it - but for a senior record executive to basically say "our artist is a bit shit, but she's got nice tits and does the chat shows, we can flog her" is surprisingly Ratneresque, don't you think?

Meanwhile, Myleene's former colleague Kym Marsh is trying to make sense of it all; why did it go wrong? "They didn't like that we lifted the lid on the whole thing" she explains, sounding as self-importantly paranoid as Damon in her own way. Who are "they", Kym? The Industry? But how could they have punished you by making people get tired of you? And in what sense did Hear'Say "lift the lid" anyway - if I recall, it was the TV company and the judges who made a series about how easy it is to fling a band together - it's not like Danny and Noel were undercover investigators or anything, is it?

Elsewhere in the OMM, Sharleen Spiterri reviews the new Blondie album - I'm afraid to report bland, poorly written, there's a vague idea of what it wants to say but no real grasp of how to do so. The album, on the other hand, sounds quite jolly.

So, not a bad first issue, then - as you'd expect, they're stronger on the long articles and getting a decent interview from unpromising subjects than they are on the tricksy window dressing; and I'm not sure they'd get away with it in a paid-for title, but it's well above the sort of standard you might come to expect from sunday paper supplements (especially if your memory stretches back to when the mail on Sunday spent four tortuous weeks giving away, bit by bit, a jeffrey archer novel).

Onto the nme, then - coming with "art prints" this week, like the melody maker used to - actually, some are very nice indeed (karen o, especially) but why on earth is there one of Jet, a band who nobody actually likes, and a band so unpleasant that they probably don't even like themselves?

The cover has got Benny and Joon on it... hang on, no, that's jack and meg, isn't it?

The 'Big Picture' news story is Johnny Cash (face split down the break in the page, unfortunately); and the news proper kicks off with another strong Libertines piece, breaking the details of Pete's appeal and doing a deft recycle of a Guardian piece from last year by a chap who'd done the same sentence in the same prison as Mr. Doherty.

Travis are back... yes, just in time for autumn. They've got "political", writing a song that Fran announces as being "about the time the British Isles were going to war." Hmm, if you're going to do a little bit of politics, Mr. Healey, you might want to start with the basics - such as the difference between The British Isles, which are a geographical feature, and the United Kingdom, which is a State.

Brody Armstrong has become Brody Dalle again, having dropped the 'Armstrong' in the same way she dropped Tim, her husband-from-rancid. The NME has taken to calling her - apparently without irony - the "punk princess." Further in the issue, Tim from Rancid gets a chance to put his side of the story - "it's been six months [since the split] and I'm still super sad." he then goes on to claim that his band aren't "postcard punks" - maybe not, but only because you're so fucking ugly.

There's a report on the loss of the studio where Nirvana recorded Nevermind - destroyed in a freak truck accident. Rumours that it was driven by a cackling blonde woman dressed as Donald Duck are still being investigated.

Chris Moreno does the CD thing - cat power, Mogwai and Hank Williams.

This week Peter Robinson versus Tim Polyphonic Spree. Tim says "the smaller people are, the more intimidating they are", for all the world like a man scared of Jeanette Krankie.

Radar band are The Killers, whose name is so dull we can't even be arsed to acknowledge their existence; Gruff from the Super Furries selects Dead meadows as his favourite new band.

Apparently there's some nastiness between the Von bondies and the White stripes, which jack insists predates his dumping of Marcie Bolen.

Have you spent the last week desperate for the second half of the Strokes interview? No? Oh. Anyway, its here. The band promise never to pose in their bathing costumes, and say they'll never get in a helicopter "because that's how musicians die." Interestingly, they don't swear off drugs despite those claiming more rock deaths than helicopters - in fact, we can't actually think of any rock star who died in a chopper crash at all. Nick thinks "all the attention was making us seem like a cheesy rock band" - why, presumably, they've released a cheesy rock single as their comeback track.

Hope of the States wera the military jackets because "it's like putting on your armour and going to war." We wonder if this was the same reason Danny Ooberman took to wandering round dressed as an admiral in a eastern european navy.

There's an email/fax interview with Michael Alig, who apparently puts on game shows in jail for his fellow inmates - jesus, and we thought Pete was having it tough; at least in wandsworth you don't get caught in Alan Partridge's Fantasy World. (And, yes, Alig nearly does say he gives everyone a Wagon Wheel).

In amongst the tributes to Johnny Cash, all Fran Healy can find to say is that he didn't like the tone of the reporter from the BBC doing vox pops about Johnny Cash, which suggests his first real memory of Cash was hearing the news that he'd died.

peaches - nottingham - "far too funny to fit in", 9
deftones - rock city - "Moreno refuses to release Nottingham from his sweaty grasp", 8
blueskins - king tuts - "hairy diamonds in the rough", 7
yeah yeah yeahs - seattle - "Karen deep throats the microphone like a classy porn veteran", 8

various - desert sessions 9 & 10 - "cranky, self-indulgent, unpredictable and improper", 8
rufus wainwright - want - "elegant without being excruciating", 7
dido - life for rent - "david gray fans", 2

sotw - chicks on speed - we don't play guitars - "demented"
guided by voices - best of jill hives - "indie thrill"

this week, dustin hawthorne loves Morrissey - he once won a can of pepsi for looking a bit like him.

And, finally, back in the OMM, there's an advert for the latest Ocean Colour Scene album. So desperate to find a positive review to quote are they, they have to fall back on BBC Ceefax, a service read exclusively by your grandparents. OMM might be more 6Music than Radio 2; OCS don't even scrape into Radio 2 territory any more.

NICKS NIXES CHICKS PECKS: Stevie Nicks is incredibly jealous of Madonna ("has lashed out at Madonna over the Britney Spears snogging"). Nicks thinks that its wrong for someone of Madonna's age to be kissing a twenty-two year old - god alone knows what she'd make of Martin Platt and Katy, then - and says the kiss was the most obnoxious thing on television that she has ever seen - presumably she hasn't shelled out for Fox News Channel, yet.

She continues to fume: ""I personally have never been to a strip club, but I turn on MTV and see in every single video what it must be like to be at a strip club. I think the mystery is gone, and if you have no mystery, then you aren't even sexy. Real sexuality and sensuality is in the music, and all these girls, vis-a-vis, Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera and on and on, should go back to writing songs and start over because it won't last and they won't last. "

As rocktober points out, Nicks hasn't actually spent her entire career fully dressed, either.

The best bit about the report, though, is the claim "Nicks revealed Madonna asked Jennifer Lopez to be in the smoochy routine, but J.Lo told Madge to kiss something else." We love the way this implies that J-Lo rang up Stevie Nicks to fume "You wouldn't believe what they wanted me to do for MTV..." rather than the more mundane truth of what she was revealing - i.e. that she read it in the newspaper like everyone else. Someone should give her a show called "Stevie Nicks Reveals..." where she can share similar secrets with us - 'I can reveal that President Bush was given a cool reception at the UN...' We'd tune in. Providing she was wearing a shirt over a sturdy bra.

WAITING AT THE PRISON GATES: Carl Libertine has started to put out feelers in the hope that he can persuade Pete Doherty to rejoin the band when he's released from chokey. Apparently, 'sources close to Mr. Barat' (let's hope they're not single sources) say that he's happy to have Pete back in the band as soon as he gets out - which makes Pete's being sent to prison for burglarising his flat even more absurd - why is he serving time for a crime that the "victim" has already forgiven and forgotten? To deter him from doing it again? But clearly Carl doesn't feel that he's going to be at risk from Pete popping round to pick up a couple more guitars and his Sir Nathaniel Westminster Piggy Bank - sure, the Libertines desperately need some new songs, but to think that Carl needs them so desperately he wouldn't mind having to put a lock on the microwave and install BHS style security guards to sit at the edge of the sofa when they're jamming seems unlikely.

ISN'T IRONIC: We actually have a small degree of sympathy for Alanis Morrisette for confusing the country she was in [Peru] with another [Brazil] - we once made a similar slip in Slovakia, babbling to someone on the phone about being in "Czechoslovakia", which earned us a hard stare from our host.

However, it seems Peru have been quick to forgive her - we're guessing they rushed in to make it clear there was no offence taken before Alanis announced her intention to play another Lima date to make ammends. But if you are Peruvian, and want to settle the score, might we suggest you visit Alanis' home country and keep making it clear how much you love Americans?

ANOTHER RELAUNCH: Despite her shabby live performances last year, we still have a great deal of affection for Michelle Shocked, but even we have to raise a curious eyebrow at another round of 'Michelle Shocked returns after years in the wilderness' press - yes, years in the wilderness, and then a few more years of attempting to relaunch and being studiously ignored. Sooner or later, someone's going to say to her "Yeah, your label fucked you over... but wasn't that, like, sorted out years ago?"

THINGS WE COULD PROBABLY HAVE DONE WITHOUT: In common with all sentinent beings on this part of the planet, we're convinced that the Flaming Lips are nothing but a powerful force for good in a cold, cruel world. However, their getting involved with Tubthumping - they're remixing it is something we're going to approach with caution.

'Tubthumping', of course, was anarchist band's Chumbawamba's big hit on the EMI label and presaged the band's rapid decline into allowing their music to be used on car adverts under a strict criteria - they wouldn't let their songs be used by companies whose arms manufacturing took place under the same brand name as their automobile manufacturing, you'll recall - and who proved they were still anti-establishment by throwing cold water over John Prescott at the Brit Awards. Not before, of course, they'd performed for him, representatives of all the major labels, and millions of people at home - the promotion is all, of course.

Meanwhile, we dropped our sandwich the other night hearing a lush string version of Motorcycle Emptiness being used to flog mobile phones. The tune was only drowned out by the sound of Richey Edwards spinning in his undiscovered grave.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

MORE TROUBLE FOR FRED: Having already paid USD100,00 to the security guard he kicked in the head back in 1999, Fred Durst is now being sued by the guy's employer so they can get back the worker's compensation they've had to pay - USD50,000 and rising. Which makes you wonder, how hard did Durst kick the guy?

At the time, Fred was apologetic (according to the police) saying that he'd thought the sceurity guard was a fan who'd been attacking his personal security guard. That's plausible enough - we're never able to tell the difference between the big, burly security guards and the zitty fourteen year olds at Limp Bizkit gigs - and who's to say that kicking a person in the head isn't a proportionate response when you believe they're attacking your personal security guard. Though we're not sure why someone would hire someone to protect them from harm, and then be going to their aid in a fight.

Tony Martin at least doesn't wear a red baseball cap.

AT LEAST HE DIDN'T USE THE 'POLISHING A TURD' ANALOGY: Damon Dash doesn't so much as damn Victoria Beckham with faint praise as suggest that he's some kind of charity worker.

NO, WE JUST REALISED THEY WERE ILLEGAL: What on earth could have prompted the record companies to suddenly get irate about iMesh and launch a legal bid to close down the number three file sharing network. You might have thought that the RIAA had come to see that the legal alternative uses of file sharing and the lack of any central files being held (in the way Napster did) made attempts to sue the conduits an expensive, tricky and ultimately pointless business. And yet, here we are with them suddenly deciding to launch an attack on iMesh. Curious. Could it be in any way related to iMesh's recent announcement about its plans for paid-for content - on an innovative 'try before you buy' model - which would potentially mean that the company could become a major competitor to the labels? And bringing a suit against the company while it starts up its legitimate business - however doomed to fail it would be - is an excellent method of crushing it before it has a chance to develop? No, of course not - the record labels don't work like that.

SEE WHAT WE'RE SAYING: If you want further evidence of why Christina sounds like a maiden aunt trying to pretend she's a woman of the world, compare her vague comments about how much fun sex is with those of Pink, who actually manages to be funny and gets down to some specifics. Not as many specifics as Peaches, of course but there's still not the sense that you get with Christina that it's "sex is brilliant... I bet..."

Monday, September 22, 2003

OOH, HE'S JUST A BIG AREA: Mark Shaw has got a new band together which he's going to tour under the old Then jericho banner. He's desperate to point out that he's really glad that he walked away from Reborn In the USA. Oh, yes, he turned his back on that show - can you imagine how awful it would be having to rely on Rebron in the USA to try and relaunch your career? How pitiful it would make you feel to have to constantly reference the fact you were on Reborn In the USA - a show mark walked out of, by the way - to get any press interest at all? Can you?

Mark Shaw was on ITV1's Reborn in the USA

A LOAD OF OLD POLLARDS: Well, actually, it's some new Pollards - in a piece published in the soon to be tabloided Independent, Stephen Pollard considered if there is a scale of excellence in music. The trouble is, of course, that a person who can dismiss the entire body of rap - all the way from Grandmaster Flash to Morris Minor and the Majors - with two words "worthless noise" is never going to be able to consider the question and come up with any answer other than "Yes, and classical music is at the apex." We'd wonder if Mr. P would consider, therefore, that whatever Mylenne Klass does with her million-quid classical hands has to be better than, say, Abba's Dancing Queen or When We Were Young by the Whipping Boy simply because it's got the classical label stuck to it. And would, therefore, Bohemian Rhapsody be the best Queen song for it's classical allusion? Presumably, the sampling of Trois Gallopides (almost certainly spelt wrong) by Mark Stewart would make that a rock song with some merit, while the other Mafia stuff has to be pointless? Clearly, it's possible to stack up every tune ever in to come to a pyramid of best to worst, and clearly every time it's going to be a totally personal viewpoint. But to dismiss a work not on its own demerits, but because it comes from a genre that you're not keen on is actually as narrow-minded as you can imagine. Not listening to rock music because it's rock music is on a par with not dating someone because they come from Slough.

SPECTOR: NOT A SPECTATOR OF SUICIDE: The police investigating the deadening of Lana Clarkson at Phil Spector's house have concluded that Spector shot 'er. So, he's looking either at manslaughter or murder charges when the local DA decides what charges to bring. We'd imagine Court TV have already sold the advertising slots on this one.

YOU'RE TRYING TOO HARD, BUT KEEP TRYING: We've mentioned before that we're not entirely convinced that Christina Aguilera's heart is really in this whole sex-makeover that she's had foisted on her by in lieu of a proper marketing strategy ("her raunchy new image") - which is why she looks much more comfortable in the icy-Goth bit of the Stronger/Fighter/Harder whatever video she did than she looks in the Dirrty video, and why if you watch the Genie In A Bottle video she sings lines with absolutely no understanding of the smutty double-entendres they contain. Now, Christina herself seems to confirm our suspiscions that, at heart, she'd rather have a half bottle of Lambrusco, a pizza and a chat than be flung backwards over a gravestone and given three-cock attention. In an interview with a German paper, Christina tells us how much she loves sex. No, really, she really, really loves it. Oh yes:

"It's important to me to be open and honest and for me to say that sex is a beautiful thing.
I like having sex. It's fun. And I shouldn't be made to feel guilty about that. Sex is a very natural activity.
As a woman it's especially important to be open and say what you think about sex. I find it completely unfair that a girl who likes sleeping with different boys is called a slut whereas a boy who gets lots of girls into bed is seen as a stud and a hero.
I love experimenting with my sexuality. I want to try out as much as possible. It would be wrong of me to hide this side of my personality. I have fun being sexy and tough at the same time."

Oddly enough, her defence of sex as being "natural" echoes the words of Ronald Reagan, in a newly published book of letters. Ron had worried that sex was evil - even in marriage, bless him, but then he was shagging Nancy which must feel akin to being trapped in hell in some way - but then some chap (it doesn't say who, but our money is on Henry Kissinger) pointed out that in Polynesia, there's not all this guilt: "These peoples, who are truly children of nature and thus of God, accept physical desire as a natural, normal appetite." Not to mention, of course, that even educated fleas do it.

It's almost painful to watch Aguilera muttering about how its alright, sounding (as we've observed before) like nobody so much as the League of Gentleman's character who stands in the kitchen at his wife's swingers parties, clutching the canape tray and telling himself "it's alright... it's alright..." It's funny that for someone who loves experimenting with her sexuality so much it seems to have got as far merely as trying a bit of role-playing: "I'll be Britney Spears in the 'Boys' video tonight..." And is there anything more hackneyed to be said about human sexual interaction than girl sleeps around = slut/ boy sleeps around = stud commonplace? It's as tired a cliche as the fall back of media studies teachers that "one man's terrorists is another man's freedom fighter" and, in our experience, anyone who really does reveal in their sexual exploits doesn't mind being called a slut anyway - the word is seized more as a badge of pride, as anyone who uses it is revealing more about their own value system than that of the person they're throwing it at.

But the real clincher that she's not buying it herself is the constant use of the word "fun", as if getting down and - ahem - dirrty is like a logflume ride at Gulliver's World, or an especially challenging round of charades. "I have fun being sexy and tough at the same time" isn't the words of someone who is having an astonishing sex life and enjoying every moment of it; it reads more like a strapline for a pair of trousers in a Marshall Wards catalogue.

"ALL AN UNFORTUNATE MISUNDERSTANDING": Mike Gordon of Phish has had the child endangerment charges against him dropped following that curious incident where he took the kid off to take photographs and the parents didn't know. The DA says that it's unlikely any charges would stick, and, hey, it's probably just a crazy misundertsanding anyway. Not to mention the Hells Angels had already gotten involved with the matter...

MORE THAN AN EXCUSE FOR ANOTHER PICTURE OF HER IN HER PANTS: Another Ananova report about Rachel Steven's boyfriend, and his reaction to her ho-hum racy photos:

"He does get a bit funny sometimes if he sees a picture like that.
"He's like 'Just give me a minute'. I guess it's weird seeing your girlfriend in a magazine with not a lot of clothes on.
"So he says 'Let me have a look and let me read it first, on my own, until I give my opinion'.
"He can't give his opinion when I'm there - he needs time with it."

So, Rachel... he's going off to be alone for a minute with pictures of you in your scanties... I think everyone's ahead of me here, aren't they?


Gareth Gates has been crowned children's favourite for the second year running when he scooped the Best Male gong at the Disney Channel Kids Awards

Frankly, we're shocked that Disney is giving awards for the best male gong anyway, more so that it's gone to Gareth Gates, when we hear that Will Young's is twice the size.

Start every Monday with a lame knob gag. It'll set you up for the week.

CLEAR CHANNEL HAVE TROUBLE ADDING UP: Much kudos to Stain Master Productions for taking the trouble to crunch numbers and suggest that Clear Channel might be deliberately under-claiming their reach figures. [Link via Rocktober, which we've only just noticed we'd managed to leave off our blogroll down there...]

TERRISTS: See, one minute they're criticising George Bush, the next the Dixie Chicks are flying planes into buildings. Clear Channel were right.

THEY'RE SO BLAND THEY'LL PROBABLY START SWEEPING THE STREETS: Claire V reports from the great land of Canada:

so the mayor of toronto on friday gave nickleback the keys to the city. if this isn't bad enough, during the whole speech and in front of all the tv cameras he referred to them as "the nicklebacks".

nickleback, to their credit, did not correct the mayor and maintained their composure, and chad when accepting his key said "blahblah honor, and i hope these give us access to all of the banks and jewelry stores of toronto. thank you."

Sunday, September 21, 2003

ONO... KEEP THEM ON: Surprisingly, given the opportunity to strip Yoko Ono naked to promote peace, most people just gave their knives back and muttered that, really, they think that war has got a lot to be said for it, don't you think?

In other rich people news, we're still puzzled beyond belief by the whole McCartney story. For those of you who'd managed, luckily, to get through the weekend without hearing it, Macca went down to see David Blaine in a box at one am. It was meant to be a "private" visit, but his publicist Geoff Baker had tipped off a photographer. Punches were thrown; then FabMacca sues Geoff. And then reinstated him later, saying that the sacking had been a joke. See... it's puzzling. In what way would a visit to a site where there's a live 24 hour TV broadcast and a bunch of journalists and camera people sitting round waiting for something - anything - to happen be a "private" visit anyway? And since it's not like, I don't know, taking your wife for a check-up or having your prostate probed, why would you be so upset at someone seeing you at a public event of this sort anyway? Unless you were slightly embarrassed that your life has been reduced to going to gawp at a dull man in a glass box? Or could it be that Paul had read about Gloria Estefan being the target for David's old nappies, and was hoping for some poop action for himself? Yeah, maybe you'd want to keep that quiet. But assuming that's not the case, why would he choose this moment to sue Baker, when the publicity surrounding Mccartney has been almost unrelentingly shit since the Sainted Linda of Burger died - stories about engagement rings flying out of windows, rows, family disenchantment with his new spouse, the consistent legal battles which make Paul look greedy, moaning about parking fines - the first time in years McCartney does something that would be genuinely popular, punching a tabloid photographer, he gets sacked for it?

But the most curious aspect of all is... the man is a multi-billionaire. Can't he come up with something better to do in the middle of a week than going down to see fucking Blaine hanging in a box? Paul, you're loaded. You could hire fifteen naked men to hang in a box if you so desired. Or get a video and a pizza. Or sue the British Apple Marketing Board for selling something called Apples without your express say-so. Can your life really be so dull?

A BERK IN THE HAND IS WORTH U2 WITH THE BUSH: We weren't sure when Bono appeared standing next to Bush if he was just incredibly, incredibly naive or if he was just fond of hanging out with famous people. What we did guess was that he couldn't seriously assume that Bush was going to do any good, could he? Our jaw dropped further when Bob Geldof piped up suggesting that Bush was a truly good man, giving all that money to Africans with Aids when all that Clinton did was talk about it. Geldof's 'Bush is great' has quickly become a cuttings standby for lapsed liberals looking for a reason to excuse their support for the Bush-Blair alliance - "aah, Geldof says that Bush has done great things for the African Aids crisis." Even allowing for the obvious point that, erm, Bush was boosting the American drug industry rather than the African aids budget (at the time, America was refusing to support rule changes allowing developing nations to bypass drug patents, which would have been a far greater benefit in the medical fight against HIV infection than merely finding a backdoor to pass large piles of money back to lucrative campaign supporters), this all seemd a little bit rum. Now, Bono seems surprised that Bush is backsliding on the deal - Bush has cut back what he was promising for next year by a third, and that's before Capitol Hill get a chance to cut it back further. Bono thinks his commitment is genuine still; we suspect that Bush is less interested now the African nations will be able to spend the money on their own, No Frills version of the drugs, and we'd be surprised if he's going to be fighting too hard to keep the 2004 payment at the USD2bn. After all, he's had the photo-opprtunity with Bono; Sir Bob has been going round praising him for doing good - and he didn't need to give a cent to get all of that. Even when Mr. Bono is trying to shame him into keeping to his word, he's still saying 'yeah, Bush is basically a good bloke...' So, on balance, it seems that Bono is just crippling naive. Which is a shame, but then: you should never put your faith in a rockstar.

CHARTBEATING: Charts have always been a bit unfair - no matter what you do, there's always going to be some sort of bias built in that means some people get ignored (like, when did a bhangra record last make the top 40? - okay, apart from that one) and rules often get redrawn to try and make the listings reflect sales more accurately. Or at least, that's the theory. Over in the US, they've just had an overhaul of the panel which decides the country chart - because there were too many radio stations on it before, and it was costing the labels too much to spread its "promotional activity" so thinly across so many outlets. Not, of course, that this should be viewed as a change being made to make payola less expensive, of course, as that sort of thing is bad and wrong and banned, okay? This is promotional activity, a different thing entirely.

We do suggest that they could save the industry even more cash, by simply allowing the labels to type up a list of what they'd like the chart to look like and sending that in once a week. Then everyone would be happy.

WELL... MAYBE IT WAS A TURKEY BASTER...: As if it wasn't hard enough trying to promote a band whose sole note of interest ("they're... like, lesbians...") isn't that compelling to begin with and has largely been written off as a pisspoor scam by all but the crustiest sock-wankers, trying to keep up the pretence with one of the pregnant is going to take the sort of effort that only an EastEnders scriptwriter would attempt to pull off.

"POLICE ARE SEARCHING FOR A MUSIC LOVER": The thing we really love about the whole Jennifer Ellison house being shot at story is that they didn't even notice until they found the bullet holes in the door. The reason they didn't know, apparently, was because Jennifer was away "promoting her new single" - which is disturbing, because not only does that imply she's going to carry on making records, but now she's going to think that it's saved her life. Oh, dammit.

Equally dim but at the other end of the gun is Sisqo, arrested during the week over some gun action. He was pulled in after shooting from his house at a passing car, which suggests that he's just not got the hang of this whole drive-by shooting deal, doesn't it?

SOMETHING WE CAN AGREE WITH THE DAILY TELEGRAPH ABOUT: There's not much we we can find to nod about when flicking through the braying lapdog of Lord Black of Crossharbour, and that we should be doing so when it calls Dick Gaughan "one of British music's best kept secrets" is a surprise indeed. There's a nice interview with true sunshine on Leith.

COURT REPORT: The ongoing court battle between Holly Vallance and Brad from Neighbours has finally started to attract the attention of the British media, because Holly has started to give evidence and the attention has turned to her - ah - rauncy photoshoots.

Holly told the court in New South Wales that all Michaelson was getting her was FHM cover shoots and that she was sick of it. There then followed an exchange about if she was so tired of being sold on her body, why did she make the Kiss video?

But Michaelson's lawyer, John Garnsey QC, quizzed the singer on the Kiss Kiss video, which she shot with eight male dancers in London just prior to dropping Michaelson.
"I want to suggest to you that Kiss Kiss is a very seductive video . . . and that you appear in a state of semi-undress?," Mr Garnsey said.
"I appear that way, but I wasn't. It was more of a mirage," she replied.

Ah, so providing it's only that you look naked, then it's not titilation, then, Holly?

Far more curious, though, is the question that if Holly dumped Scott/Brad because he was marketing her in a titalating way, with which she didn't agree, how does she explain the cover of this month's FHM, which is, erm, Holly Vallance in her pants? We hope she's not, you know, fibbing to the Australian court in the hope that nobody in Australia has access to the internet...