Saturday, July 17, 2004

I HEARD YOU ON THE WIRELESS BACK IN '79: Trevor Horn is planning a massive bash in aid of Prince Charles' charity on November 11th, Having worked with the likes of the Pet Shop Boys and Frankie Goes To Hollywood, you'd expect some top acts to be lined up. Erm, ABC and Lisa Stansfield have both signed up to play the Horn at twenty five celebrations, although to be fair he's dusting down his Buggles suit and, sweetest of all, there's going to be a Propaganda reunion for the event. And there is the promise of "more top selling acts" to be added. Please, god, not Simple Minds.

QUOTE: "Alex James? Looks like a country squire now... he looks like a pig farmer from the West Country" - Mark Radcliffe singing the praises of pop stars who are happy to age naturally on Radio Two this week.

INNOCENT VICTIMS: This is Skye Sweetnam. Like a lot of teenage girls, she's upset about the cancellation of Britney Spears tourdates:

Unlike most of those pissed off they won't get to see Britney near naked cavorting with men, though, for Skye, it's a business problem. Her debut album is due out in September and the main thrust of the marketing was to be the support slot on Britney's Canadian dates. Now that's not going to happen, she's having to work twice as hard to get a profile. It's like the butterfly flapping its wings thing - Britney puts too much weight on her kneejoint, and in Canada, a career crumbles into dust.

BANTON PUTS FISTS WHERE MOUTH IS?: Baju Banton seems to have stepped up his unpleasant homophobia from recording tiresome songs calling for gay men to be shot to actually carrying out queerbashing. Police in Kingston, Jamaica are seeking Banton in connection with an attack on gay men. Several witnesses place Banton at a house where a dozen armed men forced their way into a house, beting up the gay men inside. At least two people were hospitalised.

AS IF SINGING ACTORS ISN'T BAD ENOUGH...: Juliette Lewis fronting up a punk band? It might be okay, but... it does make your toes curl, the very thought...

...WE'VE GOT SINGING MPS TO COPE WITH: Denis Healy once suggested that politicians needed their hinterland to make them rounded people. Wer're not sure he would have had MP4, a band made up of, well, yes, four MPs who played a gig for the BPI this week. The BPI interpreted the number of politicians who turned up to see their colleagues making a show of themselves as an indication of legistlative support for their anti-downloading campaign. Although even if that were the case, a pisspoor fifty two members suggests that the Commons is pretty happy for us to carry on with the kazaa.

Friday, July 16, 2004

JUST ACCEPT IT AIN'T GONNA HAPPEN: Every so often, the Simon Cowell wants to make Prince Harry a pop star pops up somewhere in the world's press. Sometimes it's Prince William. Everytime, it's just a load of old royal equerries.

AND THEY CALLED IT BROTHERLY LOVE: Donny Osmond's been in town (assuming you're reading this in Edinburgh) - not in his role as singer or TV presenter, but as a preacher come to save our sorry asses. Brother Osmond popped in to do a fireside chat about Mormonism, apparently as part of his son's Brandon's two year mission to persuade Scottish types to join the Latter-Day Saints. He laughed off the "public perception that the church is a type of cult", apparently unaware that when people shout "You're all a bunch of oddly-dressed weirdos, sticking together, with odd ways saying stuff that ordinary people can't make sense of" they're referring to his reading of Crazy Horses rather than the Book of Mormon.

WELSH WOMAN AT WELSH FESTIVAL : Cerys Matthews is about to play her only gig in the UK for the whole of 2004 - at Sesiwn Fawr in Dolgellau; she's going to be playing new material as well as stuff from Cockahoop. Apparently she's trying to teach her daughter to speak both English and Welsh, which is resulting in a kind of weird Germanic hybrid.

NOT TOO CLOSE TO THE EDGE: Whoops, there goes the U2 album; The Edge somehow mislaying his copy of Vertigo somewhere in France - suggestions that he took it to the Record and Tape Exchange in order to get some cash for fags are being strenuously denied. Of course, Island are shitting themselves it'll end up on the web. And so are music fans. Meanwhile, Always Outnumbered, Never Outgunned, the new Prodigy album, has popped up on a Russian website and by now will be slightly disappointing people right across the globe.

POP SICK LIST: Spending the day tucked up in bed with a big, orange-plastic wrapped bottle of Lucozade on Sunday will be Teena Marie, who has her comeback slightly buggered by an injury leading to cancellation of live engagements.

THIS EVENING'S CHRISTINA UPDATE: Plans snap wedding, baby to take limelight from Britney; teases strippers by "lifting clothes up" (that's okay, it's empowering; her mam said so); going bald.

SHOEHORNED REFERENCE: There's apparently a really good cause at the heart of the Beyonce designing shoes for reebok - Tyra Banks has invented one too, apparently, and judging by the threat of next week's America's Next Top Model, she considers herself something of a Beyonce, too. The shoes get auctioned off for charity of some sort, although it'll probably harm their price that they've never actually been worn been their designers, thus closing off interest from the key shoe fetishists community. Reebok have, apparently, recently been given some sort of praise for their attitude to worker's rights, although apparently under an agreement which allows them to choose which part of their operations they'll be inspected in. And the applause came from the FLA, who don't seem at all bothered by the concept of company unions apparently used at Reebok's suppliers in, say, El Salvador, even although that hardly constitutes worker's recognition. Still, Beyonce, Queen Latifah and Tyra are probably a bit too busy to sweat the fine details, eh?

APOLOGIES IF QUORN: Andre from Outkast will be celebrating this evening, with a plate of Holland and Barrett's Porkless Pies and a glass of that wine that doesn't have bits of cow in it, as he accepts the garland of sexiest vegetarian of the year from PETA. Andre beat off stiff and not-so-stiff competition from the likes of... well, Bryan Adams and Annie Lennox. And Eddie Vedder and Boy George. But still, it's an honour.

MEGASUIT: Heavy metal stars falling out hardly warrants a second look round here, but the numbers in the legal battle between Megadeath singer Dave Mustaine and former bassist David Ellefson are so huge its worth a second look. Ellefson is claiming ten million quid in royalties and profits from Mustaine, and adding a side grump that Mustaine was supposed to have given control of Megadeath Inc (would have been a great name for an arms company, that) to him when the band split up.

Ten million quid? We're so in the wrong game here.

RIAA REALLY LOVE P2P. THEY JUST CAN'T BE WITH IT, RIGHT NOW: As Orrin Hatch's bonkers bid to criminalise manufacturers of devices which could be used for piracy makes its way through Senate, the RIAA's Mitch Bainwol has sent a letter to the legislators praising peer to peer networking. In an "I come to praise Ceaser, not bury him" style.

"There is nothing inherently evil about P2P," writes Bainwol. "On the contrary, it's a magnificent technology. But it has been hijacked by some unscrupulous operators who have constructed a business model predicated on the taking of property financed by my member companies."

He means "music", by the way. You might turn on the radio to hear songs and tunes, Mitch Bainwol takes a lady back to his penthouse flat, turns the lights down low, and whispers into her ear "Shall I put on a little property financed by my member companies?"

We've been waiting for a while to see how the RIAA was going to continue to make its case for the damage being done by downloads in a market that's actually doing rather well. Bainwol delivers the new line: it's killing singles:

"In 2000, the top ten hits sold 60 million units in the U.S. Seven of the ten sold more than 5 million units each; every one of them sold at least 3 million units. Then the slide kicked in. Last year, in 2003, the top ten hits were cut almost in half, to 33 million units. Just two of the ten sold more than 5 million units; five of those top ten hits sold less than 3 million units."

et's not even begin to ask if he thinks that Now Thats What I Call Music entering America at roughly the start of his study period might have had an influence on that, nor should we tap our biros on our teeth and wonder if the reason the RIAA has carefully insisted singles downloads be certified for Gold and Platinum separately from the sale of physical product is to ensure they have an always falling CD singles market to moan about. See, the whole iTunes selling 100,000,000 in a little over a year might undermine using singles as evidence for the sky falling in, should they be counted in with the plastic disc sales figures.

EVERYBODY GOT THE DOWNLOADS NOW: Latest corporation to remove their trilby and toss it in a general direction of the music download ring is Ebay, which is hoping to find some music makers keen to flog their downloads using the Ebay infrastructure. It could be really tempting for smaller labels and individual artists if the six month test proves to be a success - a nice way to avoid being lost in the melee of those 1.3 million tracks over on OD2, and, presumably, a fatter slice of the revenue to keep for themselves.

Now, don't be mean and mutter "Was that still going, then?" as news reaches us that Jack, the little magazine for men falls under the axe. No number of interviews with Bobby Gillespie and cover illustrations of outsized women treading on tiny buildings could make the magazine commercially viable, it turns out.

The title was the 943rd straight failure in a row from James Brown, not that we'd call Loaded a lucky shot or anything.

MORE WOE FOR LOVE: Courtney's habit of not showing up on time in court is starting to cost her - Ms Love has been hit with a demand for a USD40,000 bail bond for the LA drugs charges; she's already blow 55,000 by not showing up at the hearing about the court charge last week. She's also lost the right to allow her attorney, Michael Rosenstein, appear in her place. He sucks a tooth:

"Courtney's failure to appear in the other matter has resulted in the district attorney requesting her presence in this court, revocation of her own recognisance and my ability to appear on her behalf. Once Courtney's able to be before the court we'll be able to resolve all the issues that are occurring."

DO YOU REMEMBER THE SECOND TIME: We have our doubts over the authenticity of the quote Ananova have lifted from The Sun about Britney Spear's wedding plans:

"She hasn't decided on a wedding breakfast menu yet but has said she isn't skimping on anything. She said she wants a massive affair that is nothing like the Las Vegas cheap wedding she had before, which was annulled after just 55 hours."

Obviously, it's not quite as unlikely as if the "insider" had slipped in "as you know" or even "as you might have read about in the News International press", but it sounds like cod to us - a fairly safe bet (this time, let's invite people and not get drunk before taking the vows) dressed up as insight.

A MILLION LOVE SONGS...: In the race for the downloader's pound, size matters. Which is why OD2 will be pleased to have been able to quadruple the number of songs on its service from 300,000 odd to 1.3 million - nearly twice the number of Napster and iTunes. While this is very exciting, we're not entirely sure where they've found these extra songs from. if it's as a result of their being bought out by Loudeye - which would seem to be the most likely source of the surge - won't most of these songs be more exciting for an American audience? We're betting they still won't have Reserve doing The Sun Went Down The Tower.

AH, BUT WAS IT WORTH HIS HEALTH: It may have broken his heart, but at least David Bowie's world tour managed a bumper payday before it all got called off. The North American leg of Bowie's jaunt was the top-grossing US live event in the six months to May 18th, pulling in USD45.4million from the 722,158 paying customers. No, we don't know what's special about May 18th - maybe its rock midsummer. Second place? Bette Midler on forty million; then Simon & Garfunkel (36m), Shania Twain (34m - and that's just one leg), Prince (26m), Rod Stewart (25m), Metallica (22m) the Beyonce- Alicia Keys - Missy Elliot package (19m) equalling Britney Spears (19m) and George Strait banking 16m.

THE MODERN DANCE SLOWS DOWN: After a couple of minutes reading the words that have appeared on his dining room wall, Fatboy Slim pronounces dance music to be in "freefall". Although he also calls it "stagnant", which would seem to be impossible, at least from a physics point of view. Norman's solution? Well, he says that there's a crying need for a new Daft Punk, but shrewedly he seems to be plumping to head more towards the rock world instead. After all, you don't want to be the one holding the maggotty package when the music stops.

TORONTO DON'T LOVE LOVETT: In a bit of a bad summer for North American festivals, there's been another high-profile casualty, as the Toronto Bluesfest gets axed after poor tickey sales. Lyle Lovett, Wilson Pickett, Cake and Wyclef Jean just didn't prove enough of a draw.

MOTHER UNDERSTANDS: Apparently, Christina Aguilera's mum was a bit upset when her daughter stopped appearing in sensible jerseys and skirts and decided to wear her knickers as daywear. But now, she's starting to understand why Christina chooses semi-nudity. No, it's not to titilate men, silly:

"She gets next to no negative mail. I believe that people are beginning to finally understand the message behind it all. The people who respond and the lives her message is changing far outnumbers the minority of critics who simply aren't grasping what she's doing.
Christina and I usually don't talk 'business' at all, but she has asked me often concerning my feelings... wanting to make sure I knew what she was doing behind it all.
She never even needed to explain. I've loved every bit of it, and I'm so very proud the she is one of very few out there who have the courage to be herself and work tirelessly at sending out messages of self worth, independence and strength to females today. Those who remain clueless are missing so much."

So, there you have it - Shelly Keans knows that when her daughter gets 'em out, it's a positive message about female empowerment. On which basis, Razzle must be the most significant feminist tract this side of A Vindicatation of The Rights of Women.

Thursday, July 15, 2004

DARKNESS NOT CLEAR: We're not exactly sure that saying you're going to announce a tour later this year quite counts as news, but The Darkness have issued a 'statement to follow' statement anyway. Probably three nights at Wembley, but who knows for sure?

UH-OH... PETE TOWNSHEND'S BACK BEHIND HIS COMPUTER KEYBOARD: This time, Townshend's using his broadband connection to launch a broadside against Michael Moore. Moore had wanted to use Won't Get Fooled Again on the Fahrenheit 911 soundtrack; Townshend wanted to see the movie before saying yay or nay - we all know how Pete likes to diligently research things - but they wouldn't or couldn't let him, so he said "Don't use it, okay." Now Moore - are you keeping up there? - has said that Townshend is a Bushite and a supporter of the Iraq war. Which has made Townshend really angry, despite, erm, his support for the war in Iraq - "although now I am less sure we did the right thing."

The details, really, aren't that interesting, but we were puzzled by this claim: "I wish him all the best with the movie, which I know is popular, and which I still haven't seen. But he'll have to work very, very hard to convince me that a man with a camera is going to change the world more effectively than a man with a guitar." Erm... is Pete suggesting that documentaries have less influence on politics and public opinion than agitprop singers? We'll believe that when Alistair Campbell announces he wants to fuck Billy Bragg.

TWENTY FOUR HOURS FROM TULSA: JJ Cale and Tulsa are having a mutual love thing going on. First, Cale called his new album To Tulsa With Love, as a dedication to his birthplace. To repay the compliment, Tulsa have declared July 5th JJ Cale Day. To paraphrase Nile Crane: "Is it happy JJ Cale Day, or Merry JJ Cale Day? I never can remember."

"I'D HAVE GOTTEN AWAY WITH IT IF IT WASN'T FOR THOSE DAMN KIDS FROM FAME TSHIRTS": A cautionary tale: If you're going out to do some bad crimes, don't wear a distinctive band tshirt. Choose something more generic, like a coldplay one.

KIM AGAINST PMT: Last week, Kim Wilde was fighting to save the fells. This week, she's taking on PMT. If she carries on like this, we're going to need to elect her to be in charge of something.

THERE'S LUCKY, CHRISTINA: The world was worried to hear that, while Christina wasn't able to single a note with her voice on her usual tour, but she was going to have to try and croak out some songs for people paying for private shows. We can rest easy in our beds tonight, though, for the promoter of Xtina's Philadelphia hoopla has gone down the tubes and so she won't be called upon to put any extra strain on that delicate voicebox.

It'll give her a little longer to concentrate on Christina's restuarant. Oh, yes, following on from Britney's dabbling in the haute cuisine market, Nylon, Chris is planning to open a place. It'll also be named after London - Little London - and it'll also go out of business in a hurry. Her plan is to serve "British food" like, erm, Sunday Roasts and fish and chips. We're not sure when Christina has ever had traditional British food or, to be honest, digested any food at all over the last few years, which may account for why she thinks this will be a good idea.

PUNKOBIT: Arthur Kane, New York Dolls bassist, died on Tuesday. The fifty-five year old died in an LA hospital from complications relating to leukemia.

Born in the Bronx in 1951, Kane had been trying to form a band under the New York Dolls title for some time with his friend Johnny Thunders, but it was his chance meeting with David Johansen at the movies (aptly, Beyond The Valley of the Dolls) which provided the group with the vocalist it needed to gel. They were tempted to England in 1972 by The Faces, but the trip was to be ill-fated when Doll Billy Murcia died in still shady circumstances. The resultant publicity wasn't all bad - it created a buzz about the band which would see them signing a deal with Mercury Records. A debut album produced by Todd Rundgren resulted in the sort of dogs breakfast such a mismatch would suggest, but still sold over 100,000 copies. The next album, Too Much Too Soon, was also a flop, and the band parted from their label. It was at this point that Malcolm 'I invented punk' McLaren stepped in as manager, a move which was to prove a disaster. Disheartened, the band started to fracture and collapse - Kane disappearing with short-term Doll Blackie Lawless.

Kane's biggest contribution to the band's music was the track Private World. although David Johansen has since suggested Kane didn't really deserve his co-writer credit for the song.

Nicknamed 'Killer', besides his bass work for the Dolls themselves he'd put together his own band - named, imaginatively enough, The Killer Kane Band, and also worked with The Idols and the Corpse Grinders.

The original line-up (or the surviving members thereof) recently reunited and played Morrissey's Meltdown earlier in the month. They'd been added to the bill for Reading and Leeds, ironically as last-minute replacements for The Vines. Current reports say the Dolls still intend to honour the dates.

OH GOD, THEY'RE PLANNING TO BREED: We're having a hard enough time seeing off her sister - do we really need a spawn of Jessica Simpson and - I'm sorry, what did you say your husband was called again?

THE DONKEYS SUE THE DONKEYS: Oh, for God's sake, could someone arrange for a spot of heads being banged together? It doesn't matter if there's a spot of blood involved, or even a bit of brain-seepage, to be honest. You might have thought that the music industry, keen to join the legal downloading party, had settled its differences with Napster, yes? Napster's all shiny and new and dull, and its all legal. Except the music industry can't let go of the old Napster moans, and are pursuing their case against the defunct Napster. Not Bertelsmann, of course, as they briefly owned the company, and as such are the target of the legal action. Now, nobody wants to send out confused messages, but isn't carrying on with this pointless legal case just going to really muddy the waters? The RIAA is keen to promote legal downloading, but some of its members are about to push forward legal action that can only result in confusion in the public's mind - is Napster legal or not? Why are they suing a company they tell us is fine? Shall I just go and use BitTorrent instead anyway? - while another of their members is standing up in public saying that merely having ownership of a peer to peer network isn't the same thing as encouraging piracy, which seems to be the exact opposite of what they're claiming in the Australian case against Kazaa, isn't it?

We wouldn't mind if Big Music could be consistently evil, but they're just rubbish - it's like Ming The Merciless announcing "I'm going to destroy Planet Earth, and all life on it. Then I'll enslave the people. Oh, hang on, I'll take my holidays there..." It's no wonder the music industry is losing money - it's caught in perpetual paroxysms of confusion.

INTIMIDATED BY THE DIRTY PIGEONS: We've not had a chance to listen to this yet, but we though it worth mentioning: Parkspliced, the follow-up to London Booted. It's two CDs worth of Blur music, messed-up, mashed-up, washed-up, fiddled about with and generally reworked. They love a bit of it.

FURRIES GROWLED AT BY LOCALS: Curiously, the petition being gotten up to try and block the Super Furry Animals gig in Brecon isn't an anti-music thing; it's specifically an anti-rock thing - residents don't mind a jazz festival, providing it's, well, just jazzy, according to mayor Mike Gittins:

Watton Field is hallowed turf in the town surrounded by homes inhabited by senior citizens. They, and others in the town, are concerned about the Super Furry Animals' concert. I think people associate rock and roll with sex, drugs and alcohol and they are also concerned that the Super Furry Animals are more of a rock group than a jazz group."

Yup, you'd never get a jazz musician being caught up in a whirl of drugs, would you?

WILL THEY SIGN THE MAKE UP?: Prtobably as a reaction to the number of singers releasing their own cosmetics and perfume brands, CoverGirl, the slap and powder shifters, are launching their own record label. At first, it's going to be sticking out a cheapo compilation featuring their "spokesmodels" (their word, we rush to make clear) Queen Latifah and Brandy, and some other people as well. Beyond that, they haven't got a clue, but it wouldn't surprise us if they start getting stars to cover Shakin' Stevens' Lipstick, Powder and Paint. Okay, it would surprise us, but wouldn't that be a great album?

A DESIGN FOR WIFE: Congratulations to James Dean Bradfield, who got married to Mylene Halsall in Florence. Or maybe to Florence Halsall in Mylene, it's not entirely clear. It's a smart man who marries his own PR woman, of course - it's got to give you an advantage in matrimonial arguments, hasn't it? "Look, Mylene, didn't you just tell the Western Daily Press that I'm one of the sharpest minds of my generation? So I must be in the best place to choose Fiona Bruce's current affairs show over Corrie... sorry..."

The Manic Street Preachers are just waiting for James to return from honeymoon before finishing their next album.

AUSTRALIAN CHART TURMOIL: ARIA, the people responsible for the Australian Top 40, seem to have got themselves into a bit of a farmer's pat over this weeks rundown. First of all, they announced Paulini was number one with Angel Eyes. Then, less than twenty four hours later, they had a recount, claiming that there had been bulk sales at a single store. With that stores figures disqualified, Shannon's Learning To Fly took the number one slot. Cut and dried, yeah? Erm... no. They'd penalised Paulini 1228 sales, which seems to be an awful lot for a single store, even one selling in bulk. Interestingly, the album chart is also looking a bit wobbly: Hilltown Church sit atop of that, although their collection hadn't been officially released until yesterday and so the sales before that should have been added into this week's chart instead. Even more curiously, nearly all the sales had been handled by Hilltown Church at some sort of special event. They're able to do this because, um, they've been registered as a music store by ARIA. Nobody is suggesting at all that there's been any claims of false sales being counted, but it does seem to be a slightly odd system that allows a band to count up its own album sales for inclusion in the chart.

Wednesday, July 14, 2004

WHAT THE POP PAPERS SAY: Marlon Brando Memorial Edition
It was a bumper week for pop trivia in the Guardian Weekend - Daniel Beddingfield has lived in Thatcher's old house; Rachel Stevens thinks the Queen is "cool" and is most scared of being in a confined space; and Kym Marsh has been seeing Paul McKenna because she gets panic attacks when she's onstage - presumably wondering what on earth she's doing there brings those on.

Rather splendidly, Andrew Collins has popped up in MKreview, presumably to promote something, but they never actually got round to mentioning what it was. The also described him as "Journalist", which is a little like calling Leonardo a painter. He's got plans for when he's in charge, too - no fireworks, no 24 hour Kids TV, and no bonfires. His line on barbecues isn't yet clear.

This week's NME is the post-T in the Park one, which isn't purely getting the attention because of the nme sponsorship - this year, it actually feels like T has overtaken Reading as being the nation's favourite* (*-betting with the big one in Somerset). Before we get to that, though, there's a picture of Goldie Lookin' Chain doing some sort of wacky races thing to get by. (Am I the only person starting to think 'It must be loads of fun to be in the GLC; it may even be tonnes of fun to be around them. But reading about them is a little like watching the people next door having a barbecue'? Yes? Oh well, as you were).

Badly Drawn Boy. In the blue corner. Peter Robinson. In the red corner. Damon doubts that the "put it on, put it on" line in 2 Become 1 is about condoms - but he's wrong, you know. It was.

Tim Arnold wants to offer his support to Pete Doherty as he goes through this difficult time. Oddly, he sends a letter to NMEmail about it, rather than giving him a call. Arnold also suggests that Pete should be forgiven all his fuck-ups because of his addiction, which seems to be an extraordinarily dangerous blank cheque to hand anyone - he's not meant to take any responsibility for himself, Tim? None at all?

Secret Machines are the radar band. Their recipe is to "soak in life", apparently.

"It's about working for corporate companies and realising there's no real bond between people in those environments", explains Barry Futurehead, talking about First Day. The Futureheads, however, aren't going to be the new Redskins: "I don't feel like politics is our niche."

Rachel Stevens and Richard X recreate the Blur recreation of the Parallel Lines cover. Rachel Stevens looks every bit as good as Damon Albarn in a dress, we can report. X is planning an all girl group, as soon as he can find the members - a tricky task, because he doesn't want it to be "Atomic Kitten, but you don't want a trio of Maxine Carrs." He's also not very taken with the Richard Curtis video for his and Rach's Some Girls, either. "I enjoyed it less than Love, actually... which is saying something."

It's brave and edifying to see a Time Warner publication announcing that "You need to see Fahrenheit 9/11." At this rate, we'll have Manifesto back by the end of the year. Or at least the film review page.

So, T, Oxegen and Move are all folded in together for huge reviewzilla. The Darkness - "gimmicks galore"; Muse - "virtuoso vortexes"; The Libertines [ - Pete] - "pacing old streets"; Razorlight [Oxegen] - "stumble and fall"; Pixies [Move] - "Frank and Kim beaming (not at each other)"

The Strokes gather backstage at T to suggest that people "shit on Room On Fire because we're not sucking dick." Yeah, Julian? Not because it was a lazy, unspirited half-awake reworking of Is This It?

The posters are all festivaled - The Strokes, The Killers, Kings of Leon,Goldie, Ash (Charlotte's nipple not pictured), Matt, and the "Libertines".

other reviews
polyphonic spree - shepherds bush empire - "it would take a very grumpy person not to enjoy the experience"

state of exit festival, Novi Sad, Serbia - Partibrejkers are a last minute replacement for Kings Of Leon, crying off with a "strained thumb".

the hives - tyrannosaurus rex - "everyone will listen to it for a month. And forget about it for ten years.", 8
three colours red - the union of souls - "the Fonz never rocked this hard", 7
thisGIRL - uno - "... without ever betraying their hardcore roots", 8
dressy bessy - dressy bessy - "as vital as bulk order on skinblock", 7

sotw - the streets - dry your eyes - "rarely has Skinner sounded so vulnerable and... normal"
Ash - starcrossed - "is it us or have they been making the same record since 1987?"
tiga - pleasure from the bass - "does sensational things"

And, topically, finally: Peter Hayes from BRMC loves Marlon Brando. He was Superman's dad, you know.

WHAT A HORRIBLE, UGLY LITTLE THING, AND YET SO MUCH MONEY: Chris DeBurgh has put his hand in his pocket and bought this:

Yes, he's paid GBP 29,875 to become the proud owner of the alien from, erm, Alien. Actually, we've just realised the headline could just as easily apply to the model he's bought.

IT'S LIKE HAVING A CONDOM WITH ONLY A COUPLE OF HOLES IN: Are there actually people working in those plush music industry offices, or do they leave it all to interns? Or maybe donkeys, albeit elderly donkeys trained in the days of punched card systems and typewriters who can't quite get to grips with the new technology. There's certainly no logic at all to some of the moves coming out of Big Music. Take, for example, the Velvet Revolver CD. In order to "protect" Slash and the drunk-driving idiot's intellectual property, the album was released with DRM built into it - indeed, it was the first record of its sort to top the US charts. Now, let's just park for a moment the obvious flaws of the locks put on the recordings, and assume that it works. There should be no VR on the peer to peer networks, then? Erm... no, because the album was released in Japan without any DRM on it, which, as Freedom to Tinker points out: "So even if the DRM technology were perfect, the music still would have leaked, via Japanese buyers, onto the P2P darknet. DRM costs the record company money to deploy, because the DRM technology must be licensed, and because of lost sales due to DRM-induced consumer inconvenience. So why in the world would a record company pay to DRM an album in some places and not in others? FTT suspects there might be some other motive at foot, but it could just be the donkeys who decided to put DRM on forgot to send a memo to the Mules in charge of the Japanese release.
[without Chromatic Musings, this post would not have been possible]

RE-SEEDING: Nick Cave has checked the signs, and decided that its acceptable to add a second Bad Seeds date in London. The new tour dates will be:
Glasgow Academy 6th November;
Wolverhampton Civic Hall 7th;
Manchester Apollo 8th and
Brixton Academy 10th and 11th.

SOONER OR LATER...: We're not entirely sure if it's actually in the constitution that everyone has to make a record with Kylei Minogue, but that's what seems to happen anyway - now it's Scissor Sisters and Kylie hammering away. There's no plans to release anything so it might be left to our imaginations as to what they'll be getting up to.

Not that, that's for certain.

THE SONG RAMONES THE SHAME: An extraordinary hostage crisis is developing in the US, where John Rey is being accused of holding Joey Ramone's last recordings against their will. We bet it's not about the money, is it, Rey?

"It has nothing to do with money. I'm just concerned with protecting Joey's musical legacy. These should be released as an album of demos. This is stuff that me and Joey did together."

Oh, that's alright, then. So long as its about the legacy. Joey's brother, Mickey Leigh (must be a half brother, as he doesn't have the same surname), isn't quite so sure:

"We've been trying to get Daniel to hand them back since Joey died. They don't belong to him."

Since Rey isn't worried about cash, and just wants the recordings to get out there, we've got an idea: why doesn't he stick them on soulseek? Joey's legacy will be complete, and he'll clearly have been demonstrated to be above the hunt of filthy lucre in the process. Everyone will be happy.

HOPE-ING ABOUT: Hope of the States have announced their largest tour to date, although the astute amongst you might notice it's really two separate tours with quite a big gap in between:

London Electric Ballroom - July 14th
Reading Fez Club - August 20th
V Festival Stafford -21st
V Festival Chelmsford -22nd
Edinburgh Liquid Rooms -T On The Fringe -23rd
Belfast Queens University SU -October 17th
Dublin Music Centre -18th
Glasgow Garage -19th
Newcastle University -21st
Leeds Cockpit -22nd
Bristol University -23rd
Nottingham Rescue Rooms -25th
London Astoria -26th
Norwich Waterfront -27th
Birmingham Academy 2 -29th
Manchester Academy 2 -30th

EMINEM PROMISES: 'MORE PEE-PEES, MORE POOPS, AND MORE WEE-WEES THAN EVER BEFORE': The joys of the digital age, part three hundred and sixty: Eminem is to launch a radio station on the Sirius satellite network in the US. We suspect he won't actually be getting up at four to do the breakfast show, although he does seem excited at the prospect of being able to be free and uncensored:

"Once upon a time not too long ago, the feds wanted all my music off the air," Eminem said in a statement. "Now we'll be on Sirius 24 hours a day, playing the best hip-hop...not just from Shady Records, but from everywhere. I can't wait to start dropping new material, exclusive tracks and uncensored hip-hop featuring me and everyone else freely saying whatever the hell we want."

At this point an executive from Sirius whispered in his ear, whereupon Eminem apologised for using the "bad word 'hell'".

YOU WOULD HAVE THOUGHT THEY WERE TOO BUSY: Odd, surely, that if Lisa Scott-Lee had signed a million quid deal with MTV to make a British newlyweds, she'd even consider the next round of I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here. And yet there she is, on the rumour list, along with Michelle Heaton from Liberty X, Emma B (the pointless model, not the pointless Radio One dj), Anne Charleston and - oddly - Nathan Moore. Nathan, you'll recall, claimed he only pleaded guilty to kerb crawling in a bid to stop the intrusion into his private life, which would make going onto a TV show designed purely to turn private lives into a three-ring circus an incredible change of direction.

LIMITED RELEASE OF ELTON JOHN "NOT HARMFUL", SAY OFFICIALS: Biochemical experts are playing down the limited release of Elton John's 4 DVD box set in the States. "Although the contents of this box, comprising concert footage, could be toxic in large quantities, our understanding is that the boxes are only going to be allowed out in small quantities in BestBuy outlets, and as such should not prove too unsettling for the general public."

Okay, they didn't, but Best Buy's senior VP of Entertainment really did say "The cover of the set will feature an airplane, to "signify the journey Elton and his fans have taken over time." Surely a milk float, slowly emptying of its nutrituous, creamy payload and winding up as an empty shell wheezing along the back of council estate would have been more apt?

... AND BACK INTO HOSPITAL: As Courtney and Pete race to be first to the bottom of the downward spiral, Ms Love returns to hospital:

New York newspapers had shown photos of her being carried on a stretcher in handcuffs from her apartment by paramedics... She is reported to have told police she had had an abortion on Thursday... On Tuesday another lawyer for Ms Love, Robert Ring, said during an unrelated civil court case that she was in an East Coast "institution" and a legal guardian had been appointed for her.

TO THE AID OF THE EMPIRE: Yesterday, the MPs who make up the Public Adminstration Committee recommended reforms to the structure of the British awards system. (Sadly, they didn't recommend copying the Brits and replacing the Knighthood with a Lifetime Achievement prize). Amongst their recommendations was scrapping most of the titles and replacing the Order of the British Empire with the Order of British Excellence - do you see? It's got the same initials. (Just as a sideline here, they don't seem to have come up with a nifty name for the awards given to people who live in the Commonwealth. They could, I suppose, create an Order of Commonwealth Excellence, providing the recipients don't get confused with photocopying engineers.)

So, with this bold, almost Communist, attempt to wash away thousands of years of tradition, surely there would be voices raised in protest? If not quite in the pubs and common rooms of old Albion, then surely from the ranks of the thousands of OBE, MBE and CBEs roaming the country? Erm... apparently not. The only person the BBC could find prepared to take a stand in favour of the old titles was, erm, Robin Gibb. From the BeeGees. Who burbled on a little bit about how you shouldn't be ashamed of Empire, and all that tradition. Robin, of course, was so proud of Britain he's chosen to spend most of his life in America.

The gongs are doomed.

Tuesday, July 13, 2004

IT'S BEEN HOW LONG?: It turns out that Sarah McLachlan has been away from the stage for four years - to be honest, we hadn't noticed. But she's back now, anyway, and apparently every bit as good as she was before. No, we're biting our tongues on this one.

CASTRATI OF THOUSANDS: You might have thought, the odd Dana International aside, once an Israeli Eurovision singer has done their three minutes, you'll never hear from them again. And so it has been, until David Daor went to see Shrek 2 and winced as they implied he had no bollocks. The Hebrew soundtrack of the film includes the line "let's do a David Daor" on him, which the high-pitched singer didn't find amusing:

"This film intends to present me, in perpetuity, as a eunuch, a man with no testicles, and turn me into a laughing stock," he squealed.

The Israeli courts have agreed with him - really, you'd have thought they might have more important things to worry about, like illegal walls - and have instructed the film to be withdrawn pending a re-dub.

IT'S ENOUGH TO CHASE AWAY ANY DOUBTS ABOUT THE VALUE OF DEMOCRACY: As our good friend Kiril points out, Declare Yourself, the Register to Vote website has killed two socially useful birds with one stone - encouraging people to make their voice heard in 2004, and sewing Christina's mouth shut.

WELL, THAT'S US PROVED WRONG: We'd always thought that Jennifer Ellison couldn't get herself arrested. That turns out to be a bit wide of the mark, as that's exactly what's happened to her today. Ellison has been arrested and questioned by the cops investigating the alleged theft of a minidisc player from a journalist at her twenty-first birthday.

IPC FILTERS BLOCK GAY PORN SITES, PRESUMABLY: Calm down, nme... the desperation with which you're trying to find a picture of Jake Shear's pee-pee in the Park is almost disturbing. Unless there's a hell of a bet riding on if he's circumcised or not... why do you want a snap of it so badly?

PROMOTION: It's an ill wind that shakes down no bananas, of course, and the absence of The Vines from this year's Reading Festival and it's Leeds reversioning means that there's needed to be a shake-up of the acts to fill the gap left. Which has allowed Razorlight to be catapulted up the bill and given a slot for the New York Dolls, who don't seem to be in any hurry to go home after Morrissey's magical Meltdown.

LOVE'S OFF THE WARD: Whatever her matter was down there, it's been cleared up and Courtney is out of hospital. Meanwhile, her lawyer has been talking to Reuters about her non-appearance in court on Friday:

"I don't think that she deserves special treatment, but I do think that a reasonable person in circumstances such as hers can be confused with respect to these things."

He doesn't elaborate on what "circumstances such as hers" actually means - addled beyond belief by drugs? Juggling so many court cases that she can't keep track? Or simply floating six miles above the surface of the planet? - but surely part of the job of hotshot laywers is to ensure their clients turn up on time, where they're supposed to, and dressed relatively smartly? (We watched both seasons of Murder One, so we consider ourselves to be something of an expert in this field). Especially if the lawyer believes that circumstances make their clients less able to keep track of their many hearings. If I was Courtney, I'd be asking my lawyer why I wasn't there every bit as strictly as the judge was.

BRITISH ACADEMY, JOHN AGREE NOT TO MENTION THE CANDLE EVER: While we're delighted that Elton John has been made a fellow of the British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, we're sure Bernie Taupin must be sucking a thoughtful tooth and feeling ever so slightly slighted. "Must I still be punished for 'Marconi plays the mamba', after all these years?" he wails, but nobody hears him.

John's award - which he probably celebrated by buying some flowers, a statue of a little boy holding a mushroom, a gilded picture frame and some geese - is one of five fellowships being dished out by the Academy to mark fifty years of the Ivor Novello awards, the prizes awarded annually to Robbie Williams and Dido for being splendid.

WILCO AND OUT ON TOUR: As Wilco launch a new single on that there iTunes (it's called Kicking Television, if you're of a mind to sample it), they've also announced a mini tour of England and Canada and Scotland and... oh, stuff it, here's the dates:

07-13 Glasgow, Scotland - Queen Margaret Union
07-14 Manchester, England - Academy
07-15 London, England - Astoria
08-02 Milwaukee, WI - Eagles' Ballroom
08-03 Toronto, Ontario - Mod Theatre
08-04 Ottawa, Ontario - Capital Music Hall
08-05 Montreal, Quebec - St. Denis Theatre
08-06 Portland, ME - State Theatre
08-08 Newport, RI - Newport Folk Festival

SLIGHTLY DISAPPOINTING NEWS: We were quite excited at the prospect of Eminem taking the lead role in a movie about boxing, until we found out he's going to play Dmitry Salita. Salita is undefeated, which reduces the opportunity to see a half naked Eminem having the shit beaten out of him. Could we not tempt him to appear in the Frank Bruno Story instead?

There is, however, every chance that Salita might wind up losing it - indeed, we're sure we could persuade him to throw a few matches in return for giving Eminem a spot of punishment.

OH, GOOD - DOES THIS MEAN A WHOLE NEW ANTHOLOGY ALBUM?: So, this chap Fraser Claughton is on holiday in Melbourne, and goes looking at a boot sale for some cheap luggage. He finds a case, and inside it, a whole load of lost Beatles recordings; supposedly the haul of Beatles roadie Mal Evans. Claughton bought the lot for twenty quid - suitcase included - and so is probably already planning a cosy retirement.

BONO ON THE RADIO: Some people think that it's foolish to allow popstars to take the stand on matters of vital national and international importance, as they don't have the intellect to really cope with the issues. We're not entirely sure the stuttering appearance of Bono on Today this morning [Real Audio link] will have done much to change their mind. He was alright once he got going, but for the first couple of minutes we weren't even sure he knew what it was he'd been invited to comment on.

GET YOUR T IN THE PARK TICKETS: Yes, it was last weekend. But, yes, they've already started selling tickets for next year's event.

HEY, HEY, WE'RE THE BUSTED: Just keep repeating to yourself that "nothing has been signed yet", as it may save you from going "Why?" when you hear that MTV are supposedly planning a fly-on-the-wall Busted series. Or maybe that should be a McFly-are-the-writing-on-the-wall series. Everyone seems really excited, because, of course, there's nothing like an MTV documentary to help you along. Look at how Ozzy and Kelly and Jack are thriving since theirs. Um... well, Brandy, eh? She let the cameras into her life and they can't be totally blamed for the trashing of her relationship... um... Still, there's money to be made. It might just all be for MTV.

FALL KEANE TOURISTS: Anyone busily planning what to do at the arse end of autumn? Want the Keane tour dates for late October and early November? Here they are, then:
Norwich UEA (October 28)
Manchester Apollo (30)
Northumbria University (November 1)
Glasgow Barrowlands (3)
Birmingham Carling Academy (7)
Nottingham Rock City (8)
Bristol Academy (9)
Exeter Great Hall (10)
Truro Hall For Cornwall (12)
Southampton Guildhall (13)
Cambridge Corn Exchange (14)
London Brixton Academy (17)

We'd imagine they'd be very disappointed if they're not adding an extra Brixton date by the end of July, as well.

JELLO SETTLES: The ugly and reputation-tarnishing legal struggle between Jello Biafra and the rest of the Dead Kennedys has come to an end, with Biafra backing down and accepting that breaking up the group's agreements would make them worth a whole heap less. The Kennedys will continue to tour as the Dead Kennedys; Jello will continue to rant, and aging punks can pretend that the whole ugly business of them suing each other never happened.

PATTI SMITH WRITES: Nothing - not even outraged letters from Mansun fans suggesting we're a twat - makes us giggle with glee as much as Patti Smith's regular emails. Here's a taste of the latest:

i trust everyone has registered to vote. if only uncle wiggly was running. with his wisdom what a fine world we would have. for instance, instead of environmentally-polluting rubber tires we would use huge sausages. they never run out of air and the luncheon possibilities are endless.

COPYTAKERS: Is there anything more lazy than knocking out a covers album? It turns out, yes, there is: taking a solo covers album you've already done, doing the minimum of re-jigging, and then re-releasing it as the new album from your band. Iva Davies, not a man to be afraid of being called a bit lax, has proudly taken his Berlin Tapes and turned it into the new Icehouse album, Heroes. The hook he's using is Australian network Seven's use of his Bowie cover for its Olympic coverage, and he's added a new version of that to the listings, but otherwise, it seems pretty much as it was:

Heroes (The Berlin remix) (David Bowie)
Loving The Alien (David Bowie)
Sister Europe (Psychedelic Furs)
Heaven (Talking Heads)
Complicated Game (XTC)
Berlin (Lou Reed)
All The Way (Frank Sinatra)
All Tomorrow's Parties (Velvet Underground)
Let There Be Love (Simple Minds)
Really Good Time (Bryan Ferry)
Love Like Blood (Killing Joke)
Heroes (The Athens remix) (David Bowie)

HI... I'M DAVE... CAN I PLAY ON YOUR RECORD? CAN I, HUH? CAN I? SAY I CAN. JUST ONE TRACK? PLEEEEEASE: Dave Grohl's ambition to be a member of every band in the world comes a step closer with the news that he's been seen sneaking in to the current Nine Inch Nails sessions. That means either he's begging Trent to take out the buttplug, or else he's going to do some drumming for him. Or both. We're also delighted to discover that Trent Reznor has a big whiteboard in the studio, with just the words "Greed, Entitlement, Delusion" on it. That might be the themes for the new album. On the other hand, he might have picked the board up cheap from the Bush Campaign group's Ebay site and hasn't got round to cleaning it off yet.

ROCK ROCK ROCK WITH THE ROCK. A SMALLER ROCK, BUT THE ROCK NEVERTHELESS: We'd more or less forgotten the existence of The Rock of Travolta, so in a way it's probably handy that Phill and Deadly have quit, as it at least reminds us they're around. Albeit with quite a massive understaffing crisis to deal with right now, but around nevertheless. Phill is plotting to spend more time playing with what had been his side project, boy with a toy.

THE GREAT COURT CASE IN THE SKY: Bad news for Pink Floyd, who are being tooped off to court by Clare Torry. Clare provided the voice on The Great Gig In The Sky, highlight track on Dark Side of the Moon (it'll come as a surprise to many that their special drug table actually had a record inside it all along, we realise); she also claims that she helped to write the track. For all her hard work, she received the princely sum of EUR43, which seems incredibly mean even if she didn't write the song. We're a little puzzled as to why it's taken quite this long for Torry to decide to bring legal action, as writing something like that doesn't seem to be the sort of thing you'd forget. It's now off to the High Court for EMI and the Floyd.

FOLK SINGERS IN PARLIAMENT: There were elections in Japan last weekend, and amongst those winning their first seats is Shokichi Kina, who, for the sake of argument, we'll call Japan's Billy Bragg. Kina represents the opposition Democratic Party, although we suspect his campaign may have deviated slightly from that of his colleagues:

"Trade all weapons for instruments. Turn all military bases into flower gardens. Let's have festivals, not war."

Clearly the words of someone who's never been to a muddy Glastonbury.

Monday, July 12, 2004


Roly Keating has decided to axe Top of The Pops2. Or rather "rest it", which is a polite way of saying "consign to the inner fires of hell."

MICK. E. MOUSE... AND BRIX: We'd be failing in our duty if we didn't bring Brix Smith's tale of her meeting with Mickey Mouse to your attention. We think she came within an ace of knowing the love of the world's second most famous cartoon rodent, and it's number one curmudgeon. [Via unreliable fall news]

Jadakiss This

Interesting times in America, of course, with George W starting to drop hints about how, you know, holding elections could be a cause of terrorism and, really, if we want to sleep safe in our beds maybe we should stop doing them. Launching himself right in the middle of the political storming is Jadakiss, last seen driving with a car stashed full of, well, stash, now accusing Bush of knocking down the Twin Towers. (That's a hell of a conspiracy theory - how strong was the stuff he was on?). What's interesting about this, though, is that some radio stations are saying that both the clean and adult versions of the songs they were given had had the line taken out entirely. Other stations are playing the song in full, to, erm, no reaction at all - which means one of three things:

- Americans pretty much accept that Bush was involved up to his little eyeballs and aren't even surprised that anyone says so;

- They think that Jadakiss may be spewing some odd nonesense, but fully embrace his right to do so under the Constitution or;

- As soon as a DJ says "coming up, Jadakiss", most people retune.

We're going with option three.

IN A WAY THIS IS KIND OF SWEET: Lenny Kravitz seems to think that the Prince is a kind of pal:

"The prince asked me what I was doing, I told him about my tour," Kravitz said. "It's been a while since we met."

Bless. This was at the Princes Trust Concert, of course, which was otherwise unremarkable except for the look on Andrea Corr's face when the presenter asked them why they were doing well when B*Witched failed.

WELSH FERRY PULLS OUT: Bryan Ferry was due to be playing at the Faenol Summer Pops on Sunday, but, like everyone else in the music industry, his throat wouldn't let him. He'd been ill before, but had made it back into action on Saturday. It seems Ferry's Oxford gig, though, was enough to bugger his voice once and for all. People holding tickets to see Bryan have been offered tickets for tonight's Will Young instead, or refunds if they actually like music.

BROWN SHADES IT: While Courtney has unsettled court business, Bobby Brown turned up at jail just before his time ran out. So, he got his bail and won't have bounty hunters out looking for his ass. Just yet.

LATEST LOVE TATTLE: Internet rumours reckon Courtney Love had a miscarriage and that's why she was in hsopital rather than court. Hmmm. We wouldn't trust the internet, to be honest.

A SIT DOWN IN YOUR MEMORY: This is quiet a sweet story; fans of soul singer Darrell Banks, who was killed in a fight in 1970, had his grave marked with just a rather small plaque. So they gathered together, raised USD1,500 and created the Darrell Banks memorial bench.

TAKE ME OUT... TO T: Is it just us, or were Franz Ferdinand on ridiculously early for the second day of T in The Park? In fact, the whole bill seemed to have been arranged more or less at random, with The Strokes headlining over the Pixies and people just popping up in random slots. Whatever, Franz did sound like headliners, confident, assured, dressed as Interpol for some reason. We appear to have got carried away to the point where we've written "definitive live reading" in our notes.

During Goldfrapp's set, my wife points out that she's not actually as sexy as she wants to be - "she's too stiff in the boots." And she's right - she's trying to slink, but her feet are glued to the floor. Everyone knows that thirty five per cent of your sex appeal comes from how you move from the hips down. They sound a lot better than they did at Glastonbury; maybe the grey clouds help. But, bad news Tubbs, Alison has become a Notail. And she seems to have already gotten hacked off with people mentioning the way she had a pony tail coming out her butt a fortnight ago.

The BBC's coverage doesn't seem to be quite as well paced tonight - the first half hour seems to be weighed down with a lot of chattering, and not all of it featuring Gill. But you've got to love the team, who are clearly freezing to death; Gill performs a reverse striptease during the course of the three hours of coverage, starting out in short sleeves and shorts; ending up wrapped up like a McDonalds Happy Meal.

Jake from the Scissor Sisters had no worries about the cold, though, taking the stage dressed in a kilt/toga outfit which Ana revealed to be a tablecloth pressed into the service of preserving his modesty. You could tell from the nervous direction that nobody was entirely certain his manhood would be contained by this get-up. The trouble I'm having with the Sisters is less about the chances of seeing a rogue bit of flesh, more that whenever they play Take Your Mama live, I find myself lost in a reverie about whatever happened to Mungo Jerry. Comfortably Numb just doesn't work live for them, but the oompah band take on Laura finally sees it all coming together. The world would be a slightly darker place without them.

It might have been an act of gentle cruelty to cut from the Scissor Sisters to Electric Six (we half expected them to then go on to show Fischerspooner). The Six did Gay Bar, and a large caption reading "The tide of history has left us" hovered over their heads.

You could have made an effort, The Thrills - a quick shave wouldn't have hurt. Mind you, the version of Santa Cruz was equally just tumbled-out-of-bed and that was wonderful.

Polly Harvey topped the Spice Girls dress from Worthy Farm by wearing, um, a Polly Harvey dress, which looked uncomfortably home-made, as she tried to hoik it up and keep it over her breasts. Amy Winehouse was also having trouble keeping her tits in line, spending most of her interview slot fiddling with them. Mind you, at least she engaged with something in the time they allotted to her - her only indication she was even awake during the chat was when she got a chance to moan about how the critics don't really like her. Then they played two, or possibly nineteen, tracks from her demonstrating clearly why the critics don't like her - whether her voice delights you or not, you can't ignore that she appears to have no connection at all with the songs she's been given to sing. There's no emotion at all.

What are the Kings of Leon for, exactly? They're not unpleasant, but we just can't quite work out what their function is in the modern music scene. At T, they had their band logo stuck sloppily on a drumkit in white sticky-tape, and that lo-tech solution seems to sum them up quite well. But doesn't explain the why.

Black Francis now has no eyes. But The Pixies are still great; apart possibly from Franz Ferdinand, none of the other acts on tonight have got any songs to challenge the likes of Debaser. We worried a reunion might have been a bad move, but it seems to be working for them.

There's someone on stage with little lights on his glasses - ah, it must be another Orbital farewell show. They're proving harder to get rid of than holiday guests in the Algarve. Is that your taxi outside now, boys?

Julian Casablancas looks about twelve right now - both in the face and the really bad skin. Kudos to The Strokes for allowing their set to go out live. Even although it's not especially exciting. Turn up, play songs, go backstage and continue snogging Drew Barrymore.

Sunday, July 11, 2004

POOR KERRY: Not only does Kerry McFadden have to cope with the puzzle of just why the entire world went so cold on her after her victory on I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, but it seems that her husband has decided that spending time with her isn't all its cracked up to be, either. Having quit Westlife with the "more time with my wife and family" excuse, he's already signed up for a Bryan McFadden solo career.

METAFILTER DO THE WORK SO YOU DON'T HAVE TO: A one-post round-up of some of the many squillions of MP3 blogs popping up all over the place. As I believe they say in some circles: fill your boots. But not your bootlegs; that would be wrong.

ANOTHER CUP OF T: So, The Darkness suddenly found themselves headling T yesterday, simply by virtue of Bowie's dodgy ticker keeping him out the frontline. Which, however much you love the Darkness, can't help but feel like a really rubbish deal: a legend with forty years worth of mostly pretty good material behind him, or a band with one mostly pretty good album to work with. What made it worse was the Darkness repeating their big error from the Brit Awards: totally overselling themselves in advance. While we didn't believe Justin Hawkin's claims in the morning's Daily Record that he was going to be wearing GBP20,000 worth of catsuit, we were at least expecting something a bit special. Instead, we did get a costume change - from a very horrible looking silver twin-piece, something a heroin-addled hooker from the future might have rejected as being too cheap and nasty for a working costume, into what appeared to be a Newcastle United lesiure catsuit. Maybe there was something else he slipped into in a bit not shown on the BBC catalogue, but at the moment, we'd be hard pressed to see how he spent more than fifty quid on the pair. The set? Yeah, it's as polished as you'd expect from a band who've been playing the same songs over and over again for the last sixteen years. We know they're busy winning hearts and minds in the states, but, please: Could we have something new, now, boys?

CORRECTIONS, CLARIFICATIONS, AND ON-GOING DEBATES: Quite a while ago now, we wrote something about Cornershop gleefully re-recording a song for Target, which we thought was curious line of action for a band: Target helping to undermine the economics of small record shops by selling a few titles at such wafer-thin margins the independents can't compete on their bread and butter titles, and wind up going out of business; and for Target's enthusiastic embrace of the Parental Advisory label. In our original post, we even suggested that Target had a policy of not stocking CDs with stickers on them.

Lady Interference responded, suggesting our objections were wrong on two counts:

You'd slagged Cornershop for re-recording one of their songs for an ad
campaign for Target, stating that they were "happily working with one of the
mass-marketers of music, a store who sells CDs as loss leaders like
Christmas Candy or toothpaste". Well, Target does sell a small selection of
CDs at an amazingly low price, but thank God they do that, because it allows
those people who wish to purchase the latest The Darkness, Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
or Polyphonic Spree (among other selections) to pick them up for less than
what a regular music store would sell an older title. I do suppose this is
one of those matters that will perpetually be up for contention, but really,
I do highly appreciate places such as Target, who allow for such low pricing
so that I don't go broke trying to keep up with what's hot in music.

What followed close behind, though, was a huge shocker. You claimed that
Target is "a store which has helped squeeze freedom of expression in the
music world, by embracing the Parental Advisory label system to such an
extent that they won't stock CDs that carry them, leading some bands to have
to bowlderise their own words or face being locked out of the market
altogether". This is a huge sign to me that you did not do your homework
before typing this out, or that if you did, it had been completed in a
shamefully sloppy manner. Target has never refused to stock CDs with
"Parental Advisory" stickers displayed in their packaging, nor has it
pressured bands to "bowlderise their own words or face being locked out of
the market altogether". You must be confusing Target, which is a superstore
chain, with Wal-Mart, which is the main competing superstore chain.
Wal-Mart is the chain that demands the edits or else; Target has never had a
problem with stocking unedited CDs.

I do shop at both Target and Wal-Mart and I have noticed that Target's
selection of CDs, while still rather tiny, is a lot better than Wal-Mart's
selection, which essentially panders to the teenypopper segment of the
population that eagerly awaits the latest Olsen Twins movie and the teenys'
graying middle-aged fathers, who might be secretly lusting after the Olsen
Twins in 3 - 5 years' time. I kid you not. I adore Wal-Mart, sure, but
only for getting kitchen gadgets, groceries, pet food, and comfy cotton
nightshirts. If I want to get mainstream music of today, I go to Target,
and if I want anything else, I either rely upon the Internet to track down
whatever I want to get or go to a second-hand CD store. There are no
regular music stores where I live (San Antonio) -- the last ones that
existed here, Wherehouse Music and Sam Goody, folded a couple of years ago,
so if we want music, we either have to go to a Target or Wal-Mart-like
superstore (the Best Buy superstores, which carry electronics, computer
equipment and supplies, and appliances, are also great for getting newer
releases) or rely upon second-hand stores that might also stock something
else such as second-hand books. In fact, the local chain of second-hand CD
stores called CD Exchange are the only stores in the area that concentrate
on just music.

Now, we've been sitting on this response for a while, because we wanted to see if Target would actually respond to our requests for a clarification of their policy on stickered product. They never got back, so we decided to ask someone who'd be well judged to place - Eric Nuzum, pretty much the go-to guy for an expert opinion on music censorship in the states. He confirmed the good Lady's claim:

I have heard, on several occasions, that Target only stocked clean titles. However, as someone who is often in Target and has a habit of checking out these things--there is no truth to it.

There is a warning in their stores that stickered CDs may not be appropriate for everyone, but I don't recall even seeing "clean" versions of CDs offered as alternative.

In other words, Target's nose is clean. Or at least clean now

Which would seem to be enough for us to give Target a partial apology; judging these things from a distance is kind of tricky and we'd assumed from Target's enthusiastic purging of their shelves during the Tipper Gore era (weren't they the chain who refused to stock a wide cross-section of rock magazines because of 'obscenity'?) they'd still be pretty keen on keeping their shelves clean. We're lucky if we can get to shop in a Target once a year, and we'd not seen much evidence of stickered records on sale on our pilgrimages. The people who we'd spoken to about this suggested they hadn't noticed much of the dirty versions of CDs in the stores, either, but it does seem that you can get sweary records in Target, and we'd happily fess up to being surprised and impressed.

However, we're standing firm on the running other record shops out of business charge: Indeed, Lady, the very reason you've got nowhere else to buy your CDs in a large place like San Antonio is exactly because the big chains cherry-pick titles like The Darkness and flog them at a low price that stand alone stores can't compete with. Not only would the indies have been losing the sale of the Darkness album, they'd be losing the extra stuff you might have picked up while you were in the store to buy the Darkness. Of course, it's not just the record stores Target and Wal-Mart are picking off: it's Nails and Pails, and shoeshops, and pharmacies and dozens of independent traders in all sorts of fields. (In the UK, Tesco is now going after the white goods market, which bodes ill for those few highstreet electrical retailers who've held on against the onslaught of Comet and Dixons.)

BRITNEY SPEARS: CORRECTION: We mentioned yesterday that we didn't feel Britney's decline into madness was anything like as bad as that of Courtney Love. However, that was before we discovered she's prepared to do "whatever it takes" for Coldplay to play at her wedding to the feckless dancer. (Good news for Chris Martin, though, surely? We'll bet he's taken the phone into the back bedroom, away from Gwyneth, and whispering "When you say 'anything...'")