Friday, July 25, 2008

Yahoo make customers' music evaporate

Microsoft tried this, and had to walk quickly backwards when faced with angry dupes. Now, Yahoo are announcing the switch off of their DRM servers, rendering paid-for music suddenly useless. Unless you never upgrade your computer again. Or suffer a crash. Ars Technica is not impressed:

Yahoo recommends the old, lame, and lossy workaround of burning the files to CD, then reripping them onto the computer. Sure, you'll lose a bunch of blank CDs, sound quality, and all the metadata, but that's a small price to pay for the privilege of being able to listen to that music you lawfully acquired. Good thing you didn't download it illegally or just buy it on CD!

Why would Yahoo have taken this step knowing it made Microsoft look even shabbier when they tried it? Are things so tough at company that they can't afford to leave the server switched on for a few more years?

It's golden-egg-goose this, golden-egg-goose that

The Five O'Clock Heroes are feeling frustrated, poor lambs, because everyone asks them about Agyness Deyn rather than, you know, them:

"Whenever we have an interview now, all anyone ever asks us about is Agy. It can be really frustrating when the questions should be about music, not about who Agy's dating and stuff like that.

"Something I do find quite annoying is when there's a photo with Agy and the band, quite often they'll just focus on her and chop our heads off - even though she's only recorded one song with us."

The band do seem to genuinely believe that all these photos, all these interviews, would be happening without Deyn having made the record with them. She's catapulted them to a very strong position - a spot of gratitude might work better than mounting bitterness. Accept it, boys: you took part in her campaign, not she in yours.

Popcorn single feature

I'm going to embed this although I suspect the chances of anyone watching it all the way through in this window are slim-ish, but SnagFilms have made the Brian Jonestown Massacre/ Dandy Warhols film Dig! available to be sort-of-distributed through blogs.

Oh, hang about - it's not working:"AOL video is currently unavailable", apparently. Here's a link instead, in case they get it working later.

Gordon in the morning: Surrender accepted

Michael Eavis' pledge of "no more Jay-Zs" is pounced on by Gordon this morning who decides he's been proved right:

The dairy farmer and festival organiser has finally waved his white flag by admitting that he had 99 Problems at this year’s festival — and hip-hop was the main one.

Eavis announced that Glastonbury will return to “traditional” headliners next year.

Eureka. I rest my case.

For months I said putting JAY-Z in the top slot didn’t fit with Glasto — and now Eavis finally seems to have accepted the experiment failed.

So, Glastonbury was a terrible flop this year, was it, Gordon?
It was excellent, I’ll give this year’s Glasto that. All the Bizarre team and plenty of readers agree.

So... erm, it had 99 problems, but everyone says it was excellent? How does that work?

So, what would Gordon's solution be? Here's a surprise:
It would be a masterstroke to turn the tables on NOEL GALLAGHER — following his blast over Jay-Z as headliner — and offer him the chance to show how it should be done by giving OASIS the slot next summer.

"How it should be done"? Oh, happy world where the choice is between Jay-Z and Noel Gallagher.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

50 Cent is humourless

Taco Bell ran some ads recently for their cheap menu, suggesting 50 Cent call himself 99 Cents or 89 Cents or some such, reflecting their cheap prices. Not, perhaps, the funniest advert ever, but mildly amusing.

50 Cent was unamused:

The rapper is accusing the chain of "diluting the value of his good name".

Yes. He's launched a lawsuit which, we hope, if he wins will see him being paid in small sachets of sauce and unlimited pop refills. Given he named himself after some loose change, surely if anyone is upset at 50 Cents being ridiculed, it should be the US mint, shouldn't it?

Glastonbury makes hay

Curiously, although straight after the festival Michael Eavis would tell anyone who listened that Jay-Z's headline set had saved the festival and guaranteed the next four years, they're not going to do anything like him for headlining next year:

Eavis told BBC News that he would go for "traditional" headliners, and revealed that the stress caused by this year's slow ticket sails took its toll on him physically.

"We'll probably be going for the more traditional headliner next year," he said, "because there are more of them around and after this year everyone wants to come on board because it was such a good do. The thing is people are coming back."

So, you really believe that without something like Jay-Z there wouldn't be a Glastonbury at all in 2009, and yet don't need anything like him in the headline slot in 2009? How does that make any sense?

Meanwhile, tickets for 2009 are going to go on sale in October. Oddly, Michael is convinced demand will be higher next time round, but, erm, is going to give himself an extra half-year to flog tickets in.

Oh, and yes: Tickets are going to go up again. The blame is being put on rising fuel costs.

Young doesn't like the sound of Apple

They don't go into very much detail, but Fortune reports Neil Young having a go at Apple:

“Apple has taken a detour down the convenience highway,” Young told the Brainstorm audience after taking the stage for an interview with Time Inc. editor-in-chief John Huey. “Quality has taken a complete backseat - if it even gets in the car at all.”
Young complained that music has become “like wallpaper” - more Muzak than music. “We have beautiful computers now but high-resolution music is one of the missing elements,” he said. “The ears are the windows to the soul.”

It does, of course, come down to what you want - immediate access to hundreds of thousands of tracks in acceptable quality, or a strictly controlled supply of super high quality tracks. The sad truth is, that for most people, for most songs, the quality of iTunes (and the Zune store) is good enough, for the same reason that before music shifted to computers, most people weren't going to spend twenty, thirty quid for gold-plated connectors for their hi-fi equipment. Hell, before the computer age, most music was played through crappy equipment - portable CD players, never-cleaned cassette machines, wobbly record players with enough fluff on the needle to keep Ken Dodd in tickling sticks for a decade and a half.

Young is right; the quality of digital music isn't the very highest. But - much as with Pete Townshend's comments on how iTunes is just a way of selling music - he's comparing it with a golden past that never existed.

Rare Egyptians

Fancy hearing something by Robyn Hitchcock and the Egyptians you won't have heard before?

This is an mp3 of A Bad Case Of History, hitherto unreleased. Unless you count the websites which have probably beaten us to putting the track up.

It's turned up as part of the second box-set of Hitchcock stuff, Luminous Groove, due out on August 4th.

Cameron wobbles

Poor old David Cameron - not only has someone stolen his bike (perhaps it was a student prank, the sort of young person's indiscretion we should turn a blind eye too; or maybe it was a young person pinched it, in which case we must act now) - but The Times diary records that his attempts to woo the urban scene still have some work required:

In a summit with New Statesman , the top artiste Goldie says: “If David Cameron puts his hand out to youth, he’s going to get it bitten off. Guaranteed. I think he’s bullshitting.”

Or Bullingdonclubshitting, anyway. Mind you, Dave might wonder if Goldie really counts as the "top artist" the Times has billed him as - although, as a representative of that key 'people who have had a couple of hits and been in EastEnders' demographic, we're sure he speaks for Wendy Richard and Nick Berry.

It's so unfair, Putin...

Apparently, some undefined "authorities" in Russia are drawing up plans to outlaw emo in a document called Government Strategy In The Sphere of Spiritual And Ethical Education Or, to give it its more literal translation, You're Not Going Out Dressed Like That, Young Man:

The document states that emos are aged from 12 to 16, wear black and pink, and have long, black hair which may "cover half the face". Other characteristics identified include black fingernails, black belts with studs and pins, and ear and eyebrow piercings.

Conservatives in Russia believe that a "negative ideology" encourages depression, social withdrawal and suicide, according to The Moscow Times.

We're going to keep an eye on Russian conservatives to see if they start parroting any other Daily Mail viewpoints - house prices, immigrants, that sort of thing - as we're starting to get confused between Paul Dacre and Vladimir Putin and can't recall every having seen them share a room.

The suspicion of black fingernails has already led to the ostracism of several keen but inept woodworkers from Russian towns.

And there's a loophole

"This is just a deal with the major service providers"
"So, if I have teenagers who download music from the net, do I want to move to one of the smaller service providers, then?"

Evan Davis talking to Nicholas Lambton on Today, a couple of minutes ago.

Or maybe the ISPs have been more agreeable than we thought...

Although the BPI has been given a bloody nose this morning, they'll doubtless be delighted to discover that Virgin Media is using its parental access filter to block the copyright-baiting EFF and Open Rights Group.

[via Boing Boing]

Crime scene Seal

Why does Seal live in LA? Is it because Heidi Klum, the main breadwinner in his partnership, works there? Or is there another reason?

Apparently, it's because LA is safer:

"L.A. is no more dangerous than London - in fact, you could say it's less so."

Could you, Seal?

The LA murder rate is 12.4 people per 100,000 of the population [FBI Crime rates, 2006]; in London, it's 2.09 [Based on 155 murders in the Metropolitan Police area population of 7.4 million].

To be fair, though, we imagine in you live with Heidi Klum in a secure mansion, you would find LA to be safer than, say, if you were sleeping rough in New Cross.

Chicks, Keith disprove their own theory

It's a lovely idea: global warming in a problem facing us all, so why not bring together two acts with opposing political stances to prove that anyone can work together for a greater good?

So, the Alliance for Climate Protection attempted to bring together Toby Keith and the Dixie Chicks for an advert demonstrating this setting aside of animosity and sniping.

Unfortunately, the Dixie Chicks could never commit to a date, and Toby Keith started sniping:

"It's hard to get people that don't get along to agree when all those egos and stuff are involved."

- which, I believe, is the exact opposite of the point of the advert, isn't it?

Gordon in the morning: Hold the front

Gordon Smart clears space on his pages to bring the observation that the women Ronaldo dates have breasts.

It's a pity, as buried elsewhere he's got a rather good story: the Kaiser Chiefs offered a Cornwall pub a free gig.

The pub politely, but firmly, said they'd rather not have their guests disturbed.

You just have to hope they hadn't hidden Mark Ronson under the pool table, expecting him to come on and do a couple of songs as a surprise guest.

Three strikes, and you're, erm, waiting for a fourth: Deal disconnects BPI

The long spat between ISPs and the BPI is over, with a truce being signed that leaves the British Music Industry playing the Emperor Hirohito role: apparently remaining in power, but pretty roundly defeated.

The BPI had wanted ISPs to send letters giving three warnings to customers the music industry believed they had identified as sharing illegal files, and then cut them off.

Instead, the ISPs have agreed that, if the BPI tell them a customer is sharing copyrighted material without permission, they'll send them a letter. And, erm, that's it. No threat of disconnection, or indeed any legal consequences.

Given that the BPI claims that it only targets people who share a lot, and that those people are well aware what they're doing is wrong, it's effectively forced the ISPs to, erm, send people a letter which tells people nothing they don't know.

Oh, hang on, though: the ISPs have caved on one point:

The plan commits the firms to working towards a "significant reduction" in the illegal sharing of music.

It also commits the net firms to develop legal music services, the BBC has been told.

Oh! Go on then, we'll reluctantly sign up to create a business that might generate some new revenue streams for us, if we really must. Ooh, you've got us there.

Given how little the BPI have got, and at what cost - all that threatening of getting the government to do something, and mysterious legal injunctions, all that high profile insistence on 'three strikes and you're out' - you wonder if they could have done any worse in the negotiations. We're betting that the ISPs were just a few minutes away from getting the record labels to agree to pay them ten per cent of tshirt sales from merchandise stores at the gigs.

Given that this new set-up creates a world of tutting letters with no ultimate sanctions, it'll be interesting to see if the BPI bother to invest much of its members' time and money in putting the scheme into action. A wise approach would be to let the threat sit on the books, but not waste effort seeking out people to receive letters; but then the UK music industry has never been known for its wise approach.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Another story featuring Courtney Love and missing money

This time, though, the tale is a little easier to follow as the accusations come not from, but are about, Courtney. She's being sued by London & Co, who claims she owes them a million dollars following the sale of her share of Nirvana's back catalogue.

They had, the claim, an oral contract with Courtney - which, we'd suggest would be about as watertight as a paperbag oiltanker - to get five per cent of any income the catalogue generated; they reckon they were due a million bucks as a result of it.

Of course, an oral contract is a difficult thing - it's hard to prove what anyone meant by it. Having said that, the same is true of most stuff Courtney writes down these days.

It's all up to the courts now.

The review that's just too good

With - at least in public - both band and label admitting that the Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong album isn't anything like good enough, it's surprising that the NME has given it an enthusiastic eight-out-of-ten review.

Slayer splits - Whatever shall we do without them?

Oh, no: popular culture is about to implode. Clothing will be rent. Slayer's Tom Araya has been hinting the band might call it a day:

"Let's put it this way, this is the final record of our commitment with Rick Rubin. When we first signed a deal with him back in 1986, we never sat down and said, 'How long do you guys want to keep this together?'. We signed the deal and we've just been doing records since.

We're working on new ideas now just so that people can have a taste of what's coming. Kerry and Jeff are putting together ideas, so what the end result of this next two-and-a-half months is, I don't know. Once we've put together new material, we can get together and discuss our future plans."

We love the idea that there's a process involved in "putting together ideas" to make a Slayer record, like they're going to be gathered round a whiteboard with the words 'ballet?' 'string quartet' and 'RAWK' written on, weighing the pros and cons.

It seems age is just catching up with them:
"Seeing a 50-year-old man headbanging on stage would make me cringe. If I was watching that, I'd think, 'Dude, you're a little too old for that, aren't you? You're gonna fall off!'."

Heavy rock - it's a young man's game. Once you're past 48 it's time to quit, eh, Tom?

Winehouse a model character at last

Madam Tussauds, which is effectively a place designed to introduce foreign tourists to the very British delights of queueing for an hour in order to pay a small fortune to be slightly disappointed, have added an Amy Winehouse waxwork to their collection.

Amy has taken her place alongside other top attractions including thats-probably-Gordon-Brown, is-he-the-bloke-off-Flog-It and if-I-didn't-know-better-I'd-swear-that-was-the-girl-from-the-chip-shop-you-know-the-one-who-got-knocked-up-by-the-windowcleaner-with-the-wonky-eye-oh-hang-on-it's-Britney-Spears-isn't-it?

Her parents were impressed with the blank, waxen visage of their daughter, saying it was spot on:

As she walked round the model, her mother Janice gasped: "Wow. That's her!

"I was checking to make sure all her tattoos were there and they are!"

Without wanting to be too tactless, is it really appropriate to invite Janice and Mitch Winehouse down to identify a lifeless version of their daughter? A little too close to home, isn't it?

Manchester: The Heaton pull

The Manchester Evening News has got itself terribly excited over the prospect of a two-day festival in Heaton Park next year:

Big hitters in the Manchester music scene are already in secret talks to establish the inaugural music festival next summer and are confident that the event could become a regular feature on the calendar to rival the Carling Festival in Reading and Leeds, the V Festival in Stafford and Chelmsford, and T In The Park in Scotland.

Or Summer Sundae. It could definitely rival Summer Sunday.

Given that this is still a vague idea, the News is surprisingly detailed on the line-up:
If they get the official green light, bands such as Elbow, Ting Tings, Doves and the Happy Mondays are expected to be on the bill alongside the most popular international and chart-topping rock and pop acts from around the world.

If we didn't know better, we'd suspect that the paper has just written down the first bands it thought of there. But who wouldn't want to see a bill featuring Doves and the most popular bands in the world. We look forward to seeing if U2 or Madonna get the top billing.

Even the School of Sound Recording, who are pushing for the festival, are a little vague about the chances:
Wendy Breakall, from SSR, says: "Manchester is regarded as the heart of the UK music industry. It's about time this city had its own established music festival to match that reputation and to rival all the other established festivals across the UK. I am certain, given the right conditions, this event would attract interest from music fans across the UK."

You've got to love that "given the right conditions" caveat, which effectively removes the certainty of the statement in one go.

By the way - who actually regards Manchester as "the heart" of the UK music industry? Really? It has some great bands, and a lot of enthusiastic people working in the city, but is it really the centre for the industry?

Fashion Rocks again, in much the same way that it always does

Surprisingly, Beth Ditto isn't involved with this year's Fashion Rocks event, as the overpriced trousers/overrated singers combo telecast offers a line-up which is either an impressive collection of the a-list (and Duffy) or the same old bloody faces all over again (and Duffy), depending on how generous you feel:

Black Eyed Peas
Chris Brown
Justin Timberlake
Keith Urban
Lil Wayne
Mariah Carey
Kid Rock

We do like they're billing the Black Eyed Peas and Fergie, which presumably means she'll be doing two things but still looks a little like they're trying to pad out the list of names.

But surely this is more Fashion RandBs, not Rocks?

We're given to understand that a bid to include Hamfitter on the bill failed at the last moment.

McFly boost the Mail On Sunday

The McFly giveaway has worked some magic for the Mail On Sunday, which sold an extra 300,000 copies on the back of the free record this weekend. Although, oddly, not in London:

"That is probably indicative of people moving over the week with the school holidays," [Mail on Sunday managing director Stephen] Miron said.

Y-e-es. We did hear that last weekend London was virtually empty, save for one woman from Camden who had been asked to feed 798,000 cats and water somewhere over six million pot plants.

Of course, it's debatable if this extra audience are going to return to the Mail - if they didn't just discard the paper in the first place, but Miron is hopeful:
"We have brought in a whole audience that would have never talked about the Mail on Sunday," Miron said.

"I don't think there is a brand out there in the UK at the moment that wouldn't want to be talked about in the way that marks them as different and innovative," Miron said.

Or the sort of newspaper which is so rubbish it's relying on giving away kiddie's albums on its front page to artificially boost its ABC headline figures.

James P, by the way, emailed us to point out the Mail advert promoting the album included a big flashy caption:

Although, erm, the track only got to number two. As James puts it:
... might be worth remembering next time the Mail runs a story accusing the BBC of fakery and deception after discovering that the experts on 'Dragons' Den' aren't real dragons.

Gordon in the morning: Where the wild things aren't

You've fallen off the wagon. You've made yourself look a bit of knob by chasing a model younger than most of the whiskeys you drink. You've let down your wife. Your humiliation is public.

But the worst thing of all? Gordon Smart reveals that it's unlikely that Ronnie Wood will now appear in The Mighty Boosh's Christmas cash-in ("tie-in") book.

But it's clear that Gordon genuinely believes that this is a loss - the Boosh and the Stone were working on a retelling of Where The Wild Things Are, which gives him the chance to run through the plot of the story. You might think that summarising a children's book is money for old rope, but the story is probably the most complex thing that's appeared on Bizarre for months.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Boing Boing Gadgets reports on a market where the cassette is still king - prisons:

But who is buying Paris' cassettes? America's 2.3 million prisoners. Which brings us to the second advantage of tape over compact disc: a tape can't be broken apart and used as a shiv. Prisoners are allowed to have them. 60% of Paris' business is in cassette tapes.

Kid Rock feels Waffle House justice

The court has finished hearing the case that grew out of Kid Rock's Waffle House fight in suburban Atlanta back in the autumn; three of the Rock entourage had charges dropped; two pleaded no contest and Kid Rock himself got probation, anger management courses (a little like sentencing a penguin to dancing lessons, surely) and community service. Still, at least he's contrite, right?

Ritchie's attorney, Darryl Cohen, said Tuesday that Ritchie was "not terribly unhappy" with the outcome although he believed he was not at fault.

"I think my client is satisfied," Cohen said. "He would have liked to have tried it. He came within a hairbreadth of going to trial."

Odd: if he wanted it to go to trial, why did he plead no contest?

Tarantulla quits web

Belgian based indie mail-order company TarantullaShop is calling it a day:

Dear friends and customers, it is with great regret that we have to announce that TarantullaShop has stopped trading.

New opportunities came along, both on a personal and a professional level which have made us decide that it is time to move on.

We have always tried to deliver the best service for our customers and have always put them first from day one. Although we surely hope that our customers have shared in that positive experience, we are sorry that we are currently no longer able to continue.

No worries though: all ongoing and paid-for orders will be delivered, as from Wednesday 16th of July. (Shipping starts up again on that date, after this weeks' holiday.)

Anyway, all orders that can not be fulfilled, ultimately by the end of July, will be cancelled and refunded.

We apologise for any inconvenience this will cause.

It sounds more like a positive lets-move-on rather than a we've-got-to-stop, which is at least a nice thought as the world loses another small record concern.

Gruff Rhys: Lydon attack was unprovoked

Gruff Rhys has told MTV news that Kele Okereke's side of the story of being attacked by John Lydon's chums was, from where he was standing, the true one:

“It was horrific. Kele is a very brave man and what he said is exactly what happened.

“The statements Kele has said are absolutely true. It did happen.”

Presumably, though, Gruff would also be characterised as "jealous" by Lydon. Or maybe even as a h8r.

Evidence of the power of prayer

Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong have pulled their album, despite having already distributed copies to some journalists. Or perhaps because they had:

[T]he band's manager, Raye Cosbert told NME.COM that he suggested to the band that they shelve the album because they had recorded it too early in their career. He said it did not represent them as a band now.

Cosbert said that the band agreed with the notion after it was suggested to them. The band's label, Vertigo/Mercury, have agreed to release the newly-recorded album when it is recorded. The new album should be released in early 2009.

You have to wonder just how badly the album stank for the label to happily write it off - although, of course, as some copies are out in the wild we could probably find out after a few minutes on the Bittorrent.

The suspicion, of course, is that far from not giving a true reflection of the band, it reflected them only too well.

Here comes another iTunes killer

That iTunes has survived more would-be assassins than James Bond and Doctor Who combined doesn't seem to bother those who still trot out attempts at an iTunes killer. The latest media hat being thrown into the digital circle is that of BSkyB - who, lest we forget, are one of the country's biggest ISPs as well as a TV operator.

So far, though, their plans look a little weak. Only Universal is on board, and the idea is for a subscription model rather than a pay-per-tune approach. Most subscription services so far have struggled, partly hobbled by the tendency of tracks to disappear if you stop paying - although the Guardian's report sort-of-implies that the BSkyB service might offer mp3s, and thus not implode if you cancel your direct debit to Rupert. Like a major label eMusic:

The subscription will give users unlimited access to streamed tracks plus a set number of download-to-own songs, initially to Universal Music's catalogue of hundreds of thousands of songs from artists including Amy Winehouse, U2, Kanye West, Duffy, Rihanna, Eminem, Elton John and Abba.

Downloaded tracks will work on any device that can play MP3s, including iPods and mobile phones.

So, there's a potential appeal there - if the other labels get on board, and the pricing is right, the marketing muscle of Sky could offer a service which, while never likely to kill of iTunes, might just give Steve Jobs a nasty slap.

Mercury shortlist shoots out

We've kind of forgotten the aim of the Mercury Prize - beyond promoting a now-defunct telecommunications company, of course - because we're sure nobody would have set out to create a prize like the one they've ended up with. That said, this year's shortlist actually functions as a useful guide to just-off-mainstream British music in the last twelve months, if you accept Adele as being, you know, slightly edgy, and with the proviso that there's no reason why Rachel Unthank and the Winterset should be locked away in some rock genre.

Once again, there is a disappointing shortage of black artists - Estelle apart - and the British Asian scene is ignored completely.

The shortlist in full:

* Adele - 19
* British Sea Power - Do You Like Rock Music?
* Burial - Untrue
* Elbow - The Seldom Seen Kid
* Estelle - Shine
* Laura Marling - Alas I Cannot Swim
* Neon Neon - Stainless Style
* Portico Quartet - Knee-Deep In The North Sea
* Rachel Unthank & The Winterset - The Bairns
* Radiohead - In Rainbows
* Robert Plant & Alison Krauss - Raising Sand
* The Last Shadow Puppets - The Age Of The Understatement

If I was a betting man, I'd be doing a blog about greyhounds. Nevertheless, given the ability of Mercury judges to have a great shortlist and still crown a Richard III, we'd guess Elbow will carry the day. We're cheering for Laura Marling, though.

Here be Dragons

So, Dragons Den is back - for what we suspect will be the last time, as not only are the early mornings presenting Today taking their toll on Evan Davies (the poor lamb looked zonked yesterday) but the Dragons themselves seem to have latched on to the idea that the show is about how great they are. Theo is clearly paying Barry Cryer's understudy to write his "I'm out" quips - "I won't sit on the fence" to the people selling eye-gouging garden fence covers, for shame; and there's far too much time spent on dull cock-comparing horsetrading when they all try and invest in the same people. I don't watch to see Peter Jones and Duncan Bannatyne arguing over five per cent of the ownership of a start-up, I want to see people trying to push their ideas of lifejackets made out of sugar ("so you can lick it a bit to keep your energy up while waiting for rescue, like...").

The new series kicked off with something of a diversion: a musical guest, Hamfatter. Although already successful, Hamfatter wanted money to cut a new album. We say "successful", but it all depends how you measure it. A previous record had achieved "number thirteen in the indie charts" - which, if that's a yardstick, makes Marc Riley And The Creepers something akin to The Beatles in terms of succes - and the last single was "number three in Austria." "Bizarrely enough" allowed the singer, with a look dawning on him that maybe the person who rang up and said "Vee haff zee gut news fur du, ja?" that time did sound a bit like his mate Spiggy.

In addition, that single had got to number fiftysomething - in a week when a single by Razorlight "marketed by the biggest record label in the world" - could only manage eighteen. [UPDATE: *]]

We'd have kept quiet about that, to be honest - if all the experience and marketing muscle of a major label and the never-knowingly-shirted charms of Johnny Borrell couldn't push a slab of unwanted plod-indie into the top ten, what chance did this bunch have, even with all the skills of the dragons? Deborah Meaden, in a bid to establish her credentials in the music world offered a relative who was a producer and, somewhat bizarrely, that her "sister-in-law did PR for AOL." We'd love to see what ideas she came up with for them - "why not send everyone in the country thousands and thousands of CDs until you run out of money", presumably.

It wasn't to be, though, for after an interminable period of different dragons yelling "me! me!", we looked up from the Guardian Crossword to see them shaking the hands of Peter Jones. We're sure there was a shrewd business case for choosing his advance, and it wasn't just a case of "dude - that's the guy with the Gremlins in the TV ad... he's cool..."

As a result of their appearance, Hamfatter are now being seen not so much as an alright-sounding-if-you-like-that-kind-of-thing indie outfit with a terrible name - a truly, truly, my-god-they-must-all-be-dyslexic-because-surely-the-moment-you-see-that-written-down-you'd-change-it name - but instead like some sort of experts in the field of the post-physical music industry.

They're happy to admit, though, that they're not:

Jimbo - They thought we were being clever by not offering a percentage of the money made from live performances, but really we just hadn't thought of it.

Also enjoying a bit of publicity from the programme is Feargal Sharkey who the BBC asked for a comment or two on the deal.
By nature, the music business is entirely entrepreneurial, whether that's an emerging artist trying to build their profile and selling homemade CDs at gigs, to a major label or promoter with a multi-million pound marketing budget.

The music business is entirely entrepreneurial - unlike, then, banking or selling laptops where much of the business is about dancing.

Actually, it's not even true - music is one of those industries where no amount of entrepreneurial nous will save a CD from heading for landfill if it fails to capture the public's imagination. And a lot of punk music businesses are not entrepreneurial but based on co-operatives.

We're not sure that we agree with this, either:
These tensions have always been at the heart of music, certainly for the last 50 years. The best pop music is often high commerce and high art all at the same time.

Surely the best pop music - in the strictest sense of the word - has very little to do with high art, which is by its very nature exclusive, isn't it?

Still, concerns of pop and high art - especially high art - aren't going to cloud over Hamfatter's day. They have got Peter Jones' cash in their pocket book, and are even now sitting in marketing meetings saying "...well, no, we like the name..."

* - Someone in the comments has pointed out that apparently they'd grunted that Razorlight had got to number 80, rather than 18. We suspect it must have been a Hamfatter fan, and although it's mildly amusing the only piece they could quibble with was because the band were mumbling and inaudible, but that just makes it worse - it means they were choosing the example of Hold On, a single which, far from having the full force of a record label behind it, barely got any promotion at all. I'm given to understand there wasn't even a video made for the release. It's like claiming to have beaten Man United in a football match, and hope nobody notices it was the under-16 reserves team. back to top

Nelly adds a Stone

Unlikely pairings of our time, number 49773: Joss Stone is dating Nelly, apparently. We just hope she hasn't commenced on the relationship using her hip-hop accent - can you imagine trying to keep that up through a marriage?

A "source" apparently told the Daily Mirror:

It's great she has met someone as successful as she is and who understands the pressures being a performer can put on your life.

Is it just us, or does that sound like Joss phoned the 3AM desk herself?

[Thanks again to Michael M]

"I know some of you are going to be hating on the blogs"

P Diddy rushes from his multigym to his video camera with some breaking news:

Ten fingers! Ten toes! Was he suffering from a lack of oxygen, or is this some sort of pitch for a gig on Sesame Street?

Coming tomorrow: "Check it out haters - two thumbs, right, and they're prehensile."

[Thanks to Michael M]

Folkobit: Artie Traum

Artie Traum, a key player in the New York Folk scene of the 1960s, has died.

Traum formed a Woodstock-based duo with his brother, the spectacularly named Happy Traum. Represented by Albert Grossman, whose stable also included Peter Paul And Mary. A trio of successful albums followed, before the brothers went their separate musical ways in 1977. They continued to work together, however, presenting a radio show together before reuniting on record in 1994.

During the 1970s and 80s, Artie was a key member and producer for the Woodstock Mountains Revue, a loose grouping of upstate New Yorkers; in the late 90s he reworked his style radically and released a jazz album.

He is survived by his wife, Beverly, and his brother. It's believed his death was caused by lung cancer.

Murdoch versus Murdoch: Geldof "healthy"

We love the way that the various parts of Rupert Mudoch's empire seem to spend more time knocking each other down than generating light on new stories. For example, this morning's four handed Sun story about Peaches Geldof's near-death experience gets ridiculed by Sky News' Showbiz website:

There's a flood of drama around Peaches Geldof.

Or, erm, is there?

The Sun claims she stopped breathing after a suspected overdose at her flat on Sunday evening.

Now, we spoke to and saw Peaches last night on the red carpet at the Batman premiere, and she looked fine and dandy, so we're not quite sure what to make of all of this.
Neither Peaches nor Sir Bob's people have confirmed or commented on the above but having chatted to Peaches last night we can assure you she was looking healthy and well.

Is that one Murdoch property telling us to not believe a word of the big scoop of another Murdoch property?

Clearly, we'll have to wait until the Wall Street Journal tells us which way to call this one.

Gordon in the morning: Crisis after crisis

It's a busy day for Showbiz news in The Sun, with Peaches Geldof's alleged overdose calling upon the talents of three writers:

Showbiz Reporter

and demanding a think-piece from another
My View
Woman Editor

Why do you need an opinion column about a young woman having an overdose? Isn't it self-explanatory that it's a terrible thing? Brook is reduced to imagining the worst:
Bob Geldof has spent much of his life helping people around the world less fortunate than himself.

It’s not his anger she should worry about if the worst happens.

It’s the broken heart from which he would never recover.

This - besides being mawkish - doesn't make any sense, because if Peaches did manage to kill herself on drugs, it goes without saying that she wouldn't need to be bothered about how angry Geldof Senior would be. What with how she'd be dead.

Bob looms over the main report, too:
Other sources confirmed that Peaches was terrified of Sir Bob finding out.

One said: “No one could believe this has happened to Sir Bob Geldof’s daughter..."

Really? Your friend collapses and your first thought is "goodness, I can't believe she's overdosed because her Dad was in the Boomtown Rat?"

Meanwhile, Gordon concentrates on Madonna who is, we're told, "in meltdown". Meltdown?
The Queen Of Pop has sacked two dancers and her tour manager is threatening to walk out over her spectacular moods.

Isn't that business as usual, more or less?

But there's more:
Doctors discovered Madge is anaemic, a surefire sign she is overdoing it, and she also suffered a painful knee injury.

Anaemia is a sign of iron deficiency, Gordon, which may or may not be due to overdoing but much more often is down to not eating enough iron, B12 and folic acid in your diet. Rather than a surefire sign she's "overdoing it", it could just as easily be a sign that she needs to eat some more spinach.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: The quotes they whistle as they leave the cinema

Abba have had their first ever US top ten album - although, actually, they haven't, as it's the Mamma Mia soundtrack and thus, more accurately, Meryl Streep's first top ten album.

Still, Gennaro Castaldo has something to say about it:

"The music featured in a film is increasingly a key component of its success, so it's no surprise that more and more people are buying soundtrack albums for the great songs they often feature."

Searing insight. The music featured in a film is a key component of its success. Erm, especially with Mamma Mia being a musical. That might well make the music incredibly important.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Free to Go!

The lovely Go! Team have released a huge slew of free stuff live on their website - they want an email, in return you get access to downloads of early stuff, song bits and remixes.

Janet Jackson's nipple: Now half a million bucks cheaper

The Janet Jackson Superbowl nip-slip wasn't indecent enough to justify the FCC fine, a US court has ruled. The federal appeals court tossed the $550,000 fine the FCC levied against CBS on the grounds that it was acting out of character:

The court found that the FCC deviated from its nearly 30-year practice of fining indecent broadcast programming only when it was so "pervasive as to amount to 'shock treatment' for the audience."

"Like any agency, the FCC may change its policies without judicial second-guessing," the court said. "But it cannot change a well-established course of action without supplying notice of and a reasoned explanation for its policy departure."

The overall effect was somewhat spoiled when CBS executives present in the court dropped their trousers for a bare-arsed celebration.

Fielder-Civil goes deeper inside

Good news, then, for Gordon Smart, who is assured a string of stories smuggled out of jail in the coming weeks as Blake Fielder-Civil starts a 27-month sentence for a violent assault on a pub landlord and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

In a bid to try and keep himself out of chokey, his defence unsuccessfully attempted a bit of clumsy 'Amy Winehouse MIGHT DIE' if you send him down pleading:

Jeremy Dein QC, for Fielder-Civil, said his client had been thrown in to a "nightmare scenario" after the attack.

"[It's] not just for him but for his wife and his family," he said.

Mr Dein said the attack was the result of a "drugs-ridden lack of judgment rather than callousness".

"For almost half his life he has been in the clutches of drugs," he said.

He said Fielder-Civil had a history of self-harm and suicide attempts but was determined to rebuild his life with his wife.

He said: "It's their ambition to divorce themselves from hard drugs, not to separate themselves from each other.

"He knows that if he fails, an appointment with calamity awaits, not just for him but for his wife as well."

'If you don't do something, there's a chance Amy Winehouse might continue to take drugs' is hardly a very plausible argument, is it? It's like saying "if you don't put your recycling out on the right night, the sun will one day go supernova and destroy all life in our galaxy". It might be true, but it's just not connected.

John Lydon attempts to explain

As we expected, why, John Lydon has issued an explanation of his side of the attack on Kele from Bloc Party:

"I feel very sorry for a man who needs to lie about what was a perfect evening. After the show John Rotten and management remained behind to sign autographs, which we did for four solid hours without incident and had a great time talking to other Spanish bands. This seems to have sparked jealousy in certain bands.

"The trouble was brought to us, resulting in those causing the trouble being physically removed by festival security."

"We are in the middle of a wonderful tour, after 30 years we are achieving a true unity in our audience. They are multi-varied, all ages, all races, creeds and colours.

"When you are at a festival with bands who are jealous fools, lies and confusion usually follow. If they need publicity so badly this is the allegation universe they run into."

Oddly, though, it's Kele who has got the cuts and bruises, not Lydon.

In many ways, this is classic Lydon eyewash - even down to responding to the claims in a way that, once again, focuses on what a wonderful chap he is; so wonderful his brilliance leads to lesser bands turning up to rain blows down on his splendid head.

Still, at least he didn't fall back on "some of my best friends are black" line, choosing instead "some of the people who have seen me play aren't white" to demonstrate his impeccable credentials.

Of course, you're down to which of the two sides you believe; but a man who issues a statement about a violent attack and refers to himself not only in the third person, but as "John Rotten" (which isn't even his own stage name) seems more interested in the myth than truth.

There's a final flick of the fingers:
Lydon concluded by telling Okereke to "grow up and learn to be a true man.

"When you have achieved as much as I have, come back and talk to me," he added. "It's a shame that the wonderful world of the media is riddled with nonsense like this.

Now, considering that he's talking to a man who Lydon claims was causing trouble, that sounds surprisingly belligerent. It's not known if Okereke will, indeed, wait until he's done a couple of celebrity reality shows and got a job in his wife's estate agency before taking things further.

At least you weren't in tents - Cleaning chief

A letter in the Guardian at the weekend from Tom Gibbons of Cleanevent countered the paper's story about poor treatment of staff at Oxegen:

I wish to clarify some matters in your story (Cleaners for festival had to sleep in stables, July 12). Cleanevent UK brought 34 staff to the Oxegen festival in Ireland and informed all staff in advance of the accommodation arrangements. Our staff did not sleep on "concrete floors" but were in a clean, sanitised and refurbished stable block with heating, natural light, hot showers, and a 24-hour restaurant serving hot food, with a recreation area. In fact, our shower facilities were good enough to be used by some of the performers at the festival. Every member of staff had a bed, and no staff member paid for their own bed. We are not aware of any staff calling the police and the three staff members who felt dissatisfied with the accommodation were provided with free transport back to the UK. Cleanevent take our responsibility to our staff very seriously, and we feel that the accommodation provided during the Oxegen festival was as good as, if not better than, that provided at events such as Glastonbury, where contracted staff often sleep in tents.

By the company's own account elsewhere, though, there was a delay in the beds arriving so, at some point, there must have been more cleaners than there were beds.

Lydon: this charming man

We expect it's only a matter of time before we get the 'plausible explanation' for this, but for now we've only got Kele Okereke's side of what happened at Summercase Festival in Barcelona.

Okereke asked Lydon about the chances of a PIL reunion, which Lydon described as showing a "black attitude" (no, us neither) before standing back to allow his entourage to beat Okereke up. Lydon hurt more than the bruises, says Okereke:

"It's not an issue of the physical assault, even though it was an unprovoked attack. It is the fact that race was brought into the matter so readily. Someone as respected and as intelligent as Lydon should know better than to bring race into the equation, or socialise with and encourage those who hold such narrow-minded attitudes. I am disappointed that someone I held with such high regard turns out to be such a bigot."

Although we've not got a very high opinion of Lydon, we had always assumed that beneath the self-importance and desire to make a myth of himself, his heart was at least in the right place. Even that seems over-hopeful today.

The one amusing aspect of a sordid evening is that the attack took place in front of fifty or so members of indie royalty:
Mystery Jets, Neon Neon and Har Mar Superstar, all of whom saw what unfolded

And Ricky Wilson and Foals' Yannis Philippakis were the heroes of the hour, wading in to try and pull Lydon's thugs off Kele. Ricky Wilson a hero of the hour. Who ever would have thought?

"A vomitorium of cringy confessions"

While there's been a lot written about Christopher Ciccone's book - "I'm Madonna's Brother, Me" - the piece in yesterday's Sunday Times was different as Giles Hattersley has actually read the thing. Which, we suspect, is more than 99% of people who end up with a copy will actually do.

Madonna is labelled a myth-maker and a miser, who plies her brother with MDMA, has legs that look like “fat sausages” and is the sweatiest woman he's ever encountered.

If she's that much of a miser, how come she's so generous with the drugs, eh?
He denounces Guy Ritchie, her husband, as a homophobe (Ciccone is gay), and believes her adoption of David Banda, the Malawian toddler, like everything in her life, just served her image.

A frugal woman who relies on image, married to a man with outdated social attitudes and a tendency to put his foot in it who spends time on foreign trips talking to small children? Add in the expensive homes in London and the British countryside, and she starts to sound less like The Queen Of Pop, more like the actual Queen.

Still, there are some surprising revelations in Ciccone's book:
[S]he fired him as her backing dancer when she hit the big time, insisting that he be her dresser instead. He found this demeaning, but reveals that Madonna is surprisingly prudish and doesn't like being naked in front of strangers.

As if there's anything left she hasn't shown the world. Twice.
Ciccone does cocaine with a lot of them [the celebrity a-list]. Both Courtney Love and Jack Nicholson swear to him it's their first time.

Oh, if only that were true - but we suspect Ciccone would have had to have been about three years old to have snorted alongside Courtney's first line of coke. Perhaps she meant it was her first time, ever, with the brother of a top 40 star.

Hattersley's judgement is balanced - it's the "best book" about Madonna, without being especially good:
His prose smacks of an embarrassing man, skidding towards 50, whose entire existence is driven by a desire to cleave to a remorseless celebrity.

It's worth noting, though, that his current book, with all its flaws, is ghost-written.

It's unclear where Ciccone will go now - revelation has made him more famous than discretion ever did, but has ensured he will no longer be in a position to reveal any more. It's like a tiny star exploding noisly, but pointlessly, in a distant corner of the sky.

Gordon in the morning: Does he read his own column?

There's been a lot of advice offered to Amy Winehouse over the past few months - none of which seems to have had much effect.

But Gordon has come up with an idea that he thinks is going to succeed where all else has failed: showing her a photo of Britney Spears:

HERE’S a picture I want AMY WINEHOUSE to take a long hard look at – BRITNEY SPEARS looking truly stunning.

It was less than six months ago that the American singer was put in hospital for her own good.

Just like Amy today, Britney was a drug-crazed wreck, dogged by controversy. But look at her now.

Yes, Amy: if you get your act back together, Gordon will move you back into his list of 'women who make me a bit squibbly'. What better reason could there be to kick the crack?

Almost aware that comparing a woman with a serious drug problem with a woman who has bipolar disorder could be considered facile, Gordon casts around for other similarities between Amy and Britney. Hey - they've both got Dads, don't they:
As well as Amy taking note, her dad MITCH might also want to read on — as a lot of credit for Britney’s dramatic recovery goes to her father JAMIE.

The chef — a former alcoholic — took charge of his daughter’s life and cut out her binges.

Mitch might want to tighten Amy’s reins after she stole a bunch of flowers from a Camden petrol station in the early hours of Sunday.

And... hang on, they're both heterosexual, aren't they?
Britney’s dad has also kept her troublesome pals at arm’s length.

Her “manager” SAM LUTFI has been served with a restraining order and Britney is only allowed supervised visits with on-off boyfriend, British photographer ADNAN GHALIB.

He is not allowed to stay the night with her.

Amy is claiming hubby BLAKE FIELDER-CIVIL will be released from jail later today, under the terms of the sentencing at his trial for assault and perverting the course of justice.

If Mitch wants to get Amy back on track, instigating heavily marshalled visits with her no-good fella would be a good place to start.

Gordon doesn't seem to have noticed that - while Britney mucked about a bit with Adnan, Amy is actually married to Blake. Which is a bit different.

It's also interesting that his suggestions - tightening reins, marshaling visits - seem to be about controlling Winehouse rather than trying to make her better. If only she was like a ventriloquist's dummy, and could be kept in a suitcase between stage shows...

Disney's cold-eyed machine opened

The Baltimore Sun peers deeply into the heart of the Disney pop machine as the fickle twelve year-old Miley Cyrus fans start to tire of Hannah Montana - Old Lady:

"I'm pretty sure her voice has changed," says Kathleen Boidy, 12, of Glen Burnie, "because in some of her concerts she sounded really bad. The Jonas Brothers - all of their songs are really big."

Raven Symone - who is now in the "trying to build an adult career but appearing in College Road Trip so that's probably not going that well, then" stage of her career - offers advice to the meat in the business plans:
Symone, whose personal worth is estimated to be close to $50 million, offers sage advice to her younger peers: "Make sure you're professional and make sure you understand that it's a business."

Almost as an afterthought, she adds. "Have fun and enjoy your life."

As an afterthought.

Happy childhood, kids. TMZ will see you in a decade.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

The Independent On Sunday despairs over the hordes of identikit not-quite-indie bands plaguing British music:

Festival season is in full swing now. Across the land, stages are being raised in city parks, in country farms and on ancient estates for what promises to be Britain's biggest ever summer of music. But if they want to book enough acts to justify the inflated ticket prices in these harsh economic times, once-eager festival organisers have a struggle on their hands. How will they fill that gaping hole on Sunday afternoon? Who's going to warm up the crowd for The Ting Tings? Luckily the current UK music scene has just the thing. Someone has even compounded a helpful term to use when you call the record companies in a line-up emergency; this uninspiring, guitar-gelled Polyfilla – of which The Fratellis are a fine example – is now known by some as "landfill indie".

What price a cat-in-headphones logo?

The legitimate Napster has failed to capture the world's imagination in the way it did when it didn't ask for money and, despite several relaunches, the company is still struggling.

However, it's quite attractive as a takeover target - not because the brand has much value in it, nor because of the business model. More because it launched on a massive pile of cash from the first investment it pulled down and, according to Bloomberg, it's got about USD70million of reserves and investments. The total value of Napster shares as of Friday morning? A shade over USD52million.

Effectively, then, if you could buy control, you're in profit already. And, while there aren't many people signed on to Napster, their heft could be useful to add to another struggling service, such as Rhapsody. Napster - the service which helped reduce the value of recorded music to less than zero - is now worth more dead than alive.

No, Mr. DMX - if that's your real name...

DMX has never really been out of trouble since they started turning up dog corpses at his house, so let's say he's added another garnish of trouble to an already groaning trouble platter. He's been accused of getting hospital treatment under a false name - not his ridiculous stage name, but a third name - Troy Jones - rather than his real name - Earl Simmons.

Given that he's well-known, and can't bend over to pick up the newspaper with the local prosecutor launching a probe, how did he think that would be a good idea?

Cathy comes home

In the midst of a Reuters interview about how she turned a flopping singing career into one of the strongest songwriting gigs in pop, Cathy Dennis announces a return to the front line:

I've been working for the last year-and-a-half with a band I put together called Sexcassettes. We're shooting a video for the first single, "Killer Love," this month, and I hope to have it out by the end of the year. It's more of a band sound than produced pop. As usual, I have no idea what to expect.

She neglects to mention that she's being managed by Simon Fuller, a detail which, at a stroke, turns the band's name from something a bit cute into sounding altogether more calculated.

Universal: Fair use is unfair

The coverage of the EFF v Universal case on Wired and in Universal's legal papers [pdf] has made our heads hurt.

If we're understanding this correctly, Universal's contention is that the concept of fair use - that you can use a sliver of copyrighted material under certain circumstances - doesn't apply if the material you're making fair use of is copyrighted:

Plaintiff’s exclusive reliance on the affirmative defense of fair use necessarily establishes that Universal’s statement that her use was infringing was true. For there to be a “fair use,” there first must be an infringing use. Plaintiff’s arguments that her use could be a “fair use” without infringing, or that Universal must be deemed to have impliedly represented that her use was not “fair,” are contrary to the Copyright Act and controlling case law.

In other words, because the mother said "but this is fair use", she acknowledged that she was aware the material was covered by copyright and the very act of claiming that it was used fairly means it must have been used unfairly.

It's kind of like saying that asserting you're following a right of way across private land means you're admitting you're trespassing on private land.

You have to wonder why Universal are allowing this case to grind on and on - they were heavy handed in the first place, and each new round of coverage of the case just reminds the world how heavy handed they were in the first place. If I was a Vivendi shareholder, I'd be curious as to why the company is pouring cash into a case that can only achieve a Pyrrhic victory at best.

Warped security

Nasty footage from the Warped tour in Detroit, where one of the security guards is caught on camera punching a girl in the face. The footage was shot by one of Forever The Sickest Kids and starts - apparently - after the worst of the assault; according to the comments on the video the girl involved had been fighting inside the event earlier. None of which really excuses a hefty bloke slapping a woman in the face and then running away to hide inside the secured area.

You can't judge all the rights and wrongs from three minutes of YouTube footage, but having seen some pretty nasty behaviour from security staff down the years, it's nice to know that one of the side benefits of new technology is that it's now much less likely to be a their-word-against-the-fan if they do step over the line.

Bob Geldof: patron saint of lost causes

Given that Peaches TV work relied very heavily on Bob's involvement with television production companies, it's only fair, we guess, that Geldof is threatening to "assist" Pixie with what Showbiz Zoezoezoe describes as "musical domination":

A pal said: "Pixie plays guitar really well. Her dad Bob says he will help her get representation once she's finished her A-levels."

Mind you, given that Bob's record on music isn't that great - not counting songs about snowfall failing in Africa, when did he last trouble the top ten? - Pixie might be better off not dropping daddy's name.

Destiny regained

Rav Singh perhaps oversells the chances of a Destiny's Child reunion a little:

Beyonce's getting back with Destiny's Child

DESTINY'S CHILD are planning a Bootilicious comeback next year, I can exclusively reveal.

The R&B trio—KELLY ROWLAND, BEYONCE KNOWLES and MICHELLE WILLIAMS —want to reform and record some hotter-than-ever tracks.


Well, not quite - Kelly Rowland muttered something to him about a vague possibility that they might work together next year:
"Me and the girls never split up—we are as close as we always were, like sisters, and may do some projects next year".

That Kelly was talking to Rav (a) at all and (b) at some sort of launch for a car might suggest there's more than an element of wishful thinking involved here.

Still, nice to see Rav taking "may do projects" as "wanting to record some hotter-than-ever tracks."

This week just gone

The ten most-read stories published this year so far have been:

1. Daily Mail shocked to discover Jools Holland doesn't actually do the Hootenany at midnight on New Years Eve
2. Miley Cyrus persuaded to slip off the training bra
3. RIP: Jason Rae
4. Robbie Williams "portly" reckons Paul Dacre
5. RIP: John Stewart
6. Martin Crandall arrested
7. RIP: Nick Sanderson
8. SXSW: The 2008 line-up
9. RIP: Ola Brunkert
10. Will wank for festival tickets - oh, yeah?

These things we flung at you:

The Hold Steady - Stay Positive

Wire - Object 47

The Charlatans - Best of the BBC Sessions 1999 - 2006

Various - Life Beyond Mars Au Revoir Simone, Zoos Of Berlin and others have a crack at Bowie

She & Him - Volume One

The Great Depression - Forever Altered

Heloise & The Saviour Faire - Trash Rats And Microphones

Marianne Faithfull - Live At The BBC