Saturday, September 13, 2008

MGMT drummer taps foot

MGMT have had to cancel a few US appearances; Will Berman, their drummer has injured his foot and needs to keep the weight off it. Obviously, drummers do their drumming sitting down on a stool, but the rest of the band aren't going to carry his gear for him, are they?

Jack White suddenly not happy being a Coca-Cola shill

You'd have thought that with Jack White having happily taken the Coca-Cola shilling in the past, he'd be used to the way the company works. Apparently not so. he's annoyed that Coke have used his James Bond theme in a Coke Zero advert:

"Jack White was commissioned by Sony Pictures to write a theme song for the James Bond film 'Quantum Of Solace', not for Coca Cola," read the statement. "Any other use of the song is based on decisions made by others, not by Jack White.

"We are disappointed that you first heard the song in a co-promotion for Coke Zero, rather than in its entirety."

It's hard to feel any sympathy for White at this high-handed behaviour by the good people at the fizzy drink company - when he recorded his jingle for Coke back in 2006, he didn't seem that bothered about, say, the treatment of Columbian trades unionists who would sometimes turn up dead after taking on Coca-Cola. If I remember correctly, White's Coke jingle was called What Goes Around Comes Around. More apt than perhaps he realised at the time.

Trash Can Sinatras weekend: All The Dark Horses

Recorded live during an instore (or rather, just outside store) at Criminal Records in Atlanta, Georgia:

[Part of Trash Can Sinatras weekend]

MTV despoils

MTV has always been keen to present itself as a green, caring network - suggesting everyone gets sorting trash into three types of recycling, making little cartoons promoting the idea of not slaughtering polar bears, that sort of thing.

It turns out, though, that when it is in a position to actually do something itself, it's less careful. TMZ are running photos that it claims are of the mess left behind in the Panamanian rainforests after the network filmed a Real World/Road Rules challenge. Classy.

Rogers Sisters: Not exactly first with the news

Apparently, The Rogers Sisters split up at the end of June. Sad news indeed.

Trash Can Sinatras weekend: Twisted And Bent

Some acoustic action from the TCS now - from May 1996, VH1:

[Part of Trash Can Sinatras weekend]

H blocked

Atomic Kitten Natasha Hamilton's H club lost its appeal against the suspension of its licence. Hamilton will fight for her club, she insists. Although not by coming home:

Natasha’s manager, Martin O’Shea, said the singer – currently in New York – was devastated by the police allegations.

He said: “In the 10 months since H opened there has not been one single incident.

“It has done untold damage to the good name of Natasha Hamilton, who has devoted much time to supporting anti-gun and anti-knife campaigns in her home city.

“Natasha will do everything possible to change the police's opinions of the club.”

The "not one single incident" does, of course, require you to add the words "up until those two guys got stabbed there last weeked, fled before the cops arrived and then refused to answer any questions when the cops caught up with them" for yourself.

The Liverpool Echo claims that some of the regulars are on the police list which instructs officers to not approach them "without armed back-up".

Embed and breakfast man: Trash Can Sinatras weekend

Inspired this week by the Urban Woo's summation of Glasvegas as "a retread of the the Trash Can Sinatras", this weekend the video rummage is diving for slices of literate Scottish pop. (Or, if you'd rather "stuff by the Scottish Housemartins".)

My abiding memory of the band was their support slot at Ride's triumphant ULU breakthrough gig, where the audience seemed bemused by the band wandering on in Sou'Westers to the sound of Dancing Queen. It was whatever the opposite of a braggadocio stage taking would be called and while it didn't quite work in seizing the crowd's attention, the gesture was appreciated.

It's something of a surprise to discover that the band have been in more-or-less continuous existence since they started in 1986; I'd assumed that their recent activity was a comeback rather than a ramping-up - it kind of underlines how politely quiet they are they can manage to be going for the best part of two decades without even people who love them noticing a lot of their work.

So, for this weekend, some shouting.

This is the big hit: Obscurity Knocks. (A title to view with a degree of ironic detachment, of course.)

Cake - the first album
A Happy Pocket - an Amazon customer notes "I'd never head of the Trash Can Sinatras before this CD came out and Ive never heard of them after it either."
Apparently there's about to be a re-release schedule through Universal's catalogue department.

More online
Official site
Band blog
Last FM

More videos across the weekend
Twisted And Bent - acoustic on VH1
All The Dark Horses - live in store
Tonight You Belong To Me - live in Glasgow
Square Meals

Gordon in the morning: Whatever, you want?

Gordon is predicting big things for Status Quo:

THERE is a good chance STATUS QUO will be No1 this Christmas.

What? Whatever can you mean?
No, I haven’t been in Dr Who’s Tardis and found myself back in 1986 wearing stonewash denim, a white T-shirt and waistcoat.

Well, thank goodness for that. Although if you had gone back to 1986, you wouldn't be writing in a newspaper in 2008 anyway, would you?

No, Gordon is basing his prediction on a Scooter-Status Quo mash-up which is going to be released to try and spoil December.

What's funny is that the record is dreadful, but Smart clearly doesn't want to commit to condemning it out of hand just in case he can pad out his December 27th column with an "I predicted it" piece. So it's almost impossible to tell what he really thinks:
The song is already being played in clubs and the re-hash, based on Quo’s famous guitar riff, has gone down as well as a cheap alcopop.

As in everyone is filling themselves up with it? Or that people think it's cheap and leaves them feeling queasy before throwing up and swearing never again?

Then there's this frankly baffling statement:
They are Germany’s most successful ever singles act.


They sound like a collection of men responsible for this rubbish.

Is it just me or is listing the members of a band and then saying "well, that sounds like the sort of people who would make the record they've made" actually a less worthwhile way of filling a line of space than, say, just repeatedly hitting the ! key?

Elsewhere, Gordon spins Russell Brand and Britney Spears being in the same restaurant at roughly the same time into a possible romance:
Stranger things have happened...

Well, yes. But a cat giving birth to a litter of snakes is slightly different from two people going to eat at one of the most over-exposed restauarants in Los Angeles.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Hello, you

Some lovely news: there's a new album on the way from Hello Saferide. This is the first single off it, Anna. That's what it's called, I'm not calling you Anna.

Dave Pearce arrives at 6Music

The brief description he gives of his plans at least suggests he's going to be throwing his net a little wider than he did on Radio One, but even so: Dave Pearce's Dance Anthems doesn't feel a comfortable fit for 6Music.

Talking of uncomfortable:

Dance Anthems orginally aired on Sunday evenings on Radio 1 when it began in 1997, although more recently it has been broadcast on Fridays.

Radio One began in 1997? What? Eh?

Madonna continues her war on football

Back at the start of the Smelly and Gooey tour, you'll recall Madonna had a charity football event for deprived kids kicked out of the public-funded Millennium Stadium to make way for her.

Now, her date at Frankfurt's Commerzbank-Arena has done so much damage to the pitch, the league have been forced to abandon this weekend's fixture. Apparently Madonna fans left the surface not only unplayable, but also unsafe.

We're given to understand Madonna is currently laying plans to steal the venue for the 2010 World Cup Final.

Maffia surprised by reality TV: apparently it's not real at all

It turns out that going on a reality TV programme on ITV2 doesn't, as legal experts had hoped, mean you lose your right to be treated as a rational adult. Indeed, despite her appearance on Celeb Air, Lisa Maffia is still being given access to the media to complain that, why, it's all edited together:

The singer insisted that footage which appeared to show her giving "dirty looks" to fellow contestant Mica Paris had been manipulated by the programme's editors.

Maffia also accused show chiefs of encouraging her to act "cold" towards the other participants when the cameras are rolling.

She complained: "I know that they will edit it to look dramatic. But I didn't think they would make me out to be a bitch when I'm not."

James P, who alerted us to this terrible lack of respect for veracity on the part of CelebAir, observes:
If only she'd seen that other reality show where they edited some people to look worse than others. What was it called again? Ah yes, all of them.

Maffia is also, we're given to understand, annoyed that CelebAir isn't a real airline at all and the chances of her working her way up to become a flight dispatcher are sorely limited.

Ting Tings show the monkey love

The Ting Tings have picked a support act for their triumphant post-number one tour: they're being accompanied by Fight Like Apes. Here's the dates:



Something to listen to: Herman Dune

The lovely people at CitySlang record are making the world aware of the forthcoming Herman Dune stuff with a free download of new track My Home Is Nowhere Without You.

Next Year In Zion - the album comes with some sort of book.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: He knows his Elbow

Presumably to avoid the need to pay for people to write stuff, Metro hands over a large chunk of its post-Mercurys coverage to Gennaro Castaldo:

HMV spokesman Gennaro Castaldo said: "Following Elbow's popular Mercury win, The Seldom Seen Kid is currently selling four times as many copies at HMV as it was before the ceremony.

"That's a pretty big pick up for such a relatively short time, and with more sales to come over the weekend, when music fans will be out in force, the band look set to enjoy one of the biggest lifts ever seen by a Mercury prize winner.

"A lot of music fans will be aware of the band and their music, but may not have got round to buying one of their albums before.

"The main purpose of the Mercury's is to shine a light on music that deserves to be listened to by a wider audience, and Elbow are certainly in line to make a lot of new fans, and to take their profile to the next level."

I'm a little bemused by this, to be honest - what sort of person would know about a band but not actually bother buying a record until it had won some sort of award? How does that work, exactly? Are there really people who won't touch a record unless Simon Frith has listened to it for them first?

And since the point of the Mercury is to boost sales, wouldn't you expect the lift in sales to be instantaneous? Does Gennaro really find it surprising? Would he really have thought "well, it'll take about a month and a half for that prize to generate an upswing in sales"?

Rav quits

In a move that is almost certainly not going to be connected with the way his column has been buried so deeply in the News of the World website that you're more likely to find a 404 page than his bit, Rav Singh has quit the paper:

"I have had the best years of my life working at the News of the World but all great things come to an end.

"I am keen to try something new and I have big plans which I can't wait to get working on.

"I've really enjoyed working with Colin Myler - and before that Andy Coulson and Rebekah Wade."

The "big plans" are going freelance; his replacement at the NOTW gossip sludge machine is Dan Wootton.

Groping creep called to account

There can be few women gig-goers who haven't, at some point, had their enjoyment spoiled by some bloke taking advantage of the close crowds and low lights to try and cop a feel. It's all too common; much rarer is the grubby fondler getting called to account.

It's encouraging to hear, then, that a man accused of groping women at Crue Fest in Utah has been charged with forcible sexual abuse. Perhaps if that happened a little more often, the groping might occur a little less frequently.

Matchbox strikes out

System Of A Down spin-off act Scars On Broadway are doing a UK tour - which might not interest us overmuch, were it not for their wise decision to invite 80s Matchbox B-Line Disaster along for support:

17th September Birmingham Academy
18th London Astoria
20th Glasgow ABC
21st Manchester Academy

The support slots are topped and tailed by two 8MBLD headline dates:

16th September Yeovil, Orange Box
22nd Wakefield Escobar

Shiny new band: Chris Flew

Chris Flew has built up an impressive list of acts he's opened for over the last couple of years or so ("new" is such a relative term, don't you find): The National, Frightened Rabbit, Laura Veirs and Damien Jurado. And you'd have to reckon if that's the quality of the support slots he's getting, it's worth finding out a little more.

Here's a little more:

This is Christmas On Ward #7, which gives you an idea of his Scottish-tinged Americana. You can find much more on Chris Flew's website. Autumnal loveliness.

Cats return home

The Stray Cats have re-deactivated their reactivated band - Slim Jim Phantom broke his right arm in three places during their Brixton Academy date on Thursday; unsurprisingly, that makes the rest of the tour a washout. Phantom is left needing surgery for his injuries.

Gordon in the morning: Any more Guy?

Readers of the print edition of The Sun might be surprised to discover that Gordon has chosen to run with Guy Ritchie's 40th Birthday again today, as his lead. As the whole world read yesterday, Madonna - the only semi-interesting thing about Ritchie - had left the party as soon as possible, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a star-filled affair:

Oddball yank DAVID GEST was lingering after catching a sniff of the party on Wednesday at The Punchbowl boozer in London’s Mayfair.

Even Gordon knows he's struggling:
A tanned JAMIE HINCE also put in an appearance.

So why did this fairly dull party from the night before last get such a prominent position in the paper? Smart is reduced to banging on about pies to fill in space - and even then, he doesn't seem to know what to say about them:
Pals of the RocknRolla film director arranged for some special-edition pub grub to celebrate his milestone celebration.
just some good old-fashioned pies in a variety of flavours.
The pies were smoked haddock and egg or chicken, leek and tarragon.

So, that's old-fashioned pies that are also special edition pies. Is it possible for something to be both traditional and novel?

Still, Gordon is obsessed by those pies:
They went down a treat. Guy loved them.

Pies! Pies!
“He was presented with one, with a sign stuck in it, by his pals before the serious boozing started.”

Who wants pies?
The nosh was made by The Portobello Pie Company specially for the occasion.

Fascinating. Pies?
Pies are the new sushi, if you ask me.

Any more pie, Gordon?
I hope The Queen of Pop had digested her Guy pie in time for all that dancing.

Has anyone ever got so excited by pub food before? Tomorrow: Gordon discovers the salted peanuts - and they're on a card with a woman in a bikini.

Although when the paper was printed this close study of someone's tea from Tuesday had been considered the biggest story of the day, online it's hidden halfway down the page, with an interview with Will Young boosted to take the key slot.

Will talks about his desire to adopt and then tells a story about a relative:
“My niece was drawing pictures with me and she had drawn one of me that she wasn’t happy with.

“She said, ‘William, this is you. Something about it isn’t quite right. Let me see.’ I had long hair, then she drew a skirt on me. She is so young but astute enough to pick up on that. It was brilliant."

But you're not actually a transvestite are you, Will?

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Estelle creeps back in

There's nothing worse than making a big, flashy exit, only to have to creep back in a few minutes later and try and pretend nothing happened.

Having made the bemusing decision to yank Estelle's album from iTunes to see if not having it on the biggest music retailer would help sales, Atlantic have quietly returned the album hoping to stop the resulting sales plummet.

If you're well enough to promote your album, you're well enough to go on stage

Oasis have pulled their planned "intimate" gig for New York tomorrow night as Noel attempts to recover from the attack. However, the band are going to go ahead with a push for the new album:

Oasis will teach a crew of 30 New York City street musicians songs from their new album Dig Out Your Soul. After their lesson, the buskers (who all have gigs in subway and train stations as part of a Metropolitan Transit Authority program) will fan out across the city and perform three songs — “The Turning,” “Bag it Up” and “(Get Off Your) High Horse Lady” — for the first time, as well as single “The Shock of the Lightning.”

This sounds to us like Noel is adopting Saddam Hussein's approach of having a large number of lookalikes fanning out around town in order to confuse potential attackers.

Scientists will be watching the stunt carefully; they figure the spreading of Oasis songs through a large city will give them insight into how a virulent disease might canter through an urban population.

Abba Museum arrival pushed back

The world must wait a little longer for the opening of the first ever official Abba Museum, with those in charge of the project blaming building problems:

[P]roject co-founder Ulf Westman said Thursday the renovation of the building will take longer than expected because it is "more complicated than what was predicted earlier."

They could have done with Sarah Beeney on the project, really - she'd have told them that trying to cram four separate jump suit galleries into the space would cause unnecessary delays and lead to problems with local planners.

Kanye West arrested

It looks like Kanye West's short temper has got the better of him again: He's been arrested after a - yes, let's call what it was - a skirmish at LAX. A ten thousand dollar camera apparently got smashed shortly after it was pointed at him; West and another bloke have been thrown into the airport prison on suspicion of vandalism.

His bodyguard has also been arrested, although that might just be because he's done such a poor job of protecting him.

Death Magnetic comes early

Metallica's new album has been released in the UK a day earlier than planned - ostensibly because it had been leaked on the internet, although The Gauntlet wonders why only the UK release date would be affected by the leak - could it be that only the UK internet leaks? Or is it that it's only in the UK that the band are battling Glasvegas for the number one slot?

James Morrison means nothing to Madonna

James Morrison - who it appears is still going - seems to be somewhat put out that Madonna didn't have a clue who he was:

"I was recording in a studio in LA and she came in to speak to a producer and someone asked if I wanted to meet her.

"I'm not her biggest fan but thought I'd say hello so I went over and said: 'Hello, I'm James, nice to meet you,' and put my hand out to shake hands.

"She just looked at it and said: 'And what do you do?' I told her I was a singer and she just stared at me and didn't say anything. It was really uncomfortable. Then she just ignored me.

"Fuck her, though, it's just a matter of common courtesy. It doesn't matter what someone does for a living. She's just rude. There's no excuse for it."

It's not entirely clear what James was expecting her to do - nor, indeed, why he didn't have the wit to break the awkward silence by saying "it's alright - I'm not James Blunt or anything." Or perhaps "... and you? What is it you do?" I have no doubt that Madonna is so incredibly haughty that she would view conversation with an underling as a waste of her valuable time, but it does take two to make an awkward silence.

Torrent admin banged up

We've reached the verdict in the last of the trials sparked from the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement taking time out of its busy war on terror to infiltrate a Bittorrent operation - like in Spooks Code 9.

Daniel Dove had been the only target netted through expensive use of US government resources to plead not guilty; he's just been handed a $20,000 and eighteen months in jail.

The operation had the desired effect of reducing the number of files being shared without permission on the bit-torrent network, assuming you count 'being removed from American servers and placed on overseas machines instead' as an actual reduction.

Let him waste your time. Well, not waste, more pass. In a pleasant way.

Jarvis Cocker is headed out on tour:

Sheffield Academy (November 25)
London Shepherds Bush Empire (26)
Edinburgh Picture House (28)
Manchester Academy (30)
Birmingham Academy (December 2)

The plan is, apparently, for support to come from various of Jarvis' Rough Trade colleagues. As in his record labe, not that sort of rough trade. Although the two might not be mutually exclusive.

They don't care about the young folks

The promoters of next Tuesday's Peter, Bjorn and John gig at London's Koko have pulled it, apparently. The band's label says Compass Three Ltd are offering refunds or free entry into one of their other promoted shows by way of recompense.

Yes. Well, no, not quite Yes.

Jon Anderson forced the cancellation of the Yes 40th anniversary tour and is still ill. So the band is hitting the road with Benoit David on vocals.

Who he? He's a singer in Yes tribute acts - although presumably they're not actually tribute acts any more if they feature an actual member of the actual band?

Anderson might be a little nervous about this development, as Yes seem to be enjoying having a singer who's a little more easy to work with:

[Chris] Squire hopes to work songs from [the Anderson-less Drama] album into the set for the upcoming tour, plus a few songs he said were not Anderson's favorites to perform live but the rest of the band likes.

Also, we hear David brings donuts to rehearsals.

Oh, take the bloody lot then

Glastonbury is keen not to be left with piles and piles of unsold tickets at the start of the festvial week next year, and so they've abandoned the limit on the number of tickets any one person can buy. Although we thought the limit was supposed to ensure everyone had a chance of getting tickets as well as being some sort of protection against bad things happening.

Somewhat cynically, Emily Eavis has attempted to help sell the tickets by simply making up a fantasy bill:

"Coldplay are a great Glastonbury band, as are Radiohead, but it's really hard to say at the moment for definite who's going to play next year," she said.

"It would be really good to have an appearance by Led Zeppelin too, that's one band who haven't played here."

On the other hand, if the LHC experiments allow time travel, The Beatles might reform on the Sunday night.

Former Kitten in trouble - no, not Katona this time

One of the more-balanced Atomic Kittens, Natasha Hamilton, has quietly been making a new life for herself as a bar owner in Liverpool. It's been going well, so far.

So far.

Liverpool City Council has closed the place down on police advice, suspending the licence:

PC Moore [told the licensing meeting]: “Several gun crime nominals have been seen in frequenting the premises and are known to be active in criminality in the city. At a meeting with the directors in August, we voiced concern about the calibre of clientele and that some of the characters frequenting the club have the capacity to carry lethal weapons.”

Isn't the "capacity to carry lethal weapons" having hands and perhaps a belt? I know he meant "may own lethal weapons", but could he not say that?

The club had started checking for knives and guns on Fridays and Saturdays; their suggestion to try and save the licence was to really crack down and see if people were bringing in knives every night of the week. It's possibly a little too late, given that people were stabbed in the H Bar on Sunday night/Monday morning.

The H Bar is appealing against the decision; the appeal will be heard tomorrow.

Hamilton has pronounced herself gobsmacked:
“Since we opened the bar nearly a year ago there has not been a single incident of violence or disorder of any kind and the atmosphere we have generated has been fantastic.”

“We pride ourselves on the safety and security of all of the crowd who fill H every weekend and that of our staff."

Not a single incident of violence or disorder. Erm, apart from the double stabbing, of course.

Gordon in the morning: Good lord, a story worth reading

Apart from the over-liberal use of corny, Our Tune style phrases like "tragic pal" - oh, and the "you won't have heard of Elbow before" info-box - Gordon's story this morning on Elbow dedicating their Mercury award to the Bryan Glancy is actually a decent story.

It could almost make up for a big splash about Amy Winehouse's new "secret country retreat" that, erm, does virtually everything besides providing a Google Map. Almost, but not quite.

Whale away

Noah and the Whale are off to the United States, for what they point out, politely but firmly, isn't their first tour of the America:

September 16- Union Pool- Brooklyn, NY
September 18- Sidewalk Cafe- New York, NY
September 19- Virgin Union Square (12:30 PM)- New York, NY**
September 19- Mercury Lounge- New York, NY
September 20- TOAD- Boston, MA**
September 22- The Saints- Montreal**
September 23- Horseshoe Tavern- Toronto, ONT**
September 25- Av-Aerie (ALL AGES)- Chicago, IL
September 26- Reckless Records (6 PM)- Chicago, IL**
September 26- Empty Bottle- Chicago, IL
September 29- Chop Suey- Seattle, WA**
September 30- Doug Fir Lounge- Portland, OR**
October 02- Amoeba Music (6PM)- San Francisco, CA**
October 02- Pop Scene @ 330 Ritch- San Francisco, CA
October 04- Detour Festival- Los Angeles, CA
October 06- Spaceland- Los Angeles, CA**

Those double asterisks? They're free shows, they are.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

At last - Caleb Kings talks sense

I can nod wholeheartedly and genuinely with Caleb Followill when he says Sex On Fire was a rubbish idea:

"I just had this melody and I didn't know what to say. Then one day I just sang "this sex is on fire" and I laughed. I thought it was terrible, but the rest of the band were like, 'it's good, it's got a hook'. I was like 'fuck off!' but I ended up writing it," he said.

Of course, we do split again when he decides it was worth recording the song.

Apparently, it's all down to the sex factor:
"There's an element of sex that's expected in our songs so I tried to wrap it all up in one song. If you read the lyrics you'll find it's got some quite visual lyrics in it. It's a pretty sexy song actually, but I knew after writing 'Sex On Fire', I couldn't write verses about making out, or going to the movie theatre with a girl," he said.

Maybe it's just me, but I don't really think I've ever looked to Kings Of Leon for an element of sex. Indeed, they're so far removed from sex that typing 'kings of leon' into Google actually has the same effect of installing a porn filter on your computer.

The Edge: Let's wait a while

U2 have, as you'll have heard, shoved the album planned for this year back to the other side of Christmas.


The Edge explains:

"We're still writing and we're trying to take it to the next level," said The Edge. "Its taking a while, but I'm told there's no short cut to greatness!"

By spending a little longer writing the album, it means U2 can be certain their record will be a 2009 album, which is a whole level higher than being a 2008 album.

He might be nostalgic, but he also has precognition

Surely the latest entry on Noel Gallagher's tour diary can't have been published after he got attacked on stage, could it? Or is he just psychic: a festival tonight. The V Fest in Toronto. I have a bad feeling about it.

Perhaps he should have listened to his inner voice. Mind you, his inner voice may very well say 'let's stop making this records', so perhaps it's in his financial interest to drown it out.

The Talon-ted Mr Kele

Bloc Party's new video, for the single Talons, gets a YouTube release:

Duffy, Adele celebrates her black roots

Once again, the Mobos have announced their shortlists without bothering to actually publish the list on their own website, which - along with the news that Mel B and the Run from Run DMC will be presenting - suggests that even the MOBOs don't really take themselves seriously anymore.

Amongst this year's nominations for best music of black origin prizes are Adele and Duffy.

Which makes it a little more bemusing that the MOBO chief executive has a pop at Britain for not treating our black artists properly:

: "Hip Hop and R&B have emerged as popular music, not just genres beloved by a minority, and British artists are at the forefront.

"It's fantastic to see artists like Estelle, who Mobo championed early on, get their due.

"I'd like to call on the music industry to keep up the good work and capitalise on this. There are still barriers out there. Estelle had to go to America to really break through and be given her big chance.

"The talent is undoubtedly here, let's get behind them."

How about making a start by not using the awards designed to correct the white-artists-only bias of the Brit Awards to honour exactly the same white artists that the Brits fawn over.

Estelle, the Telegraph reminds us, was complaining about this very thing back in March:
"I'm not mad at them, but I'm wondering - how the hell is there not a single black person in the press singing soul?" she asked in an interview published in March. "Adele ain't soul. She sounds like she heard some Aretha records once, and she's got a deeper voice - that don't mean she's soul. That don't mean nothing to me in the grand scheme of my life as a black person."

That's going to make things a bit frosty at the prize-giving, then.

Diddy's plane lies

You'll recall P Diddy's complaints about the high cost of air fuel from last week, of course. The poor thing couldn't afford to fly his private jet, he complained.

Thye Palm Beach Post, though, has been doing some digging and reckons that it's found the cost of aviation fuel shouldn't be a problem for Diddy at all: he doesn't own a jet:

One private aviation source scoffed: “It’s my jet this, my jet that. I have list of every plane with the name of the owner, and he’s not on it.”

Further evidence he was making it up? He hasn't got a clue what planes cost, either:
The private aviation spy said Diddy’s math is off. Flying back and forth to the Left Coast twice would set him back $100,000, even with pricey fuel.

“The truly rich aren’t affected by oil when it comes to private planes,” said the private aviation source in Palm Beach. “Monthly payments on a $20 million-plane and crews are expensive.”

What makes this even more embarrassing for Diddy is that he took MTV off to a hanger to see a jet which he appears to have told them he owned.

His people try and explain how he might have got confused and suddenly started talking about owning a plane when he doesn't:
The hip-hopper’s publicist in New York said Combs, 38, swears Combs is the fractional owner of a NetJets plane.

That company sells flight hours on private jets and calls it “fractional ownership.”

I suppose if you had a timeshare in Spain, you might start to get confused and assume you had some sort of presidential status in Madrid.

Marillion to give away their new album

Marillion have decided that the market value of the digital version of their next album is one email address. They're going to be releasing Happiness Is The Road for free onto the torrents; first play of the official tracks will generate a pop-up box into which you stick your email address, which will then be collected by the band.

The thinking is that most people who like Marillion would rather pay for the finished CD and live in anonymity than to let the band know who they are. Or something.

Again, sadly

Isle Of Man authorities have issued a warrant for Andy Kershaw's arrest after he again, allegedly, breached his restraining order.

Girls Aloud four quid a head better off

Congratulations to Girls Aloud, winners of the twenty quid Popjustice Music Prize. For Call The Shots.

They beat off this stiff competition:

'A&E' - Goldfrapp
'About You Now' - Sugababes
'Bleeding Love' - Leona Lewis
'Dance Wiv Me' - Dizzee Rascal feat Calvin Harris
'Flux' - Bloc Party
'Money' - Daggers
'That's Not My Name' - The Ting TIngs
'Valerie' - Mark Ronson feat Amy Winehouse
'Ready For The Floor' - Hot Chip
'Song 4 Mutya (Out Of Control)' - Groove Armada feat Mutya Buena
'Stuck On Repeat' - Little Boots

It's a parody of the Mercury, although not to the extent that they feel obliged to include a jazz single.

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Every Day Is Like Wednesday reviews Method Man - who has turned himself into a comic book:

Method Man eschews the Brian Michael Bendis method of using “@#$%” to stand in for four letter words (As in “@#$% you, you @#$%ing @#$%!”), using a method that’s even more transparent. When Peerless swears, in narration or dialogue, we get the first and last letters of the word, with hangman-like spaces between.

[Method Man: The Comic Book on Amazon]

The ghosts of Motley Crue

With Mick Mars churning out guitar bits all the time, enquiring minds - well, Ultimate Guitar - wants to know how he can tell when he's invented something that is a Motley Crueable tune?

Umm, a MÖTLEY song is umm, I can feel them; I can pretty much tell right away. Umm, when I write a song for MÖTLEY CRÜE, about two-thirds of it is MÖTLEY and then I kind of put a part in that pieces it together, so you can hear the parts together.

The modern Motley Crue work in a way that resembles McCartney and Wonder making Ebony and Ivory - i.e. it's all done in pieces without meeting and results in a terrible noise:
Mostly what we did was, I would come in with some riffs and things like that. We would record them, I would record them on ProTools because everybody was kind of doing their thing, you know? Like Tommy and Vince already had their schedules already pre-planned so we had to kind of plan around that because they had already committed to doing that before. Doing what they needed to do, that is. And so what we did was, Nikki and I would record some things, put them down on ProTools, cut 'em up, splice 'em together, put 'em together, however you want to call it. And had Tommy and Vince do their parts when they had time to do it. And it worked out pretty well.

Plans for the tour will see the various members of band playing on the same stage on four different nights; gig-goers will be asked to remember what each bit sounded like and piece them together in their minds.

Gordon in the morning: Heather Mills not Trumped

The story may or may not be true - Heather Mills dumped from the 'celebrity' Apprentice after demanding she be allowed to get to the final - but it does mean that Gordon is able to revist some of Victoria Newton's best work:

Mucca appeared on the US equivalent of Strictly Come Dancing, Dancing With the Stars. But she was booted out after six weeks.

Now, if I remember correctly, Gordon's boss actually insisted that Mills would be "booted out" right at the start, what with how everyone was supposed to hate her. Indeed, staying in for six weeks is pretty good going.

More unlikely tales: Russell Brand to do MTV Awards again next year?. Gordon says yes:
RUSSELL BRAND has been asked to present the MTV Video Music Awards again next year after sending ratings through the roof on Sunday night.

His near-the-knuckle gags were such a success, bosses have been falling over themselves to get him signed up for a second year.

Since it's clear from reading blog reactions that nobody had much of a clue who Brand was before switching on, how exactly would MTV be putting that down the pull of Brand, exactly? (The show did do well in the ratings - 15% up on last year - but you'd have to put that down to the Jonas Brothers and Britney rather than Brand, wouldn't you?)

And even more unlikely tales: Robbie Williams can apparently charm extra-terrestrial creatures:
“I had just finished writing a song called Arizona, which is about alien abduction, when there was this glow. It was magic.”

Was it a UFO, or was it magic? Or does Williams claim that aliens can do magic ("take me to your leader so they can pick a card, any card...")?

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Something to listen to: Wichita sampler

Fancy a fifteen-strong digital album from Wichita Recordings, including Conor Oberst, Los Campesinos!, Euros Childs and, clearly, twelve more?

All they want in return is a email address, and the tracks could be yours.

Apple promises less iPod than ever before

Tucked into the hoopla around the unveiling of iTunes 8, and purple Nanos and a Touch with volume buttons on the side and all the other wonders of the Apple world: Apple have dumped the 160GB iPod, meaning you now can't get a model with anything more than a 120GB classic. I'm not entirely sure I'm excited at the prospect of less storage as a selling point.

Zune: the bottom line

Tucked into Popmatters report on the new range of Zunes:

For the quarter ended in June, Microsoft reported a loss of $188 million for the division, on $1.6 billion in revenue.

That seems to be a hell of a huge loss considering the money they're pulling in. You don't think Peter Jones would be investing in that sort of proposition.

Burial buried

Elbow - who, yes, have improved noticeably since no longer having major label bosses making helpful suggestions - have won the Mercury Music Prize.

Not Burial, then, despite the cash being poured in support of his album down the bookies.

Guy Garvey is delighted:

"This is quite literally the best thing that's ever happened to us."

Although that's probably what Roni Size thought.

Republicans don't listen

Despite having been asked nicely not to, the Republicans are still playing Heart's Baracuda at their gatherings. So, not all that big on respect or valuing people's choices, then.

Amusingly, Roger Fisher from Heart has pledged he'll give the royalties earned through the song being played for Republicans straight to the Obama campaign.

Back after 18 years

This Almighty Pop fnazine has just published issue 5 - only 18 years after issue 4. Presumably the photocopier at the newsagents round the corner had broken.

Issue five features The Wave Pictures and comes with a CD-R (the 21st century version of a flexi disc).

We're expecting Trout Fishing In Leytonstone to publish a new edition next.

Oasis fans take matters into their own hands

As Oasis pull tonight's gig in London, Canadan to allow Noel some more time to get over his injuries and rebuild his wounded pride, Oasis "fans" are busily responding to the attack by - well, let's not use the word "vigilante", as it's so ugly, isn't it?

At the same time, angry Oasis fans have issued "Wanted: Dead or Alive" calls on [Daniel] Sullivan, and have even printed his home address, phone number and a map of where he lives on fan forums.

Yes. Dead or alive. Why isn't summary execution allowed for shoving a bloke over? Political correctness gone mad, isn't it?

Sullivan has been charged with assault while organisers of the V Festival try to work out how things went so wrong:
In an interview with The Ampersand, Virgin spokesperson Nathan Rosenberg says Sullivan somehow evaded security, and that he wasn't someone who had a backstage pass.

"Somehow evaded security", huh? Do you think? I do like the implication that there is some sort of backstage pass which would allow you to push the bands over.

Russell Brand manages to boost US teen pregnancy rate

As part of his shtick at the MTV VMAs this weekend, Russell Brand launched a squawking mock-bomb on the Jonas Brothers and their much-touted silver rings.

The abstinence people, though, are putting a brave face on it, claiming it's good news for them:

"I've received a good amount of feedback," said Jason Burtt, national director of Silver Ring Thing, a program that asks teens to pledge to remain virgins until marriage. "Nothing negative, but mostly positive support from all over the country from people interested in the program."

Of course, the Silver Ring people have more than enough negativity to cope with - what with how virginity pledges don't work - but still, it's nice the hear they're building on Brand's jokes as a way of spreading their failing message a little wider.

It's interesting that MTV News runs a largely uncritical piece - almost as if the parent company is desperate to balance out Brand's comments by bending over backwards. There is, at the very end, a mention of the negative studies into the idea, but downplayed:
A number of studies have shown that teens who take purity pledges tend to delay becoming sexually active for about 18 months longer than teens who don't, but that when they do become active, they are more likely to have unprotected or risky sex, though [Silver Ring Thing founder Denny] Pattyn said he does not support those findings.

It's not clear why a vague attempt to balance the story is then wiped out by quoting someone whose career depends on the Teen Abstinence industry. it's like running a piece saying how great turkey is, and then taking the one negative comment about turkey and adding that Bernard Matthews takes issue with the point.

Indeed, Pattyn has trouble with the idea that anything is a negative for his campaign:
"This is a big, big to-do," Pattyn said of the flap in his community over the Jonas Brothers/ Brand issue. "It's fantastic for an organization like ours, and we think this will open up some major things." Pattyn said he gave Meghan McCain one of his group's rings to give to Governor Palin for her daughter "to let her know we're supporting her and praying for her."

You might think that it might be a little late to be sending Bristol Palin a ring to mark her abstinence - and, indeed, coming from a home whose mother is committed to replacing sex education with abstinence "education", might prove a salutary example of just how it might not work to not mention the condoms at all.

Pattyn is using the extra attention Brand's gag has given his organisation to try and get access to Sarah Palin - something of an open door. If the election goes the wrong way, Russell Brand might have played a part in condemning a whole slew of young American girls into not getting proper sex education. Well done, Russell.

EMI lose another artist: Nitzer Ebb quit Mute

EMI's worrying inability to keep its artists looks worse by the day: Nitzer Ebb have confirmed they're not with Mute any more and are looking round for a new deal. They'll have to hurry, though, as they want a new album out by Christmas.

Shearwaters run deep

And while I'm idly cutting and pasting tour dates, here's some for Shearwater:

Sept 13th - End Of The Road Festival, Dorset
Sept 14th - Zodiac, Oxford
Sept 15th - Captain's Rest, Glasgow
Sept 16th - The Roadhouse, Manchester
Sept 17th - Bush Hall, London
Sept 18th - Rough Trade East, London
Sept 19th - Whelans, Dublin
Sept 20th - Speakeasy, Belfast
Sept 21st - Roisin Dubh, Galway

Stereolab on the road

This December, Stereolab will be double-checking how many plugs are available on the stages of these fine venues:

Dec 12th - The Pavilion, Cork
Dec 13th - Tripod, Dublin
Dec 14th - Black Box, Belfast
Dec 16th - Oran Mor, Glasgow
Dec 17th - Academy 3, Manchester
Dec 18th - Concorde 2, Brighton
Dec 19th - KOKO, London

[You might enjoy the Stereolab weekend]

Back from the brink: Shelleyan Orphan

Bournemouth's contribution to popular culture is, to be fair, slight: That bloke who used to go to all England's matches dressed up all patriotic like until the story leaked about dubious activities with children; Jim Davidson sitting as chair of the local football club. And Shelleyan Orphan.

The latter have just reunited: We Have Everything We Need is due on October 13th on One Little Indian. The album features a collaboration with the Hungarian National Radio Orchestra, which is quite refreshing.

You might want to hold off buying it, though, as there's a box set promised this winter in which the new record is collated alongside all the 1980s-90s stuff and a bunch of rarities.

There's a tour planned, too.

Need your memory jogged? See if this doesn't bring the last half-hour of the Janice Long Show rushing back:

Gennaro Castaldo watch: New fibs on the block

In scenes reminiscent of Beatlemania (i.e. relying heavily on the press talking it up), apparently last night's visit of New Kids On The Block led to "chaos" on the streets of London. It must be true, the Daily Star says so:

NEW Kids On The Block sparked chaos at their first UK appearance in more than 14 years yesterday.

What nature of chaos, exactly? Happily, the event was at HMV, so we can turn for elaboration to HMV's pit-pony of press and publicity, Gennaro Castaldo:
HMV’s Gennaro Castaldo said: “This must be the largest PA we’ve done in recent years, so big it forced us to close the store while the event was taking place – something we have done only a handful of times.”

Wow. That really is chaotic. Or, at least, a fairly busy day in a London shop.

Heather Mills: The book what I wrote

Where does she get her ideas from? Heather Mills is shopping a novel round publishers about a man who finds he can understand trees and slowly turns into a carrot.

Alright, it's about a model who marries a famous rock star. Doubtless the characters will be called Helen Millington and Mike McPaulney.

She's hoping for a million dollar advance, so I'm not going to hold my breath.

Zune attempts to steal Apple's thunder

With Apple about to launch something-or-other at today's Let's Rock event - an iPod with spaceflight capabilities, a MacBook that folds into an actual leopard, a phone that works properly - Microsoft aren't sitting back and taking it. They're taking the battle to Apple. Power-ups for the Zune all round.

Maybe that was what the Seinfeld advert was actually meant to be advertising?

A press release clatters in, announcing, erm, something:

The Zune Social online music community. Customers can connect with millions of like-minded fans and share music via the Zune Card, a real-time playlist of each user's favorite and recently played tracks that can be accessed on the Web or within the Zune software, or synced to the Zune device. Zune Pass subscribers can play full tracks from Zune Cards synced to their device while on the go, and now the playlists will even automatically update with the most recently played tracks when Zune connects to a wireless hot spot. It's like subscribing to a free feed of music from the sources people trust most -- their friends.

Clear, huh? There's a wi-fi updated subscriber pass with a real-time playlist and... um, something. I think it's basically a bit like but on the player.

I love that bit about "the sources people trust most" - it's music, not investment advice. You might meet a bloke in the pub who says "trust me, try Dumpy's Rusty Nuts" and you could sample his advice without risking your house, your life, your sanity. Well, not your house or life anyway.

And isn't the model for most music recommendation systems now based on 'people who like music similar to your tastes also like this' rather than 'your friends like this, so will you' - after all, friendship is no guarantor of similar music taste, is it? There are people I love and would fight for, but they like Oasis. I'd no more want their Zune streaming over my wi-fi than I would want to lick a stranger's ears.

Zune is also promising "powerful software":
The Zune PC software is a free download at that provides rich discovery and media management capabilities to help consumers make the most of their existing music collections, in addition to providing access to the Zune Social and Zune Marketplace so they can add to it.

Blimey - let's hope that powerful software doesn't fall into the wrong hands. Can you imagine what the Chinese might do if they got hold of that? Other than for the purposes of manufacturing the Zune.

And there's also this:
Customers can select an artist, album or Zune Card to activate a dynamic, visual mosaic of related music and listeners. With each click users can take the view in a new direction, creating a fun, graphical way to discover new music. Mixview works with users' current collection of music, in addition to tracks and albums from across the Zune Marketplace.

At long last - someone's decided to make music fun. Thank God.

Well, with this dynamic mosaic and powerful software that's a bit like iTunes, Microsoft have really raised the bar. I'm given to understand a visibly-shaken Steve Jobs was heard shouting "well, can we make a peach coloured iPod? They haven't done a peach one..."

Gordon in the morning: The fallen hero

Gordon, as we know, has special feelings for the Oasis boys, and so we can only imagine the turmoil he was going through having to report on the Noel Gallagher getting pushed over on stage incident. It's almost like asking a son to report on the attack which killed his father.

The distress is the only thing which can explain the strange aspects of Smart's report (he also gets some help from Nick Parker - it's not clear who worked out how to play the YouTube video and who took notes).

Clearly, even Noel Gallagher should be allowed to go about his business without being pushed over on stage, but equally, the guy who got on stage was a bit merry rather than intent on a killing spree. Ill-judged hi-jinks that got out of hand rather than a violent crime.

Not if you rely on Gordon for your news, though:

OASIS star NOEL GALLAGHER played on in agony after a crazed fan attacked him on stage.

The nut rushed up behind the guitarist mid-performance and shoved him hard in the back.

Now, I don't know the mental health status of the bloke on the stage. Neither does Gordon. Nick Parker, we'd assume, is equally in the dark. And yet here's the Sun, insisting that the chap is both "crazed" and - charmingly - "a nut".

If Noel really was the victim of a serious offence conducted by someone with mental health issues, that does make Smart's headline seem a little strange:
Gallagher brothers are mad fer hit

Also the use of Wonderfall on the captions.

But it's not just the question of how Smart watched the video and saw a crazed fan. There's also this bit:
[H]is furious Mad Fer It brother, singer LIAM, rushed at the intruder with fists flailing before security staff dragged the man away.

Really? Because most people seem to see security staff dragging the man away before Liam starts to get involved.

Of course, this is proper journalism, and so there's a need for some sort of context, from an expert. We're not let down:
STEREOPHONICS star KELLY JONES, who played on the same bill, said: “It was out of order.”

Thank god there was someone able to explain that for us. Otherwise we might have thought this sort of thing was acceptable.

It was out of order. But isn't getting over-excited, clambering on stage, having a pop - aren't all these things the attitude which Oasis actively promotes?

Monday, September 08, 2008

That? Oh, that's the sound of the swing states turning red

Hey - here's a way to ensure that Obama gets elected: why not get Boy George to record a song about how Yes We Can make it to the promised land? Oh, and also throw in some references to Amy Winehouse as well. Because, really, who running for President wouldn't want Boy George to pop up supporting him while suggesting that, effectively, Obama and Winehouse are pretty much the same deal?

Although, to be fair, the tune is pretty sharp.

It's like Eggs And Baker for a new generation

Rock stars and cooking - they go together like ballet dancers and removing supporting walls. With the exception of David Van Day and his chip shop. That is, until now, and Blip.TV's cooking with rockstars.

Here, Nada Surf invite you to do some cooking:

[via the MusicSlut]

It's like someone's fitted an inspection panel into Ne-Yo's skull, and we're all invited to have a poke about

Ne-Yo has a new album - Year Of The Gentleman - which is even now being lovingly clad in plastic ready for sale.

To help ease the time until release, Ne-Yo is filling the ten days blogging the songs and explaining the meanings behind them. And going all interactive:

I’m going to break down the meaning behind the other 10 songs on the record, of course excluding what you’ve already heard, “closer” and “Ms. Independent”. I feel that this’ll help you all get a better understanding of what the songs are, why I wrote them the way I did, the inspirations behind them, while at the same time letting you a lil’ further into the mind of yours truly.

Blimey. That's quite an offer, don't you think?

So, Ne-Yo kicks off with an explanation of Nobody:
This song is more about the FEEL of the record as oppose to it being so much about the lyrics.

I'm sorry? It's a song that isn't actually a song, but somehow the sense of touch?
It depicts a woman, sexy, strong, sexy, a lil’ dangerous…….did I mention sexy……??

Is it Faith from Buffy? Is it? It is, isn't it?
The kind of woman the steps on the floor in the club and all the fellas want it, all the ladies wanna be it. Know what I mean??

A woman the steps on the floor? No, to be honest, I don't know what you mean. It might be a typo, although the use of "it" suggests the rest of the sentence is referring to the floor rather than the woman - "I really want to be that floor..." "Yes, indeed - ever since that sexy dangerous sexy woman the stepped on the floor, I've been admiring the parquet..."
The track is very much early MJ, very much sounding like it came straight outta the sessions for the “Off The Wall” album.

It's quite refreshing for the artist to offer the slaggy, "pale imitation of a thirty year old record" review, isn't it?
This song is my MJ tribute song. I always do at least one, every album. Can you pick out the ones from the last two albums??

See? Interactivity there. If you can pick the songs, why not draw a picture of Ne-Yo dressed up as Michael Jackson making the songs? You can use paints, crayons, or coloured pencils - anything you like - to make the drawing.

So, effectively, then, Ne-Yo's revelation is "this song sounds a bit like a Mickey Jackson knock-off and it's about a hot woman". Thanks for that insight, Ne-Yo.

Brit Awards 2009: Can you wait?

The 2009 Brit Awards will, again, be televised live by ITV. Although there's no word yet on who will host, the chances of it being better than this year's horrorshop have to be high. February 18th is the date for your diary; the nasty ITV2 nominations programme is scheduled for January 20th.

Which does give us a chance to ask: what on earth were they thinking they were doing when they kind-of redesigned the ITV2 logo? The ITV family of channels at least looked coherent, if they lacked any other sort of coherence, and now they've got on channel whose logo fits, except it's been turned through about 30 degrees and then made 3D for no good reason. If they really wanted to try and give a sense of personality to the channel, they could have tweaked the 2 and left it in the standard ITV logo layout; this just looks like fifteen minutes before a press launch they got someone to knock something up using the graphics capability of Microsoft Word.

Missing the First Post


Earlier today, RSS readers worldwide throbbed gently as the First Post published a story about Malcolm McClaren "declaring war" on his son Joe - the phrase "punk rock rip-off" was mentioned.

However, if you trot over the the website, there's not a whiff of anything about Malcolm there. The URL, however, still exists:,1357,malcolm-mclaren-says-son-is-punk-rip-off,43748

But with an empty page compiled out where it once was. As if the First Post had somehow thought McClaren was at war with his son, but then decided he wasn't.

Clash injection

Clash magazine - the music (and apparently fashion) monthly that comes from Dundee - has been given a large chunk of public money, drawing down nearly a quarter of a million quid from the Scottish Parliament to fund its web ambitions:

MD John O’Rourke: “We now have the opportunity to develop the platform with more applications that will captivate our unique community of music tastemakers and help realise our global aspirations. Clash will continue to concentrate on quality in both our content and delivery, streaming many exclusives and adding new channels, all of which shall see the level of growth continue.”

Does Clash really have a unique community of music tastemakes? (For the website of a magazine that currently has Kings Of Leon on the front cover, mark you.) Clearly, it has a community of users, but I'd be very surprised if they claim their readers are in any way unique to them.

I should imagine the team are even now sending the Clash team cards, generously welcoming competitors funded by the rates.

Gallagher attacked on stage

Noel Gallagher got attacked on stage at Canada's V festival - as this fan video shows, about one minute thirty in, someone walked on stage, straight up to Noel and pushed him over. Security rush on to the stage - perhaps a little late, you might observe - and the band trooped off.

Oasis returned and completed their set after about ten minutes.

MTV garland Britney Spears with much, much praise

Not a thing for the Ting Tings, then, as Britney Spears is given most of the MTV Awards in a year which seems to be summed up by the attitude "oh, let's just pass them to Britney and have done with".

Here, then, are the winners:

Best Female Video
Britney Spears"Piece of Me"

Best Male Video
Chris Brown"With You"

Best Dancing In A Video
Pussycat Dolls"When I Grow Up"

Best Rock Video
Linkin Park"Shadow of the Day"

Best Hip Hop Video
Lil Wayne"Lollipop"

Best New Artist
Tokio Hotel"Ready, Set, Go!"

Best Pop Video
Britney Spears"Piece of Me"

Video Of The Year
Britney Spears"Piece of Me"

Was I a cynical man, I might wonder if the clean sweep for an okay-but-hardly-career-best tune was designed in the hope that a "Britney clean sweep" story might actually give a knackered old MTV Awards some sort of news profile beyond a down page "the MTV awards took place yesterday" story. Although judging by the acts which got prizes when Britney was elsewhere - presumably they had to give someone else the Best Dancing prize to let Spears nip off stage long enough for a wee - it could just be the result of the dullest judges in history.

And, in return for all this largesse, what did Britney do for MTV? Not a song and dance routine - perhaps wise after last year's ahem performance. Nope, she uttered four lines of welcome at the start of the show, for all the world like a carnival queen opening a supermarket.

Russell Brand was in charge this year - which we think means that the 2009 awards have to be presented by a disappointing combination of George Lamb and Davina McCall. How did he go down?

Best Week Ever reacts:

They just introduced Russell Brand, but the guy who stumbled out looks more like that weird German lead singer of Tokio Hotel. His accent sounds like the first half of My Fair Lady. He just asked everyone to elect Barack Obama. While I support the sentiment, I don’t know if Barack really needs the endorsement of someone who looks like the love child of Keith Richards and Amy Winehouse.

His performance doesn't merit any further comment.

Soulbounce was distracted by him:
9:08 Who in the hell is Russell Brand? Am I supposed to know who this weirdo is? His hair is disturbia.

9:11 OK, dude gets a pass for his pro-Obama banter/anti-Republican jokes.

But the pass was actually swiftly withdrawn:
9:19 OK, Russell, all this political comedy is going over way over people's heads.

Urbandrucker also found Brand confusing:
And... um... I loved Russell Brand in "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," but he's not a great host. His humor doesn't suit the gig- he just seems NUTS.

When he popped up doing the NME Awards a couple of years ago, he seemed misplaced - and that was the bloody NME Awards (is he the first person ever to present NME and MTV VMA shows? Will he be the last?)

Idolator does its duty by listing the more interesting prizes - they gave the awards for people who actually do something before the television cameras are switched on. That's because nobody wants to be watching TV with their kid only to find themselves having to answer the question all parents dread: Daddy, what's a cinematographer?

Gnarls Barkley, "Run"

Gnarls Barkley, "Run"

Erykah Badu, "Honey"

Death Cab For Cutie, "I Will Possess Your Heart"

The White Stripes, "Conquest"

Kanye West, "Good Life"

I'm at a loss to understand how one video can win best choreography and a totally different one picks up best dancing - unless the implication is that Pussycat Dolls totally unchoreographed?

Gordon in the morning: Amy to take a break

It's a really weak morning, even by Bizarre standards, today - although the photo of Peaches Geldof from the Agent Provocateur ad is worth a look, because if this is the shot they're using from the shoot what on earth must the rest have been like? Perhaps it's a challenge from the next Britain's Top Model, in place of the usual 'have your photo taken with an uncontrollable snake or something' one.

Meanwhile, though, Mitch Winehouse has "promised" that Amy is now going to take a break after an underwhelming show at Bestival. The online version of the report is titled (although not headlined):

Fans want sick Amy Winehouse to take a break

- but Gordon offers not even a made-up quote to support that contention. He, however, does call for her to have some sort of a rest:
Amy is an incredible talent whose live performances were spellbinding before she went into freefall.

I hope I don’t see her sing again until her health has improved and she can recapture that form.

Of course, it's much better for the Sun if she stays at home in Camden falling over - much easier and cheaper to cover than having to send someone to follow her round the festivals and concert halls of Europe.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Young Marble Giants weekend: Choci Loni

From the Hay On Wye Festival last year:

[Part of Young Marble Giants weekend]

James Hetfield gets overexcited, confused at being the voice of torture

Ten years ago, if someone told James Hetfield that Metallica songs were being played at loud volume as part of a process of torture, he'd have been instructing lawyers to ensure that he was getting his sixteen cents per play.

Today, though, Hetfield is "proud" that Metallica was the Gunatanamo torturer's tune of choice:

"Part of me is proud is because they chose METALLICA," Hetfield said about the reports that the band's song "Enter Sandman" was used during the interrogation of Mohammed al-Qahtani — known as the 20th hijacker on Sept. 11 — and that listening to the track brought al-Qahtani to tears "because he thought he was hearing the sound of Satan." James added, "It's strong; it's music that's powerful. It represents something that they don't like — maybe freedom, aggression… I don't know… freedom of speech. And then part of me is kind of bummed about it that people worry about us being attached to some political statement because of that. We've got nothing to do with this and we're trying to be as apolitical as possible, 'cause I think politics and music, at least for us, don't mix. It separates people, [and] we wanna bring people together. So, so be it. I can't say 'Stop.' I can't say 'Do it.' It is just a thing — it's not good or bad."

Isn't possible that Al-Qahtani was sobbing not because he thought he was hearing the sound of Satan, but because he knew he was hearing a bloody Metallica track on an endless loop?

And how can Hetfield simper that he can't either condemn or condone the torture of people using his music as a tool? If the Wilson sisters from Heart have the guts to stand up and express a clear opinion about the use of their music, why can't Hetfield? And given that the first half of his quote you can almost hear the blood flowing southwards with macho delight, doesn't that make his pathetic refusal to take a stance even more embarrassing? Hetfield loves freedom of speech; it's just he's too afraid to actually use it.

Oh, Madonna, you are so shocking

Let's hope that this is the last Madonna world tour for a while - at least long enough for her to think of something new. Because if she's so out of ideas she's reduced to trying to generate attention by shouting 'poo, willy, wee' ("by dedicating Like A Virgin to the Pope") while playing in Rome.

Amusingly, even the Italian press couldn't seem arsed to work up a froth about it:

"At the Roman leg of her tour, Madonna didn't miss the opportunity for a provocation that will certainly be discussed," Corriere della Sera said on its front page.

Almost certainly. Unless a dog runs past the window with a ham in its mouth, or Wolf from Gladiators gives an interview or something more interesting happens.

Blimey... he's in for a shock, then

Although the ceremony was held up for fifteen minutes at the "any person here present" bit as the celebrant had to plough through 175 internet pages to determine if she really was, you know, serious about this heterosexual business, KT Tunstall has married her drummer Luke Bullen.

I think Mel B is being modest

The Sunday Mirror makes space for Mel B to muse - apparently randomly - on her life:

I don’t have a fame-ometer, so I don’t know if I’m as famous in the States as in Britain. I live in LA, where everyone’s famous – you’ll do your food shopping and you’ll be standing next to Gwyneth Paltrow. I’ve been really lucky that people have always been very respectful, and chirpy and cheerful and nice. I’ve never had any freaky experiences – touch wood.

Yes. Every single person in LA shops in the same supermarket, with all the famous people picking up their rostis next to the guys who clean the toilets on the Universal studio tours. Because they're famous, too. I imagine what Mel B means when she says "everyone is famous in LA" is "I move in incredibly small circles and never come into contact with people who aren't full of themselves".

This fame-ometer thing is a bit puzzling, though: does Mel B really not have a clue where she might be in the US pecking order by, say, looking at magazines (where her name crops up most often as "mother of Murphy's child...") and if she doesn't have this magical device, what makes her think she has a high level of fame in the UK?

But what does the future hold for her?
I could never be as successful as the Spice Girls – there were five of us in that group, and alone you can only do so much.

Yes, it's impossible to be successful on an international, stellar scale if there's only one of you. That's one of the things McCartney and Madonna find so galling.

Young Marble Giants weekend: Final Day

From one of their two 2007 reunion dates - in Boulogne, if you please - this is a live reading of Final Day:

[Part of Young Marble Giants weekend]

The News of the World still doesn't much like Heather Mills

Today - when the rest of the world has started to forget and move on - the News of the World returns to battering Heather Mills.

Her former PR person, Michele Elyzabeth, has decided to go public with - well, you can guess, can't you? Heather is mean, Heather lies, Heather wanted to destory Paul - pretty much the same story that the News of the World runs every few months.

What's different this time, of course, is that Elyzabeth was the woman who used to push Mills' view of the world. Now, though, she's decided to go public with all her misgivings about Mills.

Elyzabeth, surely, should have known all this about Mills years before she went on American TV as part of the alleged plot to "bring down" Paul - after all, for two years she worked on PR for Mills for free as she'd been told Heather had no cash to pay her, only to discover her springing fifteen grand for a trip somewhere:

“I tackled her about it and she agreed to pay me £2,500 per month plus expenses. Heather had lied to me, but I was happy just to get money."

The phrase 'happy just to get money' might lay, we suspect, at the heart of much of this story. Elyzabeth suggests that Mills is the tightest person she knows, but she seems equally aware of the flow of cash:
“She had a credit card, but it must have had cobwebs on it. She once told me it was simply a little gesture from Paul for friends’ lunches. Well I was her friend, and she rarely paid for me.

“She must have bought about six lunches in total out of the dozens we had—and they were always the cheap ones.

“Even when we met at her house for an important business lunch, we’d just be given a sandwich."

The motivation for talking to the paper? Well, yes, that again seems to be because expected monies were not shared after the divorce:
“In the early days I introduced her to my hairdresser David Paul to do her hair as a favour. But Heather just rocked up to his salon every two days when she was in Los Angeles.

“This went on for three years and not once did she offer to pay. David guessed, like the rest of us, that once the divorce was finalised we’d be repaid. But it never happened."

So, Elyzabeth was working on the assumption that when the divorce was finalised, Heather would get loads of cash, which she would then get a slice of. It makes her claims that she was acting in good faith when she joined Mills' alleged plots to smear McCartney seem a little wobbly - can you really be acting purely in good faith when you know the person you're working with has lied and cheated you in the past, and you think it's going to lead to a payday?

Again, it's another nasty little story which leaves nobody coming out of it - Mills, Elyzabeth, the paper - looking good.

This week just gone

The ten most popular "x is gay" searches bringing traffic to No Rock so far this year:

1. Busta Rhymes
2. R Kelly
3. Katie Melua
4. KT Tunstall
5. Lee Ryan
6. Jerry Lee Lewis
7. Noel Gallagher
8. Liam Gallagher
9. Right Said Fred
=10. Alicia Keys, Nicky Wire, Jake Shears, Shakin' Stevens, Wayne Rooney, Scott Mills

It's Jerry Lee Lewis that puzzles us.

These were the scanty new releases:

Giant Sand - Provisions

Loudon Wainwright III - Recovery

Thomas Tantrum - Thomas Tantrum

James Yorkston - When The Haar Rolls In

Fujiya & Miyagi - Lightbulbs

Friendly Fires - Friendly Fires

Blancmange - Mange Tout
Re-releases a-go-go

Little Jackie - The Stoop