Saturday, September 27, 2008

Hüsker Dü weekend: Four tracks from Indianapolis

Continuing the Hüsker Dü weekend, a nine minute slice of a 1985 performance in Patio, Indianapolis - New Day Rising, It's Not Funny Any More, Everything Falls Apart and The Girl Who Lives On Heaven Hill:

And then the second half of the performance - Apologize, If I Told You, Folklore, Every Everything:

[Part of the Hüsker Dü weekend]

And talking of that Napster/Best Buy deal

It turns out that Best Buy indulged in a spot of gazundering - not once, but twice dropping the price it was offering, aware that the company was unlikely to find anything better.

Chinese Democracy: Perhaps it'll get a release

If you predict often enough that Chinese Democracy is about to be released, there's a chance that you might just be right one time. NME is predicting a Best Buy only release by the end of the year.

If that's true, it could be good news for Napster - beleaguered, but now part of the Best Buy empire. If it's true.

Hüsker Dü weekend: Diane

A reminder of the days when nobody had phones with video cameras built in to capture every shrug of every gig played anywhere in the world, and video bootlegging was a craft in its own right - this is Hüsker Dü playing Diane at the Minneapolis club 7th Street Entry on the fifth of September back in 1981:

This track was covered, in an altered version, by Therapy? a few years later; there's a comparsion of the two versions at Louissouyave

[Part of the Hüsker Dü weekend]

Another DRM switch-off: Wal-Mart wipes record collections

It's not that the music industry and its commerce friends laugh at you when you buy DRM-wrapped music or anything. But they might snigger just a little. Wal-Mart is switching off its DRM servers, reports Boing Boing, rendering all the legally purchased tracks its been selling effectively worthless:

Important Information About Your Digital Music Purchases

We hope you are enjoying the increased music quality/bitrate and the improved usability of Walmart's MP3 music downloads. We began offering MP3s in August 2007 and have offered only DRM (digital rights management) -free MP3s since February 2008. As the final stage of our transition to a full DRM-free MP3 download store, Walmart will be shutting down our digital rights management system that supports protected songs and albums purchased from our site.

If you have purchased protected WMA music files from our site prior to Feb 2008, we strongly recommend that you back up your songs by burning them to a recordable audio CD. By backing up your songs, you will be able to access them from any personal computer. This change does not impact songs or albums purchased after Feb 2008, as those are DRM-free.

Beginning October 9, we will no longer be able to assist with digital rights management issues for protected WMA files purchased from If you do not back up your files before this date, you will no longer be able to transfer your songs to other computers or access your songs after changing or reinstalling your operating system or in the event of a system crash. Your music and video collections will still play on the originally authorized computer.

Thank you for using for music downloads. We are working hard to make our store better than ever and easier to use.

How could you make a store better than one where you pay money in good faith for a product, only to discover that the store can't be arsed to actually allow you to enjoy those goods? Admittedly, you're fine providing you use the same computer for the rest of your life, so it's not all bad.


In a blog posting from the future (apparently October 2nd), Rolling Stone reports comments by Arnel Pineda. Pineda is currently the lead singer of Journey in the same way that Sarah Palin in a vice presidential candidate, and not enjoying the experience:

"It's very, very sad," he says. "There are days I just break down and cry. This is a job I'm doing for my family. That's all the consolation I'm getting." Traveling around America isn't what he expected. "It's all buses, stage, microphone," he says. "I never really get to go around and walk. They wake me up for soundcheck, then I wait until the show at nine. It's a fantastic job, but at the same time it's a curse. . . . I told Neal that the only thing that will make me quit this is if I get sick. I guess that's the same reason Steve Perry bailed out."

Oops. It seems someone has taken Pineda to one side, and pointed out that it's not for the hired hands to issue complaints to all and sundry. I don't know for a fact that there was a dressing down using the words "hundreds of people who could do the singing" or "and I could put you back down too", but you'd have to believe there was reading his retraction of said comments - apparently they were taken "out of context" and "exaggerated".

The United Nations is believed to be arranging an observer to check on conditions for lead singers in stadium bands.

Embed and breakfast man: Husker Du weekend

This weekend - with, I suspect, inconsistent umlauting - Bob Mould and Grant Hart's oh-lets-call-it-seminal 80s alt-rock powerhouse. And, ultimately, the despoilers of the whole scene - they were the first band of their type to jump from indie to major and, by proving the business case for signing college rock bands, paved the way for major labels to beat a path to every poorly-roofed rehearsal room in the US trailing creative constraints and piles of cash in their wake.

Not that you can blame them for that.

Let's start the weekend with the hit - in the sense of, if anything they did had ever broken into the charts, it would have been this: Could You Be The One:

Husker Du online
Husker Du database
Last FM

The Living End - live album
Zen Arcade
Flip Your Wig - one of two albums the band released in 1985
The band have attempted to regain the master tapes from their SST albums - claiming the label have diddled them - but plans to re-release the back catalogue have been caught in legal hell for quite a while.

More across the weekend
Diane live at 7th Street Entry
Live in Indianapolis, part one
Live in London
Eight Miles High live at Pink Pop

Gordon in the morning: "Junkie star hits new low"

There's a surprisingly strong condemnation of Amy Winehouse thins morning:

Junkie star hits new low... Amy faces arrest

That's what the story teaser screams, but the detail - on a story by Anthony France - isn't quite so eyecatching.

A woman claims that Winehouse hit her. Which might be terrible, if true, but given that Winehouse has hit people before, it's hard to see how this could count as a "new low" - bumping along the bottom, perhaps.

And the claim that she's "facing arrest"? This seems to be simply bollocks:
Cops were called to the £700-a-ticket End Of Summer Ball in central London, where Amy performed, and took a statement from Sherene.

They are expected to quiz Back To Black and Rehab singer Amy, 25, later.

So Smart, French and The Sun aren't even sure if the police are going to proceed with the matter - "expected" to - and have absolutely no reason to claim at this stage that she's "facing arrest". In the broader sense, perhaps, of "if it's true, and if they feel there's a point in pursuing the case, she would face arrest" - but that's not quite the same thing, is it?

Indeed, the only mention of arrest in the actual story is in the padding flam at the bottom:
Outside the ball, five cops had to restrain a well-dressed woman after a row with her boyfriend.

See Amy on stage and the woman being arrested by clicking on the link below.

Yes, some random woman was arrested, so they've shoved a photo of her on the Sun site for no apparent reason.

Meanwhile, Gordon Smart reacts to Madonna's massive fine for over-running at Wembley and the complaints of the sound being a bit rubbish, by a spot of I'm-alright-Jacking off:
But other fans further back in the stadium were upset by the poor sound quality and late finish.

There were complaints that some fans couldn’t hear her properly but she sounded on top form from where I was sitting.

Thank god the readers of The Sun know that the people who didn't pay for their tickets got a good show, anyway.

Tv On The Radio On The Internet

Just released (more or less): TV On The Radio's Dancing Choose video, off of Dear Science:

Friday, September 26, 2008

Junior Senior Over

Junior Senior - yes you do, blocky cartoon video with the squirrel - have called a halt:

We have decided in much peace and prosperity to put Junior Senior to rest and focus 100% on making music on our own, as we have been doing for the last year, Jesper Jr. through I Scream Ice Cream -- and now The Little Sisters -- and Jeppe Sr. as Jeppe.

We know it would have been a much juicier story if we hated each other and we split over big egos or something. We even thought of making a fake youtube video of us getting into a fight at a late night party over whether we should call the next album "Jumping Jack Junior" or "Senior Says." But we don't promote violence, kids. Just peace and good vibes alright.

We have met so many amazing people around the world, experienced so many cool things, had so many crazy good times… so many we never even dared dream of. We are so happy we made you dance.

So it sounds like they split last year, but didn't realise.

Sit Down? Shut up, Gordon

Sit Down was a bit of an odd choice for Gordon Brown to come on the stage to anyway, wasn't it? Besides being a song that reeks of student discos from nearly twenty years ago, isn't it a bit of a terse message to be giving the masses?

Anyway, Tim Booth isn't happy that it was used at all:

"We have always been supportive of the Labour Party, as well as Greenpeace, Amnesty and CND, but obviously the machinations of a desperate politician trying to restore unity by using our song is not something we are totally behind."

Oddly, describe 'organisation playing record' as an "incident" which perhaps overplays it.

Booth thinks that Brown missed the point:
"The song is about unity and that's obviously how Brown is trying to use it. But it's about unity of people and spirit rather than healing the divisions of political parties."

Is unity why Brown chose it, though? Perhaps it's the lines "now I've swung back down again, it's worse than it was before/ if I hadn't seen such riches I could live with being poor..."


You might have thought that Frances Bean Cobain would have had enough of suicide dominating her short life, but no: apparently her 16th birthday party was suicide-themed:

The website Gossip Rocks managed to track down Frances’s invitation to her “Suicidal 16,” which reads: “My one and only sweet 16 . .. eerrrr actually it’s my suicidal 16. .. We are also having a contest, it’s the ‘who can look most dead contest.’ If you dress up dead and are picked as the top three, you will receive an iPod Touch and a $200 gift certificate to Amoeba. So get that face paint on, and try to make it as realistic as you can.”

I wonder who won the parent's race.

Nokia nelly: Wentz Nokia knocking knocked off web

Could it be that Pete Wentz - who happily shoved cars and teenage deodorants into an earlier video - does have a line beyond which he won't cross?

A Fall Out Boy video for new single I Don't Care appeared on the web yesterday, chock-full of loving shots of Nokia phones. Wentz, it appears, was outraged, posting a grumpy blog:

“This will probably end up deleted either by me or someone else but the version of the video that we worked on night after night is not the version that aired. Yet somehow a cut full of glorious camera phone shots did. Just to let you know. It doesn’t make any sense to us. That bag of money is being donated straight to a cause far more worthy.”

The blog post, in its turn, disappeared.

Does it sound to anyone else as if Wentz had no problem with a deal in the first place, but only objected to the degree to which Nokia had taken control? Isn't that a little like going to orgy and complaining about the numbers?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

Mickey Bradley joins BBC News in celebrating the 30th anniversary of Teenage Kicks:

The Good Vibrations record label didn't have a sleeve-making department.

In fact, it didn't have any departments, it was just Terri in his shop.

So when he rang us a few weeks later to say the records had arrived, he really meant we had to go up to his shop and help with the sleeves.

That process involved folding a printed A4 sheet around the record.

I still have memories of us on our knees in the back of Terri's shop, with a pile of singles and a pile of unfolded sleeves.

Gordon in the morning: The disappearing story

Interestingly, although it's on Gordon's pages, the byline for the claims that Plant has agreed to a Led Zeppelin reunion is given to Jess Rogers - who is basing it nothing more than (insert Al Gore sigh here) an unnamed source, who isn't even pinned down as being a friend of anyone.

Now, of course, you'll be wondering who this Lead Zupplin is. Happily, there's an explanation tucked into the piece:

Led Zep, who have sold more than 300million albums worldwide, formed in 1968 and split up in 1980 when drummer John Bonham — father of Jason — died aged 32.

Rolling Stone magazine dubbed them the biggest band of the ’70s.

If you have to explain who they are - and can think of nothing more than a slightly pompous US magazine garlanded them with fame thirty years ago - is the story really all that relevant to your readers?
Of course, the real curiosity this morning is the vanishing tale. The picture of the paper spread shows Gordon confidently leading on a story about Blake Fielder-Civil and Amy Winehouse; but the front of Bizarre online doesn't mention the story at all - instead running with an advertorial about David Beckham's 2009 calendar. The Winehouse story can still be found by searching the Sun site. Is it simply someone's screwed up by forgetting to link to it - or is there a sudden wobble in the certainty of Gordon's claims that Fielder-Civil is about to released, living with an ankle tag in his Mum's house in Lincolnshire while taking a five hundred quid round trip to spend days in Camden?

The return of Muxtape... sort of

After a long period of silence, Muxtape's Justin has posted a story of what happened before the service disappeared, and what he plans to do next.

The next is fairly simple - a relaunch as a Web 2.0 networking service:

Musicians in 2008 without access to a full time web developer have few options when it comes to establishing themselves online, but their needs often revolve around a common set of problems. The new Muxtape will allow bands to upload their own music and offer an embeddable player that works anywhere on the web, in addition to the original muxtape format. Bands will be able to assemble an attractive profile with simple modules that enable optional functionality such as a calendar, photos, comments, downloads and sales, or anything else they need. The system has been built from the ground up to be extended infinitely and is wrapped in a template system that will be open to CSS designers. There will be more details soon. The beta is still private at the moment, but that will change in the coming weeks.

If that sounds a bit like MySpace, and a slew of other services, that might be because it is. That doesn't mean he shouldn't try, but it's not Muxtape, it's something else and if we've learned anything from Napster, sticking a popular name on a legal-but-less-useful service is no guarantee of success.

So, then, what happened with the shut down? Justin's surprisingly generous to major labels, confusing the people who work for them who aren't kneejerk against web developments with company policy; even while he was getting legal threats from the RIAA, he believed he was winning labels' hearts:
. An RIAA notice arrived in triplicate, via email, registered mail, and FedEx overnight (with print and CD versions). They demanded that I take down six specific muxtapes they felt were infringing, so I did.

Around the same time I got a call from the VP of anti-piracy at one of the majors. After I picked up the phone his first words were, “Justin, I just have one question for you: where do I send the summons and complaint?”

But this, it seems, is just how those companies do business:
The conversation picked up from there. There was no summons, it was an intimidation tactic setting the tone for the business development meeting he was proposing, the true reason for the call. Around the same time another one of the big four’s business developers reached out to me, too.

Justin sees this as a positive sign - and, perhaps it is. But his experiences at Universal and EMI suggest otherwise:
In May I had my first meeting with a major label, Universal Music Group. I went alone and prepared myself for the worst, having spent the last decade toeing the indie party line that the big labels were hopelessly obstinate luddites with no idea what was good for them. I’m here to tell you now that the labels understand their business a lot better than most people suspect, although they each have their own surprisingly distinct personality when it comes to how they approach the future. The gentlemen I met at Universal were incredibly receptive and tactful; I didn’t have to sell them on why Muxtape was good for them, they knew it was cool and just wanted to get paid. I sympathized with that. I told them I needed some time to get a proposal together and we left things in limbo.

A few weeks later I had a meeting with EMI, the character of which was much different. I walked into a conference room and shook eight or nine hands, sitting down at a conference table with a phonebook-thick file labeled “Muxtape” laying on it. The people I met formed a semi-circle around me like a split brain, legal on one side and business development on the other. The meeting alternated between an intense grilling from the legal side (“you are a willful infringer and we are mere hours from shutting you down”) and an awkward discussion with the business side (“assuming we don’t shut you down, how do you see us working together?”). I asked for two weeks to make a proposal, they gave me two days.

Does this really sound like companies who "understood" Muxtape and wanted to work? One guy from Universal; a slew of figures from EMI whose idea of a business discussion is to run it like a bullying showcase?

And while all this was going on, the RIAA was getting ready to tell Amazon - who hosted the site - to take it down. Which is hardly fair dealing - sure, they may well have had the right to do so, but if their members are having discussions with the service about turning it legal, does it even make sense for them to be in the background also trying to kill the thing? Wouldn't square dealers at least say "look, this has to be closed, but let's talk about reviving it. That way, we can tell users what's happening, give them a date for the new, legal service."

But that's where it would have folded anyway, because, of course, the music industry didn't want Muxtape. It wanted its own service under the Muxtape brand:
The first red flag came in August. Up until then all the discussion had been about numbers, but as we closed in on an agreement the talk shifted to things like guaranteed placement and “marketing opportunities.” I was denied the possibility of releasing a mobile version of Muxtape. My flexibility was being constricted. I had been worried about Muxtape getting a fair deal, but my biggest concern all along was maintaing the integrity and experience of the site (one of the reasons I wanted to license in the first place). Now it wasn’t so simple; I had agreed to a variety of encroachments into Muxtape’s financials because I wanted to play ball, but giving up any kind of editorial or creative control was something I had a much harder time swallowing.

So the music industry "understood" Muxtape, except what it was. It was at this point Justin decided to walk away.

The upshot? Something would could have been delivering revenues to artists has vanished, replaced by other services which are fractured and harder to police; the audience loses something that was giving them new ways to love music and discover new artists. It's hard to see where the winners are.

[Thanks to Simon T]

Thursday, September 25, 2008

RIAA victory turned back

The RIAA has, so far, only once had a federal jury deliver a guilty verdict in a file sharing case.

And now - without anyone asking him to - the judge in that case has turned up and stolen that victory back. U.S. District Judge Michael Davis of Duluth, Minnesota has declared a mistrial after thinking about some of the instructions he gave the jury.

The key issue is whether the RIAA needs to prove that the accused - in this case Jammie Thomas - had done what she was accused of. You and I might think that this might be a basic requirement of the law, but at trial, Judge Davis had bought the music industry's argument that it would be too difficult:

"Requiring proof of actual transfers would cripple efforts to enforce copyright owners' rights online – and would solely benefit those who seek to freeload off plaintiff's investment," RIAA attorney Timothy Reynolds said in a court filing.

Clearly, Judge Davis suddenly realised what they'd said - and how if you can't actually prove that the person has done what they're supposed to, in what way has it hurt you? "Your honour, I cannot prove that the accused cut me, for I have no scars, but you just have to take my word for it..."?

At the same time, Davis took the chance to point out that the settlement demanded by the jury - nearly a quarter of a million bucks - was just taking the piss:
"While the court does not discount plaintiffs' claim that, cumulatively, illegal downloading has far-reaching effects on their businesses, the damages awarded in this case are wholly disproportionate to the damages suffered by plaintiffs. Thomas allegedly infringed on the copyrights of 24 songs -‐ the equivalent of approximately three CDs, costing less than $54, and yet the total damages awarded is $222,000 – more than 500 times the cost of buying 24 separate CDs and more than 4,000 times the cost of three CDs."

So, that's now no jury trial victories for the RIAA. How much have they spent on this fools' mission so far?

Left Eye from beyond the grave

You have to wonder exactly what sort of a confection Eye Legacy, a "tribute" to Lisa Left-Eye Lopes, actually is. It's being described as her last solo LP, but one does wonder why it has taken six years to get to market if it's, you know, that good.

MySpace music launches

Perhaps it's just because I'm sat in the UK and, as is often the case, many of these things are much more exciting if you get everything in the US, but MySpace Music doesn't feel like a quantum leap forward. Not from here.

However, it's hard to argue against a free, downloadable Bon Iver acoustic session ep, regardless of where it comes from.

AC/DC remain off iTunes

AC/DC have reiterated that they're not going nowhere near that iTunes thing, because it lets customers buy tracks they want without taking any padding:

“We don’t make singles, we make albums,” [Angus Young] told the Telegraph. “We believe the songs on any of our albums belong together. If we were on iTunes, we know a certain percentage of people would only download two or three songs from the album. We don’t think that represents us musically.”

Young added that despite pressure from industry figures to make AC/DC’s songs available on iTunes, he didn’t believe that being part of the site was crucial to success.

“Since iTunes came into existence, we’ve actually increased our back catalogue sales without being on the site,” he said. “We were sternly warned by our management team and our record label that the complete opposite would be the case.”

Angus misses the point that it's not that you can't sell more records than previously without being on iTunes, but that you won't sell as many tracks as you would otherwise have done without being there. Not being in Tesco doesn't mean that your bread won't sell, but you're going to be missing out on potential customers.

It might make some sense if there was point to be made, but what are AC/DC saying? Why is it more noble to force your fans to buy tracks they don't want on the grounds that you're making albums to fit the arbitrary length of a twelve inch disc rotating at the speed of one hundred turns every three minutes?

Steve Tyler sues "Steven Tyler"

by Steven Tyler
Steven Tyler is suing people who have been posting blogs claiming to be him, and casting disparaging slurs on his mother.

Or, just possibly, someone pretending to be Steven Tyler has launched a lawsuit against the real Steven Tyler, claiming that his genuine blogs were fabrications. It's a little like that episode of Star Trek with the two Kirks, and it's incredibly hard to tell which is the genuine Tyler.

Amongst the false claims made by Steve Tyler is that he enjoyed love in a elevator, especially travelling towards the ground floor. "I mean" said Steve "you might try it knowing you're going to a top floor which is likely to be deserted when the door opens, but downwards? The chance of the doors opening a busy lobby area? That'd be crazy."

Tyler also denied claims that he had woken up in 1973 and was unsure if he was mad, or had gone back in time. "I never left 1973 in the first place" he insisted.

Simon Cowell: It's all very modern

You'll have been worrying, of course, how Simon Cowell has taken the news of Clay Aiken's coming out:

The "American Idol" judge reacted in typically sarcastic form, telling the entertainment news show "Extra": "Wow. That's a shock. It's like being told Santa Claus isn't real. Unbelievable."

Oh, he's such a card, isn't he? Do you suppose he'd have said that to Aiken if Clay had come out to him?

Cowell then showed himself to be quite modern:
"Good for him. If he said it, it's the right thing for him. ... I don't think anyone cares. Let's face it. It's 2008. You know. Who cares?"

Yes. Who cares, eh, Simon? Although clearly enough people do to make it worth People putting the story on the cover. Clearly Clay cared enough that he felt unable - prior to fatherhood - to say the words that Cowell feels so screamingly obvious.

Who cares, eh, Simon? And yet this in a nation where that bunch of charmers turn up to picket soldiers' funerals not because the soldiers were gay, but because they died fighting for a country which has sort-of come to terms with homosexuality.

You might conclude that quite a lot of people care, Simon, and that's precisely why so late into his career Clay has finally found the courage to come out; precisely why it took so long.

You might conclude that quite a lot of people care when you read gunk like this, from an Aiken fansite:
"This is really shocking news as I had no idea he was gay," read a comment posted by "Sheridansq." "And now I have to deal with this. I am not sure what to say to people who know I was a fan. ... I didn't go to work today and am not answering the telephone."

If only it was an announcement that merited only a shrug.

Nine point lead, incumbents trashing the economy, Sarah Palin incapable of answering a question with anything other than the word 'maverick' ...

What could possibly go wrong for Obama?

How about Sharon Osbourne instructing America not to vote for Sarah Palin:

It reminds me of, like, a hokey Disney movie... where somebody from nowhere suddenly ends up ruling the world. I don't know her, I've never met her, but come on!

Wow, the Republicans really did do a poor job on vetting Palin, didn't they? Not nly did they not spot her lack of knowledge, the absence of empathy, the charging rape victims for their rape kits, the whole lying thing, the earmarks and the firing of people she didn't like, they missed that Sharon Osbourne hasn't met her. Boy, if ever you were begging to be punished at the polls.

You don't say

More sensitive coverage of the Travis Barker plane crash, with ContactMusic breathlessly panting:

BLINK-182 rocker TRAVIS BARKER was screaming with pain immediately after the tragic plane crash which left him with serious burns, according to a police officer at the scene.

A man with serious burns screaming with pain, you say? Whoever would have thought?

Darkness at 3AM: Otherwise engaged

The 3AM Girls have noticed that Kelly Osbourne is wearing a ring on her ring finger, and decided she must be engaged to Luke Worrall (rather than the more likely explanation, that she put a ring on her finger in order to get some low-end gossip column action). But, of course, the 3AM Girls need a joke to finish on:

Worrall your mum and dad say Kel?

But they couldn't think of one. So they just put some words down instead.

Metallica: Fortunately, most of our fans are almost deaf

Metallica's management have rejected the complaints about the pisspoor sound on the new album, using the time-honoured excuse of providers of poor service that "nobody else has complained":

Metallica and the album's producer, Rick Rubin, declined to comment. Cliff Burnstein, Metallica's co-manager, says the complainers are a tiny minority. He says 98% of listeners are "overwhelmingly positive," adding: "There's something exciting about the sound of this record that people are responding to."

See? It's not shitty or botched, people. It's "exciting". They're going to try this down my local taco stand the next time someone finds a finger in their chili - "that's not unhygienic, that's exciting, that is."

Still, 98% of people are "overwhelmingly positive", are they? Let's not jump all over the guy and assume that he's using "overwhelmingly positive" in the sense of "they haven't complained" here - and that his figure isn't just made up off the top of his head. That still means, on an album that's sold over a million copies, that's still twenty thousand people having a slightly negative experience - and we're using "slightly negative" in the same incorrect sense.

Gordon in the morning: Oh, Liam, Oh, Noel

When Oasis need a soft-as-kittens dupe to allow them to push the new album, who would they call other than Gordon Smart? It gives Gordon the chance to make Newton's simpering kid-gloving of Posh Spice look like a Guantanamo interrogation:

And in the words of Noel: “Bring on the fucking tuba.”

There is more - Smart even uses the phrase "reminds me of The Beatles" without irony - but...
... I'm... not... allowed... to... feed.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who wrote Madonna's books?

Quentin Blake, a man who knows a thing or two about children's books, smells a rat when he reads Madonna's cult-metaphor kiddie tales:

"I know that Madonna has written a few, and I read some of them, but the trouble is I don't really detect an authentic voice behind them."

Blake, who offered his barbed remarks to the Daily Telegraph at an exhibition of self-portraits - What Are You Like? - at the Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, said he believed that publishers "just want to use the name" of famous personalities and don't care what they write.

It's time Madonna realised she was taking bread from the mouths of genuine children's authors. Like that Geri Halliwell.

Marillion do nicely giving away their album

When Radiohead tried the 'pay what you want strategy', figuring they could make up the cash on the physical sales, many observers shrugged and said "fine for Radiohead, with their trendy fans who like fine wines and understand the rules of croquet, but it wouldn't work for everyone".

So, you might be wondering, how have Marillion done with their "free for download, pay for the CD" model?

They've tripled sales, compared with the last album.

Now, the Bittorrent release was a bit botched - it wasn't a straight "here's the tracks" deal and involved harvesting email addresses. But even with a little extra annoyance factor, it worked as a way of building interest in a band who, it's fair to say, might be a little bit hobbled trying to generate publicity through more traditional routes.

Another MuxTape replacement

If you take the RIAA slaughtered Muxtape, and reworked it with audio sucked off YouTube videos, what would you get? Something like MixTube and, hopefully, the copyright taken care of by Google. Hopefully.

Cops are music thieves

The Cleveland Police were the boys in blue who went in to arrest those allegedly responsible for the Oink file sharing website. Now, though, it turns out the same force (in common with most of the UK's squads) have been been enjoying public performance of music without a PRS licence.

The cops aren't, of course, admitting they've been banged to rights:

Cleveland Police Deputy Chief Constable Derek Bonnard said: “We continue to assess the position and are seeking advice to determine if we are required by law to spend a significant amount of public money, which we consider is better committed to crime fighting, in this way.”

Yes, public money might be better spent on fighting actual crimes rather than propping up private entertainment companies. Although the same could be said about burning through large piles of public money pursuing people swapping music online, don't you think, Mr. Bonnard?

US webcasters deal: fair shares for all, except webcasters

The copyright-holders cabals have approved the new webcast royalty rates, and - assuming they get the rubber stamp of the Copyright Royalty Board - they'll come into action. Surprisingly, the body which represents webcasters have even signed up, although the deal is a payment of 10.5% of revenue from any site which uses music.

Revenue, not profit.

And - as far as we can tell - that's the site as a whole. So if you have a track of the week, but your business is really a thriving community discussion area, you'll be having to pay one tenth of your entire advertising take to pay for a single tune a week.

Could the Digital Media Association be taking the view that such an unattractive offer will, at least, make it less likely that anyone will try to muscle in as competition for their members?

Jon Anderson: You deserve more than a maybe

Poor Jon Anderson. There he is, battling illness, knowing his mates in Yes are right behind him all the way - only to discover that in between popping round with grapes and copies of the People's Friend, they've been gently easing him out and hired a bloke to stand in for him on their forthcoming tour. And, actually, that bit about the grapes? They've not even done that. He feels disappointed:

Disappointed, and very Disrespected

Disappointed that, with the exception of one phone call from Alan, none of the guys have been in touch since my illness, just to find out how I am doing, and how we will foresee the future for YES. And disappointed that they were not willing to wait till 2009 when I’m fully recovered.

And I feel very disrespected, having spent most of this year creating songs and constant ideas for the band, spending time with Roger Dean creating a stage design, also working with VH1 and Sirius and XM Radio to help promote the welfare of YES.

Getting sick was not "on my radar”, and I thank my own angel Janeee and my family for helping me through this difficult time, and the many well wishers, friends and fans alike, for understanding that ''things happen''.

Of course I wish the guys all the best in their 'solo' work, but I just wish this could have been done in a more gentlemanly fashion. After all YES is a precious musical band.

This is not YES on tour...

To be fair, perhaps the boys were worried that if they held off until 2009, that Roger Dean stage set might start to look a little dated.

Slightly over-literal magazine stunts

Metal Hammer has just published an issue with a a metal cover, making it the first ever magazine to have more value as scrap than when new.

The idea came after an editorial meeting where someone noticed they were called Metal Hammer, and following four years in which they tried to print reviews of The Rasmus gigs on the side of hammers.

Department of Justice tell Congress to say no

The proposed Enforcement of Intellectual Property Right Act of 2008 has, perhaps unsurprisingly, been criticised by many who oppose the extension of copyright matters into criminal cases. People like the EFF, copyleft campaigners. Oh, yes, and the Department of Justice:

We strongly oppose Title I of the bill, which not only authorizes the Attorney General to pursue civil remedies for copyright infringement, but to secure "restitution" damages and remit them to the private owners of infringed copyrights. First, civil copyright enforcement has always been the responsibility and prerogative of private copyright holders, and U.S. law already provides them with effective legal tools to protect their rights....

Second, Title 1's departure from the settled framework above could result in Department of Justice prosecutors serving as pro bono lawyers for private copyright holders regardless of their resources. In effect, taxpayer-supported Department lawyers would pursue lawsuits for copyright holders, with monetary recovery going to industry.

The DOJ, it seems, are as puzzled as the rest of us why they should be spending public resources chasing after what has been long considered a civil matter.

The DOJ also points out that it could harm their ability to perform core duties:
Third, the Department of Justice has limited resources to dedicate to particular issues, and civil enforcement actions would occur at the expense of criminal actions, which only the Department of Justice may bring.

This might be the first time a law enforcement agency, rather than the newspapers or accused, have cried "hey, shouldn't we be out catching real criminals?"

NME Radio comes to FM... briefly

Exciting news for inhabitants of Manchester and London: NME Radio is coming to FM in your towns.

Although only for a month - October in London, November in Manchester - using restricted service licences to allow people to sample the delights of the station in the hope they'll then seek it out on digital.

Personally, you'd have thought they might choose to launch this scheme in the markets where their key competitors have, or are about to, vanish - taking on the Penk-besplattered Revolution in Oldham, or the Central Scotland market where XFM is about to turn into Galaxy, rather than in the already stretched cities. But perhaps that's just me.

I wouldn't swap Kanye for any other cola

Here's a bizarre anecdote: apparently Jenny Lewis was approached by Kanye West and... well, let's let her tell her story:

We missed our flight and had to wait a couple of hours in the lounge. I noticed Kanye West was waiting for the same flight. He looked over and said, 'Excuse me, would you mind listening to my new track?' And so he put his headphones on my head and I listened to two of his new songs. He had no idea who I was. I guess he was doing research.

My mate Lincoln was once asked what he thought of the new style Coke cans, back when the shift from detachable ringpulls was being made - they paid him for his time by letting him finish the can of Coke for free; and I once spent some time on the top floor of Hepworth chambers sampling sandwich pickles, but I've never heard of an artist carrying out their own market research before.

I say "carrying out their own market research"; unlike Jenny, I suspect the question was not 'how does this track resonate with a non-core audience' so much as 'will confirming that, yes, I am Kanye West persuade this attractive young lady to fling herself at me'.

If I was a pop star, though, I think I'd adopt this approach for a laugh - imagine if, say, Paul Heaton came up to you on Piccadilly station and got you to listen to a track which had, halfway through, someone whispering 'everyone on the station thinks you are Paul Heaton's boyfriend'.

[Again, thanks to Michael M]

Stereophonics pursued by police

About time too: the police are cracking down on the Stereophonics.

Canadian police were worried by the band parking illegally and drove after them, sirens blazing.

They pulled the band over, and started to search them under powers originally passed by the Canadian parliament to control Kula Shaker. Kelly Jones recalls the horror:

“What a day! We got chased by the cops for two miles – for illegal parking.

“We got stopped and searched, the bus was searched and we had to unload the trailer.

“It was aggressive border control. One of the guards started talking about a guy who used to smuggle drugs through bands’ equipment.”
“I said, ‘Are you talking about Howard Marks? He’s my friend.’ You can imagine the rest.”

The suspicion that Jones isn't exactly the sharpest cheddar on the cheeseboard isn't lessened here, is it? Who would think the correct response to a drugs officer poking about in your stuff is to list the celebrated drugs mules you have known?

Jones was probably lucky the cop didn't fancy pulling on the latex gloves. But whose compulsion to namedrop outweighs the desire not to put yourself at risk of a body cavity search?

[Thanks to Michael M]

It's yet another one of those only charts that count

As the Top 40 struggles to find some sort of relevance in the digital world, the Official Charts Company are launching new charts as fast as the music industry dreams up new formats: They're about to launch a chart showing the 'most-listened to' songs via subscription services. They're excited that this is the first of its kind in the world; they seem unaffected by a doubt that nobody else is drawing up such a chart because it's not really that exciting.

This quote from the press release is fascinating:

Gary Warren, HMV, said:

“The development of the Official Subscription Plays Chart can only bring positive attention to the music industry. Subscription activity is a growing pastime for many consumers and gives great low cost access to any music content the listener has a desire to experience.

“I frequently use my own HMV subscription account to access new music and sample recommendations from friends before adding new CDs to my collection. The new chart is a goldmine for spotting early trends.”

"Subscription activity is a growing pastime"? Really? What does that mean? "I'm bored - I know, I might pass a couple of hours setting up a subscription to something..."

And since most people will be listening to music they already know they like, in what way is the chart going to help people "spot new trends"? Isn't there at least a risk that the chart will be a crushing demonstration that given an opening to the wonders of all the world, people will just listen to Bohemian Rhapsody all the time, every day?

It's like Clay Aiken's opened the floodgates

Alright, technically, Ray Boltz came out before Clay Aiken but that just goes to prove how slippery these homosexual chappies are, doesn't it?

The name Ray Boltz might not mean much to you, but he's the guy who wrote one of the biggest Christian rock hits, Thank You. (It even got an airing during the mourning for Mother Theresa.) Given the fundamentalist American Christian position on man-on-man touching, for them, it's a bit like us discovering that Billy Bragg was a Young Conservative.

Talking to the Washington Blade, Boltz said he got tired of juggling two types of love:

“I thought I hid it really well,” he says. “I didn’t know people could see what I was going through, the darkness and the struggle. After I came out to my family, one of my daughters said she was afraid to walk in my bedroom because she was afraid she’d find me — that I’d done something to myself. And I didn’t even know they’d picked it up.”

Isn't darkness and struggle the sort of thing that churches are supposed to make easier, not worse?

Boltz is lucky - he's found a new church, one that does better with the concept of tolerance and love, and he has a profile and back catalogue which can ease the transition. The Blade, though, notes that previous, smaller Christian artists haven't exactly thrived since coming out:
Marsha Stevens, a Jesus Movement songwriter famous for the Christian folk song, “For Those Tears I Died,” a favorite in youth camps and churches for decades, came out in 1980. She was famously renounced by Bill Gaither, whom she’d been photographed with at one of his “Homecoming” concerts, in 2006.

Kirk Talley, a Southern Gospel singer (a slightly different genre than CCM, though there’s some overlap of the players), confessed to struggling with homosexuality and came out in GQ in 2005. He’s continued singing in churches but only because he’s categorized his sexual orientation as a burden to be carried.

Talley initially declined to be interviewed for this story saying he’d “been through enough hell,” but did consent to one comment: “I will definitely be in prayer for Ray,” he said in an e-mail. “He has no idea the crap he will have to endure.”

It's not all Christians, of course. It's just unfortunate that the louder the faction shouts, the narrower their hearts and minds appear to be.

Gordon in the morning: Babies and blubbing

There's no third part of the Newton-Beckham tete-a-tete this morning, allowing Gordon to reclaim his kingdom and dispel any sense - any sense whatsoever - that his role is to roll over whenever the old inhabitant of the Bizarre pages feels like cluttering up the space with a fab chat with her fab showbiz pals, regardless of any quality to the resulting piece.

So this morning Gordon is keen to prove that he's the alpha male, and how better than a big splash claiming that Jamie Hince is going to father a child with Kate Moss as a way of reuniting with her? Quite a scoop - and one in the eye for the idiot on Monday who was reporting that their split was final. Who was that idiot again? Gordon something, wasn't it?

Gordon also reminds us of one of his other great moments - the weeks and weeks he spent trying to force a divorce onto Ashley and Cheryl Cole, running a big chunk where Cheryl talks about why she gave Ashley another chance. If you think it's odd that Cheryl gave such an open interview to a man who made her pain public and then kept it there, there is an explanation: Gordon's copied the whole thing out of OK! magazine.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Barker plane crash: Death sounds

You have to wonder: was there anyone, anyone at all, at South Carolina ABC affiliate WOLO TV, who paused for a moment before flinging out an audio recording of Travis Barker screaming for help as four of his friends and colleagues burned to death? Any single moment where someone thought that, perhaps, the audio added nothing to the story and might be better off left unheard? A single moment where someone with the power to take an editorial judgement might have considered how they'd feel if it was their anguish being served up between commercials?

And talking of Bono...

Guess who's blogging from the UN for the Financial Times?

Well, yes, Jeffrey Sachs is. But he's sharing an account with Bono.

It's a chance for Bono to actually expand on some of his thinking - to be fair to him, in brief TV interviews, he's doomed to come across like a glib ingenue who is over-fond of hanging out with the rich and powerful, because TV can't really cope with complex thoughts. So, given a blogging platform, does Bono manage to convince the world that there's more to him than some well-learned briefs, a lot of goodwill but something slightly empty at the heart of his efforts?

One of the things we discussed with President Barroso (before drawing up a hit list of who we go after) was the fact that Europe is a thought, but not yet a feeling. People think about Europe, but they don’t ‘feel’ it. Sometimes it’s easy to see why.

Perhaps it's unfair to expect Bono - a stadium rock lyricist, after all - to be able to express himself in anything other than slogans.
For those of you, the many of you, questioning aid on this site, you’re not wrong to suggest that it’s not the only answer. Of course it’s not. It’s trade, it’s governance, it’s private investment. But aid is critical… ask Germany, ask Ireland. See it as a leg-up, not a hand-out.

But surely he could steer clear of the cliche?

Hey, Sarah: remember he's the King of Ireland, not the President

As Sarah Palin attempts to cover up her apparent lack of knowledge of the outside world by meeting as many leaders as she can in one forty-eight hour period, she's even made time to catch up with Bono:

The Alaska governor will also meet U2 singer and global anti-poverty campaign Bono on the sidelines of the UN meeting, said the ONE campaign, which is associated with the Irish rocker.

The McCain campaign specifically asked to include Palin in Bono's planned talks with the Republican presidential nominee, ONE said in a statement.

And why would Bono refuse to take part in a photo-op to shore up the rapidly unraveling decision to stick a fundamentalist, animal-slaughtering, serial lying, untested, scandal-riven governor on the ticket, huh?

And I thought he was just a natty dresser

It wasn't so long ago that Clay Aiken was complaining that nobody would believe he was straight. "The only answer they want to hear is 'yes'" he said, referring to the 'are you gay' question.

It seems he's got tired of answering no, coming out to People magazine this week.

DMX strokes out

DMX had been due in court in Arizona on one of the slew of outstanding cases against him, but instead spent the time in a Florida hospital - apparently suffering from 'fear of a stroke' (as opposed to pulling one, you'd have to presume.) The court date has been rescheduled for Tuesday, assuming DMX doesn't have an attack of 'worrying about pneumonia' or 'panicky feelings over gout'.

Oasis "leak" onto the net

The new Oasis album, Dig Out That Muck From Under Your Fingernails, has appeared online, causing worries for the internet industry.

ISPs are concerned that the flooding of clumping Oasis tunes online might lead to panicky disconnections from customers afraid they might find the tunes being downloaded to their hard drives by accident. "This is quite a worry" admitted one, "all we can do is to stress that proper precautions - such as not opening suspicious emails from Gordon Smart, or clicking on links recommended by Chris Moyles - will keep you safe."

There are no plans to bring forward the release date of the album - officially due on October 6th - as there seems to be an enormous supply of people who haven't been put off buying an Oasis album by knowing what it'll sound like in advance.

Reopening the Bureau

It's been twenty-seven years since The Bureau released a record - and, indeed, if they weren't comprised of non-Kevin Rowland bits of Dexy's Midnight Runners and the Merton Parka's Mick Talbot (or the non-Paul Weller bit of the Style Council, if you'd rather), you imagine they'd not be doing so now.

But they are, and they are: …And Another Thing comes out October 6th; there's a small tour to celebrate:

London Jazz Café (9th Oct)
Birmingham The Sound Bar (3rd Oct)
Newcastle The Cluny (8th Oct)

A further tour and album is due around 2025.

Los Campesinos - exclamation points at the ready

A news pulse from the Los Campesinos, erm, camp warns the world to be ready for new stuff:

27th October sees the release of what the majority of you have decided to call our 'second' 'album'. Not that we ever have mind you.

- There will be no singles released from this RECORD.

- This RELEASE is going to be limited. There will be one, worldwide run of CDs, and then it will be out of print. Done with.

-The package comes in a 14cm by 19cm by 2.5cm two-piece card box. That makes it rectangular in shape.

- The CD will be accompanied by a self-made DVD documentary of our weekend at Oya festival and SummerSonic in August of this year.

- It also includes a 30+ page 'zine, including the record's lyrics and contributions by artists including Xiu Xiu, Grandaddy, Tender Forever, Menomena, Parenthetical Girls and Paul Heaton, based around the title 'We Are Beautiful, We Are Doomed'.

- Also each box comes with an exclusive poster drawn for us by Jeffrey Brown.

In other words: it's going to be veryveryveryrare and veryverydesirable. And thus, worth a small fortune on eBay. Potentially.

There's also tour dates:

14 Oct: Komedia, Brighton (14+)
15 Oct: Carling Academy 2, Liverpool (14+)
16 Oct: Irish Centre, Leeds (14+)
17 Oct: Whelan's, Dublin
18 Oct: School Of Arts, Glasgow (14+)
20 Oct: Electric Ballroom, London (14+)
21 Oct: Fleece, Bristol (18+)
22 Oct: Academy 3, Manchester (14+)
9 Nov: Botanique, Brussels
10 Nov: Luxor, Cologne
11 Nov: Melkweg, Amsterdam
12 Nov: Atomic Cafe, Munich
13 Nov: Estragon, Bologna
14 Nov: Piper, Rome
15 Nov: Rolling Stone, Milan

The European leg will also feature Sky Larkin and Lovvers, and the UK tour will be multipliedmediawise through a portally thing at Phew.

Not engaged: Mobile music revenues fall

The hopes of the music industry that selling tunes to people with mobile phones might save their hides are starting to fade as the amount of cash raised from mobile sales starts to fall:

Sony BMG’s EMEA digital VP Ian Henderson was predictably pessimistic: ”If you look at the money we’re making from mobile music, it’s going down - mobile music was a lot bigger proportionally a year or two years ago. But, at the same time, we are really excited about what Nokia and SonyEricsson and Omnifone are doing. There’s a lot of hope but, right now, mobile music is in decline

Part of the trouble - and it's not just music companies who are making this mistake, it's prevalent in virtually any company that has a computer connected to a modem - is the mistaken belief that "mobile" is a platform in itself; as the iPhone and other smartphones have raised the game in displaying the full internet on a handheld device, talking about doing stuff for mobile is starting to look a little like talking about making programmes for car radios or creating shows for portable televisions. The market doesn't want to have a cut-down experience and doesn't thank you for spending time trying to create special stuff for a smaller screen; the sales come when you demonstrate how you can have the full experience on your pocket device.

Thom Yorke: unforgivably rude

Poor old Ronan Keating has been bitterly upset by a frosty shoulder from Thom Yorke. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now:

"Thom Yorke from Radiohead was pretty rude. We were at the same hotel in Dublin and I went over to say hello as I'm a big Radiohead fan, and he just blanked me.

"I still love the music – he's just an idiot."

Of course, we only have one side of this story, and then not even a full side - did Keating introduce himself, or just assume that Yorke would recognise him? If Keating is such a fan (and it's hard to imagine how he could be; it's like picturing Bernard Matthews claiming to be a devotee of a vegan chef) perhaps he'd have been aware that Yorke is pretty shy and might find the approach of a despoiler of music hard to deal with?

Yes, yes, politeness costs nothing, and it doesn't reflect well on Yorke that he couldn't at least grunt something encouraging back at Keating - "I've read some great slash fiction featuring you", perhaps, or "Your mate seemed alright when he was in Coronation Street" - but it's akin to James Morrison's complaints about Madonna the other week: you'd have thought people who get it themselves would understand that there are times you might not appreciate having your personal space invaded by a well-meaning idiot demanding your attention.

The Android makes music

Amongst the frilly giggling of tech-headed types as Google's first phone, the G1, gets announced, there's a an announcement from Amazon that - for punters in the US, at least - the Android phone will have Amazon's DRM-free mp3 store "preloaded" into it. (In other words, there's a shortcut on the phone desktop which will simplify the purchase process.)

The announcement is careful to stress that the store is preloaded as part of the phone, not as part of the operating system; it'd surely be in Google's interests to stitch this as a deal across all Android phones regardless of operator. The other odd aspect of the deal is that you can only download music over wi-fi - not over, you know, the telephone service. Presumably T-Mobile is worried about customers actually consuming bandwidth if they could suck music down on 3G.

Paul McCartney gets an offer

Ted Nugent has taken time out of his busy slaughtering schedule and offered to protect Paul McCartney when Macca goes to Israel:

"Regardless that Paul and I have our obvious social, cultural, and culinary differences outside of music, I will not bend or waiver to voodoo religious whackjobs and neither should Paul."

"It would be my pleasure to keep this legendary musical hero safe from terrorists and mad men, and then buy him a nice dinner of tofu. I'm Dirty Harry with a ponytail, and I'm at Paul's service."

You might want to cut-out-and-keep Nugent's capsule guide to the decades-old Middle East conflict as being about "voodoo religious whackjobs" - handy, should you ever find yourself on the callback shortlist from the State Department. (I'm given to understand Sarah Palin is already writing a speech around this theme.)

Paul might want to think before taking up this offer, though - you'd have to expect that being protected by Nugent would be more likely to increase the number of people trying to attack you rather than reduce the chances of their success.

Courtney: Help wanted

Courtney Love has been busy on her blog, first to post a couple of situations vacant:

is anyone insanely clean neatfreak near malibu? i need a non thieving non freaky housekeeper
also i need we need a documentarist, someone to document our studio as we go in wedsday, and i have ALOT of work to do til then and i wont just hand this to hbo or bbc 2 or bravo and god forbid not vh1! A DOCUMENATRY NOT A REALITY SHOW. get in touch with jason whp will further put you in touch with jason wienberg at untitled.
and am looking for a young PA type someone whor eally wants to get nto the film business cos as we startramping up pay some dues with me for a few months and you can be on this HTH movie - i think i know who i want to play kurt- he may not be as BEAUTIFUL as the other two but hes got something special and looks alot like him and has a great voice.
i know this is wierd- the agencies suck and im sick of PIGS who steal itts simple as that., so fuck it why not try my space , beats monster . no superfans please. and its very good money. btw the housekeeping part just early hours .

Yes, Courtney. If you can't rely on agencies who have defined hiring policies and require cvs and references to filter out the PIGS, you're much, much better off flinging the job offer up onto the flakiest internet community site and seeing who turns up?

Especially given your habit of posting in the past about how people you trust often turn out to rip you off, are you sure you want to go with 'bad judge of character seeks someone to rummage through drawers'?

Later, Courtney returns to the keyboard for a post headed "That's just weird" - alarming, because if something is so weird Courtney notices, how weird is this going to be?

It turns out, advertising on MySpace for staff is weird:
that i went on here MYSPACE to get an assnt! im INSANE ,,,,but hey i did look at the "sir" fr teh documentary part....that isnt something i take lightly now i need to go listen to Bonnie Prince Billie and Muse HARD cos im coasting into the homerun onthese mpotherfucking lyrics and i welcome the muse and the muse can have me for breakfast lunch and dinner i am only her avatar, come on it musey ive got a very fine fine sharp pen and Leonard Cohens given me everything hes gonna, headleass footless, i am bound to you and no other but my child and the art i have made les=ts make LIGHTNING mama.
on our broooooms yay

The Muses would like to point out that they had no part in the construction of that blog entry.

What's more amusing than the original posts, though, are the responses from people who clearly won't hear Courtney be talked down by anyone - even Courtney herself:
you were open to a new approach. even if it didn't merit great results, it's still the kind of "crazy" a creative person should have.

Posted by PressWhore on 23 Sep 2008, 12:07
well it is the net working place.....why not! reaches every part of the world just like you do!

Posted by gina on 23 Sep 2008, 12:08

As yet, no annoyed response from anyone who's bought three gallons of Flash Liquid and a roll of gaffer tape, but perhaps they're sending those through the back channel.

Bloc bookings us reporting a Bloc Party tour for next year:

Glasgow Academy (January 25, 26)
Manchester Apollo (28, 29)
Wolverhampton Civic Hall (31, February 1)
London Olympia (April 11)

The shrewd amongst you will notice there's a huge gap between the UK dates and the London booking. I'm guessing there will be some things penciled in between.

No way, no Mogwai

Nasty scare following Mogwai's All Tomorrow's Parties set in New York: Martin Bulloch was rushed off to hospital with his pacemaker gone all wonky; the band have cancelled their slate of US dates and Martin has issued a statement:

"I was taken into hospital last night almost immediately after the show at ATP. I've been having some problems with my pacemaker for the duration of the tour and it unfortunately culminated in me being sent to the emergency room. The doctors there initially thought i would have to have corrective surgery at a larger hospital nearer NYC but i have been given the all clear to travel home on the understanding that i go straight to my cardiologist on arrival back in Scotland.

Tbh, i'm really bummed about having to go home and feel for the folk who had bought tickets for our upcoming shows but i can honestly say it would be almost impossible for me to carry on at this point as my pacemaker has broken skin and the surrounding area has become infected."

Presumably the American doctors assumed Scottish hospitals were much more familiar in dealing with dodgy hearts.

Get well soon, Martin.

Island population decreases

More gloomy news for major labels - Janet Jackson (now, apparently, the most popular Jackson of them all) has had enough of Island DefJam. Her people have issued a statement:

"Always known to break new ground and set trends, Janet's departure from Island makes her one of the first superstar artists to have the individual freedom to promote their work through a variety of avenues such as iTunes, mobile carriers and other diverse and innovative channels."

Mmm. It's a little late to be turning up at a thriving Western outpost, book a room in the hotel, order a cold beer and claim to be a pioneer, especially when Jackson's plans are wrapped around such a vague "other diverse and innovative channels". iTunes is many things, but it's not been innovative for half a decade.

Gordon in the morning: The Victorias return

Good lord. Given that yesterday's Beckham-meets-Newton "world exclusive" was stretched thin, its something of a surprise to discover another slew of nothing spreading all over the page (today's 'revelation' is that David and Posh were "young" when they met).

Beckham does have one good line:

“I know people sometimes don’t want to believe that we are happy but we are. And, come on, I couldn’t put on an act. I’m not that good an actress. Have you seen Spiceworld?"

Bet she's used that before, though.

With Newton taking back Bizarre, Gordon is reduced to padding out what's left by cutting and pasting Tefal press releases.

Monday, September 22, 2008

And I think they all really like me...

Coming back for Christmas: Mighty Mighty are reuniting to play this year's IndieTracks Christmas Twee event on December 6th.

On a train. Did I mention it was on a train?

Gathering at the hall

The shortlist for the 2009 intake into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame has been announced, with five of the following to have themselves pickled in aspic in next year's ceremony which should be in Cleveland with tickets for the public this year:

Jeff Beck
Wanda Jackson
Little Anthony and the Imperials
The Stooges
Bobby Womack

The Stooges turned up to play for Madonna's induction this year; we're sure that's just a coincidence.

Taxi for Mr Wilson

'Ere, you won't believe 'oo I 'ad in the back of me cab the other day - only bloody Brian Wilson out the Beach Boys, werenit? 'Ee was singing some tunes, right, cause it turns out he fort this was the Black Cab like in the Black Cab sessions. Meanwhile, my bloody airport fare was in that Black Cab being forced to sing the bloody Sloop John B before they'd take 'im to Stanstead...

New format alert: Seed Paper editions

Not, I'm imagining, the sort of format we'd be expecting to be picked up by too many artists, but The Pretenders have announced their new album Break Up The Concrete is going to be the first ever Seed Paper edition album.

Oh, you do so know what a seed paper edition is, surely?

The Pretenders ninth studio album, Break Up The Concrete, will have a limited run of ecologically-friendly packaging with handmade seed paper starting on the album's release date of October 7. This paper can be planted and, with care, may sprout in 1 to 4 weeks. The paper used on this plantable run, and the paper for subsequent non-plantable runs of the CD and vinyl configuration, has all been certified by the FSC, an independent, non-governmental, not for profit organization established to promote the responsible management of the world's forests.

You'll note that there's no actual explanation of what the seeds might be when they sprout - it could be Japanese knotweed. Or possibly the sort of plants which get the local constabulary interested. I'm hoping they'll be beets. Nice to have some beets late in the season.

Quiet gets noisy

A semi-random slice of mp3age: The Hush Now - Sadie Hawkins Dance. It's Bostonian Shoegaze (the sweet joy of this end of the first decade is the way bands embrace shoegaze and don't see it as a term of abuse).

Find out more about the band (and go "oh..." a little at the photos) on their MurdochSpace.

How I Done It by Kelly Osbourne

Signs that some parts of the economy are still buoyant: some publishing house has so much cash schlepping about in its vaults that it's paying Kelly Osbourne to write her memoirs. Let's hope that Osbourne doesn't go nuts and attempts to cram all her 23 years on the planet into one book.

Apparently she's going to write about "her infamous feud with Christina Aguilera" - which, being as she's probably the only person on the planet who remembers it, is just as well.

Kim Gordon on the outside

There's nothing more dispiriting than 'rock star launches clothing line', but if it has to be done, you could do a lot worse than leave the rags-and-guitars crossover to Kim Gordon, who at least has a sense of self-awareness about what she's doing with her Mirror/Dash label:

“I know, every designer says they’re inspired by Françoise Hardy,” Ms. Gordon said. “But I’ve been listening to her records for 15 years.”

Gordon is aiming at the Cool Mums market - although it's not clear how many mothers would decide they're looking for something from the uncool mums part of the fashion world.

And if you had to choose between dressing like Kim Gordon or Victoria Beckham - well, it's pretty much a done choice, right?

Gennaro Castaldo watch: Tom Jones breaks it down

The new Tom Jones album is, according to the pre-publicity, Tom Jones' most personal album ever.

Yes, it turns out that all along, he's only been singing songs that have been made up. Not a word of truth has he sang. He never really stabbed anyone to death, he isn't interested in a breakdown of developing items from a Pussycat, and frankly, he would much rather you took your hat off, thank you very much.

Now, though, he's decided to sing about things that mean something to him. You can tell, too:

In the video that accompanies [the first single off the new album], Jones couldn’t be further from the hip-shaking heartthrob image that’s stayed with him since his Swinging Sixties heyday.

Dressed all in black and standing motionless, his face lit by a solitary spotlight and lined with regret, he inhabits the skin of a dying man looking yearningly back over his life and wishing he’d done things differently.

Oh, oh, if only I'd noticed the sales for Johnny Cash's last album sooner...

It's a confusing time for all of us. Who better to guide us through this strange land than Gennaro Castaldo, of computer games retailer HMV? A totally different type of Tom Jones holding his hips steady and singing from the heart rather than a few inches south of it? Gennaro, what does it mean?
Gennaro Castaldo, HMV’s head of press and PR for the UK and Ireland, doesn’t think Tom’s gamble will stop 24 Hours from being a Christmas cracker.

“Tom Jones albums always sell well in our stores, particularly, of course, in Wales,” he said.

“We have high expectations of this new album, and I’m sure his dedicated fans will be excited to hear it too.”

It will sell well in Wales and people who really like Tom Jones will want to hear it. Once again, Gennaro has shown a clear path through the wilderness.

New format alert: slotMusic

You've got to admire the major labels - faced with a decline in physical product sales, they conclude that the problem is not that people don't want physical product, it's just they want a slightly different shape of physical product.

The latest format, then, to answer this imagined hunger, is slotMusic. This is, effectively, a MicroSD card that someone has already recorded some music on for you. The labels are delighted, hailing "at last: a format that still needs to shipped round the planet, but working with fewer devices than the CD while being much, much, easier to lose."

The official website is excited:

Music, Retail and Tech Leaders to Offer "slotMusic™": High Quality, DRM-Free MP3 Music on microSD™ Cards.

These leaders have issued their launch press release only as a PDF - I'm assuming as a joke; choosing a clumsy, needs-intervention-and-plug-ins format for something that they could have just simply coded up to let people read directly in their browser must be a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for the format, right?

These things are expected to turn up - briefly - on the shelves of Best Buy and WalMart until the challenge of making a microsized product a comfortable browse and trying to persuade people to buy into what I think is the 19th new format since yesterday teatime (BlueRay Audio, anyone?) leads to a quick loss-cutting.

One thing in the defence of the industry: DRM MP3s. The lack of DRM is to be welcomed (gradually learning) but since they're delivering these tracks on a physical format, couldn't they have offered them in higher quality?

Darkness at 3AM: An everyday story of country folk

The 3AM Girls wrote this, and then someone put it in the once-proud Daily Mirror:

She wants to move to the country but Sarah Harding showed rural Girls are Aloud to look great too as she stepped out with her fella, DJ Tom Crane.

The weak pun is par for the course, but since when did "wanting" to move to the country mean you were rural? Surely a desire to move to the countryside would mean, by definition, you currently had to be urban?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet

A well-deserved (but oddly unsigned) piece questioning why Mark Stewart is without honour in his own land has just arrived on the Guardian music blog:

True, Bristolian music-makers haven't forgotten their debts to their progenitor - Massive Attack included him in June's Meltdown festival, while Tricky has said "Mark Stewart: he is my chaos". But beyond that, mention Stewart - and On-U Sound and Adrian Sherwood, his collaborators since 1981 - and you'll likely receive the same bemused stare from your indie record retailer as I did. It's been five years since the hamstrung On-U Sound got a release out, or even one from its outstanding back catalogue, much to Sherwood's frustration. While Grandmaster Flash and Melle Mel's White Lines remains a dancefloor staple, the trio that formed Sugarhill Records' house band is still Stewart's Maffia.

A small Present for the morning

Not too sure that you can rhyme "...Holly Golightly" with "...Breakfast At Tiffanys" with a straight face and get away with it, but David Gedge gets forgiven a lot round here.

Here's the video for Don't Take Me Home Until I'm Drunk, freshly made from the El Ray album:

Gordon in the morning: Mother's back

A nervous day for Gordon Smart, as his predecessor and boss, Victoria Newton, returns to the kingdom clutching an exclusive - nay, world exclusive - interview with Victoria Beckham.

What could be so crucial about Beckham's message for the world that it's brought Newton back from her new, lofty perch, counting paper-clips and making sure that the PowWow man leaves enough bottles of water?

“Yes, I am eating more. I think you do eat more when you’re working out. And you want to eat healthily, so it’s good all round.”

Newton, you'll recall, is not the sort of journalist to take someone's word for that - she seeks evidence to back up the claim. Luckily, she's at lunch with Beckham and so doesn't need to create a "pal" to drum up a quote about seeing Posh with a Lion Bar:
For the record, lunch when we met was grilled fish, salad with balsamic dressing (on the side) and water, followed by peppermint tea.

Since this is a meal which represents "eating more", it does make you wonder what she was eating before, back when she was eating less. Perhaps she'd have them hold the peppermint in the tea.

We're kidding. Naturally, Newton wouldn't abandon her executive office just to report that Beckham is slowly coming to terms with salad dressings. No, no: there's hair, too. Victoria Beckham has hair:
Victoria caused shockwaves at NY Fashion Week when she turned up with her trendy new spikey haircut — nicknamed the Pop — yet she insists it wasn’t her idea. She just let the hairdresser loose.

She adds: “I do love it, and it’s easy to manage and David likes it so that’s all that matters. I wasn’t trying to copy anyone like AUDREY HEPBURN or MIA FARROW.

“I just told the hairdresser to use his imagination.”

If it's a trendy haircut - as Newton claims - then surely the last thing the hairdresser did was "use his imagination" and just slapped on what everyone else was having?

There are more shocks, though: Beckham has turned her back on shopping. She claims. Really:
“I don’t really go shopping any more — apart from the flea market I go to every Sunday. You can get some amazing vintage stuff there.

“That’s often where I get inspiration for my designs.”

Is it wise for a woman whose current line of business is flogging clothes to point out that, actually, you're better off going and buying second hand?

Newton concludes her puff-piece for the former Spice Girl by, effectively, handing over her notepad and offering her the chance to note down any thoughts she might have:
“I don’t really give a shit what people think about me. I’m more grown up now and I’ve learned not to care so much what people say.

“It feels fantastic that everything I’ve worked so hard for over the past five years is coming together.

“I’ve been on the covers of Vogue, I’m respected in the fashion industry, and ANNA WINTOUR (the legendary Vogue editor) takes my calls.”

It's odd that someone who doesn't care what anyone thinks about her, erm, clearly worries a lot what Anna Wintour, trouser merchants and Vogue think of her.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Saint Etienne weekend: Nothing Can Stop Us Now

A mere slice of the mighty Nothing Can Stop Us Now from Bestival 2006:

[Part of the Saint Etienne weekend]

The month that will be

The Week That Was, the latest in the ever-changing shapes of Field Music spin-offs, are touring in October:

24th - GLASGOW, Captains Rest
26th - BIRMINGHAM, Academy Bar
27th - SHEFFIELD, The Harley
28th - GALLWAY, Roisin Dubh
29th - DUBLIN, Crawdaddy
30th - CARDIFF, Clwb Ifor Bach
31st - OXFORD, Zodiac

6th November - LONDON, ICA

Feedback Loop

Some exciting news from the pile of press releases: After ages and ages out of print, the Loop back catalogue is being remastered and brought back into the shops. Heaven’s End and Fade Out will be released this November; early next year The World In Your Eyes and Gilded Eternity get their chance to shine again.

Saint Etienne weekend: The Journey Continues

Mark Brown teaming up with Sarah Cracknell, ripping Eliza's Aria off the Lloyds TSB scary-ass train ads (why aren't they riding a black horse? Leo McKern will be turning in his grave) to nearly make the top ten earlier this year:

Or, if you'd prefer just the divine Ms C, here's the same song sans Mark Brown:

[Part of the Saint Etienne weekend]

Tegan and Sara talking tours

If you have five minutes, you might enjoy Tegan and Sara's video tour blog thingy:

Pretending again

According to their MySpace, the first Pretenders album in six years is just about ready. Breaking Up The Concrete is out at the start of October; if you can't wait that long - or are close to your pound notes - they're doing a download a week which will allow you to assemble an mp3 version of the album without cash investment.

Forty-three dead in nightclub blaze

More miserable news: at least 43 people are believed to have burned to death in a fire at a Shenzen city nightclub. In an echo of the Rhode Island Great White fire, early investigations are suggesting that the blaze was caused by the use of fireworks on-stage, and the injuries were compounded by a stampede for the exit.

Cole hospitalised

Natalie Cole has been hospitalised for over a week; her team report that medication for hepatitis C and a heavy promotional schedule have combined to leave her needing treatment.

Saint Etienne weekend: Seven Ways To Love

This, Cola Boy, was a Saint Etienne side project which released songs Stanley and Wiggs judged to be "too cheesy" to put out under their usual name.

They might just have been right:

[Part of Saint Etienne weekend]

Everything he does, he does for Georgia

Although it's perhaps diverting that Bryan Adams' gig in Tiblisi was sponsored by a Russian mining company - a curious choice for an event calling for peace for Georgia - you've still got to give Adams credit. Not too many celebrities are queuing up to visit nations with Russian tanks gathering on the fringes at the moment.

Jamelia leaves that great page blank

Terrible news, broken gently by Showbizzy Zoe's Zoe Showbiz column: Jamelia has axed plans for her autobiography. She's even paid back the advance she'd been paid.

She didn't want to share, she says:

"I didn't like giving away all my secrets. It made me feel dirty."

Also, they only filled the first seven and a half pages, leaving a yawning gap still to fill.

The hair comb-over

The News of the World has found space alongside the grovelling apology to the McCanns for printing chunks of Kate McCann's diary somehow assuming that she'd given permission to be slathered all over the paper to carry the, erm, important news that Natalie Imbruglia's gone blonde.

Actually, I say "found space", but given the apology is buried deeply in the website's news section and harder to find than even the dwindling Rav Singh section, that might be over stating the effort put in to the job. It's still more effort than Rav is putting in these days, though. Having decided 'woman has hair do' is a story, he's struggled to come up with commentary:

And I’ve got to say she looks pretty fair dinkum to me!

Actually, Rav, you really haven't got to say that. It might be better if you hadn't.

Saint Etienne weekend: Only Love Can Break Your Heart

A dollop of Neil Young coverage now. Apparently, this reached number one in the American Hot Dance Chart back in 1991:

[Part of Saint Etienne weekend]

George Michael arrested in a toilet

No, no, not that time; this all took place on Friday night, when Michael accepted a caution for possession of Class A and Class C drugs following an arrest in a public toilet on Hampstead Heath.

Tony McNulty was forced to take vital time out of swimming through Labour Party plots to answer questions of a "hang about, aren't you lot meant to be hard on Class A drugs and didn't Michael accept a caution not long ago for another offence and doesn't that mean he's kind of got off lightly?" nature:

Mr McNulty told the BBC: "The biggest message is that drugs are wrong and people will be punished, but it must be right that there is flexiblity in the law."

But the government has the balance "about right" between being tough when it needs to be and providing treatment for individuals "to get off that horrible spiral of drug dependancy and crime", he added.

Aha. So he's afraid that if Michael had been prosecuted, he might have wound up living on the streets, then. (To be fair to McNulty, he did stress he didn't know the details of the case and couldn't really comment on the decision taken at that point and so was giving a general, waffling answer.)

The precise location of Michael's arrest means the suspicion has to be that Michael was given a ticking off rather than taken to court because the cops weren't there to catch drug users, but involved in some other sort of operation. It's almost as if the Met don't want to have to troop their cottaging cops out into the harsh public glare of a celebrity trial for some reason.

This week just gone

The most popular stories published five years ago that were read this month have been:

1. Pop papers: Brody Dalle probed while Lydon claims ownership of phrase
2. Natalie Imbruglia announces plans to wed Daniel Johns
3. RIP Kevin Macmichael of Cutting Crew
4. Pop papers: Paul Carr's London News Review launches while Julie Burchill takes on So Solid Crew
5. Tony Hadley to fight John Piennar while Cilla Black goes GAY
6. Fred Durst: Thoughts on the Rhode Island fire
7. Great White drummer in three-car smash
8. Jason Gross' top choices for 2002
9. 365 day project launches
10. 6Music revives Roundtable

Releases at least worth consideration this week:

Drever, McCusker & Woomble - Before The Ruin

Amanda Palmer - Who Killed Amanda Palmer?

Michael Franti & Spearhead - All Rebel Rockers

Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby - Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby

The Streets - Everything Is Borrowed

Christophe Beck - Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The Score

Stephane Pompougnac - Hotel Costes 11

The Cure - Hypnogogic States [EP]

Hue And Cry - Open Soul [Premium collector's edition, apparently]

Little Man Tate - Nothing Worth Having Comes Easy

April March - Paris In April