Saturday, October 31, 2009

Embed and breakfast man: Help Stamp Out Loneliness

A smattering of Manchester indie-loveliness from Help Stamp Out Loneliness, which you could file under 'twee' or 'C-86' if you want. For us, though, we're stapling them firmly onto the 'sounds a bit like The Would-Bes' card we keep in our musical filing system.

It's nothing to do with this, by the way:

This is what it's about, Record Shop, live from the Buffalo Bar:

That's a little distorted in sound, but you get the idea.

HSOL covering Bruce Springsteen
The Torvill and Dean single seems to have been sold out

More about the band
HSOL blog/official site
HSOL on that Facebook
HSOL on MySpace
HSOL on Last FM

Help Stamp Out Loneliness at Indietracks

Beatles online: For now

The entire Beatles back catalogue has appeared online in a proper download shop. Bluebeat are knocking the lot out for 25 cents a go.

Bluebeat. You surely have heard of them?

Wired is surprised, too:

The idea that the various stakeholders involved with the Beatles would license an unheard-of music store to sell the band’s music at such a steep discount seems highly unlikely. After being tipped off by MusicAlly (subscription required), we’re looking into this. So far, neither BlueBeat, BlueBeat’s “partner” BaseBeat or Media Rights Technologies, which actually owns both BlueBeat and BaseBeat, has responded. The company is located in Santa Cruz, California.

A spokeswoman for the Beatles’ label, Apple Corp, Ltd., told she doesn’t think BlueBeat has any sort of permission to be doing this. EMI, which with Apple Corp distributes the band’s music, has yet to respond but we don’t imagine they’ll be too pleased about this either.

They're still there at the moment.

Could it be that there's soon to be a legitimate appearance of Beatles stuff across digital stores, and BlueBeat are already prepping a "oh, sorry, we stuck it all live far too soon" press release as the pay-off? Or has BlueBeat taken a stupidly audacious step to promote itself, figuring it can pay off Apple, say sorry, and enjoy the traffic surge?

We are all of us in the gutter, but some are pretending to be seeing stars

They're taking We Will Rock You on a tour round the country - I think the phrase is "sharing the pain" - and they're planning to make a bit of a fuss in Edinburgh:

Queen stars Brian May and Roger Taylor have revealed they will join the star-studded cast of the smash hit musical based on the band for the opening night at the Playhouse next Wednesday.

Didn't ask Paul Rogers, then?

Still, a star-studded cast. That's exciting. Who have you got studding the cast with these stars?
The announcement is a huge boost for the thousands of fans who have already snapped up some of the tickets for We Will Rock You, expecting to see the likes of Darren Day and Coronation Street actor Kevin Kennedy sing Queen classics.

Is that a star-studded cast or not? Because the phrase "it's a huge boost" implies that, without the presence of May and Taylor, it'd be a bit of a let-down. "Cheer up, there's two of the people who actually got in the way of Freddie Mercury going to be on stage."
May said: "We are completely hands-on, and we will be visiting.

"People definitely come out of the theatre feeling that in a strange way they now know us, Queen, and our struggle, our journey."

They come away understanding your journey? But this is the plot of the play:
We Will Rock You' is a futuristic tale which tells of a massive corporation - Globalsoft - which sends computer generated music to all of the people on the planet. Singing, musical instruments, and any expression of creativity, are banned. But Lost Texts are known to exist which talk of music from years gone by. A group of rebels (the Bohemians) strive to discover the lost music, and bring down the corporation. The two heroes, Galileo and Scaramouche, discover musical instruments buried in rock, which they use to vaporise the head of the corporation (The Killer Queen), and send the Power Of Rock around the world to free the masses, thus enabling the masses to be musically creative once again.

You do know that isn't something which happened to you, don't you, Brian? If people are coming out of the theatre going 'thank god Scaramouche out of Queen found those hidden guitars', not only have they not understood your journey, but they've confused made-up bobbins with real life.

Downloadable: Annie

Annie knocked out a new album a couple of weeks back - Don't Stop [also available in digital form].

If you haven't yet decided if you need her confident ice in a second serving, perhaps you should try the free download of I Don't Like Your Band. That'll make your mind up. [Spolier: You do need the whole thing.]

Downloadable: Yeasayer

More free aural goodness: Yeasayer are sharing Ambling Alp. This widget might even work, too:

Downloadable: Brett Anderson

The lovely people at We7 have teamed up with Brett Anderson to offer a limited-time eight track Anderson mp3 compilation. For free.

Gordon in the morning: Happy Halloween, ladies

Don't ask. Just don't ask.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Cory Doctrow

Cory Doctrow takes to The Times to patiently explain to Peter Mandelson why it won't work:

Fifteen years of draconian copyright regimes show that when you create powerful enforcement tools without any consequence for misuse, they get misused. And half a century’s worth of evidence on digital technology shows that no amount of enforcement will make computers and the internet worse at copying. Hard drives won’t get magically bulkier and more expensive. Networks won’t get less accessible, slower and harder to use. General technological literacy won’t decline. If you want copying to stop, physics is not on your side.

Iommi tries to save his hands

Tomy Iommi has, effectively, buggered his hands with years of heavy-riffing, and now he's turned to stem cells to see if he can reverse the problem:

“I’ve had this problem with my hand and I’ve had this stem-cell treatment on it,” Iommi told the BBC Radio 2 Radcliffe and Maconie Show. “The cartilage [was worn out between] the joints, and the joints [were] rubbing on the joints. It was bone to bone and it was getting a bit painful.”

It turns out that there's a load of injuries guitarists get:
The Robens Centre for Health Ergonomics at the University of Surrey has researched musculoskeletal disorders that affect electric guitar players.

Peter Buckle said: “We have found a whole set of injuries affecting the hand, arms and wrist which you would normally associate with working on a hard, fast production line.

“Strain injuries result from overexertion and the way that guitarists hold their instruments. The temptation for younger musicians is to press too hard on the strings and try to force the frets.

“Holding the instrument away from the body to excite an audience may look good but it can put a huge pressure on the shoulder and upper arms.”

And that's before you factor in the splinters from all that guitar-smashing.

Our musicians end up with bad backs, blown ears, useless hands and - well, god alone knows what's happened to Ozzy, but that. Perhaps the money from downloads should be going direct to special hospitals rather than to fund their swimming pools?

Tribute to Swells

Roger Sargent has made this rather wonderful tribute to Steven Wells:

Steven Wells Tribute Film from Roger Sargent on Vimeo.

[Via NME Video blog]

Radio figures

A couple of things from yesterday's RAJAR figures - first, Smash Hits and The Hits, for long the leading light of commercial national DAB stations, seem to be imploding. Can't help that the magazine title and the TV station the brands are based on are both now defunct.

Second, NME Radio has picked up 3,000 new listeners (or "a margin of error" as statisticians call it) to arrive at 218,000. It's hard to imagine that those are the figures they were hoping for at launch - even in a good advertising environment, you'd be struggling. You wonder if maybe the audience is being held back by a too-mainstream programming policy? The competition is surely Last FM and Spotify, so why battle Absolute Xtreme and XFM?

Downladable: Air France v Saint Etienne

I dare say you'll already know this, but The Line Of Best Fit is currently uploading for the downloadings an Air France reworking of Saint Etienne's Spring.

Oh... it's only going to be there for 48 hours. Quick!

Feargal Sharkey helps the gamers

If I were the games industry and keen for ideas how to protect myself in the face of digital rights meltdowns, I'm not sure I'd turn to the music industry for tips.

They have, though, getting Feargal Sharkey in for his ideas. (The Independent piece is a bit vague about who, exactly, it is who asked him.)

Sharkey takes pride in what he has done, mind:

"We still haven't cracked the problem," he said. "Then again, we're six years ahead of, say, the games industry."

Bloody hell, if the games industry is six years behind the music industry, what must their approach to piracy be like? Putting labels on boxes claiming "drawing your own Battleships board is killing games"? Sending previews of Sonic around on consoles glued up so you can't take it out?

It's important, though:
"The UK entertainment industry is worth £16bn and so it needs to be protected."

Given that the industry is worth £16billion after ten years of file sharing, you might argue that it looks like it doesn't really need very much in the way of extra protection. Indeed, that it's thriving.

Feargal then starts to go a little... well, odd:
"So what we all have to do is ensure that we find out where people get their games, music and films from and ensure that artists and publishers get money from that."

This seems to be a slightly different line from the one we've previously heard from UK Music, which has been 'find out where people are getting things, close it down, and make sure they return to us.'
"The likes of iTunes is great but it's not the sole outlet - games also has multiple outlets. We need to identify them all and, when it comes to those who steadfastly refuse to pay, hit them hard."

Fry and Laurie once had a sketch which suggested the SAS existed mainly as a masturbatory aid for Tory backbenchers; I'm starting to think three strikes might serve a similar function for UK Music.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Punkobit: Chuck Biscuits

Charles Montgomery - better known as Chuck Biscuits - has died.

His drumming in DOA helped create the sub genre Hardcore. His energetic battering of drums took him through a number of Vancouver bands before he moved to California. Arriving in 1982, he started a five-month spell with Black Flag before moving through another large number of stools - Circle Jerks and Weirdos included - and, eventually, joining up with Glenn Danzig. Biscuits drummed with Danzig for four albums, until arguments over money led him to quit.

Charlie would then drift through some more acts - Run DMC calling when they decided they needed a human dynamo in place of a human beat box - before winding up in Social Distortion. He joined up with them shortly before the release of White Light, White Heat, White Trash; he left at the end of the last century.

His family announced his death in a short statement:

“In response to the inquires, thank you for all the support. Chuck did not survive his battle with throat cancer. He passed surrounded by his family on 10/24/09."

Chuck Biscuits was 44.

UPDATE: Chuck Biscuits is still 44, and he's not dead. Turns out this was all a Whigfield, as Brooklyn Vegan explains:
Though I didn't completely realize it at the time of my own hasty posting, James's Chuck Biscuits obituary was THE source of it all. Before I re-posted his words I had read about Chuck's death - in addition to at the sources mentioned above, in the BrooklynVegan comments, and was told about it via an IM, and saw that someone had updated Wikipedia with his death info (reliable, I know), and noticed via Google that Punk News had even put a "-2009" after his name and date of birth.

Apparently, the original post from James Greene Jr was made in good faith - he's been the subject of a long, elaborate and cruel practical joke.
Has anyone ever lied to you for six months about being a terminally ill hero of your musical youth? It's fucking weird. You think I wasn't devastated when I read the e-mail the other day that announced his "death?" That's why I wrote this blog in the first place. I wanted to give CB the obit I knew he deserved. I knew there'd be source questions, but what was I supposed to do, e-mail his "wife" back and be like, "Hey, can you send me pics of the body?" I had no suspicions. I thought I had this shit on lock down. Who would lie to a NOBODY blogger about this kind of thing for so long?

It's easy to attack me in hindsight, but again - this had been going on since May. Who the fuck lies about being a dying Chuck Biscuits for half a year? Are my friends/enemies smart enough to hack enough related e-mail accounts to perpetrate something like this? I just want to know how it happened.

The XX splinter

Let's hope it's not over before it's really begun: The XX have pulled a series of European dates because Baria Quereshi stepped down yesterday with exhaustion.

They played London without her, but they're not sure what the future holds:

Sim added that the band will be discussing their future this weekend after Quereshi's temporary break and nothing is set in stone. "Baria didn't perform last night after feeling exhausted from the XX's recent touring commitments. As a result, the band ... have postponed some European shows which they are hoping to reschedule," according to a statement.

[Watch some XX video]

Just because you're Courtney Love and paranoid doesn't mean they're not out to get you

Courtney Love tells the New York Daily News about the latest subsect of everyone who is out to get her:

One night, Love says, "a flood of guys, at least 10, came to my house. They said there was an ambulance outside, even though we never saw one. I tried to be charming. But one of the guys points a gun at me. My daughter, Frances, ran and hid under the house."

Love says the standoff was defused by a private investigator she'd hired and who later urged her to get tighter security.

Yes, there's a private investigator who backs up her story:
Corroborating Love's harrowing tale are Adam DelMonte and Michael Kenworthy of AC Digital Services, who say they recorded the "blitz" on security cameras they installed in Love's house. "These impostors then flipped the situation on Mrs. Cobain and tried to strong-arm her and scare her into feeling she needed to hire them for protection," DelMonte and Kenworthy assert in a letter. "Fortunately, we were able ... to get them out of her life."

So, there's someone who backs up her story about people turning up demanding money and offering to protect her in return. And he's helping protect her and gets money in return for it.

Love has moved to New York and, with the help of other people she's paying, is seeking to put her affairs in some sort of order. She does realise she's got a challenge, though:
"My biggest problem," she says tearfully, "is that I'm Courtney Love."

Or at least used to be.

Griffin done... Harrods Lights

Dannii Minogue has switched on the Harrods Christmas lights, and Zoe Griffin was there to see it. She was a little disappointed:

They’re green because it’s a Wizard of Oz theme, which doesn’t excite me that much because a London shop should have more of a London theme.

Has Griffin ever been inside Harrods and seen the Egyptian elevator? And does she think that Oz is a real place - like Manchester or something?
But Dannii Minogue loses all of her calm as she grins manically as she pushed the button to turn them on with a young boy from Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Let's be fair: we all know what she means, don't we?

Yes, yes. That's the way to tempt Miley Cyrus back into public

Miley Cyrus vanished from Twitter a couple of weeks back, leaving her social network feeling a little bereft. They'd do anything to have little 140 character spurts of Cyrus insight back in their lives. Anything. Anything at all.

Absolutely anything at all:

A fan upset about Miley's disappearance from Twitter is making a plea to Cyrus to reactivate her account and has threatened to kill and eat her own cat if the pop star doesn't comply.

Because what could be more pleasant than communication that's taking place to avoid a person eating their pet, right?

Bookmarks: Some stuff to read on the internet - Boybands

Jude Rogers talks to five singing hatstands from various boybands, including one of East 17, The Jonas Brothers. Oh, and Simon Webbe:

I don't think an all-black boyband like JLS would have been signed in the days when we were starting out. The X Factor's great in that way: it shows the record companies what people really want – especially as most labels are run by old guys who have no idea what's going on in clubs or on the streets.

Marr and Morrissey: Is it Christmas cards, then?

Johnny Marr does talk to Morrissey. Just not very often:

“I wake up in the morning with about 200 e-mails from a lot of people I don’t know, so I’m assuming it’s going to be the same with Morrissey, that’s the way the modern world is,” he said.

“So by the time I’ve got through the e-mails I’ve got to do, I’m not going to go oh “Dear Mozzer, Having a cup of tea, blah blah, blah.”

If I'm understanding this correctly, Marr seems to be suggesting that by the time he's dealt with offers of penis-enlarging pills and sent off his money to get his European Lottery Winnings passed to his account, there just isn't time to keep up to date with Morrissey.

Gordon in the morning: Christmas with the turkeys

A few days ago, Gordon was trilling that there was going to be a chart battle between Robbie Williams and whoeverwinsthexfactor for the Christmas number one.

Which makes it a bit strange that today he's announcing that George Michael is at the heart of the struggle:

GEORGE MICHAEL is the popstar who is saving Christmas - well, for the bookies at least.

Good old George is making the Xmas chart battle interesting for the first time in years by releasing December Song (I Dreamed Of Christmas).

So... does that mean Williams getting involved doesn't make it interesting?
The former WHAM! star can take credit for penning Last Christmas, one of the finest festive tracks of all time.

... which stalled at number two.

And given that Michael hasn't bothered the number one slot since Fastlove in 1996, is his entry into the competition a bit like John McEnroe turning up for next year's Wimbledon with a bat rather than a microphone?

But hold on, because Christmas could get even worse:
I can also reveal that COLDPLAY frontman CHRIS MARTIN has a belter of a Christmas song which has been burning a hole in his MacBook for more than 12 months now.

It should be pointed out that Martin has no plans to release this song.

Gordon, though, feels he should because he's had a Christmas number one before:
Chris gave us the last non-X Factor Christmas No 1...

Is your face as puzzled as mine as you try to remember Coldplay being number one at Christmas?
...with the reworked Band Aid single, Band Aid 20.

Does that really count?

I suppose that at least Smart's not suggesting we ring up Status Quo.

Talk Talk shout shout at Mandelson

That didn't take long, did it? Less than 24 hours after Mandelson had grimly announced his intention to allow the intellectual property industry to have people thrown off the internet, and the plan is already heading for court. Talk Talk are threatening legal action:

"The approach is based on the principle of 'guilty until proven innocent' and substitutes proper judicial process for a kangaroo court," said Andrew Heaney, the executive director of strategy and regulation at TalkTalk. "We know this approach will lead to wrongful accusations."

"If the government moves to stage two we would consider that extra-judicial technical measures and would look to appeal the decision [to the courts] because it infringes human rights," Heaney said. "TalkTalk will continue to resist any attempts to make it impose technical measures on its customers unless directed to do so by a court or recognised tribunal."

BT has been less strident, but aren't exactly delighted, either, saying they are:
"interested to hear whether or not customers will have some form of fair legal hearing before their broadband supplier is required to take any action against them".

One lawyer claims that there is no human rights worry about Mandy's plans:
Tony Ballard, partner at media and entertainment law firm Harbottle & Lewis, said that Mandelson's plan to suspend internet connections did not breach human rights regulations.

"This issue over whether removing someone's internet access breaches some fundamental right has been quite clearly settled by the European court of justice," Ballard added. "It ruled in a Spanish filesharing case last year that a user's fundamental rights are not absolute but have to be weighed against the rights of others, including copyright owners."

Maybe - although the same court has ruled that ISPs can't be compelled to hand over details of customers in file-sharing cases, too. Let's just pause a moment, though, and consider a lawyer saying that somebody's fundamental rights are not absolute. It's not clear if absolute rights would be fundamental.
Ballard said that it is for the "individual states and their courts to hold the balance". He added that Mandelson clearly had an eye on France where a tough "three strikes" cut-off policy has been implemented and approved by the French legislature.

Yes, Mr. Ballard - although you seem to have got confused along the line; the tough legislation was dumped, and replaced with a watered-down version because, erm, the original plan was considered too much of an infringement of human rights.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Google looking for tunes

Google is about to crank up the usefulness of its music search, by offering more direct links to play and buy tracks. But here, let them tell you about it:

The taking a lyric and offering a preview of the song its from is pretty neat. Depending on how well it works, of course.

Interesting that it doesn't seem to offer a link to YouTube videos of the songs.

Not all government thinking on copyright takes place on David Geffen's yacht

With Mandelson determinedly pressing ahead with his bid to take the internet away from naughty boys and girls, it's refreshing to see some brighter thinking coming from HM Government on copyright.

Today, the Intellectual Property Office published © The Way Forward. David Lammy has been in charge of steering this document, and PaidContent UK have picked out some of the themes:

The copyright system cannot be expected to command public support unless consumers can use works in the ways they want, such as sharing photos with friends on the web. This means rights holders offering works with broader terms of use.”

—It acknowledges that individuals resent restrictions on personal, non-commercial uses of material, and advocates an EU-level distinction between commercial and non-commercial copying...

—That could include legalising more outright copying, the creation of sound/image mashups, format-shifting and sharing material with family and friends, the report says. But: “(This) could impact on revenues for rights holders; (so) an element of fair compensation for any loss would be required” (who will pay?). And commercialising such mashups wouldn’t be allowed under these exceptions.

The "fair compensation for any loss" is the disappointment - someone is going to have to break it to the content owners that they're going to have to start accepting their profit margin has shrunk, and no attempt to reinflate to pre-web levels is going to work, but I suppose there needs to be some sort of vague promise to keep them on board.

A distinction between commercial and non-commercial copying, though, would be a great starting point.

Pity the impetus will probably vanish as soon as the first returning officer declares a result next May.

Folkobit: Taylor Mitchell

Horrible news: Taylor Mitchell has died after being attacked by coyotes at Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia.

The folk singer-songwriter was on tour in the area when the attack happened.

A recent graduate from the Etobicoke School of the Arts, Mitchell released her first album earlier this year. Produced by Michael Johnston, For Your Consideration featured a number of collaborations, including appearances by Jason Mercer and Anne Lindsay.

Taylor Mitchell was just 19 years old. Hikers who heard the attack had come to her aid, but she later died from injuries in hospital.

BET hip-hop awards: That's probably all we need from Eminem

During last night's BET HipHop Awards, Eminem took part in a rap-event which saw him trot out this line:

“My dick is so big if I add another inch to it you would swear when I raped you that you was actually into it.”

Rolling Stone's reaction is to flubber about if BET should have broadcast the line or just cut it out, which seems to be missing the point by an olympic length. Yes, they probably should have broadcast it rather than pretending Eminem didn't say it.

The question, surely, is what the hell was he thinking when he used the line in the first place?

Waiter... there's a hair in my Lady GaGa

The main advantage, presumably, of a $100 limited edition Lady Gaga special edition is, that as it comes with a lock of her hair, you can extract her DNA and clone her.

That'd be one for the RIAA copyright squad to worry over. Perhaps there's a EULA which forbids you from reproducing the DNA. Or maybe you can if you get a PRS licence.

The rest of the overpriced, pointless package consists of:

* Collectible puzzle
* Pictorials
* A behind the scenes look at her creative process
* Pull out posters
* Themed fanzines
* A paper doll collection
* 3 D glasses to view forthcoming Gaga visuals
* Personal notes from the artist
* Each book individually numbered

Did anyone else experience a shudder at the pretrailing of 3D Lady GaGa visuals?

Mandy plans the cut-off

Speaking at C&binet, Peter Mandelson has announced his intention to press on with plans to let media companies have people thrown off the internet. In an act of craven cowardice, though, it won't happen until Labour are likely to be out of power:

The effectiveness of the warning letters to persistent illegal filesharers will be monitored for the first 12 months. If illegal filesharing has not dropped by 70% by April 2011, then cutting off people's internet connections could be introduced three months later, from the summer of that year.

Enough to have Dick Geffen invite him back to the yacht, but without the nasty having-to-face-the-European-Court-ruling attached.

Mandy, of course, is convinced he's being reasonable:
"If we reach the point of suspension for an individual, they will be informed in advance, having previously received two notifications – and will have the opportunity to appeal," Mandelson added. "The British government's view is that taking people's work without due payment is wrong and that, as an economy based on creativity, we cannot sit back and do nothing as this happens."

Does the British Government have a view on using unfair legislation in order to artificially inflate the price of online sales?

No fresh Pulp

Almost nobody would have read the story in The People this weekend which claims Pulp were going to play Glastonbury next year. In case you're one of the few people who did, it wasn't true anyway:

Speaking to the Guardian, the Pulp singer said that he could "categorically" state that "Pulp have no plans to get back together. Someone asked me if I fancied playing at the 40th anniversary of Glastonbury, I said yes, they twisted that into a 'Pulp re-form' story. It's not true."

I've just plugged this into my tabloid story generator, and it's suggested this story really is:


Adam Lambert: This is not an accident

This is the cover of Adam Lambert's album cover.

This tweet might come as a surprise:

Thank you to those who appreciate and understand that the album cover is deliberately campy. It's an omage to the past. It IS ridiculous.

The surprise not that the sleeve is meant to look like that, but that there are apparently people who think the picture might have accidentally turned out looking kinda campy. How would you think that? Are there people who assume he's wearing a pair of dungarees or was fixing an engine but it got cropped out the final shot leaving the image looking a bit fey?

Electronic reunited. Almost.

Bad Lieutenant and Neil Tenant, together at last. Sumner's sideline is going to support the Pet Shop Boys on the December tour.

Gordon in the morning: Specials, sauce

Is there anything more patronising in today's papers than Gordon Smart patting Lynval Golding on the head for having a cheap meal?

THE IVY, Nobu or Cipriani - posh London restaurants where you expect to see celebs tucking into some post-awards bash grub.

But THE SPECIALS legend LYNVAL GOLDING opted for a £7.99 all-you-can-eat buffet back in Coventry after his band picked up The Q Inspiration Award.

What a lord.

Does Gordon realise that the phrase "what a lord" doesn't really sound like praise, and sounds more like what people say when they read one of Gordon's columns?

And why is Gordon suddenly applauding a frugal approach?
That's a lesson to the next generation. Just weeks ago I rumbled JLS with a £6,000 bar bill after a night on the pull.

Talk about Too Much Too Young. I'm sure they'd find a much higher standard of future wife at their nearest Taybarns.

Well, "rumbled" in the sense of "ran a story about".

But this story isn't really about Lynval, or even about JLS (God, how did they even get in here?) No, the story is about one thing. Again. Or rather two:
I spoke to Amy at the awards and she was the most lucid and healthy I have seen her for ages.

We even had a chuckle about her new knockers. But later she posted Facebook messages for Blake, saying: "See you when you know when. Can't wait to be all gentle and nasty."

Yes, Gordon is still going on about Amy's breasts.

Still, it's not like Gordon's obsessed with Amy Winehouse's tits.
KATE MOSS unveils her biggest-ever Christmas fashion range for Topshop - and is busting to display a couple of crackers into the bargain.

The supermodel, 35, looked curvy in a low-cut sequined dress as she showed off her collection for the high street chain.

He's just obsessed with any breasts.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Your Face in MySpace?

After MySpace declared it was no longer fighting Facebook for the social networking crown last week, we're starting to see the first fruits of peace. MySpace and Facebook are in talks which could allow content hosted on one site to be shared across the other.

Good news for bands and labels who currently home on MySpace and have to create separate profiles to attract Facebookers. Less good news for Bebo.

Deutschland Liebe Copyright

The new German coalition government has issued a 124 document, part of which explains the nation's plans for copyright. Like most governments, they're planning to make copyright "tighter":

Among them is the promise to mount a strong defence of copyright. The government says it wants to "achieve a high level of protection and an effective assertion of the copyright-law."

There's an almost theological flaw here - the belief that copyright law is primarily about protecting ownership of things, rather than designed to encourage creativity. If you work from that misconception, the copyright law you're going to create has to be bad for the general health of the nation.

Still, even the German government know when a idea is a bad one:
However, the prospect of removing Internet access for repeat infringers appears to be out of the question. "We want to promote the possibilities of an internal regulation with the participation of the right-owners and the Internet-providers," says the document. "We will not take initiatives for legal possibilities to block Internet access in cases of copyright infringements."

You'd have to be insane to propose doing so. Or French.

Morrissey back on his feet

Morrissey is out of hospital, and plans to take the stage again tonight. Obituary copy put back into the files.

Radio sniffing

Meet Compare My Radio, a handy new service which tracks the music played by a selection of British radio stations and gives you the chance to compare them.

For example, have you ever wondered what's "Xtreme" about Absolute Xtreme?

Well, this is what the non-extreme, ordinary flavour of Absolute plays most:

1 Snow Patrol 169 plays
2 Kings of Leon 165 plays
3 Muse 165 plays
4 Kasabian 151 plays
5 Florence + The Machine 149 plays

And this is the most-played bands on Xtreme:

1 Kasabian 265 plays
2 Muse 262 plays
3 Foo Fighters 254 plays
4 The Temper Trap 253 plays
5 Kings of Leon 242 plays

See? Totally different stations. Xtreme doesn't play Snow Patrol anything like as much. Xtreme or what?

Jackson fans won't look at the movie

It's been a while since we've seen Michael Jackson fans protesting furiously outside a place - not since they were angrily demanding we just take his word for it that nothing happened with them kids, anyway. Now, though, they're back and they're angry, picketing outside the This is It movie premiere.

They're annoyed that the film shows a Jackson energetically bounding about on stage:

The dedicated fans, who have set up a campaign called This Is Not It, are accusing concert promoter AEG Live of putting too much pressure on the star and failing to give him adequate medical supervision

They are planning to hand out flyers at many of the 15 simultaneous global premieres on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The film shows him healthy, and so therfore must be part of an elaborate cover-up. I'm not sure if they're calling for the film to be reworked to show a frail Jackson wheezing between verses and clutching his chest and stopping Thriller three times during the dance; or if they'd be happier for a film to go out with Jermaine doing Michael's bits.

Insane Clown Posse prove an old adage true

Scientific evidence from the Detroit Free Press that you can't go bankrupt underestimating the public:

Amid a crummy Michigan economy and a crumbling music industry, ICP's achievement stands out. Enjoying the top revenues of its career, the group now commands an entertainment empire that pulls in up to $10 million annually: Wrestling exhibitions. An annual 20,000-person festival called the Gathering. Comic books. DVDs. A second feature film, "Big Money Rustlas," due in January. A twice-weekly Web radio show.

Ten million dollars every year. The Insane Clown Posse. And I've checked, they're not running a dry cleaners or anything on the side.

French Record Label boss suggests that UK does like France

The government is hosting an event called, I'm afraid, C&binet today. (Creativity & Business International Network is the reversed-out long form of the not-quite-an-acronym there.)

One of the speakers was Jean Bernard-Levy, head of Vivendi, taking the opportunity to push three strikes onto the agenda. After all, that's how it's done back home in France:

Levy [...] said that while it was too soon to gauge the results of the introduction of the "three-strikes" policy in France, it was a necessary step to protect content owners.

Righto. Let's just consider that.

There's not been any time to judge if it works, but it's necessary. Whether it works or not.
"Britain should be more in favour of developing the media industries and even if France is ahead in legislation it should be obvious [that the UK should] be doing something like three strikes," he added.

Why "obvious"? And where does the idea that throwing people off the internet will lead to a developed media industry actually come from?
Levy said Vivendi, despite owning one of France's largest internet service providers (ISPs), telecoms operator SFR, was convinced the tough legislative strategy would not harm internet use. He added that he expected no real reduction in legal web traffic.

Really? There's all these pirates who need to be chased off the net, and yet chasing them off won't actually make a difference to the levels of web traffic? Does Levy believe that people who make unlicensed copies only use their computers for evil? Or is it just that there are such a very small number of people who would be affected by the law as to make no significant difference to anything?

Vivendi owns an ISP as well as a record label:
"There is no way at Vivendi that there is an internal debate – the priority is to reward and monetise content. The priority is not to grow traffic on ISPs," Levy said.

Well, that's good news for Vivendi. If you were a company whose main business was in telecommunications rather than content, you might wonder why a person with a foot in two camps is being allowed to make the running with deciding that content is more important than connectivity. It's like a person who runs a grocery deciding that cheese is going to be produced at the expense of beef, and expecting the butchers to agree with him because he has a meat counter himself.

And didn't you just say Levy that this wasn't going to affect traffic on the web? Why, all of a sudden, does three strikes have a priority?

Come to that, while you can see why Vivendi might decide this should be a priority, is it societally better for people who own the means of communication to decide they should be used primarily for enriching record companies instead of driving upwards the number of people using the internet? Wouldn't it be better for all industries if ISPs were trying to make getting online as easy and convenient as possible for the largest numbers, instead of focusing their efforts on trying to squeeze a few extra quid out of an old Peter Gabriel album?

Levy, naturally, doesn't worry about the human rights questions of disconnecting people from a source of democratic and civil engagement:
"When you send warning letters to people then they can't say they did not know [they were breaking the law]. It is a short-term view to say 'I don't want to hurt the public'."

Good lord, imagine taking such a short-term view as not wanting to hurt actual people, instead of the long-term view of Vivendi's share price. Do you think Vivendi would ever have been involved in bribing politicians in Milan if they'd ever stopped to worry about such short-term views? Or having a go at price-fixing.
He added that for the music industry, models such as Spotify's "freemium" strategy, where users can choose between free streamed songs with advertising or paying a subscription to avoid ads, had "yet to be proven profitable" despite the mass hype.

Ah, so we've not seen any proof that three strikes work, but we must just accept that it does; however, we've not seen any proof that freemium delivers profits, so we should assume that it doesn't. That seems fair.

Incidentally, how can the music industry not be making a profit from Spotify? It's not like every record is having to be re-recorded or re-promoted? Levy seems to be arguing that if you eat yesterday's leftover pizza for lunch, you're not saving any money.

Clapton needs surgery

Eric Clapton has pulled out of an event celebrating the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame because he needs to have his gallstones removed.

Isn't the idea of pop stars playing a gig celebrating a rock museum the wrong way round?

Downloadable: Chauffeur

There are some for whom the idea of a "supergroup" featurning Mark Ronson is enough to have you fashion a Unabomber-style manifesto and head off to the mountains. Others will just head off to the mountains.

Still, give 'em a chance - Filter are offering a preview of what Chauffeur will sound like.

Fanfarlo head for the US

Hoping that all-night diners will be ready to keep them going with black coffee and hard rolls, Fanfarlo announce a US tour:

November 9th*Chicago, IL*Schubas
November 11th*Minneapolis, MN*Triple Rock Social Club
November 13th*Denver, CO*Moe’s
November 14th*Salt Lake City, UT*State Room
November 16th*Boise, ID*Knitting Factory
November 17th*Seattle, WA*Crocodile Cafe
November 18th*Vancouver, BC*Media Club
November 19th*Portland, OR*Doug Fir Lounge
November 20th*Sparks, NV*Great Basin Brewing Company
November 22nd*San Francisco, CA*Rickshaw Stop
November 23rd*Los Angeles, CA*Echo
November 24th*San Diego, CA*Casbah
November 27th*Santa Barbara, CA*Soho Restaurant & Music Club
November 29th*Tucson, AZ*Club Congress
November 30th*Santa Fe, NM*Santa Fe Brewing Co
December 2nd*Austin, TX*Independent
December 3rd*Dallas, TX*The Loft
December 4th*Houston, TX*Walter's on Washington
December 6th*Birmingham, AL*Bottletree
December 9th*Baltimore, MD*Metro Gallery
December 10th*Philadelphia, PA*Johnny Brendas
December 13th*Arlington, VA*Iota
December 12th*Pittsburgh, PA*Brillobox
December 14th*Detroit, MI*Majestic Cafe
December 15th*Toronto, ONT*El Mocambo
December 16th*Montreal, QUE*Il Motore
December 17th*Boston, MA*T.T. The Bear's
December 18th*New York, NY*Webster Hall

Oh, America, this is what you're in for:

No V in Oz - perhaps

The global facsimile V Festivals looks like it has reached the high water mark and is now busily receding, as Australian co-promoter Michael Coppel Presents have pulled out. MCP seem to be planning to carry on doing festivals, just no longer in collaboration with the alien-remake-overlords of V.

Smart Weekend: Alice In Vain

Borrowing a line from Courtney Love - when it was possible to understand what Courtney Love was saying in order to be able to borrow her lines - Sleeper do Alice In Vain backstage at Glastonbury 1995:

And that, you'll be delighted to hear, concludes the Smart week(end), as there's no sign of either Twisted or Pyrotechnician on the tubes.

Gordon in the morning: Winehouse has secondary sexual characteristics

If there's one thing we know from Gordon's coverage of Amy Winehouse's drunken antics during her time in St Lucia, it's that he's got no time for her crashing all over the place pissed and useless.

Right, Gordon?

Except, erm, at the Q Awards, where apparently he's delighted by her crashing about all over the place, pissed and useless:

AMY WINEHOUSE was back to her bongoed best at yesterday's Q Awards - halting proceedings for ten minutes before stumbling on stage.

Apparently, the difference between being shambolic on stage and being "at your bongoed best" is your willingness to appear in an awkward photo:

Oh, and Amy does have a little extra now, which Gordon seems a little obsessed by:
Amy's Boob Boob: Winehouse nips out for the evening

Amy’s back to her bust at show

Bust in time... Amy Winehouse

The caner, proudly displaying the fruits of her recent boob job in a revealing red dress...

There was also time for this timeless exchange:
"Thanks for your support - and for helping Dionne," she said.

Startled, I replied: "You don't need any support by the looks of things."

Grinning, she added: "Impressive, ain't they?"

"Like two snooker balls in a sock," I concluded.

You can hear the cocktail cherry swirling in the Singapore Sling, can't you?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Alicia Keys gets recut

Hey, you. Yes, you. You think you know Alicia Keys? Think again, because she's, like, totally changed direction:

Alicia Keys Tells Fans To 'Expect The Unexpected' On New LP

Stores already report panic buying of sou'westers and absorbent shoes amongst Keys' core fans as they prepare to cope with this astonishing new direction.

Keys explains that she might very well be about to launch an album of Germanic Murder Punk:
"You can expect, like, to be moved," she said. "You can expect to really be into a zone. I think you can expect the unexpected cause there's going to be things that you're going to be like, 'Wow, is that her? Is that her?' And I love that about it. You can definitely expect to see major growth, but you're going to fall in love with this album."

Just because it sounds to you like she can't actually think of any way that the new album is going to be different from all the others doesn't mean that it's going to be like all the rest but with a few extra notes crammed into the long words. Oh no.

Smart Weekend: Vegas

No Lady Love Your Countryside video, so we skip a track on Sleeper's debut to Vegas. A few years post-Sleeper, and Louise Wener would return, via novel form, to the idea of Vegas as a life-changing place.

[Part of the Smart week]

Q Awards contains a surprise

Whoever said the Q Awards were predictable is going to be ordering a large slice of the most humble pie. You'd be expecting them to give best live band to Muse and best band to the Arctic Monkeys, right?

Surprise! It's the other way round. Crazy, huh?

The winners in full:

Best Act In The World: Muse
Best Live Act: Arctic Monkeys
Best Album: Kasabian - West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Asylum
Best Track: Lily Allen - The Fear
Best New Act: White Lies
Best Breakthrough Act: Mr. Hudson
Outstanding Contribution: Robert Plant
Q Icon: Marianne Faithfull
Q Inspiration: The Specials

I don't know if the idea that Kasabian's album is worthy of our attention is more or less funny than the straight-faced presentation of a prize to Mr Hudson, the Syd Little to Kanye West's Eddie Large. Mr Hudson is not a pop star name; it's the name of a 1970s chain of trouser shops operating through seven East Midlands locations.

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: Jackson not actually all that popular after all

How soon we forget, it turns out. Just a couple of months ago, Michael Jackson was a giant of modern music, peerless and loved as much as a singer could be. Now, it turns out the This Is It album might struggle to reach the half-million sales mark.

Whoever can explain such a situtation? Step forward premier HMV Jackologist, Gennaro Castaldo:

"At the time of his death the response was very emotional," said Gennaro Castaldo, spokesman for the HMV music retail chain.

"But there is a question as to whether that is as potent this time around. There is not that emotional intensity."

In other words, then, we've gone from thinking that Jackson is the bestest thing ever to have happened, to wondering if he's actually anywhere near as good as that Cheryl Cole.

Talking of whom, she's number one. Can you explain that, Gennaro? Why, yes, he can:
Gennaro Castaldo, head of press at music giant HMV said: “Cheryl’s smashed it. She’s got the best-selling single of the year so far.

That is thanks to her broad appeal and superstar status.”

So she's popular because, erm, she's popular. Hold it, Gennaro - don't let too much daylight in on magic, there.

Smart Weekend: Bedhead

There's no Hunch or Amuse floating about online, but there is a decent chunk of Bedhead tucked into this interview with Louise:

[Part of the Smart Weekend]

Nobody knows how 50 Cent suffers

With echoes of P Diddy's clumsy "grounding my private jet" joke-that-wasn't from earlier on in the recession, 50 Cent has been sharing his economic pain:

50 Cent's diamond buying hit by recession

Rapper 50 Cent has admitted that he has to sell his old diamonds before buying new ones after the recession cut down his fortune.

No, it doesn't make any actual sense to me, either.

Still, there's an upside. Since Mr. Cent is one of those people who believe his standing is enhanced by burning through cash without getting anything of value in return, the decline in his personal stash of wealth turns out to be just another status symbol:
“If you don’t lose money in this recession, it means you didn’t have enough to start off with,” 50 Cent said.

“Sure, I lost a few million, but that’s because I have so much. This is a time that will sort out the strong from the weak."

Well done, those of you having your homes repossessed - it's a sign that you had enough to start off with. Happy times in the dumpster tonight, eh?

Embed and breakfast man: Tegan and Sara

Who wouldn't want to kick off the week with a burst of new Tegan And Sara stuff? This is the official video for Hell, the new single:

[You can now buy the new album Sainthood, or download it if you'd rather.]

Gordon in the morning: Another chart battle stifling yawn

Given that the last Robbie Williams single stuttered to even beat Alexandra Burke, it's surprising that even Gordon views this as a battle:

ROBBIE WILLIAMS is launching a bold bid for the Christmas No1, going head to head with the eventual winner of the X Factor.

This is in much the same way as Angola really challenge Brazil and Italy to win the World Cup.

As we've observed before, Gordon seems to find it hard to distinguish between a genuine chart battle and two records coming out at roughly the same time.

Gordon also has one of those weird stories where the teaser turns out to have been written by someone who hasn't even bothered to read the story. At the front of Smart's section, there's this:
All round to Lily’s for Glasto

ALLEN loves festival so much she’s planning to build a country pad there with it’s [sic] own Yurt

So, Lily Allen's going to build a house of some sort at the site of the Glastonbury festival? Well, yes, if you define 'Glasto site' as being 'somewhere in the countryside'. Because the story itself (lifted from Q in the first place) actually says this:
Now she loves the festival so much she wants to build her own dream country pad with a Mongolian-style YURT, a tent like the ones she stays in at Glasto, bolted on to the side.

Thanks for explaining what a yurt is, Gordon. I just wish I hadn't had to google those other unusual words 'tent', 'festival' and 'willthisdo'.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Smart Weekend: Delicious

Delicious. That was about sex, too.

This is the song from Glastonbury 1995, complete with a bonus Little Annie:

[Part of the Smart weekend]

Embed and breakfast man: Ladytron

Taking a brief break from the Wener-fest, who wouldn't want to see Ladytron doing a guest spot on sugar-powered kids show Yo Gabba Gabba?

[Shamelessly ripped off from The Music Slut]

Bono blames audience for poor sales

Why didn't U2's most recent album do very well? Sure, it went platinum, but for a man who can raise the dead and command the oceans to dry, that's a major underpeformance.

You or I might think it's because U2 are increasingly ropey, turning out pompy old churn and hoping it'll sell.

But, no: Bono and Adam Clayton blame the audience for, apparently, not being smart enough for the record:

Bono and company see factors such as the lack of a hit song and the fickle public's need for a "diet of pop" are contributing to this so-called slump.

"We weren't really in that mindset," Bono said about the lack of a commercial hit from 'No Line.' "We felt that the album was a kind of an almost extinct species, and we should approach it in totality and create a mood and a feeling, and a beginning, middle and an end. And I suppose we've made a work that is a bit challenging."

"The commercial challenges have to be confronted," bassist Adam Clayton said. "But I think, in a sense, the more interesting challenge is, 'What is rock 'n' roll in this changing world?' Because, to some extent, the concept of the music fan -- the concept of the person who buys music and listens to music for the pleasure of music itself -- is an outdated idea."

Really, Adam? You think that U2 records are being left stacked on the shelves because nobody likes music any more, do you? It's not just that people who buy U2, or people who can find pleasure in U2, are increasingly rare?

Smart Weekend: Swallow

Maybe it was all the sex talk. Indie kids in the 90s had all sorts of problems when confronted with sex.

Swallow. That was about sex:

[Part of the Smart weekend]

Making money from giving away free stuff

There are other ways to make money from free sharing of music than the proposed idea of shaking down marks. HomePageDaily finds that Hobbledehoy are doing quite nicely, thank you:

Since offering several albums for free via digital download in late July, Mr Majerczak has noticed a surge in physical sales; not just CDs but T-shirts and vinyl as well.

"Sales have definitely increased, which I'm sure in part has been a result of our new digital model," explains Mr Majerczak, 22, who started the label from his Ivanhoe bedroom in 2006.

Yes, yes, of course it doesn't follow that everyone would experience identical results, which is why there's a large number of digital models being experimented with. But it does show that there's more opportunity than threat in the world of sharing.

Suzanne Moore: More ire for Moir

Suzanne Moore takes her Mail On Sunday column to slap down Nick Griffin and Associated colleague Jan Moir today:

In a globalised economy that worships the free market, people will go where jobs are. That's called capitalism. But racism, like homophobia, is not based on reason. Moir's apology for her comments about there being nothing natural about Gately's death was really about her getting her timing wrong. Sure, Jan - by about 50 years.

Brecht said nothing should be called natural 'in an age of bloody confusion'. But Moir called it wrong. The 'some of my best friends are gay/black/aliens' argument cuts no ice. Some of my best friends are dead.

Nor have we seen off the likes of Griffin. In these culture wars we have to pick sides. Griffin and Moir each believe they are telling their own 'truth'. Neither are my truth nor much of the country's. The day they are, I will pack my bags.

Naturally, this hasn't gone down well with the core Mail audience, and Moore has tweeted that she thinks this might be the point where she needs to move on. If so - and it'd be nice to have her writing for a publication worth the entry fee again - it's a great way to leave.

Embed and breakfast man: Sleeper - Smart

In the long history of bemusingly reviled bands, Sleeper were probably one of the most unfairly attacked. The main charge against the group seemed to be that Louise Wener was pretty (although so was Brett Anderson) and said interesting things in interviews (although, again, so did Brett Anderson).

The band's debut album Sleeper in fifteen years old next March - if it was a child, it wouldn't be talking to you now, except for the odd grunt over breakfast and to roll its eyes when you try to do the drugs talk. And what better time that five months before this birthday to revisit the record in video form?

Track one was Inbetweener, the official video for which is on YouTube - complete with Dale Winton - but is unembeddable at the insistence of Sony Records.

This, though, is the track being done at one of those odd Top of The Pop live gigs:

and there's also a version from The Word, again unembeddable.

Smart: Mp3 download version
Smart: CD version

As many of the tracks available to follow...
Alice In Vain

Woot-ton: Westlife introduce the splitless comeback

Dan Wootton is bloody thrilled to have an exclusive chat with Westlife this morning:

WESTLIFE launch their mega comeback on X Factor tonight and a certain Mr COWELL will be watching very closely.

Determined to knock TAKE THAT from their best band perch, he's personally overseen every aspect of the Irish lads' relaunch, even what threads they wear.

Megacomeback? Have they actually been away? Don't you have to at least pretend to go away before you can have a comeback? They even did the last bloody series of The X Factor, didn't they?

There's something of an air of self-delusion hanging over the entire project:
Nicky said: "Simon's competitive about it. We're his Take That. We don't want to be second best."

Woah, Nicky. Before you start aiming for second best, why not have a crack at trying to be the 39,647,323rd best?

Because you're not Simon Cowell's Take That. You're Louis Walsh's other Boyzone.
"For years when they were off the scene we had it all to ourselves. So we had to come back with a strong song.

"We were the grand-dads of pop. Now they're back we're the babies again."

It doesn't really work like that, does it? The return of Take That doesn't suddenly rejuvenate you, it just throws into ever stronger relief the painful, pedestrian, lack of life that characterises your music, boys.

This week just gone

Despite running a light-touch holiday service for two weeks, traffic was up 2% over the last month. Maybe I should stop posting altogether (Yes! yes! cry the Susan Boyle fans as one).

These have been the best-read October stories so far:
1. Latest on the Glastonbury tickets
2. RIP: Stephen Gately
3. Susan Boyle launches her 'dream' album
4. RIP: Mercedes Sosa
5. Download: The XX remix Florence And The Machine
6. MySpace refuse to allow Edwyn Collins to give away his own music
7. Dave Grohl and Josh Homme get camera shy
8. Jan Moir kicks Stephen Gately's corpse
9. Liam Gallagher sues Guardian over bad review
10. Kelly Rowlands pissed with MOBO sound

And these were a few things released that caught out eye:

Kings Of Convenience - Declaration Of Dependence

download Declaration Of Dependence

Bauhaus - Mask [Box Set]

download 1979-1983

Willard Grant Conspiracy - Paper Covers Stone

download Paper Covers Stone

Peter Hook - How Not To Run A Club

Kevin Cummins - Manchester: Looking For Light Through The Pouring Rain

David Nolan - Tony Wilson: You're Entitled To An Opinion