Saturday, July 09, 2011

Gennaro Castaldo Watch: My part in the News Of The World downfall

I had been going to post this on Thursday, but events moved on and I spent most of the evening staring slack-jawed at the television. Train2Game had done a ring-round of companies to ask about their advertising plans:

HMV’s head of PR Gennaro Castaldo added: “As it happens, HMV has not advertised in News of the World for some time and have no plans to do so.”
To be frank, that's probably more to do with HMV not having money to splash about on fancy advertising than any moral repugnance, but it's nice to know they were on the right side for once.

Gordon in the morning: Peace and love and understanding

Busily working for the team that brought you the hacking of Milly Dowler's phone, no wonder Gordon Smart has jumped on a happier, warmer piece of news: the Robbie Williams-Noel Gallagher ceasefire.

PEACEMAKER Robbie Williams has waved the white flag and apologised to Noel Gallagher for their long-running feud.

After 15 years of verbal sparring, the Take That star has sent a humble e-mail offering to break some bread over their classic spat.
Let's hope nobody takes that email to a place in Bristol and has them all deleted, eh, Gordon?

Not clear how Smart came to be in possession of the email, but he seems to know quite a lot about it:
Robbie has offered an olive branch, poking fun at himself by signing the note "D-Cup".
You've got to admire either Smart's commitment to News International's standards, or total obliviousness to what has happened this week, for him to run a story which even gives the impression of having had access to somebody else's inbox.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Downloadable: Blitzen Trapper

The new album is out in a couple of months, and in order to make you want it, and want it baaaad, Blitzen Trapper have offered up this nugget:

Gordon in the morning: Boring

Let's just thank the stars Gordon was able to get a column out this morning, what with the sounds of burning and booing and shredding coming from down the corridor.

So what has he brought to our attention, in his bid to ensure that he's part of any seventh day Sun?

The breaking news that Olly Murs in boring:

JLS have told Olly Murs to pull his socks up and stop running scared from their boozy post-gig antics.

Aston said: "He's actually been quite dull. And I've told him. I said, 'You've been so boring. You haven't been out with us yet. What's going on?'
Not only is this Gordon's "big" story, but he's given himself a photo byline on it.
I guess Smart's the only person in Wapping not running about with a blanket over his head. The news that Olly Murs is even dull when viewed from the perspective of JLS will not be stopped.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

US album sales do something unusual

It hasn't happened since 2004: There's been a small increase in album sales in the US. The Telegraph reports:

According to data released Wednesday by tracking firm Nielsen SoundScan, overall album sales rose 3.6 percent to 221.5 million units during the first half of 2011, the first increase since 2004.

While it is too early to judge if the trend will last through the year, an annual increase would be only the second in 11 years.
It's bittersweet. Naturally, it's bittersweet. The rise in sales is down almost entirely to GaGa and Adele, and not only isn't there much hope there might be a couple of similar albums to help with the back end of the year, but even GaGa's album sales were a bit underwhelming.

So, yes, better than last year. But all those years of decline, it's a pause, not a comeback.

Worth noting, though, that what helped sales was releasing records people want to buy. Not throwing people in prison, or closing down websites, or educational videos, or telling people they're stealing.

Gordon in the morning: Has she tried going to a shop

Strangeness about Leona Lewis from Gordon this morning:

LEONA Lewis's fridge would put most feeders to shame.
Feeders? As in someone who deliberately forces their partner to over-eat to fulfill their sexual desires? Rather a startling concept to thrust down our throat, isn't it?
The singer spent her latest trip back to the UK stocking up on proper British grub before her return to Los Angeles.
Now, I know a thing or two about this - transatlantic food shifting, albeit in the other direction. So what is she taking?
So she splashed out hundreds of pounds on old-fashioned snacks to stop herself getting homesick while she's away. Baked beans, Marmite, chocolate and tomato ketchup were all on The X Factor winner's supermarket list.
Heinz Ketchup is pretty much identical on both sides of the Atlantic. Heinz make 'British' baked beans and sell them (as Vegetarian beans) in all fairly large supermarkets. Cadbury's godawful Dairy Milk isn't hard to get hard of in the States, and even Marmite - though an exotic foodstuff and a little pricey - isn't as rare as, say, Marshmallow Fluff is in the UK. Or Nutter Butter biscuits.

In short: Leona is apparently wasting her money shipping a bunch of stuff across the Atlantic that she could get without any fuss in the US.

Unless, of course, this is merely the first part in shaping a 'Leona didn't flop in America, she just got so homesick she was having to fly Marmite in and decided to come home instead' narrative. But surely not, eh?

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Polaris Music Prize: The Shortlist

CBC has got the shortlist for Canada's Polaris Music Prize:

Arcade Fire | The Suburbs
Austra | Feel It Break
Braids | Native Speaker
Destroyer | Kaputt
Galaxie | Tigre et diesel
Hey Rosetta! | Seeds
Ron Sexsmith | Long Player Late Bloomer
Colin Stetson | New History Warfare Vol. 2: Judges
Timber Timbre | Creep On Creepin' On
The Weeknd | House Of Balloons
You'd normally say the Arcade Fire would be the one to beat, but given they've been given mainstream prizes south of the border, they might pay the price.

Noel Gallagher: 'If you pretend to be interested in my record, I'll slag of Liam for a bit'

It shows what a grip Noel Gallagher has on the zeitgeist that he arranged to hold his big, mystery announcement at exactly the same moment as Prime Minister's Questions was starting.

Anyway, blah blah blah solo album:

Noel Gallagher has announced full details of his new solo debut album 'Noel Gallagher's High Flying Birds' at a London press conference.
High Flying Birds? Low hanging fruit, surely?

In fact, it looks like even Noel knows how dull the prospect of his solo record is, having to pad out the press conference with details of the Oasis split:
Speaking earlier today at a press conference, Gallagher said of the incident: "[Liam had] gone into his private dressing room and he'd picked up this guitar. He came back in and he was wielding it about like an axe. He was quite violent. At that point there was no physical violence but there was a lot of World Wrestling Federation stuff. It was an unnecessarily violent act and he nearly took my face off."
He was wielding his guitar like... an axe, you say? Why has the similarity between an axe never been commented on before?

Shortly afterwards, Liam took to Twitter and tweeted 'Shithead'. Damn, I wish I'd thought of that.

Gordon in the morning: It's a really basic piece

I suppose that, while his bosses struggle to cope with the fallout from listening to the private messages of the dead and bereaved, we should be surprised that Gordon Smart has managed to pull a column together at all, even one that relies on so a slim conceit as Lady GaGa supposedly enjoying the Antiques Roadshow:

Raa Raa mock tu-dar, GaGa
That would be a fairly amusing headline, if mock tudor was anything to do with antiques rather than architecture. Let's hope that someone doesn't decide GaGa likes Homes Under The Hammer, for which that headline would have worked.
A source said: "Lady GaGa is really into her antiques so British pals thought she might be interested in the programme."
Because, naturally, despite the fact that it's so well-known and successful in America that they have their own version and there was even an episode of Frasier about Antiques Roadshow, GaGa wouldn't have heard of it. Apparently.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Journobit: Jane Scott

Sad to hear of the death of, perhaps, the original rock journalist, Jane Scott.

Scott was hired by the Cleveland Plain Dealer three days after Alan Freed had promoted the first rock and roll show in the city, albeit as a society reporter. Ironically, before she would shift to writing about pop, she had a stint covering senior citizens. For some reason, this was doubled up with a column for small kids; the next step was for her to create a miscellany for teens. And it was while gathering content for that column that she came to see The Beatles when they played Cleveland:

"When the Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan’s show, I knew what the kids really wanted to read. Once I found rock, I was never interested in anything else."
Scott did manage to carry on writing the senior's column alongside, though, for the next two decades. The rock writing, though, would continue until 2002.

She wasn't forgotten, though, even when she hung up her notebook (nb: this line must appear, by law, in any piece about a retiring journalist):
"Jane's impact and influence on generations of rock music fans, performers and journalists can be felt in the tributes, messages and notes that have come pouring into us," Plain Dealer managing editor Thom Fladung told CNN. "From the likes of Lyle Lovett, who said, 'Music lost one of the dearest members of its family,' to the fan who simply said, 'Salutations to Jane Scott. What a badass.'
The Plain Dealer has opened a book of condolences, and has offered a generous slice of her archive. Her obit page has them all, but try the Pere Ubu:
Psychedelic. Now that's a word that has been bruited about. It doesn't even show up in Webster's Third International Dictionary.

Most people consider it mind-bending. Most relate it to the acid rock of 1967, which tried to reproduce the distorted feeling through music that you got through LSD or other chemicals.

So what does the psychedelic music of the '80s mean to them? What are the essentials?

A beat. An emotion. A desire to communicate.

Melody means nothing.
Oh, to have been writing about music when there was still so many introductions to be offered.

Jane Scott was 92.

Dead Kennedys: Getting too drunk is BAD

Kronenbourg 1664 has been getting bands to record slowed-down version of thrashy, punky songs. Unfortunately, nobody thought through getting the current iteration of the Dead Kennedys to record Too Drunk To Fuck. For a beer advertising campaign.

Drinks industry marketing watchdog the Portman Group, which operates a self-regulatory code of practice, received a complaint about the promotion and the use of the track.

The Portman Group's independent complaints panel said that while Kronenbourg had not "set out to promote irresponsible drinking", nevertheless the "track name and lyrics referenced drinking to excess, thereby associating the brand with immoderate consumption".

It added that this represented a breach of its industry code, which bans alcohol promotions from "encouraging irresponsible or immoderate drinking".
No word yet from the group which regulates the Punk Industry on charges that working for an expensive lager company brings The Dead Kennedys into disrepute.

Gordon in the morning: Plastic punks

The news that One Direction's management have shoved their hapless noisesacks off in a "rock" direction is amusing enough in its own right:

ONE Direction are gaining a reputation as hellraisers so its no surprise they're working with a US punk-pop svengali.

Some of the lads' new material has a rock influence inspired by American producer and writer Matt Squire.
It gets better though. Squire has worked with Good Charlotte, and they're "punk" (in the way that McDonalds is a "restaurant"), and so Gordon has decided that... well, this will be the result:
Yes, that's Gordon's "mock up" of what a punk band might look like.

Monday, July 04, 2011

Wax cylinders

Why I love the internet, part 256: Earlier today, surprised at a request for a fax number, I tweeted about how I suspect they wanted to send me details about wax cylinders for sale. (I know, I'm a scream).

Within minutes, I was given a link to this story about a band releasing a wax cylinder last year.

The band are called The Men That Will Not Be Blamed For Nothing. And you can see them live soon:

15th July, Tufnell Park Dome, London, UK
3rd September, Sound House, Leicester, UK (with Axis Mundi)
9-11th September: Weekend At The Asylum, Lincoln, UK
29th October, White Mischief, The Scala, London, UK

[Thanks to Ms E for the informative tweets]

Government happy with Enterprise Finance Guarantee; nobody else is

There's a large pot of money - the enterprise finance guarantee scheme - which is available to reassure lenders that if they loan to a small business, they'll not lose out if it all goes wrong.

(The sharp-eyed amongst you might spot that this is yet another way in which taxpayers take on the risk that is meant to be the part of the banking industry for which they get their rewards, but let's park that for now.)

Supposedly, the scheme applies to musicians.

Back in February, Feargal Sharkey appeared before a Commons Select Committee on behalf of UK Music saying it wasn't working:

Mr Sharkey confirmed that UK Music had undergone detailed research into EFG-funding and found only one example of where an application had been successful "out of a £5 billion a year industry". He believed that the Government needed to work with both the industry and the banks to develop a set of standards and a set of appraisals and that it should report on a quarterly basis, on the flow of funding going into the industry. Of equal importance was guidance on the valuing of Intellectual Property which he argued was a significant problem in valuing companies in his sector.

The Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme should be available to all sectors of the economy. It is therefore unacceptable that the creative industries sector—which generates around £4 billion a year in the United Kingdom and is one of the six sectors designated by the Government as growth sectors— is effectively being excluded from this avenue of funding. We recommend that the Government, as a matter of urgency, ensure that the criteria for receiving EFG funding is sufficiently flexible to accommodate the creative industries. We expect the Government, in its Response to this Report, to set out clearly how it will achieve this aim.
Despite this, the government issued a report saying all was going well:
the music industry is incensed at a government report published in May which implied that promoters, managers and others wanting to finance music ventures do not face any problems accessing the fund. Industry insiders pointed out that no one relevant was questioned for the report. The document itself notes that "most of those interviewed under the music and visual arts were dance studios or theatrical companies". There is also an admission that a "music business or record company could not be interviewed for this research".
The industry part of the music world is pretty hacked off by this:
"It was hugely disappointing that recently published government research on creative financing would openly acknowledge that it has no relevance to the British music industry," said Feargal Sharkey, chief executive of UK Music. "Access to finance remains a fundamental challenge for this country's music entrepreneurs."
This seems like a better use of UK Music time and money - still not very clear where that money is coming from, by the way - than pointless railing about piracy.

But the government has a plan:
The government is taking steps to address this issue with the first formal meeting on Wednesday of the Creative Industries Council – announced as part of the coalition's "plan for growth" in March. It is understood that top of the agenda at the meeting, which will be chaired by the culture secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the business secretary, Vince Cable, will be access to finance. A "wide spectrum of the creative and digital industries" is said to be attending.
Hang about, though... isn't that a quango? Aren't the coalition meant to be getting rid of them?

Woman falls from Carlsberg-sponsored Aerial Ride at Roskilde

A woman has died at the Roskilde Festival after plunging from the Tuborg Aerial Cableway. BBC News reports:

Danish police spokesman Carsten Andersen said the cause of the accident has yet to be determined.
The Carlsberg ride is described as an interesting way of getting from the camping area to the performance part of the site:
The aerial cableway consists of 72 shipping containers stacked as a tower. Festivalgoers will be able to go from the camping area to the festival, a distance of about half a kilometre.

The cost of a trip is 10 empty cans.

The deposit value of the cans will be donated to the FødevareBanken, a voluntary organization that collects about-to-expire food from Danish supermarkets and delivers it to homeless shelters.
Perhaps something has been lost in the translation here, but it sounds a little like people are being encouraged to drink their way through ten cans before clambering up the side of a tower. Notwithstanding this accident, perhaps this was an idea that hadn't been thought fully through by the team at Carlsberg.

Gordon in the morning: Raking over the Coles again

Wasn't the Bizarre position on Ashley Cole and Cheryl Cole well-established back during the break-up, when Smart ran stories nearly every day urging Cheryl to leave him?

Oddly, now there are stories about a possible reunification - and that looks in no way like a cynical attempt to rebuild a brand badly damaged by the indifference of America - The Sun isn't so sure if it's a good thing or not that they split in the first place, and Gordon is asking his readers to vote:

Should Ashley and Cheryl get back together?

Gordon seems to be confusing what we're supposed to believe is real life with that rotten column in the back of the Guardian Weekend magazine.

Naturally, he wouldn't expect even his own readers - the world's most sophisticated electorate - to prod a simple button without a bit of help. So we get cheerleaders for each case (maybe Gordon should try pitching this to Sky TV):
Should she take him back?


Says SAM CARLISLE, Sun Features Editor

Cheryl is wealthy and has no kids - unlike certain other WAGs she didn't have to do this.

So go for it Chezza, and pray he appreciates you this time.


Says DEIDRE SANDERS, Sun Agony Aunt

The trouble is he is so like the other men in her life who have let her down - her alcoholic granddad, her father who was too young to cope with a family, her problem-ridden brother.

They've all made well-meant promises they failed to keep.
Presumably Deidre is called an agony aunt because she's like one of those aunts who loves to inflict agony by churning through your life's failures and disappointments under the guise of caring.

The sense that all this is about generating column inches and trying to keep a buzz going isn't entirely dissipated by Gordon's "source":
A source said: "For the first time in nine years Cheryl's looking at an empty diary. After the X Factor USA plans fell apart, she realised there wasn't much else in her life. She realised she had to embrace those closest to her - and Ashley remains the love of her life."
Is there anything more romantic than a relationship that you're rekindling because you've got a few days off?

Sunday, July 03, 2011

New York Times gets riot grrl wrrrng

The New York Times had a few notes:

An article on June 5 about the riot grrrl musical movement and its legacy misidentified the original song containing the lyrics “boy girl revolution.” It was “Her Jazz” by Huggy Bear, not one by Kathleen Hanna, who was in the band Bikini Kill. The article also misidentified the singer who first performed the song “I Wish I Was Him.” It was an Australian musician, Ben Lee, not Ms. Hanna. The article also misstated the ages of the teenage musicians Coco Moore and Aziza Akhmatova. Ms. Moore is 16, not 15; Ms. Akhmatova is 15, not 16
[Kudos to the mighty Regret The Error]

Embed and breakfast man: Gary Numan and Nine Inch Nails

For no real reason, let's just enjoy Gary Numan joining Trent Reznor to run through Cars at a London date in 2009:

[Buy: The Pleasure Principle]

This week just gone

The most-popular things from June 2011:

1. Glastonbury 2011: Mail counts BBC staff going, tuts
2. Glastonbury 2011: Dead man was Cameron's constituency chair
3. Obituary: Martin Rushent
4. Glastonbury 2011: U2 fight, except they don't
5. Glastonbury 2011: Everything
6. Bookmarks: Pete Doherty and dead people
7. NME TV - veiwers in the mid 4000s. On a good day
8. Glastonbury 2011: Zane Lowe was apparently terrible, says Twitter
9. HMV results rotten, plan to have less space for CDs to make it "more active" to buy them
10. Simon Cowell denies that Britain's Got Talent is fixed

These interesting things emerged last week:

Gillian Welch - The Harrow & The Harvest

Download The Marshall Suite

Thievery Corporation - Culture Of Fear

Download Culture Of Fear

Lesley Gore - Magic Colors

Download Ever Since

Sbtrkt - Sbtrkt

Download Sbtkt

Gretchen Parlato - Lost and Found

Download Lost And Found

The Go-Gos - Beauty And The Beat

Download Beauty And The Beat