Saturday, August 27, 2011

Gordon in the morning: Will Young parks

How has Will Young managed to survive ten years in music? It's probably by being dull.

Caroline McGuire went to interview him for Bizarre to mark his decade, and the big scoop?

A below-the-line-Telegraph-style moan about parking tickets:

Will says: "I spend ridiculous amounts on them. I will not name figures but it could probably feed a city. It's because they have these f****** cameras everywhere that are meant to be for our safety, but they're not!
You're confusing the speed cameras with the parking cameras. The parking cameras are designed to stop people parking where they shouldn't.
"I'm moving house and stop outside this cafe every day on a yellow line. I risk it and keep an eye out for the traffic warden.
So this isn't one of those edge cases, where there's a hidden sign, or the lines are badly-painted. You're risking it, and you're losing your gamble. What the hell are you moaning about?
"But they've got this frigging camera. I got eight tickets in a row, but they didn't come through until a week later."
So you're knowingly parking somewhere you shouldn't, but somehow think that should be okay providing there's no traffic warden?
"The other day I was walking past a traffic warden and swore at him by putting two fingers up and pretending to scratch my face – I'm 32, I knew what I was doing was crazy but it just makes me so angry."
Because you get fined for parking where you shouldn't? If you're going to be eight years old and do the finger-scratchy thing, maybe you should think about using a mirror.

Kasabian have made their choice

And they didn't flip a coin:

Kasabian star Serge Pizzorno stopped taking drugs so the band would only be remembered for their music.
Obviously, nice to kick the drucks and be clean, so any reason is better than nothing, but did it not occur to Serge that the way to be remembered for your music is to make memorable music? After all, Kurt Cobain did quite a lot of drugs, but Nirvana's music is recalled for its own merits. Never once has this conversation happened:

- Remember that Kurt Cobain?
- Yeah... boy, how much heroin and diazepam did that guy do?
- Wasn't he famous for something else?
- Oh... um... yeah...
- Boxing? Was it boxing?
- Maybe. Doesn't sound right.
- He knew Everett True. Was that it?
- Oh, yeah. That's it.

Still, Kasabian aren't doing drugs any more. For their art:
He said: "We were absolutely crazy. Because you don't know how long it's gonna last and you don't give a f**k about anything. You do an album and you think this is gonna be it so let's just enjoy it. Tomorrow didn't matter. We lived at 100 miles an hour.

"But I just got bored. For me, the most important thing is the art, the music and the things we leave behind. If your music starts to suffer, then it's not worth it."
Presumably the drugs are still working their way out of the band's system, and once they're gone, we'll start seeing what their music sounds like when it's not suffering. Any day now, I'm sure.

Friday, August 26, 2011

N-Dubz: Is this really a sexy gift?

Fazer out of N-Dubz has been sent a present:

He said: "I got sent a box of condoms. I don't actually think it was weird, more nice really. At least they were thinking 'safe'."
He seems to think this was a sexy sort of present. I'm not so sure. If someone sent me a package that screamed 'for God's sake, don't have any children', I'd feel a bit slighted.

Labelobit: Esther Gordy Edwards

Esther Gordy Edwards, Motown executive, has died.

The sister of Motown founder Berry Gordy, Esther was most effective in her work bringing the label's artists to the world as head of the International Division. She's the reason why people living this side of the Atlantic are as familiar with the brand as those on the home side.

She also acted as a calming, mentoring influence on the label's younger stars, taking an approach with Stevie Wonder and Diana Ross - amongst others - that helped them cope with the sudden rush of stardom.

After Berry moved the label from Detroit to Los Angeles, Esther remained in the Motor City and oversaw the transformation of the original base into a museum. Although her role wasn't uncontroversial - some felt her tight hold on the project choked off some of the commercial potential of the project - the city was grateful that one Gordy, at least, didn't head off to California.

Esther Gordy Edwards was 91. She died, in Detroit, on Wednesday 24th August.

Gordon in the morning: Phone blocked

It's all about responsibility:

ONE DIRECTION aren't allowed to have Simon Cowell's phone number in case they put it on Twitter.
Yeah, that'd be it. Because he'd love to hear from them, all the time, any time. It's just, you know, the worry about the number turning up on Twitter.
"What about your address, boss?"
"Um... oh, if I give you that... erm... you might... get confused. Yes, that's it, you might get confused and use it by mistake when you're delivering pizza."
"Don't you mean 'ordering pizza', boss?"
"I know what I meant."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Steps back, in amazement

Last month, Lisa Scott-Lee announced her plans to Wales On Sunday:

FORMER Steps star Lisa Scott-Lee has revealed she’s moved to Dubai and is writing a children’s novel.

Apparently this is what writing a novel looks like.

Yes, Steps have come back together to do a series for Sky Living - way to strike while the iron's hot, Sky Living; there are few cultural forces which resonate more strongly in 2011 than Steps.

Rumours that Sky execs looked at that comeback picture, asked 'which one is Rachel Stevens?' and then looked a bit queasy as they realised they'd made a terrible mistake, could not be confirmed at time of writing.

Funnily enough, it's only a month since Scott-Lee insisted that she had standards about what crappy reality TV project she'd get involved in:
Lisa, who starred in Dancing On Ice, said she’s also like to give Strictly Come Dancing a go. She said: “ It’s the best one. “I wouldn’t go into the jungle or do Big Brother.”
I'm not sure if a show about your old band sits at the Strictly end of the scale, but you have to wonder if she's only prepared to work on the quality end of the market, what was she doing on ITV's pretend-to-be-an-air-steward CelebAir?

Gordon in the morning: In the name of charity

Here's someone doing some good work for charity:

It's Gordon Smart, who's been sponsored to break the record for "looking awkward in a photo stood next to the most people possible".

Alright, it's not - this is Gary Barlow's supergroup for Children In Need. Sun readers are being asked to come up with a name for the group - I'm thinking Hardly Band Aid, Who's The Suit? or Where Did He Touch You.

Of course, if Gary Barlow really wanted to help Children In Need, he could stop courting the showbiz editor of a newspaper whose company dedicates much of its corporate time to trying to crush the life out of the BBC which would render things like CIN impossible. Just an idea.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Rolling Stone: dead or stumbling?

Robin Davey at Kerascene is currently reading the last rites for Rolling Stone, based on how few 'likes' their current cover stars picked up:

What can a feature on the front of the most regarded and iconic musical magazine get you?

Over the two-week period that this particular issue covered, the band mustered up about 2000 Facebook likes. When I first looked it stood at a little over 10,000, now it stands and just under 12,000.

Is that really the weight that Rolling Stone has in the current market?

If so, it would appear that opinionated music journalism is certainly stumbling if not already dead.
Perhaps. But let's just hold off pushing the title into a hole and examine this a bit.

Rolling Stone still claims to sell just shy of 1.4 million copies an issue, so it's got a bit of a pulse. But that's not really Davey's point; he's suggesting that while people might still buy the magazine, it's not got any influence.

But hold on a moment - which band was featured on this cover?

The Sheepdogs.

Yes, exactly. The Sheepdogs. Who weren't on the cover of the magazine because the editors thought they were any good, but because they'd won some sort of contest to be there.

Here they are, look:
To be frank, given that they're on the cover of the magazine after winning some sort of raffle, and given how, if you'll let me judge a book by its magazine cover, they appear to be what you'd get if a Coldplay tribute band tried to turn themselves at short notice into a Doctor Hook tribute act, it's a miracle they picked up 2,000 likes.

Are we even sure that 'extra Facebook likes' is even a fair metric for judging the impact of a band appearing on a magazine cover? Isn't it quite a leap from going 'well, this band might be worth a listen' to liking on Facebook - there are bands that I have been passionate about, or dreamed of getting passionate with, for a generation who I haven't even visited on Facebook. Possibly, the cover has generated new fans who choose to mark their fandom in other ways; possibly, the cover has got some people mildly interested but whose interest has yet to turn into any form of commitment as permanent as a public click on a 'like' button.

Do we even know what proportion of Rolling Stone readers use Facebook in such a way as to interact with bands through the Like button? For all we know, 2,000 likes might represent all people who read Rolling Stone and use the Like button.

And, equally important: what Rolling Stone reader is interested in new music anyway? It's not 1972 any more; don't Rolling Stone's key audience approach new bands in the way Seinfeld approaches potential new friends - "thanks for your interest, but I'm not really in the market right now. I've got no vacancies." In measuring calls to action, wouldn't you be better off seeing how many people respond to a cover saying 'look, another Elvis Costello Best Of has been released'?

Rolling Stone might have lost its claims to cultural leadership. It might be stumbling into a long, whistling downwards plume. But all we've got here is evidence that if you put a rubbish-looking band on the front page, it doesn't generate much Facebook love for said band. It's interesting; I'm just not sure it matters at all.

The artist formerly a Sugababe makes the artists formerly known as The Sugababes

I'm using "artists" in a sarcastic sense, obviously, but you'd expect that, right?

Yes, Mutya Buena has gone to court and won the rights to the Sugababes name, stripping the title from the band that, up until today, had been known as the Sugababes despite not containing any original members of the act.

It's arguable that Mutya doesn't really have any rights to the name, either - it's a bit like a sausage claiming that it owns the trademark Walls, but the court has made its decision.

The band-that-we-cannot-call-the-Sugababes-anymore will have to come up with a new name for their ongoing activities. Which, to be fair, seem to be less about music and more about this sort of thing:

If I were that scummy bloke who stole the Amy Winehouse Foundation name, I'd be registering SugarBabez right now.

Gordon in the morning: Coping with resolution

So, however reluctantly, Gordon reports that Liam has withdrawn his writ against Noel.

Normally, the related stories box is the most-recent content relating to the subjects of the story, but somehow - oddly - the one about Liam being out drinking at 3am has vanished from the list. Although the story is still on The Sun website at the moment.

In other Bizarre stuff this morning, Gordon slaps an "exclusive" on the Amy Winehouse toxicology report, which is a bit hopeful. He does have a brief quote from Mitch, but nothing that hasn't already been said elsewhere.

Gordon is also incredibly excited about the godawful Q photoshoot where Kasabian play the part of plumbers in what appears to be a low budget porn shoot.

But it's not just Serge and Tom being "draped" in "babes". Oh, no, Kasabian have important views on the things that matter:
Tom used the interview to have a pop at kids' TV puppet Cookie Monster.

He said: "I don't mind Sesame Street but I hate him. Always moaning about f***ing cookies."
The ting is, Cookie Monster might be a bit obsessed about cookies, but at least he has something interesting to say about something. Kasabian don't even have the cookies.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Noel Gallagher admits Liam was ill after all

So, after Gordon Smart had piled in to support Noel Gallagher in the battle of the brothers, Noel's just pulled the rug out from underneath his defender by admitting that, actually, Liam had been sick all along. NME reports:

Asked whether there was any truth to the story of a lawsuit, he replied: "Unfortunately there is truth in it. But you know, for the record it is a fact that he was diagnosed with laryngitis and it is a fact that he had a doctor's note to prove it."

He continued: "But I'd just like to say though, if he gets offended by my opinions on such things then you know I apologise but it's all getting very silly and a little bit out of hand and it’s not very cool. But there you go."
Let's hope that Gordon is quite sure that his photo of Liam partying and his mocked-up sick note story is solid.

Amy Winehouse: The gap between the headline and the quote

You'll see a lot of sites doing this right now, so I'm not singling out ABC News, but...

Is the headline right?

What does the story say?
The family revealed the results of a toxicology test in a statement released today.

"Toxicology results returned to the Winehouse family by authorities have confirmed that there were no illegal substances in Amy's system at the time of her death," the statement read. "Results indicate that alcohol was present but it cannot be determined as yet if it played a role in her death."
There's an important difference between "no illegal substances" and "no drugs". (It might not be a significant difference in terms of what happened to Amy Winehouse, but it's an important detail when referencing a carefully-worded public statement.)

EMI put brave face on losing massive court case

The main meat-and-potatoes of EMI's case against mp3tunes was to rule that music locker services were illegal. It lost, with a court in America saying that simply storing your music online doesn't break the law.

EMI did get a small bone, though, as the mp3tunes search engine was told to remove some unlicensed recordings. They decided to seize on this as a major victory:

"We are pleased that MP3tunes and Michael Robertson have been held liable for infringing hundreds of sound recordings and musical compositions through their Sideload and MP3tunes website," EMI told Torrentfreak.

"At the same time, we're disappointed that the Court found that MP3tunes was entitled to a safe harbor for some of its conduct under the DMCA."
Disappointed might not be the bets word for a decision which effectively means anyone can run a music locker service without the need for record label's permission. The majors have just lost a potential, massive, cash-cow.

But, hey, a few tracks have been taken off sideload. So, well done, you.

Gordon in the morning: Hunt the cybersquatter

Yesterday, we had something nice to say about Fox News. Today, it's some good work from The Sun, as the paper hunts down the bloke who bought the Amy Winehouse Foundation web address.

The story is duo bylined to Emily Nash and Gordon Smart; one rather suspects Gordon's main contribution to the effort was adding his name to the byline.

Still, they track down Martin McCann, who also registered a company in the name of the Amy Winehouse Foundation. McCann is not impressed with Mitch Winehouse calling him a dickhead on Twitter:

He said: "I'm not exploiting anything yet. I've just bought some domain names. Anybody could have. It only takes the click of a mouse. I'm not ashamed or embarrassed. Detach yourself from emotions and think business."
Although "thinking business", the charming Mr McCann claims that he's actually setting up his own charity.
"He [Winehouse] is making every effort to hijack this charity to satiate his own needs for the charity. She's not the only Amy Winehouse in the world."
Ah, he's set up a charity for other Amy Winehouses. Presumably to help them with being asked "what, like the singer?" whenever they book taxis. How strange that he only came up with this passion for assisting the hundreds, nay, thousands of other Amy Winehouses a few seconds after Mitch Winehouse announced his plans to set up a charity.

McCann points out that there's nothing illegal in what he has done. Nothing illegal at all. His conscience is as clear as his soul is empty.

Songwriterobit: Nick Ashford

Songwriting legend, Nick Ashford, has died.

Working with his wife Valerie Simpson, the pair had hits in their own right - most notably Solid:

But, it's fair to say, their best work they did for other people.

The pair met in 1964 and, while husband and wife teams aren't unusual in entertainment, it's still noteworthy for a couple of have a four decade partnership that is successful both professionally and personally.

There songs were so well constructed, they could even cope with being taken from Ray Charles and being covered by Manfred Mann, which was to be the fate of their breakthrough song, Lets Go Get Stoned:

If they had a signature song, though, it'd be this:

Nick Ashford, who was 70, had been ill with throat cancer. He's survived by his wife and two daughters.

Songwriterobit: Jerry Leiber

The headlines are calling him Elvis Presley's songwriter, but Jerry Leiber, who has died, was more than that.

Of course, the Presley songs helped fix the idea of rock and roll in the popular mind - though it's worth remembering that they weren't so much writing for Presley. Hound Dog, for example, was originally created for Big Mama Thornton, and sounded like this:

With his partner Mike Stoller, Jerry produced as well as wrote, and for a while also ran a label, Spark, which would eventually be absorbed by Atlantic. But mainly they wrote - dozens and dozens and dozens of songs, many of which are now so familiar that it's hard to imagine the music world without them. There's also a bunch which showed a range and a subtlety of talent that could be squeezed out of their work in the hands of Presley.

Edith Piaf translated Black Denim Trousers and Motorcycle Boots in the French for L'Homme A La Moto; they were also responsible for Is That All There Is:

The pair were inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 1987 and achieved 15 hits during their career.

Jerry Leiber died of cardiopulmonary failure. He was 78.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Chris Brown: Sorry, sort of

Not everything on Fox News is paranoid, gibbering, right-slanted douchery. Take this, a response from Andy Levy after Chris Brown complained about something Levy had said on Twitter:

[Hat-tip to the The MediaBlog]

X Factor stretching the truth? Surely not?

You'll recall back during the hoo-hah about Ronan Parke on Britain's Got Talent, one of the things that outraged Simon Cowell so was the mere suggestion that one of his game shows might offer an easier ride to an act with whom his Syco label had connections, while not revealing those connections.

From the Mirror this morning:

It emerged that one of the early frontrunners [in this year's X Factor] – pizza waitress Roxy Yarnold – has strong links with Cowell’s Syco record label and Walsh has championed her for years.

Roxy, 19, was the star of Saturday’s show after being sent through to the next round with four resounding “yes” votes.

But we can reveal that Roxy was handpicked in 2007 to tour with Westlife, Shayne Ward and G4 – who have all been signed to Syco.

And Louis – who manages Westlife and previously Shayne Ward – said in a 2007 interview: “She’s young, she’s pretty, she’s talented and I just think she’s got a great future.”
X Factor spokespeople claim that she had no unfair advantage, and that she chose to go and audition all by herself.

Maybe. But shouldn't it at least be made explicit that viewers are not watching a pizza waitress, but a professional musician? Shouldn't Louis have been honest that he wasn't seeing her sing for the first time?

Gary Numan: Can we just forget the past?

You know what Gary Numan really hates? Bloody nostalgia, that's what:

"Some people seem to want to keep reinventing the late 70s and early 80s and I don't get that at all. It's been done quite well already so let's keep trying to move forward."
Exactly. Let's move forward and forget a past that's been done quite well already.

Of course, this is the same Gary Numan who has just been touring his 1979 Pleasure Principle album around Australia and New Zealand.

Gordon in the morning: Numpty at the nuptials

Matt Cardle has been busy this summer, according to a story fed to Gordon by Cowell's people:

The X Factor winner has spent the summer singing at his pals' nuptials, as well as house parties back home in Essex, to warm up for his pop launch.

A source said: "Matt wanted to get used to playing in front of an audience again.

"He performed to millions on The X Factor but he thought it would be good to get back up there - and fun too."
It's good practice for his career. Especially next summer, when his job will mostly involve singing at people's weddings.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gary Numan: Me, I disconnect from UK

You'd have thought a chap like Gary Numan, who made his fortune picturing a post-apocalyptic world of electronic friend rentals, car-dwelling survivors and people wearing second-string branded jeans, would have been in his element over the last couple of weeks.

Turns out not, though: Numan is hitching up his skirts and fleeing England for America.

It's understandable, though: Numan lives in one of the riot hotspots, Waldron. Yes, just forty miles as the looted, lit bottle of four star flies from the nearest bit of rioting.

Numan is insisting that his sleepy home village is something of a gangsta's paradise, though, cracking the door open enough to squeak to the Argus:

“We live right out in the country. It is very rural and there are no big cities. You would think it would be the most peaceful place in the world and it is very pretty and relatively affluent. Yet the other day my wife was walking down the High Street and a bunch of kids between 12 and 14 were telling her what they would like to do to her. She had my children with her. You’ve got to be kidding.”
Yes, slightly boisterous teenagers. One incident with cheeky kids, and Numan is sat in the saferoom, Remax on speed dial, plotting his escape.

His neighbours are a bit bemused:
Father David Charles, the priest in charge of All Saints church in Waldron, said: “There’s only a couple of hundred residents and they are mostly retired. If there are any gangs roaming about I’ve certainly missed them.”
To be fair, the single incident Numan could think of was probably in nearby Heathfield rather than Waldron itself; perhaps outside The Cushion Warehouse or in the shady precincts of The Wealden Talking News.

But can central Sussex stand to lose such a significant member of its population?
Wealden District councillor Dick Angel said: “I can’t say I’ve ever heard of him, so it wouldn’t be much of a loss. I think it’s absolutely astounding he could say this.”
Gary Numan, Councillor Angel. You remember: the bloke who crashed his plane. Was going to shoot anyone who didn't like the Royal Family. Owner of the most famous hair weave, for a while. Surely you recall?

So where is Numan off to? He's going for a quiet life in Santa Monica:
“America clearly has its own problems, but Santa Monica is great. It has beautiful beaches and the Pacific Ocean. There is not one bit of trouble and not one surly or aggressive person there. Everyone is friendly.

You ask the teenagers there for directions and they are polite and helpful.

“Do that here and you are as likely to get stabbed as you are to get directions. The fact is the English are pretty miserable.”
Yes, that's right, Gary. In fact, it's a fact that satnavs were only invented because of the greater than 50% likelihood that asking the way in Britain would get you stabbed. It was the only way to stop the bloodshed of the late 1990s when thirty or forty people would be stabbed at every poorly signposted junction each week.

The Argus helpfully points out that Numan's view of Santa Monica might be based on poor research:
A comparison of crime statistics for the two areas shows that for the last available month Wealden had 30 incidents of crime and anti-social behaviour, compared to 317 offences recorded for the city of Santa Monica.

The American city recorded 14 assaults with a deadly weapon compared to none in Wealden. There were 16 counts of grand theft auto, compared to zero vehicle crimes in Wealden.
Santa Monica's Wikipedia entry actually has its own section for gang activity. Wealden's entry doesn't even mention crime.

Goodbye, Gary. Good luck in your new home.

Bono taken to hospital

If I were a famous person - and I'm not - the last place I'd want to go if I was seriously ill would be the Princess Grace Memorial Hospital. Sure, it's the finest A&E in Monaco, but nothing is going to ram your pointless mortality into your face harder than being reminded that 'whoever you are, you're no Grace Kelly'.

Latest to mutter "isn't the Tippi Hedren Casualty nearby?" is Bono, who was given a touch of the Fairheads following chest pains, which the NME has turned into being rushed to hospital with a heart scare.

Given he was out a club later in the day, I'm suspecting it wasn't that much of a scare.

Libertines re-coagulate, claims Mirror

It depends how much credence you put in an exclusive credited to a "music industry source", but it looks like The Libertines might be about to try theirs and their fan's patience once again.

A music industry source reveals: “Pete and Carl really enjoyed reforming the band last year for the Reading and Leeds festivals. Now Pete’s out of prison and trying to stay clean, getting the band back together is his main priority.

“Fortunately Carl is open to the idea of touring and getting back to what they were famous for. So long as Pete is relatively on the straight and ­narrow, the world is their oyster.”
I'm not sure "a desperate bid to cash-in on dwindling affection due to the failure of any attempts to build an audience doing something else" is quite what they're famous for. Yet, anyway.

Glastonbury 2011: Mail still banging on about the BBC there

What's fascinating about the Mail On Sunday's non-story about the BBC getting complimentary tickets for Glastonbury (40, of which they returned 13 and gave eight away as competition prizes) is not the story, but the fact that the Mail has disabled comments on the story.

Really, Mail? Happy to criticise the BBC, but unwilling to open the comments to allow responses to this?

You'll also note that the story is credited to "Mail On Sunday reporter" - so nobody at the paper is even brave enough to claim credit for the pointless tale.

You wonder: if nobody wants to admit writing the bilge, and nobody wants to moderate any responses to it, why would the paper have bothered running it in the first place?

Keeping warm with metal blankets

Meet Ben Venom. He makes heavy metal quits. As he explains:

I'm interested in juxtaposing traditional handmade crafts with one of the more extreme musical genres, Heavy Metal. My work can be described as a collision of Iron Maiden Metal ballads with the outrageous stage antics of Ozzy Osbourne. Serious, yet attempting to take on a B movie Horror film style where even the beasts of Metal need a warm blanket to sleep with. The question remains… Can I play with madness?
Everyone needs a comfy cuddle. Even rock gods.

[via metafilter]

A-Ha play for Utøya

Oslo is hosting a major national event today as a memorial for those killed in the Utøya and Oslo attacks last month. As part of the memorial, A-Ha will be performing, and their official statement as to why they got involved is worth sharing:

On 22 July, we, like everyone else in Norway and the rest of the world, were shaken to the soul by these actions of cruelty and violent provocation against everything we stand for.

We are also very proud to belong to a small country where people, politicians and the royal family worked together and showed solidarity in the face of such tragedy, and we are grateful to be asked to participate in the memorial ceremony.

We do this to honor those who have been torn away, to show appreciation to everyone who made an effort to help on July 22, and to express our sympathy to the survivors who now are left in sorrow."

Venuewatch: Incident at the Zwischerfall

Bochum's legendary Zwischerfall has been destroyed in a fire.

The club opened in 1985 and provided a home for the German Dark Wave movement, alongside offering a space for punk, new wave and gothic bands of all stripes to play. It also found space for fetish and BDSM events.

Those of you who believe in some sort of strict, unforgiving Old Testament God might draw a conclusion from the events hosted there, and the apparent cause of the fire being a thunderbolt sent from the heavens. On the other hand, the club itself appears to have survived the resulting fire fairly intact - unlike the rest of the building - but is so badly waterdamaged that closure was inevitable. The owners say that it's unlikely they'll be able to reopen any time soon.

Here's a hint of what the club looked like - this is Inferia playing Bloody Mary on the Zwischerfall stage:

Downloadable: Domino sampler

Surely you're aware of the high quality of the Domino Record roster? Or are you wondering what they've done for you lately?

Here's a chance to catch-up: a free, gem-packed sampler:

Download off of that Amazon site

There's King Creosote & Jon Hopkins; Sons And Daughters; Wild Beasts and - like all good K-Tel adverts would say - many, many more. It's free. What could go wrong?

Gibson in the jungle

A couple of years back, Gibson was caught using Rosewood illegally sourced in Madagascar.

The wood was discovered in a 2009 raid by the Environmental Investigation Agency in the US. Because Gibson had previously worked with environmental groups - and because Gibson's chair and CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was on the board of the Rainforest Alliance at the time - the company got cut a surprising amount of slack over the illegal wood:

“I think that the first statement on all of this is that Gibson has shown an awful lot of leadership historically on environmental issues,” said Scott Paul, director of forest campaigns for Greenpeace USA.
Gibson denied knowing that the wood was dodgy:
[O]n the company’s Internet message boards, general counsel Bruce Mitchell said in July that any wood Gibson purchased from Madagascar was legal and that suppliers “provided assurances” as such.

“Gibson affirmatively believes that any wood we have obtained from Madagascar is in fact from legal sourcing,” Mitchell said.
This would seem hugely unlikely, but - hey - Gibson were working with environmental groups, right?

Juszkiewicz took a "leave of absence" from the Rainforest Alliance board, but generally it appeared everything was going to blow over. Be forgotten.

Trouble is, Gibson decided they wanted the seized wood back. A case for forfeiture has been filed by the Department Of Justice which Gibson are resisting.

As part of the DOJ response to Gibson, it appears that some internal Gibson emails have made it into the public domain which, if genuine, prove that not only did Gibson import illegal wood, but it knew the wood was illegal when it imported it:
"[A] Gibson employee…wrote that '[t]he true Ebony species preferred by Gibson Musical Instruments is found only in Madagascar (Diospryos perrieri). This is a slow-growing tree species with very little conservation protection and supplies are considered to be highly threatened in its native environment due to over exploitation.' In fact, [he] 'spent two and a half weeks in Madagascar this June [2008],’ writing on his return, 'I represented our company along with two other guitar manufacturers.... All legal timber and wood exports are prohibited because of wide spread corruption and theft of valuable woods like rosewood and ebony.'
Guitars are brilliant things. But they're not worth despoiling a unique environment for; they're not more brilliant than the lemurs whose habitat is being slowly munched away by illegal logging. If the allegations against Gibson are proven, the company deserves to have the book thrown at it, very hard indeed.

If it was pretending to be ecologically aware while turning a blind eye to where some of its wood was coming from, it deserves to be ostracised.

When your midlife crisis hits, maybe you should consider a Les Paul?

This week just gone

Over the last month, the most-interested-in-No-Rock-nations were:

1. UK
2. USA
3. South Korea
4. Canada
5. Australia
6. Germany
7. Ireland
8. Netherlands
9. France
10. Brazil

These were the interesting releases:

Son Lux - We Are Rising

Hyde & Beast - Slow Down

Download Slow Down

Shonen Knife - Osaka Ramones

Download Osaka Ramones

Maria Taylor - Overlook

Download Overlook

Derek & Clive - Rude & Rare

Download Derek And Clive