Saturday, December 21, 2013

2013 Steps To Nowhere: February

6Music ask their listeners for favourite album; the answer was somewhat awkward. To avoid awkward onscreen moments, the Grammys had a dress code.

Jude Rogers wrote an excellent piece for The Observer. It was so good, parts of it were visible in The Telegraph.

Dave Grohl had a go at Britney Spears' tits while the tattooist left little of Cheryl Cole's arse.

A few years back, volunteers painted a mural on the wall of the Picket. It stood in the way of progress.

Jimmy Iovine announced overpriced headphone company Beats was getting into music streaming just as the US charts started to count YouTube views.

David Cameron ignored the ban on him liking The Smiths, as Morrissey blamed wars on non-gay people.

It was the Brits - what better time to celebrate the first growth in music sales since 1999?

To avoid too many artists being held in too few hands, Parlophone was sold by EMI. To Universal. By total coincidence, Universal donated Bieber tickets to the Tories to be auctioned for party funds around the same time. BMG snapped up Sanctuary

Bjork asked fans to fund her education app. They demurred. The people who built Akon's social network asked for money. He delayed.

Why did Robbie Williams and Oasis fall out? Because Williams couldn't Mod it up enough, of course. Not because Liam sobered up.

Returning: My Bloody Valentine
Still around: Northern Uproar
Splitting: Slayer, The Spice Girls

[Part of 2013 Steps To Nowhere]

Friday, December 20, 2013

Courtney Love: America's Sally Bercow

Courtney Love's attempted to argue that, because the internet is effectively people screaming unsubstantiated obscenities into one another's iPads, she shouldn't be put on trial for alledgely defaming her former lawyer Rhonda Holmes on Twitter.

The judge didn't buy it:

Judge Michael Johnson agreed with [Holmes], saying, "Ms. Love has a big following and they all hang on everything she does and says and Tweets."
Which manages to be both terrible news for Love, and also the most generous thing anyone has said about her in a very long time.

The defamation trial will now happen in January.

Our legal experts reassure us you can say what you like about anyone on MySpace, as it's probably nobody will ever find out.

2013 Steps To Nowhere: January 2013

Cassingles are the coming thing, apparently. And this chap Jimi Hendrix has a new single out. David Bowie came back. Welcome to our review of 2013. Yes, we checked the year. It's 2013.

The Wanted think they're like The Beatles. Then, after releasing a terrible video, they tried to be The Beatles.

HMV was probably as surprised as anyone at a bidding war breaking out; but surely nobody was surprised that Viva Forever, the Spice Girls musical, was struggling? In the end, Hilco won the HMV battle.

When life steals Damon Albarn's bicycle, he goes to the bike shop. When Ronan Keating gets a bad review, he goes onto Twitter.

When Beyonce played the inauguration, there was some debate over whether she was lip-synching or just simply magic. At least nobody invited Lupe Fiasco, though, after he called Obama a child killer, right? Oh.

In something of a first, The BBC Sound Of… title went to a band, Haim rather than a pasty-faced singer-songwriter.

Lawyers seized the rights to George Clinton's back catalogue.

Split: Shrag, Racehorses, SCUM
Closed: The Independent, Sunderland, Virgin Megastores in Paris; OneUp, Aberdeen, Artrocker's print edition
Back: Black Flag

[Part of 2013 Steps To Nowhere]
Tomorrow: February.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bookmarks: Vince Guaraldi

CBC shares 10 Things You Didn't Know About Vince Guaraldi's Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack. Including how Coca-Cola screwed up the original:

7. In the original Peanuts special, the end chorus to “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” trails off oddly. This is because Coca-Cola sponsored the original broadcast, and this was the point where a voiceover would say, “Brought to you by the people in your town who bought Coca-Cola.”

TV on the radio - again

TeamRock, one of the 793 digital rock radio stations currently plying their trade, has done a deal with the BBC to do a rerun of Tommy Vance's last-ever Friday rock show from Radio One.

That's interesting, but this is even more tantalising:

John Moran, BBC Radio Head of Business Affairs, said: “We are pleased to be working with TeamRock to begin to unlock the BBC radio archive for further broadcast through new partnerships with commercial radio. The digital rebroadcast of this programme shows how gems from the archive can still reach new audiences.”
There hangs the possibility of other shows being dusted down and rebroadcast. And you know what eight-letter name that means, don't you?

Mark Page.

No, hang on:

John Peel.

Those sessions you neglected to tape in the 80s and 90s, and Marc Riley has yet to rebroadcast? Time to send nice letters to Absolute Radio...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

I collect, I reject: Blur

Oh god. Oh god. Oh holy god. I cannot decide if it would be worse to discover that Blur think this:

... is "ironic", or if they're deadly serious.

A Blur flat cap.

(There's also a tea set.)

A Blur flat cap. It's such a terrible thing, I want to buy one to wear just so that I can be sure of being able to find a person wearing one - me - to slap about the face with a copy of SugarApe.

Oh god. You can just imagine them honking when this came to be signed off, can't you? You can just picture Alex James, putting down his sodding cheese board to giggle at THE VERY IDEA. You can close your eyes and see Damon Albarn putting his call to Malawi on hold to pull on a prototype. You can see Phil Daniels walking through the back of the shot, wearing one.

Damien Hirst is using a Bedazzler to cover his in Swarovski crystals.

It's a Blur flat cap.

And there's also a tea set.

Stuart Maconie was unavailable for comment, but reports suggested he was eating every one of the 272 pages of every copy of 3862 Days that was ever published, in the hope that it might make it stop.

Blur have launched a flat cap. With their logo on.

Graham Coxon has produced a Venn Diagram, with "northern" and "southern" sections, and the word IRONY written in the middle.

A flat cap. From Blur.

Justin Bieber cruelly raises our hopes

Justin Bieber is teasing us:

No amount of holiday gifts could compensate for the fact that Justin Bieber told L.A. radio station Power 106 Tuesday that he’s calling it quits after his new album, “Journals,” is released on Dec. 23.

“Um, I’m actually, I’m retiring man, I’m retiring,” Bieber said with a straight face behind black shades.

He added that he’s “just going to take some time. I think I’m probably going to quit music.”
That's already backtracking right there, from retiring to taking some time, and 'probably ' quitting.

It's not entirely clear what job Bieber has had in music from which he's retiring; experts suggested he might be referring to the work he's done in the entertainment industry posing for CD sleeve photographs.

Iain Duncan Smith issued a statement: "While I'm keen for most people to work and work until their pathetic bodies crumble to dust, I'm happy to make an exception in Bieber's case, and wish him well in his new life of watching Homes Under The Hammer and nipping down the Co-Op to fight for a reduced to clear chicken pie."

Thugobit: Ronnie Biggs

Ronnie Biggs, who was part of a gang who beat an elderly train driver with a metal bar, has died.

For years, Biggs lived in Brazil and performed a canary-in-the-coalmine role in British music, outing the more dimwitted stars of the scene and removing any lingering doubt that they might be admirable.

The fawning of The Sex Pistols is well-known, but let's also take a couple of moments to remember this:

Ah, what larks - that's got it all: Shaun Ryder, a criminal, being brought together by Rupert Murdoch's Sun in a stunt organised by Piers Morgan. Even Hercules would have trouble cleaning that one up.

Biggs also helped push his son into the music business. Michael was a member of child band Turma do Balão Mágico, who did things like this:

Of course, Biggs wasn't the only member of the train-driver beating gang who was taken to the hearts of the more low-wattaged amongst British musicians: Phil Collins played one of them in the film Buster, for example.

Tonight BBC One is showing yet another programme about the train robbery, but you don't need to waste your time as Paul Hardcastle did the same thing, faster, and also found time to include the St Valentines Day Massacre:

Jack Mills died in 1970. Although the violence meted out by Biggs' gang was never officially linked to his death, he had never recovered full health following the attack.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Morrissey self-censors, helps destroy animals

Morrissey's signed a copy of his fabled autobiography, and is auctioning it off to raise money for PETA.

Odd choice of charity for someone who is usually such a fundamentalist on animal rights, given how they've euthanized tens of thousands of animals, explaining it away as animals which would be killed anyway:

PETA told the Daily Mail that the animals they take in at the center are usually difficult to find homes for and would presumably end up being euthanized anyway: “Most of the animals we take in are society’s rejects: aggressive, on death’s door or somehow unadoptable,” Dollinger noted.
The pile of corpses includes rabbits, whose aggressive tendencies are well known; even if it's true, any animal charity that can't make the promise that they'll never euthanise a healthy animal is probably less deserving of support than one that can.

Still, that's only a small compromise compared with the other one Mozzer's made in the last few days:
Singer Morrissey has left fans in the U.S. baffled after his best-selling memoir was released Stateside minus the details of his relationship with a male photographer.
The tome, titled Autobiography, details several anecdotes involving Walters, and Morrissey writes movingly of their two years together, but in the U.S. release, which was published on Tuesday (03Dec13), many details in the original book are missing or edited down.

A photograph of Walters as a boy has also been removed, and his name has been cut out of a story detailing a night out with The Pretenders star Chrissie Hynde.
Because, of course, people buying a book about Morrissey are going to find that sort of thing off-putting.

Perhaps there's some sense in giving money to a compromised charity from a compromised book.

Ruslana summoned

Amongst the politicians and others who have been summoned by the Ukranian authorities to account for their pro-EU activities in Independence Square is Ruslana.

Yes, this Ruslana:

Bookmarks: R Kelly

If you read nothing else today, you should read Jessica Hopper's interview with Jim DeRogatis, about his long, lonely attempt to shine a light into R Kelly's behaviour, and the free pass he gets from Pitchfork and others who should know better:

This deeply troubles me: There's a very -- I don't know what the percentage is -- some percentage of fans are liking Kelly's music because they know. And that's really troublesome to me. There is some sort of -- and this is tied up to complicated questions of racism and sexism -- there is some sort of vicarious thrill to seeing this guy play this character in these songs and knowing that it's not just a character!

Songs like "Sexasaurus" kind of makes it novel. The ironic, jokey Trapped in the Closet series airs on the Independent Film Channel and features Will Oldham -- that has these other hallmarks of "art" that read to a white, hipster, indie-rock audience, then, because we are not taking certain things seriously, we can choose not to take the lives of these young black women seriously.

It puts it in the realm of camp or kitsch. If you have an emotional reaction to a work of art and you use all your skills as a critic to back it up with evidence and context. That's all we can ask of anybody. We're all viewing art differently. The joy is in the conversation. Pitchfork is the premier critical organ in the United States for smart discussion of music, books, and artists, but it doesn't have this discussion. Reviews his records but doesn't have the conversation about, "What does it say for us to like his music?"

Monday, December 16, 2013

James Arthur is sorry for being homophobic, or at least being found out

So once again we must try and remember who James Arthur is, as his first strategy to defend his homophobic behaviour - by saying it's okay to call someone a fucking queer providing they're straight and you do it in an inept rap - is replaced by what to an untrained eye would look like a last-ditch media strategy pulled together by his management.

He's gone to the Sun to say sorry:

James admits he feels the diss rap was a mistake and says it is one of his most childish moments: "On reflection, it was the most immature, ridiculous thing I've ever done.

"The word 'queer' was used in the rap, which should never have been the case. In society, you can't use language like that. I'm 100 million per cent not homophobic and I despise that label being attached to me. I probably look like the archetypal bully. Now people look at me as if I might beat up a gay guy. That really upsets me.

"I totally understand what I did was wrong. If I could take it back, I would do that in a heartbeat."
It's not clear when this understanding came, because certainly he tried to suggest it was everyone else who had misunderstood.
James told The Sun: "I've been an idiot. All I can say is it was ego - foolish, foolish pride. I got ideas above my station and I made mistakes. It's the only excuse I've got."

"All my confidence has disappeared because the whole nation thinks I'm a homophobe who looks like a monster," he admitted.

"I couldn't speak to anyone for a week. It was awful. My little sister was being bullied in school and I was receiving constant death threats. I stayed in bed for days on end. Any time I tried to get up, I couldn't. I felt deep, deep shame about my mistakes since winning the show. I kept thinking, 'What the fuck have I done?'"
That his sister was bullied was unacceptable - she's not to blame for the actions of her brother, however unpleasant they were - and if there were death threats, then that's wrong, too. (Who would issue a death threat over an idiot being an idiot, though? Are these threats any more genuine than the apology is?)

James worries that he's let people down:
James also accepts that his behaviour has embarrassed his record label and let down fans that looked up to him: "What I need you to know is that I do regret everything I've done. I abandoned my responsibility as a role model. A 16-year-old kid reading about the things I said and did would probably have lost a lot of respect for me."
I think the surprise here is that James seems to believe he's some sort of role model in the first place; presumably in the same way that Jedward are fashion icons and Steve Brookstein is an oracle.

Most 16 year-olds would, I suspect, have sighed, been unsurprised and moved on.

The reason why I have my suspicions about the sincerity of this apology is that it doesn't appear on Arthur's website; his Facebook page; nor in his Twitter feed. In fact, if the idea is to tell the small portion of people who look up to him that he fucked up, it's odd he's made no effort to admit his mistakes in places where they might congregate.

Also, with all this regret about the mistakes he's made, he's turned the page by, er, continuing to slag off Lucy Spraggan for calling him out:
"I'm not a fan," he told The Sun.

"She's a talented girl, but she has a mammoth ego. We have the same management. They are disgusted by what she did.

"I respect she's got strong beliefs in gay rights, but she tried to expose me. She knew it would stick the knife in and damage my career."
Surely you mean, James, she provided a chance for you to think about your mistakes and to make your apology, right? Because otherwise it sounds like you kind-of wish that your actions hadn't been noticed and you'd have gotten away with it. And that can't be the case, can it?

Whigfield: Ray Price resurrected

Yesterday, Ray Price's son announced his father had died. It turns out he might have been a bit early:

Rolling Stone spoke with Janie Price, Ray Price's wife of 45 years, and she says, "He is still with us," adding that Price's son released the statement of his passing prematurely. Price is currently surrounded by loved ones including a Pastor at home in Mount Pleasant, Texas. "It's been an honor to walk this road with him," Janie says of her husband. "It's a sad day. We are losing a great man."
It's unclear how his son came to be rushing him off ahead of schedule.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Two Macaulay Culkin stories pointing in opposite directions

This sounds positive:

Macaulay Culkin's new girlfriend Jordan Lane Price has reportedly helped him beat drugs after threatening to walk away.

... but I'm not sure it's worked:
We Saw Macaulay Culkin’s Pizza-Themed Velvet Underground Cover Band Last Night

This week just gone

I was bored on Christmas Day: Most-read things on No Rock on Christmas Days past:

One Direction go rock
Ricky Wilson uses gossip to atone for Kaiser Chiefs doing An Audience With Girls Aloud
HMV explain that their solution to a disabled-hostile building was to put the children's section downstairs
RIP Vic Chesnutt
2008 Albums of the year

These rushed to market in time for Christmas:

Toy - Join The Dots

Download Join The Dots

Robert Pollard - Blazing Gentleman

Download Blazing Gentleman

The Len Bright Combo - Combo Time

Download Combo Time

Everything But The Girl - Best Of 1984 - 1994

Download The Platinum Collection