Friday, August 22, 2014

Back to the Planet X

Planet X - the Liverpool club-cum-venue that was, for a while in the 90s, the most Liverpool musicy thing in the Liverpool music scene - revives tonight at the Magnet on Hardman Street.

Of course, unless they're planning to pour piss onto the floor until it hits ankle-depth, it won't be quite the authentic experience, but it's exciting to hear the mighty force is returning. If you're near Liverpool, you probably should go along.

And, yes, it's still Doreen running it.

I'm now going to lay down from the Proustian rush of it all.

Tedious craze creates tedious press release

I know, I know. They're pouring buckets of ice over themselves for charity, and not for self-publicity. Absolutely. And it's all in aid of... sick kids or whatever. Okay, mostly it seems about the self-publicity.

Now, thought, the harmless self-publicity craze is being hijacked by businesses trying to exploit it. A site called MusicTalkers has been given some exciting news by "music discovery service Timbre":

Lily Allen has experienced a 48% jump in her ticket demand after posting a video online of herself performing the ice bucket challenge, according to music discovery service Timbre.

Ed Sheeran, following his video, saw traffic rise by 54% for his European tour. The challenge itself involves having a bucket of ice cold water poured over the volunteer’s head, with the aim of raising awareness of neurodegenerative illness ALS.
I suppose at least they got a mention of the disease in there, too.

Timbre - whose 'music discovery' product is actually just a glorified gig guide - don't bother to put any figures on this massive uplift - no indication of if this is about six million suddenly becoming nine million, or two adding an extra one; no indication of how long a time period this uplift covers. Presumably it's just looking at its own stats, and - given that these are tickets which haven't just come onto the market - the numbers of people who happened to be looking at Allen or Sheeran on the off-chance must have been relatively low prior water-splosh; so... is a tiny uptick really worth making a fuss about?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

News site makes joke; composers call lawyers

Chilean news site Rata did a post suggesting that the Tame Impala song Feels Like We Can Only Go Backwards sounds like Pablo Ruiz's Oceano.

And it does a bit; just about enough to make it a good joke. Enough unalike to make it a good joke.

Rata are clear that they were only joking. Which would be funny, except Ruiz is now consulting lawyers.

Expensive gag.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

More things for female pop stars to worry about

There's a bizarre post appeared on Vox which has managed to find a new way to be oddly unpleasant.

It's titled thus:

It's not just Ariana Grande; female pop stars are becoming terrible dancers
So, this piece is about dancing and how - apparently en masse - women have become bad at it, right?

Um... no. It's about hair. Alex Abad-Santos has a theory about hair, which I think is meant to be tongue-in-cheek but comes across awkwardly. Alex is aware of the context, observing:
It's been established that the music industry can be a sexist place.
"Can be". In the same way that Atlantis can be wet.

So, having established this, Alex then spends the rest of the column exploring how length of hair is related to ability to sing. No, really. There's even a graph:
You'll notice that Beyonce is an outlier, which is - apparently - what makes her great. There's then a diversion into Britney cutting her hair and the sort of 'we're losing our edge to the Far East' wailing that you'd expect to see in The American Spectator:
K-Pop stars train at a very young age and are often put together by record labels, making them just as manufactured as American pop stars. But as part of that training, they are actually taught to sing and dance.
Yeah, we should force children to spend hours and hours and hours training to ensure that in that brief couple of years before their career crashes that they can at least dance for our edification.

Yeah, by the end it does become a bit more about dancing. But mostly its about hair. Hair flipping being at the heart of that particular venn diagram, you see.

It's probably the oddest thing you'll read all day; it's certainly the best example of something probably intended to be humorous misfiring you'll come across.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kate wants her light hidden under a Bushel

Kate Bush has a small request:

I have a request for all of you who are coming to the shows
And what is that request, Kate?
We have purposefully chosen an intimate theatre setting rather than a large venue or stadium. It would mean a great deal to me if you would please refrain from taking photos or filming during the shows. I very much want to have contact with you as an audience, not with iphones, ipads or cameras. I know it's a lot to ask but it would allow us to all share in the experience together.
There's three reactions to this.

First, obviously yes about the iPads. Why would you use an iPad? It's not like you're going to be at the gig by surprise and only have an iPad to hand. Why? Why would you do that?

Secondly: it's a fair request. It's not much to ask, is it, that you live in the moment, and enjoy the gig, and take away the memories rather than some jpegs?

Third: Or is it, actually? Leave aside the fact that the cost of the tickets and booking fees would buy many sandwiches for many days, this is something a lot of people are really excited about. Why is grabbing a few photos so bad? I've been to a lot of gigs in my life, and have a lot of memories. I really, really wish I had photos for a lot of them, too. And not just because it would mean I'd have an awful lot of pictures of Mark Gardener's fringe to keep me warm during the cold nights at sea (although that's part of it); but also a lot of the memories that don't fire directly into my synapse would probably be sparked by the odd photo. Also I really wish I had pictures of the bouncers beating the crap out of that guy at Nottingham Rock City back in the 90s because, well, evidence.

I'm giddily excited about going to see Kate Bush. I'm disappointed that apparently there's an approved way to enjoy the experience.

Darkside falls

Darkside are going on hiatus, says the 405:

They took to Twitter to share the news, saying "darkside is coming to an end, for now,” before sharing information for their final shows. They'll be performing at the Masonic Temple in Brooklyn on 12 September and they'll be at the sold out FYF Fest this weekend in Los Angeles.
They dropped off two songs at the same time:

Making movies: David Thomas Broughton

It's starting to feel as if you can't go near Kickstarter or Indiegogo without someone throwing an indie music documentary at you. And quite often, they're being built around acts who might not have the most interesting stories.

That's not the case with the Ambiguity Of David Thomas Broughton, though.

The Ambiguity of David Thomas Broughton (video pitch & teaser1) from Greg Butler on Vimeo.

Broughton is self-aware enough to link from his own website to a review which ends like this:
Then it stops. And there’s nervous laughter and a shuffling of feet from the audience, until somebody realises that now you’re supposed to applaud.
Now you're supposed to applaud.

There's 48 hours (roughly) left, and about five grand to go. Why not chip in?

[Thanks to @coldbrain for the tip]

Monday, August 18, 2014

Linda Rondstadt is pretty much right

Linda Rondstadt grew up in Tucson, Arizona. But she doesn't feel at home there any more:

"There wasn't a fence running through the Sonoran Desert when I was growing up. In fact, when I moved back to Tucson, there wasn't even a fence running through it.

"While I was there, it was building; we just turned around and all of a sudden it was there, this horrible thing that destroyed economies on both sides of the line. I know my own father's business was very dependent on the goodwill and business and trade from people in northern Mexico. We knew their families and went to their weddings and baptisms and balls and picnics, and we had a great time with them. Because my dad had a huge hardware store, and they came up to Tucson (to) do their shopping.

"We regularly shopped in Nogales. It was a wonderful place then, and had beautiful things in the stores and had wonderful food. And when they put that fence up, they cut all that commerce off and that's what creates understanding and awareness of each other and good trade relations."
The thing that will really sting is when she says she likes going to Mexico because, these days, it's more like Tucson than Tucson is.

She also calls out those hollowed-out asshats who gathered to scream abuse at children who had crossed the border:
"We allow Cubans to come in and say that they're refugees. Well, in Cuba — I've been there, you know — people are fed, people are housed, people are clothed. There isn't violence in the streets. Here, people are coming from places where there's just terrible violence. Parts of Mexico that are incredibly violent, and Honduras, which is just unspeakably violent right now.

"These children are just fleeing for their lives, their parents are just sending them out because it's the only way that they have of living — into a terrible, dangerous journey and an uncertain future in the United States that is populated with people that seem to hate them — that's how desperate they are."
Linda Rondstadt: she was right when she suggested Mr Plow might be both a loser and a boozer; she's even more right now.

Sufiobit: Barkat Sidhu

Sufi singer Barkat Sidhu has died.

Sidhu was something of a sufi purist, insisting on a firm classical base to his compositions. It won him praise, but, as The Hindu pointed out in a 2004 profile, it didn't make for a glamorous lifestyle:

The present day economic situation of singers like Barkat Sidhu, responsible for keeping an entire art form alive, is however an unfortunate tragedy. His earnings are low, forcing him to lead a simple lifestyle. His living is in direct contrast to the world of pop music, steeped in glamour and ostentatious wealth.

``These days it is very disappointing to see that singing has become a fast exercise rather than a melody. In fact to create a real singing atmosphere we need peace and lot of time. It is applicable to every kind of music but now the tradition has been changed very much and nobody is paying attention towards nuances. Pop music has also affected the culture adversely,'' he says.

Barkat Sidhu was 68; he had been receiving treatment for cancer.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

What the pop papers say: Legacy and stances

In a week when it's been announced that the entire NME readership is lower than the average home gate at Portsmouth, it's time to take one of our semi-regular dips into the magazine.

This week, it's another backward-looking issue - 20th anniversary of the Holy Bible, which is covered in depth, and actually feels like there's something still to say about a record. It helps when the LP has some depth to it. And as a one-off, irregular thing, why shouldn't you mark two decades since a band released something so rich?

Trouble is, they're trailing that next week will be a 20th anniversary issue again. This time of Oasis. The trailer line for that is a quote from Noel in 1994 saying that the album would be what will be remembered in 20 years' time, "not incidents on ferries or drug busts or whatever". Yeah, good luck with that, Noel out of Wibbling Rivalry.

It's not just the Manics' legacy that the issue has explored. There were other questions of history to be addressed, not least the NME's cover this week:

Price - understandably - was upset that there wasn't even mention of the Melody Maker's contribution to the history the one-time rival was rifling. He suggested a though experiment:

A point well made, although... not everyone seemed to grasp it.

Who knew, though, that the MM-NME war would still be raging this long after one of the flags was lowered for the last time? Even British communists would be surprised at the longevity of ill-will emanating from IPC veterans.

With this week's ABC figures suggesting that the print edition of NME might be reaching an event horizon, you'd have thought the team on the magazine would be taking more care about how they look after the work of former associates, lest one day an team thinks it's okay to, say, pass off the Brett Anderson and David Bowie photo as their legacy.

Elsewhere, there's good things for readers to explore - Laura Snapes uses a response in Sounding Off to raise the question of why Radio 1 didn't playlist La Roux on grounds that there's a lot of "female-fronted pop acts" competing for airtime. Yeah, 2014, and apparently there's still a quota for women to get onto formidable One FM.

Equally strong is Dan Stubbs call for Insane Clown Posse to either own or condemn the Juggalos:
If Juggalos behave like a gang, then Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are their de facto leaders, whether they like it or not. And if violent crimes are being committed not just in their name, but in their honour, they need to issue a decree to the faithful telling them that it's simply not cool.

There's also a great piece on Howling Owl and how they've worked round a ban from Bristol venues. I'd have liked some more around how The Louisiana had ended up on the wrong side of scrappy pop history, but otherwise Hazel Sheffield had delivered a celebration of DIY culture that could have graced Maximum Rock & Roll. Or Punk Planet, at least.

There's a lot of heart and vibrancy in the NME at the moment, even though it's starting to get lost again in a sea of Uncut-lite jubilee articles. If they can channel that voice, and find a way to celebrate the past without just getting a Google alert that it's 20 years since X and choosing a cover based on that, there's a magazine worth fighting for there.

Listen with No Rock: Wildhoney

According to their website, attempting to sum up Wildhoney with an easy blog tag is impossible. But on that page, they mention the Swirlies so that's good enough reason to sample them, don't you think?

This week just gone

Most popular August stories so far:

1. Beyonce crosses the Madonna horizon
2. Morrissey parts company with his label
3. AMP decides three minute songs are way too long
4. That time Kate Thornton tried to slam Jarvis Cocker
5. That guy trying to buy all the vinyl in the world
6. RIP: Michael Johns
7. RIP: Mike Smith
8. Kanye West believes he's smarter than you
9. Who's the worst pop star: Bieber or Jackson?
10. Co-op experiments with new music; customers beg them to stop

These were the interesting releases, or a subset thereof, this week:

Grumbling Fur - Preternaturals

Download Preternaturals

Engineers - Always Returning

Download Always Returning

Sinead O'Connor - I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss

Download I'm Not Bossy...

FKA Twigs - LP1

Download LP1

John Foxx - The Virgin Years