Saturday, November 29, 2014

At last, a black Friday deal worth mentioning

The great Speedy Ortiz have made their first two records, Cop Kicker and The Death Of Speedy Ortiz free for the weekend. They're asking for donations, though, and all the money raised will go to Ferguson Municipal Public Library.

New Malawian authorities restore traditional fawning over Madonna. And it's mutual.

There's been some upheavals recently in Malawi - the former president, Joyce Banda, has vanished from the country, chased by claims of financial misconduct, and returning fire with claims that the new President, Peter Mutharika and his party have constructed a case against her by coercion.

All very murky.

But someone's doing alright out of it: Madonna, who had fallen out with Banda, is back in favour:

The Malawi government has announced the restoration of the status of ‘Very Very Important Person (VVIP)’ at the airport to US pop star Madonna.

The spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Quentie Kalichero said the current administration cannot take over the disagreements which had existed between former President Joyce Banda and Madonna.
Mutharika is very much Malawi's Obama. In the sense that there's a huge row over his eligibility to be president based on questions about whether he's really an American citizen or not. That's as far as the similarity goes.

And he tried to seize power through a coup.

And there was that time he failed to support academics when they were being hassled by police and bungled it so much that he had to be moved from the Education ministry.

And his brother, Bingu wa Mutharika, when he was president, spent $13.26 million buying a private jet which used so much of the nation's currency reserves it led to a fuel shortage for ordinary Malawians. And Bingu gifted Peter the leadership of the party - which happened despite, rather than because of, the rules for electing a leader. Those who objected to this were kicked out the party.

And what does Madonna do when getting to hang out with a guy like that?
She salutes him.

But then, he did give her back keys to the airport's luxury lounge, right?

Lewis Hamilton reckons he could have a go at music next

Lewis Hamilton, who is known for driving cars very fast, is planning to build on his fame as a fast car driver by making music. His plans are well advanced:

Hamilton says he is influenced by artists like Michael Jackson, Prince, Kodaline and Jay Z, as well as by his girlfriend, pop star Nicole Scherzinger.
Oddly, Hamilton doesn't mention the influence of the Arctic Monkeys or Gary Barlow, but they share a penchant for trying to squirrel money away so they don't have to pay their share of tax.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lady GaGa: Very much 'dog bites man'

Oh, Pulse Nigera, that's not really a news item, is it?

Although some respect for their plaintive cry:
Will Lady Gaga ever dress up normal?
If you must go out dressed like a firework, Gaga, at least wear sensible shoes.

Incidentally, most people seem convinced this was 'being dressed as a firework':
... but clearly she's just bought fall-apart statue The B Of The Bang from Manchester:

Thursday, November 27, 2014

What the pop papers say: Rounding up the best albums

A quick word of praise for NME's current issue, the 50 Best Albums of the Year - one of the few list-based issues that makes sense. And it's been done in a lovely way - each album given a full page, and a lovingly written piece about it.

It's also striking that, when asked to talk about the current music it loves, the NME is a very different beast from the magazine you'd expect looking at the parade of the dead and the sainted that mark the front pages.

In fact, the only record on the list which feels driven by market forces rather than genuine passion is Morrissey's World Peace Is None Of Your Business. Three writers have a crack at explaining what it's doing on the list, and even then the sense that this is a continuation of the High Court Apology to Mr Morrissey never quite goes away. "It's a return to form" - well, yes, but it's a return to disappointing mid-solo career form, which is hardly a leap forward. "It's the best thing he's done since You Are The Quarry" - well, yes, but that's like saying "no more painful than sciatica."

St Vincent comes out top, and her prize appears to be a cover feature for next week. That's quite a coup, as shockingly, she'll be the first woman to appear on the cover since the start of November. November 2013. When it was MIA. (There was a montage which had Wolf Alice, if you want to be pedantic.) That's a pretty poor show.

2014 Forever: Other people's lists

This list is a work in progress, and will be added to over the next few weeks.
Last updated: 13-12-14

Billboard's best albums of 2014:
5. Ed Sheeran - X
4. Jenny Lewis - The Voyager
3. Sam Smith - In The Lonely Hour
2. Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2
1. Taylor Swift - 1989

Capital Xtra best house music tracks of 2014:
Wanklemut - Head Is A Jungle (MK Remix)
Duke Dumont - I Got You
Shiba San - Okay
Patrick Topping - Forget
Oliver$ & Jimi Jules - Pushing On
Zhu - Faded
Daniel Steinburg - Let Me Down (Tube & Berger Remix)
Keisza - Hideaway
Klingande - Judel
Second City - I Wanna Feel
Route 94 - My Love
Oliver Heldens X Becky Hill - Gecko (Overdrive)
Watermat - Bullit
MK - Awlays
Disclosure - Latch
Doorly & Shadow Child - Piano Weapon
Jonas Rathman - I Hope I'm Wrong
Ten Walls - Walking With Elephants

The 405's best free albums & mixtapes of the year:
Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2
Mick Jenkins - The Water[s]
Raury - Indigo Child
King avriel - thesis
Childish Gambino - S T N M T N
Shlohmo and Jeremih - No More
Jaden Smith - Cool Tape Vol. 2
Sango - Da Rochina 2
Mac Miller - Faces
Travi$ Scott - Days Before Rodeo

GQ pop star of the year:
Weird Al Yankovic

Loudwire's best rock video of 2014:
Monster Magnet - The Duke

NME top albums of 2014:
5. Caribou - Our Love
4. Aphex Twin - Syro
3. The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream
2. Mac DeMarco - Salad Days
1. St Vincent - St Vincent

NME top tracks of 2014:
5. Run The Jewels - Blockbuster Night Part 1
4. The War On Drugs - Red Eyes
3. Fat White Family - Touch The Leather
2. Caribou - Can't Do Without You
1. Future Islands - Seasons (Waiting On You)

Paste's best albums:
5. Alvvays - Alvvays
4. King Tuff - Black Moon Spell
3. Run The Jewels - Run The Jewels 2
2. St Vincent - St Vincent
1. The War On Drugs - Lost In The Dream

Rolling Stone's best albums of 2014:
5. Miranda Lambert - Platinum
4. St Vincent - St Vincent
3. The Black Keys - Turn Blue
2. Bruce Springsteen - High Hopes
1. U2 - Songs Of Innocence

Slate's best jazz albums of 2014:
5. Fred Hersch - Floating
4. Ambrose Akinmusire - The Imagined Savior Is Far Easier to Paint
3. Kenny Barron & Dave Holland - The Art of Conversation
2. Keith Jarrett & Charlie Haden - Last Dance
1. Sonny Rollins - Road Shows, Vol. 3

Included in XFM's 50 best albums of 2014 (which has no particular order):
Blood Red Shoes - Blood Red Shoes
Manic Street Preachers - Futurology
Coldplay - Ghost Stories
Pixies - Indie Cindy
Royal Blood - Royal Blood

2014 Forever: The uberlist

The year is almost gone and, unlike every band ever, once it's split, it's not coming back.

This post does little more than collects the pages that form the annual review.

Other people's lists - a collection of favourite albums & tracks from the year

Month-by-month reviews:


Interesting releases

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Reading/Leeds headliners announced

The first names for Reading/Leeds have been announced, and the NME has got a photo on their page:

Blimey. Status Quo? That's a surprise.

Hang about, if I squint a bit... oh, it's not Status Quo at all. Or not quite, anyway:
Metallica, Jamie T and Run The Jewels are among the first names confirmed to perform at next year's Reading & Leeds Festivals.
I don't know how I could have confused a one-trick pony who have spent the last decade or so complaining about the music industry while churning out the same song over and over again with Status Quo.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

A letter to The Guardian, illustrated

Catatonia, 1999:

Storm the palace

You can stick you obe
I'll sort out your bad Feng Shui
'Cos tourism is congestion
Tourism is congestion
Cerys Matthews, 2014:
"Sorry, did I say stick you OBE? I meant stick your MBE on my lapel. And I literally meant I'd sort out your bad feng shui - I've moved your animal statues into the money corners of the palace. Which is all of them. And now we can talk about a ticketing system to ease the congestion of tourism..."

Inspired by this letter from yesterday's Guardian:
Lovely photo of Cerys Matthews receiving her award at Buckingham Palace (Medal citizen, 22 November.) Would this be the same palace which we were urged to storm in the song on Catatonia’s album Equally Cursed and Blessed, the lyrics of which included the line “You can stick your OBE”?
Jim Naylon
Stonesfield, Oxfordshire

Monday, November 24, 2014

Joey Fatone is keeping himself busy

Hey, don't think because N'Sync stopped being a going concern over a decade ago that time weighs heavily on Joey Fatone's hands.

Joey's got stuff to do:

Joey Fatone Visits Brookings For Worlds Largest Pillow Fight
What this story really says is not 'Joey Fatone went to a pillow fight' but 'America desperately lacks a pantomime tradition which would mop up the formerly famous and give them something to do every few months'.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lily Allen turned down Band Aid, says Lily Allen

John Peel used to say that he'd accepted the offer of an OBE because he didn't want to be the sort of person who spends their time talking about how they were offered an OBE, but turned it down.

Which is something to think about as we cross over to Lily Allen, talking about how she turned down the chance to be on Band Aid 30:

“It’s difficult to give an explanation why I didn’t do it without sounding like a complete cunt,” she told the Mail on Sunday.

“I prefer to do my charitable bit by donating actual money and not being lumped in with a bunch of people like that.

“It’s like the ‘success club’ and I’m not really in that club. I don’t think I’m above it all – I’m way below it. But there’s something a bit smug about it.
That's true enough. But considering the turn she did alongside Kate Moss and Dave Gilmour at Hoping's Got Talent or her appearance on War Child compilations, or popping up duetting with Robbie Williams at another charity event, or the work she did for Tarka & Friends, or the video with Chris Martin for dementia care, or the Royal Albert Hall Coram gig, you might wonder why this specific success club for charity is such a bad thing. Or why, on those half-dozen other occasions Lily didn't apply the 'I do my charity by giving money' rule.

Still, it's possible that the sudden hand-waving about Band Aid is less about charity, and more about distracting attention from the closure of her vanity label ITNO. With only two acts signed, and Allen apparently drawing down a £100k salary for her work for it, you can see why she might feel better placed to give to charity directly.

No longer en vogue

Lifetime, the US network which makes the Hallmark Channel look like a Cage Fighting marathon, is airing a Christmas special:

Lifetime has "En Vogue Christmas" on its schedule this weekend ... it's a fictional movie about a family that convinces the group to reunite to save a local concert house.
I'm not sure that getting En Vogue back together is the strategy I'd have gone with - I can see that a Destiny's Child reunion might do the trick, but what cold-hearted developer is going to be impressed with En Vogue?

In real life, the builder would be going "ooh, En Vogue? Tell you what, if you can get the Honeyz back together I might leave car park untouched."

I could just be being cynical, of course. Maybe right now, getting a couple of tunes out of Sisters With Voices can be more effective in protecting an old building than a Grade II listing.

But the plot isn't what's interesting about the story. It turns out, Dawn Robinson - who quit En Vogue in 1997 - is upset that she's not been invited back to the fictional reunion, and is demanding payment. TMZ reports:
Former En Vogue singer Dawn Robinson will sue Lifetime if it dares to air a movie about the group that doesn't include her character.
"Her character" is, of course, not a character at all. It's her.

What makes it even more odd is that the film that Robinson is angry at being left out of is, in her opinion, likely to be shit:
Robinson says, at the very least, she will boycott Lifetime, telling us ... "I have no interest in watching it. It looks horrible. I'm sad for them. ... After seeing the Aaliyah biopic, I'm extremely worried that this is going to be a trainwreck."
So, yes, by her own analogy Dawn is like someone trying to sue a rail operator for not letting her board a train that subsequently crashed, killing everyone on board.

I really hope Lifetime counter-sue, demanding payment for having kept her out of it.

I really, really hope Lifetime have added in the following dialogue:

- Have all the band agreed to take part
- Well, Mommy, I still gotta call Dawn Robinson
- Oh, don't call her, poppet; she's so awful there's every chance they'd raze the whole neighbourhood, never mind the concert hall, if she was involved

How local news works, part 376

There's a contestant on The Voice from Fort Worth. Your local beat is Wilkes County, a seventeen hour drive away?

NO problem:

A singer with ties to Wilkes County has made it into the Top 10 finalists on NBC’s reality competition series “The Voice,” according to the Winston-Salem Journal.

Luke Wade is from Fort Worth, Texas, but spent summers during his childhood in Moravian Falls visiting family there, according to his cousin, Kelly Pipes.
Person says man off television spent an unspecified amount of time over an undocumented period of years visiting?

Local boy. Front pages held.

Kelis swaps Milkshake for egg nog

It's in no way odd that Kelis' new project is a Christmas food cookery show.

No, really it isn't; she's a proper, certified chef:

“My mom had a catering business growing up, so I fell in love with cooking early on,” Rogers, a Le Cordon Bleu-certified chef and saucier, tells the Daily News.

“We’d make everything from couscous to Swedish meatballs.”
- I understand that Kelis is not just a certified chef, but she's got some other skills as well
- Saucier?
- Compared with Jamie Oliver, I suppose she is, yes.

This week just gone

The most-read things this week:

1. Jo O'Meara on how she was the victim that time she said Indians don't cook their food properly
2. Ride are back
3. Even though Bob wasn't bothered, apparently Adele is wrong for not doing Band Aid
4. Video: Le Prince Miaou
5. Star-Tribune think Jimmy Ruffin was mostly someone's brother
6. Simon Bates got sacked by Smooth
7. Tony Hadley was suddenly separated from his appendix
8. RIP: Johnny Elichaoff
9. RIP: Northern Uproar's Jeff Fletcher
10. Late starting doesn't work in pop

These were the interesting new releases:

Paul Smith & Peter Brewis - Frozen By Sight

Download Frozen By Sight

Einstürzende Neubauten - Lament

Download Lament

Robert Wyatt - Different Every Time

Ariel Pink - Pom Pom

Download Lament

Fugazi - First Demo

Download First Demo