Friday, February 20, 2015

Tiresome, The Creator to launch a TV network, apparently

Exciting news from America, where noted homophobe and misogynist Tyler, The Creator has announced plans for a TV network.

Yes, a TV network. This is in no way just a website being launched. Be clear about that.

"I'm creating my own MTV or my own Cartoon Network," said Tyler Okonma — better known as Tyler, the Creator — from the stage at the Code/Media conference in Dana Point, Calif.
It's not actually "his own", as it's just a deal with another company, Whalerock. But, hey, having half shares in an MTV. That'd be a thing, right?

Unless it's just a website. But it's not, is it?
The network, which will launch before the end of June, will allow Okonma to bring content directly to his fans, bypassing traditional media companies and social networks that served as the launching pad for his fame. Other details about the service were scarce, but Okonma will charge a subscription fee to access a mix of both exclusive and licensed content.
That might sound like it's a website rather than an actual TV network, but it isn't, okay? Because the important difference is a website would be accessed through a browser, and a network broadcasts over a Tv distribution system. And Tyler TV is going to be going to set top boxes from the off, yes?

Isn't it?
Braun founded Whalerock as BermanBraun but rebranded the company after he bought out his former partner Gail Berman last year. He said he plans to create as many as 12 channels for performers or brands in the next three years. In the future, those channels could be bundled together and distributed via cable or over-the-top platforms such as AppleTV.
Oh. So, erm, we're getting very excited about 'man launches website which may one day appear on TV'.

Blur are back, back, back (although we didn't realise they'd actually stopped being back)

So, much excitement earlier this week, with Sky News taking up the fact trumpet:

@SkyNews: Blur have announced they are going to reunite for the first time in 12 years
I'd love to share the actual tweet with you, but it has vanished from the world as, with one voice (and I suspect it was the voice of Phil Daniels) Twitter yelled 'they did Glastonbury in 2009, and had a single out in 2012, and it seems like they've never actually stopped working together.

Sure, from the news source which once declared that the entire eastern seaboard of America had been decimated by a terrorist attack, messing up a tweet about Blur is a step forward, but it's a pity that they're so thin-skinned they attempted to rewrite history rather than admit their error, correct it, and move on. An organisation which attempts to wipe out its mistakes isn't one to be trusted.

Still, Blur are having a comeback. Or, rather, Blur are still around. Although they have let themselves go a bit:
The album might be great - but it does come with trigger warning:
Initially conceived in Hong Kong, during downtime following a cancelled show in Japan, the band spent five days laying down ideas.
Now, the band say they've had time for perspective to develop, and look at the tracks with a cold, hard, eye.


But let's just approach this record with the awareness that this is a project born of being bored in a hotel room.

And so it's on a par with this sort of thing:

Thursday, February 19, 2015

NME Awards 2015: Kasabian, Kasabian, Kasabian

Last night was the NME Awards, which a few years back had become quite a thing; even getting televised. This year, they don't even seem to have bothered putting people picking up the prizes on the NME YouTube channel, although there's some video on the NME site.

The lack of a livestream seemed to upset some people on Twitter last night, but looking at the list of winners, it might have been wise for the magazine to try and do it in secret:

Godlike genius award Suede
Rock’n’roll soul award Jimmy Page
Best British band Kasabian
Best international band Foo Fighters
Outstanding contribution to music Teenage Cancer Trust
Best solo artist Jake Bugg
Best new band Royal Blood
Best live band Royal Blood
Best album 48:13 by Kasabian
Best track Zombie by Jamie T
Best video Zombie by Jamie T
Best festival Glastonbury
Philip Hall radar award Dean Blunt
Best TV show Game Of Thrones
Best film Northern Soul
Best music film Pulp: a Film About Life, Death and Supermarkets
Reissue of the year The Holy Bible by Manic Street Preachers
Dancefloor filler Fancy by Iggy Azalea featuring Charli XCX
Worst band 5 Seconds Of Summer
Villain of the year Nigel Farage
Hero of the year Alex Turner
Music moment of the year Jamie T’s comeback
Best fan community Muse
Small festival of the year Liverpool Psych Fest
Book of the year Clothes, Clothes, Clothes. Music, Music, Music. Boys, Boys, Boys by Viv Albertine
Best band social media Liam Gallagher’s Twitter
Best lyric “I’m wearing Win Butler’s hair/There’s a scalpless singer in a Montreal rock band somewhere” by Happyness
Best quote “Five records, ten years. We’ve earned our shot” - Sergio Pizzorno of Kasabian talking about headlining Glastonbury
Let's just take a second to look at the full name of one category, shall we?
Best International Band supported by Austin, Texas – The Live Music Capital Of The World®
Sponsored awards? Well, that's probably unavoidable. The sponsor's crappy slogan? If you must. But a registered trademark symbol as part of the prize name? Jesus wept. Or rather Jesus wept with the King James Bible copyright the Bible.

(Incidentally, the NME 'full list of winners' doesn't actually list all the winners.)

There's a lot of Kasabian and Jamie T there. Could the prize giving be any more awful?

Oh, hang on. Yes. Yes, it could. Added Gervais:
A special video, featuring the band's former manager comedian Ricky Gervais, was also shown - watch the video above. "I did help this band out a little bit in the early years," he comments. "When I told them I couldn't manage them anymore, there were no tears, they didn't beg - and that's when their career really took off."
At least he didn't do it in character as Derek, I guess.

Let's celebrate the good news here: Liverpool Psych fest; Viv Albertine; respect for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

But then... look at that "quote of the year"" - Serge out of Kasabian suggesting that they've paid their dues and it's now buggin's turn. Look at the belief that the best thing that happened in music during the whole of 2014 - the whole of 2014 was Jamie T's comeback (to a world that hadn't even noticed he'd gone in the firts place. The way that Muse still won a fucking prize.

Good lord. A magazine that has set its sights so very low might struggle to even give itself away.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Venuewatch: Saving The Lomax

With its future shaky following a police drugs raid, Liverpool is rallying round to save The Lomax:

Following the closure of Liverpool's best independent music venue, The Lomax, we are staging a peaceful gathering of support outside of the venue on Saturday 21st February.

This is all about the venue and the music community which surrounds it. The Lomax's ethos has always been kindness, family, and peace. Therefore we insist that anyone taking part in the gathering acts according the the way of Lomax people.

We will meet from midday until 12:30pm outside the Lomax. Please do not bring alcohol or PA systems. Banners are welcome but this is not a march but a show of support so we will congregate outside the venue only. Bring banners, instruments, voices and most importantly memories and testimonials of the Lomax. If you can print these all the better.

NME heading for free?

There's growing rumours that NME's print edition might be turned into a giveaway. MediaGuardian reports that staff have been told it's an option, but not a done deal:

It is understood that staff were told at an editorial meeting on Wednesday that nothing is set in stone about the future of the magazine but that it will continue.

It is thought that there have been talks with retailers such as Topshop and Urban Outfitters about possible partnerships.

Despite speculation, it is understood that an announcement will not be made at the NME Awards on Wednesday evening.
There's a fairly huge question about how a free NME would be distributed; they may or may not be dumped on a shelf at Urban Outfitters, but unquestionably it would make the magazine much more of an urban plaything.

And can free work for a music magazine? Less than twelve months ago, The Fly threw in the towel; a free NME would need a solid advertising market to sustain it and a global meltdown rerun of 2008... well, that might put a wrinkle in the numbers.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Partyobit: Lesley Gore

Lesley Gore, teen pop star, has died.

Gore had the original hit with It's My Party at the age of 16; she was smart enough to know what the music industry was like and decided she'd be better off getting an education, as the Washington Post remembers:

“The record company wasn’t thrilled, my agent wasn’t thrilled — but I sensed very early just how fickle this business is,” she told the Sacramento Bee in 2006. “I had a good brain in my head and I saw it as an opportunity to cloister myself.”
She was wise, in the long run: by the time she graduated, music had moved on and her last hit was in 1967.

She released little since, but continued to play live. After 30 years, she released a new album - 2005's Ever Since - but was shrewd enough to know what people really wanted to hear:
“If I’ve learned anything in this business,” she told the New York Times[...] “how stupid would it be not to do ‘It’s My Party’ when people come to hear it?”
She was one of the ever-changing hosts for PBS's LGBT series In The Life. In 2005, she spoke with After Ellen about her experience of coming out. She didn't realise she was gay during her years at the top of the charts:
AE: Would you say that people knew you were gay back when you were first performing? You were pretty young, about 17, right?
LG: Well, I didn’t know until I was in my twenties, so if they knew it, they knew it before I did. [Laughs] You know, maybe someone did think that. I don’t know, but I certainly didn’t know it until I was in my twenties.
AE: Once you did know, did you have to go to lengths to conceal it in the music industry?
LG: Well, I don’t think I went to lengths. I just kind of lived my life naturally and did what I wanted to do. I didn’t avoid anything, I didn’t put it in anybody’s face. Times were very different then, so, you know, I just tried to live as normally as humanly possible. But as truthfully as humanly possible.
Gore died February 16th of lung cancer; she is survived by Lois Sasson, her partner of 33 years.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Riders and the storm: Jack White rolls the guacamole story one more time

Once again, we find ourselves returning to the vexed tale of Jack White's rider. Apparently, White is annoyed about the attention his demands have been getting. So, erm, he's decided to put the story to bed by writing an open letter about it.

Yes, because when you want to calm down a story on the internet, the best thing to do is whip up a dozen paragraphs about it. It's like trying to calm down a fire by pissing on it, only your urine is made out of diesel.

Jack headlines his missive "for god sakes", thereby dragging religion into the mix.

dear journalists and other people looking for drama or a diva,

even in the age of the short attention span internet article, it’s still hard to believe you are STILL writing about this
If the internet has a short attention span - and it does - that would suggest that it had moved on from your avocado dish rather than still being interested in it, surely?

Jack then links to an NPR piece, which is actually about making good guacamole using the story as a hook rather than being about him as such. But it seems to be what's pushed him over the edge.

NPR ends with this:
"If you bite into that, then you're also kind of biting into little explosions of flavor, and that's what Jack White's recipe has."
- but even that endorsement just gets a "wow. classy." from White.
seems like there’s a new rule number one for up and coming journalists: don't let the facts get in the way of click bait.
Now, that's a good point - that is a problem with online journalism. But NPR are using your actual recipe, which is both factual and good story.

I'm sure that somewhere there's a story which claims White insists his guacamole has kitten blood (or worse, sour cream) in it, which might deserve that sort of disdain, but this isn't it.

It's like he's desperate to moan about his mistreatment, but can't be bothered to find an example of what's really upsetting him. Still, why let the facts get in the way of a good rant?
at the risk of incurring even more of this hoo haa (and i’ve definitely turned my cheek more than once lately)
Jack, someone printed your rider. It's not a thing that even requires "turning cheeks". I know you're worried that it gave the impression you're some sort of a diva, but asking for things backstage isn't really diva-like behaviour. Trotting out a few hundred words about why it's rotten for people to read your rider - that's quite rotten.

He makes the fair point that the recipe is actually his tour manager's rather than his personal recipe. And he makes a rather good joke about not being able to make Kool Aid. Trouble is, Jack, the rider is the "Jack White" rider, and although it might not be your personal guacamole, it's the corporate Jack White guacamole. You can't say 'not in my name' when it's guac in your name.
i take with me what i need, and that ain't much. anything on the rider is for the band and the crew. this "guacamole recipe" is my hilarious tour managers inside joke with the local promoters, it’s his recipe, not mine. it’s just something to break up the boredom, seeing who can make it best. though i wouldn’t know because i’ve never had it.
So, from Jack's point of view: making the people at a venue fanny about making guacamole as a "joke" is fine; but people writing about how venue owners are being made to make guacamole for a laugh is a terrible thing.

Imagine if the rider had stipulated that when the tour manager plays a flute everyone backstage must drop what they're doing and dance a little jig for the crew's amusement and a secret competition. That might seem to be an imposition on people doing their best to run a venue and put on a show. Making them fanny about with deveining serrano peppers is no better.
bananas: did it occur to anyone someone on the tour might have an allergy to them? no?
Probably not, as I guess the sort of person with such a serious intolerance to bananas that even their presence, unzipped, in the same backstage area was a risk to their health - well, that's not the sort of person you come across every day. It does happen though - it's happened at the BBC.

But if the reason for the banana ban is a serious issue of health and safety, might be a good idea to mention that in the rider, especially if otherwise it'd be chucked alongside instructions to squirt lime over avocados as part of a humorous in-joke.

Jack then moves on to the vexed question of how this wound up in the paper in the first place:
one day some fantasy journalist out there will call someone in the biz and actually have a rider explained to them, maybe none of them have ever been on tour.
(Again, in passing: the NPR story White links to explains what a rider is.)
oh well, let’s move on, first amendment issues: i fully believe in the freedom of the press (though the supposed search for truth from the press requires microscopes and a some morton salt), and i also defend anyone’s right to free speech (just look at my lack of respect for grammar in this letter and tell me i’m not for communicating freely) and i defend the right to free information in regards to public funds, but never in my 20 years of playing shows has my contract and tour rider been published in the paper that i recall.
Jack's memory must be failing him. In 2005, a White Stripes rider did the rounds. (Back then, bananas were essential items.)

But even if White doesn't recall his own rider turning up, someone who is so steeped in rock history - the sort of person who knows the names of the woman in the factory who packed the valves used by Sun Studios - that he finds the idea of rider being leaked so unusual.

White then explains what a rider is, and comes to this:
what you’re looking for is someone throwing a tantrum because they didn’t get their brown m and m’s, sorry to disappoint.
Jack, you're writing a long screed about who actually came up with the sodding guacamole recipe. You are being that guy. You're being that guy right now.

Is White going to go back to Oklahoma? Sure he is.
i love oklahoma, that’s why i booked this show instead of playing chicago or atlanta for four times as much money.
Also the guacamole in Atlanta is rubbish.
our booking agent warned the college that other artists might not book shows there? of course they did, it’s bad business what that school paper did and really rude. of course they are going to tell them to wise up.
Really? It's a school paper which published some details that are in the public domain, and you think that your agency pulling gigs from a different part of the university is proportionate? I suppose if you think 'look at this about bananas' is "really rude", maybe that would be the case.

White then goes on to take issue with some of the reporting of the gig itself - where what he says were jokes about the situation were reported as him being thin-skinned and ranting. If that's the case, you can understand him being upset with this, and putting the record straight is fair enough:
i got pissed during my show and berated the crowd? no. sorry, didn’t happen. i made jokes about the paper publishing that info, so which of us is thin skinned? they have freedom of speech but i don't? at my show? ok. i guess the rules change for different people.
It might be better to say 'look, I was making a few jokes but I wasn't being thin skinned about it' before the six paragraphs of being thin skinned about the story.

There's also a bizarre chunk about whether student photographers (or possibly just students, or possibly just photographers) tried to take pictures of his amps or something. White sees this as an imposition, but - again, in the context of man who clearly understands and values the impact equipment makes on the sound of a performance - seems a bit odd.
i know it’s a fun thing for people to try to turn me into a jerk and a diva, but in this case it’s pretty ridiculous and has almost nothing to do with me.
Thing is, most backstage riders look a bit doofy when stared at hard; I don't even think the original tone of the story was really suggesting White was Carey - but for the recipe, I doubt if anyone would have given it a second glance. It's this sort of response, the desperation for the audience to know that it wasn't a personal recipe - that's what looks a bit jerky.

White does have a pay-off:
i think that’s everything, can i go back to making music now? no? ok. crochet it is.
You know, if you'd just done that joke, you might have closed the thing down. All you've done right now is pick at something that had scabbed over.

There's no hope for the Mail, is there?

The Mail has become so obsessed with women's bodies, it can't even write a headline about a man buying a lot of Dolly Parton memorabilia without popping its favourite word into the headline:

Dolly Parton super-fan obsessed with the curvy country singer spends £10,000 on memorabilia... but insists his CDs and life-size cutouts are 'priceless'
Is this part of the house style at the Mail now? "Headlines: when writing about women, remember to include an indication of whether the woman is curvy or worryingly thin."

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Noel Gallagher knocking on heaven's door - or perhaps just in the area

An eye-popping headline from

Noel Gallagher told he would 'drop dead' if he came off medication
That's quite serious, then - so he was told he'd die if he didn't take the medicine, right?


"Then I went on holiday with the kids. And I was getting out of a swimming pool with one of them in my hand and did my back in. Then my doctor put me on these tablets – I won’t tell you what for – [and] told me that if I didn't take them I would virtually drop dead."
So that's 'Noel says doctors told him he'd be quite unwell without taking medicine', then.

Yahoo adds download button to Tumblr; adds trouble to users

As Yahoo struggles to remember why it bought Tumblr, and shakes it to see if the previous owners left any money down the back of it, it's tried a new idea: since the start of the month, it's popped a little download button on audio posts, to allow visitors to not merely enjoy audio on the page, but to take it away with them, and put it on their devices.

Hey, that's wonderful functionality. Right?

There's a bit of a problem, though. The music industry has never been happy with people posting copyrighted stuff to Tumblr; adding a download button has turned a small transgression into a major problem.

Sure, it's always been a violation of the terms and conditions, and posting music you don't hold a licence too has carried a threat of account deletion, but apparently not coincidentally linked to the download button appearance, the music industry has started to get militant with Tumblr abuses. Stewardessme sums up the situation:

For years, Tumblr allowed us to upload music (up to five audio posts a day) because it substantially increased Tumblr’s user base and user “activity,” therefore increasing Tumblr’s value to its eventual buyer, Yahoo, and to the advertisers Yahoo is so eager to court. Now Yahoo/Tumblr is letting us take the DMCA fall for it, reminding us yet again that we aren’t the customers, but the product being sold to advertisers.
And, of course, because the music industry is using an automated machine, the sort of mistakes we've seen all over the internet are happening:

If Tumblr is good at anything, though, it's good at forming support groups. And the community is coming together to help people who might be worried that having stuck a couple of Imagine Dragon tracks onto their blog could result in their entire Tumblr existence being wiped out. So there's a lot of activity like this going on:

The lack of clarity about what's happening from Yahoo has generated a massive rumour mill, making things worse - people whose blogs are based on song titles or lyrics are panicking that they might be wiped as a result. That seems unlikely - a douchebag too far even for the copyright industry - but it'd be nice to see someone confirm that. Because, ah, it would be no rock and roll fun if that happened.

Lowe goes; Mac moves up: Radio One shuffles the evening

I never really thought Zane Lowe would stick around long at Radio One. I was wrong - he's been doing what-was-the-evening-session for twelve years now. That's as long as the entire Goodier/Whiley/Lamacq version lasted.

Not bad for a man who until then had been shouting on MTV2 for a living.

He's off now, though, into the wilderness ("to join iTunesU radio").

The good news, though, is that Annie Mac is going to take over the slot - which is an excellent decision.

The handover comes at the end of March.

This week just gone

Geek-friendly chart - ten most popular referring networks over the last twelve months:

1. Naver
2. Blogger
3. Facebook
4. Twitter
5. Topix
6. Reddit
7. Tumblr
8. WordPress
9. LiveJournal
10. Netvibes

These were this week's interesting releases:

The Wave Pictures - Great Big Flamingo Burning Moon

Download … Burning Moon

The Do - Shake Shook Shaken

Download Shake Shook Shaken

Atari Teenage Riot - Reset

Download Reset

The Unthanks - Mount The Air

Download Mount The Air

Two Gallants - We Are Undone

Download We Are Undone

Steve Earle & The Dukes - Terraplane

Download Terraplane