Saturday, April 04, 2015

Kate Jackson's named, if not ready to release, her album

From the Bury Free Press:

Kate Jackson, former lead singer of The Long Blondes, has revealed the title of her long-awaited solo album – British Road Movies.

Kate, from Bury St Edmunds, began working on the project with Suede’s main songwriter Bernard Butler back in 2009.

The album was completed in December and Kate is hoping to release it at the end of the summer.

On Saturday, Kate is performing a hometown gig at the Hunter Club in Bury St Edmunds.

Coachella ban almost everything

This, from Dazed And Confused, is the list of things banned at Coachella.

D&C have fun with idea of banning selfie sticks and, more specifically, narcissists - after all, coachella without narcissists would be like premiership football without nasty replica shirts; most of the audience would be excluded.

But some of the other bans are equally ridiculous - no marker pens? A ban on "outside food" for a festival where you camp?

There's also a list of approved items, which is probably even more infuriating:
It's not entirely clear how Coachella square banning video cameras while letting in digital cameras and cellphones. And no laser pointers, but feel free to bring in lighters because fire never hurt anyone, right?

I'm hoping that there's going to be some sort of expert on hand to be able to judge whether a collapsable item is an umbrella (and thus, forbidden) or a parasol.

The presence of "dancing shoes" and "smiles" there is probably the worst bit of it all - "hey, guys, we're being a bit heavy here but, yeah, we can still have fun if you bring your dancing shoes and big smiles. Not too big, though. If you're grinning in a freaky way, we'll have to search you for drugs and/or drug paraphanalia."

Woman changes hairstyle; MTV confused

What's that, MTV? You need some help with an identification problem?

You... you need us to tell you who the pop star in that photo of Rita Ora is? It's, erm, Rita Ora, isn't it?
after getting a 1970s-style makeover with bleached eyebrows and long, straight hair for the Mark Kean photoshoot - The Voice coach Rita was left looking like a completely different person!
MTV, then: still very much convinced that their father did really disappear when he put his hands in front of his face.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Morrisons overhaul their playlist

Failing supermarket chain Morrisons has come up with a plan to refresh its offering. Not dumping the acres and acres of brawn and haslet that are on every shelf you come across; nor stopping spraying cooling water on lettuce tightly wrapped in plastic.

But it has updated its tannoy tuneset:

Morrisons' new boss David Potts has responded to a 'special request' from staff to introduce an updated in-store playlist featuring 9,000 songs from today (Good Friday).

The new compilation, which is expected to include hits by Jack Johnson, John Legend, Beyoncé, The Cure, Morcheeba, U2 and Texas, will be live in all 505 UK supermarkets, including those at the Leisure Plaza and in Westcroft in Milton Keynes.
The inclusion of Jack Johnson and John Legend suggests that Potts might just have been being vindictive - "complain about the tannoy, eh? I'll show you" - but he seems to have been genuine.

Mind you, "updating" a playlist with The Cure (last album 2008; last top ten hit 1992) and Texas (last top ten hit 2006) makes you wonder what the hell they were playing before. Big band sounds?

No year's time

Noah And The Whale have split.

The Guardian effectively sums up their career as having started on the edges, they drove into the middle of the road and disappeared.

Thursday, April 02, 2015

Heads united

Sex with Leapy Lee. Mormonism. And now, football. It's an eclectic morning of things people do that I don't really want to watch. Geoff Barrow and Phil Selway are trying to raise charity money through the medium of soccer:

Portishead's Geoff Barrow and Radiohead drummer Philip Selway have teamed up to form a charity soccer team named Heads United. A play on Manchester United and the "–head" attached to both artists' band names, Heads United will hit the pitch April 25th in Newberry, England (via Pitchfork). Barrow is hoping to raise £1,500 for the Football & Food Festival, which will donate all proceeds to the Mary Hare Foundation, a national charity that supports deaf children.
It's a good cause; they're a bit shy of their target. Go on, just one less chocolate egg and you can help out.

Brandon Flowers calls Mitt Romney a bad Mormon

The return of Brandon Flowers brings back to attention the second highest profile Mormon. And he's been having a pop at the highest profile Mormon:

"I think Romney would even admit that he wasn't a great ambassador for [the Mormon Church]," Flowers said in an interview with the Daily Beast. "His answers weren't great, and it made it even worse; it seemed like he was hiding something. But there's really nothing to hide. You can find out what you need to find out! It's all there."
It's true that there's a lot of information that you can find out about Mormonism, because even the anti-Mormon MM Outreach site lists "facts the Mormons won't tell you" while admitting that, erm, it sourced most of these facts that the Mormons won't tell you came from the Mormon Church website.

The Washington Post has some sympathy for Romney:
But in Romney's defense, from 2008 to 2012, the percentage of Americans who said they would not vote for a generally well-qualified candidate their party nominated who happened to be Mormon was between 17 percent and 24 percent, according to Gallup polling. Only gays or lesbians, Muslims, and atheists had a higher percentage on that question.
Actually, if you're less hobbled by your religion than by a rejection of religion, or your sexuality, you might think that you're not that hard done by, but let's just sit that to one side.

Let's just focus on something else, though. Brandon Flowers is proud to be a spokesperson for Mormonism.

If he wants to take that role on, let's ask him about how the time the Mormons of Utah tried to ban same gender marriage in California. Let's ask him about why the church then tried to cover up what it was doing. Let's ask him about the church's support for "religious freedom" laws that are basically legalising discrimination.

If we wants to be the poster boy for Mormonism, let's ask him the difficult questions.

Things you probably don't want to know about

The idea of older people having sex isn't a bad thing. We're all going to be older people some day, with luck, and having an active sex life as you get older is a good and healthy thing. There's nothing icky about older people having sex.

Although there is a line that probably should be drawn when the sex is this:

This time [Margaret Holyland] and her husband Rob were invited to take part in tantric sex lessons with aging pop star Leapy Lea and his pneumatic Danish girlfriend Bettina, self-styled psychic healer Raimondo and geriatric swinging professor Colin.
You might be struggling to place Leapy Lee. This is Leapy Lee:

Older people having sex is an excellent thing. When that sex starts to involve Leapy Lee, though, please make sure your curtains are drawn.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

When bodyguards are collateral damage

You know who's really lost out with Zayn leaving One Direction?

Okay, yes, apart from retailers who now have piles of Zayn dolls they're going to have to mark down.

It's his former bodyguard:

It's interesting that Malik's management appear to have concluded that once he's no longer in the band, the risks that used to haunt his every step evaporate. There's a duty of care question hidden behind those two tweets.

Joni Mitchell is in hospital

There's some grim news this morning from Joni Mitchell's official website:

Joni was found unconscious in her home this afternoon. She regained consciousness on the ambulance ride to an L.A. area hospital. She is currently in intensive care undergoing tests and is awake and in good spirits. More updates to come as we hear them. Light a candle and sing a song, let's all send good wishes her way.
There was a brief update later on:
Joni has been hospitalized. We are awaiting official word on her condition and will post it here as soon as we know.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tidal: Artists unite to launch doomed streaming service

A bunch of rich people have come together to launch a video music streaming service:

Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, Beyoncé, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Jay Z, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna and Usher – rubbed elbows onstage at the swanky launch event while two others beamed in digitally (Calvin Harris and Coldplay's Chris Martin). Aside from making a spectacle, the musicians made the case for an artist-owned streaming service.
Fun fact: besides being millionaires, most of those people also used to make records at some point.

An artist-owned streaming service isn't a bad idea, it's just that one which is owned by rich, dominant artists isn't really going to do much for the 99% of musicians who don't have to worry about which house they left their other wallet in.

Naturally, the whole thing is being ridiculously oversold:
"We come together before you on this day...with one voice in unity in the hopes that today will be a moment that will forever change the course of music history," said Keys, the only artist to address the audience, in an exuberant speech. "Our goal is simple: We want to create a better service and a better experience for both fans and artists, and that is our promise to the world."
No, you just want to keep a bigger share of the royalties. The world doesn't need you to promise about this sort of thing.

Keys, of course, has been involved in a big tech launch before, having signed on to be the face of Blackberry shortly before that company introduced its 'rotting turd' range of phones.

I know what you're thinking. Is there a risk this event couldn't be self-agrandising enough?

No, they stepped up on that one:
[Keys] explained that the mission statement of the musicians, who stood patiently listening to the speech, was "to preserve music's importance in our lives." She spoke of artists delivering "exclusive experiences" via the service and ultimately finding a way to "preserve" the industry and the value of music. She also quoted Friedrich Nietzsche: "Without music, life would be a mistake."
Although since the point of Tidal is about restricting the flow of music, and when they speak about 'music's importance' what they really mean is 'the price of music to the listener', arguably they're making Nietzsche's mistake more, not less, likely.

But quoting a philosopher beloved of the Nazis might not have ratcheted up the pomposity to the sort of level we'd expect with Madonna and Jack White involved. Could you push it a little further, guys?
"Today is the day," she repeated before inviting her co-owners to sign what she called a "declaration," though she did not expound on what it said. "This is the beginning of a whole new era," she said before each present musician made his or her way over to a podium to sign a document.
Oh, yes. Signing a declaration. Because it's historical, right? That'd do it.

Unfortunately, video of the event wasn't put on YouTube so nobody really noticed this happening.

Labelobit: Miriam Bienstock

Miriam Bienstock, one of the co-founders of Atlantic Records, has died.

In the early days of the label, Ahmet Ertegun scouted talent; Bienstock's then-husband Herb Abramson looked after the recording. Miriam did everything else, as the New York Times explains:

“I must tell you, Miriam was an important person in keeping discipline at Atlantic Records, and keeping everything on the up-and-up,” Mr. Ertegun, who died in 2006, said in an interview with Billboard magazine in 1997. “She ran the office, and none of us was inclined to run the office. She is unheralded, unrecognized, but if we hadn’t had her in those developing years, the company would have folded. She also had very good taste in music.”
Bienstock sold out of Atlantic in 1964; before the label was absorbed by Warners. Before this, she'd divorced Herb and remarried Freddy Bienstock. Post-Atlantic, she turned her attention to theatre and investing.

Miriam Bienstock was 92; she died March 21st in Manhattan.

Wilco nix Indiana

Following Indiana's decision to legalise homophobia providing you can pretend it's because of your conscience, Wilco have pulled their Indianapolis gig:

Monday, March 30, 2015

How the music industry cares for its people

It's worth taking a few minutes to read The Observer piece on Brian Harvey and mental health in the music industry, even although it's not an easy read:

Harvey also talks about how difficult he finds life at Christmas. East 17’s biggest hit was Stay Another Day, which continues to be played heavily during the festive period to this day.

Harvey, who does not receive any royalties for the song, says: “We sold 18 million records and the frustrating thing for me is that I have to sit there every Christmas and listen to myself while I don’t even have the money for a Christmas dinner.

“I am sitting here eating a cold chicken burger on Christmas Day. You have got this number one record … I am just rattling around in a cold house with no food, on my own, with my record being played – but you are just a no one.”
Naturally, the people who are busy raking off all the cash and their representatives are quick to stress that they're doing things:
In a statement, the BPI said: “Mental health problems sadly affect people in all walks of life, including those in the creative community. Fortunately, there is greater awareness of what can be done to help now, and one area we are looking to develop is our work with Help Musicians UK – a wonderful charity that reaches out to artists in need of support across a range of issues, including mental health.”
In other words: "Hey, look, it's not just musicians who get depression, you know, so... anyway, there's a charity."

The Observer's Daniel Boffey deftly deflated this:
The British Phonographic Industry, which represents the UK music industry, said it supported a mental health charity called Help Musicians UK, although not financially.
Let's just repeat that:
although not financially
It's not clear exactly what the support the music industry is providing for the charity; its main contribution seems to be providing lots of cases for them to work through.

Not financially. All the BPI companies exist to do is make money, and they're not even prepared to open the chest to help clear up their mess.

Norman Greenbaum injured

Norman Greenbaum - who is so closely linked to Spirit In The Sky his personal website is - has been injured in a motorcycle accident.

He was a passenger in a car involved in a collision with a motorcycle; the bike rider, Ihab Usama Halaweh was killed in the crash.

Greenbaum was taken to hospital where most recent reports say he was in a critical condition.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Hello, I'm still Daphne and this is still my friend Celeste

If you think 2015's Glastonbury rock boys over-reacted to Kanye West being on the bill, they seemed the very model of measured restraint compared with the storm of piss hurled at Daphne And Celeste when they appeared at Reading.

Literal piss, in actual bottles. Not just a poorly worded petition. The boys threw piss at them.

Daphne And Celeste weathered that, though. But clearly, they were never going to be a band in it for the long slog. After all, it'd be impossible to imagine how they'd be doing their schtick in 2015, right? When they're grown women. It would be thinkable, but not in any way you could actually make your brain think that thought.

Hang on a moment... what's this?

Yes, somewhat unexpectedly, there's a new record from Daphne and Celeste.

To be honest, it's a new record from Max Tundra, with them on it, but let's not split hairs.

I make it that you don't really get the value of it being D&C until the 2 minutes 50 point; up until then it's like someone who used to be really good at Pac Man when they were in High School trying to play a computer game for the first time since. They know they can do this, but they're too busy trying to remember why they used to enjoy it, they're not really managing to get to grips with the task in front of them.

I don't think our lives would have been any the worse if this hadn't happened, but I'm sort of mostly pleased it has.

Really, though, I'd like to see them go on at Worthy Farm right before Kanye. Or possibly instead of.

[h/t to @hungryhatter]

Embed and breakfast man: Cats And Cats And Cats

More cats, because... sometimes you're writing about Rihanna and kittens, and you start to wonder whatever happened to Cats And Cats And Cats?

You can pick up Cats And Cats And Cats' Catsalogue LP for just two quid over on Bandcamp

We know what you're doing, Rihanna

Really, Ri-Ri?:

According to an interview [she] did with Buzzfeed, where they played a game of Never Have I Ever, Rihanna revealed that she’s a huge fan of the baby animals and has been since she was a little girl.

She said, “I used to save these kittens — we had stray kittens in the street but they weren’t really stray, they belonged to a home they were just never at that home. So they were just like community cats kind of, and they would go in the gutters to have their babies and I would hear them crying, go rescue them, give them a little shower with my hair conditioner, keep ‘em in a bucket, feed them.”
We know what you're doing, Rihanna. It's like when Madonna started to hang out with Vanilla Ice. Trying to keep up with the next wave of artists, right?
There's only one Pop Kitten Queen, Rihanna, and the THRONE IS NOT EMPTY.

This week just gone

The most-read March stories:

1. Pop Papers: Another Gallagher cover
2. Whatever happened to Conor McNicholas?
3. Gaye family wins rights to credit on dreadful song
4. Eurovision entry as shockingly depressing as you'd expect
5. Weak Peppa Pig joke condemns entire radio station
6. Why are there no women at the Reading Festival?
7. Garbage: Queer all the way through
8. The Independent thinks that Britney Spears wrote a meme
9. Kanye West is going to Glastonbury
10. The Great Escape: Festivals can have women play, it turns out

This week's interesting releases:

Lonelady - Hinterland

Download Hinterland

Robin Guthrie & Mark Gardener - Universal Road

Courtney Barnett - Sometimes I Sit And Think...

Download Sometimes I Sit And Think...

Errors - Lease Of Life

Download Lease Of Life

Laura Marling - Short Movie

Download Short Movie

The The - Hyena

Download Hyena