Saturday, June 13, 2015

TL;DR/FI Friday

So, that reunion of TFI Friday last night was a reminder of why I never watched it first time round: it's a programme that looks like everyone involved is having tremendous fun, rather than a programme which is tremendous fun.

Also: the Gallagher/Who 'supergroup' felt more like the deputy head joining the school band for the last song of the evening.

Jusin Bieber's manager makes lemonade

Scooter Braun has a thankless task; trying to take bipedial oxygen squanderer Justin Bieber and make him into an artist who people may even kind-of like.

Braun thinks he's up to it, though, and he's busily talking him up:

In his words, 'It’s like Bob Dylan: He pissed people off, but whenever he switched, he reinvented himself in a way that made him who he is today.”
Well, yes. The only thing that separates Bieber from the prospect of a long career of reinvention like Dylan's is that Dylan's reinventions were from acoustic to electric; or from sceptic to Christian. Bieber's reinvention cycle so far seems to involve turning his baseball cap around a little.

Still, good luck Scooter.

How terrible life is for some

If you have tears, prepare to shed them now for Bianca Guthrie.

She has a tormented life.

And it is all Rhianna's fault:

A girl, named Bianca Guthrie, claims that she cannot get boyfriend because of her resemblance to the famous pop star Rihanna.
She added that boyfriend who have dated her, just because she look like the pop star.

Ms. Bianca says “I’m desperate to find a man who sees past my resemblance to Rihanna”.
But if all men are interested in is that you look like Rihanna, and as that doesn't change, isn't it more that your problem is that you keep finding men who do see past your resemblance?

Anyway, best of luck carrying this burden of looking a bit like one of the most attractive people on the planet. We ugly people can only count our blessings.

It turns out that Ed Sheeran is even duller than we thought

You might have thought that Ed Sheeran was a little dull.

You might now want to recalibrate how dull he is after he paid a surprise visit to Grand Forks, North Dakota.

In a town he'd never seen before, how did he spend his time?

Sheeran’s trip around Grand Forks began with a round of golf at the King’s Walk Golf Course with his team.
Yes. Playing golf.

This was an impromptu stop-off between gigs. And he played golf.

Bearing in mind nobody knew it was going to happen in advance, I'm a bit puzzled about how warmly the Golf Club is applauding itself for not making a big deal about it:
Nelson said the staff at Eagle’s Crest tried to keep Sheeran’s appearance under wraps to be respectful of his privacy.
I suppose golf does drag on and on, so during a match there would be time for the paparazzi to hoof out to North Dakota but it seems unlikely. And given the club's spokeperson is detailing the visit to the local paper, there's not much privacy being respected after the event, either.

I only hope that Sheeran was able to top off this day in equally dull style.
Following his round of golf, Sheeran was spotted at Texas Roadhouse ordering a steak.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Dave Grohl is a trouper

First song. Falls off stage. Breaks leg. In a cast. PLAYS ON.

Smile, Citizens: Download attendees to be scanned by cops

From the "the innocent have nothing to fear" files of our police state: Download Festival goers are all going to have their faces scanned by Leicestershire Police.

You weren't supposed to know that, though:

We have also learned that the Police Oracle's publication of the interview has caused significant upset for management at Leicestershire Police, who did not want any advance publicity of their "new" surveillance project.

The public would have been informed that it had been placed under surveillance after the event had ended, presumably as part of a "you didn't know, therefore it wasn't intrusive", justification for the scheme.
This isn't really justified by any disruption at Download - indeed, last year Leicestershire Police were rightly proud of how little crime was recorded at the festival.

So, at a mostly well-behaved festival, everyone is going to be treated as a suspect and even have their faces looked at to see if they're 'wanted'.

The official site explains what police will be doing on site. As you'd expect from a sneaky surveillance project, there's no mention that they'll be scanning people to see if they're wrong 'uns.

Morrissey talks about race again. No, it's not what you think.

Without even going near the High Court endorsed viewpoint that Morrissey Is Not A Racist Nor Ever Shall Be Called Such, it's clear Mozzer has a complicated worldview that probably can't be summed up comfortably in one word.

He's just called out Obama for acting like black lives don't matter:

Obama has mystified me because he doesn’t appear to support black people when they need it most… Ferguson being an obvious example. If Michael Brown had instead been one of Obama’s daughters, I don’t think Obama would be insisting that the nation support the so-called security forces! How can they be called security forces if they make the people feel insecure? Obama seems to be white inside. There is an obvious racial division in America and it’s exploding and Obama doesn’t ever support the innocent black people who are murdered by white police officers who are never held accountable. You would expect him to be more understanding of what it means to be black. But so far, he hasn’t been.​ There’s no point in continually saying that we must support the police when it is obvious to the entire world that the police in America are out of control.
How can this Morrissey then go to London and mutter about not hearing English accents in Knightsbridge and the gates to England "being flooded". It's almost as if (pop psychology alert) that having spent so much time in America, Morrissey finds it impossible to talk about Britain except through a character - part cartoon, part one-of-the-sleeves-of-a-Smiths-record - in the same way that, say, Lousie Mensch's attempts at providing commentary on American politics is powered by a belief that she should know about this sort of thing, but without enough context to clarify into something that isn't a bit embarrassing.

And in case you're thinking "well, this is Morrissey just saying something liberal to try and offset the view in some people's minds", that doesn't seem to be the case either; it feels thought-through. Compare this with what he has to say about racism in the music industry (American music industry, of course) where he's a bit sketchier:
I think rap has scared the American white establishment to death, mainly because it’s true. James Brown once sang “Say It Loud, I’m Black And I’m Proud”. No pop artist would ever be allowed to say that today … they’d be instantly dropped from the label. If Billie Holiday approached Capitol Records in 2015 they wouldn’t entertain her for a second. Also, yes, I feel that I bring my spirit to America, and I feel very much a part of it and I’ve played in most cities big or small. America has been so important to my musical life, and the audiences have always been incredible. I’ve always felt privileged even though I know I’ve been locked out of mainstream considerations. That’s life! Me and Billie Holiday, good company, at least.
It's a pity they didn't ask him to expand a bit on what he meant by "rap" - the quote here could have come from thirty years ago; does mainstream rap really still worry the establishment in the same way? It's hard to believe that tracks like Trap Queen are going to cause too many Bank of America execs to nervously run a finger round their collar. There's a sense of the "I'd imagine" about this part of the interview; like his descriptions of Britain and immigration in the fateful NME interview, it's as if he's generating a viewpoint based on half-impressions and fractured memories.

I think we're nowhere different from where we started - Morrissey has a complex intersection with questions of race and identity in the modern world.

And while you don't need Morrissey to point out that a lot of white American cops have a problem with a lot of Americans who aren't white, the fact that he is may say something about just how bad that situation has become.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Shirley Manson isn't impressed by streaming

You know who's not excited about streaming music? Shirley Manson, tha's who:

"Now you get music for free. If people understood the economics of streaming they would be a little more sympathetic to an artist's plight," she explained.

Manson added that part of the blame lies with the record companies, who don't suffer in the same way that their artists do.

"It's a crime spree. I don't think people understand that record companies still continue to make enormous amounts of money. They strike the deals with the streaming companies," she said.
Well, yes, they do. While muscling to the front making it difficult for individuals to work directly with streaming services to get a larger share of the (face it) small royalty on offer per single play.
"It's a f**king racket," Manson added, before expressing optimism that a fairer system will emerge. "It's early days though and I do think it will be changed."

Although Tidal is dying on its arse, because its solution was to charge listeners more, rather than divvy up the take more fairly.

Which means hopes of a better world means either the tech companies, or the record labels, decide that they should give a bit more of their chunk to the artists.

The history of the tech and music industries suggest that Manson might be waiting for a long time for the sunny uplands.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

What the pop papers say: NME pulls a surprise

This week's cover band is Wolf Alice.

Last week's cover band was Florence.

That's two female-fronted acts in two weeks.

The last time that happened? November 2003, when Kylie followed The Distillers.

If you don't think Kylie counts, and are looking for the last time two rock acts with female leads followed each other on the NME cover, you'd have to go back to the end of September 1998, for Hole followed by PJ Harvey.

And if you're wondering 'when was the last time two British female-led acts came in subsequent weeks on NME covers', if you stretch a point, November 1986 had Cilla Black followed by Swing Out Sister - but Cilla was there as a TV personality, not a musician.

More accurately, this is the first time the NME has run two subsequent covers of British female-led acts since December 1984, when Siouxsie followed the Cocteau Twins.

The first time in thirty years.

Bookmarks: Pins

Drowned In Sound meets Pins. Along with the excellent album, pronunciation is on the agenda:

DiS: You've had quite a lot of high-profile support slots. You've had The Fall and Sleater Kinney... or Slater Kinney as it's apparently pronounced... [the girls laugh] Yeah I didn't know that...

LM: Yeah I didn't know that either. Someone said "Slater" Kinney and it sounded weird.

FH: I kept hearing - what's he called on the radio on 6Music? Steve...

LM: Steve Lamacq.

FH: Yeah he kept saying "Slater" Kinney. I was like, what???

Rapobit: Pumpkinhead

Alan Diaz, the rapper Pumpkinhead, has died, according to reports from AllHipHop.

A member of both Brooklyn AC and The Plague, and (like most of his generation) a serial collaborator, Pumpkinhead explained to Latin Rapper in 2004 that if he wasn't a massive breakout name, that was fine for him:

Before Jadakiss came out with that "The Champ Is Here" sh*t, I was the peoples champion, aiight. I was the peoples champion of underground Hip Hop and that's my title.

I'm the peoples champion of underground Hip Hop. I don't try to retain the title thought, I mean, I just do what I know best. You know what I mean? My music allows me to get that respect and that acclaim from the people that like real Hip Hop. So, I don't try they just give me the title, they allow me to keep my title, basically.
Pumpkinhead was 39; the cause of his death is unclear.

Managerobit: Lewis Chin

It's a bit hard to sum up Lewis Chin, who has died, in a word. Or two. Or even a handful.

SFGate has a go:

He was deeply involved in the 1960s and ’70s San Francisco entertainment scene, from opening Drag’ On A’ Go-Go, a Chinatown disco, and developing and managing the Whispers soul group to running clubs like Basin Street West and the Mabuhay Gardens.
He also managed punk acts and disco bands - really, his flair was entrepreneurial, and if that meant selling tickets to see a spoof detective show, or getting bookings for a soul act, Chin was there.

Active into his eighties, Chin remained a golfer and skier. He died from heart failure on May 13th, at the age of 88.

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Audiophiles' audio fails

NPR ran an online quiz to see if people could really tell the difference between high quality digital music files and lower quality ones. They can't. Sorry, Pono and Tidal.

No Siriprises: Apple launch streaming service

"Oh come on, you guys. Even though it's about a million years since we bought Dre's ugly headphone company to get their streaming technology, and we've been signing up DJs all over the place, couldn't you at least pretend that our new Apple streaming service is some sort of a surprise?"

Yes, after years of Spotify being posited as an iTunes killer, effectively with Apple Music, iTunes is going to try and kill Spotify.

We'll just sit here and wait for the first "have you seen the tiny royalties Apple Music are paying" stories which, with the service launching at the end of June, we're expecting some time round early September.

Apple are hoping that nobody reminds them about the can't fail music service Ping right now.

Jennifer Lopez could be going to prison (but won't)

After doing her usual thing in Morocco, Jennifer Lopez could be thrown in prison [horrible autoplay video site]:

Lopez faces a lawsuit because of her suggestive stage moves and the apparel she wore during her May 29 concert at the Mawazine Festival. The performance was in front of 160,000 and broadcast on public television.
Lopez and the show's promoter are being sued. If she is found guilty, the singer faces one month to one year in prison, according to TMZ.
Obviously, she won't be going to prison.

It's a simple enough story, but one that some readers of ABC Action News struggle with. Below the line:
Mushmouseydi Roberts
Smh, don't perform in places that don't appreciate the music .
The one thing they don't seem to be complaining about, Mushmouseydi, is the music. The music, they were happy with. They liked Jenny From The Block. It was just the frocks they had a problem with.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Ten Walls tiresome homophobe; says he isn't

Ah, Ten Walls. After people got upset with your queerbashy Facebook post, you issued one of those not-really-apologies:

‘I want to apologize for the former post in my account. I am really sorry about its insulting content which does not reflect my true opinion. I hope this misunderstanding will not provoke any more thoughts and opinions. Peace.
Ah, do you hope that this "misunderstanding" will not provoke any more thoughts? Do you?

Sorry about that, Mr Walls, because the first thought that is provoked is 'well, let's look at what it was that was "misunderstood" given that you haven't exactly cleared things up by explaining what your actual views are'.
‘I remember producing music for one Lithuanian musician, who tried to wash my brain that I don’t need to be so conservative and intolerant about them.

‘When I asked him “what would you do if you realized that your 16-year-old son’s browny (anus) is ripped by his boyfriend?” Well he was silent.’

He goes on to say in ‘the good 90s… these people of different breed where fixed’.

And the post likened homosexuality to pedophile abuse by Catholic priests.

‘One of my first gigs in Ireland, on my way to [my] hotel I saw a church with a fence decorated with hundreds of baby shoes. Naturally I wondered why?

‘Unfortunately a priest’s lie for many years was uncovered when children were massively raped.

‘Unfortunately the people of other breed continue to do it and everyone knows it but does nothing.’
I'm guessing the reason the musician was silent when you said 'what if your son had his arse ripped open' was for the same reason most people are quiet when they're harangued by a hate-filled idiot - they're working out where the nearest exit is and slowly plotting an escape.

Still, you can see why Ten Walls is hoping that people won't think about that post any more, because the more you think about it, the harder it is to see how 'different breed' and the conflation of violent, abusive rapists and people who have sex with others who share their gender could have been 'misunderstood'.

Fort Romeau has had some opinions, too:
I was due to support Ten Walls at Koko, London in November, in light of recent comments made by him on Facebook I have decided to cancel.

Its easy to romanticise electronic music culture and imagine it as a bastion of social liberalism and progressive ideology but the reality is that it simply reflects the larger social context where homophobia and (particularly) sexism are normalised and worse, codified into law. [...] Clearly there is a long way to go. Until legal parity is accorded no snappy neo-liberal sloganeering about “freedom” and “individuality” really means anything.

so while cancelling one gig is hardly going to change the world, it does stand as a personal rejection of bigotry, fear and intolerance.

Liam Gallagher and chums

TFI Friday is back for what is, effectively, its reunion gig this week. But will it be good TFI Friday, where you'd get a decent band and something inventive? Or will it be bad TFI Friday, when it had passed the point that it had forgotten it had viewers and approached its tasks with an attitude of 'if we're having fun, then the audience will enjoy us having fun, right?'

Your finger is hovering over the Record button.

But which will it be?

Which will it be, NME?

TFI Friday will return for a one-off live special at 9pm next Friday (June 12), hosted by Chris Evans. A TFI spokesman recently confirmed to The Sun that Gallagher and Daltrey will perform 'My Generation' as part of a supergroup featuring The Lightning Seeds' Ian Broudie and former Oasis drummer (and Ringo Starr's son) Zak Starkey.
Ah. Thanks for the clarification.

Suddenly, Kate Humble living with nomads on BBC2 seems very compelling indeed.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

This week just gone

1. Liveblog: Eurovision
2. Grooveshark sinks
3. RIP: BB King
4. Stapp misses court date
5. Wonder what Gareth Gates is up to these days?
6. Bono tries to spin his tax avoidance as being sensible
7. Bob Collins - coming soon
8. Cranberries On A Plane
9. Academics study the charts, spot revolutions
10. Someone throws sugar at Adam Levine

These were quite new a little while back:

DuBlonde - Welcome Back To Milk

Download Welcome Back To Milk

Cinerama - Valentina

Download Valentina

Torres - Sprinter

Download Sprinter

Hot Chip - Why Makes Sense?

Download Why Makes Sense?

Mazzy Star - Ghost Highway

Download Ghost Highway