Saturday, October 17, 2015

Mercury Prize 2015: The shortlist

The Mercury Prize shortlist has been announced, which we'll get to a moment. But first, to celebrate the now-defunct communications company who give the name to the prize, here's a lovely video showing how they cared for their customers until they flogged them to Deutsche Telekom for about seven million quid:

So, here's the shortlist in the year that is already being called "sorry, Wolf Alice, we think it's time for one of those years the outsiders win in order to keep it exciting":

Aphex Twin: Syro
Wolf Alice: My Love Is Cool
Roisin Murphy: Hairless Toys
C Duncan: Architect
ESKA: Eska
Florence + the Machine: How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful
Ghostpoet: Shedding Skin
Benjamin Clementine: At Least for Now
Jamie xx: In Colour
Soak: Before We Forgot How to Dream
Gaz Coombes: Matador
Slaves: Are You Satisfied?
The Vaccines haven't been nominated, you'll note, but they're not bothered at all, oh no. No. Not. Remotely. Bothered. In fact, they're so not bothered, they're making sure everyone knows how unbothered they are:
Speaking to NME, [Justin Hayward] Young said: "We've never been nominated so we never expect to be."

He added: "The cafetiere-drinking, Kentish Town-dwelling, Pizza East, 6 Music listener; that's not our demographic."
To be frank, I'm not sure there's anything more Kentish Town/Pizza East than describing your fans as "our demographic", but let's set that aside.

I'm more curious about "cafetiere-drinking" - as opposed to what? Is it better to use a Nespresso machine? Do Vaccine fans only drink instant? It's a surprising insult.

Perhaps "pushing 30s, Kings College history graduate, mates-with-Mumford, relocating to a loft in New York Chinatown" might have been a more succinct way of summing up a typical Mercury Music Award target, although that may be a little close to home for Young.

What's really confusing, though, is why - if the 6Music listener isn't their demographic - why the band played live on 6Music to launch the album, and providing the network with exclusive first plats of other tracks. Perhaps they had yet to discover the delights of Aeropress at that point.

Lindsay Lohan throws her hat into overcrowded 2020 ring

Kanye West - the character out of the Kim Cardigan show - has already made noises about perhaps running for president in 2020. I think we're all assuming he's using the phrase "running for president" in the sense that Donald Trump uses it, as in "mugging for the cameras".

Now, a second name drawn from the "I think they used to make records, didn't they?" file has announced her intention to run. Step forward, Lindsay Lohan. No, really, step forward, I struggle to remember which one is you and which one is Hilary Duff.

Lohan is already constructing her platform:

The first thing I would like to do as president of πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ is take care of all of the children suffering in the world.πŸŽΉπŸ’œπŸŒŽπŸŒπŸ‘ŠπŸ»πŸ‘ŠπŸΎπŸ‘ŠπŸΌπŸ‘ŠπŸ½πŸ™πŸ»πŸ’‹πŸ™Œ #queenELIZABETH showed me how by having me in her country πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§
Just as a side note, this is the first emoji-strewn post in over a decade of No Rock and Roll Fun, and I couldn't be more proud. I'm using "proud" in the sense that Jeb Bush uses when he says positive things about Donald Trump, as in "jesus, this is still a thing?"

Anyway, leaving aside the manner of delivery, let's just examine Lohan on her policy platform. It might come as news to residents of the UK that the Queen - or hashtagLiz as she's being officially rebranded - is diligently taking care of all the suffering children.

It may also be something of a surprise to discover that hashtagLiz "had" Lindsay in the country - presumably that VIP fast lane at Heathrow immigration is more elaborately staffed than you've ever imagined as you watch people waft into it. I'm assuming the Queen sits at the desk muttering "oh, yes, Mean Girls. One thought so much of Diana when one watched that one. Do come in".

There is a possibility that we're over-thinking this - perhaps Lohan's plan is that you can stop children suffering just by having the Queen let them into the UK.

Imagine. Nigel. Farage's. Face.

And for that reason, and that reason alone, No Rock And Roll Fun is pleased to endorse Lindsay Lohan for 2020 - the first president whose entire policy is to troll UKIP from the White House. I'm already sending an email pledging to work on ads attacking Kanye West - I'm thinking mostly just rolling the "in the French restaurant/ Hurry up with my damn croissants" line over and over in every ad break from now until 2019. Eating in a French restaurant will play really badly in the midwest, and being rude to waiters will kill support pretty much everywhere else apart from Beverley Hills.

Lohan is as good as on Rushmore.

Michael Jackson TV Drama: Spoliers - he dies in the end

Oh, good. They're turning Michael Jackson's death into a jolly television drama.

(Given it was played out on TV in real time, strictly speaking this is a remake, surely?)

Warner Bros said in a statement that the biography will "examine the soaring highs and deep lows faced by the late popstar - his constant hunt for privacy in a life that was more public than almost any other, and the pressures he endured as someone whose fame made him socially fragile and almost unable to live".
There's a couple of things here, Warner Bros - first, he dies in the end so there's no "almost" required; just "unable to live" will suffice.

Secondly, you start by saying it's going to examine the soaring highs and deep lows, but then... it sounds mostly like deep lows. Unless by "soaring highs" you're specifically talking about whatever it was those drugs his doctor was giving him did.

Justin Bieber can no longer be nude

To be fair to Bieber, you should be able to do what you like in what should be a private place, with your private places, but this just sounds wrong:

Now, Bieber has told Access Hollywood that he felt "violated" by the incident. "My first thing was like…how can they do this?" he said. "Like, I feel super violated. Like, I feel like I can't step outside and feel like I can go outside naked. Like, you should feel comfortable in your own space… especially that far away".
"I don't feel I can go outside naked" doesn't sound like a problem - indeed, "I feel I can go outside naked" is the sort of thing your Uncle said just before he stopped being invited around for Christmas. It's not the small penis, it's the long lens that's the problem, surely, and that remains a problem even if you were swaddled like a new born in a snowstorm, Justin.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Keyboardobit: Carey Lander

Camera Obscura keyboardist and singer Carey Lander has died. The band issued a statement via Facebook:

It is with the greatest sadness, that we must share the news that Carey passed away peacefully this morning after her illness with cancer. We have lost our friend and band mate, and our deepest sympathy goes out to her partner Kenny, and to all her family and friends.
The next part of the statement is important - Carey's fundraising goes on:
She was touched by the way you all got behind her campaign for Sarcoma UK and you can still donate here:

We shall be continuing to help promote the campaign on her behalf.

She was left in no doubt how much you all loved and appreciated her, and we'd like to thank you all for the support and kind words you have been sending to us and her. The band, our music, and all of you who have enjoyed it over the years, meant so much to her.

Thank you all, Tracyanne, Gavin, Kenny and Lee x
That URL again? Go give something.

Please tip St Vincent generously

So Annie Clark's sister has got a Mexican restaurant in Dallas. And because Mexican restaurants are best if they're family businesses, Annie's been helping out:

And she's not just been waving her hands about being fabulous:
The chef for Resident Taqueria confirmed Clark’s employment to Pitchfork, saying she’s been taking food orders, refilling napkin dispensers, and clearing tables, among other restaurant responsibilities.
It's unclear if the chef will repay the favour by doing food orders at the next St Vincent date.

Demi Lovato visits the Senate

Demi Lovato has been sharing stories of her mental health with Senators in the hope they might try and sort out the messy US healthcare system's approach to similar patients.

Texan Republican John Cornyn did some research:

“I was very impressed by Miss Lovato,” he said. “I don’t necessarily follow her music very closely but I did Google her and pulled up a YouTube video of some of her performances. She’s had an incredible story.”
He obviously wanted that on the public record in case anyone ever wondered why this would be in his search history:

Singersongwriterobit: Robbin Thompson

Robbin Thompson, singer with Steel Mill (which also featured a young Bruce Springsteen), has died.

He'd been leading his own band, Mercy Flight, when Bruce approached him:

"One day, out of the blue, Bruce said, 'I'm thinking about adding another singer that can play a little guitar. Do you want to try out?'" Thompson told the Port Folio Weekly in 2008. "I went up to Jersey, spent a weekend, and the next thing I know I'm up there playing. I really never could figure out why they needed me in the band! That was the summer of 1970, and I was in it for close to a year."
He also composed the official popular state song of Virginia. This one:

Robbin Thompson was 66; he'd been struggling to continue his career while receiving treatment for cancer.

Bookmarks: Terence Trent D'Arby

There's an excellent piece about Terence Trent D'Arby at the New Statesman website. Interviewed by Kate Mossman, he's by turns self-aggrandising - claiming he was debated about in the House of Lords, something Hansard doesn't appear to record; charming; alarming; disarming and even - and this isn't something I've ever come across in a few decades of reading TTD interviews - like a human:

I press him about the lyrics to “Giraffe”, a likeable, child-friendly melody that contains the lines: “Giraffe/can I have your autograph?/Please sign it to Sananda”. When I suggest that it sounds like a song from Sesame Street he brightens. For the past five years he has been listening almost exclusively to children’s music with his two sons, aged three and five. Joe Raposo, who wrote many of the programme’s best-loved songs, including “It’s Not Easy Being Green”, is one of his favourite composers. His husky voice swells into a perfect, sparkly croon: Can you tell me how to get – how to get to Sesame Street! “You know,” he says, “I think Elvis Costello was also influenced by some of Raposo’s stuff. You’re not supposed to say that, as an angry young writer, ‘Oh yeah, I listen to Sesame Street,’ but I can hear certain devices of his that sound like that whole Electric Company style of songwriting.”

His boys love “Giraffe”, but he can’t be around while they are listening to it; his wife later tells me she has to wait until he’s out of the house to play it to them. He talks touchingly about love being “something you have to work on – it doesn’t just come to you”. As a young man, he scythed his way through women, partly because of his mother issues, he thinks: then one day he decided to stop, “because you’re only going to wind up looking for the same thing anyway”.

This week just gone

Ten years ago this week:

Ricky Wilson and Mark Radcliffe swap jobs. As if Wilson would end up a presenter, eh?
Melissa Etheridge was happy talking about self-medicating with dope
Rachel Stevens made a bid to be a Bond girl and Madonna was trying to make a Kabbala kids TV show
I don't think anyone ever really understood they Boy George/sex worker/cocaine story
Tatu tried to fight back against Charlotte Church
Radio One tried a night in memory of John Peel, anchored by, erm, Colin Murray
Prince needed a hip replacement, and the Stones toured with a defribulator
... and Corey Taylor had a screaming teacher

Last week's new releases:

Lucy Ward - I Dreamt I Was A Bird

Download I Dreamt I Was A Bird

The Close Lobster - Firestation Towers

Download Firestation Towers

Swim Deep - Mothers

Download The Light In You

Mercury Rev - The Light In You

Download The Light In You

Squeeze - Cradle To The Grave

Download Cradle To The Grave