Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Apparently Bieber has some sort of hold over Obama, believes CNN

Remember CNN? It's still going, apparently, but doesn't appear to be doing news any more. Right now, it's suggesting that Barack Obama is somehow doing favours for Justin Bieber:

Is Justin Bieber getting special treatment?
By Leigh Ann Caldwell, CNN
Apparently, Obama's allowed Bieber to turn Air Force One into a party plane, and launch his own drone raids on suspected clusters of One Direction fans.

No, hang on; that's not it:
The White House won't comment on a petition signed by more than 270,000 asking for the pop star to be deported for his repeated starring role in famous-people-behaving-badly.
You might not care about the Canadian and his "beliebers," but the 20-year-old's misbehavior and run-ins with the law raise some serious questions about immigration law enforcement. Like, is Bieber getting some serious special treatment?
The White House has better things to do than comment on a prank petition? Why, that's really special treatment.

Leigh Ann Caldwell then spends a long time churning through unrelated statistics about deportation before admitting that, possibly, rather than doing favours for Bieber, Obama probably hasn't deported him because Bieber is legally in the country, has yet to be convicted of any crime and - even if he was - those crimes wouldn't automatically be deportable offences, either:
But fortunately for Bieber -- and possibly the President who would upset millions of teen fans -- is that his DUI is not a deportable offense. His vandalism charge probably isn't either. His assault charge might be, experts say.

Matthew Kolodziej, legislative fellow at the Immigration Policy Center, said Bieber could potentially be charged with a crime of moral turpitude, which he described as "an abstract concept whose definition has expanded over the years."
So, CNN raises a question:
Is Justin Bieber getting special treatment?
... to which is already knew the answer.

Who knew you could can Piers Morgan and still go downhill?

Monday, April 21, 2014

Samsung hope for great things from Milk; mostly milk money

Samsung have created a Pandora-like app for users in America, which has managed a bit over a third of a million downloads since launch last month.

Samsung are quite excited about these numbers, given that it's handset-tied and so not swimming in a vast pool of available users. On the other hand, nobody with a great story to tell obsesses about the number of times an app has been downloaded - akin to selling a house and focusing on the dozens of viewings you had rather than the price you finally obtained.

The other strange smell coming from Milk is that, at the moment, it's a free service without ads, but that doesn't appear to be the long-term plan, with ads and a premium tier coming, inevitably, later on.

The Next Web speculates that this might suggest Samsung sees Milk as a product which will stretch beyond Samsung owners. Because why concentrate on giving your user base a great experience when you could try and cram yourself into an already painfully overcrowded market, eh?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

The Boxing Day to RSD's Christmas

What day follows Record Store Day, year-in, year-out?

Ah, yes, 'rushing to lob everything onto eBay to sell for a healthy profit day'. Very much the cold leftovers from Record Store Day's turkey lunch.

Amongst the spirit-missing money-grubbing, there's someone trying to shake down £400 for the Dave Matthews stuff and Sex Pistols box sets listed with prices well over a hundred quid; David Bowie's 2012 RSD Starman 7" has been bidded up from a start of 99p to - at time of sighing heavily and typing - £101.

This week just gone

The most-read stuff from this year, so far:

1. Liveblog: Brits 2014
2. Armenia enters transphobic contestant into Eurovision
3. Alfie Boe humiliates people who forget to switch their phone off
4. MTV decides women at gigs is a thing; treats them as things
5. Aston Meyygold ruins a man's April 1st
6. Smooth eases out Simon Bates
7. Does Radio 3 really cost more than BBC Three?
8. Jessie J doesn't want to be bisexual any more
9. NME circulation sinks again
10. Young people buying cassettes in huge quantities, apparently

These were this week's interesting releases:

Client - Authority

Download Authority

Liz Green - Haul Away!

Download Haul Away

Smoke Fairies - Smoke Fairies

Download Smoke Fairies

Bob - Leave The Straight Life Behind

The Oh Sees - Drop

Download Drop

Afghan Whigs - Do The Beast

Download Do The Beast

Ben Watt - Hendra

The Secret Sisters - Put Your Needle Down

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Record Store Day: The downside

It's Record Store Day. Hoooooorah!

Or maybe not hooooorah. Maybe it's only half a cheer. Phil Hebblethwaite at The Quietus has done a great investigation which suggests that what was once a great way of helping out the independent music retailer has started to become a bit of an albatross:

Suspicions that Record Store Day 2014 was causing havoc behind the scenes were confirmed when on March 14 distribution company Kudos published a blog detailing their frustrations. "Kudos' physical release schedule will be pretty quiet for the next few weeks," it began. "This isn't a seasonal issue… The cause of this new release drought might surprise you: Record Store Day."
"It feels like it has been appropriated by major labels and larger indies to the extent that smaller labels who push vinyl sales for the other 364 days of the year are effectively penalised."
The problem isn't that One Direction are releasing a 7" single for Record Store Day so much as they're releasing a single on Record Store Day. If the major labels really wanted to help the indie retail sector by releasing something nice and exclusive to them, they could do it any day of the year - imagine if, say, July 23rd saw a One Direction 7" arriving in physical shops. Imagine if that sort of leverage to bring in extra custom wasn't being deployed on a day when there's already a whole bunch of activity trying to bring in extra custom. And without destroying the ecosystem which the day is supposed to be supporting.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Young people "buying so many cassettes they're evolving fingers shaped like pencils to tighten the spools', BBC believe

Hey, you know what? Kids today! They're buying cassettes like they're coming back into fashion.

That's what the BBC say, anyway:

One in 10 young people has bought a music cassette tape in the last month, a new survey done to coincide with Record Store Day suggests.

The research suggests that physical formats are still more popular than digital downloads.

In the last year, 57% of the people surveyed had bought a CD, while 39% had purchased an MP3 download.
In the last month.

There's just over four million 20-24 year olds in the UK, so that would imply 400,000 cassettes sold each month just to that proportion of the 18-24 year old age group. Let's be generous and assume 18 & 19 year olds bought no cassettes at all, and that for the other 11 months of the year, none of this age group bought any cassettes.

How does this figure fit with cassette sales?

Well, we know that in 2013, album sales on media other than CD, vinyl or digital download accounted for just 73,000 sales. That's cassettes, but also box sets of vinyl, DVD Audio and other strange beasts. But let's pretend that it's all tape, shall we?

Ah, but for singles, the figure for 'others' is six million or so. Could that be where all these cassette purchases are hidden?

Probably not - the other figure for 2012 was nearly four and a half million, and we know just 604 of those were cassingles. Even if we - again generously - assume a 100-fold increase in cassette single sales between 2012 and 2013, that's 60,400 sales.

So, even on the most generous and lax granting of licence, and over-estimating like we're Nigel Farage putting in his office running costs, we make that 133,000 cassettes sold in 2013.

So, for the Record Store Day figures to hold up, we're going to have to believe that a thin sliver of the national demographic suddenly bought four times as many tapes in March 2014 as the entire population in the whole of 2013 on the loosest possible reading of the figures.

In other words: this is absolute tock-widdle, and the BBC should be ashamed of running it as fact. But not as ashamed as Record Store Day should be of putting out such ramtwaddle.

After all...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Vinyl isn't all that

Who doesn't have a vinyl fetish? It's so shiny, isn't it? And handily wipe-clean, too.

But there's another a kind of vinyl fetishist, which is the one who insists that music is "better" when it's reproduced by bouncing a needle on a groove in a circular disc. Because it sounds better. Because it's more authentic.

That's actually not true, though, says Marc Edwards, who knows a thing or two about audio fidelity:

[W]e’d send every single release off to be mastered for vinyl, and receive an acetate (a one off copy), a test pressing (initial pressings using the vinyl master), or the final release pressing and be able to compare it to not only a 16bit/44.1khz master of the exact same recording, but we were also often able to compare directly to a 24bit/44.1khz master and 24bit/44.1khz pre-mastered version of the exact same song. And all typically on studio nearfield masters and really nice headphones.
His verdict? Vinyl isn't superior. Here's a sample:
Not only does vinyl have a narrower frequency response, but that response curve changes based on side length and how close to the center of the record the needle is. It makes sense when you think about it — the record player spins at a constant rate, but the distance the needle travels and the amount of data is lowered as you get closer to the center. This is why most releases put the important tracks early in the playing sequence. This is really, really obvious if you have a record handy. Focus on high hats or cymbals, and move the needle to different positions to hear how drastic the effect is.

Vinyl often has issues with sibilance as well (“s” and “t” sounds in vocals). The solution is to run an aggressive de-esser as part of the vinyl mastering.
Now, the cussedness and fragility of vinyl adds something - crackles, pops, a scratch from that time you accidentally dragged the zip of your vinyl catsuit over the turntable while Screamdelica was on it - and that is character you don't get with digital. But the things that make vinyl special are actually the same things that reduce its audio fidelity.

The artwork, though? That's always better on a twelve inch square space.

Jermain Jackman isn't even the new David Sneddon

To think we used to enjoy a good snurkle at how quickly Fame Academy winners would fade from view - although they might never have turned their win into household name status, at least David Sneddon managed a few top ten singles as he headed for the exit. Alex Parkes even got a double platinum album out of it.

Not so the winners of The Voice.

Leanne Mitchell set the pace, winning in 2012 and following up with a number 45 single, an album which peaked at 134 and a rapid dropping from her label.

Andrea Begley did better. Winning in 2013, her debut album made it into the top 10 and, although her singles tend to peter out of steam before they make it above three digits, she did have a number 30.

But so far, no Girls Aloud. Indeed, the chart performance of Voice winners starts to make Steve Brookstein look like Elvis Presley.

But what of this year's lucky contestant, Jermain Jackman. Can he restore the honour of the programme?

Jermain Jackman, only managed to reach number 75 in the charts with his debut single, ‘And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going’, a heartfelt ballad about his refusal to break into even the Top 40.
Not only did he only manage 73, he was beaten by one of the non-winners. Sally Barker got to 46 with an Olly Murs cover. It's not great, but that makes a giant amongst the Voice alum.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Paolo Nutini doesn't understand mental health issues

There's something interesting about the way Paolo Nutini seems annoyed that people who pay money to hear him play his songs get upset when he doesn't play them that well:

Tracks from his earlier albums, such as Jenny Don't Be Hasty and New Shoes are almost unrecognisable - verging on an all out metal assault.

"We're trying to get people into our atmosphere for this new album. I don't want to be like, 'We, owe people hits and we can't do too many new songs in the set, the idea is to draw them into our headspace which is more challenging.

"In the UK people are coming to shows with more of an expectation, they want to jump around to the old brass lines. In Bournemouth, some bloke shouted out, 'Play the songs properly,' 'cause we've reworked the old tracks. but I've got no desire to go over old ground.

"It feels like starting out again, it's a challenge trying to win people over again."
Given that being a Nutini fan makes you already more likely to be fairly conservative in your tastes, it's both impressive and cruel to suddenly dump Metal Machine Music on their heads, in the gap between Pizza Express and calling the baby sitter to warn them you'll be home an hour early.

But that isn't the reason Nutini has caught our eye this morning. It's this:
Acoustic tracks jostle for space with short sampled musical interludes in the vein of artists like DJ Format, David Holmes or 2ManyDJs.

"It's interesting because I've heard this a few times," he says. "But for me the last album that we made was far more schizophrenic in that sense, we were moving from ska... ish tracks to an accordion and fiddle song to a Dixieland theme."
No, Paolo. Your last album wasn't schizophrenic in any sense at all. You could have called it eclectic, which would merely have been making it sound more exciting than it was; instead, you've managed to add insult to misery.

Here's a hint, from the Guardian style guide:
schizophrenia, schizophrenic
should be used only in a medical context, never to mean in two minds, contradictory, or erratic, which is wrong, as well as offensive to people diagnosed with this illness.
It's 2014, Paolo. Why are people still misusing this word?

NME caught in debt-fuelled deal

As part of the splitting up of Time Warner into two smaller media companies, the question of who gets to keep IPC Media (and, thus, the NME) has been settled: Time will generate a massive ballon of debt with which to purchase the UK magazine publisher:

Time Warner officially announced that it's spinning Time Inc. off with $1.4 billion in debt, adding that the financing will be used to purchase Time Inc.'s U.K. operation, IPC Media.

The debt will be raised through an offering of unsecured senior notes and Time Inc. will enter into a secured loan facility, according to a statement.

Whatever remains of the debt facility after buying IPC will be used to pay a cash dividend back to Time Warner.
The suggestion that IPC is worth at the very most $1.4bn will be a bit of a blow to the Blue Fin Building; they were bought for $1.7bn in 2001.

And being bought with a slew of debt isn't a great start for an organisation with a few wobbly titles in its portfolio.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

What the pop papers said: Bernard Butler

We find ourselves at the end of a slightly underwhelming BBC-mandated 20th Anniversary of Britpop (marking the point when Johnny from Menswear first said the words '... and if we bung a picture of, I dunno, a Mini or Ena Sharples on the sleeve, I reckon it's money in the bank').

BBC Four, rather than showing the old compilation of Britpop performances at the BBC with the introduction from Damon Albarn, edited a new set of Britpop performances together, and slapped the old Damon Albarn intro on the front. Still: Pulp meeting Trev and Simon.

In the end, though, it was just a further coagulation of the Britpop narrative: John Humphrys in front of the Blur and Oasis logos, announcing a state of permanent warfare, forever.

Which is a pity, as by now you'd hope they'd be finding space to tell some of the more interesting stories of the time.

Like the acrimonious Suede split - which did get touched on, accidentally, on one of those late-night repeats from the Evening Session this week.

It's worth spending a little bit of time digging back into that awkward period. John Mulvey's interview with Bernard Butler from the NME in 1998 gives just a flavour of what went wrong:

It was around this time, probably, when Bernard starting doubting himself. Even today, you can see a potent and battling combination of confidence and shyness in his character: sure of his own gifts, but reluctant to express himself. Surrounded by people telling him he was wrong when he wanted to expand the band's musical parameters, struggling with a producer (Ed Buller) who he disagreed with over everything, alienated from a band he had nothing in common with something had to crack... Him.

"I don't necessarily think that a nice personality makes a nice record. There's a lot of bastards around that make great records, and that's the one thing that kept me going after Suede, because they trashed me so much personally, saying so much bullshit.

"It was really cowardly to do it when they knew I wouldn't answer back. They knew I'd flip and I did, I pissed off to France 'cos I couldn't hack it. I cried a lot, because it really hurt. I've got a lot of good memories of Brett and it really f--ked me up that I never said goodbye to Simon. The last time I was with Simon we were getting stoned, having a nice time, having a laugh like we always did. Next minute he's saying I should have my head chopped off or something, I should be put down like a dog."

"But I just said to myself, 'They'll get through it, just don't answer back'. You can't answer back when someone's calling you a wanker. What do you say? 'I'm not a wanker! I'm alright!'"
Bernard, bravely, rose above it all, and always carried that regret that he never got to say goodbye to Simon. Can you explain some more about how you rose above it, and - I dunno - maybe try to show Simon he was wrong to be so rude about you, Bernard?
[Were you] a control freak?

"No. I wasn't a control freak and never have been."

If you were, you wouldn't have Ed Buller produce the records?

"Right. Exactly. I tried to stop him making 'Stay Together' and then I tried to stop him making 'Dog Man Star'. No-one would let me. So, at the end of the day, that's why I left. There were lots of bad vibes between me and Brett and stuff, but they'd always been there. He was going off in one direction, shooting off as this star, and I was shooting off as this songwriter somewhere else. Unfortunately we were going totally the wrong way.

"At the end of the day, I was with the wrong people: I had the wrong manger, the wrong record company, the wrong road crew, the wrong band... I didn't think the drummer was very good, can you imagine what that was like? Simon Gilbert, the rock star drummer in Suede, I think is very average. Mat Osman: he's not a great bass player, he should've been Jeremy Paxman, he should've been reading the news. He should never have been a bass player 'cos he's just a theorist.

"Those are my biggest problems: standing there with a whole set of ideas about what I wanted the record to sound like and I wasn't allowed to say them. I'd have this great idea about what the hi-hat should do in bar four, but if I said it I'd piss off the drummer. There were times when I remember Simon taking his drums and throwing them down the stairs saying, 'I'm not being told how to play the drums'.
Oddly, Bernard would be later surprised to discover that Simon said some negative things about him.

All a long time ago, and bridges have sort-of-been rebuilt since then, of course. We were all much younger.

But the stories have got to be worth hearing, more than seeing that rack of Country House next to the rack of Roll With It in HMV for the 33,000th time?

This week just gone

The most-read things this week, from, like, whenever:

1. Aston Merrygold's merry prank backfires
2. Of course sexuality is fluid, but Jessie J has recanted bisexuality like it's rancid
3. The Observer on how to cover Kurt anniversaries
4. Gigwise asks 'where are Menswear now?'
5. RIP: Peaches Geldof
6. Scarlett Johansson insults all pop stars, ever
7. Simon Bates shown the door
8. Michael Jackson announces plans for Katrina benefit single which won't happen like his September 11th one
9. Apple worried as iTunes stalls
10. The Kings Of Leon want to see your tits

The interesting stuff from this week:

School Of Language - Old Fears

Download Old Fears

Bill Callahan - Have Fun With God

Download Have Fun With God

EMA - The Future's Void

Download The Future's Void

Slasher Flicks - Enter The Slasher House

Download Enter The Slasher House

Off - Wasted Years

Download Wasted Years

Theivery Corporation - Suadade

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Singersongwriterobit: Jesse Winchester

Jesse Winchester, Memphis born singer-songwriter, has died.

Winchester crossed the border to dodge the draft, and lived 35 years in Canada. Not going to Vietnam was a doubly-wise idea, because not only did he keep out of the war, but it also led to him making friends with Robbie Robertson. Robertson would go on to produce Winchester's debut album.

On the other hand, being a draft dodger did mean that Winchester was unable to play gigs in America, which probably explains why his name recognition is higher with aficionados than the general public. Added to the awkward border problem, Winchester put raising a family ahead of building an audience, and so only released material spasmodically during the 1980s and 90s.

A career renaissance happened during the latter part of the last decade, including this moment on Elvis Costello's Spectacle series, with Sheryl Crow and Neko Case looking on:

Winchester had been hit with cancer in 2011; a storied tribute album in his honour and a fevered period of songwriting during treatment followed.

Although given the all clear in 2012, the cancer returned and it was this that would eventually take his life. (Not before Twitter had prematurely killed him off a week or so early.)

Jesse Winchester was 69; he died at home on April 11th.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Apple worried, reckons Billboard

It turns out that the only people in the world who are surprised by the weak start for iTunes Radio are people at Apple who, according to Billboard, are surprised to discover if you offer people a decent, customisable streaming service, they become reluctant to buy:

iTunes Radio, which launched in September with much fanfare, so far only sees about 1%-2% of listeners clicking the buy button, while overall music downloads have been declining upwards of 15%, according to several label executives.
"Hey, you can come by and pet my kitten whenever you like. Whenever you want, just knock on the door and you can pet my kitten. 24 hours a day. Kittens on demand. Oh... would you like to give me some money and you can take the kitten home? No?"

Perhaps more worrying for Apple than this discovery that people aren't stupid is that, as streaming and other services kick in elsewhere, their importance is waning:
One independent label said that iTunes’s share of the label’s revenue has eroded from more than 70% in 2012 to about 50% today.
Apple have, in effect, have had the labels' nipples in clamps since the launch of the iPod - and the labels have squirmed, but they've liked the experience. Now, controlling 50% of the market is still a couple of screws on the clamp, but if that figure keeps falling the majors are going to start shouting their safe word. Without dominance, Apple's relationship with the mainstream music industry is going to change, and not in Apple's favour.

Apple, of course, aren't saying they're flying around in a blind panic, but you know there are frantic meetings going on where iPads are being furiously poked and boxes being thought out of.

For years, other companies dreamed of an iTunes killer. Turns out the might have just waited for natural causes to do their work.

Kittens robbed by Kylie

Oh, the strange spikes in the road of history. What might have been, had Ferdinand taken a different route; had Hitler's paintings not been so shit; had Kylie not robbed Atomic Kitten.

You heard. She's a thief:

"I'll tell you what was going to be our song - Kylie's 'I Can't Get You Out of My Head'," Liz McClarnon told Digital Spy.

"Can you believe it? She robbed our song. She's a little robber."
Obviously, there's no sense in which the song was ever the Kitten's, any more than a potato you're looking at in Waitrose is yours before you pay for it.

And I think most independent viewers would judge Kylie taking that song out of the jaws of Kerry Katona was an act of rescue, rather than of theft.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Kings Of Leon gigs kinda like an embrace from Typhoid Mary

As if the exposure to pig-ignorance and sexism at a Kings Of Leon gig wasn't bad enough, if you went to see the band parp through their back catalogue in Seattle last month, you might have been exposed to Measles as well.

Jessie J resigns her bisexuality

Obviously, people's sexuality can change over their lifetime - both in terms of what they find attractive, and in how they choose to define themselves.

Having said that, Jessie J's sudden announcement that she isn't bisexual any more gives the impression of someone trying to distance themselves from a marketing campaign for a brand which has moved on.

She wrote: “Remember the thing that you tried/did back in the day. The phase you had? That is so not YOU anymore?! And you look back and think wow how I’ve changed.
Jessie, the idea that bisexuality or pansexuality is a "phase" tends to be a concept used by people who aren't bisexual or pansexual.
“Something that you don’t even talk about or want to talk about anymore. Because you’ve moved on? That was just part of you growing up? Discovering yourself and working out what you liked and disliked…. Remember?

“I have those too. Yet I’ve noticed some people hold onto mine because they were blogged and put into the media."
It wasn't "blogged and put into the media" - you chose to talk about in Cosmopolitan, it was you who chose to take bisexuality and try it on for a bit.
“I have felt under pressure since being famous to be what some people want me to be for them! I have learnt that the hard way. It’s too much!

“[People] can change. As they should. And I have changed and grown up ALOT, and that’s allowed. And I feel more comfortable in my own skin now than ever before. We all are on a journey and I refuse to feel boxed and judged because of how I felt once!”
Let's accept that this isn't just someone trying to disown a bandwagon they once jumped upon, and do J the courtesy of taking at her word the idea that she was bisexual, once, for just long enough to issue a press release and then it went away.

Instead, let's just look at the way she's chosen to de-announce her bisexuality.

There's a general sense that she finds the idea of being bisexual something of a teenage embarrassment - which is a chilli in the eye for those of us who remain as bi as they were yesterday morning.

There's the use of the word "judged". Surely the reaction to someone judging you because you are, or were, bi - especially if you elbowed your way into the community in the first place, and that community were nothing but welcoming and supportive - is to question why people think that's something on which a person should be judged at all.

You'd hope if someone came up to Jessie J and said "ewwww, you're bisexual and that's disgusting", her reaction would be "no it isn't" rather than "no I'm not."

You would hope that someone who had chosen to share the identity of a group which suffers from high levels of mental illness and stress might, at the very least, withdraw from that group without making it look like she was recoiling in horror from a terrible youthful indiscretion.

In an attempt to try and clear things up, she spoke to the Mirror to try and throw a blanket of platitude over the mess:
Brilliantly, she also joked online that “vegetarians eat meat ­sometimes”. When asked about the comment yesterday, she said: “I thought that was quite funny.”
Actually, Jessie, no; vegetarians don't "eat meat sometimes". You're getting confused with people who claim to be vegetarian but actually aren't.

Also, you're comparing standing up, publicly and painfully distancing yourself from bisexuality with a person on a largely meat-free diet having a sausage roll?
She says of her past revelations: “I did talk about it, and I was open about it, and I do support being lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender - love who you want.

“That’s what I’m doing."
I think that's great news there for the bi community - I think we'd all had a nervous 48 hours over whether we'd all have to stop it for good now Jessie's thrown it in. How generous of her to not only licence our sexual identities, but to support us, too. Even if we've chosen the one that is horrible to have blogged.
“I don’t regret anything I ever said."
It's not clear here if J is not regretting saying she was bisexual, or regretting that long series of Tweets where she spoke about how she regretted saying she was bisexual.
"I’m just so bored of it"
Oh, goodness. It turns out being thought bisexual is boring. How lucky to be able to slew it off when it become tiresome.
"I want to stop talking about it completely now and find myself a husband."
It might come as a shock to Jessie, but being bisexual doesn't actually prevent you from finding a husband if you're a woman. Hell, these days it doesn't prevent you from finding a husband if you're a man.

You're in a national newspaper suggesting that bisexual people have to renounce their sexuality if they want to have a permanent relationship. Did you even think how that looks?

It's hard to see how anyone could make this worse, but then she manages it:
She adds: “It’s a true struggle. All the chick flicks that didn’t make sense to me, I now understand – Sex and the City is real!”
Bisexual people don't understand chick flicks. It's true; if you fill a cinema with bisexuals and show them When Harry Met Sally, they literally cannot see anything happening on the screen. There's something about our retinas which means the minute 27 Dresses comes on, we're rendered functionally blind.

That's how you can tell if you've been cured of bisexuality - you suddenly start seeing Richard Gere and Julia Roberts on the Pretty Woman DVD box.

Do you want to just pat us on the head before you leave, Jessie?
“For me, it was a phase,” she says. “But I’m not saying bisexuality is a phase for everybody."
Oh, how very, very generous of you. How very kind.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Gigwise asks the important question

"Where are the stars of Britpop now" asks Gigwise, with the answer coming back that they're mostly all over BBC TV and radio talking about Britpop.

Still, if you've ever worried about what became of Menswear, Gigwise have gone to look for them. (The phrase "does anyone know if there's anyone selling shoelaces on this market" might be useful here.)

Obit: Peaches Geldof

You might not think it from the acres of rolling news and tabloid coverage, but there's not much to say about the death of Peaches Geldof other than what a horrible, horrible end to a young family. And then to step away and leave that family to their grief.

Scarlett Johansson accidentally insults everyone from Madonna to James Arthur*

Oh, Scarlett, how could you?:

The 29-year-old beauty stuns on the May cover of Glamour magazine in which the expectant actress opens up about her hatred for her Hollywood nickname [ScarJo], revealing that she finds the moniker to be "insulting."

"I associate that name with, like, pop star," the Captain America: The Winter Soldier star told the publication (as excerpted by the Daily Mail)

She added that her famous portmanteau "sounds tacky. It's lazy and flippant...There's something insulting about it."
"Good lord, it makes me sound like a pop star, which is soooo tacky" said Johansson, raising her voice to be heard above the sound of mortified pop stars sobbing their hearts out at this callous insult.

* - okay, not James Arthur.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Music project evicted for playing music

An project in a Brighton pub which brought together local people keen to play music is being kicked out for, erm, playing music:

Cat Duval, project leader, said the decision had been devastating for those involved.

“It is such a shame that one person can stop something that is so beneficial for so many and bring legal action against us for playing Ella Fitzgerald at 2pm in the afternoon,” she said.
The pub is the Rock Inn on Rock Street. That's right, someone living on a street called rock, next to a pub called rock, rang to complain about not even rock music coming from the place.

The project is trying to raise £4000 to soundproof the rooms, or they'll be out. You can find out how to support them on their Facebook page.

Bookmarks: Kurt Cobain

There's an interesting and timely bit from The Observer's readers' editor about how the media cover the anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death:

Samaritans remind us that suicide accounts for more deaths than road traffic accidents, particularly in people under the age of 35. They have done much to make the media aware of the effect of insensitive reporting, producing very clear guidelines that state: "There may be a higher risk of unintentionally glamorising suicide in the case of celebrities or high-profile individuals... Various characteristics of the reporting of suicide are thought to increase the risk of imitative or 'copycat' behaviour. These include: information about the method of suicide, prominent or repetitive reporting, or where the person involved is a celebrity. Young people are particularly vulnerable to 'copycat' suicides. Research shows they are the group most likely to be influenced by the media."

Media references to Cobain's suicide certainly come under the heading of repetitive: a database search of all national newspapers reveals that 237 pieces have been published in the past year, which, coupled with similar articles in magazines and online, reinforce the myths that surround young death and help create such questionable phenomena as the 27 Club – an online litany of musicians who have died, either by their own hand, accidentally or as murder victims, at the age of 27. They include Brian Jones, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison and, most recently, Amy Winehouse.

Aston Merrygold's jape backfires

Aston Merrygold came up with a jolly jape for April Fools' Day: he made up some phone numbers and tweeted them, claiming they were the private lines of his former JLS bandmates.

I know, what larks.

Trouble is, he didn't think it through, and ended up sharing actual phone numbers of actual people:

The pop star played an April Fools prank by appearing to post the numbers of his former co-stars JB Gill, Oritse Williams and Marvin Humes. The numbers were fake.

But the star was mortified to discover he had accidentally tweeted a genuine number belonging to an innocent victim - who has since been inundated with calls.
It's impossible to imagine how that could get any worse.

Oh, hang on, it does:
[O]ne of the numbers – though apparently chosen at random – was in fact a real number belonging to a cancer patient.
That's pretty bad. Does it get any worse?
Bill Phillips received nearly 5,000 calls and texts, and that his phone was ringing every few seconds for hours. He therefore turned it off in order to get some respite from the relentless stream of calls and messages, however, as he’s self-employed, switching off his phone cost him “thousands.”

Bill told the paper, “I’ve had this number for 21 years and I use it for work. I know of one job it’s cost me.”
Worse than 5,000 calls; it's 5000 calls from JLS fans who haven't got over the split yet.

Aston is mortified and sorry; we know because his agent told the Mirror he was mortified and sorry. He could ring Bill to tell him, but Bill's got his phone switched off at the moment.

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Zutons, Coral, Summertyme against fracking

There's plans afoot to smash the bedrock of Wirral to pieces in order to release some fossil fuels, because if we don't burn that gas we might not be able to hit the oil industry's target of making the planet uninhabitable by 2020.

There's protests against the plan, including a gig with some Merseyside luminaries:

The Fight UCG and Fracking gig is being organised by Wirral band The Sundowners with Zutons guitarist Paul Molloy. It will feature sets from Viper Kings with guests Dave McCabe (Zutons) and James Skelly (Coral), Ian Skelly and the Serpent Power, We Are Catchers, Sundowners (acoustic) Edgar Summertyme and Marvin Powell.
There's a petition on 38 Degrees if you'd like to add your voice without having to listen to The Zutons.

The Kings Of Leon are cocks

Kings Of Leon want women to get their tits out at their shows:

Caleb Followill said: ''We're up there pouring our hearts out and if someone wants to show us a little skin, then that will only add a little variety to our show. So anyone out there, preferably of the female variety... but if anyone wants to hang a little dong, we'll look into that too.''
I think there's enough dong on display at your shows, Caleb.

This week just gone

Naver can say goodbye: The most popular No Rock pages according to Naver:

1. Justin Bieber was a child once, says website which believes he's a grown up now
2. The Sun believes Michael Jackson's ghost canm give evidence
3. Video: Allo Darlin - The Polaroid Song
4. Spandau Ballet reform; BBC excited
5. Gary Barlow Day is ruined
6. Video: Cud - Lola
7. The blokiest Grammys in years
8. Liveblog: Eurovision 2013
9. Noel Gallagher has something to say
10. Leona Lewis has an interest

These things went into shops last week:

Patsy Matheson - Domino Girls

Download Domino Girls

Lacuna Coil - Broken Crown Halo

Download Broken Crown Halo

Clint Mansell - Noah OST

Download Noah

Mille & Andrea - Drop The Vowels

Download Drop The Vowels

Chiodos - Devil

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Bookmarks: Damon Albarn

It's a pity that Damon Albarn's grumpy-old-manning about the internet is the bit that The Quietus are pushing on Twitter (ironic, given that he's mostly moaning about Twitter). The whole of Jude Rogers' interview with Albarn is a sublime piece of writing and observation:

We didn't film outside my actual house. I’d been there quite a few times before we filmed, just to see it. It's such a personal, strange thing to do...to just stand outside, trying not to get noticed by anyone. And then the day we were filming, the door opened, and I thought, "Oh God"... and this very elegant, conservatively-dressed Muslim girl in her mid-20s came out. And straightaway she went, "Hello Mr. Albarn". And I went, "Oh!" She said, "I know you used to live here," and I went, "How do you know that?" Then she told me that when she was a little girl, around 1995, another film crew came round and she remembered her Mum wouldn’t let them in. "And she won’t let you in now," she said. [laughs] Which is understandable! Then at the end she went, "Good luck, I know you’ve got a new record coming out" – she knew everything, basically, about me. I thought that was really, really nice, so I said, "Give my love to the house", and she said, "I will do." In that little moment, I felt that connection with the house and the people in there...I was really pleased about that.

In case you missed it...

Here's all of yesterday's famous-ish musicians writing about the deaths of more famous musicians in the Guardian boiled down:

Chas Spod on Superbly Fabulous:
I heard about Superbly's death on the news, although I was watching the news someplace incredible, like I was about to get on a flight to Marbella or possibly holed up in a hotel in Slough. I couldn't believe they'd died. I'd always thought that we'd have wound up working together, probably to the point where the pupil would have become the master. Their music is still available to listen to and hasn't changed since they died, really.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Embed and Letterman: Sleater-Kinney

"Okay, okay, we get it, there's a lot of bands who've played Letterman. Make it stop now."

Fair enough, but one last dip into Dave's archives, for Sleater-Kinney, of course:

[Part of Embed and Letterman]

Embed and Letterman: Vampire Weekend

There's a limit to the room to say anything interesting ahead of these video clips, giving they all come from the same programme:

[Part of Embed and Letterman]