Sunday, July 31, 2005

Single File : w/c 31/7/05

I notice from CD:UK this morning that James Blunt's cut his hair, which must affect his standing among the girls. You're Beautiful is comfortably number one again, in any case, holding off Maroo... Daniel Powter, this year's entrant in the annual singer-songwriter one hit wonder to be used incessantly in montages and trails contest. A couple below at 4 is Eminem, somehow - yeah, Triumph The Insult Comic Dog jokes, that'll play with a British audience. Must be the retirement stories, as it's not like him to sell records this far into an album campaign.

A Bananarama comeback's been mooted for a while, but everyone thought it'd be for a quick arena tour with deely-boppers given out on the door, not the two of them picking up Kylie offcuts for a number 14 single on something called A & G Productions, which sounds less like a label and more like a video editing company run out of a back bedroom above a beauty salon by someone with the initials AG that you only find out about by glancing at the bankruptcy decisions in the local paper. Fair to say Gusto aren't going bust quickly, although Uniting Nations can only manage number 15 with the follow up to a record that might still be in the top ten for all I know. The ringtone advert can't be ready yet. Dancing DJs vs Roxette, which is indeed the ugliest prospect ever, enters at 18 and Nine Inch Nails are at 20. Martin Solveig, a DJ who likes his heavy bass sounds, is at 22, one ahead of Natalie Imbruglia. Assuming none of her ex-boyfriends thought to make home videos just for themselves it's hard to see where she's going to pick the momentum back up on her music career, it all proving very pleasant and well produced but nobody excited in the slightest.

Which is more than you'd have said about Tony Christie not long ago, the pointless reissue of Avenues And Alleyways entering at 26 as Amarillo sticks around for week 20 at 36. At least people were interested in him when circumstance informed they should be - El Presidente have had no end of top support slots and TV support but stall at 30. Lucie Silvas, who I bet you'd forgotten about, enters at 34. Now, whither Madness? The quintessential 80s singles act, as cliche has it, they were also, and let there be no bones about this, magnificent, as much for Yesterday's Men as One Step Beyond. Their new album is covers only and by all accounts makes their live reputation stronger, meaning only number 38 for Shame And Scandal, a folk standard covered by loads of people, including Bob Marley, but most notably Lance Percival, who took it to 37 in 1965. Who knew Lance Percival would get a mention in a chart review in 2005?

Friday, July 29, 2005

The Weekly Sweep

Neutral Milk Hotel - Holland 1945
Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Ain't No Easy Way
Auteurs - Junk Shop Clothes
Bob Mould - Paralyzed
Robyn Hitchcock - Madonna Of The Wasps
Clor - Good Stuff
The Decemberists - The Mariner's Revenge Song
Shop Assistants - It's Up To You
The Pop Group - She Is Beyond Good And Evil
Boo Radleys - Lazarus

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Hard rock - has it really come to this?

Lemmy advertising Walkers Crisps? Go on, explain that one to the kids.

Pay Your Rates (but not for your paper)

"I'm also using that thing on TV where you can get subtitles so you can read the band's lyrics. That's always a good laugh. Some of the lyrics they come out with are quite absurd. You get this really heavy guitar music, the band going DA-DA-DA, really loud and the words are just like, 'You passed me in the street. You said hello. I said no. We went up the hill. Then we went down the hill.' You would think from the music that they're saying something really profound." Who'd have thought we'd see the day Mark E Smith is interviewed in Metro? I suppose Neil Sean will start counting him in as a close showbiz friend now.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Kids bop

There's a possibility Pancake Mountain might be the greatest thing in the world. Airing on US public access TV, it's essentially a Washington-based kid's show that jams econo, combining Saturday morning silliness and a very un-Saturday morning line-up. Try the clips section for some nuts Fiery Furnaces dancing, Arcade Fire doing Wake Up with a actual children on backing vocals, Shonen Knife, Weird War (Ian Svenonius! On kids' TV!) and with a bit of searching Steel Pulse and The Evens (Ian MacKaye! On kids' TV!)

He is glad the record buyers are fooled. Now he can exploit them

The Gang Of Four re-recorded/remix double set Best Of album has been confirmed. The album may well be out on September 19th in the UK. No full word on who's been given what for the remix CD, bar Go Home Productions doing To Hell With Poverty, the Dandy Warhols' What We All Want, Hot Hot Heat giving Damaged Goods some and the mighty At Home He's A Tourist being left in the capable hands of... what? The Others? Oi! King! Gill! You've got some explaining to do.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

If only Levi's had thought of it first

I've seen it on international advertising, but the new Nivea Visage advert is the first on UK terrestrial I've seen that directly credits the track. Only problem is it's Jerk It Out, which everyone surely knows by now, and so any ancillary band benefits have already been cancelled out by Apple.

No Daphne & Celeste?

Forgot to do this at the weekend when the lists were revealed in the Times and the exhibition it ties in with has opened, so just as everybody else stumbles across it let's examine the poll results for the greatest live performances ever, because of course the panel who put these forward has been to every gig ever between them:

Best group performance

1 Queen at Live Aid
2 The Beatles on Apple's roof
3 Pink Floyd doing The Wall at Earl's Court
4 Led Zeppelin at Earl's Court in 1975
5 Oasis at Knebworth
6 Sex Pistols at the 100 Club
7 The Clash at New York Palladium in 1979
8 Stone Roses at Spike Island
9 AC/DC at Hammersmith Odeon in 1980
10 The Specials at the Brighton Top Rank in 1981

Well, of course Queen at Live Aid - the most spectacular performance on the biggest stage ever, although you'd wonder where U2's nomination (or that for Red Rocks, or something off the Elevation tour) has got to. Tokenism rears its head for the first time - the Clash date provided the London Calling cover whereas surely there were better gigs just on Westway To The World, while the Specials in 1981 was surely a year past the 2-Tone tour incendiary live peak, two years on from the Lyceum gig which provided their live EP.

Best solo artist

1 Dylan at the Manchester Free Trade Hall
2 David Bowie retires Ziggy Stardust
3 Jeff Buckley's Mystery White Boy tour
4 Elvis '68 Comeback Special
5 Bruce Springsteen at Wembley in 1985
6 Bjork at Union Chapel, 1999
7 Michael Jackson's Dangerous tour
8 Bob Marley at the Rainbow
9 Madonna's Blonde Ambition tour
10 Iggy Pop in 1972

Change that redial number, CP Lee. Odd how that one gig passed through the ages as legend and then suddenly a proper live recording (released as The Royal Albert Hall Concert, the twat) turned up, followed by colour film soon to be seen in Scorsese's documentary. The Comeback Special wasn't a gig as such, surely, while Buckley, as critically acclaimed as he was, would surely not be number three were he still alive. And hang on, what's that at ten? Iggy Pop in 1972? When he was still with the Stooges and recording Raw Power, you mean? I blame Mick Rock.

Best festival appearance

1 Radiohead at Glastonbury 1997
2 The Who at Woodstock
3 Jimi Hendrix at Monterey Pop Festival
4 Nirvana at Reading 1992
5 The Rolling Stones at Hyde Park
6 Pulp at Glastonbury 1995
7 New Order at Reading 1998
8 Kevin Rowland at Reading 1999
9 PJ Harvey at Glastonbury 1995
10 Iggy Pop at Reading 1988

Stones at Hyde Park a festival, Oasis at Knebworth not? Looking up these links I've found contemporary reports laying into quite a few of these entrants - someone in the Nirvana camp must have owed Caroline Sullivan money, I'm saying - and PJ in 1995, while undeniably powerful, was surely nominated so they could print the catsuit picture again. Hang on, Kevin Rowland's negligee/suspenders, 'best'?

Most controversial

1 Rolling Stones at Altamont, 1969
2 Jarvis Cocker at the Brits
3 Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison
4 Sinead O’Connor on Saturday Night Live
5 Ozzy Osbourne in Iowa in 1982
6 Madonna's Girlie Show tour
7 Jesus and Mary Chain at North London Polytechnic
8 Janet Jackson at the Super Bowl
9 2 Live Crew generally
10 Aerosmith at Washington DC, 1976

Three of these aren't concerts, but that's by the by. It has to be said, all the talk of how everyone roared Jarvis on ignores the fact that nobody knew until the following morning that it had happened at all and it was missed by the director, only caught on camcorder by someone at the nearest table. Ozzy is for the dove biting, Aerosmith for Tyler collapsing on stage, J&MC was the McGee-sponsored riot. What this does prove, of course, is how times change - 13 years on from 'KICK THIS EVIL BASTARD OUT' Snoop's playing for billions at Hyde Park. And then there's the top two here...

Best dance/hip-hop (won't bother with links for these, as they're even more difficult to find)

1 Run DMC with the Beastie Boys at Brixton Academy, 1987
2 Eminem's Anger Management tour, 2000
3 Prodigy at the Big Day Out in Sydney, 1996
4 Public Enemy at Hammersmith, 1987
5 Fatboy Slim on Brighton beach
6 Orbital at Glastonbury 1994
7 Danny Rampling at Shoom
8 Justin Timberlake at the NEC, 2003
9 Jay-Z at Wembley, 2003
10 Paul Oakenfold in Ibiza, 1998

It does get hard as the years progress to equate the iconoclastic Tibet supporting Beastie Boys with the cages, inflatable Buds and 'SNEER AT DYING KIDS' image. Of course the growth of rap meant a whole new set of sighters for tabloid front page morality to lock and load onto, as we see in most of this list (remember Marshall's fake E's?) but seems to be grinding to a halt now. No, Doherty, you don't count, it's for what you do at gigs rather than what you don't do. Even Justin's had a go at the start of last year with Janet's help, and I do recall that NEC gig being talked about in advance a lot at the time - did he just not play in London or something? Good news, of course, for Dave Pearce, who can claim to have made an impact on number 4.

Giving Roll Deep ideas

To continue the topic from the Single File comments box: can we make a whole compilation album's worth of fairly big hits that have been largely forgotten? We've got Hey Matthew, Crucified and Lean On Me *, I'm throwing in Building A Bridge To Your Heart by Wax, and now the floor is open, via the comments box, to you. Songs that are pitched between one hit wonderland and so bad they're good - what would you suggest?

(* As opposed to For Americulaulaulaulaulaula-a! Ulaulaulaulau-the USA!)

Been tryin' to meet you

Hidden away on the Radio 1 OneMusic site, I suspect largely because it's being broadcast next Monday, Josh Homme interviews the Pixies, apparently their first UK broadcast interview since 1992 and not far short of the same time since Black Francis broke the split news to Mark Radcliffe on Hit The North

Fame game

Despite the concept of the voting in procedure running the risk of making this repetitive year after year, as well as what we heard about the rights making it impossible for Channel 4 to so much as show the original programmes again, Channel 4 are returning to the UK Music Hall Of Fame, except Endemol have got bored of waiting and put Bob Dylan straight in, along with Peel. You'd forgotten there was a first Hall Of Fame event, hadn't you? Where is it kept, Channel 4's foyer?

Monday, July 25, 2005

Warning: contains elements of jangle

Via Indie mp3, be aware that the whole of the C86 compilation is now online. Now, someone, please make the effort of uploading C81 or indeed C96, a compilation so ignored I can't even find a proper tracklisting online.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Single File w/c 24/7

Looks like James Blunt outsold the pack by miles this week and hangs onto the double too, taking advantage of the extra publicity from just being number one to add to his burgeoning reputation. There were profiles in most of the broadsheets today, each one making you cry with the class-assumption insidiousness of it all. Mariah Carey climbs back up to 2 for no good reason.

It's lucky Lee Ryan approved the 'hello, girls!' treatment suggested for his debut solo single's video as the song's completely unmemorable, Blue fans taking it to 3. Simon's got a single on the way, Anthony is probably working in the brickies his face suggested, and Duncan sadly died. Daddy Yankee's reggaeton, essentially a mix of reggae, Sean Paul R&B and crossed fingers, perhaps even now is bemoaning the change in the weather that means Gasolina enters at 5, while Paul Weller's reliable fanbase take him to 6, his biggest hit since Peacock Suit in 1996, with the first single he's made in years where it sounds like he was conscious during recording.

Roll Deep enter at 11 with The Avenue, the single that once and for all proves grime was never going to sell anything beyond Dizzee but just picking out an 80s sample wholesale like everyone else, delving even deeper into the collective psyche and dredging out the Maisonettes. What do U call it? PRS. A tip for any producers reading this who fancy a sample-heavy hit - Wax. Or Karel Fialka. Bloc Party pull the old deleted after a day trick to send Pioneers to 18, their third straight top 20 single from six full scale releases. Impressively, Maximo Park's appearance at 20 makes it three out of three for them, benefitting from people actually noticing them this time around. Paul Smith cites a Wyndham Lewis quote as inspiration for his hairdo in this week's NME, which is stretching a point. Heather cunting Small enters at 33 with the rush re-release of Proud - remember, seven years of this - while Inme, who were going to be UK nu-metal's breakthrough act in 2003, enter at 36. Did you know they were still going? Remarkably the Kaiser Chiefs' Everyday I Love You Less And Less climbs two to 38 to make it 10 weeks in the chart as they set sail for I Predict A Riot hit status while Razorlight's Somewhere Else re-enters, again for no good reason, 15 weeks on from release. Will Smith (18) and Tony Christe (19) are also still in the top 40, meaning that downloading's actual effect is to create a massive logjam. Jem almost makes it back in too, back up to 41 and edging out the much fancied Stephen Fretwell at 42. What's Faithless' Insomnia, first released nearly ten years ago, doing at 57?

POINTLESS UPDATE: Just as an example of the scale of download additions, year on year physical single sales were down 28.2% but the combined figure is up 62.9%. Problem is, of course, a lot of those sales are for older or ineligible tracks, and let's not get into that argument now.

Friday, July 22, 2005

The Weekly Sweep

Joy Zipper - 1
Gorillaz - Every Planet We Reach Is Dead
Field Music - You Can Decide
Evil Nine - Pearlshot
Editors - Munich
Skatalites - Guns Of Navarone
Franz Ferdinand - Get Up And Use Me
Frank Black - Dark End Of The Street
Honeycombs - Have I The Right
Maximo Park - Once, A Glimpse

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Plenty more loud music

dEUS are still operational! Hurrah! And boo for booking a four date tour including Shepherd's Bush Empire, which they'll never fill with the best will in the world. Album out 12th September.

Do You Want To? (that's clever, didn't even have to be clever about the title)

Franz Ferdinand confirm the first single from what I suppose we'll have to call Franz Ferdinand II. Quick, before the lawyers get involved, there's a live version doing the mp3 rounds.

Flicks forever

Despite being a simple guitar/bass/drum rock setup and the singer sticking demos new songs on his website on a regular basis, Babyshambles are reportedly heavily overrunning on their album recording sessions and have had to postpone a tour and single to accomodate it. Do you therefore think it's likely in the slightest that Pete Doherty is now going to make a film about his own life? Quite apart from wondering what the happy ending will entail, surely there has to be a life story first?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

U knew what would happen

Into that fulcrum of rock'n'roll bacchinalia, the latest Ofcom complaints report, which leads on the news Video Interactive Television Plc has been fined £18,000 (PDF file) with regard to regulations breaches on Channel U, the one that plays cheap grime videos 24-7.

Between March and June 2004, the year after breaching regulations on three seperate occasions, it was found guilty of: showing explicit sexual material on an unencrypted channel, broadcasting swears during daytime, promoting the sale of a commercial products within programmes, promoting premium rate telephone numbers within programmes, advertising adult chat/text lines, failing to ensure a clear distinction between programmes and advertisements, including illegible superimposed text (!), including advertiser references in a viewer competition and failing to comply with its obligation to retain and produce recordings in relation to a pro-UVF text message that is supposed to have appeared on screen.

Brilliantly, the channel's excuse was that "Channel U was making a real difference to peoples’ lives. It said the channel aimed specifically to provide support to UK based artists, particularly in the urban music scene which centred around deprived inner city areas. Channel U’s primary audience was children from these areas where violence is common and the channel had taken a positive decision to ban videos which advocated gun crime and violence." And the rest of it?

Last train to Skaville

Laurel Aitken has died aged 78 (in Leicester, oddly) - one of the godfathers of ska, he released the first single on Island Records, pioneered the Blue Beat sound and was an acknowledged influence on the Specials and 2-Tone generally. This is a decent biography, while Spoilt Victorian Child has mp3s up.

And meanwhile...

...the Popjustice Twenty Quid Music Prize is summarily launched today. Controversy, though - surely Goldfrapp's single hasn't been released within the last year, given it's not out yet? Presumably Uniting Nations are playing the KT Tunstall role here.

Mercury poisoning

Those nominations in full, then, bearing in mind that if you discount 'A N Other Jazzer' and 'A N Other Folkie' I got five out of ten in my educated predictions. Sorry, Athlete, British Sea Power, Doves, James Blunt and Roots Manuva. Why am I apologising to James Blunt?

Antony And The Johnsons – I Am A Bird Now
This is a cheat way of getting it into a British album award, isn't it? Antony's originally from Chichester, yes, but everything about it is New York born and bred. Victoria Newton won't get it.

Bloc Party – Silent Alarm
Almost the political option in this company, and doing well for themselves as at least my local big venue gig in late October is already long sold out (anyone selling at face value o.n.o.?) How does Matt Tong keep his glasses in place for a whole gig?

Coldplay – X&Y
Parachutes didn't win, Rush Of Blood didn't win, this won't win. But at least the papers have a hook to hang these nominations on.

The Go! Team – Thunder, Lightning Strike
This year's lovely surprise, if not hugely consistent. Apparently held up from US release by Ian Parton suddenly realising he hadn't had permission granted for all the samples. Home sampling is killing music!

Hard-Fi – Stars Of CCTV
Part of the NME's Summer Of Ska, despite the minor detail of not being ska. Still sound like Kasabian as heard through foam.

Kaiser Chiefs – Employment
Well, there's a shock. This will be favourite on the night (6th September, if you must know) and thus won't come close to the prize even if Edinburgh TV festival discussions are being named after their songs.

KT Tunstall – Eye To The Telescope
Just couldn't bring themselves to approve Blunt, then. Not the quasi-Dido many have her down as, although the production does its best. Probably the nominee most likely to be good drinking company.

The Magic Numbers – The Magic Numbers
Virtually had 'Pick Me, Gambo' stickered on the front of the CD. The fact the award will be given out at the end of festival season is surely no coincidence. Were I a betting man, I'd be putting a tenner I can't really afford to lose on this.

Maximo Park – A Certain Trigger
I did wonder whether the Futureheads qualified for this year, and if this has got in the panel must have too.

MIA – Arular
Still hugely popular with critics, and judging by how this week saw her third single follow the two before and album by missing the top 75 completely still hugely unpopular with the public.

Polar Bear – Held On The Tips Of Fingers
This year's token jazzer and object of forthcoming Scott Mills mock scorn. Modern jazz, and thus unlistenable to the layman.

Seth Lakeman – Kitty Jay
This year's token folkie, an Oysterband sideman digging back through British (Devon in his case) history in a traditional style. Will be talked up as having had the biggest post-nomination sales spike, largely because it'll be selling bugger all at the moment.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Where he got the idea from I can't say

James from Busted forms a new band, talks them up as 'harder and faster' than old band, asserts rock credentials by dropping in the surprisingly Scouse Gil Norton's name.

Fightstar are currently recording their debut album.

Alert, Alexis Petridis!

Your annual moaning opportunity comes in Wednesday's Guardian as the Mercury nominations are revealed tomorrow, and yes, actually, this year I will be fascinated to see what makes the list. I've still not forgotten Colin Murray taking the piss out of Robert Wyatt for two hours on Radio 1 last year. Unexclusive comment tomorrow.

The Moorish the merrier

Lisa Moorish seems to have extracted an apology from the NME for 'comments' during their awards (I have no idea what they were, before you start.) Intriguingly, Channel 4 broadcast their apology via Empire Square, which Moorish was apparently happy with but Ofcom might have other ideas about. (Apparently Popbitch were also forced to retract a statement about her, which is very unlike them)

I've checked with lawyers and apparently 'Kill City are shit' is only classed as fair comment.

Admittedly I didn't ask if I could...

...but I feel advertising is due for some friends who have set up a MySpace account for their DJing event in Clerkenwell (don't hold this against them) and their next night is this Friday.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Single File: w/c 17/7

If anyone can explain how James Blunt keeps putting on sales week after week - surely it's not just the bus advertising that makes him look a bit like Gruff Rhys - do feel free to elucidate. You're Beautiful completes the double after seven weeks, the first number one to spend so long climbing there since Steps' Heartbeat/Tragedy at the end of 1999. Elton John was, as previously mentioned, cheating his way there in midweek but the offer take-ups died away as the week wore on and he ends up under 2Pac and Mariah at 4. Just the one other top ten entry, dance wailer Inaya Day at 9.

Deep Dish, who appear to want to become a proper chart act, enter at 14, Editors' climb before everyone realises how inconsistent the album is continues as Blood enters at 18, but the real shock in what we used to call indie is the Raveonettes at 26. The Raveonettes! Sune and Sharon's biggest hit enters at 26, buoyed by unlikely Radio 2 support, and outdoes REM, whose music hall-esque Wanderlust enters one place below their last single at 27. Rooster did make it back after my scathingness but only to 29, which fails to prove anything conclusively. The Paddingtons go backwards, so there's some relief, at 32, Lemon Jelly meh their way in at 33, The Kooks enter at 35 with a song about erectile dysfunction written by Katie Melua's ex - rock and roll! - and Idlewild continue to fade at 39, which does at least put them ahead of the Chemical Brothers, whose The Boxer is their first single out of 16 to miss the top 40.

Charlotte Church's album entered at number 5, should you be interested. That doesn't even make it her biggest hit, Voice Of An Angel having gone to 4 in 1998, but I do notice it's enough to make her the latest entrant in the grand Singer Who The Tabloids Affect To Hate When They're Not Interviewing Her, Which Is Twice A Week sweep. At least it takes the pressure off Geri Halliwell and Cheryl Tweedy.

Before the chart... the chart

To be precise, last week's official downloads only top 20:

1 Paul McCartney & U2 - Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band
Obviously a lot of this will be skewed by the live downloads put out to benefit the Band Aid Trust. Actually I'm not sure if I've heard this since Live 8, and on reflection I'm not sure I want to.

2 James Blunt - You're Beautiful
Look upon his works, Rice, and despair.

3 2Pac ft Elton John - Ghetto Gospel
See, I stuck up the physical sales chart not long ago and it did seem downloads didn't actually have that much overall effect, but looking at this it suggests a web audience is more receptive to guitar toting types.

4 Charlotte Church - Crazy Chick
And this'll be the pop bloggers.

5 Paul McCartney - The Long And Winding Road
"Meep meep! Meep meep!"

6 Mariah Carey - We Belong Together
7 Audio Bullys Ft Nancy Sinatra - Shot You Down
They really are going to be perceived as one hit wonders, aren't they?

8 Razorlight - Somewhere Else
Johnny Borrell said he would give away royalties derived from Live 8 sales spikes, but he didn't think they'd get any. Righto. Of course, their bolt from that has been shot now as it'll be months until their next single.

9 Gorillaz - Feel Good Inc
Amazing how well this is doing after the famous download sales charting scam in March. The single to next single Dare is now out, featuring Shaun Ryder looking like he's been embalmed.

10 Kanye West - Diamonds From Sierra Leone
Reports are that he made something of an arse of himself with onstage statements at the Philly Live 8, which I wouldn't mind corroboration of.

11 Bodyrockers - I Like The Way
Of course the follow up sounds exactly the same.

12 MVP - Roc Ya Body (Mic Check 1 2)
13 Kaiser Chiefs - Everyday I Love You Less And Less
Also notable how many people caught their set on the BBC coverage. The new I Predict A Riot video is awful.

14 Coldplay - Speed Of Sound
Fix You is at 23, which suggests everyone else releasing singles on September 5th (Charlotte Church and Rachel Stevens, it says here) might as well get the fuck out of the way.

15 Pink Floyd - Wish You Were Here
Two of theirs in the top 20, as you'll see, with Who Are You and I Don't Like Mondays not far short. Children Of The Revolution does not feature.

16 Green Day - Wake Me Up When September Ends
17 Razorlight - Golden Touch
18 Pink Floyd - Comfortably Numb
19 Killers - Somebody Told Me
20 Kelly Clarkson - Since U Been Gone

So what have we learned? Well, it's more about the numbers than the positions, and the main result of incorporating downloads into the official chart might well be to prolong the shelf life of older singles. So it makes for a less suddenly active chart, just not in the way people were hoping for.

Heathen Chelsea

Oasis advertising Premiership football for Sky? Is it 1996?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Here come your men (and woman)

I'd understand enthusiasm curbage amongst those who've heard the two new tracks released last year, but the possibility of a new Pixies album next year (do you think he really told this exclusively to the Sun, readers?) is still something to keenly anticipate. Does it occur to anyone else that, Deal aside, they might be the baldest working band in the world?

Dancing about architecture

Presumably on the back of the BBC podcasting initiative, although I find it hard to believe anyone goes around with 5 Live's The Rumour Mill on their iPod, 6 Music are trialling a compilation of their speech-based highlights every week, this week including Hayseed Dixie, covers albums, Edgar 'Jones' Jones (used to be Edgar Summertyme out of the Stairs), Lamacq's Peel anecdotes and the story behind Signed Sealed Delivered I'm Yours.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Racket man

Going back to the midweeks, I'd been surprised to see Elton John's new single at number one but reasoned it was due to it being from the OST-less Billy Elliot musical, and possibly the enticing 'FREE DOWNLOAD' as stickered on the front.

In fact, it turns out Mercury has decided to go right up to the boundary between promotion and rigging the chart, essentially. They've set up a text competition with a prize of a flight to New York to see the musical, but all entrants are charged £1.50 which includes eligibility to download Electricity for free from Monday onwards. 15,000! Chart rules allow digital sales to include a competition, but never before has anyone had a go at this - it's number 15 in the midweek physical sales chart.

In any case, those downloads have now dried up and James Blunt looks like taking number one. Little difference, in any case.

Deep (down) and meaningless

Rooster at 44 in the midweeks? Given there appears to be just the one format of their single available with no audio-visual extras or ringtones, their label can't have given up on them already, can they? They do always strike me as an odd proposition, actually, being a band who can let loose on Bad Company-esque riffage, have ballads that sound like Feeder and yet are marketed four square at the pop kids. Maybe it's doing so badly because TOTP Saturday's not on at the moment.

Hayseed Dixie are going to be on the first Sunday BBC2 Top Of The Pops, by the way. They really are going to run it down so nobody notices when it's dropped, aren't they?

The Weekly Sweep

The Decemberists - The Bagman's Gambit
Freddie McGregor - Carry Go Bring Come
Elbow - Forget Myself
Arcade Fire - No Cars Go
Fall - Telephone Thing
Antony and the Johnsons - Fistful Of Love
Sufjan Stevens - Decatur
Auteurs - American Guitars
Lady Sovereign - 9 To 5
Ballboy - I Lost You But I Found Country Music

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The hottest record in the world right now

It's how he started, I know, but there's still something unseemly about the news that Zane Lowe's made a hip-hop album probably wisely only released in New Zealand at the moment. To be fair, it'll be superior to Chris Moyles' Comic Relief download single, Dogs Don't Kill People Wabbits Do by Mouldy Lookin' Stain. Well, Goldie Lookin' Chain are certainly an act who take themselves too seriously and needed taking down a peg, aren't they?

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The major labels complain that nobody takes them seriously any more...

...and then fund a Cr*zy Fr*g album (ha, take that, Googlers!) Someone's not done their demographics research.

Little thoughts

1. Can we stop with the ironic Smells Like Teen Spirit covers now? Everyone with half an idea thinks slowing it down, or turning it into a big band number, or playing the riff with an unusual instrument will instantly turn them into satirical mavericks, the latest being Paul Anka on his post-ironic swing covers album. Only six people are now interested - the three that rush to damn it as sullying Kurt's legacy and the three that find that rush to damn it as sullying Kurt's legacy hilarious.

2. Those with Sky Digital (in the UK, obviously) who can't stand the amount I'm going on at them about the Decemberists should watch Conan O'Brien on CNBC on Friday night, where they're on live. More immediately, 16 Military Wives has earned itself an extraordinarily good video.

3. XL have stuck up a set of MIA instrumentals and acapellas, inevitably titled Online Piracy Funds Terrorism. Fair enough, given blog maintainers are the only people willing to take interest in her.

4. I've heard the new Super Furry Animals album, and it's going to take some getting used to. Sure, it's all very sumptuous and high aiming - can we say mature? - so it's even more grandiose ELO-like than before, but where's the dynamism that made the last six albums stand above and apart from their influences? In other forthcoming album news, Editors' The Back Room largely does not much Interpol haven't already well mined.

5. Pete Doherty fashion? Fuck off.

List of demands

What's interesting about the way the departure of Radio 1 playlist clerk Alex Jones-Donnelly is being reported is that he's being marked down as our greatest spotter of new talent. Er, come again? For a good few years after his 2000 promotion to the position he was criticised for playlisting far too much derivative dance music, then when guitar music started landing back in his lap after 2001 the only way a band would gain consideration was if they were able to supply a good hundredweight of clippings. The list of bands he seems to have personally helped there, for instance - Coldplay (not touched until their fourth single), The Streets (eventually gave in and C-listed Has It Come To This after Lamacq played it and played it and played it for ages), Franz Ferdinand (A-listed Take Me Out but needed a massive bandwagon of Tips For 2004 notices after missing Darts Of Pleasure), Dizzee Rascal (missed I Luv U when it was being hammered in the clubs he was supposed to be watching) and Joss Stone (subject of a massive major label push). To take a fairly random example, after Maximo Park went top 20 Graffiti was almost grudgingly given up to five plays a week on this new sub-C list for 'new bands' which almost never is for new bands and it's only now that they're getting serious Radio 1 attention. Almost every genre now has its complaints with the station's music policy - pop feels it's being overlooked (yeah, because that has no other outlets, does it?), dance seems to be being given payback for its ubiquity not so long ago, R&B has apparently been shrunk down to a handful of Usheralikes and TLC followers, new rappers have to work just as hard as new guitar bands... even James Blunt didn't get playlisted until You're Beautiful had made it into the top five, which Jones-Donnelly's new employers might want to ask him about.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Blunt to the point

Further to Single File, it seems X&Y fell 18% week on week meaning Back To Bedlam could suffer a slight dip itself - a complete collapse in sales figures after Thursday, as you might expect - and still take number one by 13,000 copies having been 1,000 behind at close of play on Wednesday. Still doesn't explain a lot.

And 2Pac pipped Mariah by less than 400 copies. It's almost funny.

Single File : w/c 10/7

It was set up for Mariah Carey, really, especially when it was reported she was top by a good thousand copies by Thursday having been behind in the proper official midweeks, the fact she was at Live 8 seemingly outweighing the reaction to her there with UK TV publicity still to be screened. So what happens? Back come 2Pac and Elton, who's stuck Indian Sunset on the B-side of his new single out this week, to pip her pretty much at the line. Like Elton's, Mariah's chart record isn't as great as you'd think, her two number ones in fifteen years and 30 charting singles being a cover and a collaboration with Westlife. I say collaboration, more hypnosis-induced sleepwalk.

Can we stop this now, then? Kelly Clarkson's Since U Been Gone, which debuts at 5, does not sound just like Interpol, or the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, or any other cool peg every other blog and online music magazine is trying to hook it onto. It sounds like an even shrieker Avril Lavigne backed by bored session musicians who wish they were the Strokes. The day we stop getting the shock of our lives that a pop record contains guitar will be the day we can all get a grip on ourselves. Note that Clarkson's still the only American Idol contestant to have been picked up in this country. Kanye West at 8 makes it three top ten singles out of four, although I'm not sure about the consistency in someone involved with Damon Dash and Roc-A-Fella Records releasing a record about the extortion in diamond mining. Rachel Stevens enters at 10, for which see posts passim. Joss Stone is surely helped up the chart by Live 8 to 20 - it's the fourth single from her album and only the first went top 20 otherwise - while lack of anyone being really arsed sees Fat Joe at 34, Brooke Valentine 35 and Daft Punk at 40, all outdoing Beck who's at 45. Live 8 chiefly explains three re-entries (Snoop Dogg, U2 and chiefly Razorlight's Somewhere Else climbing 31 to 30) and four climbers. That is to say, explains them except Amarillo climbing four to 23 after 17 chart weeks with no obvious repromotion, and in fact just the opposite with the notably non-charity benefitting Avenues And Alleyways hitting the music TV channels.

A quick shufty at the album charts while we're here, not so much at Pink Floyd's best of Echoes re-entering at 19 or Razorlight's third sudden chart spike following post-Parkinson and post-Somewhere Else reissues but that after a week including Live 8, big stadium gigs and an appearance on ITV's G8 discussion panel Coldplay's X&Y actually leaves the top spot to make way for the marshmallow juggernaut of James Blunt's Back To Bedlam, which wasn't given free advertising this week so must have suddenly shifted a hell of a lot of copies. Look upon his works, Damien Rice, and despair.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ah, yesterdays

Just found an old 6 Music Lammo Sunday afternoon show on the hard drive from just before Christmas 2003, featuring an early play of Take Me Out and a self-aggrandising Malcolm McLaren, but more entertainingly from this distance a Lamacq In The City event in Warwick headlined by British Sea Power over the Killers and Snowfield (now Editors, and he played a nascent Bullets) and Bloc Party pre-first single as the New Favourite Band, including Kele revealing the NME advert through which they found Russell required someone influenced by Sonic Youth, Trail Of Dead and, um, Longpigs.

More immediately, it was about time someone launched an mp3 blog for odd music.

Friday, July 08, 2005


A decent sized download for the weekend, the hilarity that ensued when Metal Box-era Public Image Ltd guested on American Bandstand

The Weekly Sweep

Editors - Distance
The Boy Least Likely To - Be Gentle With Me
LCD Soundsystem - Tribulations
Electrelane - The Valleys
Go! Team - Bottle Rocket
Stars - Ageless Beauty
They Might Be Giants - Ana Ng
Josef K - Sorry For Laughing
Kaiser Chiefs - I Predict A Riot
KRS One - Step Into A World

Thursday, July 07, 2005

London update

Gigs tonight have been cancelled (including QOTSA's double header for the second time) - might as well keep an eye on that page should you be in limbo regarding capital concerts. (According to Drowned In Sound's message board Architecture In Helsinki have cancelled Cambridge too)

Sum girl

Why can't Rachel Stevens sell singles?

Strange leading question, yes, but you might not have realised that her new single So Good, number 9 in the midweeks, is just her sixth solo outing, and the three that have been top five were her much hyped debut, the one off Sport Relief and the one off Sky's Premiership preview advert. If you look at most of the pop-centric blogs and online magazines they fall over themselves to praise her and her producers' electronic stylings and attempts to advance the cause of a style often dismissed as throwaway trash, yet the electroclash title track from Funky Dory peaked at 27 and nearly took her career down at the second attempt, the much praised Negotiate With Love (which didn't sound like Kraftwerk despite what many reckoned, but similarly didn't sound like Ashanti which was surely the point) got to 10 and now her second Richard X collaboration after Some Girls might not hang on to the top ten, yet she doesn't get the chart position criticism that others whose singles don't all immediately fly into the top three do. Notably the album, which contains these two recent singles, has been shoved back to September so they can fit a third lift in.

Here's the rub. Rachel Stevens is an enormous pop name, yet doesn't sell like one. It's not for the want of trying - you definitely know when she has a single coming, to the extent that many were surprised she didn't figure on ITV's G8 debate last night. That she'll disrobe at will helps this, but Jennifer Ellison does that and nobody took her recording career seriously. Maybe half the problem is that pop, or its financiers, have become obsessed with reversing the popular conception that this stuff isn't for mass adult consumption that the new breed of producers willing to show and simultaneously move ahead on their influences has been promoted as much as possible, yet these much vaunted production masterstrokes wash much better with critics than they do with the 13 year olds who most singles are now aimed at - also see Girls Aloud only ever going to number one with their uberhyped first single and a charity cover. No wonder So Good virtually ended up being sold on the premise that Stevens wears gloves in the video.

The Too Much Gravy revival cannot be far away

Chris Evans was in conversation at the Edinburgh Radio Festival, essentially apologising for everything - falling out with Matthew Bannister, who was hosting, leaving Radio 1, buying Virgin, doing the breakfast show on Virgin, being taken to court by SMG, relaunching Texas (possibly) - suggesting that his days of impetuous muscling in on other stations' manors was over. Then he signed a contract for Radio 2, which he's been doing not particularly distinguished bank holiday slots for after reneging late on a deal for a nationally networked commercial radio show. Ah, Mr Evans. He still likes Vernon Kay too.

The real loser here is Richard Allinson, never the most accomplished DJ but one with a proper set of fans who kicked up something approaching irrational merry hell when Radcliffe took over his night time show (the best comment I saw about this was 'Radio 2 don't want to employ anyone over 40 any more' as a reaction to the signing of Radcliffe, 43) and now looks to be making way for a shifted Dermot O'Leary, a thrashing livewire on TV but subdued amateur on radio. Mind you, if it gets the Saturday later programmes starting on the hour rather than half past, then so much the better.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Profit in peace

How would we struggle by without the tabloid press to launch crusades on our behalf? The Mirror this morning declares in the wake of Dave Gilmour pledging his share of Pink Floyd's increased sales and certainly with no eye at all on today's climax to Geldof's programme of G8 events, needless to say almost completely washed away in the tide of Mariah-bating, that it was their campaign all along to get bands to pledge their surplus royalties to charity. Not labels, of course, because you never know when another sales spike free CD will be required. They're claiming support from McCartney and the Who, which is nice but just happens to pick out surely the three acts who can afford to give away any extra over because of their sales in the intervening 35+ years. Your turn, Borrell.

Why, by the way, in those lists of Live 8 performers' sales boosts is only the drop for the Libertines' Up The Bracket listed as proof of how badly Pete Doherty went down? Did their second album have a greater drop in week on week sales, or not as spectacular a decrease, or not a decrease at all? How many people are we actually talking about who bought these records last week?

Sales Pitch Extra

Virgin currently have running one of those sales that are hard to genuinely differentiate from their seemingly permanent cut price selection, but it's worth noting that all four Pixies studio albums are retailing for £4.99, as well as the very fine At The BBC. The more of those they sell, the less space they'll be giving the overly barked up fact that Peter Andre's Best Of is half that price.

Air waves

I'm not sure when air guitaring became post-modern cool - the world air guitar champion can be guaranteed a magazine programme slot every year, and there really do appear to be published books about how to air guitar with the oh so hilarious 'free air guitar' strapline and made up report a couple of weeks later of purchasers complaining about their free gift being absent. Now Guilfest is attempting to break the world mass air guitar record, a feat that I suspect could be officially achieved by four people as it currently stands (why not gather friends around and try and set a mark for them to break?) Needless to say it's happening during Status Quo's set, which is great as not only will it piss off the hardcore fans who demand they be taken more seriously but also it really shows up their desperation to be on the Live 8 bill by reminding them who they actually are.

Mind you, that whole Guilfest bill looks like an overlong exercise in irony, doesn't it?

Monday, July 04, 2005

More faithful to the original than Paul Young, at least

How did we manage without Tuvan throat singing star Yat-Kha covering Love Will Tear Us Apart?

Last thing about Live 8, honestly

When Bob did his "don't say this doesn't affect things" big set-piece by bringing on Birhan Woldu from the ending to the famous Canadian Ethiopia film I wondered why I knew what was about to happen. This, I now realise, was because Geldof did exactly the same at the Band Aid 20 press call. Also, not to denigrate what was an incredibly powerful moment, how did Live Aid make a difference to her life as claimed given the footage was shot nine months previously and the crew knew she'd survived then? (note in that link the reporter's bafflement at the Sun 'finding' her two years after he had)

Sales Pitch

Endless summers of high street sales, eh? HMV have been at it again for a good week and a half now, but these things are self-perpetuating anyway. There's plenty of very decent albums trading at £3.99 or £4.99, but for our purposes a lot of them are just too...


...obvious... particularly count as special recommendations. Admittedly one band hardly struggling for credibility, cash or sales is...

...but listening back to the IRS compilation does remind us, especially in light of Around The Sun, that there was a time when REM didn't make records specifically to be sung along to in stadiums, but recordings that were interesting, arranged with precision and brimming over with ideas and mystique. Imagine if the only thing you'd heard by them was Radio Free Europe...

Pops tones

I was complaining to someone the other day about the way Radio 1 decided that what The Official UK Chart Show really needed was less reliance on the official chart, and this was being held up by others as a bold move at a time when, no matter what amount is being sold, chart positions are still the be-all and end-all of record company decisions and entire album marketing campaigns. OK, how would you judge what's popular?

I feel much the same about Top Of The Pops moving to Sundays from the 17th July, the final BBC1 show being next Monday for some reason. Not because their idea of a massive occasion guest presenter is Phill Jupitus with Reggie Yates downgraded to the status of possible future co-host (and we're glad after a fashion to see Fearne Cotton's career wasn't immediately ended by her post-performance interviews on Saturday) but because of how Roly Keating refers to it as "an exciting new era". What's involved with this era? Why, fewer performances of current tracks! Coupled with how at the moment it features film previews every week and had an interview with David Beckham not long ago, it has to be asked - what market is modern music aimed at, supposed new music fans, the nostalgia market or that most bogus of concepts, Entertainment? As it did on its Tim Kash-fated relaunch, the problem is not what or who is being presented on the show but who's deciding what should be presented.

It's just lucky for them that CD:UK has completely lost its way, really. Why is Dave Berry not trusted on his own?

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Ten things we've learned from Live 8 London

1) A jaunty fisherman's cap as sported by Sir Bob will be this summer's must have fashion item.
2) Something about watching it at home makes cynics of the most naive people.
3) Even Sting realised how silly the Spitting Image puppets and Every Breath You Take rewording sounded on paper.
4) How come Pete Doherty's bands sell any records at all is an ongoing mystery.
5) Mariah Carey really should be sat down and talked to by someone.
6) This year's The Cars are The Cars.
7) Daltrey and Townsend think people only know their work from CSI.
8) Nice as it was to see Roger Waters and Dave Gilmour getting on together, spaced out proto-prog is perhaps not the barnstorming ending you'd expect to a day of pop entertainment.
9) The problems with African poverty are a lot harder to solve than the recent rhetoric has suggested.
10) Like Band Aid, the original was better.

Single File : w/c 3/07

Elton John and 2Pac remain number one, actually the most lively duettist Elton has been involved with this week. What this means is they've edged Charlotte Church into second, which is a decent start if hardly unexpected. What's interesting now is how Polydor push her, whether as the post-ladette girl about town possibly after dark or as the sophisticated pop iconette as recently ploughed by Rachel Stevens. There seems little doubt that you'll be hearing this for a while on various radio stations, which means you'll be marvelling at those lyrics for some time yet. Seriously, Tissues And Issues?

With James Blunt sticking at 3 and Audio Bullys back up a place there's only one other top 10 entry, the Backstreet Boys back at 8. It's difficult in a way to know how much of the pop market they were expected to make back up here - balladeering boy bands are at their lowest stock for a while and three and a half years is a long time in a market where people seem to be forgetting about McFly already. Mario misses out on top ten status by a place, with Bodyrockers, Black Eyed Peas and Gwen Stefani all taking advantage of a low sales week to climb within the top 20.

Which is not an area we've seen the Faders. You remember, much hyped at the start of the year as the female Busted at a time when their target audience barely wanted Busted. Jump enters at 21, so another disappointment in the Ure family this weekend. Just to emphasise how confused the way they've been sold to us is, the Also Bought Music By This Artist list on Amazon is Charlotte Hatherley, Girls Aloud, Pop!, Subways and Angel City. Not the Tears, though, they entering at 24. Feeder's diminishing returns put them at 30, Alkaline Trio make their top 40 debut at 32 - a US nu-punk band who have built up an actual international fanbase! Listening, Simple Plan? - Royksopp disappoint at 33 and Soulwax continue their run of minor top 40 entries at 35. Just below the radar Matador's folly is shown up as Interpol's reissued Slow Hands charts at 44, eight behind its original position, and Towers Of London's quest to scandalise polite chart society fails miserably at 46. You won't see me upset.

Can't outsprint me now

Things you read that surely can't be right: new world 100m record holder Asafa Powell is brother of Libertines drummer Gary Powell? Trading needle for running spikes?

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Hello, duty office?

Since the Live 8 coverage moved over to prime-time, family entertainment BBC1 three sets have been shown in full: Snoop Dogg, Razorlight and Madonna. All three have said fuck. Just because Geldof's not going to now...

Finding space in the diary

No, not "what has happened to Fearne Cotton's hair here?", but you know how Noel Gallagher said that he'd love to take part but he's playing in Manchester tonight? Well, it's turned out U2 and Coldplay were on first and second as they have gigs tonight in Vienna and Glasgow respectively, the latter being the second of two nights interspersed with the full private plane shenanigans. Nice try.

What the hell are the world making of Lou and Andy now?

Actually, Sir Paul, it was on 13th July

I can't be arsed, which is why it's lucky Talent In A Previous Life is doing the Hyde Park play-by-play. I did catch Jonathan Ross giving it some Richard Skinner to what looked like little effect to those audiences whose shows have been going on for ages. Oh, and it turns out Sting's reworking of Every Breath You Take was recorded for Spitting Image in 1984.

Friday, July 01, 2005

One (final thought) over the 8

In 1985, the cause of Bob Geldof's storming the BBC box which led to his famous misquote was that while everyone was enjoying the music, nobody was actually following the point of the venture, namely to pledge money for Ethiopia. With camps already forming around the outskirts of Edinburgh, what will he need to capitalise in interviews tomorrow?

The Half-Yearly Sweep

As midday on July 1st is the exact midpoint of the year, here's the official Sweeping The Nation Top Five In No Particular Order Albums Of 2005 So Far:

You know, like on everyone else's list.

Took a while to warm to it, but in the end I realised it more needed cooling towards.

Brings having fun back into electronically processed music.

Or at least it will be when a UK label does the decent licensing thing. The best thing about it is you immediately know what it's like from the fact it's a US indie album called Picaresque.

Seems to have become the arbitary first on the block in the post-punk revival backlash for no good reason, which is a shame in that it's probably the closest to the spirit and feel of the source material

Nothing turning itself inside out?

Something to do possibly tomorrow while wondering when exactly it was decided Ms Dynamite sold enough records, or indeed released them, to qualify: some of Yo La Tengo's instant cover version sidelines done for the WMFU pledge drive

The Weekly Sweep

Decemberists - The Infanta
The Rakes - Work Work Work (Pub Club Sleep)
Pavement - Flux=Rad
Art Brut - Bad Weekend
Fugazi - Waiting Room
Brakes - Heard About Your Band
Lady Sovereign - 9 To 5
Gorillaz - Every Planet We Reach Is Dead
Tom Vek - C-C (You Set The Fire In Me)
Go-Betweens - Here Comes A City
Maybe it's just where I'm standing, but the Live 8 increasing media hype doesn't appear to be translating to the outside world, not due to cynicism but through actual interest in the spectacle. Geldof could, of course, just cancel the whole thing now - everybody's aware (apart possibly from the Star, who lead today on the absence of alcohol sales, but then that's the Star) of Make Poverty History and the G8 summit, even though in the latter case it looks like all the decisions to that end have already been made, so the mission has been accomplished. Maybe this is why attention on the cause is waning - the Times today has a bizarre pictorial bingo card thing that comes with no explanation and features Phill Jupitus for no reason I can work out. Anyway, the BBC is running one of its unreadable big event public blogs.

And still nobody questions the juxtaposition of Bob's claim only the biggest artists are being allowed to play and the Kaiser Chiefs' presence in Philadelphia.