Apologies

I do feel like I’ve been neglecting the blog in the past week. I offer my humble apologies; it’s not as if I’ve been lacking for ideas, but I just haven’t had the time to write anything, giving that I’ve been watching season 2 of Gilmore Girls any time that I can. But! Here’s what you’ve missed so far:

  • A guide to the HMV sale, pointing out that if you’re interested in picking up back catalogue from either New Order or Madonna (or both! Go crazy!), then the current sale is good news, but for everything else, it’s a rather familiar line-up of titles.
  • How I fell in love with Radiohead’s Talk Show Host again.
  • A discussion about Doctor Who and how, aside from last week’s slight mis-step (I don’t mind if it attempts to do something different. In fact, I’m glad. I would just prefer it not to end up being rubbish, that’s all), the second half of this series has been quite strong. That would lead into talking about Fear Her, and how the show is really good when it’s using children for maximum creepy effect (see also: The Curse of Fenric; the only thing I really remember about that story is the hot goth vampire girls killing Nicholas Parsons because his cross wouldn’t work without belief).
  • Part one of an occasional series on Albums That Don’t Quite Suck As Much As People Say, which I will save for another time.
  • A worrying post about how I hope I don’t crawl into my shell when meeting everybody for the Shimura Curves gig tomorrow afternoon
  • A selection of YouTube TOTP links, including Tiffany (she had such a formative effect on me, it seems).
  • How Opera DS could be the greatest thing in the history of mankind. And possibly treekind as well. Oh, sure the trees look innocent and, well, stumpy, but behind our backs they’ve already invented faster-than-light travel and made an alliance with our eventual Squirrel Overlords.

So there you go. I hope you forgive me!

currently playing: Madonna – Like A Prayer

My Lauren-Radar is Malfunctioning. Obviously.

Bets on how long this one will last?

currently playing: Portishead – Sour Times

Busy Busy Sunday?

Eeeek. Sunday’s plans have become a little more extravagant all of a sudden. Which could be quite nice!

currently playing: The Boo Radleys – Lazarus (12” Version)

2006: Pop Is Dead?

Well, obviously, it’s not. But things aren’t looking too rosy, either. Smash Hits has gone, TOTP is about to go, cd:uk was spirited away in the middle of the night (though rumours speak of its return), and we live in a world where Level 42! Level 42! Level 42! can get into the Album Top 20 with a greatest hits collection.

And things aren’t going to get better. ITV have somehow managed to stop it from becoming a big news story, but the announcement that they’re beginning to wind up CITV as a programme-making venture should be ringing alarm bells in every record company across the land (it also makes me incredibly angry, but I’ll spare you the Robin Carmody-esque rant). They’ve already axed the traditional Saturday morning children’s show in favour of Andrew “Spit In His Meal” Worrall Thompson.

What does this mean? The traditional avenues for a pop act are disappearing rapidly. Even for the bigger acts, things are going to be hard. When Justin Timberlake heads over here next month, where is he going to promote his new single on national television? The zombie remains of PopWorld? The children’s TV circuit used to be an essential way of getting a new band in the public eye. No longer. Some might point to the Internet as being a natural progression of this type of advertising. It plays a part, but Sandi Thom wouldn’t have got anywhere near the charts if she didn’t have her PR company getting her splashed all across the national media before the single’s re-release.

It just seems very depressing. I want a band like Lucky Soul to scrape into the Top 40 and get a five-minute slot on national television. I want their to be an arena where people like Rachel Stevens can survive. But it looks as if those days are firmly behind us. No more shall we have the likes of New Kids On The Block and the Happy Mondays on the same show. And I think we’re all poorer for that.

currently playing: Johnny Boy – You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve

"Mind You, I Had A Late Tea"

Well, it took just under a year from when I rambled on about Top Of The Pops, but today, the BBC finally switched off its life support, axing the show after 42 years of faithful service. And it still strikes me as unnecessary. Even worse, it leaves the BBC with Later… as its only regular music show. shudder.

Let’s hope that the final show has a compilation of John Peel’s withering comments during the chart rundowns, and a shot of the pair that were simply too ugly to ever appear on TV again before the watershed (at this point, I would also like to plead for someone to YouTube the ‘Topless Lard’ bit from their football series. I…I have my reasons).

And ten, fifteen years into the future, maybe it’ll get its own RTD to bring it back…

currently playing: Denim – Back In Denim

Ooooh.

I have just come into possession of Y Kant Tori Read. Hurrah for the magic of the Internet.

currently playing: Elf Power – An Old Familiar Scene

Good Things

A very weird thing happened to me today. I was reading a press release for an upcoming concert in London. As you do. And, as customary in these missives, they feature press clips saying complimentary things about the band. They’re easy enough to skim, so I read while the ticket website was loading. But idly, not paying too much attention.

As I was reading, something seemed very familiar.

They had included quotes from my review in their mailout. Directly after The Guardian.

Wow. I’m still a little starstruck that they thought my review was good enough to put on their press. It’s like living in Almost Famous. Almost. And I couldn’t be happier that they were the first band to do it.

That’s Johnny Boy. Playing at the Luminaire in London on June 25th. I recommend them once again. Wild horses, and indeed the prospect of spending Monday morning in a haze, will not stop be from being there.

currently playing: The Boo Radleys – Ride The Tiger

And Now For A Musical Interlude

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

Lansing-Dreiden – Two Extremes

It’s taken how long? Twenty years? But an American band has finally embraced New Pop wholesale. Lansing-Dreiden is, well, I’ll let them describe themselves:

Lansing-Dreiden is a multi-media company founded in Miami, FL and is currently based in New York. Its output includes artwork in the form of drawings, collages, sculpture and video, as well as the production of music recordings and Death Notice, a free newspaper containing fictional stories and images. All Lansing-Dreiden projects are fragmentary, mere stones in a path whose end lies in a space where the very definition of “path” paths.

Yes, so they’ve got the incredibly pretentious pose down pat. They even have a separate group simply to perform their works live. Thankfully, the songs on their new album The Dividing Island don’t collapse into a Sigue Sigue Sputnik-level disaster, instead sounding like a lost Trevor Horn sideproject from 1983, coupled with Paul Morley’s scribbed manifestos (and while we’re on the subject of Mr. Morley: while I appreciate that the Joy Division/Manchester scene is important and well worth revisiting, I’d love a ZTT retrospective piece focusing on what exactly he did during those years as a pop svengali rather than another look back at Factory. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Factory era, but there’s other stuff to talk about sometimes! Besides, we all want to hear the story about how he came to be in The Look Of Love promo).

Having said all that, it’s not quite as shiny and glossy as a proper Horn production; songs often jerk at right angles instead of being slimline pop works. And their closest relation probably isn’t ABC, Dollar, Frankie, or even The Art of Noise; it’s Disco Inferno, the greatest forgotten British band of the 1990s.

So download Two Extremes and see how many different Horn pieces you can pick out!

The Rosebuds — Shake Our Tree

The album this is taken from was recorded in Carrboro, and as such is already known to a few people who read this blog. The Rosebuds’ core is Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp, a couple who started the band just a week after getting married. And, well, there’s really not a lot more to say about this; it’s just a fun song that would have sounded right at home over here during the 1994-1996 era of Britpop. When played live, it gets a lovely call-and-response section, but you’ll just have to imagine that.

When You Wish Upon A Star

Oh Star Bar, I found you again. Last time on Manchester’s Oxford Road, this time in Oxford itself…

currently playing: Ronnie Spector – Never Gonna Be Your Baby

Life On Revision A

Well, it’s been a few days, so it’s time for the almost legally-required post about how I’m getting on with my MacBook.

So far, it’s going quite splendidly. I know everybody rolls their eyes at Mac owners with their ‘oh, Apple stuff is just so much better than Windows’ rhetoric, but sometimes it really is deserved. When I first turned the new Mac on, it asked if I had another Mac, and if so, would I like to copy all the stuff from the old Mac over? A quick reboot of the old Mac, a firewire cable, and it spent the next twenty minutes copying. Not just files, but preferences, caches, network setups, license keys, pretty much everything except applications (it would have done that also, but I decided to start over to ensure that I’m mostly installing Universal apps). Having already set up my accounts from the old machine, it logged straight in afterwards, completely ready to go. Hurrah!

It’s fast. Very fast. On my G4, iPhoto was beginning to choke on the photos from my new T9 camera. Not anymore. No delay. No stuttering. Firefox feels a lot more responsive too. Oh, and I can run Google Earth now! Lots of fun. As I now have Tiger, I’ve been playing around with the widgets, but they’re all much of a muchness, really. I’ve decided just to keep with the weather, calendar and dictionary ones.

What about Rosetta? I installed Creative Suite 2 last night, and again, it seems to be much quicker than on my G4. But for everybody with G5s, you’ll probably be best to stick with them until CS3 comes out next year. For my needs, though, it’s fine (actually, Illustrator was tracing 6 megapixel photos last night within thirty seconds, so it’s a big speed-up for me).

Any downsides? Hmm. Firstly, the writer of the iPhoto weblog plugin appears to have taken the software down, so I’ll have to research other ways of automatically uploading photos. Perhaps a move to using Flickr on this page. We’ll see. The other issue which I’m keeping an eye on is the heat. The machine runs very hot. The left-hand side soon becomes uncomfortable if you’re trying to use it on your lap. Which is a bit annoying, though I’m hopeful that coming firmware updates will reduce that a little.

To sum up: Yay!

currently playing: Pet Shop Boys – Fugitive (Richard X Extended Mix)