Tuesday, 31 March 2009

ALBUM REVIEW: PJ Harvey and John Parish, A Woman A Man Walked By

It’s been 12 years since Polly Jean Harvey and producer and multi-instrumentalist John Parish collaborated on their last album, Dance Hall at Louse Point.

‘A Woman a Man Walked By’ is Harvey and Parish's second collaborative album as a duo and it's just as weirdly insane, as their first. Harvey herself described the album as “quite a peculiar little record".

The album sees Parish responsible for the bulk of the music and arrangements while Harvey pens the lyrics and sings.

The driving alt-rock guitars of ‘Black Hearted Love’ and ‘Pig Will Not’, hark back to Harvey's early days, whereas, ‘Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen’, and ‘The Soldier’ draw upon the English folk tradition.

Harvey's vocal style ranges from the helium weirdness first heard on ‘Legs’ to a the animalistic rambling narrative of ‘Pig Will Not’.

Its Parish’s music, that provides the real experiments on the album. Fluctuating between alternative rock on ‘Black Hearted Love’, to American Gothic ‘Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen’, to ethereal ‘Passionless, Pointless’, carry Harvey throughout.

Track listing:

1. Black Hearted Love
2. Sixteen, Fifteen, Fourteen
3. Leaving California
4. The Chair
5. April
6. A Woman A Man Walked By / The Crow Knows Where All the Little Children Go
7. The Soldier
8. Pig Will Not
9. Passionless, Pointless
10. Cracks in the Canvas

Doves – ABC, Glasgow – 15th March 2009

I think it’s safe to say that there was an air of anticipation in the Glasgow venue; after all it has been four long years since the Cheshire trio last toured.

When the guys took to the stage it was no surprise that they received a warm welcome, greeted with sincere affection from the ABC’s sell-out crowd, with bassist and vocalist Jimi Goodwin stating ‘It’s been a long time Glasgow’.

Tracks from their forthcoming fourth album, Kingdom of Rust, were well received; from the atmospheric and powerful set opener, Jetstream, and the anthemic, blistering guitars of The Greatest Denier to Andy Williams' drumming on the album’s title track, Kingdom of Rust.

At times there seemed to be some kind of problem with the sound dampened on some tracks, which made their performance seem a bit unpolished.

New material was interspersed with well loved anthems like Black and White Town and Pounding. With the night drawing to a close with time-honoured epics such as Here It Comes and The Last Broadcast before ending on a high with the exhilarating masterpiece that is, There Goes the Fear.

Doves still do what they do best, the melancholy and euphoric in equal measures but their new material just proves that their doing it better than they have ever done it before.

Their new album might just see them get the recognition they deserve and follow the success of their north-western brethren, Elbow.

Winter Hill
The Greatest Denier
Almost Forgot Myself
Kingdom of Rust
Black & White Town
The Outsiders
Caught By the River

Here It Comes
Last Broadcast
There Goes the Fear


Friday, 27 March 2009

UK Government Does U Turn on Copyright Directive

The Government had given its assurance that they were looking after performers through the Copyright Term Directive. However, at a crucial meeting today in Brussels, the UK Government has voted against the Copyright Term Directive.

The Copyright Term Directive, drafted by the European Commission, proposes a copyright term of 95 years to bring musicians in line with other creators.

In December, the UK Government announced a change of heart that they accepted that copyright term should be extended. British Government culture secretary Andy Burnham said in a speech to the Creators' Conference that they accepted that the term should be extended in principle and recommended that copyright terms for sound recordings should be extended to 70 years, from the current 50 years, after the release of the recording.

PPL (Phonographic Performance Ltd) in conjunction with the MU, BPI and AIM, today issued the following statement:

“The British music sector is very disappointed by the absence of agreement on an extension for performers and sound recording rights at the COREPER meeting today, and particularly that our own government, despite its recent positive statements, did not vote in favour of the proposal at this meeting.

“The UK music sector has lived up to its commitments by reaching an agreement, as demanded by Ministers, that will deliver real benefits to musicians in an extended term. In continuing to hold out for further changes, the government has not heeded the repeated pleas of the very musicians it claims to support, who strongly encouraged it to vote for the proposal today.

“We call on the government to work with us urgently to match its supportive rhetoric with concrete action, by moving heaven and earth to reach an agreement under this EU Presidency that will deliver an improved term of copyright for performers and music companies.”

We would welcome your comments on this.

Acts Set to Appear at This Year’s Rock Ness Festival

The Flaming Lips, Super Furry Animals and Placebo are all set to appear at this year’s Rock Ness Festival.

The Highland festival takes place from the 12th to the 14th of June.

Headlining the Scottish event are Orbital, The Flaming Lips, The Prodigy and Basement Jaxx.

Supporting The Flaming Lips who headline the Main Stage for this year's inaugural Friday show is the cosmic brilliance of The Aliens. On Saturday, Just Jack brings his inimitable blend of modern British storytelling at its eloquent finest to the Main Stage and is joined by Australia's Sneaky Sound System who will be performing live.

While on Sunday's Main Stage young Glaswegian troubadour Tommy Reilly is joined by raucous alternative popster’s Baddies, the charming Chew Lips and the Rock Ness legends always guaranteed to add to the festival fun; The Cuban Brothers.

Other acts set to appear include Biffy Clyro, Dizzee Rascal, Detroit Social Club, Alabama 3, The Whip, The Wombats and Frightened Rabbit.

Tickets are now on sale and priced at £130 for the weekend.

For more information go to www.rockness.co.uk

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Last.fm Start Charging Some Music Listeners

London-based Internet radio and social music site Last.fm will start charging listeners outside the UK, US, and Germany from the end of the month.

In a blog posting, co-founder of the site, Richard Jones, said:

"In order to keep providing the best radio service on the web, we need to ask our listeners from countries other than USA, UK and Germany to subscribe for three Euros (four dollars) per month."

He said those subject to subscription will first be allowed a 30-track free trial and he also stressed that everything else on Last.fm (scrobbling, recommendations, charts, biographies, events, videos etc.) will remain free in all countries, like it is now.

"Sure, this was a business decision," said Last.fm's Matthew Ogle, in response to a number of queries that users raised on the company's blog.

"But after looking at our resources and opportunities we think it's the best way to keep improving Last.fm radio (and also support all the other free services on Last.fm)."

Since the company was bought by US media powerhouse CBS Corp. in 2007, Last.fm has had enough staff in the UK, US and Germany to generate advertising revenues to cover its licensing costs there.

The company says that elsewhere; the costs will have to be covered by subscription.

Tell us what you think.....Is it fair to charge music listeners in other countries when listeners in the UK, US & Germany get it free? Will people start using alternative music sites?

Friday, 20 March 2009

Glastonbury Ticket Deposit Scheme Was A Success

The ticket deposit scheme that was launched for this year's Glastonbury festival has been hailed a great success.

Under the terms of the initiative, fans of the festival could pay £50 to reserve a ticket from the 4th of October last year and settle the outstanding balance at any time before the 1st of February this year.

Festival founder, Michael Eavis said the scheme had “worked well”. He added that only a small percentage of those who paid a deposit had failed to complete their purchase on time, with those fans receiving a refund less £10 administration costs.Eavis said: "It's been a huge success. The deposit makes it easier because the price is £175 and that's a lot of money to find all at once.

"We did figure out that during the Christmas period, parents and grandparents can pay the balance for them. That's what happened funnily enough. We sold thousands of tickets just before Christmas.

"Once people commit, then they know they have got a ticket. So they haven't got to worry, they commit to us first so we're home and dry."

He also added that the deposit scheme will definitely return for next year's festival.

Tickets are sold out for this year's event, which will be headlined by Neil Young, Bruce Springsteen and Blur.

Today, Doves also confirmed that they will be playing this year's Glastonbury Festival and will headline the John Peel Stage.

Elbow, Kraftwerk and More For Manchester International Festival

An impressive line up has been announced for the Manchester International Festival 2009. Acts set to premiere new work at the biennial event are Damon Albarn, Kraftwerk, Elbow and Antony & The Johnsons.

The festival is held in venues across Manchester between the 2nd and the 19th of July. Established two years ago, the event was responsible for the first staging of Damon Albarn's opera, Monkey: A Journey to the West.

One of the highlights will be Elbow collaborating with the Hallé Orchestra, performing two special shows that will feature selections from the band's entire career. Elbow have ruled out filming of the collaboration, so you'll only see it if your there.

The event kicks off with German electro pioneers Kraftwerk and composer Steve Reich; famously inspired by cycling, and celebrated for their hit Tour de France, Kraftwerk will perform at the velodrome on the 2nd of July.

Twenty years since the release of their debut album 'Three Feet High And Rising', New York hip hop trio, De La Soul, will be performing with guests and a 10-piece band at The Ritz.

Mancunian legend Vini Reilly aka The Durutti Column will perform a special piece, 'Paean To Wilson', a tribute to the late Factory Records man Anthony H. Wilson.

Lou Reed and Laurie Anderson perform together for the first time in the UK at the opera house.

The festival ends with Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed performing together for the first time in the UK at the opera house.

For the full programme and ticket information go to mif.co.uk.

Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Heavenly Planet Festival Shelved Due to Credit Crunch

Heavenly Planet, the new festival planned for July 2009 has been cancelled due to “the effect of the current economic climate”."It is with regret that we make this announcement to cancel our new festival Heavenly Planet which was due to take place in Reading in July" said Melvin Benn of organisers, Festival Republic. "The worsening economic crisis and circumstances beyond our control have been major factors in the final decision" he added.Last month Festival Republic, Thomas Brooman and Reading Borough Council, joint organisers of the festival, announced that entry to the festival would be free in its first year, with costs covered equally by the three partners.

However the worsening economic climate has meant that one of the partners has been unable to commit to funding the event on the basis that had been agreed and has pulled out. As a result the two remaining partners reluctantly agreed to cancel the festival.

Although neither the organisers nor Reading Borough Council are giving a financial commitment to hold the event next year, they stated their intent to "planning for possible festivals in future years".

What do you think?.....Should the organisers have scrapped the idea of free entry & charged for the tickets to allow the event to go ahead?.....Would you like to see the festival go ahead in 2010?.....Do we need another festival in the UK?

I look forward to your comments.

Friday, 13 March 2009

Fans lobbying for 'suitable' London Astoria replacement

Campaigners have started lobbying for an appropriate replacement venue for the iconic, soon-to-be-demolished, London Astoria. They told NME.COM that they think the 250-capacity theatre being touted isn't good enough.

Despite being forced to close its doors in January, The Astoria won the Best Venue award at the Shockwaves NME Awards this year. The venue is to be demolished as a station at Tottenham Court Road is built for the Crossrail project.

Although former London mayor Ken Livingstone promised that the venue will be replaced after the development with a "larger live music venue", fans say current plans are not good enough or big enough.

"We found out from Westminster Council that there has been a proposal of a replacement theatre, but only of 250 seats," campaigner Jenny Wong told NME.COM, pointing out The Astoria's capacity was 2,000. "It's so bad, its not even quarter of the size."

Wong, who is running the campaign with her friend India Walker, said attempts to speak to the council, Crossrail and Boris Johnson have all been fruitless.

"We got a reply from his [Boris Johnson's] secretary saying, 'we’re concerned about this that and the other and there will be a replacement', but that Boris Johnson isn't in charge of it. They told us it was Westminster Council that was responsible, but then they told us Crossrail were responsible.

"When Wong spoke to Crossrail, they also denied being in charge of the new venue.The duo are now planning to rally support for a replacement, and are even considering organising a protest march to force someone to take responsibility.

"We have a Facebook group of nearly 3,000 members at the moment, and on the [internet] petition we have about 900 names," she explained.

The petition can be signed at Petitiononline.com/nastoria.

U2's Bono Slams Illegal Downloads

Irish rocker, Bono, has slammed illegal music downloading. The U2 singer claimed that he was taking a stance against file sharing to stand up for musicians less well-off than him, rather than trying to protect his own considerable wealth.

“People think people like me are overpaid and over nourished, and they're not wrong,” he told USA Today. “What they're missing is, how does a songwriter get paid?”

“It's not the place for rich rock stars to ask for more money, but somebody should fight for fellow artists, because this is madness. Music has become tap water, a utility, where for me it's a sacred thing, so I'm a little offended [by illegal downloading].”

He went on to predict that there will be a crackdown on illegal file-sharing when the film and TV industries find themselves in a similar situation to the music industry.

He said “The music business has been thrown to the dogs legislatively,” adding “That will change when file-sharing of TV shows and movies becomes as easy as songs. Somebody is going to call the cops.”

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

YouTube Blocks UK Music Videos

YouTube is today (March 10th) starting to remove all premium music videos from its UK site, with most of them expected to be removed within the next two days.
The move comes after YouTube, which is owned by Google, and the Performing Rights Society (PRS) failed to reach a new licensing agreement.

The PRS, which represents musicians and copyright holders in the UK, has been holding out for a better pay deal for artists whose videos feature on the site.

The BBC has reported that according to Patrick Walker, YouTube's director of video partnerships, the PRS was seeking a new deal with artist payments "many, many factors" higher than the last deal, prompting the site chiefs to take the drastic action.

Steve Porter, head of the PRS, said he was "outraged... shocked and disappointed" by the move and that "This action has been taken without any consultation with PRS for Music and in the middle of negotiations between the two parties."

Walker suggested that a compromise could be reached, though, saying: "We feel we are so far apart that we have to remove content while we continue to negotiate with the PRS."

Thursday, 5 March 2009

First Acts Confirmed for Wickerman Festival

Festival organisers have announced that The Human League and The Zutons will top the billing at this year's Wickerman Festival.

Sheffield synth-pop pioneers The Human League are best known for their multi-million selling singles Don’t You Want Me, Love Action, Mirror Man and (Keep Feeling) Fascination. The Electro legends will headline on Friday 24th July.

Indie rockers The Zutons will take centre stage on the Saturday night. The Mercury Prize and Brit Award nominees are recognised as ‘Liverpool’s first great band of the 21st Century’.

In addition to the headline acts the Wicker audience can look forward to an extremely eclectic billing. This includes an exclusive Scottish festival performance from folk maverick Billy Bragg, a techno reggae set by festival favourites Dreadzone and old skool ska and punk from the UK Subs, Penetration and Debutant Disco.

Also appearing in this first announcement from the festival team are Jamaican reggae Grammy Award winners Zion Train.

Making a welcome return to the festival and the Summerisle Stage are Dumfries & Galloway's very own bag rockers The Dangleberries. More than 100 acts are still to be confirmed.

Other attractions planned for the 2009 shindig are comedy from Phil Kay, a 24 hour Burnsathon, festival golf, mountain biking, kilts and camouflage fancy dress theme and the ceremonial torching of a giant Wickerman.

The Wickerman Festival takes place at East Kirkcarswell Farm near Kirkcudbright in the South West of Scotland on Friday the 24th and Saturday the 25th of July.

Tickets are priced at £80 online and at £85 from outlets for the weekend (including booking fee, camping and parking) with children 12 and under being admitted free.

For More information, go to http://www.thewickermanfestival.co.uk/index.htm

T in the Park 2009 – Limited Number of Tickets Re-Released

A limited number of tickets for this years T in the Park festival will go on sale tomorrow morning.

Organisers of the Scottish festival have said “due to a number of reasons, including failed attempts at multiple bookings of tickets, the event will re-release these limited tickets for sale at 10am tomorrow (Friday 6th March)”.

Tickets are on sale through Ticketmaster via the telephone (08444 999 990) or online at www.ticketmaster.co.uk

For more information, go to www.tinthepark.com

T Break 2009 – Searching for New Talent

T Break once again is on the hunt for the freshest up and coming talent to play the T Break stage at this years T in the Park music festival.

Since 1996, T Break, a Tennents Lager initiative has been supporting new Scottish Talent giving up and coming unsigned talent an opportunity to play in front of a wide cross section of music industry judges, A&R representatives, and dedicated music fans.

Over the past decade they have supported thousands of aspiring musicians including Biffy Clyro, The Cinematics, and Island Records hottest new signing Attic Lights.

Now it's your chance. If you are over 18 and making original music of any kind, they want to hear from you.

The panel of industry experts, including representatives from Tennents and their partners at DF Concerts, BBC Radio 1, HMV getcloser and PRS will select the 16 most exciting to showcase at the T Break Stage at T in the Park 2009.

To submit your demo online, go to T Break 2009