Former US Secretary of Education William Bennett, however, celebrated his 63rd birthday today. Presumably, he’s not touched the milk money, though it is a very special occasion.
Former US Secretary of Education William Bennett, however, celebrated his 63rd birthday today. Presumably, he’s not touched the milk money, though it is a very special occasion.
Emma Forrest once argued that Top Of The Pops was a massive cultural force simply because it had no editorial policy. It was reportage; if a record was high enough in the charts, it was on TOTP. They were just presenting the facts. The general consensus is that TOTP’s failure to be objective over the last few years has led directly to it’s demise – and by failing to be objective, I mean their chasing of the youth demographic for the past 4 years was about as subtle as a brick in the face. And the thing is, theres one fundamental aspect of Top Of The Pops that is increasingly alien to that demographic, and indeed the rest of us: TOTP was the very definition of appointment television. Until a few years ago, I made sure that I was free to watch TOTP because, God help me, I actually cared about what was going on in the charts, and the state of pop music in general.
In the documentary ‘The Story of Top Of The Pops’, everything seemed to be going fine with TOTP until mid-90s producer Chris Cowey arrived. Now, theres nothing wrong with Cowey. Dude looks like the Aphex Twin, and he really does love pop music with all his heart. But the BBC gave him carte blanche to do what he wanted to TOTP, which could have been madness in the wrong hands. And after Cowey left, the BBC wanted someone who could steer TOTP towards the youth market that seemed to be drifting away from them. Enter Andi ‘Wrong Hands’ Peters. The documentary implied basically that the shows sharp and massive decline was all his fault, and given that he didn’t show up to present a defence, I can only assume it’s true. At the very least, I find him deeply annoying. And so began an era of exclusives, songs that weren’t in the charts yet, moves to Sunday nights, ‘archive’ clips, interviews in the artist bar etc. They tried to turn it into ‘Heat Magazine: The Musical!’, and predictably, it was shit. So very shit.
Watching the final ever TOTP on Sunday was gut-wrenchingly awful. Absolute unmitigated arse water, the lot of it. Instead of having some all-star blowout, they went down the clip-show route of budget TV. First, playing clips of old TOTPs robs them of their context, like watching a greatest hits of News At Ten, evocative but remote and arcane. Showing Nirvana’s performance of ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ doesn’t make half as much sense as when you first saw it alongside the other 25 minutes of chart pop that week. Secondly, the hour-long parade of clips implied that the show had a rich and varied history, which only begs the question ‘How did you fuck this up?’. Popjustice succintly summed it up as ’60 minutes of us telling you how proud we are of something we don’t care about’. It really was like watching the ghost of a suicidee enthusing over how good the turnout was for his funeral. When they actually got around to the final ever top ten countdown, Shakira was no.1 with her frankly bizarre new single (sounds like outsider music. Really), and SHE WASN’T EVEN THERE TO PERFORM IT. ON THE LAST EVER TOTP. No fucking effort whatsoever. Post credits, Jimmy Savile did the symbolic thing and turned off the studio lights, dolefully shaking his head. As did I, thinking ‘Saville outlived Top Of The Pops. I miss John Peel so much.’ And thus ended the most pathetic piece of television I think I’ve ever witnessed.
Apologies to US readers, for whom this post must be completely incomprehensible, not to mention totally irrelevant. Sorry.
Jennifer O’Connor has far better photos of Yo La Tengo at the Pitchfork Fest (Union Park, Chicago) but if I can’t pull rank every now and then, where’s the fun in this job?
Even by the usual zero-attention span standards, the claim by one local jackass that Yo La Tengo were “so quiet ’til the last song I did not know they were playing” is kinda off the charts. Never again is the word “quiet” likely to be employed when describing songs like “Pass The Hatchet” or “Watch Out For Me Ronnie”, though I can’t deny even the loudest of bands come off as somewhat muted for someone whose head is up their ass.
Special recognition for the weekend goes out to the straw hat-wearing, backpack-wielding, hygiene averse dude (and when I say “dude”, I really mean “fuckface”) who put his paws upon me while trying to prevent entry backstage. You’d think this city would’ve learned a valuable lesson from the Democratic National Convention of 1968, but alas, how quickly they forget.
That said, the psychic blow delivered from spotting SS Decontrol’s Springa onstage during Mission Of Burma’s set is not one I’ll soon recover from. Time constraints (if not straw hat-wearing, backpack-wielding assholes) prevented an encore of “How Much Art (Can You Take)?”, but there’s always Coachella next year, right?
And the cruise they skipped (most of ‘em, anyway) was the voyage of the S.S. Jennifer O’Connor, previewing selections from her forthcoming ‘Over the Mountain, Across the Valley, and Back to the Stars’ CD/LP at the Beat Kitchen. Were the town’s tastemakers and face chasers still overwhelmed from the Silver Jews and Futureheads sets in Union Park? Dwyane Wade’s All-Star Jam at the United Center? Or perhaps it was the mere fact that said gig wasn’t listed in the paper or on the venue’s website?
Regardless of the circumstances, Ms. O’Connor’s tuneful meditations on love, loss and other everyday topics were delivered with equal measures of humor and intensity. We’ve worked with a litany of talented lady-human singer/songsters at Matador Records & Filmworks in the past (Chan M., Liz P., Mary Timony, Barbara Manning, Thalia Zedek, Jean Smith, Sue Garner to name just a few) and I’m not just hyping-you-to-death when I say that Jennifer’s achingly beautiful songs are the equal of any of the above.
OK, I am hyping-you-to-death. But I’m telling the truth, too, and you don’t have to take my word for it. ‘Over The Mountains’ is out August 22.
upcoming dates :
August 8 – Philadelphia, PA – The Khyber
August 16 – Raleigh, NC – North Carolina Museum Of Art (with Jeff Tweedy)
August 24 – NYC, NY – Joe’s Pub
August 26 – Brooklyn, NY – North Six
September 23 – Boston, MA – Great Scott (with Choo Choo LaRouge)
From left to right, Mark Lightcap, M.C. Schmidt, Drew Daniel. Matmos under the Biz 3 tent at the Pitchfork Festival, Saturday afternoon. Not shown : the guy who spilled his drink over my trousers, the former P.R. maven masquerading as a homeless person, nor Jeremy Piven.
Geriatric rockers The Rolling Stones have hopped on board the mobile music train — sort of. Through a service called Listen Live Now!, fans will be able to listen live to their concert today in Paris via their mobile phones. And when I say via their mobile phones, I don’t mean some sort of streaming audiocast — they call in and get a feed from the mixing board piped across a standard phone connection to their handset. Sounds brilliant. But it gets better.
Users will be charged $1.99 for 7 minutes, and there doesn’t appear to be a way to simply buy the whole thing at once — so users who actually want to shell out the $40 or so to hear the whole thing will have to do it $1.99 and 7 minutes at a time. The Stones’ manager says the move will help deter bootlegging — seriously — and that “It’s passive income, and they’re helping fans enjoy the experience without affecting ticket sales.”
Once again, much like our terrific ideas for the “Brain Candy” ad campaign (ripped off by Paramount’s initiative for “World Trade Center”), Matador has been fucked over by The Man. Our own mobile phone-cast is ready to roll at this weekend’s Pitchfork Festival in Chicago, and we’ve been usurpred by the Rolling Stones.
(be patient — I might be getting a beer)
Anyhow, if you send me $20 via paypal (email@example.com) along with your phone number, I’ll be quite willing to ring you back during Mission Of Burma or Yo La Tengo’s sets on Sunday. I can’t guarantee this scheme will work — for one thing, I might be on a more important telephone call at the time. But it is your chance to take part in portable music history, and a great way to show the Rolling Stones that we’re sick to death of being pushed around.
Well, not really. But we are putting out a CD + DVD set, ‘Better Days Will Haunt You’ on October 10. There’s only one unreleased track, but if you sing over the top of the rest of ‘em, it will almost be like a whole new Chavez discography.
If you’re just too cool for that kind of thing, well, I pity you.
01 Repeat the Ending
02 Hack the Sides Away
03 Nailed to the Blank Spot
04 Break up Your Band
05 Laugh Track
06 The Ghost by the Sea
07 Pentagram Ring
08 Peeled out Too Late
09 The Flaming Gong
10 Wakeman’s Air
11 Relaxed Fit
12 The Nerve
13 You Faded
14 Little 12 Toes
01 Top Pocket Man
02 The Guard Attacks
03 Unreal Is Here
04 New Room
05 Tight Around the Jaws
07 Our Boys Will Shine Tonight
08 Memorize This Face
09 Cold Joys
10 Flight ’96
11 Ever Overpysched
12 You Must Be Stopped
13 Theme From ‘For Russ’
14 White Jeans
01 Break up Your Band
02 Unreal Is Here
03 Boys Making Music . . . Music Making Men (documentary)
I was begining to feel a little guilty about the totally gratuitious jibes aimed at thespian/cretin Colin Farrell in the latest edition of the Matador News Update. I mean, for one thing, we should be totally grateful that the producers of “Miami Vice” have chosen to showcase one of our fledgling artists (in this case, Mogwai) on a major label soundtrack album (one that features the former vocalist of the Vatican Commandos, too!). But no, I had to fuck things up for everyone by focusing on something completely besides the point — How Much Colin Farrell Sucks.
Well, I’m not the only one. The New York Times’ A.O. Scott, while hailing Michael Mann’s “Miami Vice” as “an action picture for people who dig experimental art films, and vice versa,” also choose to single out one of the film’s stars for special praise. Colin Farrell isn’t one of them.
Mr. Farrell, however, is a movie star only in the sense that Richard Gephardt is president of the United States. He’s always looked good on paper, and he’s picked up some endorsements along the way — from Oliver Stone, Joel Schumacher and Terrence Malick, among others — but somehow it has never quite happened. Here he squints and twitches to suggest emotion and slackens his lower lip to suggest lust, concern or deep contemplation, but despite his good looks he lacks that mysterious quality we call presence.
Mr. Mann’s script has its share of silly, overwrought lines, but they only really sound that way in Mr. Farrell’s mouth. (Did he really say, “I’m a fiend for mojitos”? ¡Dios mío!) When he’s not on screen, you don’t miss him, and when he is, you find yourself, before long, looking at someone or something else. Gong Li. A boat. A lightning bolt illuminating the humid summer sky.
People are always asking my advice about audio equipment. A great way to get started is to pump up your headphone system. iPods and laptops have crappy little op-amps in them that can’t drive good phones accurately or to truly satisfying levels. I recommend the Grado SR-60s for rock in the under-$100 range, or if you have broader taste in music, the Sennheiser HD-600s (which list for $499 but can be found online for as little as $179) which are much comfier to boot. Both these phones are large and open; closed and noise-cancelling headphones are good for planes but little else, and personally, I can’t stand putting things inside my ears.
Then there’s the whole amp game. Without getting into huge amounts of detail, you need a LOT more power to drive Sennheisers than Grados, and a lot more power again to drive electrostatic headphones such as the AKG K-1000s or the legendary Japanese Stax line. However, even a little solid-state amp like Grado’s RA-1 ($349) will improve your Grado headphones to an extraordinary degreee. And it’s made of a solid block of wood – who can argue with that?
Myself, I prefer tubes, and have recently invested in the handbuilt custom amps from Singlepower, based in Colorado… incredibly nice guy, but beware of the prices. I got a fully tricked out Singlepower MPX3 Slam and it is blowing my mind. (And probably eardrums, but that’s another story.)
NOT A PHOTOGRAPH: THE MISSION OF BURMA STORY
Series: Play It Loud: RockDocs [Aug 2 – 10 2006]
Director: David Kleiler, Jr. & Jeff Iwanicki, Country: USA, Release: 2006, Runtime: 73
In 1979 a group of young, smart artist/musicians formed a post-punk band The New Yorker would later dub “the most criminally undersung band of the 80s.” Mission of Burma — Roger Miller, Clint Conley, and Peter Prescott mainly — could have been considered ahead of their time, and this film proves that, although they were only together until 1983, their reach was wide: inspiring REM, Sonic Youth, the Pixies, as well as Moby, Nirvana, Blur, Yo La Tengo and Spoon, among others. Influential but not famous, a critical but not a commercial success, this sometimes-quartet (including the mysterious Martin Swope and later Bob Weston as “tape manipulator”) gets its kudos 20 years later when they reunite and play venues they would have never seen decades earlier. Why wouldn’t they reunite, cites one observer, “they all still have good hair.” Filmmakers Kleiler and Iwanicki give us the lowdown and treat us to an unforgettable onstage jam at Irving Plaza, featuring a who’s who line up of Miller, Conley, Thurston Moore, Lee Renaldo, Moby, Richard Baluyut of Versus, Ira Kaplan of Yo La Tengo, and Hugo Burnham of Gang of Four drumming alongside Prescott — a testimony indeed to the “best band you’ve never heard of.”
Not a Photograph is playing as part of the Film Society’s “Play It Loud: RockDocs06″ fest, which has many other films that are worth checking out, as well (I for one will be getting teary watching Roky Erickson tear it up). Screening dates and times for Not a Photograph are:
Saturday, August 5 at 6 PM
Thursday, Aug 10 at 9 PM
You can buy tickets by following that link up top. You might also notice that same picture of Burma on the front page of the Film Society’s site, as well. Not bad for “the best band you’ve never heard of” - though I think such a description might better describe the Endtables or somebody else a little more obscure.
When 250 News Corp. executives gather this weekend for a management retreat at a posh California seaside resort, they’ll skip the typical team-building exercises that such confabs are known for. Why role-play when you can pick the brains of actual world leaders and rock stars?
Speakers at the Pebble Beach event will include such political powers as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, former President Clinton and Israeli Vice Premier Shimon Peres. Los Angeles Police Chief William J. Bratton will opine on remaking complex organizations, former Vice President Al Gore will riff on climate change, and U2′s Bono will deliver a keynote address titled “The Power of One.”
The singer is likely to focus on his poverty- and AIDS-related crusade, called One. But Bono could just as easily be referring to his host, Rupert Murdoch, the chairman of News Corp.
A five-page agenda obtained by The Times reveals what management experts and company insiders say is a testament to Murdoch’s unusual global vision and a product of his ownership of newspapers in Australia, New York and Britain, broadcast properties and cable channels such as Fox News and satellite TV services that reach every corner of the world.
“Murdoch has created a global media market by successfully operating in very different regulatory and political environments,” said Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania. The retreat’s lineup of speakers, she said, “may tell you how he has learned about the broad base of business environments he operates in.”
News Corp. declined to discuss details of the program. According to the agenda, Murdoch will make some opening remarks Sunday evening before turning over the podium to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who in turn will introduce Blair.
Turning the greatest domestic tragedy of our time into cold hard cash is no walk in the park. Just ask Dick Cheney! But seriously folks, yesterday’s New York Times told the tale of Paramount Pictures employing WWE-hating morality maven L. Brent Bozell and Creative Response Concepts — the same folks who worked as paid advisers to Swift Boat Veterans For Truth — in their marketing of Oliver Stone’s forthcoming “World Trade Center”.
Rob Moore, president of worldwide marketing, distribution and home entertainment for Paramount, said he would have hired the firm regardless of who had directed the movie, because of its strong elements of Christian faith and its depiction of men sacrificing themselves for one another: “the definition of patriotism,” he said.
That’s not actually a definition of patriotism, but perhaps Moore meant to say “unselfishness”. In any event, Thursday’s Los Angeles Times outlined Paramount’s plans to promote the group to a slightly different demographic.
“Every generation has a defining moment,” says the voice-over of a 30-second TV spot aimed at the under-25 crowd that began airing this week. The melodic “Fix You” by rock group Coldplay plays as the screen goes black and three words appear in stark white letters: “This Was Ours.”
Though that must be one heck of a commercial, it sounds suspiciously like an idea I proposed to Paramount’s marketing department several years ago when we were making plans for the “Brain Candy” soundtrack. Of course, Coldplay didn’t exist at that point, but that’s part of what made the concept so daring for that day and age.
Despite the considerable distraction of standing next to a man in a Miami Vice t-shirt, the author of “Raw Talent” drops some science on Mort and WWOR viewers.
The 18-year-old French woman was hospitalized with scaly skin on her legs and hands, appearing unsteady and mentally sluggish, doctors said.
They found the condition puzzling, especially since the woman’s twin sister displayed similar, but less severe, symptoms and there was no family history of the problem, the doctors reported in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.
Several days later, doctors discovered the cause: a bag of mothballs stashed in her hospital room.
The teenagers had been using the mothballs to get high, inhaling air from the bag for about 10 minutes a day because classmates had recommended it. The sicker of the young women also had been chewing half a mothball a day for two months.
The doctors described the high as “dangerous” and most likely under-reported in medical literature.
The teenager told the doctors that she continued to use the mothballs during her hospitalization “because she thought her symptoms were not related to her habit,” said Lionel Feuillet at the Hospital of Timone in Marseille, France.
Mothballs, used to prevent moth larva from getting into clothing, contain paradichlorobenzene, a substance also found in air fresheners and insect repellents that can cause liver and kidney failure, and severe anemia.
I’m afraid that it looks very much as though after Zaragosa there will be no free webcasting of any more Who shows, or even segments of the shows, Live or streamed on demand. I may be able to post some segments of the shows in Rachel’s In The Attic series, but only if we can work out some way to pay Roger for exhibiting (or should I say exploiting) his magnificent image and vocals.
Seriously, he seems to be unconvinced that the web has any real contribution to make to our career, and I am not going to spend any more time or money mortgaging my half of the stage – though I may webcast some Who shows and not show Roger at all. Only kidding. For now we have a famous Who stalemate.
If you believe Roger is wrong – and if 2.5 million minutes of Who clips viewed by fans on the web won’t convince him, we’ll need a lot of emails – please write and tell him at firstname.lastname@example.org
The new issue of Arthur is pluggity plug plugged once already in the latest edition of the Matador news update. And at the risk of being an outta control shill for these people (a condition I’ll no doubt snap out of if they ever do another Polyphonic Spree cover – wtf!), for the second time in 24 hours, I encourage you to grab their latest edition. If the exhaustive cover story on Brightblack Morning Light wasn’t enticement, enough, Jay Babcock’s interview with Godsmack vocalist/head doofus Sully Erna is an all-time classic.
I’ll not give much more away (especially since it’s been online for two months, sheesh) but suffice to say Babcock finds something or other questionable about Godsmack allowing their ferociously awful music to be used in military recruitment campaigns. Though there’s nothing surprising about these lunkheads taking money to lead their hapless fans off to slaughter (or conversely, getting paid while their fans are doing the killing), Babcock tries to give Erna the opportunity to explain himself. I just wish they had the whole thing on video.
File This One Under No Fuckin’ Way. The hard to swallow (sorry) part isn’t that Lance Bass says he’s gay. Rather, it’s that anyone would be allowed to make their way through polite society with a RADIO SHACK LOGO on their collar.
This is old news for many of you, I’m sure. Especially those who aren’t afraid to be seen reading Relix on the subway. Ann Coulter, as grilled by Jambands.com.
TH: Are there any other jambands you like?
AC: All the usual – String Cheese Incident, Phish, Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler, New Potato Caboose. I can’t really tell you all the groups I like because have an iPod so have a lot of songs my friends send me and I never really know who I’m listening to. But I try to keep up with what the young people are listening to these days (I love saying that). There’s Jet, Cake, Outkast, 50 Cent, Black-Eyed Peas, Lord Alge, Beck, Kanye West (I like his Jesus song), Missy Elliot, and Eagles of Death Metal. I’m five years behind, aren’t I? I’m very busy!
“We’ve all got to be surprised at how possible it is to play loud, challenging music later in life, to still have this urge to explore, disrupt and upend things,” Conley enthuses. “I just saw some old YouTube video of the Stones on Ed Sullivan where Mick Jagger is just looking into the television camera — it’s so menacing, so sexy and powerful. And you look at him now– it’s just this cock-of-the-walk grotesque caricature of a rock star. When you see people lose their bearings, it’s a terrible tragedy. – Mission Of Burma’s Clint Conley, as quoted in Eye Weekly, in advance of tonight’s Burma gig at the Horseshoe Tavern.