iTunes Back Online in China After Olympic Censorship Bout, Great Firewall of China Becomes First Man-programmed Structure Visible from Cyberspace
After over a week of not being able to download the various Queen, AC/DC, Smashmouth, and Chumbawamba songs necessary to excel during the final moments of this year’s 2008 Bejing Summer Olympic Games, users in mainland China can finally once again access iTunes. Apple's US-based online music store was fully blocked in China last week, after it became apparent that Olympic athletes in Beijing had been using the store for its, you know, intended purpose and downloading things -- specifically, a compilation called Songs for Tibet. The individual page for downloading Songs for Tibet, however, remains blocked on iTunes, as well as on the U.S. site Amazon.com for Chinese users.
The 20-track compilation was released by the U.S.-based Art of Peace Foundation August 5 to coincide with the beginning of the 2008 Summer Olympics and was offered as a free download to all participating athletes. A statement accompanying the release reads: "Wearing an iPod, a simple yet powerful symbol of personal freedom, provides Olympic athletes with an acceptable way to make a statement about the repressive atmosphere of the Games and express support for free expression."
But following an additional statement released by the Art of Peace Foundation August 18, which revealed that over 40 Olympic athletes had downloaded the album, users in China began reporting problems with accessing iTunes, citing the Chinese Government's infamous internet censorship as the source of the problem.
An article posted on China.org.cn (an official government news site) August 8 stated that the album had "ignited strong indignation" among Chinese web users. According to the article, "the angry netizens are rallying together to denounce Apple in offering Songs for Tibet for purchase. They have also expressed a wish to ban the album's singers and producers, most notably Sting, John Mayer, and Dave Matthews, from entering China." Uh, but not Queen or AC/DC or Smashmouth or Chumbawamba, so that’s good at least.
On second thought, maybe Chumbawamba.
Radiohead is playing the last show of their North American tour in Santa Barbara, CA tonight and have decided to treat us to a live webcast of the performance. Sweet deal.
Earlier today, a message was posted on Dead Air Space telling us to prepare our media players (you know, just in case). A couple of hours later, the post was updated with a message from bassist, all-around cool guy Colin Greenwood:
Hello! To celebrate the end of a brilliant tour, we're going to webcast the last show here in America. We'll be playing live in Santa Barbara, at the Bowl. It's one of our favourite places to play; I think we've ended tours there before, once even playing a cover of ' cinnamon girl '. It's not too big, in fact it's very intimate, a small arena with a dirt floor, set in pretty countryside. It should be a special night, for lots of reasons, and we're going to try and share as much of it as we can on the webcast. Nigel, our producer, will be helping out getting it to you, so if it goes wrong....It's live!
Thank you so much to everyone who's come and seen us this year; it has truly been the most special and exciting tour for all of us.
Webcast details to follow...
We'll try to keep you posted with updates, but you should know the show starts at 6:30 PST (Liars are opening!). Let's just hope the occasion is the last show of this North American tour, not the end of all of them.
The Broken West are hitting the road this fall to support the September 9 release of their sophomore effort Now or Heaven via Merge Records, playing a mixture of headlining and supporting dates for most of September before heading home to Los Angeles in early October. Following up their first record, I Can’t Go On, I’ll Go On, Now or Heaven expects to be significantly different. According to the band, the rhythm section is the heart of the record -- in fact, the recording process began by initially ignoring their guitars. I could go on referencing the press release sitting in front of me, but just go and buy it when it comes out in September. And while you're at it, see them play live if they are hitting your town (they’re not hitting mine, WTF dudes?). That is all.
I'm so sick of reading "criticism" from the usuals -- Pitchfork, Dusted, Coke Machine Glow, etc. I mean, they're usually a regurgitation of one-sheets anyway. So, where are we expected to go for the real nitty gritty criticism? The kind of honest criticism from THE PEOPLE? Amazon, of course! Despite the critical reception for No Age's new album, Nouns (TMT Review), here are some comments that'll make you question your favorite pro critics:
- Lovblad (Geneva, Switzerland): Avoid!!!! This is really pretentious and horrible. In the other reviews as well as elsewhere this has been treated very very reverentially whereas it is really a lot of talentless and pointless stuffing around on instruments...A waste of time and money. Buy the original innovative stuff such as My Bloody Valentine, Loop or Sonic Youth and when you are done with them...buy them again before this...No really, this goes beyond testing my patience and I have listened to a lot of bad stuff in my life (belive my friends, parents and wife!).
- Thomas Szabo "Cheater" (Charlottesville, VA): I always give a CD three listens before condemning it. This CD sucks. I listened at home. I listened at my desk. I listened in the car. I can listen to nearly anything and enjoy. This CD sucks. Most CD's have 1 or two songs that probably shouldn't have been published....Nothing on this CD should have ever leaked out. Sorry to be so negative but when I finally flipped off the 2ed song, when I couldn't stand it any more...I had to look and make sure that I had actually gone forward because the 3rd cut was as bad as the 2ed.
- S. D. Mason (Greenville, NC): The sound of these indie rockers is certainly a strange one, but the word that ultimately describes it is frustrating. The music itself is good, the instrumentation isn't groundbreaking and the band members aren't geniuses with what they have in their hands, but they at least make it fit. The production, however, is what makes the album dismissable. The vocals are pushed back to such an extent that it's extremely difficult to discern them from the rest of the music. Maybe that's the point. If so, I don't get it. It's not bad, and certainly none of it is unlistenable; their punk rock, indie, and electronica influences (most notably Boards of Canada) are all high-spirited. Next time, maybe?
Point being: don't buy the album. But I hear their live show is amazing:
From an article in The Star Tribune:
He was only in the band for its final year (1990-91), but the Replacements' replacement drummer Steve Foley told biographer Jim Walsh, "It will always be a treasure in my mind."
"Some days I walk down the street and go, ‘God, I was in that [expletive] band?’ Unbelievable. It is."
Foley, 49, died over the weekend of an apparent accidental drug overdose, said his sister, Colleen Foley. He was found at home in Minneapolis by some co-workers Monday when he did not show up for his job as a car salesman.
Björk has called out journalists (and singled out Pitchfork) for spreading misinformation about credits for her albums. According to a post on her website, the Icelandic singer had been reading in various press sources, including the English-language newspaper The Reykjavik Grapevine, that composer and producer Valgeir Sigurðsson had written the entirety of her 2001 album Vespertine. Björk not only discredited this rumor by offering the Vespertine credits, but turned her correction into a slammin' attack on rockism in music reporting.
After an initial explanation that Sigurðsson's role was strictly as a programmer and engineer for two-thirds of the album, Björk launched into an enumeration of ideas about what may have caused the confusion. The four reasons that Björk suggested might have prompted the error included the fact that the "pop critics of this world have not totally yet worked out the difference between engineering, programming, writing, and producing electronic music." Unlike a rock recording session with a strict division between those playing instruments on one hand and engineers and producers on the other, "visually this appears very similar: a man/woman sitting in front of a computer."
Björk also discusses the role of sexism in the misreporting, comparing her situation to that of M.I.A., who confronted Pitchfork in an interview last year over similar issues of sexist reporting regarding Diplo's role in her music. Pitchfork, in the wake of Björk's reference to the M.I.A. issue, have denied that they ever credited Diplo with M.I.A.'s albums.
Björk's other two (far less incendiary) points include that critics have probably not read the album credits very thoroughly for albums that they may be reviewing or reporting on. She also notes that the misconception has had such a long life because neither her nor Sigurðsson ever publicly denied it. Björk also dispelled rumors that contemporary classical wunderkind Nico Muhly has written arrangements for her. Once more, all together now: "This is not true. Journalists: please read the creditlist before you write your articles." Done and done, Ms. Guðmundsdóttir.
Guy Who Leaked New Guns N’ Roses Songs Arrested By FBI, Totally Worth It; New LP Rumored for Rainy November 25
As reported earlier (TMT News), Kevin Cogill, a.k.a. "Skweri," leaked nine songs from Guns N' Roses ' long-awaited new album/Dr. Pepper promotional vehicle/braid-dreadlock awareness doctrine Chinese Democracy on his blog back in June. And yesterday, August 27, more than two months later, Cogill The Leaker was arrested by FBI agents and accused of violating federal copyright law.
Cogill's been cooperating, apparently, but he still faces the possibility of three years in federal prison and $250,000 in fines. In addition to these criminal penalties, Cogill might get slapped with a civil suit filed by the "copyright holders" (Axl, his management, and his label).
I can only assume that the opportunistic glints in the eyes of Axl Rose and his people are eerily similar to that of Cogill when he came across the GNR MP3s for the first time. If only Cogill had taken the advice Axl himself dispensed in the band's 1987 hit Welcome to the Jungle:
And you're a very sexy girl
That's very hard to please
You can taste the bright lights
But you won't get them for free
Meanwhile, rumor has it that Chinese Democracy will be released as a retail exclusive, either through Wal-Mart or Best Buy. Rumor also has it that it'll come out November 25 to coincide with the rain expected around that time
Brothers and sisters of the Old World beware: this fall, while we Americans are at home wasting gasoline and watching terrible Comedy movies we’ve already seen, those handsome-but-dubious devils in Animal Collective will be sweeping across Europe and the Middle East, spreading their noise-jam gospel across two continents in a matter of weeks, kind of like the Black Plague back in the day.
But instead of, you know, buboes and pustules, Avey, Panda, and the boys will thankfully be infecting the masses with something a little less disgusting and a little less crotch-based: the sheer catchiness of their exuberant, nature-praising anthems. Okay, so maybe it’ll still be somewhat crotch-based. Either way, a pandemic is still a pandemic, so I wouldn’t go around French-kissing any shabby-looking musicians “claiming” to be Geologist if I were you.
I'm going to start off this story with a bold statement: Pop Montreal is the best festival I have heard about all year. The city is beautiful, historic, and happenin', with a thriving music scene and enough Francophile splendor to make me wish I could afford to attend grad school again, this time in Canada. And the festival lineup and the activities surrounding it? Well, let's just say I am already trying to think of a good way to bring up taking time off of work at my new job. Of course, since I'm being bold with my statements, I might as well be honest and admit that I wrote this story in hopes that in some way, somehow, it would convince a higher Pop Montreal power that they should extend a li'l financial assistance in the form of a press pass my way. Yes! This is a great idea, men and women of Pop Montreal! Just you wait and see!
And now without any further ado/self-promotion, let's discuss the incredible rating of this lineup. It's very high, due in no small measure to the selection of artists like Nick Cave, Burt Bacharach, Irma Thomas, Wire, Silver Apples, and The Persuasions. And there's more. In fact, there's -- ok, deep breath -- Dan Deacon, Hot Chip, Beach House, Black Kids, Dark Meat, You Say Party! We Say Die!, Crystal Castles, Vetiver, Cori Bishop (a.k.a. Elyse Weinberg), The Veils, Socalled, Evangelicals, Julie Doiron, United Steel Workers of Montreal, The Dodos, Cex, Liam Finn, Jason Collett, Wintersleep, Headlights, Playdoe, Dabaaz, Kim, Eric Bélanger, Great Lake Swimmers, St Catherines, Thomas Function, Chad Van Gaalen, Wedding Present, Dominique Grange & Jacques Tardi, Katie Moore, Jana Hunter, Woodhands, Sam Shalabi, Gatineau, Chocolat, Teeth Mountain, Teki Latex, D'Urbervilles, Michie Mee and T. Raumschmiere.
But like any good festival worth its salt, Pop Montreal is not just about booking my personal favorite bands. There's more! There are also Kids Pop, where artists and young'ns can explore the cultural richness of Montreal's arts scene through workshops, demonstrations, and shows. Another exciting portion of the festival is Puces Pop, a sort of hats-off to creating stuff independently. You'll find a craft market, workshops on arts and crafts, a fashion show, and a short seminar on business skills for those of us who are self-employed or who want to be. All this, plus a gear swap and record show! The list goes on with the addition of Art Pop, a celebration of the visual arts that promises vandalism, activism, and -- what I'm really excited about -- cute kitties. There's also the symposium section of Pop Montreal called Talk Music to Me!, with artist-driven talks, interviews, workshops, and more. And Film Pop has Vincent Moon presenting his thoughts on All Tomorrow's Parties, workshops on writing music for films, and -- yes, you guessed it -- more. Last but surely not least, you can catch original commissioned pieces from composers like Socalled, performed live in porn theatre Cinéma L'Amour.
At last now, I will stop drooling over your amazingly sexy festival, Pop Montreal organizers, and let readers know the low-down on attending. Ticket prices are in Candian dollars and are as follows:
Early Bird tickets until August 31st : $175+tx
After August 31st : $225+tx
After September 30th : $275+tx
Pop Pass : $70+tx
You can also get tickets for individual shows. Visit Pop Montreal for more.
"For the first time in eighteen years, Sonic Youth are a full-fledged indie-rock band again," starts a recent article in Rolling Stone. Yes, friends, lovers, delegates, transvestites, people who watch Jon and Kate Plus 8: since the release of Rather Ripped in 2006 fulfilled the group's contract with Geffen -- the major label they've been signed to since 1990's Goo -- Sonic Youth are now apparently heading back to the world of indie (the picture above shows what Sonic Youth look like as an indie band).
So, which label have they decided on? "There’s one label we are certainly going to go with at this point," Thurston Moore told Rolling Stone. "But I don’t think I’m allowed to disclose that right now. I don’t want to risk having a shit storm." He later goes on to say that the "last four or five records we did were just so compromised by that [major label] situation. But that’s the way it goes."
Sonic Youth are currently writing new tunes for their next INDIE album, with the hopes of releasing the new INDIE album next spring. And now that they're back in the INDIE world, you can call them an "indie" without me rolling my eyes. Lucky you!
Catch Sonic Youth at the final McCarren Park Pool show August 30, and then spot Moore at the MBV All Tomorrow's Parties fest at Kutsher’s Country Club in Monticello, NY, where he will perform Psychic Hearts in its entirety.