“A Load of Bollocks”: Virgin Media On Net Neutrality, Customers, Fairness, Children, Puppies

The industry news mavens over at TorrentFreak continue to drop jaws, this time with a story on Virgin Media's new outspoken CEO Neil Berkett. The man has made no secret of his lust for money and disdain for flowers and candy by literally scoffing at the very concept of net neutrality, a concept saying all data carried over the internet should be treated the same, leaving no preference to higher-paying websites or corporations. In an interview with Television magazine, Berkett called this idea "a load of bollocks" (and then proceeded to gut the stuffing from a teddy bear).

Instead, he was proud to announce that Virgin had already begun to speed up traffic for specific, deep-pocketed "media providers," who likely also supply him his nightly glass of lamb's blood. According to the article, Virgin Media boasts 3.5 million users countrywide -- a number that is likely rising rapidly -- and due to high volume traffic can't support the stress of all the added bandwidth. The very public slap in the face is highly disheartening to evil, heartless users of file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent, which makes large-sized transfers as easy as a couple of clicks.

To them, Berkett says "phooey," but he decided to cast his net a little wider and call out the BBC as well. With his cross-hairs on their popular iPlayer service, the seething CEO lashed out at all public broadcasters, noting that if they did not pay a higher premium for speedier service, they would be designated to "bus lanes." This process, known as throttling, has recently come to worldwide attention when it became clear that mega-giant ISP Comcast had been throttling many of its users when it noticed high-volume activity, with no inquiry into the legality of the bandwidth being used. Still, as Virgin Media has made clear, you pay for a service and they dictate how you use it.

“A Load of Bollocks”: Virgin Media On Net Neutrality, Customers, Fairness, Children, Puppies

The industry news mavens over at TorrentFreak continue to drop jaws, this time with a story on Virgin Media's new outspoken CEO Neil Berkett. The man has made no secret of his lust for money and disdain for flowers and candy by literally scoffing at the very concept of net neutrality, a concept saying all data carried over the internet should be treated the same, leaving no preference to higher-paying websites or corporations. In an interview with Television magazine, Berkett called this idea "a load of bollocks" (and then proceeded to gut the stuffing from a teddy bear).

Instead, he was proud to announce that Virgin had already begun to speed up traffic for specific, deep-pocketed "media providers," who likely also supply him his nightly glass of lamb's blood. According to the article, Virgin Media boasts 3.5 million users countrywide -- a number that is likely rising rapidly -- and due to high volume traffic can't support the stress of all the added bandwidth. The very public slap in the face is highly disheartening to evil, heartless users of file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent, which makes large-sized transfers as easy as a couple of clicks.

To them, Berkett says "phooey," but he decided to cast his net a little wider and call out the BBC as well. With his cross-hairs on their popular iPlayer service, the seething CEO lashed out at all public broadcasters, noting that if they did not pay a higher premium for speedier service, they would be designated to "bus lanes." This process, known as throttling, has recently come to worldwide attention when it became clear that mega-giant ISP Comcast had been throttling many of its users when it noticed high-volume activity, with no inquiry into the legality of the bandwidth being used. Still, as Virgin Media has made clear, you pay for a service and they dictate how you use it.

Microsoft Fucks Consumers Again, Ditches Support for Its DRM

Microsoft has announced it will soon no longer provide support for music purchased from its now-defunct music store. According to an email from MSN's Entertainment and Video Services general manager:

As of August 31, 2008, we will no longer be able to support the retrieval of license keys for the songs you purchased from MSN Music or the authorization of additional computers. You will need to obtain a license key for each of your songs downloaded from MSN Music on any new computer, and you must do so before August 31, 2008. If you attempt to transfer your songs to additional computers after August 31, 2008, those songs will not successfully play.

Which means: if you bought music from the MSN Music store (which of course came with some good ol' DRM), then you will have to either own the same computer and operating system for the rest of your life or lose all the digital music that you actually paid for. You could get around this by burning CDs of everything you downloaded and then ripping them into a playable format, but is this really the way Microsoft wants to treat their customers? Can you imagine someone trying to play music on Windows XP 10 years down the line?

Wonder what would happen if Apple stopped supporting its FairPlay DRM. Yikes. If you're 20 and purchasing tons of DRM music, either you should be thinking of a backup plan or you have tremendous faith in big companies.

RZA Loses Himself in the Music, the Moment; To Release Digi Snax as Bobby Digital Then Tour as Bette Middler

What is it with rap stars and their alternate personalities? Sure, it might actually be all Ziggy Stardust's fault, but hip-hop has taken the Clark Kent complex to another level, with everyone from Eminem to T.I. taking on their own Tyler Durden-style alter ego in an effort to flash their rough and tumble side. Garth Brooks was also Chris Gaines in a failed album and movie project, while T.I.P. reared his mischievous head right before Clifford got pinched for possessing more biscuits than an Al-Qaeda summer camp. Slim Shady wanted to impregnate a Spice Girl, and Madlib has more names than Texas polygamists have under-aged wives, going by Quasimoto, The Beat Konducta, Ahmad Miller, Malik Flavors, The Bad Kid, and Joe McDuphrey, just to name a few. Daniel Dumile, or MF Doom, also responds to Zev Love X, Viktor Vaughn, and Metal Fingers.

The RZA will not be outdone. Ten years after first introducing his Bobby Digital "persona," the artist formerly known as Bobby Steels has joined forces with so-called "rapper graveyard" and independent distributor Koch Records to release Digi Snax, a brand new album. The mention of snax piqued Doom's interest, and maybe he'll start showing up for concerts again. RZA -- er -- Bobby will set out on a tour with funky bunch Stone Mecca who also contribute to the record.

Ten bucks says he still answers to Ruler Zig-Zag-Zig Allah:

Gnarls Barkley Release The Odd Couple For Free, But It’s Reversed and The Whole Album Is Only One Track

Everyone knows about Radiohead's "music industry revolution" with In Rainbows (TMT Review), but did you know Gnarls Barkley has decided to release The Odd Couple for free as elpuoC ddO ehT? But here's the catch: it's now over a month since the album's original release, and the free version is backwards. So, what's the deal Gnarls Barkley? Why release an album for free a month after its regular release? For fun? I suppose it could be one of those "why the fuck not?" things, and it's not too surprising that it's Gnarls Barkley doing it. But it's also good marketing. Obviously, anyone with access to an audio program could reverse and split up the tracks to play like the regular album. And, of course, this could all be done for free -- all you have to do is give some private company some personal information!

- Conclusion Using A Horrible Pun [Version One]:

If Gnarls Barkley are serious about innovation, it's a clumsy attempt. But if they're just fuckin' around and givin' away the album for free because it's good marketing, then they really are an "odd couple."

- Conclusion Using A Horrible Pun [Version Two]:

If Gnarls Barkley are serious about innovation, it's a clumsy attempt. But if they're just fuckin' around and givin' away the album for free because it's good marketing, then they really are "crazy."

You can download elpuoC ddO ehT here.

Polyvinyl Records Sez: Asobi Seksu, We Totally Get You

My first encounter with Asobi Seksu wasn't exactly direct, nor was it particularly favorable. Sitting with my legs crossed on a none-too-clean couch, talking to a hardcore show promoter, and most likely listening to Failure or Quicksand at an earsplitting volume (the host had an affinity for such things), I realized that an acquaintance of mine had taken to careening around the room and announcing the same two words over and over. Problem was, I couldn't quite make it out. Like I said, shit was loud. I did, however, gauge the reaction of those who caught his message, and the responses generally ranged from raised eyebrows to, in extreme cases, running in the other direction. The Acquaintance had made a name for himself at the last gathering by prompting the purchase of a new couch cushion, for reasons unknown to me, but I had a feeling they were in the category of "unpleasant." His mere presence tonight was obviously questionable, and the fact that he was seemingly trying to spread some sort of gospel was not going over very well. Finally, I pulled The Acquaintance aside and said, "Dude. You're like, two proclamations away from a head-first ejection. What's your problem?" He looked at me wildly and exclaimed "ASOBI SEKSU! ASOBI SEKSU! THESE FUCKERS. NEED. TO LISTEN TO ASOBI SEKSU. WHY ISN'T ANYONE LISTENING? THEY KEEP TALKING ABOUT THE NEW HARVEY MILK, AND I AM JUST TIRED OF IT. YOU HEAR ME? TIRED OF IT."

In related news, Asobi Seksu have signed to Polyvinyl Records, home to other artists like of Montreal, Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, Joan of Arc, and XBXRX (who may also inspire the disturbing brand of exuberance described above). The New York-based shoegaze enthusiasts have been sharing their ethereal, sunny sound with the rest of the world for the past two years, and as a homecoming gift, their third studio album will be recorded this summer under the care of Polyvinyl, which suits them just fine. Asobi Seksu were previously recording with Friendly Fire, while One Little Indian will keep their overseas duties.

Guitarist and songwriter James Hanna: Homecoming gift #2: 2006's Citrus will be reissued on Polyvinyl as well, most likely bearing the label's signature meticulous packaging and detail. “I couldn't be happier to be working with Polyvinyl. They are such a well-respected label and have a great sense of post-punk, DIY ethics. Yuki [Chikudate] and I are both huge record junkies, so the fact that they are super into high-quality vinyl releases with such creative packaging is exciting." Polyvinyl co-owner Matt Lunsford is obviously really fucking upset about signing this shitty band, saying, ““We have been enamored with Asobi Seksu for a long time, but seeing them play live was an epiphany. I felt like I might need to peel myself off the wall after their set." Ooh... something tells me he and The Acquaintance should hang out.

My Bloody Valentine Announced as Headliners for ATP New York on My Fucking Birthday

P, I swear on Thurston Moore's grave, if this is a joke, I quit.

Instead of writing a cohesive story about ATP New York and its lineup, I will simply retype the text messages I sent once I was clued in, with explanation if needed:

9:42 PM: ATP IS COMING TO FUCKING MONTICELLO (Monticello, NY is known only for its status as an impoverished vestige of the Borscht Belt, its overabundance of exploitative casinos... and one incredibly creepy topless bar.)
9:44 PM: AND MBV ARE PLAYING, HAHA LONDON (This is the first time My Bloody Valentine have played a show in the United States in 16 years. Yes, haha, London. You thought you got them all to yourself.)
9:49 PM: oh my god and built to spill playing all of perfect from now on PERFECT PERFECT AHH (This one is pretty obvious, I think.)
9:52 PM: wow and shellac + thee silver mount zion + low + mogwai = exploding brain of heaviness (...)
9:54 PM: and i am going to eat thurston moore's FACE (Thurston Moore will be performing Psychic Hearts in its entirety.)
9:56 PM: yeah i hope we can get off work for three days and i hope i can get a press pass because uh wow no single day passes, that blows (ATP New York requires total 3-day commitment, and only 3,000 passes will be sold.)
9:59 PM: actually maybe if i tell the publicist that it's on my birthday and somehow bat my eyelashes via email this will work (The dates are September 19-21 <=== That is my birthday. The last one, I mean. My birth did not take three days. My mom would not be speaking to me if that were the case.)
10:03 PM: just in case can you go to the website and check? my boss likes to pee a lot sometimes and he has to walk past my desk so it's awkward when he sees me minimize everything that is not actual work (Tickets go on sale this Friday, April 25, here.)

O great initial lineup, I am not worthy:

Dirty Projectors Sign with Domino Records Because They Are White, Recording Two New LPs

Domino Records sure knows how to rope 'em in! Home to artists like Animal Collective, Four Tet, and Clinic, Domino has recently signed Dirty Projectors, according to Billboard. Who next? Radiohead??

The follow-up to Rise Above (TMT Review) is expected next year. Actually, I should say follow-ups, as Billboard is reporting that Dave Longstreth and co. are "preparing two releases at once, one of which will constitute its Domino debut in early 2009." So, who will get the other album? Marriage Records? Dead Oceans? Western Vinyl? Man, must feel nice to be white and have so many choices!

& Battles

Merge Records Set to Release Conor Oberst Solo LP

Cutie patooey Conor Oberst, best known for fronting the not-sellout band Bright Eyes and for looking good, is releasing his first solo album in roughly 13 years via Merge Records. Recorded in Mexico and produced by Oberst and Andy LeMaster, the self-titled (of course) release will feature a "special band" known as The Mystic Valley Band, who will surely have a little less brightness and a little more mystique, if my inside sources are to be trusted.

Conor Oberst is expected August 5. Oberst's first three solo releases were released on cassette, so if anything, this new Merge release is an indication that this boy is going places. I suppose that's what you get for having a flawless nose.

Conor Oberst tracklist:

Subtle Tour, Ready New Album + Graphic Novel, Make Funny Pictures, and Generally Do Not Live Up to Their Name

Attention all other musical acts: Independent hip-hop innovators Subtle are about to make you look like a bunch of lazy slobs, based on the fact that they will be dropping the following items on us, much to our delight. Ahem:

1. A new album! Ah-doy. ExitingARM comes out May 13 on Lex Records, promising to be the most accessible Subtle record yet. Yeah, that's what they all say. Except they seem pretty serious about all of this, so I wouldn't fuck with them. Subtle specialize in making music that's equal parts beautiful and credible, IMHO, so let's get our hopes up, shall we?
2. An online graphic novel. In case you haven't noticed, the graphic novel has total status these days, so feel free to correct anyone who jabs you for reading online comics. They're graphic novels, GOD! The Ought Almanac of Amassed Fact Vol. I accompanies the new album, and you can read it here.
3. A possible show on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, featuring the collaborations of Subtle frontman Doseone and animator Ghostshrimp, with Doseone lending his vocal chops. Doseone also animates "NOTgarfield" with the help of bandmate Jeffrey “Jel”” Logan - check it.
4. A tour is a tour, of cour ... that didn't work at all: