In 1996, Richard Branson started V2 Records. Branson had already dabbled in record label creating and selling when he sold Virgin Records to EMI for $804 million in 1991; so, in 2002, he sold V2 Records to Morgan Stanley and again, in 2006, V2 Records North America to Sheridan Square Entertainment. Over the years, V2 Records acquired quite the roster of artists, including The White Stripes, Grandaddy, Moby, Bloc Party, and The Blood Brothers -- that is, until January of this year, when Sheridan Square let go their staff and made their artists free agents in order to focus on its back catalog and digital distribution (TMT News).
By this time, 95% of V2 was owned by New York City investment bank Morgan Stanley. In August, however, Morgan Stanley finally sold V2 to Universal Music Group for roughly $14 million (a deal that the UK's Office of Fair Trading is currently investigating). And now come the after effects. The first major sign of the acquisition came just a couple days ago -- on Halloween of all days! -- when Universal Music Group closed down V2 Records London with a plan to align the label with UMG's Mercury Records. This means that some of the 50-member staff will still have a job, but only if they're lucky to get absorbed into Mercury. It's still unknown what kind of effects to expect on the smaller V2 affiliates and smaller artists, if any, but a UMG acquisition always seems to come with extra baggage.
It's interesting to think about what V2 had going up until this point. One major appeal was its label licensing network, which represented Wichita Records, Bella Union, City Slang, and others (UMG has promised to keep up this network, by the way). Additionally, V2 Records didn't really appear to be hurting at all before the acquisition; in fact, it was doing fairly well. The new UK chart-topping sensation The Stereophonics are signed to V2, along with other artists such as Ray Davies and Paul Weller. Factor in the back catalogs of The White Stripes and Moby, and you just wonder why the acquisition and why now?
Nonetheless, V2 Records will now be kicking it underneath the new ownership of Universal Music Group. But will the acquisition be bad for the label when all is said and done? That's yet to be determined.
When it comes to curing writer's block, I've tried everything: reading those who inspire me, writing in the voice of other writers, doing extensive free-writes, drinking to the point of incapacitation, searching my soul, screaming, crying, sleeping, etc.
On this dark and gloomy day, my assignment was to review the Found Magazine 2007 tour. I walked aimlessly around campus, the fog hanging low, my Styrofoam cup of coffee long since cold. Crisp leaves and paper cups danced along the cement in the wind, like in that desperately sappy scene from American Beauty. Among the debris, a piece of paper looking worse for ware fell dormant at my feet, and I recalled some parting words from the Found Magazine show by founder Davy Rothbard:
I hope the rest of you will be inspired to take that one second to pick something up when you see it laying there, to see if it's something interesting... Cause notes like these move and effect me so much that they make me want to pick up every piece of paper I see floating down the street or blowing down the alleyway...
So, I reached to pick it up.
Is "ironic" the word that I'm looking for? Perhaps "serendipitous." I'm not sure -- I still have writer's block -- but regardless, what I found in my hands was a blessing from the deadline gods: The rough and barely legible (yet excusably usable) notes of the very event I was meant to review.
Behold the found, god-sent rubbish (click to enlarge):
11.03.07 – San Diego, CA – Cream 8 pm
11.04.07 – Los Angeles, CA – Skylight Books 7 pm
11.05.07 – Long Beach, CA – Open, 2226 E. 4th St, 8 pm
11.06.07 – Los Angeles, CA – Hammer Museum 7 pm
11.07.07 – Los Angeles, CA – Largo 8:30 pm
11.08.07 – Tucson, AZ – Main Library 12 noon
11.08.07 – Tucson, AZ – Club Congress 7 pm
11.09.07 – Albuquerque, NM – Guild Cinema 8 pm
11.10.07 – Tulsa, OK – Coffee House on Cherry Street 8 pm
11.12.07 – Kansas City, MO – Screenland 8 pm*
11.13.07 – St. Louis, MO – Mad Art Gallery 8 pm*
11.14.07 – Lexington, KY – ArtsPlace 8 pm*
11.15.07 – Indianapolis, IN – Big Car Gallery (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
11.16.07 – Ann Arbor, MI – Michigan Theater 8 pm*
11.17.07 – Pittsburgh, PA – Future Tenant (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
11.18.07 – Columbus, OH – Chop Chop Gallery (2 shows! 6 pm & 8 pm)*
11.27.07 – Pontiac, MI – Clutch Cargo's 8 pm
11.28.07 – Grand Rapids, MI – (details TBA)
11.29. 07 – Charleston, WV – The Empy Glass 8 pm
11.30.07 – Asheville, NC – The Grey Eagle 8 pm*
12.01.07 – Durham, NC – Manbites Dog Theater (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
12.02.07 – Richmond, CA – Firehouse Theater (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
12.03.07 – Atlanta, GA – Push Push Theater (2 shows! 7 pm & 9 pm)*
12.04.07 – Birmingham, AL – Workplay 8 pm*
12.05.07 – New Orleans, LA – (details TBA)*
12.07.07 – Houston, TX – Aurora Picture Show 8 pm
12.08.07 – Nacogdoches, TX – Millard's Crossing 7 pm
12.09.07 – Austin, TX – Alamo Drafthouse (time TBA)
12.10.07 – Dallas, TX – The Public Trust 8 pm
12.11.07 – Oklahoma City, OK – Galileo Bar and Grill 8 pm
12.12.07 – Lawrence, KS or Nashville, TN – TBA
Quick — what’s the first thing you envision when I mention the word “Australia”? If you’re anything like me, you’re imagining a land where summer comes in January, where water goes down the sink backwards, and where koalas go snorkeling with Nick Cave before retiring to a local Outback Steakhouse restaurant for a lively barbecue cooked up by friendly dingoes.
It’s true that Australians do enjoy some of these phenomena, but let’s look beyond the stereotypes and funny animals. It’s not just Christmas at the beach and Kylie Minogue for our Aussie friends -- they also appreciate a nice, quiet evening with Duluth, MN slowcore legends Low. The band will cut an icy swath through the sunny cities of Australia, with two special events as part of the Don’t Look Back series of concerts, sponsored by UK indie festival promoters All Tomorrow’s Parties. The Don’t Look Back series presents seminal artists playing landmark albums in their entirety, and Low will be performing their 2001 release Things We Lost in the Fire (TMT Review). This is clearly exciting enough on its own, but just to make things even more incredible, the band’s final performance of its southern hemisphere tour will be held in something called “The Famous Spiegeltent.”
In Australia with Low:
01.11.08 – Melbourne, AU* - East Brunswick Club
01.12.08 – Melbourne, AU - East Brunswick Club
01.14.08 – Fremantle, AU - Fly by Night Club
01.16.08 – Brisbane, AU - The Troubadour
01.17.08 – Sydney, AU - The Famous Spiegeltent at the Sydney Festival
01.18.08 – Sydney, AU - The Famous Spiegeltent at the Sydney Festival
01.19.08 – Sydney, AU* - The Famous Spiegeltent at the Sydney Festival
* Performing Things We Lost in the Fire
Jimmy Page’s Finger Postpones An English Rock Band’s Reunion Concert… Awww, Awww, You Gonna Cry?? Little Baby Gonna Cry??
Sure to go down as one of the funniest moments in rock history, Led Zeppelin's proposed reunion concert has been postponed from November 26 to December 10 because Jimmy Page broke one of his fingers. What, playing basketball? Putting up drywall? OLD AGE? Nope. Rumor has it the little digit broke when Page was trying to teach Jason Bonham (John's son) the drum solo for "Moby Dick" -- specifically, after one moment when Page yelled "Booyakasha!" (SNAP). He was initially taken to the hospital due to the extraordinary amount of tears streaming down his face.
"I am disappointed that we are forced to postpone the concert by two weeks," said Page in a statement. "However, Led Zeppelin have always set very high standards for ourselves, and we feel that this postponement will enable my injury to properly heal, and permit us to perform at the level that both the band and our fans have always been accustomed to. [REALLY SUCKS THAT MY FINGER BROKE, THOUGH]."
The five fingers of human anatomy tracklist:
Apologies are definitely unnecessary. It's unknown which exact Decemberists member is sick, but we're crossing our fingers for that person anyway. Please have a speedy recovery!
Reports are streaming in from multiple sources that claim Linda Stein, former manager of The Ramones, has been found dead in her Fifth Avenue apartment in New York. The city's medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, as Stein was found with multiple contusions to the head and neck. Police are claiming no visible signs of forced entry or break-in, and some of her closest friends are baffled.
Elton John reported to The New York Times that he is "absolutely shocked and upset," while friend (and co-manager) Danny Fields said, "I don't have a lot of friends in their 60s who are hit on the head in their chic apartments. It makes no sense."
Stein is credited with bringing The Ramones to the UK for their breakthrough show, which paved the way for other seminal punk bands such as The Clash and The Sex Pistols. Following her stint with punk artists, she garnered fame as the "Realtor to the Stars," working as a real estate broker for Madonna, Sting, Billy Joel, Angelina Jolie, Steven Spielberg, Bruce Willis, and Michael Douglas. She was 62.
There's a fantastic Betty Boop cartoon from 1932 called "Minnie the Moocher." It features Cab Calloway singing one of his most memorable songs, "Hi-Dee-Ho." I know, Betty Boop is gross, and I almost can't stand to look at her. There's something about this particular episode, though, something unsettling and oddly unnerving about it; Max Fleischer's cartoon stays with me. This, along with "Betty Boop in Snow White" from 1933, which also features another uniquely smooth yet raucously enjoyable song from Cab Calloway, are perfect shorts to watch for Halloween. In the 1933 cartoon, Calloway sings "The St. James Infirmary Blues," and it is really something to see. Both are fantastic, but "Minnie the Moocher" has a solemness, a darkness that undercuts the whole thing; this isn't your normal cartoon.
In a lot of ways, both are music videos. The plot is almost pointless, or if not pointless, certainly unimportant. The beginning shows an obligatory set up, and when you get through the Betty Boop scenes, you're rewarded with fantastic music and nonsensical and oddly creepy images. Yet even in these more "realistic" parts (a talking gramophone, what!?), Betty Boop is abused, she contemplates killing herself in song, and she writes the saddest, sweetest, most ominous letter I've ever seen in animation:
Dear Ma & Pa-
I'm leaving Home because
you're not so Sweet to me. I
won't ever be Home again.
Poor Betty Boop. "Home Sweet Home" is a nice touch, really, and she's off to meet Bimbo. They run off and it gets dark and they get scared. Ironically, they pick the darkest, largest tree to hide in, and that's when this seven-minute short earns its keep.
If I have my history right, this is an early example of rotoscoping, a technique of drawing or painting over a live action filmed image. So the dancing ghost is Cab Calloway's own patented shuffle, and in some ways, that makes it even more terrifying. The song is performed call-and-response, and when the skeletons at the bar call back, I think I could listen to them all day. The skeletons die -- skeletons die! Their ghosts come back and look up from the bottom of a well like souls lamenting, heaving up the better part of a death rattle.
The response team shifts to ghosts in a jail cell. They walk through the bars, uncomfortably close to the frame, and walk back, but they still need a ghost guard to let them out. And he does, but he leads them to electric chairs and fries them. Ghosts. Who knew Betty Boop was so startlingly creepy? Over all of that, though, is the friendly animation, the sheen of a cartoon for kids, and that is really where the horror is. It's mostly absurd, but with echoing human voices bouncing through this cave, knowing that Betty Boop is still on Earth, with Hi-Dee-Ho swirling around; this is a thrill to see.
My point is: You can watch it. Online. Halloween is over, sure, but that hasn't stopped me. The quality isn't great, but you can find it on BitTorrent and get a great version with better sound. As P2Ps die down, torrents are the future, but that hasn't stopped our court system from being several steps behind everything. They are only now deciding how Kazaa and Grokster will filter out copyrighted content. According to the Wired blog:
On Wednesday, Judge Wilson issued an Order to a court-appointed expert to determine the best combination of the following methods for filtering unauthorized works out of peer-to-peer systems: artist/title information, file hashing, and acoustic fingerprinting. If the expert has better ideas, he's welcome to include those too -- whatever combination works best on the Morpheus network. The arrived-upon method could become a legal precedent applied to other user-driven sites and networks.
In the meantime, torrents are everywhere. Software, music, movies, and whatever else is being digitized. You just need to know where to look, because eventually the courts will be several steps behind these, and you just might not have moved to the next delivery method of awesome Betty Boop cartoons from the 1930s. Watch it!
From WTMT News:
Nirvana Song “Breed” Finally Licensed, Kurt Cobain Rolls Over in His Grave, Dave Grohl Writes a Lame Song About It, Krist Novoselic Does… Nothing
Well, well, well. It’s finally happened. You might want to avert your eyes, purists and Kurt-worshipers. The shaggy, legendary man that you loved for giving the underdog the benefit of the doubt within the heretofore (and here-ever after, some might say) insidiously clueless and utterly tasteless music industry has finally completed his post-death transformation, rising from his singer/songwriter ashes to becoming a pawn of the Man (and much more quickly than Jimmy Page, too).
So if you’re a Kurt-Freak (i.e., do you call him by his first name all the time?), prepare to be slightly humiliated and/or mortified, as Nirvana's "Breed" will officially be the first (oh, but probably not their last) song from their catalog to be used in advertising. And I bet you’ll never even GUESS who’s indirectly responsible!
That’s right: earlier this year, everyone’s favorite widower Courtney Love, who owned the vast majority of the rights to Nirvana's back catalog, up and sold 25% of it to the Primary Wave Music Publishing company for a reported $50 million. Word is she needed... groceries.
Now the fiendishly good-fortuned organization, reportedly one of the most aggressive groups acquiring music publishing rights for licensing (TMT News), and also apparently one of the most tactless, have done-saw fit to sell use of the track "Breed" for an Austrian Telecom ad (hey, Kurt was nothing if not a masterful communicator, right?), the videogame Major League Baseball 2K7 (and we all know how much Cobain advocated professional sports), and of course the upcoming film Shoot ‘Em Up (hmm, I wonder if there’s any shotgun suicides in that movie).
So there you have it. I guess you just can’t beat big business, no matter how many hideous sweaters and Daniel Johnston t-shirts you wore in life. Oh, and in case you were wondering; finance-related website portfolio.com reports that Publishing companies can earn between $10,000 and $300,000 for a song's use in a film and between $5,000 and $40,000 for use on television.
That’s a lot of groceries.
Somehow, every time RTX gets within a 50-mile radius of where I am, I'm busy. It's like the cosmos conspiring against me. I mean, how awesome is Jennifer Herrema? She's one of those ladies who seems to do whatever she wants and doesn't come across like a fucking idiot in interviews (TMT Interview). I bet her vocal ripperage is totally awesome live. Hopefully I won't have to go and visit my 90-year-old grandma this time (no diss, 90-year-old grandma).