Friday, January 28, 2005

"If you're a young black guy scrubbing toilets and you see people like Motown artists and James Brown you think, 'Hell, if I make a record like that then I can stop cleaning toilets and I'll get to shag women'.
"So they all had a bash at making records but most of them failed to sell or get noticed. They were tremendous records nonetheless." - DJ Keb Darge, interviewed in this morning's NZHerald. He's playing at The Turnaround tonight only, at the Rising Sun, K Rd, starts 11PM.

Check out this new blog, Phatusers.
"Phucked Auckland Transport Users (P.A.T.U.): share your experiences with the transport systems in Auckland and suggest alternatives for a more efficient and liveable city." Chip in your 5 cents worth.

ADDED: Following on from the U2-branded iPod, check out the new iPod Ashlee Simpson Karaoke Edition...
"Like no other, iPod Ashlee Simpson Karaoke Edition stands out. Virgin white, it features the new Apple Fast-Forward Click Button and, on the flip side, complete how to use instructions. Available for just $349, it comes with enough money to use a pay phone for calling your daddy, your agent or both, when you get caught lip syncing live on national television. We have also included some Kleenex for those special times when your entire fan base realizes you're nothing but a talentless hack." Via iPodlounge.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

This Friday at the monthly Turnaround night (hosted by stellar local DJs Cian, Manuel Bundy and Submariner), you can catch the undisputed heavyweight champion of deep funk, Mr Keb Darge. Hailing from Scotland, Darge has spent most of the past 25 years fighting giant cockroaches in dust-filled record warehouses around the world searching for those rare nuggets he now spins to his global audience of admirers. He’s collaborated on funk compilations with the likes of DJ Shadow, Kenny Dope, Pete Rock and the RZA. His off the hook DJ sets, along with his deep funk club nights have made him into the favourite DJ of the UK’s hottest dancers.
Starts 11pm and goes til daylight, at the Rising Sun, 373 K Rd, $15 on the door. (Stolen from the Turnaround flyer, one of the coolest little reads in the town).

Ghetto Postage outta Toronto has some good ish on the MIA/Diplo "Piracy Funds Terrorism" mixtape, which was released as a teaser/promo for her album due out in late February. I've heard a rumour that she's been dropped by her label XL, something about being too difficult to work with...

"i can't help but feel that the whole M.I.A. project is kind of an effort on the part of a large label to sell "world-y" sounding music to an audience that hasn't really pursued world music up to this point. you can't find any of M.I.A.'s singles at record shops that cater to the underground... M.I.A. confides in a recent interview that she want to be an alternative to norah jones, that she wants her music to be played in the most boring places imaginable..."
GP's take puts forward some interesting points, noting claims that M.I.A. is making UK Garage tunes are well off the mark.

ADDED: A special hello to the person who arrived here after typing tyna robertson ex boyfriend andrew into Google. Nice work. A few other visitors Googled "Starbucks Coffee Terminology" and "Jamaican dancehall porn". Gee.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005


... is the latest film from Ice Cube, and its opening weekend topped the US box office, taking in $US18.5 million. Check the trailer here - Steriogram's song 'Walkie Talkie Man' features on the soundtrack. The video for that song by Steriogram is up for a Grammy Award - its directed by Michel Gondry, who also directed the excellent film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The script is by Charlie Kaufman (Being John Malkovich, Adaptation) and I think it's easily as good as John Malkovich. Check it. But it does feature Jim Carrey, which is okay, cos he's not pulling silly faces, he's acting and he's really quite good. I used to think he was crap til I saw the Truman Show.

Another Kiwi, expat Alan Broadbent is up for his third Grammy nomination in Best Jazz Instrumental Solo, for his jazz recording What's New off the album 'You and The Night and The Music' released by A440 Music Group but there aint even a bio or any news there about his Grammy nomination there, which is weak - BAD record company! (Scratch that - I emailed them and just got a reply apologising for the oversight, and saying they will correct this mistake immediately. Good.)

Broadbent left Aotearoa in 1966 to study at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, graduating in 1969, alongside Howard Shore (who later went on to work as LOTR composer) . Berklee have a handy little press release highlighting all its graduates in this years Grammys (39 in total) - from Melissa Etheridge to Bob James, John Mayer to Mr Broadbent.

"In 1997 Broadbent won a Grammy for his arrangement of “When I Fall In Love” for Natalie Cole. In 2000 he earned his second Grammy Award for best arrangement accompanying a vocal for “Lonely Town”, which he wrote for Charlie Haden’s Quartet West featuring Shirley Horn and strings." He's currently musical director for Mrs Elvis Costello - Diana Krall. Costello is off making an opera based on author Hans Christian Andersen's impossible romance with a Swedish woman. Gee. The Grammys are on February 13th.

'The Tsunami Song' controversy has been spinning round the hiphop blogosphere for a few days now, it's probably gonna hit the mainstream media any minute now. New York hiphop station Hot 97 played it on their morning show... The New York Post has picked up the story... "A popular hip-hop radio show is in hot water over a parody that mocked victims of the South Asian tsunami catastrophe, calling them "screaming chinks" and "little Chinamen." The station's apology is up here.

Jay Smooth has more background over here, plus audio of the incident. "On this tape you hear them introducing the "Tsunami Song," then Miss Jones and co-host Todd Lynn launching into an abusive tirade against Miss Info when she voices her objection to it. Miss Jones finally tells Info she's only complaining because "you feel superior, probably because you're Asian." Then, after Miss Info has said the song is offensive to Asians, co-host Todd Lynn informs her: "I'm gonna start shooting Asians." Yes, he really says that. It's at 3:37 on the mp3."
Have a listen, it's just incredibly stupid. The tune they use is... oh, just listen.

Dubber has some comments from Bomber (a man never short of an opinion!) on the changes going down at Channel Z, as it mutates into Kiwi FM.

"Greg Tate set it off a couple weeks back with his article about hip hop at 30. Now his contemporary Nelson George jumps into the fray with a look back at hip hop's development and 25 moments that defined the music." via Different Kitchen.

ADDED: Vote for Bizgirl at the Bloggies! Via Noizy... "
For some unfathomable reason, bizgirl has made the shortlist for the NZ/Australian section of this year's Bloggies. As far as I can see, Natalie is the only NZ finalist in any of the categories (the rest of the NZ/OZ category short-list is Australian-based). So, yes, if you're feeling all patriotic (and are, in fact, a New Zealander), or are just a bizgirl fan, get on over there and vote."

Monday, January 24, 2005

Gareth has some good reasons not to blog about the Big Day Out, such as...
-If the reader of your blog was there, they already know what it was like, if they weren't then they probably just want to hear that it was bad so they don't feel like they missed out on anything.
- Teenagers are too easy to make fun of - it's like shooting fish in a barrel, so why bother?
But then he adds... "maybe I'm deluding myself - maybe the real question should be: why blog about anything?"

The answer to this tricky question came from that erudite journo Paul Little, in his incredibly witty column on manners in the SST yesterday. He tackled bloggers and their innate need to write endlessly about any tiny thought that comes into their heads. His arguments against blogging were so stunningly convincing that I am sure he sent hundreds, no, thousands of bloggers racing to their computers to delete their blogs. So, all those bloggers out there who think they got it down, leave it to the professionals like Mr Little. Thank you.

Also in the SST, an interview with The Feelstyle (archived here if SST is offline), who released the best local album of 2004 - no freaking contest.

And on the MP3 blog tip, Dubber already beat me to this, but Tofu Hut has a great roundup of some new sources for sound, including NZ's Bigcity, and fine reggae blog Mr Bassie.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Free porn! Free porn!
via Boingboing... PC Magazine's John Dvorak follows up on a column he wrote two years ago about the inexplicable popularity of x-rated search terms in relation to non-porn content.

"My editor, Lance Ulanoff, was shaking his head the other day over the column I had written called "Free Porn." The column, written nearly two years ago, was an exercise in propaganda, done to prove that the use of the word "porn" in a headline would jack up the readership of any column. This was an assertion promoted by my previous online editor, Don Willmott, who revealed the trick to me after looking at years of online stats. He'd used it himself when he needed to pump up his own numbers.
Ulanoff told me that I had to do a follow-up to the "Free Porn" column since it has consistently been in the top readership list since it was published. "It's unbelievable," he said. "Every month it shows up in the list of top page views. It's never at the top, but it keeps showing up." Perhaps it's never at the top because it has nothing to do with porn. Just the use of the word is enough to pump up the numbers. Are online readers so drawn to porn that they aggressively seek it out? No wonder the amount of pornographic e-mail come-ons has been slipping. Why bother with spam? Just set up a porn site and the readers will seek you out." Link.
Wonder what this will do for my site stats? Tee hee.

And hoorah - Radar is back! Unfortunately the Herald haven't got his column online (yet?), which is a shame - he writes at length on his pastiness, and the problems his pale skin presents during the summer months,... "I suspect that not even Queen Victoria's pallid buttocks were as fair as I am, with my skin haviing that shade of pale luminescence that verges on blue." Nice work, there, fella!
So, there we have it - porn and buttocks. What more do you want? Free music? Drugs? Alcohol? Well, go jump the fence at the Big Day Out. Later.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

check the Bubblegum Machine audioblog... "If it's ever been on K-Tel or Ronco, it's in. If it features hand claps, cow bells, syrupy orchestration, walls of sound, wrecking crews, sha-la-las, lyrics about hugging, squeezing and rocking all night long, toothy teen idols or candy-based metaphors for carnal acts, it's in." Someone suggested this is the kind of site John Waters would love. Get the picture?
Also on the musical tip, Locust St features scratchy old jazz tunes -discovered via this story. For more audio blogs, check Tofuhut's list of links, organised by genre, etc. Niceness.

David Thorpe from Something Awful went to his local bookstore and picked up ten music mags for a critique.
"This week, a near-fatal whim struck me. I decided to go to a local bookstore and buy every single music magazine I could get my immaculately manicured hands on.
All in all, I picked up ten magazines representing a wide base of styles and genres. Well, by “wide base of styles and genres” I mean “eight boring white-people rock and roll magazines, one hip hop magazine, and one that seems to be some sort of a death metal magazine. Here’s the full list: Rolling Stone, Spin, NME, Magnet, Pit, The Source, Q, Uncut, Alternative Press, and Filter.
If you’re an astute follower of music journalism, you probably recognize and hold a deep contempt for at least five of those..."

Yes, it's a fun game that you can play too - try this (free) variation. Go to your local magazine shop, count how many music magazines you see, then count how many you would buy.

One for any UK readers, catch "The Fall: The Wonderful and Frightening World of Mark E Smith" on BBC4 on Friday at 9pm. There's a great interview with Mark E Smith at the Guardian's site...

"My grandfather used to stand outside the local prison and hire lads who were coming out to work in his mill,' he replies. 'That's kind of how I recruit musicians. It's like, "You're on bass, so get cracking." Seems to work, mind,' he muses, lighting another fag and taking a long swig of cider. The combination of the fag and the cackle produces a rattling cough, which he deals with by hawking up and gobbing in the ashtray. 'The thing about most musicians,' he continues, oblivious to the aghast looks of our fellow drinkers, 'is that they are not very interesting company. Don't tend to read much. I like to make sure they know from the start that the Fall is a job of work like any other. It's the same deal whether you're playing to 20 or 20,000. Discipline, that's what counts.'" The Fall - 28 years and still going...

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

"In a compact flat amid the bedsit land of Shepherd's Bush, west London, Maya Arul and two cohorts spraypaint stencil designs on to a pile of white-label 12" singles. The logo spells out "MIA", which happen to be her initials, as well as standing for the dreaded war jargon "missing in action", though Arul says it stands for "missing in Acton" (a nearby neighbourhood)..." From the Independent.

They describe her sound as "a mix of Jamaican dancehall and hip hop, though Arul sings in her own distinctive style that takes in Missy Elliott, Jamaican toasters and UK vocalists such as Estelle and Shystie. "People say I'm a musical blotting paper and I like that. I'm a living, breathing mixtape. I like dancehall beats, but because I'm Sri Lankan I have to ride the beats in a more melodic fashion. In Asia, melody is everything."

The lowdown on M.I.A. - real name: Maya Arulpragasam (via Brooklyn Vegan) - she's from London via Sri Lanka, and her song Galang is one of the best things I heard recently. Great interview with her in the New Yorker over here. The Galang video is available online here. Or if you're in LA or NY in early February, catch her live with Diplo on the decks, which should be madness. Her site says she's touring as support for Roots Manuva round the UK late Feb/early March too. (Image from Catchdubs)
ADDED: just got sent this link (cheers to the folk at Flavour) - the brand new video from Diplo, for the Diplo Rhythm, shot in Sth America. Kraftwerk gone Brazilian?

Also via BV... Download more Prince than you know what to do with.
more later...
Been listening to the M.I.A./Diplo mixtape all afternoon, brilliant stuff. It's called Piracy Funds Terrorism Vol 1, more here and a review here. It's long since sold out, but may be getting a re-release as a fundraiser for the tsunami victims in Sri Lanka.

Monday, January 17, 2005

"I don't know if I'd bother going to that Big Day Out."

The weekend papers were full of Big Day Out coverage, my fave slice being Herald writer (and former esteemed editor of Real Groove) John Russell's interview with Judah Bauer from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. Bauer clearly didn't want to do the interview; "my enthusaiasm level for interviews is not high", he said, but he went the distance, noting that interviews are "a necessary evil in the world of art and commerce." Poor guy.
At the end of the interview Bauer fires back a question of his own, asking who else is playing; "no one's told me anything about it". Russell replies, "Well for starters, you've got Beastie Boys, Slipknot, Le Tigre, Hives, Polyphonic Spree, The Streets, System of a Down, The Donnas..." Bauer interrupts. "I don't know if I'd bother going to that Big Day Out".

I saw the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion on their first visit here back in 99, and it was easily one of the best gigs I've ever seen. You know how overseas bands come down here, stroll out onstage and ease into their set cos they're tired and they've come a long way (boo hoo), and hit their stride after 3 or 4 songs? Well, the Blues Explosion walked onstage, Jon Spencer hit his guitar strings to check it was working, then BOOM! They were already blasting along at 100% within two seconds of the first song. Absolutely incredible energy. Definitely worth bothering to go out of your way to see em. Even if Mister Bauer don't really wanna be there.

Simon has added some BDO recollections over here. Free record company alcohol is a slippery slope at the best of times, you might say.

ADDED: Give it up for Rich Harrison.
via Jay Smooth... this tune is seriously funky, not so sure on the vocals, but if I can hook up an instrumental of this, hot damn!

"We shall henceforth refer to it as Rich Harrison "One Thing" (ft. Amerie), because the one thing that matters here is that Meters-on-steroids beat. I kinda wish he'd given this to Yonce or even Mary, cuz Amerie's voice isn't strong enough to carry it.
On last week's show DJ 3D was raving about "Get Right," the new single by Pro Tools Autotune (featuring J Lo). "It sounds like real instruments instead of sound modules, and has an actual snare drum on it!" Turns out this one's a Rich Harrison production too, and luckily there's a bootleg version of with Usher on vocals instead, as noted at Different Kitchen.
So Rich is damn sure the man right now. So far he's leaning towards the post-hip-hop school of R&B songwriting, i.e. "make a beat and then throw some vocals riffs on top of it" instead of "compose a melody/chord structure/lyrics and build around that." But he's got the chops to make it work." Also cop it here.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Bob Marley vs Elvis Presley

Ah, some fresh audio blog madness. "If there's one thing that Elvis knows more than love, son, it's Rasta biznezz. And snacks... a modern mashup of ol' Elvis croonin' the Orioles' 1953 hit "Crying in the Chapel" over the Wailers' 'Satisfy My Soul.'" This is so wrong, but I like it.
Via The Suburbs Are Killing Us - for your listening pleasure - don't sleep!

a few more audio blogs... Deep soul junkie is doing a nice line in New Orleans funk, and Funk you has some good stuff too - check the Deodato tune he discovered while playing Grand Theft Auto! He's also got a tune off DJj Keb Darge's collection Legendary Deep Funk vol 3. Keb Darge will be Djing in Auckland at the end of this month, at the monthly Turnaround night, hosted by Cian, Manuel Bundy and Submariner. Check it!

new toys...
check the Mini Mac, only US$499. Very cool, the Mini is available with either 40 GB or 80 GB drive with up to 1 GB of memory. Just add keyboard, monitor, and mouse.
Beat junkies, check the new MPC 2000 XL MCD, adding features they put in the MPC1000, like Flash card reader etc.
"The new 2005 updated version of the most popular production studio on the market. New features include: Multi-card drive supports: Compact Flash, Smart Media, Memory stick, and Secure Digital; resampling with different bit depth or sampling rate; slice function; timestretch with adjustable presets; internal IDE drive so you can replace floppy drive with a zip drive and more". Tech specs here (pdf format)

Danny Sugerman (Doors alumni/biographer) passed on recently - but check this, he was married to Fawn Hall ("who testified against her former boss Oliver North in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s).
And is this the dirty ol Nick Eynon resurfaced? Or just a pretender?

ADDED: check this assessment of this years Big Day Out from Life of Reilly. Bang on.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

NZ Herald writer Scott Kara has a message for you...
"...Normal people - not just thousands of DJs and wannabe DJs - are buying record players again, or digging out their old turntables and rediscovering their long-lost record collections." Read the full article here.
Amazingly enough, their round-up of turntables doesn't include the Technics SL1200 MK2, the DJ-industry standard and a certified design classic (essentially unchanged since its debut in 1979). Good on em for hipping the masses to vinyl, tho. The world needs more vinyl junkies.

UPDATE: From Playlist magazine (US)
Vinyl's will to survive
"The New Zealand Herald’s article on vinyl’s resurgence as a music format was all the more interesting because it pointed out that the country’s last vinyl record-pressing plant closed in 1987. Still, the country is seeing that many others around the world are also seeing: Digital music can’t kill music lovers’ enthusiasm for vinyl records. The Internet is a godsend for vinyl lovers. eBay is basically a worldwide garage sale, and at online stores like Dusty Groove a shopper can find all kinds of rarities that used to be found in those local record shops that are dropping like flies these days. Digital music is the future, no doubt about it, but old habits die hard, don’t they?"

Nelson George has been out and about... "Last Friday night I went to see an inspired double bill at the Brooklyn Academy of Music -- TV on the Radio and George Clinton & the P-Funk All-Stars." Review here.

Coolfer has a go at the most overblogged bands of 2004...
excerpt... "In terms of music, Danger Mouse was way overblogged. Had the guy never stole the Beatles' music, had he gone the DJ Shadow route and created incredible music with samples from relatively unknown songs, Danger Mouse would deserve the hype. Taking (without permission) the music of the world's most beloved rock band and adding acapella tracks by one of the most popular rappers of our time isn't an impressive feat. It would have been hard to make music people didn't like. The David-vs-Goliath battle that ensued turned him into a cause celebre, and for this he justly received a good deal of publicity... What does 2005 have in store for Danger Mouse? The same thing 1997 had in store for OMC and 1993 had in store for Right Said Fred." Ouch.

Here's Coolfer on Dangermouse appearing in the Rolling Stone's Best of 2004 list...
"Danger Mouse's The Grey Album showed up on two lists, and just like almost every other critic's list I've seen it on, it's the only hip hop album on the list. There's little doubt in my mind that the rock community has embraced the album much more than the hip hop community. It's an indication that rock fans need hip hop to be safe and familiar. The Beatles samples provide all the necessary reference points (read: familiarity) for the non-hip hopper to get his/her feet wet. The political/legal implications/ramifications of the album are also reasons The Grey Album was so well regarded in 2004. They don't make the songs any better, but they offer a critic an easy way to show an opposition to "the man" and "the power" and big ol' greedy EMI."

I think Dangermouse came up with a great way to piss off diehard Beatles fans, and for that he should be applauded. Sure, non-hiphop heads got into it, and it served up the notion of mashups to a wider audience (Don't mention that Jay Z/Linkin Park turd-fest, okay?) and what's so bad about that? If Dangermouse had gone the DJ Shadow route as Coolfer suggests, then he would've been written off by the critics as a DJ Shadow clone, not praised for it. And the dude did it because he was a Beatles fan.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Check out the list of the Official Most Played Alternative Tracks of 2004 - weighing in at number 62, Scratch N Sniff Remix by Dub Asylum! Yay! Also check out Strawpeople's tune The Andy Warhol Effect (cowritten by some guy) at number 14. Niceness.
I;m keeping a low profile gigwise, but catch my crew Bassteppa Sound System at the Raglan Reggae Sunsplash, Feb 5-6, alongside Blood & Fire Sound System, Trinity Roots, Fat Freddys Drop, the Midnights, Roots Foundation and many more.

Hey, check out the trailer for Lee Tamahori's latest directorial effort XXX State of the Union; stars Ice Cube and there's lots of blowing things up, always a good plot device in my book.

Fast food chains are desperately reinventing themselves these days, pitching their wares as healthy and good for you blah blah blah (and good for Sarah Ulmers bank balance, Olympic cracker ho that she is) ... well, here's a burger outfit doing the exact opposite. They are pushing a Monster Thickburger using some well-dodgy ads (more here). The above still is from an ad called 'Fist Girl'. Seriously. Read more at the underground post.

Monday, January 10, 2005

RIP Phill Matthias.
I got my first ever tattoo from Phill, in his studio up the top of College Hill. A friend of mine designed it (kinda Balinese-looking), and Phill dug the design, so he charged me stuff all to do it. I remember thinking that was really cool as I'd saved up a bunch of dosh to get it done.
"He liked the idea of artists becoming tattooists, not drunken bikers ... he helped to legitimise the whole world of tattooing, which was in a dark tunnel for a long time." said Otis Frizzell.
Tattooist and artist Frizzell got his second tattoo from Phill Matthias and later worked at Dermagraphic for nearly seven years. "He taught me the only trade I have ever had. How to be a tattooist and how to be a hustler. How to take on the establishment from the inside, and I have been doing it ever since."
I remember when Phill ran for mayor of Auckland in 1998 - the incumbent was Les Mills, and his main opposition boiled down to dodgy old Christine Fletcher. I was distinctly unimpressed with Fletcher when two of her competiting candidates bowed out and threw their support behind her - one was right-leaning Victoria Carter, and the other was Lynda Topp (of the Topp Twins), a leftie.
Her response at getting backing from the left AND the right? "That's interesting". And that's why I voted for Phill Matthias (and he had a spine, and a brain which he knew how to engage). People didn't vote for Christine Fletcher, they voted against Les Mills, same scenario as the recent mayoral election - people voted against John Banks.

The Kaikoura Roots Festival next weekend has sold out (features Salmonella Dub, Pitch Black Cornerstone Roots, Shapeshifter and one of the final performances by Trinity Roots among the highlights), look out for the same thing happening with the Raglan Reggae Sunsplash, Feb 5th (final gig by Trinity Roots). Don't say I didn't warn you! You can catch my crew Bassteppa Sound System down there too. It's a wicked site, just over the hill from the beach. Dancing to reggae in the sun, grass under your feet, doesn't get much better.

Via Coolfer... On the eve of the opening of Ramones documentary "End of the Century" in London, The Guardian's Alex Petridis talks to Tommy Ramone.

Go Home Productions clever fella Mark Vidler on mashups, from an article in January Wired magazine...
"...Like any self-respecting rule-breaker, Vidler is skeptical about the commercialization of mash-ups, fearing that it might be the genre's death knell. "It's just like punk," Vidler says. "Once you get 'Hurry Up Harry' by Sham 69, it's all over."
Tee hee. Mark has also started a blog, read about his former musical life in a band called Chicane.

Good Q&A with Nas about his latest album, on Yahoo News...
Yahoo: What's next?
Nas: There's so much that I've never done. I love clothes but I'm not excited about getting into the clothing business, I love sneakers but not really excited about doing it. My guys are interested in doing both clothes and sneakers that I might support ... but what I'm really interested in is doing books and I like screenplays and I've written some, so you'll probably see some movies and stuff like that coming from me. Not from the big Hollywood end but on the independent end. I'm a student of filmmaking and not a student of the glitz of Hollywood. So you'll probably see something from me on the independent end and something really different on the novel end of the book level.

Friday, January 07, 2005

via O-Dub.. "Greg Tate hits you with a double-tap in this week's Village Voice. He's absolutely brilliant on both counts: the first being an essay on hip-hop's 30th anniversary and what it means for Black public culture and politics. The other is a review of Nas' new album, which actually ends up touching on many of the same issues as the other essay."

Thursday, January 06, 2005

I got addicted to checking Google News every hour during the Iraq War. Thankfully this addiction has eased off. Russell Brown wrote a good piece on Google News recently in the Listener, worth a look if you missed it.He also backgrounds what comes up most often in their searches, as counted by wellington firm "The first three in terms of top-ranking stories were not too surprising: the New York Times, Reuters and the Washington Post, in that order. But the fourth-placed site stirred some debate: it was China's Xinhua agency. Curiously, Google News often seems to regard Xinhua as a more relevant source of reporting on American stories than it does most American sites."
Also in the Listener this week, following on from their 'Summer of Rock' cover (what about the Summer of Dub? Kaikoura Roots Fest, Raglan Reggae Sunsplash, new releases from Katchafire, Salmonella Dub), the Listener serve up heaps of useful advice for new years resolutions; how to get fit, get rich, get a blog (they call Noizyboy a blogvestite!!! Ha ha), and they tell you how to play the guitar, so you can bash out a few chords when the acoustic is being passed round the campfire. They give you chords and handy diagrams for Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water. Its a cruel practical joke tho (intentional?) - the chords they've given their readers (E,A,B) will let you play Louie Louie or Wild Thing. Smoke on the Water is E,G,A,and A sharp. Rock on, Listener dudes! Turn it up to 11, man.

more lists... Best music writing of 204 by Jason Gross (tip of the hat to Matos) Check the worst music writing list too, Nick Hornby gets a mention...

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

via Coolfer: "The SF Chronicle's Aidin Vaziri is not only a music critic, he's also quite a comedian. Today he has clips from some of the interviews from the past year. Here's a segment from a Q&A he did with Ralph Hutter of Kraftwerk:

Q: Didn't you almost die on a bicycle?
A: No. It was just a very normal fall and a couple days in the hospital. It was nothing to worry about.
Q: Nothing to worry about? You were in a coma.
A: That's how it goes. I just forgot my helmet.

Cream of the crop
via the Guardian's Online team... "With the web still expanding, we have taken the opportunity to ask Online's readers, contributors, and some of the Guardian's journalists to suggest the 100 most useful sites." Heaps of useful stuff.
The Guardian also reports on local press in the tsunami-affected regions "News sites in the worst-hit countries of Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand do all they can to keep up with the unfolding horror and a chaotic relief operation.
A photo gallery on the Phuket Gazette chronicles the enormous task of cleaning up the beachfront at this popular tourist destination.
The paper says: "Most big trash has now been removed, the beachfront street lights are back (but not all the electricity actually), the water is partly back (beachfront shops of course, the rest of Patong always had water and electricity) ... Traffic has been reopened. Few tourists are back on the beach and it gives us hope ... If you want to help Phuket and people living here, come back for holidays!"

Monday, January 03, 2005

Martha Stewart loses design contest in jail. Ha ha.

from Newsday: "We Americans like to think of ourselves as a generous people, but among the world's richest nations ours ranks dead last in terms of development aid as a percentage of gross national product. Still, Americans have an inflated idea of government foreign aid spending. In survey after survey, the median estimate is that foreign aid eats up 20 percent of the federal budget. The real number is about 1 percent, including both military and humanitarian aid."

Or as Stinkzone puts it, "Damn generous Europeans". His reasoning on US aid? "...we help poor countries by invading them and getting rid of stingy leaders and help open them up to foreign business aid. In short, we help countries by helping them to help themselves help us."

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Blogs in the mainstream media end of year wrapup nonsense... David Slack from Public Address gets profiled in the Herald's 2004 for NZers feature. Graham Reid writes up Blogs as one of the Herald's "entertainment events and phenomena of the year in 10 easy steps" (scroll down). Check Graham's xmas post on local musician Bill Sevisi. Ever heard of him? You should have.

"Bill is a local legend whom I had the pleasure of meeting a few years ago at his modest home in Mt Albert. There, in a small room off the garage, Bill has created his distinctive Hawaiian-Pacific music, all coloured by the sound of shimmering steel guitar.
Bill is about 80 now and despite a Queen's Service Medal in 95 and a few other awards he still hasn't been given the popular acclaim he surely deserves.
The music he has created warms your heart and these past few days as drizzle and high winds sank most people's summer holidays Bill's music speaks of impossibly romantic nights beneath palm trees by a silent, moon-kissed shoreline...."

Graham also wrote a delightful piece on another local music ensemble, the Ramblers, who, like Sevisi, have had very little aclaim, despite releasing 7 albums. They played before Dave Dobbyn and Brooke Fraser down the line recently. "By night these guys are roadies and lighting crew, the oil which greases the rock'n'roll machine. But every once in a while they get together and play as the Ramblers. The idea of them forming a band came from promoter Brent Eccles, a former Kiwi known mostly for his career as the drummer in Australian hard rock bands the Angels, Midnight Oil and Pseudo Echo." Thanks to Graham's excellent investigative skills, surely their time has come?

ADDED: Ah, lists... Best of 2004 songs/albums from Sasha Frere Jones; 2004 list with extensive notes from Michaelangelo Matos.