Friday, October 13, 2006

34 years later...
Iggy and the Stooges return to the studio to cut a new record, at Steve Albini's studio in Chicago. Mike Watt blogs it all, here.

sample... " we chow tacos from inside the supermercado down the street, across from the chow pad I shovel from in the morning. it's good eats and everyone digs in except scotty cuz there's queso (cheese) involved and scotty's lactose intolerant, something that came on him w/age. we then fire it up for "sounds of leather" which is another short one but man, has this tune got some winners for words... I mean, I love iggy's lyrics - just as much as his voice and always have but how can you top this:

w/a fuzzy manifesto
you can sell a lotta pesto

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Towering inferno
snip from LA Times, on Tower's closure...

"The first sign I saw that something was wrong with this picture was the sign an employee was holding up in the parking lot of the Buena Park Tower, as I pulled in on Saturday afternoon," said Dave Schmerler, of Westminster. " 'Up to 30% off,' it proclaimed. Already, my hopes for half-off, and then some, were dashed. And that pesky 'up to' had me worried."

On learning that the initial discount for CDs and DVDs was 10%, Schmerler said, "I realized that, even with the 10% discount, I would be paying way more than Amoeba prices. I mean, the average disc price was an astronomical $17.98, so it was still over $16 — before sales tax — per CD! I put back seven and bought one…. I left thinking that Tower doesn't even know how to go out of business properly. No wonder they went out of business."

In a download-happy, file-swapping era, the discreet joys of browsing among record racks and losing oneself in reverie while pondering album cover art ... seem lost on a generation of young shoppers like Marisa, 13, and Teddy Louden, 15, from Mar Vista. They decided to check out the sale in Santa Monica after seeing the placard-bearers, motivated by curiosity rather than brand allegiance.

"I don't really even like to buy CDs," said Teddy. "Usually I just buy songs on iTunes."

Articles title... "A time to mourn, a time to bargain hunt."

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

I saw the funniest thing on the tv news on Tuesday night - an item on a new local boy band (called Boyband - now there's some honest branding) put together by radio station The Edge, who were celebrating their debut single going to number one (live on-air, of course). Warner Music's Chris Guzwell was interviewed, and commented that this success would send a message to local musicians to not take themselves so seriously.

He's also quoted in this morning's print edition of the NZ Herald (the version online doesn't include his quotes) as saying "It's absolutely incredible, a testament to the power of radio..."

The Edge program director Leon Wratt said the competition was a bit of a joke, aimed at NZ Idol. "We felt that Idol was really just getting far too bloody serious on themselves. To get to number one on the charts really isn't that huge an achievement. We bet we could bring five guys together and do the same sort of thing."

As Wratt notes, getting to number one in the singles chart isn't a huge achievement - the CD single is nearly extinct, so 75% of the chart ratings are based on radio play, so it stands to reason that a band started by a major radio station will have no trouble hitting number one. As for Guzwell's assertion that it sends a message to local musos not to take themselves so seriously - the only message it sends is don't take the singles chart seriously.

Sure, Dawn Raid has a heap of gold and platinum singles to their name, but they aint getting paid diddly off of the sales of a cd single.

Boyband are reported to be performing at the NZ Music Awards on October 18 - on the red carpet, outside the venue. So, they'll be the ones with the hat on the ground, busking, then? He he.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

10 Things You Don't Know About Women
Jenna Fischer wrote a piece for September's Esquire Magazine called 10 Things You Don't Know About Women "... So [she] decided to celebrate it with a recital from the guys at The Office ... filmed entirely on [her] phone. " (Fischer plays Pam Beesly on The Office, US version).
Ah, Youtube rules. The US version of The Office is starting here on tv sometime soon, or you can just rent it from the video store. TV is dying out.

Taxi gang

hat tip to Different Kitchen... "another of Exclaim! mag 's extremely thorough timelines, this time on reggae production legends Sly & Robbie."

Tower Records goes into liquidation...
Check some of these headlines... Music shoppers mourn fall of Tower Records (Chicago Sun-Times), Tower Records to be liquidated; 3,000 are expected to lose jobs(Seattle Times), RIP Tower Records (Pitchfork), Tower Records RIP (Blogcritics) and this one Good riddance to Tower... quote: "I used to “dumpster dive” one of Tower’s locations in Seattle and, good grief, these people acted like they’d never heard of recycling…and in Seattle, an environmentally-conscious place. Furthermore, the amount of pornography these stores were pumping into the world was amazing..."

And keep an eye on Google, rumours are they're about to buy Youtube for US$1.6 billion.
UPDATE: Sale has been confirmed, immediately adding US$4 billion to Google's market value. Unreal.

Indie booksellers in the age of the internet

(from Boing boing) "Cory Doctorow: Interesting AP story about how indie bookstores are faring in the age of the Internet; I worked for indie bookstores in the late 80s and early 90s and love to patronize them, love the knowledgeable clerks, quirky shelf-reviews, lovingly curated recommendation sections. The business model is plainly, books for people who love books -- not "sell the end-caps for this week's extruded blockbuster product."
Gary Kleiman, who owns BookBeat in the northern California community of Fairfax, decided the way to do it was to get rid of the clutter and make his store a gathering place.
"We had 10,000 or 13,000 books in the store," said Kleiman. "Now we have maybe 1,500." Last fall, Kleiman gave all but a handful of his used books to charity. Then he tore down shelves and in their place put tables and chairs and a small stage for live performances. He started offering free wireless internet access. And to help convince people to take advantage of it all he got a beer and wine license.
As for the books, most of the ones left are new and they're confined to the perimeter walls. While he's selling about the same number of books as he used to, new books are selling better. And his store has a lot more customers -- eating, drinking and listening to music -- than he did before. About 60 percent of the store's profits come from the cafe.
Kleiman's drastic move after six years of business is in large part the result two things he came to understand about the internet.
The first was that there were just too many used books online and they were just too cheap -- far cheaper than he could afford to sell them.
The second was that for all the talk about the speed of ordering books online, he could be faster. "I can order today and they will be here tomorrow," he said -- one reason customers choose him instead of the internet.
(Wired) Link

 In case you missed it, Pauly Fuemana about his music plans,... to quote that famous rap poet LL Cool J, "Don't call it a comeback, I been here for years.." And the article online ends mid-sentence, just as it appeared in the paper. Sigh ...

How bizarre: Pauly is back SUNDAY , 08 OCTOBER 2006 

 It was a bizarre line, a bizarre song and a bizarre time. Pauly Fuemana went from rags to riches and back. Now the voice of The Otara Millionaires' Club tells Tony Wall he's on the way up again.

In 10 years Pauly Fuemana had a worldwide number one hit song, made more than a million dollars, fathered five children, lost his mother and his brother and was declared bankrupt. Now he's back.

 A decade after How Bizarre stormed to the top of the charts in New Zealand and eight other countries, Fuemana has again teamed up with the song's co-writer, Auckland producer Alan Jansson, for what the pair hope will be another successful album by the Otara Millionaires' Club (OMC). Fuemana's story is a remarkable one. He rose from poverty in Otara to co-write one of the most instantly recognisable pop songs of the modern era, and enjoyed all the trappings that went with it: meeting the likes of Cher and the Spice Girls, going to the Grammys, riding in limousines.

The record sold four million copies, making Fuemana at least $1.5m. He travelled the world promoting the album, but around 2000 he tired of it and returned to New Zealand, where he disappeared into life as a "house dad" on Auckland's North Shore.

 Then the royalties for How Bizarre started to dry up. According to the liquidator of Fuemana's company, his and wife Kirstene's "lavish lifestyle had not contracted when the royalties began to diminish". The company collapsed owing $91,000 to creditors; their bank made them sell their Birkenhead house.

Then in June, the final insult: Fuemana, in his mid 30s, was declared bankrupt. Now renting in Beach Haven, Fuemana broke years of media silence in an exclusive interview with the Sunday Star-Times. He admitted he had been "a little bit stupid" with his money at times, but denied he'd blown his fortune.

"If you're talking about us giving money to funerals and stuff like that as blowing our cash, then yeah. I gave to my sister and brothers, at least 150 grand. "I bought my brother Phil a Range Rover and my sister a BMW... because they were at the bottom of their glass, they were struggling. I said `here, have some money'. "I wasn't gonna sit around and say, `hey man, I've got all this money and I'm gonna leave my family out'. That's not the Kiwi way man."

 He wants to repay his creditors. "I've gone to an auditor... he explained to me I need to do this and that, and I'm doing it.

 "I'm not the type of person to run away, I'm not going to take off, I'm actually gonna try." A lot of royalties were absorbed by record company expenses, something he was not warned about. 
"They (Polygram, now Universal) didn't tell me about it, only at the end, eh. They turned around and said I had to pay 50% (of tour costs). I'm like, eh?" But if there is any bitterness about the way his career was managed, Fuemana doesn't show it.

To him, those heady years from 1996 to 2000 were an incredible adventure. "I'm from Otara and I got to see Italy and Spain and Germany. To play at the Supper Club in New York and the Whisky a Go Go in LA. It was like a dream come true."

He also has some wild rock'n'roll stories, such as the time he did an "All Blacks tackle" on a man in San Francisco, sending him through a plate glass window. The man had called him and his entourage "sheep shaggers". "Unbeknown to me he was the head of some record company, Universal or Polygram or something. They sent me a bill for the window."

 Fuemana is scathing of the way records are made in the US."I went to these studios and there were like three guys in there doing the same job that Alan (Jansson) does. Fifty thousand American dollars later I'm like, `what does he do?' `What's he doing?' I call them studio zombies." After the death of his mother Fuemana lost the will to tour and returned home.

Then last year his big brother Phil, the South Auckland record producer who had helped launch his career in 1994, died of a heart attack. Although a sad time, it was also what brought him back together with Jansson.

Fuemana has written about 60 tracks over the past six years, while Jansson has honed his studio skills.They have laid down eight tracks, including a heartfelt song about homesick Kiwis called For All of Us, featuring Lucy Lawless.

It shows a more mature side of the How Bizarre kid. It will be released early next year on Jansson's new label Newco Music Manufacturing, a label which aims to give creative control back to the artist.That appeals to Fuemana.

 "I'm in no rush, we're just taking our time on it. I think if we rush it now we're just gonna get wasted out there. If we take our time and get it down right, I think we're gonna make it; I think we're really gonna kick some butt out there."

 He is not worried that he will probably be remembered for the one song, and says it amazes him how many people loved it, and still ask to hear it. "I'm proud of where How Bizarre has gotten us. Without How Bizarre, I don't think I'd be where I am today, I don't think my kids would have what they.