Author Archives: Alan Cross

Handicapping Tonight’s Polaris Music Prize

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

If there's one thing I've learned about the Polaris Music Prize in my six years' of involvement it's that you can never predict who's going to win.

As I write this, eleven men and women good and true have been sequestered in a secret location, tasked with awesome responsibility of declaring which of the ten albums on the 2011 Short List should be named the best Canadian album of the last year.  

And here's the important bit:  the nominees must be judged soley on their artistic merit.  Commercial success, popularity and genre have nothing to do with it.  Which album is a piece of art that should be elevated above all?

Although I'm a member of the Polaris crew--my votes helped determine both the Long List and the Short List--I have nothing to do with this final bit of arguing.  But like everyone else interested in Polaris, I have some opinions and guesses.

The Foo Fighters Stick It to the Westboro Baptist Church

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

You know about these loonies, right?  They're the whacko Kansas bunch who have, er, an interesting intrepretation of the Bible.  

When the Foo Fighters announced their Kansas City gig, the WBC repsonded by promising to picket the band's show because the Foo Fighters teach "fornication, adultery, idolaty and fags."  

Lovely people.

The Foos, however, weren't about to let this go unchallenged.  And they got 'em good.

The Grunge Quiz

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

With the 20th anniversary of Nevermind coming up this week, the New York Times got into the spirit of things

Have iPod Docks and Their Ilk Replaced the Old-School HiFi?

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Bang and Olufsen BeoSound 8It's true.  People are ditching big stereos with honkin' speakers for little things to which you connect your iPod.  And while most people opt for cheaper units, there's a growing number of high-end iPod docks that sound pretty damn good.

But this isn't the case everywhere in the world.  I was asked to be part of an expert focus group at the transmitCHINA conference a few days ago where the manufacturer of a multiroom audio system wanted ideas as to how penetrate the Chinese market.

How People Listen in the Car

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Although these are American numbers--and numbers collected by radio-related companies (Arbitron, Edison and Scarborough)--there's something to be gleaned here.

At the moment, 84% of drivers and passengers say that AM and FM radio is their top choice for entertainment while in a car.  That's comforting for radio group owners.  However...

Spotify Beware: MOG Goes Free – Sorta.

September 18th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

the popular music streaming service, is now available to anyone for free . That's right: no need for a credit card or a paid subscription. Great, huh? Yes - but there's a catch.

I Have Questions

September 18th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

My column from Friday's Metro newspapers:

BEIJING, China — When you’re deep in the bowels of economy class, a 12-hour flight across the Pacific is not pleasant.

I was about five hours out of San Francisco when the hallucinations kicked in. 

As deep vein thrombosis clotted my blood and the Brazilian sleeping pill did something other than put me to sleep, I ended up conducting a question-and-answer session with myself. 

Here’s what I remember.

Peter Hook and Friends in L.A.

September 17th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Moby and Jane's Addiction frontman Perry Farrell joined Peter Hook during a special show in Los Angeles on September 14th. video 1:  More Videos in the post.

transmitCHINA, Day 3

September 16th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

It's raining and Seymour Stein has a cold.  

It could be a lot worse, though.  Charles, one of the local contacts, was able to secure him some kind of unpronouncable Chinese cough syrup with strange restorative powers. Seymour may be 69 years old and walk with a cane, but he's not going to let a little cough get in the way of checking out some of the local talent.

That's why we're in a cab heading to some out-of-the-way rock club somewhere near the Fourth Ring Road of Beijing.  If this city (and by extension, China in general) were to have its own CBGB, it would be this place.

Insurer: Stage Collapse Tragedy Caused By Illegal Downloading

September 16th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

If you read that headline and immediately thought "WTF?" then join the club.

You might remember the story from last month where four people died when a festival tent at Pukkelpop in Belgium collapsed during a severe thunderstorm.  

Naturally, the festival organizers had insurance to cover these sorts of catastrophic things.  So if you're the adjuster assigned to the case, to what would you assign blame?  The tent manufacturer? Those who erected the tent?  Perhaps those in charge of supervising the tent?  

No.  You blame illegal file-sharing.

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