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Favourites for the 2012 (Yes, 2012) Mercury Prize

September 8th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

PJ Harvey hasn't even cashed the £20,000 cheque for her 2011 win for Let England Shake and already the British bookies are taking wagers on who will win next year.  Some of these albums aren't even out yet, fer crissakes.  

Here's what they have so far:


A Musical Salute to Star Trek

September 8th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Forty-five years ago today--September 8, 1966--NBC debuted a new science fiction show its creator called Star Trek.  (Quick, Star Trek Faithful:  What was the title of that first episode?  The answer is below.)

This means it's been 45 years of The Shat.  Although he'd been a working actor for years, William Shatner didn't really arrive until that Thursday night in 1966.  And he's never gone away.  

In fact, he continues to thrive.  Has he ever starred in a TV show that's been a dud? (Okay, other than $#*! My Dad Says...)

Even his horrible musical endeavours are the stuff of legend.

Here, then, on the 45th anniversary of the debut of Star Trek, here are some of the Shat's greatest music hits.


Free Sloan Singles Collection

September 8th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Sloan.  They're such nice boys.  

As part of their 20th anniversary celebration, they've made a singles collection available.  I quote:

"Our intent is for you to share it with your music-loving friends.

"Of course, if any of you do not already have these songs in your collection, then please help yourself to the album!  GO AHEAD!  IT'S OUR TREAT!


The Flaming Lips’ Latest Project: A Six Hour Song

September 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

And for $100 US, you can have your name included in the lyrics.  Let me explain.

The Lips have never been afraid of trying different things.  I mean, how many bands would make an entrance on stage through a giant vagina ("No," Wayne Coyne told me, "It wasn't based on my wife's bits.")

Then there's the giant hamster ball (see picture at left), the Zaireeka project, the Christmas on Mars film, the Headphone Concert, putting blood in the ink for concert posters, the Boombox Experiment, their remake of Dark Side of the Moon and so many other wacky things.

The latest thing is the recording of a six-hour song.


Weekly Music Sales Report – 07 September 2011

September 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

After a wretched summer, the fall (aka make-it-or-break-it-time for labels and music retailers) got off to a very good start with sales spiking up 18% from the last week in August and a full 8% better from the same week last year.

Although year-to-date sales remain flat, this bodes well for the rest of 2011.


You Gotta Hand It to Amanda Palmer…

September 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Photo by Ashleigh HaddadShe's hardly a mainstream success, but she's managed work the post-CD/post-major label angle better than most.  Palmer has successfully tapped into crowdsourcing for funding for various projects, often raising an astounding amount of money and almost always more than she budgeted for.

Her latest collaboration with a tour with author Neil Gaiman entitled "An Evening with Neil Gaiman & Amanda Palmer."  Using a start-up helper company called Kickstarter, Palmer and Gaiman hoped to raise $20,000 to stage a tour of the American west coast


Despite a Leak, Lil Wayne Moves 964,000 Copies of Tha Carter IV in the US

September 7th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

That's an astounding number.  In fact, it's so close to miraculous that Lil Wayne might find himself beatified by the end of the week.

A #1 debut with 964,000 copies makes this the second-highest first-week sales figure of the year, behind only Lady Gaga's Born This Way.  It's also the biggest number posted by a hip-hop artist and by any male performer in 2011. 

And let's not forget that the Gaga number was boosted by Amazon.com, which sold Born This Way for a mere 99 cents a throw.  Estimates are that somewhere are 440,000 copies were sold this way, which makes Lil Wayne's achievement all that more impressive.


Exclusive: Peter Hook on Joy Division and New Order

September 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

For a founding member of Joy Division and a key part of their glorious proto-Goth, proto-industrial, pre-indie-rock-everything miserabilism--and after pouring millions down the toilet known as the Hacienda club--bass player Peter Hook is a remarkably cheerful and affable guy.  

Then again, if you're going to survive through everything those two bands did, it does helpif you have a sense of humour.

When he called, Hooky was at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam awaiting a connection to China where he was booked to DJ a couple of gigs in Beijing and Shanghai.  We had a chat about how he's carrying on the legacy of Joy Division.


New Releases This Week

September 6th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

After a dreadfully dull summer (Jay-Z/Kanye, RHCP and Beyonce notwithstanding), it's time to ramp up for the Christmas shopping season.  The fourth quarter is make-it-or-break-it time for record labels and music retailers.  Here's what's new in the stores today.



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