CMU Daily - on the inside Tuesday 3rd April
yesterday's Daily - Daily archive

In today's CMU Daily:
- EMI to drop DRM on digital catalogue
- EC issue charges over access limitations on iTunes
- Brown publicist case thrown out
- Ukrainians angry over drag queen Eurovision contestant
- Furtado dominates at Junos
- Classical Brits nominations out
- Album review: Spank Rock - Fabriclive.33
- Bjork, Lennox, Sufjan pay tribute to Joni
- New Rush album
- Little Barrie single
- Dizzee Rascal album
- Simple Kid wants fans for video
- First acts confirmed for Electric Picnic
- Wireless additions
- Snowbombing sells out
- Smashing Pumpkins dates
- Pigeon Detectives to use Integral support
- Lollapalooza festival to make tickets available booking charge free
- Experimental New York venue to close
- PPL announce clips for podcasts licence
- Victory launch live department
- Virgin launch branded Freeview box to fill in gaps in TV audience
- Live review: Explosions In The Sky at Meacham Auditorium, Norman, Oklahoma
- Dublin church holds U2 service
- Gallagher says bring back hanging
- Stewart and Lancaster to marry
- On Cowell and cushions
- Black eyed Fergie on sex
- Kasabian man has no comment
- Lavigne has no sympathy for Britney

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TOP BIT>>
So, interesting hey? DRM is no more in the world of EMI, providing you're willing to pay an extra twenty pennies per track, which I think I probably would be. And about bloody time too. One down, three to go. And one assumes the pressure is on in the board rooms of Warner, SonyBMG and Universal now that EMI have taken the high ground - do you wait and see how it works for EMI, or do you jump on the bandwagon quickly to avoid potentially being seen as the stubborn enemy of the consumer?

The ins and outs of EMI's "premium downloads" initiative is in the story below, but how about some idle and slightly random observations here in the Top Bit? First up, the price thing. As you'll see, the "premium" downloads EMI will start making available - at a better sound quality and without DRM - will cost twenty pence more per track. It would be interesting to know what negotiations went on behind the scenes with Apple - the haters of variable pricing - with regards the introduction of the new 99 pence a track premium rate. Realistically it doesn't really cost any more to make music available in non-DRM formats or higher sound quality formats (over and above the cost of having to re-ingest the catalogue into those formats), but then again sometimes you only have to be seen to be adding value (ie not really adding to costs of sale) in order to charge more, so that isn't necessarily a problem. And, of course, label execs have, for a long time, said that the 79 pence a track price point isn't sustainable in the long term, so perhaps EMI have found a clever way here to up that price point without being seen to be the bad guy - and, by tying it to the end of DRM thing, with Apple's support.

Though EMI do seem to also have another agenda with the "premium pricing" thing, other than just upping the single track price point - it's also being used to try and boost the sale of albums in the digital domain. We've discussed previously how digital music buyers are much more likely to buy single tracks than whole albums, something that seems to be of increasing concern to artists and labels alike (very possibly wrongly). Apple recently announced its 'complete the album' service, to encourage its users to buy the remaining tracks off albums that they had already downloaded some random tracks off, and now EMI say they will sell full albums as "premium download" for the same price as the current digital album packages - making the purchase of full albums more attractive. In theory at least - it will be interesting to see if it has any effect or whether, as we said last week, it is time to accept that the traditional ten track album package concept isn't likely to survive as digital expands.

Enough idle observations, how about some idle speculation? Needless to say, analyst types have responded to EMI's announcement with the old "why now?" question. It's been expected that the majors would eventually drop DRM for a while, and that EMI may be the first to drop it, but few expected it to happen so soon. Some reckon it's a tactic by EMI, frequently portrayed as the most flagging of the majors of late, since those recent disappointing financials and the dramatic board room cull, to steal the march and be seen as the market leader again (in terms of innovation, rather than turnover or market share, obviously). And in the short term, it might just work. Plus it possibly puts an interesting new slant on the relationship between EMI and Warner - a relationship of late that has centered on how soon the latter will swallow up the former. Warner boss Edgar Bronfman Jnr, often seen as the maverick, is strangely conservative on DRM, and has been one of its biggest defenders. But he'd surely have to stage something of a climb down if he did now takeover EMI, because he could hardly reverse such a publicly popular decision, unless dropping DRM was to turn out to be a disaster for EMI (though even then it would be hard in PR terms to reintroduce it to the catalogue). It won't stop Bronfman from pursuing his EMI acquisition ambitions, but it might messy things up just enough to delay any takeover plans, giving EMI the time it needs to recover financially so that it doesn't enter any takeover talks the complete underdog.

Whatever - I'm rambling. And I've missed the biggest concern here. If the other majors do now follow EMI's lead and drop DRM - what the hell am I going to rant about in my Top Bit? Hmmmm. Why does the live sector charge booking fees on tickets - why don't they just bundle it into the ticket price? That's something I could rant about - though as you'll see, one promoter is already making moves to eradicate that irritation too.

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CMU RECOMMENDS>>

INSOMNIACS BALL
The third Insomniacs Ball will take over London's seOne Club on 5 Apr, with another storming line up of bands and DJs and, this time, ballroom décor and fancy dress. Already on the bill are The Twang, Brakes, Blood Red Shoes, Fear of Flying, The Officers, Goose, These New Puritans, The Longcut, Dandy Wind, Bolt Action Five, Headland, Black Daniel, AHuman, Shakes, Shy Child and Reverend And The Makers all live, plus on the old decks the Artrocker DJs, Marsha (Xfm), Mark Beaumont (NME), Eddy Temple Morris (Xfm), No Pain In Pop, Gavin Nugent, Mekon, Riotous Rockers, Alvin C and the wonderful wonderful Infadels. Tickets are a mere £21.50, with a limited number of student tickets available for NUS card holders at just £15. VIP golden tickets which offer access to an exclusive VIP area are also available for sixty quid. Ticket type stuff can be found at http://www.ticketweb.co.uk, line up info will appear over the coming weeks at http://www.insomniacsball.co.uk, and for press info you need to drop an email to laura@scruffybird.com.

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MYSPACE OF THE DAY: TRADEMARK

Now, I hadn't heard of Trademark until yesterday, when one of our lovely reviewers sent in a glowing review of their upcoming new album 'Raise The Stakes', out 23 Apr. It's possible that you read that review when you read every single word of your Daily yesterday, and already went looking for them on the internet and found this MySpace page. I wouldn't be surprised if you had done that, because I certainly did. And yes, I found their MySpace page and listened to the four tracks streaming there, and was mighty impressed, as I expected I would be, implicitly trusting all of our reviewers opinions on these things as I do. I also noted that they have a number of upcoming tour dates. If I wasn't so busy in the next few days, I'd be at one of them. Plus, and this is the sort of thing that actually wins me over just slightly more than a cracking tune - there's a mildly amusing, slightly self deprecating biog on their top page. Bless.

http://www.myspace.com/trademarkonline

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EMI TO DROP DRM ON DIGITAL CATALOGUE
So, by the time EMI head honcho Eric Nicoli stood up to make his big announcement yesterday lunchtime the gossipers were pretty sure this was going to be a big DRM announcement and not a big Beatles announcement, and they were right. EMI have finally overcome that major label obsession with digital rights management technology and will henceforth make their entire digital catalogue available in non-DRM protected file formats - and hurrah for that because, while there's the slight issue of them charging a premium for the privilege of your music not being irritatingly restricted, it is a pretty big development given that to date, senior execs at all major record companies have refused, publicly at least, to entertain the idea of dropping DRM, even though the case for DRM has become so weak in the last year its continued use was almost becoming comical.

EMI will make so called "premium downloads" available almost immediately. As well as coming without DRM these will also be of a better sound quality to music downloads currently available - possibly because basic MP3s aren't especially great sound quality, possibly because a boost in sound quality justifies the increase in price (sort of, though it doesn't really cost any more to provide digital files of better sound quality once initial ingestion is done). The "premium" price thing means that when the new formats go on sale via iTunes next month (iTunes being the first download platform to start selling the whole EMI digital catalogue without DRM) they will cost 99 pence/129 cents, as opposed to 79 pence/99 cents. iTunes users who have already bought a track in the standard format will be able to upgrade it by paying 20 pence / 30 cents. Despite all that, album packages will be available in the "premium" format at the current price, presumably in a bid to boost the sales of digital albums, the digital sector being very dominated by single track purchases to date.

Making his big announcement in London, Nicoli told reporters: "Our goal is to give consumers the best possible digital music experience. By providing DRM-free downloads, we aim to address the lack of interoperability which is frustrating for many music fans. We believe that offering consumers the opportunity to buy higher quality tracks and listen to them on the device or platform of their choice will boost sales of digital music. Apple have been a true pioneer in digital music, and we are delighted that they share our vision of an interoperable market that provides consumers with greater choice, quality, convenience and value for money".

Responding to questions about the premium price being charged on the non-DRM formats, Nicoli said: "Consumers tell us they would be prepared to pay a higher price for a piece of music they can play on any player", while when asked whether, as many in the major label sector have said in the past, that dropping DRM will aid the growth of online music piracy, he continued: "We have to trust our consumers. We have always argued that the best way to combat illegal traffic is to make legal content available at decent value and conveniently".

As expected, Apple chief Steve Jobs was also in attendance at the press conference, confirming that iTunes will be the first to sell the full catalogue of premium downloads. He added: "Selling digital music DRM-free is the right step forward for the music industry. EMI has been a great partner for iTunes and is once again leading the industry as the first major music company to offer its entire digital catalogue DRM-free".

EMI's decision to make music available without DRM, while not a complete surprise given recent rumours that such a move was being considered at the London based major, is nevertheless a radical development in the digital music sector, where the four major record companies have previously stuck fast to the need for DRM on download sales, despite the interoperability issues DRM poses and the fact an increasing number of execs within majors have been privately criticising the continued use of the technology. It now remains to be seen if EMI's move will force the other three majors to follow suit, bringing to an end the widespread use of restrictive DRM in the recorded music retail space. I suspect that it will. Though just how quickly, remains to be seen.

In the meantime, while iTunes will be the first download platform to make the whole EMI catalogue available in the new formats, 7Digital are already making music from The Good, The Bad & The Queen available as high quality DRM-free MP3 downloads - go http://www.7digital.com/gbq for details.

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EC ISSUE CHARGES OVER ACCESS LIMITATIONS ON ITUNES
As EMI and Apple were in London possibly allaying concerns that have been growing in some European political circles regarding the interoperability issues caused by DRM in the digital music space, European Commission officials in Brussels confirmed they'd sent formal charges to Apple and unnamed record companies regarding another area of concern in the legitimate download sector - the fact that music fans are not always able to choose from all the download stores operating across the European market, rather, in many cases, they only have access to those that operate in their home country - which is a pain for us Brits when UK based download stores are nearly always more expensive than those on mainland Europe.

And that fact is at the heart of this EC investigation, which was kicked off by consumer rights types Which? back in 2005 when they pointed out that iTunes users in Britain, who pay 79 pence per track (about 116 eurocents), are worse off than iTunes users in France or Germany who pay 99 eurocents. And, crucially, British customers are unable to take their business to the French and German services in order to get the better price because access to different iTunes stores is controlled by your IP address - ie, users in the UK can only access the UK store.

Confirming that the European Commission had issued charges in relation to this issue, a spokesman said yesterday: "Consumers can only buy music from the iTunes online stores in their country of residence and are therefore restricted in their choice of where to buy music, and consequently what music is available and at what price".

Apple were quick to respond to the EC action by pointing out (and rightly, if my memory serves me right) that it was the record companies who insisted that access to different iTunes stores was limited by the country where users were based, and that they had originally wanted to launch a pan-European service. A spokesman for the computer firm told reporters: "Apple has always tried to operate a single pan-European iTunes stores accessible by anyone from any member state. But we were advised by the music labels and publishers that there were certain legal limits to the rights they could grant us".

The record companies are yet to respond.

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BROWN PUBLICIST CASE THROWN OUT
The US Supreme Court has thrown out the previously reported sexual harassment case brought by James Brown's former publicist Jacque Hollander against her late former employer. Hollander sought damages of $106 million, having accused the soul star of raping her at gunpoint in 1988, and alleging that the trauma of the incident caused her to develop a thyroid condition, Grave's Disease.

The lawsuit was, of course, originally dismissed back in 2005, due to the fact that it had taken Hollander more than ten years to file a suit. Her appeal contended that she had not filed the suit until the diagnosis of her illness, and its apparent cause, and that diagnosis took place many years after the alleged rape.

Brown's lawyer Buddy Dallas said he was not expecting the Supreme Court to side with Hollander, saying: "When you let years and years go by and you make accusations with no apparent substance to it, why should it be a surprise?"

Hollander, meanwhile, feels that the decision went against her because of James Brown's legendary status as a soul singer. She told reporters: "Unfortunately for this case, I think it was more about James Brown, the Godfather of Soul. It hurts. This whole thing has hurt - 19 years of extreme hurt and pain". She is now promising to concentrate on "writing the truth and revealing the evidence" via book or film.

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UKRAINIANS ANGRY OVER DRAG QUEEN EUROVISION CONTESTANT
Gosh, that Eurovision Song Contest causes a lot of political rows. This time it's in Ukraine, where nationalists in the country have held protests criticising the selection of an apparently controversial drag artist to represent the state at the upcoming song contest, with the protesters saying that their country should withdraw from the competition altogether this year.

The act, Verka Serdyuchka, is apparently a cult icon in Ukraine, a drag queen who pokes fun at middle-aged women. The country clearly like her, because she won the public vote to choose a Eurovision entry by miles, but some accuse her of being vulgar and offensive and feel that her appearance at the event could damage Ukraine's reputation abroad.

The nationalists, who held demos and collected signatures for a petition across the country on Sunday, claim that Serdyuchka is a grotesque stereotype of a stupid Ukrainian villager. Sadly for them, many believe that she's in with a good chance of winning, especially as her fan-base is not restricted to Ukrainians - she's apparently also popular in many other parts of the former soviet bloc.

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FURTADO DOMINATES AT JUNOS
So, it was the Canadian Brits on Sunday, though they're called the Junos, because Canadian Brits wouldn't really make sense, would it? The big star of the night was Nelly Furtado, who won five prizes in total, including Album Of The Year, as well as hosting the damn thing too. Other winners included Billy Talent, who took two prizes, and the Dixie Chicks, who won the Best International Album prize.

Canadian rapper K-os, however, took home no awards despite being nominated in five categories. I don't think he was too impressed with being overlooked, because during a performance of his track 'Sunday Morning' he reworked the lyrics so it went "this show is propaganda". Still, it must be annoying to go to these events being on so many shortlists, and then finding out you're going to win nothing.

Anyway, here's the full list of winners. Actually there's a load more than I realised and had I realised just how many there were I probably wouldn't have published the full list. But I was two thirds of the way through formatting the list by the time I realised how long it was, so it might as well stay now it's done.

Juno Fan Choice Award: Nelly Furtado
Group Of The Year: Billy Talent
Artist Of The Year: Nelly Furtado
New Group Of The Year: Mobile
New Artist Of The Year: Tomi Swick
Songwriter Of The Year: Gordie Sampson

Single Of The Year: Timbaland Nelly Furtado - Promiscuous
Album Of The Year: Nelly Furtado - Loose

R&B/Soul Recording Of The Year: Mysoul Jacksoul
Country Recording Of The Year: George Canyon - Somebody Wrote Love
Rap Recording Of The Year: Swollen Members - Black Magic
Dance Recording Of The Year: Tiga - Sexor
Reggae Recording Of The Year: Korexion - Xrated
Aboriginal Recording Of The Year: Leela Gilday - Sedze

Rock Album Of The Year: Billy Talent Ii Billy Talent Atlantic
International Album Of The Year: Dixie Chicks - Taking The Long Way
Adult Alternative Album Of The Year: Jim Cuddy - The Light That Guides You Home
Alternative Album Of The Year: City And Colour - Sometimes
Pop Album Of The Year: Nelly Furtado - Loose
Francophone Album Of The Year : Antoine Gratton - Il Etait Une Fois Dans L'est
Children's Album Of The Year: Jack Grunsky - My Beautiful World

Vocal Jazz Album Of The Year: Diana Krall - From This Moment On
Contemporary Jazz Album Of The Year: Hilario Duran And His Latin Jazz Big Band - From The Heart
Traditional Jazz Album Of The Year: Jon Ballantyne - Avenue Standard
Instrumental Album Of The Year: Sisters Euclid - Run Neil Run

Classical Album Of The Year (Solo Or Chamber Ensemble): Les Violons Du Roy/Jean-Marie Zeitouni - Piazzolla
Classical Album Of The Year (Large Ensemble Or Soloist With Large Ensemble Accompaniment): James Ehnes/Mozart Anniversary Orchestra - Mozart: Violin Concerti
Classical Album Of The Year (Vocal Or Choral Performance): Isabel Bayrakdarian/Michael Schade/Russell Braun/Canadian Opera Company Orchestra/Richard Bradshaw - Mozart: Arie E Duetti
Classical Composition Of The Year: Denis Gougeon À L'Aventure! - Clere Vénus

Roots & Traditional Album Of The Year (Solo): Stephen Fearing - Yellowjacket
Roots & Traditional Album Of The Year (Group): The McDades - Bloom
Blues Album Of The Year: Jim Byrnes - House Of Refuge
Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album Of The Year: Downhere - Wide-Eyed And Mystified
World Music Album Of The Year: Lubo Alexandrov - Kaba Horo

Producer Of The Year: Brian Howes
Recording Engineer Of The Year: John "Beetle" Bailey

CD/DVD Artwork Design Of The Year: Seripop for cover of MSTRKRFT - The Looks
Video Of The Year (Sponsored By Videofact): Duplex, for video to Sam Roberts - Bridge To Nowhere Duplex
Music DVD Of The Year: Sarah Harmer - Escarpment Blues

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CLASSICAL BRITS NOMINATIONS OUT
Talking of awards, and long lists, the nominations are out for this year's Classical Brits. Much of the press has focused on Sting and Paul McCartney's nominations. But you can scan the full list and decide what interests you for yourself. If nothing interests you, well, hmmmm, what can I say? Sting and Paul McCartney are both nominated, that's kind of interesting isn't it? The awards take place at the Royal Albert Hall on 3 May. Meantime, here are the shortlists...

Singer of the Year
Anna Netrebko - Russian Album & Violetta (Universal/Deutsche Grammophon)
Rolando Villazon - Opera Recital (EMI/Virgin Classics)
Simon Keenlyside - Tales of Opera (SonyBMG/Sony Classical)

Instrumentalist of the Year
Alison Balsom - Bach/Works for Trumpet & Caprice (EMI Classics)
Leif Ove Andsnes - Horizons (EMI Classics)
Nicola Benedetti - Mendelssohn/Concerto for Violin (Universal/Deutsche Grammophon)

Classical Recording of the Year
Berliner Philharmoniker/Sir Simon Rattle - Holst/The Planets (EMI Classics)
LSO/Sir Colin Davis - Sibelius/Kullervo (LSO Live)
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers - Ikon (Universal/UCJ)

Contemporary Composer of the Year
John Adams - The Dharma at Big Sur/My Father knew Charles Ives (Warner/Nonesuch)
Karl Jenkins - Kiri Sings Karl & TLEP (EMI Classics & Sony Classical)
Sir Peter Maxwell-Davies - Naxos Quartets Nos 5 & 6 (HNH/Naxos)

Soundtrack Composer of the Year
John Williams - Munich (Universal/Decca)
George Fenton - Planet Earth (BBC Worldwide & EMI)
James Newton - Howard The Village (EMI/ Hollywod)

NS&I Album of the Year
Alfie Boe - Classic FM Presents (Classic FM & SonyBMG)
All Angels - All Angels (Universal/UCJ)
Bryn Terfel - Tutto Mozart (Universal/Deutsche Grammophon)
Katherine Jenkins - Serenade (Universal/UCJ)
Libera - Angel Voices (EMI/EMI Classics)
Nicola Benedetti - Mendelssohn/Concerto For Violin (Universal/Deutsche Grammophon)
Paul McCartney/Ecce Cor Meum - Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields/Greenaway (EMI Classics)
Sting - Songs From The Labyrinth (Universal/Deutsche Grammophon)
The Fron Male Voice Choir - Voices From The Valley (Universal/UCJ)
The Sixteen/Harry Christophers - Ikon (Universal/UCJ)

Critics' Award
Bryn Terfel - Tutto Mozart (Universal/Deutsche Grammophon)
Freiberg Baroque Orchestra/RIAS Kammerchoir/Rene Jacobs - Mozart/La Clemenza di Tito (Harmonia Mundi)
Rolando Villazon - Opera Recital (EMI/Virgin Classics)

Young British Classical Performer
Nicky Spence - The Scottish Tenor (Universal/UCJ)
Nicola Benedetti - Mendelssohn/Concerto for Violin (Universal/Deutsche Grammophon)
Ruth Palmer - Shostakovich/ Violin Concerto No 1 and Sonata for Violin and Piano (Quartz)

Lifetime Achievement
Dr Vernon Handley CBE

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ALBUM REVIEW: Spank Rock - Fabriclive.33 (Fabric Records)
Don't you just love when bands use edgy sexual connotations for their band name? You know, like Steely Dan, Barenaked Ladies and, ahem, Anal Cunt. Well imagine a band that took the sexual connotations one step further by mixing it up with everyone's favourite geological object: the rock. Spank Rock however, don't have very much in common with spanking (I assume) or rock, or even rock music. They're an American hip-hop group come DJ collective (as I'm sure you all know already, they being CMU favourites) who are following-up their critically acclaimed debut 'YoYoYoYoYo' with their addition to the ever-growing 'Fabriclive' series. Spank Rock's efforts see them mixing hip-hop, dance, indie and electro to house party magnificence. Opening with Kurtis Blow's 'The Breaks' - a peachy slice of old school hip-hop - they then switch styles entirely with their own, darker and more grind-worthy version of CSS's 'Let's Make Love...'. Following this, they treat the listener to a veritable lesson in current party 'must haves', including lady de rigour Uffie and a twisted version of Carioca Funk proponents Bonde Do Role. Slicing up the end with a stripped-down mix of Hot Chip's crowd pleasing 'Over And Over' and the funktastic 'Love To The World' suggests that Spank Rock are definitely more than the stereotypical American hip-hop group; they're a group with soul, a love of mash-ups and by the sound of this, they know how to hold one hell of a party. OS
Release Date: 16 Apr
Press contact: Fabric IH [all]

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BJORK, LENNOX, SUFJAN PAY TRIBUTE TO JONI
Bjork, Annie Lennox and Sufjan Stevens are amongst the artists contributing covers of Joni Mitchell tracks to new album 'A Tribute To Joni Mitchell', out 24 Apr, and they've also added their personal reflections on the singer on a new website promoting the long player and featuring streaming versions of each cover plus Mitchell's originals.

In her entry, alongside her cover of 'Ladies Of The Canyon', Lennox writes: "I pretty much doubt that I would have gone on to become a singer songwriter if I hadn't encountered Joni Mitchell"

Bjork, meanwhile, who covers 'Boho Dance', says something sensible (loath as I may be to admit it): "As I grow older I am forced to admit a very, very sad truth (something I promised I would never do, but...) we are living in a rock white male world and because of this Joni is being ignored while someone like Bob Dylan for instance has become a saint."

See http://www.atributetojonimitchell.com if you're interested.

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NEW RUSH ALBUM
Rush have announced that they're all set to release their first new studio album for nearly five years. It's called 'Snakes & Arrows' and is out on 30 Apr, preceded by a download only single 'Far Cry', on 16 Apr. Here, for your information, is the album tracklisting:

Far Cry
Armor and Sword
Workin' Them Angels
The Larger Bowl
Spindrift
The Main Monkey Business
The Way the Wind Blows
Hope
Faithless
Bravest Face
Good News First
Malignant Narcissim
We Hold On

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LITTLE BARRIE SINGLE
I'm always starting Little Barrie items with a 'hurray'. This is because we like them, here at CMU. So hurray, news of Little Barrie. News of their new single, in fact, 'Pay To Join', out on 7 May. It's the second release from their rather good album 'Stand Your Ground', which was released a couple of months ago. Honestly. Why aren't these guys bigger? Sort it out, God of music.

Those of you with sense might like to check out their appearance at the MERC clothing store on Carnaby Street on 26 Apr at 6pm. Also watch out for some soon-to-be-announced tour dates.

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DIZZEE RASCAL ALBUM
More release news now. Dizzee Rascal is set to release a new album 'Maths & English' on 4 Jun, preceded by a single 'Sirens', out 21 May. The LP apparently features contributions from the likes of Arctic Monkeys and UGK. Press info from XL.

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SIMPLE KID WANTS FANS FOR VIDEO
Simple Kid, aka Ciaran McFeely (he's Irish, you know), is asking fans to contribute to the video for upcoming single 'The TwentySomething'. A message on the musician's MySpace blog asks that fans film themselves singing the track and submit the recordings for his consideration. The entry reads: "videos will be judged using a highly sophisticated logarithm based on how much it makes Simp laugh, cry, cringe or swoon. The best ones will be edited together into one 'TwentySomething ' video. It'll be like 'The X-Factor', 'The Gong Show' and 'Opportunity Knocks' rolled into one". Deadline for entries, 20 Apr.

Simple Kid has a few dates coming up. Here they are:

19 Apr: London Camden Crawl
14 May: London The Scala
16 May: Brighton Komedia
17 May: Bristol thekla
18 May: Nottingham The Social
19 May: Newcastle Academy 2
20 May: Birmingham Bar Academy
22 May: Liverpool Academy 2
23 May: Dublin The Village
25 May: Glasgow Oran More
26 May: Stockton Georgian Theatre

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FIRST ACTS CONFIRMED FOR ELECTRIC PICNIC
Electric Picnic have announced the first acts confirmed for this year's event, and they include the likes of Beastie Boys, Primal Scream, The Stooges, Bjork, The Good The Bad And The Queen, Modest Mouse and The Polyphonic Spree.

The festival takes place at Stradbally Hall in Ireland's County Laois from 31 Aug-2 Sep, tickets on sale as of today.

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WIRELESS ADDITIONS
More additions to the line up for the O2 Wireless Festivals which take place in London and Leeds in June. Perry Farrell's new musical outfit Satellite Party have been added to the bill of the 'White Stripes day' (14 Jun in London, 15 Jun in Leeds) while The Duke Spirit and Polysics have been added to the 'Kaiser Chiefs day' (17 Jun in London, 16 Jun in Leeds).

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SNOWBOMBING SELLS OUT
The Snowbombing dance music in the snow Easter holiday extravaganza thingimy kicks off next Monday in Mayrhofen, Austria with the likes of Get Cape Wear Cape Fly, The Young Knives, Long Blondes, Just Jack, Rumblestrips, Sunshine Underground, Cuban Brothers, James Zabiela, Annie Mac and Rob da Bank on the bill, which is all very exciting. If you have tickets. Not at all if you don't, cos it just sold out. So if you've not got tix you're not going.

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SMASHING PUMPKINS DATES
Following previously reported confirmations that the band are back together, The Smashing Pumpkins have announced their first live gig since 2000 - an intimate set at the Grand Rex in Paris on 22 May at which they will play songs from their upcoming album 'Zeitgeist'. They're then off touring various European festivals, with some UK dates included - they appear at Leeds on 28 Aug and Reading on 26 Aug. Press info from Warner IH.

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PIGEON DETECTIVES TO USE INTEGRAL SUPPORT
Vital's previously reported Integral division, which supports indies on specific releases where they need a more expansive marketing infrastructure (and which has successfully supported releases by the likes of Jose Gonzalez and Enter Shikari), has announced it will be working with Dance To The Radio on the release of the much anticipated debut album from The Pigeon Detectives.

I know this because Dance To The Radio Projects Manager Mick McCarthy just told me this: "The marketing power of Integral has enabled bands like The Pigeon Detectives and Enter Shikari to aim for the top of the singles and album charts. We have been very ambitious at Dance To The Radio and were determined for it not to be a leg-up label. We want to provide a long term future for bands and are proud of what we have achieved so far but we know there is a long way to go and a lot of hard work to do. Exciting times ahead!"

Confirming their involvement in the Pigeon Detectives release, Vital MD Peter Thompson added: "By the end of 2007 The Pigeon Detectives will be known to everybody. The twelve perfect pop songs on their debut album will make them the band everyone loves to singalong to and with a live show to die for the band will be massive. Integral is proud to work with yet another immensely exciting act and looks forward to helping the Pigeons get to the top of the charts and having a bloody good time getting there!"

The album is due for release on 28 May. If you fancy seeing what the fuss is about beforehand, perhaps you could try one of the following live show?

14 May: Sunderland Manor Quay
15 May: Glasgow Oran Mor
16 May: Liverpool Carling Academy
17 May: Manchester Academy 2
21 May: Southampton University
22 May: Cambridge Junction
23 May: London Astoria
25 May: Northampton Roadmender
26 May: Leeds Town Hall
27 May: Leeds Town Hall

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LOLLAPALOOZA FESTIVAL TO MAKE TICKETS AVAILABLE BOOKING CHARGE FREE
Promoters of the US's Lollapalooza Festival, C3 Presents, have announced they will offer tickets for this year's event at a "service charge free price", and that they plan to adopt a similar policy for other music events they produce, including the Austin City Limits Festival and a new country music festival they are planning. Which is a fantastic idea - service and booking charges on ticket sales are always a bit of a rip off - though I'm not sure if the "no service charge" thing applies to every ticket buyer, or just those that use the new "print out your own ticket online" service. Either way, any cut in rip off add on booking fees are surely a good thing.

Confirming the plan, C3 Presents' Charlie Walker told Billboard: "We do a pretty good job of communicating with our customers year around. We didn't want any add-ons; we wanted [fans] to feel like we heard and answered their complaints. It's not a groundbreaking idea, but after listening to our consumers it seemed like the right thing to do."

Early bird tickets for this year's Lollapalooza Festival go on sale today for $165 after which full price tickets at $195 will be made available.

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EXPERIMENTAL NEW YORK VENUE TO CLOSE
Another underground New York venue is due to close because of rising rents - following the much reported closure of one of the city's most legendary rock venues, CBGBs, last year. NME reports that Tonic, an alternative music haunt that has been based on the Lower East Side for the last nine years, will close its doors on 13 Apr, despite attempts by various music types, most notably Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon, to find a way to keep it open.

In a posting on the venue's website, its owners write: "After more than nine years as a home for avant-garde, creative, and experimental music, Tonic will reluctantly close its doors on Friday, April 13th, 2007. We simply can no longer afford the rent and all of the other costs associated with doing business on the Lower East Side. The neighborhood around us has been increasingly consumed by "luxury condominiums", boutique hotels and glass towers, all making the value of our salvaged space worth more then our business could ever realistically support. As a business, we take responsibility for mistakes made along the way. If profit had been our chief motivation we could have changed our programming to something more mainstream and financially lucrative. Instead we were more committed to a certain type of music and loyal to the community that supported us. As a result, we've always just survived but never really prospered".

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PPL ANNOUNCE CLIPS FOR PODCASTS LICENCE
Recording rights royalty body PPL has announced a new deal with commercial radio body RadioCentre which will enable the radio stations represented by the centre to use thirty second clips of music in downloadable podcasts, should they wish too. It's the first move by the royalty body to provide blanket licences for online radio services which involve a download rather than a stream. The thirty second clip licence will operate for a trial period of a year, kicking off this week.

Announcing the new licence, PPL boss Fran Nevrkla told CMU: "We are delighted to work with The RadioCentre and accommodate licences for developing models of radio going forward. This is a non-precedential deal covering the download of programmes to incorporate thirty second music clips and allows radio to evolve further as a growing medium in the twenty first century".

RadioCentre top man Andrew Harrison added: "This is a first for radio in the UK and a significant opportunity for RadioCentre members. In today's changing media landscape, flexible licensing for new media activities is the only way forward to enable us to compete in this fast paced digital world. This deal highlights how rights users and rights holders can work together for mutual gain. Commercial Radio is delighted to be leading the way in this area".

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VICTORY LAUNCH LIVE DEPARTMENT
US independent Victory Records has announced it is launching a touring division, which I guess will work a bit like the live music department UK based Beggars launched in its last rejig, working with its artists to boost touring opportunities. Confirming the new unit to his company, Victory boss Tony Brummel told Billboard: "We're going to book them from the bottom up. We'll take our small, developing acts that are too young to get an agent at a bigger agency, and get them on the road and in front of people. Our job is to be a provider, and by starting this new division of the company we're becoming a better provider in the services we can offer the artist. In a selfish way, that will hopefully separate us from other labels and what they can provide". The new department will be overseen by booking agent Josh Lavey, formerly of Lucky Booking and Face The Music.

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VIRGIN LAUNCH BRANDED FREEVIEW BOX TO FILL IN GAPS IN TV AUDIENCE
Virgin Media is to launch its own branded Freeview box which will be available to people who take the company's broadband and phone calls package but who cannot get / do not want the company's cable TV service. The box will receive all the usual TV and radio channels that come with Freeview, though with a Virgin Media branded electronic programme guide. The move is part of Virgin Media's bid to be able to offer its combined land line / mobile / internet / TV package - the so called quadplay package - to as wide an audience as possible.

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LIVE REVIEW: Explosions In The Sky at Meacham Auditorium, Norman, Oklahoma on 1 Apr
Despite absolutely no promotion whatsoever (so little promotion in fact, that it's not even listed on the tour dates on the band's MySpace profile) this concert has sold out - a testament to the appeal of Explosions In The Sky - Austin, Texas' premier post-rock band. That appeal isn't just deep either, it's wide - there's a huge diversity of people among the audience. Precisely two of whom get out of their seat for support act, The Paperchase. The Paperchase have plenty of energy - they're mining a rich vein of heavy guitars mixed with enigmatic samples and dark lyrics. It's good, but unfortunately the diversity among the audience works against them and any response is muted at best. It's lucky that Explosions in the Sky are here to save the day. Explosions play fragile post-rock, comprised simply of 2 guitars, drums and bass, all fed through multiple effects pedals. Despite their adoption of a shoegaze stage posture, occasionally crouching to fiddle with effects, the band are mesmerising. The audience are absolutely silent and the music provides the perfect backdrop to let your mind gently drift, occasionally jolting you back to reality for a chiming guitar crescendo. Post-rock gigs are deeply soothing, and tonight is no exception - proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that vocals are not the only way to convey feeling in a piece of music. DG

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DUBLIN CHURCH HOLDS U2 SERVICE
A church service using music from the U2 catalogue has taken place at the Anglican St George and St Thomas's Church in Dublin. Around 150 people attended the event, and sang songs such as 'I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For' and 'One'. Organiser Greg Fromholz said: "We're reaching out to the youth. There's a deep Christian message in U2's music".

As previously reported, the idea of the U2charist originated in the US, a service taking place in Baltimore back in Apr 2004. The concept has since been repeated in Australia, New Zealand and the UK. The aforementioned Fromholz thinks that similar services held abroad went a bit too far in the whole worshipping-U2-instead-of-God stakes, however, and says of them: "I think at times they have pushed it a bit too far, using images of the band. We're not doing that at all, we're just using the songs as a soundtrack to searching".

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GALLAGHER SAYS BRING BACK HANGING
Noel Gallagher says he thinks violent offenders should be hanged by the neck until they are dead. What a prick. Sorry, but honestly. This is no time for that kind of regressive eye-for-an-eye type thinking. Anyway, the Oasis star has not just expressed his support for capital punishment, he's also threatened to run for parliament. Christ, no. I bet there's a constituency in this country stupid enough to elect him, too.

Anyway, here's what Gallagher told Newsbeat: "I might stand for election myself, to be honest. I've worked this out and I reckon I could sort out the country in a year-and-a-half. All these violent offenders - you get convicted three times by three separate juries then you're going to the gallows."

He added: "The last three times I voted I believed. I believed in it. But I don't believe in the left or the right or the middle anymore because they all pretty much say the same thing."

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STEWART AND LANCASTER TO MARRY
Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster are apparently going to get married this summer. As I'm sure you'll remember, the pair have a son together, and now, says The Sun, they're planning a secret ceremony on Capri. So if it's true, it's no longer a secret, is it?

A 'source' told the tabloid: "They have found this romantic Italian island retreat and will marry there mid-June. They want it to have a cosy, rustic feel rather than anything too glitzy and the spot they have found is perfect. They're so desperate to keep the plans secret they have hardly told a soul. Half of Rod's family still think it's going to be in France."

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ON COWELL AND CUSHIONS
According to The People, Simon Cowell was recently forced to sit on some cushions so that he didn't look like a shortarse sitting next to Piers Morgan and Amanda Holden at auditions for new reality show Britain's Got Talent. He's apparently 5'9".

The paper quote a source as saying: "Poor Simon looked a bit mortified. He was really embarrassed when they fetched two large cushions for him to sit on. Piers is over 6ft and Amanda is tall for a woman so poor Simon just looked too short in comparison."

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BLACK EYED FERGIE ON SEX
Not sure I particularly wanted to know this, but it might be of interest to you. Black Eyed Pea Fergie has said she's seen a bit of lesbian action in the past. She told The Daily Mirror that she'd based her lesbian role in new Quentin Tarantino film Grindhouse on personal experience. She's quoted as saying: "I have had lesbian experiences in the past. I won't say how many men I've had sex with - but I am a very sexual person."

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KASABIAN MAN HAS NO COMMENT
Kasabian's Tom Meighan has refused to take sides over the Bloc Party/Oasis feud that seems to be going on, which is unusual, because Meighan usually has something to say about everybody. Presumably he was asked about the latest volley of insults from Kele Okereke in the Oasis direction - you'll remember that he called them the "most overrated band of all time" - because he's mates with the Gallaghers, but he declined to get in there and defend them.

He is quoted as saying: "Silly innit? You know what I mean? It all gets a little bit out of hand. I'm learning to grow up, trying to grow up and not comment on this. Let them go to war on it. I'm sure Liam will have something to say about them anyway, I know he will. It's all good fun. I'm not saying anything. You wait, it will be a while. I'll think of something soon. It's all fun."

Oh right. It's not that he doesn't want to get involved. He needs to think about it first. But... I thought he'd grown up...? Oh, colour me confused.

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LAVIGNE HAS NO SYMPATHY FOR BRITNEY
According to The Sun, Avril Lavigne has little or no sympathy for Britney Spears, given her recent troubles. Lavigne is quoted as saying: "What's happened to Britney is all down to who she is as a person. If you want a piece of this business you have to be able to deal with it. You can't complain about pressures, the paparazzi, the madness because that's the job."

To be fair, though, Britney really is one of the most famous people in the western world at the present time. It's got to be a bit of a headfuck.

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