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TODAY'S NEWS

Indie labels meet to discuss Pinnacle collapse

Woolworths slash prices
Hudson family murder suspect appears in court
BBC sound of survey announces longlist
Boy George found guilty
Leona Lewis has fastest selling digital track
Flea to join Faces, says Ronnie Wood
Bon Scott film in production
Winehouse studies available at Scottish university
Single review: Jesse Rose feat. Hot Chip - Forget My Name (Dubsided)
The Boy Least Likely To release Christmas single
Weezer release Christmas collection
New Lily Allen video
Fleetwood Mac tour
Deer Tracks album set for UK release
New Vessels video
School Of Seven Bells announce new single
Morrissey announces UK shows
I Like Trains begin tour
Girls Aloud to support Coldplay
Album review: The Silt - Cat's Peak (Fire Records)
Union Square launch new division
Sulaco launches
New Note and Proper announce distribution alliance
EMI launch special Tap Tap game
SonyBMG sign up to Qtrax
Piracy plugin made to accompany Amazon MP3
ISPs promise to be clear about net speed claims
Viacom to axe 850 jobs
OfCom to revoke KCR-FM licence
Exec shifts at GMG Radio
Graham Norton will present Eurovision after all
Akon gutted about Jacko track
Spears not ready for comeback
Baseball star cheating on Madonna
Gallagher on stealing Beatles songs
ON THE NETWORK...
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Same Six Questions
CMU Directory
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FRIDAY 5TH DECEMBER

CITY REVERB
Eminent producer and DJ Chris Coco's new project City Reverb are readying themselves for the long-awaited release of their album 'Lost City Folk' on 2 Feb by playing the CMU Christmas Social on 9 Dec alongside ex-Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall.


 

Gratuitous plug over, City Reverb are tipped for the top, with an album that meets you as a wall of intoxicating, atmospheric sound which Chris himself describes as "robot-soul". They were booked up throughout 2008 playing festivals including Glastonbury, Bestival and Green Man.

It's possibly going to be the best CMU Social ever, on 9 Dec (more info here). As we weep with joy, have a look at Chris Coco and vocalist, guitarist, keyboardist and shroomist Micky Buccheri's answers to our Same Six.

Q1 How did you start out making music?
Chris Coco: When I was a kid, my dad helped me block a small stream on a sandy beach. I was fascinated by that unstoppable flow. When I grew up, I couldn't stop the music entering my head like that stream entered the sea. I had no particular skill or ability but early drum machines and samplers helped me translate my ideas into real sounds.

Micky Bucherri: I'm a typical art student turned musician. I wanted to create something that could elicit a direct emotional response, something that's very difficult to achieve in art. But music has that - I soon became obsessed with making it.

Q2 What inspired your latest single?
MB: 'City Of Lights' is an escape fantasy. A while ago I suddenly found myself landed with some huge responsibilities whereas previously I had none. This song is me enjoying the idea of walking away from everything and to hell with the consequences. I guess music is just like that, albeit only for the duration of the song. The line "I was alone" isn't sad, it's a celebration of freedom. 'City Of Lights' is out now, the next single 'Central Heating' is out on 26 Jan.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
CC: It's a long process. 'City Of Lights' once had an incarnation as a glam rock tune, for example. Thankfully this phase was short-lived.

MB: I'll share some ideas, lyrics or music, with someone I'm working with or vice versa and that's when things get interesting. Most of the time spent on a song is on the arrangement - that's what makes or breaks a great idea.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
CC: Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp.

MB: I admire artists who are on a personal journey, driven by their own curiosity or passion rather than any passing trends. Artists like Velvet Underground, David Bowie or Beck.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
CC: Simply, enjoy. Or, more complicatedly, give it a few listens because there's a lot of love in there and it takes a little time for you to feel it sometimes.

MB: Listen to the first half of the album on a Saturday night and the other half on Sunday morning.

Q6 What are your ambitions for your latest single, and for the future?
CC: The plan is simple, to be able to make another record and carry on doing what we love for a living. You can't ask for more than that.

MB: Obviously I hope the single is well received. But in the longer term, I think the time for making pretty wallpaper is over. Music needs to engage people again. Historically, an economic downturn usually signals a creative resurgence. So, I for one am hopeful for the future.

MORE>> Add yourself to the free CMU Social guestlist: social@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk, Listen to the band on MySpace: www.myspace.com/cityreverb

 

VIGSY'S CLUB TIP: La Bomba Xmas Party at seOne Club
Underneath the arches of London Bridge lies the SeOne club - a club which used to house the legendary Warp parties in the 90s - and which this weekend plays host to La Bomba, a showcase which specialises in Latin dance. Room one is all about the reggaeton: contemporary Latin music that mashes reggae and dance hall into salsa and all things of Latin origin, sometimes with a bit of hip hop thrown in for good measure. This reggaeton room will be headlined with a special live appearance from DJ Kazzanova from NYC's prime Latin FM station La Kalle, making his UK debut, with London's top urban Latin DJ Squad, Jose Luis, Sami Sanchez (Black Market Records) and DJ Loco in support. In the Salsa Room you get salsa, merengue and bachata sounds run wild with Julian Mr. M, Edwin Salsa and Chino. Be aware dress code is casual but stylish and ID is likely to be requested for those young lookers.

Saturday 6 Dec, seOne Club, Weston Street, London, 10pm-6am, £10 adv and £15 on the door, info Line 0208 222 8106, press info Jo at Phuture Trax, www.la-bomba.co.uk

 

 



Don't forget you can now check out CMU favourites old and new on CMU-Tube, our online music video service powered by MUZU.

Set up your own MUZU channel, select tracks from the MUZU catalogue, and embed your own MUZU Player on your own website or blog - simple. Sign up here.

 

 

NO. 4: JAMES IHA AND TWIGGY RAMIREZ
Hey! It's the return of the column we're really going to have to stop calling "occasional" if we keep on getting this many entries. After tackling a much-loved pop icon last week, this week we have a double whammy, with a reader being told to fuck off by not one, but two pop stars at the same time. Pretty good going, I think you'll agree...

"I was lucky enough to win a Kerrang! competition in 2004 to watch Deftones at Wembley side stage and meet the band prior to the performance. Being a huge fan of both Deftones and The Smashing Pumpkins, I was naturally thrilled at the opportunity to meet not only Deftones, but also James Iha of The Smashing Pumpkins as he had recently joined A Perfect Circle, who were supporting. Whilst doing the meet and greet with Deftones back stage, I saw James out of the corner of my eye at the other side of room. None of the other 20+ competition winners had recognised him, so I strolled over alone and introduced myself, told him I was sorry to interrupt but was a huge fan and would be very grateful if he could sign a CD for me".

"If there had been a crowd of people I could have understood, but being the only one, you would not think that 30 seconds to sign one CD was too taxing. I was obviously very wrong. James, along with his APC bandmate Twiggy Ramirez (formally of Marilyn Manson fame) told me, 'Fuck off, I am way too busy for this shit, I'm going to get a beer' and purposely bashed into my shoulder as he walked off, closely followed by Twiggy behind him who did the same. Smashing Pumpkins have never quite sounded the same to me".

Has a pop star told you to fuck off? Tell us your story by emailing peaceandlove@unlimitedmedia.co.uk

 

 

Here we go everybody, it's time for the CMU Track Of The Year vote update. Thanks for all the votes that have been submitted already - if you haven't voted, well, do so now. Just email us your favourite track released this year and a couple of sentences saying why you love it to 2008@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk. We'll be featuring some of your votes so far here in the Daily each day until w/c 15 December, when we'll announce the overall top ten and let you vote a second time, for your favourite from that list. Here's today's votes...

Attic Lights - Never Get Sick Of The Sea
In a year where the phrase "indie landfill" applies to so many guitar bands, Attic Lights came along with something genuinely different. The opening track to their debut album packs more warmth, emotion and kick-ass poke than a lot of established bands could muster this year. With firm nods to The Beach Boys and Teenage Fanclub, these guys from the sun-kissed beaches of, er, Glasgow set their stall out with melodic, intelligent rock music. The singer's got a great voice and they do the business live too. There's clearly something interesting going on here, and it's well worth hunting down their cover of Kirsty MacColl's 'They Don't Know'.
Gerry Gallagher, Bravado Retail & Licensing, Universal Music Group

Death Vessel - Bruno's Torso
Stand-out track from one of the most inventive and downright magical albums of the year. Young Joel Thibodeau - responsible for those gloriously androgynous vocals - calls upon bluegrass, americana, acoustica and even jazz across the breadth of this record, but it's 'Bruno's Torso' where all the pieces fall spectacularly into place. Light brushes of banjo, the odd cornet blast and suddenly you've got a fitting tribute to Zach Condon or Devendra Banhart and a brand new king of the nu-folk world.
Matt Brown, Stay Loose

If you haven't already, get your vote in. Just email us your favourite track released this year to 2008@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk.

 

 

INDIE LABELS MEET TO DISCUSS PINNACLE COLLAPSE
The UK indie sector amassed on the HQ of the Association Of Independent Music in West London yesterday to discuss the implications of indie distributor Pinnacle going into administration. Of concern to the labels which used the services of the distributor are both unpaid revenues and unsold stock still in Pinnacle's possession.

About sixty labels attended the meeting, along with mechanical royalty collecting society MCPS, iTunes and a representative from Pinnacle's digital management partner Consolidated Independent. Corporate insolvency specialist Philip Flower was also in attendance to offer advice to those who face losing owed revenues, and who have valuable stock sitting in the Pinnacle warehouse.

By all accounts there was a sombre mood at the gathering, though Cooking Vinyl MD Martin Goldschmidt told Billboard: "It's a horrible time but the meeting was very productive". One big issue was the offer made by Pinnacle's administrators regarding the return of indie labels' stock. They are asking for 10p per unit plus payment of a storage fee for the return of CDs and DVDs currently in Pinnacle's possession. Labels who face losing up to three months of sales revenues due them from the distributor aren't very happy with that offer.

Goldschmidt told Billboard he was owed payments for October and November as well as a part payment for September. Asked how much of those monies he expected to see, Goldschmidt said he could only speculate, but that it could be just pennies per pound owed.

In a statement to the media this morning, AIM boss Alison Wenham said: "It is quite clear that this is an extremely serious situation for the labels caught by the sudden collapse of Pinnacle. The meeting this morning was conducted in the presence of a barrister, Mr Philip Flower, who is a specialist in corporate insolvency. He has been able to provide the labels with excellent advice on their options with [Pinnacle's] administrators BDO Stoy Hayward".

She continued: "In the run up to Christmas everyone is acutely aware of the need to move as quickly as possible to resume trading and to restore confidence in the retail market. AIM will continue to advise labels on both an individual and on a collective basis to ensure that losses are mitigated, and trading can recommence as quickly as possible. In the meantime, AIM has received many offers of help for the labels affected. It is a unique feature of the independent sector that, in troubled times, competitors can take steps to help each other out. We are sure that, although this is bad news, the effect on labels can and will be minimised as much as possible by the support of AIM and the community".

Despite Pinnacle's 94 employees having been made redundant, the aforementioned BDO Stoy Hayward say the company is continuing to trade and they are looking for a buyer. Many of the labels affected, however, are already looking for alternatives.

Goldschmidt says he hopes he can help labels other than his own through his other company Essential, which offers sales, distribution and marketing services to indie labels. Although Essential has in the past used Pinnacle to actually sell and distribute physical product, Goldschmidt says they have already put a new distribution deal in place with Cinram, a major distributor who distribute Warner Music's product amongst others things. Meanwhile, in order to offer the kind of independent music sales expertise that Pinnacle would have once provided, Essential has set up a new sales division that will launch later this month, headed up by Lance Meade, formerly Sales Manager for Sanctuary.

Explaining why Essential had already put deals in place to circumvent Pinnacle from its distribution offer, Goldschmidt concluded: "We had anticipated this [Pinnacle going under], we just didn't think it would happen now, we thought it would happen next year".

Finally, what about the 94 staff of the collapsing distributor? They are reportedly angry at the way they have been treated, with some claiming little was communicated to them about the firm's situation until an unknown man in a suit came in and told them all to sign a form, hand over their mobiles and the keys to the company cars, and to go home. Happy Christmas everybody.

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WOOLWORTHS SLASH PRICES
Elsewhere in companies going under news, Woolies is to hold its biggest sale in history as administrators Deloitte try to turn as much existing stock into cash as possible. All entertainment products, including CDs, will be discounted, though it's thought the biggest discounts will be on toys and greetings cards where there'll be up to 50% off, which is good news for parents looking to fill their kid's Christmas stockings. Unless they're the sort of prepared parents who did all their Christmas shopping in June.

As previously reported, when Woolworths and sister distribution company eUK went into administration last week concerns were expressed across the entertainment retail sector, including by those retailers not supplied by eUK, because of fears this kind of price-slashing sale would follow. It's not clear just how big the discounts on CDs and DVDs will be, but it could put the pressure on other high street entertainment sellers like HMV and Zavvi who may now not be able to compete on price on the big mainstream sellers stocked by Woolies, hitting them hard during the crucial Christmas period.

Some are even speculating that the Woolies/eUK debacle could take Zavvi down. A combination of delays in getting key stock into store (eUK was its supplier), the temporary suspension of their website (because it utilised eUK's services) and a high profile price cutting pre-Christmas sale across the street in Woolies could, some say, take the former Virgin Megastore to the brink, and maybe over it. Though it should be said some of those more pessimistic commentators had predicted Zavvi would fail from the minute it separated from the Virgin Group, and actually the retailer has so far done quite well in its first year as an independent entity. Still, I think it's fair to say these are challenging times for Zavvi.

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HUDSON FAMILY MURDER SUSPECT APPEARS IN COURT
William Balfour, the man suspected of killing singer Jennifer Hudson's mother, brother and nephew, has appeared at a hearing in Chicago in connection with the murders. The estranged husband of Hudson's sister Julia, investigators believe that Balfour shot the victims because he thought his wife was seeing another man. Prosecutor LuAnn Snow told the court on Wednesday that that Balfour had warned Julia Hudson that "her family would suffer if he saw her with other men".

It's believed that Balfour went to the Hudson home on Chicago's South Side the day after his estranged wife's birthday, having seen a birthday present that he concluded was from a new boyfriend. As previously reported, the bodies of Darnell Donerson and Jason Hudson were found at the house, whilst seven year old Julian King, Hudson's nephew, was reported missing. His body was discovered several days later in an abandoned SUV.

Investigators claim that Balfour was in possession of a gun matching the one used to kill all three family members, but Balfour's lawyer Josh Kutnick says that the prosecution's case is "a quilt with holes in it", adding that his client "believes when the evidence comes out, he will be found not guilty".

Balfour will appear in court again on 30 Dec.

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BBC SOUND OF SURVEY ANNOUNCES LONGLIST
A longlist of fifteen rising artists have been published as part of the BBC's Sound Of 2009 survey, in which 130+ music journalists and broadcasters are asked to name their favourite new acts. I'm not sure they've done a longlist before. Presumably a shortlist will be revealed before the final winner is announced in January. The BBC's Sound Of survey is generally pretty good at identifying acts likely to succeed in the coming year - last year's shortlist included Adele, Duffy, The Ting Tings and Glasvegas.

Anyway, here's the long list in the order of that alphabet thing...

The Big Pink
Dan Black
VV Brown
Empire Of The Sun
Florence And The Machine
Frankmusic
Kid Cudi
La Roux
Lady Gaga
Little Boots
Master Shortie
Mumford & Sons
Passion Pit
The Temper Trap
White Lies

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BOY GEORGE FOUND GUILTY
The jury in the Boy George escort trial entered their little room yesterday to consider their verdict, returning this morning, having decided that the singer is guilty.

As previously reported, male escort Auden Carlsen accuses George of falsely imprisoning and assaulting him at the singer's Shoreditch flat last year. George claims that he only ever hit Carlsen as part of a sex game, and that he handcuffed him to stop him leaving his flat during an argument over the singer's belief the escort had hacked his computer and stolen some photos off it.

George will be sentenced in the New Year but has been told he could face a jail term.

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LEONA LEWIS HAS FASTEST SELLING DIGITAL TRACK
Leona Lewis's latest release, that cover of Snow Patrol's 'Run', has become the fastest selling digital-only track ever in the UK. The song, which was never intended to be a single release, was downloaded close to 70,000 times in its first two days on sale, beating the previous record held by Estelle, whose bestselling track 'American Boy' sold 31,857 downloads in its first week.

The singer first performed the Snow Patrol track, originally a number 5 hit, on Radio 1's Live Lounge, and the response to that, and a subsequent performance of the song on 'The X-Factor' (which caused a boom in sales of the Snow Patrol original), persuaded Lewis's label to issue it as a single.

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FLEA TO JOIN FACES, SAYS RONNIE WOOD
More on that Rolling Stone interview in which Ronnie Wood talked about The Faces getting back together. As previously reported, Rod Stewart had already confirmed that the band were to rehearse, and Wood has told the magazine that rehearsals for a tour have been going well. He also reveals that Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea may be set to make a guest appearance with the band.

Wood is quoted as saying: "We had a few fantastic rehearsals last week and we're ready to go. It's like no time has passed by. There's a lot of guest bass players that want to do it - including Flea. We just have to sort out when and where and drop all of the management egos and just do what we can. We know we can do it. It's just a matter of getting everyone's availability sometime next year".

All the original line-up are involved in the reunion, apart from bassist Ronnie Lane, who died in 1997.

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BON SCOTT FILM IN PRODUCTION
According to reports, a new film is to be made about the life of AC/DC singer Bon Scott, who died back in 1980. Film maker Eddie Martin spoke about the as yet untitled project to Australian website Undercover, explaining that it's still early days. "We are in the writing process", he's quoted as saying. "We've been meeting with Gaby, Mary, [Scott's former wife] Irene and The Valentines crew, people like Vince Lovegrove, Bon's early friends".

No actors appear to be in the running for the role of Scott as yet, although it's understood that Australian actor Tom Budge would be the favoured choice to play Scott's bandmate Angus Young.

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WINEHOUSE STUDIES AVAILABLE AT SCOTTISH UNIVERSITY
The life and career of Amy Winehouse is to become a subject for academic study at a Scottish University. Her record label Universal/Island have apparently supplied materials for the module, which will appear as part of courses at the University of the West of Scotland, which has campuses in Paisley, Ayr, Dumfries and Hamilton.

Course leader Allan Dumbreck said: "Amy Winehouse is a great example of the potential pitfalls in the music industry. She is recognised as a multi-award-winning great artist. But the by-product of that lifestyle can be stress and illness. We would look at how the industry is often not a supporter of longevity".

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SINGLE REVIEW: Jesse Rose Feat. Hot Chip - Forget My Name (Dubsided)
For those who take an interest in these things, Jesse Rose is someone who has been around on the house scene for some time. The fact he lives in Berlin might be one reason he isn't known too much outside of those circles over here, but by teaming up with Joe Goddard from Hot Chip he might extend his reach with this new single. The track contains that Hot Chip trick of spelling something out over a funky groove - this time provided by Rose - and to be honest it wouldn't sound too out of place on the Chip's last album. Thinking about it, whether more people get to know Rose's name will probably depend on the strength of the album because at the moment I'm filing this single under 'Hot Chip Curios'. IM
Release Date: 15 Dec
Press Contact: Darling Dept [all]

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THE BOY LEAST LIKELY TO RELEASE CHRISTMAS SINGLE
The headline may have been confusing, so I'll just clarify: this isn't a news item about the boy least likely to ever release a Christmas single, it's about the indie band The Boy Least Likely To and the fact they are, in fact, going to release a Christmas single.

Here they are, trying to justify their actions via a note on their website: "It's Christmas and we're releasing a new single. It wasn't always the plan. We didn't set out to write a Christmas song, it just turned out that it couldn't be anything else, and however much we tried to pretend it was just a song about snow, it would always make us think of Christmas when we listened to it. I guess some songs just are what they are, and there's nothing you can do about it. If a song wants to be a Christmas song it will be a Christmas song, or any other type of song it wants to be".

It'll be available to download from 15 Dec, ahead of the release of the band's new album, 'The Law Of The Playground', out in March.

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WEEZER RELEASE CHRISTMAS COLLECTION
And more Christmas downloads for you, especially for those of you who would love to hear Weezer performing 'We Wish You A Merry Christmas', 'Silent Night', 'O Holy Night', The First Noel', 'Hark The Herald Angels Sing' and 'O Come, All Ye Faithful'. The collection, named 'Christmas With Weezer', will be available for iPhone only. It's being released via a special edition of that Tap Tap game (more on which in a bit) - I'm not sure if it's available as a proper download too.

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NEW LILY ALLEN VIDEO
Anyone want to see the new Lily Allen video? No? Bet you do after hearing what she's got to say about it: "Dancing presents, balloons and silly dancing... enjoy. I had such a laugh doing this, thanks to everyone who helped. I love it". Plus, it's got swearing in it.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=q-wGMlSuX_c

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FLEETWOOD MAC TOUR
Fleetwood Mac have announced that they'll tour North America in 2009, which is nice, as these will be the band's first live dates in five years. The band aren't releasing new music any time soon, however, but the group's classic album 'Rumours' is to get a 30th anniversary re-release as a special edition CD/DVD box set to coincide with the tour.

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DEER TRACKS ALBUM SET FOR UK RELEASE
The Deer Tracks flew over from Sweden and turned in a stunning performance at the CMU Social in September. Members of the audience included some people from RSK Entertainment, who quickly signed the band up to release their debut album, 'Aurora', in the UK. The album will now be released on 9 Mar next year. National press will be handled by Wasted Youth.

While you're waiting, check out the video for the band's song, 'Slow Collision', here.

Speaking of the CMU Social, don't forget the next edition, which takes place next Tuesday (9 Dec) at 229 on Great Portland Street in London, with live sets from former Pipette Rose Elinor Dougall and Chris Coco's City Reverb. For more info go to www.cmusocial.co.uk or add yourself to the free guestlist by emailing social@cmumusicnetwork.co.uk.

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NEW VESSELS VIDEO
Another former CMU Social act, Vessels, have released a new video for their single 'A Hundred Times In Every Direction', taken from the album, 'White Fields And Open Devices'. The stunning video, made by Aurora Fearnley, was shot using an ultra-slow motion camera, some cake and some water bombs.

Watch it here

Vessels play their last show of 2008 this Sunday in their hometown of Leeds. The show is a tribute to Rik Clay, a much loved and respected member of their local community who passed away in August this year aged 26.

In other Vessels-related news, the band's Lee Malcolm recently took part in The Place Prize, a dance choreography competition, performing a live soundtrack for a team led by Dam Van Huynh. The team just missed out on the top prize but still managed to scoop £10,000 winnings in total.

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SCHOOL OF SEVEN BELLS ANNOUNCE NEW SINGLE
School Of Seven Bells, who recently released their excellent debut album, have announced details of their next single. 'Iamundernodisguise', which will be released on 16 Feb via Full Time Hobby. The band will also be back in the UK for a headline tour in February and March next year.

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MORRISSEY ANNOUNCES UK SHOWS
Morrissey will play three UK shows next May, in London and Manchester, one of which will take place on his 50th birthday. The dates will follow the release of the singer's new album, 'Years Of Refusal', which is out on 16 Feb. Support at the shows will come from Doll & The Kicks. Tickets are on sale now.

Tour dates:

11 May: London, Royal Albert Hall
22 May: Manchester, Apollo
23 May: Manchester Apollo

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I LIKE TRAINS BEGIN TOUR
I Like Trains begin their latest UK tour this evening, following the release of their new EP, 'The Christmas Tree Ship' last week. The band will be previewing tracks from their forthcoming new album at the shows.

Tour dates:

5 Dec: Hastings, The Crypt
6 Dec: Norwich, Arts Centre
7 Dec: Bristol, Louisiana
9 Dec: Southampton, Joiners Arms
10 Dec: London, 93 Feet East
11 Dec: Leeds, The Brudenell
13 Dec: Manchester, Ruby Lounge
14 Dec: Dundee, Dexters
15 Dec: Glasgow, King Tuts
16 Dec: Newcastle, The End

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GIRLS ALOUD TO SUPPORT COLDPLAY
I don't know, first it's Jay-Z, now it's Girls Aloud. Which genre of act will support Coldplay next? Yes, Coldplay have announced that the poptastic Girls Aloud will provide support at an extra gig set to take place at Wembley in September. As previously reported, the band already announced three dates in Manchester, Glasgow and Wembley, with support from Jay-Z. Tickets for the new gig went on sale this morning.

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ALBUM REVIEW: The Silt - Cat's Peak (Fire Records)
With trippy pedal effects, a bucket full of wind instruments and lyrics about twilight, mountains and woodland animals, Toronto-based lo-fi avant-folkers The Silt have the perfect recipe for a brilliant and beautiful alt-country/freak folk debut album. Boasting their ability to musically multitask (they've got one poor guy playing the bass and drums at the same time - eat that, Dick Van Dyke!), the band are seemingly favourable toward a more experimental disposition, which is clearly reflected in their sound. Slightly despondent but nonetheless a dazzling listen after a few plays, 'Cat's Peak' slots into a place between the jarring sincerity of The Mountain Goats and the tuneful, nostalgic psychedelia of fellow folk-rockers Midlake. 'No Twig' is an excellent alt-country song showcasing truly impressive harmonies, and 'Feathershine' is incredibly Bonnie 'Prince' Billy: gentle and complex, with weightless, feather-light vocals that are nothing if not heartfelt. Deemed as the brainchild of frontman Ryan Driver - who is also working on a solo album that will be released early 2009 - one has to wonder if The Silt will rise above the many alt-folk bands that have emerged over the past couple of years. However, with a strong debut behind their backs and a tour coming up at the end of the year, the Canadian threesome are on sure-footing to win a piece of every folk fan's heart. TW
Release Date: 12 Jan
Press Contact: Hermana [CP, RP, NP]

Buy from Amazon

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UNION SQUARE LAUNCH NEW DIVISION
Union Square Music has launched a new division, USM Media, which will release compilations and media/brand supported projects. Its first releases will be a CD set called 'Wellbeing' released in association with spa website SpaFinder, and 'Freefonix', an album of music from the BBC kids show of the same name.

Children's releases will be a key strand within the new division, released under a USM Jr imprint. This imprint has also acquired some kids' brands from the now defunct Gut Records, including Fifi And The Flowertots, My Favourite TV Themes and The Complete Halloween Party Album.

And USM Media will be headed up by a former Gut Records exec, Karen Meekings, who set up Gut's GTV division in 2005 after previously worked for major labels Universal, Sony and EMI.

Confirming the new venture, Union Square Music MD Peter Stack told CMU: "It's very exciting for USM to be working with such outstanding children's brands, many of which have a track record of high volume CD and digital sales. We also look forward to branded album releases in other genres, the first of which is Wellbeing in conjunction with SpaFinder".

Meekings herself adds: "I am delighted to be continuing my relationships with existing brand partners, and working with Peter and the USM team on a host of exciting new brand and media partnership ventures".

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SULACO LAUNCHES
Music journalist and former Velocity Communications press officer Leander Gloversmith and former Mercenary Publicity publicist Lucy Freeman have announced the launch of a new music firm to be called Sulaco, which will offer management, promotions and publicity services.

In a statement, Gloversmith and Freeman describe the new company as a "rock specialised agency with a well established network that aims to service a variety of needs for artists, labels and managers - from PR campaigns and new media promotions to copywriting and fully comprehensive product or artist management".

On the management side the company will represent metal act Architects, and are currently looking for other bands to add to their roster.

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NEW NOTE AND PROPER ANNOUNCE DISTRIBUTION ALLIANCE
Independent distributors New Note and Proper Music have announced an alliance which will see the latter handle the physical distribution for the labels represented by the former.

New Note, which specialises in jazz, world and classical music, has previously used Pinnacle to handle its physical distribution. The new deal with Proper was due to kick in next March, but with Pinnacle's collapse this week is likely to start sooner.

The two companies say that by combining their distribution services and networks New Note and Proper Music will become the sixth largest physical music distributor in the UK, fifth if Pinnacle disappears.

In a statement probably crafted before news of Pinnacles difficulties, New Note co-owner Eddie Wilkinson told reporters: "We are delighted to have agreed this partnership with Proper. We had many years of success with Pinnacle but feel that the combined strength of New Note and Proper offer our labels a positive and exciting step forward in the face of an uncertain future for recorded music".

Proper Music Chairman Malcolm Mills added: "It's obvious that the two companies are a good fit. We will become the primary distributor for anyone involved in the genres of jazz, world and folk music as well as consolidating ongoing strength in other genres such as country, Americana and blues. We're particularly pleased about the expertise that New Note brings in the field of classical music and the new opportunities that are open to us there".

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EMI LAUNCH SPECIAL TAP TAP GAME
Ah, Tap Tap, my favourite iPhone game. Though that's possibly because I'm so rubbish at the one where you navigate the ball around the hole-filled maze.

Anyway, EMI has announced it is collaborating on a special version of the game - which is like a mini version of Guitar Hero in that you have to tap dots on the phone's screen according to the rhythm of a song. The EMI release will include tracks from Moby, the Chemical Brothers, Digitalism, Daft Punk, Basement Jaxx, Justice, Junkie XL, Soul Magic Orchestra and Morgan Page.

The EMI compilation version of the game follows a number of single artist versions of Tap Tap, which have involved Katy Perry, Nine Inch Nails and, most recently, the aforementioned collection of Christmas songs from Weezer.

The special version of the game is the result of a partnership between EMI and game maker Tapulous.

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SONYBMG SIGN UP TO QTRAX
Licenced sort-of P2P service Qtrax has just announced a deal with SonyBMG, meaning it now has three of the four majors on board - EMI and Universal had already signed up, as had big indie Beggars.

As previously reported, Qtrax got off to a false start in January when it announced it was launching with all the major record companies on board - it turned out none had actually signed their deals. But negotiations between the tech company and the labels continued, and nearly a year on those deals are nearly all in place - with only Warner still to sign up.

Qtrax is, of course, an ad-funded download system which has elements of P2P about it, but files are provided as DRMed Windows Media files, can only be played through the Qtrax player and can not be transferred to portable devices - limitations which mean, in its current form, Qtrax is unlikely to appeal to those music fans currently using illegal P2P systems where no such limitations apply.

Confirming they were on board with Qtrax, SonyBMG digital chief Thomas Hesse told reporters: "We are always exploring new and exciting ways of bringing our music to fans in the digital space and are very happy to support Qtrax and their innovative ad-supported business model".

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PIRACY PLUGIN MADE TO ACCOMPANY AMAZON MP3
According to Digital Music News, there is a Firefox plug-in doing the rounds which cross-references Amazon's MP3 download store - which launched in the UK this week - with the Pirate Bay databases which track illegal sources of music. It means that as users surf the Amazon website they are given the option to illegally download unlicensed music from the artists that appear in the main Amazon page, all at the click of a button. DMN adds that the plug-in stopped working not long after it had gone live, seemingly having been hacked from an unknown source, though now the technology is out there that allows non-legit services to piggy back on web browser based e-stores like Amazon, others are likely to copy. My favourite bit of this story is the name of the piracy plug-in - Pirates Of The Amazon.

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ISPS PROMISE TO BE CLEAR ABOUT NET SPEED CLAIMS
A number of internet service providers have signed up to a new voluntary code put together by media regulator OfCom in which the net firms commit to be more transparent about the speeds of the broadband services they offer. The code follows concerns about the way the ISPs market their services, and the bold claims they make about broadband speeds in their advertising, which are often technically possible in theory but often not really available to consumers, especially at peak times.

The chair of the Communications Consumer Panel, because there is such a thing, Anna Bradley, welcomed the new code, telling reporters: "The voluntary code is very good news - as is the fact that ISPs covering 95% of broadband consumers have already signed up to it. The new code will help consumers make better informed choices. It addresses the concerns that we raised about broadband speeds - about the mismatch between the speeds that consumers think they are buying and what they actually get".

BT, Virgin Media, Talk Talk and Tiscali are among the ISPs who have signed up to the code.

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VIACOM TO AXE 850 JOBS
MTV owner Viacom has said it will cut about 850 jobs and freeze senior-exec pay in a bid to weather the economic storm ahead. Some programme budgets are also expected to be cut. In a statement, the media firm's CEO Philippe Dauman told reporters: "The changes we are making in our organisation and processes will better position Viacom to navigate the economic slowdown and generate sizable efficiencies that will help us to drive our business as the marketplace stabilises and conditions improve".

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OFCOM TO REVOKE KCR-FM LICENCE
OfCom have begun proceedings to revoke the licence of KCR FM, the Merseyside radio station which, as previously reported, dropped all programmes in October and went over to a continuous music service, following some of the poorest RAJAR ratings ever seen and reports of financial difficulties. The Knowsley-based station has since gone off the air completely.

OfCom confirmed yesterday: "As a result of the continued failure of the licensee to provide the programme service required in its licensed format, Ofcom has commended the statutory procedure leading towards the revocation of the local commercial radio licence for Knowsley".

There has been no comment from Polaris Media, the Southport-based media company that bought the station in September.

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EXEC SHIFTS AT GMG RADIO
There have been a couple of executive changes at GMG Radio ahead of the previously reported promotion of Stuart Taylor to the role of CEO.

According to Radio Today, Group Sales Director Julian Carter is leaving, because his role will become redundant once Taylor takes over the top job, for a reason I haven't quite fathomed. The company will, however, need a new Group Commercial Director, which is the role Taylor has previously filled at the company. They will also appoint a National Sales Director, which is presumably very different from the Group Sales Director.

Anyway, here's what Taylor has to say about it all: "My forthcoming move to the position of CEO has provided an opportunity to look at our senior management structure to see if we could strengthen the team further. It's crucial that we have the right resource to drive this business forward in the coming years, which is why we are committed to bringing in talented senior individuals to maximise the commercial potential of our brands".

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GRAHAM NORTON WILL PRESENT EUROVISION AFTER ALL
Didn't Graham Norton say just the other day that he had not been approached about taking over the BBC's coverage of the Eurovision Song Contest, and that he was certain Terry Wogan would not step down? Liar. The BBC announced yesterday that Wogan was stepping down as commentator on the Eurovision Song Contest after three decades in the role, and that Norton would take over.

Wogan had previously said that he was reviewing whether he would continue to work on the Eurovision show in the future because of his ever increasing frustration of the power of all that political voting. Some said that because Eurovision chiefs were introducing a new panel judging process to complement the public vote, and hopefully reduce the power of political public voting, that Wogan would give it another year. But seemingly not.

Confirming he would no longer be involved in the Contest, Wogan told reporters yesterday: "I've had 35 wonderful years commentating on the Eurovision for radio and television. From my first, in a small musichall in Dublin, to my last, in the huge arena in Belgrade, it has been nothing but laughter and fun. The silly songs, the spectacle, the grandiose foolishness of it all. Let's hope that between [Norton] and the musical brilliance of Lloyd Webber [who will be involved in next year's UK entry], Royaume Uni will gather its proper share of 'Douze Points' and bring the Grand Prix home to where it belongs".

Norton said this was an "amazing job" and a "huge honour", but you know what he's like, he's probably lying again. He added: "Sir Terry is nothing less than legend and is an impossible act to follow, but somebody must and I just couldn't say no. I can't wait to get to Moscow. With a combination of cheap vodka and a language barrier what could possibly go wrong?"

Personally I'd have put Simon Amstell on Eurovision duties, but that could, I suppose, have led to actual as well as cultural war, so perhaps Norton is the right choice.

BBC1 boss Jay Hunt said: "Terry has enhanced viewer's enjoyment of Eurovision for many years. I am delighted that Graham Norton will now be bringing his wit to bear on this iconic music event".

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AKON GUTTED ABOUT JACKO TRACK
Akon has spoken of his disappointment about the fact that his collaboration with Michael Jackson had to be pulled from his new album. The track, 'Hold My Hand', which, as previously reported, was leaked online a really long time ago, is thought to have been removed from the LP's tracklist because of Jackson's reluctance to get on with making a comeback, though Akon reckons it's the leak that did it.

The hip hop star is quoted as saying: "Musically we were on the same level and we wanted it to be special. We wanted it so that when people got my album, it was something that was never heard. But the leak stopped those plans. We will be doing more things together in the future, though".

He added that he wasn't afraid of being put in the shade by Jackson's appearance on the track, saying: "I want them to be able to put focus on Mike. He is the greatest artist ever. So long as the focus is on him, people are going to ask him about the song he did with me, so then my name pops up in his interview. It works both ways".

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SPEARS NOT READY FOR COMEBACK, SAYS SIMS
Britney Spears cousin and former assistant Alli Sims has said that the singer is not ready for a comeback, and that she is being exploited. "This isn't any old job", she told In Touch magazine. "How can they say Britney is sick and then shove her out on the road, with all that pressure?"

Sims, who was ousted from her role as Spears' assistant back in February, added that she felt she had been made a "scapegoat" following Spears very public breakdown, saying: "I have been accused of so many things I didn't do. My reputation has been dragged through the mud".

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BASEBALL STAR CHEATING ON MADONNA
Well, according to reports, Madonna's new squeeze (for she has one, if reports are to be believed, and did so, gossipers say, sometime before her divorce plans were announced) baseball player Alex Rodriguez is already cheating on her. Of course, Alex Rodriguez has a wife, albeit an estranged one, so I'm not sure just how 'together' he and Madonna are actually supposed to be, although it's widely reported that Cynthia Rodriguez filed for divorce claiming that the pair were in fact having a "spiritual affair".

Anyway, In Touch reports that Rodriguez, popularly known as A-Rod, became obsessed with a model called Melissa Britos in mid-November and subsequently is rumoured to have spent the night with her. Plus, he's been spotted out and about flirting with anything in a skirt. A friend is quoted as saying: "Alex is definitely excited by Madonna and wants to spend time with her. But when she's not around and he is left to his own devices, he wants the company of other beautiful women. He can't help it. It's in his nature".

Oh, well if it's in his nature, that's all right then. Right?

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GALLAGHER ON STEALING BEATLES SONGS
Noel Gallagher has admitted that every Oasis song is a complete Beatles rip off. Look, here's what he told Radio 1's Colin Murray. "I'll lay it on the line for you. What I actually do is I sit and listen to Beatles' records and I play along with them and then I gradually take the most obvious components of their songs, take them out and just put some of my own words in and hey presto, we've got a song". So there you go. Knew it. He followed that comment up with an "of course not!", but it's a much better story if we don't mention that.

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