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Top Stories
More from the Jacko file
Is Neverland really part of any memorial plans?
More on the drugs that may have killed Jackson
TMZ speculation about the origins of Jackson's children
AEG boss talks tribute concert
More on those tickets
OK pay half a million for dead Jacko cover image
In The Pop Hospital
Jens Lekman contracts swine flu
Awards & Contests
Chris Brown denies BET Award rumours
Artist Deals
Chrysalis buys Richard Marx catalogue
In The Studio
Leona working with Aqualung
Dylan appears on Beastie Boys album
Release News
Monkeys announce single
Gigs N Tours News
Pixies to play Doolittle
Bat For Lashes and Yeasayer announce UK tour
Festival News
New dance festival announced for Edinburgh
Kasabian headline Liverpool's Music Week
Penate added to Reading and Leeds line ups
Single review: Marmaduke Duke - Silhouettes (14th Floor Records)
Brands N Stuff
Levi's still watching
The Music Business
Jay-Z confirms Sony distribution deal
HMV report healthy profits
The Digital Business
Spotify chief talks
EMI not happy with the PRS cut in streaming rates
The Media Business
Vibe closes
Chart Of The Day
MTV2/MySpace chart
And finally...
Cocker to be on Question Time
Rick Astley not dead
La Roux in eighties influences shocker
The Smiths in not reforming shocker
Advertising info
Consulting info
CMU Credits + Contacts

It has taken Engineers four years to, er, engineer the follow-up to their eponymous debut album, but they will finally return with 'Three Fact Fader', released via Kscope, on 6 Jul. A big, bold record full of pop sensibilities, ambient drones, neo-classical strings and summery psychedelia, the album is, quite rightly, getting a very positive response. The band will also play their first live show for two years at London's Bush Hall on 10 Jul. Ahead of all that, we spoke to bassist Mark Peters.
Q1 How did you start out making music?
I started off making my own music after being introduced to Pink Floyd by a school friend. I recorded my acoustic guitar onto my ghetto blaster and played the tape back on my parent's hi-fi whilst recording something else over the top on my ghetto blaster (ad-infinitum until I created a crude demo). I moved away from the indulgent bedroom stage after I saw The Cocteau Twins on the cover of the NME and was guided into a world where the epic, widescreen and subtle merged. This gave me something to relate to that suited my nocturnal teenage experiences, and I found that the 'unfocused' gave me focus like I'd never really had at school (despite a keen interest in art I'd never found a way to truly express myself with it), so I bought a four-track a little later and learned how to make my own music.

Q2 What inspired your latest single?
I picked up a copy of 'Music Von Harmonia' by Harmonia from 1974 after hearing the Neu! albums related to it, and after listening to it with the rest of the band we were struck by how much the first track, 'Watussi', pre-dated a lot of the modern lo-fi dance music we generally take for granted as having come into being in the mid-eighties. We thought it would be a great idea to construct a track with a song structure around its hypnotic riff, as both a homage to the importance of their music, and as something that would be great fun for us to play live. Michael Rother and Joachim Roedelius from the group have both given us their blessing for its use, Rother telling us that the track gives him goose bumps.

Q3 What process do you go through in creating a track?
There are a multitude of different methods that we pursue in creating our music. Sometimes one of us will bring a set of chords on a guitar and we'll add a melody, rhythm and textures, or sometimes we'll create unstructured ambient collages, sample a section from it and create a set of chords that could never be played by hand on an instrument. It is very important to us to break away from standard song writing practices in order to see something through to it's conclusion. An idea has to have an other-worldy, intangible quality in order for us to pursue it.

Q4 Which artists influence your work?
Many artists influence our work. We take a lot of inspiration from classical composers such as Joseph Cantaloube and Claude Debussy whose dreamlike, blissful passages have influenced the quartet sections on our album. We also listen to free jazz artists like Alice Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, incorporating their combination of the emotional, philosophical and experimental into our approach. And we also like many classic American indie artists such as Pixies and Sonic Youth and newer acts such as Deerhunter and Panda Bear.

Q5 What would you say to someone experiencing your music for the first time?
Wait til the early hours to listen to our album in full. Wait til the world shuts down so you can hear what we're really trying to express.

Q6 What are you ambitions for you your latest single, and for the future?
We've always had the ambition to headline one of the big festivals. I think our latest single would create an amazing atmosphere blasting out of a massive PA late at night with fires burning and a feeling of chaos and a true loss of inhibition. So much of how we live our lives now is based around technology and order, something to check, something to update. We are becoming the machines in a way. Music is an ideal way of transcending the constraints of ambition and status, and we are aiming at a future where we regularly create live situations that are a kind of an ego amnesty. Come in and realize that nothing really matters apart from happiness, and that an understanding and comprehension of mankind as a small part of an infinite puzzle is the true goal.

MORE>> and

Friends at the recent Sonar festival in Barcelona were raving about James Pants' live set, highlighting it over the likes of Orbital and Grace Jones as THE set of the event. The recorded version of this guy's work is not quite the same, but there's still great things to be found in his lo-fi approach to electronica, which is firstly redolent of New Yorkers Suicide, though never quite as devilishly seductive, and with the spirit of Zapp's synth funk thrown in. I guess this SNAP is really recommending going to see his live show when he next crosses 'the pond' for UK dates. Still, 'I Live Inside An Egg' is entirely bonkers and loveable. Check it out at the link below.




OK, a load more Jacko news for you. And first, Mr Jackson's last will and testament. As previously reported, there has been some confusion over whether or not Jackson left a will; early reports suggested there may be two competing documents, while earlier this week the late singer's family said they believed their son and sibling actually died without any valid will being drawn up.

However, according to the Associated Press, attorney John Branca, a frequent business associate of Jackson, has told the family and authorities that he is in possession of a valid will signed by the singer. Branca, who, among other things, negotiated Jackson's purchase of the ATV music publishing company in 1985, reportedly reckons the will he has in his possession is the singer's most recent statement regarding his affairs post-death.

Although Branca formally stopped working with Jacko in 2006, before the singer's finances seemingly spiralled out of control, he had reportedly been rehired by the singer just three weeks ago. It's thought Branca and former major label exec and long term Jacko confidante John McClain are named as executors on that will, which could date from 2002.

There are confused and conflicting reports as to what might be in the will, though it's not clear what the sources of those reports may be because I'm not sure Branca has shared the document with anyone as yet. TMZ are reporting that the attorney plans to file the will with the LA court later today. But the two things that most of the reports about what is in the will agree on is that his mother, Katherine, will be given custody of his children, while his father, Joe, is frozen out completely.

As previously reported, Katherine has already been given temporary custody of Jackson's three kids. The court also gave her temporary responsibility for her late son's personal possessions. Her permanent role in overseeing Jackson's property, however, will depend very much on the will, and maybe the opinion of the courts. Some experts say that the fact that Jacko's parents went bankrupt ten years ago might impact on Katherine's chances of becoming sole administrator of her son's estate, even though the couple are no longer officially bankrupts.

Rumours are already circulating that if Joe Jackson is completely frozen out of his son's will that he might sue to get a cut of the loot. On what grounds such a legal action would be based isn't clear. As an aside, Hits Daily Double report that Reverend Al Sharpton, one of the first people to comment on Jacko's death last week, and who has since been seen supporting Jackson Senior, is already distancing himself from the singer's father, wary of getting caught up in some nasty intra-family litigation. Especially as, given the stories of the way Joe treated his children during the Jackson Five hey day, the press is unlikely to be generous to the patriarch in any legal disputes.

Exactly what kind of loot there is to share between the beneficiaries of Jackson's will remains unclear, though the consensus remains that, despite all the debt issues in recent years, Jacko was very solvent if his stake in publishing company Sony/ATV is included in the mix. Documents obtained by the AP relating to Jacko's financial position in 2007 concluded that the singer was worth $236.6 million when his debts were subtracted from the value of his assets.

Some point out his outgoings since then have been substantial and are unlikely to have been covered by his income, which was exclusively based on royalty and dividend payments from past work and business deals. That said, Sony/ATV has also grown over that time. The 2007 documents reportedly valued Jacko's share of the music publisher at $390 million, and I've seen much higher estimates more recently.

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More speculation now, this time in relation to Neverland's role in any Jackson memorial, short term or long term.

As previously reported, there have been reports that Jackson will be buried at his famous former home, which would then be turned into a Graceland style shrine to the singer, open to tourists. And that the investment firm who hold the mortgage on the property us in favour of those money-spinning plans.

But other reports suggest the family aren't so keen on those proposals, possibly because in recent years Jackson shunned the property, which was the location of many of the child abuse allegations made against the singer in the Arvizo case. Allegations of which, of course, Jacko was acquitted, though the fact they were ever made put the singer's eccentric ranch under a sinister shadow.

There are also legal considerations. Local media point out that under Californian state law only cremated human remains can be kept in locations other than official cemeteries. Until the aforementioned will is analysed it's not clear what Jackson's wishes were for his body, but if he wants proper burial rather than cremation then Neverland may not be a viable resting place for simple legal reasons.

While long term plans for Neverland remain unclear, there has been other speculation that a memorial event might be held there for fans after a private funeral, or even before, with the singer's body on public view.

That could see tens of thousands of Jacko fans flock to the property, which is located in rural California about 150 miles from LA. Local police officials say that they haven't been contacted by any reps of the Jackson family regarding such plans, though admit they are already considering the logistics of policing such an event, and whether local infrastructure could cope with such a big influx of people.

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And so back to the drugs. As previously reported, Jackson's personal doctor has denied that the singer had a shot of the morphine substitute drug Demerol shortly before his death, as had been reported. Meanwhile the LA coroner has denied reports that the singer's autopsy found just partly dissolved pills in his stomach.

Nevertheless, rumours continue to circulate that the singer had been living on a dangerous combination of prescription drugs in order to overcome both physical and mental traumas, and to keep his strength up for the rehearsals of his upcoming O2 residency, and that one or another of those drugs probably led to the cardiac arrest that killed him last Thursday.

There have been more reports in that domain, one in particular from the AP, who have spoken to a nurse and nutrition counsellor who claims the singer had pleaded for her to get him a powerful sedative even though she warned him such a drug could be harmful. Cherilyn Lee says Jacko had been suffering from severe insomnia in recent months, and that she had had to reject repeated demands from him for the drug Diprivan. But she reckons he must have got some kind of sedative from another source, which could well have ultimately caused his death.

She tells the Associated Press that she already feared Jackson had such drugs before his death last week. She recalls how earlier in the month she was in Florida and got a call from one of Michael's staff in LA. She says: "He called and was very frantic and said, 'Michael needs to see you right away'. I said, 'What's wrong?' And I could hear Michael in the background [saying] 'One side of my body is hot, it's hot, and one side of my body is cold. It's very cold'. I said, 'Tell him he needs to go the hospital. I don't know what's going on, but he needs to go to the hospital ... right away'. At that point I knew that somebody had given him something that hit the central nervous system. He was in trouble and he was crying out".

Lee adds that Jackson wasn't interested in drugs for recreational reasons, but sought them to overcome physical pain, and more recently acute insomnia. He apparently told the nurse that he had had assurances from medics that the "medicine" he planned to take was safe. Lee recalls: "I said, 'Michael, the only problem with you taking this medication' - and I had a chill in my body and tears in my eyes three months ago - 'the only problem is you're going to take it and you're not going to wake up'".

Lee says she first started working for Jackson at the start of the year to offer nutritional advice for his children, but later counselled the singer on how he could use protein shakes and the like to give him more energy.

In possibly related news, TMZ report that the LAPD wants to talk to the singer's long time dermatologist Arnold Klein regarding drugs that he may have prescribed to the singer. Given Lee's comments, it might be that they believe it was him who got the singer the Diprivan or a similar drug.

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As well as chatter regarding Jackson's financial and medical affairs, TMZ have turned their attention to the singer's children, and in particular their parentage.

Jacko successfully kept his three children out of the spotlight, of course, obscuring their faces whenever they were in public. However, when a picture of the two eldest children, Prince Michael and Paris Michael, without veils appeared last year many commented on just how caucasian they looked.

While it was known (or at least thought) their mother was white American Debbie Rowe, a number of journalists noted that if Jackson really was their biological father they would surely look a little mixed race. Though, as the Daily Mail commented at the time: "It would be pointless trying to judge a family resemblance, given that the man they're supposed to take after doesn't even look like himself any more".

Anyway, TMZ yesterday claimed that Jackson was not the biological father of any of his children. And even more surprising, perhaps, they allege Debbie Rowe wasn't Prince and Paris' biological mother either. That is to say, while Rowe carried the two children, she was merely a surrogate. Neither Jackson's sperm nor Rowe's eggs were used.

That latter revelation would, of course, have an impact on reports Rowe is considering applying for custody of Jackson's two eldest children, arguing grandmother Katherine Jackson is too old to care for them. TMZ say that the fact Rowe was married to Jackson at the time of the two births could still go in her favour, but the fact she was just a surrogate could be used by the singer's family if they chose to fight any custody claim.

That said, yet another TMZ report says that Jackson didn't go through the usual legal processes employed by fathers who use surrogates - what is basically an adoption that normally happens after birth. That would mean that, technically speaking, Jacko wasn't automatically the kids' legal father, which could in turn impact on any permanent custody claim made by the Jackson family.

All of this might be irrelevant though. As previously reported, despite reports Rowe was applying for custody, her lawyer hasn't confirmed that is so, saying her client's only thoughts at the moment were for the Jackson family and the well being of all of Michael's children.

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Back to the business side of all this, and the boss of AEG Live, the promoters of the planned Jacko comeback at London's O2, has been talking to Sky News about the singer's health during preparations for the big fifty night residency, and about rumours he is now planning some sort of Jackson tribute show that may also take place at the Dome.

Responding to suggestions that Jackson was clearly ill before his death, Randy Phillips told Sky: "We have, and we may at some point release, some footage of him in rehearsal that would totally refute that", while adding that just last week, as rehearsals for the O2 shows reached their climax, that Jackson had told him "Now I know I can do this".

On the possibility of transforming the O2 show into a tribute concert, Phillips continued: "We have the intellectual property content, we have the sets, we have the costumes. It would have been - which is a tragedy - one of the most amazing arena shows ever. At some point the world needs to see this production, and I imagine if we could do it, it would be done as a tribute, with the family - with the brothers performing and some of the sisters - but also the stars who loved Michael and were influenced by him". Revealing he was already discussing the tribute idea with the Jackson clan, he said when asked about the time scales of such a venture, "obviously, the sooner the better".

Such a venture may have legal problems, of course. As previously reported a US promoter was already suing Jackson and AEG, claiming he had a commitment that Michael would make his comeback as part of a Jacksons reunion show he was staging in 2010. The lawsuit claimed that Michael's deal with AEG breached that contract, and that AEG knew of the existing contract before making the deal. That same contract would presumably make it hard for the rest of the Jacksons to sign up to an earlier family-wide tribute show.

Among the artists linked to a possible Jackson tribute show are Stevie Wonder, Beyonce and Justin Timberlake. Though the latter, at least, has expressed some reservations about involvement in such a venture. He told the Evening Standard: "[Michael's death] is extremely tragic - there really was only one king. It's an honour to be considered for a tribute to the greatest of all time but also there is a level of just me as a fan that would feel very cautious about doing something like that. Like anyone else in the world I'm his biggest fan. I just feel like if there would be any pretension, it would not be good. That's my worry. It would have to be done properly".

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On other AEG-related matters, Phillips told Sky that the last minute cancellation of the Jacko residency would not have too negative impact on his company. He said: "Our company will be fine financially from this".

As previously reported, it's been much speculated that AEG's insurance did not cover the entire Jacko residency, and that they would have to foot some of the bill for the cancellation. It does seem increasingly likely the promoter will be hit financially in one way or another as a result of the Jacko venture, though however big the hit, it was never likely to actually take a company as big as AEG down.

Of course one way AEG are seemingly looking to limit its losses is with this 'buy your ticket' scam. As previously reported, the promoter is expected to tell fans that they can keep the rather fancy lenticular ticket for the show that never was for a fee. Or, rather, it now seems, they can keep the rather fancy lenticular ticket for the show rather than getting a refund. At all.

That would mean that the piece of cardboard that presumably fans would have been able to keep anyway, for free, had the shows gone a head, will now cost them between £50 and £75. Of course, the bits of card will possibly become collector's items worth more than that on eBay, though any Jacko fan mad enough to want such a thing probably already has one, and will have already parted with fifty quid to keep it.

Of course, you might say the whole ticket thing is a bit of a cynical bid to save AEG some cash, capitalising on the fact we all know Jackson's more dedicated fans are a bit nutty. But, I'd like to remind you, Phillips has already assured us that "since [Michael] loved his fans in life, it is incumbent upon us to treat them with the same reverence and respect after his death". Presumably it's just that the going rate for reverence and respect is fifty quid.

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And one last bit of Jacko. While Q magazine, who already had a pre-O2 residency Jackson special on the presses as the king of pop died, had to include a speedy disclaimer, in case any of the revelations or comments contained within seemed out of place among all the tributes appearing in their daily and weekly rivals, Express-owned shit rag OK! ordered its hacks to quickly cobble together a Jacko special so it could have some Jackson on the news stand while consumers were still interested in parting with money for anything related to the late singer.

And how to open this 'tribute' to the late pop star? I know, with a paparazzi shot of the probably already dead (if not, on the verge of death) Jackson as he was transported to hospital last Thursday. US trade title Mediaweek reckons that OK! publishers Northern & Shell paid half a million dollars for the snap, which is presumably why they wanted to include it in fluff-papers the Express and Star too, to get their money's worth.

The purchase of the picture and its use to lead the magazine's 'tribute' has already garnered more criticism for the increasingly controversial c'leb rag. The publisher's Editorial Director, though, argued that "it's not an offensive-looking picture, it is just the last moments, the last picture, we think it's a picture that people will want to see in the magazine". N&S exec Paul Ashford didn't add: "I think our use of the picture can definitely be justified, I mean, we're a bunch of cunts and it's what the public expect us to do". Fair point.

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Swedish indie popster Jens Lekman has come down with the H1N1 virus, aka swine flu, and is now in quarantine in France, which can be no fun at all. The singer fell ill on a plane from South America, where he had been touring.

Writing on his official website, Lekman told fans: "I was crossing the Atlantic when things started getting really bad, the fever was hallucinogenic and shaking me like a leaf and I grabbed the sleeve of the Air France steward. 'I'm not feeling well, I should see a doctor', I said and the reply came as a brilliant mix of death anxiety and French rudeness: 'Uh, yes... Terminal D... go there maybe... when we land'. After that the stewards and stewardesses took long detours. A ring of empty seats formed around me. People's eyes were kind but determined, they read 'Poor you, I really wish you all the best but if you come near me or my kid I will have to stab you with this plastic fork'. I got up and went to the bathroom where I fainted. Now I'm in quarantine for ten days. I can see the summer through my window and it's just perfect. Summer is always best through a window".

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Chris Brown has denied that he was ever planning to perform at the weekend's BET awards, in response to rumours that he was dropped from the bill at the last minute.

The gossips have this week been saying that the R&B star was due to play at the ceremony, but was ultimately denied the chance to perform because organisers had come under pressure - in particular from the Jay-Z camp - over Brown's recent altercation with former girlfriend Rihanna. The singer appeared in court on 22 Jun, of course, and was given community service and five years probation for beating up his ex.

A source told the New York Daily News, "Jay is a big name in the BET community, and he was very vocal about his displeasure with Chris attending the ceremony. He didn't want Chris anywhere near the awards so close to the court's ruling".

A representative for Brown has said that the claims are false, saying: "That's not true - he was never confirmed to perform".

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Chrysalis Music has announced that it is to acquire the catalogue of singer, songwriter and producer Richard Marx. Marx has written and produced for high profile artists such as Barbra Streisand, NSYNC, Natalie Cole and Keith Urban over the course of the years, as well as enjoying his own successful career as a recording artist, so it's a significant acquisition. In fact, the musician has written 37 top 30 chart hits, 13 of which were US number ones, and has three new albums set for release in the coming year.

Marx says: "Chrysalis has been a longtime presence in my life, ever since buying my first Pat Benatar album as a teenager. Through their ups and downs, they still continue to strive for that which is exceptional, a methodology to which I feel a strong kinship. I look forward to a creatively exciting and fruitful relationship with them."

Chrysalis Music Group USA President Kenny MacPherson, who initiated the deal, said: "Richard is a master of song-craft and a one-of-a-kind artist who has proved himself time and time again from both the artistic and commercial standpoints. The addition of his music to the Chrysalis catalogue exemplifies our commitment to quality across all genres of music. This is a big moment for us, and we're delighted to welcome Richard into the Chrysalis family".

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Leona Lewis is reportedly working with Aqualung, aka singer-songwriter Matt Hales, on tracks for her second album.

Hales is best known, of course, for his 2002 single 'Strange And Beautiful', which has more recently become quite successful in the US after featuring on shows like 'The OC', 'One Tree Hill', and 'Grey's Anatomy'. According to The Sun, this talent for writing songs favoured by the music programmers on slightly rubbish TV programmes has led to him being hired as a songwriter for Leona.

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According to reports, Bob Dylan appears on the new Beastie Boys album. Albeit as a sample. The trio say they have sampled the singer speaking about them on his radio show for a track on forthcoming LP 'Hot Sauce Committee Pt 2', out 15 Sep.

The hip hop group's Ad-Rock told Drowned in Sound: "He played one of our songs and was talking about us. He's a big fan".

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Arctic Monkeys have announced details of the first single from their forthcoming third album, 'Humbug'. The single, 'Crying Lightning', will be released on 17 Aug, the week before the album, and will be premiered on Zane Lowe's Radio 1 show on Monday (6 Jul).

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Pixies will perform the 1989 album 'Doolittle' in full at seven shows in the UK and Ireland to celebrate its 20th anniversary later this year.

In statement, frontman Black Francis said: "We wanted to do something special for [the 20th anniversary of the release of 'Doolittle'] and we thought this was a good opportunity to play all of the songs from that album, something we don't normally do at a regular gig".

Tour dates:

1 Oct: Dublin, Olympia
2 Oct: Dublin, Olympia
4 Oct: Glasgow, SECC
6 Oct: London, Brixton Academy
7 Oct: London, Brixton Academy
8 Oct: London, Brixton Academy
9 Oct: London, Brixton Academy

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This is officially the most exciting thing that has happened all year, so keep reading. CMU favourite Bat For Lashes has announced that she is touring the UK in October, including two nights at London's Roundhouse, and she has personally asked fellow CMU favourites Yeasayer to join her.

Bat For Lashes, or course, released one of the year's best albums 'Two Suns', back in April, which featured contributions from members of Yeasayer on a number of tracks. All four members of Yeasayer, meanwhile, are currently working on their second album, the follow-up to 2007's 'All Hour Cymbals', which is set for release in 2010.

Tickets go on sale today and the tour dates look like this:

1 Oct: Bournemouth, Opera House
2 Oct: Brighton, Dome
4 Oct: Cambridge, Corn Exchange
5 Oct: London, Roundhouse
6 Oct: London, Roundhouse
9 Oct: Bristol, Colston Hall
10 Oct: Liverpool, Academy
12 Oct: Nottingham, Rock City
13 Oct: Leeds, O2 Academy
14 Oct: Manchester, Academy
16 Oct: Cardiff, University Great Hall
17 Oct: Sheffield, Octagon
19 Oct: Glasgow, Academy
20 Oct: Edinburgh, The Picture House

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The line up is really taking shape for a brand new dance festival due to take place as part of the good old Edinburgh Fringe this year, just outside town at the Royal Highland Centre. Called EH1, and with plans to make this an annual event, the festival will take place on 15 Aug from noon until 6am. So, strictly, I suppose, it finishes on the 16 Aug.

It's presented in association with a whole bunch of people, look: Colours, Streetrave, Godskitchen, Ministry Of Sound, Hacienda, Renaissance, Kiddstock, Eurodance, Hed Kandi, Carl Cox & Friends. The event will play host to 15,000 festival-goers and 100 artists, including Orbital, Roger Sanchez, Fabio & Grooverider, Candi Staton, Danny Rampling, Inner City, Peter Hook and Shaun Ryder. And event organisers promise that they're ready for the potentially fun-spoiling Scottish weather, with both indoor and outdoor arenas.

Given it's part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, I dare say we'll be there. Because, as you all surely know by now, having had it drummed into you for years, our sister publication ThreeWeeks covers everything that takes place at the Edinburgh Festival.

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Kasabian are to headline the Liverpool Music Week festival this year and will perform at the city's Echo Arena on 16 Nov as part of their UK tour. Also appearing as part of the programme this year are Reverend And The Makers and The Enemy. The event is now in its sixth year, and last year's festival featuring more than 300 live acts playing 26 of Liverpool's venues.

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Jack Penate has been added to the Reading and Leeds line ups. He's the latest confirmation in a line up that includes Kings of Leon, Radiohead, Kaiser Chiefs and Fall Out Boy.

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SINGLE REVIEW: Marmaduke Duke - Silhouettes (14th Floor Records)
From the intense, industrious side project of Biffy Clyro man Simon Neil and JP Reid of Sucioperro, 'Silhouettes' is a single of ferocious beats and playful electronics. Taken from the album 'Duke Pandemonium' - which details the hedonistic days of the mythical 16th century duke that features in these guys' current and slightly ambitious trilogy of LPs - 'Silhouettes' could soundtrack a party in any era to the delight and fervour of a welcoming attendee. The Jacknife Lee remix on the B-side adds another gear to proceedings, and instils further a belief that both Neil and Reid should give up their less interesting day jobs. That duke's life sounds very good indeed. TM
Release Date: 6 Jul
Press Contact: 14th Floor IH [NP, CP, RP], Partisan PR [O]

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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Levi's OnesToWatch programme continues next week with a five night residency at London's Vibe Bar featuring various fine new bands, and Hockey. OnesToWatch is, of course, the fashion brand's long standing music programme, championing new talent through special showcases, staged in partnership with the Barfly people, and promoted in The Fly magazine.

Next week's '5 Night Revue' is as follows...

7 Jul: Dananananaykroyd + The Late Greats + Romance
8 Jul: Passion Pit + Fanfarlo + Apples
9 Jul: Hockey + Chew Lips + Trouble Andrew
10 Jul: Everything Everything + Post War Years + Wolf Gang
11 Jul: TBC

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Jay-Z has confirmed that he has done a distribution deal with Sony for his new Roc Nation company, his new joint venture with Live Nation.

The deal will mean Sony will distribute all record releases to come out of Jay's new venture, though with the important exception of his own upcoming new album, 'Blueprint 3'. That, while coming out of Roc Nation after Jay bought himself out of his commitments to old label Def Jam, will be distributed by Warner's Atlantic division as part of a one album relationship.

There had been much speculation that Jay would do a deal with Sony after his Roc Nation business partner Jay Brown was seen meeting with the boss of the US Sony labels Rob Stringer. Some also pointed out that Amanda Ghost, recently appointed president of Sony US's Epic division, is managed by the Roc Nation team.

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HMV have announced that their pre-tax profits for the year ending 25 Apr were £63 million, slightly more than expected.

As previously reported, HMV has enjoyed a bit of a boost in recent months following the demise of two of its main high street rivals, Zavvi and Woolworths, though with online the real competitor their position as 'last man standing' in the mainstream high street entertainment retail space isn't in itself a long term strength.

Investment types seem more optimistic about the retailer because of its recent diversification - including its JV in the live space with the MAMA Group, plans to launch in-store cinemas in partnership with the Curzon company, and a partnership with Orange which will see it have mobile phone concessions in its stores (like Zavvi had with Virgin Mobile).

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Some interesting comments from Spotify chief Daniel Ek on The Register, who chatted to the IT website's correspondent and the editor of Impact magazine after speaking at the recent and previously reported AGM of the Music Publishers Association.

Observing that "it's not hard to do illegal software... Spotify would be the most popular service in the world if it was illegal", he talked about one of the main motivations behind the popular streaming music service, saying: "It's sad that the one dominant player, iTunes, doesn't care about the music industry. We want to be the second company that writes huge cheques to artists".

While, of course, Spotify is partly popular because of its great user experience, the real challenge in creating a legal service of this type is licensing the music off the labels and publishers. Ek admitted that remained a challenge, saying: "We think the future of the music industry is an access model, where users pay either with their time by watching ads, or through ISPs or carriers, or through buying handsets. What is lacking in the industry now is what can facilitate those kinds of licensing deals".

Asked about the firm's ad-funded service, which is by far the most popular of Spotify's offers at the moment, Ek admitted that while he had no problem recruiting users, advertising revenue was yet to really come in in a major way. Asked if Spotify was on target with its revenue forecasts, the rather open Ek responded: "Not really, to be honest. We're in one of the world's worst recessions, and it's taken longer to get started. We view it as we haven't really started yet. In four months you can't build a self-sustaining model, like iTunes".

As previously reported, numerous industry commentators not party to the deals Spotify has done with the labels and publishers question whether the service can survive once start up capital is spent, especially if rights owners subsequently look to move the firm from any special start up deal to its rate card royalty prices. Nevertheless, most of those commentators hope they can. Time will tell, of course.

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Talking of digital streaming services, Music Week has reported that EMI Music Publishing aint impressed with plans by publishing collecting society PRS For Music to reduce the costs of streaming royalties.

As previously reported, the collecting society recently announced it was altering its rates for on-demand streaming services, so that while revenue share demands went up, the minimum cost per stream (which is what most digital services pay, given revenues are normally tiny) was going down considerably, from 0.22p per stream to 0.085p per stream. The cut was welcomed by the digital services sector, who have always said PRS's royalty fees were vastly over priced, though the cut has not, as yet, satisfied YouTube who are still blocking premium music videos in the UK in its continued dispute with the collecting society over royalties.

Anyway, it seems EMI isn't impressed with the price cut, and is therefore taking back control of the administration of songs in its vast catalogue in the online streaming domain, meaning that particular PRS licence won't cover anything published by EMI. The major publisher will continue to make its songs available to digital music services, but at the old rate.

There are rumours Universal and Sony/ATV are also unhappy with the new rates, though they haven't gone as far as to take the administration of those rights back inhouse. If they do, PRS For Music will almost certainly have to go back on its new rate card. Given the likes of YouTube seem to think even the revised prices were too high, it seems like streaming royalty arguments are likely to continue. In fact, I have a feeling I might need to buy a new Copyright Tribunal hat.

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US urban music magazine VIBE is no more. The popular title was founded in 1993 by a certain Quincy Jones, and enjoyed much success for years, though its fortunes had begun to flag in more recent years, especially since it was acquired by private equity firm Wicks Group. News of the mag's closure came as staff were working on a special Jacko tribute issue.

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It's the MTV2/MySpace chart, based on votes by MTV2 viewers on MySpace. The top ten this week is as follows...

1. [1] Lacuna Coil - Spellbound
2. [6] The Maccabees - Can You Give It
3. [NE] The Temper Trap - Sweet Disposition
4. [RE] Bat For Lashes - Pearl's Dream
5. [NE] White Lies - Death
6. [4] The Twang - Barney Rubble
7. [5] Maximo Park - Questioning Not Coasting
8. [NE] Green Day - 21 Guns
9. [NE] Linkin Park - New Divide
10. [NE] Madina Lake - Let's Get Outta Here

Meanwhile, added to the list for viewer voting this week are...

Elliot Minor - Solaris
MSTRCRFT - Heartbreaker
Phoenix - 1901
Raygun - Just Because
The Blackout - Save Our Selves (The Warning)

More at

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According to reports, Jarvis Cocker is the latest celeb to appear on BBC political panel programme 'Question Time'. He apparently appears on this Thursday's show, alongside Labour's Harriet Harman, Conservative Iain Duncan Smith, Liberal Democrat Charles Kennedy and journalist Allison Pearson. I expect he'll do okay.

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Rick Astley is not dead, despite what you might have heard to the contrary. The singer's death was reported in a faked Associated Press article that hit the internet on Wednesday claiming that his body had been found in a Berlin hotel room.

In a statement on Astley's website, his manager Tops Henderson assured fans that he was alive and well and rehearsing for a show in Copenhagen's Tivoli Gardens on Friday evening. He said: "I have just spoken with Rick, who is in Copenhagen preparing for his show on Friday evening at the Tivoli Gardens. I think this is somebody's idea of a joke or retribution for the Rick Rolling internet prank".

Celebrity death rumours have been in vogue the last few days after the improbable closeness of the deaths of Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson, and the legend that bad things come in threes. The most high profile fake death to be reported was probably that of Jeff Goldblum, who pays tribute to his apparently dead self in this rather amusing video...

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La Roux's Elly Jackson has admitted to Xfm that there are some 80s influences on the duo's debut album. No, really. I know, I didn't believe it either. Crazy, isn't it? Actually, she has recently been saying in interviews that her music doesn't sound that much like 80s acts like, say, Yazoo, so while it's maybe not a revelation, it is at least a step away from delusion.

Anyway, Jackson said: "I think it'd be quite weird if I said, 'Really, do you think it sounds 80s, that's a bit mad isn't it? I thought it was jazz-funk'. Yeah, of course it is. But hopefully with a modern tinge".

So that's that cleared up then.

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The Smiths aren't reforming. No, really. I know, I didn't believe it either. Crazy, isn't it? But, hey, it's a rumour that won't die, so let's let Johnny Marr tell us one more time about how it's never going to happen. Then maybe everyone will shut up about it.

Marr told Xfm: "I think we were offered 50 million dollars for three... possibly five shows. It's pretty obscene, it's pretty gross. [My reluctance to reform the band is] absolutely nothing to do with money. It's really abstract, it's pretty random".

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