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Top Stories
Jive chief to move to Universal, gossip machine goes into overdrive
Select committee DEA review postponed
'Dead' stars make it back online after $500,000 bail out
In The Pop Courts
Thieves steal $1.2m Stradivarius in Pret A Manger
In The Pop Hospital
Will.i.am suffering from tinnitus
Jessie J struck down with "severe virus"
Reunions & Splits
Suede taking reunion "one day at a time"
Throats split
In The Studio
Lady Gaga plays new album to label
Release News
Björk writes song for McQueen
Erland And The Carnival announce new album
Gigs & Tours News
Paul McCartney announces UK shows
Rihanna announces Loud tour
Efterklang to screen film on upcoming tour
Album review: Wbeeza - Void (Third Ear Recordings)
The Music Business
AEG Europe chief moving to Formula One
EMI signs up to Vringo
The Digital Business
Spotify chief backs away from 2010 launch in US
And finally...
Kelis not intimidating (except when she is)

The National deserve a place in this list purely for the final song of their encore at Brixton Academy last Monday. In a move that could so easily have backfired, the band played 'Vanderlyle Crybaby Geeks', the last song on their 'High Violet' album, acoustic and without amplification.

Positioning themselves to make full use of the acoustics in the 5000 capacity venue, the audience remained deadly silent throughout, save for whispered singing and one dickhead behind me (but that's a story for another time). On record the song is a beautiful quietly rolling lament gradually wrapped up in building layers of strings. In the live setting, stripped back yet further it became one of the live highlights of my year.

But that can't really be the only reason The National have made it into our top ten artists of the year can it? No, there's much more. For starters, there were plenty of other moments in that gig that add to their case - the huge video backdrop mixing pre-recorded images with footage shot live on stage, the unlikely singalong of "I was afraid I'd eat your brains" in 'Conversation 16', the great between-song banter and the arranging of Sufjan Stevens and Nico Muhly to appear on stage to recreate some of their contributions to 'High Violet'. Plus, of course, there's 'High Violet' itself, the band's brilliant fifth album.

In the eleven years since they formed, The National's rise has been nothing if not gradual - in fact, they're a perfect case study to contradict anyone who claims that bands no longer enjoy space in which to develop. Critical acclaim for the band has grown considerably with each album release. Although this has never previously equated to chart success, it has led to 2007 album 'Boxer' (which peaked at 57 in the UK) selling over 300,000 copies worldwide.

The slow build of that album no doubt in part led to the sudden explosion of 'High Violet', which debuted at number five in the UK album chart, following a sold out show at the Royal Albert Hall. Though the choice of first single, 'Bloodbuzz, Ohio', should not be overlooked. Released as a free download in March, and one of the album's standout tracks, it perfectly exemplified the understated rock sound of the album, building a buzz for the record, aided later by support from BBC 6music. It certainly spent several weeks on heavy rotation on the CMU stereo, too.

When the complete album finally arrived, it more than delivered on the promise of that one song. Opening with the broken guitar sound of 'Terrible Love', a track which builds to a peak you might think was too early, but the album continues to deliver consistently great tracks throughout, crafted slowly in the band's own studio and with the help of more than 25 guest musicians, including Arcade Fire's Richard Reed Parry, Bon Iver's Justin Vernon, Efterklang's Mads Brauer and the aforementioned Stevens and Muhly.

Now drawing to the end of their most successful year to date, the band rounded things off with the news that the 'Dark Was The Night' compilation album, which was produced by the band's Aaron and Bryce Dessner in conjunction with AIDS charity The Red Hot Organisation and featuring 32 exclusive tracks by artists, including Arcade Fire, Cat Power, The Decemberists, Feist, and Grizzly Bear, had raised over $1 million to be distributed amongst various charities.

Website | iTunes | Amazon | Spotify
Cyrus Shahrad is a journalist, travel writer and award-winning novelist. He also DJs and writes music under the name Hiatus, and released his first album, 'Ghost Notes', in October. The album draws heavily on samples of Persian music that was outlawed after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, an upheaval which also led to Shahad's family fleeing the country when he was a year old. Shahrad rediscovered the music when he more recently unearthed his father's record collection in Tehran.

The opening track from the album, 'Save Yourself', is due to be released on 13 Dec through Lucky Thunder Records. It's the perfect calling card for the Hiatus sound; melancholy in tone, but with stirring strings that pull the rest of the track along as it gradually swells in size. It's just beautiful. You can hear that, along with the rest of the album, on SoundCloud.


CMU is looking for a full time (Mon-Fri 10.30am-4pm) intern to assist with editorial tasks at its Shoreditch-based HQ.
Working closely with the Editor, the intern will manage the reviews database, input content into the CMU content management system, prepare photos for email bulletins, and assist with other editorial tasks. There will also be opportunities to write, including artist biogs and reviews.

Some writing experience and a passion for music are a must, while any admin, CMS and/or Photoshop experience will also be useful. Although unpaid, this internship role will provide excellent hands-on experience and some formal training. Zone Two travel will be covered. The post runs from one month minimum to three months maximum. Early January start.

Send your CV and two recent examples of your writing to recruitment@unlimitedmedia.co.uk, indicating how soon you could start and how long you would like your internship to last. Deadline 5pm Wednesday 15 December.
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One of Sony Music's most senior US executives, Barry Weiss, has announced he will depart the major next April and join Universal Music instead. The announcement has led to quite a bit of speculation as to what's going on at both record companies.

Over at Sony, top man Rolf Schmidt-Holtz's contract runs out next year and he is expected to stand down. There were two obvious contenders to take over the top job. One was Weiss, who has played a key role in the growth of the Jive record company since its very early days, initially as an independent label, then as part of BMG, and since the Sony/BMG merger of 2004, as part of Sony Music. The other is Rob Stringer, the former Sony UK chief who heads up the other big Sony division in North America, and whose brother Howard runs parent company Sony Corp.

So, does Weiss's move to Universal mean he found out Stringer was a shoe in for the top job at Sony's record company? Or was he affected by rumours of a third option for Rolf's replacement, in the form of Sony/ATV chief Marty Bandier. The New York press recently speculated that Sony might follow the lead of EMI and put its top music publishing man in charge of its record labels. Oh, rumour, rumour.

And what does Weiss's move to Universal next spring mean? It's known that former Universal International boss Lucian Grainge, currently taking over from Doug Morris as CEO of the whole Universal label, is planning a radical revamp for next year.

It is thought Weiss will head up Universal Music's East Coast operations. It's not clear if that means all the LA-based labels in the Universal empire will be merged. Some also wonder if Weiss' appointment should be seen as confirmation LA Reid, boss of Universal US's Island Def Jam division, is facing the chop. It's known that tensions have been high between the Grainge and Reid teams since the former's move to the US. Oh rumour, rumour.

And if you like your rumours to come full circle, Digital Music News is speculating that the aforementioned Morris, originally due to stay on as Universal's Chairman after Grainge becomes sole CEO, is now so pissed off with his replacement he's considering new opportunities, which might include a move over to Sony to take over from Schmidt-Holtz.

I see plenty of rumour mongering around this story still to come. And hurrah for that.

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Parliament's super groovy Culture Select Committee has confirmed it has postponed its planned review of the only slightly groovy Digital Economy Act pending the judicial review which will assess allegations made by BT and TalkTalk that the copyright section of said Act does not comply with various European laws.

The select committee had intended to review whether the DEA, rushed into law by the last government ahead of this year's General Election, had been a "reasonable and sufficient response" to the challenges faced by cultural companies who are trying to protect their intellectual property against piracy online. But there's not much point doing that while there's even an outside chance judges might force a rethink of the relevant sections of the Act when the ISPs get there moment in court next year.

The judicial review is expected to happen before the end of next April, so it seems likely the select committee's review of the legislation won't now happen until late spring. A 5 Jan deadline for submissions to the committee as part of this review has been extended to 23 Mar.

But fans of reviews of copyright law need not worry, another review of IP systems in the UK - this one a more general review of the whole intellectual property framework instigated by the government's IP Office - is still going ahead. The IP Office yesterday announced that Tom Loosemore and Professor David Gann have been added to the panel of experts who will have an input on that review.

You know, I worry this panel, which also includes Professor James Boyle, Roger Burt and Professor Mark Schankerman, is lacking in grooviness. I'm available if they're looking for a groovy expert to address that issue. Actually, I'm not. I'm far too busy being groovy.

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Stars including Lady Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Seacrest, Kim Kardashian and Usher are using their social network profiles again after staging 'digital deaths' last week in aid of Alicia Keys' AIDS charity Keep a Child Alive.

As previously reported, a number of high profile celebrities swore off Twitter and Facebook on World AIDS Day (1 Dec), refusing to return until fans had donated $1 million to the charity.

With well over 25 million Twitter followers between them, it was thought by many that the celebs wouldn't be offline for very long, but the self-imposed exodus lasted until this Monday (6 Dec), and only came to an end when pharmaceutical entrepreneur Stewart Rahr donated the last $500,000. In the end only 3600 fans actually contributed anything, which possibly tells us something about just how much people really value the celebrities they follow on Twitter.

But Keys and her team seemed happy. She said in a statement: "From the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of the fans, friends and artists who joined this cause. I'm incredibly inspired by all of the donations that have been made to help us achieve our goal and so humbled by the outpour of support from everyone".

Leigh Blake, who co-founded Keep A Child Alive with Keys, added: "Although we never expected to raise $1 million overnight, we are completely blown away that we were able to achieve our goal in less than a week. We are moved by the many generous donations and by the amount of support we've received from the public. Over 3600 people have joined the fight and sacrificed their own digital lives for this important cause and we intend to continue this movement".

More information can be found on the campaign at buylife.org

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Acclaimed musician Min-Jin Kym had her 300 year old Stradivarius violin, worth $1.2 million, stolen this week as she ate a sandwich in a branch of Pret A Manger in London's Euston station, it has been revealed. The violin case also contained two bows that are together worth nearly £70,000.

The South Korean-born violist's insurers, Lark Insurance Broking Group, have issued a £15,000 reward for information relating to the theft, while British Transport Police yesterday issued a statement saying: "These items hold enormous sentimental and professional value for the victim. It's possible the instrument will be offered for sale within the antique or musical trade and we ask anyone who has any knowledge of the violin's whereabouts to come forward so it can be returned to its rightful owner".

Lark's Sarah Ottley added: "Instruments like this are easily recognisable by dealers or repairers. We would urge anyone who might be able to help us to contact the police or Crimestoppers immediately".

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Will.i.am has revealed that he suffers from tinnitus, and works on music as much as possible to block out the constant ringing in his ears.

He told The Sun: "I don't know what silence sounds like any more. Music is the only thing which eases my pain. I can't be still. Work calms me down. I can't be quiet as that's when I notice the ringing in my ears. There's always a beep there every day, all day. Like now. I don't know exactly how long I've had this but it's gradually got worse".

Now, I know what you're thinking; if he needs to work on music all the time, why doesn't he make better music? Well, he agrees with you. Sort of. He admitted to Contact Music that his solo album was a mistake-filled flop, saying: "It would have changed everything within the Black Eyed Peas if that album had been successful. Because that album did not succeed, it taught me what to do with the Peas and what not to do".

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Currently lined up to be next year's Big Thing, singer Jessie J was forced to postpone a headline show at The Scala in London last night after being admitted to hospital with a "severe virus".

The pop star told fans via Twitter: "I am very weak and in hospital resting. But I promise when its re booked it will be the best show you've ever seen".

A show at Coalition in Brighton on 11 Dec is currently unaffected.

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Suede frontman Brett Anderson has said that the band will consider what future they may have together later this week. Last night the band played a show at London's O2 Arena, which the singer described as "crazy, vain, [and] glorious", following a series of low-key shows in smaller venues.

Speaking to the NME ahead of the show, Anderson said: "We're playing our cards close to our chests so we'll just see how it goes and how we feel after. The whole mantra with this tour has been to keep it special and to take it one day at a time. So a couple of days after the O2 show we'll sit down and decide what we want to do next year, if anything".

He continued: "If tonight goes really well, I definitely think we'll rethink things but you can't predict that just because it's a bigger place and a bigger venue. We might not enjoy it as much, I don't know. Festivals, again, wait and see what happens. If an offer comes up we'll think about it but at this stage we're not sure. As for new material, I'm not counting it out but I can't say there's any big plans to do a load of new stuff".

Finally, he said: "What I will say is we're all getting on in Suede and we're enjoying each other's company so I'm not ruling out the possibility of making another Suede record at some point".

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Oh, now this is rubbish. Top notch UK hardcore band Throats have announced that they are calling it a day. The news comes at the end of a bumpy year for the five-piece. They released an excellent debut mini-album, which showed much promise for the future, but then their drummer quit just hours before they were due to begin a tour to promote it.

News of the split was delivered to Twitter with the simple statement: "THROATS IS DEAD. FUCK OFF". Facebook, however, received slightly more information: "We have decided to call it a day. We are thinking about a last show but it's not 100% certain yet. Some leftover merch will be going cheap on the bigcartel in a few days. Goodbye".

Read our Same Six Questions interview with bassist Thom Sadler here: www.thecmuwebsite.com/ssq/throats.html

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Yeah, I'm not sure this is actually that exciting, but Lady Gaga has played her new album, 'Born This Way', to her label, Interscope. Which means she's finished it, so it will be released as planned early next year. Um, so, everything is going ahead pretty much as expected.

Gaga used her first tweet following her 'digital death' in aid of Alicia Keys' Keep A Child Alive Foundation to tell fans: "Played the album for label, the rest is history. Amen Hooker".

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Björk has written a new song for fashion designer Alexander McQueen, who committed suicide earlier this year. The song soundtracks a short film made by photographer Nick Knight, entitled 'To Lee, With Love, Nick'.

The film opened the British Fashion Council Awards in London last night, where McQueen was also given a posthumous Outstanding Contribution award, and can also be viewed online at showstudio.com/project/to_lee_with_love_nick.

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Folk rockers Erland And The Carnival have announced that they will release their second album, entitled 'Nightingale', on 7 Mar next year.

The band's main man, former Verve guitarist Simon Tong, described the album as "a soundtrack to an imaginary horror film about the supernatural", adding that it is "more direct" than their eponymous debut, which was released this year.

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Paul McCartney has announced that he will play two low-key (for him) pre-Christmas shows in London and Liverpool later this month.

Macca told CMU when he dropped in to borrow a spanner yesterday afternoon: "I always love playing to a home audience and for me it's the perfect way to end the year. We've had great fun with the stadium shows this year and we're looking forward to the more intimate vibe of these ones. Christmas is the perfect excuse for everyone to let their hair down and rock out. We are looking forward to celebrating with the good people of London and Liverpool".

Tickets went on sale at 10am this morning, selling out within minutes. More cash rich Macca fans can now buy tickets from the secondary ticketing market. For them, here are the dates:

18 Dec: London, Hammersmith Apollo
20 Dec: Liverpool, Academy

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You'd better get some earplugs, because Rihanna has announced that she's going to play some loud gigs next October. Oh, no, sorry, they're gigs to promote her 'Loud' album. Still, they'll probably be a bit noisy, that earplug advice still stands. Her voice can be a bit like a foghorn at times. In a good way.

Anyway, enough of this preaching, here are the tour dates. Tickets go on sale on Saturday at 9am:

5 Oct: London, O2 Arena
7 Oct: Liverpool, Echo Arena
9 Oct: Manchester Evening News Arena
10 Oct: Glasgow, SECC
15 Oct: Birmingham, LG Arena
16 Oct: Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena

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Efterklang have announced UK tour dates for next February, which will see the band screen a new film they have made with director Vincent Moon, entitled 'An Island', before performing live. The tour will also kick off with a free screening of the film at the Cube Cinema in Bristol.

The trailer for the film can be seen online at www.anisland.cc.

Tour dates:

21 Feb: Bristol, Cube Cinema (free film screening)
22 Feb: Cardiff, The Globe
23 Feb: Sheffield, Queens Social Club
24 Feb: Glasgow, Oran Mor
25 Feb: Manchester, Academy 3
26 Feb: Gateshead, The Sage
27 Feb: London, The Scala

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ALBUM REVIEW: Wbeeza - Void (Third Ear Recordings)
Having shown considerable talent and style on various Detroit-leaning techno/house EPs, Warren Brown, aka Wbeeza (pronounced double-U, beeza), builds on that reputation with this, his debut album.

This record sits sonically against a backdrop of south London grime and dubstep. The skit 'Beaver Skin' sums up the soulful nature of the man, but if you want to get into the real highlights you need to head for the old school lush tech of 'Southern Girl', the Latin-infused 'Tru My Veins', the classy thumper 'Variations', which leans towards Dave Angel's classic techno productions, and the awesome harder tech of 'Hang On'.

There are no major lows, though many ideas and skits of tracks could have been developed further. Nevertheless, Wbeeza is certainly one to watch. This is a great debut, perhaps even a contender for album of the year. PV

Physical release: 13 Dec
Press Contact: EPM

Buy from iTunes
Buy from Amazon

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The CEO of AEG Europe, that'll be your good friend David Campbell, is reportedly leaving the live entertainment giant to join the Formula One organisation.

According to Sky News, the former Virgin Radio and Ministry Of Sound chief will leave AEG next year. There is speculation he is even being lined up to eventually replace Formula One top man Bernie Ecclestone, though his initial brief will be to secure new sponsorship and brand extension deals.

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EMI UK has confirmed it has entered into a deal with Vringo Inc, a US-based maker of video ringtones, which are apparently going to be the next big thing in mobile phone-based nonsense. The deal means EMI music will feature in the Vringo catalogue.

Says Vringo boss Andrew Perlman: "We are pleased to feature video ringtones from EMI Music representing many exciting artists in the UK music market. Video ringtone content from recognised music stars will open a new important growth chapter in our business. Fans of EMI artists will soon have the option to use Vringo to access an unmatched library of attractive video ringtones".

EMI European digital man Ian Whitfield said: "Vringo has developed a very interesting new technology for integrating internet and video content with the new capabilities of the latest mobile phones. EMI is very pleased to support their drive to build this new area which promises to bring our artists' great videos to new and wider audiences".

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Daniel Ek has backed away from his long held commitment that Spotify would launch in the US this year.

Speaking at a conference this week the Spotify chief was, for the first time, non-committal on when the streaming service will arrive Stateside, having previously indicated that a launch between Thanksgiving and Christmas - ie now - was still on the cards. He did say, however, that when it comes, the US version of Spotify will offer a free version (the 20 hours free listening a month package) as well as a ten dollar a month premium service.

While Americans can't enjoy free streaming via Spotify at the moment, some are getting something similar to the Spotify experience via a new service called Tunify, which takes music content on YouTube and plays it through a Spotify-style player (albeit browser based) making it much easier to navigate and programme music tracks stored on the video site. Most online commentary about Tunify has been very positive, especially in the land where Spotify and We7 don't exist.

Although the YouTube videos do play in the Tunify player, many people will probably use it as an audio service Spotify-style. There are some issues with it: obviously a video jukebox will always be limited mainly to single releases, and because it takes its music from YouTube, volume levels vary greatly from track to track. Plus some wonder how long Google will tolerate the site, given it provides content without any of its ads.

But in the meantime it's possibly the best free streaming service available to North American music fans. Well, perhaps best after Grooveshark, whose recent revamp has also been well received by users, if not the various labels that still claim that digital service is illegal.

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Kelis has said that her reputation for being a bit intimidating is unjustified, as she only intimidates people who are "worth intimidating".

The singer told Look Magazine: "People don't know me. I don't know whether that's the same as being misjudged, because why should they know me? I don't expect anything from strangers - I can't expect them to know that I'm a great mother or sister. I try to be a great mother, I don't know if I always succeed. But I try to do the best job I can in everything".

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