BandHub: The Internet recording studio.

October 9th, 2013 by David Gerard
Musician

Remember Res Rocket Surfer and Google Jam? This one is a new thing to collaborate with people over the Internet. (If you sell your soul to a Mac-only application.) Technical discussion (for computer geeks). If this doesn’t suck, expect a clone that won’t gouge you down the line.

DistroKid to get your music into the chart stores.

October 9th, 2013 by David Gerard
Industry

If you want to get your stuff onto the chart stores (iTunes, Amazon, Spotify and Google), you can spend a pile of cash (around $40/album) with TuneCore or CDBaby — or rather less cash ($20/year unlimited) with DistroKid. Endorsed by the founders of TuneCore and CDBaby, no less (the latter of whom just uploaded everything he’s ever recorded through DistroKid). The site, some technical details. Anyone here used it?

Beethoven’s 9th on Russian doll theremin.

September 30th, 2013 by David Gerard
Esoterica

From NPR: So here’s Beethoven’s 9th played on 167 theremins built inside Russian dolls. Oh, and wait for the boogie, about 1:20. HT Liam Proven.

Slashdot, ha! Reddit, however.

September 15th, 2013 by David Gerard
Rocknerd

So Rocknerd’s latest article is a hit. Slashdot got it a few thousand hits, which my small but clever setup based on WP-Super-Cache coped with just fine.

Reddit is another matter: 20,000 35,000 and still going. (Update: Topped out around 58,000. Update: Make that 80,000.) The server CPU got hammered to shit, then it ran out of memory, then it ran out of CPU again but this time in wait state. Answer:

  1. Cut fcgid children from 10 to 7. This means Apache queues a bit, but now it doesn’t run out of memory.

  2. Hit the berserk button: put the page into “directly cached files”, i.e. serving that particular page completely static from Apache without even mod_rewrite. Means comments will show up when I remember to purge the cache by hand.

Comments are occasionally pretty good too. Slashdot, Reddit, Reddit. They keep talking about the majors and the rock stars, because people don’t care what you wrote and just riff on the title. Oh well.

(For non-technical readers: you almost certainly don’t want to run your own copy of WordPress, I’m just a control addict. Just have wordpress.com host it, you’ll be much happier.)

This is, of course, a perfect example of what I was describing: a huge hit with no monetisation. So GO BUY A T-SHIRT. We’re supposed to sell T-shirts to make money now, aren’t we. UK/Europe shop, US/international shop. The printing is impressively good quality and copes with washing just fine. SELL SELL SELL.

Culture is not about aesthetics. Punk rock is now enforced by law.

September 13th, 2013 by David Gerard
Musician

  (Also in Polish.)

Record companies complain the Internet will destroy music. Musicians complain that they can’t make a living any more. The unsympathetic public, feeling the squeeze themselves, tell them to get a proper job.

The problem isn’t piracy — it’s competition.

There is too much music and too many musicians, and the amateurs are often good enough for the public. This is healthy for culture, not so much for aesthetics, and shit for musicians. Musicians in the early ’90s were already feeling the pressure of competition from CD reissues of old stuff; here in the future, you can get almost anything that has ever been digitised for free and listener time is the precious commodity.

This article is not about the majors or rock stars, but about the indie musicians and labels watching the waterhole dry up and wondering what the hell happened.

Read the rest of this entry »

Five years of The Quietus.

September 11th, 2013 by David Gerard
Writing

John Doran of The Quietus reminsces about five years of running the site. “I drank so much coffee I felt like I could control the weather.” He’s plugging their book as well.

Talk to your children about their shitty taste in music.

September 8th, 2013 by David Gerard
Writing

The whiny emo brat subculture seems to have gotten into Nirvana big time. I cured the older teen of playing In Utero all day every day at a zillion decibels by complimenting her taste and mentioning how I got it when it came out and played it lots. Never heard it again. Job done.

But that’s good music listened to badly. (I did this with Joy Division in my youth.) What about the terrible, terrible shit? Lauren Modery at Hipstercrite addresses this increasingly pressing issue.

If my kids ask me why I’m so sensitive about this issue, I will tell them it’s because shitty music comes from people who have money and who constantly stroke each other’s big fat egos. I will tell them that, sadly, the art industries are run by people with neither style nor class, who care more for shock value that ultimately makes them more money.

The trouble is that when I examine my own taste as a teenage record nerd of discernment and consideration, way too much of that was actually inept bullshit too. Early ’80s second- and third-string Rough Trade indie, what the fuck.

Obscure post-punk good times on Wikipedia.

August 24th, 2013 by David Gerard
Post-Punk

A small amount of fun this week writing up obscurities for Wikipedia: Operation Twilight (UK branch of Les Disques du Crépuscule) and Factory Benelux obscurities Nyam Nyam, plus assorted tweaks on other related articles. It keeps me off the streets. If anyone’s got their old printed sources to hand, those would be superlatively useful in bulking these up.

The function of music in the workplace.

August 20th, 2013 by David Gerard
Drugs

The Quietus’ first interview with a Professor of Sociology of Work.

We spend 40-45 hours at work a week, but if you look at our key medium of popular culture – pop songs – they hardly reference work at all. You could come up with a list of twenty quite easily I’m sure, but they’re quite unusual: it’s a rarity for pop songs to reference work at all. I’m lucky enough to own all the singles released by Motown and there’s about two of them that reference it!

I’m quite glad that radios in the workplace have largely been replaced by headphones.

Also I really like the jangly guitar music used to promote touch screen technology with a mid-range price point.

August 7th, 2013 by David Gerard
Record

Daily Mash: “THE unlimited availability of free music means that an album will not change how you see the world for more than a day.”

The Manual, Hollywood edition.

July 19th, 2013 by David Gerard
Film

There is a Manual for film that sets out precisely what is to happen as closely as The Manual did for pop music. But The Manual didn’t have the destructive effects of Save The Cat by Blake Snyder.

Yet once you know the formula, the seams begin to show. Movies all start to seem the same, and many scenes start to feel forced and arbitrary, like screenplay Mad Libs. Why does Kirk get dressed down for irresponsibility by Admiral Pike early in Star Trek Into Darkness? Because someone had to deliver the theme to the main character. Why does Gina Carano’s sidekick character defect to the villain’s team for no reason whatsoever almost exactly three-quarters of the way through Fast & Furious 6? Because it’s the all-is-lost moment, so everything needs to be in shambles for the heroes. Why does Gerard Butler’s character in Olympus Has Fallen suddenly call his wife after a climactic failed White House assault three-quarters of the way through? Because the second act always ends with a quiet moment of reflection—the dark night of the soul.

Intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, middle-eight, chorus, chorus. Verse sixteen bars, others eight or sixteen bars. Now imagine that over two hours. That’s why this happens.

The Adventures of Ford Fairlane.

July 15th, 2013 by David Gerard
Film

Must be movie week at Rocknerd. So I was reminded of The Adventures of Ford Fairlane (1990), a thoroughly enjoyable piece of cheese starring an asshole. With bonus Robert Englund, being frightening without the makeup. Here’s the review from Party Fears #12 (1991), p25:


THE ADVENTURES OF FORD FAIRLANE

A movie, starring Andrew Dice Clay.

Andrew Dice Clay is best known for being a racist, sexist, homophobic arsehole under the guise of “comedian”. “Hey, guys, it’s only a joke!” I wasn’t going to see this until a friend told me of how (i) Fairlane (Dice Clay) hates Australia and Australians, especially koalas and INXS (“Ain’t that the sorta place they use to test nuclear weapons on?”) and (ii) in the end, he gets the girl, the money and the koala. So how could I resist.

Ford Fairlane is a Rock’n’Roll Detective, working in Los Angeles. (His car is an early ’60s red and white two-door Fairlane convertible — cue screams of car-lust.) The script contains no racism and only one passing queer joke, and the sexism actually does work as being “in character”, but he grows out of it a bit. He remains strongly anti-cretin, however, and still says “fuck” every second word.

The plot is merely a basic functional detective plot; not even an honest mystery plot, just a wide-screen action comic book, though fine for what it is. The setting, however, is truly marvellous. I implore any of you who have the misfortune of being in the music industry, or even having suffered the unpleasantness of brushing close by, to see the bloody thing. It gets the business at the top end precisely right — plastic, utterly fake, lifeless, contrived … the only way they could have got it wrong would be underdoing it. (Apart from Hendrix, the soundtrack fits too … aaargh!) I’m not saying it’s Spinal Tap, but it does more than well enough to deserve attention.

Really cool bits abound — the exploding television; Ford lighting his cigarette near the end (heh heh); the funeral and especially the coffin; the death of the DJ (hanging’s too good for ‘em!); the plastic pop star; the thugs looking like the Cult, or perhaps Fields of the Nephilim; the crook chewing up three compact discs …

Best of all, Andrew Dice Clay actually has a brain and a personality and could start making a decent living for himself.

(Now out on video and highly recommended.)


It won a near-sweep at the Razzies, but I maintain it wuz robbed. I’m rewatching it now and having a whale of a time. This movie is way more entertaining than it deserves to be. I recommend you track it down.

The movie was based on a series of short stories from ten years previously, which have just come out as a book. Throw some money at the author.

Nick Cave’s ridiculously over-the-top rejected script for Gladiator 2, for your reading pleasure.

July 12th, 2013 by David Gerard
Film

Russell Crowe wanted a followup to Gladiator. So, of course, he called Nick Cave. ‘Cos that’s obviously the first thing you do.

So, he goes down to purgatory and is sent down by the gods, who are dying in heaven because there’s this one god, there’s this Christ character, down on Earth who is gaining popularity and so the many gods are dying so they send Gladiator back to kill Christ and his followers.

It was a stone cold masterpiece. I enjoyed writing it very much because I knew on every level that it was never going to get made. Let’s call it a popcorn dropper.

And, guess what? Here’s (purportedly) a copy. (And a spare.) (Hat-tip to Graham Freeman.)

How the B-movie industry works these days.

July 12th, 2013 by David Gerard
Film

A look into Asylum, assembly-line producers of such instant classics as 2-Headed Shark Attack. This century, the market for B-movies is Netflix and the SyFy Channel: pursuing the long tail in a cost-effective manner.

Nostalgia’s another word for brain rot.

July 10th, 2013 by David Gerard
Rocknerd

I dug through archive.org again and dredged up some more prime Rocknerd. TISM, the crippled CD database (remember when music came on CDs? Hah!), a play (that I remember nothing about), a gratuitous plug for some Spill bands, Clear Channel sucking, Jock Cheese, Icon of Coil and EBM in general. And recovered updates at the end of the quotes file.

And Miss Alex’s review of the Tori Amos covers album (and followup), made a classic by the Tori fans in the comments. This post reassured me I had in fact wasted my life.

Dogs In Space by the Quietus.

July 9th, 2013 by David Gerard
Film

Someone outside Australia notices Dogs In Space, specifically Anthony Nield at the Quietus. And of course, you can get the soundtrack album for less than $499.

The bowl, the laserbat and how Schoenberg won the twentieth century.

July 5th, 2013 by David Gerard
Esoterica

The redoubtable Vi Hart produces a brilliant half-hour video on how Schoenberg‘s twelve-tone technique works, and a few examples that demonstrate just where half the background music of the twentieth century came from. Includes discourses on the nature of art, the nature of musical shapes and the reprehensibility of present copyright laws. You will enjoy this.

Reflections on Rowland S. Howard.

July 3rd, 2013 by David Gerard
Post-Punk

Reflections on Rowland from Swamplandzine. I was one of those people going to every Rowland Howard gig I could in Melbourne in the late ’90s. He quickly learnt to hold a room with just a guitar. Also, he did in fact play “Shivers” … but only when absolutely no-one was expecting it. I have a Walkman tape somewhere. Hat-tip to the Rowland S. Howard Tribute Page.

Go read Equalizer.

June 21st, 2013 by David Gerard
Media

I have no snappy phrase here, you should just go read shiny new music site Equalizer. Hat-tip to Andrew Bulhak, who brought it to my attention by getting Poed by it.

The Twinkle Variations.

May 23rd, 2013 by David Gerard
Esoterica

Scott Bradlee takes you through the history of recorded music, as expressed via “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine, 11 May 2013

May 19th, 2013 by Lev Lafayette
Live

In my much younger days, like many others with simultaneous libertarian and socialist convictions, a gravitation towards the political side of punk rock had a certain inevitability. On one side of the big pond The Clash and Crass were the big names in this particular genre, albeit with their own significant differences in style and in substance. On the other side, there was the Dead Kennedys, who performed with music that was hard, fast, and competent and lyrics that combined the insightful and absurd. As a result, the appearance their former lead (for goodness sake’s people, patch up those differences) as part of “Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine” was greeted some interest, although past experiences of The Corner as a venue (e.g., the Buzzcocks, the Sisters of Mercy) did lead to some potential of concerns of the sound quality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Midge Ure, Melbourne, 19 April 2013.

April 22nd, 2013 by Lev Lafayette
Live

Midge Ure is a musician who shouldn’t require much of an introduction. He’s travelled from from the Rich Kids in the 1970s, to Visage, to leading the reformed electronic rock group Ultravox from the early to mid 80s with a succession of hits, to co-organising Live Aid and Band Aid with Bob Geldof and then a successful solo career. With the recent reformation of Ultravox and very successful concerts (e.g., Return To Eden), it was a little surprising to see him visiting Australia – for the first time in over twenty five years – as “Midge Ure” rather than as part of “Ultravox”, although later in the evening we are informed that this tour is a stalking horse for a future Ultravox tour. Certainly if this is the case, they might be giving second thoughts to the matter. Partially because of fairly poor promotion, and possibly because it was Midge rather than Ultravox, the turnout on the night was significantly less than what would be expected. One has to say it would have been a little bit of a step down to the person who has performed to concerts of scores of thousands and for the person who co-wrote and produced what was the highest selling record UK single.

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A Good Friday tale of crucifixion and resurrection. Yes, it’s Tupac Shakur.

March 29th, 2013 by David Gerard
R'n'B

Over on the RationalWiki blog, I’ve got a rundown of Tupac Shakur conspiracy theories. Ironic-as-Alanis given that Shakur hated stupid conspiracy bullshit, and thought people should stop wasting their lives on it and do something useful.

Monty explains how digitising signals actually works.

March 3rd, 2013 by David Gerard
Audio

As a followup to his detailed explanation of why 24/192 downloads are complete and utter snake oil, Chris “Monty” Montgomery of Xiph.org has produced a video showing you, live, using spectroscopes and oscilloscopes, why digital wave forms aren’t stairsteps and why 16/44 really is enough for the ears of any human ever measured. It’s an incredibly lucid 23 minutes that I recommend heartily, and if you don’t believe anything he says there, the source code is available for you to try it all yourself. (Hat tip to Unter.)

(Greg Wadley asks me to note that this is for the end listener — you should be recording at 24/96 or 32/96 on the assumption it’ll subsequently go through several hundred DSP filters, and headroom for mistakes is cheap these days.)

Perfect sound forever! Probably.

February 21st, 2013 by David Gerard
Audio

I’m trying to get a skeptical blog going, in the name of RationalWiki. Yesterday and today I have posted rants about audiophiles: part 1 and part 2, based on the RationalWiki article about audio woo. There will probably be more. You’ll enjoy.

Memetic archaeology and Nickelback.

February 16th, 2013 by David Gerard
Media

It is not enough to say you hate Nickelback. It’s not even enough to notice that people who don’t know or care about music know they’re supposed to hate Nickelback. You need to trace the memetic origin of people hating Nickelback to its source. (Spoiler: a joke in a Comedy Central promo, played for months in 2003.)

Factory Benelux is alive and well.

January 17th, 2013 by David Gerard
Post-Punk

Old post-punks, raise your walkers in the air and cheer! James Nice of LTM has revived the Factory Benelux label for the ongoing LTM reissue programme and for new stuff from Section 25, who also have a bunch of gigs coming up. Closest they have to a home page is their Facebook. I’ve taken care to update the discography on Wikipedia. “They’re editions, dear boy.”

An evil mob princess with really good hair.

January 14th, 2013 by David Gerard
Pop

Meet Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbekistan president Islam Karimov, attempting to make a name for herself as aspiring pop diva Googoosha. Ex-Soviet dictatorships and music, there’s more than one way to do it.

A Lord Horror timeline.

January 3rd, 2013 by David Gerard
Esoterica

Well, that was certainly a thing. I was a teenage Joy Division/New Order obsessive, and for many years I’ve found covers of them inherently hilarious. There were two legendary obscurities that could not be found in the record shops at the far edge of the world under any circumstances, and still remain so obscure you won’t even find copies on YouTube. I present for your delight the Savoy Hitler Youth Band combining “Blue Monday” with Springsteen’s “Cadillac Ranch” and the shuddering majesty of P.J. Proby’s truly remarkable take on “Love Will Tear Us Apart”. You can thank me later.

(The tracks are from an interview with David Britton of Savoy Records by Simon Sellars, one of the three greatest J.G. Ballard fans in the world and compiler of the superb Extreme Metaphors, a just-released book of Ballard interviews that pretty much everyone should read.)

Science proves it: rock stardom is bad for your health.

December 29th, 2012 by David Gerard
Drugs

You will in all likelihood die before you get old: researchers at John Moores University, Liverpool, present “Dying to be famous: retrospective cohort study of rock and pop star mortality and its association with adverse childhood experiences”. Ars Technica has a tl;dr. Stay obscure, kids — fame kills.