Archive | April 2011

soundCHECK 96 – April 28th 2011

Seagulls are scurrilous, scavenging, squawking idiots and there should be a cull.

I hate them. Have you seen how big they are lately? I swear they double in size by the year. They’ll literally be the size of a man soon; swooping down from the skies and fighting men, women and children for their lunches as they nervously leave Warrens. There’s no way I’m getting involved in that. They’d batter a feeble skin and a bone dainty like me. And then feed me to their children.

But that’s not even the main problem.

It can’t just be me that’s noticed that seagulls across the land are currently using their monstrous yellow beaks for enterprises far more sordid than shredding pasties and slashing sandwich packaging: they’re using them to tear up the rule book too. Yes. Apparently, if you’re a seagull, hanging out at the beach on a sunny afternoon has become something of a cliché. This is the modern age. And today’s avian pranksters are all about larking around in town centres. Late at night. Manically cackling like winged-witches coughed up from the bowels of hell.

Let me tell you, a seagull squawking at midnight assumes a far more haunting and beastly identity than his gently cawing coastal counterpart of old. And this unholy havoc is staged nightly, right outside my bedroom window. Away with you, gulls! Why are they even here? I mean, I’m no etymologist, but surely their very name suggests that the urban landscape of downtown Barum should be an alien environment.

Regardless, my loss might just be the seaside’s gain. I mean, GoldCoast might be a seagull-free zone this year. The line-up for this year’s festival is taking shape nicely with Lori Campbell and urban prodigy Ed Sheeran recently announced as joining Stringer Bessant, The King Blues and headliner Seasick Steve at the annual surf and music festival. Keep your peepers on www.goldcoastoceanfest.co.uk for the latest developments.

It would seem that surfing and music are inseparable bedfellows; entwined like giddy young lovers. Because the other news this week is of a new album by Chris Warner. Last year, local filmmaker Andy Howarth released a surf DVD called Devon Lanes & Longboards. The film was soundtracked by singer songwriter Chris Warner and, thanks to the popularity of the film, Warner is now releasing the soundtrack as an album. It’s out on Monday (2nd) and costs £4.99. You can find out more and buy the album over at www.chriswarnermusic.co.uk.

Finally, don’t forget it’s The Landmark Beer Festival this weekend. That means four days of drinking beer and watching music. The full line-up is available over at www.northdevontheatres.org.uk but it sounds worthwhile catching Alms (myspace.com/alms) from Bristol on Saturday night at 6pm.

I’m off to plot the demise of an entire species of sea bird.

Advertisements

soundCHECK 95 – April 21st 2011

Myspace: what the hell happened?

Seven years ago you were the biggest social networking site on the planet. Seemingly every band out there ritually logged in to snuggle up in your beautiful binary bosoms. And a fair few fans did the same. You made keeping up with bands’ gigs easier than a care-free courtesan at a bankers’ pool party. Your beautifully refined interface liberated bands to communicate with their fans and arrange gigs with promoters and fellow artists with mere keystrokes. Brilliant. But then the new generation of social networking came along, didn’t it? And the fresh-faced new kids on the block were faster and stronger than you. And you couldn’t keep up, could you? Oh MySpace, what went wrong?

That bands have grown increasingly riled by MySpace’s poor functionality and slow-loading times is well documented. More and more are turning their backs on it. And the stats back it up. Figures released by web-watchers Alexa at the tail-end of 2010 showed that page views had slumped by 97% over two years. Its plummet to the nadir of social networking is a fall of biblical proportions.

To their credit, MySpace noted their market dominance was slipping, albeit woefully too late, and attempted to remedy the situation with a multimillion pound relaunch. Unfortunately the end result resembles a Year 10’s half-baked IT coursework. Sure, it works. But, really? The conceptual work behind that new logo is about as groundbreaking as linking bread with butter. The word ‘My’ followed by a gap delineating a space? Was the designer drunk or did he just miss the deadline?

Unfortunately the logo is the least of MySpace’s concerns. Even with a fast connection you can be waiting about a minute for the privilege of having to wade through a poorly designed infrastructure to find the slither of information you’re looking for. And in an age where our fickle, unfocused, facebook-fractured mindtanks demand instant gratification, a minute is too long. The mind is gone in sixty seconds, as it were.

So while it would seem that MySpace CEO Mike Jones handed over his money to the rebrand team in an envelope marked ‘carte blanch’ while hobbling away on the one remaining foot he hadn’t shot himself in, ComScore reported MySpace traffic dropped 14.4 percent between January and February 2011, from 73 million to 63 million visitors. Bad times.

So what will fill the gaping hole for bands and indie fans left by MySpace? Farcebook? Twitter? For me the answer is here: www.songkick.com.

In other news, both Severe:Zero and Sam Dowden have new tracks online. You should listen to them. And guess where you can do that? Do I even need to say it? myspace.com/severezero and myspace.com/samdowden respectively.

There’s life in the old dog yet!

My opinion? MySpace is far from dead. Its owners, News Corp, are too powerful for that to happen. I don’t believe we’ve heard the last of it. And that’s a good thing if they can sort out the fact that there’s currently about as much incentive to visit MySpace as there is to lick the jowly face of the Go Compare man.

Email me your band news at jharper@northdevonjournal.co.uk.