Thursday, January 11, 2007

Randomiser #11: 11 January 2007

Today's song: Cex, "I Don't Think You Do Sin, Julia."

Cex is Rjyan Kidwell from Baltimore, and no, that's not a typo. He added the silent J as an affectation, or possibly as a joke. It's always a little hard to tell. Cex started off making decidedly above average laptop electronica, before starting to chafe at the extreme seriousness and self-importance of the "intelligence dance music fraternity", which led him to reinvent himself as a geeky rapper, and before making a bizarre career left turn and releasing some albums that hover somewhere between emo and folktronica. I'm a big fan of his Tall, Dark & Handcuffed album; the more recent stuff is, er, a bit sombre. This is from his purist-baiting early album Oops I Did It Again, back when he was still doing the laptop stuff and was, shall we say, still finding his own voice. It's a bit school-of-early-Aphex-Twin, but even in those days he did it much better than most.


- Two of the Starbucks branches in the city centre have had their windows smashed in. It's thoughtful of Starbucks to put all their stores so close together. It means the protestors don't have so far to walk. Obviously, with this sort of devastatingly effective gesture politics, capitalism trembles.

- In an ambiguously worded story, the BBC claims that obscure indie band Koopa "could become the first unsigned group to land a UK Top 40 hit thanks to new chart rules." I'd link to the song, Blag, Steal & Borrow, but frankly it's pretty average. You can find it on Youtube if you're that bothered. The BBC might mean that Koopa will just be the first unsigned band who achieve a Top 40 placing as a direct consequence of the recent rule change, but it reads more like the author thinks they're going to be the first unsigned group, period. (The kiddie version of the story certainly does.)

They're not. Leaving aside quirky examples like Bis (first hit released by Chemikal Underground with no deal in place, if I remember right), Pop Will Eat Itself (had a hit with a record that their record label released after dropping them) or anyone on Factory (who were too busy hiring designers to actually pay lawyers or draw up contracts, and did everything on a handshake basis), there have been plenty of hit singles by bands who released their own records. Everything by the KLF, for example.

It's really not that earth-shattering an achievement. That said, there's a germ of a story here, because it's true that the new rules mean you can make the charts with download-only releases, which are logistically a lot simpler than forming your own physical record label, and so it reduces the barriers to entry considerably. It is significant, at least somewhat, that bands as low-budget and obscure as Koopa can chart under the new rules, and it does flag up the serious question of what record labels are actually for in a post-physical world. But Koopa are no more "unsigned" than any other band who've released their own records without going through a record label.