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The New Northern Uproar!


“I think it’s going to be quite a priority for the major label.”

Every week the otherwise excellent Santa Monica radio station KCRW offers up a ‘Music Exchange’ segment, in which British-born DJ Ric Harcourt invites British-based DJ Steve Lamacq to introduce a new British act. The music is often well and good. (The last three bands featured were The Editors, The Voom Blooms and Les Incompetents.) But the preamble between the DJs is sad; whereas they could and should be talking about what’s really going down in clubland, they usually talk instead about what’s going on in the music industry. Then again, judging by the tone of Lamacq’s reports, that might be one and the same thing.

On the Music Exchange segment broadcast on Tuesday March 7, it took Lamacq but 30 seconds to summarize the entire contemporary British music scene as follows. “Everyone’s looking for the new Arctic Monkeys.” He then introduced us to an act called Milburn, recently signed to the Mercury label, hence the quote up top. Now, not only do Milburn come from Sheffield, not only do they sing in a Sheffield accent, not only do they practice to perfection that choppy guitar sound beloved of a certain best-selling Sheffield act, but Milburn’s debut single ‘Send In The Boys’ cops almost note-for-note the opening track to the Monkeys’ debut, ‘The View From the Afternoon.’ This is not imitation, this is not flattery, it’s not even plagiarism. It’s plain embarrassing.

Harcourt, who was once Program Director of my new hometown station WDST, noted after hearing Milburn and Lamacq, and genuinely I would say: “It never ceases to amaze me that the record label people are like lemmings. As soon as something happens, everyone has to go get one.”

To which Lamacq offered this “fantastic quote” courtesy of the Kaiser Chiefs:

“If you can see the bandwagon, you’ve already missed it.”

Yes, you read correctly. The quote about the bandwagon was, indeed, courtesy of the Kaiser Chiefs.

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You don’t have to live in Santa Monica to listen to Steve Lamacq talk about the latest trends in the British music biz. You can just tune into Radio 1. I mean, you can listen to Music Exchange, as I do, via a KCRW Podcast. Access the Podcast from iTunes or from KCRW’s own Podcast page. While you’re there, sign up for Harcourt’s Morning Becomes Eclectic program, which typically features a live radio session followed by a live interview. Ever wondered what The Go! Team sounds like playing at 8 in the morning? Last week’s Morning Becomes Eclectic provides an answer. And it isn’t pretty.

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