The Null Device
Cherry Red, the record label that has perhaps done more than anyone else (with the possible exception of LTM) to keep Britain's 1980s indiepop heritage alive, is rereleasing The Shop Assistants' 1986 album Will Anything Happen, hitherto only available via furtively downloaded MP3s or ridiculously expensive eBay purchases.
Russia's ever-ingenious con artists have come up with another clever scam: fake iPhones. The devices look exactly like real iPhones with depleted batteries, and when activated show the Apple booting screen. They're handed over to the mark as collateral for borrowed money; the mark sees that the phone appears to start to boot, and assumes that the battery is depleted. When the borrower doesn't return to pick it up (and, presumably, the contact details they left turn out to be bogus), the mark takes it down to a service centre, where the technicians open it up and find that it's a plastic shell containing two batteries, a LED and a segment of a steel bar for weight.
I'm guessing that the reason the scam works is because most people wouldn't believe that someone would go to the trouble of making something that looks exactly like an iPhone but is cheap enough to be discarded for less than the value of one.
One thing you can do more easily in Britain than in Australia is hop on a train to see a band in another town later that evening; partly because Britain has trains which run at more or less reasonable frequencies and partly because there are other cities with interesting music scenes within two hours' travelling time. While in Australia, everything tends to coalesce in the inner parts of capital cities, and all roads lead to inner northern Melbourne, in Britain, things are more distributed; while London is a global centre of commercial music and the media, there are thriving grass-roots music scenes in other areas, such as Cardiff, Glasgow, Manchester, Birmingham and the East Midlands. In particular, the area around Derby and Nottingham has become an epicentre of indiepop. And so it was to Derby that I caught a train last night to see the last-for-a-long-time gig by The Deirdres.
I caught the 18:45 train towards Carlisle, getting off at Tamworth station (a small two-level station, where the line from London towards Carlisle crosses the one from Birmingham to Derby), climbing the stairs to the upper platforms and catching a train to Derby, arriving at about 20:30. After checking into a B&B, I made my way to the venue, a pub/bar named Vines.
The Deirdres gig, being their last one for at least five months (and possibly forever), was themed around things that hibernate; on entry, one had to name something that hibernates, which was then drawn on one's wrist in lieu of a stamp. The Deirdres themselves were in fancy dress as hibernating animals; there was a caterpillar/butterfly, a turtle, a bear and a hedgehog among others. (One member, Keir, was not in costume; his costume was meant to be a computer, but apparently broke; he said it was because it was a Windows PC and not a Mac.)
Anyway, they put on a great show, playing with their usual exuberantly playful enthusiasm. (A Deirdres show feels a little like an I'm From Barcelona show, only smaller and without the confetti.) Much like the other shows of theirs I've seen, it looked chaotic and ramshackle on the surface, but was held together with impressively tight and well-rehearsed musicianship, not to mention some quality songs. IMHO, The Deirdres are perhaps the most exciting indiepop band in the UK today.
Before their set, they also screened, for the first time, the new video they and some friends made for their song Milk Is Politics. The video's theme has little to do with the song title or its lyrics, instead being a somewhat twee, slightly silly adventure concerning eggs. It's pretty much what you'd expect a Deirdres video to look like, and is rather ace. Anyway, it has now been uploaded to YouTube, and you can see it here: