Author Archives: Alan Cross

Weirdest. Radio. Contest. Ever.

September 20th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

The winner!Somalia may be a failed state, but one Mogadishu radio station sure knows how to attract the younger demos.

Radio Andulus, a station run by the al-Shabab militia (they're allegedly buddies of al-Qaida) conducted a contest for children to see who could best recite passages from the Koran during the month of Ramadan.  The winners were named on Monday.


  • First prize:  $700--and an AK-47.
  • Second prize:  $500--and an AK-47.
  • Third prize:  Two bombs (hand grenades, actually)

Why The Tea Party (The Band) Stands to Make $$$ from The Tea Party (The Political Movement)

September 20th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Jeff Martin and the Tea Party (not exactly as illustrated)When Jeff Martin, Stuart Chatwood and Jeff Burrows formed a band in Windsor, Ontario, back in 1990, their choice of the name "The Tea Party" had nothing to do with anti-tax shenanigans in Boston Harbour in December 1773.  No, this "tea party" was the nickname for the times William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac all got together to smoke hash back in the 50s and 60s.

How ironic then that the most conservative elements of the Republican Party--The Tea Party--may want to purchase the domain name from the rather liberal admirers of hash smoking Beat poets.

You can imagine the confusion of US Tea Partiers when confronted by the results when they type "Tea Party" into Google.  And you might also imagine the frustration of the recently-reformed Tea Party (the band).

"So much damage has been done to our name by the political movement that we're considering selling," says Chatwood.

Surprise! Arcade Fire Wins 2011 Polaris Music Prize

September 20th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Okay, so it's not a surprise.  They were the favourites going in and they deserved to win. Period.  Full stop.  No debate.

In the opening introductions, the Arcade Fire was mentioned first by name while the others were jokingly referred to as "the nine dark horses."  

The bigger shock would have been had they NOT won.  But there was no way they should have lost. The Suburbs is a critical, commercial and artistic success, lauded by even the toughest critics around the planet.  To say that any of the other nine nominees released a better record would have been just plain stupid.  

One response to a tweet I sent out said it all "If they don't win, it's the ultimate demonstration of the tall poppy syndrome."  Exactly.

The Suburbs represents the perfect nexus of artistic achievement, mainstream success and hipster love. No, "they don't need the money" (another Twitter message) and yes, they've already received lots of glory.  

But any other choice would have severely damaged Polaris' credibility. 

More pictures after the jump.

I Like This: Beak>

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Beak> (yes, that’s how you spell it) is the Portishead side project of Geoff Barrow.  He’s obviously a Pink Floyd

Handicapping Tonight’s Polaris Music Prize

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

If there's one thing I've learned about the Polaris Music Prize in my six years' of involvement it's that you can never predict who's going to win.

As I write this, eleven men and women good and true have been sequestered in a secret location, tasked with awesome responsibility of declaring which of the ten albums on the 2011 Short List should be named the best Canadian album of the last year.  

And here's the important bit:  the nominees must be judged soley on their artistic merit.  Commercial success, popularity and genre have nothing to do with it.  Which album is a piece of art that should be elevated above all?

Although I'm a member of the Polaris crew--my votes helped determine both the Long List and the Short List--I have nothing to do with this final bit of arguing.  But like everyone else interested in Polaris, I have some opinions and guesses.

The Foo Fighters Stick It to the Westboro Baptist Church

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

You know about these loonies, right?  They're the whacko Kansas bunch who have, er, an interesting intrepretation of the Bible.  

When the Foo Fighters announced their Kansas City gig, the WBC repsonded by promising to picket the band's show because the Foo Fighters teach "fornication, adultery, idolaty and fags."  

Lovely people.

The Foos, however, weren't about to let this go unchallenged.  And they got 'em good.

The Grunge Quiz

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

With the 20th anniversary of Nevermind coming up this week, the New York Times got into the spirit of things

Have iPod Docks and Their Ilk Replaced the Old-School HiFi?

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Bang and Olufsen BeoSound 8It's true.  People are ditching big stereos with honkin' speakers for little things to which you connect your iPod.  And while most people opt for cheaper units, there's a growing number of high-end iPod docks that sound pretty damn good.

But this isn't the case everywhere in the world.  I was asked to be part of an expert focus group at the transmitCHINA conference a few days ago where the manufacturer of a multiroom audio system wanted ideas as to how penetrate the Chinese market.

How People Listen in the Car

September 19th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

Although these are American numbers--and numbers collected by radio-related companies (Arbitron, Edison and Scarborough)--there's something to be gleaned here.

At the moment, 84% of drivers and passengers say that AM and FM radio is their top choice for entertainment while in a car.  That's comforting for radio group owners.  However...

Spotify Beware: MOG Goes Free – Sorta.

September 18th, 2011 | by Alan Cross

the popular music streaming service, is now available to anyone for free . That's right: no need for a credit card or a paid subscription. Great, huh? Yes - but there's a catch.

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