A Week in Rock

I know you probably stopped caring about illegal music downloading a long time ago, around when you discovered that you were more likely to get either fined or infected with viruses than find that hot new OutKast MP3. But surely you remember the controversy that surrounded the record industry’s fining of the 10-year-old girl, and their threats to bring every file sharer to court. Well, it looks like their efforts paid off. File-sharing network Grokster yielded to the industry’s legal muscle and terminated their entire network because of an earlier Supreme Court ruling that decreed file-sharing networks to be little more than avenues for circumventing copyright law. On top of the shutdown, Grokster agreed to pay out $50 million in damages and revamp their service for legal downloading, as Napster did. “The United States Supreme Court unanimously confirmed that using this service to trade copyrighted material is illegal,” read a statement released on the Grokster web site in conjunction with the closure. “Copying copyrighted motion picture and music files using unauthorized peer-to-peer services is illegal and is prosecuted by copyright owners. There are legal services for downloading music and movies. This service is not one of them.” Okay. You can go back to not caring about this at all now. Sorry to bother you.


In related news, John Lennon’s entire solo catalogue is going online for download. By Dec. 6, the best Beatles’ solo work, which incidentally was better than any other Beatles, will be completely available on an as-yet-undisclosed download service other than iTunes, due to the long running feud between Apple Computers and Apple Corps. "I am very happy that John’s music is now available to a new generation of music fans,” the late singer’s wife and avant-garde artist Yoko Ono said. “New technology is something he always embraced and this is something he would have loved. I always say that he would have been very excited by all the opportunities offered by the development of new means of communication.” If you can’t wait the month or so until the songs come up, selected online retailers are already stocked with another crappy greatest hits selection, Working Class Hero.


Mana “China” Nishiura, drummer for famed Japanese pop-punk band Shonen Knife as well as psychedelic group DMBQ, was killed last weekend when the latter band’s tour van careened off the road in New Jersey. Mysteriously, an auto crossed the centerline of the turnpike and struck the van, causing it to roll over and eject Nishiura, who was killed immediately. The other band members were only moderately injured. Nishura had been the touring drummer for Shonen Knife since 2001 and gained a reputation in DMBQ for her raucous abandon onstage. Her unexpected and tragic death brought the group’s tour to a halt, and will likely throw a wrench into any of Shonen Knife’s plans as well.


This Tuesday, our fair city’s own Menomena released their newest record, an instrumental soundtrack for Portland dance ensemble the Monster Squad. Titled Under an Hour, the LP boasts grandiose arrangements that are not projected to be transferable to a live format. In other words, Menomena fans, you aren’t going to get a tour to support this new record. And an instrumental dance ensemble soundtrack? Not exactly my cup of tea. But if there’s one thing you can say about Menomena, it’s that they are going to follow their freaky-free electronic beat making machine groove all the way to the max. And they spent upwards of two years working on this, so the least you owe them is a test listen or two.