Signs to Virgin
If you can't beat 'em, join 'em.
It seems like only a few months ago that Toronto hiphop DJ Mastermind was busted in the Canadian recording industry's crackdown on mixed tapes. The shakedown itself was a bit surreal -- it's a given that major labels routinely use mixed-tape DJs to promote upcoming releases, even working the tapes into their marketing plans.
There is the rather sticky matter of copyright, however. So rather than continue to face questions about feeding DJs the very material that they later "bootlegged," record labels have begun to snap up the city's top mixed-tape DJs.
This winter, the Baby Blue Sound Crew signed to Universal Records and should release their first fully cleared comp later this summer. Now word has come that Virgin Music Canada has inked a deal with Mastermind, the DJ at the centre of the entire controversy.
Mastermind will deliver compilations for Virgin, with all tracks cleared and a heavy emphasis on domestic Virgin material. Volume 50 of the DJ's wildly popular tape series will drop in September.
That's great for Mastermind, but doesn't the fact that Virgin is essentially picking up where the DJ's illegal tape series left off imply at least tacit support for mixed-tape culture and contradict the spirit behind the Canadian major labels' harsh crackdown? Apparently not.
"We as a company are fully committed to Mastermind the DJ and feel that having him as part of our domestic roster will only bring credibility to that roster," offers Virgin national media and artist relations manager Tyson Parker. "I have no comment on what led up to Mastermind Volume 50. We believe in our artist. Does this condone the culture of mixed tapes? The premise, possibly, but nothing beyond that."
UNITED FUTURE ORGANIZATION
Roxy Blu, Fri, June 30
The problem with catching a group like Tokyo vinyl hounds United Future Organization is that you can often expect too much. These are DJs with some of the deepest record collections on the planet, so it's understandable that folks checking them out at Roxy Blu might hope to be greeted by things they've never heard before.
Instead, the crew spun a satisfying but not overwhelming greatest-hits set, plugging records they'd lifted for their own tunes as well as some heavy spy themes. It was immensely danceable, but not particularly different from a typical Movement party, and actually went to show how on-point our local jazz/funk crew is. The next Movement, by the way, runs Friday (July 7) at Roxy.
Horseshoe, Wed, June 28
His post-Glass Tiger sales haven't been exactly through the roof, but Scottish crooner Alan Frew still holds considerable sway at EMI. The brass was out in force for an invite-only launch party/showcase for Frew's latest, Wonderland -- the kind of force that suggests an inter-office e-mail from the top.
Frew -- whose new stuff could be termed tepid adult pop -- hasn't forsaken the Tiger completely. The group still plays classic rock festivals around the country (Gaspé on Canada Day, for instance), with Frew doing a set of solo material mid-gig. GT members also back Frew's solo shows. Now you know.
New Musical Express
Hard to know what's more amazing -- that Toronto pop gods Sloan got a glowing live review in Britain's NME for a recent gig at Camden Underworld, or that the writer was able to churn out four paragraphs without once referring to beavers or lumberjacks.
Instead, Sloan was called "Canada's best-kept secret," a description writer Stevie Chick admits doesn't quite "send shivers down the spine." Even we'll grant that much.