Beta: Oscar screeners for your consideration
Even casual users of social media may have noticed their friends and family gushing in a critical fashion about some of the high-profile movies which ended up with Oscar nominations, many of which have not showed up in cinemas here just yet.
Which only means one thing: either the Academy have expanded their membership to include every Teresa, Dave and Hannah under the sun or that the now-annual Oscar screener season has happened.
Every year, Academy members are sent out DVD screeners of movies that studios hope to receive nominations for in March. For the past few years, this has meant that from the end of December, a good handful of those movies have ended up on the internet for all in its original form. This year, films like 12 Years A Slave, American Hustle, The Wolf Of Wall Street, Saving Mr Banks and more have ended up online.
They're all likely to do well from awards season, which started on Sunday with the Golden Globes where 12 Years A Slave won Best Motion Picture, but thousands of regular cinema-goers have now watched these films in advance of their release, a phenomenon which shows no sign of abating thanks to a huge Academy screener list and lack of security.
There are so many screeners about that the source of a pirated version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was traced to none other than the actual host of the Oscars, Ellen DeGeneres. The copy of the film has her name watermarked all over it.
Now obviously, Ellen didn't put this up online because of some Academy disagreement but Fox has confirmed that the screener was sent to her offices for the Ellen chat show ahead of a Ben Stiller appearance. So that either means a disgruntled or opportunistic employee took advantage of lax security measures and passed it on to friends where it ended up being shared online -- according to TorrentFreak, 250,000 times in the first 24 hours of availability.
Pro-pirate commenters have been calling her Ellen DeGenerous this week. But when you consider that the Academy includes 6,000 movie industry professionals and many of them are being sent out copies of movies for their consideration, it's inevitable that some of those will end up in the wrong hands. Oscar screener season looks here to stay.
NEW ARTIST OF THE WEEK: Jean Deaux
There are so many interesting alternative R&B singers in the US and UK right now, that Queen Bey's sister Solange set up Saint Heron, a label designed to shine a light on those voices creeping their way into contemporary music.
Saint Heron is also a blog, which is where we spotted Chicago singer Jean Deaux for the first time. This new artist has been teasing out attitudinal slow jams for over a year on her SoundCloud with vocals that are authentically finding her voice at the same time as impressing many. As her Twitter bio says: "Death to fake shit."
Those early forays have led to unique transatlantic collaborations: first with Oxford indie band Glass Animals and most recently, with SBTRKT and Drake vocalist, Sampha, one of the recent nominees in the BBC Sound of 2014 poll and a fine producer in his own right.
He provides the production and backing vocals on Jean's recent highlight Find U, a track that appeared on New York DJ Kitty Cash's Love The Free mixtape alongside Kelela and Kilo Kish (who we've featured here before). The track is a subtle mix of digital percussion, synths and Jean Deaux's magnetising tones. Another track, Grape Soda, finds her channeling '80s era via synth lines with largesse.
All of this is to say, Jean Deaux has been pricking up the ears of many a mover and shaker so it may not be long until she wakes up a larger audience with her songs.
TRACKS OF THE WEEK
Who said Irish rock was dead? Actually, come to think of it, no-one did, but these four Dublin lads are certainly reminding us about the power of some shouty vocals and distorted rock music.
Lawman is six minutes of unhinged and unbridled clanking post-punk noise that should be played to The Strypes and Jake Bugg until they get the message that naughty is better than nice.
-- MR WONDERFUL
The product of growing up in a world where everyone can listen to every genre, means that upcoming producers can pile on the sound references into one big mash-up or they can seek something sleeker and more nuanced. Which is certainly the case with Ryan DeRobertis' Saint Pepsi, a project which takes in dance, rap, R&B, pop, soul (via an Aretha Franklin sample) and mushes it into a vibrant and wonderful post-Avalanches world.
Congratulations Wet! You have the worst band name of 2014 so far because it's a) crap and b) it reminds us of Marty Pellow singing that song from the Four Weddings and a Funeral soundtrack. Luckily for you New Yorkers, your song Dreams with its sweet indie-pop stylings redeems you somewhat. Just don't Google the band and title without "song" in the search term.