The Riff

CD Review: Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 3:36 PM PDT

mojo-photo-lilwaynecarter.jpgDelays are never, ever a good sign. If the release of your highly-anticipated creative work keeps getting pushed back, it's pretty much a given that when it finally emerges, it'll be bloated and uneven, overcooked in spots and raw in others. I'd hoped mixtape master Lil Wayne would prove the exception to this rule, but the long-delayed Tha Carter III (in stores today) is more mixed bag than mixtape, with brief hints of the head-spinning magic that made his bootleg releases so exciting marred by dull (if financially successful) attempts at mainstream appeal.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

New 3G iPhone: Resistance is Futile

| Mon Jun. 9, 2008 3:16 PM PDT

mojo-photo-borgphone.jpgSteve Jobs has announced the introduction of new iPhone models, slashing the baseline price in half to $199. The new models will run on 3G technology, allowing for faster internet access and download speeds, and will feature GPS, so you always know where you are. While Jobs himself just called the new phones "zippy," others have decided that higher-speed internet access and the possibility of unlimited music downloads may be "as important a moment in musical history as the invention of the gramophone." At the risk of sounding like an alarmist Luddite, I'll take it further: the new iPhone brings us one step closer in our inexorable progress towards becoming The Borg.

Is the (Traditional) Rock Band Dead?

| Mon Jun. 9, 2008 2:46 PM PDT

mojo-photo-noage.jpgNouns, the new album from the Los Angeles-based No Age (left), is fast becoming one of the most acclaimed albums of the year, with high marks from Pitchfork and NME. The album's sound, as Pitchfork put it, is "cacophonous" and "gorgeously thick," punk rock with a swirling, tone-bending My Bloody Valentine sheen. What might surprise you is that the band is actually a duo: just two guys, Randy Randall and Dean Spunt, playing guitar and drums respectively, their sound filled out by loops and samples. Lately, this seems more and more common: most of the interesting developments in rock music are coming from "non-traditional" band lineups. Is the good old rock four-piece an endangered species?

After the jump: I still haven't found the U2 I'm looking for... but I do have a No Age mp3!

Does It Matter If Bob Dylan Supports Obama?

| Sun Jun. 8, 2008 3:52 PM PDT

The wad of celebrity endorsements Barack Obama has in his back pocket got a bit thicker once rock legend Bob Dylan told The Times of London that Obama was "redefining the nature of politics from the ground up."

Now for the real question: Are times really a-changin' so much that McCain supporters will swap sides to Barack n' Roll?

Just recently The Weekly Standard's blog chided "failed kingmaker" Bruce Springsteen for his political outspokenness, while praising Dylan for making the "smart career move" of never publicly supporting a candidate.

So much for rocker silence; now for the echo.

—Steve Aquino

Rapper Nas Produces Obama Song That Isn't Terrible

| Fri Jun. 6, 2008 2:27 PM PDT

I know, we all got sick of the Will.I.Am track pretty quickly (although the McCain spoof was pretty awesome), and let's not even link to Obama Girl. But leave it to New York rapper Nas to come up with an Obama-referencing track that actually sounds pretty good. MTV news has a clip of the new track, called "Black President," which started out as part of a mixtape, but will now be included on the as-yet-untitled upcoming Nas album. Part of what makes this song interesting is its complexity: rather than being a goggle-eyed campaign sing-along, it actually expresses some doubts, with lines like "These colored folks and Negroes hate to see one of their own succeeding/America: surprise us, and let a black man guide us." Nas even wonders aloud if Obama really can "keep it way real." Plus, it's, uh, got a good beat. Check out a clip after the jump.

Chart Beat: Coldplay's Biggest Hit Ever; Duffy Doffs Madge

| Thu Jun. 5, 2008 3:47 PM PDT

mojo-photo-chart0605.jpg

Well shut my mouth: I've been ragging on Coldplay's upcoming Viva la Vida for a while now, but the lead single of the same name has just jumped to #3 on the Billboard Hot 100, making it the band's highest-charting single ever in the U.S. ("Speed of Sound" peaked at #8 in 2005, and the ubiquitous "Clocks" never made it past #29). The album's out June 17th. Lil Wayne's Tha Carter III finally hits stores next week (I'll believe it when I see it) and "Lollipop" remains at #1 on the singles chart for a fourth week, while second single "Got Money" debuts at #13. That's only half of his four appearances in the top 40 this week, the most since 50 Cent back in 2005.

Over on the albums chart, Usher beat out the Sex and the City soundtrack this week, debuting at #1 with Here I Stand, while music to drink cosmos to landed at #2. Death Cab for Cutie's Narrow Stairs dropped from #5 to #10.

Across the pond, hotly-tipped Welsh singer-songwriter Duffy hops back up to #1 on the European albums chart with her debut album Rockferry, replacing Madonna's Hard Candy at the top spot. (Rockferry climbs to #7 in the US this week). Portishead's Third is barely hanging on in the European Top Ten after five weeks, although it was just certified gold in the UK for sales of 100,000 copies.

A selection of accompanying videos, after the jump.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Record Labels Make Hint-Laden Mixtape for NAB

| Thu Jun. 5, 2008 2:07 PM PDT

mojo-photo-cassette.jpgAh, it brings me back to my early teens. With the image of an unrequited crush object fixed firmly in my mind, I'd labor for hours at my crappy Sears stereo, arranging song after song onto a C-90 cassette, in the hopes that the music would carry a message I was too chicken to voice myself: The Smiths "I Want the One I Can't Have," The Cure's "Close to Me," Violent Femmes "Add It Up." A master of subtlety I was not. Then, the magic cassette (complete with intricately detailed cover) would be handed off to said crush object, who I can only assume listened to it for hours while longingly gazing at a picture of me. Or, tossed it in the trash.

Either way, it never really worked, but that isn't stopping record label-funded musicFirst, who are trying to express their unrequited love of performance royalties to the National Association of Broadcasters with lyrically appropriate music this week. Cheekily calling the attempt a "four-day prank," the organization is sending NAB president David Rehr an iTunes certificate for these songs:

Video: Terry McAuliffe Loses It on The Daily Show

| Wed Jun. 4, 2008 2:06 PM PDT

Is he doing a bit? Is this a shoot-the-moon strategy? Is it the giddiness of a man who knows some sort of secret bombshell Obama revelation is about to hit the fan, which will somehow magically switch everybody's allegiances to Hillary? Or is he just on gigantic mounds of crack cocaine?

Update: Jonathan Stein has already noted on Mojoblog that this guy is loony tunes, but that he'd "want him in my camp." But Jonathan, think of the crack bills! No wonder they're $20 million in debt...

Kmart's Abstinence Pants Maker Says: Yes You Can!

| Tue Jun. 3, 2008 12:25 PM PDT

Yes, I said "abstinence pants." Kmart in-house designer Piper & Blue has jazzed up this year's summer collection with a pair of sweatpants for teen girls that say "True Love Waits" in your choice of colored bubble letters. No, there is no corresponding set for boys.

But there is an official Piper & Blue designers' blog that lets you know how you should be thinking about your summer couture. And maybe it's just me, but some of the suggestions seem a little risque for the True Love Waits crowd. "Top garments like coats and jackets are what an onlooker sees first," warns the blog. What do they see next? Well, if you wear their "football jersey," that would be "a casual outfit that's super stylish and easily accessible!" Easily accessible? Uh oh. "These days, you don't need a bank account like Britney's to get Lindsay's look." You, too, can model your style on two of our culture's pillars of Christian morality. That particular post is entitled, "Hollywood Glam? Yes You Can!"

Though brimming with advice, the blog is sadly silent on the topic of the abstinence pants. It does, however, justify its similar, albeit less-political sweatpants: "By pairing a cute tee with embellished sweats, you'll look ready for action, not bed." I'll leave interpreting that to you all, in the comments.

Bo Diddley Dies at 79

| Mon Jun. 2, 2008 12:38 PM PDT

mojo-photo-diddley.jpgLegendary guitarist Bo Diddley has died at age 79. The AP calls him "a founding father of rock 'n' roll whose distinctive 'shave and a haircut, two bits' rhythm and innovative guitar effects inspired legions of other musicians," while Billboard notes his contribution to the essential ingredients of contemporary music, saying his fuzzy, distorted guitar sound "perfectly complimented his frenetic songs, which he played on a homemade square guitar while decked out in dark sunglasses and a black hat. Similarly, his rhythmic, boastful vocal style predated rap by several decades." Across the pond, the UK Guardian also acknowledges Diddley's influence, saying his "signature "hambone" beat provided one of the original and most enduring rhythms in rock… [and provided] the foundations from which many musicians - including the British invasion bands of the 1960s - have built."

After the jump, some videos.