With CMJ happening in New York this week, that's all the blogs are talking about. Lucky them. Your intrepid, ridiculously-named reporter was not there, I'm just listening to music on the hi-fi, or the lo-fi, as the case may be.
10. The Dream "She Needs My Love" (from Love/Hate out Dec. 11 on Def Jam)
(stream at The Fader)
Hey, it's super-slo-mo choruses! Remember how much I love those? Combine that with Dream's songwriting skills (this is the guy who wrote "Umbrella") and you have a track that veers between sing-along almost-ballad and car stereo-pounding thumper.
9. New Young Pony Club "Get Lucky" (video)
This new wave-y track from the UK combo appeared in my Top Ten a while back already, but this video is so odd, both charming and disconcerting, I felt like it deserved a re-entry:
8. South Rakkas Crew "Crazy Feelings" (from The Mix Up on Mad Decent)
(listen at the Mad Decent site)
First I thought the bassline was from The Other Two's "Selfish," and then the chorus kicked in and I realized, that's the Jacksons. Not the Jackson 5, the Jacksons, Triumph-era. That's the trouble with samples: you suddenly realize you might actually like the original. Aack!
7. Travis Barker vs. Soulja Boy "Crank That"
Yes, this is the drummer from Blink 182 and +44, playing over the still-inescapable "Crank That." While you just want to be annoyed with him, all tattooed and rich and bashing the living bejesus out of his drums to overcompensate for being like 4'11", this is truly, unbelievably awesome.
6. Roisin Murphy "Let Me Know" (from Overpowered on EMI)
The former Moloko lead singer has struck out on her own in a somewhat typical British solo artist style: too pop to be cool, too weird to reach America. Hello, Robbie Williams! It's too bad, because this is glammy, perfectly-executed electro-disco that should be bigger than Madonna, and the video illustrates why: it can make even the most mundane moments of our pathetic lives feel special.
Just in case anyone out there is deluded into thinking we're actually making progress on this issue because it's in the occasional headline, or, now and again, mentioned by a jaw-wagging politician. Here's the latest: Atmospheric carbon dioxide growth has increased 35 percent faster than expected since 2000.
The findings by the British Antarctic Survey and others, and published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, found that inefficiency in the use of fossil fuels drove up atmospheric CO2 by 17 percent since 2000. At the same time, the declining efficiency of natural land and ocean sinks drove it up another 18 percent.
The research shows that improvements in the carbon intensity of the global economy have stalled since 2000, after improving for 30 years, due to population growth and the growing global wealth. The decline in global sink efficiency, according to author Dr Corinne Le Qéré, "suggests that stabilization of atmospheric CO2 is even more difficult to achieve than previously thought. We found that nearly half of the decline in the efficiency of the ocean CO2 sink is due to the intensification of the winds in the Southern Ocean".
Hold onto your hats, peeps.
Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.
If language, as William S. Burroughs said, is a virus, then music is its most virulent and mutable form, infecting you and transforming itself until suddenly everyone you know is dancing to gabber. Especially in the fast-paced, often producer-centric worlds of hip-hop and dance music, new genres seem to pop up faster than coked-up journalists can assign them names. Here's some names you might have seen tossed around lately, with my completely scientific ratings of their legitimacy as truly "different" than music that came before and their potential for longevity.
They give it a "6.4." No, seriously, this is kind of odd: last month, a hard drive containing music files belonging to Death Cab bassist Chris Walla was seized by U.S. Customs officials when a studio employee tried to take it back into Washington State from Canada. The story started to make the rounds last week, with Walla joking about his hard drive being "waterboarded" and wondering aloud if the overtly political content of some of the songs might pose a problem. Well that got a Customs guy all perturbed: MTV News quotes representative Mike Milne as saying Walla's comments to the press "got my ire up," that the hard drive was only seized because of commercial merchandise paperwork issues, and besides, they'd been trying to return it. Wow, a couple news stories come out, and suddenly Homeland Security is a service-oriented organization.
Barsuk Records founder Josh Rosenfeld doesn't believe that the album's political content had anything to do with the seizure—after all, how could they have listened to the files beforehand?—but finds the random seizure of personal property a bit disturbing, saying "this is a case of a U.S. artist who went into Canada to record and then wanted to bring the fruits of that recording back home... it doesn't seem like a commercial product to me." Well, in any event, they had master tapes, and the album is coming out on schedule, and now, as Rosenfeld says, "at least everyone knows Chris Walla has a solo record coming out." Hmm, now who's the conspiracy theorist?
There's one thing that can't be disputed about the evangelicals who attended the Family Research Council's "Values Voters Summit" in Washington D.C. this past weekend: they are all wonderfully nice people. They may view homosexuals as abominations of nature; they may want to run the United States based on biblical dictates; and they may see immigrants as a corruption of American culture, but they will wish God's blessing upon you a million times over.
As a reporter from Mother Jones at the event, I needed all the blessings I could get. My employer was a constant source of amusement to the attendees I spoke with.
"Who are you with?" asked a heavy-set attendee from Texas who I chatted with outside a Sam Brownback book signing.
"Mother Jones magazine," I said. "It's a national magazine covering prog"
He cut me off before I could finish. "I read Mother Jones in college," he said, grinning. "Back when I was around your age, I believe. What did Winston Churchill say? 'A young man who is not a liberal is heartless, an old man who is not a conservative .'" He started laughing. I started laughing. Turns out, the end of the quote is "is an idiot" or "is a fool"—the Churchill Centre says the quote is a false attribution, so end it however you please.
Later, as I was perusing books like Last Days Madness and The Criminalization of Christianity, a skinny man standing nearby spotted my press pass and made a beeline in my direction. "Can I introduce you to a candidate?" he asked, pressing a piece of campaign literature into my hand. "Daniel Gilbert, a fourth-tier candidate who believes ordinary citizens should run against professional politicians and win. A strong conservative." I paused to read the handout, but hadn't gotten past the quote "I love America" before the man asked me what news outlet I was with.