10 Ways to Stay Hip

A weekly cultural reference to keep your mind fresh and your limbs loose.

Thu May 17, 2007 3:00 AM EDT

Do not fret, my sweet liberal media blog enthusiasts -- I have not deserted you! Yes, yes, I sauntered off to Coachella and then galavanted halfway around the world for a silly DJ gig, and yes, I know, I could have used my shiny new laptop to post something for you, but these other places had piña coladas, by the pool, see, and what do you, oh Riffers, offer me, besides angry comments? Which are not refreshing or coconutty, by the way, and do not get me sloshed! But I still love you! Never think I don't love you! I love you so much, that I want us to share the following Top 10 Things, which this week are vaguely influenced by Jamaica, which is where I was for a couple days, and yes next time you can come.

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mojo-cover-nickyvanshe.jpg10. Nicky Van She & Dangerous Dan"Around the World Again"
So the concept isn't so new: there's already been at least one rock cover of a Daft Punk song, and Who Made Who shot to novelty prominence in '05 with their B-52's-reminiscent take on Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction," but this is still awesome – a simple, guitar-based instrumental version of the toweringly great "Around the World." I'll dance to that

mojo-photo-sunshine.JPG9. Sunshine (upcoming film from Danny Boyle, director of Trainspotting and 28 Days Later, out this Fall at the earliest, from Fox Searchlight)
My motto, as far as B-movies are concerned, is "The Earth Must Be Destroyed." Any scenario that involves the potential destruction of humanity or our planet or our solar system, and I am so there. I mean, I dragged everyone I know to see The Core, on opening night, on IMAX, and that may be the worst movie ever made. So finding out that the inventive director Danny Boyle is taking on a film about an (ill-fated?) voyage to re-start our dying sun – how am I going to wait six months for this?!?!!!

mojo-photo-djjoven.JPG8. DJ Joven – Live at Zizek, Buenos Aires, Argentina (mp3 via Disco Shawn)
My expat buddy Shawn has written some intriguing things about the new avant-Cumbia scene in Buenos Aires, but I didn't really get it until I heard this brief but awesome set that includes a crazy version of Justin Timberlake's "My Love," as well as some oddly ambient-sounding electronic reinterpretations of this traditional Latin style

7. Verka Serduchka
Apparently this Ukranian drag sensation (real name, Andriy Danylo) is set to win the Eurovision Song Contest, an event that continues to amaze me with its, um, existence. In any event, this bonkers performance appears to be mostly in German, with some Ukranian asides ("Dance," "Where are your hands, hands, hands?"). It doesn't make any sense to me at all... but I can't… stop… watching...

mojo-cover-interpol.jpg6. Interpol"The Heinrich Maneuver" (from Our Love to Admire, out July 10 on Matador)
Okay, in my Coachella preview, I got the album title wrong, so sue me. But really, this track is so great, they could have named the album after it. With a seemingly in-joke title, a weirdly casual intro line ("How are things on the West Coast?" Um, on fire, thanks, Interpol), and what appears to be a stuffed leopard on the cover, this song from the most Joy Division-y of indie bands makes some counterintuitive moves but still ends up majestic

mojo-cover-pole.JPG5. Pole"Achterban" (from Steingarten on ~scape)
This German electronic artist has already been reviewed well (if a bit overdramatically) by the music lords at Pitchfork, but I must say I'm especially enjoying this track, the darkest and possibly most straightforward on this atmospheric, creepy album. Sure, it's based on dub reggae, but the textures are crunchier, the loping beat more insistent, and the feeling less stoned, more transmission-from-space

mojo-cover-johnnygreenwood.JPG4. Scientist & Jammy & Roots Radics – "Flash Gordon Meets Luke Skywalker" (from Johnny Greenwood is the Controller on Trojan)
Speaking of dub... and, er, space. I haven't smoked weed in like 10 years, but boy does music like this bring back some memories. This track (from the Radiohead guitarist's compilation of "lost classics" from the Trojan Records back catalog) is my favorite kind of reggae: stripped down in the studio to its basic elements, then revamped, with triple-time echo threatening to overwhelm its throbbing, muggy sound. Does anybody have any cheese snacks?

mojo-cover-birdandbee.JPG3. The Bird and the Bee – "La La La" (from the self-titled album on Blue Note)
How predictable I am. I'll go for anything that kind of reminds me of Air's "Moon Safari," (although I'm still mad at the Frenchmen themselves for messing up Coachella). This track from the LA duo, with its unexpected chord changes and reverb-saturated tambourine jingles, is straight from the School of Lounge, but it's a lovely addition to your mellow dinner party CD

mojo-cover-ickythump.JPG2. The White Stripes"Icky Thump" (from the forthcoming album, Icky Thump, out June 15th on Warner Brothers)
Is there anything Jack White can't do? Masturbatory guitar-hero worship is way, way out my window (see, I dunno, Yngwie Malmsteen), and this track is 80% noodling guitar ridiculousness, but my God, does it freakin' rock. The lyrics have some good lines ("Well, Americans / What, nothin' better to do? / Why don't you kick yourself out?/You're an immigrant too") – but mostly it's all about the massive riffs, which, like almost everything White plays, seem dredged out from a place in humanity's common genetic memory; melodies that have always been there, waiting to be discovered

mojo-photo-megajamz.JPG1. Mega Jamz 98 FM, Jamaica (Listen online here... if you can get it to work)
So, let's say you get booked for a corporate DJ gig, in Montego Bay, and you go there, and you end up kind of trapped at this resort way outside of town for the weekend, but you have a lot of work to do anyway and so you make the best of it and move the laptop out onto the balcony, and for the sake of argument, say you like reggae but not the cheesy stuff, and so you turn on the radio, and stumble across a station that alternates unexpected classics (like a classic extended mix of Michael Jackson's "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough") with bonkers ragga dancehall tracks; the latter's syncopated, distorted beats and incomprehensible lyrics sound like a million even-nuttier MIAs, and they're all amazing, and it's interrupted every once in a while with a station ID that just goes "MEGAAA!!" Would you love it as much as I did? Answer: Yes. Yes, you would.

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