2008 - %3, November

Joan Baez: Two 20-Somethings on a 60s Icon

| Wed Nov. 26, 2008 1:20 PM PST

joan-baez-250x200.jpgIn 1959 Joan Baez was a pint-sized college dropout with a hell of a lot of hair playing her folk tunes in pretty much any Boston club that would have her. Once the sixties came—well, we know the rest—Baez met Bob Dylan, and she quickly became the darling of the nascent protest folk-rock scene. Her soprano reworkings of classic spirituals and folk songs became the soundtrack by which a generation remembers their youth.

Today, the 67 year-old Baez refuses to become a relic. To celebrate the 50th anniversary of her recording career, Baez has released The Day After Tomorrow, a new album of covers drawn from sources such as Elvis Costello and Thea Gilmore. (In true Baez style, the title track is a cover of Tom Waits' classic wartime ode to a disheartened soldier.)

Two of us MoJo staffers caught Baez during the last leg of her recent national tour. Later, we discussed via gchat how the rebel-rousing folksinger translates from legend to the stage. Full disclosure: Neither of us was even in utero during the sixties.

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First "Best of 2008" Album List Very Wrong, Very White

| Fri Nov. 21, 2008 3:38 PM PST

paste_logo2.gifKids, this right here is more proof that sometimes it's better to take it slow than rush to be first. Stereogum points out that Paste Magazine is the first major publication to drop their "Best Albums of 2008" list, and while there are some good and interesting albums all up and down it, the order (and the omissions) are kind of head-slapping. Here's their Top 10:

Stream Entire New Kanye West Album At, You Guessed It, MySpace

| Fri Nov. 21, 2008 2:55 PM PST

mojo-photo-808sandheartbreak.jpgIt's been a big week for the horrifically-designed friend-accumulation and lo-fi mp3 streaming web site MySpace. They grabbed the new G N' R just yesterday (the song "Chinese Democracy" is up to almost a million plays), and now they've got the new Kanye West album, 808s and Heartbreak, which isn't out until Tuesday. Of course, they can't help but screw things up, as Rolling Stone points out, their "fancy artwork" called the album "808s and Heartbreaks." In fact, they're kind of accurate: the album takes stock of all sorts of troubles in Kanye's life, from the death of his mother to failed relationships, from materialistic tendencies to a sudden regret he never had children. One heartbreak flows into another on this strange, lonely album.

Your Friday "Awwwww"

| Fri Nov. 21, 2008 10:18 AM PST

I bet Party Ben misses this one.

It's an awesome rap video from the 83-year-old "Funky Fraulein." ("I have to be in bed by nine.")

All my grandmothers were dead long before I was born, but I'm such a mama's girl I always mourned never having had them. I'm sure at least one of them would have been like her. Cutest of all, the grandson who no doubt talked her into this (she hefts quite a few wine glasses in the video) makes a cameo.

Enjoy.

Now: Even Easier for Teens To Embarrass Each Other!

| Thu Nov. 20, 2008 5:10 PM PST

Oh my God, you guys. Rejoice, teens of the world. It's just gotten a whole lot easier to pursue one of your favorite interests: torturing each other on the Internet. On a new site called High School Tabloid, teens can submit pictures and scandalous stories from their very own high schools. Just think: The angst and growing pains of your friends, enemies, and frenemies memorialized—and laid bare for literally the whole world to see! Check out this screen shot from the home page:

hst500.jpg
And its motto pulls no punches: "Gossip, Publicity, Popularity."

Teens who post are awarded points, two for comments posted to a story and "10 points for posted headline with story." (So are the points for the headline or the story?) Earn enough points and this fabulous prize could be yours:

Obtain 50,000 points you become an official High School Tabloid columnist which will give you the opportunity to write a cover story, which will be featured on the HighSchoolTabloid home page! .GOSSIP.PUBLICITY.POPULARITY.

Folks, there may be hope for journalism yet.

HT YPulse.

John McCain Countersues Jackson Browne

| Thu Nov. 20, 2008 4:28 PM PST

mojo-photo-mccainbrowne.jpgFor those of you who felt like the McCain campaign, round about early September, started to look like some sort of demented cartoon, don't say "that's all folks" yet. As we discussed here back in August, singer-songwriter Jackson Browne filed suit against the McCain campaign for using his song, "Running on Empty," in a campaign ad. Sure, the suit was more symbolic than anything (considering the ads were probably off the air by the time Browne called his lawyer) but the remnants of the McCain campaign are taking it very seriously, countersuing in U.S. District Court in California. As Reuters reported, McCain filed two motions:

The first is a standard motion to dismiss, claiming that McCain's use of the song was fair use. McCain also says that Browne's assertion that the Lanham Act's prohibition on the implication of a "false association or endorsement" fails because it only applies to "commercial speech," not "political speech." The second filing is maybe even more interesting. It's an anti-SLAPP motion, which is typically used by defendants as a way to seek monetary damages after a plaintiff has subjected a defendant to a lawsuit meant to chill free speech. So far, McCain is only looking for attorney's fees and costs, but claiming an artist has interfered with free speech is quite the poke of an eye in show business.

That's right, McCain is looking to recoup some cash here. To add insult to injury, the first motion included the boastful assertion that using "Running on Empty" in their ad "will likely increase the popularity of this 30-year-old song." Hilarious, but McCain may have a point, as the only major "win" that had anything to do with his campaign was pop-cultural: SNL's ratings bump and Tina Fey becoming America's sweetheart. Maybe Browne should write a book?

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Chinese Democracy Emerges, Pigs Stay Safely On Ground

| Thu Nov. 20, 2008 1:29 PM PST

mojo-photo-gnrchinesecd.jpgIt's here: early this morning, the entirety of Chinese Democracy, the new album from Guns N' Roses and their first in 17 years, was posted to their official MySpace page for your 96kbps listening pleasure. The physical CD will go on sale exclusively at Best Buy stores this Sunday, breaking with the odd tradition of Tuesday releases—speaking of democracy, could we do that with elections too? Anyway, Jon Pareles has a lot of fun with it in the Times today:

"Chinese Democracy" is the Titanic of rock albums: the ship, not the movie, although like the film it's a monumental studio production. It's outsize, lavish, obsessive, technologically advanced and, all too clearly, the end of an era. It's also a shipwreck, capsized by pretensions and top-heavy production. In its 14 songs there are glimpses of heartfelt ferocity and despair, along with bursts of remarkable musicianship. But they are overwhelmed by countless layers of studio diddling and a tone of curdled self-pity. The album concludes with five bombastic power ballads in a row.

Glimpses, indeed, and I might add "fleeting."

These Men Are From Hell, not Mars

| Wed Nov. 19, 2008 11:06 AM PST

Man, I'm glad I'm divorced and definitely not looking.

Check out Love in the Time of Darwinism. That is, if you're a man—a "real" man—who wants to be reminded of why he behaves in the manly way that he does. Or if you're a "real" woman without a man and need reminding of why that is so.

New Music: Amadou & Mariam - Welcome to Mali

| Tue Nov. 18, 2008 2:12 PM PST

mojo-photo-amadoumariamwelcome.jpgIt's a shameful fact that I came across Malian duo Amadou & Mariam's entrancing 2005 album, Dimanche à Bamako, well into 2006, too late to include it in my "best albums" list. While the album was produced with a professional sheen by Manu Chao, it still maintained a direct line to traditional Malian sounds while expanding into more complex musical and lyrical territory. Sure, with Chao's help, Bamako achieved international acclaim, but one can hope that it was the album's emotional purity that resonated with listeners worldwide. The duo's new album is called Welcome to Mali, but oddly enough, it finds them moving even further afield.

Album opener and first single "Sabali" ("Wisdom") was produced by Damon Albarn of Blur and Gorillaz fame, and it's superb, a strange mashup of Gorillaz' "Feel Good Inc." with the rising-and-falling computerized tones and melancholy feel of Grandaddy's "The Crystal Lake." It's a fascinating, retro-futuristic re-interpretation of chiming Afropop, with brief lo-fi transmissions from the past laid over the top.

Paul McCartney Announces Unreleased Beatles Track

| Mon Nov. 17, 2008 2:42 PM PST

mojo-photo-beatles-2.jpgPaul McCartney has confirmed to BBC Radio 4 the existence of a "mythical" 14-minute-long unreleased Beatles track, and says the song will see the light of day. The track, called "Carnival of Light," commissioned for an electronic music festival, was recorded during the Penny Lane sessions in 1967, and was apparently only played once, at the festival itself. McCartney told Radio 4 that at the time he asked the other Beatles to indulge him:

I said all I want you to do is just wander around all the stuff, bang it, shout, play it, it doesn't need to make any sense. Hit a drum then wander on to the piano, hit a few notes, just wander around. So that's what we did and then put a bit of an echo on it. It's very free.

He said the track was never released because it was too "adventurous," but that "the time has come for it to get its moment."

After the jump: Brits find a reason to complain!