Mixed Media

Review: HBO's Baghdad High

| Mon Aug. 4, 2008 9:20 PM EDT

If you think high school student dramas are played out, HBO's planning to prove you wrong. Tonight, they'll showcase a class clown, an aspiring musician, a sports stud, and a lovelorn teen. But these aren't your average high school teens—these are students of Baghdad High.

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New Videos: Vampire Weekend, The Carribean, The Streets, Spiritualized

| Mon Aug. 4, 2008 7:06 PM EDT

Vampire Weekend – "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"

In which the New York band soundtracks some super-awkward party moments at a fancy pad. Don't miss the dreamy shot of lead singer Ezra Koenig superimposed over rolling ocean waves. Swoon!

The Carribbean – "The Go from Tactical"

In which the DC quartet's melancholy tune is illustrated by the cutest little robots you ever did see. It's like Wall-E without the budget!

After the jump: a very long walk and some rather high jumps.

Study: Music Industry Should "Embrace" Illegal Downloads

| Mon Aug. 4, 2008 6:20 PM EDT

mojo-photo-piratecat.jpgHey, look, smart people are saying this too! A new study that looks at Radiohead's online release of In Rainbows last year recommends record companies accept—nay, celebrate—the realities of file-sharing. As we mentioned here a few months back, despite the fact that the British combo's album was available on a pay-what-you-want basis, around twice as many people bypassed the official site anyway to use file-sharing web sites or torrents. Maybe, like me, they had trouble logging on to the official site? Yet the study, by the MCPS-PRS Alliance, which represents music rights holders, and Big Champagne, an online media measurement company, sees this as a positive, calling the Radiohead release a "success story" that resulted in strong ticket sales and enormous publicity. Ultimately, the study concludes, record labels should consider "the costs and benefits of control versus the costs and benefits of scale." The UK Guardian suggests purveyors of frozen delicacies take up this strategy as well, by "giving away free ice-cream and selling advertising on the cones," but I'd like to point out the equivalency would be downloading the recipe for ice cream, wouldn't it?

Last.fm Leads to Uncomfortable Musical Self-Awareness

| Mon Aug. 4, 2008 4:43 PM EDT

mojo-photo-lastlogo.jpgSome readers out there in Rifftopia might consider your ridiculously-named contributor to be an ahead-of-the-curve proponent of bleeding-edge technology. But nothing could be further from the truth. To be honest, I'm like a curmudgeonly grandpa, grudgingly forcing myself to take up new software and gadgets only after their obvious usefulness has finally seeped through my thick skull, and even then it's a real effort. Crimeny, I didn't have a MySpace page until 10 months ago, and I was the last one of my Nebraska family to even get a cell phone. Pathetically lazy or just wary, I'm no "early adopter."

New Music From Around the Blogs: Oasis, The Faint, Divide and Kreate, of Montreal

| Fri Aug. 1, 2008 7:11 PM EDT

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Rolling Stone's Rock 'n' Roll Daily blog announces that Oasis will release their new album, Dig Out Your Soul, on October 7th. A record company suit said it "kicks ass," and why would he lie? If you can't wait for a whole song, check out a 20-second snippet of "The Shock of the Lightning" on YouTube here. You know, it does kind of kick ass. (For fans of: Ride, Coldplay, No Way Sis)

Wired's Listening Post has an exclusive stream of The Faint's "Battle Hymn for Children," from the Saddle Creek alums' upcoming album, Fasciination. With two i's. Don't they teach spelling in Omaha? (For fans of: The Cure, Bloc Party, Cornhuskers)

After the jump: a slow-dance mashup, and a disco-dance assault on the patriarchy

Pineapple Express Ad Propels M.I.A. Into Top 40

| Fri Aug. 1, 2008 6:07 PM EDT

You've seen the ads (if not, click "play" above). The latest Seth Rogen/Judd Apatow adventure, this time with a slightly darker sensibility, is called Pineapple Express. From the commercials, it looks to be some sort of tale about drugs or witnessing a drug-related murder or being on the run from thugs who saw you witnessing the murder, or something. But apparently nobody's paying attention to the images, they're only listening to the music: most of the spot is soundtracked by M.I.A.'s "Paper Planes," a Clash-sampling and Wreckx N Effect-referencing track from last year's Kala, and based on this exposure alone, the song has rocketed up the charts. It's up to #4 on iTunes today, and based almost entirely on these online sales, it broke into the official Billboard charts, climbing to #36 this week. Holy moley, M.I.A.'s Top 40!

After the jump: is it just cause you're all baked?

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McCain Finally Gets His Very Own Song

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 8:35 PM EDT

mojo-photo-mccainandrich.jpgWith all these terrible tributes to Obama, it has seemed unfair that McCain hasn't had any unintentionally hilarious tunes penned for his campaign. But now that imbalance has been rectified, and it's almost too good to be true: it's a song called "Raising McCain" and it's by John Rich of Big and Rich. Honestly, this is the kind of stuff that makes me glad to be alive. Billboard has this quote from the song's lyrics:

He stayed strong,
Stayed extra long,
Til they let all the other boys out.
Now we've got a real man
With an American plan
We're going to put him in the big White House.
Refrain: We're all just raising McCain.

Does "house" rhyme with "out?" And is anybody else getting a weirdly homoerotic vibe? "Extra long," "real man," "raising"... no? You don't want to go there? Okay, but either way, it's just spectacular. Rich told Billboard that he'll debut the song tomorrow at "Country First," a festival in Panama City, Florida, with McCain in attendance. "The entire world is looking for a way to sucker punch us," said Rich, "I think John McCain is the guy to keep us safe." But who will protect us from terrible country-rock ballads?

New Music: Plastilina Mosh - All U Need is Mosh

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 7:09 PM EDT

mojo-photo-pmoshalluneed.jpgWhen is a band not a band? Okay, the bio says Plastilina Mosh is a duo from Monterrey, Mexico, and they have albums and some hit singles just like other bands. But they sure don't take themselves very seriously. In a recent interview, multi-instrumentalist Alejandro Rosso said they didn't think of P-Mosh as a "career":

At this point, if you think about it, most of the groups that started with our generation, like Molotov, Control Machete, Zurdok, they're no longer here, and we go on with the same idea, that is to not take everything so seriously, we do not believe that we are the truth nor are we an innovative group. We are a project that amuses us and we take this lightly, and somehow it's worked.

It's worked, but it can be a little disorienting. For All U Need is Mosh, the duo's first album of new material in five years, they've reinvented themselves again, with strange, intriguing results.

Oliver Stone on the President's Son

| Thu Jul. 31, 2008 3:21 PM EDT

The barely credible drama of the Bush family has been compared before to the Kennedys, the Corleones, and even the Macbeths, so perhaps it was only a matter of time before Oliver Stone took it on.

And now he has.

Here's the trailer for W., the new Stone movie that takes viewers through the 43rd president's action-packed life. Josh Brolin—who apparently got really involved in the role—plays our president from his time as a college student through the days leading up to the invasion of Iraq.

Stone is no supporter of Bush, and the movie is sure to be unflattering.

Still, it doesn't look like there will be any big surprises in W. Bad student, bad businessman, bad governor, bad president. Sprinkle on a little drug use and alcoholism and it's the standard bad Bush presentation. And because this is Oliver Stone, W. will probably be full of lies. That's too bad, because there's not really much need for embellishment in this story.

One made up moment in the film occurs when George Bush Sr. is elected president: "I'll never get out of Poppy's shadow," W. tells his wife. "They'll all keep saying what's the boy ever done … I mean who ever remembers the son of a president?"

The future first lady then reportedly gives a deeply ironic three-word answer: " John Quincy Adams."

W. appears in theaters October 17.

—Daniel Luzer

New Ludacris Song "Obama Is Here" Not Likely to Help With Hillary Supporters

| Wed Jul. 30, 2008 4:49 PM EDT

Here on the Riff, we've covered how conservatives have tried to attack Barack Obama by tying him to scary hip-hop music, as well as the good (and the not-so-good) hip-hop tributes to the presumed Democratic candidate. But none have stirred up the, er, pot, as much as good old Ludacris, who has released a new song that lauds Obama and insults both Hillary Clinton and John McCain. "Politics: Obama is Here" (amateur video above) includes the lines, "Hillary hated on you, so that b**** is irrelevant," and "McCain don't belong in any chair unless he's paralyzed." One can just picture Obama slapping his head in frustration here. Clinton supporters have already demanded Obama condemn the song, oh and whoops, look at that, he has, thanks Drudge.

The song itself, I must say, is terrible, and clearly the lyrics are pushing the boundaries in a desperate attempt to make up for its deficiencies. It's too bad, since Ludacris is generally pretty fantastic. After the jump, a couple of his standout videos to remind us why Obama had Luda on his iPod in the first place.