Mixed Media

Get Your Earplugs Ready for the My Bloody Valentine Reunion

| Mon Jun. 16, 2008 4:06 PM EDT

mojo-photo-mbvsetlist.jpgThey were some of the most anticipated gigs of the year: on Friday and Saturday nights, the original My Bloody Valentine lineup played two shows at a small venue in London, concerts that were billed as "warm ups" for an upcoming tour, but reports say the band were already turning the volume knobs up to "11." NME.com reported that the "shoegazing kings delighted their fans" who greeted them with "delirious" cheers, and that the set focused entirely on music released between 1987 and 1991 (when the band was signed to Creation Records), including a 20-minute version of "You Made Me Realise" to close the show. That'll separate the men from the boys, or at least those willing to indulge endless white-noise freakouts from those who aren't.

After the jump: So, uh, how much ear damage should attendees expect?

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How Do You Explain a Savings and Loan Scandal to an Eight-Year-Old?

| Fri Jun. 13, 2008 5:40 PM EDT

Meghan McCain, who has made a career of sorts out of following her father's campaign, has a book deal. According to Meghan's blog, the recent Columbia grad will soon be writing an illustrated campaign biography of her father. Meghan's book will join the ranks of other literary endeavors by the daughters of Republican politicians, offering children "the unique opportunity to see the character building events that happened over his lifetime" that have prepared John McCain to lead the nation.

One wonders which of many character-building events this book will actually highlight. Seminal experiences in the Senior Senator from Arizona's life include his oft-mentioned torture in Vietnam. Then there was that highly damaging Keating savings and loan scandal that almost destroyed his career in the 1980s. More recently, there was Mrs. McCain's addiction to painkillers. Are these things really so easy to explain to children?

All in all, decidedly interesting reading for America's Republican tykes.

—Daniel Luzer

U2 Would Like to Name Their Own Price, Thanks

| Thu Jun. 12, 2008 5:15 PM EDT

mojo-photo-u2live.jpgU2's manager Paul McGuinness has denied that the Irish combo will utilize a Radiohead-style pay-what-you-want setup for their upcoming release, saying that the online scheme "to some extent backfired." In Rainbows was released last year via a website that allowed fans to enter their own price, or pay nothing at all, in a ground-breaking attempt to work around illegal file-sharing. However, McGuinness says, people went to illegal file-sharing sites for the album anyway. "60 to 70% of the people who downloaded the record stole it anyway, even though it was available for free," he claimed. His figures may be about right: even in the early days of In Rainbows' release, illegal downloads rivaled official downloads.

Golf Is the Justice Department's Solution to Gangs?

| Thu Jun. 12, 2008 4:28 PM EDT

In another embarrassing moment for the DOJ, ABC News reported that Justice recently awarded a competitive half-million dollar grant for prevention of juvenile delinquency to the World Golf Foundation's First Tee program.

"We need something really attractive to engage the gangs and the street kids. Golf is the hook," said J. Robert Flores of the Justice Department's Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Yes, golf is famous for that.

What Flores neglected to mention, however, was that the Justice Department—implementing the Bush administration's state mandate to support "scientifically" based programs—already gave First Tees a middling rating; Justice ranked First Tee 47th on its list of 104 applicants.

Flores, who was appointed by President Bush in 2002 and has distributed about $1.5 billion dollars in federal money in his current position, said that he selects the programs for grants based on the "overall" need, not necessarily on the rating his own department gives the applications. Many other programs that the Justice Department rated highly were denied grants.

So why on earth was the golf program given this fancy grant? It's possible the program's honorary spokesman had something to do with it. —Daniel Luzer

Video: Cusack's McCain Baiting

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 9:12 PM EDT

First, John Cusack made War, Inc., a film satirizing post-9/11 America, about which he bantered with our lovely co-editor here.

Now, Cusack's officially become pundit bait with a MoveOn.org ad in which he equates John McCain with President Bush:

I think it's safe to tally that as another celebrity endorsement for Obama.—Steve Aquino

Music: Is Flying Lotus the New J Dilla?

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 5:51 PM EDT

mojo-photo-flyinglotusla.jpgOkay, for those of you not attuned to underground instrumental hip-hop, perhaps that headline didn't make much sense. Quick background: J Dilla was a groundbreaking producer, real name James Dewitt Yancey, who worked with artists from Common and the Pharcyde to Kanye West and Busta Rhymes. He suffered from lupus, dying in February, 2006, at the heartbreakingly young age of 32. I've already blathered endlessly about his genius and the brilliance of his final album, Donuts, a mostly-instrumental work of re-imagined soul and melancholy notes. Dilla's wonky, spacey style has definitely been influential, but yet it always felt like there were few (if any) hip-hop producers in his realm, creating a sound that's definitely experimental, but still warm, organic, and full, with an off-kilter, syrupy feel to the rhythm.

Flying Lotus' origins in Winnetka, California, couldn't be more removed from J Dilla's Detroit upbringing, but the 24-year-old producer (aka Steve Ellison) may have established himself as the heir to Yancey with his new album, Los Angeles. Sure, there are the basic similarities: this is crunchy, organic-sounding instrumental hip-hop, with an unashamed love of drums: tracks like "Melt" focus almost entirely on exotic-sounding percussion, similarly to the brief tom-tom-driven "People" from Dilla's Donuts. But Flying Lotus is no copycat. On last year's Reset EP, he struck out on a slightly darker, more electronic direction, with mechanical, buzzing tones accompanying quirky samples, and that trend is in evidence on Los Angeles as well: "Riot" features a vibrato electronic bass line, and interludes like the 45-second "Orbit 405" are a cacophony of electronic static and bleeps, like a compilation of all cell phones dialing on the eponymous freeway.

After the jump: Who's your famous auntie?

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McCain Snubbed by Chuck Berry But Still Loves ABBA

| Wed Jun. 11, 2008 4:58 PM EDT

mojo-photo-mccainabbaberry.jpg

You almost start to feel kind of sorry for GOP candidates out there on the stump. As we've reported here on the Riff before, Republicans tend to have a tough time finding tunes to play at their public events, since the artists, once they find out, tend to make very public rejections and denouncements of said candidates using their songs. Presidential candidate John McCain has himself acknowledged the problem, joking that the campaign has been using Chuck Berry's 1958 classic "Johnny B Goode" only "because it's the only one they haven't complained about us using." Well, scratch another one off your playlist, Johnny, since Mr. Berry has just announced his support for Barack Obama. Duh:

"America has finally come to this point where you can pick a man of colour and that not be a drawback," Berry said. "It's no question, myself being a man of colour. I mean, you have to feel good about it." The anointment of Mr Obama as the Democratic presidential candidate was, he added, "definitely a proud and successful moment for all the people of this country – not just black people, but Americans in general." Berry, known as the "father of rock 'n' roll", recounted: "In the Fifties there were certain places we couldn't ride on the bus, and now there is a possibility of a black man being in White House."

Oh well.

After the jump: If you change your mind, I'm, uh, the first in line?

Study: Canadian Musicians Would Like You to Pick Up the Tab

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 7:45 PM EDT

mojo-photo-canadaguitar.jpg

The average Canadian musician makes only $16,500 ($16,000 US) per year from their craft and is largely against free file sharing, according to a survey of 700 musicians conducted by Pollara, a Toronto-based research firm. The survey was released as part of a new report on the Canadian music sector conducted by Dr. Douglas Hyatt of the Rotman School of Business in Toronto. The survey found that with retail sales of music declining, Canadian musicians typically make around $25,000 ($24,555 US), but pay $8,300 in expenses.

- Billboard

The study also found that, when broken down into categories, "expenses" included the following:

-- Molson's: $5700
-- Donuts at Tim Horton's: $1200
-- Trying to keep warm by burning crumpled bills: $650
-- Replacing antique bar lamp after getting a little excited during guitar solo at a gig in Edmonton: $350
-- Poutine: $250
-- Rush box set: $130
-- Arcade Fire T-shirt: $20
-- Health care: FREE!

So, do your Vancouver guitarist buddy a solid and give him 99 cents for an mp3 today. That's only 97 cents US!

Vishnu Ad Death Threats? An Onion Editor Responds.

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 7:39 PM EDT

onion%20vishnu%20150x300.jpgThe Onion's website recently featured a four-armed, blue-hued Vishnu incarnated as a serenely multitasking Indian call center operator. Thank Allah that Onion editors had enough sense not to exploit images of the prophet Muhammad instead to hawk its latest hardback collection of ironic misinformation.

But although there are no bombed embassies to speak of, the Onion ad has sparked controversy among Indian journalists.

"Instead of finding something that we could all laugh along with, the Onion seems content in giving us something sufficiently exotic that some of us can laugh at," writes one commenter on the South Asian Journalists Association's online forum.

"Perhaps some of us have gotten too comfortable here in the US to truly understand what is happening back home and instead respond with the cliche "offended minority" reaction," writes another.

I asked Onion editorial manager Chet Clem if he received any death threats in response to the Vishnu house ad. His response:

CD Review: Lil Wayne - Tha Carter III

| Tue Jun. 10, 2008 6:36 PM EDT

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.