Mixed Media

Lyrical Analysis Proves New Portishead Album a Tad Mopey

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 6:08 PM EDT

mojo-photo-portisheadthirdcover.jpgBristol, UK-based trip-hop combo Portishead are known for two of the bleakest albums of the late '90s, Dummy and Portishead, whose claustrophobic, atonal soundscapes drew from jazz, soundtracks and cabaret. The music's chill was matched by singer Beth Gibbons' angst-ridden lyrics—witness 1997's "Only You," that kicks off the fun with the line "We suffer every day." Well, good morning to you too Beth. So, the band have been "on hiatus" for nearly ten years, but their comeback album Third has just leaked onto the intertubes. One wonders: have the intervening years lightened them up at all?

To be blunt: oh, hell no. On the contrary, they seem to have spent their time off in an underground factory/torture chamber in Antarctica, returning to the surface only to be betrayed by objects of affection and promptly sent back down to their cold, echoey prison. Lyrics sheets aren't yet available, so I poured a stiff drink and listened to the whole album, taking notes, and checking in with a counselor every few minutes. After the jump, a chart of all significant words that make more than one appearance.

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Do You Live in a Wal-Mart State or a Starbucks State?

| Tue Mar. 11, 2008 4:50 PM EDT

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By way of Columbia University via the all-things-rural blog Daily Yonder come these interesting (albeit unsurprising) maps showing Wal-Mart and Starbuck density, state by state. (The darker the state, the higher the number of stores per capita.) Not too many surprises here. As you can see, the Southeast has the highest concentration of Wal-Marts, while Starbucks are dense on the West Coast. Also unsurprising is the red state/blue state correlation. As Daily Yonder points out:

Blue states don't have many Wal-Marts (except for New Hampshire). Red states don't have many Starbucks (except for Colorado).

But is it really a fair comparison? Sure, both are giant chains, but one sells coffee and the other sells, uh, everything. The Northeasterner in me thinks it'd be a whole lot more interesting to compare Starbucks to its regional arch-nemesis, Dunkin' Donuts.

Bjork "Outburst" Inspires China to Crack Down on Foreign Artists

| Mon Mar. 10, 2008 5:58 PM EDT

mojo-photo-bjork2.jpgThere has been a severe reaction from Chinese authorities after Icelandic singer Björk delved into a bit of a touchy subject for China during a concert in Shanghai. The singer ended her performance with the song "Declare Independence," and chanted "Tibet! Tibet!" as the song wound to a close with the lyrics "raise your flag." Subtle. The Chinese Ministry of Culture issued a somewhat petulant statement, saying "Some artist deliberately turned a commercial show into a political performance, which not only broke Chinese law but hurt Chinese audiences' feelings." No word on whether they stuck out their lower lips and kicked the ground a little. Good thing she didn't mention that their rivers are looking a little red lately.

Now Reuters is reporting that the Ministry of Culture may crack down on foreign performers speaking their minds in China, issuing this statement:

Out: Disneyland Rainforests. In: Freedom Land!

| Fri Mar. 7, 2008 7:49 PM EST

It's not the first time Disney has unceremoniously cut the work of once-beloved 1940s feminist Mary Blair (Tomorrowland, ironically, is long gone), but making her Small World smaller will leave a lasting scar.

More after the jump...

LOST: To Gas or Not To Gas?

| Fri Mar. 7, 2008 6:38 PM EST

mojo-photo-lost0307.jpgWhile last week's episode was a surprisingly affecting reminder of how emotionally powerful this show can be, even when you have very little idea of what the hell is going on, last night's episode was more about giving us edge-of-our-seats suspense while, uh, having no idea what the hell is going on. Plus, you know, a quick blowing of all the semiotics majors' minds with the line "It's very stressful being an Other." Tell me about it!

Actually, we did get some interesting back story on Juliet, whose relationship with Ben turns out to be even creepier than we thought. Juliet's dalliance with Goodwin basically got him killed, as a madly jealous Ben sent him off to his demise. Turns out Juliet looked just like Ben's… 3rd grade teacher? Just a guess. So, that explains how Juliet went from angelic Lifetime-TV-special "I'm just trying to save the mothers" doctor lady into manipulative Other. It happens to the best of us.

Friday Top Five: Beach House, 3Face, McLaughlin Grooves?

| Fri Mar. 7, 2008 3:54 PM EST

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1. Beach House – "Gila" (mp3 at The Line of Best Fit)
Turns out Baltimore doesn't just make thuddy syncopated club tunes with SpongeBob samples, it also boasts Velvet Underground-y duo Beach House, and this tune from their excellent new album Devotion is both delicate and dark.

2. 3face – "Different World" (All Star Remix) (buy it at iTunes)
Amazingly, the sped-up Four Tops sample isn't even the best thing about this new grime number from the London MC: it's the propulsive, ringing chords that push the verses along, urgent and hypnotic.

3. Andrew WK – "McLaughlin Groove" (listen at the Fair Game site)
Wow: turns out Andrew WK's bloody, raucous throwdowns fit right in with the long-running political talk show's bloody, raucous throwdowns. My mind is blown.

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Radio Now Below "Pamphlets" on the Media Ladder

| Thu Mar. 6, 2008 6:49 PM EST

mojo-photo-oldieradio.jpgFull disclosure: your ridiculously-named blogger spent 13 years working at a corporate alt-rock broadcaster, many of them happy. But my own ever-so-slightly bitter anti-radio bias is no match for the actual facts: things in the audio-only broadcast media are looking pretty terrible. The Radio Advertising Bureau just announced revenue figures for the industry in 2007, and they're down like a frown. Ad revenue was off 3% for the year over 2006, and in the 4th quarter, national revenue was down 11%. The only place radio showed some growth was "off-air" revenue, ironically enough, since isn't what's on-air the whole point? RAB President/CEO Jeff Haley tried to cover up the bad news by releasing a hilarious statement about "the nimbleness of the expanded radio space" and how it provides "a true 360-degree integration opportunity," before he collapsed into giggles and took another bong hit.

New (Leaked) Music: Gnarls Barkley - The Odd Couple

| Thu Mar. 6, 2008 4:58 PM EST

mojo-photo-gnarlsoc.jpgHey, look what leaked all over the internets, the new album from Gnarls Barkley. You remember them, they're the super-producer/mega-singer duo who got the highest score ever on that Hit Formula thing in the New Yorker? Well, they're back, and while their new album is, you know, enjoyable enough, with songs and notes and everything, I'm not sure they'd want to run it through the hit detector again: the score might be pretty disappointing.

Gayest Songs of All Time List Omits Morrissey, But Still Kind of Sad

| Wed Mar. 5, 2008 7:31 PM EST

mojo-photo-abba.jpgAs part of a celebration of the 30th anniversary of Sydney, Australia's legendary Gay & Lesbian Mardi Gras, Australian website SameSame asked readers to vote on the "gayest songs of all time," and they've just announced the top 50 vote-getters today. It's pretty predictable, with lots of Madonna and Pet Shop Boys and Village People, plus since it's Australia there's about 14 Minogue songs (both Kylie and Dannii). You'd think maybe the Smiths' "I Want the One I Can't Have" might have snuck in there, but I guess this is Gay Pride, not Gay Horrible Shame and Misery. Here's the Top 20:

Bored I-5 Radio Listening Confirms: Rush Limbaugh a Complete Tool

| Mon Mar. 3, 2008 7:18 PM EST

mojo-photo-i5rush.jpgOther parts of the country may have rough roads, other far-flung cultures may have haunted paths of doom through dark forests, but we in California have the I-5, a straight-arrow 300-mile death-bahn connecting NorCal and SoCal. It's a harrowing journey through the dust-and-smog-filled wasteland of our dreaded Central Valley, chased by monstrous semis and LA douchebags on their cell phones doing 95. When one's driving it, like I did today, and one gets bored listening to stuff on the iPod-radio system, and turns with great trepidation to the radio, there are few options: lots of Spanish, lots of Jesus, and Rush Limbaugh. I settled on the latter, and it was an interesting day to tune in.