Mixed Media

New Guns N' Roses Tracks Leak Online

| Thu Jun. 19, 2008 3:20 PM EDT

mojo-photo-chinese.jpgGuns and what now? Oh yeah, there used to be a band called Guns N' Roses, I guess, back in the 19th century or something. For some reason they stopped making music, and then the wait for their new album, Chinese Democracy, stretched into the ridiculous. Okay, it's actually been 14 years since the band's last new material, and now a set of what appear to be real G n' R tracks have leaked online, reports Billboard, prompting a quick cease-and-desist from the band's management. Yesterday, the music site Antiquiet.com briefly posted nine tracks, which have now spread about the intertubes like some sort of liberty-based political system in a large, crowded country. So, do they suck?

Well, if you believe the commenters on Antiquiet, not hardly. "To call this groundbreaking is like saying outer space is 'big,'" explains Johnny Firecloud, and Sam can't even muster up a complete sentence, gurgling, "the energy the musical diversity!!!!" Yes I said yes I will yes!

After the jump: Check 'em out yourself, if you dare...

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Warning: This Durex Condom May Be Completely Useless

| Wed Jun. 18, 2008 6:56 PM EDT

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If you happened to read the tiny print on the back of a box of Durex Avanti condoms before you bought them, you'd see this: "The risks of pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD's), including AIDS (HIV infection), are not known for this condom." Hmm. Since most people, I think, actually use condoms specifically for those purposes, and not for the diminished sensation in their genitals, should this product really be on the market?

"Perfectly reasonable question," said company PR rep Mark Weaving. "And the answer is that these [studies] were completed. When the Avanti first came out in the US, it formed a completely new category of product, so the FDA wanted some extra studies to be done" on the (novel) polyurethane (as opposed to traditional latex) condoms. In the meantime, Durex could sell the condoms as long as it printed the inconspicuous warning on the box. Those additional studies have since been completed and shown slippage and pregnancy rates to be "well within the normal range." (Durex recently announced that it is discontinuing the Avanti, not because of any issue with the product, but to make way for a new version of it.) Still. As you can't really be too careful when it comes to condom effectiveness, it seems the FDA probably should have made the company postpone Avanti's release until the studies were done. And why wouldn't Durex have voluntarily waited to sell the questionable—and crucial—product in the first place? Speculated Weaving, "I think the pregnancy studies can go on for quite a long time."

Navy Spends Your Precious Tax Dollars ... Buying Crate After Crate of Manga

| Wed Jun. 18, 2008 5:19 PM EDT

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Residents of Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, are concerned about the massive nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington, which is set to be permanently deployed outside their city. Some say the American ship will hurt the fishing industry; others have safety concerns, especially justified after there was a fire on the George Washington last month.

Solution: charm offensive! Specifically, the Navy dropped $72,000 to commission "Manga CVN 73," a 200-page Japanese-style comic book. Produced by two Japanese artists and named after the ship's hull number, it follows the experiences of fictional Japanese-American Petty Officer 3rd Class Jack Ohara. Over 20,000 copies were printed and, earlier this month, a huge crowd lined up outisde the American base to get their free copies. Commented a naval spokesman to the Navy Times:

"The most-read, most-used medium is manga — not TV, not radio, not the Internet. Manga is a traditionally read, heavily sold medium in this country. We went, OK, there you go, the Japanese people have given us the way to talk to them."

Here's my question: Where does this sort of thing appear on the Navy's budget justification? Download the 18 meg .pdf file here here, in Kanji or English text. (via)

Lil Wayne Breaks "A Milli"

| Wed Jun. 18, 2008 4:52 PM EDT

mojo-photo-lilwaynesm.jpgTake that, internet naysayers: Lil Wayne's new album Tha Carter III has sold over 1 million copies in the US in its first week, the first time such a figure has been reached since 50 Cent's The Massacre way back in early 2005. Since Wayne has been, shall we say, slatternly when it comes to online mixtapes and file-sharing downloads, the press seems astonished: why are people buying CDs from an artist with so much free stuff out there? The New York Times even set up the dichotomy in the headline, proclaiming that "Despite Leaks Online and File Sharing, Lil Wayne's New CD is a Hit." Maybe they should change that "despite" to a "because"? As file-sharing tracker BigChampagne CEO Eric Garland says in the article, fans who download Lil Wayne grab an average of ten of his tracks (as opposed to two for other artists) and "while people who like an individual song are not going to open their wallets for you, people who like 10 songs will." So having a prodigious amount of your work out there for people to hear may actually help you sell more CDs? Karrr-azy!

Although, as Vulture points out, people may just like candy-themed oral sex metaphors, as both The Massacre and Tha Carter III feature lead singles that "compared a sexual act to the consumption of lollipops." Although if that's the case, why wasn't Lil' Kim's "How Many Licks" a smash?

After the jump: Was Party Ben wrong about Tha Carter III?

Why Do We Care If First Ladies Can Cook?

| Wed Jun. 18, 2008 1:14 PM EDT

Back when there was still potential for the first spouse to be a man, Parents magazine asked the contenders to submit their favorite recipes for cookies.

Minor scandal ensued. Cindy McCain, revealed Wonkette, actually totally cut and pasted her tasty oatmeal butterscotch cookie recipe from the Hershey Corporation. Sure, she substituted "brown sugar" for "light brown sugar," but (asked pundits) is that really enough of a change?

A better question is: Why do we ask presidential spouses to submit their baking ideas to the nation at all? Even before Hillary Clinton gave the world her 1992 recipe for chocolate chip cookies, presidential cooking contests were nothing new—and always a little forced. Martha Washington provided America with a recipe for mincemeat that likely only slaves had ever produced. Julia Grant offered a somewhat frightening recipe for veal olives. Even Jackie O sallied forth with a recipe for white rum cocktails.

But these days, when unofficial first lady bake-offs finally pit one high-powered corporate exec against another, can't we at last drop the illusion this matters?

—Daniel Luzer

Six Degrees of Jello Biafra

| Tue Jun. 17, 2008 7:16 PM EDT

jello-biafra-250x200.jpgJello Biafra, the green latex glove-wearing front man for arguably one of the 80s' most prolific punk/hardcore bands, is celebrating his 50th birthday this week by performing two shows in San Francisco alongside the Melvins and Jello's latest band, the Axis of Merry Evildoers, which includes members of Victims Family, Faith No More and Sharkbait. I'm told that a sweaty, shirtless Jello did his share of jumping into the crowd at Monday's show, which was reportedly a mix of "old punk dudes" and younger folks who were born well after Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables dropped in 1980.

After the jump: Ministry, who got their start that same year, gave an amusing shout-out to Jello this week:

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Russian Bureaucrats Smother the World's Best Alt-Weekly

| Tue Jun. 17, 2008 3:20 PM EDT

a26c.jpgSad news out of Russia this week. The AP reports that The eXile, the English-language biweekly for Moscow's expatriate community, is going out of business following an unannounced inspection by officials from Russia's media bureau that scared off the paper's financial backers.

The temptation in eulogizing The eXile is to string together lengthy excerpts of the paper's best work. But I'll keep it to a few quick hits: It's where Matt Taibbi got his start; it published a military affairs column by "War Nerd" Gary Brecher, a data enterer who, according to his Wikipedia entry, describes "himself as a fat slob who spends approximately 8 hours a day on the internet searching for war news"; in 2001 the editors famously "stormed into the Moscow bureau of The New York Times and threw a pie filled with equine sperm into the face of the bureau chief after accusing him of soft coverage of Russia's political elite." And even with their Larry Flynt-like standards of taste and decency—even while describing their most malicious pranks in vile detail—the editors managed to come off as the good guys.

Really, it's a measure of the paper's brilliance that it managed to be consistently interesting and readable while covering a country that plenty of readers, like me, had never even laid eyes on.

Over at Radar, Mark Ames, who founded The eXile 11 years ago, has been providing some hilarious coverage of the slow death of the paper. Here's a sample passage, in which officials from the Federal Service for Mass Media, Telecommunications, and the Protection of Cultural Heritage quiz Ames on eccentric opposition leader/eXile columnist Eduard Limonov (slightly censored because The Riff is a family blog):

New Music: Tilly and the Wall

| Mon Jun. 16, 2008 7:24 PM EDT

mojo-photo-tillyandwall.jpgOkay, dumb DJ with the stupid name, if you're so mad at Coldplay and were kind of underwhelmed by the Lil Wayne album, what do you like? Anything? Or are you just sitting there on your laptop, copy-and-pasting "this sucks" over and over? Alright, inner voice, you shut up, I like stuff, lots of stuff. Here's something: Tilly and the Wall are a 5-piece from Omaha, reason enough to like them, but their claim to fame is that instead of a drummer, they have a tap dancer. Take that, inner voice. Their new album, O, comes out tomorrow, and we've got an mp3 of the first single, a spunky number called "Pot Kettle Black." Yeah, there's a drum set in use here, but the rhythm is still mostly about the tap-dancing stomp, as well as the gleeful punk intensity.

MP3: Tilly and the Wall – "Pot Kettle Black"

Official video, complete with various lovely Omaha scenes, after the jump.

Mixed Reviews for New Coldplay Album

| Mon Jun. 16, 2008 4:41 PM EDT

mojo-photo-coldplayviva.jpgWell, we've mocked and dissed, and also grudgingly acknowledged their success, but time keeps on slipping into the future, and now the new Coldplay album, Viva La Vida or Death and All His Friends, is finally set for release tomorrow in the US (after going platinum in the UK in just three days). So, how is the thing itself? Well, reviews are decidedly mixed: Aidin Vaziri over at the San Francisco Chronicle can barely contain himself, calling it "amazing," an "avalanche of brilliant, life-affirming music." Golly. On the other hand, Pitchfork, unsurprisingly, is slightly more sober, giving the album 6.5 awesome hipster points out of 10, acknowledging the band's attempt at an "'experimental' mid-career maneuver" but calling it "diluted," adding lead singer Chris Martin "is still a hopeless sap." Awww. The LA Times gives it three stars, but tries to make excuses:

Have you ever picked up a self-help book from the display table in a big-box bookstore and opened it to find a phrase that exactly applied to your life? The most pedestrian insight can sometimes hit surprisingly hard. Banality might not elevate the intellect, but it helps in a tired, over-wired culture. We're all so distracted that we need to be reminded of the obvious, again and again.

We do? Okay, sure, I'm the first to admit I'm bumbling through life making the same mistakes over and over again like a cartoon coyote hitting himself on the head with a bat, but does that mean I need Chris Martin proclaiming he'll try to fix me?

After the jump: Martin walks out of a BBC interview!

Get Your Earplugs Ready for the My Bloody Valentine Reunion

| Mon Jun. 16, 2008 3:06 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?