Mixed Media

New Music: Keane, Jay-Z, Annie & Sam Sparro, M.S.K.

British popsters Keane have always seemed like Coldplay imitators, and since Coldplay are just U2 imitators, we're talking a pretty washed-out copy. But on Keane's new song "Spiralling," they take a crazy left turn towards '80s synth pop and Billy Squier beats, and it's kind of intriguing. They're offering up a 256kbps mp3 of the track on their website in exchange for your...

| Thu Aug. 7, 2008 5:50 PM EDT

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British popsters Keane have always seemed like Coldplay imitators, and since Coldplay are just U2 imitators, we're talking a pretty washed-out copy. But on Keane's new song "Spiralling," they take a crazy left turn towards '80s synth pop and Billy Squier beats, and it's kind of intriguing. They're offering up a 256kbps mp3 of the track on their website in exchange for your e-mail address, which isn't such a bad deal, I guess.

Jay-Z continues to use his recent feud with Noel Gallagher as creative fodder, dropping a line about "that bloke from Oasis" into a new song the rapper debuted last night in an appearance at Kanye West's show at Madison Square Garden. The track, "Blueprint 3," is pretty awesome, although it too sounds like it stole the rhythm from Billy Squire's "The Big Beat." What's going on?

After the jump: Australian pipes beat Norwegian pipes, and asteroids beat Earth

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Pop Culture Debate Seems to Favor McCain

I know, what with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears taking over the presidential race, we're all a bit sick of trivialities being injected into the campaign. But aren't you just a little curious about the candidates' favorite movies, music, TV shows? Well, Entertainment Weekly did the tough job of tracking down Barack Obama and John McCain's answers on various pop culture topics, including the...

| Thu Aug. 7, 2008 4:10 PM EDT

I know, what with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears taking over the presidential race, we're all a bit sick of trivialities being injected into the campaign. But aren't you just a little curious about the candidates' favorite movies, music, TV shows? Well, Entertainment Weekly did the tough job of tracking down Barack Obama and John McCain's answers on various pop culture topics, including the first movie they saw, which onscreen president they admire the most, and all sorts of completely useless and irrelevant questions. What emerges kind of confirms my suspicions: personality-wise, Obama is kind of boring, and McCain has a pretty good sense of humor. For instance, for favorite TV show, McCain said Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm while Obama said M*A*S*H and The Dick Van Dyke Show, two programs that you could use to torture me if you thought I was a terrorist. Now, I get the sense that Obama is cooler than he's letting on—didn't a Riff reporter uncover his admiration for The Wire?—so maybe he understands the ridiculousness of the exercise enough to feed milquetoast answers to the public. But it is Entertainment Weekly, not Reader's Digest. Anyway, after the jump, see the candidates' answers in a variety of categories.

Top 5: Stoner Metal

My good old Honda motorcycle is pretty reliable, if a bit beaten-up-looking, but it does need its regular tune-ups almost as much as its owner needs his sit-ups. When I dropped it off at the shop yesterday, the guys there had a classic album from Monster Magnet on the stereo, a band who, along with Kyuss and Sleep, basically invented stoner metal, a...

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 7:26 PM EDT

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My good old Honda motorcycle is pretty reliable, if a bit beaten-up-looking, but it does need its regular tune-ups almost as much as its owner needs his sit-ups. When I dropped it off at the shop yesterday, the guys there had a classic album from Monster Magnet on the stereo, a band who, along with Kyuss and Sleep, basically invented stoner metal, a sludgy genre inspired by both '60s psychedelia and '70s hard rock. I haven't been anywhere near weed in, like, 15 years (I know Jonathan Stein doesn't believe me, but it's true!) and yet I still love the music's combination of rumbling weight and melodic complexity; here's five classic tracks to zone out to from the genre's mid-'90s heyday. They're enjoyable even if you're not on the, er, Pineapple Express.

Tape of Beatles Chuckling Sells for $23,000

A recently discovered reel-to-reel tape of The Beatles "chatting and laughing" during a recording session has sold for $23,446 in an online auction. Okay, it's also got pieces of songs, including "I'll Follow the Sun," and "I Feel Fine," but still. The man who found the tape wished to remain anonymous, revealing only that he had found the tape in his father's attic in...

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 3:56 PM EDT

mojo-photo-beatlesbw.jpgA recently discovered reel-to-reel tape of The Beatles "chatting and laughing" during a recording session has sold for $23,446 in an online auction. Okay, it's also got pieces of songs, including "I'll Follow the Sun," and "I Feel Fine," but still. The man who found the tape wished to remain anonymous, revealing only that he had found the tape in his father's attic in northern England. Two lessons here: 1) Record everything you do, whether it's just chatting with your friends or having a snack, then distribute the tapes to friends and relatives with storage, and 2) Go up to your parents' attic right now and look for treasure.

Indie Pop Playlist: Loquat and Thao Nguyen

On my earphones this week are two bands I just recently got turned onto: Loquat and Thao Nguyen. Both are sweet with a touch of melancholy, and both remind me just a bit of previous decades. Hear tracks after the jump:...

| Wed Aug. 6, 2008 2:45 PM EDT

loquat-250.jpgOn my earphones this week are two bands I just recently got turned onto: Loquat and Thao Nguyen. Both are sweet with a touch of melancholy, and both remind me just a bit of previous decades.

Hear tracks after the jump:

(Not So) Great Moments in Gear Theft History

News has emerged from Canada that legendary rockers The Stooges had all their gear stolen yesterday from in front of their hotel in Montreal. The equipment, including guitars, pedals, amps, and drums, was packed into a rented truck outside the Embassy Suites hotel, and was taken sometime around the rock-stars-are-sleeping hour of 7:00 a.m. Bassist Mike Watt's original Gibson guitar, which he's used...

| Tue Aug. 5, 2008 7:40 PM EDT

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News has emerged from Canada that legendary rockers The Stooges had all their gear stolen yesterday from in front of their hotel in Montreal. The equipment, including guitars, pedals, amps, and drums, was packed into a rented truck outside the Embassy Suites hotel, and was taken sometime around the rock-stars-are-sleeping hour of 7:00 a.m. Bassist Mike Watt's original Gibson guitar, which he's used since playing with the Minutemen in the '80s, is among the missing. [Update 8/6: Idolator says they have found the truck, but no gear.] The band have appealed for any information leading to the recovery of the instruments, but history isn't on their side: bands who lose their stuff rarely get it back, although sometimes, the trauma leads to creative breakthroughs. Here's some recent episodes of gear theft and how it turned out for the artists.

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Study: One-Fifth of UK Public "Frustrated Musicians"

Does that include Oasis? Oh, sorry, I thought they said "frustrating." A poll commissioned by O2 Undiscovered has found that 20 percent of people questioned consider themselves "frustrated musicians," i.e., they wish they could toss aside their current job choice for an exciting music industry career. Respondents indicating that music was their true love included 11 percent of construction workers and 10 percent of...

| Tue Aug. 5, 2008 4:55 PM EDT

mojo-photo-subwaymusicians.jpgDoes that include Oasis? Oh, sorry, I thought they said "frustrating." A poll commissioned by O2 Undiscovered has found that 20 percent of people questioned consider themselves "frustrated musicians," i.e., they wish they could toss aside their current job choice for an exciting music industry career. Respondents indicating that music was their true love included 11 percent of construction workers and 10 percent of doctors. Does anyone else feel a bit anxious knowing that the people building your house or slicing open your belly are daydreaming of landing in the Billboard charts? Actually, maybe they just want to be rich: 25 percent of respondents in the survey said The Beatles would be "the ideal band to forge a career in" if they could pick any band in history. What, not The Rutles?

The study did return one serious finding: three quarters of respondents felt they "had not been encouraged" to pursue a career in music at school or at home, and half felt schools should provide more of a musical education. I'll support that, although as Obama says, some of you might be the next Lil Wayne, but most of you won't. Now back to taking out my appendix, dammit!

Photo used under a Creative Commons license from Flickr user NYCArthur.

Review: HBO's Baghdad High

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....

| 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

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...

| 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

Hey, 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...

| 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?