Mixed Media

More Halloween Fun: Flaming Lips Host Flaming Skeleton Parade

| Mon Oct. 29, 2007 2:02 PM EDT

Flaming Lips

I guess the joke would be, "Do you realize/that you have the most beautiful skull?" Or maybe not. The legendary Oklahoman psychedelic-rock combo played host to the "Ghouls Gone Wild" Halloween parade in Oklahoma City over the weekend, managing to recruit 1,000 fans to dress up in spooky skeleton costumes and carry flaming torches in what the band's recruitment e-mail referred to as "a spectacle celebrating the mysterious, the supernatural, and the otherworldly." Kind of like Zaireeka?

The parade, sponsored by the Oklahoma Gazette with the stated purpose of "celebrating creativity and artistry in Oklahoma City," kicked off at 7pm on Saturday night, but not without a bit of a hitch: the specially-designed skull masks the band had ordered for marchers were deemed too vision-impairing to be worn by people carrying, say, flaming torches. "We do not want anyone catching on fire," Lips frontman Wayne Coyne reassured parade-goers in a speech before the parade.

I'd just like to point out that if this parade had happened here in San Francisco, you wouldn't have been able to tell the difference between the costumed participants and the homeless lining the streets, there would have been a fight between anti-war protesters and 9/11 conspiracy theorists, and like seven people would have been shot.

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First Listen: Jay-Z - American Gangster

| Fri Oct. 26, 2007 9:54 PM EDT

Jay-ZProving once again that retiring is the best way to drum up interest in your work, America's Richest Rapper (TM) returns with another surprisingly interesting album. Okay, sorry, maybe it shouldn't be surprising, everything Jay-Z's done is basically stellar, except for last year's lazy, aimless Kingdom Come. For American Gangster, though, Jay-Z has some inspiration: the upcoming Denzel Washington vehicle of the same name. Now, this isn't the soundtrack, but Jay-Z says each track on the album was inspired by a specific scene in the film, which he then reinterpreted through an autobiographical prism, focusing on growing up in the projects in Brooklyn. Understandably, this is emotional territory. Check out the Marvin Gaye sample in "American Dreamin'": "Oh no/I never give up," he sings, in a loop from 1976's "Soon I'll Be Loving You Again" that sounds more like a plaintive cry against greater and greater odds as the song goes on.

But don't worry, the album isn't all tearjerkers; the very next track, "Hello Brooklyn," with the ubiquitous Lil Wayne on guest vocals, is all thudding bass and handclaps, with Jay-Z telling the borough "I ain't mad at you." While Diddy and the Neptunes take production credit on much of the album, "Fallin'," a highlight featuring dramatic strings and a Motown-style chorus, was produced by Southerner Jermaine Dupri. On it, Jay-Z's lyrics come fast and furious, with complicated, tongue-twisting internal rhymes, and a final denouement: "Fightin', you'll never survive/Runnin', you'll never escape/So just fall from grace."

The title track is listed as a "bonus track" on Wikipedia; I'm not sure what that means, since the song is awesome. A funky, horn-filled sample gives it a kind of '70s vibe, with appropriately snazzy metaphors: "The way I shine, it's like a zillion-dollar light bill." Jay-Z has been known for pushing the sample envelope, but on Gangster he sticks to classic soul, creatively cut up, and it gives the album a driving, urgent focus. Are we talking another Blueprint, or even Black Album? Well, probably not, but it's another fascinating chapter in the Jay-Z saga.

American Gangster is out November 8th on Roc-A-Fella, but it's leaking over here at mylifemyhiphop. Get it!

Let's Get Scared with Spooky Halloween Mashups

| Fri Oct. 26, 2007 6:10 PM EDT

Mashing PumpkinsHey, look at that, Halloween is next week, and your best chance for spooky revelry is probably this weekend. Is it just me or did that kind of sneak up on us? I haven't even decided whether I should be Wolverine again. I haven't been growing my muttonchops so it's probably moot. Anyway, some of my cohorts in the pointless world of putting songs with other songs have produced a whole compilation's worth of Halloween-themed mashups, perfect for your costume party or, uh, erotic ball. Called Mashing Pumpkins (and not to be confused with the Irish tribute band), the album had to endure some unexpected popularity after getting mentioned on Boing Boing, and their original website crashed or got overwhelmed or just shut down by unsympathetic web service providers. Now that's scary. But both Boing Boing and Mashup Town rushed to the rescue, archiving the tracks and offering them for free download; the latter even has the super scary artwork.

Party Ben recommends:
Track 5 – "I Want My Mummy"
A cheeky upbeat combo of The Who, Steve Martin, and some mummy-oriented clips from LA's Mr. Fab.
Track 6 – "Snap Yo Specials"
While the Specials' "Ghost Town" seems only tangentially Halloween-related, Lil' Jon's growly raps flow perfectly over the top.
Track 10 – "Bad Moon Werewolves"
You can't go wrong with "Werewolves of London," and the fact that the UK's Cheekyboy got "Bad Moon Rising" to fit over the top is nothing short of miraculous.

So is it time for the Christmas-themed mashup albums yet?

Friday? Drop By for Music News Day

| Fri Oct. 26, 2007 2:00 PM EDT

Music News

  • OiNK founder Alan Ellis posted bail after his arrest on Tuesday and gave a defiant interview to the Daily Telegraph, saying "I haven't done anything wrong... there is no music sold on the site," adding, ominously, that the music download directory was "no different [than] something like Google." Really, so I'm a moron for not buying OiNK stock too?

  • The B-52's are inspired enough by my collecting of a few of their videos here on the Riff that they've decided to record a new album, their first in 15 years. "Hey," they said to each other, "if the Riff likes us, I bet we still got it!" Well, actually, no, that's not how it happened, they say was a vacation in Maui or something that inspired them, but still, maybe we helped.
  • 1,730 guitarists strummed in unison at a stadium in Guwahati, India today in an attempt to break the world record for most guitarists playing together at a stadium in India. Or just "biggest guitar ensemble." Their song of choice? "Knocking on Heaven's Door." An organizer told Reuters, "Though we set a new world record, we are sad as we were expecting more than 2,000 guitarists." Talk about a negative Nelly.
  • San Francisco officials have withdrawn a planned honor for Snoop Dogg. What? No! Apparently a representative from mayor Gavin Newsom's office was supposed to present a proclamation for the rapper and a party promoter at the Exotic Erotic Ball, an annual Halloween- and sex-themed event this weekend, but the Newsom administration is a little jumpy after all the bad publicity they received for "Colt Studio Day." So this probably nixes my idea of an official "Fuck with Dre Day?" That settles it, I'm voting for Quintin.
  • Vanity Fair's Top Movie Soundtracks of All Time Kind of Boring

    | Thu Oct. 25, 2007 5:13 PM EDT

    The Real Best Soundtracks

    The esteemed Vanity Fair has put together a list of the 50 greatest movie soundtracks ever, set to be announced in their next issue. The top ten has been revealed early to drum up some publicity, and I'm falling right into their trap—I can't help it, I love lists! Here's what they said:

    10. The Big Chill
    9. American Graffiti
    8. Saturday Night Fever
    7. Trainspotting
    6. Superfly
    5. The Graduate
    4. Pulp Fiction
    3. The Harder They Come
    2. A Hard Day's Night
    1. Purple Rain


    Wait, are these just the top ten selling movie soundtracks of all time? I mean, they're all fine, and achievements in one way or another, but what about great, ground-breaking soundtracks that didn't exactly go platinum? Here's a couple ideas:

    Bruce Springsteen Edges Out Kid Rock for #1 Spot; a Relieved Nation Weeps With Gratitude

    | Wed Oct. 24, 2007 6:14 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-brucekid.jpg

    He couldn't stop George W. Bush, but at least this is something. Billboard magazine is reporting that The Boss' new album Magic just barely beat Kid Rock's Rock N Roll Jesus for the #1 spot this week, with only a few hundred copies separating the two titles. Both albums debuted at #1 (Rock last week and Bruce two weeks ago) and their sales figures fell significantly from previous weeks, with both albums selling just over 77,000 copies, but a few more good Samaritans making sure that Kid Rock's reign was short.

    While I haven't heard Kid Rock's whole album, and Kelefa Sanneh of the New York Times kind of liked his show (huh?!), the first single, "So Hott," is probably the most-mocked song of the year amongst people I know, its lyrics ("I don't wanna be your friend/I wanna fuck you like I'm never gonna see you again") so profoundly stupid they almost read as parody. Although, come to think of it, doesn't Thom Yorke sing the first line of that, er, couplet, in "House of Cards" on the new album? Is Kid Rock the American Radiohead?

    Back to the charts: in another sign of declining music sales, Jimmy Eat World's latest long-player, Chase This Light, debuted at #5, one notch higher than the 2004 debut of Futures. However, the new CD actually sold only 62,000 copies, less than two-thirds of the 99,000 first-week figure for Futures. And that's without OiNK!

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    Neato Viddys on the Intertubes: Portishead

    | Wed Oct. 24, 2007 5:50 PM EDT

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    Yesterday, news emerged that legendary (and legendarily unreliable) Bristol combo Portishead were "one day" from finishing their long-awaited third album. Could it be true? With the 'head, one hesitates to get one's hopes up, but just in case, perhaps this is a good time to familiarize ourselves with the band's previous work, or remind you why you care.

    Senate Investigates Lack of Radio Love for Arcade Fire (Really!)

    | Wed Oct. 24, 2007 4:52 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-radio.gifWith the FCC poised to relax media ownership rules again in December, the U.S. Senate is starting to get the message from constituents that maybe it's not such a great idea. During hearings today, Merge records founder and Superchunk frontman Mac McCaughan testified about the sad state of radio:

    The deregulation that followed the 1996 Telecommunications Act allowed for unprecedented consolidation in commercial radio, which has resulted in a homogeneity that is often out-of-step with artists, entrepreneurs, media professionals and educators—not to mention listeners.

    Of course, he couldn't resist getting in a couple plugs for Merge artists Arcade Fire and Spoon:

    In 2007, two of the albums we released–by the bands Arcade Fire and Spoon–both debuted in the Billboard Top Ten. They appeared on Saturday Night Live. The mainstream print media has written extensively about them, and both bands tour the world, playing highly successful, sold out concerts. Yet both of these bands have been virtually absent from the commercial airwaves.

    Well how do you think they got in the Top Ten? Mac was out there promoting to their target demographics: our nation's elected officials. Actually, he's not being entirely honest: Arcade Fire has received significant radio support, even from giant mainstream juggernauts like LA's KROQ (see "Wake Up" at #37 on their 2005 year-end countdown... right above Foo Fighters). But Arcade Fire are the exception that proves the rule.

    It's a Mad, Mad, Mad World

    | Wed Oct. 24, 2007 10:51 AM EDT

    At the risk of becoming a dreaded aggregator, here are a few choice tidbits I couldn't help shaking my head at:

    Belgian cops being politely asked to stop hitting the bars and brothels while on duty.

    Technology's response to gropers gone wild on Tokyo's subways.

    And, my fave: these lucky bastards dancing women around the world vs. this doomed one who found a huge, honking diamond while with his fiance and actually believes it's going in his collection since she already has one. Smart money says she'll either be wearing it by Thanksgiving or dis-engaged.

    Tuesday? Ensues Music News Day

    | Tue Oct. 23, 2007 7:10 PM EDT

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  • Police in England shut down today what they called "the primary source worldwide" for illegal, prerelease music downloads. The invitation-only "OiNK" site turned out to be run by a 24-year-old dude in Middlesbrough, northeast England. Look, they caught the kid in his bathrobe:

    OiNK's servers in Amsterdam were shut down as well, but here's an OiNK memorial site if you're feeling sad.
  • Def Jam chairman Antonio "L.A." Reid confirmed his support for Nas after the rapper announced his new album would be called Nigger, saying "Anything Nas wants to do, I stand beside him." The Rev. Al Sharpton, on the other hand, condemned the choice, saying "We do not need to be degrading ourselves… we get degraded enough."
  • Lance Bass describes life in the closet during his years in 'NSYNC to MTV News, saying he had people close to him sign non-disclosure agreements, and that the band's management and publicists didn't advise him against coming out, because, he says, even they didn't know. Huh.
  • The BBC has been criticized for allowing a racist remark by Iggy Pop to go uncensored and unacknowledged during the network's live broadcast from Glastonbury in June. Pop told a story about visiting "Paki shops" in Camden, using a term that the BBC said has now passed out of "polite usage."