The Riff - April 2007

Coachella Wrapup - Sunday

| Mon Apr. 30, 2007 6:50 AM EDT

In today's edition, the third and final of your daily Coachella wrapups, enjoy: Rage! French bands! Predicting riots... after they happen! And a bro factor through the roof! This day is written in the blisters on my feet: let me unwrap the bandages for your benefit.

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Coachella Wrapup - Saturday

| Sun Apr. 29, 2007 4:51 AM EDT

In today's edition of What I Did On My Trip To Coachella, you will experience: Unbearable heat! Profusion of bros! Arcade Fire! Celebrities! And VIP fashion trends! It's Coachella Day Two, and the dusty crap in my nose is still fresh, so let's get this all down before I forget.

Coachella Wrapup - Friday

| Sat Apr. 28, 2007 6:29 AM EDT

Good morning from Indio. It's Party Ben, reporting at 2:30 a.m., so please forgive the poor grammar or wonky punctuation.

Coachella, it should be said, contains multitudes, and I don't just mean 60,000 hipster kids wandering around the desert. With so much music happening all at once, your experience of the festival is shaped by your choices, your luck, and how fast you can walk. So I, along with my intrepid photographer Kristi, tried to sample as many performers as possible. Here's what we saw on the first day of the first three-day Coachella in the event's 8-year history.

Nagi Noda and Jack White Team Up to Pimp Coke Prettily

| Fri Apr. 27, 2007 6:12 PM EDT


Highly acclaimed director Nagi Noda is known for her whimsical eye and is the creative genius behind many fantasy laden art and video projects. Her most notable works include the short film Fitness Video and music videos for artists such as the Scissors Sisters: "She's My Man", Tiga: "Far from Home", and the brillant Yuki: "Sentimental Journey" video that inspired Noda's latest work--a commercial for Coke featuring music by Unibloggal heartthrob Jack White. For the most part I hate ads which is why I praise my DVR up and down every night, but if I have to be subjected to the art of marketing, I at least appreciate when it's artful.

—Laurin Asdal

Meet the "Messengers of Orgasm"

| Thu Apr. 26, 2007 11:00 PM EDT

If you haven't found your clit by adulthood, it might be worth seeking some guidance. That little nub can be hard to find, and cultural and religious mores have shrouded it even further. But paying $2,000? Living in a community of spiritual supporters? Practicing "orgasmic meditation" every day under the direction of a guru? The for-profit One Taste Urban Retreat Center in SOMA sounds less like feminist consciousness-raising than a self-help scam. Rife with jargon such as obnosing, chargey, and open-source sensuality, this story by Mary Spicuzza is a fun read.

Early Top 10: Coachella Edition

| Wed Apr. 25, 2007 9:51 PM EDT

Tomorrow morning, me and about 60,000 of my pals will start heading down to Indio for the Coachella Music & Arts Festival. The event – envisioned as an American version of British festivals like Glastonbury, without the mud -- has drawn hipsters, fashionistas, yuppies, rockers, ravers, goths and geeks to the broiling desert since 1999. I've been to all but one. Maybe it's the amazing lineup, maybe it's the well-planned and grassy venue, or maybe it's the fact that I never had a wild Spring Break experience because I was always studying too hard, but I love everything about Coachella, and every year I start counting down the days to the next one the moment I get back. Check back here for coverage and pictures all weekend. Here's an arbitrary list of what to look forward to if you're going (or watching the webcast):

mojo-photo-sonicyouth.jpg10. Sonic Youth (Outdoor Stage, Friday)
This venerable New York combo put out one of the best albums of 2006, and this might be our only chance to hear them play songs from it, since much of their upcoming tour will be dedicated to Daydream Nation. Not that there's anything wrong with that.

mojo-photo-jarvis.JPG9. Jarvis Cocker (Outdoor Stage, Friday)
Pulp were near-revolutionaries, and while their frontman hasn't stayed on top of the charts, he's as feisty as ever (bad language on that link!), releasing an acclaimed solo record this year.

mojo-photo-manu.JPG8. Manu Chao (Main Stage, Sunday)
What's great about Coachella is that not only do you catch up with your favorite artists, but also discover new ones. I don't know much about this Latin singer, but about seven different people in the last week have told me how excited they are about him, so I'll check him out, and I hope he doesn't turn out to be the World Music Dave Matthews which is kind of what he looks like he might be from this picture.

mojo-photo-faithless.JPG7. Faithless (Sahara Stage, Friday)
It's been almost ten years since I've seen Faithless, and it was at a small San Francisco club; in the meantime, they've established themselves as an epic, must-see festival act all over Europe. With Coachella known for life-changing dance tent shows (see Daft Punk, Underworld, Chemical Brothers), this could be a highlight.

mojo-photo-peterbjornjohn.JPG6. Peter Bjorn & John (Mojave Tent, Saturday)
Sticking a heavily-buzzed band in the tiniest tent (see Gnarls Barkley last year) is also a Coachella tradition; if I can actually get in to see them, I'll be interested to see how their lilting, '60s-style indie pop translates to the stage.

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MTV Thinks Indie Bands Are Over

| Wed Apr. 25, 2007 8:52 PM EDT

mojo-cover-blocparty.jpg A weirdly vitriolic and kind of hard-to-read article appeared today on MTVNews.com with the basic point that "indie bands are unsuccessful." I suppose it shouldn't be surprising -- it's kind of like George W. Bush saying global warming doesn't exist. What are you expecting him to say? But it's still disappointing. The writer, James Montgomery, describes some sort of mythical time -- apparently, 2005 -- when bands like Arcade Fire, Bloc Party, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah were "flavors of the month." Sadly, none of them could keep it up, because, uh, something happened, "and suddenly," it reads, "none of them seemed to matter much any more." Wow!

Bjork on SNL: Hmm, B-minus?

| Sun Apr. 22, 2007 11:43 PM EDT


(Watch quick, before it gets taken down...)

Icelandic singer Björk gave a highly anticipated performance on "Saturday Night Live" last night, her first on the show in almost ten years. It's an interesting time for Björk: with a new album and high-profile tour imminent, she's seemingly emerging from a kind of artistic cocoon that she appeared to enter after the traumatic experience of filming the nearly unwatchable (in my opinion) "Dancer in the Dark." Think back: the immense artistic achievement of 1997's Homogenic was followed by Vespertine and Medulla (in 2001 and 2004 respectively): introverted, experimental albums with none of Homogenic's vertigo-inducing vistas of sound or emotional intensity. After that, as if to thumb her nose at critics who thought she couldn't get more left-field, she hooked up with Matthew Barney, and their combined effort, "Drawing Restraint," seemed both weaker and weirder than the individual artists' work.

Top Ten Stuff 'n' Things, 4/20/07

| Fri Apr. 20, 2007 9:26 PM EDT

This week, in honor of it being 4/20, I guess, there's a lot of zoning out on the cool psychedelic trip. Man. Plus some depressing photos, and, um, lip gloss. Did that harsh your mellow? Well, whatever. Where were you when we were getting high:

mojo-photo-danlesac.JPG10. Dan le Sac vs. Scoobius Pip – "Thou Shalt Always Kill" (mp3 via Feed Me Good Tunes)
Okay, novelty tune, for sure. But when a novelty tune comes in the form of a hilarious, fast-paced Streets-meets-Audio Bullys screed about stuff you shalt and shalt not do, most of which seems amusingly, uh, specific to this Dan guy, I'll make an exception

mojo-photo-maximopark.jpg9. Maximo park – "Russian Literature" (From Our Earthly Pleasures out 5/9 on Warp) (mp3 via Stereogum)
Oh, those Russkies. They write good. This angular, Franz Ferdinand-y British five-piece agrees, and brings a little piano action to the foreground to make the point

mojo-cover-explosions.jpg8. Explosions in the Sky – "The Birth and Death of the Day" (from All of a Sudden I Miss Everyone, on Temporary Residence) (mp3 via Aural Fitness)
I like post-rock, yes I do. When it comes to 8-minute instrumental rock epics, there's a fine line between exultant and self-indulgent. But this Texas combo keeps it together by going right for the emotional jugular, like Slint, Tortoise, or Godspeed you Black Emperor before them

7. Lil' Mama – "Lip Gloss" (video, via Pitchfork)

Apparently Lil' Mama is really "lil," only 17 years old in fact, but in this video about how a magical pink lip gloss makes everything okay, she actually seems more self-assured than that setup might make you think. Plus, the supremely minimal backing track (just a stomp and a clap) is a showcase for her very real vocal skills

mojo-photo-ulrich.jpg6. Ulrich Schnauss feat. Judith Beck - "Stars" (from Goodbye, out July 10th on Domino) (mp3 via Use Your Faults, Use Your Defects)
This German artist put out one of my favorite albums of 2003, the neo-electronica-meets-My Bloody Valentine-fuzz A Strangely Isolated Place. This preview track from his long-awaited followup shows a more mature, and dare I say accessible, style

FDA May Legalize Chocolate Fraud

| Thu Apr. 19, 2007 3:23 PM EDT

chocolate.jpg

This is so wrong. The FDA is entertaining a "citizen's petition" to allow chocolate manufacturers to substitute cheap vegetable oil for cocoa butter, and pass it off as chocolate. Citizens petition my ass. It's straight from the Chocolate Manufacturers Assn., the Grocery Manufacturers Assn., the Snack Food Assn. and the National Cattlemen's Beef Assn. Straight from K Street.