The Riff - July 2007

Top Ten Stuff 'n' Things - 7/09/07

| Tue Jul. 10, 2007 12:39 AM EDT

I know what a disappointment I am to you. With a ridonkulous name like "Party Ben," you're all expecting the DJ version of Duffman, delivering 10-packs of stoopid-fresh jams with for your beer-hat headphones, but then my Top Tens turn out to be full of mopey, depressing space-rock. Sorry. Well, finally, this week, songs you could potentially refer to as "party tunes" actually dominate the Top Ten, with a ratio of, maybe, 7-to-3? ...Depending on what your definition of "party" is, come to think of it.

mojo-photo-genesis.JPG 10. Mad Martigan - "That's All Grandpa" (Neil Young vs. Genesis) (mp3 from his site here)
Who says all mashups have to be a cheesy 80s track with a current rap hit over the top? (Urp, me, I guess). Anyway, the French producer admits this might be "for old people," but the oddly melancholy feeling the obscure Young track gives the Genesis vocal is entirely fresh.

mojo-cover-spoongagaga.jpg9. Spoon - "Rhthm and Soul" (from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, out tomorrow on Merge) (stream the whole album here)
Go over to the Merge jukebox site there, and under the list of song titles, you'll see the sentence "This record is a Hit!" in goofy type. They're probably being silly, but with seemingly unprecedented blog hype, that may actually be right. Songs like "Soul" aren't immediately accessible in a pop-radio sense, but the brilliantly crafted piano-heavy rock on display here feels timeless.

mojo-photo-djfashen.JPG8. DJ Fashen - "Dangerous Jane" (Yin Yang Twins vs. Jefferson Starship) (on his MySpace page)
While I'm skeptical of anyone who's part of the whole DJ-to-the-stars posse with DJ AM and Steve Aoki, Fashen actually seems to have some chops, and this mashup is awesome. The almost-forgotten classic from good old Jefferson Starship brings out the urgency in the Yin Yang Twins' warning, which itself lifts a line from Hall & Oates: "Watch out boy, she'll chew you up."

mojo-cover-merdujapon.JPG7. Air - "Mer du Japon" (Teenagers remix)
(from the Mer du Japon EP on Virgin)
"Japon" was a piano-laden highlight from the otherwise underwhelming Pocket Symphony; on this remix, Teenagers gives the track a driving beat reminiscent of Royksopp's "Remind Me" and allows the melody space to breathe.


mojo-cover-tivstip.JPG6. T.I. feat. Wyclef Jean - "You Know What It Is" (from T.I. vs. T.I.P. on Atlantic)
Produced by Fugee Jean with a deceptively minimal beat that packs an aggressive, insistent punch (along with a couple sirens for good measure), Georgian rapper T.I. delivers his lines with a casual effortlessness, managing to cover what seems like a whole octave just in the title phrase.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Sexually Explicit Lyrics OK with Tipper When Global Warming's Involved

| Mon Jul. 9, 2007 9:15 PM EDT

Live Earth got so much coverage today that I swore I wasn't going to chime in. But there's one thing I couldn't let go unsaid.

Right by Al Gore's side during the event was his wife Tipper, clapping and cheering away for the performers, one of which was Madonna.

This is the same Tipper Gore who in 1985 founded the Parental Music Resource Center specifically to target musicians like Madonna for having explicit lyrics in their songs! Madonna's "Dress You Up" was on Tipper's "filthy fifteen" list of songs that she felt should be monitored and rated by the record industry. It's because of the work of Tipper and the PMRC that the record industry eventually started slapping "Parental Advisory: Explicit Lyrics" stickers on CDs. It appears that she has since removed herself so far from the censorship debate that she's even appeared onstage with the Grateful Dead to raise cash for Al.

So, what? Music censorship is only important if the globe's warming is not at stake?

I'm not the only one to remember the PMRC. Mark Hemingway, reporting on the event, points out that the Foo Fighters strummed their way through a cover of Prince's "Darling Nikki," a song about a girl masturbating in a hotel lobby with a magazine, that got Tipper all riled up in the first place.

Live Earth Highlights (and Lowlights)

| Mon Jul. 9, 2007 7:59 PM EDT

While Drudge and Murdoch wore themselves out trying to discredit the event, Live Earth's multi-nation concerts went off Saturday without much of a hitch. Here's a quick wrap-up of some news, commentary, and videos:

mojo-photo-hetfield.JPG - Metallica's James Hetfield was apparently barred entry to Luton airport on his way to perform at the London event because of his "Taliban-like" beard. Idolator said it made Metallica seem "the edgiest they have in years."

- The Telegraph pointed out the lack of major "campaigning" artists (U2, Radiohead, Coldplay, REM, etc.) or interesting reunions: "Live8 got Pink Floyd, Live Earth got Spinal Tap."

- Microsoft said Live Earth drew over 10 million internet viewers, the most for a concert broadcast ever. Perhaps that explains its poor TV ratings?

- BBC2 aired the Wembley event without delay, meaning a whole variety of foul language was beamed directly into England's unsuspecting households.

- The largest attendance was at Rio's event on Copacabana beach, which, by the way, featured kid's TV star Xuxa!

Videos after the jump.

Live Earth Concert Kicks Off, Critics Weigh In

| Sat Jul. 7, 2007 4:42 PM EDT

LE%20image.jpg

Live Earth, the 24-hour concert, part of a larger multi-year campaign to combat climate change, kicked off today on all seven continents across the globe. The event, organized by former U.S. Veep Al Gore and the Alliance for Climate Protection, features nearly 150 artists, including U2, Snoop Dogg, and Madonna, who play to trigger a "global movement to solve the climate crisis."

But regardless of the star power, some are critical. Live Aid/Live 8 creator Bob Geldof says, "It's just an enormous pop concert or the umpteenth time that, say, Madonna or Coldplay get up on stage." Keith Farnish, a British environmentalist and the founder of the Earth Blog is "not sure events like this make a difference."

Some are more harsh. Matt Helder, the drummer of Arctic Monkeys, a British Indie rock band, thinks the execution is hypocritical. "We're using enough power for ten houses just for lighting," he notes. This type of skepticism is being echoed by many, but Treehugger, an environmental blog that touts bringing sustainability to the mainstream, reports that steps have been made to make the concert greener and proceeds do go to create a foundation to combat global warming, which will be led by the Alliance for Climate Protection.

The concert does have its supporters (it is estimated that 2 billion people will be reached). Vocalist Patrick Stump of the alt rock band Fallout Boy is hopeful. "If we spread out the influence as much as we can and if we hit some people with some really big ideas, there might be a kid there that will totally eradicate fossil fuel." And of course, Gore is a big, big fan. He says, "the task of saving the global environment is a task we should all approach with a sense of joy."

We want to know — what you think?

—Anna Weggel

First Listen: Interpol - Our Love To Admire

| Sat Jul. 7, 2007 1:36 AM EDT

mojo_cover_interpolourlove.JPG
Total number of animals pictured in the cover booklet's photographs of nature dioramas: 21

Percentage of those which appear to be male Greater Kudu antelopes: 10%

Rank of Track 1, "Pioneer to the Falls," a bottomlessly bleak track dominated by an epic and mournful guitar melody, on the List of Best Interpol Songs of All Time According to Me: #4 (behind "Untitled," "PDA," and "NYC" from Turn On the Bright Lights, 2002)

Number of days frontman Paul Banks claims he hasn't slept on Track 8, "Rest My Chemistry," in what is apparently a reference to a cocaine binge: 2

Amount of time into the 4 minute and 30 second Track 10, "Wrecking Ball," a TV On the Radio-reminiscent lament, before the band are joined by what sounds like a full orchestra: 3:09

How heard-rendingly sad the Spanish-style guitars that accompany album closer "The Lighthouse" are on a scale where 1 equals Spongebob Squarepants and 100 equals the inevitable death of the universe in a entropy-driven whimper: 99

Average rating out of 100 for the album in reviews compiled so far by Metacritic: 90

Random sampling of adjectives used in the featured reviews: "ominous," "doomy," "funereal," "reverberating," "devastating," "terrible," "brooding," "magnificent," "cadaverous"

Number of offices and studios out of which one could hear Our Love to Admire playing after advance copies arrived at our radio station this afternoon: 4

Date on which the general public can purchase and enjoy this brutal, majestic album: Tuesday, July 10, 2007

MTV.com website where you can stream the entire album: right here

Neato Viddys on the Intertubes: The "Walk It Out" Game

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 7:20 PM EDT

Just ran across this, a hilarious combo of Unk's ubiquitous "Walk It Out" with video footage of dancer Gwen Verdon and crew doing some sassy Bob Fosse-style moves; while the pink bell bottoms are wildly incongruous, the hip-shaking is oddly fitting, and there are multiple points where their moves shift right on cue with the song, in what I guess is a hip-hop equivalent of playing "Dark Side of the Moon" with "The Wizard of Oz."

And lo and behold, it turns out there's a bunch of these! Witness the head-slapping ridiculousness of "Teletubbies Walk It Out:"

Or, while we're at it, "Barney's Walk It Out:"

"Happy Feet Walk It Out:"

It goes on and on. There's Napoleon Dynamite, Naruto, even a computer-animation mega-mashup. Do your own YouTube search for "Walk It Out" and you'll see. Except for Naruto, I guess the theme is "white people (or the cartoon equivalent) look silly dancing to hip-hop," but boy, some of this stuff is laugh-out-loud funny. I just hope nobody has any video of me shimmying around at some point...

Advertise on MotherJones.com

First Listen: Editors' An End Has a Start

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 6:55 PM EDT

mojo-cover-editorslarge.JPG Who's afraid of Coldplay? Well, Jon Pareles, most famously, rightly calling their third album, 2005's X&Y, "self-pitying" and "hokum." In a post-"Fix You" world, it's easy to forget that Coldplay used to be alright: A Rush of Blood to the Head is introspective and creative where X&Y is maudlin and overwrought, and a quick listen to the former is a reminder that sensitive-guy music with dramatic, overarching melodies isn't always annoying.

Birmingham, England's Editors released The Back Room in '05, displaying a sound reminiscent of Joy Division; they were subsequently lumped in with the myriad other combos exploring that post-punk style, so it's not surprising they would now redirect themselves a little. This new direction is definitely sensitive-guy-land: lead single "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors" laments that sight as "the saddest thing I've ever seen" over the insistent beat from Coldplay's "Clocks." But lead singer Tom Smith's straightforward baritone has none of the whimpering quality of Chris Martin, and combined with the soaring guitar work, the track achieves grandeur without trickery.

Elsewhere, on tracks like "Bones," the band returns to the propulsive uptempo of The Back Room, an "I Will Follow"-reminiscent style the band nearly owns at this point. It's all nicely done, if not earth-shattering, and despite the favorable comparisons to Coldplay, Start sometimes slips dangerously towards cliché: "Put Your Head Towards the Air" starts off sounding uncomfortably similar to Billy Joel's "She's Always a Woman," asking, "have we learned what we set out to learn?" But the track quickly redeems itself with a gigantic drum beat, and when Smith sings the strange line "there's people climbing out of their cars," it's hard not to get a little shiver. Fans of U2 and Coldplay looking for a similar band that hasn't lost the plot will find An End Has a Start a enjoyable, and at times awe-inspiring, listen.

An End Has a Start is out Tuesday, July 17th, on Fader Label. Three tracks are currently available on iTunes here.

Spike Lee To Make WWII Film

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 5:16 PM EDT

Controversial film director and actor Spike Lee announced that he plans to make a World War II film that will focus on the contribution of black American soldiers who fought and died to liberate Europe during WWII.

"If you think Hollywood and World War II, you think John Wayne—the great white male that saved the world. It's a myth," he told Reuters.

Shooting for the film, based on James McBride's novel Miracle at St. Anna, is expected to start by the beginning of 2008 and to cost $45 million. It will be shot in Tuscany, where American soldiers were trapped in the mountains behind enemy lines and were living with local villagers who had never laid eyes on a black person before.

Much of Lee's film career has focused on skewering controversial political and social issues, particularly those affecting the African American community. He was recently given the annual George Polk Award for his work on When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, a documentary about life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Lee also announced in 2006 his plans to direct a James Brown biopic, which would tell the story of the "Godfather of Soul," who died of congestive heart failure on Christmas morning last year in Atlanta at age 73.

Punk Planet Magazine Dead in the Water

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 5:12 PM EDT

The gutting of independent publishing and news media doesn't show signs of letting up.

Punk Planet in June announced that after 13 years and 80 issues, its final magazine issue was being sent out.

Staff blamed the internet, consumerism, bad distribution deals, and a stagnating independent music business for the demise of their publication.

The Chicago-based Punk Planet magazine and its online component punkplanet.com covers punk music, punk subculture, visual arts, and progressive issues such as media criticism, feminism, and labor issues through interviews, essays and album reviews.

Independents' Day Media, a small community-supported journalism project, has been publishing Punk Planet, as well as their own line of books and a skateboarding magazine called Bail.

The group will continue to publish fiction and nonfiction books on poster art, punk "rabble-rousers," inner-city organizing, and personal tragedy online and its website will continue to function as a social networking location for "independently minded folks."

Over here at Mother Jones, we're paying close attention to the struggles facing news media and indie publishing. For more info, see here, here, here, and here.

NY Times on French Techno: Formidable

| Tue Jul. 3, 2007 2:24 PM EDT

mojo-photo-paris.JPGWill Hermes had a pretty good rundown of the Paris electronic music scene in Sunday's Times, which at the very least makes me feel better for stuffing my Top Ten with Justice, DJ Mehdi and Uffie tunes over the last few months. Check it out for a condensed history of the whole "Justice vs. Simian" remix escapade, and an age comparison of Daft Punk's Thomas Bangaltier (32) with the members of Justice (27 and 24) that is sure to make you (36) feel very old. While it seems odd to accompany the article with a 14-month-old photograph of Daft Punk's 2006 Coachella performance, and DJ Medhi's awesome "Signatune" apparently got spell-checked to "Signature," it's still nice to see the Times pick up on the phenomenon. Selected relevant videos after the jump.