The Riff - August 2007

Friday My Day for Music News

| Fri Aug. 17, 2007 12:04 PM EDT

Beck at Carnival

  • Beck set to release "surprise" single, "Timebomb," (possibly featuring Jamie Lidell, and probably not an 808 State or Rancid cover) on iTunes on Monday. (Pitchfork)
  • Nine Inch Nails' Year Zero gets a remix album and, possibly, a movie or TV show. (Stereogum)
  • Amy Winehouse cancels August shows, for "health reasons." (Yahoo! Music)
  • New PJ Harvey album White Chalk gets US release date: September 25th. (CMJ)
  • Advertise on MotherJones.com

    Update: Al Sharpton Fights Back?

    | Thu Aug. 16, 2007 7:59 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-alsharpton2.JPG

    The always-reputable TMZ.com is reporting that a spokesperson for Sharpton's National Action Network (who helped organized the recent anti-bad language protests) has responded to rapper David Banner's (real name: Levell Crump) expletive-laden rant about Sharpton with some bad language of her own. The spokesperson, Kristen John-Foy, apparently referring to Banner's invitation for Sharpton to "suck [his] d***," released this statement:

    From time to time we do encounter people that have sexual fantasies about Reverend Al Sharpton, but they are always women and Crump's proposition is a first. I am sure Rev. Sharpton would not call Crump the "N" "B" or "H" word. And, despite Crump's personal request, I am sure Reverend Sharpton would not call him a f*****. He would just pray for him. We at NAN are pro civil rights for everyone, even Levell Crump who has not had a banner year since his debut album in 2003.

    TMZ says another spokesperson confirmed the statement was sent from Sharpton's office, but also seemed to distance the Reverend from the comment, saying he would "never" respond directly to attacks like Banner's. Well, somebody in your office did, and used the "F" word, with a cute, Ann Coulter-style "I'm not saying this word right here that I'm saying" trick, so they don't get in trouble. Awesome! Keep up the good work, National Action Network!

    Rappers Respond to Al Sharpton

    | Thu Aug. 16, 2007 2:22 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-davidbanner.jpg As I previously covered here on the Riff, Al Sharpton recently organized protests against foul and violent language in hip-hop, demanding the withdrawal of government-run pension funds from record labels who don't comply. Now artists are speaking out against Sharpton. Web site SOHH.com reports that both critically-acclaimed MC Talib Kweli and hit producer and rapper David Banner (above) have criticized Sharpton, each in their own way. Kweli was firm but thoughtful, saying "I'm an artist and I'm gonna say what I want to say," but also giving respect to, well, Oprah:

    I do think that people like Al Sharpton and Oprah and Russell Simmons are our vanguards and our elders and that we should respect them… They have been here representing for us since before even hip-hop was here. What they say is important and it's relevant but I think we need our own leadership so that we can respectfully disagree and say 'I hear you uncle Russell, I hear you Al Sharpton' and be respectful about it. But we can't cow tow (sic!!!!) to them either.

    I'm going to hope it was SOHH and not Kweli who made that unfortunate bovine slip-up there. Anyway, on to Banner: his brilliant, minimalist 2005 hit "Play" may be the filthiest song ever recorded, one of a few hip-hop tracks ("My Neck, My Back," anyone?) whose "radio edits" basically required complete re-writes. He was naturally more colorful in his response:

    The next time you see Al Sharpton, tell him I said @#*$ him and he can suck my @#*$… I might change the name of my album from The Greatest Story Never Told to @#*$ Al Sharpton. I hate Al Sharpton. This is the kind of @#!* that I'm talking about. They're killing kids in New Jersey and all across the country and all a @#*$% got to talk about is rap lyrics? … He's [Sharpton] a permed-out pimp. Him and Jesse Jackson are out here charging people to do rallies with them … @#*$%s talk a good game about we need to clean up the hood and the lyrics and all that. But I'm out here doing it.

    By "doing it," Banner may be referring to his sponsorship of a neighborhood children's program's annual Six Flags trip (pointed out by This Recording) or being honored by the National Black Caucus of the Mississippi state legislature after his work for victims of Hurricane Katrina. But, one wonders if perhaps pulling back on the expletives might have been a good idea just this once.

    By the way, to all you commenters who think any reference to sexuality in hip-hop music is "sexist," go give "My Neck, My Back" a listen.

    Hurry Up and Wait for New Radiohead

    | Thu Aug. 16, 2007 12:12 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-radiohead.jpg
    Everybody's favorite happy-go-lucky UK boy band has delayed the release of their seventh album until 2008, reports NME. Radiohead have not released an album since 2003's Hail to the Thief. The band have been working on new material (including a recent stint in the studio in New York), but apparently forgot they left their label EMI after Thief and, gee, it's kind of hard to release an album without a label. Actually, no, they didn't forget, they just stopped caring:

    Radiohead's management dismissed speculation over recent months that Warner Music was poised to secure the band's signature. "The band [is] not looking for a record company in any way, shape or form," the representative says. "They are out of a contract, but they're not actively looking for another one. They're getting on with doing what they do."

    Which is, I guess, make music nobody can hear, except in tiny little clips on a confusing website that has a tendency to lock up your computer. (Seriously.) Please, guys, we know you're annoyed with the Industry. We're all annoyed with the Industry. But that's all the more reason to speed your cathartic tunes to us! Malaise! Besides, the world might end before 2008!! Isn't that what Kid A is about?!

    Wide World of Blogs

    | Wed Aug. 15, 2007 5:26 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-daftpunkinside.jpg

  • The Daily Swarm has scans of Mixmag's pics from the inside of Daft Punk's pyramid, plus descriptions of the actual equipment, all much better than the last ones I posted. Nerd alert.

  • Brooklyn Vegan's got the scoop on the new Midtown Manhattan music venue, Terminal 5. Hell's Kitchen is so hot right now.
  • Idolator continues its countdown of the 100 Greatest R&B Songs of All Time: 80-61 now posted.
  • Yellow Stereo has some new Imperial Teen tunes. Hooray Imperial Teen!
  • Popbytes has the trailer for the new Michel Gondry film Be Kind Rewind starring Jack Black and Mos Def as video store clerks who have to re-enact all the movies after the tapes get erased.
  • New Super Awesome Music-Oriented Show for Kids

    | Wed Aug. 15, 2007 4:51 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-yogabbagabba.JPG
    When you think about it, "Sesame Street" was pretty hip, with its parade of guest stars and wacky Yip Yip puppets, but ever since they brought Snuffie out of the closet it seems like it's gone downhill. Nowadays, the musically-discerning parent doesn't have a lot of options for cool children's programming. Enter "Yo Gabba Gabba!" which will make its debut on Nickelodeon August 20th. The first show features performances from indie-rockers The Shins and rapper Biz Markie. The show's creator is in fact M.C. Bat Commander of the Aquabats (a.k.a. Christian Jacobs) who became interested in kids' TV after becoming a parent himself. Future shows are slated to include guests like Shiny Toy Guns, Mark Mothersbaugh of Devo, Supernova, and Rahzel. Mostly, though, I just love the crazy striped green unibrow monster.

    The Times has a nice feature on the show, and Rock Sellout has some videos and mp3s, including a link to the Shins performance, and this track, "Party In My Tummy," which may be my new favorite song.

    Advertise on MotherJones.com

    NY Times: People Take Cell Phones to Concerts

    | Wed Aug. 15, 2007 11:41 AM EDT

    mojo-photo-cell.JPGYesterday's Times explores the phenomenon of cell phones being taken to concerts, or, um, just having a cell phone and then later going to a concert, I'm not exactly sure. According to the article, people can record videos of performers falling down, or pay money to enter contests. For instance, audiences at recent Gwen Stefani concerts were apparently quite eager to spend 99 cents to give their phone number to the record company in exhange for the possibility of better seats, and Korn fans could vote on the last song of the show--for $1.99. Hooray?

    The article's attention to moneymaking contests ignores the two ways cell phone proliferation has affected my concert-going experience: first, at Coachella, you can sign up (for free!) to receive text message updates on band set times or delays, which can actually prove invaluable; and second, madly texting "whr r u?!?!" 2000 times until knocking heads with the person I'm looking for, both of us staring down at our pretty glowing screens.

    Wholesome Teens Turned Sex Symbols

    | Tue Aug. 14, 2007 7:30 PM EDT

    zac.jpg

    So…who graces the cover of Rolling Stone this week? None other than baby-faced Zac Efron. In the photo, not only is the 19-year-old Disney star taking off his shirt, but it could also be argued that he's bashfully rubbing his man boob. The picture surely brings squeals of delight to millions of teeny-boppers, and just as equally brings nothing but a big shudder to the rest of us. Efron's most famous roles are as a singing and dancing high school hunk in High School Musical and the movie version of Hairspray. The roles are innocent but the press he's getting is anything but.

    And if that doesn't bother you, how about an almost-nude shot of our favorite wizard boy? *Shudders.

    But really aren't we just treating young male celebrities the way we've always treated female celebrities—with birthday countdowns, suggestive magazine covers, and sexy interview questions? Is this objectification or just a really great break for these young chaps? Either way, we can be sure Daniel Radcliffe doesn't mind.

    —Anna Weggel

    M.I.A. Streaming All of Kala Online

    | Tue Aug. 14, 2007 6:55 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-mia2.JPGNow you can finally hear what I've been blabbering about this whole time. Check out M.I.A.'s MySpace page where all 12 tracks from her about-to-be-released sophomore album Kala are available for your streaming pleasure. Hey look: Robert Christgau says "Kala strikes deep," 4.5 out of 5 stars. You don't want to mess with Christgau. Anyway, you can spend money on Kala next Tuesday. Predictions for where it'll chart? Considering Arular never made it past #190 on the Billboard album charts, I'll say Kala will debut at... #39.

    Update, 8/16: I've read the Christgau review a couple times now and I'd just like to point out how brilliant it is. Please check it out. He uncovers a few insights that are absolutely true and totally fascinating: 1) the fact that the full-album collaboration with Timbaland didn't come to pass is probably due not only to the visa troubles but also to M.I.A. realizing that she didn't want to become Nelly Furtado; 2) the album, therefore, is less accessible, an uncompromising, jagged "art record," and 3) it recalls nothing so much as The Clash, whose aggression, multicultural influences, political expression, and DIY aesthetic combined with great songwriting skills to create a couple masterpieces. That could all be describing M.I.A., and when you think about it, this is totally the record the Clash would be making if they were making records today. Look at Big Audio Dynamite! Dude is 65 years old figuring out this s***. I bow down.

    Don't Refuse Music News on Tuesday

    | Tue Aug. 14, 2007 3:10 PM EDT

    mojo-photo-lennon.JPG

  • John Lennon's solo material now available on iTunes. Sixteen of the former Beatle's solo albums and videos for EMI are up on the digital storefront, joining Paul and Ringo's solo output. What could it all mean? (Billboard)

  • A trustee of James Brown's estate returned a "questionable" payment of $350,000 from the Brown trust that was made three days after the soul legend passed away. Also, 14 potential children are still waiting for DNA tests to prove their heritage. And, nobody paid for Brown's funeral. (E! Online)
  • Turning now to news about people who are alive, Lupe Fiasco, Kanye West and Pharrell Williams enjoyed sampling Thom Yorke so much that now they're hoping to record a whole album under the name CRS, or Child Rebel Soldiers, which Idolator points out "sounds like a skit that was cut from the M.I.A. album." (Billboard)
  • Todd Haynes' amazing-looking Bob Dylan biopic I'm Not There (that uses six different actors to play Bob) also features everyone cool in the world ever on the soundtrack. Steven Malkmus, Yo La Tengo, Sonic Youth, Karen O, Mark Lanegan, Cat Power, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Daft Punk? Check, check, check, check, check, check, check, non. (Stereogum, USA Today)