The Riff - August 2007

Newspapers 'Pay It Forward'

| Wed Aug. 8, 2007 7:21 PM EDT

Minneapolis has been on the minds of many since the devastating events of last week. But being on people's minds wasn't enough for some; one newspaper took it a step further. The Roanoke Times, a Virginia newspaper, sent a snack bundle including pork rinds, cupcakes, and other "delicacies" to the Minneapolis Star Tribune and the St. Paul Pioneer Press this week.

But this isn't the first instance of this type of dogoodery among media cohorts. It appears the tradition began with the Oklahoman, which sent the Roanoke Times a similar box after the Virginia Tech massacre. The Oklahoman staff obviously understands the stresses placed upon local publications when disaster strikes an area, having lived through the Oklahoma City bombing. Looks like the Roanoke Times is just paying it forward.

—Anna Weggel

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Pearl Jam Lollapalooza Webcast Censored

| Wed Aug. 8, 2007 6:09 PM EDT

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Pearl Jam have released a statement on their website saying that certain political content was cut from the AT&T "Blue Room" live webcast of their performance at Lollapalooza on Sunday night. Fans informed the band of the missing content.

At live shows, lead singer Eddie Vedder often replaces or changes certain phrases in their songs; in this instance, during an extended rendition of "Daughter," he sang the lines "George Bush, leave this world alone," and "George Bush, find yourself another home," to the tune of Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall." Both lines were excised from the webcast.

When contacted, AT&T confirmed the editing, calling it a mistake. A representative told CMJ the cuts were "an unfortunate mistake made by a webcast editor." Pearl Jam responded by saying, "This, of course, troubles us as artists but also as citizens concerned with the issue of censorship and the increasingly consolidated control of the media." The band plan to post the uncut performance on their website soon.

Blog Party

| Wed Aug. 8, 2007 3:09 PM EDT

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The platform: more clicks, less schtick!

  • Researchers attempt to encourage breeding in captive sharks by playing them music. Justin Timberlake turns them on; Britney Spears, not so much. (Towleroad)
  • Courtney Love says crazy stuff on her MySpace page! I know, can you believe it? This time it's about, er, cupcakes. (Defamer)
  • Idolator offers the first installment of its Top 100 Greatest R&B Songs Ever, complete with videos. Hey look: "Oh Sheila!" (Idolator)
  • I know I just posted a link to an Alan McGee rant, but he's just so adorably ornery! This week: bands that were over-hyped. (UK Guardian Music Blog)
  • Sharpton Protests Rap Lyrics

    | Wed Aug. 8, 2007 12:50 PM EDT

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    The Reverend Al Sharpton led a protest in Detroit on Tuesday against degrading lyrics in hip-hop. Sharpton's National Action Network organized demonstrations in more than 20 cities nationwide in a so-called "Day of Outrage" against "gutter terms" in popular music. Using a typical counterargument to the whole "free speech" concept, the group is urging public divestment (specifically, government-run pension funds) from record labels that promote racially and sexually degrading music.

    In Detroit, Sharpton referenced the city's Motown history, describing it as a time "when music was not denigrating and was entertaining." He then turned and aimed a sword at a nearby windmill.

    The Police Rake It In

    | Tue Aug. 7, 2007 9:11 PM EDT

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    As we've reported here on the Riff, the reunited Police have had some good and bad nights on their recent tour. But you know what makes interpersonal issues or musical struggles seem a little less important? I'll tell you what: one hundred meeellion dollars. That's right, Billboard magazine is reporting the 38-date first leg of the Police tour has already grossed $107,592,002, and was attended by 929,941 people. And that doesn't even include the Bonnaroo or V festival stops in Tennessee and Baltimore, so add in a couple zillion to both those numbers. The two July dates at Chicago's Wrigley field grossed $9,494,248 on their own. Gulp. I made $50 at a DJ gig once. Anyway, the tour continues at the end of August, returning to the US Halloween night at Madison Square Garden. The band then plan to continue touring until they have all the money in the world.

    MTV Nominates French Techno for Video of the Year

    | Tue Aug. 7, 2007 2:46 PM EDT

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    Super-hot Paris duo Justice's single "D.A.N.C.E." has been nominated for MTV's "Video of the Year" alongside regulars Beyonce, Rihanna, Justin Timberlake and Kanye West, as well as newcomer Amy Winehouse. One might be tempted to see this nomination as an acknowledgement of grungy Francophile nu-rave's dominion over dance floors worldwide (and it is a pretty good video to boot, featuring cute animated T-shirts); but really, it's just a publicity stunt. It was just last year when the quirky video for Justice's remix of Simian's "Never Be Alone" upset Kanye West's "Touch the Sky" for Video of the Year at the MTV Europe awards in Copenhagen; Kanye, famously, crashed the stage and gave an expletive-filled rant about why his "million-dollar" video should have snagged the award instead. So, as Idolator points out: MTV America is just concocting a cheeky little rematch between the hot-headed rapper and the hapless Frenchmen. Having Kanye actually present at the announcement in New York today, joking (?) he's "still mad" about the loss, adds to the feeling of a setup. Whatevs: anything that gets Justice in front of more eyes and ears is a good thing—although I suspect MTV won't exactly be putting "D.A.N.C.E." into heavy rotation.

    The MTV Video Music Awards are on your TV September 9th; check out the rest of the nominees here. (The only other sort of interesting nod is Peter Bjorn & John for "Best New Artist.") Watch the video for "D.A.N.C.E." below.

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    Choose Music News on Tuesday

    | Tue Aug. 7, 2007 11:44 AM EDT

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  • Former Fugees singer Lauryn Hill gives a baffling, reggae- and ska-influenced show in Brooklyn, wearing a crazy pink clown outfit, furthering rumors that she's bonkers. (Rolling Stone)

  • UK singer Lily Allen had her US visa canceled abruptly after being questioned for five hours at LAX, apparently because of her arrest in London in March after allegedly assaulting a photographer. (NME) Update: Her manager denies these reports, saying they're "rubbish," Allen is currently in Las Vegas and her September US tour dates are not in jeopardy. (Again, NME)
  • Busta Rhymes is sued for assault in New York after a 20-year-old man alleges he was beaten by the rapper and his posse after, uh, spitting on one of their cars. Lesson: don't spit on a rapper's posse's car. (Billboard)
  • Universal Records threatens to sue US retailers for selling import copies of Amy Winehouse's 2003 debut album, Frank, since they're about to release it themselves... only 4 years after the fact. (Yahoo! Music)
  • Top Ten Stuff 'n' Things - 8/06/07

    | Tue Aug. 7, 2007 12:35 AM EDT

    This week, I promise, no "Chocolate Rain" in the Top Ten, no Darth Vader remixes of "Chocolate Rain," no versions of "Chocolate Rain" sung by McGruff the Crime Dog, no mashups of "Chocolate Rain" and Coldplay. See how easy that was?

    mojo-cover-hardfismall.JPG10. Hard-Fi – "Suburban Knights" (from Once Upon a Time in the West, out 9/3 in the UK, US release date TBD)
    (video on YouTube, stream at MySpace)
    So, we established the cover art is silly, but it turns out the music isn't bad at all. With its jaunty ska-inflected rhythm and sing-along background vocals ("Hey-ey-ey! Ho-oh-oh!"), it's even more raucous than "Hard to Beat," the high point on the UK combo's 2005 debut.

    9. Brother and Sister – "Awesome With My Life" video (or, listen without video on their MySpace)
    Minneapolis duo Michael and Katie Gaughan (yes, actual bro and sis) make a joyful noise, and apparently are famous around the Cities for unconventional concerts at aquatic parks and jails. Like a kid-friendly "Take the Skinheads Bowling" or "Bitchin' Camaro" for a new generation, this track makes me want to, well, do something awesome with my life. Anybody got any idea how to do that?


    mojo-cover-sharonjones.JPG8. Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – "100 Days 100 Nights"
    (listen on their MySpace here)
    Half the fun of Amy Winehouse's "Rehab" is the precise backing band, and it turns out they do their own thing too. The Brooklyn combo's horn-based R&B is definitely retro, but somehow it still feels fresh. The record release party is October 2nd at the Apollo in Harlem, how awesome will that be?

    mojo-cover-architecture.JPG7. Architecture in Helsinki – "Heart it Races" (from Places Like This, out August 21st on Polyvinyl)
    (mp3 via Hate Something Beautiful)
    This Melbourne, Australia combo gained an extensive blog following with their quirky 2005 sophomore release, In Case We Die; they've since shed a couple members, and their new sound is a little more focused (and, weirdly, a lot like M.I.A.'s "Galang").

    mojo-cover-feist.JPG6. Feist – "My Moon My Man" (from The Reminder on Interscope)
    (listen at her MySpace)
    Party Ben: a little slow on the uptake with this one. The first single, "1234," was nice enough, but put me off with its Gap-ad-reminiscent video; ironically enough, it took an inescapable cell phone commercial to remind me of this song's hypnotic vocals and shiver-inducing guitar line. Call me a flip-flopper.

    The States Give a Shout-Out to Jack Abramoff

    | Mon Aug. 6, 2007 5:28 PM EDT
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    The States, a palatable New York-based, indy/pop/punk/rock band, don't exactly get my angsty, political blood boiling, but they do get bonus points for writing a song about former high-powered Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff on their latest album, The Path of Least Resistance.

    Abramoff, who was at the center of a wide-ranging public corruption investigation including fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy, gets criticized in the song "Black Jack" by The States. "How are you gonna tell your son that the game is over, that your hand is busted," they say in the song. Ouch!

    Karl Rove doesn't get off too easy on the album, either. In the song "The Architect," The States criticize Rove and the Bush Administration with the lines "You can build where you don't belong if you are cautious…Liberty is such a bitch, yeah, when you force it."

    The only problem is that their well-polished hipster cool image and over-produced tracks make the band and their new album feel too safe for me. As a result, they don't feel very rebellious or dangerous, so their bark feels louder than their bite.

    Lee Hazlewood Dies at 78

    | Mon Aug. 6, 2007 3:42 PM EDT

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    Singer/songwriter Lee Hazlewood died Saturday in Henderson, Nevada, losing a three-year battle with kidney cancer. While Hazlewood had his own label and musical career, he was best known for penning tracks for Nancy Sinatra, especially "These Boots Are Made for Walking" and "Some Velvet Morning," on which he also sang. "Morning" is one of the weirder tracks to ever hit the Top 30 (reaching #26 on the Billboard charts in 1967)—a reverby mix of country and psychedelia that's notable for its alternating 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures, whose accelerating back-and-forth provides the song's disorienting climax. The lyrics' open admission of substance use ("some velvet morning when I'm straight") made it a counter-cultural touchstone, and it's since been covered by artists from Slowdive and Primal Scream to Lydia Lunch and Vanilla Fudge.

    Grab an mp3 at rocksellout.com here; plus check out the Pitchfork and Billboard stories on Hazelwood's legacy.