The Riff - July 2008

Confidential to Amy Winehouse

| Wed Jul. 2, 2008 2:20 PM EDT

winehouse-250x400.jpgI'm worried about little Amy.

I'm not a huge fan of her music, but I liked Rehab and her whole downtown, big hair, hard partying girl schtick. She's the antithesis of the fake-squeaky clean, "I'll pretend to be a virgin," blonde plastic Barbie Hollywood crams down our throats everyday.

But that was when I thought she knew what her limits, however stratospheric, were. Clearly, she does not. Way she's going, she's gonna wake up dead one day, as a grizzled old west Texas cowboy I used to know put it.

Girlfriend, fresh from a collapse and a grim diagnosis, just spoiled her reemergence by cold cocking a fan during a concert. Now, it's every woman's right—nay, her duty—to slap the crap out of any man who gropes her, but given the increasing likelihood that record companies may rethink their investment in what may be a very short career, Winehouse might oughta have let those enormous bouncers flanking her flatten the twerp. Amy, Amy, Amy—what are you doing?

But here's what I also dread: That bad-ass Amy Winehouse will get straight...and then go straight.

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The Dust-Off: The Feelies

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 6:38 PM EDT

mojo-photo-feelies.jpgThe New York Times today celebrates the return of the Feelies, the legendary New Jersey band whose minimal, focused strumming influenced bands from R.E.M. to Sonic Youth. The Feelies are opening for der Yoof at a free show in Battery Park this Friday night (which doesn't sound like any fun at all, arrrgh!), and the Times article is appropriately effusive, calling the band a "vivid apparition," and quoting various musical luminaries who give them props. But despite their influence, the band never really had mainstream success, and it seems like they're below the radar of most of today's kids. Unbelievably, their brilliant 1980 LP Crazy Rhythms isn't even on iTunes. Well, dammit, I'm getting out my scratchy old vinyl and putting it on the record player.

Boots Riley: F Bombs Not Cool in Norfolk

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 6:21 PM EDT

boots-180.jpgAfter dropping some variation of the F word at a live performance in Virginia with Galactic recently, Boots Riley, front man for Oakland's hip-hop/funk group The Coup, got slapped with abusive language charges from local police.

Riley, who Mother Jones profiled in our November/December 2007 issue, claimed the charges were racially motivated, part of a backlash from a recent Afr'Am Festival in Norfolk, at which gospel and R&B performances allegedly generated noise complaints.

The incident is not the first like it for Boots:

What is Music's "Modern Era"?

| Tue Jul. 1, 2008 5:39 PM EDT

mojo-photo-modernera.jpgIn the midst of trying to decide where to put Vampire Weekend on my Top Ten of 2008 So Far, I stumbled across a set of more ambitious charts: Entertainment Weekly's attempts to rank the best stuff of the last 25 years. Dubbing their charts "The New Classics," they disqualified anything born before 1983, and it makes for an interesting look back at recent history. Their Top 100 album chart is about half-right, with some major omissions, but also some intriguing breaks with the canon. Here's their top ten: