The Riff - February 2009

New Green Day Album Set to Push the Boundaries of Pretentiousness

| Mon Feb. 9, 2009 4:43 PM EST
Rolling Stone has it on good authority that Bay Area pop-punkers Green Day will be releasing their eighth album, 21st Century Breakdown, this May. If you thought that perhaps they'd realized that despite the commercial success of 2004's American Idiot, it was actually a bit of an overreach, relying on copycat grandiosity, and maybe it's time to get back to basics, you'd be so, so wrong. The new album appears to ratchet the high-concept gobbledygook up to 11, featuring 16 songs separated into three "acts," including "Heroes and Cons," "Charlatans and Saints" and "Horseshoes and Handgrenades." Huh? They also appear to be turning the tables on alleged plagiarizers Coldplay with the reported song title "Viva La Gloria." Or Mrs. Estefan and All Her Friends? The band also showcased their exciting new high-concept hairdos at last night's Grammys (see photo above)—hey guys, ever heard of the Pet Shop Boys? Legendary producer and Garbage-man Butch Vig will be at the controls, which means at least it'll sound pretty. You can pre-order the album already over here. However, the inevitable Dean Gray mashup album will probably be special order only.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Plant/Krauss, Coldplay Big Winners at Grammys

| Sun Feb. 8, 2009 11:20 PM EST
Oh, the many ironies of life on the West Coast: we're mocked as hippies even though we all have cars, people imagine us frolicking on the beach when it's actually 45 degrees and raining, and awards ceremonies, even though they're taking place in our time zone, are tape-delayed three hours for us, so we can finish our dinners. This does mean that we can look on the interwebs and see the winners before they even start, though, which is nice. Of course, it turns out that my predictions were pretty much wrong: I apparently had a brief moment of naïve optimism that the Grammys would suddenly start honoring what are truly the best songs of the year, and not whatever artist has the greatest name recognition amongst a bunch of 60-year-olds. Silly me. While I held out 50% of my hope that M.I.A. might pull out an upset in the record of the year category, Robert Plant and Alison Krauss won for "Please Read the Letter." Live-blogging the ceremony, the New York Times' Jon Caramanica had an amusing observation: perhaps, in 30 years, Animal Collective might arouse the same nostalgic feelings that Led Zeppelin do now, but somehow I doubt it. Krauss and Plant also picked up album of the year, over my pick of Radiohead—I guess my thinking was that Grammy voters would acknowledge both In Rainbows' sheer musical triumph and its status as an industry-changing event, but nope, they did not.

Grammy Preview: M.I.A. About to Pop, Radiohead On the March?

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 2:40 PM EST
While it's understandable if you're a cynic about the usually-preposterous Grammy Awards, Sunday night's show actually promises some nail-biting races and some dramatic, "will-they-or-won't-they" performances. First of all, singer M.I.A., up for Record of the Year for "Paper Planes," is scheduled to perform, despite the fact that she is very, very preggers. In fact, tomorrow Sunday is apparently her due date, if you can believe it. Will her wee Arulpragasam pop out right at the "ka-ching" noise in "Planes," or will an early arrival force her to cancel? Also upping the drama quotient is Radiohead, who are not scheduled to perform (and have never performed at the Grammys), but rumors are flying all the way to Pitchfork, who seem to believe the Brit combo will play In Rainbows' jazzy, drum-led 5/4 opener "15 Step" accompanied by the USC marching band. Hooray Radiohead, but ugh, marching bands—they're so, you know, "Hollaback Girl." Pitchfork also holds out hope for a Kanye/Radiohead mashup performance, which would make me pleased for Earworm but sad for myself, since it's long been a secret wish to see, for instance, Liam Gallagher wander out on to the Grammys stage for a surprise duet with Green Day—even if I don't get a shout-out. MTV already made some predictions about who will win (Coldplay, yes; Lil Wayne, nope) but I suppose I can try my hand at calling what the wrinkled old geezers in the Recording Academy will vote for without ever having heard it. My predictions in a few categories after the jump.

LOST: Babies Are Boring

| Fri Feb. 6, 2009 2:23 PM EST
After last week's dramatic episode, I had high hopes for LOST's third installment, titled "The Little Prince." Well, I was disappointed. It was dull, dull, dull, punctuated only by overly dramatic music (like when Sun received a very ominous box of Godiva chocolates) and one key revelation. Namely, Jin's not dead! Hurrah!

Copyright Smackdown: AP Goes After Shepard Fairey

| Thu Feb. 5, 2009 1:07 PM EST
Via the Associated Press, we learn that the Associated Press is coming after Shepard Fairey for using one of its photos as the basis of his (everyone say it with me!) iconic Obama "Hope" poster. A few weeks ago, a diligent photographer finally ID'd the poster's source image as a shot taken in 2006 by an AP freelancer. The AP is now crying copyright infringement and says it has "reached out to Mr. Fairey's attorney." (It's worth noting that when Reuters briefly thought the shot was theirs, they simply asked for credit.) 

Why Are We Obsessed With the Christian Bale Rant?

| Wed Feb. 4, 2009 8:14 PM EST

You take a Monday off, and when you come back, it's like you've emerged into the all-Malkovich world in Being John Malkovich, except it's all Christian Bale, all the time. The Batman actor and apparent douchebag was recorded giving an extended, profanity-filled hard time to the director of photography on his current film project, Terminator Salvation, and the audio was leaked to the media, who immediately whipped themselves into a frenzy like piranhas tossed a bloody steak. But I don't blame the media! Clearly, all humans were suddenly obsessed with this (long) moment of (extremely) inappropriate work behavior. Friends started e-mailing me about it, techno remixes started appearing, Rod Blagojevich referenced Bale in another surreal TV appearance.

Advertise on MotherJones.com

Bonnaroo Lineup Includes Springsteen, Beastie Boys, NIN, Extra Phish

| Tue Feb. 3, 2009 7:39 PM EST

mojo-photo-bonnaroo.jpgI know you; you were just sitting there thinking, "Boy, I'd really like to go to Bonnaroo, the long-running Tennessee music festival, this year, but I just don't think one Phish performance will be enough for me." Well, don't fret: Phish will be playing two shows at this year's Bonnaroo, set for June 11-14, way out in the woods or wherever that thing is. You'll be so full of Phish you'll—what, I can't make a joke about "barfing up a tilapia?" Damn you Mother Jones and your editorial standards...

The 'roo has always been the dirty hippie cousin to Coachella's expensive-sunglasses-wearing LA fashion brat, but in all honesty their lineup gets better every year. In addition to that Phish deal, Bonnaroo 2009's got Bruce Springsteen, the Beastie Boys, Nine Inch Nails, Wilco, Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu, and Paul Oakenfold, as well as Party Ben faves TV on the Radio, of Montreal, Santogold and even Robyn, whose haircut is much more Coachella-y.

An interesting development in this year's festival circuit is an apparent acknowledgement of the tough economic situation: you can now pay for your ticket on the installment plan. Both Coachella ($269 + service fees + $3 charity) and Bonnaroo (from $224-$249 + service fees + $3 charity) offer the ability to spread your payments out over time, with Bonnaroo offering five easy payments and Coachella giving you the option to pay in two or three payments. Maybe they should start offering lower-class tickets, where for half price, we'll promise to sit in one spot and not take up room in the beer line?

Full Bonnaroo lineup after the jump.

Stream Entire New Lily Allen Album at MySpace

| Tue Feb. 3, 2009 2:58 PM EST

mojo-photo-lilyallenfearcd.jpgBritish singer-songwriter Lily Allen's second album, It's Not Me, It's You, isn't out 'til next week, but you can listen to the whole thing at her MySpace page, and I recommend you do: it's a charming, affecting album with a subtly edgy electro-pop style.

Allen is just 23 years old, and both her life and her creative output straddle adult wisdom and childlike innocence in a peculiarly 21st-century way. Back in 2005, she was one of the first artists to ride MySpace to mainstream fame, posting demos to her page which quickly ranked up huge numbers of listens. Rock critics looked down their noses at this chirpy pop starlet going about stardom the wrong way, but she slayed them easily with the release of her debut album, Alright, Still, a remarkably astute revivification of the British ska and reggae style of the English Beat era, combined with clever, contemporary lyrics.

Unfortunately, over the last two years, it's seemed like Allen's tabloid fame began to eclipse her talent. Drug and alcohol problems surfaced, and then, most tragically, the singer suffered a miscarriage in early 2008, splitting with the father, Chemical Brother Ed Simons, soon afterwards. After suffering through so much turmoil, it's easy to understand why Allen might turn in a completely different musical direction, and indeed, she seems to have abandoned those loping Jamaican rhythms entirely.