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October 16, 2006


Aversion interviews Calexico's Joey Burns.

The topic which some of our songs have embraced in regards to cross-cultural themes or issues of immigration (global and local) have more to do with the empathy for those not so fortunate and in need of humanitarian aid. I don't see this as just political. I see as it as being a good neighbor and treating others with just as much respect as you'd like to be treated.

Popmatters talks to Beirut's Zach Condon about the inspiration for the band's music.

When asked if he saw a problem with never having been to the Balkans, he says, “That was kind of the point. It’s more a fantasy than reality and that helps me to be a lot more creative with the music. And the Serbians don’t seem to mind.” He cited an earlier concert where two kids from Serbia were in the audience. They sang along to a traditional song, and the band thought the Serbs knew the words from a bootleg, but were delighted to find out their reason for knowing the words and embraced their approval. But wasn’t listening to Beirut play a traditional song also a fantasy for the Serbs, albeit a different type; a fantasy about a homeland.

The Harvard Independent reviews the new albums by the Killers and the Hold Steady (discs tied together by inevitable Springsteen comparisons).

Author and artist Alison Bechdel talks to the Guardian about her graphic memoir, Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic.

The acknowledgments at the back of Fun Home thank her family for "not trying to stop me from writing this book", but Bechdel says she didn't ask their permission, either. "Somehow I assumed I had their tacit permission ... but that wasn't true. You can't get someone's permission if you don't ask for it, and I didn't want to ask for it because I was afraid they wouldn't give it." For a moment she looks absolutely downcast. "My mother comes from a different generation. She really believes that people should shut up."

The Independent reviews Sting and Paul McCartney's recent "outside the pop sphere."

There's a sadder side, inevitably, to all of this. Hundreds of early-music practitioners and impoverished, struggling contemporary composers are choking over the fact that Sting and McCartney attract such a large marketing budget and so much media attention. Why should an inspirational singer such as the counter-tenor Andreas Scholl be doomed to a smaller, specialised following for his lute song CD A Musicall Banquet than Sting in similar repertoire? What price hard-won scholarly fidelity to early music performance practice when Sting sweeps the board for singing Dowland with pop inflections and an American accent? Why should there be more of a fuss over Ecce Cor Meum as a new British choral work than, say, James MacMillan's brand-new Sun-Dogs, or Roxanna Panufnik's Westminster Mass of 1997?

FOXNews reports that Actress Scarlett Johansson is recording an album of Tom Waits songs.

Scarlett, I am told, has signed a deal to make her first record. "Scarlett Sings Tom Waits" is being recorded now and through the winter, with a possible release next spring from Rhino Records' recently reactivated Atco label.

The Independent lists their "10 best autumn reads."

The Bat Segundo Show interviews author T.C. Boyle on the literary podcast.

The Juliet Club answers letters sent to Shakespeare's heroine in the language they are sent.

MP3newswire lists its "iPod Killers for Christmas 2006."

Newsweek excerpts this week from Steven Levy's book about the iPod, The Perfect Thing.

The iPod is only the most recent, and most compelling, advance in a movement of portable cocooning that's been underway for decades. In 1974, sociologist Raymond Williams used the term "mobile privatization" to describe the phenomenon of people forming technological bubbles around themselves. And in 1979, the breakthrough device in personal audio, Sony's Walkman, was an exercise in two things: escape (shutting out the world) and enhancement (when your world is transformed into a soundtrack, reshaping your perception of the crappy world around you).

Newsweek also interviews Apple head Steve Jobs about the iPod's cultural relevance.

Some people say that iPod might lose its cache because it's too popular—how can it be cool when Dick Cheney and Queen Elizabeth have one?

That's like saying you don't want to kiss your lover's lips because everyone has lips. It doesn't make any sense. We don't strive to appear cool. We just try to make the best products we can. And if they are cool, well, that's great.

see also:

this week's CD & DVD releases


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