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October 24, 2006


M. Ward puts his iPod on shuffle for the Onion A.V. Club.

The Kinks, "Waterloo Sunset"

MW: I discovered The Kinks when my friend gave me The Village Green Preservation Society as a gift not very long ago. I devoured that CD, and it's still the main Kinks CD I listen to. Their greatest hits is a great record too. That's where this song comes from. Another song that's good to know when you're in Europe and you're waiting for a train and you're at Waterloo. It makes you feel happy.

The Onion A.V. Club interviews Pixies frontman Frank Black.

AVC: Do you think your songwriting has grown more personal over the years?

FB: No, but it seems more personal to an outsider, to a listener. My most cryptic, strange songs might be my most personal, but that isn't how people are going to receive them, because they don't know the code. To rephrase the question, I would say I decode a lot more.

The Decemberists' Colin Meloy talks to the Dallas Morning News about the band's new album, The Crane Wife.

"We didn't want to make a record that sounded like a cliché major-label debut, with no song over four minutes," says frontman Colin Meloy. "We wanted to make something that fit with our discography. This was the right move, I think."

This Is London interviews singer-songwriter Imogen Heap.

You’ve got more MySpace friends than the Arctic Monkeys - what does it mean? Has the hype around Sandi Thom made people suspicious?

I’ve got proof, though - you can just look at MySpace and see I’ve got 200,000 friends on there. I started on MySpace two years ago. We were getting ten people a day then it just multiplied and now we’re adding 1,000 every day. I have to pay someone to add friend requests because it takes so much time. There’s a lot of rubbish up there. I know, because I’ve had to listen to 200 bands a night to pick a support act for my gigs. But if you’re into a certain type of music, look at a band on there, look at their friends and you’ll find other things you might like.

The Washington Post argues that schoolchildren should be assigned more age-appropriate books (like graphic novels and comics).

"Teachers studied 'The Great Gatsby' in college and then want to teach that book because they have smart things to say about it, and they teach it in high school," Calkins said. "Then schools want to get their middle school kids ready for high school so they teach them 'The Catcher in the Rye.' It's a whole cultural thing."

Drowned in Sound interviews Jason Hammel of Mates of State.

Since the music that surrounds your words is often simplistic, albeit not minimal, do you think a greater connection with your audience is made via the lyrics, rather than the instrumental arrangements?

I don't know what the audience connects with but I hope it has something to do with the simple, or more intimate, genuine nature of what we do as a duo. I know it's not because what we do is normal or hip.

The Los Angeles Times eulogizes Miriam Engelberg, author of the graphic memoir, Cancer Made Me a Shallower Person: A Memoir in Comics.

Threadless is holding yet another $10 t-shirt sale.

Seattlest reports that comics publisher Fantagraphics has unveiled their brick and mortar store.

Slate's The Has Been blog accuses George W. Bush of reading too much.

The Guardian reports that some Mexican police officers are taking literature classes to broaden their minds and elevate their reputations.

Pistols on their hips and submachine guns slung across their shoulders, a classroom full of shoeless police officers trample somewhat sheepishly over the volumes spread out on the floor. "Feel them enter your body," the teacher urges the men and women in blue as they pass over Honoré de Balzac, Arthur C Clarke, Rafael Alberti, Rudyard Kipling, Octavio Paz, Ruth Rendell and others. "We must lose our fear of books, we must get to know our new friends."

The Retriever Weekly interviews author Richard McCann.

TRW: Do you read critics? If you do, how do they affect you personally and how do they affect your writing?

RM: I think you probably mean here critics of my own work, yes? Perversely, it's more upsetting to receive a mixed review than it is pleasurable to receive a rave review: one's mind always goes toward the criticism, doesn't it? Newspaper and magazine critics don't affect my writing much at all. I am interested in the opinions of some fellow writers. How does criticism affect one personally? Well, it's upsetting, of course, just as with any enterprise.

The Los Angeles Times profiles actor/author John Hodgman.

"Even though he's a lovely person, when he's on stage or in print he can flip on this switch and turn into a slightly hostile, insecure, boastful dunderhead," noted his friend Sarah Vowell, the author and radio commentator, in an e-mail. "As hostile, insecure, boastful dunderheads more or less run the world these days, it's cathartic to see such figures skewered.... The character he often plays is that of a pompous windbag."

Variety reviews a recent Decemberists show.

"Like a short-story writer working on his first novel, Meloy still hasn't got a handle on how to pace a longer show. The 90-minute set, bracketed by the opening and closing songs from 'The Crane Wife,' lost momentum around two-thirds of the way through; one has to wonder how he could have missed the chance to finish this show with his ambivalent anthem 'Los Angeles, I'm Yours.' Everything that came after felt anticlimactic, although campfire ballad "Sons and Daughters" made for a fine finale, the audience's now warmed voices chanting, 'Hear all the bombs, they fade away.'"

Depaul's DePaulina interviews singer-songwriter Leslie Feist.

D: What do you think of the other bands that you’re up against for "Woodies"? Do you think you have a good chance of winning?

F: Jenny Lewis is my little redheaded nemesis. I’m going to take her down. I mean take her down to a 50s dance party like I did two nights ago when we were both in Toronto. We sock hopped all night. If someone had filmed that party, it’d definitely win the live action video award. If you can’t beat them, dance with them.

San Francisco's 2007 Noise Pop Festival will be held from February 27th to March 2nd, and early commitments have come from Sebadoh, John Vanderslice, Ted Leo and Jolie Holland.

Stylus interviews Eye of the Boredoms.

I know you've talked about how there isn't really a break between what you do in visual art and what you do in music, but hearing and seeing are totally separate. What connections do you draw between your visual art and your music?

When he sees an impressionist painting, for example, he hears a sound with it. He can’t say exactly what the sound is, but he hears it. Like when you look at a comic book—how they depict a sound.

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