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November 9, 2006

Shorties

In the Wall Street Journal, Walter Mossberg reviews Microsoft's digital music player, Zune, and finds it lacking.

But, this first Zune has too many compromises and missing features to be as good a choice as the iPod for most users. The hardware feels rushed and incomplete. It is 60% larger and 17% heavier than the comparable iPod. It has much worse battery life for music than the iPod or than Microsoft claims -- at least two hours less than the iPod's, in my tests. Despite the larger screen, many album covers look worse than they do on the iPod. And you can't share music libraries between computers like you can with iTunes.


Singer-songwriter Jolie Holland talks about her songwriting with the Houston Chronicle.

"Every word is really true," she says. "The stories I'm telling are concrete and true. But I don't know if you have to live it. That's the kind of thing that kills so many artists. Like Janis Joplin, feeling like she had to live the blues. It killed her in the end."


Summer Hymns drummer Philip Brown talks to the Red and Black.

“A Summer Hymns show can be anything from a mind-blowing rip-your-face-off ride to a tender, honest confessional, or it can be a drunken, almost embarrassing sermon,” said Brown. “But it’s always a sight to see and hear.”


Australia's The Age talks to ten musicians whose careers "span genres and generations" about whether music still matters.


The Daily Princetonian reviews the CMJ Music Marathon.


The Columbus Dispatch interviews author Scott Turow.

Q: As a child, did you want to be a writer?

A: The law never crossed my mind as a kid, partly because my father was one of those doctors who hated lawyers. He just didn’t understand the way they thought.

I wanted to be a writer. In the seventh grade I wrote a smashing novella, but it was a rip-off of something I’d read in school.

My desire was to write fiction. By the end of my freshman year, I was writing a novel. I wrote five novels before Presumed Innocent that have never seen the light of day. . . . They’re not really worthy of publication. . . . They were long on passion and short on execution.


The Onion A.V. Club reviews recently published graphic novels and comics.


Drowned in Sound interviews singer-songwriter Imogen Heap.

If you could make one book as important and integral to Western society as the Bible, what would it be?

Possibly Blink: The Power Of Thinking Without Thinking by Malcolm Gladwell. I’ve only just read the first 30 pages but it’s looking good.


Singer-songwriter Nellie McKay talks to NPR's Day to Day about her recently released album, Pretty Little Head.


Singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco talks to the Providence Journal about her latest album, Reprieve.

“The album has a real organic base: two people playing instruments and me singing a song. And then around that, partly due to the tools I had at hand and partly due to consciousness right now and my reaction to my culture, there’s a lot of sounds of technology wafting around this organic core. Just lots of bleeping and burping and weird sounds, this intrusion of technology on our natural lives..."


Celebrities explain their love for Bruce Springsteen in the Telegraph.

Billy Bragg, singer/songwriter

Springsteen's songwriting and production and the way he approaches live shows put him in a different class. There was a lot of standing around looking meaningful with acoustic guitars in the '70s, and all those guys got swept away by punk, except Springsteen, who carried on through, and made some great albums in the late '70s.


Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier talks to the San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Now if only Deerhoof could cause a stir making political music or protest songs. "That's the one thing I wish we could do that I think is very hard to do," says Saunier on the phone from the Tenderloin apartment he shares with Matsuzaki before they leave to tour with the Fiery Furnaces. "I'm not sure we'll ever be able to do it, but I think it's a very interesting thing that bands or artists can grapple with — is it possible to do music that specifically makes some kind of political statement? That's sort of an eternal question. It's hard to find a way to sing an angry song about something bad that doesn't start to kind of need that something bad to exist."


The New York Press profiles MySpace and its changes since being acquired by the Rupert Murdoch empire.

If MySpace ever truly embodied an independent status reflective of digital youth culture, it changed when News Corp. took control in 2005. The term “indie” might still reflect a MySpace band’s method of independent music distribution, but the culture and attitude surrounding the term have shifted toward the mainstream. In the MySpace realm, “Indie” has become simply another word with no real currency, a modifier to attach to a genre of music to make it look cool and credible.


Noel Gallagher of Oasis talks to the Toronto Sun about the band's next album, due in 2007.

"Some of it's great,"he said. "But for what it's worth, a lot of my songs will probably end up being acoustic. But not in the Cat Stevens sense. 'Cause a lot of (2005's) Don't Believe The Truth was kind of acoustic-driven. But when you get into a studio, it all goes out the f---in' window and you just go, 'Let's rock!'"


Connect Savannah interviews former US poet laureate, Billy Collins.

Connect Savannah: You are pretty much the closest thing that there is to being “the rock star of poetry.” Any comments?

Billy Collins: If I’m the rock star of poetry…I don’t know about that. Although I am about the same age as Keith Richards right now, hopefully I’m in a little better shape than he is.

That is certainly not something I set out to do. If someone sets out to be well known it’s a dead end. I just write my poems. I’m not sure why they’re so popular.

I will express my gratitude to two people: Terry Gross and Garrison Keillor. After Picnic, Lightening was published, their attention to that book made all the difference. It shows you the power of public radio. There is the well known, overly-discussed power of Oprah but in a more subtle way, and in maybe a more consistent way, there’s public radio. There you have an audience of two to four million people, most are readers. Not too many poets get to read their poems to two million people.


The New York Press profiles singer-songwriter Joanna Newsom.

Yeah, the voice: Björk plus the Carter Family. It’s no more distracting than late-period Tom Waits. Or Dylan. Let’s put the boys to rest; here’s the heir to Bob’s throne. Intricate rhyme schemes, arcane diction, mythological references—all delivered by a voice only a dying cat (or dying-cat enthusiasts) could love, sometimes in incredibly belabored cadence like she’s competing with Fiona Apple to be the progenitor of 2017’s hot trend of white-girl orchestral rap.


The Independent Weekly previews this weekend's North Carolina Writer's Conference, and Miami New Times previews next week's Miami Book Fair International.


Swarthmore's college newspaper, the Phoenix, interviews Blaine Thunder of the New Pornographers.

MB: What was it like touring with Belle and Sebastian?

BT: I’m trying to think of a word to express how great it was … there isn’t one. How about … perfect? I’ve loved their music for so many years, it was amazing to hang out with them every day for three weeks. Not to mention the fact we got to see their amazing set night after night.


Comic Book Resources reports that Alan Moore's graphic novel trilogy The Lost Girls is no longer too pornographic to import into Canada.


Status Ain't Hood eulogizes Rainer Maria.


My Brightest Diamond's Shara Worden talks to the New York Press about her musical goals.

Even if she’s struggling with the little details, she has a big idea of what she’d like to ultimately achieve. She recalls seeing Nina Simone years ago at the Beacon Theater: “There was every age group, every race, all economic levels there because of the music. It’s something I’ve heard Dolly Parton is able to do as well. It’s not about how technical the music is, but it’s something worthy of dedicating your life to.”


Drowned in Sound recaps the best of October's album releases.


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this week's CD & DVD releases

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