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November 23, 2006


The Independent talks to Gossip's Beth Ditto, recently named by NME as the "coolest person on the planet."

Author Haruki Murakami talks to the Prague Post.

Having ditched what he calls the "irresponsibility" of his youth, Murakami says he has become more aware of the kind of literary legacy he would like to leave. "You know, I don't have children, and that's why I feel a responsibility to the next generation," he says. And, in a Japan still unsure of how it should confront its wartime past, Murakami believes that fiction can be a powerful tool to educate. It was through A Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, he says, that many Japanese learned about their country's brief war against the Soviet Union at Nomonhan on the Manchuria-Siberia border in the summer of 1939.

The University of Alberta's Gateway examines prolific indie artists, using Bishop Allen's 2006 monthly EP series as one example.

It’s kind of a cool concept on the surface, but look closer: your typical album costs about $20, give or take a few loonies. Twelve EPs at about five dollars a pop tallies up to $60 for the whole deal. Could all this music be worth $60? Maybe, but can a relatively untested indie band—Bishop Allen had just one album before embarking on this EP-a-month adventure—really give us 48 quality songs in a year? Can any established artist do that in such a rigid time constraint? Bishop Allen could have just plucked twelve or so of the best tracks they have and given us an amazing album at the end of the year. Instead, they decided to lighten our wallets and burden our ears with filler.

CNET lists the top ten girl geeks.

BBC News reports that Visa and Mastercard have stopped handling transactions including Russian music downloading service,

The Portland Mercury pits the album versus the single.

The New York Press interviews Snowden's Jordan Jeffares.

Are you NME fodder yet?

I think we’re going to “save rock ’n’ roll” in December or something. Maybe we’ll save post-punk or something. Something is always getting “saved” at the glossies.

The Stranger interviews former Stars guitarist Stephen Ramsay of Young Galaxy.

I hope we don't scare off your super-cool indie fans talking about Fleetwood Mac and clap tracks.

Every Fleetwood Mac song is so poignantly raw. I'm totally obsessed with them. We cover "Walk a Thin Line" from Tusk. I'm actually wearing a Fleetwood Mac T-shirt as we speak. In the studio the other day, I told another musician, "There are two things you should know about me: I love sad, emotional music full of bittersweet elation and I love clap tracks." Clap tracks are galvanized emotion. They're skin on skin, and they make the listener feel.

The Los Angeles Times chronicles the city's current British (band) invasion.

The Portland Mercury reviews Nick Hornby's essay collection, Housekeeping vs. The Dirt.

A Times Online writer decides to delve into literary fiction for a dinner menu (and recipes).

My regretful conclusion? Cookery books are best for cooking and literature is best for . . . well, whatever literature is best for.

New Statesman critics choose their books of the year.

Popmatters eulogizes CBGB's.

Stylus finds a magical music moment in the Mountain Goats' "Have to Explode."

Creative Loafing interviews actress-author Amy Sedaris.

How does your approach to hospitality compare to Martha Stewart's?

I've been called "a poor man's Martha Stewart" and a perfect parody of her, but I've actually never seen anything by her or read any of her books. My book was inspired by the women who came before her: visually, by Betty Crocker, and in recipes, by Fanny Farmer.

Roman Kuebler of the Oranges Band talks to Pulse of the Twin Cities.

Kuebler’s a student of music. Running through his musical background, he’s gone through phases of listening to punk, old school rap (“Which, of course, at the time was not old school,” he points out), R.E.M., Pavement, Polvo and countless other indie rock bands, not to mention sampling R&B greats like Otis Redding. You might think that someone with such broad taste, who’s currently working his way through an mp3 archive of the Billboard Top 100 for each year from the past 50 years, would make music that would manifest an almost manic eclecticism, but you’d be wrong. Kuebler’s unswerving ear for a great melody guides him through the stylistic jungle, while his general tenacity lets him weather the lifestyle that goes along with being a professional musician with a day job.

Hold Steady guitarist Tad Kubler talks to the Independent Weekly.

"One thing that never comes up is kind of the Led Zeppelin thing we do. I like to think we do the huge rock riff pretty well," offers Kubler. "I know that they're probably my biggest influence. Dude, I play a double-neck guitar. I'm aping Jimmy Page. I should send him a check."

In Salon, Laura Miller reviews te new Thomas Pynchon novel, Against the Day.

One of the seldom-mentioned dangers of having a long, storied and influential career as a novelist is the increasing likelihood that a master will live to see his pupils surpass him. Sure enough, slogging through the underbrush of the vast and quintessentially Pynchonian new Thomas Pynchon novel, "Against the Day," it's hard not to think, almost with the turning of every page, of all the other writers who now do this better.

Other reviews:

Philadelphia Inquirer:

Simple choice: You want goofy names, kooky groups, multi-claused, roller-coaster, Nabokovian sentences, pop-culture sarcasm, abstruse intellectual arabesques, 10-dollar words, inside jokes, fey attributions, self-parodying guides to interpretation - buy Against the Day.

You want order, coherence, clarity, terseness?

Buy a newspaper.

New York magazine:

Part of the reason Pynchon is a more important writer than his successors William Vollmann and Richard Powers is that he’s politically more radical and more committed (he can also construct sentences, and sometimes even edit them)—and his view of power is tirelessly grim, if also cartoonish. Against the Day is very much against the present day. At the same time, it holds out a kind of hope, in the very technologies it knows are being used to destroy human freedom.


Pynchon's novels have conquered the world. He's prosperous. He has a family -- the odes to family life in ``Against the Day'' do more than hint at happiness. Good for him. He's earned it. But contentment is no emotion to fuel a book this big.

Dissident Voice:

It is an adult Tom Swift series of adventures, a piece of historical fiction that is also an adventure with the requisite subplots of love and intrigue. This book is a marvel of lyrical descriptions of everything from various appearances of the sun to sexual practices frowned upon by "normal" society and the machinations of the parallel world of espionage, revolution and counterrevolution.

For more Pynchon information, check out the Pynchon Wiki, or check out Radar's allegedly recent photograph of the reclusive author.

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this week's CD & DVD releases


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