November 30, 2006
Year-end music lists:
It makes sense, then, for Amos to put out a box set now even though so much recent Tori propaganda has preceded it. Her career seems to be quieting down; she’s not one to make it in this new realm of music consumption. Might as well do the best-ofs, the collections now before packaging is no more.
The St. Paul Pioneer Press reviews this season's batch of album compilations and reissues.
Though the Idolator poll (idolator.com) will be open to some bloggers — Mr. Matos said that anyone who writes regularly about music will be eligible — its main constituency will be professional music critics, the same old-fashioned, old-media elite who contribute to Pazz & Jop. This suggests Idolator is betting that readers are still interested in the idea of professional rock critics and their opinions.
NPR's All Songs Considered is collecting listener votes for the ten best albums of 2006 and will begin counting down the results on December 5th.
Do you think, as a whole, music listeners are more omnivorous these days?
In general, as information exchange becomes easier and more ideas are recycled, I think genre and style barriers will naturally crumble, which makes it easier to be into a lot of different things. Maybe it's just my own little world that I live in, but it seems like everyone is breaking out of their own personal genre taste constraints these days.
The CBC lists the shortlists for Britain's Costa literary awards.
The Stranger reviews Allen Ginsberg's The Book of Martyrdom and Artifice: First Journals and Poems, 1937–1952.
The poems collected here anticipate the million adolescent wails that followed Howl—they consist of fruitless imitations of other poets, strident cliché, and forehead-slapping sentimentality. Ginsberg remained a bad poet until the end, and his later work isn't nearly as fun to read. It falls in the New Yorker category of bad poetry (albeit with more drugs and pederasty, fewer barns and grandfathers): well-wrought garbage for people with different taste than mine.
"She has this in common with the best poets, that there is rarely a word you could take out of one of her songs and not miss it," Miller says. "The words deserve to be there, demand their presence. Most lyricists and most poets have a bit of linguistic obesity to their work."
LA Weekly attends a midnight Thomas Pynchon sales event at an independent bookstore.
On this, the eve of the publication of Against the Day, we have gathered to count down to midnight at Skylight Books in Los Feliz to tip the best-seller scales in favor of Pynchon, grand master of the postmodern novel, and give challenge to Harry Potter’s cultural supremacy. And by “we” I mean a ragtag bunch of late-night browsers, the bookstore clerk girls, several local Skylight regulars, a handful of Pynchon fanboys, a homeless guy or two and a cat.
The Los Angeles Times profiles local bands with connections to UCLA and USC.
Salon takes a literary trip to the Netherlands.
"I never thought we'd be on a television show in the United States," Burns said, "just because our music is too removed from what's happening in the mainstream."
Do you feel like you guys are part of any specific scene?
HENNIES: I certainly don't feel like I'm a part of any kind of "scene," though someone who reviewed our last show in San Francisco said that they thought us, Breezy Days Band, and the Curtains were all part of an as-of-yet-unnamed genre, which is totally fine with me since we love both of those bands. Beyond that I don't feel any particular kinship with any kind of "movement" or scene. We're a total musical oddity in Austin, to say the least.
The Los Angeles Times reviews Philip Roth, Novels 1973-1977: The Great American Novel, My Life as a Man, The Professor of Desire, and has kind words for my favorite baseball novel.
The first of these is very possibly the funniest baseball novel ever written, the account of a vanished team in a forgotten league undone by the House Un-American Activities Committee. It's a broad and wickedly shrewd exercise in slapstick narrated by an old sportswriter, Word Smith, and featuring such players as Gil Gamesh, the only pitcher who ever actually attempted to literally "kill the umpire." It's a knowing satire on communal idealism and a sly send-up of Bernard Malamud's American parable "The Natural."
"There was a lot of interest from all over the place," he says, "which was really scary and interesting and exciting at the same time." A worldwide deal with Astralwerks soon followed, as did a considerable wave of music-blog hype.
"Blogs can't break bands," Reyes says. "But they do offer the opportunity to be heard."
For his part, Blake is “not entirely sure” why Bandwagonesque means so much to people:
“It’s a number of factors, I suppose. It was the first record that brought the band into the public consciousness, but maybe more fundamentally it didn’t really sound like anything else that was around at that time.”
On Tom Waits’ “(Looking For) The Heart Of Saturday Night”:
Tom Waits really understands the simplicity in the human experience. He really understands that essential thing in making something resonate, in making poetry. It’s like being able to sing a hundred Hank Williams songs, in a way. That’s a part of my reality that I don’t get to talk about very often when I’m singing other areas of American music.
Attention songwriters: Alka-Seltzer is holding a contest to replace their "plop, plop, fizz,fizz" jingle, with $10,000 going to the winner.
The real story here is the quietly lush and modestly robust production of this smooth song cycle by the irresistible Tucker Martine and Chris Walla (the Nick Lowe of the new millenium), both of whom crisply capture the band's noir-funkiness in "The Perfect Crime #2" as well as the stark horror of the "Shankill Butchers." These guys capture the Meloy's deft ability to sing about anything, including murderous Protestant predators and political assassins, and the band's rootsy groove wherever required.