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December 7, 2006


2006 year-end music posts:

Acid Bird (best albums)
All Things Considered (listeners' favorite albums)
American Poetry Perspectives (favorite albums)
Aquarium Drunkard (favorite albums)
Audio Deficit Disorder (top songs)
The Battering Room (favorite albums)
Boom Bip for Filter (best albums)
Crackers United - Justin (favorite albums)
DoCopenhagen (top music videos)
Elastic Heart (reissues)
Exploding Now (best albums)
FACT (best 12" releases)
FACT (best 7" releases)
FACT (best albums)
The Good, The Bad, and The Unknown (albums most likely to be nominated for a Grammy)
Gorilla vs. Bear (reissues & compilations)
Hipcat Yo Boy (top albums)
Jo-Tel (best albums)
KEXP Alex (top albums)
Modern Music (striking rock albums)
The Panic Manual (songs)
The State of Pop Music in America (best albums)
Swarthmore College's Phoenix (best music)
Torr (fav albums)
Truth Comes in Blows (best albums)
Tunetourist (top albums)
Zooglobble for NPR (favorite children's albums)

Shins frontman James Mercer talks to the Stranger.

"After Garden State I knew there was this expectant audience out there, but instead of this big dark cloud, I looked at it as an opportunity," says Mercer by phone on his return from a Hawaiian retreat. "Knowing there was a receiving audience—in a way it's a pressure to not drop the ball, but mostly it's a privilege."

Singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith talks to the Winnipeg Sun.

Sexsmith is just as blase about the current crop of singer-songwriters -- think Damien Rice, David Gray and Josh Ritter -- whose career paths he helped launch, but whose ranks he's never really joined.

"I know that I missed the singer-songwriter boat," he says. "But I would like to think I made it cool to do that again."

The Onion A.V. Club interviews Mick Jones.

AVC: Were you disappointed that punk in the UK took such a fast turn toward the poppy and romantic, as opposed to something edgier?

MJ: Personally, I think there's room for all that stuff. If it's good, it's good. You don't have to always write about big stuff. Writing is about expressing yourself, you know? It can be about small stuff, too.

Twisted Sister's Dee Snider talks to the Chicago Sun-Times about the band's holiday album, A Twisted Christmas.

Q. Your new album is getting a lot of attention, so things have probably been pretty nutty lately.

A. Yeah. It's completely unexpected. We figured we were putting the last nails in the coffin of our career doing a Christmas album, and it looks like we may have actually revived it.

Singer-songwriter Regina Spektor talks to the Age about her album, Begin to Hope.

"Could you imagine somebody listening to this record and thinking 'Wow, she hates the city, she does drugs, she cut her boyfriend's hair, she's this, she's that, she's lonely'?" she cackles. "I guess some people do that but what do they think when they read Kafka?"

Popmatters examines the resurgence of the concept album.

USA Today reviews Dave Eggers' lastest novel. What Is the What.

Without being a political diatribe, What makes comprehensible the jumble of news stories and TV reports about refugee camps, orphans and boy soldiers. It also examines in detail the complicated and often unnerving experience of being an immigrant to the USA in the 21st century.

The New Statesman profiles three "strong, idiosyncratic female pop acts": Lily Allen, Joanna Newsom, and Amy Winehouse.

Popmatters interviews singer-songwriter Emily Haines.

Can you describe what it was like opening for the Stones?

It was like the greatest of great New York weekends. We didn’t take it or ourselves too seriously, which I think was our saving grace. We just tried to be a decent rock ‘n’ roll band, which is all we ever really wanted to be. The craziest part for me was just being there for soundcheck and hearing them play, and realizing that they are a really good band. Totally a little bar band. But a great little bar band. But it felt, honestly, it felt natural. And I think we tried to put it in all of our heads that this was believable and to just enjoy it.

Pitchfork interviews Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond.

Pitchfork: Jeff Buckley's name comes up a lot when people talk about you.

Shara Worden: Yeah, yeah, especially because I've done the Jeff Buckley tributes. And certainly it's something I aspire to. I don't think I've made something that's even remotely as amazing as Grace. You can't touch it.

Toon Zone reviews Osamu Tezuka's graphic novel, Kirihito (which I just finished and cannot recommend enough).

While graphic novels are a far more reputed medium than in previous years, it's a pity that stories like this don't get more prolific mainstream exposure. Those who read manga will undoubtedly know how good this book is, and how vital Tezuka was to the manga industry. However, I do feel that such a classic story deserves an even greater reverence. Who knows, maybe this western compilation will do just that, for this is an extremely well presented release of Ode to Kihihito. It's sure to look good on your bookshelf.

AfterEllen offers a music and literary holiday gift guide.

In Harp, My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James shares his favorite live albums.

Brooklyn rockers Vietnam perform in the Minnesota Public Radio studios.

Singer-songwriter Jim Noir talks to Seattle Weekly.

Noir is uncharacteristically straightforward regarding his secret for breaking into the ad industry: "I'm cheap." His recording process, though, is a more tightly guarded technique. "It's like making a spaceship out of LEGOs," he explains.

The Independent Weekly previews the 2007 year in music for the North Carolina Triangle area.

IGN interviews the Whigs.

IGN Music: What do you like to do on your days off?

Parker Gispert: Write songs. I scream five nights a week pretty consistently, so even though I need the time off to rest, I can't help wanting to take the time to make new things. The day I work a job I want "days off" from, the day I quit that job.

The East Bay Express talks to Tim Ware, webmaster of

As Usenet groups began popping up, Ware submitted his index to a literature group, where people began offering corrections and trivia. When hyperlink technology spread, he learned everything about it to make his index more accessible. After a few years, thanks to his Pynchon obsession, he was suddenly a fully qualified Web designer. "I just created this Web site and kept developing it," he says. "Then I found myself in about 1998, at a point where I had a marketable skill."

The Wall Street Journal examines the publishing industry's categorization of fiction by race.

"You face a double-edged sword," says Mr. Massey, 33 years old. "I'm black and I'm published by a black imprint, so I'm automatically slotted in African-American fiction." That helps black readers to find his books easily and has underpinned his career. At the same time, he says, the placement "limits my sales."

The Nashville Scene profiles legenday literary editor Gary Fisketjon.

LA Weekly profiles the state of the Los Angeles indie music scene.

Popmatters reviews recently released music box sets that span a variety of genres.

The Morning News lists board game gift suggestions.

Drowned in Sound interviews Final Fantasy's Owen Pallett.

Do you write the songs with playing them live in mind?

It’s a balance. Often there are songs I write specifically for looping and then flush them out with other arrangements. That was the case with He Poos Clouds: five of the then songs on that were already looping songs that I converted into full-scale arrangements. Since then, I wrote one for both looping and arrangement. Two of them I only realised I could play live after the fact, if I involve the piano. The remainder I just can’t play. I can’t play ‘I’m Afraid Of Japan’ or ‘He Poos Clouds’.

Rock Induced Labor is a new music blog featuring interviews with the Kooks and Birdmonster (not bad for its first week).

Robert Pollard is auctioning the original cover collages for his solo album, Waved Out.

see also:

Largehearted Boy's favorite albums of 2006
2006 Year-end Music List Compilation
this week's CD & DVD releases


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