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January 21, 2007


The San Francisco Chronicle examines John Coltrane's quiet political activism.

"He was political in a very general way, in the sense of strong identification with the civil rights movement, but he was very careful not to associate with movements," says Lewis Porter, professor of music at Rutgers University-Newark and author of the 1998 book, "John Coltrane: His Life and Music."

The Toledo Blade examines indie music alternatives for children.

The Australian reviews day one of Big Day Out.

The Houston Chronicle lists "ten suggestions for your library of Texas books."

The Des Moines Register sees tribute bands driving classic rock's popularity.

New Paris Review editor Philip Gourevitch talks to the Boston Globe.

As editor, Gourevitch wants to combine the literary and the journalistic -- to address our fractious times in magazine style, but at a quarterly's pace. "I find that literary magazines are too out of touch with the world, and in-touch-with-the-world magazines are too out of touch with literature, and I thought this would be a good hybrid form," he said. On his watch, circulation has nearly doubled, to 12,000, making it four to five times higher than that of the average literary quarterly.

Singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright talks to the Ann Arbor News about his next album.

"The theme is just about releasing your love or your brilliance, or acting on your impulses and basically laying it all down on the line. I think so much of life is spent hoarding and saving and protecting, and very few of us really live our full potential.''

The Columbus Dispatch interviews author Alice Hoffman.

Q: What do you think makes adolescence such a good subject for fiction?

A: I think adolescents are very accepting of literature. They’re ready to go with the story; they’re ready to go with the magic; they’re ready to believe. They’re more open; they’re less shut-down than adult readers.

Things that you read at that age really stay with you in a very deep, emotional way.

Shins frontman James Mercer talks to the New York Post.

Mercer, the band's singer, songwriter and guitarist, has been shaken up by the demands of their growth and success. While the indie rock world were celebrating his existence, he was going through hell, watching relationships crumble around him.

"My role in my relationships and my circle of friends has been changed by the fact that I own this business of the Shins," says Mercer.

In the Chicago Sun-Times, Jim DeRogatis reviews the band's new album, Wincing the Night Away.

"I'm still not sure what Mercer is singing about most of the time. He told Billboard that the song "Phantom Limb" is "a hypothetical, fictional account of a young, lesbian couple in high school dealing with the sh---y small town they live in," but how the heck can you tell from lines like "Foals in winter coats / White girls of the north / File past one, five, one / They are the fabled lambs of Sunday hams"? In the end, it doesn't matter, because the tune is irresistible, and it's typical of the album's charms."

The Rap Sheet lists the nominees for the Edgars, awards for mystery writing.

The Observer reviews a recent Joanna Newsom Newcastle performance.

The New York Times examines the film adaptation of Marjane Satrapi's graphic memoir, Persepolis.

The Los Angeles Times lists the nominations for the Book Critics Awards, including Alison Bechdel's Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, nominated for best memoir.

The Daily Scotsman profiles the Ballads of the Book album, an eighteen-song album featuring collaborations between Scottish authors and musicians.

Ballads of the Book is an album, set for release in a few weeks, featuring 18 songs, each one the combined work of a Scottish author and musician or band. The list of writers involved reads like a who’s who of Scottish literature, with people such as Edwin Morgan (the Scots Makar, or poet laureate), Ian Rankin, Ali Smith, Alasdair Gray (who also designed the cover) and AL Kennedy providing lyrics. On the musicians’ side, the cream of the Scottish indie and alternative scene turned up to take part, with members of Teenage Fanclub, Arab Strap and Idlewild contributing, as well as King Creosote and esteemed folk artists such as James Yorkston.

The Observer reports on the revival of Scandinavia's Sami music.

The New York Times remembers the "great theremin virtuoso, Clara Rockmore.

With nothing but air to touch, there is no independent guide for where pitches lie. The body must remain still to avoid disrupting the tones. “You have to play with butterfly wings,” Ms. Rockmore is quoted as saying in the booklet notes. “Playing the theremin is like being a trapeze artist without a net underneath.”

The Harvard Political Review reviews Neil Young's Living with War album.

Living with War is the culmination of a thoroughly introspective Young, who considers the wartime turmoil at home and abroad. His lyrics are brimming with a political consciousness unseen from younger musicians, who perhaps did not live (and write) through Vietnam, the Kent State massacre, and the fall of the Berlin Wall. Each of the songs on the album shows the great depth to Young’s image of America, peppered with his unique brand of pacifism.

Author Doris Lessing talks to the Sunday Herald about her life.

Lessing's was not the happiest of childhoods. "I was a terribly damaged child," she once said, "terribly neurotic, over-sensitive, over-suffering. I could say that my mother loved my brother and she didn't love me - but that's very common, isn't it? I do think it had more to do with my father and his perpetual talk of the war."

The Times Online profiles fprmer Blur frontman Damon Albarn, calling him the "cleverest chameleon in rock."

“Yes, I was blessed because my family stayed together and there were lots of books in the house,” he told an interviewer in 2003. “But it wasn’t a country mansion with servants. It irritates me that people think that.”

So did the accusation that he was too intellectual and literary to be a pop star: “Are they saying it’s better not to be intelligent and have no knowledge of other things outside pop music? So let’s close all the schools and burn the books. How can anybody be too clever?”

The New York Times reviews two turntables that are also computer peripherals, allowing you easily to convert vinyl albums to digital formats.

Wikiquote has a nice collection of quotes from author Kurt Vonnegut, including:

"There are plenty of good reasons for fighting," I said, "but no good reason ever to hate without reservation, to imagine that God Almighty Himself hates with you, too. Where's evil? It's that large part of every man that wants to hate without limit, that wants to hate with God on its side." from Mother Night

The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low.

But the Gospels actually taught this:

Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected. So it goes." from Slaughterhouse-Five

Matsuli Music is an mp3 blog focusing on African music.

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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