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February 4, 2007


The LHB anniversary auction of a vinyl copy of the Mountain Goats' Come, Come to the Sunset Tree album ends tomorrow. Bid and help support a good cause, Farm Sanctuary.

The Orlando Sentinel examines the banjo's new place in popular music.

In recent years, however, the old banjo has undergone a makeover. It's finding its way into indie-rock music by such buzzworthy acts as Modest Mouse, which used the instrument to create the earthy mood for its critically acclaimed 2004 album, Good News for People Who Love Bad News.

The San Jose Mercury News examines the new comic book series based on Stephen King's "Dark Tower" books.

Marvel's synopsis of the series notes that the ``Dark Tower'' hero, Roland Deschain, is introduced in the comics as ``the young Roland,'' who encounters the ``trials and conflicts that lead to the burden of destiny he must assume as a man, the last Gunslinger from a world that has moved on.'' Parents should note that Marvel's rating for the series is T+ (Teen 13 and up), and the issues have a cover price of $3.99.

Popmatters remembers columnist Molly Ivins.

It would be easy to emphasize the aspects of Molly Ivins that transcended her political commitments. She was a seductive, sassy, charm storm who probably stole secret chuckles from her most maligned targets. In fact, whereas George Bush’s faux folk mechanical bull image turns the best aspects of Texas and southern culture into a cruel parody, Ivins was the platinum real deal.

Singer-songwriter Lily Allen talks to Harp.

“I’ve never tried to get revenge on an ex,” says Allen. “The record could be a form of revenge if I cared what my ex-boyfriend thought, but I don’t. But if I did want to upset him, I guess writing an album about him would be a good way.”

NPR's All Things Considered profiles composer Enrico Morricone, and lists his top ten film scores.

IGN lists the top 25 country albums.

The Mobtown Shank lists its favorite books from 2006 (and kindly includes a couple of my lists).

Author Augusten Burroughs talks to the Independent.

"Sometimes the family you're born with isn't the family you live with," Augusten Burroughs tells me. "Sometimes you have to cobble together your family from the scraps along the way." Burroughs should know. He survived the most dysfunctional childhood imaginable to become a literary phenomenon.

SeekingAlpha examines if the final book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Shadows, is overpriced.

The lesson here, though, is that pricing is a way of publicly communicating value. Low prices signal low value, high prices, high value. The Deathly Hallows is the Super Bowl climax for the world's most beloved wizard. $35 is a small price to pay for a decade of great stories.

The San Francisco Chronicle reviews the new Martin Amis novel, House of Meetings.

No one writes suicide notes like Martin Amis; one might even say that he has invented the suicide note as a literary genre. "Money" (1984) is frankly subtitled "A Suicide Note." "Time's Arrow" (1991), which narrates a Nazi biography in reverse, can be read as a kind of third-person suicide note, a suicide note written on behalf of a man too unreflective to recognize his life's narrative incoherence. And it does not spoil his new book -- there are many clues along the way -- to say that "House of Meetings" eventually reveals itself as a suicide note.

The New York Times examines the soul music revival, and even offers some mp3 downloads.

A few years ago records like those were the province of collectors, the so-called crate diggers who scoured the bins of thrift shops and used record stores for 45-r.p.m. singles that few outside a hermetic circle of cognoscenti had heard. Now, thanks to digital advances and the Internet, the music is at the fingertips of more than just D.J.’s and producers. Blogs like post MP3s of rare soul and funk recordings that anyone can download.

The New York Times reviews Bich Minh Nguyen's memoir, Stealing Buddha's Dinner.

So, while Nguyen titles each chapter with a food item, from “Pringles” and “Toll House Cookies” to “Green Sticky Rice Cakes” and “Cha Gio,” her growing pains have less to do with what she eats (she comes to enjoy Vietnamese and American foods equally) than with how she copes with sibling envy, schoolmate rivalries, authoritarian figures, youthful insecurities and a nagging mystery that is another sort of “missingness.”

The Observer reviews the Arcade Fire's week-long London residency.

Rather, Arcade Fire sound like a junk-shop band playing the greatest hits of Talking Heads. Or they used to. Now, with a tremendous new album, Neon Bible, set to ratchet this eccentric band into the mainstream, they also sound like the Pixies playing the greatest hits of Bruce Springsteen. With added French horns.

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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