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February 8, 2007

Shorties

The Kansas City Star gets independent music retailers' reactions to the mainstream success of the Shins.

“As an indie merchant, it pains me,” said Steve Wilson, a musician and manager of Kief’s Downtown Music in Lawrence. (Wilson is also an occasional freelance music reviewer for The Star.) “You like to think there is some indie fealty and some recognition for the roles stores like ours play in establishing artists’ careers. But it’s a ‘what have you done for me lately’ world.”


Portastatic's Mac McCaughan talks to Vancouver's Straight.

“I’m very interested in it [modern art],” says McCaughan. “It gives me a similar pleasure and excites me in the same way as music. It inspires me, and makes me think about things in a certain way. And I like anything that, when you’re looking at it or listening to it, makes you think ‘How did they do that?’ There’s music that I like, but when you’re listening to it you just know it’s formulaic. You have an understanding of how it came to be. Then there are other things, especially in the art world, where you’re like, ‘How did someone’s brain work that allowed them to end up with this?’ ”


Tokyo Police Club's Graham Wright talks to the Winnipeg Sun about the band's debut album.

"I don't know that it's going to sound exactly like the EP," he muses. "A lot of what we do in music comes from the fact that we have musical ADD, so we get bored really easily."


Jeff Chang, author of Can’t Stop Won’t Stop — A History of the Hip-Hop Generation, talks to SOHH Atlanta about his new book, Total Chaos: The Art and Aesthetics of Hip-Hop.

“Hip-hop arts are thought of only as rap music, but our generation has taken it into the visual arts, photography, graphic design, literature, poetry, dance and theater,” the 39-year-old Chang says from his home in Berkeley, Calif. “It’s gone well beyond rap music. Critics don’t recognize it, but the artists feel they are working in a hip-hop tradition.”


Austin360 interviews Donewaiting's Rob Duffy.

Robert Duffy: I started the SXSW blog on donewaiting.com four years ago when I was heading to Austin for the first time for the festival. At the time, there wasn’t really any solid source online outside of the main SXSW site covering the event, so I decided to be that person. I’ve always found it funny that my site is such a huge source of information on the festival, considering I’m based out of Columbus, Ohio, but that’s how the Internet works, I guess.


LSU's Daily Reveille examines labels streaming albums online before their release dates.

Michael Kaufmann, assistant director at Asthmatic Kitty records, said streaming albums online for free is gradually becoming the standard for his label. The trend was highlighted last year when Sufjan Stevens - the label's most well-known artist - released his album "Songs for Christmas" and agreed to allow fans to hear the record for free online.

"[The album] was getting very heavy, very consistent traffic," Kaufmann said. "It drove a lot of traffic to our site, for sure, and I think that's one of the reasons why we liked it."


Singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell talks to Harp.

The Living Sisters is a group I have with Inara George and Becky Stark. We sing harmonies and wear matching outfits. Sometimes we have birds in our hair and crazy glitter disco dresses, but we sing kind of old-fashioned songs with really pretty harmonies. There’s something about harmonies that I just love. They resonate in my body or something. I know that sounds really corny.


Drowned in Sound offers a playlist for a snow day.


Author Cornelius Medvei talks to NPR's All Things Considered about his novella, Mr. Thundermug.


Caught in the Carousel interviews Jim Shepherd of the Jasmine Minks.

CITC: What was a particularly humbling moment for you in the early days of the 'Minks? Did you ever come face to face with someone who you admired quite a bit?

JS: Morrissey came to see us--The Smiths had already become a cult overnight sensation. (I went to see them with the Go-Betweens and Felt supporting--what a bill!) We were playing at the Living Room supporting some Manchester band, who for now I forget the name of. But no one really talked to him--he just sat at a table in the bar and looked a bit pensive. I was quite lacking in confidence myself and it just seemed a bit odd for a pop star to be on his own--no one would go near him and he never ventured over to us. Alan McGee talked to him but he was far more confident than most of us.


The Village Voice has posted results from its 2006 Pazz & Jop music poll.


NPR's Morning Edition examines indie bands who license their music for commercials.


The Montreal Gazette reviews the first night of the Arcade Fire's Montreal shows.


Shins guitarist Dave Hernandez talks to the Pulse of the Twin Cities.

"I think something about our sound is really palatable to a lot of movie figures and TV shows, I guess," Hernandez reflects. "We're not like, 'Let's get a Gap commercial!'--that just kind of happened. We're all from working-class family backgrounds. Traditionally, it's not a good thing to glorify being poor; we don't really think it's cool to pretend to be poor. I mean, f*ck, I want to have a roof over my kids' heads. So our knee-jerk reaction is just, um, OK. It's not for Camel cigarettes, or war, or Bush, so what the hell? We're not letting the U.S. Army use it for a commercial."


Deerhoof's Greg Saunier talks to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

The article also points out the ballet inspired by the band's Milk Man album.

"I have to admit, the truth is, as long as we've been in the band I've felt like we were getting more attention than I thought we would."

Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich talks to AM New York..

amNY: Why do you think you guys stick out as a live act?

John: So many times people over the years have come up to us after the shows and been like, 'We've heard the records, and thought that the live show was utterly different,' and that was always mystifying. We would arrange things differently for live and ... the version on the record is one version and the version we play live is another but we never actually understood why it was so different.


The New York Times excerpts the first chapter of Joe Hill's novel, Heart-Shaped Box.


E! Online's Answer Bitch answers the question, "Why is it that mainstream music seems to suck so much lately?"


Jesse Sykes talks to the Los Angeles Times about her new album, Like, Love, Lust & the Open Halls of the Soul.

"I think our music is more hopeful than people realize," Sykes says. "Some people who loved us for a more pastoral, minimalist sound might not like this, but we're not reinventing the wheel."

Sykes also talks to Seattle Weekly.

"I now so completely understand the mechanics of how things work in this business that I don't take things personally anymore," affirms Sykes. "I've never thought of quitting, but I've been kicked in the chest and let it get to me. The only difference now is that the anguish only lasts 24 hours. You realize that quitting is not an option. You don't have a choice."


The Nashville Scene recommends two books for Valentine's Day gifts: Kitchen Kama Sutra: 50 Ways to Seduce Each Other Outside the Bedroom and Modern Love: 50 True and Extraordinary Tales of Desire, Deceit, and Devotion.


The Guardian and Telegraph report on author Stef Penney's Costa award win with her debut novel, The Tenderness of Wolves.


Between the Lines lists five reasons why Apple's Steve Jobs wants to abolish DRM.


Seattle Weekly interviews Jack Rainwater, guitarist for the Merle Haggard tribute band, Mama Tried.

It's funny, because Merle Haggard seems to embody that weird American dynamic. We're always the first to adopt radical viewpoints, yet we're some of the most conservative people on the planet.

Oh yeah. Y'know, the Drive-by Truckers said that "Okie From Muskogee" was written from Merle's dad's point of view. I thought that was interesting. But then I'm thinking, 'Merle's gotta be pushing 70. That would make him 40 years old in 1960.' I don't think it was written from his dad's perspective. I think that's really Merle singing what he believed. He's like a combo of John Steinbeck and James Dean. Steinbeck was that kind of old codger out there traveling America. I think Merle really is that kind of guy from the Grapes of Wrath. And you know, we're playing this show with a rockabilly band called Fistful of Cash—they do all Johnny Cash stuff from the Sun Records days. Plenty of people have done that already. Nobody's really done an all Merle Haggard tribute. Actually, a friend of mine told me about a band from Texas called Girl Haggard, an all-female Haggard cover band.


Wilco's John Stirratt talk to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about his other band, Autumn Defense.

Q: The Autumn Defense reflects a musical sensibility that is very different from Wilco. How would you describe it?

A: It's an appreciation for the records that Pat and I realized both of us like a lot: "Forever Changes" by Love, which everybody seems to love now (laughs). But also stuff by the Zombies and Colin Blunstone. Scott Walker. Stuff on that end of the pop spectrum.


Kathryn Yu has updated her invaluable "SXSW Music Festival FAQ, How To, and General Guide" at SXSW Baby!.


The Daily Californian reviews Of Montreal's three recent San Francisco performances.

Their “final” song, “Rapture Rapes the Muses,” would’ve been a strong finish, with the crowd jumping in the air, the floor pounding and the chandelier shaking dangerously overhead. But instead, Of Montreal chose to come back for an encore and close with a rousing rendition of the Fiery Furnaces’ off-kilter “Tropical Iceland.” It’s an odd, but fitting choice, as Barnes became the glittery she-male lover to Eleanor Friedberger’s androgynous croon, capping off a series of performances defined by their showy antics.


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