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February 22, 2007

Shorties

Billy Sugarfix and Custom Serenade are sponsoring a Surreal O' Rama Song Poem Bizarre Lyrics Contest. Five winners will have their lyrics set to music, and the public will select the winner.


The Ithacan Online interviews singer-songwriter Kimya Dawson.

IH: There is a condition called synesthesia in which a person’s senses get combined. Some people read in color or hear what foods taste like. You’re both a musician and a visual artist. What does your music look like? What does your art sound like? Do they taste like anything?

KD: That’s funny. My music and art look and sound like each other. My art is the visualization of my music. Pink kitties. Yellow doggies. Lots of teeth. It all tastes like ginger and honey.


The San Jose Mercury News lists five acts that "should break out of the crowd" at this year's Noise Pop music festival.


Maximo Park's Paul Smith talks to the Belfast Telegraph about the band's new album, Our Earthly Pleasures.

"We didn't want to make the same record all over regain, so this one is The Smiths by way of Smashing Pumpkins," he says, with customary defiance, "harder and heavier than our first, and the result of an awful lot of effort. But then that's as it should be. Music is my life, and so the songs we make are not something we knock off lightly."


Guster's Ryan Miller talks to the Daily Stater.

"I think there's a lot of people that still call us a college, folksy percussion band, but there's none of that in our music anymore," Miller said. "Our evolution is something that is very purposeful. We're still striving to make that classic pop record, that classic Elliot Smith record, that classic Beach Boys record."


The Belfast Telegraph ponders the future of independent music retailers.


Thermals frontman Hutch Harris talks to the Georgia Straight.

“I don’t know what we’d be talking about if I was writing girl-and-boy love songs,” he says with a laugh. “I’m not trying to preach or give some knee-jerk reaction to the government. I’m just trying to make things interesting. There are so many unoriginal songs—kind of like ‘Smash the State’ kind of stuff—out there. I wanted to write about politics, but you have to be careful that what you write isn’t going to become dated in four years. So what I wanted to do was look at the U.S. and ask, What’s behind the politics and where’s the money coming from?"


Peter Bjorn and John's Bjorn Yttling talks to the Age about the importance of the tambourine in modern pop music.

"So many records now have the vocals as the loudest and the drums quiet but if you listen to old Motown records, the tambourine is the loudest instrument," Yttling says. "It's how it should be."


Stylus presents a "bluffer's guide" to sophisti-pop.


Kyra Walker Pearson of Kyra & Tully talks to Toronto's NOW.

"When I saw a photo of us in the paper with the caption describing us as 'gently freaky,' I wondered how the person knew we were freaky. At first I went beet-red with embarrassment, but then I thought it makes us sound a lot more interesting than just your average old folk duo. But now I see where you're coming from."


Stylus offers an alternative Academy Awards ballot.


Popmatters why Arrested Development failed when The Office thrived on television.

When comparing the two shows, there is also the significant matter of new viewership. While Arrested Development maintained a devoted but small fan base throughout its run, The Office has increased ratings considerably each season. Though only six episodes were first ordered for the second season of The Office, it was easy for new viewers to begin watching the series. The characters were fairly simple to identify: cringe-inducing boss, suck-up assistant, wisecracking hero, cute and funny love interest. Though Arrested Development had the benefit of an actual narrator (Ron Howard), his explanations—even if they could untangle the convoluted plot threads—weren’t enough to convince new viewers they should care. The amount of inside jokes the series maintained since its inception endeared it tremendously to long-term fans; new viewers likely found them confusing, if they even registered at all. Lines as seemingly bland as “I’ve made a huge mistake” or “Hey, brother” had become catchphrases for initiates, novices probably didn’t notice them at all.


The Kansas City Star ponders the demise of the love song, and lists love songs with connections to the city.

“It used to be you could hear a romantic pop song like ‘People’ between songs from Wilson Pickett and the Beatles,” he said, “but not anymore. The focus on mainstream radio is so narrow … rock, hip-hop, grunge, pop-punk.”


Minnesota Public Radio features an in-studio performance from Sparklehorse.


Harp about the Swedish band, Loney, Dear.


NPR's All Things Considered celebrates poet W.H. Auden's 100th birthday.


WXPN's World Cafe profiles singer-songwriter Kristin Hersh.


Singer-songwriter Julie Doiron talks to the University of Western Ontario's Gazette.

“I’m just writing right now,” she says. “Writing and I’ve been making music with some friends. I play drums sometimes. And now that the record has just come out, I’m really excited I can finally move on.”


The Dallas Observer interviews Chris Taylor of Grizzly Bear.

If Grizzly Bear were to score a movie, what directors would you want to work with?

I think working with Jean-Pierre Jeunet would be absolutely amazing. I'm a big fan of Amelie. We'd be open for pretty much anything. No romantic comedies—that probably wouldn't work. That's something we'd like to get into; we've talked about it a lot.


Brandon Summers of the Helio Sequence talks to the Portland Mercury.

I feel like Portland's becoming a better and better place to play and make music. I can feel that. It's not that those bands [Shins, Modest Mouse, et al.] who have put out records that have done really well has anything specifically to do with us. It's not that it's a cause-and-effect kind of thing. Menomena just did a show at the Crystal Ballroom and got a bunch of people together from different bands. There were 25 of us and it was really cool to meet everyone. They were bands that I've known of and it was nice to finally meet them. It feels good to make music in Portland now. It really does.


Monica Drake, author of the novel Clown Girl, talks to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"I was erring on the side of subtlety with the character and in the humor," Drake says. "I thought it was a really funny book, but it wasn't clear to many people that it was supposed to be funny. So I shifted the novel's focus, playing up the character as a clown, amping up all the clown language and references. That made it funnier, but also played up the sadder riffs, too."


Nashville Cream interviews Deerhoof guitarist John Dieterich.

Scene: What was the songwriting process like for the new album?

John Dietrich: As far as us working individually, developing songs we bring into the group, it was the same. People worked on their music. Every album we make, we try to approach things differently; we think about the album differently. We’re in different places in our lives or whatever. I think when we actually got together, it’s not that the process was completely different, we worked the same way we often work, basically getting together, spending all day every day working on stuff, going through ideas, just trying to get to where everyone is happy with everything and trying to find out what the core of everything is.


Status Ain't Hood and John Darnielle review the leaked Guns 'N Roses track, "Better."


Wilco's Pat Sansone talks to Kansas City's Pitch about his other band, the Autumn Defense.

"We get a lot of comparisons to the band Bread," Sansone says. "I think the reason we do get compared to that sound — things like Bread and America and Crosby, Stills and Nash — is because of the harmonies. We base the sound and the arrangements of the band around the vocals."


Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche talks to Tucson Weekly about his solo output.

"When I'm doing the solo stuff ... there's more freedom to incorporate different ideas, but I'm trying to make it interesting for a listener for an hour, so I have to think a lot about the role that each instrument plays in the development of each song and the evolution of the set."


Ira Glass talks to New York magazine about moving This American Life from Chicago to New York (and NPR to Showtime).

"When it started, we were very distrustful of Showtime, and I think they were very wary of us,” says Ira Glass, who recently moved himself and his award-winning public-radio program, This American Life, from Chicago, where it had been for about ten years, to New York City, where, when we spoke, it had been for about ten days. “It’s like two worlds colliding, right? Pay cable and public broadcasting. But it’s been a really happy thing for us. We kept waiting for the meeting where they say, ‘Okay, when do the girls take off their tops?’ But that meeting never came.”


The Telegraph has British celebrities list books they could not live without.


Reader's Digest lists the best thrillers (books) of all time.


Double Viking lists the "top ten most misunderstood films of all time."


In the Observer, Paul Morley examines the current hype accorded to seemingly every newfound band.

It must be because there is so much blog-illuminated new music of such definite competence, so many attractive new fusions, hybrids and agile, academic rewirings, and so many enthusiasts writing about this new music, needing to demonstrate that they are the first to find it, and make a claim for its magnificent, idiosyncratic freshness. Now that everything is scored, and the results collated on websites as if this is helpful, as if this is sport, and there are so many competitive, boastful sound-spotters desperate for us to know exactly what they think as soon as they think it, there is, to put it mildly, a tendency for albums to be over-rated.


Stereogum kicked off a new feature yesterday, "Quit Your Day Job," and the first installment features an interview with the Wrens.

STEREOGUM: You teach guitar part time, right? Do any of your students recognize you? What songs do you they want to learn most often?

CHARLES BISSELL (GUITAR): I have started teaching again and yeah, it's very part-time and out the home here. Actually, the only students I have really, are ones who saw the lessons thing posted on the band website so yeah, pretty much all of them are coming because I'm in the band. So naturally I insist they learn Wrens songs exclusively.


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