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March 14, 2007


The A.V. Club interviews singer-songwriter Andrew Bird.

AVC: You've mentioned before that you didn't think you would ever want to play in a standard, guitar-bass-drums-singer kind of rock band, and yet you're kind of evolving your own version of it that fits your sensibility. It's interesting to see how you're doing it.

AB: I don't know how I'm doing it yet. [Laughs.] I'm still trying to figure that out, but we've had some good shows together, and I know it's going to work out. It's just a slippery slope, once you start approaching that traditional interpretation. It's like, "Do I need to be picking up the violin and guitar, and tossing the violin down in the middle of a song, doing all this crazy shit I was doing with the solo show? The song is just a song, just let it be the pop song that it is." But we started doing "Tables And Chairs" as a band in a completely different approach than I had been doing in the last couple years solo. It feels good in different ways.

Greg Gillis of Girl Talk puts his iPod on shuffle for the A.V. Club.

Black Sabbath, "Hand Of Doom"

GG: This is that overly funky song on Paranoid. I was into alternative stuff, but I was also open to a little bit of hard rock and metal, like Guns N' Roses, Metallica. And this is kind of the only "old" record I bought when I was a kid, just because all the big hits off this were known to everyone. It never even seemed like an old record to me. The riffs are just amazing.

The A.V. Club interviews Win Butler of the Arcade Fire.

AVC: Your music is often dark, especially on the new album, but is that sense of humor in there somewhere, too?

WB: That's part of the visual side, an opportunity to bring in different ideas. Brazil is my favorite movie of all time; I really relate to stuff that's funny but also pretty serious. Funny songs aren't usually that good. [Laughs.] Like Weird Al and maybe a couple of Beatles songs, but it's kind of hard to bring humor into rock music in an interesting way.

The A.V. Club lists 14 cover songs that are better than their originals.

Stylus interviews Animal Collective drummer, panda Bear.

Is there a limit to the popularity you can achieve playing the type of music you do? Is it possible that you’ve reached that limit? Will your audience keep growing?

PB: I don’t know. I almost feel like it’s not up to us. If you look at a band—and I’m not saying we’re like this at all—like Nirvana, who would’ve guessed that that would’ve suddenly become the most popular thing in the United States? I was just talking with Scott [Colburn], who’s producing the record with us, last night about this. He was like, “I was driving down the freeway in Los Angeles and I heard the DJ come on and say ‘This is the number one song in America,’ and it was Nirvana, and he said ‘I just stopped my car and was like, What happened?’” I feel like maybe popular music reached a saturation point and there was a big shift in peoples’ tastes. I feel like something like that is sort of happening again these days. I don’t know quite where it’s going to go, but it does feel like things are suddenly kind of shifting over, somehow.

Forbes reviews new internet radio option, Slacker.

Slacker's free Web radio service, which launches Wednesday morning at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Tex., will feel familiar to anyone who's used Internet radio before. Like offerings from Yahoo! LaunchCast, AccuRadio, Pandora and others, Slacker puts together a playlist for you based on your musical preferences. Pick a genre like "indie hits," for instance, and Slacker serves up The Shins, Phoenix and The Hold Steady.

Variety previews SXSW Music.

Australia's Hoodoo Gurus fit into two of the three lists in the spotlight at this year's South by Southwest Music Festival: Reunited legends and international acts.

The third list is the one that never seems to change -- independent bands looking to move another step up the ladder, whether it be through distribution, management or a label deal -- at the 21st edition of the Austin, Texas, fest that starts Wednesday.

The Philadelphia City Paper's staff blog interviews James Mercer of the Shins.

CP: Your brother, Robert Mercer, did the album art. How did that come about?

JM: He’s fantastic. He’s an artist in Seattle. He came to me early on while I was writing the songs and I tried to give him the themes, I talked to him about confusion and struggling with ethical issues, y’know, your place in the world and human condition topics, and he came up with these ideas of these tentacles, and he interpreted it into these perversions of normal sea creatures. Sort of like what you might see under a microscope and in a pond.

Rolling Stone's Rock & Roll Daily blog wonders if SXSW has become too mainstream and corporate.

At its heart, SXSW is a rallying call to the indie masses who share small apartments and work shitty day jobs while trying to carve their niche in the arts scene. It’s a flashlight beacon in an entertainment industry dominated by teen fantasies and music channels that don’t play videos and radio stations that don’t veer from playlists.

SubPop general manager Megan Jasper talks to the Boston Herald about the success of the new Shins album, Wincing the Night Away (and indie rock in general).

Jasper said she sees the success of the Shins as part of an indie rock uprising not dissimilar to the grunge phenomenon of the ’90s or the new wave boom of the ’80s. The difference this time is the underground rock revolution isn’t being promoted by major labels:The bands leading this charge - the Shins, Arcade Fire (on Merge) and Bright Eyes, with a new CD due next month on Saddle Creek - are all on independents.

News 8 Austin lists bands to see tonight at SXSW.

The Daily Australian examines the collectibility of rare bookplates.

Until 1900, almost all bookplates were designed using a family crest or coat of arms with initials, usually symmetrically drawn on a portrait-shaped rectangular sheet of paper. With the development of Art Nouveau and the Arts & Crafts movement of the 1880s and 1890s, strong interest developed in the design of bookplates and many artists included the medium in their work. Numerous new styles emerged and moved away from the traditional heraldic devices.

Time interviews author Frieda Hughes, daughter of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath.

TIME: You were 14 before you learned the truth about your mother's death. How did you find out?

Hughes: I was in a literary course, a little weekend course or something, and the girl in the room I was sharing was reading The Bell Jar. Normally when people would say, "are you related to Sylvia Plath Hughes?" I'd go, "well, I can't imagine why you'd think that," and pass it off. I was very shy about it. But on this occasion, I couldn't help myself. I said, "oh, that's my mother." And she looked out of the window and she said, "but it can't be. Sylvia Plath committed suicide and your mother is walking across the forecourt with your father." [My father and stepmother] had just dropped me off. And I remember sitting on the bed, so shocked. I didn't really believe her.

ITWorld wonders if Google Book Search is fair to authors.

Austin360 examines the fully-digitized SXSW fest.

In spite of the controversy surrounding SXSW's relationship with the nonindustry public, it's these folks, the average wristband holders just there to have fun, for whom these technological changes mean the most. These are the people who can use technology to have the organic experience old school SXSW attendees crave.

They can sample all the bands at the SXSW Web site, which also lets them customize their schedules. Stuck in a line and want to warn friends? They're a phone call or text message away.

The Village Voice profiles music blogger Sarah Lewitinn, aka Ultragrrrl.

Lewitinn just turned 27, but she seems perennially 21, a happy-go-lucky party girl who just really loves music. She's not much different than when I first met her eight years ago, playing records at a LES bar with Spitz—she got so drunk she had to be carried downstairs to the bathroom, leading to an incident that earned her the nickname "Buckets." She just really loved music then, too, but back then no one paid much attention to her opinions.

The South Florida Jams bulletin board is collecting links to downloads from lasst week's Langerado Music Festival. So far, links to the Girl Talk, Explosions in the Sky, and Hold Steady performances have been posted.

iFilm has collected over 500 videos from bands playing at SXSW this year.

The Happy Booker has author Gayle Brandeis contribute to its "If I Only Had an iPod" feature.

see also:

this week's CD & DVD releases


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