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April 26, 2007

Shorties

Members of the Grails explain the band's sound to the Portland Mercury.

A typical Grails song (if there is such a thing) starts with a loosely strummed guitar, or wind, or ocean tides, and layers are slowly added bit by bit until a pulse of bass and drum-driven groove reveals itself. Plenty of stereo effects and creative mixing ensure that sheets of sound dance in one speaker and out the other. The organic analog tones naturally blend acoustic instruments with vintage synths. Kraut-rock jams culminate in a final hook or epiphany, often stopping before the listeners can nod their red-eyed heads a second time. Guitarist Zak Riles defends this method: "We do not have vocals so we end up trying to figure out the best way to make a song interesting compositionally without blowing our wad."


Andrew Whiteman of Broken Social Scene and Apostle of Hustle talks to the Arizona Daily Wildcat.


Stylus interviews Bjork.


The Anchorage Daily News reviews Michael Chabon's latest novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

But Chabon, the best-selling author of four previous novels, invents an Alaska that might have been. The result is a funny, dark, faintly preposterous tale in which territorial congressional delegate Anthony Dimond was run over by a "drunken taxi-driving schlemiel," Zionists were routed from Jerusalem and the Tlingits became the new Palestinians.


The San Diego Union Tribune reports that the local convention and visitors bureau is using the city's indie rock scene as a selling point.

The sound of San Diego – at least the one promoted for years by the local tourism industry – has been waves slapping against a sandy beach. But in a new twist on the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau's annual spring marketing campaign to draw visitors during the peak summer travel season, the bureau is promoting the area as an up-and-coming hotbed of indie rock music.


My Old Kentucky Blog features some live, in-studio tracks from Tom Thumb.


The Sportsfilter community lists their favorite sports books.


The Observer lists 20 things "you never knew about Sgt. Pepper."


Tiny Suns Infused With Sour points out a benefit solo performance by Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein Friday in Portland.


Harp profiles Athens popsters Casper and the Cookies.

Jason NeSmith goes by Casper Fandango, but not because he’s confused with Monkee Michael Nesmith’s musician son of the same name. He’s made the rounds of the Athens pop scene, performing and recording with Of Montreal, Feyeraband, Orange Hat and the Sunshine Fix as well as three Casper-and- bands. Casper and the Cookies is the latest, and they’re playing big, bright and bouncy psychedelic power pop on their second album The Optimist’s Club (download a track from the album).


The St. Louis Post-Dispatch interviews Clap Your Hands Say Yeah frontman Alec Ounsworth.

Q: There are so many places on the Internet for listeners to give their own minireviews of your work. Ever take a look?

A: I haven't seen too many of those. I've seen a few "real" critics' reviews — and then realized why I never read reviews in the first place (laughs). Not to alienate anyone, but they were often extraordinarily misguided. Have you seen (the Bob Dylan documentary) "Don't Look Back"? There's a scene where Dylan is in the back of the car and he says, "I'm glad I'm not me." That's the way I feel when I see some of the reviews.


Seattle's Stranger examines the increasing use of trumpets in popular music as opposed to saxophones.

Certainly it comes down to sound: Sax sounds like soul, which makes it easy to exploit and obvious when it's misused. Misuse results in cheesiness, and cheesiness leaves an indelible stink.

Trumpet sounds like more than that—it's the sound of soul and smarts, pathos and humor, from mariachi to Modest Mouse.


The Independent previews summer UK music festivals.


The Independent Weekly interviews the Rosebuds.


The Nashville Scene reviews Mockingbird: An Intimate Portrait of Harper Lee.

Never sensational, the book is a fair and endearing rendering of Lee based on “six hundred interviews and other sorts of communication with Harper Lee’s friends, associates and former classmates,” as well as access to the papers of both Truman Capote and Lee’s literary agent, and years of library research.


MTV News examines the sophomore efforts of music blog darlings.


Willamette Week reviews the photography book, Real Fun: Polaroids From the Independent Music Landscape.

The Polaroids' trademark white frames have been removed, leaving large, high-contrast images with a tendency to blur eyes into faces and pull anything red or yellow to the foreground. The result is a sort of ongoing visual emergency: Scott Kannenberg's (Pavement/Preston School of Industry) ketchup bottle is a stick of dynamite; John Darnielle's (The Mountain Goats) face, splashed in sunlight, floats angelically on the page. There is a refined sense of immediacy to these shots that makes you want to get up and go.


John Vanderslice talks to the Riverfront Times about the "live-band karaoke" aspect of his current tour.

"When we bring people up now, it's pretty new to me, but it's fantastic what it does — it literally grinds the show to a halt," Vanderslice says. "Like someone comes up there and they may have a question about how to start, and you just have a conversation with them on the stage. I think it's amazing."


The A.V. Club lists "15 things Kurt Vonnegut said better than anyone else."


JamBase profiles the Mother Hips.


NPR excerpts from How Sassy Changed My Life: A Love Letter to the Greatest Teen Magazine of All Time, and interviews co-authors Kara Jesella and Marisa Meltzer.


Minnesota Public Radio's the Current features in-studio performances from What Made Milwaukee Famous, Gang Font (featuring Greg Norton of Husker Du), the Little Ones, an Astrid Swan.


WXPN's World Cafe profiles Philadelphia's Dr. Dog.

Filtering classic rock and pop hooks through a willfully lo-fi aesthetic a la Pavement or Guided by Voices, Philadelphia's Dr. Dog sounds both timeless and immediate.


Pop Candy lists its five favorite REM songs (and lists one of my favorites , "Fall on Me," but omits my other fave, "Gardening at Night").



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