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May 4, 2007


Chris Funk of the Decemberists talks to the Seattle Times.

"That's definitely a misconception about the band, that we're these heady shoegazers that sit around and wax about Russian formalism or something," Funk said. "I hate playing music where it's just cerebral. I love lyrics and everything, but we all need to feel what we're playing."

Portland State's Vanguard interviews guitarist Alex Hall of the Grails.

Are musical classifications (i.e., genres) useful? Does Grails fit within any one genre? Is there a type of music you feel Grails most identifies with?

Sure, genre classifications have plenty of practical uses--they only become annoying when they're used as crutches by lazy critics (professional and otherwise). And it seems like a lot of people can only think of music in terms of genre, which is fine…but as a result, it's pointless to care much about how listeners might choose to place you in relation to other artists.

Andrew WK shares a food diary with New York magazine.

We went to see the Björk concert at Radio City Music Hall and happened to walk by a Japanese place, Haru. We had some special rolls. I enjoy ordering them at sushi places because they’re cooked. I had a bad experience with food poisoning in Japan with some sashimi I left out for four hours. The special rolls are very uncouth by traditional Japanese sushi standards. I really like the feeling of ordering it in this other way — it's going against the fundamentalists. Even the chef at the restaurant seemed to scoff when we ordered these rolls.

Variety examines how blogs are reshaping film coverage.

Austinist lists some bands confirmed for this year's Austin City Limits music festival.

Minnesota Public Radio profiles local band, Best Friends Forever.

Best Friends Forever songs are quirky, wordy, and occasionally absurd. When they're not about friendship, they tend to focus on Smith and Seamans' feelings or adventures. The group doesn't follow traditional pop song formulas. Their performances are unpolished. Tempos often shift mid-song and sometimes you can't tell if a verse is ending or a chorus is beginning.

Absonderpop is a music blog devoted to covers.

Burning Dervish is soliciting original music for its mixtape projects.

Frantic Industries offers a primer on accessing the music streaming site Pandora in countries where access is denied.

The Los Angeles Times reviews the Warren Zevon biography, I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon.

The New York Times profiles British author Penny Vicenzi.

The best-selling British novelist Penny Vincenzi is poised to fill a gap in the American realm of Cinderella fiction. Ms. Vincenzi writes long, elaborate, mannerly books that aren’t serious literature but aren’t chick-lit either. They unfold at a tea-party tempo for reasons of both etiquette and language. Any of them might be 100 pages shorter if a hardhearted editor chose to delete all use of the words lovely, marvelous, extraordinary, rather, quite, indeed, nicely and Darling.

Guardian readers create a playlist of songs about politicians.

The Chicago Reader examines the new royalty fees for US webcasters.

The Riverfront Times reviews John Vanderslice's St. Louis performance.

To say that John Vanderslice is down-to-earth is a vast understatement. At his Billiken Club show last night, the personable singer-songwriter milled around the venue before and after the show chatting with basically everyone he saw -- and even a short conversation with him made one feel like you were old friends.

Nick Cave talks to the Japan Times about his songwriting.

"John Lee Hooker is the singer that has had most influence on me. I guess there is a bit of Dylan in there," he says. "There is a phrasing thing that I do sometimes that reminds me of Bob Dylan which I have to immediately get out of because I don't want to sound like him. There are certain singers that you find that you naturally drift toward not only because you like them but because your voice has a certain similarity, like Leonard Cohen or Jim Morrison. Although the last thing I want to do is sound like those people, so I have to rethink a song occasionally."

Mando Diao's Gustaf Norén talks to the Vancouver's

"Mostly this lifestyle is like a circus or Satyricon by Fellini," the singer states. "Anything can happen all of the time, and that makes it an amazing way to live your life."

The Emerging Writers Network is celebrating Short Story Month.

Glide interviews Ted Leo.

Leo also talks to the Boston Herald.

“Obviously, I mean obviously, no one in any position of power is going to hear any of this music,” he said, “whether it’s mine or anybody else’s, and go, ‘S---, that dude is totally right, we need to change our ways.’ That’s never going to happen. But what it does do is it keeps me and the population that responds to this stuff energized and engaged and, hopefully, moved and inspired. Even if it just ends up helping one person get through their day amid all this crap, I feel I’ve played a valuable role.”

Artist Scott McCloud talks to the National Post about his most recent book, Making Comics.

"In the first book, I talked about how we process images, sequence them and read them as time and motion, and that's still fascinating stuff," he says. "My second book (Reinventing Comics) was more about the external life of comics and what we'll see in the future -- it's the troubled middle child of the trilogy, a little more turgid and I don't know that it'll hold up as well. But with Understanding Comics, people talk about inhaling it or starting to read it and missing train stops or falling off chairs, and I'm hoping the third book is a little bit closer to that."

Seed (on of my favorite magazines) features a music discussion between David Byrne and Daniel Levitin, author of This Is Your Brain on Music.

DB: Yeah. I mean, there's something about music that seems to touch what we would call irrational, emotional parts of ourselves. As somebody who makes music, you know there are kind of tried and true ways of doing that; there are buttons that you can press that will get emotional responses.

DL: Oh sure, the strings from Hitchcock's Psycho. I mean, you play that dissonant discordant string sound, and you know the reaction you'll get.

NPR's Fresh Air interviews Michael Chabon about his new novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

The Sydney Morning Herald also interviews Chabon.

What is the attraction of using the genre of alternative history?

I think it is a natural human propensity. I think all of us are wired to lie awake in bed at night going back over the course of our life, looking at the things that led us to the place where we are now, being able to see sometimes only after a period of many years certain key junctures where you might have gone this way or that way, married this person instead of that person, or not had the chance to go to this place or that place. You can begin to imagine an alternate life for yourself. It's a fundamental part of the way we look at our own history.

NPR's Tell Me More features an in-studio performance form the Noisettes.

Sigmund Freud is telling jokes on his blog.

see also:

this week's CD releases


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