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May 11, 2007


Ben Gibbard covers the Mountain Goats' "Palmcorder Yajna."

Aversion interviews singer-songwriter Mary Timony.

As the mainstream becomes more aware of the underground, it seems like what's heralded as "indie rock" has become a lot more codified and, generally, less challenging than it used to be. You don't seem to fit into that form -- how important to you is it to keep your music artistically and ideologically edgy?

Is the mainstream becoming more aware of indie rock? I had no idea. I'm serious. All I can say is that in my experience most of the music that becomes popular in general is pretty derivative, and same-ish and watered down. There are always exceptions, but people seem to be drawn towards things that they recognize, and major labels usually try to sell music that they think people will like.

The Denver Post interviews Bjork.

Question: When you're devising the visual aesthetics for a tour, how do you manage that? Who do you work with? And is it directly influenced by the new music that you're touring?

Answer: I usually save the theatrical work for videos and album covers, photo shoots and stuff. When I see a concert myself, I'm usually not so into heavy visuals. I feel they distract from the live performance. Crazy dance routines or moving images don't really do it for me. I like for concerts to be an aural experience, mostly. But a couple of lights and a laser or two might add to the pleasure.

Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers talks to the Aspen Times.

Hood says he has no problem with volume and showmanship. "Spectacle and rock 'n' roll - that's like chocolate and peanut butter," he said. And cranked-up amplifiers and over-the-top energy are what has made Drive-By Truckers these last six years. But the songwriter in Hood says that if the band is to have a second act, it's got to learn some other tricks as well.

"It's time to do something different and open up another part of the brain and see what's buried there," he said, sounding optimistic and refreshed. "I hope it adds a decade to our longevity."

Stylus lists the "Top Ten Most Ridiculous Musical Power Couples (That Probably Made Sense At One Point)."

Robyn Hitchcock talks to Harp about his tour documentary, Sex, Food, Death and Insects.

“I think it’s nice if some people do have some sort of picture of [our reality],” says Hitchcock. He doesn’t believe the film will demystify the musician’s life as much as it establishes its existence on a more common plane. “It just sort of shows us convening and getting together and playing, which is an old tradition, like the Band and Dylan [in The Basement Tapes] and people like Fairport Convention playing in their [shared] house.”

Drowned in Sound interviews Battles' Tyondai Braxton.

There’s also a strong aesthetic to the band – there was for the EPs, and there’s a thread to the artwork of Mirrored and ‘Atlas’. I guess this side of the business is important to the band, too?

Yes, and not just packaging wise… I think, what it means to be a band today, the fun isn’t just restricted to the music – you need this whole package and presentation that makes it fun. I like playing with identity with this band, and I think we’re the kind of band that works well doing that. We wanted to abandon the nature of what we did on the EPs and have this cold, mechanical feel to the new music, but at the same time echo themes from our music, like the loops… hence the reflections.

Wilco's Jeff Tweedy talks to the Times Online about the band's new album, Sky Blue Sky.

“It took me years to work out what went into a great pop song,” he says. Then comes a brief pause, in which Wilco’s frontman realises that such talk may inadvertently raise expectations for his own band’s new album, Sky Blue Sky. “But even if I know the recipe it doesn’t mean I have the ingredients. The way I see it, Abba made Dancing Queen and, from that moment on, every musician who has heard it faces the struggle to come to terms with their own imperfection.”

Peter Bjorn and John's Peter Moren talks to the Georgia Straight.

"In a way, it's weird because we've never been really popular in Sweden," says Morén, who seems amused by all the questions about Swedish it bands. "And I don't think we're even popular now. It's weird recommending bands that are more popular than you. American media is big in Sweden. We were on all the talk shows and we were on Grey's Anatomy–and Swedish media, if something gets noticed in America that's all they care about."

The Guardian wonders what has happened to singer-songwriter Gillian Welch.

NME reports that author Stephen King is a fan of singer-songwriter Ryan Adams.

He wrote: "I won't say Adams is the best North American singer songwriter since Neil Young...but I won't say he isn't either. What I know is there has never been a Ryan Adams record quite as strong and together as 'Easy Tiger'."

The Boston Herald examines indie artists and the use of their music in advertising.

Shilling for soul-crushing, art-ignorant, world-befouling multinationals seems antithetical to indie rock’s do-it-yourself code - or at least that’s what Fugazi, the Dead Kennedys and even major-label grunge grandpa Neil Young have preached. But Of Montreal and many more of today’s indie bands think outside the box, or outside the bun, or any way you want them to think if you’ve got a suitcase full of cash.

The Boston Herald also lists the "best of the current crop of commercial ditties."

OC Weekly recounts Coachella.

Michael Chabon talks to the Georgia Straight about the protagonist of his latest novel, The Yiddish Policemen's Union.

"The kind of classic Chandlerian hero is a loner, no doubt about it," the Berkeley, California–based Chabon says. "He [Detective Meyer Landsman] is lonely. He's living alone in this little flophouse room and so, sort of at first glance he fits the template, I suppose. But it's only as we pull back that we become aware of the network of relationships that he's still enmeshed in. It felt very easy to locate Meyer as a homicide detective who's in kind of a bad way–in a classically bad way–but also as a son and an ex-husband and a cousin and a mourning brother."

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reviews the book.

Craig Finn of the Hold Steady recounts his musical history for the Guardian.

Early in the summer before the eighth grade, a friend had hipped me to a band called the Replacements. Apparently his older sister knew the bass player, Tommy Stinson, who was just a few years older than us. He told me the band lived in nearby south Minneapolis, and was "sort of like the Ramones". I picked up their Hootenanny album. It was sloppy and fun rock'n'roll, with wild lead guitars and a great sense of humour. The second song on the record, Run It, advised recklessness in the form of running red lights, naming south Minneapolis streets: "Lyndale, Garfield, Run It!" It was a revelation that such excitement lived so close to me, just a few miles east, an easy bicycle or bus ride.

The Roaring Machine is an mp3 blog with a twee tooth.

The Rockist Society lists the "best album starters of my arsenal."

NPR is streaming last night's Washington performance by Ben Gibbard, David Bazan, and Johnathan Rice.

The Futurist has mp3s from Dead Heart Bloom's recent WOXY Lounge Act session.

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