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June 1, 2007


Baltimore magazine compares filmmaker John Waters to author William Faulkner.

That’s why the Faulkner comparison may be most apt. Like Mississippi, Baltimore is considered something of a cultural backwater that mostly gets ignored by tastemakers and trendsetters. So when Waters descends on a neighborhood like Highlandtown and points his camera at the Formstone façades and beehive hairdos and captures the local dialect, it comes across as exotic in other parts of the country. And as the nation becomes increasingly homogenized, such hyper-regionalism (especially in Waters’s early films) seems all the more distinctive and real.

The Salt Lake Tribune profiles comedian Patton Oswalt.

Then there is the cult of Oswalt fans who worship him as comedy's equivalent of a cool indie-rock band. As a founder of The Comedians of Comedy, a group of joke-hurling friends who regularly tour in music clubs instead of comedy clubs, Oswalt is beloved for his twisted and hilarious takes on American culture. Fans who know him on that hipster level of fame are the ones who say hello to him in comic-book stores and who will turn up Thursday when Oswalt performs in Utah for the first time.

Bloc Party's Kele Okereke talks to the Asbury Park Press about the band's success in the US.

"It's hard to say why we do well here," Okereke said. "I think part of it is that people don't see us as an English band like they see Oasis as an English band. We don't have the arrogance that a lot of English bands have. We're still regular people. That hasn't changed. Maybe that's appealing here."

Okereke also talks to the Washington Post.

"To be honest, we were always skeptical about the nature of success or certainly how it's presented in the U.K.," Okereke says lightly. "You grow up to be skeptical of people that are famous or successful -- you can almost feel the shame of that sort of thing. It wasn't like we'd suddenly become jaded at the end of 2005. I think we were already very cynical about what was happening before it happened, but you want to cling to some sort of artistic integrity. That's how we got through it, really. I don't think this second record's a more somber affair because we've become jaded by our success. It's a more somber affair because of the issues we're talking about on the record."

The Irish Times has musicians describe the impact the music of Bruce Springsteen has had on their lives.

WILL BUTLER (Arcade Fire)

I grew up in the suburbs in Houston and it wasn't cool. I didn't know anything about cool bands like Pavement or Dinosaur Jr or Radiohead or Björk - I listened to Bruce Springsteen. That was the stuff that was playing at the malls, and I was like: "I like that." I know that Springsteen is so much more over-the-top than our stuff but I think that the emotional quality in our music owes something to him.

The Los Angeles Times eulogizes Mark Harris, author of several baseball novels, including Bang the Drum Slowly.

Stylus lists the top ten postrock albums.

Bradley's Almanac is sharing the Arcade Fire's recent Boston performance as downloadable mp3s.

Drowned in Sound interviews LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy.

Murphy is admittedly out of touch with the latest musical fads – he only saw The Gossip the weekend before we meet, and has no idea who Scroobius Pip is, but nor is he particularly bothered. He’s more interested in animatedly complaining about his new New York home: “I lived in Manhattan from ‘89 until a couple of years ago and then couldn’t afford it anymore, got married, got a dog and moved to Williamsburg.”

Williamsburg, for those unaware, is akin to the Shoreditch of New York. “It’s like a college town,” sighs an exasperated Murphy. “I like it because all my friends live there, but I don’t like it because all my friends live there! It’s all hipsters from age 18 to age 45, all of whom work in the media somehow.”

KEXP features an in-studio performance by Menomena at 3 central this afternoon.

Author and Nobel laureate Orhan Pamuk talks to the Guardian.

Everything in his life, it seems, comes second to his love for writing, which, after 33 years, he can finally call his profession. "When I was a child, when I was a student, I used to daydream a lot," he says, recrossing his legs, running his hand through hair now almost wild with continual resculpting. "Being a professional writer legitimises your dreams, allows you to execute them and show them to others with pride."

Guardian readers recommend songs about silence.

Singer-songwriter Keren Ann talks to the Boston Herald about singing in English versus French..

“There’s more flexibility to fill in the spaces with English,” Keren Ann said. “It’s just a wonderful language for music. There’s a point where I can’t go further in French, it just doesn’t sound right. I love the intensity of French. It’s very authentic, it’s old and poetic, but English and rock ’n’ roll just works.”

She also talks to the Boston Globe.

"If you're obsessed by beauty, you will put enough architecture into the song, and the rest is just fun. Fill in the space, 360 degrees, with what you want."

The Washington Post examines the greening of concert tours and music festivals.

In the next few weeks, Save Our Selves -- the Campaign for a Climate Crisis, the organization staging the 24-hour Live Earth global event July 7, will introduce the Green Event Standard, which will be usable industry-wide, from small venues to larger arenas and stadiums. Live Earth, whose broadcast could reach more than 2 billion people worldwide, will implement many green practices, including sourcing all electricity from renewable sources (utility-supplied renewable energy, biodiesel generators, renewable energy credits), issuing carbon credits for air travel by staff and artists, and reducing waste from concessions.

Steve Lamacq talks talks Britpop with Nouse.

With the benefit of hindsight it is easy to see that Britpop, like any scene, became diluted over time. Lamacq agrees: “The first wave was brilliant, but when they went to record their second albums there was a big gap, and the record companies thought ‘people are buying this stuff, so we’ll get something that sounds like it’, but it’s not as inventive.” However, he also suggests that the scene may have been a victim of its own popularity. “We’d find a band like Gene (a Smiths-esque band of the mid-90s) and Radio 1 would stick it on the playlist the next week. We’d only just found them and it felt like the music had been taken away. I think that’s one reason why Britpop eventually collapsed in kid’s minds, because what’s the point of being into a band if your younger sister or younger brother likes them as well?”

Matt of Matt and Kim talks to the Georgia Straight.

"In the sort of post-hardcore bands that I've been in in the past, I used to never write a song with a verse or a chorus," Matt says. "It would all just be different parts. Eventually it occurred to me that I like songs with verses and choruses. I think the most effective songs are the simplest songs. And it takes a lot to write a simple song because it's hard for people to get over themselves. If you can put yourself out there and keep it simple, that's what resonates with people."

Moviola's Jerry Dannemiller talks to Columbus Alive about the band's career.

Over the lifespan of 15 years, the creative arc... it can't be a flatline. It's got to be an arc and a swell," bassist Jerry Dannemiller said over beers at Larry's, just down the street from the band's home base at Used Kids Records.

see also: Dannemiller's Largehearted Boy Note Books essay

The New York Times lists summer reading.

Author Joyce Carol Oates talks to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer about her fiction writing and reviewing.

"I think that they're a complement to each other. I'm writing reviews now because I'm finished with a novel, so it is a rest. And when I have done this for awhile, I get restless and want to do something that is a little more imaginative. But I enjoy trekking through a book and pointing out passages. ... I will quote passages that are especially well-written, so it feels as if I'm looking over the shoulder of another writer."

Billboard reports that the Drive-By Truckers are backing soul singer Betty LaVette on her new album, Scene of the Crime.

In addition to the Truckers, contributions were turned in by Muscle Shoals keyboardist Spooner Oldham and bassist David Hood, who is the father of Truckers vocalist/guitarist Patterson Hood. "To have recorded with Patterson's father all those years ago, and now to have recorded with both of them was singularly unique," says LaVette, who made an album at Muscle Shoals in the early 1970s that was shelved by Atlantic and not released until nearly 30 years later.

Son Volt's Jay Farrar talks to the Hampton Roads Daily Press.

He hesitates to describe his own music - "That's kind of putting limitations on what it can be, to actually put a descriptive term to it" - but says that with "The Search" he "came to the realization that I was probably drawing more from what would be considered 'Rock 101' sources - The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. And I think The Rolling Stones were probably the inspiration for trying out horns."

ThaBombShelter has a "moleskine review" of the Rosebuds song, "I Better Run."

Wikipedia lists the best-selling albums worldwide.

Chain Reading is an online social networking service built around books.

WXPN's World Cafe features an in-studio performance by Fujiya & Miyaki.

see also:

this week's CD releases


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