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September 7, 2007


VHS or Beta is maintaining a touring blog for Velocity Weekly.

Louisville's Velocity Weekly examines the current influence of the indie record store clerk in the age of music blogs and internet opinion.

Asheville's Take5 interviews singer-songwriter Andrew Bird.

Q: When you first started making music you explored more traditional sounds. To what do you attribute your evolution to what is essentially experimental rock music?

A: I started playing classical violin when I was 4, but it was all by ear, so it might as well have been Irish music or old-time music. I can pick up inflections easily, probably because I learned music at the same time I was learning language. I stuck with classical all the way through conservatory, but I always resisted scales and methods and just kept playing by ear. I eventually got restless and became interested in non-Western music and early jazz. Then I got restless again with those and moved on to more of writing my own fully original songs, which are elemental derivatives that are hard to classify.

Built to Spill's Doug Martsch talks to the Arizona Republic about the band's future.

"I feel like we have an infinite amount of potential still," he says. "And I didn't really think that I would feel that way when I was closing in on 40. When I was a kid, I just imagined whatever, you get to a point and you're done with it but I totally feel like we still have a few good records in us."

Bassist Aaron Dessner of the National talks to the Raleigh News & Observer.

"Alligator" may have had to wait to hear its praises sung, but "Boxer" was rightly coronated before it even hit the shelves, opening up a wealth of new opportunities for this veteran band, beginning with a supporting slot on a much-ballyhooed tour with the Arcade Fire earlier this year. "That was really a helpful experience for us as a band," says Dessner. "The Arcade Fire is such a brilliant, energetic group, and they have a really open-minded audience that was very receptive to what we were doing."

Frontman Matt Berninger compares the band's last two albums for the Tallahassee Democrat.

" 'Alligator' is sort of a desperate record," Berninger said. "There's a lot of aggression and frustration there because that's what we were feeling . . . at the time. 'Boxer' is much more at peace with itself. It's a quieter affair. No screaming, less flailing."

Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff talks to the Denver Post about the band's new album, The Stage Names.

"I wanted a lot of this record to be grounded in the real world and have real characters - not to be stylized in the same way 'Black Sheep Boy' was," Sheff said. "I wanted stylization that takes from real, ordinary life."

Author Steve Almond talks to the Boston Globe about his new collection of essays, (Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions.

"There is something for me about catching people who aren't necessarily hard-core readers," he says, "not just preaching to the converted, that doing a reading sometimes gets to a larger group or gets people to take more seriously reading one of my books or a book in general."

JamBase interviews Tom Morello about his musical evolution.

JamBase: I wanted to just start with the path from groundbreaking guitar man of Rage and Audioslave to Nightwatchman. What prompted the stylistic change?

Tom Morello - The Nightwatchman
Morello: Over the course of the last five or six years I've become a big fan of this genre of music. There are plenty of rock & roll bands that use walls of Marshall stacks but still sound weak as pudding. Yet there are artists like Johnny Cash and early Bob Dylan, Nebraska-era Springsteen and Woody Guthrie, that with an acoustic guitar, three chords and the truth, are heavy as Everest. That music has become more appealing to me. I started about four and a half years ago playing these songs at local open mic nights and coffee houses around L.A., as a way to, I don't know, assert my independence from my arena rocking existence. It can get comfortable when you've got hit songs on the radio and an arena in every town, and I wanted to play music that was very activist oriented and that was very action oriented.

Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers talks to the Santa Cruz Sentinel.

The Sydney Morning Herald examines the state of graphic novels in Australia.

Starting at 11 a.m. pacific today, KEXP features a live stream from Portland's Douglas Fir, with live performances by the Brunettes, the Helio Sequence, and the Thermals.

The A.V. Club interviews Tim Smith of Midlake.

AVC: You're very open about admitting you didn't know much about indie music when you formed the band. Do you think that fresh approach was a benefit at all?

TS: No, I don't think it was. I felt like I didn't have my homework done. It took me a long time to catch up, and if I had started my homework when I was a teenager instead of when I was 23, then I wouldn't have had to go through all the mess we've gone through in the last seven years to learn how to write a song. [Laughs.] I had to do lots of homework: Radiohead was a huge influence, and Björk. A lot of those big bands. Then you realize, "Oh, there are a ton of underground bands, too." Then you get into Grandaddy and The Flaming Lips. I just hadn't heard that stuff, but it was needed.

The Huffington Post interviews singer-songwriter Joe Henry.

It's easy to make assumptions about a record called Civilians that comes out on September 11 and includes a song called "Civil War," although it doesn't seem overtly political to me. How important was it to make a record that reflects the times we live in?

I'm aware that it's of its time. But the real ambition of an artist is to be not only of your time, but also outside of it. You don't want to be caught in the tarpits of your time. I didn't make the decision to write anything that I would regard as political, but I did decide to let it happen once I saw that element surfacing.

I would never write a song about politics; that's not a musical notion to me. But I'm aware that for the characters I'm writing about, politics is a wind that blows through the scene in the way that love and regret might.

Tim Kasher of the Good Life puts his iPod on shuffle for the A.V. Club.

Elvis Costello, "Senior Service"

TK: I put Elvis Costello on that short list of artists I hold in high regard. Elvis Costello. Tom Waits. Paul Simon, to a point. Bruce Springsteen, to a point. These are artists who give you a lot of hope and inspiration that you'll be able to maintain musical credibility for a lifetime.

The Christian Science Monitor and Newsday list fall's noteworthy books.

T-shirt of the day: "Make Cupcakes, Not War"

Minnesota Public Radio's the Current features an in-studio performance by VHS or Beta.

Listen To a Movie features free audio streams of feature films.

also at Largehearted Boy:

2007 Lollapalooza downloads
this week's CD releases


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