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September 28, 2007


The Philadelphia Daily News interviews Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff.

Q: You demeaningly refer to yourself as a "mid-level band" in "Unless It's Kicks" and also talk in less than glamorous tones about the lifestyle in "You Can't Hold the Hand of a Rock and Roll Band." Is that all part of the same big picture?

A: I like any artwork, novel, music or movie which gives you insights into how things tick. Like that new Jay-Z song ["Blue Magic"] where he's talking about the production of crack. I don't know or really care how it's chemically made. But there's something about the cold authority in his voice and narrative that really turns me on. It's like this weird view of the world. For our part, the truth of the matter is we're these eight dirty dudes traveling in the van. I like portraying the nitty-gritty reality: the glamorous, the horrible, the sleazy, the triumph. I've gotten a little taste of all of that.

The San Francisco Bay Guardian's Noise blog interviews singer-songwriter Nick Drake's sister, Gabrielle.

BG: His music really does bear the imprint of his personality?

GD: All of us who knew Nick really well always say that we never knew Nick at all. It’s the people who never knew him who say I understand Nick profoundly. And that’s because I think, as with many true artists, Nick is many things to many different people. You can touch people in different ways, even though we who knew and loved him never really felt we knew him, he speaks to people through his music. They feel they knew him better than we ever did.

The Toronto Star examines the sales boost for Feist's "1234" single, due in large part t its use in an iPod commercial.

Geoff Mayfield, the man in charge of watching the charts for Billboard, says it has become quite common for artists to make "substantial" gains on the charts when their songs feature in the "right" (rather than "dorky") commercials.

"She's absolutely got a bit of juice from that spot. It's a really clever campaign," says Mayfield. "We've seen this pattern with previous Apple spots. They're very smart. They always choose something that isn't quite well known."

Noah Lennox of Animal Collective talks to the New York Daily News.

"What we're excited about is always changing," recalls Lennox. "For a while, it was acoustic guitars. Now it's electronic keyboards. A couple of years ago, I got these samplers, and they dictated a certain style."

Adam Stephens of the Two Gallants talks to the Boston Globe.

Stylus interviews Bettye Lavette, the "Great Lady of Soul."

How was the experience of recording with the Drive-By Truckers?

We do completely different kinds of things, but I wasn't gonna do what they do, period. So they did more adjusting than I did. It took me 46 years to sound like I sound now, I wasn't gonna sound any other way. They figured it out on their own...and they are good musicians, so they just had to figure out where I was coming from, and when they did, they played it. I really didn't know that much about them, but I've had to do so many things over this 46-year I learned how to do a lot of things with a lot of different kind of people. You know, I know how to tap dance; most rhythm and blues singers don't. But I had a chance to do a starring role in a Tony Award-winning Broadway play, so that taught me how to tap dance. Everything that I've learned now, this is character. But if I had been in the same band all the time, and our records had been back to back, and I had developed a following, I wouldn't know half of what I know, because I would be in that same vein all the time. After you do so many different kinds of things you become a broader person, and I frankly think that if my records had been successful over the years I wouldn't have had the opportunity to learn all of the things that I know now, and I don't think I'd be as talented. I might be richer, but I don't think I'd be as talented [laughs].

Singer-songwriter John Vanderslice talks to NYU's Washington Square News.

"Look at what Bowie did in the '70s, completely reinventing himself and throwing off his fan base with every record," Vanderslice said. "If you want to survive as an artist then you have to be willing to completely turn your back on everyone that's listening. Otherwise you're going repeat yourself. And that's trouble."

Chicken Spaghetti is an Australian blog dedicated to children's literature.

Soundtracker is a website where you can share playlists for every occasion.

WXPN's World Cafe features singer-songwriter Luke Temple with an interview and in-studio performance.

The Japan Times reviews Paul Slattery's book, The Smiths — The Early Years.

Captured here between May 1983 and June 1984, Steven Patrick Morrissey, guitarist Johnny Marr, bassist Andy Rourke and drummer Mike Joyce are seen both on and off stage in the period leading up to (and just after) their eponymous debut album. The majority of the photos are rough and in black and white, depicting a fresh-faced band goofing around in Paris, Manchester, London and, er, Norwich and hanging around backstage. In the color shots, the yellow of Morrissey's ubiquitous daffodils glare dazzlingly from the page. Images are accompanied throughout by comments, recollections and insights from photographer Paul Slattery.

The Village Voice's Sound of the City blog interviews the Magik Markers.

Singer-songwriter Jens Lekman talks to the Guardian.

His lyrics are autobiographical, but not always of the life Lekman actually has. "A lot of my songs are written prophetically: I write something and then I make it happen. I wrote the song Julie because I wanted to talk to her but didn't have the courage to do so. But then I was too embarrassed to perform it without having talked to her, so I had to. That's why I write songs, to force myself to do things." Either that, or to cheer himself up, to "convince myself things are better than they are".

LAist continues its "Books to Film: When Your Favorite Novel Becomes a Terrible Movie" series, chronicling the screen adaptations of Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember, Jose Saramango's Blindness, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's Love in the Time of Cholera.

PJ Harvey talks to the Guardian about her new album, White Chalk.

"I feel more English these days," she says, with an air of slight surprise. "I've become more and more aware that I'm an English woman, and I wanted to sing as an English woman. I grew up listening to blues music, and every record I ever heard was sung by Americans. You can't help but have that in your blood when it's all you hear, and I almost had to get back to who I am, and how I speak, and where I come from."

Carl Newman of the New Pornographers talks to the Georgia Straight about a recent review of the band's Glastonbury performance by the Hold Steady's Craig Finn.

"He reviewed our show when we played at Glastonbury, and he wrote what I thought was a really nice thing about one of our songs," reports the red-haired singer-guitarist, on the line from an Albuquerque, New Mexico, tour stop. "He said, 'When you're listening to that song you don't know what the hell they're talking about, but you know you feel the exact same way.' It made me think about listening to R.E.M.'s Murmur when I was a teenager. Nobody knows what the hell Murmur's about, but you're like, 'Yeah, there's something about this music I understand.'"

Artvoice profiles singer-songwriter John Vanderslice.

While vagueness can often be the result of first drafts or a novice, Vanderslice takes this approach intentionally. “Even when I’m writing about myself in some way, there has to be some unstable part of the narrator for me, or there’s no tension in the song,” he says. “That’s part of what I’m hoping that I put in the song or [that] I’m aiming for: that the narrator himself is not reliable. So there is another layer of tension where you have to wonder, ‘Is this language even accurate?’”

Lavender Diamond's Becky Stark talks to the Georgia Straight.

Augie March drummer David Williams puts his iPod on shuffle for the A.V. Club.

Gaming Today lists the top 5 novels that should be games.

The A.V. Club interviews Iron & Wine's Sam Beam.

AVC: Are you concerned about the songs having a life outside the original performance and recording? For example, there are some songs used in commercials where the association lingers. Some people hear Stevie Wonder's "You Are the Sunshine Of My Life" and immediately think of Minute Maid orange juice. Does that concern you at all?

SB: I don't really worry about it. If I was writing jingles I would be concerned about it, but I write these songs as songs. If people want to pay me to use it, its not that much different than people paying to go see a show. I'm all right with it. I have responsibilities. If I was single, I might be more critical, more picky. But I have college to pay for, for my kids.

Minnesota Public Radio's the Current features the Aliens with an interview and live performance. is sharing several mp3s from the Replacements frontman's recent Minneapolis show.

also at Largehearted Boy:

2007 Austin City Limits Music Festival downloads
this week's CD releases


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