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October 7, 2007

Shorties

Shins frontman James Mercer talks to the Arizona Republic.

He'd been reading Malcolm Gladwell's book The Tipping Point, about the moment "when something goes over the falls and there's no going back," Mercer said. "It talks about a brand of shoe that started out as a real boutique shoe that eventually was being sold in Mervyns and it totally killed them off.

"So I wasn't too worried about losing some of these fans through attrition by taking extra time and maybe exploring some different directions. It was kind of like, 'To hell with it. Let's have fun and experiment.' "


The Oregonian interviews singer-songwriter Nick Lowe.

Why do you think you've aged so well in an industry with so many flameouts?

I think it's cause I sort of planned it. I worked on it, really. When my career as a pop star ended I saw it coming. Because I'd done so much work as a producer in the '70s and '80s, I kind of, therefore, had my foot in the enemy's camp. I'd hung out with record company people as well as being an artist. I knew how record company people talked about artists. They talk about them in a very disparaging way. I was under no illusion about where I stood as I saw my pop career diminishing. I was quite relieved about it, actually. I was completely exhausted. I was an alcoholic pretty much. There was nothing left. I was just completely wrung out. I was quite relieved when it was all over. Back then there wasn't really any precedent for aging pop singers. . . . And it seems so obvious what I had to do. Back then I can't believe how difficult it was to figure it out.


The Los Angeles Times examines the cultural renaissance of Joy Division.

"It's not like the hipsters have united and decided, 'This is the best band,' " said Brian Aubert, singer-guitarist of Silver Lake indie-rock group the Silversun Pickups, which covered Joy Division's "Shadowplay" on an early demo tape. "It's always been the best band. A band you found out about through other people. It was never pushed on you."


Band of Horses frontman Ben Bridwell (and his father) talk to the State about the commercial use of his songs in advertisements and on film.

“I’ve caught enough flak from purists,” Bridwell said. “So should I go all out?” (“The Funeral” also might appear in a Wal-Mart TV ad, he said.)

Some say the issue solely is with Wal-Mart. But Wal-Mart’s advertising team apparently wants good music to articulate its definition of a quick-stop destination for bread, tires, toothpaste, T-shirts and electronics.

Wal-Mart also sells Kleenex for those crying foul. Would those same people turn down, say, $100,000, for the use of one of their songs?


Comics legend Gilbert hernandez talks to the Los Angeles Times about his latest graphic novel, Chance in Hell.

see also: my review of the book


T-shirt of the day: "Guitar Solo"


Ryan Walsh of Hallelujah the Hills shares his opinion of Radiohead's variable pricing scheme with the Boston Pheonix music blog, On the Download.

But you can't help but think that Radiohead's presentation of this new business model will eventually filter down to the little fish too. It would be foolish to start guessing exactly how that will work just yet. But recall what Anton Newcombe said in the movie Dig!: "Until they can write the letter I'm writing they are the postman and I am the letter writer." He was using the postman as a metaphor for what he believed record companies essentially do but, here, ironically, Radhiohead is releasing this album merely with help from the post office itself. No metaphor required. Wow. Here we go.


The San Francisco Chronicle interviews former Eurythmic Annie Lennox.

Q: On this album you also take on global warming, the war in Iraq, AIDS in Africa and lots of other fun stuff. Have you ever written a happy song?

A: I'm not an ostrich. I live in this world, and I'm not about to pretend that everything is fantastic, because it's not. As a mother, I would love to see a future world where children are born not into medieval circumstances. I'm only touching on the surface with these topics. We could go on.


Swedish singer-songwriter Jose Gonzales talks to the San Francisco Chronicle.


The New York Times reviews the Joy Division biopic, Control.

All this makes for a compelling story, but it has distinct limits as a prism for understanding Joy Division’s music. Mr. Curtis’s songs are existential rather than autobiographical. Rarely straightforwardly drawn from his life, his lyrics strip away the everyday details that observational songwriters use to impart a sense of lived reality. In his songs, ordinary life achieves an epic grandeur (hence their perennial fit with the wounded narcissism of adolescence). But there’s no bombast or emotional theatrics; instead there’s a modernist starkness as pared down as a Samuel Beckett play.


British betting site Ladbrokes features current odds for the 2007 Nobel Prize in literature.


Australia's The Age celebrates the 50th anniversary of the publication of Nobel Prize for literature winner Patrick White's novel, Voss.

As a nation we should be extremely proud of Voss. It's one of the seminal works that explores the notion of Australian identity. It seeks to understand what the early European colonists thought they were doing in this strange land. It explores how badly the white man was suited to the conditions here; how poorly they dealt with the indigenous people; how obsessed these early settlers were with land and money grabbing. Brave material for 1957. Brave material for today.


The Sunday Times examines the current state of the music industry.

What looks like commercial suicide is, in today’s reality, sound business sense. Records, CDs or downloads now have all become downgraded to the status of promotional tools – useful to sell concert tickets and fan paraphernalia. While there is still good money to be made in music, and particularly on the concert circuit, the record business – blame it on piracy, too many CD giveaways or the advent of the recordable CD – is a busted flush.


The Scotsman profiles Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke.


In the Guardian, author Anne Enright lists her top ten slim books.


Minnesota Public Radio's the Current features an in-studio performance by Of Montreal.


The Telegraph profiles comic book writing legend Alan Moore.



also at Largehearted Boy:

Daily Downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
this week's CD releases


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