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January 11, 2008


The Birmingham News has singer-songwriter Brandi Shearer put her iPod on shuffle.

1. Joan as Police Woman, "Real Life" - "It's by (violinist and singer) Joan Wasser, who was Jeff Buckley's girlfriend - although I'm sure she's tired of everyone saying that - and a professional sideman in Europe. It keeps you listening on all kinds of different levels. Her voice has such an instant humanity. The production values are interesting; it's full of crazy things that sound like mistakes, but aren't. She has a poetic sensibility, but not the kind that makes you gag. I'm really enjoying this record."

Guardian readers recommend songs about guilt and apology.

Singer-songwriter Ezra Furman talks to the Chicago Tribune.

"My favorite thing in all of rock 'n' roll is that pleading, eager voice full of sweetness and pain," Furman says. "You can hear it in the Smiths, in Jonathan Richman -- the personality is right there in their songs and is open-hearted and is asking you to open your heart. I want every minute of all of our records to be about that."

Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig talks to the Manchester Evening News.

Having formed at Columbia University in February 2006, they're smarter than your average indie band. "We're interested in avoiding rock and roll cliches," says Koenig. "I think our lyrics give you an idea of what we're interested in: like grammar, places, and historical facts. We went to college and are interested in intellectual pursuits."

SF Station interviews the band's bassist, Chris Baio.

SFS: Are you worried about constant Paul Simon references after your album is released later this month?

CB: Actually, I think our album has a wider breadth of sound, and I would hope people would listen to all 11 tracks and have more references than Graceland when talking about our music.

I think it gets overplayed. When you look at our album compared to that one, I think it would be hard to find two tracks that even sound alike. There are plenty of songs on the album that are pretty devoid of any African influences.

Members of the Arcade Fire discuss the band's success with the Sydney Morning Herald.

Popmatters lists its best and worst films of 2007.

Bettye LaVette talks to the Raleigh News & Observer about her Grammy nomination.

"Ever since the Grammys were announced, I've been drunk and laughing and getting on everybody's nerves," she continues. "Even the grandchildren at Christmas. Honey, the last two weeks I've done nothing but giggle, ever since they said my name in the Grammy Awards for the first time in my existence. I'm fascinated by that, and I've not been fascinated by anything since 1962 when I did my first tour with Clyde McPhatter and Ben E. King and Clarence 'Frogman' Henry. I've not been this excited since then."

The New Republic interviews author Ian McEwan.

Do you read any online reviews?

I don't read the blogs much. I don't like the tone-the rather in-your-face road-rage quality of a lot of exchange on the Internet. I don't like the threads that come out of any given piece of journalism. It seems that when people know they can't be help accountable, when they don't have eye contact, it seems to bring out a rather nasty, truculent, aggressive edge that I think slightly doesn't belong in the world of book reviewing.

The Independent Florida Alligator examines how music affects personal fashion style.

The San Francisco Chronicle lists the top 12 "top 10" lists of 2007.

The San Jose Mercury News lists "literary-minded" graphic novels.

Nextbook's podcast features an interview with Alex Ross about his book, The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century.

Time examines the increase in sales of music on vinyl.

The National's Matt Berninger talks to the Sydney Morning Herald.

"When we make records, we make them thinking of it being a 45-minute experience and we're conscious of how songs are going to relate to each other," says singer and only non-brother Matt Berninger.

The Economist ponders the future of major record labels.

Three vicious circles have now set in for the recorded-music firms. First, because sales of CDs are tumbling, big retailers such as Wal-Mart are cutting the amount of shelf-space they give to music, which in turn accelerates the decline. Richard Greenfield of Pali Research, an independent research firm, reckons that retail floor-space devoted to CDs in America will be cut by 30% or more in 2008. The pattern is likely to repeat itself elsewhere as sales fall.

The Montreal Mirror interviews Marjane Satrapi and Vincent Paronnaud about their film, Persepolis.

M: What was it like to return to your life again and transpose it into a completely different medium?

MS: It’s boring (laughs). I mean, it’s challenging. But I’m using my life to talk about something else. That’s why I don’t like calling it an autobiographical film, because normally an autobiography is a book when you have problems with the people in your surroundings and instead of going and telling them your problems, you make a book and you sulk. This is not what I’m doing!

Nextbook interviews Margot Singer about her book of interconnected short fiction, The Pale of Settlement.

One of the figurative borders that frequently turns up is the one between truth and memory. And in the title story you write: “You never could tell which parts of stories people had made up, Susan knew. People told you what they needed to believe.” This observation seems to be a nice summation of the entire collection.

I’m interested in storytelling and how we tell stories and make up our sense of truth and reality. The things that are left out or hidden and submerged are so important. At some point we are all unreliable narrators. So I guess in the end, this ends up being a bunch of stories about storytelling.

Warren Peace Sings the Blues lists the best comics of 2007.

Lifehacker lists the best websites to find and download free music online.

Minnesota Public Radio's The Current features the Bird and the Bee with an interview and in-studio performance.

Death Cab for Cutie has posted a teaser for their new album due in May.

Bostonist interviews Jami Attenberg about her new novel, The Kept Man.

Regarding the relationships between men and women in the book, your characters aren't always likable. How do you keep them sympathetic?

I'm glad that you found them sympathetic. I guess I've succeeded in my task! To me, Jarvis is the most frustrating character of all because you can tell she's this witty child-woman who has an artistic eye, but she is trapped in his identity. It was a challenge to make her likable while making her as human as possible. I don't like her half the time. But I wanted to make sure the reader was willing to go along for the ride. You have to make the characters a little bit likable to get people to read all the way to the end. If you completely hated them, you would throw the book out the window.

The Oregonian reviews the book.

"The Kept Man" is a moody, internal novel full of first-person musings on art, love, life and death. It's marked by the geography of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. It's a challenge to imagine a dynamic novel constructed around a world where every character's life is thoroughly stalled, but Attenberg has created such a thing. Her narrator has a compelling voice, intimate and frank. There's a comment on manhood laced through the story, an open-ended question that seeps through: "My father is wasting away in Rhode Island, mourning my mother through the bottom of a beer bottle. I haven't talked to my brothers in years. . . . I can't worry about those men anymore. I have to focus on something new."

see also: Ryan Walsh interviews Attenberg about the book at Largehearted Boy

also at Largehearted Boy:

2007 online music lists
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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