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January 30, 2008


The Baltimore City Paper profiles the music of Human Bell.

It's the stuff that's so ethereal and noninvasive-and instrumental or, at least, lyricless-it's supposed to hang out in the room with you, maybe adding another color to the walls or, in the finest of cases, an entirely new dimension: turning the room inside-out via soundtrack, giving it its own little temporary dramas and chills.

The Cleveland Free Times profiles author Grant Bailie and his extremely clever novel, Mortarville.

The story swirls quietly around a test- tube baby with a remarkable memory. John Smith can recall snapshots of his gestation and birth, as well as the violent demise of his fathers, the "two god-like mad scientists" who produced him. They succumbed to an angry mob of clergymen and environmentalists while their creation buoyed about in an aquarium filled with orange goo, which was somehow spared. Upon discovery by the government, the glass womb with its developing infant was quietly rushed off to a shady island laboratory for the rest of the pseudo-pregnancy and subsequent birth.

Author Lydia Millett talks to the Los Angeles Times.

"Most of my books have something to do with L.A.," she said. "L.A. for me is a perfect microcosm of America. Because it's so profligate, and so glamorous, and so anti-intellectual, finally." New York "is, by comparison, European. And because I want to write about the extremes of Americanism, I find myself most appropriately located in Los Angeles. I never seem to leave L.A., though I left L.A."

That Truncheon Thing is closing its mp3 blog... I'll miss its Classic Bootlegs series.

Film School Rejects lists the best films of this year's Sundance festival.

Southern Shelter features mp3s of a recent Athens set by the Arcs.

The Los Angeles Times reports on Peter Gabriel's appearance at the MIDEM annual music conference in Cannes.

The advertising-driven download model is one that many companies represented at MIDEM are experimenting with in different ways, and Gabriel acknowledged the potential pitfalls of so directly mixing art and commerce.

"It's climbing in bed with the devil," he said shortly before the award dinner at the Carlton Hotel. But the day of keeping the two segregated may well be over.

"I'm a big fan of Neil Young," Gabriel said, "but the artist who has complete control of his music and keeps his music completely apart from advertising is probably a thing of the last century."

The way Gabriel sees it, most young listeners are accustomed to hearing music in advertising environments. So by combining the ad-sponsored downloads for free with commercial pitches tailored to each We7 user's individual interests, ads can "become less annoying and more informational. It's about not selling dog food to cat owners."

TechCrunch interviews US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney about technology, and in particular his iPod.

MA: I guess that brings us to the most important question I have to ask you, which is…Governor Romney, Mac or PC?

MR: I have a PC. My sons have a Mac and swear by it, but I have a couple PC’s.

MA: So one of your sons is on Mac, or most of them are?

MR: 3 out of the 5 boys I believe are on Macs, and they swear by them, but I’m a creature of habit, I’ve got my PC.

MA: I’ve got to say I’m slightly disappointed and that’s going to hurt you in Silicon Valley (laughs), but at least it will help you in Texas where Dell is. Do you have an iPod?

MR: I do.

MA: Of course you have an IPod! What’s on it? What are you listening to right now, what sort of albums have you downloaded or listened to?

MR: What I typically download is country music as well as 1960’s music. I’m a baby boomer, so the Beatles and the Stones and some of the old groups from the 1960’s are my favorites, I listen to them and I listen to country. I might have some inspirational music as well, but those are the highlights for me.

New York magazine's Backlash blog charts the career of Vampire Weekend and predicts the inevitable future backlash.

Gothamist interviews New Yorker music critic Alex Ross, author of one of 2007's best music books, The Rest Is Noise.

Your first book, The Rest is Noise, came out late last year, and you were just nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award. How long did it take you to write, and what was the process of writing what is essentially a history book? Will you write another?

I started writing the book in the year 2000 and finished a draft in 2004. Then I spent two years cutting it in half, because it was almost 400,000 words long. Basically, I had to absorb a huge amount of information about the twentieth century—from books, archives, interviews, and, of course, music—and then filter out the stories that really moved the larger narrative along. I was trying not only to write a history of music but also to find an oblique new angle on the century itself. Hence the subtitle, “Listening to the Twentieth Century.” Needless to say, this was a fairly ambitious idea. If I write another book, I might try to take on a slightly tidier subject, to avoid losing my mind all over again.

KEXP features Scotland Yard Gospel Choir with an in-studio performance and interview.

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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