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January 31, 2008


The Phoenix examines the "cuteness surge" in popular culture.

What happens when you distill Chuck Klosterman, FOUND magazine, and Miranda July down to their artistic essences? At their core, they’re pretty much the same thing: offbeat, but just so; eccentric, but not too; awkward, but self-aware; quirky, but formulaic in their quirkiness. Each embodies a sensibility that slowly, with great purpose, has been morphing from cult-status to mass-appreciation. It’s now hitting upon an explosive convergence in the mainstream.

The Detroit Free Press interviews singer-songwriter Joe Henry.

Q: What are your thoughts on the state of the music industry?

A: People in my racket on both sides of the fence, the artistic side and the business side, are in a bit of a tailspin. It's not like the idea of music is dying. Don't mistake the fact that the industry is being forced to rethink a dead model, which is overdue and happening anyway, with the notion that the public's interest is waning. That couldn't be farther from the truth. But always, always, music is the thing. The way it's delivered, whether it's an Edison cylinder or streaming over your computer speakers, it's all just a window in. None of those things define what the music is and decide whether it's meaningful or not.

Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend lists his favorite things at Pitchfork's Guest List.

>> Last Great Book I Read

I saw the movie Atonement, and I'd read the book [by Ian McEwan] three years ago. And I really loved both, actually. Yeah, I'm not a crier, but both the book and the movie did it to me.

The Globe and Mail examines the current state of the music business.

More than almost any other content-related business (with the possible exception of the software business), the music industry has been in almost constant upheaval ever since the MP3 file was invented.

That made music easy to copy and play anywhere. Ever since, the music industry's major players - the big four record labels: EMI, Universal, Warner and Sony BMG - have been trying desperately to stuff the Internet genie back into his bottle, without much success.

The Chicago Reader examines the effects of the industry's nosedive on artists.

Two weeks ago Terra Firma head Guy Hands announced that, among other changes, signing bonuses for artists would be capped and as many as 2,000 EMI employees—about a third of the label’s staff—would be laid off. He painted a dreary portrait of an industry where failure is the norm, complaining in the Financial Times that EMI loses money on 85 percent of its artists and routinely overships by 20 percent, requiring the outlay of nearly $50 million a year to scrap unsold inventory. Just days after news of the layoffs broke, Hands acknowledged that more than a million unsold Robbie Williams CDs had been bought by a firm that intended to recycle them into paving materials in China—surely a bitter pill for the label that reportedly paid more than $150 million to sign Williams in 2002.

The University of Alabama's Crimson White profiles my favorite Birmingham music venue (and a spectacular restaurant as well), the Bottletree Cafe.

Brad said it was difficult at first to persuade bands to give Birmingham a second chance. Many bands were turned off to the city due to bad crowds and bad venues. Fortunately, Bottletree solved both problems. The ample bar space and comfortable atmosphere keeps the crowd happy all the way until closing time. Bottletree also features a renovated vintage Airstream trailer for bands to relax in before the show.

Harp profiles singer-songwriter Tyler Ramsey.

Tyler Ramsey is just about the luckiest singer-songwriter in America. The North Carolina singer-songwriter is suddenly a loud blip on the indie-rock radar, having just joined Band of Horses. With his debut album A Long Dream About Swimming Across the Sea (Echo Mountain) just out, the match-up is well-timed.

Cracked lists the all-time worst choices for Super Bowl halftime performer.

The Stranger interviews Kimya Dawson.

The Juno soundtrack has been packing your shows with new fans. How is that?

It's a little weird. I had two shows in a row where teenage girls with styled hair and lots of makeup at some point during my banter said, "Eew." One was a show at a record store in Boston, where some of the kids called out, "Come back to the Bike Barn in Maine." So I was talking about how I loved playing in this barn, because when you play, the bats fly overhead. And this girl was like, "Eeeww!!!" The other time I was talking about my vagina or something. I'm not used to an audience of people who are surprised or grossed out by the things I bring up between songs.

The Dallas Observer solicits advice from the local music community for its mew music editor.

The Denver Westword lists twelve local abnds ti watch in 2008.

Singer-songwriter James McMurtry has made a free protest song, "Cheney's Toy" available at eMusic.

Wikipedia lists works of fiction set in Chicago.

Discover magazine lists 20 things you didn't know about science fiction.

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

Drowned in Sound has Apes give a tour of their hometown, Washington, D.C. in a series oddly similar to Aquarium Drunkard's Off the Record feature.

At NPR's All Things Considered, author Michael Chabon profiles Arthur Conan Doyle's other protagonist, Brigadier Etienne Gerard.

Conan Doyle placed himself, imaginatively, into the heart, soul and boots of a French cavalry officer, a man sworn to fight and kill Englishmen. With humor, affection and real insight into a soldier's life, Conan Doyle bridges the gap between him and his dashing popinjay of a hero.

WNYC features singer-songwriter Jack Penate with an interview and in-studio performance.

For all design (and sports) nerds: a history of Super Bowl logos.

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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