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February 1, 2008


The Fort Worth Star-Telegram interviews Matt Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces.

Is it difficult to present ambitious, unapologetic albums in a marketplace where the quick hook is prized?

I would think it is, because we're not very popular [laughs]. ... It's very hard to have momentum to keep going ... because we don't have the money to make a lot of records so we become much more like other bands -- a slower cycle. We don't have a lot of songs that stick out prominently on people's MP3-radio-file-sharing thing ... there's other people that can do that and in the division of labor in the world, we have to make records different from that.

A Filter correspondent takes a road trip with Band of Horses.

The A.V. Club has announced the winners of its third annual film poll. interviews Brandon Summers of the Helio Sequence.

I was reading over the press releases Sub Pop sent over with the album, and it makes use of the term "minimalism" with regards to the album, which we should say is Keep Your Eyes Ahead. How do you feel this term or technique applies to this specific album?

I think it's all relative, especially the use of the word "minimalism" in describing Helio Sequence. But I think what that might refer to is that, going into the songwriting process for this record, we started very bare bones. Instead of getting together at our studio and playing together and just starting to layer sounds, you know, like we'd done in the past, it was more of like constructing things from just the essential elements. So I would have a song at home playing on an acoustic guitar that would begin just with acoustic guitar and vocals. And then we would be very conscious of building it from there and only choosing what was necessary to put in the arrangement. So I wouldn't call it "minimalist;" I would say that it was just a greater focus on necessity in the arrangements of the songs.

Popmatters picks the best books of 2007.

Singer-songwriter Joe Henry talks to the Chicago Tribune about songwriting.

"Some listeners have decided that I'm being stubborn and difficult on purpose," he says. "Sometimes I read about myself that I hop around from genre to genre, as if that's a mark against me or that I'm somehow adrift as an artist. But I don't see it that way at all. I see myself like a filmmaker, and I understand that my writing and vocal ability with all its limitations is enough of a common thread to link all my records together, no matter what else I do. I look at that as liberating me to sonically go elsewhere. Like a filmmaker, I can say I made the big-sky Western, now I want to go make a gangster movie. I don't feel like I should be trapped by someone's idea of what genre they think I ought to occupy."

Boldtype points out examples of classic campaign journalism.

Playback:stl interviews cartoonist Tony Millionaire.

I read somewhere you made a living for 20 years, going door to door, drawing people's homes 2 or 3 times a week. I punched that up on the calculator. Are there 2500 Tony Millionaire home drawings out there?

[laughs] No, not really. I think it might have been somewhere like five or six hundred, because in the harsh winters, if I could get a job, I'd get it, doing some construction work or something. And in the middle of summer it's very difficult because everybody's on vacation. But just before Christmas time, it was great. I could do 3 houses a week. It was beautiful. The thing is when I first started it, I was only getting $35 or $50 dollars per drawing, and people kept telling me "you gotta raise the prices". So I finally got it up to around 250 bucks when I realized if I went higher than that people wouldn't do it. But $250 drawing 2-3 times a week. That was great money.

T-shirt of the day: "Rock Robot"

DailyBits lists 17 "sensational, free and downloadable graphic novels."

Kara Zuaro talks to about her indie rock cookbook, I Like Food: Food Tastes Good.

I Like Food is composed of recipes from over 100 diverse bands—some of which sell out shows and get mainstream airplay. However, many of the bands have not managed commercial success and remain unknown to the general public. Even a musical savant may not recognize some of the names in Zuaro’s collection because many are personal friends of the author. “I was worried, especially when Hyperion picked up the book, that they would want to cut some of the bands," said Zuaro. “They were actually totally cool about it. I used to make CDs for everyone I was working with at the publishing company so they would feel more connected with the project.”

see also: Zuaro's Largehearted Boy Book Notes essay for the book

Synthesis profiles Rykarda Parasol.

Rykarda Parasol and the Tower Ravens. The name has a certain Tolkein-esque ring to it. And there’s an icy Nordic grandeur in Parasol’s look, a sense of desolation and windswept tundra that’s led more than one reviewer to envision her as a reincarnation of a 1920s nightclub act. But Parasol’s voice is more gritty than sultry, more Nick Cave than Helen Kane. Parasol’s mother was a moody ex-patriot Swede and her father a Holocaust survivor, so her affinity for darker music sometimes seems almost genetic.

DCist interviews singer-songwriter Aimee Mann.

Your last full album of original material was The Forgotten Arm in 2005. That one was something different for you: a narrative song-cycle about a boxer who falls in love right before he gets shipped off to fight in Vietnam. Does the new record, Smilers, have a storyline?

No. With Smilers, the “concept” is really just to have each song be as different as it wants to be, and not worry about any kind of through-line. The through-line is really just the vibe of the instrumentation and the production and the musicians. We recorded it pretty much live. We did some rehearsing to figure out what we wanted to do with arrangements and stuff. But aside from the string sections and horn sections that are on a couple of songs, we did it live in the studio. One or two takes.

The Scotsman examines the enigma that is Morrissey.

"What is both admirable and exhausting about Morrissey is that he doesn't change," said Guardian journalist Dorian Lynskey, who feels that part of his appeal is the way he retains his teenage intensity and stubbornness into middle-age.

"While other musical heroes get their teeth fixed, date models and accept honours from the Queen, Morrissey remains proudly remote from the throng.

"It means he is still a vital lyricist, a mesmerising performer and a perplexing human being. He is much as he was."

AfterEllen wraps up its Xena Con coverage.

Guardian readers recommend songs about bereavement.

Christianity Today lists the most redeeming films of 2007.

The Guardian reviews the new Drive-By Truckers album, Brighter Than Creation's Dark.

That they're Craig Finn's favourite band tells you a lot about Drive-By Truckers. Like Finn's the Hold Steady, the Athens, Georgia, band have an obvious debt to Springsteen (but with southern rock thrown into the mix).

The Tampa Bay Tribune also reviews the record.

Sequential Tart is a "comics industry web zine."

AlterNet lists the best progressive books of 2007.

The Mindscape of Alan Moore is a documentary about the comics legend.

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

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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