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February 6, 2008

Shorties

Several eBay auctions of music memorabilia (including a signed test pressing of John Vanderslice's Emerald City album) are ongoing that will benefit Callum Robbins, son of Jawbox founder J. Robbins.


The San Francisco Bay Guardian reviews Rob Sheffield's memoir Love Is a Mixtape.

Taking the reader on a song- and swoon-studded travelogue through the inner workings of his heart, the memoirist begins with the wince-along bumblings of a gangly adolescent mixtaper and continues through to the instant click of meeting his similarly tune-centric wife and eventually to — and here I am not giving away anything that isn't already mentioned on the book's cover — her sudden death from a pulmonary embolism. It's a genuinely moving, thoughtful, and frequently cackle-inducing work, and — perhaps best of all — it bounces as much as a book can with boundless verve about songs that have soundtracked every blunder, triumph, and openhearted, weak-kneed moment of falling in love.


Singer-songwriter Kelly Stoltz talks to East Bay Express about his recording process.

"There's a Laundromat below us, no apartment above us, and my roommates all work regular jobs, so during the day I can make as much noise as I like," he says. "I have an eight-track, reel-to-reel, quarter-inch analogue tape machine, a piano, my guitars and basses, and a drum kit. I record everything on tape, then send it over to the computer to add the salt and pepper. I've tried to record directly into the computer, but I usually wind up writing down-tempo, shoe store music. I think I need the finite quality of real tape to spark the creative process."


NPR's All Songs Considered asks its readers to name their favorite love song.


The Fresno Bee interviews Pinback's Rob Crow.

With the surge in popularity of indie rock, have you guys had the opportunity to move to a major label? Would that ever interest you?

We've had offers from almost everybody. But we're not interested. I'm totally broke, but I'm not interested in being on a major label.

Why?

Because most of the time it's just gambling. You don't know if they'll actually put out the record or if anybody will ever hear it. Zach was on a major label. He was on Geffen back in the day. It was just a horrible experience.


Spider Stacy of the Pogues shares the band's history with Harp.

“We were obviously fulfilling a need, and there were all these second-, third-generation Irish kids who took to it,” Stacy says. “We weren’t out to shock anyone, but there was something in us that quite enjoyed walking onstage in a punk club with our banjos, our tin whistles, our accordions, and clocking the looks on the faces of the people who are expecting some sort of ‘ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR!’ [makes buzzsaw/fuzz guitar sound] thing. Well, they would get the ‘ONE-TWO-THREE-FOUR!’—but without the fuzz!”


Yes! Weekly lists the ten best contributions of Bob Marley.


USA Today examines social music networking sites.

Imeem and Last.fm are positioned as music communities, where friends tell each other about what songs and artists they like. Since the sites have licensing agreements with the four major labels, fans can share songs and playlists with each other. Last.fm restricts users to listening to a song just three times, while Imeem has no restrictions.


The East Bay Express profiles Or, the Whale.

The band, whose members hail from scattered urban and suburban areas around the country, acknowledge the peculiar notion of city kids borrowing the music of a culture they're largely unfamiliar with. But that's never stopped scores of bands — the Rolling Stones included — who have long been driven to incorporate Southern sounds in their music. Or, the Whale bassist Justin Fantl points to legendary songwriter Gram Parsons, who's often credited for country music's urban appeal. "He was just a rich kid from Florida," says Fantl, adding that Parsons transformed the music into his own unique creation.


The San Francisco Bay Guardian profiles Super Furry Animals.

Cosmopolitan kitsch aside, Hey Venus! runs an emotional and socioeconomic gamut, albeit with a wink of the eye. On the Shangri-Las throwback "Runaway," lovers flee each other while wistfully recalling the other's "banking details." (The video is an '80s-inspired romp with Matt Berry of United Kingdom comedy series The Mighty Boosh.) There are also moments of quintessential SFA lyrical humor, as on "Baby Ate My Eightball," which offers the apologetic understatement of the decade, "See you on the other side / Sorry to cut your life so short." Equally acerbic is the track "Suckers!," which offers a straightforward litany of gripes concerning the world and its gullible inhabitants. Rhys wryly calls it a "miserable, complaint-rock song" that came to him at a dark moment on a rainy day in Cardiff: "Sometimes I sing that song tongue in cheek, and at other times I sing it and it's absolutely sincere."


Death Cab for Cutie guitarist Chris Walla talks to the Phoenix about his solo album, Field Manual.

With the exception of the drums — for which he solicited the services of Death Cab’s Jason McGerr and the New Pornographers’ Kurt Dahle — Walla plays everything on Field Manual himself. That provided a refreshing change of pace from his production work, he says, in that “there weren’t any specific player strengths or hurdles to deal with other than my own. I knew the guitar player wasn’t gonna be pissed off because he only had two notes in a song.” Another difference: “I spend my entire waking life playing with and listening to other musicians, sculpting and honing what they do. And when I end up playing on the records I produce, it always ends up little sparkles or frosting. It was really nice to be the person who gets to fill up all the space.”


Glide interviews Helio Sequence frontman Brandon Summers.

You’re described in wikipedia as “indie electronica.” In your own words – how would you describe The Helio Sequence?

I don't really like sound-bytes or quick labels in general because I think they belie the complexity of ideas. This is especially true for something as complex as music. I think of us as a band, as songwriters, first and foremost and this really frees me from thinking of what we do in terms of a style or a genre. I'd like what we create to be evolving and changing as we grow, learn and understand more about music...so to personally label what we do seems limiting.


The Washington Post's Express profiles Vampire Weekend.

But the band's cribbing of African and Caribbean styles blended with its hyper-literate subject matter have led to a eyebrow-arching skepticism, even by elitist indie-rock standards. The songs "Mansford Roof" and "Oxford Comma" tackle erudite topics such as architectural aesthetics and the finer points of diction, while two tunes on Vampire Weekend's debut ("Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" and "Walcott") concern themselves with the finer and not-so-finer points of Cape Cod.


PJ Harvey talks to the Courier Mail about her current Australian tour.

Interestingly, her support will be her namesake and Bad Seeds guitarist Mick Harvey, who she credits with helping inspire her current album, a piano driven opus which has drawn more than the usual rave reviews.

"Many years ago he (Mick Harvey) began making compilations of things for me and I'd keep asking him for more of what I really liked and it just grew," Harvey explains. "He made me some wonderful introductions to classical music, which I was a very novice at."


The Chicago Sun-Times' What Are You Lookin'' At? blog lists five reasons it loves the writers strike.


The Boston Herald interviews soul singer Bettye LaVette.

You recorded this album with the Drive-by Truckers. Who came up with that idea?

Andrew Kaulkin, the president of Anti Records, is called by me the LaVette brain. He gives me ideas and I choose the one I think won’t kill me. He thinks I’m some unusual old person who things won’t kill.


The Bonnaroo music festival has announced its 2008 lineup. Included are Pearl Jam, Kanye West, the Drive-By Truckers, Ghostland Observatory and many more acts.


Bookslut's February 2008 issue is online, and contains interviews with Douglas A. Martin, Lydia Millet, Ariel Gore, and Elizabeth Crane.


Variety reports that the Weinstein Co. has optioned the film rights to Evan Kuhlman's young adult novel, Wolf Boy.

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


Feist has won the Shortlist Music Prize.



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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