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February 9, 2008


The Globe and Mail profiles the city of Austin Texas and the SXSW music festival.

The Vancouver Sun reviews Charles Bock's novel, Beautiful Children.

The novel has been called Dickensian in its grasp and scope, but I prefer to think of it as high-definition literature, micro-detailed like a great special effect on the screen, depraved and rife with scurrying miscreants and emotional mutants, underpinned by off-the-chart sexuality and polluting neon. It is one part Don DeLillo (dark), one part Bret Easton Ellis (dry) and one part Michael Chabon (devilish). I'd like to think of this as high praise and not offence: I don't think it's a book a woman could have written.

The Montreal Gazette reviews Rutu Modan's graphic novel, Exit Wounds.

This might have been a conventional tale of a son searching for his father and finding himself in the process. But there is much more to this story because of one significant difference: the setting is Israel. Political and social echoes are at play. Modan's story penetrates deep into the heart of Israeli society, where issues of absence are pervasive; sons and daughters regularly go off to war, citizens are killed in terrorist attacks, and families disintegrate from the ongoing social tension.

The Los Angeles Times examines the documentary Rock 'n' Roll Made in Mexico: From Evolution.

The movie is based on interviews with some of the music's '60s pioneers, many now in their 60s, including Lora, Tijuana blues guitarist Javier Batiz and drummer Adolfo "Fito" de la Parra, the film's co-producer, who came to the U.S. as a teenager and joined Canned Heat, the blues band he still leads. In their accented English, they recount how the music went from a pastime of the pampered elites to a cultural cause championed by the poor in Mexico City's vast ghettos, where fans held clandestine concerts in warehouses and parking lots called "oyos funky," or funky dives. The film essentially ends where the story for most people begins, with the music's ultimate triumph in the '80s and the emergence of bands such as Café Tacuba and Maldita Vecindad.

Book Glutton offers online interactive book groups.

The Palm Beach Post lists ten beloved books in black literature.

The Toronto Star recommends books by African-Canadian authors.

The Vancouver Sun interviews Feist.

The Washington Post's Post Rock blog does the math and finds that Vampire Weekend = Lily Allen.

Both bands were out-of-nowhere Internet sensations that I largely ignored when the hype started up. A couple summers ago I heard Allen's "LDN," thought it was fun, "got" the album and fell in love for a few months. There were four songs on the album that I really loved, the rest was good enough, I enjoyed it for a while, got sick of it and haven't listened to it in a year or so.

Stereogum prematurely evaluates Destroyer's new album, Trouble in Dreams.

We don't love everything on here, but he knows how to pull off audacity with the best of 'em -- the short story in a song, Swan Lake-referencing "Shooting Rockets (From The Dark Of Night's Ape)," anyone? He can also do tenderness: See the common scars of "Introducing Angels" and the muted histrionics ("Oh, the light!") of the closer, "Libby's First Sunrise." Lots of guitar and hand claps, as though the sunrise of "Blue Flower/Blue Flame" turned dark ("the light holds a terrible secret"), its crispness given a larger, back-loaded exit. Across Trouble, nighttime, the horizon, and the sky in general come up often, and this seems to be the culmination of whatever Bejar's working out lyrically (we need more time to get to the bottom of the entire affair).

At Mediashift, Jennifer Woodard Moderazo lists 5 reasons she won't give up books for digital alternatives.

The Telegraph lists the 100 best movie soundtracks.

Booklist lists 8 modern Hispanic masterpieces.

Stereogum celebrates the tenth anniversary of Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea with a post about the album (which is the biggest selling album in Merge Records' history).

The National Post's The Ampersand blog interviews graphic novelist Kazu Kibuishi about his graphic novel, The Amulet.

The book has a very cinematic quality. What films, if any, have influenced your work?

Oh man, I'm influenced by so many films and filmmakers it would be hard to list them all! I can say, however, that Amulet was most inspired by films like E.T. and Star Wars, with dashes of Krystof Kieslowski's Blue, John Carpenter films, the first two Alien films, and a whole lot of Hayao Miyazaki films.

NPR's All Things Considered examines the history of the Grammy Awards, and wonders if they are relevant at all.

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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