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February 23, 2008


The Boston Globe profiles Casey Dienel.

Dienel, a petite blonde whose mop of hair made it easy to dress up as Garth from "Wayne's World" one Halloween, is adamant that despite her youth, she is not "cuddly and cute and little." There's a darkness creeping through her art, whether it's the surreal story of a beached whale in "A Beast Washed Ashore" or in "Napoleon at Waterloo," where Dienel and her band suggest the toils of war by playing around with the repetition of the phrase, "There goes now/ Another man down." Even the delicate and seemingly adorable cover art by her craft buddy Shawn Creeden holds sinister secrets: At Dienel's request, it depicts a carnivorous scene of hyenas feasting on a zebra.

see also: Dienel's Largehearted Boy Note Books essay

Josh Ritter talks to the Calgary Herald.

In fact, Dylan, Springsteen, Townes Van Zandt, Paul Simon, Johnny Cash and John Prine are often mentioned in reviews for Ritter's work.

Not bad company and Ritter -- who is known to let loose with a killer cover of Springsteen's The River on stage -- doesn't begrudge the comparisons, even if they don't tell the entire story.

"I admire them all," he says. "But there's a rich mine of influences that people never talk about, like Pete Dexter, Philip Roth and Mark Twain.

"Anybody who believes they come from nowhere are perpetuating a myth that you are born fully formed. It's just not true. You have to come to terms with your influences. These are my influences. But these are my songs."

The Charlotte Observer interviews author Michael Chabon.

Q. "The Yiddish Policemen's Union" is a great mystery on top of everything else. Which mystery writers do you admire?

I grew up ... a fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle stories. I wrote one myself, "The Final Solution." And I love the classic American hard-boiled detective fiction of Raymond Chandler and Ross Macdonald and Dashiell Hammett and some of their modern successors as well....

So, yeah, definitely. If I'm stuck without a book in an airport bookstore that has nine paperbacks and I'm forced to pick one of them, immediately I would go looking for the murder mystery.

Cartoonist Gene Yang talks to Asia Pacific Arts about his work and the burgeoning graphic novel scene.

He jokes that his drawings, characterized by clean lines with little shading or cross-hatching, may be more an indication of his effort to draw quickly, as opposed to an actual stylistic choice. But he explains that different comics have different sensibilities. Within alternative comics, people can generally be divided into two different camps: comics as art (gorgeous, elaborate visuals; books that are often hand silk-screened or hand-painted) vs. comics as story. Yang considers himself in the latter camp, a cartoonist who just wants the art to be inviting enough for the person to engage in the narrative.

Drowned in Sound interviews Greg Dulli and Mark Lanegan about their new project, the Gutter Twins.

Also vintage are the styles that you've often both incorporated into your records throughout the years - be it the blues, soul, psychedelia or whatever. Saturnalia appears no different in that respect. But I’m interested to know what your take is on more contemporary music. Has anything blown you away lately? I don’t suppose you’re much for new rave and that?

Dulli: I like the Black Lips. I also like the new Edwyn Collins record a lot…I’ve been a fan of his since Orange Juice and was shocked to see what happened to him but really psyched to hear him flip off his situation and make a great record. Other than 'A Girl Like You he’s not known [in America], I don’t think he ever really toured over here, but I’ve always dug him. He’s a feisty f*cker and I like people like that. I’m looking forward to hearing the new Martina [Topley Bird] record too, she’s one of my favourite singers.

Lanegan: I like Animal Collective, Band of Horses, Battles, you know, there’s a lot of stuff I really enjoy, liked the last Caribou record, the Grizzly Bear record and the new Six Organs of Admittance record. I like Teenage Fanclub and also - f*ck - Mogwai, quite a bit. I was way into Belle and Sebastian too…

Drawn (one of my favorite daily online reads) has started a feature, Studiotunes, where illustrators discuss the music they listened to while producing their latest workl. Before loyal LHB supporters send them comments and e-mails about the series' resemblance to a feature on this blog, note the postscript on their post:

*Studiotunes is completely inspired by the Book Notes series on the amazing mp3 blog, Largehearted Boy - which is a series of essays by authors about how music has influenced their writing.

American Public Radio has once again enabled downloads of the Mountain Goats' Super Tuesday song, "Down to the Ark" (mp3 link).

The Scotsman profiles Nick Cave.

Cave developed his own extraordinary character from being ostracised as a child. "When I was growing up people just didn't like me," he says. "Through school and after I was unlikeable; unattractive to women; the guy at school that people think is kinda weird. Then I joined a band and it all flipped around. As a kid I'd run up to my bedroom, lock the door, put on certain records, especially live ones by people like Bowie or Alex Harvey, and do the whole gig. I would become for the length of that record this other person. It was my way of totally losing myself."

The New York Times reviews a book I just added to my wishlist, Robert Creeley: Selected Poems, 1945-2005.

In Creeley’s poetry the bleakness often finds its expression in a tortured self-regard, an almost panicked need for engaging experience, usually interior experience, by enacting it in language, syllable by syllable, line by line. One often feels while reading his work that if there is any misstep, any syllable or stress put wrong, not only the poem but its maker will either go up in flames or disappear down a black crevasse. This is the drama of Creeley’s defining work, and that drama never feels calculated or inauthentic.

Author Robert B Parker explains his spare prose style to the Telegraph.

The writing is bare and spare. You learn what the characters are wearing and what they're eating, and the rest is all-but-entirely dialogue: whip-smart wisecracks and tough-guy understatement.

"Dialogue is easy and it chews up a lot of pages," he says. "Describing a room is hard and it slows everything down and it doesn't chew up many pages.

"It's a hell of a lot easier to say 'he said, I said, he said', than to say 'the room was of carved oak, with a patina of blah'. Still, Joan [Parker's wife] is always reminding me to make it more full - don't be so spare with just the dialogue. She says some of the best stuff I do is atmospheric background. I'm good with rain, you know…"

New York magazine's Chat Room blog interviews Matt Berninger of the National.

Your voice seems to have become the defining characteristic of the band. How did you discover it?

When we started out we were so obsessed with bands like Pavement and Guided by Voices, which I think in a way inspired a lot of people without any, I don’t know… sophisticated talent? They made you believe anyone could make great rock songs. As far as learning to sing, I remember just listening to Bee Thousand on repeat and just realizing you don’t really need to have… well actually Bob Pollard does have a great voice. But that if you sing with gusto, you can pull it off.

The Harvard Crimson, the Athens Exchange, and New Zealand Herald review the new Mountain Goats album, Heretic Pride.

The Gwinnett Herald examines the changing nature of the Bonnaroo music festival.

PC Magazine lists twelve places to stream music free online.

Whichbook offers book suggestions based on user-selected criteria.

NPR's Weekend Edition analyzes the film scores nominated for Oscars this year.

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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