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February 28, 2008


Steve Earle talks to Hour about his career path and writing songs for Elvis.

Before hanging up, I have to ask Earle why Elvis Presley didn't record Earle's song Mustang Wine back in 1975. Earle doesn't miss a beat. "Elvis was making a record in Nashville for the first time in several years and, I found out years later, Elvis never left his hotel room, [which] had foil on the windows. I was pissed off at him for years - 10 years after he died! He cost me a lot of money."

Andrew Bird, who plays a benefit for US presidential hopeful Barack Obama tonight in Chicago, explains his support of the candidate to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"That's the job, to chose someone who will represent you personally and people you care about. What we really need is an articulate and intelligent voice."

The Guardian offers a "blog by blog" guide to art in Europe.

The Chicago Sun-Times lists ten of the city's musical acts that "should be heard in 2008."

Susie Bright talks to the New York Daily News about the rise in erotic literature for women over the years.

John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats talks to the Oakland Tribune.

I like to think of us like an obscure athlete who has a small but vocal and dedicated following, like a middleweight boxer who held the title in his own country but wasn't really famous worldwide," says the Indiana native, who spent part of his youth living in Milpitas. "I'm not, like, a major act in my mind. I'm the guy who likes to cook for his wife and who plays songs for people; that's my whole deal in one sentence."

Fortune profiles the mp3 blog/record label, RCRD LBL.

RCRD LBL's selection is rich. The site started with songs by over 275 artists from 15 independent labels including not just Downtown, but respected competitors such as Modular and Turntable Lab. And unlike nearly after other MP3 blog (at least the many this writer has visited) artists are actually compensated even though fans have already downloaded hundreds of thousands of songs at no cost on the site. "The kids can steal our music and I can still get paid," says Spank Rock. "God bless RCRD LBL, and God bless the Internet."

NPR is streaming last night's Washington performances by John Doe and Wilco.

Cracked lists 5 books that can "actually make you stupider."

The Herald-Sun interviews Interpol singer Paul Banks.

LAist interviews singer-songwriter Sara Melson, whose Dirty Mind album was a pleasant surprise among this week's music releases.

We're going through old episodes of 90021... wait, did we just see you?

I did a lot of bigger guest starring roles in shows like Frasier, Wonder Years, 90210... if you're really interested you can go onto for a list of random stuff. It was fun and I do hope to revisit my dormant acting career someday, but it just wasn't nearly as compelling to me as getting my songs out into the universe. In one instance, you're mouthing someone else's words, whereas in the other, you're singing your own words, that you wrote. Such a deeper form of expression.

The Cleveland Scene profiles the Sadies.

Musicians love the Sadies. Everybody from hipster-approved guys like Steve Albini and Howe Gelb to iconic vets like Ronnie Hawkins and Garth Hudson drool over the band's singular interpretation of "cosmic American music," to steal Gram Parsons' famous phrase. What's more, the Mekons' Jon Langford, the lovely Neko Case, and noisemaker Jon Spencer have all enlisted the Sadies as their backing band at one time or another.

Mashable profiles, an online music store that lets buyers decide the price of albums.

Today's reviews of the Mountain Goats' Heretic Pride come from the Williams Record and the Daily Cardinal.

The Las Vegas Sun examines the literary side of Sin City.

“Vegas is America’s great 21st-century city, but sadly, reading is not a high priority there, and it’s never likely to become one,” said Las Vegas native Charles Bock, whose debut novel, “Beautiful Children,” entered The New York Times’ best-seller list this week. “The constructs they put up are not there for your inner life. They are there to take money out of your wallet, and reading doesn’t do that. The genius of the city is that at that solitary and private moment, where you could open a book and get lost in your own private world, Vegas has every single indulgence possible waiting to tempt you to do something else.

The Phoenix New Times profiles Blitzen Trapper.

Formed in the Portland area at the beginning of the millennium, Blitzen Trapper built a solid rep through tours, boisterously catchy compilation singles, and a pair of self-released albums (2003's Blitzen Trapper and 2004's Field Rexx) before breaking out of the indie-rock farm-team field with Nation's jerky schizo-sprawl of odes to sci-fi kids, hillbilly hoedowns, sunny indie rock, and twangy back-to-nature anthems. Even before signing a label contract last year, the band was self-sustaining enough that its members haven't worked day jobs for three years.

RIP, author William F. Buckley.

The Pioneer Press reports that Minnesota has named Robert Bly as the state's first poet laureate.

Business Week offers tips on selling your book online.

Drowned in Sound interviews the members of Beach House about their new album, Devotion.

It seems a fuller-sounding record than its predecessor. Was that your intention from the outset?

V: It’s something we definitely noticed was happening and just kept going, we naturally evolved into this world of things sounding a lot fuller and thicker.
A: The songs for the first record were written during a very short period of time and we just captured a certain something, it was more a kind of flat sound that washes over you and after touring the songs for about a year and just playing them hundreds of times we were just really ready to have all the sounds wake up and come a little closer to you. We just felt the need for more elaborate textures. I don’t think we changed the way we see our songs, but they needed a bit more...

SWSW Baby! offers tips for great food in Austin (thanks to Kathryn Yu).

Kathryn also received suggestions from my favorite food forum, Chowhound.

Minnesota Public Radio interviews Chip Kidd about his new novel, The Learners.

USA Today reviews the book.

But unlike many contemporary comic novelists, he's smart enough to tie his new-fangled gimmicks to some old-fashioned virtues: sympathetic characters, funny lines, a firm grasp of time and place, and a plot that makes surprising shifts without ever losing its way.

Pop Candy's Comics Crash Course (the comics blog posts of the year so far) wraps up with Whitney Matheson's personal favorite graphic novels.

The Futurist offers some mp3s from Ra Ra Riot's recent WOXY Lounge Acts performance.

The ANTI- record label has started a music blog, and is offering a sampler of its artists as a free download.

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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