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March 21, 2008


Yesterday's addition to the list of 2008 SXSW streaming and downloadable music performances:

MP3 sets by Wye Oak, the Kills, Fastball, and Heavy Pets.

Bittorrent downloads of shows by the Cribs and the Ting Tings.

The Idaho Statesman profiles Wild Sweet Orange.

Lovinggood's vulnerable singing style - his voice sometimes resembles a sensitive, quieter Billy Corgan - complements the band's delicate indie-rock instrumentation. Songs like "Wrestle with God" allude to Lovinggood's religious upbringing, while the exuberant refrain of "I'm Coming Home" reminds us that no matter how tough the road is for Wild Sweet Orange, Birmingham will be waiting.

The Irish Times lists 20 new bands it discovered at SXSW.

The Guardian examines the connection between Converse shoes and rock and roll.

"The Strokes were the reason I started wearing Converse," says Lightspeed Champion, aka London music genius and style legend Dev Hynes. "I was 16 or 17 and there was a photoshoot in either Dazed or ID. They were all on a bed and all their legs were intertwining and they all had Converse on, all different kinds. I was just like, 'Oh my God, that's unreal!'" Why does he think indie bands have had such a long and monogamous relationship with them? "I guess the rock world has never been that big on lavish trainers. Converse are just easy. They look good new and completely battered - in fact, probably better completely battered. It's such a strong look."

The Mirror lists the top ten music festivals outside the UK.

The San Francisco Chronicle eulogizes author Arthur C. Clarke.

Clarke's approach to his writing was gentler and more metaphysical. Influential in championing the use of geostationary satellites for telecommunications, he excelled at popularizing science, especially as it applied to space travel and undersea exploration. Somehow he managed to impart his wisdom without coming off as a know-it-all, either on the page or on television, as Walter Cronkite's guest for the Apollo moon missions or as the host of his own British series about ancient mysteries and the paranormal.

Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers (arguably the most interviewed man in indie rock) talks to the Boston Globe.

"I love music and for that matter books that have a strong sense of place," Hood says. "I love Faulkner, Springsteen's Jersey, X's Los Angeles, the Clash's London."

The Independent profiles the "no-hit wonders that music refused to forget."

The Mountain Goats play an in-studio session for WNYC's Soundcheck, and John Darnielle also reads an excerpt from his upcoming 33 1/3 book, Black Sabbath: Masters of Reality.

Popmatters interviews Rocco Versaci, author of This Book Contains Graphic Language: Comics as Literature.

Do you think there’s something of a superstition about the importance of “literature”?

I’m not sure what you mean by “superstition.” I kind of wince when I hear terms like “the classics” or “traditional literature” (though I use these terms, mainly to dissemble them, in my book). Coming into my classes, my students tend to have pretty rigid ideas about literature; they describe it as written work that has been deemed important, but they never really examine the passive construction of that definition (i.e., WHO has deemed?).

A big part of what I try to do in my teaching and in the book is to expand our ideas of what constitutes “literature.” I think that the canon is the most obvious manifestation of “the importance of literature,” and unfortunately, the canon has been used too often as a tool of exclusion by all sides of the political spectrum.

All Things Considered examines social networks for book lovers. (I'm on most of the ones mentioned, my username is largeheartedboy).

BBC News profiles comics legend Alan Moore.

His 1987 graphic novel Watchmen, with artist Dave Gibbons and multi-layered story-telling, was seen by some as redefining what a comic could actually do.

The novel, described by film visionary Terry Gilliam as a "masterpiece" which should be "left alone in its original form", has been turned into a film due for release next year.

Moore is not interested in the adaptation, however, and has insisted his name should not be attached to the movie.

He believes most modern films are not only artistic failures but "probably detrimental to modern culture".

NPR correspondents share their favorite SXSW experiences.

The Houston Chronicle profiles David Dondero, and lists great Houston songs.

Reggie Youngblood of the Black Kids talks to the Guardian about the band's success, subsequent backlash, and songwriting style.

Black Kids' distinctive, counterintuitive sound has been forged from conflicting impulses. On the one hand, they "love the idea of being a party band like the B-52s". On the other, Reggie celebrates such waspish cult songwriters as Stephin Merritt, Momus and Hefner's Darren Hayman. "We are desperate for any material we can get our hands on," he says, deadpan. "Why just rip off one genre?" Then he is serious: "I just don't want us to be obvious."

The Telegraph profiles author Isabel Allende.

Resorting to psychedelic writing aids would seem to be more the style of Hunter S Thompson or William Burroughs than a middle-aged novelist and grandmother. But Allende is no stranger to - nor is she daunted by - the darker seams of life, having not only experienced extensive personal adversity but drawn on it to create some of the most popular modern works of fiction and memoir: her books (The Sum of Our Days is her 17th) have sold more than 50 million copies and been translated into nearly 30 languages. She is also nothing if not adventurous in both her writing (roaming literary genres from magic realism to sensual cook books) and her life; when I ask how she won over her American husband, she says, laughing, 'I tackled him. Well, I just moved in without an invitation. I moved into his life and his house.'

The Guardian has music industry insiders name their most exciting act of SXSW.

Billboard reviews the Mountain Goats' recent Brooklyn performance.

Darnielle has been writing and playing long enough to have his live show down to a science, but it never feels formulaic. He has the rare ability to move the set along without making the proceedings feel rushed, and last night’s show was one of best I’ve seen in a long time.

Swarthmore College's Phoenix weighs in on Vampire Weekend.

Between Largehearted Boy and The New York Times, it seems like everyone in the world is too busy sacrificing small animals on their own personal alters to Vampire Weekend to do anything else but burn incense and pray. Sometimes people like Vampire Weekend so much that they write about their very solemn music in very solemn terms, like how their songs are “terse clockwork constructions that equate cooperation with mutual avoidance.” Okay, New York Times, if by “terse clockwork constructions” you mean two uncomplicated chords, and by “equate cooperation with mutual avoidance” you mean repeat those chords for the duration of one entire song and vary them only slightly on each subsequent track, then, sure, Vampire Weekend’s songs are undoubtedly “terse clockwork constructions that equate cooperation with mutual avoidance.”

Columbus Alive follows local bands at SXSW.

The Los Angeles Times profiles author Bret Easton Ellis.

He can be uncomfortable as well: Sitting down at a tighter-than-expected Campanile one recent Wednesday night, wearing a black jacket over a casual shirt left mostly unbuttoned, he was unnerved by a slightly raucous, beret-wearing family at a nearby table, until his first drink arrived and he found himself in a spirited defense of Elvis Costello's "Imperial Bedroom." As he leaned into the argument -- the album, which he called "sonically, an absolute '80s masterpiece," will lend its name to a new sequel to "Less Than Zero" -- it was easy to see that he's more engaged with things than he lets on.

see also: the Largehearted Book Notes contribution of Bret Easton Ellis

The Jewish Daily Forward reviews two books, Disguised as Clark Kent: Jews, Comics, and the Creation of the Superhero and The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America.

Drowned in Sound recaps its 2008 SXSW experience.

Minnesota Public Radio features Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks with an in-studio performance and interview.

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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