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March 28, 2008


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

An mp3 set by the Answering Machine.

Bittorrent download of a set by Slim Cessna's Auto Club.

The Oregonian examines the musical legacy of Bruce Springsteen.

The Grand Rapids Press interviews Explosions in the Sky drummer Chris Hrathy.

It seems like, in the past couple of years, you've reached a lot of people that might not be exposed to the type of stuff you play, like with the Pumpkins tour, and "Friday Night Lights" and doing Conan. What kind of responses have you been noticing?

It's pretty amazing. The first few years, it was kind of an indie rock audience. Like people who keep their ear to the ground and keep up with music and all that. But it definitely has expanded since then. It's pretty fascinating. There'll be frat-boy-looking guys at shows, and we're cool with that, or a 60-year-old married couple. And we see a lot of 13 or 14-year-old emo kids with black hair. We're excited by that. We like the idea that there's this wide range of people who can get into this music. Maybe it will lead them to something weirder or better, or who knows?

The Rocky Mountain News interviews Jodi Picoult about her new novel, Change of Heart.

Of all the issues presented in your new novel, I was most intrigued by that of a death-row inmate being able to donate his heart after his death. How did you come up with this idea?

Most of my books come from questions I can't answer. This one grew out of something I've been watching - how we can break our country apart on the fault line of religion. I don't understand how organized religion has become so divisive. Why do we believe the things we do and does that make us right? I wanted to tie that in, too, to the death penalty. Something legally we have on our books (that) we haven't examined in full.

The Independent examines the "Oprah effect" on the current Leona Lewis single.

Following a live performance on her chat show last week by the talent show winner from Hackney, east London, the all-powerful Winfrey advised viewers they could download Lewis's single "Bleeding Love" from iTunes, or buy it from Target record stores.

Americans did so in their droves and yesterday Lewis's single shot to No 1 in the Billboard Hot 100, knocking Usher from pole position – the first British woman to top the US singles charts since Kim Wilde in 1987 with her cover of The Supremes' "You Keep Me Hangin' On".

The Asheville Citizen-Times interviews Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers.

Q: What draws you to such themes as opposed to conventional “burnin’ up for you” rock fare?

A: Boredom. I would be bored to death doing that kind of thing. So much of what we do is for our own entertainment. I figure if it entertains us then others might enjoy it, too.

Poets & Writers has redesigned its website.

Jeff Gordinier talks to the Los Angeles Times about his book, X Saves the World.

"X Saves the World" which sprang from that article, has the energy of a barroom conversation, along with the digressions, long-windedness and specious reasoning those sessions sometimes include. Gordinier's editors, not wanting to scare off mainstream readers, trimmed a 4,000-word song-by-song deconstruction of the Replacements "Let It Be" album.

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

TIME interviews Patti Smith.

Today you're most widely known as a musician, do you hope this exhibition of your visual art will help people see you in a new way?

You know, I didn't begin my life in 1975 with Horses. I recorded Horses in 1975, but was drawing in Paris in 1969. I would like people to see that I have various modes of expression, and that they were all done simultaneously. In 1978 when I put out Easter, Robert Mapplethorpe and I had a major exhibit of drawings and photographs at the Robert Miller Gallery in New York City, which for me was as important as putting out Easter, even though Easter had "Because the Night" on it, and brought us to another level.

Publishers Weekly interviews author Philip Pullman about his new project, a weekly comic.

How about why you decided to get into writing comics then?

I love comics. I’ve always loved the comics—ever since I discovered them as a boy, the intoxicating swiftness of the narrative once you have pictures as well as words. I remember when I realized the graphic difference between a speech bubble and a think bubble, the way you tell the difference between speaking and thinking in a comic. It was wonderful. It’s one of those great moments in our discovery of how to read. So I remember that from my childhood and I remember the excitement from getting a comic every week. And then I remember my discovery of Batman and Superman—I was living in Australia at around age nine. I’d never seen American comics before and I remember the dizzying sense of excitement and thrill when the latest Batman and Superman came available. I also loved (in those two comics in particular) the unlimited fantasy: you could draw anything, invent anything—there were no boundaries.

Rolling Stone interviews Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins.

The Economist reviews the new Salman Rushdie novel, The Enchantress of Florence.

Promising as this premise seems, the book contains far too many phrases like this: “Akbar the Great, the great great one, great in his greatness, doubly great, so great that the repetition in his title was not only appropriate but necessary in order to express the gloriousness of his glory”, which accounts for about the first fifth of a sentence. The source bibliography comprises six pages at the back of the book, and it shows: Mr Rushdie does not wear his research lightly. Paragraph by paragraph, this is a carefully wrought and often exquisite book, but the overall effect is as rich and stultifying as a month-long diet of foie gras.

io9 interviews John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats.

A lot of your songs take place in a bleak semi-destroyed world and focus on collapsing/decaying structures and corrupt systems. Do you think of yourself as a dystopian songwriter? Are you influenced by any particular dystopian works, like Brazil or other post-apocalyptic films?

You know, I hadn't thought of myself like that, mainly because I try to avoid saying "I am thus-and-such a kind of songwriter" — I think you have to be careful not to compartmentalize yourself, or at least that's true for me. But I was a young comics & SF books reader and it's true that much of my favorite stuff involved post-apocalyptic scenarios: Logan's Run was a big movie for me when I was a kid, and there was a James Sallis story in Again, Dangerous Visions that left a huge impression even though I'm not sure I was even reading it right. I barely remember it except that it felt kinda scorched-earth, you know? But always in those movies the best part was when they see, like, the Forbidden Zone in Planet of the Apes, or the overgrown places outside the city where Logan finds Peter Ustinov with his cats. Am I even remembering that right?

The Nashua Telegraph reviews the latest Mountain Goats album, Heretic Pride.

Beware, though, if you try to look past the annoying vocals, you're bound to miss something. In Darnielle's case, his vocals expose weakness and suffering, but also a wad of strength. Instead of being geeky, he's sweet and strong, yet disarming. Just don't assume he ever comes across as innocent.

The Grand Rapids Press lists the best albums of 2008 (so far).

SF Signal has noted science fiction authors answer the question, "Is science fiction antithetical to religion?"

Daytrotter is now serving up five in-studio sessions a week.

Measure for Measure is a collaborative New York Times blog written by Andrew Bird, Suzanne Vega, Roseanne Cash, and Darrell Brown.

The Kinks' Ray Davies plays DJ for NPR's All Songs Considered.

Today's Sound Opinions features Steve Earle and Allison Moorer with an interview and in-studio performance.

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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