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June 9, 2008

Shorties

The Washington Post's Express interviews Mark Arm of Mudhoney.

» EXPRESS: I know you've said that you have no regrets about how your career's gone, but I just wonder: Wouldn't it be better to be playing music for a living now rather than working in a warehouse?

» ARM: I do both. It's not an either/or proposition. I had a 10-year-run of not having a day job, which was something that I never anticipated before that. Of course, as that was ending, it was a little difficult to come to terms with at first — you know, having my wife go, "Maybe it's time you looked for a job."


Gothamist interviews Death Cab for Cutie frontman Ben Gibbard.

You recently took over Stereogum for a day...

Yeah we all kind of contributed to the columns they run every day. I've always been a really big fan of that blog. I think it's no secret with the rise of internet media, the snarkiness has been turned up pretty high across the board. It's not just in relation to music journalism, it's in all forms of journalism. But I really do appreciate that blog, they have a sense of humor, they take people down a peg or two, and they have fun with it but they don't get mean. I really like their site, they post great music, videos, they're really up on their news, but they don't go out of their way to be nasty to people. It's a kind of sad state of affairs that that's a rare thing -- to have a popular website that doesn't make their headlines by slagging people off all the time. And I think they're really great, and the writing is great, too.

The Washington Post's Express interviews the band's bassist, Nick Harmer.

» EXPRESS: Obviously Ben is a very strong lyricist. What are your favorite lyrics on the new album?

» HARMER: I really like the lyrics to "Grapevine Fires." I really connect to the imagery of the young child playing in the cemetery and not really understanding the significance of a cemetery and having a fun time frolicking amongst all the tombstones. And all around this little happy moment there's this looming sense of despair and destruction approaching. I feel it's such an appropriate metaphor for our time. There's such a feeling I get when I read the news — a feeling of looming darkness around us all the time. Even though it's a very dark time, we find the time to play and try to experience some level of innocence. ... There's an overall sadness. Hopefully our government will turn itself around.


CBC Radio offers an audio interview with Hari Kunzru about his latest novel, My Revolutions.


The Daily Green points out that it is "National Bathroom Reading Week."


David Sedaris talks to the Ann Arbor News.

What he is proud of are his regular contributions to "The New Yorker." "If there's a story in 'Esquire,' and you don't like it, maybe there's something wrong with the story. But if it's in 'The New Yorker' and you don't like it, there's something wrong with you. ... It's good to get what you've always wanted. I've always wanted to be in that magazine. It's a pleasure that doesn't wear off. I put it on my table and I imagine my 20-year-old self seeing my name on the cover and going, 'Oh, what's that? Is that my name? What could that be?'"


Science fiction author Charles Stross talks to the Guardian about the genre.

"Many science fiction writers are literary autodidacts who focus on the genre primarily as a literature of ideas, rather than as a pure art form or a tool for the introspective examination of the human condition," he says. "I'm not entirely at ease with that self-description." But with a background in biomedical and computer science rather than literature, his fiction always returns to science. "I just can't help myself," he explains. "I have a compulsive urge to use that background to build baroque laboratory mazes for my protagonists to explore, rather than being content to examine them in their native habitat."


The Guardian's books blog examines literary tattoos.


The Lawrence Journal-World recaps the Wakarusa music festival.


Popmatters interviews Thomas Dolby.

3. The greatest album, ever?

Hejira, by Joni Mitchell. Back in the ‘70s, Joni was the prototype for all those feisty, melodic female singer-songwriters that have cropped up in later decades. To my mind, she’s never been bettered. Her chord sequences, poetry, unusual guitar tunings, and lush piano ballads are absolutely original, brave, and transcendent. Probably her zenith was this album. Using a combination of Jaco Pastorius’ soaring fretless bass and dreamy pedal steel, thickened 12-string guitar, and almost no drums or percussion whatsoever, songs like “Amelia” (about the famous lady aviator Amelia Earhart who disappeared without a trace) manage to be challenging and deeply soothing at the same time.


Tattoo of the day: this homage to Haruli Murakami's Wind-Up Bird Chronicle


Popmatters profiles the Drive-By Truckers in their post-Jason Isbell incarnation.

Perception-wise, the show is different as well. The stage lighting, which now employs more backlighting than before, silhouettes Cooley in a way that emphasizes his sleepy-eyed swagger. When Hood or Tucker are singing, he hangs back in the shadows, backlit and surrounded by curls of smoke; it’s like watching some Alabama-grown strain of dragon lurking at the mouth of its lair. Hood, for his part, smiles that 100-watt smile of his while striking various Christ-like poses or raising one hand as if he’s touched by the Spirit. But the stage seems a little lopsided now. When he wasn’t singing, Isbell played the role of guitar god to the hilt, effortlessly laying down stinging slide lines and playing to the crowd (the loss of his slide guitar is especially evident on Cooley’s thundering “Where the Devil Don’t Stay"). Neff, on the other hand, is a much more mannered presence. He can play the hell out of the guitar and the pedal steel, but he doesn’t seem to possess Isbell’s ego (in the good, playing-to-the-crowd way).


Rory's Book Club lists books featured on The Gilmore Girls television series.


The New Yorker features a newly translated short story by Vladimir Nabokov, "Natasha."


A remix of the Gene Kelly standard "Singin' in the Rain" is the #1 song in the UK.


NPR's Morning Edition examines the controversy surrounding J.K. Rowling's commencement address at Harvard.

"It's definitely the 'A' list, and I wouldn't ever associate J.K. Rowling with the people on that list," says senior Andy Vaz. "From the moment we walk through the gates of Harvard Yard, they constantly emphasize that we are the leaders of tomorrow. They should have picked a leader to speak at commencement. Not a children's writer. What does that say to the class of 2008? Are we the joke class?"


New York magazine profiles Firewater frontman Tod A. and the abnd's new album, The Golden Hour.

Very often he was invited back to the musicians’ homes for further jamming; liberal use of opium softened the barriers. The result is a mélange of Firewater’s clanging and melodic Eastern European–flavored gypsy rock, Indian and Middle Eastern percussion, hypnotic sarangi solos, and hints of reggae dub and New Orleans brass. If that sounds like shiny, happy music conceived by Benetton, fear not: Tod A. still has the same acid attitude of his Cop Shoot Cop days. The album is a biting travelogue, the rantings of a surly castaway among the noble savages. “Well I ain’t gonna live in your world no more,” he sneers on the opener, “Borneo.” “I got a monkey for a president and a head all filled up with cement—look out, Borneo!” By the end, he’s referring to himself as a “three-legged dog on the roam.”


The Los Angeles Times offers an extensive list of summer books.


Guys Lit Wire is a litblog aimed at teenage boys.


iVideosongs offers instructional videos that teach you how to play popular songs.


The Cool Hunter lists its favorite tracks of 2008 so far.


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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