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May 9, 2009

Shorties (Ponytail, Reif Larsen, and more)

The Seattle Times profiles Baltimore's Ponytail.

Whether heard live or on last year's "Ice Cream Spiritual" (on the We Are Free label), the music is all climax, no exposition. Wong and Seeno braid wiry guitar riffs into a clanging double helix, math rock as calculated by art students.

Reif Larsen talks to the National Post about his innovative book, The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet.

The novel included scads of footnotes, not maps, before Larsen decided the latter would be truer to the character. The maps, sketches and photographs add up to something that's part comic, part atlas, part textbook, part novel.

"I think it's a cool area for more exploration: how graphics and images do narrative work and talk to text," Larsen says.

The Times Online reviews Nocturnes: Five Stories of Music and Nightfall by Kazuo Ishiguro.

The Independent profiles Jarvis Cocker.

Jarvis Cocker, arguably the best, if most unlikely, pop star of the 1990s, is a middle-aged man these days. He is 45, and about to release his second solo album called, with a nod to all things midlife, Further Complications. He is cautiously optimistic about this record, which is more than can be said the last time he released a solo album. The Jarvis Cocker Record, released in 2006, was his first post-Pulp release, a record he never imagined he'd come to make at all as, back then, his head was filled with only one thought: retirement.

The Los Angeles Times profiles Shins frontman James Mercer.

A lot can happen in a decade. He eventually got that co-starring role in "Some Days Are Better Than Others," set for release in August. And with the Shins, Mercer has risen from his early bedroom recordings in Albuquerque to be the frontman of a million-selling indie-rock band, making music emotional and philosophical, with vivid melodies and an equal flair for understated ballads and rousing pocket symphonies of pop.

Billboard also profiles the band.

The Arizona Republic lists the summer's most anticipated music releases.

The Los Angeles Times profiles the career of author Ursula K. Le Guin.

"I think Le Guin is vastly underrated by the critical establishment, which continues to stereotype her as a genre writer," says former NEA Chairman Dana Gioia. "She's become a deeply serious writer without losing the vitality and the excitement of popular literature."

The Washington Post & San Francisco Chronicle review Ayelet Waldman's new essay collection, Bad Mother.

Mashable lists 100+ of the best authors on Twitter.

At NPR's Books We Like, Bookslut's Jessa Crispin recommends (and excerpts from) Robert Silverberg's science fiction novel, Dying Inside.

NPR has put together a 4-hour "Mother's Mix" music stream for Mother's day weekend.

The Globe and Mail profiles cartoonist Seth.

To Seth devotees, all this whimsy can come as no surprise. Graphic works like It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken and Clyde Fans - Book 1 and Wimbledon Green: The Greatest Comic Book Collector in the World are rife with reverential representations of the sorts of artifacts found in Seth's home. His stories are about the ignored, the obscure, the vaguely remembered and how the past persists in the present, be it a rundown old building - "I'm interested in the feelings that buildings put out," he says. "Nothing's more appealing to me than an old storefront with an apartment above it" - a shameful or pleasant memory, a weathered tree, or visiting a used bookstore and having one's curiosity piqued by a cartoon in a 1951 issue of The New Yorker.

Daytrotter features in-studio SXSW sessions from J Tillman and T Bird and the Breaks.

LaundroMatinee features in-studio mp3s and video from Great Lake Swimmers.

Amanda Palmer's Neutral Milk Hotel musical, "A Needle That Sings in Her Heart," will be webcast live tonight.

The Boston Phoenix profiles Palmer and the play.

Follow me on Twitter for links that don't make the daily "Shorties" columns.

also at Largehearted Boy:

Online "best of 2008" music lists
Online "best of 2008" book lists
daily mp3 downloads
Try It Before You Buy It (mp3s and full album streams from this week's CD releases)
weekly music & DVD release lists


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