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May 13, 2009

Shorties (Green Day, Elizabeth Strout, and more)

The Village Voice reviews Green Day's new album, 21st Century Breakdown (out Friday).

Remember, of course, that Green Day are as major-label as they come, and this will undoubtedly be one of 2009's bestsellers—Breakdown is pure capitalism even as it repudiates it. They aren't exactly pulling a Radiohead/Girl Talk trick and offering the album for free online, either. Yet despite the skepticism and self-derogation, I detect triumph and the kind of radical sentiment that pumps blood toward political engagement, not away from it.


The Women on the Web interviews author Elizabeth Strout about winning a Pulitzer for her story collection, Olive Kitteridge.


Andrew Kenny of The Wooden Birds takes BlackBook's pop quiz.

If you could be any literary character, who would you be?

Chris Leo is one of my favorite author/musicians, and if you’ll forgive for a moment that the main character in his books IS him (more or less), then I would like to try his shoes on for size.


East Bay Express profiles Mogwai.

Because of the expansive, cinematic quality of Mogwai's music, it was something of a no-brainer when the band begun working in movies. Between the release of the band's last "proper" album and the making of The Hawk Is Howling, Mogwai collaborated on the score for Darren Aronofsky's The Fountain with composer Clint Mansell, and the group composed and recorded the soundtrack for the documentary Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, about the French soccer star Zinedine Zidane.


San Diego CityBeat warns against taking certain books to the beach.


The Prospect's blog is posting a series of video interviews with author Martin Amis.


Momlogic interviews Ayelet Waldman about her new book, Bad Mother.


The perfect gift for the comics fan: the 8-volume The Adventures of Tintin: Collector's Gift Set.


Drowned in Sound interviews Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders about the band's next album.


Former Guided By Voices member Tobin Sprout has written a children's book, Elliott.


At Blog on the Tracks, Flying Nun Records' Roger Shepherd discusses his love for New Zealand music.


Stream Amanda Palmer's Neutral Milk Hotel musical in its entirety:


The New York Times examines the current trend of adding bonus songs and content to albums.

With music sales depressed, record labels are happy to strike arrangements for bonus content; indeed, many recording contracts now stipulate that with a new album artists must deliver as many as a half-dozen additional songs for promotion. But artists and their managers are not always so eager to comply. Some complain of bullying by powerful retailers as well as by their own labels to pack their albums with secondary, often inferior material.


The New York Observer profiles Vice-president Joe Biden's rocking nephew, Jamie Biden, who plays in the band Bloody Social.


The Riverfront Times interviews Kelley Deal of the Breeders (and formerly of the woefully under-appreciated Kelley Deal 6000) about covering Bob Marley's "Chances Are."

What's the genesis of deciding to cover that song?

Kim [Deal, Kelley's sister and Breeders co-vocalist/guitarist] had made herself a mixtape years ago, and it had that song. Doo-wop was really popular, this was back in the '60s. So [the song does have a] reggae feel, but you can also hear this doo-wop feel on it. She found that, put it on a mixtape and kept listening to it, and just loved the song and thought, "God, I'd really love to cover it, but no way could we cover it in reggae style." That would just be gross. We'd done it a couple different ways, with the whole band, making it a bar-band feel. [But] the best way to do it was just to really simplify the beauty of it, and get that across.


Help finance an 8-bit tribute album of Kind of Blue Miles Davis.


Daytrotter features mp3s from Kevin Devine's in-studio session.


Drowned in Sound interviews Kathy Fortser of the Thermals.

DiS: It must be an honour that Johnny Marr has declared he’s a Thermals fan? Were you a big Smiths fan back in the day?

KF: For sure, I was totally excited. We met him a couple of times in Portland, he has a house here too, but the first night we saw The Cribs play with Johnny it was so awesome. He’s the coolest guy. He was so friendly, so nice and such a good guitar player, so it was really fun being on tour with him. He kept asking us for a copy of our new record and we didn’t have any blank CDs. He kept asking every day like ‘Are you being evasive?’ It was like ‘Oh my God, Johnny Marr wants our record!’ His kids came to a couple of shows, they’re like 16/17, and were really into The Thermals too. They were really sweet.


Iron and Wine's new album Around the Well is streaming in its entirety at MySpace this week.


This week's Largehearted Boy giveaway: three music biographies.


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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