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May 28, 2009

Shorties (Grizzly Bear, Alice Munro, and more)

Clickmusic reviews Grizzly Bear's new Veckatimest album, giving it 4 out of 5 stars.

Big hype, a sound influenced by classic American alternative music and featuring devastating four-part harmonies, you might forgive Grizzly Bear for being somewhat peeved at the success of Seattle's new finest, Fleet Foxes. Except they probably wouldn't care because they seem like such nice guys. Perhaps conscious of the timing of the release the band have moved on from the more pastoral and outdoorsy sound of 'Yellow House' to create something more inward looking and enigmatic. 'Veckatimest' is a record that retains its nuggets of sunshiney pop while concocting a tense and threatening edge that creaks through.

Tiny Mix Tapes gives the disc 3 of 5 stars.

Grizzly Bear Week continues at Drowned in Sound with indie rock notes from guitarist Daniel Rossen's mother.


The Toronto Star profiles recent Man Booker prize winning author Alice Munro.

For once, perhaps, it is impossible to take issue with the reasons given for the awarding of a high-stakes international arts prize. The fact is, 77-year-old Munro – who has been writing about the quietly unsettled internal lives of small-town Ontarians for more than 40 years – is one of those very rare writers who can change not only the way one thinks about fiction, but the way one thinks, period. It is not incidental that she is "mostly known as a short story writer," for the short story is both her forte and the precise artistic instrument that allows her the kind of insight that sets her apart.


Decider Bay Area uses Mark Kozelek's songs as a travel guide to the San Francisco area.


Clickmusic interviews the members of Nine Black Alps.


Former Husker Du member Grant Hart talks to the Schenectady Daily Gazette about his music.

“I just haven’t been disposed to mix the art and politics in such a direct way, or, I would say, obviously,” Hart said during a recent phone interview from his home in St. Paul, Minn. “You know, there’s probably a lot of ex-Harvard business majors that went to Husker Du concerts who had a good deal to do with the screwing up of the country and the economy in the last 10 years. Not everybody keeps their youthful idealism; it’s kind of hard to in a smash-and-grab era like this.”


SEE profiles The Dears and their frontman, Murray Lightburn.

“I don’t really think I’m Captain Kirk,” says bandleader Murray Lightburn, who has filmed a series of short documentary “webisodes” about The Dears’ 14-year history, each of which begins with a quote from the skirt-chasing Star Trek hero. “The Captain Kirk reference is more about his priorities for his crew and his prime directive. You need a certain level of those rules to stay intact to navigate The Dears. Being a bandleader, there are hilarious parallels to being a captain of a ship.”


The La's frontman Lee Mavers talks to BBC News about recording the band's second album (19 years after releasing the first).


The Wall Street Journal makes an iPod playlist for US president Obama.


The Philadelphia Inquirer profiles Hoots and Hellmouth.

The basis of that sound is in the group's passion for rambunctious American vernacular music. Before Hoots and Hellmouth came together, "I had started really digging into old-timey and Appalachian folk music," says Hoots, citing an LP by the Stanley Brothers bluegrass duo that he picked up at a flea market, "almost as an attempt to reconnect with where my roots were coming from."


The Detroit News points out an Art Spiegelman exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.


The Associated Press reports that Haruki Murakami's new novel, 1Q84, is a hit (even before its Friday publication date in Japan).

Like many of his previous works, "1Q84" is a complex and surreal narrative. It shifts back and forth between tales of two characters, a man and a woman, who are searching for each other. Through their thoughts and experiences, which include murder and historical references, the book explores social and emotional issues such as cult religion, violence, family ties and love.


Philosophy Now examines the philosophy behind superhero comics.


Rolling Stone's "breaking" band is An Horse.

Sounds like: A hooky heartbreak manifesto, with fuzzed-out riffs, snarling beats and clever shout-outs to ’90s alt-rock. “Like that good Hole album, I can live through this,” Cooper convinces herself on “Camp Out.” She wrote the confessional tune following the breakup of an intense relationship. “It was fun, but it was brutal,” she says. “I’m since in contact with the person and it’s all right, but I’m pretty sure they’re like, ‘I’m never dating a songwriter again!’ “


The Georgia Straight profiles former Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle.


Den of Geek lists ways comic book fans and shops are stereotyped in TV shows.


Eye Weekly profiles Apostle of Hustle.

The latest Apostle album, Eats Darkness (Arts & Crafts), is a fascinating study in contrasts. Whiteman has indulged his love of found sound and unexpected sonic textures, splicing in snippets of radio dialogue, sports broadcasts, percussive sound effects and kitchen-sink samples. At the same time, there’s a more focused intensity to the collection, with many songs that come closer to conventional amped-up guitar rockers than anything they’ve done to date.


The New York Times reviews and excerpts from Gabriel García Márquez: A Life, by Gerald Martin.


The Denver Westword's Backeat Online interviews Camera Obscura's Tracyanne Campbell.


Martinboys.com offers a worldwide summer music festival guide.


Love Live! Bootlegs from Bucklberry offers mp3s of live concert and studio demo recordings. Recent live show downloads include Son Volt, the Decemberists, and Tom Waits.


Actionslacks is offering a "pay what you want" model for its new album, Kids With Guitars.


This week's Largehearted Boy contest gives away six new classic short story collections, including books by Herman Melville, Dostoyevsky, Willa Cather, Stephen Crane, Oscar Wilde, and Leo Tolstoy.


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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