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June 7, 2009

Shorties (Jeffrey Lewis, Concept Albums, and more)

At Paste, singer-songwriter-cartoonist Jeffrey Lewis lists 10 "overlooked or misunderstood musical gems."

The Boston Globe notes the resurgence of the concept album.

And that resurgence has extended into every branch of pop music. In the past year alone we've seen a wave of conceptual releases including those described above by veteran punk trio Green Day ("21st Century Breakdown"), literate indie rockers the Decemberists ("The Hazards of Love"), and prog-metal masters Mastodon ("Crack the Skye"), respectively. Toss in themed works by Eels, Iggy Pop, and Kanye West and you've got some serious storytelling going on between the beats.

Booker T. Jones discusses his long and storied music career with the Boston Herald.

Author David Sedaris shares tidbits of his life with the Times Online.

Film director Tran Anh Hung talks to the Japan Times about adapting Haruki Murakami's Norwegian Wood for the big screen.

"Norwegian Wood" is currently in production, and shooting will commence soon in Japan. I ask Tran how he hopes to re-create 1960s Tokyo for the film, and he sighs: "We're going to have to shoot every scene at different places, all over Japan. For example, there's a scene with a pool, and we're using a pool about an hour outside the city, because there's nothing suitable in Tokyo. Tokyo's always changing, and there's almost nothing left that reminds one of the '60s."

The Cleveland Plain Dealer lists young adult fiction to read this summer.

The Wall Street Journal notes the growing popularity of darker books in young adult fiction. interviews author China Mieville.

NPR's Weekend Edition reviews the Neil Young Archives, Vol. 1: 1963-1972.

Music aside, Neil Young Archives includes a ridiculous amount of ephemera. Clearly, this man throws out nothing. Between the 236-page book and the multimedia submenus, there are yellowed newspaper articles, handwritten lyric sheets, personal photographs and rare picture sleeves; old radio interviews and Young's stoner-surrealist midnight movie, Journey Through the Past. To many, it'll all seem like overkill. But if you're like me, you'll waste hours with this stuff. Neil Young's Archives is definitely the new gold standard for artist anthologies, and I'm sure many will follow suit, since it's a cash-cow concept for an ailing industry. But few musicians have a body of work that deserves this kind of treatment. This guy definitely does.

The Guardian profiles Sonic Youth.

However, one thing that sparked their new lease of life was revisiting Daydream Nation for the Don't Look Back series of concerts, in which bands play one of their notable albums in its entirety, in 2007. Ranaldo points out: "That was not something we did willingly - we're not a nostalgic band. [Promoter] Barry Hogan from All Tomorrow's Parties just kept twisting our arm until we said OK. But actually it tapped us back into this energy level in 88, 89 - when we were 30-year-olds, not 50-year-olds. I have no doubt that some of that rubbed off on this record. If it feels more raucous and rocking and high-energy, then that's why."

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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