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August 6, 2009

Shorties (Neil Gaiman, Neko Case, and more)

Hour profiles author Neil Gaiman.

The Edmonton Journal interviews singer-songwriter Neko Case.

Q: Your songs would certainly never be categorized as "vapid" -- they usually eschew obvious musical or lyrical themes. Like This Tornado Loves You from your newest album, Middle Cyclone, which is about a tornado who falls in love. How does anyone come up with a lyrical premise like that?

A: I like my songs to be paintings or little movies--it's the way I am. I write stuff down, I keep my ears open. It's not like work, I don't force something, I can put it down and go eat or go to bed, move from one task to another. I'm not one of those people who thinks that I'm a vessel receiving the song.

SEE also interviews Case.

The Winnipeg Free Press profiles Silversun Pickups.

The 2005 EP Pikul (pronounced "pie-kull"), released on the independent Dangerbird Records label, set the stage for their major-label-distributed breakthrough Carnavas the following year. The album sold more than 300,000 copies and was a perfect showcase of their musical esthetic, which mined the guitar work of shoegaze bands, the loud-quiet-loud formula of the Pixies and the melodic hooks of the Smashing Pumpkins (an obvious comparison since vocalist Aubert and can sound eerily similar to the Pumpkins' Billy Corgan).

The New Statesman reviews Martin Stannard's new biography of author Muriel Spark.

Martin Stannard has written a diligent biography of Muriel Spark. At its best, it is a brilliant work of scholarship and a testament to its author's graft (he got to work in 1992). Stannard nimbly negotiates the familiar peaks of his subject's rangy life: the Jewish upbringing in 1930s Edinburgh; the young marriage, miserably endured in Rhodesia; the breakdown and Catholic conversion; the self-imposed exile in New York, Rome and Tuscany. The book also contains fascinating detail about Spark's "long and fruitful association" with the New Yorker and her fanatical industry and single-mindedness (she abandoned only one novel).

At Amazon MP3: Iggy Pop's 12-track Preliminaires album on sale for $3.99.

PopMatters explores the ecological foundation behind the Bonnaroo music festival.

RIP, author Tim Guest.

Paste has news of a Bob Dylan Christmas album in the works.

The Noisettes visit The Current studio for an interview and live performance.

At NPR, author Ben Greenman lists three racy reads from 1969.

New Hampshire Public Radio's Word of Mouth interviews Joe Pernice about his new novel, It Feels So Good When I Stop.

Stream the New Age Losing Feeling EP in its entirety.

Newsweek examines the female characters in Richard Russo's fiction.

Russo's books are like big-pawed puppies, jumping onto your lap and panting in your face, begging you to embrace them just as they purport to embrace all of human kind. One would expect a writer of such celebrated humanism to treat his female characters with as much compassion as his male ones. But Russo simply doesn't. As with other homey writers like Wally Lamb and Kent Haruf, his pretense of magnanimity only extends to readers who carry Y chromosomes.

The Stranger notes that music albums are getting shorter.

Matt and Kim put Kim's iPod on shuffle for the A.V. Club and discuss the songs that play.

The Dumbing of America interviewed me about music and blogging.

Cool Hunting offers its summer reading list.

Bandsintown is a new social network built around live music.

At The Week, blogger Jason Kottke chooses his favorite books.

Win two if the year's most fascinating novels (Victor LaVelle's Big Machine and Jonathan Tropper's This Is Where I Leave You) in this week's Largehearted Boy contest.

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

also at Largehearted Boy:

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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