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December 3, 2009

Shorties (Pettina Gappah, The XX, and more)

Pettina Gappah's short story collection An Elegy for Easterly has won the Guardian First Book Award.

Eye Weekly profiles The XX.

Though most critics describe the band’s icy guitar parts and bleeding-heart synths as decidedly Young Marble Giants-esque, The xx’s sexified boy-girl harmonies and fondness for bass also vamp on ’90s R&B. Called xx for a reason, instead of embracing Auto-Tune, they channel (and on “Stars,” they even sample) Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliott’s Supa Dupa Flyness, creating an erotic tension in the silence between what’s said.

Rolling Stone also profiles the band.

PopMatters makes a case for Big Star being the most underappreciated band in pop music.

Utilizing the templates laid before them by their foreign British forefathers while adding a healthy dose of American soul and R&B, Big Star melded a formula that seemed at once instantly familiar and utterly indefinable. With the ringing, jangly guitars and jarring chord changes of A Hard Day’s Night, the enthusiasm propelled by ‘50s rock and roll, and vocal performances culled from the undiluted passion of soul music, there was always a clear line of reference running through the undeniably reverential Memphis band, yet what made them so special spans a deeper and frankly much more interesting quality than spotting-the-influence. What made Big Star so special was their ability to blanket what at first seems ubiquitous with a defiant layer of self-effacement—by inverting conventionalism with twisting song structures masked by clean, bright production, an aura of elusive unpredictability forever permeates their discography.

The Rochester City Paper interviews Brian Roberts of Ha Ha Tonka.

I tell people Ha Ha Tonka is a mishmash of spiritual and rock.

I like where you're going with this.

How'd you arrive at that blend?

I think it's us trying to be a rock band, but we're from the Ozarks. There was no conscious effort to say, "We gotta have this, we gotta have that." We all like to sing, that helps the energy level on stage. And we also like to rock out. Brett [Anderson, keyboard/guitar/vocals], you know, he loves to play the electric guitar, so we let him cut loose.

Newsarama interviews Nichael Chabon about his essay collection, Manhood for Amateurs.

Nrama: What are some comics you're currently enjoying?

Chabon: I’ve been digging the stunning Wednesday Comics and Strange Tales. I am a devoted reader of Mr. Fraction's work. Brubaker, Vaughan. The Brits--Ellis (Planetary!) Morrison, Moore, Gaiman.

The Gainesville Sun interviews Cursive frontman Tim Kasher.

The top 100 science fiction blogs.

At NPR, Glen Weldon lists five 2009 books to share with your friends.

The Baylor Lariot offers music book suggestions for holiday giving.

Drowned in Sound interviews the members of Broadcast.

WHYY's Fresh Air interviews Walter Kirn about the film adaptation of his book, Up in the Air,

Swear I'm not Paul interviews Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers.

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

also at Largehearted Boy:

online "best of 2009" book lists
online "best of 2009" music lists
Online Best of the Decade (2000-2009) Book Lists
best of the decade (2000-2009) online music 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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