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July 17, 2011

Shorties (The Decemberists, Jane Austen, and more)

ChartAttack interviews Chris Funk of the Decemberists about the band's latest album, The King Is Dead.


The Washington Post lists five myths about Jane Austen.


The Washington Times ponders Harry Potter's political leanings.


The list of online 2011 summer reading lists has been updated with recommendations by sports personalities at MSNBC and much more.


Suede frontman Brett Anderson talks to BBC Radio 6 about the band's reunion.


At Al-Masry Al-Youm, eight Egyptian novelists share their rules for writing.


All Things Considered profiles the band Battles.


The Boston Globe interviews Andy Laties about his book, Rebel Bookseller: Why Indie Bookstores Represent Everything You Want to Fight for from Free Speech to Buying Local to Building Communities.


Birmingham Weekly interviews singer-songwriter Ben Sollee about his new album, Inclusions.

BW: How did your style evolve? Your sound incorporates several musical elements.

BS: I think it's fairly organic in that I grew up having a dual musical life. With my family and friends, I'd listen to - and play - Folk and R&B and fiddle tunes with my grandfather who was an Appalachian fiddler. I chose the cello, whose ideas are taught through Classical music. So I had this institutional life where I'd study Bach and all the classics and then I'd come home to my social music life. Those two things have always collided, sometimes complimentary and sometimes dissonantly. That combination has put me on this path. I never feel like I'm taking Classical music and pulling it into a Pop sense and I never feel like I'm trying to take Pop music and dress it up as Classical.


The Jackson Clarion-Ledger interviews John Milliken Thompson about his debut novel The Reservoir.

Q: How long have you worked on it, and where did the idea come from?

A: I read a quote from Robert Penn Warren saying something like, "You can't find a story from research." When I came across this story doing some research on Richmond I remembered that and thought, "I'm going to prove him wrong." I worked on the book for about three years until I thought it was in pretty good shape. Now I'm not exactly sure what Warren meant, perhaps that you can't develop a good story just by relying on sources outside your imagination - in which case he's absolutely right.


The Charlotte Observer profiles Jeff Jackson, one of the writers of the jazz blog Destination: Out.

"We are after a big-tent approach at the site, featuring a wide variety of jazz styles," said Jackson, "We want people to gain broader exposure and deeper knowledge about jazz to better appreciate what it has to offer. What's important is recognizing that there is some fabulous work out there that could be lost to history. What we are doing is rescuing some oftforgotten work and providing a showcase for it. Some of the most accessible jazz is also some of the most obscure; we are working to change that."


The Washington City Paper interviews Wild Beasts' Tom Fleming about the band's songwriting.

WCP: I read in a Stereogum interview that once you got ahold of albums by musicians like Joanna Newsom and John Fahey, you began to educate yourself musically. I like that you say lyrically, Wild Beasts is turning the knife, and when you describe Joanna Newsom, you say that she's constantly turning the screw. Why do you use these sayings to explain what contemporary musicians are doing? Doesn't "turning the knife" mean to make a situation worse? It's hard to imagine that, as your music is exciting and engaging.

TF: I think what JN does is offer a constant, slowly unravelling surprise, lyrically and structurally. Her first album, her brilliant, desperately reaching first album, taught me a lot about what to expect of myself and a songwriter. John Fahey's playing, as a guitarist, is just so heavy, and so authentic and yet so clever. Much like Joanna Newsom's songwriting. They force you to look at the core of what they're doing. That's kind of what I mean about turning the screw, that a good artist is always showing you knew facets. We definitely aspire to make music that is more rather than less interesting the more time you spend with it.


At the Lehigh Valley Express-Times, Johnny Hickman offers a history of his band Cracker.


The Observer profiles Portishead.

The three members of a band responsible for some of the most searingly bleak music of the past 20 years radiate a feeling of domestic contentment. Only Alfie is doing any sort of justice to their reputation for emotional intensity, picking fights with passing dogs and a half-buried model of a motorbike in a nearby garden.


In the New York Times, Justin Cronin reviews Glen Duncan's novel The Last Werewolf.

The challenge for any writer working within an established genre, especially a genre with a reputation for high camp, is to bring something new to the table while adhering to tradition. On both points, Duncan, the author of seven previous novels, scores high marks. No Gothic convention is left unacknowledged. Here are the silver bullets. Here is the forest's "massy green consciousness" and the thrill of the moonlit hunt. Here are the heirs of Van Helsing, tirelessly pursuing their prey to the ends of the earth. (Here too is a great deal of heroically athletic sex — a werewolf should deliver nothing less — reminding the reader that the transports of the body aren't all bad.)

The Columbus Dispatch also reviews the book.


More Tracks Like This is a Spotify song recommendation engine.


Follow me on Twitter and Stumbleupon for links (updated throughout the day) that don't make the daily "Shorties" columns.


also at Largehearted Boy:

previous Shorties posts (news and links from the worlds of music, literature, and pop culture)

Atomic Books Comics Preview (highlights of the week's new comics & graphic novels)
daily mp3 downloads
Largehearted Word (highlights of the week's new books)
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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