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June 22, 2006


The Long Winters' John Roderick posts the second installment of his Bonnaroo blog on CMJ's Relay blog (these could well be my favorite blog posts of the year).

I downed a cup of water, washed the sleep from my eyes and headed off to the first press conference of the day, where the singer of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Alec Ounsworth, was giving a private, acoustic performance just for the press.

This is the kind of press pandering that publicists always tell you is a good idea, and maybe it is. Since I’m only masquerading as a member of the press I can’t really attest to the way they think. Still, as a fake member of the press, I thought his voice sounded like someone skinning cats. His songs were decently folky and he honked along on the harmonica, which was passable. Maybe it sounds like Neutral Milk Hotel or Talking Heads on the records, as I’ve heard reported, but it didn’t pass my dorm room test, which is: If you were stuck in a dorm room at SUNY Purchase and the same person was singing these songs, would you be thinking, “Holy shit, this guy is great!” or would you be trying to figure out how many songs was the polite number to endure before you could reasonably claim you had a ton of homework? Frankly, though, I didn’t understand Neutral Milk Hotel when I first heard it either and now I think it’s great, so maybe Pitchfork is right and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are brilliant. But I think there should henceforth be at least a short moratorium on Brooklyn songwriters, (and Ontario songwriters, for that matter) who yodel like West Virginia raccoon hunters.

In the Progressive, Stephen Smith-Said rebuts Neil Young's assertions that protest music by young artists is lacking.

Pete Seeger told me that the floodgates to freedom of expression were opened in the 1960s when the Broadway and Hollywood monopoly over the music industry was broken by Rock and Roll, Motown, and Nashville.

Now, the subsequent monopoly that Rock and Roll, Motown, and Nashville constructed is being broken by the Internet, where artists and organizations are creating networks that transcend corporate genres.

Cracker and Camper Van Beethoven frontman David Lowery talks to the Charleston Post and Courier.

"Most rock music is written in the style you learned in the seventh grade ? 'What I did over my summer vacation,' " said Lowery. "I'm trying to write records the way Thomas Pynchon writes novels or (Federico) Fellini made movies: Tell a serious story using these absurdist tools like the unreliable narrator, where you know the storyteller is not telling the truth. I'm trying to use absurdity, irony and sarcasm in that tangential way Joseph Heller used in 'Catch 22.' "

Singer-songwriter Jose Gonzales talks to Toronto's NOW Magazine.

"It wasn't until after I started playing shows that I began listening to Nick Drake. People would ask me after every gig if I liked Nick Drake, because I sounded so much like him. So I decided to check out his albums. At first I thought, 'This guy doesn't sound anything like me,' but the more I listened the more I enjoyed what I heard."

Bloc Party's Kele Okereke talks to the Toronto Star about recording the band's second album.

"We've pretty much nearly recorded all of the backing tracks. We didn't record any of the vocals yet, so I suppose that'll take another two weeks," says Okereke, 24. "The act of creating the songs, when we write songs, we tend to do very quickly, but the recording process is something I used to get quite frustrated by. We're still getting it in relatively quickly ... we've been recording for about two months while other bands go in the studio for a whole year. I'm always amazed at people who can do that. It would drive me mad."

The Philadelphia Inquirer reviews Bill Buford's new book, Heat.

Heat is a love story. It is the tale of one man's obsession - that is Buford's - with another man's gastronomic journey, specifically, the making of Mario Batali. Buford doesn't want to know Batali. He wants to become Batali, in a way that might suggest psychological counseling.

The Bay Area Reporter lists suggested summer "queer reading."

Popmatters reviews recent film and television soundtracks.

The Independent examines former Libertines frontman Pete Doherty's book deal.

The 20 volumes of poems, drawings, film reviews and lyrics will be condensed into one hard-back volume, and published in March 2007. Naturally, despite being scheduled to make the announcement of their publication himself, Doherty failed to turn up yesterday to deliver what was billed as an "important career announcement".

Seattle's Bumbershoot festival offers a stellar literary lineup (as well as the music it is better known for), according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

What has long seemed like a festival sidelight will see an infusion of top rank authors that outshine past offerings at the Labor Day weekend gala. Among the lit headliners will be Chuck Palahniuk, Erik Larson, Mary Gaitskill, Sean Wilsey, Greil Marcus, Michelle Tea, Ben Fong-Torres, Alison Bechdel, Charles D'Ambrosio, Gary Shteyngart.

Patterson Hood of the Drive-By Truckers talks to Kansas City's Pitch Weekly.

"We're certainly Southern as hell, and the majority of our songs reflect that," he continues. "And 10 seconds on the phone with any of us, and our accents certainly reflect it." (It's true — Hood talks like he could hawk sweet tea at a moment's notice.) "But I don't really necessarily think it's a relevant term for the music, if for nothing else than there's so much baggage with it that doesn't really apply."

Stylus searches out unsugned teenpop acts on Myspace.

Graphic Language interviews Chris Pitzer, founder of AdHouse Books.

I had something else to ask, but since you've brought the design thing up, that's how you got started working in comics, right?

Yep. Back in 1990 I got hired at Eclipse Comics as their production/designer guy. I lasted around a year before I had to get out of there. However, I made some good friends out of my stint, and some great contacts. After I left, I did some comic freelance here and there and eventually helped Jeff Mason with putting together the 9-11: Emergency Relief book that Alternative published. The next year I started AdHouse with Joel Priddy’s Pulpatoon Pilgrimage.

Pop Tarts Suck Toasted has videos of Beirut's September 17th show.