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August 15, 2006


At Slate, Jody Rosen wonders if pop music can be both great art and shameless kitsch, using the Johnny cash-Rick Rubin collaborations as an example.

And yet, for all their greatness, the Cash-Rubin records give off an unmistakable whiff of cheese. It feels peevish to find fault in albums that contain indelible performances by one of the 20th century's singular troubadours. But if it's possible for music to be both great art and shameless kitsch, look no further...

The Mountain Goats have announced their fall tour dates:

08-21 Seattle, WA - Easy Street (solo in-store)
08-22 San Francisco, CA - Amoeba (solo in-store)
08-23 Los Angeles, CA - Amoeba (solo in-store)
08-26 Los Angeles, CA - Royce Hall at UCLA (Revenge of the Book Eaters)
09-14 Minneapolis, MN - Triple Rock Social Club
09-15 Ames, IA - Maintenance Shop
09-16 Chicago, IL - Empty Bottle
09-19 Toronto, Ontario - Lee's Palace
09-20 Pittsburgh, PA - Andy Warhol Museum
09-21 Athens, OH - The Union
09-26 Cambridge, MA - Middle East
09-28 Washington, DC - Black Cat
09-30 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom
10-01 New York, NY - Bowery Ballroom

The Los Angeles Times examines the diminished role of the print critic in the internet age.

While it's been marginalizing critics, the Internet has also leveled the playing field. On the Web, old-school credentials carry little weight. We look for a sharp, distinctive voice, not the heft of a master's degree. When New York magazine was listing music biz influence makers recently, it bypassed Rolling Stone, spotlighting blogger Sarah Lewitinn, saying her Ultragrrrl blog has "more power than any print music critic."

Harp interviews singer-songwriter Scott Walker.

Your music becomes so stripped, the only thing left is your naked voice.

In the end, it boils down to the self. The bare self, I’m not talking about the ego self. So I like to leave the end of the song with that. It’s really come down to the issue where I’m just bare here. As all of us are.

Threadless is having a "6+6+6" back to school $10 t-shirt sale. Six new shirts were unveiled yesterday, and six more will be unveiled today and tomorrow.

The Olympian examines the legacy of Sleater-Kinney.

"They might bristle at this, because they've heard this a million times, but the importance of what they've done for women in rock music is second to none," said Tony Kiewel, who signed the band to Seattle's Sub Pop Records two years ago for what would be their final album, "The Woods."

"They've opened a lot of doors for women. They've also shown that you can not only age gracefully, but evolve in surprising ways and achieve things beyond the obvious goal of pushing in new directions. They've excelled over an extended period at trying different things, and not a lot of bands have done that," Kiewel said.

Slate wonders why the current US president is reading Albert Camus.

The Times Online examines the Booker longlist.

Peter Carey, Theft: A Love Story (Faber & Faber)
Kiran Desai, The Inheritance of Loss (Hamish Hamilton)
Robert Edric, Gathering the Water (Doubleday)
Nadine Gordimer, Get a Life (Bloomsbury)
Kate Grenville, The Secret River (Canongate)
M.J. Hyland, Carry Me Down (Canongate)
Howard Jacobson, Kalooki Nights (Jonathan Cape)
James Lasdun, even Lies (Jonathan Cape)
Mary Lawson, The Other Side of the Bridge (Chatto & Windus)
Jon McGregor, So Many Ways to Begin (Bloomsbury)
Hisham Matar, In the Country of Men (Viking)
Claire Messud, The Emperor’s Children (Picador)
David Mitchell, Black Swan Green (Sceptre)
Naeem Murr, The Perfect Man (William Heinemann)
Andrew O’Hagan, Be Near Me (Faber & Faber)
James Robertson, The Testament of Gideon Mack (Hamish Hamilton)
Edward St Aubyn, Mother’s Milk (Picador)
Barry Unsworth, The Ruby in her Navel (Hamish Hamilton)
Sarah Waters, The Night Watch (Virago)

The Drive-By Truckers have announced fall tour dates. lists its top ten albums of 2006.

Switchers' Blog is devoted to helping people move from a PC to a Mac.

Pitchfork offers the biggest list of the year so far, the top 200 singles of the 1960's.

NPR's World Cafe had the Long Winters in the studio for a two song performance.

Daytrotter has a live session with Lawrence, Kansas's Conner.

No Love For Ned has a lovely new show with an in-studio performance from the Lovely Feathers.

Fortune examines how musicians are flexing their muscles with record labels.

The record companies are no longer so powerful, because artists have more ways to get their music to fans. Garth Brooks sells his albums exclusively in Wal-Mart (Charts) stores and on the retailer's website.

Radiohead's contract with EMI's Capitol label has expired, and the band is in no rush to sign a new one. In July, Thom Yorke, Radiohead's lead singer, released a solo album, "The Eraser," on an independent label. It was promoted on the homepage of Apple's (Charts) iTunes Music Store and became the No. 2 record on the Billboard 200. Who needs a major label when you can do that?