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New Releases, Hold Steady, Paul Westerberg, Spaghetti Cat (Slight Return)   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, December 02, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE HOLD STEADY: Craig Finn talks to the L.A. Times about layers on the band's latest album, including the covert harpsichord incident. And the band is posterized in the title video to "Stay Positive".

NEW RELEASES: Neil Young and International Noise Conspiracy are among those with albums streaming this week at Spinner.  Hall & Oates and the Cadillac Records sdtk are streaming via the AOL mothership.

PAUL WESTERBERG:  With "Alex Chilton" in Rock Band 2, he talks to RockBand.com about writing that salute to Big Star's frontman, and a whole lot more -- including the money he lost on his recent 49-cent digital album, and the Replacements reunion that nearly happened last month.

MATT POND P.A. has a free EP to download from the official website.

ELVIS COSTELLO talks to SPIN; an excerpt is posted online.

JULIANA HATFIELD blogs an update on her anorexia, along with an analysis of a song she wrote when she was in the Blake Babies, "Until I Almost Died." Throw in the Blake Babies' fab cover of "Temptation Eyes" and you have Twofer Tuesday.

NICK CAVE compares the Bad Seeds to Grinderman for ChartAttack.

IDLEWILD is taking advance orders for their next, as-yet unrecorded album: Fifteen quid will bag you a limited edition CD with exclusive packaging, at least one bonus track and access to a website full of photos, videos, blogs and downloads from the band's December gigs at Glasgow's King Tut's Wah Wah Hut.  Plus a thank you in the liner notes.

FRIGHTENED RABBIT is keeping a tour diary for Drowned In Sound.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij is careful not to reveal too much about plans for the band's second album to Diamondback Online. (Thx, LHB.)

TINA FEY is the cover story in the new Vanity Fair. Gossip outlets seem interested in the story of her facial scar, but there's plenty of other interesting stuff there.

KIRSTEN DUNST has obtained a restraining order against a 25-year-old alleged stalker.

KATE HUDSON admits she once stalked a man she was desperate to date.

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise denies that he pressured Amazon to stop selling a book critical of the Church of Scientology. 

BRADGELINA: Pitt reveals what Jolie does not do well.

THE 100 BEST MOVIES OF 2008, according to the Times of London.

MADONNA & ALEX RODRIGUEZ were both spotted in Mexico City last weekend.

BRITNEY SPEARS is again the queen of Yahoo searches.

AFGHANISTAN: Only one US serviceman died in Afghanistan in November, a dramatic drop that the US military attributed to their campaign against insurgent leaders, operations by Afghan and Pakistani forces and the onset of winter.

IRAN: German firms are trying to circumvent economic sanctions imposed by the UN and EU.

IRAQ: A country club in Baghdad has staged the Iraqi capital's first public beauty contest since the downfall of Saddam Hussein.

THE RETURN OF SPAGHETTI CAT: The viral oddity + the guy who did "Hamster on a piano" = Crazy Delicious.

GEODUCKS are not ducks, but vaguely obscene-looking mollusks.

PRAIRIE DOG THEFT: Is there anything lower?

LIONS are not digging the snow in Scotland. Cool (very cool) pics at the link.

ZOE THE DALMATION is deaf, but has been given a new lease on life after learning sign language.

1105 Reads

Macy's RickRoll, Calexico, Blitzen Trapper, AC Newman, Wombat Season   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Monday, December 01, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



CALEXICO stopped by The Current fort a chat and mini-set you can stream on demand via MPR.

BLITZEN TRAPPER: LAist has Eric Earley for an interview and streaming audio tracks.

GLASVEGAS, featured here recently, also gets featured in the Independent and Drowned In Sound.

NEW PORNOGRAPHERS: A.C. Newman talks to Pitchfork about his upcoming second solo album, and gives ChartAttack a timetable for the band's next album. At the moment you can stream the solo leadoff track "There May Be Ten or Twelve" via the ol' HM.

JOHN LENNON was "Starting Over" 28 years ago; it would come to an end on Dec. 8th.

BON IVER and FLEET FOXES -- two bands I named last week as good for the season -- turn up in a Chicago Tribune piece on bands inspired by nature.

NEIL YOUNG gets a meaty profile in the Montreal Gazette.

JAMES McMURTY talks to Creative Loafing about major labels, political songs, etc.

THE TEN BEST SONGS ABOUT CARS, according to Autopia, which tried to stear clear of some obvious choices. Personally, from the Beach Boys, I might have picked "Shut Down."  And where is Jan & Dean's "Deadman's Curve"?

WEEKEND BOX OFFICE: Four Christmases takes the turkey over Thanksgiving weekend, making a bigger-than-expected 46 million. Twilight places with 39.5 million, but its 43.2 percent drop is a steeper 60 percent over the last three days.  Then again it has already made almost 120 million on a 37 million production budget.  Bolt finds its legs, increasing 37 percent to make 36 million; it was in the second slot for the regular three day weekend. Quantum of Solace also increased five percent overall to make about 28 million, but dropped 27 percent in the last three days (which is about what Casino Royale did over Thanksgiving 2006). Australia's 20 million debut rounds out the Top Five -- that number might look good to Hugh Jackman, but maybe not to Nicole Kidman.  Below the fold, Transporter 3 obened in seventh, while Oscar-aspiring Milk and Slumdog Millionnaire in the 10th and 11th slots.  The real story this weekend was that the top 12 movies made twice as much this weekend over last year.

THE BANK JOB: I finally watched this Jason Statham flick last week, in lieu of going to Transporter 3 -- and I'm glad I did. It's an interesting heist flick based on a true story from the early 1970s.  The heist itself isn't spectacular, but the MacGuffin really isn't one and the getaway has all sorts of nifty twists.

MADONNA & A-ROD were flirty during her concert at Dolphins Stadium. Madge began her show two hours late because she got caught in traffic, never apologized for the delay and didn't even wish the crowd a happy Thanksgiving. Rodriguez visited his soon-to-be ex-wife and kids for Thanksgiving dinner, then rushed to be with Madge at her house nearby.

BRITNEY SPEARS reportedly was crash dieting to slim down for her X Factor performance on Saturday.

SIENNA MILLER may be reigniting her romance with her married ex, Balthazar Getty.

KRISTEN STEWART: The Twilight star's out-of-it demeanor during a press junket raised questions over whether the actress might have been a bit over-medicated in order to face the parade of journalists.  Seems possible.

ORLANDO BLOOM & MIRANDA KERR reportedly plan to marry in the middle of next year.

WINONA RYDER mysteriously lost a diamond-encrusted bracelet and ring worth more than 125K, according to a published report.

IRAN has 5000 "running centrifuges" in its main nuclear site at Natanz, according to Iranian news reports quoting a top official.

IRAQ: Parliament on Thursday approved a security pact that requires the US military to end its presence in Iraq in 2011. "It's a historic day for the great Iraqi people," Prime Minister al-Maliki said in a nationally televised address. "It represents the first step on the road to regain national sovereignty." That could bolster his influence and popularity ahead of provincial and national elections scheduled for next year.


FERAL CATS feasted on Thanksgiving in Queens.

TAKING AWAY A PONY from a three-year-old boy who has spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy is not politically popular.

A COCKER SPANIEL and her puppies are at the center of a legal tussle between a Long Island couple and a Queens animal-rescue group battling over who gets to keep the pups.

A JAPANESE ZOO puzzled by its lack of success in getting two polar bears to mate has discovered the reason. Take a guess.

1094 Reads

Thanksgiving, Faves 2008, Cutout Bin   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Thursday, November 27, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



with FAVES 2008!  I occasionally hear from folks who want to know what -- from among all of the posts I do here -- I recommend.  To some degree, I recommend all of it, unless I expressly write otherwise (e.g., it's not my thing, but it might be yours).  With the holiday shopping season upon us, I have tried to make a list of reasonable size.  It's an unordered list. I likely will have overlooked something that I really dig.  And some of these are grouped together, because that's the way they occurred to me at the moment.  And note these are my faves; I'm not purporting to list the "Best" albums of the year. This year, I start with a few man-woman duos.

SHE & HIM: She is actress-turned indie popster Zooey Deschanel, Him is singer-songwriter M. Ward; they're detectives! Okay, not really, but Zooey carries off the singing and songwriting better than any other in recent memory.  M. Ward gets to focus on his guitar playing and the resulting mix is just charming. "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here?" was the single, but this live take on Smokey's "You Really Got a Hold on Me" is sweet also, even if Zooey was still a bit shy on stage (Here's the studio version for comparison).

ISOBEL CAMPBELL & MARK LANEGAN: Another man-woman duo, but far more moody, in the vein of inspirations like Lee Greenwood & Nancy Sinatra, or Bobby Gentry with Glen Campbell.  In a modern twist, it's former Belle & Sebastianist Campbell writing the songs for former Screaming Tree Lanegan to sing.

MATES OF STATE: Actual mates, if their two daughters are any indication. This year's Re-Arrange Us album was the duo's biggest and most accessible to date.

THE TING TINGS: This duo's debut was a bit too hit-and-miss for a full recommendation, but the hits really hit.

VAMPIRE WEEKEND: Was the blog buzz for this collegiate quartet overripe? Sure.  Was the hipster backlash disproportionate? Probably.  After all, their self-titled debut has plenty of snappy indie rock, with just enough afro-pop influence that they keep getting those Graceland references hung 'round their collective neck.

FLEET FOXES: Pastoral folk-rock with lush harmonies made 2008 a big year for the Seattle-based quintet. Perfect music for this time of year, too. I still dig them serenading a herd of goats in "He Doesn't Know Why," though others might prefer "White Winter Hymnal."

BON IVER: The backstory of recording an album for three months in a remote cabin in Wisconsin helped Justin Vernon's For Emma, Forever Ago get all sorts of buzz, but largely deserved (though Robert Christgau would disagree).  Bon Iver's bleak and plaintive music certainly sounds like the product of a winter wilderness, and thus another good fit for this time of year.

LUCINDA WILLIAMS: I think that some of her fanbase -- much like that of Eric Clapton -- prefer her to be miserable all the time.  But the turn for the better in her personal life seems to have produced a wider variety of moods and textures on Little Honey that rewards repeated listens.  In a similar vein, Asking For Flowers, the latest from Kathleen Edwards, may be her best album yet.

RAPHAEL SAADIQ: I have long been a sucker for the sound of classic soul and R&B; he's doing it as well as anyone this year. (as is James Hunter, again).  Duffy may be suffering some hipster backlash at this point, but she took good advice from Jeanette Lee (ex-PiL) to get together with Bernard Butler (ex-Suede) to take a neo-soul approach before Amy Winehouse made it fashionable again. And it's not like Lulu is still making records. Adele is also deserving of mention in this vein.

NICK CAVE & THE BAD SEEDS: Obviously no newcomer, but Dig, Lazarus Dig! served as a reminder that Cave has made a career of it for very good reason.

PALE YOUNG GENTLEMEN: Those of you wishing there had been more new stuff from The Decemberists or Beruit this year should take note of this baroque outfit from Madison, WI. Black Forest (Tra La La), which is even more ambitious than their last outing, is a bit of a grower too, rewarding repeat listens.

CALEXICO: As much as I respected them for trying some new things on Garden Ruin, it's nice to have the former Giant Sandmen re-emphasizing their Southwestern influences on this year's Carried To Dust. "Two Silver Trees" was the single, but I'll use any excuse to re-link the band's killer cover of Love's "Alone Again Or."

THE FELICE BROTHERS hail from upstate New York, so perhaps it's not surprising that their debut record carries a bit of the spirit of Big Pink. That the vocals carry a Dylan-esque twang doesn't hurt, either.

THE HOLD STEADY: Stay Positive may not have been this band's best album, but it is at least the third in a string of strong ones.  The inevitable (and likely irritating to them by now) comparisons to Springsteen or Thin Lizzy (and I'll toss in Led Zep for Tad Kubler) may stem as much now from their power-packed live show as from Craig Finn's overstuffed (in a good way) storytelling.  And it's passing strange that people don't mention The Replacements, Husker Du and Soul Asylum as influences more often, especially as the guys grew up in Mpls during that era.  Ken King aptly called the show we saw "an orgy of shouting and finger-pointing."

OKKERVIL RIVER: Not unlike the Hold Steady, I'm not sure that The Stand-Ins is quite as good as Black Sheep Boy or The Stage Names -- but Will Scheff & Co get points for delivering consistently compelling material.

SHEARWATER: Given how good Okkervil River is, Jason Meiberg might have been thought to be taking a gamble in focusing on Shearwater instead.  But 2008's Rook is a safe bet for indie music lovers.

A CHARLIE BROWN THANKSGIVING:  Tubed for your seasonal enjoyment (Part One, Part Two, Part Three).

THANKSGIVING has a lot of myths, both traditional and the new "Pilgrims were evil" o­nes taught in some public schools. Not to mention the fights over kindergarteners dressing as Native Americans.  However, if you read the journal of William Bradford -- who served some 35 years as governor of the Pilgims' colony -- you quickly discover that the Pilgrims' relationship with the natives was complex and that the colony was ultimately saved when Bradford started doing away with collectivism and granting property rights.

TURKEY TRACKER: Watch the bird.

CUTOUT BIN: Belle & Sebastian covering Thin Lizzy (and rawking it), Drive-By Truckers covering Blue Oyster Cult, the Mamas & Papas covering the Beatles, Okkervil River covering John Lennon, Conor Oberst covering Paul Simon, Tom Tom Club covering Hot Chocolate, Sondre Lerche covering Pete Townshend and the Beach Boys covering Terry Jacks not enough for you?  Then there's the Monkees, James Brown, Larry Graham, Buffalo Springfield, Eddie Kendricks, REM, Queen and more  -- this Friday's fortuitous finds can be jukeboxed or streamed separately via the Pate page at the ol' HM.

1332 Reads

AC/DC, The Beatles, Apollo Sunshine, Margot, 15-inch Horse   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Wednesday, November 26, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl



AC/DC: The Northwestern lists 10 reasons why they never grow old.  And that's without the nine lives mentioned in "Back In Black."

THE BEATLES: All Songs Considered has a one-hour plus feature on the White Album, if the 40th Anniversary special at PopMatters wasn't enough for you.  The NPR feature has excerpts of demos and outtakes -- shiny!

APOLLO SUNSHINE does the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, one previously unreleaased.

THE QUIETUS has posted a game where you guess album covers performed by mimes.

THE ROSEBUDS: Kelly Crisp talks to Prefix about musical geography, why she blogs letters to Frank Black and more...

MARGOT & the NUCLEAR SO & SOS play "As Tall As Cliffs" for Conan the Comedian. More megaphone!

25 GREAT SOPHOMORE RECORDS, with streaming audio, courtesy of JamsBio.

20 BOY-GIRL DUETS FOR THE AGES, with streaming audio, courtesy of JamsBio.

FRIGHTENED RABBIT: Scott Hutchison talks to Clash about the year that was.

MATTHEW SWEET talks pottery with Blurt. Yes, really.


NOW SHOWING: The holiday weekend's wide releases are the VInce Vaughn-Reese Witherspoon comedy Four Christmases, which is currently scoring 28 percent on the ol' Tomatometer; Transporter 3, which is currently scoring 18 percent; and Baz Luhrmann's Australia, which is scoring 51 percent (38 percent with the top critics).

ASHLEE SIMPSON & PETE WENTZ named their baby... wait for it... Bronx Mowgli.

BRITNEY SPEARS rolls out some wacky for a feature in Rolling Stone: "There's an understanding among those who know Britney well: When she's blond, she's happy.  When she's brunette, she's sad.  When she's pink, she's crazy."

TOM-KAT UPDATE: Cruise tries to reel in the wacky for a piece in the Daily Mirror.

AMY WINEHOUSE was admitted to a London hospital after suffering a bad reaction to medication, her representative said Tuesday.

HEATHER LOCKLEAR & RICHIE SAMBORA are reuiniting for a family Thanksgiving dinner.

GEORGE CLOONEY prank called Hugh Jackman over the People magazine Sexiest Man Alive award.

WILLIAM SHATNER comments on the latest Star Trek movie trailer.  Okay, not really, but I suspect it's prtetty close to the mark.

TINSELTOWN'S TOP EARNING COUPLES, courtesy of Forbes magazine.

TO 20 GREATEST MOVIE CAR CHASES, according to the Times of London.

THE 100 GREATEST MOVIE CHARACTERS, according to Empire magazine. Lotsa clicking involved.

TERROR in the US: After more than 15 years of investigation and two trials, the Holy Land Foundation and five of its former organizers were found guilty of illegally funneling more than 12 million dollars to the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas.

OUR FRIENDS, THE SAUDIS: "They cannot perform in public. They cannot pose for album cover photographs. Even their jam sessions are secret, for fear of offending the religious authorities in this ultraconservative kingdom. But the members of Saudi Arabia's first all-girl rock band, the Accolade, are clearly not afraid of taboos."

AFGHANISTAN: In the city of Shewan, approximately 250 insurgents ambushed 30 Marines and paid a heavy price for it.

IRAQ: Bomb attacks in Baghdad that killed 17 people yesterday aimed to destabilize Iraq before provincial elections, which are central to the nation's process of reconciliation, the UN said. Moqtada al-Sadr's influence wanes. The US military says Iraqi forces have arrested a suspected Shiite militia leader who has been linked to Iran.

DOGS WELCOME their owner upon his return from 14 months in Iraq.  Awww...

A 15-INCH MINI HORSE awaits a name.  Awww...some pics at the link.

PARROTS: A missing parrot has been reunited with its owner after chirping its own name down the phone from the home of its rescuer. A sad parrot was so heartbroken by the death of his owner that he's been prescribed an animal-friendly version of Prozac.

SOLAR-POWERED SEA SLUGS harness stolen plant genes.  Video at the link.

GECKO RUSTLERS: Is there anything lower?

3024 Reads

New Releases, Neil Young, The Wrens, Glasvegas, Surfin' Dog   Printer-friendly page   Send this story to someone
Tuesday, November 25, 2008 - 08:00 AM
Posted by: Karl


THE HIVES & CYNDI LAUPER: A Christmas Duel. Not all that family-friendly, I must say.

NEW RELEASES: The Fireman (Paul McCartney + Youth), Scott Weiland and Tom Jones are among those with albums streamin this week via Spinner. Slim pickins this week.

NEIL YOUNG: Sugar Mountain - Live At Canterbury House 1968 will be released Dec. 2, but you can stream the entire album at NPR.

THE WRENS: Download The Meadowlands for less than two bucks.

JULIANA HATFIELD is now hopeful of having turned the corner on her anorexia, but the Observer excerpts some of her blogging from the treatment cinic.

NIRVANA: Krist Novoselic tells the whole story behind the 1992 MTV Music Video Awards when his bass came crashing down on hsi head.

GLASVEGAS: I've been remiss in forgetting to alert y'all to this dramatic band from Glasgow, so "Please Come Back Home" and "Daddy's Gone" are your Twofer Tuesday. 

EFFED UP do the four free songs thing for Daytrotter, albeit under their actual name.


DEERHUNTER (not to be confused with Deerhoof) gets some guff from the Seattle Weekly.

OF MONTREAL: Kevin Barnes lists a few of his favorite things for Drowned In Sound.

KANYE WEST listens to Thom Yorke and Feist in his crib.

BRITNEY SPEARS is chafing under her father's conservatorship.

HEIDI MONTAG & SPENCER PRATT eloped, for once avoiding mining their lives for publicity. No endless stories about wedding plans.  And some say we have little for which to be thankful.

MADONNA: The ink isn't dry on her divorce decree, but her rumored beau, Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez, was beginning to distance himself from her beloved Kabbalah.

JASON LEE reveals he got hitched in July.

LEONARDO DiCAPRIO hears his biological clock ticking.

BOY GEORGE's false imprisonment trial got underway with testimony from the Norwegian escort allegedly shackled to a wall and beaten by the former Culture Club singer.

IRON MAN: Jeff Bridges has posted photos from his limited edition book, Making Iron Man, on his website. DUDE!

MICHELLE WILLIAMS is still mourning the loss of Heath Ledger: "It's a strange thing to say, because I'm at heart an optimistic person, but I would say in some ways it just gets worse."

NORTH KOREA is halting cross-border train service with South Korea starting next week. Ronery.

AFGHANISTAN: A French infantryman writes about the US troops there: "Heavily built, fed at the earliest age with Gatorade, proteins and creatine - they are all heads and shoulders taller than us and their muscles remind us of Rambo. Our frames are amusingly skinny to them - we are wimps, even the strongest of us - and because of that they often mistake us for Afghans..."

IRAQ: Warblogger Michael Yon writes in the New York Post about walking in South Baghdad without his helmet and body armor, and more...

CAT CHASES HIS LEASH: Let's go to the video.

LUCKY LUNA lives up to her name, surviving more than 300 miles perched on a car's engine block for nearly a week, without food or water. Pic at the link.

HARVEY DO SURF: Everybody's heard/ about the dog. Dog, dog dog/ dog is the word.

HEY, IS THAT A HAMSTER IN YOUR PANTS?  This vest might work better.

A CATFISH and a BASKETBALL: Jeff Bridges has... the rest of the story.

1933 Reads

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