CALEXICO: Harp magazine suggests the band's upcoming album, Garden Ruin, "finds the group undergoing a subtle yet profound tectonic shift." John Convertino doesn't mind if people call it pop. You can stream and download the opening track, "Cruel," at MySpace (they also have a Quicktime video that loads -- and sucks up bandwidth --at the bottom of the page, so you may want to select the "standalone player" and close the main page).
BELLE & SEBASTIAN and ISOBEL CAMPBELL also get interviewed in the new Harp. B&S frontman Stuart Murdoch talks about Campbell, possibly doing something other than B&S next, and opines that "Funny Little Frog" may end up being the band's biggest hit. "Another Sunny Day" is available for download.
RIP IT UP AND START AGAIN: The new book by Simon Reynolds causes Slate's Stephen Metcalf to meditate on British Wimps and American Weirdos.
NEKO CASE is the musical guest on The Tonight Show... tonight!
IMOGEN HEAP, formerly of Frou Frou, says blogging helped her record her latest album, Speak For Yourself -- from which you can stream a few at MySpace.
SILVER JEWS: Cassie Berman creates a "Get In The Van" playlist for Discollective, including Richard Thompson, Lucinda Williams and X. BTW, she gives an honorable mention to "Elvis Theme Music," which is actually the intro to "C.C. Rider," as played by The King's band.
PEARL JAM is offering an advance track from the upcoming album through their website, though I think today is the last day you can get it for free.
SEEN YOUR VIDEO: Any fan of The Replacements or The Service has a soft spot for "Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)" by the studio musicians going under the name of the Edison Lighthouse. Singer Tony Burrows was also the voice on "My Baby Loves Lovin"', "Beach Baby", "United We Stand", "Gimme Dat Ding" and "I'd Like to Buy the World a Coke."
YO LA TENGO: YANP is sorta killing music with a whole mess of MP3s ripped from the band's annual appearance for WFMU's pledge drive, where they play requests for each hundred dollar donation -- ranging from Leonard Cohen to the Bay City Rollers to The Records to the Replacements to The Zombies to Hall & Oates to... well, you get the idea. YANP also suggests that people who download donate to WFMU.
CRACKER LOW DOWN: Stereogum is killing music with three versions of Low. The consensus there seems to be that the Cracker's re-recorded greatest hits collection is not as good as the one released on the same day by the band's ex-label, Virgin.
MIGHTY MAX WEINBERG, drummer for Conan O'Brien and Bruce Springteen, channels Henny Youngman.
SNOW PATROL is readying a sophomore album with guest shots from Martha Wainwright, Ken Stringfellow ( Posies/Big Star) and Eugene Kelly (Vaselines/Eugenius).
MORRISSEY: Pate frontman Jon Pratt was fond of saying that it's hard to be a prophet in your home town, but Moz gets four out of five stars in advance review of Ringleader Of The Tormentors, which is due next month. Stereogum points us to the video for "You Have Killed Me" and his readers' list of fake Moz song titles -- a must-read if you missed them last time I linked it.
PETE DOHERTY UPDATE: The Thames Magistrates' Court was told that the troubled singer is making "positive progress" in his fight against drug addiction, despite testing positive for drugs in his first month of his community service order and being charged with seven fresh counts of drugs possession.
TERI HATCHER was molested by her uncle when she was five years old; her testimony forced her uncle to plead guilty. When she went to the police in 2002 (after one of his victims committed suicide), Hatcher thought the details would get out and that cynics would accuse her of using the story to boost her career. But that didn't happen, so she's telling Vanity Fair now and getting on the cover again.
GORDON PARKS knew the answer to the question: "Who's that Black private dick who's a sex machine to all the chicks?" Director Gordon Parks, who also wrote fiction and was an accomplished photographer and composer, died in New York at 93. You can see a gallery of his famous photos courtesy of Kodak.
JESSICA ALBA was undoubtedly thrilled to be among the honorees in the 7th Annual Mr. Skin's Anatomy Awards.
PHOEBE CATES: Crimebuster! Sadly, she may never top her NSFW moment moving in stereo fromFast Times at Ridgemont High.
KEANU REEVES is often a block of wood onscreen, but he understands gossip better than most celebs.
THE SOPRANOS cast observed an an oath of omerta at the kickoff party for the new season, which premieres this Sunday. I'm with Paulie Walnuts, who declared, "It's about time. You can underline that."
JESSICA SIMPSON: Future ex Nick Lachey is "just friends" with Laguna Beach's Kristin Cavallari, which means you can put the survival gear back in the closet. OTOH, the pneumantic blonde is rumored to be getting a flood of e-mail from Jude Law, so maybe you you should keep your gear handy. W magazine reveals that Simpson -- who is getting her first checkbook since age 16 -- feels that the time is right to publish her innermost thoughts, favorite quotes and musings on life. Repent now, the end is nigh.
MADONNA is considering having plastic surgery to retain her youthful looks, but insists she won't tell fans about it (except that she she just did, sorta). For now, Madge is relying on Photoshop, with mixed results.
NICOLE KIDMAN getting a special love song from rumored beau-fiancee Keith Urban?
HEATH LEDGER flipped off the press after losing on Oscar night, but don't think it's a case of sour grapes -- he's reportedly spit on photogs in the past, so Ledger was actually being classier on awards night.
IT'S HARD OUT HERE FOR A PIMP: The Oscar for the theme song from Hustle & Flow is denounced by many African-Americans for a number of reasons. It even shocked a 17-year-old girl quoted in the Washington Post. But Salman Rushdie was rooting for the song to win.
OSCAR GIFT BAGS worth about 100K are taxable income to Oscar attendees, according to the IRS. Commissioner Mark Everson is reported to have said: "We want to make sure the stars 'walk the line' when it comes to these goody bags."
KEIRA KNGHTLEY: Various gossips and photgs have Keira crying in a swarm of paparazzi and seeking comfort from Sienna Miller. I don't buy this any more than the Jake Gyllenhaal rumor, because Sienna Miller woud have gladly assaulted the photogs had it happened. Meanwhile, contrary to an earlier report, at the Oscars, Jack Nicholson asked Knightley whether she had ever dated an older man. Which means that Keira denied it thinking she was being nice to Jack, or that her PR people realized that it sounds bad if you're the only starlet Jack has snubbed.
NANOTECH: University of Illinois scientists say they've developed an innovative strategy of mixing lipids and nanoparticles to produce new drug delivery vehicles.
EDU-BLOGGING: The 57th Carnival of Education is online. High-school English teacher Patrick Welsh writes that failures in the classroom are sometimes the fault of students and their families.
IRAQ: At Iraq the Model, Omar nicely sums up the Shia bloc's political dilemma regarding the Prime Minister post ahead of negotiations tonight or tomorrow on opening the Iraqi parliament. Bill Roggio notes that the AP managed to misreport even part of a good news story about progress in Anbar province.
IRANIANS believe they have the right to nuclear power, but are uneasy about the heavy-handed metods of their government. So they will be thrilled to learn -- if it's not censored -- that Tehran threatened the US with "harm and pain" if the UN Security Council took up the issue of Iran's nuke program. The UN nuclear watchdog cleared the way Security Council action Wednesday. The US has noted that whether its allies are ready to take any action on the matter remains to be seen.
"FURRY LOBSTER" discovered by French researchers in the South Pacific. It's blond and blind (probably because it's a deep-sea crustacean, I would guess).
RAINBOW SHEEP appear in politically correct nursery rhymes in Britain. And the BBC looks to have a picture of them, too.
PIGEONS like a statue of a woman made out of bread in a park in Santiago, Chile. Pic at the link. Meanwhile, in the UK, a man who plunged 30ft down a mill chimney survived by landing in six-inch-deep pigeon poop. Fortunately, no pic at the link.
MOOSE dies trying to figure out the subway in Oslo, Norway.
SHARKINATORS: The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency has creating a neural implant to enable engineers to remotely manipulate a shark's brain signals -- eventually allowing them to control the animal's movements and possibly decode their perceptions. If sharks could be trained to track enemy ships or submarines, or to detect underwater mines or cables, attaching laser beams to their frickin' heads should be easy.