THE WEEKEND STARTS HERE...
...with SOUL ASYLUM, completing my Twin Cities trilogy. Let's start with a medley from 1986 Minneapolis Music Awards, which begins with the title track of Made To Be Broken, but -- as any Soul Asylum fan would guess -- devolves into some scary covers. Let's just say they play some funky music. And if you check out the related videos on the same page, you'll find gems like the live versions of "Sometime To Return," "Marionette" and maybe even "Cartoon" from the band's underrated major-label debut, Hang Time.
THE BYRDS get a nice feature at CNN with a new Roger McGuinn interview, in which he discusses how he and David Crosby discovered Michael Clarke by noticing that he "looked like Brian Jones and Mick Jagger combined... We recognized the value of having a good-looking guy in the band." Photo gallery at the link, too.
ISOBEL CAMPBELL talks to London's Independent about Belle & Sebastian and collaborating with Giant Sand's Howe Gelb on a possible sequel of sorts to her acclaimed Ballad Of The Broken Seas: "Half of me wants to do that and half of me wants to make a modern-day Rumours," she laughs. "Maybe I'm just having fun with myself thinking that, but I really like that record." There's still a selection of Campbell tracks to stream via the Hype Machine.
THE NEW PORNOGRAPHERS are already working on a new album, with a hoped-for Summer 2007 release, guitarist Todd Fancey tells Pitchfork. Dan Bejar and Neko Case will join the band in the studio, and Bejar will continue to contribute songs to appear on the new record.
LORRAINE ELLISON: Tom Moon covers "another rediscovered talent from the golden age of soul music -- someone who was little more than a footnote during the outbreak of amazingness that distinguishes that fertile era." You can stream three from her posthumous box set at NPR.
RAY CHARLES: I had "Georgia On My Mind," so I found it along with "Hit The Road, Jack" and a take on "What'd I Say," live at the 1960 Newport Jazz Festival.
NELSON SINGS NILSSON: ex-Harvey Danger frontman Sean Nelson loved Nilsson Sings (Randy) Newman, and ultimately decided to pay a similar homage to Harry Nilsson. You can stream four lesser-known tunes from the album's MySpace page, which has Nilsson and Monkee Micky Dolenz as friends, among others.
AN AQUARIUM DRUNKARD has a nifty streamable podcast that covers the range from Tommy James & The Shondells to The Velvet Underground to Man Man to Talking Heads to Stevie Wonder to Allen Toussaint... and more.
BECK talks to the San Jose Mercury News about his continual experimentation and to LA Weekly about Los Angeles and whether the way music is now distributed and disseminated influences him.
SUFJAN STEVENS tells the Philadelphia Inquirer that releasing The Avalanche -- an album of outtakes from the Illinois album, relieved an anxiety he does not feel over trying to complete his "50 State Project:" "It doesn't eat at me in the same way because it's so sensational and so ridiculous and so outrageous that it's not realistic. Unfinished songs are concrete. They're like existential unfinished sores. A concept like the 50-state thing is just all speculation, all advertisement... . I know I need to embark on it. But I also know I need to slow down because I can't do everything at once."
THE CUTOUT BIN: This Friday's fortuitous finds from the Hype Machine include: Marc Cohn - Walking In Memphis (live at KBCO); Dave Grohl - Tiny Dancer (if you can only listen to one...); Johnny Cash and June Carter - If I Were A Carpenter; Dusty Springfield - "No Easy Way Down; El Perro Del Mar - God Knows (You Got To Give To Get); The Beach Boys - God Only Knows; Harry Nilsson - Me and My Arrow; World Party - All The Young Dudes; Cracker - Shake Some Action; and The Ramones - Judy Is A Punk ("She smokes...").
PETE DOHERTY has been spotted buying syringes, just three days and 15 hours after leaving The Priory rehab clinic, according to London's Sun.
ANNA NICOLE SMITH has married her long-time attorney and close confidante, Howard K. Stern, according to the ever-reliable Star.
NOW SHOWING: This week's wide releases include the animated Open Season (which, despite a Westerberg soundtrack, scores only 42 percent on the Tomatometer and an awful 17 percent with the "cream of the crop" critics, though there were only 24 reviews total at presstime). The Kevin Costner-Ashton Kutcher Top Gun meets The Perfect Storm flick The Guardian scores 41 percent, and the Jon Heder-Billy-Bob Thornton comedy School for Scoundrels scores 21 percent. Michel Gondry's The Science of Sleep (70 percent) expands to about 220 screens, so I may go see that.
BRITNEY SPEARS is dumping her PR flack, Leslie Sloane Zelnik, following the pop tart's Matt Lauer meltdown and failed efforts to spin stories about marital troubles, according to Radar. Or not, according to E! News.
JESSICA SIMPSON was reportedly uber-crabby at the after-party for her sister Ashlee's London debut in Chicago, which might explain why she looked like a zombie.
KATE HUDSON-OWEN WILSON UPDATE: The National Enquirer's Mike Walker claims that Owen Wilson recently drove up to Hudson's home, pulled out a boom box and sang the Elvis classic, "I Can't Help Falling In Love With You."
SCARLETT JOHANSSON and NATALIE PORTMAN are shooting The Other Boleyn Girl, and, as Egotastic puts it, "even if this movie is the worst movie ever, it will still be the best movie ever."
LINDSAY LOHAN is finally moving out of Chateau Marmont hotel, which undoubtedly pleases the hotel staff and Li-Lo's accountants.
ROSIE O'DONNELL has been named the "worst looking" celeb in High-Definition TV, according to Phillip Swann of TVPredictions.com, a website that covers the HDTV industry. Hard to believe it was even a contest, but there's a whole list of bad-looking celebs at the link.
JOHN HUGHES, director of The Breakfast Club, Ferris Bueller's Day Off and other teen movies was part of the vast right-wing conspiracy, according to Michael Weiss at Slate, who also has it out for Harold Ramis.
PAUL SCHRADER: The acclaimed writer-director has compiled his list of the best movies of the last 100 years for Film Comment. Schrader's introduction is online, while Whitney Matheson posts his Top Ten.
LITTLE SUPERSTAR: I think all websites are obligated to post this video. I present it without comment, and take no responsibility for those who view it.
IRAQ in the MEDIA: Journalist Bob Woodward, promoting an upcoming book, claims the Bush administration is concealing the level of violence against US troops: "It's getting to the point now where there are eight, 900 attacks a week." Actually, that's the number you can see in the Iraq Index. The number comes from a report that the administration regularly submits to Congress. No Deep Throat necessary for that one.
IRAQ: A United Nations report on Iraq was more upbeat than the declassified key judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate, claiming that claimed al Qaeda "may see more losses than gains" in Iraq and that the flow of foreign fighters into Iraq has slowed to a trickle. The new leader of al Qaeda in Iraq purportedly claims that more than 4000 foreign jihadis have been killed in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003. He also called for scientists knowledgeable in chemical weapons and nuclear scientists to join the jihad. All of which suggests AQ-I is having a problem with recruitment for Iraq. The Kuwaiti News Agency reports that Coalition forces captured the emir of Mosul, which is a high ranking position in al Qaeda's organization. The New York Times reports that radical Shiite cleric Moktada al-Sadr has lost control of portions of his Mahdi Army militia, which may open the door to Iranian influence, or facilitate a divide-and-conquer strategy for the splinter gangs.
AFGHANISTAN: NATO agreed to expand its military operations into eastern Afghanistan, even as it struggles to find troops to hold off a dogged Taliban-led insurgency in the volatile south. The move would permit NATO's commanders to move US soldiers from the east down to the Taliban's southern heartland, where British, Dutch and Canadian troops have been locked in battle with Taliban-led fighters. Poland will accelerate the deployment of its troops and supply reinforcements NATO needs in the volatile south. Polish Defense Minister Sikorski: "If we want NATO to invest in our security, our army cannot remain in barracks while NATO is battling dangerous fanatics."
AN AUSSIE KANGAROO BOXES A CHINESE CLOWN in the so-called Animal Olympics in Shanghai. Animal rights campaigners are unhappy. Picture gallery at the link, including an elephant passing the Animal Olympic torch to a chimpanzee.
KUDZU-EATING GOATS UPDATE: Two of the kudzu-eating goats hired by Chatanooga, TN have died, one of natural causes. Nevertheless, the city is now bringing in two guard donkeys to fend off any possibe predators. Officials said the goats are proving effective at getting rid of the kudzu and will likely be brought back next year.
A PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS has descended around the Mexican beach resort of Cancun. Towns have formed pesticide-armed brigades and are winning the war against the 3-week-old plague that has -- so far -- left tourist areas unharmed.
DOGS have joined the fight against video piracy.
ANIMAL PENISES are a delicacy in China. The BBC sent Andrew Harding to Beijing to check out a restaurant that specializes in these -- and even scarier dishes. Don't click near a meal-time, folks. It's way worse than Fear Factor.