Contemporary Short Novels for Your Summer Reading Pleasure

Now that the balmy days of summer are upon us, it’s time to pack your bag with books (or your e-reader of choice) for some beach reading. You could get bold and try to tackle the likes of Ulysses, Anna Karenina, or Infinite Jest, but maybe you’d be better off polishing off shorter but still substantial fare. Short novels (defined as being about 120 to 200 pages long) aren’t low on quality content just because they’re low on pages — they are, in fact, part of a great tradition that includes classics like The Turn of the Screw, Candide, Death in Venice, and The Call of the Wild. If you’re on the lookout for more contemporary shorties, though, we’ve got you covered. Along with books published in the past few years, we’ve also included some first-time English translations that have come out recently. … Read More

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33 Women Music Critics You Need to Read

Ideally, you wouldn’t need a list like this, which might sound as patronizing as a “women in rock” magazine issue, but like most other professions, music journalism is still mostly a sausage fest. Think of about it. Who’s the most revered saint in the biz? Lester Bangs. Who are the elder statesmen? Greil Marcus, Robert Christgau, Richard Meltzer. The recent “voice of a generation”? Chuck Klosterman. Sure, we admire ‘em but do you notice a pattern here?

A sea change may be happening, though. This month saw the publication of Out of the Vinyl Deeps, an anthology of music writing the late New Yorker critic Ellen Willis. The book also contained tributes to Willis from other women music writers, and resulted in a conference celebrating Willis (and featuring some of the field’s brightest stars) at NYU. Also this year, the Village Voice finally named a woman to head up their music section, for the first time in years, NPR’s online music section now features a woman in a major post. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg. So, this seems like a good time to toast some of the most noteworthy women in the field. … Read More

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21 Before-Their-Time Mashup Records

It’s been called “bastard pop” and “bootleg remixes,” but since it’s been appropriated to describe any kind of combination of media, the most common term we have for it is “mashup.” Originally, it was used to describe unauthorized mixes where the vocal track from one song is laid over the instrumental track of another (or more than one) song to create a new tune.

You can get into all sorts of arguments over where this began or what was the first mashup record, but a pretty good educated guess traces it to computer/electronics wizard Mark Gunderson, who founded the group Evolution Control Committee in 1987. Four years later, a landmark legal case, where dreary singer/songwriter Gilbert O’Sullivan’s publishing company successfully sued rapper Biz Markie’s label over a sample of GOS’s 1972 hit “Alone Again Naturually,” drove the hardcore art of sampling (especially the unauthorized kind) underground, which is where ECC comes into the picture again. … Read More

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Flavorpill’s Official SXSW Music 2011 Survival Guide

You’ve got your hotel reservations, your flight info, and your conference registration taken care of, so you’re all set for the annual South by Southwest music festival in Texas, right? Well, it’s a start. For newbies, SXSW can be daunting — there are about 2,000 bands playing at dozens of venues in downtown Austin over the course of five days and nights. What’s more, you’ll be among over 10,000 people there to see it all happen.

So how do you get a handle on everything and get through SXSW in one piece? Good planning, that’s how. You could just wing it and go with the flow but you’ll probably miss out on a lot of worthwhile things there. After over ten years of annual pilgrimages to Austin, we’ve picked up a couple of pointers for SXSW and how to get the most out of it. Our guide, for first-timers and seasoned attendees alike, is after the jump. … Read More

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12 Crazily Named SXSW Bands That Are Actually Worth Hearing

This weekend, while you’re setting your clocks forward, the music world will be packing for next week’s 25th annual South by Southwest festival in Austin. Along with film and tech offerings, there’s five days and nights of music by about 2,000 bands there, many of which we’d love to see, if only our cloning device were up to speed. As such, you gotta pick and choose among the aural smorgasbord out there.

Big-name acts (The Strokes, Bright Eyes, Wu-Tang Clan, and even Duran Duran) abound, but we’re always fascinated by the bizarrely named bands that show up at the festival: While Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin is returning this year, it looks like we won’t be seeing I Love You But I’ve Chosen Darkness, and Gay Witch Abortion seems to have dropped off the schedule, too. Luckily, among the SXSW class of ’11, there’s a whole new class of great bands whose weird monikers shouldn’t scare you away. Check out 12 of the best after the jump. … Read More

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