Tag Archives: destroyer

Is It Propaganda If You Believe?

Issue #3 of Work in Progress is alive, well, and ambling about online. I’m especially pleased with this one, as I got to ask my friend Westin to contribute. Some know him as the drummer for The Thermals, or the creative force behind The Reformation. I know him as my old Seattle drinking buddy. We tossed a few ideas back and forth over email, and settled on pairing novels and records of unique affinity. Check ’em out, and let him know in the comments if you agree or not.

And because it’s awesome, here’s The Thermals’ new music video:

MORE: the incredibly brilliant Dan Bejar graciously answered my questions and forced interpretations of his lyrics; Rivka Galchen prods Chris Adrian for info about his next novel, coming out in 2011; Paris Review editor Lorin Stein looks back at Nobel laureate I.B. Singer on the occasion of The Magician of Lublin‘s 50th anniversary; and Lydia Davis reads new work at our most recent event at the Russian Samovar. The first story in the video is flat out funny, and will make you wish you thought of the conceit first:

Basically, all good stuff. Hope you enjoy it.

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My New Job at FSG

As Futurama‘s Dr. Farnsworth would say, “Good news, everyone!” I’ve transitioned from Macmillan’s central online marketing department to working exclusively for Farrar, Straus and Giroux. I’m now the “Online Marketing Manager.” Why? A few reasons:

  1. Have you read FSG’s books? Yes? Then you understand. In 2010 alone we’re publishing work by Jonathan Franzen, Alex Ross, Nelson Mandela, and Jimmy Carter, in addition to a slew of debut writing. This is one aspect I truly value – too often other publishers’ online marketing efforts are directed solely at already established bestsellers or celebrities. I’m concerned with the new methods for building an author’s readership from scratch. Yes, it’s more of a challenge. I like challenges.
  2. Working on the corporate level for Macmillan has been valuable, especially the different ways our publishers approach their myriad audiences. It goes without saying that First Second is an entirely different beast than St. Martin’s Press or Macmillan Audio. I felt it was time to specialize, to work closely with authors and titles in a way I couldn’t before. And since I grew up reading FSG’s authors and greatly respect the people who work there, it was a natural fit. (At least, here’s hoping.)
  3. I’ve come up with a list of a dozen experiments for 2010, all in the service of navigating the changes in reader’s habits. These are not grand, expensive ideas. But they are easier to implement with a focused list and an equally focused team of editors and publicists.
  4. Destroyer’s “Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Sea of Tears).” How many other publishing houses do you know have such indie rock bona fides?

More to come, as these projects take shape. It’s going to be an awesome fucking year.

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The Persistence of Memorable Albums

The underrated Russian Futurists

Every year there are Top Ten lists and, recently, a smattering of Best of the Decade lists. I always feel like these are woefully artificial means of recording time. The most “important” records rarely align with the calendar year, nor should they.

So I thought I’d present a list of albums that fought their way to the top of my playlists year after year. The true favorites. They’re by no means the “best,” according to most criteria, but these records each soundtracked the aught years.

Destroyer – Destroyer’s Rubies
My friend Westin played Destroyer for me in 2004, and it took me a good year to get around to liking Daniel Bejar’s music. While Streethawk: A Seduction and Trouble in Dreams have their moments, I never tire of Rubies and its thrilling songwriting. How many artists do you know quote Otis Redding and Ezra Pound?

The Stills – Logic Will Break Your Heart
Some bands are just right place, right time. This was one of those. Seeing “Yesterday Never Tomorrows” in concert was a top-five live music moment.

Interpol – Antics
Sure, this will be the music on all the “classic rock” radio stations in fifteen years. That’s partially because it’s so accessible, but more because it’s so enduring.

The Strokes – Is This It
Obviously.

Camera Obscura – Let’s Get Out of This Country
Man I love oldies music. I also love bands that love oldies music.

Cut Copy – Bright Like Neon Love
This record may as well have been lab-tested for my tastes: former DJ starts rock band, can’t quite shake off his dancefloor roots. They make it look easy, belying the songs’ ingenious atypical structure. See “Zap Zap”: a wave carrying you out to sea, lulling you until the final moments when you realize you’re in dangerous territory.

Idlewild – 100 Broken Windows
Again with the literary rock bands. I’m a sucker for guys who read Gertrude Stein and hail from England. Alas, they never recaptured the manic energy of this LP.

Morrissey – Vauxhall & I
Blame record store serendipity. This was the first post-Smiths Morrissey disc I checked out, and so it took up residence over others. I know it has a few flaws (he actually starts “Speedway” with a chainsaw revving, for Christ’s sake), but when I was 20 years old I didn’t care. Still don’t.

The Russian Futurists – Our Thickness
I still have no idea how this guy flies so under the radar. He’s one of the most talented bedroom-pop producers alive, essential music for any Magnetic Fields or Washed Out fan. Maybe he’s really racist or hates his fans or something; there’s got to be a reason he never became more well known. Continue reading

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