reviews 2017

InvitationInvitation available on iTunes

Filthy Friends Invitation

The indie rock supergroup Filthy Friends initially formed in 2012 as a cover band. Led by Sleater-Kinney's Corin Tucker and R.E.M.'s Peter Buck, along with Kurt Bloch, Scott McCaughey, and Bill Rieflin, the group has released its debut album of originals, Invitation. Jim is skeptical of all supergroups, but thinks that Filthy Friends gels as a real band. He finds the guitar interplay to be a joy and loves the little allusions the band makes to their musical heroes. Jim calls Invitation a fun ride worthy of a Buy It. Greg, however, finds the album to be a tentative effort. Tucker's vocals are uncharacteristically restrained, he says, and the record lacks any musical surprises. According to Greg, the album is pleasant enough, but he can't imagine listening to it a year from now, so all he can give it is a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 616
Sleep Well BeastSleep Well Beast available on iTunes

The National Sleep Well Beast

The indie rock band The National just released their 7th studio album, Sleep Well Beast. On this record, Jim says the band's expressive lyricism, whether it's about world and governmental politics or politics in lead singer Matt Berninger's marriage, is as strong as ever. He's generally been a fan of the group, but what makes this album a Buy It for him is the record's electronic experimentation in the vein of Radiohead, as well as its impressive and steady guitar work. Greg believes that The National has always been a consistent band, and agrees with Jim that the ominous electronic undertones of the album make it unique and almost eerie. While Greg thinks this record is missing a little bit of The National's signature emotional explosiveness, he still finds it to be a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 615
VillainsVillains available on iTunes

Queens of the Stone Age Villains

Queens of the Stone Age talk Villains on their 7th release (double 7s this week!). Led by Josh Homme, the group emerged from the ashes of the desert rock band Kyuss and released their debut record in 1998. Almost 20 years later, Queens has had a revolving cast of characters making up the band, but both Jim and Greg think they finally settled on the right chemistry with Dean Fertita, Troy Van Leeuwin, Jon Theodore and Michael Shuman alongside Homme. While initially skeptical, Greg likes producer Mark Ronson's (Amy Winehouse & Bruno Mars collaborator) spin on the record. He thinks Ronson helped elevate the more“dancy”and rhythmic components of Queens. Greg gives Villains a Buy It. Jim loves the riffs and rhythms on this record, but thinks that Greg's praise of the lyrics as more than just another element in the wall of sound are a bit much. However, Jim loves the song "Feet Don't Fail Me" because of its myth-like storytelling. Jim gives Villains a Buy It as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 615
american dreamAmerican Dream available on iTunes

LCD Soundsystem American Dream

LCD Soundsystem – one of Jim and Greg's favorite bands of the 2000s – broke up in 2011 after a huge farewell show at Madison Square Garden. But only six years later, leader James Murphy has brought the group back for a fourth album, American Dream. Greg was skeptical after hearing the initial singles. But upon hearing the whole record, he calls it their most emotional work yet, designed to work as an album from beginning to end. He cites the haunted quality in Murphy's voice as he confronts getting older and loves the record's polyrhythmic vibes. While Greg gives it a Buy It, it pains Jim to give American Dream a Trash It. He's annoyed at hearing a 47-year-old complain about being old. According to Jim, the new album has lost the sense of humor, groove, and songs of the previous records, and he will never listen to American Dream again for pleasure.

JimGreg
Go to episode 614
PopularPopular available on iTunes

Van Hunt Popular

Soul-rocker Van Hunt's album Popular, originally slated for release back in 2008, is finally seeing the light of day. According to Greg, the record is“totally contemporary, and totally of the moment… still.” The album, a stylistic diversion from Van Hunt's previous efforts (Van Hunt [2006] and On the Jungle Floor [2007]), was shelved by Blue Note Records after promotional copies had been distributed to critics. Jim and Greg received copies of the album back then and gave the album an "enthusiastic double Buy It" – despite listeners not being able to purchase the music at the time. Now that Blue Note has given the record a proper release, Jim and Greg revisited the record. Greg calls it a Freudian, avant-garde take on Prince's Dirty Mind. He adds that the record has an“adventurous”blend of sonic elements like the mix of punk with falsetto soul vocals in "Turn My TV On." Jim says the record was ahead of its time in 2008 and still sounds absolutely fresh and current beside "other genre-bending maestros of R&B like Frank Ocean and Kendrick Lamar." Both Greg and Jim give Popular another double Buy It (and this time you can actually buy it).

JimGreg
Go to episode 614
Dark MatterDark Matter available on iTunes

Randy Newman Dark Matter

Dark Matter is Randy Newman's first album in nine years. Greg notes that although Newman has been awarded Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys, he remains a cult figure for his darkly satirical songwriting. Although Newman's pop career has not been nearly as commercially successful, there's much more to him than "Short People" and his well-known soundtrack work. This album features narratives about a number of notables, including "Sonny Boy", which was written from the perspective of blues great Sonny Boy Williamson, and "Putin," imagining Russian president Vladimir Putin as a song and dance man. Greg thinks that many of the songs are brilliant. He says there is no one out there like Newman, and gives the album a Buy It. But Jim says that while the songs sound like great ideas on paper, he doesn't find them listenable as execued. Jim adds that though he admires and respects Randy Newman, he just doesn‘t want to listen to him. Jim can’t give Dark Matter anything better than a Trash It because he never wants to hear it again.

JimGreg
Go to episode 612
Cost of LivingCost of Living available on iTunes

Downtown Boys Cost of Living

Jim has been a Downtown Boys fan since he saw them perform at SXSW 2016, and describes them as“an undeniable force of nature.”On their new album, Cost of Living, the members of Downtown Boys are angry at today's sociopolitical climate and use their music to convey that anger, fighting the fight using "good humor, momentum, and the only good saxophone in punk rock history since X-Ray Spex." Greg names Victoria Ruiz the“perfect front woman for these times”and thinks "A Wall" is the song of the year. He also notes how producer Guy Picciotto, of Fugazi, highlights the band's excellent rhythm section. Given the sad events that occurred in Charlottesville this week, Jim calls Cost of Living an“antidote and inspiration.” Both give the album a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 612
The AutobiographyThe Autobiography available on iTunes

Vic Mensa The Autobiography

This week, Jim and Greg review The Autobiography, the debut album by Chicago rapper Vic Mensa – a name already familiar around Chicago , with fans including Chance The Rapper and Kanye West. Mensa raps with a "genre-free approach to what hip hop is" while addressing his upbringing, his experiences with violence and drugs, and his own self-abuse - causing Greg to describe the record as brutally honest and“very emo.” Jim and Greg applaud producer No I.D. both for recognizing Mensa's artistic abilities and for producing a succinct album, rather than a bunch of singles. While Jim and Greg note that Mensa definitely tries too hard with some of the lyrics, both agree that the album is“really impressive…and moving”and give it a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 611
Everything NowEverything Now available on iTunes

Arcade Fire Everything Now

Arcade Fire has risen from indie rock obscurity in Montreal to become a major label, Grammy-winning, arena-level band. But Jim and Greg are not sold on Everything Now, their fifth studio album. While Jim says there has always been intellectual substance and an emotional core behind their big sound, he calls this the most ordinary collection of songs the band has given us. There are some tracks he loves and he appreciates that they are showing a sense of humor. But he finds this album not as ambitious musically – they all sound like imitations of ABBA songs, and not always with success. Greg somes up the album as“meh.”He calls it a second-rate disco record that fails to get him on the dance floor. There are some great pop moments, but not enough musical inspiration. Everything Now is a double-Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 609
Nothing is Quick in The Desert

Public Enemy Nothing is Quick in the Desert

Earlier this month, Hip-hop stalwarts Public Enemy released their 14th album, Nothing is Quick in the Desert. The release was available as a free download for only a limited time; but can still be listened to on YouTube. Greg notes that the group has been around for thirty years, providing important, socially conscious rhymes on albums like 1988's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. This album attempts to continue that tradition. Jim can do without Flavor Flav, but Greg disagrees saying that the emcee adds“comic relief”and“flavor”to what can be an otherwise“heavy”group. However, Jim adds that Chuck D provides insightful, politically charged lyrics. Jim says that though half of the album is "as good as anything Public Enemy has given us", he can only give the record a Try It. If you are looking for the old Public Enemy, according to Greg your best bet is to seek out“old Public Enemy”music. But, the group is still an arena-rap draw, he says; and the material on the album will play better on the stage. In that context, Greg gives the album a Try It, as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 608
Crack-UpCrack-Up available on iTunes

Fleet Foxes Crack-Up

Fleet Foxes helped create a Pacific Northwest-based folk-rock movement in the early aughts that featured acts like Blitzen Trapper and Bon Iver. Greg says that on their first record,“Fleet Foxes did it brilliantly, more brilliantly than any of them.”He goes on to say that their latest record, Crack-Up, doesn't fare as well. Greg says "some emotional intensity that [he] so loved about the band has gotten lost amid those serpentine arrangements that they are putting together". He says give it a Try It. Crack-Up was released after a six-year hiatus for the band, during which lead singer/guitarist Robin Pecknold attended school at Columbia University. Jim says though he generally likes Fleet Foxes, on this album there is a lot of "mid-tempo snooziness". He adds that he doesn't know why Pecknold decided to come back from his hiatus, because Pecknold "has nothing new to say". Jim gives the record a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 606

Lorde

Melodrama We're kicking off our New Zealand stop of the World Tour with a new record review from the island nation's most well-known artist-Lorde! Lorde first achieved success with her 2013 album Pure Heroine and the memorable single "Royals." It's been four years and her new record Melodrama offers a post-teenage take on young adulthood and overnight fame. Greg notes that Melodrama is at its core a singer-songwriter album, with Lorde writing some of the most innovative songs of the modern pop era. Specifically when it comes to the lyrics, Greg likes the idea that this is her“loss of innocence”record full of realizations about the world, and he gives it a Buy It. Jim agrees with Greg about the great songwriting and performances from Lorde, which he feels are superior to the over-production on the record by fun.'s Jack Antonoff. While he preferred Pure Heroine, Jim still thinks that Lorde is the real deal and gives Melodrama a Buy It.

Go to episode 605
ChuckChuck available on iTunes

Chuck Berry Chuck

When Chuck Berry, one of the architects of rock ‘n’ roll, died in March, he had completed work on what would be his final album. Chuck, his first record since 1979, has finally been released. Jim warns that critics need to evaluate posthumous albums on their own terms when they come from beloved artists. In the case of Chuck, Jim says, the record features some of the worst songs in Berry's history – from the Caribbean pastiche of "Jamaica Moon" to the talking blues of "Dutchman" and "Eyes of Man." Berry's lyrics, voice, and guitar playing are not what they were in his prime. Greg is charmed that Berry is including family members and talking about his family for the first time on record. He's also intrigued by the insight into Berry's odd personality that comes though. But he agrees that it's not much of a musical accomplishment. Chuck, sadly, gets a double-Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 603
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club BandSgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band available on iTunes

The Beatles Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band

A half-century has passed since America first heard The Beatles' eighth album, Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. The anniversary, along with a new remix of the album, has meant a deluge of nostalgia and media coverage. No doubt the album is important for its advancement of concept albums and studio production, but removed from the hype does the album hold up? Jim and Greg gave the album a fresh listen. For Greg, the album is about“sound over songs.”While innovative, this is not The Beatles at their songwriting best. He says it is“whimsical”and“charming”and if a new band put Sgt. Pepper's out today, he'd say Try It. Jim, thinks the album's praise is based too much on the context of the political and social atmosphere of 1967 and when removed from that context, the album doesn't hold up. Jim says the song writing is very conservative and the album is largely a“mess.”That said, Jim says Being For The Benefit Of Mr. Kite! and A Day In The Life makes the album a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 602
WitnessWitness available on iTunes

Benjamin Booker Witness

Greg notes that Benjamin Booker's sound was initially inspired by the question of what would it sound like "if Otis Redding strapped on an electric guitar and played in a punk band?" The resulting debut album, released in 2014, got the attention of fellow artists like Jack White. Witness is Benjamin Booker's second album, which finds him“inspired by the Black Matter Movement, and by America's changing attitudes in the era of Trump”according to Jim. Witness experiments with punk rock, glam rock, and rhythm and blues. Jim loves“the fire in his guitar”and "the vocals", and for Jim, the album is a buy it. Greg says that the album is“terse”and“direct”that "broaden[s] his scope both musically and lyrically". For Greg, the record is a buy it, as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 602
Harry StylesHarry Styles available on iTunes

Harry Styles Harry Styles

Musician Harry Styles has been compared to Davie Bowie in the British press. But does his debut solo album, Harry Styles, live up to the hype? Greg says the album rips off classic rock riffs from the likes of U2 and Badfinger to craft a“retro-leaning”sound. He was expecting a“pop-leaning stadium sounding record”from Styles, who was formerly a member of boy band One Direction. Greg thinks the album, however, is a“personal-sounding”record that lacks substantive lyrics. Greg says Trash It. Jim says turn to Justin Timberlake if you want to see a "young product of the modern pop machine" who became a "true visionary artist". He admits“there are some charming moments”on the record, but that "most of them [are] ripped off from other places in rock history". Ultimately, Jim gives Harry Styles a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 600
Sir The Baptist

Sir the Baptist Saint or Sinner

Chicago's Sir the Baptist broke on the scene with a gospel-fueled single called "Raise Hell", and his debut album Saint or Sinner continues his experiments in blending the sacred and the street. Greg says that at Lollapalooza last year, Sir performed part of his set out of a casket on stage, "a commentary on the gun violence in Chicago; but also, a deeper message about faith, about spirituality, and about the role it could play in the lives of young people." Jim and Greg note that Sir the Baptist was ahead of the curve of mixing religious music and popular urban music that fellow Chicagoans Chance the Rapper and Jamila Woods have also explored. Jim says that Sir the Baptist is "firmly based in that rich Chicago tradition of gospel music" but Sir is "skeptical… of faith that is not grounded in morality". He calls "Deliver Me" an extraordinary track. Jim praises the album's deep themes. Both Jim and Greg give Saint or Sinner an enthusiastic Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 600
Dirty Pictures (Part 1)Dirty Pictures (Part 1) available on iTunes

Low Cut Connie Dirty Pictures (Part 1)

Low Cut Connie is a bar band at its roots. According to Greg, Dirty Pictures (Part 1), their fourth album, is the closest the band has come to "matching the energy of one of [their] stage shows". Jim says that their version of Prince's "Controversy" "make[s] a song that great and a sound that signature their own". He also says that Low Cut Connie is part "bar room shtick, with a lot of melody and a message".

"C'mon, children, rip it up," lead singer Adam Weiner commands on "Revolution Rock ‘n’ Roll", while "Death and Destruction" tells of a world teetering on the brink of disaster. Greg says that Weiner returns to his cabaret roots in "Forever". Both Jim and Greg dig it and give it a Buy Itrating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 599
Humanz (Deluxe)Humanz available on iTunes

Gorillaz Humanz

The virtual band led by Blur's Damon Albarn, Gorillaz, is back with the group's fifth album. While they may technically be a“fictional”band, their impressive record and concert sales are very real. Their new record, Humanz, features collaborations with artists like Mavis Staples, Pusha T, Jehnny Beth of Savages, Grace Jones and more. Jim thinks Humanz is another great and creative effort from Gorillaz. He thinks the guest cameos work well from track to track, and that Damon Albarn created an interesting, dystopian effort. He gives it a Buy It. Greg is also a big Gorillaz fan, and thinks that Albarn gets the best out of his guests, and particularly loves the cameos from new artist Benjamin Clementine and rapper Vince Staples. While he doesn't think much of the collaboration track from Albarn and“enemy”Noel Gallagher of Oasis, he thinks Humanz is a great end of the world party soundtrack. He gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 598
SacredSacred available on iTunes

The Obsessed Sacred

Although The Obsessed was formed by Scott“Wino”Weinrich back in 1976, the Maryland metal band has only released four albums in its career. The latest, Sacred, is its first in 23 years and continues the band's blend of stoner rock, doom metal, and biker rock. According to Greg, Wino is not revisiting his old glories but is instead writing contemplatively about his life as an outsider in very honest terms. Although the production is cleaner than on previous records, that serves to underline the band's great melodies. Jim says that the great thing about metal is that it doesn't matter what you look like or how old you are, as long as you can deliver the goods – and Wino can do just that. The songs on Sacred are as good as any in the band's past, with more bottom than ever in the sound. The album earns a double-Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 596
DAMN.DAMN. available on iTunes

Kendrick Lamar DAMN.

Rapper Kendrick Lamar just released his latest album, DAMN. which follows his massive 2015 record To Pimp a Butterfly. Since his rise to prominence a few years ago, Lamar has become the standard to which other rappers and hip hop acts are measured. Jim finds DAMN. to be a“grower”that the listener appreciates with repeat listenings. While this record doesn‘t grab you in the same way as To Pimp a Butterfly, he loves Lamar’s latest effort. Between his enlightened lyrics and classic gangster rap sonics, Jim thinks this album is a Buy It. Greg agrees, as Kendrick shows a mastery of storytelling and flow with this record. And while the sound may be stripped down from previous albums, Kendrick is no less ambitious as he draws lines between street violence and American foreign policy. Greg says DAMN. is no less than a“masterpiece”making for a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 595
Resistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle AlbumResistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle Album available on iTunes

Danger Mouse Resistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle Album

Danger Mouse (Bryan Burton) and Sam Cohen have produced a new concept album called Resistance Radio: The Man in the High Castle Album, which serves as a sort of companion to the Amazon Prime TV series Man in the High Castle. The TV show imagines a dystopian, alternate, early 1960s America where Japan and Germany won WWII, rather than the Allied Forces. The album features retro covers of mid-century pop standards like "Taste of Honey" and "Who's Sorry Now". Gregsays he "didn't get anything new… from these interpretations". He calls Resistance Radio a Trash It record, and thinks listeners are better off seeking out the original recordings of the songs. The recordings on this album were mastered from vinyl to get that vintage sound. Jim says that the sound was well executed. And, he notes that the songs take on additional resonance because they are "American anthems from a very different America in the setting of this show". For Jim, it's a Buy It record.

JimGreg
Go to episode 595
Hot ThoughtsHot Thoughts available on iTunes

Spoon Hot Thoughts

Austin, Texas-based indie rockers Spoon have teamed again with producer Dave Fridmann for their ninth studio album, Hot Thoughts. The result, according to Greg, is a subterranean disco record where everything becomes a percussion instrument, from the guitar riffs to Britt Daniel's rhythmic vocals. Alternating between minimalist electro-grooves and avant-garde tracks, it's a great Spoon album that the band has been building toward its entire career. Jim concurs, highlighting the inventive drumming of Jim Eno that propels the band. He marvels that Spoon can continously reshuffle the same minimalist ingredients yet always come up with bold new statements. Hot Thoughts gets a double-Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 594
Whiteout ConditionsWhiteout Conditions available on iTunes

The New Pornographers Whiteout Conditions

The New Pornographers formed in the '90s as a collective of Vancouver songwriters, including A.C. Newman, Neko Case, and Dan Bejar of Destroyer. Bejar was not available for their ninth album, Whiteout Conditions, leaving Newman as the driving force. Although he was never a fan of Bejar's work, Jim guiltily admits he's grown bored with the band. Kathryn Calder's vocals are great as ever, and the record is full of“perfectly fine catchy ditties,”but it lacks any standout tracks. Jim feels Newman is running on fumes, and gives the album a Trash It. Greg feels that's too harsh, but says it lacks the variety of the band's previous records. Every song uses synthesizers to drive the rhythm and he feels the album suffers from not including Bejar's songs. Greg gives Whiteout Conditions a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 594
Emperor of SandEmperor of Sand available on iTunes

Mastodon Emperor of Sand

The Atlanta metal band Mastodon has just released its seventh album, Emperor of Sand. Like previous Mastodon albums, the album follows a thematic concept. This time it follows the tale of a man sentenced to wander the empty, desolate desert. Greg thinks the thematic elements work well, along with a slightly“pop-ish approach”with a turn towards melodic vocals. In addition to the smooth vocals, Greg believes their integration of different instruments is extremely strong (tubular bells!). He gives it a Buy It. Jim likens Mastodon's sound to mid-period Rush, especially when it comes to their progressive rock sound and detailed lyricism. He thinks it's as good as Mastodon gets and gives Emperor of Sand an enthusiastic Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 594
Mental IllnessMental Illness available on iTunes

Aimee Mann Mental Illness

Aimee Mann began her career as the lead singer of the Boston synth pop band 'Til Tuesday in the 1980s. Since then, she's had a successful solo career, most notably with her 2000 album Bachelor No. 2. She's just released her first solo record in five years, Mental Illness. Jim thinks that this is one of Mann's best efforts. He loves her minimal use of instrumentation and thoughtful lyrics. While he's not a fan of the singer-songwriter genre, he digs Aimee Mann and gives Mental Illness a Buy It. Greg is also a longtime Aimee Mann fan, and thinks this record is one of her all-time best. Her intelligent lyrics and melancholy vocals make Mental Illness a superb album. He gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 594
DrunkDrunk available on iTunes

Thundercat Drunk

Stephen Bruner, better know as Thundercat, is an in-demand session bassist. A resume containing artists from Kendrick Lamar to Suicidal Tendencies is testament to that. Thundercat is also a songwriter in his own right and has just released his third album, Drunk. Weighing in at 23 tracks, Greg says it is a challenging listen. With references to jazz fusion, Earth, Wind and Fire, and cameos from Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald he admits the album is“bewildering,”especially as Thundercat vacillates from introspective songs about mortality and police brutality, to shopping for anime in Tokyo. But, Greg says it is an“audio-veritae”of Thundercat's life, that shows virtuosity and personality. That said, Greg stops short of saying Buy It and instead gives it a Try It and he eagerly awaits what is next from Thundercat.Jim, had a much more visceral reaction to this record saying he“despises it”and claiming it left him with a skin rash (Editor's Note: we didn't verify this). He says the album is full of“pointless busyness”as Thundercat tries to cram too many ideas into his music. It goes without saying, Jim gives it a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 589
In BetweenIn Between available on iTunes

The Feelies In Between

The New Jersey rock band The Feelies has just released their sixth album in four decades called In Between. The group is noted for its cohesion and consistency over its long tenure. Greg thoroughly enjoys this record, and admires The Feelies‘ skill in combining elements of rock with zen and existential messaging ("make a plan, let it be.") He also appreciates the band’s ability to perform as one voice, which speaks to how close these guys are. Greg gives it a Buy It. Jim couldn't agree more, and he expresses his deep admiration and love for The Feelies. He finds this record to be well worth the wait, and praises the group for their combination of the best sounds of The Velvet Underground and Brian Eno (ding!) Without hesitation, Jim gives In Between an enthusiastic Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 588
DROGAS LightDROGAS Light available on iTunes

Lupe Fiasco DROGAS Light

After a public battle with his former music label, Atlantic, rapper Lupe Fiasco has finally released a new album. DROGAS Light is Fiasco's sixth studio record, and is the first of his final trilogy of albums. Jim has always enjoyed Lupe's music, and says that he is one of the most intelligent people he has ever interviewed. That being said, this album is not reflective of his intellect and lyrical prowess. Many of the tracks feel like leftovers from other projects and sound far too much like bad commercial rap songs. Jim gives it a Try It at best. Greg is also a huge fan of Lupe, and almost always finds his music profound and interesting. However he finds DROGAS Light to be repetitive, crass and unimaginative. Although it pains him to do it, Greg gives this album a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 586
Nothing Feels NaturalNothing Feels Natural available on iTunes

Priests Nothing Feels Natural

Washington, DC quartet Priests prove that punk is alive and well in the Nation's Capital. The band has been on a healthy clip since 2011 releasing music and touring but Nothing Feels Natural is the band's debut full-length album release. Greg says it is an ambitious“critique of nothing less than America”full of sarcastic views on politics and capitalism. Those heavy ideas are bouyed by a“fantastic rhytm section”that keeps Greg "spinning around an imaginary dance floor". Jim hears a strong post-punk influence hailing to the early 1980s but thinks this is an album that can“only be made by someone of the current generation”tackling technology and feelings of isolation. It is an enthusiastic doube Buy It!

JimGreg
Go to episode 585
Near To The Wild Heart Of LifeNear to the Wild Heart of Life available on iTunes

Japandroids Near to the Wild Heart of Life

Canadian rock band Japandroids have just released their first album since 2012, Near to the Wild Heart of Life. Many people thought this band wasn't going to return to the road or the recording studios, but both Jim and Greg were fans of their previous two albums. Greg thinks this album is just okay, and many of the songs clocking out several minutes longer than they should. He admires the ambition of Near to the Wild Heart of Life, but thinks that the group ended up sacrificing their fun, signature rock and roll sound in the process. Greg gives it a Try It. Jim thinks Greg is being a little grumpier than he needs to be about this record. He thinks they get the“barroom sage poet”element just right. He also likes the instrumental experimentation, and gives this album a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 584
Ty SegallTy Segall available on iTunes

Ty Segall Ty Segall

San Francisco's Ty Segall is one of today's most prolific rockers. Since his 2008 debut, he's collaborated with bands like Traditional Fools and Fuzz, in addition to his own solo work. For his most recent self-titled album, Ty Segall, he recorded with his touring band. Jim thinks that this album is extraordinary, combining elements of glam rock, psychedelic sounds, and fiery garage rock a'la 13th Floor Elevators. Jim particularly enjoyed "Orange Color Queen", an ode to Ty's girlfriend that he called "a touching love song". Greg says that this is an album to love, his most song-focused and diverse record in his catalog, right up there with 2014's Manipulator. Both critics say Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 584
I See YouI See You available on iTunes

The xx I See You

When The xx were guests on the shows in 2010, Jim & Greg had no idea the British trio's blend of modern soul with minimalist '80s alternative sounds would prove so influential. Greg says that the band has subtly expanded its sound on its third album I See You, but hasnn‘t taken any big musical leaps. Because he feels the group hasn’t quite got there yet, Greg gives the album a Try It. Jim, however, loves the contrast between the album's celebratory sounds and its hints of darkness under the surface. Jim says The xx have grown and are pointing toward something exciting, proving they're a career band. For him, I See You is a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 582
Oczy MlodyOczy Mlody available on iTunes

The Flaming Lips Oczy Mlody

The fourteenth studio album by The Flaming Lips is titled Oczy Mlody, a Polish phrase meaning“the eyes of the young.”Jim says its a sleepy album, filled with electronic glitchiness and Miley Cyrus cameos, but lacking the tunefulness that once made them a great band. According to Jim, the Lips have spent the last decade churning out product without really spending time crafting their records in the studio. Greg agrees that the songwriting has fallen off on Oczy Mlody. They both give the album a Try It rating, saying it's nowhere in league with the band's best. Jim, as the author of The Flaming Lips' biography, recommends that listeners who have only heard the last decade of Flaming Lips music check out their back catalog, pointing to early masterpieces like 1990's In a Priest Driven Ambulance and Transmissions from the Satellite Heart from 1993.

JimGreg
Go to episode 582
Run the Jewels 3Run the Jewels 3 available on iTunes

Run the Jewels Run the Jewels 3

Run the Jewels formed after Killer Mike enlisted El-P to produce his 2012 album R.A.P. Music and the two men immediately hit it off. Since then, the duo has released three albums, one cat remix record, and appeared on Sound Opinions. Greg says that RTJ has upped the intensity with each record, and the latest, Run the Jewels 3, is their finest yet. Greg finds both of them to be incredibly skilled emcees, providing dizzying momentum to their political calls to arms. Jim also admires their lyrics, but also notes the album's production. Musically, Run the Jewels creates an inventively dense sound collage, confirming for Jim that they are one of the most important duos in hip-hop today. Run the Jewels 3 gets a double-Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 581