rock doctors 2007

Pat

In the HMO-free universe of the Rock Doctors, everyone is entitled to better musical health. This week's patient is Pat from Chicago, IL. Pat wrote to Sound Opinions H.Q. for advice on how to get better acquainted with hip hop, and we immediately set her up for an appointment with Drs. Kot and DeRogatis. Pat explains that she's generally fairly hip to music, preferring doses of Bob Dylan, Wilco and Galaxie 500. But when it comes to hip hop, she's clueless, and in an effort to expand her musical horizons and have some music in common with her rap-loving nephews, she asks for some guidance.

Greg gives the first prescription. He's not sure if his approach will be too radical, but judging from Pat's tastes, he decides to go out on a limb. He recommends the patient listen to Outkast's fourth album Stankonia. Greg admits to Pat that some moments might be slightly too "gangsta" or misogynistic for her, but he hopes that the first-rate songwriting and bold beats of tracks like "Ms. Jackson" will win her over.

Jim's prescription is 3 Feet High and Rising, the classic hip hop album by De La Soul. Jim thinks Pat will respond well to the creative stories being told by the three geeky hippies from Long Island. He also thinks she will appreciate some of the more recognizable samples, like Hall and Oates' song "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)."

A week later Pat finishes her treatment and reports back to the doctors. She starts off by breaking the bad news to Greg: Stankonia is not for her. She felt there were too many misogynistic moments like the song, "We Luv Deez Hoez," and wouldn‘t feel comfortable sharing this album with her nephews. But, on the brighter side, she really enjoyed the De La Soul album. It’s definitely something she could see herself listening to in the future, and she particularly liked the song, "Eye Know," which samples both Steely Dan and Otis Redding. So, while the treatment wasn't a total success, Pat is on the road to better musical health. And, more importantly, she now has more hip bragging rights with her friends.

Go to episode 90

David & Family

The Rock Doctors' patient this week is David from Minneapolis. David's“ailment”is that he has a tough time finding music that both he and his kids will enjoy. As the father of four boys between the ages of three months and 10 years, that's quite a challenge. So far he's had luck with The Decemberists, Earth, Wind and Fire and Sugar — basically anything with great pop vocals and harmonies, as well as a good beat for dancing. And of course, some of his sons have fallen under the spell of tween pop star Kelly Clarkson.

Greg's prescription is New Magnetic Wonder, the latest album from Apples in Stereo. The Robert Schneider-fronted band that emerged out of the Elephant 6 collective offers a perfect mix of sunny, exuberant vocals and sophisticated arrangements. Plus, as Greg explains, Schneider is just a big overgrown kid (something that listeners who heard his interview on Sound Opinions can attest to).

Jim prescribes a dose of Smash Mouth. A couple of years ago the California garage popsters, who Jim thinks of as the male equivalent of No Doubt, released a greatest hits album called All Star Smash Hits. Jim explains that, as a fan of garage rock, David will appreciate their edgy aesthetic and punk covers. In addition, his kids are certain to enjoy the more bubble gum aspects of Smash Mouth's music and covers of songs like "I'm a Believer" (which they might already know from the Shrek 2 soundtrack).

A week later David returns to the doctors to report on his health status. He relays to Greg that he and all his sons really enjoyed the Apples in Stereo. He describes the band's music as fun and upbeat, as well as weird and experimental. David's wife was another story, but these doctors only agreed to please five patients… six might be pushing it.

Smash Mouth was something the whole family could agree on, especially for road trips and casual listening. The six year old described it as "a lot like rock and roll." But, David and his boys found the Apples in Stereo to be“meatier”and more interesting. Perhaps we've got four young rock critics in the making!

Go to episode 76

Rachel

Next up Drs. Kot and DeRogatis call another patient in from the waiting room. Rachel from Chicago, IL describes her musical symptoms as that of being stuck in a rut. She explains that she hasn't purchased any music in the past few years, and only listens to albums or mixes that her friends give her. Rachel is eager to improve her musical health though, and is willing to take her medicine — however bad it tastes. In order to steer Jim and Greg in the right direction, Rachel gives her medical/musical history . She counts U2 (during the Joshua Tree-era) and Tom Petty as two of her favorite artists, and explains that she really appreciates melody and lyrics in her music.

Dr. Jim gives the first prescription. He clues into Rachel's heartland rock leanings, but also wants to challenge her more. He decides to give the patient a dose of Wilco. Like '80s-era U2 and Tom Petty, Jeff Tweedy and the members of Wilco are strongly influenced by guitar-based American folk and rock. There is a strong emphasis on lyrics and on telling stories of the American condition. But like U2, who chose to work with avant-garde producer Brian Eno on The Joshua Tree, Wilco can also be very experimental. Jim finds this is especially true of their last album A Ghost is Born.

Dr. Greg is up next. He suspects that one of the things Rachel likes so much about her favorite music is how anthemic it is. Both Bono and Petty are strong frontmen that get a rise out of their audiences. He believes this is also the case with the music of Montreal band The Arcade Fire. In fact, U2 opened up their last tour with a performance of the song "Wake Up" off their debut album Funeral. Again, the Arcade Fire might be a little more stylized than what Rachel is used to, but Greg hopes she will appreciate their epic sound.

A week later, the patient returns. Rachel relays that she is feeling a bit better, but is not totally cured. She realized that some of the Wilco and Arcade Fire songs were actually already in her iTunes collection without her even knowing it. Rachel enjoyed both albums, but not completely from beginning to end. She liked the more anthemic songs on Funeral like "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Crown of Love," but found some of the tracks a little noisy. However nothing was as noisy as Wilco's 15-minute experimental jam "Less Than You Think." But, even Jim and Greg agree that it's OK to skip past that“test”to more traditional pop/rock compositions like "Theologians" and "The Late Greats." Rachel doesn‘t think she’s replaced her favorite standards, but looks forward to keeping up with these two bands and getting more new music like… The Shins (up next in the show).

Go to episode 61