specials 2013

The Dawn of Metal

At this point in the show Jim and Greg take a trip back to The Dawn of Metal. Heavy Metal isn't always taken seriously, but it warrants critical, even scholarly analysis. Before there was Metallica or Guns N' Roses, there was a group of rockers that birthed the genre. Jim and Greg trace the history, primarily back to England in the late '60s. Here are the bands the credit with giving us the metal we know and love today.

Fans of this early metal period will be happy to know that many of these bands are still rocking out live.

Go to episode 422

Holiday Spectacular

This is a Christmas special like none other. Holiday music collector and expert Andy Cirzan scours record stores, dustbins and basements to find the best and most unique tunes for the season. And each year he treats Sound Opinions listeners to a much-anticipated hour of music and a free mix to download. This year is Rock ‘n’ Pop Xmas—surprising holiday selections from some of the best bands in music history—XTC, The Band, The Kinks, The Beatles and more.

*As a special bonus, listeners are invited to download Andy Cirzan's accompanying holiday compilation for FREE at christmas.soundopinions.org. The mix will only be up until the end of 2013, so get it while the yule log is hot! And happy holidays from Sound Opinions!

Go to episode 420

Remembering Lou Reed

Rock legend, poet and Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed died on October 27 at age 71. That week Jim honored him with the addition of the Velvet Underground track"Candy Says" to the Desert Island Jukebox. But, this influential singer, songwriter and guitarist deserves more than just a few minutes of our time. He helped shape 50 years of rock music, perhaps more than any single figure, according to our hosts. And so they wanted to explore why news of his death made such waves and why fans are still mourning. The best way to do this, of course, is through the music, and these five albums in particular:

Go to episode 417

Ask the Critics

To kick off the first show of the new year, Jim and Greg answer some of your questions.

Mark from Chicago and John from Lexington, SC want to know how Jim and Greg choose reviews and how they listen to those albums? Jim explains that we first narrow down a list of albums that are either interesting or making news. Then it comes down to what would make a good mix for the show. So if the feature segment is all about soul, we might like to get a little punk at the end. Greg answers part two, and explains that he tries to listen to an album as many times as possible and, most importantly, in as many different scenarios as possible. He hears music very differently whether he is driving down Lake Shore Drive in Chicago or doing dishes at home.

This leads to question #2. Nathan in Chicago is looking for suggestions on how to heighten the digital music experience. Can we do better than just headphones in an iPod? Jim and Greg admit they are not always seeking the most hi-fi experience, so they turn to Bob Gendron, copy editor for Music Direct and contributor to the Chicago Tribune. Bob recommends Nathan get a pair of Grado SR-60i headphones. Priced at $79, they give nice bang for the buck. But if Nathan is a high roller who wants his mind blown, Bob refers him to the Audeze LCD-3.

Chris from Corvallis, OR emailed interact@soundopinions.org for recommendations on songs to learn to play on ukulele. All the uke players around Sound Opinions H.Q. say that Paul McCartney is a great place to start; the simple pop melodies are perfect for the four-stringed instrument. Greg adds a vote for Weezer. YouTube is filled with ukulele love. Check out the footnotes below for some more of our favorites:

Got a question for the critics? Call 888.859.1800 or email interact@soundopinions.org.

Go to episode 371