Common

Common & Reviews Mission of Burma and the Dixie Chicks

Highly acclaimed rapper Common returns to his hometown to visit with Jim and Greg. Tune in for an interview and Sound Opinions‘ first ever live freestyle. Plus, they’ll review the new releases from post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma and the ever-controversial Dixie Chicks.

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Jim and Greg have resisted talking about American Idol for quite a while, but this week this pop culture phenomenon couldn‘t be ignored. While these critics still don’t care about the musical impact of the show, they can't deny its significance in the industry. An average of 25 million people tuned in each week to see who would be declared the American Idol, commanding advertising rates that are only exceeded by the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards. For the music industry, this means major sales. Past contestants like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood and Clay Aiken have sold 33 million records, and songs that appear on the show in any form immediately take off on the charts. Labels have taken note, sending aging artists like Rod Stewart, Queen and Barry Manilow, as well as fresher faces like Shakira, Mary J. Blige and Prince, to appear on the show. As much as both our hosts hope that audiences will decide to turn the dial toward something of better musical quality, Greg predicts that hipper acts in need of promotion will soon be calling up Fox. And until then, fans can look forward to much of the same.

Fans who purchased Sony CDs by artists like The Foo Fighters, The Coral, Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra can rest easy. While those CDs may have infected your computer with a virus-like anti-piracy software called MediaMax, a judge has ordered Sony to make up for it. Every customer infected with the software will receive a cash payment of $7.50 and one free album download or three free song downloads. Whoever claims that the record industry doesn'y care about the consumer obviously missed this news.

Rumor has it that Sri Lanka-born, England-based rapper M.I.A. is being denied a visa to come to the United States. M.I.A., or Maya Arulpragasam, has plans to record with producer Timbaland, but may have to postpone them. Whether or not the denial is related to the fact that she is the daughter of a Sri Lankan Tamil Tiger rebel, or the fact that many of her song lyrics are overtly political, is not known. What is known, however, is what a raw deal this is. While M.I.A., who has received masses of critical acclaim and was up for the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2005, will not be gracing Americans with her presence, our own Snoop Dogg has recently been barred from the U.K. Sound Opinions is willing to enter into diplomatic negotiations to work this out.

reviewTaking the Long WayTaking the Long Way available on iTunes

Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way

Three years after telling a London audience, ""We're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas," Natalie Maines and her fellow Dixie Chicks are making headlines again with a new album. And, with singles like "Not Ready to Make Nice," the statement they want to make is clear. Some of their critics might have desired an apology, but on Taking the Long Way, they receive no such thing. Because of this, the band is again being rejected by certain country radio programmers. The real issue, however, is whether or not audiences will embrace the album, which is not a straight-up country record. Produced by Rick Rubin, and written with help from Sheryl Crow and members of Semisonic and The Jayhawks, it has more of a California-rock feel. Jim appreciates that they moved away from the Top 40 Country, but wishes they had taken it even farther, towards a more authentic, alt-country roots sound like Jenny Lewis or Neko Case. He gives it a Burn It. Greg is most taken with Natalie Maines‘ vocals, but also can’t recommend that people buy the album. However, he does think that anyone interested in music should hear it and gives Taking the Long Way another Burn It.

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interview

Common

This week on the show Jim and Greg meet with rapper Common, who happens to be visiting his hometown. Common is currently touring to promote his sixth (and, some would say, best) album, Be. Jim and Greg note that most hip-hop artists don‘t have his kind of longevity. In fact, Common is at an age where he has started to balance his career with fatherhood. Greg, who visited the set of Common’s sultry video shoot for the song "Go," asks him how he‘ll be able to present his more adult side to his daughter. Fans of Common’s videos should also check out his most recent, and most cinematic, "Testify."

Common actually performs "Testify" live for our hosts. This song was produced by longtime collaborator and fellow southsider Kanye West, and includes the producer's signature use of soul samples. For Be, Common also worked with ?uestlove of The Roots and rapper and producer J Dilla, who passed away just weeks before this interview. Dilla, or Jay Dee, has been a mainstay on the hip-hop scene, producing songs for De La Soul, Pharcyde, Janet Jackson, and D'Angelo. Dilla also worked with Common on Like Water For Chocolate, producing one of his biggest hits, "The Light." As Common explains, the loss of his friend and former roommate will be life-changing. And in his memory, the rapper does some freestyling over Dilla instrumentals — a first for Sound Opinions.

reviewThe ObliteratiThe Obliterati available on iTunes

Mission of Burma The Obliterati

Post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma have a new album out, their third in twenty years. Shortly after releasing their landmark Vs. in 1982, the group was forced to disband. The signature massive volume of their music took a toll on all of the members, particularly guitarist Roger Miller who developed a debilitating case of tinnitus. In their short run, Mission of Burma became hugely influential; R.E.M. and Moby have both covered their songs. Then, in 2003 the band reunited and later released their second album, OnOffOn. This record was very well-received, something that's almost unprecedented for a reunion album. Now, the band is back with The Obliterati, and Jim and Greg are as impressed as they were twenty years ago. Jim points to the incredible melodies of the songs, as well as their intellectual wit. He also thinks that Chicago-based engineer Bob Weston did an amazing job with The Obliterati. Greg agrees that the band's melodies are as strong as ever, and explains that Mission of Burma's greatness lies in the tension between the melodies and the noise. He still can't believe that a band would make two such great albums in the second leg of their career. The Obliterati gets two Buy Its.

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Jim

“True Love in a Day”Lori Wray

The Jayhawks were brought up briefly during the Dixie Chicks review, and Jim's Desert Island Jukebox pick also features the Twin Cities rock band. Before they were The Jayhawks, Gary Louris, Marc Perlman and Mark Olson backed up a fellow Minnesota singer named Lori Wray. While Wray has not achieved a lot of success outside of Minneapolis/St. Paul, Jim thinks that her voice surpasses that of Natalie Maines. He explains that she adds a Lulu-like '60s pop sensibility to her singing, making her voice perfect for heartbreak tunes like his DIJ pick, "True Love in a Day."

Featured Songs

  1. Daniel Powter,“Bad Day,”Daniel Powter, 2006
  2. Foo Fighters,“Best of You”In Your Honor, 2005
  3. M.I.A.,“Bucky Done Gone,”Arular, 2005
  4. Dixie Chicks,“Not Ready to Make Nice,”Taking the Long Way, 2006
  5. Dixie Chicks,“Lubbock or Leave It,”Taking the Long Way, 2006
  6. Common,“Be (Intro),”Be, 2005
  7. Common,“Testify,”Be, 2005 Live in Studio
  8. Mission of Burma,“Nancy Reagan's Head,”Obliterati, 2006
  9. Mission of Burma,“2wice,”Obliterati, 2006
  10. Mission of Burma,“Donna Sumeria,”Obliterati, 2006

Footnotes

americanidol.com American Idol superbowl-ads.com Super Bowl ad archive kellyclarkson.com Kelly Clarkson's homepage carrieunderwoodofficial.com Carrie Underwood's homepage clayaiken.com Clay Aiken's homepage queenpluspaulrodgers.com Queen + Paul Rodgers' homepage barrynet.com Barry Manilow's homepage shakira.com Shakira's homepage maryjblige.com Mary J. Blige's homepage sonymusic.com Sony Music wired.com Sony's software snafu streamload.com MediaMax bbc.co.uk About Sri Lanka miauk.com M.I.A.'s homepage npr.org Timbaland on his influences bbc.co.uk Tamil Tigers mercuryprize.com The Mercury Prize snoopdogg.com Snoop Dogg's homepage wikipedia.org Snoop Dogg banned from UK dixiechicks.com Dixie Chicks' homepage time.com Dixie Chicks take back apology to Bush youtube.com“Not Ready to Make Nice”video mtv.com About Rick Rubin sherylcrow.com Sheryl Crow's homepage allmusic.com The Jayhawks jennylewis.com Jenny Lewis' homepage nekocase.com Neko Case's homepage thinkcommon.com Common's homepage chicagohistory.org History of the South Side metacritic.com Common's ‘Be’ ew.com About Common's“Testify”video theroots.com The Roots' homepage allmusic.com J Dilla amazon.com Like Water For Chocolate goldlyrics.com“The Light”lyrics wikipedia.org Post-punk missionofburma.com Mission of Burma's homepage wikipedia.org Mission of Burma's ‘Vs.’ remhq.com R.E.M.'s homepage moby.com Moby's homepage metacritic.com ONoffON allmusic.com Bob Weston tripod.com Lori Wray's homepage lulu.co.uk Lulu's homepage