Fred Armisen & Reviews of Bruce Springsteen and Mark Lanegan

Fred Armisen of Portlandia and Saturday Night Live talks music and comedy with Jim and Greg.

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Monkees fans young and old were sad to learn of the passing of lead singer Davy Jones at age 66. As Jim and Greg explain, Jones wasn't much of a singer or musician, but had acting chops and most importantly, charisma. This was fitting for this postmodern band that still polarizes people today. Was he a manufactured pop star or the real deal? Whatever the answer, he will be missed. Jim and Greg play The Monkees' last top 10 hit "Valleri" in remembrance.

Fred Armisen

You know him as Fericito, the Tito Puente-like talk show host on Saturday Night Live or Spyke, the stretched hipster from Portlandia. But before Fred Armisen was a comedian, he was a punk rock  drummer, working with groups like Chicago band Trenchmouth. It was only after spoofing the music industry conference SXSW and its "How to Make It"- style seminars that Fred transitioned into comedy. He went on to successful television projects and also produced a hilarious mock drum instruction video and a single by the aging hardcore act Crisis of Conformity. He returned to his old Chicago stomping grounds as part of Portlandia's live tour and spoke with Jim and Greg about the connections between music and humor. For example, musicians and music fans are rife for parody. And, Moammar Gadhafi is more like a rock star than you might think.

Portlandia fans should also check out Jim and Greg's interview with Carrie Brownstein and the members of Wild Flag.

Wrecking Ball Bruce Springsteen

Wrecking Ball (Special Edition)

Get ready for another classic Sound Opinions Bruce Springsteen debate. Historically, Greg is in the pro-corner, while Jim is in the con. But, there have been exceptions. And on this 17th release Wrecking Ball, which is like a soundtrack to Occupy Wall Street, Greg says you lose the songwriter's sense of urgency and anger because of the glossy production. The album goes straight for stadium anthems, so he can only give it a Burn It rating. Jim thinks he's letting The Boss off easy. He compares the performance to that of a bad Irish bar band and says Trash It.

Blues Funeral Mark Lanegan

Blues Funeral

Whether it was with the Screaming Trees, dueting with Isobel Campbell or on his own, Mark Lanegan has a tremendous voice. And on his new solo record, Blues Funeral, he goes for a rootsy sound, but also experiments with more digital production. You might think this would mask his signature "whisky soaked" vocals, but Jim loves this rainy day mood record and would recommend you Buy It. Greg, on the other hand, would take any of Lanegan's other records over this one. He thinks he's gone too far out of his comfort zone and questions some of the clich'ed lyrics. Of Blues Funeral, Greg says Trash It.


Last month bassist  Michael Davis of the legendary Detroit bands the MC5 and Destroy All Monsters died at age 68. So during this episode Jim wants to honor him by adding a 1979 Destroy All Monsters track called "Meet the Creeper" to the Desert Island Jukebox. It features Davis on bass along with Ron Asheton of The Stooges and a lead singer simply called Niagra.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!