Michael Angelakos

Passion Pit & Wanda Jackson Review

Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos joins Jim and Greg in the studio for a frank conversation and live performance.

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Foes of digital music have often cited streaming services like Pandora as the reason for the demise of the middle-of-the-road musician. Sure, artists like Drake and Coldplay can succeed, but what about everyone else? Well, Tim Westergren, Pandora's founder has revealed some surprising sales numbers that put this idea to rest. He says Pandora pays over 2,000 artists more than $10,000 a year, and over 800 artists make $50,000. Of course, it's only the Adeles of the world that can rake in $1 million, but that still bodes pretty well for many working musicians.

interview

Michael Angelakos

This week, Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos is in the studio with Jim and Greg for a frank conversation and stripped-back live set. As Michael tells Jim and Greg, the band began with a belated Valentine's Day present. Angelakos - then a student at Boston's Emerson College - posted a track he'd written for his girlfriend to MySpace. "Sleepyhead" quickly exploded on the net. Passion Pit have since released two critically acclaimed albums and toured the world. Their latest release, Gossamer combines upbeat dance tracks and high production values with lyrics that explore Angelakos's own experience with addiction and mental illness. (As Michael tells Jim and Greg, the band had to cancel dates this year so that he could deal with issues related to his manic depression). The contrast between upbeat music and dark lyrics, Michael explains, is what he's always found interesting in pop music, and it's the key to the Passion Pit project. Despite Gossamer's harrowing content, Michael says the album is ultimately hopeful - an effort to achieve transcendence amid tough circumstances.

reviewUnfinished BusinessUnfinished Business available on iTunes

Wanda Jackson Unfinished Business

Wanda Jackson, Queen of Rockabilly since 1954, is out with a new album. Unfinished Business - like last year's The Party Ain't Over - is produced by a young fan. This time, Jim explains, it's Justin Townes Earle, not Jack White, at the helm. Neither Jim nor Greg was a fan of the Caribbean-flavored, White-produced The Party Ain't Over. Does Earle fare better? Greg says yes. You have to remember, he says, that in addition to being rockabilly royalty, Jackson has a background in country and gospel. She sounds perfectly at home covering artists like Freddy King and Etta James. Greg gives Unfinished Business a Buy It. Jim agrees that Earle played it smart by keeping Wanda in her comfort zone and allowing her feistiness to shine through. But he says there are three or four other Jackson albums he'd recommend over this one. He gives Unfinished Business a Try It.

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Greg

“The New World”X

As the presidential election approaches, Greg's thoughts turn to the terrific L.A. band X. For this week's DIJ, he picks "The New World," the leadoff track on the band's 1983 album, More Fun in the New World. For Greg, this song perfectly reflects the meaning (or lack thereof) of a presidential election for society's have-nots. In the song, X takes the perspective of a politically apathetic homeless person. Whoever wins the election, he explains, nothing really changes for those at the bottom of the economic ladder. But the song's narrator doesn‘t totally lose hope. In the chorus he urges the politicians of the day: "Don’t forget the motor city!"

Featured Songs

  1. Drake (feat. The Weeknd), Crew Love, Take Care, Young Money, 2011
  2. Passion Pit, Take a Walk, Gossamer, Columbia, 2012
  3. Mary O'Hara, ‘Or’o Mo Bhaidin, Songs of Ireland, Tradition, 1958
  4. Passion Pit, Sleepyhead, Manners, Frenchkiss, 2009
  5. Passion Pit, Little Secrets, Manners, Frenchkiss, 2009
  6. Passion Pit, Constant Conversations, (Live on Sound Opinions), Gossamer, Columbia, 2012
  7. Passion Pit, Cuddle Fuddle, Chunk of Change EP, Frenchkiss, 2008
  8. Passion Pit, Folds in Your Hands, Manners, Frenchkiss, 2009
  9. Passion Pit, Cry Like a Ghost, Gossamer, Columbia, 2012
  10. Passion Pit, I'll Be Alright, Gossamer, Columbia, 2012
  11. Passion Pit, Sleepyhead, (Live on Sound Opinions), Manners, Frenchkiss, 2009
  12. Passion Pit, Carried Away, Gossamer, Columbia, 2012
  13. Wanda Jackson, California Stars, Unfinished Business, Sugar Hill Records, 2012
  14. Wanda Jackson, I'm Tore Down, Unfinished Business, Sugar Hill Records, 2012
  15. X, The New World, More Fun in the New World, Elektra, 1983
  16. The xx, Fiction, Coexist, Young Turks, 2012
  17. Mumford & Sons, Whispers in the Dark, Babel, Island, 2012
  18. Coldplay, Every Teardrop is a Waterfall, Mylo Xyloto, Parlophone, 2011
  19. Mumford & Sons, Holland Road, Babel, Island, 2012

Footnotes

pandora.com Pandora and Artist Payments forbes.com Pandora on musician fees and earnings passionpitmusic.com Passion Pit wbez.org Jim's Passion Pit review chicagotribune.com Greg's Passion Pit review wandajackson.com Wanda Jackson justintownesearle.com Justin Townes Earle chicagotribune.com Greg's Wanda Jackson review allmusic.com X