The Rock Doctors Prescribe Hip-Hop & Opinions on The New Pornographers and M.I.A.
Drs. Kot and DeRogatis, MD are back for another Rock Doctors consultation. Tune in to hear their prescriptions for better musical health. Then, stay tuned for reviews of new albums from melodic indie-rockers The New Pornographers and avant-pop artist M.I.A.Subscribe via iTunesDownload This Episode
First in the news Jim and Greg discuss the controversy over the censorship of political lyrics in a song by Pearl Jam during the AT&T Blue Room webcast of their recent Lollapalooza performance. While Pearl Jam criticized this kind of censorship on their website and posted both versions of the song, it appeared that the audio editing was a fluke. In the days following the festival, though, it was revealed that this was not the first time such censorship had occurred, sparking interest from advocates of Internet neutrality. Both Jim and Greg agree that webcasters have a public responsibility to broadcast what actually happens at events, and concert promoters have a responsibility to tell bands whether or not they're giving up their right to free speech. Both critics are anxious to see how things play out in the weeks leading up to the next big festival, Austin City Limits.
Another news story confirms our suspicion that music fans have better brains. Or at least more active brains. Researchers at Stanford Medical School recently released findings that show that music increases brain receptivity and reception. To find out about the study Jim and Greg speak with the paper's senior author, Dr. Vinod Menon, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of neurosciences at Stanford. Dr. Menon explains that the greatest amount of activity occurred during moments of transition or pauses. While he used the tunes of 18th-century English composer William Boyce, it's interesting to think about how this research applies to rock music. Check out the MRI for yourself here.
In another miracle of science, (most of) the original members of '80s rock group Van Halen announced they are reuniting this fall for a series of concerts. The band's first lead singer, David Lee Roth, will perform with the band for the first time in 22 years. Fans expected this announcement a few months ago, only to be left disappointed by guitarist Eddie Van Halen's trip to rehab. But now the Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone-haters will get their wish… sort of. Founding bassist Michael Anthony has been given the boot, and Eddie's son Wolfgang van Halen will replace him. Not only were the names Anthony and Hagar omitted from the group's press release, but Anthony's image had been airbrushed from a picture of the band's album cover on the website. As quick as history was revised, it was re-revised, though, and Anthony is back in the picture. Only literally of course.
Record label owner, broadcaster, journalist, pop impresario and nightclub founder Anthony Wilson died last week at the age of 57. Wilson is the man who put the Manchester music scene on the map, a scene that included Joy Division, New Order and The Happy Mondays. He ran Factory Records in the late 1970s and the Hacienda nightclub in the 1980s and early 1990s. Many listeners will remember Steve Coogan's portrayal of Wilson in the semi-fictional story of the Hacienda, 24 Hour Party People. But, Jim and Greg choose to remember Wilson through the music he influenced.
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.
Unless you are a full-time rock critic, it can be difficult to maintain good musical health. That's where the Rock Doctors come in. Do you have a musical allergy or addiction? Or do you have a friend or relative who needs an intervention? The Sound Opinions clinic has its doors open.
The New Pornographers Challengers
The first album up for review this week is by the Canadian indie-pop supergroup The New Pornographers. Band leader A.C. Newman, along with Destroyer's Dan Bejar, Neko Case and a cast of other songwriters and musicians have recorded their fourth album together, Challengers. The album is another collection of melodic, hook-filled songs, but Greg admits that Bejar almost steals the record with his track, "Myriad Harbor," a power-pop meets hip-hop composition. He loves the tongue-in-cheek, carefree attitude of many of the songs, but doesn't think the album is as good as its predecessor, Twin Cinema. Because the energy level is uncharacteristically down for the band, Greg gives this New Pornographers effort a Try It. Jim was glad to hear the band went for something different. They did three albums of pure, effervescent pop, and now they've added orchestrations to the mix. He gives Challengers a Buy It.
The Sri Lankan-British rapper M.I.A. also has a new album out this week called Kala. After making a splash with her 2005 album Arular, Mya Arulpragasam impressed fans with her unique vocal style and memorable beats, but she also disappointed many with her live performances. Now she's back with another revolutionary sounding record — a collection of rhythms and sounds from all over the world. Jim was not as wowed by M.I.A. with her debut, and she doesn't quite win him over with this follow-up. He is impressed by Switch's production, but thinks that there are a number of bum tracks, especially the collaboration with Timbaland, and gives it a Try It overall. Greg agrees that the Timbaland track is a miss, but he thinks Kala is an extraordinary record. He describes it as a mind-blowing collage, something completely fresh and new. But, he also thinks that the hooks give Kala a long shelf life. Greg gives the second M.I.A. album a Buy It.
- Pearl Jam, Daughter (Live at Lollapalooza), Vs., Epic, 1993
- Trevor Pinnock, Symphony No.4 in F Major: Allegro, William Boyce: 8 Symphonies, DG Archiv, 1987
- Van Halen, Everybody Wants Some, Women and Children First, Warner Bros., 1980
- Joy Division, Love Will Tear Us Apart, Licht und Blindheit, Sordide Sentimental, 1980
- Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Electricity, Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, Virgin, 1980
- New Order, Ceremony, New Order 511, Warner Music Vision, 1980
- Electronic, Getting Away With It, Getting Away with It, Factory, 1989
- Happy Mondays, Step On, Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches, Elektra, 1990
- Black Sabbath, Rock and Roll Doctor, Technical Ecstasy, Warner Bros., 1976
- Lupe Fiasco, Kick Push, Food & Liquor, Atlantic, 2006
- MC Hammer, U Can't Touch This, Please Hammer, Don‘t Hurt ’Em, Capitol, 1990
- Outkast, Ms. Jackson, Stankonia, LaFace, 2000
- De La Soul, Say No Go, 3 Feet High and Rising, Tommy Boy, 1989
- De La Soul, Jenifa Taught Me, 3 Feet High and Rising, Tommy Boy, 1989
- Outkast, So Fresh and So Clean, Stankonia, LaFace, 2000
- Outkast, We Luv Deez Hoez, Stankonia, LaFace, 2000
- De La Soul, Change in Speak, 3 Feet High and Rising, Tommy Boy, 1989
- De La Soul, Eye Know, 3 Feet High and Rising, Tommy Boy, 1989
- Outkast, Bombs Over Baghdad, Stankonia, LaFace, 2000
- The New Pornographers, Mutiny, I Promise You, Challengers, Matador, 2007
- The New Pornographers, Myriad Harbor, Challengers, Matador, 2007
- M.I.A., Bamboo Banger, Kala, Beggars Japan, 2007
- M.I.A., Jimmy, Kala, Beggars Japan, 2007
- M.I.A., Come Around, Kala, Beggars Japan, 2007
- Van Halen, Runnin' With The Devil, Van Halen, Warner Bros., 1978
- The Replacements, Answering Machine, Let It Be, Twin/Tone, 1984
- Richard Thompson, Needle and Thread, Sweet Warrior, Proper, 2007
allmusic.com Pearl Jam aclfestival.com Austin City Limits Festival sciencedirect.com The Stanford study: Neural Dynamics of Event Segmentation in Music stanford.edu Dr. Vinod Menon's faculty profile stanford.edu Music moves brain to pay attention, Stanford study finds redrocker.com Sammy Hagar cherone.com Gary Cherone madanthonycafe.com Michael Anthony van-halen.com van Halen idolator.com Van Halen Webmasters Put Michael Anthony Back In His Place guardian.co.uk King of ‘Madchester’ music scene dies allmusic.com Joy Division vh1.com New Order happymondaysonline.com The Happy Monday bbc.co.uk How Tony Wilson changed music bobdylan.com Bob Dylan wilcoweb.com Wilco outkast.com Outkast jimdero.com Jim on Chuck D, De La Soul, and optimistic ‘new wave’ of hip-hop allmusic.com 3 Feet High and Rising lyricsfreak.com“We Luv Deez Hoez”lyrics thenewpornographers.com The New Pornographers acnewman.net AC Newman npr.org Dan Bejar's ‘Other’ Band nekocase.com Neko Case metacritic.com Twin Cinema miauk.com M.I.A. metacritic.com Arular timbalandmusic.com Timbaland chicagotribune.com Greg on M.I.A.'s Kala