Show 196: She & Him, Reviews of Whitney Houston and the Arctic Monkeys
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1 Headlines regarding the death of pop star Michael Jackson continue to pour in. This week AP reported that Jackson’s death was being ruled a homicide by the coroner’s office. No official statement has been released, but it’s likely that Jackson’s physician will be charged with criminal negligence for administering the singer’s drug cocktails. And while one camp investigates Jackson’s death, another markets his life. A deal between promoter AEG and Jackson’s estate has been approved to exhibit the King of Pop’s memorabilia. This October exhibition will coincide with the release of a behind-the-scenes film and will help AEG to recoup losses incurred following the cancellation of Jackson’s massive comeback tour. Not to be left out, the remaining Jackson brothers are getting in on the action. They’ve announced plans for an A&E reality show.
2 Despite pleas from Mom to turn that racket down, a new study says that music is actually good for your hearing. Northwestern University neuroscientists have found evidence that musicians can pick speech out of a noisy environment better than non-musicians. This is good news for Jim and Greg, and any Sound Opinions listeners who find themselves struggling to hear in a crowded room.
3 Tenor Johnny Carter passed away this week at age 75. Carter was a member of both The Flamingos and The Dells, two of the most important Doo Wop groups of the ‘50s and ‘60s. To mark his passing Jim and Greg play a song and performed by Carter: “Golden Teardrops” by The Flamingos.
4 This week’s guests are She & Him. The “she” is actress Zooey Deschanel and the “him” is musician Matt Ward, known to fans as M. Ward. The two met during the making of the movie “The Go-Getter,” and quickly learned they were successful collaborators. They visited the show in 2008 after the release of their first album Volume One. The record is a collection of songs written by Zooey, as well as a couple of covers. Zooey explains that she’s most influenced by classic pop songwriting, much of which pre-dates rock and roll. You can hear the country, doo-wop and Brill Building influence on the duo’s music as they perform their songs “Take It Back” and “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” as well as two bonus tracks.
5 She was the queen of pop in the ‘80s and ‘90s, but for the past few years she’s mostly been a punchline. Now Whitney Houston is back with a new record called I Look To You. Clive Davis has spared no expense on this comeback effort—pulling in big names like Swizz Beats, Alicia Keys and Diane Warren. Greg wishes those big names brought something bigger to the table. With the exception of “Million Dollar Bill,” the one track where Greg hears Whitney getting “frisky,” she’s mostly straight-jacketed and robotic. Greg gives the album a Trash It. Jim actually likes that the production keeps things focused on her voice. And he finds that voice still powerful and full of emotion. He gives I Look to You a Buy It.
6 The Arctic Monkeys also have a new album out called Humbug. For their 3rd release the UK band traveled to the California desert to work with Josh Homme of Queens of the Stone Age (and now Them Crooked Vultures) fame. Jim loves the result. It has all of the charm and wit of their breakout debut, but with a dark ambience inspired by Nick Cave or Scott Walker. He gives the record a Buy It rating. Greg applauds them for trying to change the pace with this release, but he doesn’t think the songwriting is as strong. To Greg the melodies and exuberance have been replaced with texture and ambience. He gives Humbug a Burn It.
Songs Featured in Show #196
Michael Jackson, “Smooth Criminal,” Bad, 1987
The Supremes, “I Hear a Symphony,” I Hear a Symphony, 1966
The Dells, “Oh What a Night,” Stay in My Corner, 1968
The Flamingos, “Golden Teardrops” 1953
She & Him, "Why Do You Let Me Stay Here," Volume One, 2008
She & Him, "Change is Hard," Volume One, 2008
She & Him, "Take it Back," Volume One, 2008 Live on Sound Opinions
She & Him, "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," Volume One, 2008
She & Him, "You Really Got A Hold On Me," Volume One, 2008 Live in on Sound Opinions
She & Him, "This is Not a Test," Volume One, 2008
Whitney Houston, "I Look to You," I Look to You, 2009
Whitney Houston," Million Dollar Bill," I Look to You, 2009
Whitney Houston, "I Didn't Know My Own Strength," I Look to You, 2009
Arctic Monkeys, "My Propeller," Humbug, 2009
Arctic Monkeys, "Crying Lightning," Humbug, 2009
Arctic Monkeys,"Cornerstone," Humbug, 2009
Gold Panda, "Heaps," Before, 2009
Wolf Parade, "Language City," At Mount Zoomer, 2008
Jesus Lizard, "Blood Mary," Pure, 1989
Regina Spektor, "Folding Chair," Far, 2009