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interviews

Mike Heidorn of Uncle Tupelo

You can trace alternative country's roots to the 1960's when rock musicians such as Gram Parsons, The Byrds and the Flatlanders began dabbling with and reinvigorating country music. It was part of a wider investigation of American roots music in rock, a move toward more“authentic”styles. These rockers looked to country greats like Hank Williams, The Carter Family, Johnny Cash and Merle Haggard for inspiration — Bob Dylan famously collaborated with Cash on "Girl From the North Country." In the '70s and early '80s, a new generation of punk rockers started digging into traditional country for inspiration, including X, The Mekons, Rank & File, Jason and the Scorchers and the Long Ryders. Then third wave of alt country hit in the late '80s and early '90s, led by The Jayhawks out of Minneapolis and Uncle Tupelo, the trio of Jay Farrar, Jeff Tweedy and Mike Heidorn, out of Belleville, Illinois, just outside St. Louis. Uncle Tupelo's debut album,“No Depression,”took its name from a Carter Family song, "No Depression in Heaven," and it's one of many the key albums in defining the alt-country movement of this era. We have this band to thank for groups like Farrar's Son Volt, Tweedy's Wilco, Ryan Adams' Whiskeytown, the Drive-By-Truckers and the Old 97's …and not to mention No Depression Magazine. Legacy Recordings recently reissued No Depression, complete with some never before released demo tracks from 1987 to 1989. And to talk about it, Jim and Greg are joined by Uncle Tupelo's founding drummer Mike Heidorn.

Go to episode 442
reviews
Mirror MirrorMirror Mirror available on iTunes

Sons and Daughters Mirror Mirror

Next up is a review of the latest by the Scottish quartet Sons and Daughters. The band has always had a rougher, more“American”sound than its peers. They reference everyone from Johnny Cash to X, but Jim wondered if they were just a one-trick pony. On this album, Mirror Mirror, there's a considerable mood shift. Jim hears a witchy, Celtic vibe courtesy of the addition of synths. Greg agrees that this terrific band might have overstayed what people thought would be a short career, but they‘ve continued to grow. He calls Sons and Daughters one of the strongest bands of the last decade, and says it’s about time people started paying attention in the US. Mirror Mirror gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 297
dijs

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!"

Go to episode 359
news

Music News

Just when Taylor Swift is shaking off Spotify, her friend and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is embracing it. In 2014, Sheeran was the most streamed artist on Spotify with over 860 million listens. He also sold more than 1 million copies of his album X in the UK alone, proving it is possible for an artist to have albums available to stream, while still selling physical copies. Sheeran says Spotify helps him do what he does best, and he is embarking on a world tour starting out at Wembley Stadium in July.

Bill Withers, Lou Reed and Joan Jett are just a few of the musicians about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. However one selection in particular has Jim and Greg scratching their heads: Green Day. The band becomes 1 of only 48 H.O.F. members who were admitted in their first year of eligibility. This feat is normally reserved for the Willie Mays-like musical figures, so this choice left our critics a little confused. Also, Greg and Jim note glaring omissions with the bands Chic, Kraftwerk and Nine Inch Nails.

Go to episode 473