Results for America

interviews

The Baseball Project

TheBaseballProject3rd Summer has finally arrived, bringing us sunshine, days spent lounging on the beach—and, of course, baseball. While the game is America's official national pastime, some Sound Opinions listeners may think rock n'roll deserves that title… Thankfully, five baseball-obsessed musicians are bringing the two together. In 2007, Peter Buck and Mike Mills of R.E.M., Scott McCaughey of Minus 5 and The Young Fresh Fellows, Linda Pitmon of Zuzu's Petals, and her husband, The Dream Syndicate founder Steve Wynn created The Baseball Project, a supergroup devoted to making music about the sport. Steve and Scott tell Giants-fan Greg and baseball-ignorant Jim about why they love the game, their favorite baseball tunes, and how they're exploring the unsavory side of the sport.

Go to episode 445

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

Peter Guralnick on Sam Phillips & Sun Studios

Samphillipsbook Peter Guralnick has written extensively about American music for decades including a two-part biography on Elvis Presley, the biography Searching for Robert Johnson and an acclaimed trilogy on American roots music. Now he's back with a comprehensive look at Sam Phillips called The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll: How One Man Discoverd Howlin' Wolf, Ike Turner, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley and How His Tiny Label Sun Records of Memphis, Revolutionized the World. If Sam Phillips, Sun Studios or Sun Records are new names to you, Peter wants to take you back to 1950s and 60s for what many historians call the birth of rock ‘n’ roll. Sun was home to black and white artists of the era who were merging genres like country, gospel, and R&B in ways unthinkable at the time. And that kind of freedom of spirit and enthusiasm, in addition to the idea that everybody has a song to sing, were the tenants of the Sun sound, even more than sonic hallmarks like "slapback echo."

Go to episode 523

Jac Holzman on Elektra Records

jacholzman Before there was a Merge or a Matador there was Elektra Records. The great American label is celebrating its 65th anniversary, and so Jim and Greg return to their conversation with Elektra founder Jac Holzman. They spoke with him in 2011 when he was being into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Jac talks about launching Elektra as an independent folk label out of his dorm room in 1950. Eventually the roster grew to include every genre of music – blues, rock, funk, world and pop. It became the home to The Stooges, the MC5, Love and Queen, and, Jim adds, some notoriously difficult personalities. But Jac insists no artist was too hard to handle. He did use caution when out drinking with Jim Morrison, however.

Go to episode 486

Stanley Booth on the Rolling Stones

trueadventures

In 1969 music writer Stanley Booth somehow talked his way onboard the Rolling Stones' famous American tour ending at the Altamont Speedway. And he didn't just live to tell the tale, he wrote the book on it. The True Adventures Of the Rolling Stones has just been re-released on its 30th anniversary. Stanley recounts the events at Altamont which ended in the death of concertgoer Meredith Hunter at the hands of a Hells Angel. This was documented in Albert and David Maysles' concert film Gimme Shelter. Stanley also shares his impressions of the individual Stones, with this tour occuring at the height of the band's fame (and infamy). After initially bonding over a shared love of the blues, the writer developed deep friendships with Mick, Keith and the gang. But, he shares, his favorite Stone will always be Shirley Watts.

Go to episode 479
specials

Alan Lomax Archive

With the recent passings of both Earl Scruggs and Doc Watson, Jim and Greg have been thinking about the importance of preserving the recorded legacy of America's roots music giants. No one has done it better than the Alan Lomax Archive. From the 1930's through the 1980's, Lomax travelled the country making field recordings of American folk musicians. And now all that tape has been transformed into ones and zeroes. Don Fleming, Executive Director of The Association for Cultural Equity, talks to Jim and Greg about making over 17,000 Lomax recordings available to stream online as part of the Global Jukebox project. Don hopes the expanded access will encourage more artists to sample and draw inspiration from Lomax recordings, not just heavy-hitters like Moby and The Boss.

Go to episode 340

Chess Records

50 years ago, The Rolling Stones touched down in the United States for their very first American tour. While here, the band made a pilgrimage to Chicago's legendary Chess Records to record their take on tunes from the label's blues heavyweights like Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and Chuck Berry. Those Chess sessions appeared on The Stones second album, 12 x 5, which also debuted 50-years ago. To mark the occasion, Jim and Greg explore the history and legacy of Chess, whose 25-year run produced music that influenced rockers like Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Jimi Hendrix and more. Jim and Greg highlight these Chess artists:

  • Muddy Waters
  • Willie Dixon
  • Chuck Berry
  • Howlin' Wolf
  • Little Walter
  • Sonny Boy Williamson
  • Bobby Charles
  • Buddy Guy
Go to episode 440
reviews
XSCAPEXscape available on iTunes

Michael Jackson Xscape

Is Michael Jackson back from the dead? It seems like it lately, with the Thriller star moonwalking from beyond the grave, and his second posthumous release debuting at #2 this week. Xscape features eight hitherto-unreleased tracks, each in two forms: Jackson's original demos, plus new versions spiffed up by producers like L.A. Reid, StarGate and Timbaland. Greg finds it interesting that they included the demos — as he puts it, there was a reason Jackson left those behind. And while the production team did a good job reworking the tracks, Greg doubts that the Prince of Pop would have been satisfied with this album. Jim ponders the bizarre tracklist, which includes an update of America's "A Horse with No Name," a Paul Anka collaboration, and a song titled "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" that Jim finds simply“disturbing.”While Xscape isn't as awful as other posthumous releases (Tupac and Jimi Hendrix come to mind), neither host thinks fans will keep listening once the hype dies down. It's a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 443
LemonadeLemonade available on iTunes

Beyoncé Lemonade

Queen Bey is back with her refreshing new visual album, Lemonade. In the vein of her last work, the self-titled Beyoncé, Lemonade was a surprise release. This time, she put out a one-hour visual film of the same name on HBO about enduring infidelity, difficult times and Becky with the good hair. One of the many things Greg enjoys about Lemonade is Beyoncé's ability to become more vulnerable and gritty both in what she's singing about and how she's singing it. He also loves that she's working with unlikely collaborators like Jack White, James Blake and more. Greg thinks this is the best work of her career and gives Lemonade a Buy It. Jim wholeheartedly agrees, calling the album a masterpiece. He encourages listeners to listen beyond the drama of Jay Z & Beyoncé's struggling relationship to the greater picture Bey paints about the mistreatment of black women in America. He loves that she made an artistic record with some serious substance. Jim gives it an enthusiastic Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 544
dijs

Jim

“America”Simon and Garfunkel,Yes,Bowie,Simon and Garfunkel

Jim recently made a trip back to his home state of New Jersey and did a lot of driving. So he stumbled upon a classic rock station playing "America" by Simon and Garfunkel. This song never fails to choke him up, even the versions by Yes and Bowie. It deserves a prominent spot in the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 396

Jim

“America”Yes

For his Desert Island Jukebox pick, Jim wanted to play a song by an artist that epitomizes“high fidelity.”He looked to a member of his holy triumvirate of rock: Pink Floyd, Genesis and Yes. This week it's Yes' turn. Jim describes their version of "America" as a“headphone classic.”While you won't be able to hear the original vinyl audio fidelity on the radio or podcast, Sound Opinions H.Q. hopes you enjoy this cover of a classic Simon and Garfunkel song.

Go to episode 123

Greg

“Vietman”Jimmy Cliff

For his DIJ pick, Greg goes with Reggae all-star Jimmy Cliff's anti-war song "Vietman." While Cliff's legacy is sometimes overshadowed by those of Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Greg says Cliff was instrumental in popularizing reggae in America. Not only did he star in The Harder They Come and pen that movie's most enduring tracks, he also wrote“Vietnam,”a tune which none other than Bob Dylan called the best protest song ever written.“Vietnam”tells the story of a soldier's death in two letters home. For Greg, it's the song that proved once and for all that Reggae was much more than just a fad and a rhythm. This genre was here to stay.

Go to episode 344
lists

Songs About America

Sound Opinions celebrates Independence Day this week with Jim and Greg's favorite Songs about America. These are great rock songs that capture our country's spirit — the good, the bad and the ugly.

Go to episode 136

The Best Albums of 2012.

Jim and Greg have made their lists and checked 'em twice. Now the big moment has arrived. Without further ado: The Best Albums of 2012.

Go to episode 367

Turkey Pardons

Gather around the family table for the Sound Opinions annual Thanksgiving Show! This year in honor of the presidential tradition, Jim and Greg will pardon some "musical turkeys." Turkeys are bands or artists that have had a lackluster career, but the hosts mercifully pardon them for one song they find redeemable.

Go to episode 573
news

Music News

Fans continue to mourn the death of David Bowie, who died January 10th. His most recent album, Blackstar, released two days before his death, rose to #1 in America as fans and strangers alike tuned in to hear Bowie's last artful words. Blackstar's huge sales represent a trend found in Nielsen's 2015 music report, which says rock music is going strong. According to Nielsen, rock is the #1 genre for album sales—33% of albums sold in North America were rock. Though pop and R&B may be topping the charts, rock gets sold the most.

Music streams continue to be popular with listeners and are up 93%. But, there's hope for high fidelity fans too: MusicWatch reported an estimated 25 million U.S. consumers are willing to pay more money for higher sound quality. And while we live in a digital world, radio, surprisingly, remains people's #1 source for music discovery.

Adele The biggest winner in 2015 was, of course, Adele. Her record 25 accounted for 3.1% of all album sales in 2015 and 16% of all album sales during the six weeks following its release. So, it's not surprising that she was the most searched artist according to the BBC and Shazam. The BBC allows you to find out what people are searching for in your city, and also, that city's“musical twin.”Here in Chicago, our listening matches up with Johor Bahru in Malaysia.

Go to episode 530

Music News

Attention American music fans: Spotify has landed. The“freemium”music-streaming service, launched in Sweden in 2008, already dominates music streaming overseas. Not only does it claim 10 million (until now, mostly European) users, but of that ten, a significant 1.6 million are paying subscribers. So why did it take so long for Spotify to cross the pond? For years the service has been negotiating with the big four American record labels to overcome licensing hurdles, leaving the American field open to rival services like Rdio, MOG, and Rhapsody. Greg wonders: Will Spotify - with its vaunted 15 million track catalogue, free music, and free-ish subscription plans - be able to compete with these already entrenched services?

It's not often that a major artist goes out of his way to urge fans NOT to buy his music, but that's exactly what Nine Inch Nail's Trent Reznor did last week, telling his approximately 930,000 Twitter followers to“ignore”a reissue of 1989's Pretty Hate Machine.“A record label bulls—t move repackaging the old version”Reznor tweeted.“Ignore please.”Reissues, Jim notes, are rarely the decision of the artists, who sign away rights to reissue material when they enter recording contracts. But as Greg observes, labels have something to lose too: this is exactly the kind of rip-off that earns them fans' ill will.

Jim and Greg close out the news with two short items: Ja Rule was sentenced this week to 28 months in prison for failing to pay 1.1 million dollars in taxes. It's yet another blow for a star who hasn't been“living it up”since he started serving two years for criminal weapons possession last month. The New Jersey judge ruled that Ja Rule could serve the terms concurrently. And while we're on the subject of downward slides, Border's Books and Music just hit rock bottom. One of the few remaining large music retailers (anyone remember Tower?), Borders announced Monday that it would close its doors for good.

Go to episode 295