Results for Americana

interviews

Ron Gallo

Ron Gallo, formerly of indie Philadelphia rock group Toy Soldiers, released a new album titled HEAVY META earlier this year. While Toy Soldiers experimented with Americana as well as more straightforward rock, HEAVY META marks a stylistic departure for Gallo. Ron says the record comes at a time of transition in his life, both personally and musically. A recent transplant to Nashville, Ron experiments with a grittier musical palate on this project. Upon the release of HEAVY META, Greg listed it among his buried treasures. Jim also counts himself a fan, noting that some of the music sounds like it belongs on one of the famed Nuggets compilations of 1960s garage rock recordings. Recently, Ron and his band joined Jim and Greg in our studios to perform music from HEAVY META.

Go to episode 623
reviews
Americana (Deluxe Edition)Americana available on iTunes

Neil Young and Crazy Horse Americana

Despite rumors that the perennial collaborators would never work together again, Neil Young and Crazy Horse are back with a new album. The combination that produced Rust Never Sleeps, Zuma, and Greendale just released Americana, which takes its inspiration from the American folk vernacular. Think "Jesus' Chariot" sounds familiar? You might know it better as "She‘ll Be Coming ’Round the Mountain." So what can we expect when Neil Young and Crazy Horse take on the elementary school songbook? According to Jim, Crazy Horse is the vehicle Neil Young was meant to drive. It might be a cliché, but they could do a musical version of the phone book and kill. They give new life to these songs by unearthing original verses too dark to have made it to the school recital. Though the tempos are a bit slow, these tracks have a groove, and Young rides it masterfully. Jim says Buy It. Greg thinks of Neil Young as music's answer to Howard Zinn. Both are alternative American historians. Just like Neil Young classics "Cortez the Killer" and "Pocahontas," these new songs are about the price paid for the conquest of this country. The album works, Greg says, because of the hunger the band brings to songs we take for granted. It's a Buy it for him too.

JimGreg
Go to episode 343
Freedom's RoadFreedom's Road available on iTunes

John Mellencamp Freedom's Road

Next up is a discussion of the latest album by Americana rocker John Mellencamp. Anyone who has seen a Chevrolet commercial in the past few months can probably recognize his new single, "Our Country." Previously, the singer/songwriter has criticized artists for“selling-out,”but it seems the challenge of selling records today has prompted a change of heart. Whether or not they agree with Mellencamp's decision to go the commercial route is moot when it comes to Jim and Greg's review of the album. Freedom's Road is Mellencamp's 21st album, and Jim and Greg both find it pretty generic, and at times, even cheesy. Greg wishes his lyrics had the detail and sense of time and place that they once did. And Jim wishes the singer took more of a stand on the social and political woes he describes in the songs. Both critics give the album a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 61
A Letter Home (Deluxe Version)A Letter Home available on iTunes

Neil Young A Letter Home

Neil Young is living in the past. Over the last few years, he's released several box sets, a memoir, and a 2012 album called Americana stuffed with vintage folk tunes. Now, on A Letter Home, his 35th album, he's again stepping back in time, revisiting the songs he loved as a teenage folkie in Toronto. For bonus nostalgia points, Young recorded the entire album on the 1947 Voice-O-Graph at Jack White's Third Man studios. Jim points out that the record was literally recorded in phone booth, so it's not an easy listen — but the unrefined sound is somehow fitting for Young (despite the artist's hi-fi evangelism). For Jim, A Letter Home is a fascinating look at the influences of a musical treasure, and he'd gladly Buy It. Greg predicts that some listeners will be turned off by the "sub-lo-fi" quality, but advises them to reconsider, and to take this album for what it is: the scrapbook of a young Young, equal parts warm and spooky. Still, while it's nice to hear that inspiration brought to life, Greg doesn't consider it essential Neil, and only suggests you Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 444
The Ghosts of Highway 20The Ghosts of Highway 20 available on iTunes

Lucinda Williams The Ghosts of Highway 20

Less than two years after releasing a double album, Lucinda Williams is back with another one: The Ghosts of Highway 20. The Louisiana-born singer/songwriter delivers an Americana travelogue, using Interstate 20 to document her life growing up in the South. The highway, which runs from Texas to South Carolina, serves as a geographic timeline with which Williams shares her memories, both pleasant and troubling. The ambitious album is comprised of 14 tracks, 11 of which surpass five minutes, and that initially seemed too long for Greg. Ultimately though, Greg was astounded by this album, especially by the instrumentation executed in large part by the guitar work of Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz. The music transports the listener to the South, where, as Greg puts it,“you can practically feel and see the mist rising up out of the cotton fields.”While he would cut a couple tracks from this album, The Ghosts of Highway 20 is overall a Buy It for Greg.

Jim isn‘t bothered by the album’s length. He loves the psychedelic sound produced by Liesz's pedal steel, as well as Williams‘ poignant recollection of good times and bad. There are several songs on the album dedicated to death, but her treatment of the subject is neither with dread nor loathing, but with acceptance. Jim was a skeptic of Williams for many years, but her recent work– particularly this album– has made him a believer. It’s a Buy It for Jim as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 532
Psychedelic PillPsychedelic Pill available on iTunes

Neil Young Psychedelic Pill

It's been a busy 2012 for Neil Young. Not only has he given us a memoir, Waging Heavy Piece, he's also given us two albums. This spring we got the antique folk romp Americana. Now we have Psychedelic Pill- an epic three records' worth of psychedelic guitar from Neil and the band he was born to play with, Crazy Horse. How good a prescription is Psychedelic Pill? Greg's the first to admit there's a lot of flab on this record. But standout tracks like "Ramada Inn" (about an affair gone sour) and "Walk Like a Giant" (in which Neil reflects on the hippie dream) make this record a worthwhile, if lengthy, listen. Greg says Burn It. As much as it pains him, Neil's #1 fan Jim DeRogatis has to disagree. Never has he heard worse lyrics or more self-indulgent guitar from Neil. This record is sprawling in a bad way. Jim says Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 362
news

Music News

The Rolling Stones made headlines this week after inking an exclusive recording deal with Universal Music. This has prompted speculation that the Stones are planning to leave longtime label EMI, which is restructuring under new ownership. This would be one of many big name acts rumored to be headed for the hills, including Coldplay and Robbie Williams. Paul McCartney and Radiohead have already fled, and the potential loss of the Stones catalog could cost EMI over $6 million. New CEO Guy Hands refuses to express concern, but Jim and Greg predict that the music industry may come down from the six major labels it had at the turn of the century, to only three.

Singer/songwriter John Stewart passed away earlier this week at the age of 68. Stewart penned The Monkees' classic tune "Daydream Believer," but many listeners may not know about the huge song catalog he left behind. He recorded nearly four dozen solo albums and helped to create what we now know as "Americana." In addition to influencing artists like Lucinda Williams, Steve Earle and Roseanne Cash, he was idolized by Lindsey Buckingham, the Fleetwood Mac member who teamed up with him and Stevie Nicks for Stewart's hit single "Gold."

Go to episode 113

Music News

Seven years later, the saga of file-sharer Jammie Thomas-Rassett has reached an end. Caught in the net of file-sharing suits brought by the RIAA in the 2000s, Thomas-Rassett was the first of the Kazaa generation to fight back in court. In a series of four trials she claimed she had not been aware that she was sharing 24 illegal tracks. Now that the Supreme Court has declined to review her petition, Thomas-Rassett is on the hook for $220,000 - money she says she doesn't have.

Jason Molina, leader of americana acts Songs: Ohia and Magnolia Electric Co. is dead this week at age 39 after a prolonged fight with alcoholism. The singer-songwriter's death prompted a moving tribute from his label, Secretly Canadian. Molina's was the first single released by Secretly Canadian when the indie label was a fragile upstart in the nineties.

Go to episode 382
world tours

Sweden

Jim and Greg have always insisted that rock ‘n’ roll belongs to the world. In our new series, the Sound Opinions World Tour, they prove it by zeroing in on countries that've made big contributions to global rock and pop. Their first stop is the largest exporter of music per capita in the world: Sweden. Swedish DJ and public radio host Stefan Wermelin is our guide through the country's musical history. Stefan explains that in the '50s and '60s, Sweden was a pop music backwater. Musicians churned out cut-rate covers of American and English hits. The '60s hippie“Progg”movement injected some originality and artistic ambition into Swedish music, but things didn't really change until ABBA hit it big with "Waterloo." According to Stefan, ABBA set the template for Swedish success. The band created big hits by co-opting the best bits of global pop music and stitching them together with meticulous production. That tradition of pastiche continues today with Swedish producers like Max Martin, the man behind a hundred-and-one Billboard Top Ten hits (Britney Spears' "…Baby One More Time" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" among them). But today, Sweden's also experiencing an indie renaissance in genres as varied as death metal, dance music, and Americana. Decades after ABBA, artists like The Knife, Lykke Li, Robyn, Opeth, and First Aid Kit are staging a second Swedish invasion.

Go to episode 379