Results for Fiona Apple

interviews

Jon Brion

Jon Brion visits the show this week to perform and talk with Jim and Greg. Brion is mostly known for his production work with artists like Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple and Kanye West. Brion is also responsible for the innovative soundtracks to Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist was in town to perform at Chicago's Intonation Music Festival, and he stopped by to meet with our hosts, as well as a live studio audience.

What listeners may not know is that Jon Brion is also an accomplished solo artist, albeit not a prolific one. He holds a residency at Los Angeles club Largo, where he performs a cabaret-style act. Recently, however, a severe case of tendinitis has prevented Brion from playing live much. Lucky for Jim, Greg, and the audience, he was able to play both the piano and the "taro patch" during the interview. You can hear Brion perform "Knock Yourself Out" from I Heart Huckabees and the theme to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the show.

One of the ideas our guest discusses with Jim and Greg is the art of the song. He finds songs to be“astonishing”and distinguishes them from“performance pieces.”Brion's example is the music of Led Zeppelin. He loves Zeppelin, but asks the listener to compare their melodies to that of someone like George Gershwin. Brion adds that one rocker who did manage to write wonderfully constructed songs that will stand the test of time is Kurt Cobain. Listen to how he plays Nirvana's "Lithium" followed by an old Cole Porter standard.

Go to episode 32

Jon Brion

Jon Brion Jim and Greg revisit one of their favorite interviews in the history of the show: a 2006 conversation with multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer, and film composer Jon Brion. Brion has produced for artists like Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple, Spoon, and Kanye West and worked as a session player for Macy Gray and others. He's collaborated with filmmakers like Paul Thomas Anderson, Michel Gondry, and Charlie Kaufman, providing the score for Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Punch-Drunk Love, Synechdoche, New York, I ♥ Huckabees, and more.

But Jon Brion is also an accomplished solo artist with one solo album, Meaningless, to his name. Brion has grown a devoted following for his decades-long residency at the Los Angeles club Largo. At his shows, Brion improvises spectacular sets of originals and covers as he shows off his virtuosity on every instrument. He demonstrates his skills through performances of some of his compositions in front of a small audience. He also demonstrates to Jim and Greg the difference between the art of songwriting (as exemplified by Gershwin and Kurt Cobain) and what he calls "performance pieces."

Go to episode 574
specials

Victims of the Music Business

nellie This week Jim and Greg stick it to the man, or more specifically — record companies. They discuss the phenomenon of major labels pulling the plug on established artists. The most recent victim is Nellie McKay, whose album Pretty Little Head was denied release by Sony Music. McKay wanted to release one version, Sony wanted to release another, and after the“pretty little”singer told her label to take it or leave it, they left it. Of course, upon hearing the advance copy, our hosts can't necessarily blame them.

Whether you enjoy the music or not, McKay's situation does pose an interesting question of how much creative control an artist has while under major label contract. As Jim states:“As long as there have been major labels, there have been executives deciding that they know better than the artist.”What are some of the other lost albums that fell prey to the big bad record company? Jim and Greg list off some of their favorites, including:

The Butthole Surfers

During the early '90s when "alternative" music was achieving commercial success, The Butthole Surfers were signed to Capitol. When the alternative fad waned, their label no longer appreciated the band's weird aesthetic and refused to release their album After The Astronaut. The Buttholes sued Capitol and demanded early release from their contract. The record, however, remained under Capitol ownership. Fans needn't fret though; most of the material was re-recorded and released by Hollywood Records.

Wilco

The hometown favorite's album, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, was delayed release by its label because it was more conceptual than it was pop. Conceptual, of course, is hard to sell, so Reprise Records asked Jeff Tweedy and his bandmates to go back into the studio and find a hit. Wilco decided to stand by its album, and bid farewell to Reprise. Normally it would take a lot of time and money to recover tapes made under a label's contract, but in this case, Reprise let Wilco take their music, rather than face a public relations nightmare. The album was eventually released in 2002 by a different Warner Music subsidiary and ended up being the biggest selling of their career. The story played out very nicely in life, in film, and most importantly, in print.

Fiona Apple

This singer's label woes were perhaps the most highly publicized of the bunch, but according to our experts, the often difficult artist needs to take some of the blame. Apple decided to work with producer Jon Brion for a third time, but felt she needed more time on this effort. Epic Records, not pleased with what they‘d been hearing all along, told Apple that they’d need to approve a track at a time. Or at least that's what she thought she heard. In a dramatic move, Apple stopped recording, leaving the album unfinished. Neither Epic nor Apple wanted to release the music, however some of the songs leaked, and the response was so overwhelming that Apple was inspired to start working again. This time, she joined up with producers Mike Elizondo and Brian Kehew, and Extraordinary Machine can be heard in not one, but two forms.

Go to episode 117

The Moog

Guitars, bass, drums…blah blah blah. This week it's all about the Moog! The Bob Moog-invented synthesizer has experienced a resurgence in popularity in the past few years. New artists love the analog sound, and many are gathering at next week's MoogFest in Bob Moog's adopted hometown of Asheville, NC. Jim and Greg talk to Brian Kehew, the Bob Moog Foundation's official historian, about the synthesizer's history and legacy. Kehew also co-founded an all-analog band called Moog Cookbook in the '90s and has worked in the studio with Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann and Moog superstars, Emerson, Lake & Palmer. In addition to ELP, Kehew points to the following as great synthesizer musicians:

Go to episode 256

Best Albums of 2012…So Far

Determining a year-end“Best of”album list is the highlight of a critic's year. Now that it's June, Jim and Greg get a jump on the winnowing down process with the Best Albums of 2012…So Far. Here are their mid-year best picks:

Go to episode 343

The Moog

The Moog company of Asheville, North Carolina recently announced it would end production on its flagship synthesizer, the Minimoog Voyager. That got Jim and Greg to thinking about the incredible influence the Moog synthesizer has had on rock and pop music since it debuted in 1964. Robert Moog's invention has seen a renaissance in the past decade, as acts ranging from M83 to Future Islands to Taylor Swift have taken inspiration from the synthpop sound.

To get some perspective on the Moog's history and legacy, Jim and Greg turn to Brian Kehew, the former official historian for the Bob Moog Foundation. Kehew also co-founded an all-analog band called Moog Cookbook in the '90s and has worked in the studio with Fiona Apple, Aimee Mann and Moog superstars Emerson, Lake & Palmer. In addition to ELP, Kehew points to the following as great synthesizer musicians:

Go to episode 522
reviews
The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do (Deluxe Version)The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do available on iTunes

Fiona Apple The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do

The title of Fiona Apple's latest album The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do is certainly a mouthful (though it doesn‘t hold a candle to her sophomore album title). It’s only her fourth release since Tidal put her on the map in 1996, but this time around Jim notes she's taking a slightly different tack. Apple declined production help from friend Jon Brion and worked instead with her touring drummer Charley Drayton. The result, Greg says, is admirably stripped down. The album reminds him of seeing Apple live at her LA home stage, Largo. The vocals in particular are front and center. She's never pushed her voice this far, singing in a high falsetto one minute and scatting the next. Even better, there's plenty of hooks. Greg says it's the best album of her career - a buy it all the way. Jim on the other hand, is reaching for the Excedrin extra strength. While he admires Apple's ambition, he says listening to this needlessly complicated album is a chore. The last track "Hot Knife" epitomizes everything that's wrong: rolling timpani, scatting, a bridge that goes nowhere, and ululations that drive him bonkers. Trash it.

JimGreg
Go to episode 344
lists

Shelved Albums

On this week's show, Jim and Greg stick it to the man — or, more specifically, the record companies. They discuss the phenomenon of major labels pulling the plug on established artists. The most recent victim is Nellie McKay, whose album Pretty Little Head was denied release by Sony Music. McKay wanted to release one version, Sony wanted to release another, and after the“Pretty Little”singer told her label to take it or leave it, they left it. Of course, upon hearing the advance copy, our hosts can't necessarily blame them.

Whether you enjoy the music or not, McKay's situation does pose an interesting question of how much creative control an artist has while under major label contract. In Jim's words:“As long as there have been major labels, there have been executives deciding that they know better than the artist.”What are some of the other lost albums that fell prey to the big bad record company? Jim and Greg list off some of their favorites.

  • Butthole Surfers, After the Astronaut
  • Wilco, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
  • Brian Eno, My Squelchy Life
  • Fiona Apple, Extraordinary Machine
  • The Velvet Underground, VU
Go to episode 10

The Best Songs of the Millennium - Mixtapes

Jim and Greg like to end every year with a good old-fashioned mixtape (presented as a new-fashioned mp3 stream). But this year they decided to go even further and compile their favorite songs of the entire decade. They pick highlights to play during this episode, and their entire playlists are below. You can also stream their full mixtapes:

Go to episode 214

Turkey Shoot

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, which means it's time for Sound Opinions' annual Turkey Shoot. These aren‘t just bad records, they’re bad records from artists that are capable of better. Nothing stings like disappointment, and these were the biggest musical disappointments of 2012:

Go to episode 364
news

Music News

The week's first news story concerns two different markers of achievement in the music industry: The Grammy Awards and the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll. Everyone, of course, knows about The Grammys—the annual awards given by the Recording Academy—but Jim and Greg argue that a better indicator of who deserved praise this year is the Pazz & Jop poll, which was taken by almost 800 music critics. There aren't many crossovers on the list of Village Voice winners and Grammy nominees, except for the critical and popular favorite Kanye West. The other musicians who finish out the top five—M.I.A., Sufjan Stevens, Sleater-Kinney and Fiona Apple—definitely don't appear on the Grammy ballot for "Album of the Year." The artists honored in that category include Mariah Carey, U2, Gwen Stefani and Paul McCartney.

Go to episode 10

Music News

With the Zune dead and buried, Microsoft is ready for try two at breaking into the digital music industry. This time, Jim reports, they're bringing out the big guns, introducing their new music and entertainment service under the industry-leading Xbox brand. That's right kids - Xbox isn‘t just for gaming anymore. If Microsoft has its way, it’ll soon be your center for music streaming, buying, and sharing. Is it too late for Microsoft to regain its mojo and compete with Apple, Spotify, and Pandora? Jim says only time will tell, but Microsoft's certainly ceded a lot of ground since its world dominance in the nineties.

After notorious border checkpoint Sierra Blanca, TX busted yet another music industry star this week, Greg takes it upon himself to issue a PSA to all tour bus drivers: if you know what's good for you, clean out your bus! Since 2010 the checkpoint has caught Willie Nelson, Snoop Dogg, and Fiona Apple in the act of transporting drugs (and the occasional gun) across the border. Now we have Nelly, busted for an impressive 36 pounds of heroin, ten pounds of pot, and a loaded pistol. Guess he'll know better next time.

Go to episode 360