Results for Jon Brion

interviews

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

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

Spoon

One of Jim and Greg's favorite albums of the year so far comes from the indie rock band Spoon. Despite the odd title, they fell for the combination of minimal art pop with Phil Spector-like arrangements and orchestrations. This is the band's sixth album, and the fourth they've made with indie label Merge (also home to another indie success story — Arcade Fire). Jim and Greg start by asking lead singer and songwriter Britt Daniel about the approach to this album. He explains that the band was definitely inspired by Motown groups like The Supremes — something that may come as a surprise to fans who are used to a sparser sound.

One of the people responsible for the“Spoon sound”is producer Mike McCarthy. But, the band also worked with Jon Brion on a couple of songs. Other surprising influences: Queen and AC/DC. Songs like "We Will Rock You," and "Back in Black," are fairly simple and minimal, but they have that rhythm and that“thing”that draw you in. Listen to Spoon's take on that“thing”in the songs "Don't Make Me a Target," "Rhythm and Soul," and "Don't You Evah."

Go to episode 102

Top Albums of 2005

The“Best Records”list: It's“a sacred thing”in pop music fandom, says Jim, requiring a discerning ear and laser-like focus. Thankfully, our hosts are here to help. After sifting through hundreds of records, and countless days spent listening (perhaps to the discontent of their wives), they‘ve managed to pick out their absolute favorites. Here’s what Jim and Greg say they'll still be listening to in 2006.

Go to episode 2
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
reviews
False Priest (Deluxe Version)False Priest available on iTunes

of Montreal False Priest

Also coming out is False Priest, the 10th album by Athens, GA band of Montreal. Frontman Kevin Barnes records at an ambitious pace, one that's matched by his theatrical performances. On this record he works with producer Jon Brion, but Jim doesn‘t think Brion did much to rein Barnes in. He appreciates costumes and camp, but wishes there was some sincerity behind it. He notes that Barnes isn’t near the songwriter that his Elephant 6 influencers are, and gives False Priest a Trash It. Greg actually thinks this is of Montreal's most coherent effort yet, thanks to Brion. Plus, he really likes the R&B/Prince moments on the record. But, Greg agrees with Jim on the insincere schtick and can only give this album a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 249
lists

Desert Island Jukebox Highlights

As the hosts of the show, Jim and Greg are always given the tough challenge of picking just one song they can‘t live without to drop into the Desert Island Jukebox. But, over time, they’ve also asked some of their favorite musical guests to make this difficult decision. It's interesting to hear what music these artists want to be stranded with. Here are just some of the selections:

  • Thom Yorke of Radiohead - "The Old Man's Back Again" by Scott Walker
  • Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead - "Kool Thing" by Sonic Youth
  • Robyn Hitchcock - Revolver by The Beatles (in his mind)
  • Scott McCaughey - "Walking in the Rain" by The Ronettes
  • Peter Buck - "Daddy Rollin' in Their Arms" by Dion
  • Lupe Fiasco - "The Highwayman" by The Highwaymen
  • Julian Casablancas of The Strokes - "Moonlight Sonata" by Ludwig van Beethoven
  • Jon Brion - "Love Will Keep Us Together" by Captain & Tenille
  • Rhymefest - "All I Do," by Stevie Wonder
  • Jason Lytle of Grandaddy - "Roscoe" by Midlake
Go to episode 67