Results for New Wave

interviews

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Jim and Greg sit down with the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. This East Coast quintet was one of the success stories of 2005. They paid for, produced, and released their self-titled debut album on the ‘net without the help of a record label. Now they’ve sold over 100,000 albums and are selling out shows across the country. Professor Lawrence Lessig, cyberlaw expert and esteemed Sound Opinions guest, cites the band as an example of how people can use the Internet to propel music. A community formed around the band — one that was still willing to pay for their music despite the fact that it was available for free. As Jim points out, this completely contradicts what the RIAA and music industry execs would have you believe.

The lead singer of Clap Your Hands, Alec Ounsworth, is often compared to Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and this goes beyond just vocal quality. Alec mentions his love of Another Green World by groundbreaking“non-musician”Brian Eno (or Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno as his parents know him). You can hear a lot of the New Wave sound and Eno's philosophy in the band's music, like on the spartan, rhythmic New York sound of "Sombre Reptiles."

The band, which got its name after the members saw“Clap Your Hands Say Yeah”scrawled on a Brooklyn wall, play several songs from their debut album. Jim sees keyboardist Robbie Guertin's parents sitting in the Chicago Public Radio control room and reminisces about when his own mom used to come to see him play at less-than-refined venues like CBGB's. He adds that Joey Ramone's mom also used to carpool him and the rest of the band to their gigs. It seems parental support is crucial to punk rock success.

Go to episode 22

The db's

This week the dB's, one of power pop's great underexposed bands, stops by the Sound Opinions studio for an interview and live set. The group came together in 1978 as part of New York City's punk and new wave scene, and put out two classic, but minimally distributed albums before singer/guitarist Chris Stamey left the group. Two more low profile records followed before the group broke up in 1988. Now the original dB's lineup is back with a new album, Falling Off the Sky. Jim used to frequently go see this band live in their earliest days, and it's clear that they haven't lost a step in their few decades off. During their visit, the band rips through three songs from Falling Off the Sky, and Stamey and co-frontman Peter Holsapple talk with Jim and Greg about their early days in North Carolina, their label woes in the '80s, and their decision to reunite not for a paycheck, but just because they were itching to play again.

Go to episode 375

Brian Eno

Frequent Sound Opinions listeners know they can count on one thing: Brian Eno references. In fact some have taken to making it a drinking game. The legendary producer and electronic music pioneer seems to come up no matter what Jim and Greg are talking about. And for good reason-Eno is not just an innovator in the experimental world, but a major pop force as well, first as a member of the new wave band Roxy Music, then as a producer and collaborator with David Byrne and the Talking Heads, John Cale, Devo, U2 and Coldplay. He also composes solo work as well, though whether or not he'll use lyrics, singing or poetry is never known. His last album Drums Between the Bells was inspired by the poetry of Rick Holland. And he has a new EP called Panic of Looking. Brian joins Jim and Greg from England and shares his unique philosophies on writing, recording and the studio as an instrument.

Go to episode 310

Lydia Loveless

Country and punk might seem like strange musical bedfellows, but don't tell that to Lydia Loveless. On her new record Indestructible Machine, the rising alt-country star sings country songs about small town life, drinking too much, and cheating partners with a punk rock snarl. She performs a few of those tracks live in the studio this week. Lydia's embrace of country and punk has a lot to do with her upbringing. She grew up in Coshocton, a small town in rural Ohio where her dad booked country bands. By the time she was thirteen she was playing new wave music in Columbus bars with her sisters. Lydia chafed at her parochial surroundings as a teen, and that angst continues to inform her songwriting. If nothing else, Coshocton provided Lydia with ample material. Just take a listen to her performance of "Steve Earle," a tune about her hometown stalker.

Go to episode 348
specials

Remembering Prince

Prince Remembered

"Life is just a party, and parties weren't meant to last." Yet the party ended much too soon for music legend Prince, who died on April 21 at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park home and recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Volumes have been said about the late Prince Rogers Nelson in the past week, but Jim and Greg draw attention to aspects of his music and career that aren't acknowledged enough. Growing out of the Minneapolis funk scene, Prince refused to be boxed into a single genre, fearlessly blending funk, pop, rock, soul, new wave, and R&B to create a sound all his own. He was known as a guitar god, but could really play any instrument he touched and often was the only musician on his recordings. Prince carried on the Marvin Gaye and Al Green tradition in R&B of mixing the sacred and the profane, sex and salvation. On records like The Black Album, he created some of the most lascivious music ever, but at the same time, Jim and Greg argue he showed a deep respect for women. Not only did he mentor and collaborate with up-and-coming female stars, but he also was eager to help out his idols like Chaka Khan and Mavis Staples.

Prince was unafraid to explore psychedelia, especially in the crucial three album run of Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, and Parade in the mid-80s. He spent the rest of his life toiling away at Paisley Park, churning out recording after recording – not without quality control issues. But in the past couple decades, Prince was defined by his unpredictable and often transcendent live performances. Prince was ahead of his time in recognizing the internet as a way to sell music directly to his fans without a label. But his greatest legacy will of course be his music, and his influence on generations of artists is immeasurable.

Go to episode 544
reviews
album art

Test Icicles For Screening Purposes Only

For Screening Purposes Only by Test Icicles is the next album up for review. This UK trio joined the Domino family along with successful acts like Franz Ferdinand, Clinic, Sons and Daughters and the most recent hype, The Arctic Monkeys. Many of these acts are considered the "New Wave of New Wave" — yet Test Icicles seem to be derivative of a slightly later period. For Greg, it's too much of a good thing. For Jim, though, it's too much of everything. For Screening Purposes Only gets a "Burn It" from Greg and a "Trash It" from Jim.

JimGreg
Go to episode 9
Sam's TownSam's Town available on iTunes

The Killers Sam's Town

The final album up for review is Sam's Town by Las Vegas pop group The Killers. We at Sound Opinions H.Q. must admit that we were highly entertained by Jim and Greg's summation of their latest effort. To quote Jim:“I despise this album with a hatred that I rarely have felt for anyone or anything.”We hardly need to hear anymore, but we're happy to. Both he and Greg understand that The Killers have always been about ripping off '80s New Wave and pop music, but neither can comprehend why they are now throwing bombastic, monster ballads into the mix. Lead singer Brandon Flowers manages to combine the over-singing styles of both Robert Smith and Bruce Springsteen. Greg blames producers Alan Moulder and Flood for simply not knowing better (though the two are also responsible for My Bloody Valentine's almost-perfect record Loveless). Sam's Town is a huge Trash It from both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 45
Blue Planet EyesBlue Planet Eyes available on iTunes

The Preatures Blue Planet Eyes

While Greg discovered Protomartyr at the 2014 SXSW Music Conference, Jim came back from Austin raving about The Preatures. The Australian quintet's new album is called Blue Planet Eyes, and both Jim and Greg think it's the warm, upbeat salve we need during these blistering months. The album was produced by Spoon's Jim Eno, and Greg can hear his taut, syncopated touches all over it. And while Preatures singer Isabella Manfredi is being compared to New Wave divas like Blondie and Chrissie Hynde, Jim adds another joyful influence:“Walking on Sunshine”by Katrina & the Waves. If you're making your list for Santa, add Blue Planet Eyes—a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 470
Hit ResetHit Reset available on iTunes

The Julie Ruin Hit Reset

As a pioneer of the Riot Grrrl movement, Kathleen Hanna is comfortable making a bold statement with her music. The Julie Ruin, the current project from the ex-Bikini Kill and Le Tigre member, finds her continuing to make a statement, but a much more personal and introspective one. The new album Hit Reset finds Hanna dealing with issues like illness and abuse. Jim and Greg both have deep respect for Hanna's body of work but are divided on her vocal abilities on this record. For Jim, Hanna's songwriting is top-notch but is undercut by the limits of her singing. He says to Try It. Greg isn't bothered by her voice. He finds the variety of musical styles on the album to be ambitious. The girl group style harmonies, new wave homages, and surprising ballads all make it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 556
Happy HollowHappy Hollow available on iTunes

Cursive Happy Hollow

Switching gears, Jim and Greg next discuss Happy Hollow, the latest release from Omaha indie rock group Cursive. At first they were concerned that the band, and frontman Tim Kasher, were merely like the younger brothers of fellow Omaha emo outfit Bright Eyes. But Kasher and co. have proved themselves to be really adventurous songwriters and musicians, more in the New Wave tradition than the Conor Oberst tradition. Both Jim and Greg give Happy Hollow a Buy It, though they hope the band gets better live.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
The River In Reverse (Digital Version)The River in Reverse available on iTunes

Elvis Costello The River in Reverse

Elvis Costello, the singer/songwriter who has taken on New Wave, punk, ska, country and pop, is tackling R&B on his latest release, The River in Reverse. The album is a collaboration between Costello and Allen Toussaint, the multi-talented New Orleans musician. Toussaint is responsible for hits like "Working in a Coal Mine," "I Like It Like That," and "Lady Marmalade," and has worked with The Band, Paul Simon and The Meters. The two collaborated after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, but neither Jim nor Greg think Costello's voice is up to the task of handling Toussaint's songs. Costello is a name that can garner attention for Toussaint, and Greg knows that his heart is in the right place, but it is only a Burn It record for both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 27
Wolfgang Amadeus PhoenixWolfgang Amadeus Phoenix available on iTunes

Phoenix Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix

Another new summer pop album is by the French band Phoenix. Their fourth album is called Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. That title and their song "Lisztomania" may give listeners the impression that this is a cerebral record. That impression would be wrong, however. For Greg this is a perfectly sequenced, filler-free pop record that combines disco with new wave. For Jim it's an entrancing album from start to finish. Both hosts give the new Phoenix a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 185
Elephant Shell (Remixes) - EPElephant Shell available on iTunes

Tokyo Police Club Elephant Shell

After getting raves with their 2006 EP, Tokyo Police Club have finally released a full-length album called Elephant Shell. The four-piece band from Ontario signed to Saddle Creek Records to record 11 songs, but don't expect a denser album. This effort is still a quick jaunt into garage rock, power-pop, and new wave that ends before you know it. But, neither Jim, nor Greg, is complaining. Jim loves their great sense of melody and high-energy enthusiasm. His only quibble is with the band's minor diversion into indie-rock pretension. But, overall he gives the record a Buy It. Greg also loves the tightly constructed arrangements, but notes that the band's lyrics still haven't developed much. He appreciates their exuberance but thinks they still have room to grow. He gives Elephant Shell a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 125
99 Cents99¢ available on iTunes

Santigold 99¢

Santigold was known as Santogold when she released her debut album in 2008, a combo of reggae and new wave that established her as an artist. On her third and most recent album, 99¢, she worked with TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Cathy Dennis, and Patrik Berger. Santigold named the album 99¢ because that's how much she thinks it's worth, and Jim concedes he would pay at least double that for it. But it's not a stellar album from start to finish. The middle of the album is weighed down by a few sluggish tracks, especially the duet with ILoveMakonnen, but combine that with the handful of fun dance pop punk songs, and it's a Try It album for Jim. Greg has always loved Santigold's ability to put smart lyrics inside catchy packages. And on this album, there are a few tracks that do just that. Banshee is one of Greg's favorites. It juxtaposes the darkness of drug addiction against an up-tempo, celebratory sound. Not every track is as successful though, and Greg is ultimately a little let down. 99¢ is a Try It for Greg as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 536
RealReal available on iTunes

Lydia Loveless Real

This week Jim and Greg review the new record by country singer-songwriter Lydia Loveless, Real. Loveless is back at her signature songwriting with themes about small town lives and everyday events. Greg loves that she has stepped up her songwriting and singing to be more refined and honest, and gives this a Buy It. Jim agrees, pointing out that there is a whole range of songs on this record unlike what previous ones had, from pop to sparse acoustic to new wave, but all with her country flair in them. Real gets an enthusiastic Buy It from both Jim and Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 559
dijs

Greg

“Nowhere Again”Secret Machines

Music fans experienced another loss over the holidays: Benjamin Curtis, one of the founding members of Secret Machines died at age 35 after a battle with cancer. He, brother Brandon and cousin Josh Garza, visited the show in 2006, and Greg fondly remembers their distinctive sound. While contemporaries like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes were steeped in a New York punk and New Wave sound, Secret Machines had a more experimental and psychedelic edge. And when people lament the lack of great modern rock bands, Greg refers them to this one. So to remember Ben Curtis and Secret Machines, Greg adds "Nowhere Again" from the band's 2004 debut Now Here is Nowhere to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 424

Greg

“Lipstick Vogue”Elvis Costello

Greg has been enjoying Elvis Costello's new memoir Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink. While he finds Costello's career as a whole to be hit-or-miss, he's reminded of how great the first four or five albums were – in particular, 1978's This Year's Model. Costello was often lumped into punk and New Wave, but his band The Attractions had more musical chops than most bands in those movements. Their instrumental virtuosity really came out performing Costello's claustrophobic songs about anger, frustration, and guilt. "Lipstick Vogue" features an incredible drum part by Pete Thomas that, according to Greg, is a highlight of Costello's entire career. That warrants its inclusion into the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 516

Jim

“Lust to Love”The Go-Go's,The Go-Go's

While recently flipping through the stacks of his musical library, Jim came across Beauty and the Beat, the 1981 debut album from California's The Go-Go's. The all-female New Wave band is probably best known for their hit single "We Got the Beat," but Jim is a bigger fan of another Beauty and the Beat song, "Lust to Love." Written by two of the band's five members, guitarists Jane Wiedlin and Charlotte Caffey,“Lust to Love”turns the table on the tired trope of men being the only ones with sexual appetites and is emblematic of the band's underappreciated-at-the-time power pop songwriting talent.

Go to episode 473

Jim

“10,000 Lovers”Ida Maria

While recently scouring the Bermuda Triangle for long-lost artists, Jim rediscovered Norway's Ida Maria who specializes in energetic punk rock blended with new wave melodies. The song "10,000 Lovers" from Maria's second album Katla is a little less punk, but still a lot of fun and reminded Jim why Maria's debut album Fortress Round My Heart in 2009 was his favorite of that year. 10,000 Lovers features Maria's first use of her native Norwegian on a song, and while Jim doesn‘t understand any of it, there’s no mistaking Maria's shout-out to Frank Sinatra at the end.

Go to episode 437

Jim

“Life During Wartime”The Talking Heads

Jim gets to add a track to the Desert Island Jukebox this week, and he decided to pick a song from an art school band that got it right. The Talking Heads were the originators of this style, and their song "Life During Wartime," is one of the first times they incorporated African rhythms and instruments into their New Wave sound. There are layers of percussion and a funky bass line, but the lyrics also deserve to be highlighted. Many listeners probably know the song as a catchy pop track, but it's also got a heavy message about race riots and a society in trouble.

Go to episode 114
features

New Wave

No one of a certain age can hear "Rio" without picturing Simon LeBon and the members of Duran Duran crooning off the side of a yacht. They were the“Rolling Stones of the New Wave era”according to writer Lori Majewski, and through such videos represented everything you either love or hate about the 1980's—the excess, the sex, the fashion and the pure pop production. But, while this was a very visual era of music (with infamous clothes and even more infamous hair), there's a lot to be said for the sound. Jim and Greg talk to Lori about her new book Mad World: An Oral History of New Wave Artists and the Songs That Defined the 1980's, co-written with Jonathan Bernstein. In it, the authors reveal why New Wave caught on so strongly with pop fans and the media, especially post-punk in the U.K. (Certainly the NME would rather photograph Adam Ant than a spitting Johnny Rotten). And Jim and Greg reveal their own affection for music by Boy George, The Cars, A Flock of Seagulls and most anything brought to the big screen by John Hughes.

Here are other New Wave acts we fondly remember:

  • Duran Duran
  • Gary Numan
  • Spandau Ballet
  • Adam Ant
  • Yaz
  • Human League
  • A-Ha
  • Kajagoogoo
  • Tears for Fears
  • OMD
  • Psychedelic Furs
  • Simple Minds
  • Culture Club
  • A Flock of Seagulls
  • New Order

And check out Lori Majewski's favorite New Wave Videos and follow us on Beats Music for a full playlist.

Go to episode 456
news

Music News

Bob Casale, a founding member of New Wave group Devo, died of heart failure earlier this week at age 61. Although singer Mark Mothersbaugh and Bob's brother Jerry usually get credit for Devo's distinct sound, "Bob 2" was there from the start, contributing keys, guitar, and vocals on all nine of the band's albums. Strange and sarcastic as those albums may be, Jim notes, they came from a sincere place: the band started as a much-needed creative outlet after its Akron, Ohio-based members witnessed the Kent State shootings firsthand. Devo may not seem like a protest group, but their music was nevertheless a statement—one influenced heavily by Casale.

Go to episode 430