Results for New York City

interviews

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

Julie Klausner

Julie Klausner Our guest this week is writer, comedian and actress Julie Klausner. Julie is the creator and star of Hulu's snarky comedy Difficult People. Klausner hails from New York City and grew up listening to heavy doses of both rock and roll and musical theatre. She also attended NYU where she was a first person observer of the exploding early 2000s rock scene which featured bands like The Strokes and TV on the Radio, and she later wrote a book about her experiences with people in the music industry. Julie has gone on to create and star in Difficult People, a comedy about two best friends pursuing careers in the entertainment industry in NYC with varying degrees of success. Julie talks with Jim and Greg about how she uses music in her show, her surprising love of Jethro Tull and tries to convince Jim that musicals are not always Trash Its.

Go to episode 621

Moby

Moby – who first appeared on the show in 2006 – arrived in New York City in the late '80s as a sober Christian vegan making his way through the nascent underground club scene. A decade later, he was the public face of techno, selling 10 million copies of his album Play and living a life of excess. He's written all about his early career in a new memoir Porcelain, a book Jim compares to Charles Mingus's Beneath the Underdog as one of the great musical autobiographies.

This week Moby speaks with Jim and Greg about the gritty but exuberant heyday of rave culture and house music – and how quickly it all ended. After a string of club hits, Moby confused some critics with the eclectic 1995 album Everything is Wrong, and alienated just about everybody with the hardcore punk-inspired Animal Rights in 1996. But 1999's Play was an unprecedented smash, which led, as Moby explains, to the traditional rise-and-fall story arc of fame and decadence.

Go to episode 556

Allen Toussaint

Allen Toussaint, musical legend out of New Orleans, died on November 10 at the age of 77. In honor of his passing, Jim and Greg revisit their 2013 conversation with the great pianist, singer, songwriter, and producer. Toussaint began playing music at the age of 7 and throughout his career collaborated with a who's who of the New Orleans scene: Dr. John, Huey Smith, Irma Thomas, Earl King & many more. The piano man also wrote dozens of classic songs that have since entered the rock canon, having been covered by artists like Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, DEVO, Warren Zevon, and Patti Labelle. Allen joined Jim and Greg in the studio after the release of his album Songbook, a live recording that documents his career via a series of solo piano shows at Joe's Pub in New York City. Allen talked about about the origins of his most popular songs like "Fortune Teller" and "Working in a Coal Mine," as well as "Whipped Cream," which became the theme for The Dating Game.

Go to episode 520

Rosanne Cash

Considering that Rosanne Cash was born into music royalty, she's a veteran of the business. But that hasn't stopped her from blazing her own trail. The eldest daughter of Johnny Cash, Rosanne, too, is something of a maverick, never fitting into any proper "Country" or "Rock" cagetories. She eschewed the binding confines of Nashville for New York City, where she lives with husband and musical partner John Leventhal. Rosanne recently released her 13th studio album, The River and the Thread, and she joined us for a special live performance at the WXPN studios in Philadelphia. She talked with Jim and Greg about her father's legacy, working with her husband, breaking away from the Nashville industrial complex, and how she can write a beautiful song based on a tweet.

Go to episode 452

Allen Toussaint

Allen Toussaint is a flat-out musical legend. The New Orleans native has been playing music since the age of 7 and has collaborated with a who's who of the New Orleans scene: Dr. John, Huey Smith, Irma Thomas, Earl King & many more. The piano man has also written songs for Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, DEVO, Warren Zevon, and Patti Labelle. Allen joined Jim and Greg in the studio after the release of his latest album Songbook, a live recording that documents his career via a series of solo piano shows at Joe's Pub in New York City. Allen talks about about the origins of his most popular songs, like "Fortune Teller" and "Working in a Coal Mine," as well as "Whipped Cream," which became the theme for The Dating Game.

Go to episode 432
specials

Rock Clubs in the 21st Century

Just like the small independent band or the mom and pop record store, independently owned rock clubs are also finding it hard to navigate their way through the ever-changing, increasingly corporate music industry. Cities often don‘t have the friendliest live music regulations, especially after tragedies like 1993’s E2 stampede and The Station fire. But, with album sales down, bands are more and more dependent on live music revenues. Jim and Greg have been writing about this issue in Chicago for years, but wanted to get a national perspective. They invited the following guests to share their insights: Sean Agnew of R5 Productions in Philadelphia, Mitchell Franks of Spaceland, Echo and Echoplex in Los Angeles and Jake Szufnarowski of Rocks Off Concert Promotions in New York City.

Rock clubs have an important place in the music industry, but they are just as important to the music fan as well. To illustrate this, Jim and Greg both reveal two of their most significant experiences at an independently owned music venue. Jim discusses seeing Hüsker Dü perform their album Zen Arcade in its entirety. It was at Maxwell's on New Year's Eve, and Jim was a college student. As he explained during The Feelies' interview, Maxwell's was pivotal to him learning about music, and this Hüsker Dü performance, complete with wrestling, was one of his most memorable. Jim plays "What's Going On?" from Hüsker Dü's live album The Living End.

Greg discusses seeing house music fixture Ron Hardy DJ at Chicago's Muzic Box. Hardy was not as internationally known as his peers, but Greg remembers how the DJ was able to bring together so many different types of music fans. The democracy of the dance floor is one of the reasons music clubs are so integral to the community. Greg plays a famous track from Hardy's set list, "Love Can't Turn Around."

Go to episode 140
classic album dissections
Horses (Legacy Edition)Horses available on iTunes

Patti Smith Horses

"Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine." With that opening salvo on her debut album Horses, Patti Smith instantly established herself as a leading voice of the New York punk scene. Horses was released in December 1975, just over 40 years ago, so in honor of that milestone, Jim and Greg give it the Classic Album Dissection treatment. At that point, Smith had been kicking around New York City as a poet and a music writer, performing readings of her work while backed by Lenny Kaye on guitar and Richard Sohl on piano. These shows earned her enough buzz to get a contract with Arista Records and head into Electric Lady Studios to record Horses, with Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale behind the board as producer.

Right from her androgynous appearance in Robert Mapplethorpe's cover photo, Patti Smith defied all categorization on Horses. Jim and Greg cite the album as a great work of self-mythologizing, with Smith cultivating a magnetic public persona. The record veers from accessible yet lyrically disturbing songs like "Redondo Beach" and "Kimberly," to epic multi-part suites like "Birdland" and "Land." With Horses, Smith changed the rules for what a rock star could be and remains an influence generations later.

Go to episode 531
The Velvet Underground & Nico (45th Anniversary Edition)The Velvet Underground & Nico available on iTunes

The Velvet Underground The Velvet Underground & Nico

According to Jim and Greg, few albums are worthier of the Classic Album Dissection treatment than The Velvet Underground's 1967 debut, The Velvet Underground & Nico. Songwriter and guitarist Lou Reed teamed with avant-garde violist/bassist John Cale in the mid-'60s to form the core of the band, joined by guitarist Sterling Morrison and drummer Maureen Tucker. The sonic assault of their live performances caught the attention of Andy Warhol. Warhol provided the funding for their debut album in 1966 and created the iconic banana cover art. He also insisted on featuring German chanteuse Nico on several tracks.

The Velvet Underground & Nico was released in March 1967 against a backdrop of psychedelia, the Summer of Love, and Sgt. Pepper's Loney Hearts Club Band. Its noisy, stark depictions of junkies and sadomasochism in New York City didn‘t fit well with that San Francisco feeling, and the album didn’t sell. But over the past half century, its reputation has grown to the point that, as Jim and Greg argue, it's become the most influential album in rock history. Each track has launched an entire genre, from the goth rock of "Venus in Furs" to the noise rock of "European Son" to the proto-shoegaze in "Heroin." It's hard to imagine bands like Sonic Youth, the Ramones, or Radiohead existing without The Velvet Underground & Nico. On the album's 50th anniversary, Jim and Greg tell the history of the band, give a detailed examination of each of the album's songs, and share their thoughts on its legacy.

Go to episode 597
reviews
New York CityNew York City available on iTunes

Brazilian Girls New York City

After seeing Brazilian Girls wow crowds at Lollapalooza, Jim and Greg wanted to review the latest album from the international quartet called New York City. Jim compares the group to Stereolab, with influences in '60s lounge music, as well as German krautrock, but explains they are more danceable. He loves lead singer Sabina Sciubba's on-stage and on-record persona which is part Nico, part Jane Birkin and part Astrud Gilberto. He gives the album a Buy It. Greg is less enthused. He finds the album to be pleasant, but less up-tempo than previous efforts. He wishes they had more to say and thinks it's just merely background music. He gives it a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 142
Show Your BonesShow Your Bones available on iTunes

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones

Next up is Yeah Yeah Yeahs. This Brooklyn trio has released Show Your Bones, the highly anticipated follow-up to their debut, Fever to Tell. That successful album produced a hit single, "Maps," and made the band one of the poster children for the new-garage (or new-new wave) scene in New York City. Jim is always skeptical of this scene and of hype in general, but really liked Show Your Bones. He's not sure what lead singer Karen O is singing about, but loves her energy, which channels a combination of Siouxsie Sioux and Chrissie Hynde. Guitar wizard Nick Zinner is also back in top form. Therefore it's a Buy It for Jim. Greg, however, can only give this disc, which was produced by hip hop producer Squeak-E-Clean, a Burn It rating. He thinks there are a number of great tracks, but the songwriting just isn't there.

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
Ta-DahTa-Dah available on iTunes

The Scissor Sisters Ta-Dah

Next up is the sophomore effort from The Scissor Sisters, Ta-Dah. It's a common misconception that this quintet hails from the U.K. While they have received most of their success across the pond, this gender-bending pop group actually hails from New York City. Scissor Sisters had hits the first time around with singles like "Take Your Mama" and "Comfortably Numb," but the question was whether their schtick was too schticky to last. Greg, for one, really enjoyed Ta-Dah. He thinks that the music is fun and upbeat and perfect for singles play on your iPod. But he thought Jake Shears' (get it? "Shears!") falsetto was difficult to take for an entire album and can only give Ta-Dah a Burn It. Jim liked the album a bit more than Greg. He described it as an amalgam of the best glam, pop, and disco music that you would've heard on '70s AM radio. However, like Greg, he only recommends listeners Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 46
Rather RippedRather Ripped available on iTunes

Sonic Youth Rather Ripped

The second album up for review this week is from noise-rock vets Sonic Youth. Rather Ripped is the 15th studio album by the New York City quartet, who have been playing together for 25 years and up. Producer and multi-instrumentalist Jim O'Rourke joined the band briefly, but on Rather Ripped, Sonic Youth is back to four. The stripped-down lineup translates to the record's sound. The band is known for huge, noisy guitar sounds courtesy of guitar composers Glen Branca and Rhys Chatham, but this effort is a cleaner, more melodic album than fans may be accustomed to — and according to Jim, critics are falling over themselves praising it. Jim can‘t jump on that bandwagon, however. He doesn’t think that Sonic Youth has made a consistently good album from beginning to end since 1990's Goo. He still considers Sonic Youth a great band, but can only give Rather Ripped a Burn It. Greg, on the other hand, believes Jim is being too harsh. He agrees that it is not a great record, but still a good one. There are very few bands that have been able to sustain themselves as credible artists for this long. Greg really appreciates the songwriting, especially that of Kim Gordon (wife of fellow Sonic Youther Thurston Moore). For its dreamy atmosphere and momentum-fueled drumming and guitars, Greg gives Rather Ripped a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 29
Human PerformanceHuman Performance available on iTunes

Parquet Courts Human Performance

Indie rock four-piece Parquet Courts formed in Brooklyn in 2010 with three of its members originally from Texas. They debuted with a limited cassette release in 2011, but it wasn't until they released Light Up Gold in 2012 that they really turned some heads. The record was reissued on a bigger label in 2013, and after releasing two semi-official albums, Parquet Courts is back with Human Performance.

Greg thinks Parquet Courts have captured what it's like living in New York City—isolating and overwhelming at once. This mood hangs over the whole record, even during what he calls the back-and-forth conversations between Andrew Savage and Austin Brown. Savage writes melancholy break-up tunes, and Brown responds with optimism. Greg thinks that while the record does not reach the masterpiece-status of Light Up Gold, it's a Buy It nonetheless.

Jim agrees that it's a Buy It, loving the jaunty piano, droning organ and sound effects. He recalls Parquet Courts being referred to by critics as slackers on their last album, sparked in no small part by the song "Stoned and Starving," but Jim clarifies that there's nothing lazy about their songwriting and thinks "Dust" is a brilliant track. Jim nods to the dialogue between Brown and Savage, but finds even more compelling the rapport between their guitars.

JimGreg
Go to episode 543
The MountainThe Mountain available on iTunes

Heartless Bastards The Mountain

Next up Jim and Greg review The Mountain, the third album from Heartless Bastards. The heart and soul of the trio is singer, guitarist and chief songwriter Erika Wennerstrom. As Greg explains, the songs on this album are the result of Wennerstrom's break up with the band's former bassist, as well as her move to New York City. He thinks Wennerstrom has never sounded better, and also admires Mike McCarthy's production. Greg gives The Mountain a Buy It. Jimwishes he could be more enthusiastic. He loves a handful of the songs that are packed with Crazy Horse“stomp.”But he can only give the album a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 166
Jill Cuniff

Jill Cunniff City Beach

The next review is of City Beach, the solo album from former Luscious Jackson front woman Jill Cunniff. Jim has always thought that Luscious Jackson was an underrated group, so he's glad to have Cunniff back, as well as a new greatest hits album. City Beach, produced by Daniel Lanois, met his expectations. He thinks it's a sultry record, perfect for a summer day in New York City, and gives it a Buy It. Greg was totally disappointed in Cunniff. He was also a Luscious Jackson fan, but finds this album sleepy, and not at all ambitious or creative. He gives City Beach a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 66
dijs

Greg

“Losing True”The Roches

Greg was inspired by a conversation he had at SXSW with a fan of The Roches, a sister group from New York City in the late '70s/early '80s. While British female-led post-punk bands like The Slits and The Raincoats are celebrated, their American counterparts like The Roches are often overlooked. Sisters Maggie, Terre, and Suzzy Roche began singing Christmas carols door-to-door, but were later recruited by Paul Simon to sing backup vocals. They had an artier, weirder strain than most others in the folk scene, with lyrics that could be very funny or extremely poignant. Robert Fripp of King Crimson became a huge fan and produced two of their records. Fripp's guitar line on "Losing True" combines with the sisters' rich vocals to create what Greg calls a celestial sound, landing it a spot in the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 488
lists

Best Albums of 2008

Jim and Greg listened to hundreds of albums this year. Which ones soared to the top? Check out their lists for the Best Albums of 2008 below. You can also see what albums made the cut in years past in our Lists section.

Go to episode 159
news

Music News

Former LCD Soundsystem frontman James Murphy has been keeping busy since the group disbanded in 2011. When not scoring Broadway plays and roasting speciality coffee, he's taking on New York City's notoriously noisy subway system. Murphy wants to change the soulless beeps made by current subway turnstiles into melodic notes that harmonize and respond to the amount of traffic passing through the station. Murphy first revealed this plan to Jim and Greg last year, but now he's making his campaign public. So far, New York City's Metropolitan Transit Authority isn't particularly warm to the idea, citing the significant cost and time, but Murphy remains undetered.

The good news for costumed rockers Kiss is that they'll be inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in April. The bad news is that the band won‘t be compromising it’s creative integrity (a first, Jim says) by performing at the induction ceremony in its current iteration (which excludes original members Ace Freely and Peter Criss). With bad blood between Freely, Criss, and Gene Simmons, there's no hope for a make-up in time for the ceremony. But, Jim thinks purist Kiss fans would probably prefer to see no show than a show without the original Spaceman and Catman.

Go to episode 431

Music News

The nail has just gone in the record store coffin. The Times Square Virgin Megastore, which is the highest volume music store in America, is closing this spring. $55 million in annual revenue was not enough to keep the doors to this landmark retail outfit open. Jim and Greg agree that the Virgin store on Broadway was an institution for any music fan who visited New York City, and hope that people continue to support what record stores are still out there.

Rocker, poet, fashion designer, activist…now Bono can add columnist to that ever-growing list. The U2 frontman just published his first official column for The New York Times. It was written about music's other great ego: Frank Sinatra. Jim doesn't see why anyone would be interested in the writings of Bono, except for the fact that he is a celebrity. But Greg is a little more hopeful. He admits that Bono is not a great scribe, but thinks that if the singer sticks to what he knows– music– we may be in for some interesting stories.

Go to episode 164

Music News

First in the news, the state of Illinois may impose a tax on digital music and film downloads in order to help bail out its $13 billion deficit. If the legislature approves Governor Quinn's proposal, Illinois would join 19 other states that currently have such a tax and be able to get $10 million revenues annually. Per usual, this has prompted partisan debate, but Jim and Greg doubt either party is much concerned with the music fan's perspective.

One of rock's biggest stars, Paul McCartney, is going indie. The former Beatle has announced a plan to take his solo catalog from major label EMI and move it to the independent Concord label. McCartney previously worked with Concord as part of his now defunct Starbucks Hear Music deal. EMI is one of 4 big music companies dominating the industry these days, and as Jim and Greg explain, these labels depend on back catalog revenue. It takes little overhead to repackage an album from an artist like McCartney, and they can reissue it over and over again to new consumers.

Jim and Greg next discuss rapper Guru who died last week. The hip hop artist moved to New York City just in time for the genre's golden age. He developed alongside Public Enemy, Run DMC and Tribe Called Quest, to name a few. Guru joined up with DJ Premier to form Gang Starr, a duo with a revolutionary sound fusing rap with jazz. This, along with his fluid vocal style, made Gang Starr one of hip hop's most influential acts. To honor the late artist, Jim and Greg play "Jazz Thing," a track from the Mo' Better Blues soundtrack featuring jazz musician Branford Marsalis.

Go to episode 230

Music News

This summer concert season marks a number of make-ups and break-ups. First is the news that The Police will be wrapping up their successful reunion tour. The group had one of the top grossing tours of 2007, but will be ending their“journey”in the place it began: New York City. Also making news is the Gang of Four, which is now down to the Gang of Two. But on a happier note, New Jersey's The Feelies will be reuniting after 17 years for not one, but two shows this summer. Jim and Greg are also excited about the highly-anticipated reunion from groundbreaking British band My Bloody Valentine. The question is - will any of these reunions result in new music that matches these bands' former glory? Fans will have to wait and see.

Go to episode 128

Music News

At the beginning of the show Jim and Greg give an update on a news story they've been following–one of the biggest in contemporary music history. Last week they reported the planned merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster. This week the heads of those companies spoke at a hearings before our nation's legislators. At the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, CEOs Irving Azoff and Michael Rapino were greeted with skepticism, even sarcasm, as they tried to defend their plan and its effects on consumers. Jim and Greg have a very different feeling after this hearing than they did during the Ticketmaster investigation in the mid-'90s. This time, they think the law might come down on the side of the consumer.

In other sad industry news, New York City landmark Manny's Musical Instruments will close down in May. The store, which was purchased by Sam Ash in 1999, has served such customers as Benny Goodman and Kurt Cobain over the years. Even our own Jim DeRogatis used to visit the store and“music row”in his youth.

Go to episode 170

Music News

Vinyl Recently, HBO aired the season one finale of their new record industry drama, Vinyl. The series comes from executive producers Martin Scorsese and Mick Jagger, and stars Bobby Cannavale as a struggling label head in 1970s New York City. While the reviews have been mixed, one thing everyone can agree on is this show knows and loves its music. That's in large part to its music supervisor Randall Poster.

Poster is a frequent collaborator with Martin Scorsese on projects like The Aviator, The Wolf of Wall Street and Boardwalk Empire. He also often works with Wes Anderson on films from Rushmore to The Grand Budapest Hotel. We spoke with Randall Poster about the music for this season of Vinyl and his other projects.

Go to episode 543