Results for post punk

interviews

Steve Wynn

In preparation for this week's guest, Steve Wynn, Jim and Greg do a little primer on the Paisley Underground music scene that developed in California in the 1980s. Jim plays a song by one of the seminal bands of this scene, The 3 O'Clock, whose very psychedelic name was inspired by Tom Wolfe's assertion in "The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test" that if one drops acid in the early evening, the high of the trip will occur at 3:00 a.m. The 3 O'Clock was helmed by Michael Quercio, a musician who started as a punk rocker. After discovering psychedelic rock, however, his sound, and his look, began to change. It was Cuercio's affinity for the music of the '60s, as well as the brightly colored paisley clothes, that gave this scene its name. While the name did not do the music justice, the influence of the Paisley Underground on contemporary bands like Oasis and The Secret Machines is undeniable.

It may surprise to listeners who are only familiar with "Walk Like an Egyptian," but The Bangles were also pioneers of the Paisley Underground. Their original sound, with its three- and four-part harmonies and sing-songy melodies, paralleled that of The Mamas and the Papas and The Byrds. Lead singer Susanna Hoffs continues to work in this genre; she and '90s indie pop star Matthew Sweet just released a 1960s covers album featuring songs by The Left Banke, The Beach Boys and The Who.

Greg points out that the Paisley Underground sound was not a homogenous one — in fact, what bonded these bands was a punk sensibility that welcomed other musical styles. Unlike many other punk bands at the time, these acts didn't see why they had to conform to a strict policy of three-minute, Ramones-style songs. And what's more punk rock than non-conformity? One band that went above and beyond its punk and psychedelic influences was The Long Ryders. They took more of a country approach and can be seen as pioneers of the alternative country scene that now houses bands like Uncle Tupelo, Son Volt, and The Bottle Rockets.

The Rain Parade is the next Paisley Underground band up for discussion. While the members of The Rain Parade never saw the major label success like their peers in The Bangles or The 3 O'Clock (who were signed to Prince's Paisley Park label), many went on to work on successful projects. David Robeck formed the band Mazzy Star, which had an alternative hit single with "Fade Into You" in 1993 and Matt Piucci went on to work with Crazy Horse. The remaining bandmates reincarnated themselves as Viva Saturn.

Greg plays a song featuring this week's guest, Steve Wynn. His band The Dream Syndicate was a group that both Jim and Greg became fans of in the early '80s. They emerged in LA as one of the pioneers of the Paisley Underground sound. Steve then released a number of solo records and has spent the last few years with his most recent band, The Miracle 3. Steve and his band members, Linda Pitmon, Dave DeCastro and Kirk Swan, joined Jim and Greg for an interview and performance at the Chicago Recording Company.

The Dream Syndicate never made it into the 1990s, but its innovative sound continued to influence artists. While other LA bands at the time, like Black Flag, Social Distortion and Bad Religion, were making post-punk and punk music with a really hard edge, The Dream Syndicate stuck to a swirlier, psychedelic pop sound. For this reason, Jim and Greg explain, no matter how many solo projects he embarks on, our guest will most likely always be remembered as the lead singer of The Dream Syndicate.

After playing a track from Days of Wine and Roses, which Greg calls one of the masterpieces of the Paisley Underground era, our host asks Steve about the chemistry between two guitarists. In this case, Steve's partner in guitar is Kirk Swan, who was in another innovative '80s indie pop band, Dumptruck, Steve responds that the basic formula of guitar, drums, and bass is simple, but never gets old. He points to bands like Neil Young and Crazy Horse and Television as examples.

Jim asks Steve about why he continues on in this business after so many years. As Steve jokes on his website, this new album is one of several“comebacks,”but music is not such an easy life to come back to. After being pegged the“new Springsteen,”Steve and the band had somewhat of a difficult time. He explains how that hurt the band (and indirectly how he hurt Jim one drunken night). Thankfully they both came out on the other side.

Go to episode 21

Spoon

In nearly 20 years, Spoon has managed to release 8 albums, all of them worth a listen, according to Jim and Greg. That is no small feat. Their latest, They Want My Soul, is a real expansion of their sound, from minimal post punk to a more grown-up soul. Lead singer Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno founded the band in 1993 in Austin, and they talk with Jim and Greg about how they have stayed relevant for so long, working with producer Dave Fridmann (The Flaming Lips, Low) and calling back to "Jonathan Fisk."

Go to episode 476

The Jesus Lizard

Jimand Gregare joined by the original members of The Jesus Lizard this week: singer David Yow, guitarist Duane Denison, bass player David William Sims, and drummer Mac McNeily. As Jim and Greg explain, The Jesus Lizard was one of the most influential bands to come out of the post-punk scene in the late '80s and early '90s. While they had a number of important recordings on the Touch and Go label, it's live that the band really stood out. They broke up in 1999, but now a decade later, they have re-formed for a number of shows including the recent Pitchfork Music Festival. Before that show they spoke with Jim and Greg and performed live in our studio.

Go to episode 195

The Effigies

This week Jim and Greg have one of their favorite Chicago punk groups, The Effigies, performing live in the studio. It's been nearly 21 years since the pioneering post-hardcore act has released any new material, but on April 12 the band released Reside, a reunion record that Jim and Greg love, much like that of their Boston post-punk contemporaries, Mission of Burma. They explain that the band does not miss a step from where the band left off in 1986. You can hear the songs band members John Kezdy, Robert McNaighton, Paul Zamost and Steve Economou performed on the show, plus bonus tracks here.

Lead singer John Kezdy recalls the band's difficulties being one of the pioneers of punk rock in the Midwest. Unlike their east and west coast peers, they didn‘t have an established punk scene to join or legendary venues like CBGB or Maxwell’s to perform in. Now, rather than touring throughout the year, the older members of the Effigies have important day jobs. In fact, Kedzy is an Illinois state prosecutor, a job that he explains is the "easiest moral option."

Go to episode 88

The Gotobeds

After playing for years in the Pittsburgh punk band Kim Phuc, guitarist and vocalist Eli Kasan formed The Gotobeds along with guitarst Tom Payne, bassist Gavin Jensen, and drummer Cary Belback. The band quickly gained a following for its mix of funny, yet sophisticated, lyrics and post-punk artiness (Jim gleefully points out that they named themselves after the drummer for Wire). Their debut album Poor People are Revolting was released in 2014, followed by their Red Hot Chili Peppers-riffing Sub Pop release Blood // Sugar // Secs // Traffic in 2016. Both albums made it into Jim's top ten lists for their respective years. The Gotobeds join Jim and Greg for a live performance and a discussion about commercialism in indie rock, the Pittsburgh scene, and not taking yourself too seriously.

Go to episode 586

Protomartyr

In the 1990's, the musical attitude of Detroit was reshaped by artists like Eminem and Jack White. But now the Motor City's mood has changed even more, and the minimalist post-punk sounds of Protomartyr are at the fore. The four-piece made a big impact on Greg back at this year's SXSW in Austin, TX with an almost contradictory mix of urgency and restraint, courtesy of guitarist Greg Ahee's stripped down playing and vocalist Joe Casey's sometimes callous, sometimes cool vocals. The band is rounded out by bassist Scott Davidson and drummer Alex Leonard and Greg welcomes them into the studio for a conversation and performance of songs off their sophomore album, Under Color of Official Right. In addition to their connection to literary icon Elmore Leonard, the band also tells Greg about how they went from a somewhat nonchalant beginnings, to constructing a tightly arranged and thoroughly purposeful album guided by the philosophy of doing more with less.

Go to episode 470

Mission of Burma

Mission of Burma This week's guests are the men of Mission of Burma: Roger Miller, Clint Conley, Peter Prescott, and Bob Weston. The post-punk pioneers were in Chicago to perform at the Pitchfork Music Festival, so they stopped by Sound Opinions for a discussion and performance. Jim and Greg explain that Mission of Burma is a rare example of a band able to break up, reunite and continue making music as good as (if not better than) they did before. Burma's first incarnation was in the early 1980s — they recorded one album in 1982 before they had to disband due to Roger's debilitating tinnitus, but their influence is undeniable. The band returned twenty years later to tour and record OnOffOn, and have recently released The Obliterati, which both Jim and Greg say may make their Best of 2006 lists.

Mission of Burma is known for combining pop melodies with quite a lot of noise. These characteristics often get the band thrown in the same pot as bands like Gang of Four and Wire, but listeners shouldn‘t confuse these post-punkers. One of Burma’s distinctive features is their use of tape loops. During their first go-around, Martin Swope would record the band's sound and manipulate it live with a reel-to-reel tape machine. Now Shellac's Bob Weston has the job, and you can hear the effects on "Max Ernst," which they perform live on the show. Another famous looper is Radiohead's Jonny Greenwood, though he works digitally.

Another Burma trademark is the songwriting. All three regular members, Roger, Clint and Peter, pen very smart, rather literate lyrics. An example of this is another song they perform live, "Donna Sumeria." While it was Roger's attempt at a love song, it's also a witty pun on Donna Summer and the ancient Middle Eastern civilization. Greg cites it as an example of Burma's punk sensibility. Their music doesn't have rules and can even have disco elements.

Go to episode 38
classic album dissections
Let It Be (Expanded Edition)Let It Be available on iTunes

The Replacements Let It Be

This week's feature is a Classic Album Dissection of The Replacements' 1984 release Let It Be. Unlike previously dissected albums like Revolver and Songs in the Key of Life, Let It Be wasn‘t a major critical or commercial success. But, Jim and Greg believe it’s one of the greatest albums ever made. It was the fourth album from the Minneapolis band, which was comprised of four“scruffy”members: Paul Westerberg, Bob Stinson, Tommy Stinson and Chris Mars. As Jim and Greg explain, this album put the band on the map and helped to define what we know today as“indie music.”To learn more about the making of Let It Be and why it's so special, Jim and Greg talk with longtime Minneapolis music journalist Jim Walsh who has written an oral history of the band called "The Replacements: All Over But the Shouting."

Jim, Greg and Jim Walsh discuss what a radical change Let It Be was for The Replacements. While their previous albums were dominated by noisy, silly tracks, this recording sprinkled those trademark Replacements songs ("Tommy Gets His Tonsils Out," "Gary's Got a Boner") with more mature, heartfelt songs penned by Paul Westerberg. An example of this is the track "Unsatisfied," which Jim and Greg both believe is the highlight of Let It Be. Greg describes the song as“emotional bloodletting,”and an indication of how much Westerberg had grown as a songwriter. He also points out how inventive the instrumentation, which includes 12-string and lap steel guitar, was for the band and punk music in general. Jim calls "Unsatisfied" the "Satisfaction" of the post-punk generation. The song asks a question everyone can relate to:“Is this all there is in life?”But, as Jim notes, there was more in store for The Replacements after the release of Let It Be. It cemented them as an important band in rock history, and even though Westerberg and the band didn't go on to achieve similar greatness, Let It Be will go down as one of the great albums in the rock canon.

Go to episode 97
reviews
The Agent IntellectThe Agent Intellect available on iTunes

Protomartyr The Agent Intellect

Detroit post-punk band and former Sound Opinions guests Protomartyr earned a lot of notice for its second album Under Color of Official Right. It also placed high on Greg's Best of 2014 list. Now they've returned with a new record titled The Agent Intellect. Jim lauds vocalist Joe Casey's ability to write very smart yet moving lyrics, powerfully exploring his mother's battle with Alzheimer's. The band's musical approach, which reflects both the bleakness and the pride of contemporary Detroit, places them among the all-time great bands of the Motor City. Jim particularly points toward the propulsive yet sleek drumming of Alex Leonard. Greg agrees, saying that against expectations, Protomartyr improves with each album. Casey's lyrics fall in the literary tradition of a Nelson Algren or Charles Bukowski, but are filled with emotion rather than pretention. The band doesn't waste any notes, instead delivering precise jabs. Greg even goes so far as to call Protomartyr one of the“Great American Bands”who are resurrecting the entire art form. Both critics give The Agent Intellect an enthusiastic Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 518
Nothing Feels NaturalNothing Feels Natural available on iTunes

Priests Nothing Feels Natural

Washington, DC quartet Priests prove that punk is alive and well in the Nation's Capital. The band has been on a healthy clip since 2011 releasing music and touring but Nothing Feels Natural is the band's debut full-length album release. Greg says it is an ambitious“critique of nothing less than America”full of sarcastic views on politics and capitalism. Those heavy ideas are bouyed by a“fantastic rhytm section”that keeps Greg "spinning around an imaginary dance floor". Jim hears a strong post-punk influence hailing to the early 1980s but thinks this is an album that can“only be made by someone of the current generation”tackling technology and feelings of isolation. It is an enthusiastic doube Buy It!

JimGreg
Go to episode 585
Adore LifeAdore Life available on iTunes

Savages Adore Life

The post-punk band Savages is back with their second album Adore Life. The group's first album, Silence Yourself, was a big hit with Jim and Greg. And Jim is not disappointed with the new one, which posits that there's nothing silly about love songs. These are twisted, dark and unconventional with none of the band's hellfire sacrificed. Greg agrees, praising this departure and each band member's contribution—from the propulsive rhythm section of bassist Ayse Hassan and drummer Fay Milton to guitarist Gemma Thompson's innovative guitar noise to Jehnny Beth's vocal intensity. Adore Life gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 530
The ObliteratiThe Obliterati available on iTunes

Mission of Burma The Obliterati

Post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma have a new album out, their third in twenty years. Shortly after releasing their landmark Vs. in 1982, the group was forced to disband. The signature massive volume of their music took a toll on all of the members, particularly guitarist Roger Miller who developed a debilitating case of tinnitus. In their short run, Mission of Burma became hugely influential; R.E.M. and Moby have both covered their songs. Then, in 2003 the band reunited and later released their second album, OnOffOn. This record was very well-received, something that's almost unprecedented for a reunion album. Now, the band is back with The Obliterati, and Jim and Greg are as impressed as they were twenty years ago. Jim points to the incredible melodies of the songs, as well as their intellectual wit. He also thinks that Chicago-based engineer Bob Weston did an amazing job with The Obliterati. Greg agrees that the band's melodies are as strong as ever, and explains that Mission of Burma's greatness lies in the tension between the melodies and the noise. He still can't believe that a band would make two such great albums in the second leg of their career. The Obliterati gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 26
Album ArtSilence Yourself available on iTunes

Savages Silence Yourself

Last year, London-based quartet Savages burst onto the indie scene seemingly fully formed. Jehny Beth, Gemma Thompson, Ayse Hassan, and Fay Milton had been a band for less than a year when the UK music press caught on to "Husbands," the group's debut single. Critically acclaimed performances at CMJ, SXSW, and Coachella followed (In our own SXSW wrap-up, Jim declared he had“seen God”at Savages' set). So do they deliver on their Matador Recordsdebut Silence Yourself? Jim's answer is an unequivocal "Yes!" Not only does he stand by his previous claim that Jehny Beth is the most compelling rock frontperson since Kurt Cobain, he extends the Nirvana metaphor. Just like that legendary nineties grunge band, Savages take familiar ingredients (post-punk and minimalism) and make them fresh. Greg agrees. This is a serious band, he says, with the album cover manifesto to prove it and the songs to back it up. Silence Yourself gets an enthusiastic double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 389
dijs

Greg

“Final Solution”Pere Ubu

The Breeders' home state of Ohio inspired Greg's Desert Island Jukebox song choice this week. One of his favorite bands to emerge from the“fly-over territory”is Pere Ubu. Greg describes their unique sound as avant garageart rock combined with garage rock. But, the band created their own scene and didn't care what categories they did or did not belong to. In fact, even though they set a template for punk and post punk music, front man David Thomas denies the band has any relationship to punk. According to Greg, the best example of their sound is in the song "Final Solution," this week's DIJ addition. When the band was on Sound Opinions they also performed“Final Solution”live. You can listen to that performance and their entire interview here.

Go to episode 124

Jim

“Credit in the Straight World”Young Marble Giants

It's Jim's turn to pop a quarter in the Desert Island Jukebox. Mr. Kot is pleasantly surprised as Jim reveals his choice: "Credit in the Straight World" by Young Marble Giants from their 1980 album Colossal Youth. Elements from this late 1970s post-punk band are heard in orchestral pop bands such as Belle and Sebastian. Even Courtney Love's Hole covered this song on their 1994 release Live Through This. Young Marble Giants consisted of female vocalist Alison Statton and brothers Philip and Stuart Moxham. They went against the English punk grain at the time by choosing to be quiet and minimalist. The band reunited this past May at England's Hay Festival for the first time in 27 years.

Go to episode 94

Jim

“She's Like Heroin To Me”The Gun Club

For Jim's Desert Island Jukebox pick this week, he chooses She's Like Heroin To Me by The Gun Club. Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the other founders of this band played music that did not fit into any genre labels but which might be described as "psychobilly cowpunk post-punk tribal-psychobilly-blues." Jim reminisces about the very innovative period of indie rock and punk in the '80s when The Gun Club came about, and points out how important this particular track is in understanding '80s music and expressing popular punk themes like obsession, addiction, and sex.

Go to episode 558

Jim

“(Knife in the) Marathon”Breaking Circus

A listener recently asked Jim for some musical gift advice for her boyfriend's 30th birthday, leading Jim to dig out a 30-year-old mixtape of his from 1985. One of the artists featured on the tape was Breaking Circus, a forgotten Chicago post-punk band formed by Steve Björklund that fell somewhere in between the pop hooks of Naked Raygun and the abrasiveness of Big Black. Jim particularly loves the weirdness of "(Knife in the) Marathon," which tells the strange tale of an athlete from a third world country wrestled to the ground by security for carrying a knife. Jim would never have remembered this song without the mixtape, so he's grateful for the prompt as he nominates it for the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 508

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

Greg

“Sex Beat”The Gun Club

One of the things Greg admires most about Alejandro Escovedo is his ability to choose great covers to perform. He reminds his new audiences of great older songs they might not be familiar with. One such song is "Sex Beat" by The Gun Club. The track was released on the California post-punk outfit's 1981 debut Fire of Love. Greg describes front man Jeffrey Lee Pierce as a legendary figure of that era and genius guitar player. Put a quarter into the Desert Island Jukebox this week to hear his song "Sex Beat."

Go to episode 156

Greg

“Sister Surround”The Soundtrack of Our Lives

Riding a wave of nostalgia for the early 2000s, Greg washed up onto the shores of the dessert island in search of a fix for his Scandinavian garage rock craving. While bands like The Helicopters and The Hives can sometimes do the trick, Greg turns to his favorite Scandinavian invaders: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Led by Scott Lundeberg, these Swedish music mavericks culled their favorite elements of the classic rock, post punk, and grunge to create a distinct sound from“the best of the best.”Greg plays the track "Sister Surround" from their third album Behind the Music.

Go to episode 457

Greg

“Viet Nam War Blues”Oblivians

Memphis garage rockers Oblivians recently released their first record in fifteen years, Desperation. Greg's had it on heavy rotation along with the group's post-punk-inspired back catalogue. With two guitars, two chords, and a stripped down drum kit, Greg says Oblivians married punk's“last moment on earth intensity”with Memphis's rock ‘n’ roll tradition. He chooses "Viet Nam War Blues" off the band's 1995 debut album Soul Food for his Desert Island Jukebox pick. It's a Lightnin' Hopkins cover about a mother whose son goes off to war. Whereas Hopkins brings a jazzy, poetic sensibility to the track, Greg says Oblivians bring rage.

Go to episode 397
news

Music News

Jim and Greg begin the show with a discussion of Lollapalooza and other summer festivals. There's Coachella in California and Bonnaroo in Tennessee, but Chicago is shaping up to be the major destination for music fans this year. The Lollapalooza lineup is impressive, with a diverse mix of bands including Lolla vets The Flaming Lips and Red Hot Chili Peppers, indie favorites Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins, and Chicago natives Wilco and Kanye West. Plus, the city will be home to two of the biggest independent music festivals: The Pitchfork Music Festival, featuring Destroyer, Art Brut, Spoon and post-punk pioneers Mission of Burma, and the Intonation Music Festival featuring The Streets, Bloc Party, Lupe Fiasco and a rare appearance by 13th Floor Elevators founder Roky Erickson.

Go to episode 21