Results for producer

interviews

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

Bob Ezrin

Jim and Greg are joined by super producer Bob Ezrin. And when we say super, we're not just referring to his commercial success, but to his sound. Bob Ezrin makes big, epic albums like The Wall, Destroyer and 10 with metal god Alice Cooper. He also produced Lou Reed's Berlin and the self-titled solo debut from Peter Gabriel. He talked to our hosts about reuniting with Cooper for Welcome 2 My Nightmare and shared studio tidbits. Now we know what a prankster Roger Waters was and how Ezrin captured the crying sounds in "Oh Jim." And who knew Peter Gabriel had such a good sense of humor?

If you enjoyed Bob Ezrin's conversation with Jim and Greg, here are some of our other favorite“behind-the-scenes”interviews:

Go to episode 305

The Dodos

San Francisco band The Dodos are mixing Western pop and African rhythms in unique ways. In fact, with their third album Time to Die, they also added vibraphone to the mix. Jim and Greg talk to band members Meric Long, Logan Kroeber and Keaton Snyder about how they shake up the traditional indie rock formula. The trio also reveals its studio trials and tribulations with noted producer Phil Ek, as well as its downtime hobby. Check out the band's live acoustic peformance here.

Go to episode 208

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

El-P

El-P, aka Jaime Meline, joins Jim and Greg in the Sound Opinions studio this week. Take a look at any of the underground hip-hop that came out of New York in late '90s, and chances are you'll find El-P somewhere in the background. As a rapper, producer, and head of the indie record label Definitive Jux, El-P has left an indelible mark on New York hip-hop. And he's not slowing up anytime soon. This year, El-P produced Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music and his own solo album, Cancer 4 Cure. El-P grew up in Brooklyn during hip-hop's golden age in the eighties. By 1993 he'd founded his own group, Company Flow. He tells Jim and Greg how creating the track "Last Good Sleep," for their sophomore album, Funcrusher Plus, transformed his approach to songwriting. The more specific and personal the story, El says, the more universal. Today, even El-P's“political”songs are more about internal struggles than external ones. In fact the title for his record, Cancer 4 Cure, is inspired by the idea that our bodies are constantly fighting off an illness latent inside us. Not to suggest that Cancer 4 Cure is a downer. There's hope, Jaime says, - though“not unbattered hope”- that the characters in his songs will come through.

Go to episode 356

James Mercer

You're in a beloved band at the height of success. Natalie Portman tells the world that your band will change lives. So what do you do? Blow everything up, of course. At least you do if you're James Mercer. The Shins frontman and founder followed up his Grammy nominated, Billboard charting album Wincing the Night Away with a decision to completely change the group's lineup and sound. He sought out producer Greg Kurstin, best known for working with Lily Allen and Kesha, and the result is Port of Morrow. As he discusses with Jim and Greg, this transition wasn‘t easy, but was necessary. And it’s not the first time Mercer made an unexpected collaboration. He and Danger Mouse (of Grey Album fame) joined together for Broken Bells. Check out video of Mercer performing songs from the album, as well as an oldie, but goodie.

Go to episode 338

Tony Visconti

While the performer gets all the glory, sometimes it's the producer who shares the guts. This week Jim and Greg revisit their conversation with one of rock's great behind-the-scenes men, Tony Visconti. Visconti has worked with everyone from The Moody Blues to Alejandro Escovedo, but is primarily known for the albums did with glam rockers T. Rex and David Bowie. Visconti relays how he was lucky enough to meet both men shortly after moving from Brooklyn to the UK; both were relatively young and undiscovered. Marc Bolan of T. Rex was still performing hippy folk songs as a member of Tyrannosaurus Rex, and Bowie was beginning song writing but had no direction. Visconti established long-term relationships with both Bowie and Bolan and helped them carve out their identities. In fact, he was tapped to produce Bowie's latest release, The Next Day which Jim and Greg review below.

Go to episode 381

Peter Hook

Joy Division only recorded two proper studio albums before lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980. But those releases, a string of fantastic singles and Curtis‘ own legend continue to impact fans today. But, as is often the case with legends, there’s a lot of fiction amongst the fact. And Peter Hook, the hugely influential bass player in Joy Division and New Order, wants to clear a few things up in his book Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. First, there's the tragic image of Ian itself. True, he struggled with depression, a failing marriage and a debilitating case of epilepsy that would lead to his death. But, Peter describes a beer-drinking prankster full of joy when it came to the music. He also admits that he and the band weren't initially crazy about the sparse, moody sound Joy Division fans so love today. Much of that credit goes to producer Martin Hannett. For more on Joy Division listen to this episode.

Then of course we come to New Order's bitter divorce. Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Peter achieved more success than Joy Division. They disbanded in 2006, but recently reunited without Peter. Listening to the interview you can hear the hard feelings, but Peter admits he‘d play with those amazing musicians anytime. So how did New Order fare on their recent release without Peter Hook? Check out Jim and Greg’s review.

Go to episode 390

Peter Hook

Joy Division only recorded two proper studio albums before lead singer Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980. But those releases, a string of fantastic singles and Curtis‘ own legend continue to impact fans today. But, as is often the case with legends, there’s a lot of fiction amongst the fact. And Peter Hook, the hugely influential bass player in Joy Division and New Order, wants to clear a few things up in his book Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. First, there's the tragic image of Ian itself. True, he struggled with depression, a failing marriage and a debilitating case of epilepsy that would lead to his death. But, Peter describes a beer-drinking prankster full of joy when it came to the music. He also admits that he and the band weren't initially crazy about the sparse, moody sound Joy Division fans adore today. Much of that credit goes to producer Martin Hannett. For more on Joy Division listen to this episode.

Then, of course, we come to New Order's bitter divorce. Bernard Sumner, Stephen Morris and Peter achieved more success than Joy Division. They disbanded in 2006, but recently reunited without Peter. Listening to the interview, you can hear the hard feelings, but Peter admits he'd play with those amazing musicians anytime. So how did New Order fare on their 2013 release without Peter Hook? Check out Jim and Greg's review.

Go to episode 494

Glyn Johns

soundman One day in February 1969, engineer and producer Glyn Johns disembarked a flight from Los Angeles to London. He went straight to a studio to work with the Beatles on what would eventually become Let It Be. That was followed by an all-night session with the Rolling Stones for Let It Bleed. And after that, he rejoined the Beatles and jutted on over to Royal Albert Hall to record Jimi Hendrix live. Just“a day in the life,”eh? Those legendary recordings are just beginning of Johns tremendous list of credits which includes Led Zeppelin, the Faces, the Kinks, The Who, the Eagles and more recently Band of Horses and Ryan Adams. He relays this life spent recording in a new book called Sound Man. And he is as candid in his conversation with Jim and Greg, as he is in print. The aforementioned Let It Be? Johns remarks that Phil Spector“puked”all over it. Of Eric Clapton, Johns admits he initially refused to bring him into a session with Pete Townshend due to his drug-addled personality. And he talks about parting ways with the Eagles after they wanted to go in a more rock ‘n’ roll direction—something Johns says the band wouldn't know if they fell over it.

For more behind-the-booth conversations, check out Jim and Greg's interviews in the Footnotes section with Stephen Street, Butch Vig, Bob Ezrin, Tony Visconti, Mark Howard, Giorgio Moroder, Joe Boyd and of course, Brian Eno.

Go to episode 528

Bob Ezrin

Back in 2011, Jim and Greg were joined by super producer Bob Ezrin. When we say super, we're not just referring to his commercial success, but to his sound. Bob Ezrin makes big, epic albums like The Wall, Destroyer and collaborated on a staggering 10 records with metal god Alice Cooper. He also produced Lou Reed's Berlin and the self-titled solo debut from Peter Gabriel. He talked with Jim and Greg about reuniting with Cooper for Welcome 2 My Nightmare and shared studio tidbits. Now we know what a prankster Roger Waters was and how Ezrin captured the crying sounds in "Oh Jim." And who knew Peter Gabriel had such a good sense of humor? This interview was one of our favorites so we thought we'd share it again.

Go to episode 630

Giorgio Moroder

Giorgio Giorgio Moroder is on his 6th musical decade, and he's showing no signs of slowing down. He's a name many will identify with Donna Summer's great hits of the Disco era, as well as solo hits like "From Here to Eternity." In fact, subsequent artists and producers talked about going after that“Moroder beat.”While today we hear the synth-heavy "Love to Love You, Baby" and "I Feel Love," and are immediately taken back to the 1970's, at the time they were the sounds of the future. No less than Brian Eno said just that to David Bowie, one of Giorgio's collaborators on the Cat People soundtrack. Giorgio also composed memorable scores for movies like Scarface and Midnight Express, as well as hit songs like "Flashdance…What a Feeling," "Call Me" and "Take My Breath Away." Recently, he's ad a renaissance of sorts, collaborating with Daft Punk on their Grammy-winning album Random Access Memories. And at 73, he's still appearing at festivals like Ultra Music, Pitchfork and MoogFest.

Go to episode 437

Stephen Street

Jim and Greg often like to invite a noteworthy record producer to come on the show to share some behind-the-scenes insights. This week they talk to Stephen Street. Stephen worked with The Smiths on three of their landmark albums during the 1980s. Then in the '90s, he recorded with Blur on five of their releases. He also produced the hugely successful debut by The Cranberries. Today he continues to work with top British bands like Babyshambles and The Klaxons. Stephen shares with Jim and Greg some of the backstory of making tracks like "Meat is Murder" and "Girls and Boys." He also expresses huge admiration for both Damon Albarn and Graham Coxon of Blur. Stephen thinks a Blur reunion is not far off-much more likely than a Smiths one.

Go to episode 243

Butch Vig

vig Next you'll hear Jim and Greg's 2008 conversation with producer Butch Vig. He has worked on some of the most notable records of the past two decades including Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins, Dirty by Sonic Youth and Nevermind by Nirvana. In addition, he's a founding member and drummer for the band Garbage. His most recent production effort is the new album by the Foo Fighters, which Jim and Greg review later in the show. Butch talks to our hosts about some of his more memorable recording sessions. He quickly learned that a producer is as much a therapist as anything else. And he confirms the idea that geniuses are not always the easiest people. Luckily the end results make it all worth it.

Go to episode 281

James Murphy

In LCD Soundsystem's 2005 debut album, singer/producer James Murphy says he's "Losing His Edge." Well, 2 years after the project disbanded, we wondered if this is the case? Murphy has gone from punk and dance clubs…to Broadway? He's composed original music for the Broadway revival of the Harold Pinter play Betrayal. But if you're going to lose your edge, this isn't a bad way to do it…the play stars Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz, is produced by Scott Rudin and is directed by Mike Nichols. James talks about working with such luminaries and shares a tidbit on the forthcoming Arcade Fire release.

Go to episode 414
specials

The Monkees

Hey, hey it's The Monkees! Jim and Greg go ape on this episode with Eric Lefcowitz, author of Monkee Business: The Revolutionary Made For TV Band. Monkees teen icon Davy Jones died last week at age 66, and so Jim and Greg return to this 2011 conversation. The three men talk about the band's history as a group manufactured to tap into Beatlemania. TV producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider brought bandmates Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones together, and their music was supervised by record producer Don Kirshner. This was the original pop model, giving way to N'Sync, Justin Bieber and Glee. But eventually, as often happens, The Monkees began to itch for independence. They went on to write and produce more of their own music and make the trippy cult classic Head. And of course, there were a number of reunion efforts in later decades. But, for many their legacy remains those wacky TV moments and classic pop songs.

Go to episode 328

The Monkees

Hey, hey, it's The Monkees! Jim and Greg go ape on this episode with Eric Lefcowitz, author of Monkee Business: The Revolutionary Made For TV Band. The three men talk about the band's history as a group manufactured to tap into Beatlemania. TV producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider brought bandmates Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones together, and their music was supervised by record producer Don Kirshner. This was the original pop model, giving way to NSYNC, Justin Bieber and Glee. But eventually, as often happens, The Monkees began to itch for independence. They went on to write and produce more of their own music and make the trippy cult classic Head. But for those who want to relive the golden age, rumor has it The Monkees will be“reuniting”(sans Nesmith) this year.

Go to episode 273

Bob Dylan

moderntimes During this episode Jim and Greg wrap up our series on Bob Dylan and bring it up to "Modern Times". How, you may ask, can they gloss over the '70s and '80s so cavalierly? Trust that it was difficult to narrow down Dylan's entire canon to three episodes. And it's important to note that Dylan is one of those rare artists who emerged in the '60s and was still making great, new music into his sixties. So that's why our hosts decided to bring it up to Act III: 1989-2006. Dylan was in amazing form live and released a string of impressive albums including Oh Mercy, Time Out of Mind and Modern Times. He collaborated with producer Daniel Lanois and also worked with Jim and Greg's guest this week, engineer Mark Howard. Howard gives us a sneak peek into what it's like to record with Dylan.

As always Jim and Greg like to round out these features by highlighting significant tracks. Greg chooses an unreleased version of "Mississippi," later put out on The Bootleg Series Vol. 8. A highly produced version appears on 2001's Love and Theft, but Greg prefers the more stripped down recording, calling the performance fascinating. And he notes that Dylan draws from older material for inspiration just like he did when he was starting out as a folkie.

Jim admits that he prefers Dylan live during these years. But "Ain't Talkin'" from Modern Times in 2006 is perfectly simple and spooky–just a fiddle, percussion and that signature voice. This is a song Dylan couldn't have given justice in his younger days.

Go to episode 288
classic album dissections
Electric Warrior (Remastered)Electric Warrior available on iTunes

T. Rex Electric Warrior

David Bowie gets all the glam rock credit. But real fans know the look and the sound go back to T. Rex's 1971 release Electric Warrior. Singer Marc Bolan shook off some of his“pixie dust”and hippy-dippy Tyrannosaurus Rex sound to create a glossy, sexy record full of humor, sadness and lots of electric guitar fuzz, not to mention his signature vibrato. Jim and Greg talk to the album's producer Tony Visconti about Electric Warrior's recording. They also highlight their favorite tracks: Jim went with "Rip Off," a song that is as silly as it is indignant. Greg chose "Cosmic Dancer," which he says illustrates Bolan's growth as well as Visconti's. And anyone who has ever watched Billy Elliot would agree.

Listen to more of Jim and Greg's conversation with Tony Visconti, including the making of David Bowie's "Heroes".

Go to episode 247
DoolittleDoolittle available on iTunes

The Pixies Doolittle

This week Jim and Greg conduct one of their patented Classic Album Dissections. They decided to focus on a landmark album in indie rock: Doolittle by The Pixies. As an added bonus, they're joined by one of the creators of Doolittle, Pixies singer and songwriter Charles Thompson aka Black Francis aka Frank Black. Charles and bandmates Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering recently marked the album's 20th anniversary with a tour dedicated to the record. While artists such as Kurt Cobain have cited it as a major influence, Doolittle was a slow burn record. After its 1989 release, it didn't achieve gold status until almost a decade later.

As Charles explains to Jim and Greg, his vocal style and lyrics were an amalgamation of his upbringing and the art and ideas floating around him at that time. It's a unique mix of preaching, surrealism and even sexual frustration. But, the songwriter warns against dissecting the lyrics too closely. He loves words for words' sake.

The lead singer also credits producer Gil Norton for the mix of“raw and fancy”that people associate with The Pixies. He polished up their sound, but knew well enough to leave a little roughness around the edges. Another component of the sweet but scary mix is Joey Santiago's guitar playing. Charles describes it as just like the guitarist's own personality-sweet and gentle like a little kid, but capable of smashing something to bits.

At the end of their discussion Jim and Greg ask Charles/Black/Frank to choose a favorite track from Doolittle. He goes with "Monkey Gone to Heaven," a song that encapsulates all of the album's elements-humor, darkness, violence, love, hope and references to the nautical and the mythological. Finally, Charles sees it as a great example of the yin and yang connection between him and singer Kim Deal.

Go to episode 217
At Folsom Prison (Live)At Folsom Prison available on iTunes

Johnny Cash At Folsom Prison

Johnny Cash's At Folsom Prison turns 45 this month, and Jim and Greg celebrate its birthday by revisiting their Classic Album Dissection. Considered one of the greatest live recordings in rock ‘n’ roll history, At Folsom Prison marks a turning point in Johnny Cash's long career. As Greg explains, by the late sixties Cash was considered a has-been. He'd been through a divorce, developed a drug problem, and was releasing albums of questionable taste. But in 1968, Columbia producer Bob Johnston took the "Man in Black" up on his long-time idea of recording at a prison. It's a fitting location, Jim notes, for an artist who'd spent time in the slammer himself. At Folsom Prison captures Cash's moment of redemption. Backed by Carl Perkins and the Tennessee Three and joined onstage by June Carter, Cash sang about the prison experience in songs like "Folsom Prison Blues," "Dark as a Dungeon," and "Greystone Chapel." At Folsom Prison swept the Country Music Awards that year, cementing Cash's comeback.

Go to episode 392
Rocket to Russiaundefined available on iTunes

Rocket to Russia

In 1976, The Ramones blasted onto the budding punk scene with their self-titled first LP and blew critics away with their blistering speed and old-school simplicity. However, it wasn't until the next year, after a monumental European tour and the release of their third album, Rocket to Russia, that the group's characteristic break-neck punk sound flooded the airwaves and the took the rock world by storm. Now, nearly 40 years after Rocket to Russia blew a hole in thepunk rock atmosphere, we mourn the death of Ramones' founder, drummer, producer, and guiding light Tommy Ramone. In honor of the legend's passing, Jim and Greg strap in for a Classic Album Dissection of The Ramones' 1977 speed machine and revisit a 2007 conversation with Tommy. Jim and Greg, curious about the magic behind masters of punk, ask Tommy about the day-to-day during the recording process and the band's cross-pond rivalry with British punk group the Sex Pistols. Tommy tells all, including the story of the band's suburban origins and the secret behind Dee Dee's famous, though not-so-useful count-offs.

To stake their flag in the dissection's conclusion, Jim and Greg each choose their favorite song from Rocket to Russia. Jim plays "Sheena is a Punk Rocker", calling it the“perfect rock song”and reminiscing about his young days listening to The Ramones. Greg settles on the song "We're a Happy Family" as a representation of the Ramones knack for writing catchy social commentary. The song satirizes the idea of perfect suburban family life represented so often by TV programs at the time, a poignant topic for the suburban-boy Ramones from Queens, New York.

Go to episode 453
reviews
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) [Deluxe Version]Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World available on iTunes

Nigel Godrich & Broken Social Scene & The Black Lips & Beck Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

Reviews have been pretty solid for the movie Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World. But what about the music? The film was scored by producer Nigel Godrich, and the soundtrack features songs by Broken Social Scene, The Black Lips and Beck, or Sex Bob Omb as the fictional band is known in the film. Greg doesn‘t think it holds up much as an album. It’s more of a souvenir of the movie than anything else. He gives it a Trash It. Jim calls Greg cold-hearted. He loves this“generation Y mixtape,”and tells people to get the record even if they don't see the movie (though he recommends that too). Jim gives a Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 247
No Better Than This - SingleNo Better Than This available on iTunes

John Mellencamp No Better Than This

For his new album No Better Than This, John Mellencamp teamed up with veteran producer T. Bone Burnett. He and Burnett recorded in three iconic locations: First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Sun Studios in Memphis and the Gunter Hotel in San Antonio. But Jim thinks they might have been better off staying put. He doesn't like the sound, nor does he appreciate the lack of humor. Jim gives this“pile of cow dung”a Trash It. Greg can't believe it. Not only does he love the loose songwriting, he heard a lot of humor, and tells people to Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 247
The FallThe Fall available on iTunes

Norah Jones The Fall

Norah Jones has a new album out called The Fall. It's the 4th release from the successful pop-jazz artist, and for this one she's tried to juggle the formula. Jones parted ways with her former boyfriend/collaborater, and for The Fall she turned to producer Jacquire King and songwriters Ryan Adams and Okkervil River's Will Sheff. The change is subtle, according to Greg. He admires her understated approach, but wishes Jones were more adventurous. He gives this record a Burn It rating. Jim acknowledges that Jones has beaten the dreaded Best New Artist Grammy Curse, but was completely bored by Jones' sleepy crooning. He recommends listeners Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 208
Drums Between the Bells (Bonus Track Version)Drums Between the Bells available on iTunes

Brian Eno Drums Between the Bells

And now it's time for everyone's favorite Sound Opinions drinking game: How many times can Jim name-drop Brian Eno? But let it be known that these mentions are entirely warranted. Jim's favorite“Super Genius”is out with a new record, Drums Between the Bells, a collaboration with the British poet Rick Holland. Eno has a been a major influence in the music world since the early seventies, first as a member of Roxy Music, then as a solo artist and ambient music innovator, and most recently as a producer for industry powerhouses like U2 and Coldplay. First to the plate to review Drums Between the Bells is Jim, who wants to set the record straight. He's no slavish Eno devotee, though he's championed the artist at his best. Unfortunately Eno's best isn‘t what Jim gets on“Drums.”The album is part ambient music - perfectly fine for what it is, but Jim misses the vocal gravitas that Eno himself might have brought to Holland’s poetry (instead, Eno has regular folks - non-actors and singers - speaking Holland's lines). Jim gives Drums a Burn it. Greg agrees, calling the album's vocals a little too dry. But he was intrigued enough by all the interesting rhythmic work on Drums to give the album a Burn it.

JimGreg
Go to episode 295
MichaelMichael available on iTunes

Michael Jackson Michael

Following the death of Michael Jackson, Jim and Greg predicted there would be an onslaught of posthumous releases. Now the first has been released. Michael is made up of 10 tracks from Jackson's archives, gussied up by producers like Teddy Riley, John McClain and Lenny Kravitz. There's been some controversy as to whether or not this is Jackson's voice, and Riley admits there was quite a bit of processing – too much, if you ask Jim and Greg. While Greg admires the sparsest, most emotional track, "Much Too Soon," the rest of the album is really hurting. And the awful production completely destroys what Jackson might have been intending with those tracks. Jim was not a fan of Jackson's material from the past fifteen years, but he respects Jackson's perfectionist nature. Surely such a perfectionist wouldn't have released these overblown clunkers. Michael gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 266
XSCAPEXscape available on iTunes

Michael Jackson Xscape

Is Michael Jackson back from the dead? It seems like it lately, with the Thriller star moonwalking from beyond the grave, and his second posthumous release debuting at #2 this week. Xscape features eight hitherto-unreleased tracks, each in two forms: Jackson's original demos, plus new versions spiffed up by producers like L.A. Reid, StarGate and Timbaland. Greg finds it interesting that they included the demos — as he puts it, there was a reason Jackson left those behind. And while the production team did a good job reworking the tracks, Greg doubts that the Prince of Pop would have been satisfied with this album. Jim ponders the bizarre tracklist, which includes an update of America's "A Horse with No Name," a Paul Anka collaboration, and a song titled "Do You Know Where Your Children Are" that Jim finds simply“disturbing.”While Xscape isn't as awful as other posthumous releases (Tupac and Jimi Hendrix come to mind), neither host thinks fans will keep listening once the hype dies down. It's a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 443
Le NoiseLe Noise available on iTunes

Neil Young Le Noise

Another musician with impressive career longevity is Neil Young. At 64, he's still trying to reinvent his sound, and with Le Noise he comes out with a "folk-metal" sound. This is a true solo effort, though he did get help from super-producer Daniel Lanois. It's Young's voice and guitar + Lanois‘ effects, and Greg loves the result. While the lyrics are simple, they are really powerful and emotional. It’s one of his best, according to Greg, and deserves a Buy It rating. Jim admits that much of the lyrical content isn‘t new, but it’s done beautifully. And the sound is beautiful. He commends Young's courage and seconds that Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 254
Not Your Kind of People (Deluxe)Not Your Kind of People available on iTunes

Garbage Not Your Kind of People

It's been awhile since we heard from Garbage - seven years in fact. Now the alt-rockers are back with a new studio album, Not Your Kind of People. At this point, Jim points out, Garbage is a nostalgia act. They first made a splash in the mid-nineties, convincing grunge kids to don Goth makeup and get out on the dance floor with singles like "Stupid Girl," and "Only Happy When It Rains." Some might say Garbage was also a cash-in project, with lead singer Shirley Manson and alt-era producers Butch Vig, Duke Erikson, and Steve Marker content to ride the grunge wave. But even Jim admits, you couldn't help tapping your foot to those singles. What has Garbage got for us in 2012? According to Greg, Not Your Kind of People offers singles just as good as any Garbage recorded back in the day. But after a seven-year hiatus, that's not enough. He never was much of a fan of Garbage albums, and that, along with the band's sound, hasn't changed. Jim agrees. Shirley Manson is still a compelling front woman, and who couldn't use a little goth dance music in their life? But ultimately, this is a Burn it album.

JimGreg
Go to episode 341
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
ARTPOPArtpop available on iTunes

Lady Gaga Artpop

"Anti-diva" Lady Gaga has just released her third album, Artpop. and it's headed for #1. The title is a brazen declaration of its content, but after a few plays, neither Jim nor Greg feel much like the album is“Art”at all. While Jim does think the music is still as groovy as ever, he can't get over the pandering, nonsensical lyrics., especially considering her attempts to empower her fans. So, Jim says Burn It. Greg refuses to step over the threshold, explaining that the music underwhelms with conventional, risk-averse EDM courtesy of big name producers like DJ White Shadow. Lady Gaga has built a career out of twisting the formula, but Greg doesn't hear any reinvention: Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 416
Port of MorrowPort of Morrow available on iTunes

Shins Port of Morrow

After working on side projects like Broken Bells, Shins front man James Mercer has retooled the band and released a new album called Port of Morrow. Fans will continue to appreciate Mercer's sense of melody, but, like Greg, they may be turned off by the broader, more polished production courtesy of producer Greg Kurstin. Jim thinks the production adjustments are successful, and prefers The Shins‘ brand of twee more than that of Andrew Bird. So that’s a Burn it from Greg and a Buy It from Jim.

JimGreg
Go to episode 330
Locked DownLocked Down available on iTunes

Dr. John Locked Down

In the late ‘60s and early ’70s, nobody sounded quite like Dr. John. And now on Locked Down, Mac Rebennack has returned to that psychedelic, voodoo, Gris Gris, gumbo vibe, thanks in large part to producer Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. Jim loves the use of bass and African drums, and never has the farfesa organ sounded dirtier or better. Greg agrees, noting that the Dr. is best when he's in the zone and almost speaking in tongues. For new or old fans of Dr. John, Jim and Greg give Locked Down a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 331
AmokAMOK available on iTunes

Atoms for Peace AMOK

After his solo project The Eraser, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke went out on tour with a group that could only be described as "super": Red Hot Chili Peppers' Flea on bass, Radiohead producer Nigel Godrich on programming, Joey Waronker on drums and Mauro Refosco on percussion. The collaboration worked so well that the group has released an album under the name Atoms for Peace. Greg was impressed with how The Eraser really found its identity live, and he has high hopes AMOK will do the same. But on record, the songs are not as strong as the production, so he can only say Burn It. In terms of his unique voice, Thom Yorke has finally won Jim over. He gets the robotic and alien nature of the voice the electronic musicianship and the dystopian lyrics and says Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 379
Blessed (Deluxe Edition)Blessed available on iTunes

Lucinda Williams Blessed

Singer/songwriter Lucinda Williams also has a new album out called Blessed. Now that she is happily married she's moved on from woeful bar tales to songs about other people. Jim loves this approach, especially on songs like "Soldier's Song" that are from the point of view of a G.I. Greg agrees – Williams has reinvented herself. This goes for the singing as well, and he credits producer Don Was for pulling everything back to make way for that voice. Williams is doubly Blessed with two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 275
Congratulations (Remixes) - EPOracular Spectacular available on iTunes

MGMT Oracular Spectacular

After gaining attention with their 2007 debut Oracular Spectacular, Brooklyn duo MGMT are back with Congratulations. They've expanded their synth pop sound and have looked to Jim's hero Brian Eno for inspiration. So, he wonders why he doesn't like their music more. He finds their vocal style irritating and the subject matter flimsy and can only give Congratulations a Burn It. Greg is impressed with what producer Pete Kember of Spaceman 3 has brought to the table, as well as their darker lyrics and gives the album a Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 230
Small Craft On a Milk Sea (Bonus Track Version)Small Craft on a Milk Sea available on iTunes

Brian Eno Small Craft on a Milk Sea

In the Sound Opinions drinking game, "Brian Eno" is the key word. Perhaps no name in rock gets dropped more than the pioneering producer. But, for good reason-especially this week since he has a new album called Small Craft on a Milk Sea. Jim's“hero”has produced albums for the Talking Heads and U2, he's collaborated with John Cale and Robert Fripp, and he's been extremely influential in the worlds of experimental and ambient music. His new album is another instrumental effort. Jim wouldn‘t put it up there with Eno’s best, but thinks it's a big step up from other recent recordings-especially if considered in the ambient context. He gives the record a Buy It rating. Greg heard moments of undeniable beauty, but he wasn't wowed. He says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 259
InnerSpeaker (Collector's Edition)Innerspeaker available on iTunes

Tame Impala Innerspeaker

The Psychedelic era might've predated the boys in Tame Impala by about half a century, but it's the major musical influence on this Australian band. The brainchild of Perth's Kevin Parker, Tame Impala was discovered on MySpace. The band's debut, Innerspeaker, was mixed by longtime Flaming Lips producer Dave Fridmann. Fridmann was also on board for the band's latest, Lonerism. As its name suggests, Lonerism is about someone who doesn't fit in. But Greg says Parker cannily avoids solipsism by cloaking his melancholy songs in uplifting (and obsessively detailed) pop production. It's a Buy It record for him. Jim agrees. Tame Impala delivers psychedelic transcendence while remaining Britney Spears-catchy. Lonerism gets an enthusiastic double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 363
Ballad of the Broken Seas

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan

After listening to some of Lanegan and Campbell's predecessors, Jim and Greg discuss their modern take on the“Beauty and the Beast”formula. Many people know Lanegan from his days with the Screaming Trees in the '90s. Campbell recently left Belle and Sebastian, a band Jim and Greg reviewed last week, and her first move was asking Lanegan to join her for a duet album, Ballad of the Broken Seas. While in many of the songs above, the Beast seems to be preying on the poor innocent female, it is Isobel Campbell who is controlling most of the content on the record. Her voice is a sweet counterpart to Lanegan's low, masculine rumble, but she was the songwriter and the producer. Both Jim and Greg give her efforts a "Buy It" rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 13
13 (Deluxe Version)Never Say Die available on iTunes

Black Sabbath Never Say Die

For the first time since 1978's Never Say Die, three of the four OG's of metal are back in the studio. Black Sabbath's Ozzy Osbourne, Geezer Butler, Tony Iommi, and Bill Ward practically invented heavy metal in the seventies, Jim says, and on the group's 19th studio album 13, Ozzy, Geezer, and Tony are re-united (Bill's on the outs for business reasons). Do the boys still rock all these years later? Greg's answer is a tentative“yes.”Iommi still brings those ten-ton riffs, and the onset of old age means that for once, Ozzy has something substantive to sing about (death). Most important, Black Sabbath doesn‘t embarrass itself, and for Greg that’s worth a Burn It rating. Jim is not as kind. He faults producer Rick Rubin's over-compression for drowning out Geezer's bass, and whatever the subject matter, Jim insists Ozzy just sounds awful. He suggests Greg take off his rose-colored glasses and see 13 for what it is: a Trash It record.

JimGreg
Go to episode 397
Run The Jewelsundefined available on iTunes

Run The Jewels

Last year we got El-P's Cancer 4 Cure and R.A.P. Music, the album he produced for Killer Mike. Now the two come together again to form Run the Jewels and release a self-titled album. Greg hears the two rappers“blowing off steam.”But that shouldn't suggest Run The Jewels is a blow-off. It's like breathless, old-school battle rapping with great beats to boot. He says Buy It. Jim admits El-P is a genius producer, but is disappointed by the lyrical content. He hears lazy smack talk about nothing. So while Run the Jewels is free, it's still a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 399
The 20/20 Experience – 2 of 2The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2 available on iTunes

Justin Timberlake The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2

This fall is seeing a slew of big new records. First up to bat is Justin Timberlake with The 20/20 Experience 2 of 2. The triple threat has teamed up with one of the producers who helped him make his post-N'Sync debut: Timbaland. But, this time the results are mixed. Jim finds the music lacking punch and wishes the BPM's were upped a bit. He says Trash It. Greg agrees the music needs more pep, but found a few songs worth saving. He goes with a Burn It for JT.

JimGreg
Go to episode 410
Echoes of SilenceEchoes of Silence available on iTunes

The Weeknd Echoes of Silence

Canadian musician and producer Abel Tesfaye, otherwise known as The Weeknd, is emerging out of the underground after the release of three acclaimed mixtapes. Those free albums earned him a Polaris nomination and the support of fellow countryman Drake. Jim includes The Weeknd in the great tradition of unnerving strange R&B (Marvin Gaye, D'Angelo). He is an interesting vocalist, but on this recent free mixtape Echoes of Silence, the real reason to listen is the music, which blends R&B with industrial and trip-hop influences. Greg agrees, noting that Echoes is not the best of the 3 releases, but certainly worth a listen. He uses his voice to play against type and really draws you into the dark lyrical content. Both Jimand Greg say Buy It, but luckily, you don't have to.

JimGreg
Go to episode 320
Girl On FireGirl on Fire available on iTunes

Alicia Keys Girl on Fire

Since sweeping the Grammys in 2002 with her debut album, Songs in A Minor, some things have changed for piano pop star Alicia Keys. She's married to producer Swizz Beatz and has a young son named Egypt. Alicia might be a“Brand New Me,”but on her fifth studio album, Girl on Fire, she's out to convince us that she's still“red hot.”Does she succeed? Unfortunately, Greg says there's no spark here. While there's no questions Keys has chops, and she's heavily involved in the songwriting, album number five still doesn't let us in on who this pop diva really is. He adds that Alicia reminds him of a talented pro-athlete who, when faced with an interviewer, spouts mindless clich'es. Jim agrees-there's no soul here. Girl on Fire is a piece of pop product circa 2012, and it gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 369
IRM (Version deluxe)IRM available on iTunes

Charlotte Gainsbourg IRM

Next, Jim and Greg review Charlotte Gainsbourg's new Beck-produced album IRM. The name refers to the French term for an MRI machine, something the actress and singer spent a lot of time in after suffering a near-fatal accident. Greg describes how you can hear that experience come through in this album, though without being self-pitying. He also hears a lot of Beck's influence and was glad that the producer pushed Gainsbourg into new territory. Jim agrees, noting that you don't need to know her backstory to enjoy the record. Both Gainsbourg's parents, Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin, have influenced her sound, but in the end she's her own woman. IRM gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 218
Plastic Beach (Deluxe Version)Plastic Beach available on iTunes

Gorillaz Plastic Beach

Kicking off the reviews this episode is Plastic Beach, the latest from Gorillaz. The project is helmed by Damon Albarn of Blur and features a cast of guests to create its animated fantasy world. Greg is impressed at how the singer/producer can bring together so many seemingly mismatched elements, sounds and voices and still end up with something wonderful and cohesive. Greg gives Plastic Beach a Buy It rating. Jim goes so far as to call Albarn a genius. He notes that it's a darker record, but gives it a Buy It as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 224
Dark Night of the SoulDark Night of the Soul available on iTunes

Sparklehorse & Danger Mouse Dark Night of the Soul

A year after it was supposed to be released, Dark Night of the Soul is finally here. The record is a collaboration between producer Danger Mouse, singer/songwriter Mark Linkous, aka Sparklehorse, and director David Lynch. Sadly, Linkous committed suicide last year, as did one of the album's contributors Vic Chestnutt. The finished product is disjointed, according to Greg. There are a couple of standout tracks (no thanks to Lynch), but he can only give it a Burn It rating. Jim agrees, noting that it's sad that Linkous himself wasn't able to sing more of the material. He also gives Dark Night of the Soul a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 245
The True False IdentityThe True False Identity available on iTunes

T-Bone Burnett The True False Identity

Singer/songwriter and producer T-Bone Burnett recently put out The True False Identity, his first album in 14 years. Burnett is best known for having produced albums for Los Lobos, Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello and ex-wife Sam Phillips. He also produced the hugely successful soundtracks for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Cold Mountain, and A Mighty Wind. After over a decade-long hiatus, he returned to the studio with drummer Jim Keltner and guitarist Mark Ribot. Greg is glad to have T-Bone back. He loves how the musician uses the studio as an instrument and gives The True False Identity a Buy It. Jim, on the other hand, listened to the album and prepared to rumble. He compares the music to that of a similar artist: Tom Waits. Jim feels that both men try to be weird simply for the sake of being weird. He wishes that T-Bone Burnett was as effective a producer for his own work as he is for others', and gives this album a definite Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 25
The Beginning & The Best of The E.N.D.The Beginning available on iTunes

The Black Eyed Peas The Beginning

The Black Eyed Peas are one of the best selling artists of the past decade. And now they're starting over with The Beginning. But Jim and Greg can‘t see what’s new or better. Jim is an admitted Peas fan, but what he loves about them – the humor, the pop pleasure – is lost on this album. So is singer Fergie, who Jim imagines must be saving her best stuff for another solo release. It breaks his heart, but Jim gives The Beginning a Trash It rating. Greg never understood the appeal of the Black Eyed Peas, but admits their songs are appropriate for rousing crowds. On this record, though, rapper/producer will.i.am is more of a hack than ever. He gives sampling a bad name, and doesn‘t even bother with the hooks. Greg seconds Jim’s Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 262
Codes and Keys (Deluxe)Narrow Stairs available on iTunes

Death Cab for Cutie Narrow Stairs

Death Cab for Cutie also has a new album out called Codes and Keys. It's been only three years since Narrow Stairs in 2008, but lead singer Ben Gibbard has a whole new outlook on life. He's become Mr. Zooey Deschanel, and he's become sober. But Greg insists that the lyrics still express a lot of anxiety, mostly about the idea of“home.”Greg also notes the wonderful sonic experimentation courtesy of band member and producer Chris Walla. In fact, this was their Eno-inspired album, much to Jim's delight. He hears a much happier Gibbard, nothing like the emo-sap that repelled Summer from The O.C. Both critics give Codes and Keys a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 287
I'm With YouI'm With You available on iTunes

Red Hot Chili Peppers I'm With You

Once fresh faces in the frat punk world, the Red Hot Chili Peppers are a heritage act at this point. Their 10th album I'm With You is one of many collaborations with superproducer Rick Rubin. And it's the first with new guitarist Josh Klinghoffer. Lead singer Anthony Kiedis considers this a reboot, but Greg's having a hard time buying their new identity as a stadium ballad band. He misses the guitar virtuosity of John Frusciante, who quit in 2009. Flea remains an all-star bass player, but he can‘t save I’m With You. Greg says Trash It. Jim agrees with that sentiment, pointing to the lousy, mush-mouthed lyrics of Kiedis as his primary hurdle. This is not a sensitive band, and he would welcome a return to funk rock. Until then…Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 301
Tha Carter IVTha Carter IV available on iTunes

Lil Wayne Tha Carter IV

Lil Wayne is fresh out of Rikers with the 4th album in his Tha Carter series, Tha Carter IV. But curiously, he doesn‘t give much time to his jail experience. For the past decade, he’s been one of the most successful rappers in the business, both with his releases and mixtapes, but also as an ever-present cameo fixture. Jim describes Weezy as an interesting producer, but he can't get over the hip-hop clich'es. Tell us about prison, he pleads. Without those insights, this is a Trash Italbum. Greg was surprised to find that the most interesting rapping on Tha Carter IV was not by Lil Wayne himself. Rather, guests like Andre 3000, Tech 9 and Busta Rhymes take the prize. So for those tracks alone, Greg says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 301
El CaminoEl Camino available on iTunes

The Black Keys El Camino

Hard rockin' Ohioans The Black Keys are back with their seventh studio album, El Camino, a collaboration with hip hop producer Danger Mouse. Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney signed to Mississippi's bluesy Fat Possum label a decade ago, but Greg notes the duo's since expanded their sound. Jim never thought he‘d say it, but this record is“a masterpiece.”He’d never been a fan of the band's live performances and called them“White Stripes wannabes”on record. But suddenly here they are with an exquisite wall of sound with the songs to match. He says Buy It. Greg always enjoyed the band's jammy live performances but never thought they quite captured it on record. He credits the band's collaboration with Danger Mouse for tightening up their songwriting on El Camino. The emphasis is on the break beat, the choruses come faster, and hooks abound. Greg seconds the Buy it.

JimGreg
Go to episode 319
Day & Age (Deluxe Version)Day & Age available on iTunes

The Killers Day & Age

On their 3rd album Day & Age, The Killers have teamed up with Madonna producer Stuart Price, further confusing their identity. Are they Nu-New Wave? Are they Nu-Springsteen? Or Nu-Dance Pop? Greg's answer is that they are merely a great singles band. Brandon Flowers is not a great lyricist, but there are a handful of great, glam rock pop songs on this new album, and together with the handful of other tracks from their previous albums, he predicts they'll have a hell of a compilation one day. But for now he gives Day & Age a Try It. Jim is less kind. He finds the album over-produced and packed with the worst steel drums and saxophones he's heard in a long time. He gives it a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 157
The Bravest Man In the Universe (Expanded Edition)The Bravest Man in the Universe available on iTunes

Bobby Womack The Bravest Man in the Universe

Like Patti Smith, Bobby Womack's got a storied musical history. He played with Sam Cooke in the sixties, was a session musician for Aretha Franklin and Sly Stone, and finally made a name for himself as a solo artist with classic R&B albums like Communication and The Facts of Life in the seventies. Unfortunately addiction dragged him down and by the nineties Womack was a musical nonentity. With The Bravest Man in the Universe, Womack announces his comeback. He's cleaned up and is working with producer Damon Albarn of Blur. Womack and Albarn have played it smart, Jim says, by not living in the past. The electronic soul tracks Albarn's created for Womack don't sound vintage in the slightest. The themes might be familiar - Womack sings from the point of view of a man who done wrong - but the music is challenging and fresh. Greg agrees. While he wishes Albarn and Womack hadn't turned over quite so many tracks to guests like Lana Del Rey, he's loving Womack's sandpapery voice. Double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 345
Washington Square SerenadeWashington Square Serenade available on iTunes

Steve Earle Washington Square Serenade

The album up for review this week is Washington Square Serenade by veteran roots-rocker Steve Earle. This is Earle's 12th studio album, and was partly inspired by his 7th wife. The singer/songwriter has always combined rock, folk and country with strong political messages, but, now he's adding“happiness”to the mix. As you can hear in many of the album's songs, Earle is very much in love with new wife Allison Moorer, who also appears on the record. Another new person in Earle's life is Dust Brothers producer John King, who has previously crafted albums for Beck and the Beastie Boys. King brought in elements of hip hop and Latin music, and Jim loves the results. It took him longer to get into Washington Square Serenade, than any other Earle album, but with the exception of two bum tracks, he gives it a Try It. Greg is less pleased with the happy Steve Earle. He explains that with the new wife, producer and location, this effort has all the trappings of a“mid-life crisis”recording. Only some of it works for Greg, and he misses the political broadsides of previous albums. Greg also gives Washington Square Serenade a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 97
G I R LG I R L available on iTunes

Pharrell G I R L

For a long time, baby-faced Pharrell Williams was better known as a producer for artists like Jay-Z and his own N.E.R.D. But in 2006 Pharrell stepped out more as a vocalist, releasing a lukewarm solo album and increasing his guest appereances on other artist's tracks. In 2012, two of those tracks, one with Robin Thicke and the other with Daft Punk, launched him to new heights of stardom. And with that momentum, Williams is back with a second solo album. G I R L's slick combination of disco and R&B sounds make the record an instant Try It for Jim. He would‘ve gone Buy It if it weren’t for Pharrell's tired lyrics about women. Greg also sighs at the empty lyrics, adding that Williams should stick with what he does best: producing. His ability to channel dancable rhythms from the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder is his greatest asset and ultimately the only thing earning G I R L a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 433
BlunderbussBlunderbuss available on iTunes

Jack White Blunderbuss

A blunderbuss is an antique gun that shoots scattershot-the perfect name for an album by Jack White. It's a nod to the old, something The White Stripes front man favors, but also references how wide in scope the album is. On his solo debut, the singer, guitarist, producer and label head incorporated lots of piano and stringed music. Greg is as impressed by this variety as he is by the story the songs tell. Jim doesn't hear as many departures. But he does get another set of extraordinary anthems. So both hosts give Blunderbuss a double Buy It rating…but for different reasons.

JimGreg
Go to episode 335
The Blueprint 3The Blueprint 3 available on iTunes

Jay-Z The Blueprint 3

Hip hop's top entrepreneur Jay-Z has a new album out called The Blueprint 3. It's the third in the rapper's Blueprint series. For the first he worked with then unknown producer Kanye West. Then for the second he invited a slew of big name guest stars. Now he splits the difference–West is back in the studio, as are guests like Timbaland. Greg finds the result split; half the tracks are good, half show the rapper on autopilot. Jim was also disappointed to hear that Jay-Z didn't really explore his life as a business man and celebrity husband in any unique way. But, the voice is still wonderful. It gets a double Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 198
West (Bonus Track Version)West available on iTunes

Lucinda Williams West

It may not be fair, but Lucinda Williams gets to follow the Ramones. Her new album, West, was released last week. This is Williams‘ eighth album in a 28-year career that has established her as one of music’s premiere singer/songwriters. Williams grew up steeped in literature and poetry as well as rock, country and folk music, and that background has really affected her sound. This album is in the same vein, but takes a somewhat different turn with producer Hal Wilner. Jim loves what Wilner contributes to the album. It feels like you are right there with Lucinda, who is“venting her spleen.”But, Jim has to wonder if everything is OK in the Williams household. The album is just too dark, and too oppressive. He gives it a Burn It. Greg agrees that people should hide their razor blades while listening to this album, but notes that Wilner is really effective at setting a mood and putting William's voice in the forefront. He just wishes that she varied the musical palette more on West. He'd like to hear more songs like the fiery "Come On." It's another Burn It for Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 64
dijs

Greg

“Dream in Blue”Los Lobos

For his DIJ, Greg wants to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Los Lobos's Kiko. In 1992, grunge acts like Nirvana were shaking up the mainstream, and veteran acts like Los Lobos had to either reinvent or face irrelevance. Kiko, Greg says, was Los Lobos's answer to grunge's challenge. The group started out in the seventies playing a fusion of American roots rock and Mexican folk. Kiko saw main songwriters David Hidalgo and Louie Perez moving in a more trippy psychedelic direction, writing lyrics that were so concise, they were almost haiku-like. The band's new sound only really began to gel however when their label put them in the studio with producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. Froom and Blake pumped up the distortion and keyboard effects, and suddenly Los Lobos were walking into a new sonic world. Greg says the album's opening track, "Dream in Blue," represents the door opening onto that new world. Hidalgo and Perez's lyrics describe a sleeping child who, as she begins to dream, finds herself entering a realm of unprecedented freedom.

Go to episode 355

Greg

“It's Like That”Kurtis Blow,Jimmy Spicer,Run-D.M.C.,Run-D.M.C.

Before getting any further into 2015, Greg wants to pay tribute to one last musical talent the world lost in 2014: Pioneering hip-hop producer Larry Smith. Often overshadowed in the history books by co-producer Russell Simmons, Smith played a vital role in shaping the early sound of hip-hop, both lyrically and sonically. Before producing the oft-sampled "Money (Dollar Bill Y'all)" by Jimmy Spicer, Smith co-wrote "The Breaks" with Kurtis Blow. Later, on Run-D.M.C.'s first album, Smith pushed for stripping down the production and bringing hard-hitting drums and lyrics to the fore with just a sprinkling of synthesizer. The epitome of this minimalist approach can be heard on Run-D.M.C.'s first single "It's Like That," which arguably laid the foundation for many of today's top hip-hop tracks and is Greg's Desert Island Jukebox pick of the week.

Go to episode 476
lists

Strange Bedfellows of Rock

aerosmith-run-dmc Sometimes an odd pairing comes off like peanut butter and chocolate (Aerosmith and Run-D.M.C.). Othertimes, peanut butter and sardines (Julio Iglesias and Willie Nelson). And the most recent odd couple is Kanye West and Paul McCartney, with the first single from West's forthcoming album. But during this segment, Jim and Greg remember the most successful "Strange Bedfellows."

Go to episode 478
news

Music News

Proving the adage that everyone is a critic, the Vatican has released its first official Top Ten List of albums. The official Vatican paper, L'Osservatore Romano, has endorsed records by Oasis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac. And perhaps for the title alone, they also included Carlos Santana's Supernatural. It made a point of not including Bob Dylan, however, on the grounds that generations of less-talented Dylan acolytes have "harshly tested the ears and patience of listeners with their inferior imitations, thinking that their tortured meanderings might interest somebody."

In other music news, rock producer Ian Burgess passed away last week. As Jim explains, Burgess was one of the architects of the hyper-aggressive, yet melodic, indie rock sounds of the 1980's. He worked with a number of Midwest bands such as Naked Raygun, Pegboy and Big Black. He also served as a mentor to Big Black founder-turned producer Steve Albini. To honor Burgess, Jim and Greg play "I Don't Know" off Naked Raygun's 1985 album Throb Throb.

Go to episode 221

Music News

Everyone's got their heads in the clouds these days. Google has followed in the footsteps of fellow internet giant Amazon to launch a cloud-based music locker called Music Beta. It offers consumers more storage, but that's where the applause seems to end. Industry watchers had been anticipating a revolutionary service that would incorporate a store with a digital locker and be able to compete with iTunes. But, the record labels squelched those dreams. Jim and Greg are interested to see how the labels react, and most of all, they've got their eye on the big player in the game: Apple.

In other industry news, Warner Music Group is changing hands. In a $3 billion deal, the music label was sold to Access Industries. There's also speculation that Access will purchase EMI and merge the two, bringing the major record label count from 4 to 3. While the giants are shrinking, new alternative music industry players pop up every day. The most recent label launch of note comes from Glee music producer Adam Anders. Before you scoff, Greg reminds us that Glee has produced more than a 100 Billboard hits. His first act, Shane Harper, isn't flying off the shelves, but Anders is more interested in artist development — two words that Jim and Greg are encouraged to hear.

Just when libraries were losing their“cool”rep, the Library of Congress has created a Jukebox full of historic recordings. Its new website gives people access to 10,000 recorded songs, speeches, poems and more from the first part of the 20th century. Once in awhile it's nice to hear news about fans getting more, not less, access to music.

Go to episode 285

Music News

Greg Kot attended the Future of Music Coalition Policy Summit this week, so he begins the news by reporting back some interesting tidbits. First he heard Intellectual Property“Czar”Victoria Espinel's presentation in which she outlined her 33-point strategy for dealing with internet piracy. She wants the private sector to do more to police illegal activity. But when questioned by Greg, she didn‘t seem concerned about the fact that 95% of Americans are engaged in illegal internet activity. Greg wonders if we’re "back to suing consumers."

Greg also hosted the keynote address featuring T. Bone Burnett. The iconoclastic producer, who is known for his work on the O Brother, Where Art Thou soundtrack and Robert Plant's Raising Sand album, again stood apart from the crowd when he announced that he advises young musicians to stay away from the internet. While this may sound like a luddite talking, Greg explains that Burnett is wisely suggesting that musicians worry more about their art than their distribution. Once that's figured out, everything else comes into place.

Next up are two chart curiosities. First, for over 50 years The Beatles have held the Billboard singles chart record for most appearances by a non-solo act. Now, they are dethroned by…Glee. The Fox cast recently paid homage to another chart-topper, Britney Spears, and those 5 covers, including "Toxic" sold over 400,000 downloads.

In the U.K. another hot young star is climbing the charts: Winston Churchill. The wartime Prime Minister ousted The Killers' Brandon Flowers from the top five, and he's now neck and neck with Phil Collins and KT Tunstall. Two of Churchill's most famous speeches appear on the RAF's Central Band's new album Reach for the Skies, marking the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Britain.

Go to episode 254

Music News

Every year it's interesting to look at what albums took the top slots on the Village Voice Pazz & Jop poll. This is a much more accurate barometer of any given year in music than the Grammy Awards. However, this year Jim and Greg actually gave negative reviews to a lot of the Pazz & Jop winners including Watch the Throne and Let England Shake. But they were happy to see Tune-Yards' Whokill at #1.

Members of the Velvet Underground including John Cale and Lou Reed have filed a lawsuit against the Andy Warhol Foundation for Visual Arts over the famous banana featured on their 1967 album cover. Warhol served as producer of the album and gave the band the image, however it was never copyrighted. And now the Velvets want to prevent the banana from going Apple.

Jimmy Castor isn‘t a household name, but chances are you’ve heard his music, or at least samples of it. He had a pop-funk hit with "Troglodyte (Cave Man)" in 1972, but also a string of funk and soul gems that ended up being sampled by hundreds of hip hop acts. Castor died this week at age 71, so to honor the late musician, Jim and Greg play one of the often-sampled tracks, "It's Just Begun."

Go to episode 321

Music News

Sad news for a number of rock fans this week. Both The White Stripes and LCD Soundsystem have announced they are closing up shop. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem suggested he'd be calling it quits (at least under that name) when he was on Sound Opinions last year. But the White Stripes announcement has come as a surprise. Greg is disappointed since Jack White's other side projects as a member of The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs and producer of albums by Wanda Jackson haven't provided him the vehicle he deserves. But, as Jim notes, the adage is true: nothing gives an artist a greater boost than dying or breaking up. Albums by The White Stripes have seen a massive sales surge.

U2's Bono and the Edge have joined forces with veteran theater and film director Julie Taymor to bring Spider-Man to the Broadway stage. The early reviews are in, and they ain't pretty. From The New York Times ("sheer ineptitude") to the Los Angeles Times ("an artistic form of megalomania") to the Chicago Tribune ("incoherent"), the critical pans are far harsher than anything U2 has received on any album. And it wasn't for lack of funds. The $65 million musical production is charging fans up to $300 just for previews. Jim and Greg wonder if Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will fare any better than Capeman.

Go to episode 272

Music News

Rock lost two behind-the-scenes heavyweights last week: America's first rock critic Paul Williams, and record producer Phil Ramone. Williams launched Crawdaddy! magazine while still in college, beating Rolling Stone to the rock-criticism game by a year. Never one to dwell on the rock's celebrity aspect, Williams found less commercial success than prot‘eg’e Jann Wenner, but his intellectual criticism was an inspiration for rock critics to come (Jim and Greg included).

Phil Ramone's contributions to classic records like Dylan's Blood on the Tracks and The Band's self-titled album made him a sought-after producer for over half a century. But Greg says it's his work with Paul Simon that cements his reputation. Greg plays Simon's "Gone at Last" in remembrance of Ramone.

Go to episode 384

Music News

Pioneering DJ and producer Frankie Knuckles passed away this week. Knuckles' musical legacy is arguably as important to dance music as Chuck Berry's is to rock or Kraftwerk's is to electronica. In the early 1980's, Knuckles helped cultivate House music's sound from the ashes of disco at a venue on Chicago's south side called The Warehouse. (Hence the name, House). The space was an oasis for misfits of all shapes, sizes, and colors to come together and celebrate being alive. As Knuckle's musical stature grew over the years performing at various clubs and remixing other artist's songs, he never lost his generous spirit. In a 2012 conversation with Jim and Greg at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Knuckles remarked that he‘d never regarded music as a competive sport.“Even though you have people on the dance floor, and people that come out and say this DJ is better than that one, I’ve never looked at it that way and I‘ve never let that influence me because I’m too busy having a good time and showing people a good time,”said Knuckles. He was 59 years old.

Go to episode 436

Music News

Rock ‘n’ Roll suffered a great loss last week after the death of punk rocker and standard bearer Tommy Ramone. Tommy, born Erdélyi Tamás, wore many different hats as founder, drummer, producer, and last surviving original member of The Ramones. He and his bandmates leave behind a tremendous influence, one which can be traced to the Sex Pistols, The Clash, and countless others. Greg says of the Ramones‘ musical clout,“If you listened to them, they changed your life,”and that Tommy was truly“the brains of the operation.”A guiding force for the group throughout the years, his break-neck drumming and seasoned hand in the production booth were fundamental in molding the band’s history-making style. He was 65.

Go to episode 451

Music News

Lady Gaga has cancelled her "Born This Way" tour due to a hip injury. Millions of little monsters will be deprived of 22 national shows. And the Gaga camp might be out $35 million. With all the dancing and acrobatics, it's surprising more pop artists aren't wiped out by injuries which gives Jim and Greg a new appreciation for Tina Turner.

In other concert news, Paul McCartney will be headlining the Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee. He'll be joined by Mumford and Sons and Tom Petty, but also Wu-Tang Clan and Nas-some surprising additions to the traditionally roots and jam festival. Concertgoers will also be excited to hear about the Firefly Festival's plans for its second year, including theYeah Yeah Yeahs and Kendrick Lamar. Here in Chicago, the Pitchfork Festival has booked Bjork and in perplexing move, controversial hometown artist R. Kelly.

Finally, Jim and Greg bid farewell to songwriter and producer Shadow Morton. He was instrumental in bringing the Shangri-Las to fame with hits like "Leader of the Pack" and "Remember" that compressed teen angst dramas into three-minute pop operas. Shadow also later worked with Janis Ian and The New York Dolls.

Go to episode 378

Music News

Sad news this week week: Memphis musician Willie Mitchell has died at the age of 81. Mitchell was a trumpeter, arranger and producer for Hi Records. There he helped to launch and evolve the careers of artists like Otis Clay, Syl Johnson and most notably, Al Green. Greg credits Mitchell with creating the signature horn and drum sound you hear on Green's recordings. They two even teamed up again in 2005 for the album Everything's OK. To honor the musician Jim and Greg play one of their favorite tracks—Ann Peeble's "I Can't Stand the Rain," as produced by Willie Mitchell.

Go to episode 215

Music News

Legendary singer and preacher Solomon Burke died last week at age 70. While Burke didn't have as many hits as some of his Atlantic Records peers, many, including producer Jerry Wexler, considered him to be the greatest soul singer of all time. And, two of his tracks gained exposure through the movies: "Everybody Needs Somebody to Love" in the Blues Brothers and "Cry to Me" in Dirty Dancing. But, one of Greg's favorite Burke recordings was actually released in 2002. Don't Give Up on Me featured songs written for him by Tom Waits, Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson and more. So to pay tribute to Solomon Burke, he plays a song from that record featuring the Blind Boys of Alabama called "None of Us Are Free."

Go to episode 255

Music News

Just a couple of years ago MySpace was the place to check out new bands and share them with friends. Now, their user base is shrinking while Facebook is up to 500 million users. So they are cashing in on the music scene and re-launching Music on Facebook. It certainly lends itself to interacting with artists, but what about the listening? That remains to be seen.

Producer Phil Spector was once known as the architect of the "Wall of Sound." But from now on he'll be known as a convicted murderer. A California appeals court rejected Spector's bid to overturn his murder conviction, saying it was permissible for prosecutors to call other women who said he had threatened them with guns in the past. He's now serving 19 to life in prison. His first trial ended in a hung jury.

Go to episode 284
world tours

Sweden

Jim and Greg have always insisted that rock ‘n’ roll belongs to the world. In our new series, the Sound Opinions World Tour, they prove it by zeroing in on countries that've made big contributions to global rock and pop. Their first stop is the largest exporter of music per capita in the world: Sweden. Swedish DJ and public radio host Stefan Wermelin is our guide through the country's musical history. Stefan explains that in the '50s and '60s, Sweden was a pop music backwater. Musicians churned out cut-rate covers of American and English hits. The '60s hippie“Progg”movement injected some originality and artistic ambition into Swedish music, but things didn't really change until ABBA hit it big with "Waterloo." According to Stefan, ABBA set the template for Swedish success. The band created big hits by co-opting the best bits of global pop music and stitching them together with meticulous production. That tradition of pastiche continues today with Swedish producers like Max Martin, the man behind a hundred-and-one Billboard Top Ten hits (Britney Spears' "…Baby One More Time" and Kelly Clarkson's "Since U Been Gone" among them). But today, Sweden's also experiencing an indie renaissance in genres as varied as death metal, dance music, and Americana. Decades after ABBA, artists like The Knife, Lykke Li, Robyn, Opeth, and First Aid Kit are staging a second Swedish invasion.

Go to episode 379