Results for Texas
Joe Nick Patoski
This week Jim and Greg are joined by Texas music authority Joe Nick Patoski for a discussion about the life and career of Willie Nelson. In his many decades making music, Willie has never fit into any boxes—rock/country, religious/profane. But, as Patoski reveals in his book Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, that is what makes him such an amazing musician and such a thriving American icon. Jim and Greg discuss with Joe Nick the difficulties Willie had in making the transition from a songwriter to a successful solo artist. They also talk about his family history, his outlaw status, both literal and figurative, and his role as the“zen bubba”of pot.Go to episode 180
Joe Nick Patoski on Willie Nelson
At age 79, Texas musician Willie Nelson has released his 66th studio album, Heroes . Few artists can rival Nelson's longevity, or boast a more wide-ranging musical career. In his many decades making music, Willie has never fit into any boxes-rock/country, religious/profane. On the occasion of Heroes, Jim and Greg revisit their conversation with Nelson biographer Joe Nick Patoski. As Patoski reveals in his book Willie Nelson: An Epic Life, Nelson's non-conformity is what makes him such an amazing musician and such a thriving American icon. Jim and Greg discuss with Joe Nick the difficulties Willie had in making the transition from a songwriter to a successful solo artist. They also talk about his family history, his outlaw status, both literal and figurative, and his role as the“zen bubba”of pot.Go to episode 342
As 2006 comes to end, Jim and Greg take a look back at the year in music — the good, the bad, and the ugly — and give out their annual“Soopie Awards.” Here are this year's winners:
The 14:59 Award: Kevin Federline. The dancer turned husband turned wannabe rapper started off this year with a new single, "Popozao," and a new hope for a better, bill-free, life. Now K-Fed is a soon-to-be twice-divorced father of four who was dumped via text message and booed by fans on the same night. The clock is ticking…
The Most Clichéd Criminal Act Award: Snoop Dogg. Rapper Snoop Dogg was arrested a number of times this year, but the final criminal act really took the cake. He was stopped after an appearance on The Tonight Show with what must be the gangsta rap starter kit — pot, cocaine and a weapon — soon to be available at a Wal-Mart near you.
The Award for Rock Aging Gracefully: The Sex Pistols. Upon receiving an invitation to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Sex Pistols responded thusly. Sound Opinions H.Q. is glad the punk spirit is still alive somewhere.
The Award for Rock Aging Poorly: CBGB's. One place the punk spirit isn't alive is Las Vegas. Yet that's exactly where the original Lower East Side punk headquarters is relocating. We just hope Patti Smith doesn't join Celine for an extended residency.
The Best New Sheriff in Town Award: Eliot Spitzer. 2006 was a big year for the Attorney General. Mr. Spitzer not only won the office of Governor of the State of New York, but he also brought down some of the giants in the music industry who continued the practice of payola. He received his largest settlement from Universal Music (which checked off all major record labels) and is now moving on to radio.
The“Hootie”the F** Are You? Award*: three-way tie between Rascal Flatts, The Fray & KT Tunstall. No one seems to know who you are, but your names continue to appear on the charts. Jim and Greg can only blame this on the Hootie effect.
The Politics Paying Too Big a Price Award: Dixie Chicks. After telling a British audience that she's ashamed the President is a fellow Texas native, Natalie Maines and her fellow Dixie Chicks have been boycotted by country radio stations and have been forced to cancel many tour dates. Jim and Greg wonder whatever happened to free speech?
The Politics Not Paying Enough of a Price Award: Barbra Streisand. Maybe we'll rethink that free speech thing… On her recent tour, the always liberal Barbra Streisand decided to incorporate political satire and sketches into her performance. After paying hundreds, sometimes thousands of dollars for tickets, many audience members wished Babs would just stick to singing. Jim and Greg agree.
Award for Best Rock Couple. Nominees: Paul McCartney and Heather Mills; Kim and Marshall Mathers; Kid Rock and Pamela Anderson. The Winner: Jay-Z and Nas. They've been“beefing”for years, and made their careers dissing one another. But now pure friendship (aka Def Jam and profit-sharing) have brought them together. Thank God those two kids worked it out!
From all of us at Sound Opinions, Happy New Year!Go to episode 57
Dixie Chicks Taking the Long Way
Three years after telling a London audience, ""We're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas," Natalie Maines and her fellow Dixie Chicks are making headlines again with a new album. And, with singles like "Not Ready to Make Nice," the statement they want to make is clear. Some of their critics might have desired an apology, but on Taking the Long Way, they receive no such thing. Because of this, the band is again being rejected by certain country radio programmers. The real issue, however, is whether or not audiences will embrace the album, which is not a straight-up country record. Produced by Rick Rubin, and written with help from Sheryl Crow and members of Semisonic and The Jayhawks, it has more of a California-rock feel. Jim appreciates that they moved away from the Top 40 Country, but wishes they had taken it even farther, towards a more authentic, alt-country roots sound like Jenny Lewis or Neko Case. He gives it a Burn It. Greg is most taken with Natalie Maines‘ vocals, but also can’t recommend that people buy the album. However, he does think that anyone interested in music should hear it and gives Taking the Long Way another Burn It.
Billy Gibbons Perfectamundo
If your only knowledge of Billy Gibbons is through his band ZZ Top's cartoonish videos, you may be surprised to find he is a gentleman, scholar, and connoisseur. He was also one of the first guests ever on Sound Opinions. Through his father, a bandleader in the Houston area, Gibbons was able to meet and apprentice under the famed Latin percussionist Tito Puente. On his first solo album Perfectamundo, the Texas guitarist is exploring those Afro-Cuban roots. Jim admits that Gibbons doesn't have much to say lyrically, but finds the record deep culturally. Gibbons manages to unite the blues and Latin music and has a great time doing it. For Jim, the album is a complete and utter joy – it gets a Buy It. Greg, however, disagrees. He likes the combination of the Hammond B3 organ with the Afro-Cuban polyrhythms, but finds there are too few of those moments. Gibbons makes a failed attempt to update his sound with guest spots from Houston rapper Garza, and his songwriting is underdeveloped with inane lyrics. Greg is forced to give Perfectamundo a Trash It.
Spoon Hot Thoughts
Austin, Texas-based indie rockers Spoon have teamed again with producer Dave Fridmann for their ninth studio album, Hot Thoughts. The result, according to Greg, is a subterranean disco record where everything becomes a percussion instrument, from the guitar riffs to Britt Daniel's rhythmic vocals. Alternating between minimalist electro-grooves and avant-garde tracks, it's a great Spoon album that the band has been building toward its entire career. Jim concurs, highlighting the inventive drumming of Jim Eno that propels the band. He marvels that Spoon can continously reshuffle the same minimalist ingredients yet always come up with bold new statements. Hot Thoughts gets a double-Buy It.
Alejandro Escovedo Street Songs of Love
Alejandro Escovedo has been making music since the 1970's, but this past decade has brought him his highest profile to date. The Texas-based rocker's new record is Street Songs of Love, a concept album about rock's favorite topic: love. But, Jim feels like he's heard these songs before, particularly the mid-tempo classic groove. This is not Escovedo at his best, according to Jim, who gives it a Burn It. Greg thinks it's easy to be let down because Escovedo is such a smart lyricist, but the more he listened, the more he liked it. Greg thinks the singer/songwriter is that rare artist who has gotten better with age and gives Street Songs of Love a Buy It.
Alejandro Escovedo Burn Something Beautiful
Overcoming Hepatits C and narrowly escaping a brush with a hurricane was the backdrop for the new record, Burn Something Beautiful, from Texas-based musician Alejandro Escovedo. With a decades-spanning career starting in punk bands in the 1970s, the 65-year old guitarist is no stranger to the stage (or Sound Opinions). Gregsays this“feedback drenched”album is the audio catharsis of Escovedo's recent struggles. He played this summer's Pitchfork festival and Greg said it sounded like a“19-year old kid with something to prove.”Jim says it can be easy giving an aging artists a pass based on a long-storied career, but Burn Something Beautiful stands on its own.“Vital, vibrant and essential”are all words Jim uses to describe this double Buy It record.
Parquet Courts Human Performance
Indie rock four-piece Parquet Courts formed in Brooklyn in 2010 with three of its members originally from Texas. They debuted with a limited cassette release in 2011, but it wasn't until they released Light Up Gold in 2012 that they really turned some heads. The record was reissued on a bigger label in 2013, and after releasing two semi-official albums, Parquet Courts is back with Human Performance.
Greg thinks Parquet Courts have captured what it's like living in New York City—isolating and overwhelming at once. This mood hangs over the whole record, even during what he calls the back-and-forth conversations between Andrew Savage and Austin Brown. Savage writes melancholy break-up tunes, and Brown responds with optimism. Greg thinks that while the record does not reach the masterpiece-status of Light Up Gold, it's a Buy It nonetheless.
Jim agrees that it's a Buy It, loving the jaunty piano, droning organ and sound effects. He recalls Parquet Courts being referred to by critics as slackers on their last album, sparked in no small part by the song "Stoned and Starving," but Jim clarifies that there's nothing lazy about their songwriting and thinks "Dust" is a brilliant track. Jim nods to the dialogue between Brown and Savage, but finds even more compelling the rapport between their guitars.
Lucinda Williams The Ghosts of Highway 20
Less than two years after releasing a double album, Lucinda Williams is back with another one: The Ghosts of Highway 20. The Louisiana-born singer/songwriter delivers an Americana travelogue, using Interstate 20 to document her life growing up in the South. The highway, which runs from Texas to South Carolina, serves as a geographic timeline with which Williams shares her memories, both pleasant and troubling. The ambitious album is comprised of 14 tracks, 11 of which surpass five minutes, and that initially seemed too long for Greg. Ultimately though, Greg was astounded by this album, especially by the instrumentation executed in large part by the guitar work of Bill Frisell and Greg Leisz. The music transports the listener to the South, where, as Greg puts it,“you can practically feel and see the mist rising up out of the cotton fields.”While he would cut a couple tracks from this album, The Ghosts of Highway 20 is overall a Buy It for Greg.
Jim isn‘t bothered by the album’s length. He loves the psychedelic sound produced by Liesz's pedal steel, as well as Williams‘ poignant recollection of good times and bad. There are several songs on the album dedicated to death, but her treatment of the subject is neither with dread nor loathing, but with acceptance. Jim was a skeptic of Williams for many years, but her recent work– particularly this album– has made him a believer. It’s a Buy It for Jim as well.
In his Desert Island Jukebox pick for this week, Greg pays tribute to the late country legend Guy Clark, who died on May 17 at age 74. Although he was never as well known as some of his contemporaries, Greg wants to emphasize Clark's influence as a songwriter and his reputation among Texas musicians for his generosity and musicianship. He wrote about drifters and rebels and mentored many prominent country musicians. Greg selects the song Desperados Waiting For A Train from the 1975 album Old Number One as an example of the kind of sparse, raw songs that Guy Clark was best at writing.Go to episode 556
This week, Jim and Greg are soaking up some sun and new music in the beautiful city of Austin, Texas for South by Southwest. While Jim always loves visiting the annual festival to discover new talent, there's one element that makes him positively giddy – world famous Texas BBQ food. So for this trip to the desert island, Jim thought he would mentally prepare himself for some good old-fashioned carnivorous cuisine with the Reverend Horton Heat song, "Eat Steak." This track is some fun psychobilly rock that will get you looking for the closest barbeque restaurant, and fast.Go to episode 538
Unsung Heroes of Rock
Now it's time to hail the Unsung Heroes of Rock. The Micks and Bonos of the world may get all the acclaim, but it's often the little guy who deserves much of the credit. Jim and Greg have gone through the rock canon to honor these lesser-known musicians.
Without Bo Diddley, there wouldn't be a Mick Jagger as we know it. And without Jerome Green, there wouldn't have been a Bo Diddley. His maracas helped to create Diddley's signature“shuffling freight train”sound, and his cool attitude helped to create the performers signature style — one that would be emulated by many.
Blaine is responsible for one of the most famous drum intros in rock. Just listen to "Be My Baby," by The Ronettes, and you‘ll hear how Blaine is as important to that era’s sound as producer Phil Spector was.
There's a history of go-go dancers in rock, but of course, they're hard to showcase on the radio. Jim thinks Ben“Bosstone”Carr deserves credit for bringing style and maniacal energy to the band.
The name might have you drawing a blank, but Myers is a critical figure in rock. Greg is most impressed by how his vox continental organ managed to add a greasy, Texas sound to what was essentially another imitation British invasion band.
John Paul Jones
John Paul Jones deserves credit simply for keeping his own among the three biggest figures and egos in rock. He could pretty much play anything he got his hands on, but it was with the bass on songs like "Black Dog," that he really shone.
Onto a man who was easily the least important member of a very important band. Or so you might think. Jim says he'll fight anyone who underplays his drumming. He was never a show-off, allowing the vocals and guitars to shine when they needed to. But when there was an opportunity to come to the center, Starr accepted the challenge. Jim's been trying to master the drumming in "Rain" since he was a kid.
The Motown band members weren't even given credits on most of the songs they played on, but the reason you“move your butt”to most of those songs is because of James Jamerson. He not only played rhythm, but bass melodies, injecting a whole new style into rock.
With his knickers and beanie, everyone recognizes younger brother Angus. But, it was Malcom who gave AC/DC their signature riffs. And one of their best, and one of the best in all of rock music according to Greg, is "Highway to Hell."Go to episode 112
Mag & Patrick
Jim and Greg know that not everyone can spend all their waking hours studying and discovering music. So as The Rock Doctors, they can help listeners ailing in the music department. This week's patients are Mag and Patrick, a young couple from Brooklyn. This is Jim and Greg's first stab at couple's therapy, and their task is to find music both Mag and Patrick can enjoy. Mag favors classic rock, while Patrick is a huge fan of Dave Matthews Band and Green Day.
Jim is interested in finding a Green Day equivalent that Mag can stomach. He recommends Texas punk band The Marked Men. Greg's prescription, Blitzen Trapper, has bluesy classic rock elements that Mag loves, as well as the strong lyrics Patrick appreciates.
Both patients diligently take their course of pills and report back a week later. Both Mag and Patrick absolutely loved the Blitzen Trapper. Mag was less high on The Marked Men, but says she‘d be willing to listen again as long as it was with Patrick. It sounds like the healing has begun, and that’s all the Doctors can ask for.Go to episode 172
Once again, it's time for the Rock Doctors to put on their white coats and stethoscopes. During this appointment, Jim and Greg attempt to treat a fast spreading musical virus. Their patient is Jessica from Montreal. Jessica comes to the Rock Doctors Clinic with a bad case of“musical mailase, lyric lethargy, and beat fatigue.”Jessica has become uninterested in the rock music of today, which she perceives as redundant and insincere. The doctors' job is to help her reignite her passion for her favorite genre.
Jessica is well-versed in rock music, and spends a good amount of time listening to independent radio station WFMU with her husband, a rock DJ. Jessica loves rock music's focus on instrumentation, and her favorite album of 2014 was Brand New Day by The Ugly Beats, a young garage rock band out of Texas.
Greg's prescription is the album MCII from San Francisco multi-instrumentalist Mikal Cronin, while Jim recommends the album Slow Gum from Australian singer-songwriter Fraser A. Gorman. During their follow-up appointment, Jessica shares that she really enjoyed both records. She appreciates the balance of honest, personal lyrics with dynamic instrumentation, and found that both artists avoided the musical cliches that once plagued her. Greg and Jim decide that Jessica's knowledge of rock music would make her quite the rock critic.
Do you need to see the Rock Doctors? Or know someone who does? Fill out new patient form and send to email@example.com.Go to episode 508
This week on the show, Jim and Greg share their recent experiences at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Our hosts joined over 10,000 other festival registrants to attend music industry panels, conduct interviews, and most importantly, see new bands. In the four days they were there, Jim and Greg heard a lot of music. They share some of the best with you.
First is The Dresden Dolls. Jim went to see the Boston group and fell in love with their blend of German cabaret performance style and '80s synth-pop melodies. You can hear a little bit of "Modern Moonlight" off their upcoming release, Yes Virginia.
Next up, Greg discusses one his finds: Art Brut. He enjoyed this British band's straightforward melodies, catchy choruses, and witty monologues so much that he saw them twice in Austin. This critic even scrawled“New Kings of Rock”in his notebook following one performance. Jim joined him to see the band at the Pitchfork/Windish party, where they shared a bill with RJD2, Spank Rock, and one of Greg's other discoveries, Swedish indie pop quintet Love is All. Art Brut, who just recently played a sold-out show at the Metro, entertained the entire staff so much that they were invited to appear on the show the week after the festival wrapped. Listen for that interview in the weeks to come.
In between running from show to show, Jim and Greg took a brief moment to sit down with The Beastie Boys. The hip-hop pioneers were down in Austin to promote their recent concert film, Awesome; I Fucking Shot That, and spoke to Jim and Greg about making the movie, sampling, copyright laws, and the longevity of their career.
Back to the rundown of our hosts‘ favorite Austin discoveries. Jim’s next pick, The Black Angels, actually hails from the Texas state capital. After reading Jim's book on psychedelic rock, members of the band contacted him and explained that they were right up his alley. They were right. Jim, who caught some of the dark, Velvet Underground-influenced music in the sterile environment of Austin Convention Center, was totally blown away. To describe the band, he quotes their website which begs the listener to "Picture a red moonlit night, deep in the heart of Texas, with the ghosts of Nico and Timothy Leary being called back from the dead to guide you on a journey through Heaven & Hell and back again." Whoa, man…
Greg loves coming to Austin to see bands that may not get to the States otherwise. One such band is Serena Maneesh. The Norwegian group is one of many contemporary bands compared to My Bloody Valentine. Often referred to as“shoegazers,”these musicians are often literally standing, staring at their shoes, while producing a heavy, overdriven, almost symphonic guitar sound. Serena Maneesh is certainly channeling this influence — however, as Greg explains, this band is also quite performative. Our host describes how the lead guitar player, theatrically dressed as a gypsy showman, was joined by an“Amazonian”bass player. Only during SXSW can you see this in Texas, notes Jim.
We next hear some audio of Jim recorded down in Austin. He is describing one of his favorite acts: Tim Fite. Some may remember Fite's previous incarnation in Little T and One Track Mic and their one hit, "Shaniqua." But after getting signed to Atlantic and touring with Outkast, Little T went nowhere. Now, Fite has reinvented himself as a 1920s southern preacher/rapper who combines an O Brother, Where Art Thou? sound with irreverent lyrics and hip-hop. Gone Ain't Gone is forthcoming on Anti-/Epitaph, making Fite label mates with Neko Case and Blackalicious.
The Swedish band Love is All (mentioned above) is another of Greg's discoveries. This Swedish indie-pop group is one of many European bands who are rediscovering American music. This band is particularly influenced by musicians like James Chance and the Contortions and Lydia Lunch who fused both jazz and punk. Love is All became Greg's go-to CD while he was driving around the city of Austin.
Listeners can now hear what Jim and Greg really sound like at SXSW: definitely over-tired, and perhaps over-served. Our hosts caught up with Sound Opinions H.Q. immediately after going to see Rhys Chatham at Austin's Central Presbyterian Church, an experience they described as slightly mind-blowing. The avant-garde guitarist has basically been living in exile in Paris for the past decade, but emerged in Austin with a newly-formed guitar army: eight guitarists including Doug McCombs of Eleventh Dream Day and Tortoise, Ernie Brooks of The Modern Lovers and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Jim reports that Chatham recently received a grant allowing him to realize his long-fantasized 100-member guitar ensemble.
One of the SXSW events Greg always tries to attend is Alejandro Escovedo's Sunday night show. This year Grady was one of the opening acts. Greg found their huge, overpowering sound on par with that of Chatham's guitar army. He also compares their sound to that of ZZ Top's early days. Listen for yourself as Greg plays a sample of their 2004 release Y.U. So Shady?
White Whale is Jim's final discovery. He caught the band at the Merge showcase, a label that usually delivers for this critic. He was again not disappointed. White Whale, whose members have been in a number of other indie rock bands including Butterglory, Three Higher Burning Fire and The Get Up Kids, impressed Jim with more than just its name. He found their sound to be a mix of Nick Drake and Pink Floyd, and also reminiscent of Elephant Six bands like Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. So far their music can only be heard on Myspace.com, but White Whale may turn out to be another SXSW success story.
Greg's final pick is a band called Katahdin's Edge. He caught the group after originally trying to see a Finnish band who couldn‘t make it into the country. He was blown away, and despite getting thousands of free CDs for his day job, Greg was compelled to put down his own money for a Katahdin’s Edge album. This trio from Providence is an example of how jazz and rock can fuse in a great way. Rather than take an academic approach to jazz, Katahdin's Edge had a rock and roll, party edge that Greg really appreciated.
Greg was also caught on tape before and after seeing the biggest hype of this year's festival: The Arctic Monkeys. This has been quite the year for the young British band. In January they broke records for first-week sales in the U.K. with their debut release Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. In addition, they‘ve been proclaimed by many in the press as the greatest band to emerge from the U.K. in years. That’s a lot for a new band to live up to, but Greg was pleased with what he saw. While the Arctic Monkeys may not be what their hype claims, the music was well-rehearsed, packed with rhythm, and downright“ferocious”according to our host. Plus, the lead singer already seems to have the rock and roll attitude down.
Since the mass shooting at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in downtown Charleston, South Carolina earlier this summer, debate over the use of the Confederate flag in American popular culture has become even more heated. The flag has been featured in rock lyrics and performances for decades, most notably by the Texas heavy metal band Pantera in the '90s and also in performances by Tom Petty, Blake Shelton, and Zach Wild. Musicians such as Kid Rock and Patterson Hood of the Drive By Truckers have joined the debate surrounding the flag, with Rock dismissing the issue and Hood criticizing the flag's continued presence in modern music and culture.
Apple Music, the new music streaming service from Apple, launched on June 30th, making it yet another competitor in the global streaming market. In order to attract new users, Apple has offered a three month free trial to any iOS user interested in testing out the service for no cost before committing $10 a month for a subscription. While early reviews of the service have been mixed, two general complaints about Apple's latest innovation have emerged, including criticisms of its somewhat jumbled presentation and its lack of the social networking features that have made Spotify such an attractive streaming option. Jim thinks we'll have to wait and see how many trial users decide to commit to the paid subscription to really get a sense of how Apple Music stacks up against its many fierce competitors.Go to episode 503
A sad music headline kicks off this episode. Texas Blues guitarist Johnny Winter died last week at age 70. Greg notes that it's significant that Winter died while on tour in Europe, as he kept on working until the very end. And he encouraged his heroes to do the same. Winter, who had hits with his brother Edgar and with singer Rick Derringer in the 1970's, produced three late-career albums for Blues legend Muddy Waters. You can literally hear Winter's stamp on songs like "Mannish Boy" from 1977's Hard Again.Go to episode 452
George Jones was one of the greatest voices in 20th century music. Period. So even non-country fans will miss Texas singer, who died recently at age 81.“No Show Jones”had a long, very public battle with alcoholism. And he was no stranger to divorce. But when he sang about these issues, it was never corn pone clich'es. As Greg explains, George was nothing if not authentic. And that's what made his relationship to fans so strong. To say goodbye to George Jones, Jim and Greg play what many believe is the best country song ever written: "He Stopped Loving Her Today."Go to episode 388
The digital music site eMusic has angered some listeners and labels in recent weeks. They moved from subscriptions to a tiered pricing model similar to iTunes that will include higher priced major label songs. After making this announcement, three of the biggest indie labels in the business decided to take their music elsewhere. Domino Records, Merge Records and the Beggars Group, which includes Matador, XL, Rough Trade and 4AD, have not elaborated on their decision to leave, but Jim and Greg suspect it's because of this new deal with major labels. In their statement, eMusic explained that this change was necessary for their long-term sustainability.
What's the best music town in the country? Some would say Chicago; some would say Seattle; but according to Songkick.com, it's Austin, Texas. Austin has always touted itself as the live music capital of the world, and now they've got this to back it up. In their survey of live shows per capita, Songkick also put Madison, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Denver in their Top 5. Some surprising winners, especially when you scan down to find that New York and L.A. didn‘t even make the cut. And it’s interesting to note that these cities had lower average ticket prices than bigger markets.Go to episode 261