Results for The New Pornographers

interviews

Top Albums of 2005

The“Best Records”list: It's“a sacred thing”in pop music fandom, says Jim, requiring a discerning ear and laser-like focus. Thankfully, our hosts are here to help. After sifting through hundreds of records, and countless days spent listening (perhaps to the discontent of their wives), they‘ve managed to pick out their absolute favorites. Here’s what Jim and Greg say they'll still be listening to in 2006.

Go to episode 2

Neko Case

This week's guest is singer/songwriter Neko Case. It's hard to categorize Neko's music. Some call her "alt-country." Others throw the word "soul" in there. But whatever you call it, fans and critics alike are happy to hear it. In addition to making her own music, Neko records and performs with Canadian pop band The New Pornographers. After wrapping up her current tour, Neko will go out on tour with the New Pornographers in support of their new album.

Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is Neko's most successful album to date. It's also one for which she did much more of the songwriting. Neko credits that songwriting with learning to play the tenor guitar. Greg compares Neko's guitar playing to that of Steve Howe, but she likes to think of herself as more of a Paul Butterfield.

Neko calls Fox Confessor Brings the Flood her most“smart-ass”album. The way in which the songwriter tells stories on the record is in large part inspired by Eastern European folktales. Neko grew up listening to this style of storytelling from her Ukrainian grandparents and appreciated how open-ended and non-judgmental the tales were.

Two of the songs Neko performs for the show have unique inspirations. The first, "That Teenage Feeling," was written after her guitarist, Paul Rigby, exclaimed that he didn't feel the need to get married for the sake of getting married. Rather, he desired that simpler, no-strings feeling that love gives you when you are a teenager. The second song, "Margaret vs. Pauline," is based on a book by Beat novelist and poet Richard Brautigan called In Watermelon Sugar. Jim's relieved to hear the song has a far less ominous meaning than he thought. You can also hear a bonus performance of "Sometimes When I Get To Thinking" by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Go to episode 71

The New Pornographers

Now for a statement late-night shows don‘t get to make: This week’s musical guests: The New Pornographers. The Canadian indie rock band, who many refer to as a“supergroup,”formed in 1997. The members include A.C. Newman, John Collins, Todd Fancey, Kathryn Calder, Kurt Dahle, Blaine Thurier, Dan Bejar and Neko Case (though Blaine, Dan and Neko couldn‘t make it to this interview). Front man and chief songwriter A.C. (Carl) Newman describes the band as just a group of friends who got together to make music. They didn’t plan to be popular, and are still“figuring out how to be a band.”But while there were no ambitions of fame, there were musical ambitions. The band is known for its sophisticated, complicated take on pop music. You can hear this in the tracks "All the Old Show Stoppers" and "Adventures in Solitude," as well as these bonus tracks.

It was with Twin Cinema in 2005 that the band received the most attention, but as A.C. explains, with attention comes expectations, and expectations are not always good for a band. He and Dan Bejar, who also pens songs for the band, are constantly striving not to repeat themselves. A.C. also strives to live up to his influences-Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson, and most importantly, Burt Bacharach. That's not a name you hear come up very much with rockers, but AC explains that no album affected him more than a collection of Dionne Warwick's greatest hits. He admits that it might be out of step with the times, but was an example of extraordinary songwriting.

Go to episode 105
reviews
ChallengersChallengers available on iTunes

The New Pornographers Challengers

The first album up for review this week is by the Canadian indie-pop supergroup The New Pornographers. Band leader A.C. Newman, along with Destroyer's Dan Bejar, Neko Case and a cast of other songwriters and musicians have recorded their fourth album together, Challengers. The album is another collection of melodic, hook-filled songs, but Greg admits that Bejar almost steals the record with his track, "Myriad Harbor," a power-pop meets hip-hop composition. He loves the tongue-in-cheek, carefree attitude of many of the songs, but doesn't think the album is as good as its predecessor, Twin Cinema. Because the energy level is uncharacteristically down for the band, Greg gives this New Pornographers effort a Try It. Jim was glad to hear the band went for something different. They did three albums of pure, effervescent pop, and now they've added orchestrations to the mix. He gives Challengers a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 90
Whiteout ConditionsWhiteout Conditions available on iTunes

The New Pornographers Whiteout Conditions

The New Pornographers formed in the '90s as a collective of Vancouver songwriters, including A.C. Newman, Neko Case, and Dan Bejar of Destroyer. Bejar was not available for their ninth album, Whiteout Conditions, leaving Newman as the driving force. Although he was never a fan of Bejar's work, Jim guiltily admits he's grown bored with the band. Kathryn Calder's vocals are great as ever, and the record is full of“perfectly fine catchy ditties,”but it lacks any standout tracks. Jim feels Newman is running on fumes, and gives the album a Trash It. Greg feels that's too harsh, but says it lacks the variety of the band's previous records. Every song uses synthesizers to drive the rhythm and he feels the album suffers from not including Bejar's songs. Greg gives Whiteout Conditions a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 594
Brill BruisersBrill Bruisers available on iTunes

The New Pornographers Brill Bruisers

The New Pornographers, a Canadian supergroup composed of folks like AC Newman, Neko Case, Dan Bejar and more, have a new album out called Brill Bruisers. The band, which always relies heavily on melody and hooks, have amped it up even more according to Greg, making this album their most energetic to date. Greg loves the fact that AC Newman shares the spotlight with Dan Bejar and has almost every member leading a song. He says, no doubt, Buy It. Jim agrees. He had been growing tired of The New Pornographers because of all the many offshoot solo albums. But, he found himself really loving the uptempo nature of this album, particularly the keyboards of Blaine Thurier and the singing of the band's unsung hero: Kathryn Calder. It's hard to be a vocalist next to Neko Case, but she more than holds her own and helps give this album a Buy It rating from Jim.

JimGreg
Go to episode 459
TogetherTogether available on iTunes

The New Pornographers Together

The New Pornographers have a new album called Together. But Jim wonders if the title is ironic. The band includes A.C. Newman, Neko Case and Dan Bejar — all successful solo artists in their own right. And he doesn‘t get the sense that they really came together for The New Pornographers record. He doesn’t hear energy or inspiration, and gives the supergroup a super Trash It rating. Greg, on the contrary, didn't hear anyting patchwork about Together. That's the band's great trick. What does hold them back is Newman's oblique lyrics, which make it difficult to make an emotional connection to the songs. That said, the music is beautiful, exuberant and a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 232
Fox Confessor Brings the FloodFox Confessor Brings the Flood available on iTunes

Neko Case Fox Confessor Brings the Flood

Next up Jim and Greg review the latest release from Chicago native Neko Case. Many people know Neko thorugh her work with The New Pornographers, but on her solo albums, she shows her alt-country side and really gets to shine. On Fox Confessor Brings the Flood, Neko is joined by longtime collaborators like Jon Rauhouse and Kelly Hogan, as well new musicians like Howe Gelb. For Greg, this is Neko's best album. As always he is impressed by Neko's exceptional voice, and he also notes the powerful songwriting. Jim agrees, though he wishes Neko would let more of her upbeat, Tammy Wynette side show through. Nevertheless, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood gets a Buy It rating from both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 14
KaputtKaputt available on iTunes

Destroyer Kaputt

New Pornographers fans know Dan Bejar from his collaborations with the band. But he saves his most adventurous music for his solo project Destroyer. Bejar is often all over the map with Destroyer releases, so Jim and Greg did not see his latest album coming. Kaputt has some '80s pop sheen and elements of smooth jazz – things Greg doesn't generally like. But upon further listen, Greg began to understand where Bejar was coming from. He especially picked up on the influence of Blue Nile. Greg loved the tension between the warm,“pastel”sound and the angst-ridden lyrics. He gives Kaputt a Buy It rating. Jim was also initially put off by the record. And upon further listen he was even more put off. He doesn‘t understand how after all these years, Bejar’s records could still be so mediocre and spotty. The obscurity is not worth the effort. Jim says Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 271
lists

The Best Songs of 2014 - Mixtapes

Before 2014 gets too far back in our rearview mirror, Jim and Greg tackle the timeless art of making a mixtape featuring their favorite songs from 2014. Each host plays a selection of tracks off their mix, but you can stream both in their entirety below.

Go to episode 475
rock doctors

Peter Sagal

This week, Jim and Greg play doctor — rock doctor, that is. They‘ve decided to launch a new experiment where they help a listener in need of musical help. Let’s hope they don't get their licenses pulled. Their first patient is Chicago Public Radio colleague Peter Sagal. The Wait, Wait… Don't Tell Me! host listens to the show, but confessed to Sound Opinions that he doesn't always“get it.”Peter is a music fan, but is stuck in a bit of a rut, and has come to Drs. Kot and DeRogatis for some healing.

After their initial consultation, our hosts discover that their patient is a huge Elvis Costello fan. He also digs Tom Waits and Nick Lowe, and has ventured into newer territory with artists like Neko Case and Ben Folds. Peter also reveals that he likes "Jesus Walks," but may be the last person on the planet who hasn't gotten into Kanye West.

Greg cues in to Peter's fondness for singer/songwriters and theatricality. He also notes that much of the music Peter likes has a fairly wry, intellectual sense of humor. So, his prescription includes an introduction to the music of The Decemberists. Frontman Colin Meloy, who was also a guest on Sound Opinions, has a literary, almost Broadway-esque style that Greg thinks might cure what ails Peter. He also suggests that Peter check out the New Pornographers, the band that features Neko Case on vocals.

Jim's first prescription caters to Peter's dark sense of humor. He recommends a dose of the new (and improved, according to Jim) Belle and Sebastian. The Scottish band was always a bit too twee for our host, but on this year's The Life Pursuit, they create a sunnier, poppier sound, though with no less dark a point of view. Jim also instructs his patient to go for it and listen to Kanye West's second album, Late Registration. He predicts Peter will appreciate the rapper/producer's compositions and innovative orchestrations.

Peter followed his doctors‘ advice for a week, and returned to let them know how he feels. He admitted that he enjoyed most of their choices. He has never been a Belle and Sebastian fan, and probably won’t become one any time soon, but he understands why Jim recommended the band. And he tells Greg that he will continue to dig deeper into the The Decemberists and The New Pornographers. But the clear cure here was Kanye West. Peter was absolutely floored by how much he loved Late Registration. He definitely understands what all the fuss is about now. Therefore, by turning their patient on to even one new artist, the doctors can consider their medical experiment a success. They've got one patient in recovery and look forward to healing some more. So, if you or anyone you know needs to consult with the rock docs, please email Sound Opinions and tell us where it hurts.

Go to episode 34
world tours

Canada

Justin Bieber

Every once in a while, Jim and Greg embark on the Sound Opinions World Tour and explore the music of another country. This week felt like a fine time to turn to our neighbor to the north and look at the music coming out of Canada today. As their guide, they're joined by music critic Ben Rayner of the the Toronto Star. Ben takes them from Montreal's experimental/electronic scene to the noise-pop of Halifax to the country's growing hip-hop culture. He also explains how the government supports pop music via grants and the "Cancon" regulations requiring broadcasters to air a certain amount of Canadian music. Ben also recommends two up-and-coming Canadian artists: Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Acadian folk-rocker Lisa LeBlanc.

Jim and Greg also dig through the Sound Opinions archives and share their favorite performances and interviews from Canadian artists, including a stripped down song from Montreal's Arcade Fire, a conversation with Toronto's Feist from early in her career, and a performance from the Vancouver supergroup The New Pornographers. Plus, they revisit their conversation with the most Canadian of all bands: Rush.

Go to episode 572