Results for Yeah Yeah Yeahs

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Touch and Go Records

This week Jim and Greg wanted to take a look at one of the music industry's most important independent labels: Touch and Go Records. Touch and Go recently turned 25 and celebrated with a three-day bash at Chicago's Hideout Block Party. Over the course of the show, you‘ll hear why Jim and Greg wanted to focus on this modest Chicago label. You’ll also hear from the founder himself, Corey Rusk, and a number of the label's artists, including Scott McCloud from Girls Against Boys, Janet Weiss from Quasi (and formerly Sleater-Kinney), Ted Leo, David Yow from Scratch Acid and The Jesus Lizard and recording engineer and musician Steve Albini of Big Black and Shellac fame.

Touch and Go's founder Corey Rusk is known not just as a tastemaker with an incredible ear for talent, but also as one of the most honest businessmen in the biz. This is what separates Touch and Go from other labels, major and independent alike. Rusk's business model, which doesn't shy away from the Internet and which relies merely on trust and a handshake, has kept it going for 25 years, helping it to outlive its peers. Labels like Twin/Tone in Minneapolis, which launched The Replacements, SST in California which launched Black Flag and Hüsker Dü, and I.R.S. in which launched R.E.M. and The Go Go's, all emerged in the early '80s after punk's mainstream explosion and before alternative's reign. However, Touch and Go is the only one of the bunch not only to stay in business, but to do so successfully and independently.

The best way to understand the label's significance is to sample some of the music. You'll hear these songs in our short-but-sweet montage of Touch and Go music:

  1. Killdozer, "Hi There"
  2. Girls Against Boys, "Kill the Sexplayer"
  3. The Dirty Three, "Doris"
  4. Jesus Lizard, "Mouth Breather"
  5. TV on the Radio, "Dreams"
  6. Butthole Surfers, "Fast"
  7. Yeah Yeah Yeahs, "Art Star"
  8. Calexico, "Cruel"

Touch and Go has put out a lot of music over the past quarter century, but Jim and Greg both manage to pick their single favorite T&G tracks. Greg goes first and chooses "Stage 2000" by Seam. Touch and Go is often thought of as the place to go to for loud, hard-edged punk music, and that is certainly true. However, their roster is actually quite diverse, and there are a number of bands like Seam, who are making beautiful, soft, melodic music.“Stage 2000”is on Greg's favorite Seam album, The Problem With Me. That album was recorded with Chicago producer Brad Wood, best known for producing Liz Phair's classic Exile in Guyville.

Jim's Touch and Go pick is "Kerosene" by Big Black off their 1985 album Atomizer. Though Atomizer was initially released by Homestead Records, Big Black moved to Touch and Go a year later, and the label reissued the band's entire catalog. So we'll let Jim slide on this one — especially since no one has been as closely associated with Touch and Go as Big Black founder Steve Albini. Albini came to Chicago to study journalism at Northwestern, and Jim can hear this sensibility in his lyrics. Songs like "Kerosene" are essentially sensationalistic tabloid stories backed with thrashing noise-rock.

Go to episode 43
reviews
MosquitoMosquito available on iTunes

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Mosquito

During the 2000s, two bands forged a New York garage rock revival: The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Two weeks ago, Jim and Greg eviscerated Comedown Machine, The Strokes' fifth studio effort. This week, they take on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' latest, Mosquito. Is this yet another case of early promise and later disappointment? Jim says“no way.”The album art might turn his stomach, but he's digging Mosquito, which shows the band experimenting with musical styles from gospel to hip-hop. Unlike The Strokes' similar genre experiments, Jim says Mosquito sounds organic, not contrived. Greg agrees. He was a big fan of lead singer Karen O's 2003 song "Maps," so he's glad to hear more of her emotional vocals on this record. Mosquito gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 385
Show Your BonesShow Your Bones available on iTunes

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Show Your Bones

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

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
It's Blitz! (Deluxe Edition)It's Blitz! available on iTunes

Yeah Yeah Yeahs It's Blitz!

It was only eight years ago that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs appeared at SXSW. Now, they have their third record out called It's Blitz! Jim and Greg agree that lead singer Karen O is a stage performer like none other. But, she's only 1/3 of the band. Drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner also have a major impact on the band's sound. So, as Jim points out, it's remarkable that they‘d want to“mess”with the two other important elements. Chase’s drumming is less frenetic, and Zinner has added synths to his repertoire. Jim thinks the change is not only courageous, but successful and gives It's Blitz! a Buy It rating. Greg not only hears a shift in sound, but a new sense of introspection. He is reminded of the band's emotional 2003 single "Maps." Greg also gives the Yeah Yeah Yeahs a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 174
SeedsSeeds available on iTunes

TV on the Radio Seeds

For TV on the Radio, its 6th album Seeds marks a musical departure from past work and has Jim and Greg at odds. TVOTR has been a consistently interesting band, emerging from the same scene as groups like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes. However many people wondered whether they would make a new album after their bassist, Gerard Smith, died in 2011 of lung cancer. Greg notes that he has greatly enjoyed TVOTR's past albums but found himself missing the“weirdness”on this one. He found the record to be very linear and melodic, and noted the group lost the elements of texture and surprise in these new tracks. Jim couldn't disagree more! He argues there are plenty of surprises with a mix of mourning and hard grooving tunes. Jim even thinks the track "Happy Idiot" is a thinking-hipster's response to Pharrell's "Happy." Greg gives it a Try It while Jim thinks he's just being grumpy and strongly gives Seeds a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 469
pharrelloscars

Oscar Songs 2014

When it comes to movies, Jim and Greg defer to the Academy. But, when it comes to music, they aren't as casual. 2014 has been a banner year for pop music in the movies, with three of this year's Best Original Song nominees topping the charts. In fact, this kind of crossover hasn't happened since 1984, when all five nominees hit #1. First, there's Idina Menzel's ubiquitous "Let It Go," from the animated Disney hit Frozen. Written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez of Book of Mormon fame, it's a flashy show tune—the "Diane Warren power ballad" of Greg's nightmares—that fails to impress our hosts. Not so with "The Moon Song," from the film Her. Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who co-wrote the song with director Spike Jonze, has since released a duet with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. This quiet, intimate tune wins Jim's statuette, even if it's too low-key for the Academy. Greg's giving his award to "Happy" from Despicable Me 2. While Mr. Kot admits to living under a rock when it comes to kids' movies, he considers Pharrell's single, with its layered vocals and handclaps, a pop masterpiece (despite the mediocre lyrics). Jim isn't as happy and thinks that Pharrell phoned this one in. Meanwhile, U2 took a break from ending world hunger to record a new song for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. While the film got little attention in the U.S., "Ordinary Love" has something else working in its favor: the media empire of Harvey Weinstein. His aggressive promotion already won the song a Golden Globe for Best Song, and could similarly sway the Academy…but not our hosts. Despite the noble subject, Jim and Greg just hear standard U2 flag-waving.

JimGreg
Go to episode 431
Crush SongsCrush Songs available on iTunes

Karen O Crush Songs

Yeah Yeah Yeah's frontwoman Karen O has always been a galvanizing perfomer with a presence that's both feisty and introspective. Recently, she's been dabbling in solo recordings, releasing songs for films like Where the Wild Things Are and Her, but she hasn't released a full solo studio album until now. Crush Songs takes its name from a time in Karen O's life when she was thinking a lot about love and would compose simple and silly songs in private. It's those bedroom recordings from years ago that now comprise the entirety of Crush Songs. However, in a baffeling move to Jim and Greg, she does not update much of anything about the songs, resulting in a poor, clumsy sound, intentional or not. Both critics feel this collection of what could be Yeah Yeah Yeahs demos should never have been released. Crush Songs gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 461
El PintorEl Pintor available on iTunes

Interpol El Pintor

Jim and Greg didn't expect to hear anything new from icy rockers Interpol after the band essentially broke up in 2010 after the release of its forth studio album. But, only a few short months after reuniting (now minus longtime bassist Carlos Dengler), the band who made a splash back in the early 2000's alongside other New York bands like The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV On The Radio, is back with a new album called El Pintor. Jim notes that the album's title is an anagram of the bands name, which he sees fitting as the record sounds like a simple shuffling of the band's familiar formula: lots of droning and moaning over updated Joy Division-like guitars. Jim's not impressed with El Pintor or any of the band's previous albums (he barely remembers them, honestly) so he says Trash It. Greg couldn't disagree more. While he admits the Joy Division comparisons are apt, Interpol has crafted their own distinct sound that's tense and atmospheric and shows real innovation - a credit he gives to the band's recent hiatus. The first essential Interpol album since their debut, El Pintor is a Buy It for Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 461
Master of My Make-Believe (Deluxe Version)Master of My Make Believe available on iTunes

Santigold Master of My Make Believe

After wowing many people, including Greg Kot, with her 2008 debut Santigold, Santi White (now Santigold), is back with a new album called Master of My Make Believe. She's working with a number of new producers including members of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV on the Radio, and she's expanded her sound palette substantially. But, thankfully, the songwriting is as strong as ever. Greg admits that she's not the most impressive vocalist, but he appreciates that in this era of over-singing. He says Buy It. Jim is especially taken with Santigold's exuberance, humor and spirit. He says it's a great contrast to the Nicki Minaj and M.I.A.'s of the world. Master of My Make Believe gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 336
99 Cents99¢ available on iTunes

Santigold 99¢

Santigold was known as Santogold when she released her debut album in 2008, a combo of reggae and new wave that established her as an artist. On her third and most recent album, 99¢, she worked with TV on the Radio, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend, Cathy Dennis, and Patrik Berger. Santigold named the album 99¢ because that's how much she thinks it's worth, and Jim concedes he would pay at least double that for it. But it's not a stellar album from start to finish. The middle of the album is weighed down by a few sluggish tracks, especially the duet with ILoveMakonnen, but combine that with the handful of fun dance pop punk songs, and it's a Try It album for Jim. Greg has always loved Santigold's ability to put smart lyrics inside catchy packages. And on this album, there are a few tracks that do just that. Banshee is one of Greg's favorites. It juxtaposes the darkness of drug addiction against an up-tempo, celebratory sound. Not every track is as successful though, and Greg is ultimately a little let down. 99¢ is a Try It for Greg as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 536
dijs

Greg

“Nowhere Again”Secret Machines

Music fans experienced another loss over the holidays: Benjamin Curtis, one of the founding members of Secret Machines died at age 35 after a battle with cancer. He, brother Brandon and cousin Josh Garza, visited the show in 2006, and Greg fondly remembers their distinctive sound. While contemporaries like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes were steeped in a New York punk and New Wave sound, Secret Machines had a more experimental and psychedelic edge. And when people lament the lack of great modern rock bands, Greg refers them to this one. So to remember Ben Curtis and Secret Machines, Greg adds "Nowhere Again" from the band's 2004 debut Now Here is Nowhere to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 424
lists

The Best of 2009… So Far

Lists are just too much fun to do them only once a year. Here are Jim and Greg's mid-year best album lists.

Greg

  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • Amadou & Mariam, Welcome to Mali
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Maxwell, BLACKsummers'night
  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz

Jim

  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You
  • Morrissey, Years of Refusal
  • Franz Ferdinand, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
  • PJ Harvey and John Parish, A Woman a Man Walked By
  • Moby, Wait for Me
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz
  • Passion Pit, Manners
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Metric, Fantasies
  • K'Naan, Troubadour
  • Cursive, Mama, I'm Swollen
  • Bob Dylan, Together Through Life
  • Leonard Cohen, Live in London
  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Sonic Youth, The Eternal
  • U2, No Line on the Horizon
  • Wilco, Wilco
  • The Handsome Family, Honey Moon
  • Art Brut, Art Brut vs. Satan
  • Peaches, I Feel Cream
  • Screaming Females, Power Move
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst

A message from Jim: The following, LISTED IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, is my tally of albums mid-year in 2009 that have all warranted 3.5 stars or more on the Chicago Sun-Times‘ 4-star ratings scale (making them all very enthusiastic“buy its”on the“Sound Opinions”scale). I will mention that these are in no particular order (sorry, but that’s reserved for the year-end list), that this list is not all-inclusive (I will no doubt catch up with quite a few discs released earlier in the year by the time I tally the year-end list) and, also, because this always confuses people, THESE ARE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. Yet. But they're all really, really, really good albums.

Go to episode 190

Unrequited Love Songs

What would rock ‘n’ roll be if not for the thousands of songs about love and heartbreak? Jim and Greg explore this legacy for this week's Valentine's Day episode featuring the best Unrequited Love Songs:

Go to episode 272

Valentine's Day

It's Valentine's Day, and one of the most important elements to“Set the Mood”is, of course, music. Jim and Greg play their favorite mood setters:

Go to episode 220

The Best Songs of the Millennium - Mixtapes

Jim and Greg like to end every year with a good old-fashioned mixtape (presented as a new-fashioned mp3 stream). But this year they decided to go even further and compile their favorite songs of the entire decade. They pick highlights to play during this episode, and their entire playlists are below. You can also stream their full mixtapes:

Go to episode 214
news

Music News

Making news are recent announcements about upcoming summer concerts. First, there was release of the lineups for the annual Coachella and Bonnaroo music festivals. The Coachella Festival in southern California usually has one of the more exciting and diverse bills of the summer, with past headliners like Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead. This year, though, Jim and Greg are skeptical of whether headliners Tool and Depeche Mode can be enough of a draw. It's up to support acts like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Massive Attack and Wolf Parade to make the desert heat bearable. There is also exciting news for Chicagoans: Lollapalooza will be returning with an expanded three-day format. Plus, indie rock fans can look forward to not one, but two new festivals in the city—the Pitchfork Music Festival and the newly independent Intonation Festival.

Joining Jim and Greg for the news this week is former Supreme Mary Wilson. Ms. Wilson made headlines recently when she began a national campaign to support legislation that would prevent imposters (but thankfully not cover bands) from posing as major artists. To prove the point that there is only one true Mary Wilson, the singer did an a cappella rendition of The Supremes' "Stop! In the Name of Love" for the Illinois House of Representatives.

Go to episode 12

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