New Pornographers & Chris Brown Review

Canadian indie rockers New Pornographers visit the show for a conversation and live performance. And stay tuned for reviews of new albums by teen pop star Chris Brown and folk rock duo Damon and Naomi.

The New Pornographers
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While file-sharers in this country face lawsuits, downloaders in France now risk being thrown off the net entirely. French officials are proposing to cut off the broadband connections of people who illegally download films or music over the internet. French President Nicholas Sarkozy explained that he’s backing a three strikes policy against internet pirates, while simultaneously announcing a new deal with film and music companies to boost cultural offerings on the web. Jim and Greg think that government intervention in this issue sets a troubling precedent. Let’s keep our fingers-crossed that U.S. lawmakers don’t follow suit (no pun intended).

The RIAA is making news yet again this week. Earlier this month, the record industry organization announced that it sent another round of pre-litigation settlement letters to college campuses across the U.S. They are targeting 16 schools, almost all of which are members of the Ivy League. But, where’s Harvard? The RIAA has offered no response. Jim and Greg aren’t quick to join cons piracy theorists, but the whole thing is a little peculiar. In fact, the American record industry’s tactics in general are very peculiar. But, no more so than those across the pond...

After two successful runs of Lollapalooza in Chicago, concert promoters C3 Presents have announced they’re going to extend their festival reign to the Garden State. This August C3 and European promoters Festival Republic will launch the Vineland Music Festival in Vineland, NJ. But, music fans shouldn’t expect a different formula. The Vineland concert will also be a 3-day destination festival with over 100 bands in various popular music genres. In fact, some acts will overlap with Lollapalooza. Jim and Greg don’t understand the need for another big summer music festival when the market is already so glutted with the same product. Everyone, including C3 executives, admit that the market is over-saturated and that many of these festivals won’t survive. Sound Opinions H.Q. just hopes that over-heated, over-charged music fans do.

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.

Exclusive Chris Brown

Exclusive (The Forever Edition)

Pop sensation Chris Brown has a new album out this week that both Jim and Greg predict will spawn a number of hit singles. But our two hosts disagree on whether or not Exclusive is worth your money. Jim really enjoyed listening to Brown’s take on modern R&B—hints of masculine braggadocio tempered by an old-fashioned sweetness. He gives the record a Buy It. Greg admits that Brown’s more mild-mannered approach to the opposite sex is something the genre needs right now, but he insists that talented vocalists like Brown are a dime a dozen. It’s the production that makes them stand out, as Usher did with his 2004 Lil John-produced single Yeah. Greg’s certain Brown will mature to a more interesting sound, but for now he gets a Burn It.

Within These Walls Damon and Naomi

Within These Walls

Husband and wife duo Damon and Naomi also have a new album out called Within These Walls. The two were founding members of the slowcore group Galaxie 500, and fans will hear that same dream-folk, Fairport Convention-inspired sound here. But, Jim and Greg explain that the duo have branched out more on this album by including a brass and string section. Jim, who says that he loves pretty much anything Damon and Naomi have ever done, is impressed by the experimentation. It led to even more beauty and lushness. He gives Within These Walls a Buy It. Greg would also encourage listeners to get the album, but takes issue with some of the other instruments. In particular, he says that this album would get a much more enthusiastic rating with the omission of jazz great Bhob Rainey’s soprano sax, which Greg describes as horribly Kenny G-like. That said, it gets a Buy It from both critics.

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