Fall 2010 Review Roundup

Jim and Greg give Buy It, Burn It, Trash It ratings to big new releases including the Jeff Tweedy-produced album by Mavis Staples and the latest by "Golden God" Robert Plant.

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When it comes to the recording industry, it's easy to think of it as the big bad guy. But, as relayed in John Bowe's recent New York Times Sunday Magazine piece, "The Man," is actually a number of little, ordinary guys. Irving Azoff himself doesn't go from town to town collecting royalty riches. That task is left to copyright collectors who work for performing rights organizations like ASCAP and BMI. Jim and Greg talk to Bowe about the day he spent with one such collector who received a less than warm welcome from most of the bars, clubs and shops she visited.

00:11:21 Review: Mavis Staples

You Are Not Alone

During this show Jim and Greg review some of this season's big new releases. First up is the latest from Mavis Staples. The iconic Chicago  soul  singer turned to neighbor and fan Jeff Tweedy of Wilco to produce  You Are Not Alone. Greg calls Staples one of America's great singers. And all of the facets of her sound and personality are represented here. He gives the album a Buy It rating. Jim has been waiting for Mavis to make her masterpiece record that would tell the world how great she really is. You Are Not Alone is a fine effort, but the songs are nothing special, according to Jim. He worries that Tweedy was intimidated by Staples and didn't push her enough. For that reason Jim tells listeners to Burn It.

00:21:46 Review: Katy Perry

Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection

Katy Perry has the number one album this week called Teenage Dream. But, unfortunately her dreaminess may be all she has going for her. The pop singer first made a splash with her hit "I Kissed a Girl." Now for her follow-up, she's paired up with a number of the industry's biggest producers. Jim appreciates bubblegum pop as much as the next person, but only when there's some twist. There's not an ounce of originality on Teenage Dream, so Jim tells people to Trash It. Greg feels like this record was written by a dirty old man rather than a modern woman. And the vocals sound completely digitally edited together. A robot could be singing these tunes, so he agrees: Trash It.

Interpol Interpol


Interpol's 2001 debut Turn on the Bright Lights is still considered by many to be one of the greatest albums of that decade. But, they've been unable to reclaim that success with subsequent releases. Bassist  Carlos D has left the band, and Dave Pajo of Slint and Brandon Curtis of The Secret Machines have joined it. So Jim and Greg were eager to hear how the sound had evolved. Unfortunately, it didn't. On their new self-titled release, Interpol is still churning out Joy Division-inspired tracks. And Carlos D's departure is a real loss. Both critics wish the songwriting had been stronger and give Interpol a Trash It.

00:34:23 Review: of Montreal

False Priest (Deluxe Version)

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.

00:43:32 Review: Robert Plant

Band of Joy

This episode's final review is of Robert Plant's new solo record Band of Joy. The album shares the name of Plant's pre-Led Zeppelin band, but Jim can't figure out the connection. He doesn't see what roots Americana music has to do with the north country of England. He applauds Plant for trying new things, but misses more of his Celtic, "dark lord" sound. He gives Band of Joy a Burn It. Greg was a fan of Plant's last rootsy effort, Raising Sand. He heard the "Golden God" doing something completely new. But now, it's less innovative, and at times downright slow and creepy. Greg also gives this hit and miss affair a Burn It.


One release Jim is excited about this fall is a reissue of the debut album by Ride called Nowhere. So he chooses a track from it, "Vapour Trail" to add to the Desert Island Jukebox. Along with My Bloody Valentine, Ride established the groundbreaking shoegaze sound, proving that it is possible to do something new with guitar, bass and drums. And Jim puts Nowhere up there with Nevermind, even if it never received the same kind of acclaim.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!