Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan & Opinions on Destroyer and The North Mississippi Allstars

Musical duo Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan stop by the studio. Later Jim and Greg review new releases by Destroyer and The North Mississippi Allstars.

Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan
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These days it’s not unusual for pop stars to simultaneously be topping the charts and filling the court dockets ( T.I., Lil Wayne). But it is unusual for a commercial, family-friendly star to have such infamy. Singer/songwriter Bruno Mars has the #1 song in the country, Grenade, and he’s been all over mainstream TV this year with appearances on The Today Show, Saturday Night Live, Ellen and Glee. Now he’s pleading guilty to cocaine possession charges, so Jim and Greg are interested to see if this affects his popularity. Our guess? It won’t.

After Wilco’s first label, Reprise, refused to put out their critically acclaimed 2002 album Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, many people thought they should abandon the major label system. Now, almost a decade later, they’re doing it. Wilco is leaving the Warner subsidiaries to form dBpm Records. It will be run by the band’s manager, with distribution provided by ANTI-.

Oscar-winning composer John Barry died last week at age 77. The Guardian claims he’s as pop as the Beatles, and Jim and Greg agree. It’s hard to imagine the ‘60s without Barry’s brassy, melodic orchestrations. He was not only the man behind the iconic Bond music, but his compositions were critical to many other films. So to honor Barry, Jim and Greg play the theme to Midnight Cowboy.

Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan

Rock is filled with great duos – with Jim and Greg at the top of that list, naturally. But coming in at a close second is Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan, who join Jim and Greg in the studio this week. Many people know Campbell as a former member of the Scottish pop group Belle and Sebastian. And Lanegan is the iconic voice behind the Screaming Trees. For their collaboration, it’s Campbell who takes the reins with songwriting and production. Lanegan, they joke during the interview, is just her tool. It’s a role he relishes, even if Campbell can be a bit of a taskmaster. And you can’t argue with the results.

Kaputt 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.

Keys to the Kingdom The North Mississippi Allstars

Keys to the Kingdom

The North Mississippi Allstars also have a new album out, called Keys to the Kingdom. This album was written following the death of producer Jim Dickinson, the father of bandmates and brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson, and the songs are not only filled with emotion, but steeped in the sound of their youth – the blues of the North Mississippi hill country. They also collaborate with some of Dickinson’s favorite musicians, including Mavis Staples. This is a great return to form for the band. Both Jim and Greg say Buy It.

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