Passion Pit & Opinions on Shamir

passionpit

Passion Pit first broke through via MySpace with its danceable electronic sound. But beneath the bright synth-pop are often tortured lyrics about frontman Michael Angelakos’s struggle with manic depression. Angelakos joins Jim and Greg for a stripped-down performance and frank conversation about his illness. Then, they review the debut record from genre-defying singer Shamir.

Download Subscribe via iTunes

Music News

The thrill, alas, is gone: B.B. King, international ambassador for the blues, has passed away at 89. Although the blues is associated with pain and heartbreak, King took great joy in his music, playing shows around the world non-stop until practically the day he died. King had a unique approach in which his voice was in a constant conversation with his legendary guitar, Lucille. That style was picked up by British blues-rockers like Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, and he influenced countless others after that. Greg thinks King’s iconic sound was on display as early as 1951 on his song Three O’Clock Blues, so he plays that recording in tribute to the great Mississippi bluesman.

Michael Angelakos

Indietronica act Passion Pit recently released its third album of electronic pop Kindred, eliciting a Buy It from both Jim and Greg. This week, we revisit our 2012 interview with Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos, who joined Jim and Greg in the studio for a frank conversation and stripped-back live set. Passion Pit first found success after Angelakos posted some songs on MySpace in 2008 and the track Sleepyhead quickly exploded on the net. Passion Pit have since released three critically acclaimed albums and toured the world. The danceable tracks and high production values of the band’s music can be deceptive. If you don’t listen closely, you can miss the highly introspective lyrics that explore Angelakos’s own experience with addiction and mental illness. As Michael tells Jim and Greg, the band had to cancel dates so that he could deal with issues related to his manic depression. The contrast between upbeat music and dark lyrics, Michael explains, is what he’s always found interesting in pop music, and it’s the key to the Passion Pit project. Despite the often harrowing content, Michael says his music is ultimately hopeful – an effort to achieve transcendence amid tough circumstances.

Ratchet Shamir

Ratchet

Shamir was first brought to our attention by the one and only Mr. Greg Kot as one of his favorite artists from this year’s SXSW in Austin. The 20-year-old singer defies categorization on his debut album Ratchet in so many ways: vocal style, presentation and sexuality. Jim and Greg both love the way he uses all the musical influences of his own past including country rock and brings in things like Chicago House, which embraced pan sexuality and ambiguousness along with killer danceable hooks. Shamir really impressed Jim and Greg with this debut; he earns a double Buy It rating.

Greg

One of the best things about music is it can transport you to a whole other place without ever having to leave the room. Greg’s DIJ pick this week is Marlena Shaw’s 1969 track, California Soul. The song was written by Ashford & Simpson and had been covered by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and The 5th Dimension. However Shaw’s version is the most definitive, having been sampled numerous times over the years. Her cover combined elements of R&B, soul, jazz and a hypnotizing string arrangement. While Shaw recorded the track in Chicago, it transports the listener straight to California.

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!