Zola Jesus & Opinions on Florence + The Machine

Zola Jesus

Electronic artist Zola Jesus uses her powerful operatic voice to create a uniquely dark and cinematic sound. She joins Jim and Greg for a conversation and live performance.

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Last year, Apple purchased Beats headphones and its streaming service for $3 billion. This was an attempt to get away from the already antiquated iTunes method of paying to download a song. On June 8, Apple unveils what the new Beats will look like. The Wall Street Journal has reported a subscription will cost $10/month and there will be no free tier like on Spotify. Beats has also paid millions to Pharrell and Drake to be guest personality DJS (and to stay away from Jay Z’s floundering TIDAL). Will it be the next big streaming service?

A$AP Rocky topped the Billboard Charts this week with his album At. Long. Last. ASAP. However he isn’t the first hip hopartist to do so in 2015. Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean have all inhabited the number one spot. 2015 has had many different leaders as opposed to 2014, where the soundtrack to Disney’s Frozen held top billing for much of the year. At 5th place comes a surprise: the religious band Hillsong United. Our hosts are curious to see how far their fame goes.

Zola Jesus

Zola Jesus, the alter ego of electronic singer/songwriter Nika Roza Danilova, has already released five studio albums, despite being only 26-years-old. While her first album The Spoils was a lo-fi effort recorded in her bedroom in 2009, Zola Jesus has since developed an expansive, orchestrated sound featuring gloomy synthesizers and string arrangements. In creating her atmospheric songs, she draws equally on her love of classical music, industrial and mainstream pop. Her latest album Taiga is named after the Russian word for forest, appropriate as the music manages to evoke the feeling of the deep, dark woods. The woods are, in fact, close to her heart – though currently based in Seattle, Danilova grew up in a small town in northern Wisconsin. She joined Jim and Greg for a conversation and live performance at the Virgin Hotel in Chicago. Zola Jesus discusses the difficulty of seeking out transgressive music in an isolated community, her childhood love of opera, and taking inspiration from filmmaker David Lynch, who also remixed one of her songs.

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful Florence + The Machine

How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful

With the release of their third studio album, How Big, How Blue, How Beautiful, Florence + The Machine have entered into their introspective phase. The album, produced by David Lynch collaborator and stadium rock creator Marcus Dravs, was a product of a dark period lead singer Florence Welch had in her life after a breakup. Greg thinks the songs that are introspective and address her personal life show real growth among the stadium rock songs. He gives this album a Try It rating. Jim on the other hand, hates this album. He doesn’t appreciate Florence’s propensity for musical bombast and wishes more of the album had the big rock propulsion that the introspective songs lack. He gives the album a Trash It rating.

Greg

All this Grateful Dead news has Greg thinking of San Francisco in the 1960s. And in the era of peace and love, The Flamin’ Groovies were wildly out of step. In the midst of psychedelia, the group drew on ‘50s rockabilly and garage rock. The band has also often been called a progenitor of punk. The Flamin’ Groovies even had a song about sniffing glue years before The Ramones did. The title track Teenage Head, from their third album, channels teenage angst into three minutes. The song cites how they are the children of atom bombs and rotten air and Vietnams. Greg notes that in a predominately hippy music scene, the Flamin’ Groovies were doing something completely unique both lyrically and sonically.

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