Don Was, Opinions on Superchunk & Dessa

Don Was

Don Was is a bassist in the band Was (Not Was), a successful music producer for artists like The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan, and the president of legendary jazz label Blue Note Records. This week, Jim and Greg pick the brain of the multi-talented Don Was about his influences, what he looks for in an artist and what he loves about music. Plus, Jim and Greg review new albums from indie rock band Superchunk and rapper Dessa.

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What a Time to be Alive Superchunk

What a Time to Be Alive

Superchunk has returned with their 11th album, What a Time to be Alive. According to Greg, in recent years the North Carolina indie rockers tend to put out work only when they have a purpose behind it. Jim and Greg both believe this album strikes a particularly insistent political tone. In fact, Greg adds that the album just roars. He’s never heard singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan sound so worked up, and adds that with tracks like Reagan Youth Superchunk return the favor to groups like Reagan Youth that inspired them back in the 1980s. Jim says that in times of crisis, music helps motivate people. He thinks that songs like Break the Glass fuel that motivation. Jim and Greg give the record a double Buy It.

Chime Dessa

Chime

Chime is Dessa’s fourth full-length album, and the singer/ rapper/philosopher has given us an album that is according to Jim brilliant, even name-checking St. Thomas Aquinas. Greg notes that the record explores how women measure their lives today in a world where getting through the day without incident is a win; and suggests that she’s saying we need to have a better world than this. He praises the creative production, whether it’s a sitar sample (in Fire Drills) or a chamber pop cello solo (in Velodrome.) Greg thinks Dessa’s pop vocals are less unique, but concedes that they provide a good counterbalance to heavier themes. Jim says the record balances self-empowerment and sensitivity. Chime gets a Double Buy It from Jim and Greg.

Don Was

Don Was

This week, our guest is musician, producer and label president Don Was. Was hails from Detroit and since the early ‘80s has been a part of the group Was (Not Was). In Was (Not Was,) Don is the bassist, a songwriter and a producer, creating unique music that blended the genres of jazz, pop, rock and dance music. He then found a second career as a super producer, working with Bob Dylan, The Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt and more. Then beginning in 2012, Was became the president of the legendary jazz record label Blue Note Records. He talks with Jim and Greg about the methodology behind Was (Not Was), working with The Rolling Stones throughout the decades and his transition into being a label head.

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