Producer Joe Boyd & Bright Eyes Review

Record producer and writer Joe Boyd, the man behind the sounds of Pink Floyd, Nick Drake and Fairport Convention, visits the show this week. And, tune in to hear Jim and Greg review of the latest release from Omaha emo rockers Bright Eyes and ponder the strange pop phenomenon known as Sanjaya.

Joe Boyd
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First up Jim and Greg do an update on a story discussed a few weeks ago. Despite pleas from a broad spectrum of internet radio broadcasters including National Public Radio and Yahoo, as well as some small scale mom and pop stations, the Copyright Royalty Board threw out requests to reconsider a ruling that hiked the royalties they must pay to record companies and artists. In addition, the judges declined to postpone a May 15 deadline by which the new royalties will have to be collected. While there is still one more chance to open the case with the court of appeals, it’s likely that many webcasters are going to be put out of business by these new rulings. One thing that is for certain is that rulings like these and those to come down the line are certain to change the entire landscape of digital broadcasting.

Next up Jim and Greg talk to Doug Brod, Editor-in-Chief of Spin Magazine, about the upcoming season of destination festivals. While previously music fans would be treated to traveling music festivals like Lollapalooza coming to their neck of the woods, now there are large-scale, multi-day outdoor concerts dotted in different areas across the country. Often, these festivals have to compete for your attention by getting the biggest coup. This year it’s the Rage Against the Machine reunion at Coachella, the Pearl Jam and Daft Punk performances at Lollapalooza, and a Police reunion at Bonnaroo.

Jim and Greg ask Doug to choose his favorite out of the many destination festivals this summer, and he goes with Coachella because of the line-up and the location. Greg agrees that the Coachella Valley is a spectacular place to experience a rock show, but he also urges music fans to travel two hours outside of Seattle, Washington to attend the Sasquatch Festival in the Gorge Amphitheater. It’s another meeting of spectacular natural surroundings and an impressive bill of bands. Jim thinks that people will get the most bang for their buck at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago, which features a number of indie bands, plus groups like Sonic Youth performing entire albums for a very reasonable price. But, being the sand and sun hater that he is, Jim won’t pick his favorite summer festival. He’s actually ready for the entire phenomenon to die out and for rock to return to smoky clubs where it belongs.

Jim and Greg talk to Chicago Tribune Television Critic Maureen Ryan about the recent Sanjaya phenomenon on American Idol. Our hosts have long avoided talking about this popular TV show because, frankly, it has little to do with music. But, they were intrigued by the curious forces at work to keep the apparently talentless contestant Sanjaya Malakar on the show, and wanted to turn to Mo Ryan to find out why he became so popular, and why he couldn’t survive. The only sense these critics can make out of Sanjaya’s reign is that for one brief moment the pop forces (pre-teens who love Sanjaya’s androgynous, harmless sex appeal) and the punk forces (Vote for the Worst.com, Howard Stern, etc.) came together with one common goal: to save Sanjaya (and possibly take down the show). The convergence of these two sets was a rare occurence in popular culture, and it seems they weren’t strong enough to prevent Sanjaya’s elimination. American Idol proved itself to be a more powerful death star than anyone expected.

For more information on music festivals, check out the footnotes below.

Joe Boyd

The guest this week is Joe Boyd. Boyd recently wrote a book, White Bicycles: Making Music in the 1960s, about his experiences as a producer, manager and club owner in London during that psychedelic era. Jim describes Boyd as one of rock’s most fascinating behind-the-scenes characters. He has worked with Pink Floyd, The Incredible String Band, Fairport Convention and Bob Dylan just to name a few.

As an American living in England in the ‘60s, one of the ways Boyd made a name for himself was through his club UFO. The venue only lasted less than a year, but Boyd explains that those few months in 1967 were remarkable. UFO wasn’t anything more than a basement, but it featured light shows, films and happenings, and was home base to Pink Floyd. The title of Boyd’s book gets its name from track My White Bicycle, by Tomorrow, one of the many bands to perform at UFO. The song is about the free white bicycles that were passed around in Amsterdam at that time, and Boyd explains that by the end of 1967, most of those bicycles were stolen and re-painted. The result is a heavy-handed metaphor for the changing times according to the author.

One of Boyd’s major contributions to music is that he is credited with discovering Nick Drake. During a meeting with John Cale, Boyd played some of Drake’s music, and immediately Cale wanted a meeting with the rising talent. The next day, Cale abandoned his studio date with singer Nico and told Boyd that he wanted to record Drake by that afternoon. The music they made that day and in the years before Drake’s tragic death propelled him into this romantic, cult status that grew even bigger after his song Pink Moon, was used in a Volkswagen commercial.

Cassadaga Bright Eyes

Cassadaga (Remastered)

Up next Jim and Greg review Conor Oberst’s latest Bright Eyes album, Cassadaga. The Nebraska artist is only 27 years old, but has been making music for almost half his life. His last two Bright Eyes albums, which were released by Saddle Creek Records on the same day, sold a combined 642,000 copies—a major feat for an artist who gets no commercial radio or MTV play and who won’t play at Live Nation venues. Jim jokes that many people have branded Oberst the new Bob Dylan, a terrible cliché in rock criticism. If that’s the case, this is Bright Eyes’ Basement Tapes album. Oberst’s lyrics are entirely too earnest and emo for Jim, but he really enjoys the beautiful, well-constructed melodies on Cassadaga. Therefore, he gives the album a Burn It. Greg agrees that Oberst can be a drama queen at times, but notes that the singer did bring down the vocal ticks and histrionics a notch on this collection of songs. He seems more at ease on these songs and agrees with Jim’s Basement Tapes analogy. But, for Greg, the lyrics have not improved and are as clich’ed and overwrought as ever. He can only give it a Burn It.

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