Results for New York

interviews

Debbie Harry

Even now, 31 years after the release of "Rapture," one is impressed by how cool a rapping Debbie Harry sounds. The Blondie lead singer was always ahead of the curve sonically, incorporating R&B, reggae, and, gasp, disco into her songs. During her visit to the show, Debbie talks to Jim and Greg about these varied influences, and what the scene was like in downtown New York in the '70s and '80s. We certainly have Blondie to thank for bringing a little dance back to the punk mix. And the up-tempo sounds continue on the band's latest release Panic of Girls.

Go to episode 322

Secret Machines

From Dallas to Brooklyn, and now to Chicago, Secret Machines have stopped by to talk with Jim and Greg and play a rare acoustic performance. The band is known for their full-blown, spacey rock sound, which Greg explains was perfect for the outdoor setting at Lollapalooza this summer. It's interesting, therefore, to hear them so stripped down. Listen to brothers Benjamin Curtis and Brandon Curtis on guitars and Josh Garza on percussion as they perform "Daddy's in the Doldrums" off their most recent album Ten Silver Drops and a cover of "Rest of the Day," by fellow Texans Bedhead. You can also check out the bonus track "1000 Seconds."

The Machines talk about their evolution as a band, which wasn't ordinary. They moved to New York and set up recording time in a studio before they had ever even played together. Their do-it-yourself attitude has paid off though. Both Ten Silver Drops and their debut Now Here is Nowhere were recorded by the band, despite requests from big name producers like Bob Ezrin. Thank God for Eno's "oblique strategies."

Go to episode 57

Parts and Labor

This week Dan Friel, B.J. Warshaw and Chris Weingarten of Parts and Labor visit the show. The experimental indie rock band formed in 2002 after Dan and B.J. worked together at New York's famed Knitting Factory. All of the members bonded over their love of the noise-meets-melody formula perfected by bands like Mission of Burma, Hüsker Dü and The Boredoms. But, with a low-budget aesthetic that includes the use of toy keyboards, cheap foot pedals and distortion devices, the band has carved out a unique sound of their own that can be heard on their most recent album Mapmaker. Greg for one is already a fan of Mapmaker and says that if you like rock at all, you have to like Parts and Labor.

Parts and Labor are as striking visually as they are audibly. The band had a complicated setup of gizmos, toys and instruments — none of which are more expensive than $200. The result is not a rinky-dink sound, though. The band is known for its anthemic songs, and their performance at Chicago Public Radio literally shook the station's walls. But, Jim and Greg note that if you strip the songs of their big effects, they could hold up as quiet, acoustic tracks. In fact, one of the band's original missions was to include politics in their songwriting. Now, with this third release, things are getting more personal.

Go to episode 78

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Jim and Greg sit down with the band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. This East Coast quintet was one of the success stories of 2005. They paid for, produced, and released their self-titled debut album on the ‘net without the help of a record label. Now they’ve sold over 100,000 albums and are selling out shows across the country. Professor Lawrence Lessig, cyberlaw expert and esteemed Sound Opinions guest, cites the band as an example of how people can use the Internet to propel music. A community formed around the band — one that was still willing to pay for their music despite the fact that it was available for free. As Jim points out, this completely contradicts what the RIAA and music industry execs would have you believe.

The lead singer of Clap Your Hands, Alec Ounsworth, is often compared to Talking Heads frontman David Byrne, and this goes beyond just vocal quality. Alec mentions his love of Another Green World by groundbreaking“non-musician”Brian Eno (or Brian Peter George St. John le Baptiste de la Salle Eno as his parents know him). You can hear a lot of the New Wave sound and Eno's philosophy in the band's music, like on the spartan, rhythmic New York sound of "Sombre Reptiles."

The band, which got its name after the members saw“Clap Your Hands Say Yeah”scrawled on a Brooklyn wall, play several songs from their debut album. Jim sees keyboardist Robbie Guertin's parents sitting in the Chicago Public Radio control room and reminisces about when his own mom used to come to see him play at less-than-refined venues like CBGB's. He adds that Joey Ramone's mom also used to carpool him and the rest of the band to their gigs. It seems parental support is crucial to punk rock success.

Go to episode 22

Kate Pierson

In 1976, Kate Pierson joined the genre-melding music powerhouse, the B-52s, and the rest is history. The Georgia-based band started out playing at local parties, then clubs in New York and eventually in venues around the world. Their self-titled first album showed their innovation, kitsch and creativity with hits like "Rock Lobster." However, the group reached the peak of their fame in 1989 with the release of their album, Cosmic Thing. Outside of the band, Pierson has collaborated with talented artists like R.E.M., Iggy Pop, The Ramones and most recently, Sia. Finally over 30 years after the inception of the B-52s, Kate Pierson is releasing her first solo album, Guitars and Microphones. She talks about the past, present and future of her career in music.

Go to episode 504

Andy Summers of The Police

This week Jim and Greg sit down with Andy Summers, former guitarist for 1980s supergroup The Police. Andy was in town promoting his latest tome, "One Train Later." It's a memoir — a good one according to Jim and Greg — about his years before and during the Police era. Andy is honest and frank in the book, and it comes across in the interview. Our hosts start things off by asking Andy about the origins of the band and The Police's distinctive sound. Andy was largely influenced by jazz growing up and firmly established himself as a professional musician well before he helped form The Police. He had a brief stint with the jazz fusion/progressive rock band Soft Machine and did session work during the 1970s for artists like Neil Sedaka and Joan Armatrading. His Police band mate, drummer Stewart Copeland also came from a musically trained background. Jim points the irony in having two highly trained musicians emerge out of the British punk scene — a scene that demanded unpolished musicians and hated solos. Andy considers The Police to have been fake punk band.

Although Jim did not get to catch The Police at their first US gig at CBGB's, he did see the band shortly after at New York's The Bottom Line. The young self-proclaimed“drum geek”strategically sat behind Stewart Copeland's drum kit. He discovered The Police's disdain for each other, noting the“nasty, nasty”words Stewart had written in magic marker on his drum skins cursing the other band members. Jim asked Andy what it was like to work in such acrimonious conditions, especially with the rising megastar Sting. Summers says nothing negative about his experience and feels the fights helped fuel the creativity of the band. Greg reiterates that although several people over the years mistake The Police as Sting's band, Andy and Stewart really shaped the sound. Andy concurs, detailing how songs like "Walking on the Moon" and "When the World is Running Down" involved all three members of the band.

As the interview nears a close, Jim asks the question that burns in the brain of many a Police fan: Will The Police reunite? Andy is up for reuniting and is in contact with the other two members (he had dinner with them this year) but he won‘t sit around waiting for the phone to ring. He’s busy with his own career, producing solo albums, and working as a photographer and bandleader. The closest the Police came to a reunion was in 2003 for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. A reunion still sounds possible — let's hope this former Sting fan doesn't squelch such a possibility.

Go to episode 53

Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil

This week, Sound Opinions explores the art of songwriting. Jim and Greg talk to some of the biggest pop hitmakers of the past and present. First, a conversation with the legendary songwriting duo Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The husband and wife team were part of the Brill Building era of 1960s New York, and worked alongside writing powerhouses like Gerry Goffin and Carole King, and collaborated with producer Phil Spector. Mann and Weil wrote some of the biggest hits of all time, from "You‘ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin'" to "On Broadway" and even "We Gotta Get Out of This Place." In 2011, Mann and Weil received the Johnny Mercer Award from the Songwriters Hall of Fame and since 2013, have been depicted in the Tony Award-winning musical Beautiful: The Carole King Musical about the early life and career of their friend and coworker. In this interview, the duo tell Jim and Greg the origins of their famous hits, tell stories and reflect on what could have been had Barry released “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” before The Animals.

Go to episode 561

Alan Paul on The Allman Brothers Band

This year The Allman Brothers Band will celebrate its 45th anniversary, and sources say this year may be the band's last. In fact, due to Greg Allman's bronchitis, it remains to be seen when the band can close out its residency at the famed Beacon Theater in New York. But, after four decades, fans still shelled out upwards of $6,000 to get a ticket to the Beacon gigs. The Allmans still captivate, and for good reason, according to Alan Paul. He's a senior writer at Guitar World and the author of the New York Times bestselling biography One Way Out: The Inside History of The Allman Brothers Band. Alan talks with Jim and Greg about the band's unique mix of blues, jazz, country and psychedelic rock, and their quintessntially American lineup, in which bigger was better. The Allman Brothers Band had two guitartists, Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, and two drummers, Butch Trucks and Jaimoe Johansen. Rounding out the group at its formation was bassist Berry Oakley. But since 1969, there have been a number of personnel changes and dramatic ups and downs, including the loss of Duane only two years years into the band's lifespan. But, despite all odds, as Alan explains, The Allman Brothers Band has maintained its vision and its soul (except for that whole keytar incident).

Go to episode 435

Steve Earle

Steve Earle is Jim and Greg's guest this week. The singer/songwriter who can also add actor, novelist, radio show host and playwright to his credits visited the show with his duet partner, muse and seventh wife Allison Moorer. That's right: seven. But Steve is obviously not a man who is afraid of risks. After years living and working in Nashville, he moved to New York. And after years making rock music, he decided to incorporate hip hop beats and electronic elements on to his most recent record Washington Street Serenade. You can hear stripped down versions of the tracks, "Tennessee Blues," "Days Aren't Long Enough," and "Sparkle and Shine" during the show.

Go to episode 122

El-P

El-P, aka Jaime Meline, joins Jim and Greg in the Sound Opinions studio this week. Take a look at any of the underground hip-hop that came out of New York in late '90s, and chances are you'll find El-P somewhere in the background. As a rapper, producer, and head of the indie record label Definitive Jux, El-P has left an indelible mark on New York hip-hop. And he's not slowing up anytime soon. This year, El-P produced Killer Mike's R.A.P. Music and his own solo album, Cancer 4 Cure. El-P grew up in Brooklyn during hip-hop's golden age in the eighties. By 1993 he'd founded his own group, Company Flow. He tells Jim and Greg how creating the track "Last Good Sleep," for their sophomore album, Funcrusher Plus, transformed his approach to songwriting. The more specific and personal the story, El says, the more universal. Today, even El-P's“political”songs are more about internal struggles than external ones. In fact the title for his record, Cancer 4 Cure, is inspired by the idea that our bodies are constantly fighting off an illness latent inside us. Not to suggest that Cancer 4 Cure is a downer. There's hope, Jaime says, - though“not unbattered hope”- that the characters in his songs will come through.

Go to episode 356

Anthony Bourdain

Many people know Anthony Bourdain from his many books, his TV show "No Reservations," and his successful restaurant Les Halles. But, you may not know that he's a die-hard rock and roll fan. In 2007 Bourdain chronicled his punk past in the Spin essay“Eat to the Beat,”and when he was in town on a book tour, Jim and Greg invited him into the studio to talk turkey (and rock).

Anthony, or Tony as he likes to be called, explained to Jim and Greg that there are a lot of connections between members of the food world and the music world, the first of which is simply the hours. Both subcultures are nocturnal pleasure-seekers who often frequent the same greasy spoons and the same dive bars. But on a more cerebral level, music geeks and foodies are both obsessed, both opinionated, and both hate Billy Joel. Tony explains that when he's serving up grub to guests he prefers the tunes of Edith Piaf, Serge Gainsbourg, and even Connie Francis.

During this episode we also hear from other music-loving chefs from around the country including:

  • Wesley Genovart of Degustation in New York
  • Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's in Chicago
  • Brenda Langton of Spoon River and Café Brenda in Minneapolis
  • Craig Serbousek of Crow and Bette in Seattle
  • Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues in Chicago
Go to episode 187

K'Naan

This week Jim and Greg are joined in the studio by K'Naan and his touring band. The rapper and poet, born in Somalia and raised in New York and Toronto, released his second, and most successful album Troubadour last year. K'Naan left Mogadishu at age 13 at the outbreak of civil war violence, but the country remains a major influence on his music. There are a number of Somali poetry styles, and as he demonstrates to Jim and Greg, it can lend itself to rap verses. Also, while he appreciates a good love song as much as the next person, K'Naan feels a responsibility with his music and tries to convey the violence and the reality of what he experienced.

Go to episode 231

Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang, author of Can‘t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, joins Jim and Greg in the studio this week. Jeff, who co-founded the Quannum Label in San Francisco, was on the show previously when his book first came out, and he and our hosts engaged in a discussion of hip-hop's history. Now that Jeff's book has come out on paperback, Jim and Greg welcome him back to the show to discuss where hip-hop is today and where it is going. In order to get a sense of hip-hop's diverse makeup, the three music journalists decide to embark on a geographical tour of the genre, beginning with Chicago and working their way through the United States, and even the U.K.

Go to episode 15

Kelis

R&B singer/songwriter Kelis has been making music since her debut release in 1999…longer if you count her time at the "Fame" school (New York's LaGuardia High School of Music, Art & Performing Arts). But it wasn't until 2003's breakout hit "Milkshake," that Kelis really brought all the fans to the yard. That song, produced by Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes, went gold. But, Kelis' next step was surprising. She released 2006's Kelis Was Here and then took a big break…to go to culinary school! By this time she had married rapper Nas, and in 2009 they publicly announced their split while Kelis was 7 months pregnant with her son. All of that—motherhood, family and food—has made its way on to the new record, aptly titled Food. It's a focused reinvention of sounds, produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek. Kelis stopped by our studio to performed songs from Food and talk about the pitfalls of stardom, her breakup with Nas, and how Jerk Ribs found its way into a song title.

Go to episode 454
specials

1977 - The Year Punk Broke

In the second and final installment of our series 1977: The Year Punk Broke, Jim and Greg explore the punk movement stateside with music writer Ira Robbins. Ira founded the music magazine Trouser Press in 1974. As a music journalist in New York, he was a fixture of the CBGBs scene, regularly "taking [his] life in his hands" to go to second avenue and hear bands like the Ramones, the Dictators, the Dead Boys, and Television play divey clubs. Whereas punk enjoyed a rapid rise in the U.K. in 1977, Ira describes the New York scene as more of a slow simmer. Fans gradually migrated from clubs like Max's Kansas City, where glam acts like The New York Dolls ruled, to clubs like CBGBs where a younger, rawer set of performers was defining the punk look and sound. Though the Ramones, with their simple song structures and leather jackets became emblematic of New York punk, Ira remembers a diverse scene. The Dead Boys, Television, and The Talking Heads may not have sounded the same, but in economically-depressed 70s-era New York, they shared an attitude that "life sucked, it's probably not going to get better, but so what."

Jim and Greg each choose a favorite track from the New York scene. Greg goes with the Talking Heads' "Don't Worry About the Government" from the band's self-titled debut. More than any other band, the Talking Heads epitomized New York punk's diversity. Their first gig may have been opening for the Ramones, but Greg contends the band's sound was more dance than punk. Still, Byrne's narrator in this song - a stressed, neurotic government bureaucrat - taps into the anxiety of the punk era. Jims goes with the ultimate American punk anthem, Richard Hell's "Blank Generation." The story goes that U.K. punk impresario Malcolm McLaren saw Hell perform the song in the U.S., then returned home and advised The Sex Pistols to write something "just like it, but your own."

Go to episode 351

Bob Dylan

heylin

If all that talk about clouds and androids hasn't made you feel old, get this…Bob Dylan is turning 70 this May. And we here at Sound Opinions feel that this birthday boy deserves not one, but three episodes in his honor. This week is the first installment and focuses on Dylan's early years as a folkie and protest singer in New York. Dylan moved to Greenwich Village in 1961 at age 19. Within just a few years, he had signed to Columbia Records, teamed up with manager Albert Grossman, released four albums, and become“the voice of a generation.”Never one to be pigeonholed, Dylan abandoned categories just as soon as he was assigned them. Jim and Greg talk to Dylan expert Clinton Heylin about the singer's influences during those years and his growth as a songwriter and performer. Clinton recently explored Dylan's entire song catalog in two companion books, Revolution in the Air and Still on the Road.

Following their conversation, Jim and Greg talk about their favorite Dylan tracks from 1961-1964. Jim chooses a protest song that has remained timeless, and one that Dylan continues to perform, "Masters of War." He fell in love with this song, which was released on The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan in 1963, through the many covers of it. Greg goes with a song that is less well-known, but no less impactful. And it showcases Dylan's strengths as a singer…yes that's right, singer. "Moonshiner" is Dylan's take on a traditional folk song, and as Greg explains, features a sound he would return to in later years. A version was released on The Bootleg Series Vol 1-3.

Want more Dylan? Check out Part 2 and Part 3 of this special series.

Go to episode 279

Bob Dylan at 75: Folk Days to Newport

Dylan in the studio

Don't Look Back, the classic Bob Dylan documentary instructs us. But as the American music icon just turned 75 on May 24th, Jim and Greg can‘t help saying happy birthday by revisiting our multi-part special on his life and career. In our first installment, we focus on Dylan’s early years as a folkie and protest singer in New York. Dylan moved from Minnesota to Greenwich Village in 1961 at age 19. Within just a few years, he was signed to Columbia Records, teamed up with manager Albert Grossman, released four albums, and become“the voice of a generation.”Jim and Greg spoke to Dylan expert Clinton Heylin in 2009 about the singer's influences during those years and his growth as a songwriter and performer. Clinton explored Dylan's entire song catalog in two companion books, Revolution in the Air and Still on the Road.

Never one to be pigeonholed, Dylan abandoned categories just as soon as he was assigned them. At his headlining set at the Newport Folk Festival in Rhode Island on July 25, 1965, Dylan went electric by playing with a full rock band. Jim and Greg get a first-hand account of the infamous concert from musician, songwriter and A&R man Al Kooper. Al performed with Dylan onstage at Newport, and he dispels a half-century's worth of myths about the“boos”that allegedly came from the crowd.

Next week, we conclude our Dylan celebration with a look at Blonde on Blonde and Dylan's "Modern Times."

Go to episode 548

Culinary Music

During this episode we also hear from other music-loving chefs from around the country including:

  • Wesley Genovart of Degustation in New York
  • Doug Sohn of Hot Doug's in Chicago
  • Brenda Langton of Spoon River and Café Brenda in Minneapolis
  • Craig Serbousek of Crow and Bette in Seattle
  • Graham Elliot Bowles of Avenues in Chicago

To cap off this show, Jim and Greg run through their favorite culinary-inspired songs. All of them are either about food, inspired by food, or simply name foods, and all of them certainly rock.

Go to episode 113

Remembering Lou Reed

Rock legend, poet and Velvet Underground founder Lou Reed died on October 27 at age 71. That week Jim honored him with the addition of the Velvet Underground track"Candy Says" to the Desert Island Jukebox. But, this influential singer, songwriter and guitarist deserves more than just a few minutes of our time. He helped shape 50 years of rock music, perhaps more than any single figure, according to our hosts. And so they wanted to explore why news of his death made such waves and why fans are still mourning. The best way to do this, of course, is through the music, and these five albums in particular:

Go to episode 417
classic album dissections
Horses (Legacy Edition)Horses available on iTunes

Patti Smith Horses

"Jesus died for somebody's sins but not mine." With that opening salvo on her debut album Horses, Patti Smith instantly established herself as a leading voice of the New York punk scene. Horses was released in December 1975, just over 40 years ago, so in honor of that milestone, Jim and Greg give it the Classic Album Dissection treatment. At that point, Smith had been kicking around New York City as a poet and a music writer, performing readings of her work while backed by Lenny Kaye on guitar and Richard Sohl on piano. These shows earned her enough buzz to get a contract with Arista Records and head into Electric Lady Studios to record Horses, with Velvet Underground co-founder John Cale behind the board as producer.

Right from her androgynous appearance in Robert Mapplethorpe's cover photo, Patti Smith defied all categorization on Horses. Jim and Greg cite the album as a great work of self-mythologizing, with Smith cultivating a magnetic public persona. The record veers from accessible yet lyrically disturbing songs like "Redondo Beach" and "Kimberly," to epic multi-part suites like "Birdland" and "Land." With Horses, Smith changed the rules for what a rock star could be and remains an influence generations later.

Go to episode 531
reviews
MosquitoMosquito available on iTunes

Yeah Yeah Yeahs Mosquito

During the 2000s, two bands forged a New York garage rock revival: The Strokes and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Two weeks ago, Jim and Greg eviscerated Comedown Machine, The Strokes' fifth studio effort. This week, they take on the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' latest, Mosquito. Is this yet another case of early promise and later disappointment? Jim says“no way.”The album art might turn his stomach, but he's digging Mosquito, which shows the band experimenting with musical styles from gospel to hip-hop. Unlike The Strokes' similar genre experiments, Jim says Mosquito sounds organic, not contrived. Greg agrees. He was a big fan of lead singer Karen O's 2003 song "Maps," so he's glad to hear more of her emotional vocals on this record. Mosquito gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 385
A Musical History (Remastered)A Musical History available on iTunes

The Band A Musical History

A Musical History from folk-rock group The Band is one of the most comprehensive sets featured on the show. It contains five CDs with more than one hundred songs, as well as a DVD and a book. Greg suspects that the release of this set is lead singer Robbie Robertson's attempt to set the record straight on The Band's history. The many disputes over songwriting credits have been made quite public by some recent biographies, as well as Martin Scorsese concert film The Last Waltz. This set follows the long chronology of this group from its initial incarnation as The Hawks to their role as touring band for Bob Dylan on the 1966 Electric Tour. It also features tracks from The Basement Tapes, a famous bootleg of songs Dylan and The Band recorded while living in Woodstock, New York. Jim and Greg are both really impressed with how packed this set is, and are careful to point out that although Robertson has painted himself as the“auteur”of the group, The Band had many great vocalists including Richard Manuel and Levon Helm, the group's drummer. Pressed to come up with another singing drummer, Jim can only think of Genesis' Phil Collins.

JimGreg
Go to episode 3
Brick

Talking Heads Brick

Talking Heads, a band that came out of the New York punk scene in the 1970s, present their music in this one-stop-shop set. Brick contains all of the Talking Heads recordings re-mastered in 5.1 Digital Surround Sound by the band's keyboardist, Jerry Harrison. Jim is impressed with the comprehensiveness of this set, but admits that he doesn't even own a surround sound system. Greg was also hoping for more outtakes and rarities, explaining that the set's introduction, written by hipster author Dave Eggers, does not make it worth the $150 price.

JimGreg
Go to episode 3
Hip Hop Is Dead (Bonus Track Version)Illmatic available on iTunes

Nas Illmatic

Rapper Nas had the number one album last week entitled Hip Hop is Dead. While Jim and Greg don‘t agree with that sentiment, there wasn’t much about the album that would prove otherwise. In fact, Jim muses that this record is "hip hop on life support." Nas first broke out with his album Illmatic when he was only 20 years old. He has only come close to topping that debut with singles like "Ether" that played on his rivalry with fellow New York rapper Jay-Z. Now, after what must have been epic peace accords, Nas has been signed to Jay-Z's Def Jam label. His new boss even appears on the track "Black Republicans." Both rappers have tremendous deft and flow, but Jay-Z has always been able to remain popular with songs of very little substance. Nas, by contrast, is better when he is using language to say something, not make party music. Both critics found Hip Hop is Dead empty, boring, and at times, a little schticky, and subsequently, it gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 58
Boys and Girls In AmericaBoys and Girls in America available on iTunes

The Hold Steady Boys and Girls in America

Next up is the third release from New York rock group The Hold Steady. Boys and Girls in America continues the band's streak of "bar band" music, but our hosts disagree about this record's big musical influences. Greg hears a lot of AC/DC and '70s hard rock in the songs, but Jim really only hears one thing: Bruce Springsteen. As Sound Opinions listeners know, for Jim, this is not good. He calls The Hold Steady's music“lousy,”and finds their blue-collar lyrics really put-upon. Greg doesn't think that Jim is giving head songwriter Craig Finn enough credit. He finds his storytelling smart and very believable. Boys and Girls in America gets a Trash It from Jim and a Buy It from Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 46
Lost On the River (Deluxe Version)Lost on the River available on iTunes

The New Basement Tapes Lost on the River

Who knew that one summer in a basement in upstate New York in 1967 would become such a big deal? But fans of Bob Dylan and The Band are still poring over the material that came out of those musicians‘ one-take, slapdash recording sessions, decades later. It’s amazing considering that those Basement Tapes weren't even supposed to go public. Now, more lyrics from that time have surfaced and have been turned into new music produced by T. Bone Burnett and performed by Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Elvis Costello and Marcus Mumford of Mumford & Sons. The result is Lost on the River by The New Basement Tapes. Greg particularly admires the bluesy, pre-rock sound contributed by Rhiannon Giddens of the Carolina Chocolate Drops. But, for the most part, he doesn't hear any of the magic of The Basement Tapes. And that's not surprising considering it was a contrived project with the manufactured setting of the basement of Capitol Records in L.A., not rural New York. He can only say Try It. Jim thinks Greg is being kind. He doesn‘t think you can separate Dylan’s lyrics and poetry from Dylan's music and voice. This collaboration is nothing like the successful Wilco/Billy Bragg/Woody Guthrie project Mermaid Avenue. He says Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 468
MirroredMirrored available on iTunes

Battles Mirrored

Up next is Mirrored by the math rock outfit Battles. The New York quartet has been getting a lot of attention by indie rock fans for their unique take on instrumental music. In fact, the band won't even describe their music as instrumental, but rather music without any lyrics. Jim and Greg both love the combination of electronica and 1970s prog rock. Greg even compares their unique melodies and compositions to that of space age pop musician Esquivel. Both critics note how this cerebral brand of music can usually be kind of cold and off-putting, but, Battles has put a human touch to it. Therefore Mirrored gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 75
Sound of SilverSound of Silver available on iTunes

LCD Soundsystem Sound of Silver

The final review of the show is of LCD Soundsystem's second release, Sound of Silver. LCD Soundsystem is helmed by James Murphy, the DFA producer many credit with defining the New York club sound. His merging of disco and rock with the debut LCD release was hugely successful among critics and music fans. Now Murphy and co. are back with a second release that veers more towards the disco than the rock. Fans of the first release might be disappointed initially; this album doesn't suck you in as fast. But, both Jim and Greg urge listeners to give it more than one try. Some of the songs are less accessible, but music fans (and frustrated critics) will appreciate the many inside jokes and reference points. Sound of Silver gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 68
Last NightPlay available on iTunes

Moby Play

Moby had one of the biggest selling albums of all time with 1999's Play, and now he's back with his eighth proper album Last Night. Jim and Greg describe the record as a one night tour of the New York underbelly. The music illustrates Moby's return to his disco roots, and as Greg discusses, the electronic artist really understands the drama in dance music, as well as the spirituality. He explains that between the beautiful melodies, emotion and beats, Last Night is a terrific album beginning to end. Jim has never been shy about being a Moby fan. He appreciates how the artist has never tried to be“cool”and how he has such an“old-school”appreciation of melody. As much as they hate to do it, both Jim and Greg agree and give Moby's new album a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 123
FishscaleFishscale available on iTunes

Ghostface Killah Fishscale

Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah also has a new album out. Fishscale is the fifth solo record for this hip hop veteran, who joined the Wu-Tang Clan over a decade ago. Ghostface has always been known as a complicated, skilled lyricist, and he lives up to his reputation on this release. Fishscale, itself a slang term for uncut cocaine, gives a narrative of life on the streets in New York. These stories are paired with samples and beats from producers like Jay Dilla, Pete Rock and Just Blaze. Listen to the sample of a blaxsploitation-style education film in the track we play, "Kilo." Incidentally, this is the first Ghostface solo album without any production from fellow Clansman RZA. Whether or not that bodes in Ghostface's favor is up to our hosts. Jim believes gangsta rap and songs about drug dealing are pretty played out, but admits that Ghostface brings something completely new. He compares the rapper to writer Jim Thompson and gives Fishscale a Burn It. Greg has to go with a Buy It rating. He is compelled by the stories of Ghostface's childhood, the surreal rap tangents and the immense hooks. According to Greg, this record parallels early NWA records and is not only one of the best albums of Ghostface's career, but of 2006.

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
El PintorEl Pintor available on iTunes

Interpol El Pintor

Jim and Greg didn't expect to hear anything new from icy rockers Interpol after the band essentially broke up in 2010 after the release of its forth studio album. But, only a few short months after reuniting (now minus longtime bassist Carlos Dengler), the band who made a splash back in the early 2000's alongside other New York bands like The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs and TV On The Radio, is back with a new album called El Pintor. Jim notes that the album's title is an anagram of the bands name, which he sees fitting as the record sounds like a simple shuffling of the band's familiar formula: lots of droning and moaning over updated Joy Division-like guitars. Jim's not impressed with El Pintor or any of the band's previous albums (he barely remembers them, honestly) so he says Trash It. Greg couldn't disagree more. While he admits the Joy Division comparisons are apt, Interpol has crafted their own distinct sound that's tense and atmospheric and shows real innovation - a credit he gives to the band's recent hiatus. The first essential Interpol album since their debut, El Pintor is a Buy It for Greg.

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Go to episode 461
dijs

Jim

“See No Evil”Television

Jim's Desert Island Jukebox selection is inspired by another recent loss. Musical engineer Andy Johns passed away at age 61. As Jim explains, Johns was witness to the recording of some of rock's great masterpieces, from The Stones' Sticky Fingers and Exile on Main Street, to Led Zeppelin's Led Zeppelin II. But for his pick, Jim goes to a personal favorite: the debut album by New York punk rockers Television. "See No Evil" still gets heads bobbing in Chicago clubs, and Jim credits Johns with the track's intimate drum sound.

Go to episode 385

Greg

“Nowhere Again”Secret Machines

Music fans experienced another loss over the holidays: Benjamin Curtis, one of the founding members of Secret Machines died at age 35 after a battle with cancer. He, brother Brandon and cousin Josh Garza, visited the show in 2006, and Greg fondly remembers their distinctive sound. While contemporaries like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes were steeped in a New York punk and New Wave sound, Secret Machines had a more experimental and psychedelic edge. And when people lament the lack of great modern rock bands, Greg refers them to this one. So to remember Ben Curtis and Secret Machines, Greg adds "Nowhere Again" from the band's 2004 debut Now Here is Nowhere to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 424

Jim

“I Won't Give Up”The Erasers

For Jim and Greg, it's February in Chicago, and they couldn‘t think of a place they’d rather get away to than a warm desert island. This week it's Jim's turn, and he wants to take us back to the burgeoning New York punk scene in the 1970s. Specifically, he wants to focus on Ork Records, a small independent label that served many underground punk bands. One such group that's a bit of a deep cut is the Susan Springfield-led band, The Erasers. Jim really digs this quartet, even though they only released one single and were never heard from again! However, the song "I Won't Give Up" is the perfect example of a great punk track that was ahead of its time.

Go to episode 533

Jim

“Someday”The Strokes

Just as Rhymefest was inspired by The Strokes' song "Someday," which he sampled in his track "Devil's Pie," Jim, too, was inspired to choose it as his Desert Island Jukebox song. While the Strokes don't have a typical hip-hop sound, Jim explains that their rhythms, which echo a New York subway train, have a very hip-hop beat and momentum. The man largely responsible for that sound is drummer Fabrizio Moretti, who Jim admires for being a masterful, simplistic drummer, if not for a few other reasons.

Go to episode 33

Jim

Glenn Branca passed away on May 13th at the age of 69. Jim's desert island jukebox pick highlights Glenn's contribution to the nascent noise, and no-wave scene in New York in the early 1980s, an exciting time when there were "no lines between what was going to blow up as hip-hop, what was going to blow up as graffiti art and experimental noise, but also [there were no lines between] pop music and rock and roll and the remnants of punk." Artists and break dancers alike were winding up in the same place. Against that backdrop, Glenn released The Ascension in 1981, which combined "avant-classical composition, multi-harmonics and dissonance" with a "lot of feedback". Jim remembers that watching the Glenn Branca Ensemble at CBGB was like "top of your head sheared off, brain spilling on the floor". For his pick, Jim chose Lesson # 2 from Glenn's album The Ascension, "which is really where [Glenn's career] begins".

Go to episode 661

Jim

“Rubber Lover”Deee-Lite,Deee-Lite

Ever since Bootsy Collins visited the Sound Opinions studio in 2012, Jim has been thinking of dance band Deee-Lite and its hit 1990 single, "Groove Is In The Heart" which features Bootsy on bass guitar and guest vocals. Many consider Deee-Lite to be a one-hit wonder, but Jim is a big fan of all the band's albums, particularly their second, Infinity Within, which took a turn away from the first album's neo-hippy tone towards the political with songs about voter registration, environmental stewardship, and the judicial system. One track, "Rubber Lover" features the return of Bootsy Collins, and delights Jim with its safe sex message atop Chicago house mixed with New York rave sound.

Go to episode 458
features

Hooked On Sonics: Lydia Loveless

Lydia Loveless At age 14 Lydia Loveless was living in Columbus, Ohio, trying to find her way around a bass guitar as she played in bands with her sisters. The song "Put It On You" from the now defunct New York rockers The Fever changed all that. For our segment Hooked on Sonics, Lydia tells us how that song changed her approach to playing bass, inspired to her to start writing songs, and ultimately led to a career singing about“miserable, unrequited love.”

Go to episode 599
news

Music News

The Payola investigation conducted by New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer is making some headway. Universal Music Group, the world's biggest music company, has agreed to pay $12 million to settle accusations that its executives paid radio programmers to play certain songs. This is the largest settlement of its kind. Warner Music Group and Sony BMG made similar deals last year, and Mr. Spitzer is still in the process of investigating EMI, as well as radio companies like Clear Channel and CBS Radio. And, as we heard a couple of weeks ago, the FCC is conducting a similar inquiry. As always, Sound Opinions H.Q. will keep you posted.

Another story in the news this week suggests that record company lawyers won't be taking a break any time soon. All four of the major record labels have just launched a lawsuit against XM Satellite Radio. Universal, Sony BMG, Warner and EMI all claim that a new XM device called the "Inno" violates music copyright law by allowing people to not only listen to satellite radio, but record it. Therefore, according to the labels, XM has become a digital retailer, like iTunes, and should be required to pay similar fees. It's yet another example of the recording industry scorning new technology rather than embracing it.

Guns N' Roses frontman Axl Rose is also making news, though Jim and Greg are wondering why. The buzz is that his long-awaited album Chinese Democracy is forthcoming — but our hosts are skeptical. Rose has been saying that he's on the brink of finishing for years (15 to be exact), and in the process he's become one of the long-running jokes in the music industry. But fans can take solace in the fact that the singer recently performed some Chinese Democracy tracks in New York. A good sign indeed.

Go to episode 25

Music News

The first story in the news this week involves that age-old practice of“pay-for-play,”or payola, in the music industry. In recent years, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been investigating major record labels like Sony and Warner who engaged in this practice. But now, the FCC has joined the battle against this unethical behavior by launching an investigation of the four major radio corporations: Clear Channel Communications, CBS Radio, Citadel Broadcasting and Entercom Communications. The FCC's enforcement unit is looking into accusations that broadcasters illegally accepted cash or other compensation in exchange for airplay of specific songs without telling listeners. As per usual, the federal government is late to the game — but this investigation is admittance of a problem. And as we all know, that's the first step.

Also making news recently are some major acts from the early 1990s. It seems that people are already nostalgic for the music of the alternative era, and many of the surviving bands are cashing in on it. Alice in Chains announced tour dates for this summer, despite the fact that their original lead singer, Layne Staley, died of a drug overdose in 2002. Like the members of Queen and The Doors, the surviving Alice in Chains bandmates don't seem fazed by this loss, and will continue with the addition of Guns 'N Roses bassist Duff McKagan and Comes With the Fall vocalist William DuVall. Former Jane's Addiction members Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins will also tour this summer under the name Panic Channel, though their lead singer has not passed on. Rather, he's now the impresario of what may prove this summer's big moneymaker: Lollapalooza.

In the typical fashion, Neil Young is stirring up some controversy. The prolific rocker finished recording music for an upcoming album mere days ago and will have it in stores within a couple of weeks. Young is just coming off his last release, Prairie Wind (featured in Jonathan Demme's recent concert film), but on Living With War, he will shift gears completely. According to Greg, this release is a completely political, guerilla-style protest album. Young wrote and recorded songs like "Let's Impeach the President," in just one day in response to the current administration and its failed war in Iraq. Jim points out that Young works well in this situation. Less than two weeks after the Kent State shootings in 1970, Young was inspired to write "Ohio," and it was on the radio within a week. Almost 40 years later, the classic rock icon shows no sign of slowing down — neither his writing, nor his politics.

Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins are also in the headlines again. Nirvana widow Courtney Love sold 25% of her share of the band's publishing rights to Larry Mestel, a former executive at Virgin Music. She reportedly received over 50 million dollars for this settlement. That should help alleviate Love's financial woes, though not necessarily the woes of Nirvana fans who worry that Cobain's legacy will be boiled down to Teen Spirit ads. Smashing Pumpkins fans are also a bit curious about the fate of that band. Lead singer (and Love ex) Billy Corgan has stated that the Chicago group will reunite, but no one is quite sure in what incarnation. That really just leaves Pearl Jam, who you'll hear about later in the show.

Go to episode 22

Music News

There were not one, but two hissy fits thrown by major pop stars this year. The first was by the always incendiary rapper Kanye West. Sound Opinions is a big fan of West, but sometimes he makes it darn hard. At the MTV Europe Music Awards, which will air in the States this weekend, West stormed the stage after losing the award for Best Music Video. He interrupted winners Justice and Simian as they were accepting their award and told viewers that by not winning,“the show loses credibility.”The number of expletives the Chicago native used was less shocking than the fact that he thinks MTV awards have credibility. But, we'll let you be the judge: "Touch the Sky" vs. "We Are Your Friends."

Hissy fit #2 was thrown by Elton John. At a recent concert in New York, the singer/songwriter ranted about his label's lack of interest in promoting his new album, The Captain and the Kid. He demanded to be dropped from Universal Music Group, and told the audience,“I'm 58 and I don't care anymore.”He also dropped the F-bomb 15 times. (Insert "Bitch is Back" joke here). Jim and Greg are rarely ones to defend major labels, but they float the idea that perhaps The Captain and the Kid just wasn't very good.

Go to episode 50

Music News

The Grateful Dead are coming back from…well…the dead. The four surviving original members of the jam band progenitor are reuniting for a series of shows this July at Soldier Field in Chicago. These performances will commemorate their 50th anniversary as a band, as well as the 20th anniversary of leader Jerry Garcia's death. The band claims these will be their final shows together, but Jim and Greg have their doubts.

The buzz is already building for this summer's big music festivals. Major events like Coachella, Bonnarroo, and the New Orleans Jazz Fest are already announcing big name headliners. There seems to be a growing trend of booking veteran performers like Billy Joel and Elton John who could otherwise fill stadium gigs of their own. Greg's early pick is the Governors Ball in New York featuring Björk, while Jim's curiosity is piqued by the avant-garde lineup at Knoxville, Tennessee's Big Ears Festival.

It's one fine day for fans of Mariah Carey. The chart-topping chanteuse will be holding a residency at Caesars Las Vegas beginning in May. She'll perform selections from her many #1 singles to coincide with a new release aptly called #1s. And while it seems like the stuff of sweet, sweet fantasy, Mr. Showmanship himself, Liberace, is also returning to Vegas, despite having died in 1987. Following in the footsteps of Michael Jackson and Tupac Shakur, the glittery entertainer will be recreated as a hologram by the company Hologram USA.

liberace

Go to episode 478

Music News

The Magic Shop, a recording studio in SoHo in New York, will be closing its doors soon after 28 years. The studio was a favorite of David Bowie, Lou Reed, Arcade Fire, Sonic Youth, and more. Jim and Greg have noticed a number of high profile recording studios that have closed in the past decade. To examine what's driving this trend, they speak with Larry Crane, owner of Jackpot! Recording Studio in Portland and founder/editor of Tape Op Magazine. Crane argues that the commonly told story that digital recording is killing the industry is a misdirection – home recording has really been around for more than half a century, after all. Issues like gentrification and real estate are playing just as big of a role. While changes are indeed happening acrossthe industry, Crane is optimistic that there's still a place for recording studios of all sizes in the future.

Go to episode 536

Music News

Jim and Greg start the show by wishing YouTube a happy 5th birthday. The internet video site marked the occasion by announcing that it now gets more than 2 billion hits daily. It's doing better than all 3 major television networks. And viral phenoms Justin Bieber and Greyson Chance will certainly want to extend their congratulations to YouTube. Unfortunately our personal favorite has yet to score that major record deal.

Last week LimeWire was found guilty of copyright infringement last week in a New York court. This was the first case targeting a file-sharing software maker following the 2005 Grokster decision, in which the U.S. Supreme Court cleared the way for lawsuits targeting companies that induced or encouraged file-sharing piracy. It's a huge victory for the“content industry,”but as Greg explains, LimeWire has a lot of resources–we shouldn't count them out yet.

Next Jim and Greg bid farewell to metal icon Ronnie James Dio. He died this week at age 67. Dio fronted a number of major metal bands, including the second incarnation of Black Sabbath. Fans may also remember him from Tenacious D in the Pick of Destiny, and he is sometimes credited with popularizing the rock“devil's horns”gesture. He'll be missed by many a metal fan. roc docs

Go to episode 234

Music News

This year's crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated last week at a ceremony in Cleveland. 2009's class includes Metallica, Run DMC, Jeff Beck, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony and the Imperials. While Metallica is getting its props, heavy metal is consistently unrepresented. Greg would vote to nominate Slayer. Jim agrees and adds that progressive rock music is also due for some representation. Love ‘em or hate ’em, Genesis, Yes and Jethro Tull are certainly as influential, if not more, than Little Anthony.

On the same day that U2 released a second set of tickets for their highly sought-after fall tour, New York Senator Chuck Schumer unveiled new legislation to crack down on the secondary ticket market, or scalping. Schumer is riding the wave of popularity he got after criticizing Ticketmaster for sales of Bruce Springsteen tickets, but Jim and Greg don't blame him. Jim calls scalping“a plague”on the music industry, and both critics urge reform.

They may have stopped making music decades ago, but The Beatles' output is still going strong. This fall Apple Corps and EMI will release the band's entire catalog remastered digitally on CD. This is long overdue; their music hasn't been upgraded since songs were first put on CD twenty years ago. But, while fans might be excited for a new model, Jim and Greg see this as a very transparent attempt to keep dipping into the same profit pool year after year.

Go to episode 176

Music News

Two of the summer's biggest tours will not be coming to a city near you. Both U2 and Christina Aguilera have announced postponements, and the concert industry, and in particular Live Nation, will be taking a big hit. U2 alone was projected to bring in $200 million.

In other concert news, more cancellations have been announced in Arizona. A number of acts, including Pitbull and Cypress Hill, have taken the southwestern state off their schedule because of its controversial new immigration law. And even more artists are asking others to follow suit. Jim wonders if musicians might make a bigger impact by continuing to perform in Arizona and expressing their outrage live.

In New York, music fans will be experiencing some unique protection in the near future. Governor Paterson recently reminded ticket retailers like StubHub, that now that a 2007 scalping law has expired, a more restrictive law from the 1920s is back in effect. This law prevents ticket re-sellers, or scalpers, from raising the original price by more than $2. Good news for audiences, bad news for Ticketmaster.

Finally in the news, Jim and Greg remark on the absurdity of rock's V.I.P. ticket. Acts like Justin Bieber and The Eagles will be charging fans hundreds and hundreds of dollars for more access. Both our hosts miss the day when the biggest fan got to make it to the front row, not the biggest wallet.

Go to episode 235

Music News

After a two-year battle, a web royalty agreement has been reached that won't put webcasters out of business. In 2007 the copyright royalty board ruled that webcasters needed to pay a fee of 0.08 cents each time a listener streamed wa song which would increase annually to 0.19 cents in 2015. That would've bankrupted many web music services like Pandora Radio. Now, large webcasters must pay 25 percent of total revenue.

Michael Jackson's death is still making big news this week. Friends and family hosted a memorial tribute to the late“King of Pop”on Tuesday. And Jackson's music continued to dominate the charts. In fact sales went up 90% with 800,000 albums sold. As Jim and Greg explain, this will go down as the last great week of physical album sales. And the good news continues for music retailers– a CD and DVD of both the memorial show and his tour rehearsals will be released this year.

A few weeks ago Jim and Greg talked about Trent Reznor's involvement with heart patient Eric De La Cruz. Reznor asked Nine Inch Nails fans to donate money toward a heart transplant in exchange for VIP access, special tickets and more. Unfortunately De La Cruz died last week before a transplant could take place.

In other Nine Inch Nails news, final tour dates have been announced for Los Angeles, Chicago and New York. As Reznor explained to Jim and Greg during their recent interview, this will be the last go-around for Nine Inch Nails, but certainly not the last of his music.

Go to episode 189

Music News

The digital music site eMusic has angered some listeners and labels in recent weeks. They moved from subscriptions to a tiered pricing model similar to iTunes that will include higher priced major label songs. After making this announcement, three of the biggest indie labels in the business decided to take their music elsewhere. Domino Records, Merge Records and the Beggars Group, which includes Matador, XL, Rough Trade and 4AD, have not elaborated on their decision to leave, but Jim and Greg suspect it's because of this new deal with major labels. In their statement, eMusic explained that this change was necessary for their long-term sustainability.

What's the best music town in the country? Some would say Chicago; some would say Seattle; but according to Songkick.com, it's Austin, Texas. Austin has always touted itself as the live music capital of the world, and now they've got this to back it up. In their survey of live shows per capita, Songkick also put Madison, New Orleans, Las Vegas and Denver in their Top 5. Some surprising winners, especially when you scan down to find that New York and L.A. didn‘t even make the cut. And it’s interesting to note that these cities had lower average ticket prices than bigger markets.

Go to episode 261

Music News

PFSloan P.F. Sloan, singer and songwriter responsible for the classic 1960s protest anthem "Eve of Destruction," died November 15th at his home in Los Angeles. He was 70 years old. Sloan grew up in New York and moved to Hollywood as a teen. At 13, he sold his first song and soon became one of the many prominent West Coast writers of the 1960s. Sloan wrote for such musical giants as The Turtles, Herman's Hermits, Fifth Dimension, The Searchers, and Johnny Rivers, whose hit, "Secret Agent Man," was penned by Sloan.

The world of music lost another figure as former Motörhead drummer Phil“Philthy Animal”Taylor died November 11th at age 61. Taylor was known for executing double-bass drum tracks with“superhuman speed,”and in so doing he helped set the template for the thrash metal sound. Taylor joined Motörhead shortly after it was formed in 1975, replacing the original drummer. He played with the band from 1975 to 1984, then again for five years beginning in 1987. He drummed on such hits as "Overkill" and "Ace of Spades."

Go to episode 521

Music News

The Turtles are best known for hits like 1967's "Happy Together." But, vocalists Flo and Eddie, or Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman, are still making news—but more for their legal battles than their music. Last year they sued SiriusXM for $100 million, saying that by playing its songs without permission, the broadcaster had infringed on the group's rights under state laws. The first ruling came down in September in California, in favor of The Turtles. Then, earlier this month, a district court judge in New York ruled against SiriusXM and rejected its motion for summary judgment. This is being considered a major victory for artists and record companies in the copyright debate. But, more significantly, it may have wider impact if the cases lead to changes in copyright law—specifically an obscure provision on recordings made before 1972 when federal copyright protection went into effect. For songs by the Turtles and other "oldies" acts, neither SiriusXM nor services like Pandora pay labels or artists. They do, however, pay royalties for songwriting. So, it begs the question - who should get credit, financial that is, for a song—the songwriter, the performer, or both? And as Wondering Sound Lead News Writer Marc Hogan explains, $60 million/year is at stake according to royalties organization SoundExchange. So lawmakers better get cracking.

Go to episode 470