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The Great Albums

Two indie rock musicians, Bill Lambusta and Brian Erickson, dive into the fandom of great rock and pop music and how it connects to their lives through the lens of the medium they care for most, the album. Episodes frequently include guest contributions from musicians, podcasters, and journalists and always culminate in a track by track review.
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Now displaying: January, 2016
Jan 28, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up our episode on the Strokes' Is This It by talking about "Juicebox," off the band's third album First Impressions of Earth (2006, RCA). Representative of the turning point in the band's sound, the song is muscular and driving, a stark contrast to their earlier work. Brian and Bill discuss David Kahne's production and career, how the Strokes and the Gaslight Anthem have had the same problem, the Strokes side projects, Brian's discovery of the band, and a tweet that (thankfully) corrected who the characters are in Jack Kerouac's On the Road.

Jan 25, 2016

From the Jabber and the Drone podcast (jabberandthedrone.podbean.com), Cassidy Robinson joins Bill and Brian to discuss the final installment of Debut Album January, the Strokes' Is This It (2001, RCA). Coming together in New York City and first gaining a following in the UK, the Strokes were a breath of fresh air during a period of nu metal, boy bands, and emo. We talk about when Cassidy first discovered the band, listening to them while riding the bus to school, and how it changed his outlook on the aural landscape available to him as a fan of music. Before we get to our track by track review, we discuss the lasting impact the band made even though they were unable to maintain the level of quality on their first few releases. Additionally, we cover the possible reasons for starting an album with a low key song, which song sounds the most like a Velvet Underground song, stabby guitars, the unique production style of Gordon Raphael, which song sounds like the best song Weezer didn't write, the "conversation" between musicians when a song is being arranged, and more!

Jan 21, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill welcome Patrick from the Almost Education and Make Dad Read Comics podcasts to continue talking about Warren Zevon. This time we eschew the long conversation about a whole album to talk a Zevon's biggest and most memorable song "Werewolves pf London" off of the album Excitable Boy (1978, Asylum). We discuss how to rationalize this song as part of Zevon's whole career, whether or not this is a novelty, Kid Rock sampling the song, what happens when you put two Lynyrd Skynyrd live CDs on shuffle, and when Zevon drifted away from the mellow mafia. We also read some listener emails and share their music, podcasts, and trivia about Dennis Wilson and SNL! 

Jan 18, 2016

Patrick from the Almost Educational and Make Dad Read Comics podcasts joins Bill and Brian as we continue Debut Albums January to discuss Warren Zevon's self titled album (1976, Asylum). Often a misunderstood artist, the eclectic singer songwriter found success after falling in with like minded individuals in the mid-70s LA scene, including the producer for this album Jackson Browne. We talk about how Warren Zevon helped teenage Patrick expand his musical palette, why some people view him as kind of a hokey songwriter, and as always a track by track review. Along the way, we discuss Zevon's storytelling balladry, the reliability of oral histories, if Warren Zevon fits in with the mellow mafia, what brunch with Warren would be like, what podcasting in hell would be like (hint: Satan is an Eagles fan), what it takes to be the world's most successful jug player, and the secret to Brian's listening habits!

Jan 14, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Singer, songwriter, musician Jesse Elliot (jesseelliot.com) joins Brian and Bill once again to discuss Elvis Costello. We jump a couple albums into the artist's discography to discuss his single "Oliver's Army" from Armed Forces (1979, Radar/Columbia), the second album to feature backing band the Attractions. We discuss the polish and improved production on this album, Costello's move into New Wave, what the song's lyrics refer to, irony, the use of controversial lyrics, and when Costello recently addressed that topic.

Jan 12, 2016

Brian has recorded a special episode to honor the passing of David Bowie. In it, he explains how a simple soda ad brought the man into his life. It was during this time that Bowie's career was on the wane, coloring Brian's earliest memories toward the negative. But Brian speculates that--during Bowie's self-imposed hiatus--he was able to achieve icon status by staying out of his own way and instead becoming all things to all people.

Jan 11, 2016

Singer, songwriter, and musician Jesse Elliot (jesseelliot.com) joins Brian and Bill to discuss Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True (1977, Stiff/Columbia) as we continue to highlight debut albums in January's First Month of First Albums! Incorporating an innumerable score of influences, Declan Patrick McManus (aka Elvis Costello) burst out of the British pub rock scene with some spiky music and a brash attitude. We discuss how Jesse first came to know the music through a mix tape, inherited from his brother and played in his crappy old car, before trying to delineate between punk, post-punk, and new wave. Along the way, we talk about what genre each album track belongs in, Nick Lowe's contributions as a producer, whether Clover was up to the task of backing Costello or if the Attractions would have done a better job, what causes the clipping we hear in the recording, Irish folk music, if Less Than Zero is actually a subpar tune, which songs are totally about sex, and as always a track by track review! Additionally, it's the new year, and we've got a new segment where our guest plays an Elvis Costello tune for us!

Jan 7, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up their episode on Big Star's seminal #1 Record by taking a listen to Those Pretty Wrongs' "Lucky Guy." A teaming of Big Star's Jody Stephens and LA-based singer songwriter Luther Russell, the song was released as a 7" single in June 2015. Brian and Bill use the context of Jody Stephens emergence as a songwriter within Big Star to talk about and frame the band's career over the intervening years that led up to this release. We talk about how the song's production is a little reminiscent of Stephens' former band, the great bass tones that come out of Ardent Studios, and how happy Brian is that Jody is stepping out on his own as a songwriter. Additionally, we read a very special email that had us floored and will lend a little insight to a few of the things we discussed on the #1 Record episode.

Jan 4, 2016

Brian and Bill ring in the new year and kick off the First Month of First Albums with one that has the number "one" in the title: Big Star's #1 Record (1972, Ardent/Stax). Having grown tired of "the biz" after he helped bring his teen rock group, the Box Tops, to the top of the charts with his smokey vocals, Alex Chilton wanted to make his own original music and found a kindred spirit in fellow Memphis native Chris Bell. Thanks to the close relationship Bell had with Ardent Studios founder John Fry, the band had a home in the studio and on their label, distributed by Stax Records. After solid promotion and stellar reviews across the board, the album somehow only found its way onto a small number of record store shelves, relegating it to cult status for many years. Brian and Bill talk about how the album found its way out of that hole and into a place in our hearts. Along the way we discuss why we we weren't immediately blown away by the album, how the music influenced what we all got used to hearing from our favorite bands over the years, the secret weapon that is Andy Hummel, Chris Bell's guitar solos and expert production, That 70s Show, Chilton's smooth delivery vs. Bell's broken tones, if the Bell-less albums stack up against this one, and as always a track by track review!

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