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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: September, 2016
Sep 29, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian take a very circuitous route to keep talking about Elliott Smith by discussing Jimmy Eat World's cover of the Heatmiser tune "Half Right." The song was written by Smith and added as a hidden track to the band's last album, 1996 album Mic City Sons, as Smith left to pursue his solo career full time. Brian and Bill talk about how the song is a faithful recreation, the story of the EP that contains it, and how Brian himself covered the song in his first live performance of a complete set. We also read some listener emails about the Grateful Dead, Levon Helm, and the word "timbre."

Sep 26, 2016

Centennials and Rose Boulevard drummer Pete Stern joins Bill and Brian to discuss singer songwriter Elliott Smith's major label debut XO (1998, Dreamworks). Coming up in the Portland indie scene of the 90s, Smith eschewed the alt stylings of his band Heatmiser and gained attention with his folksy, DIY home recording. He got his big break when director Gus Van Zant included the song "Miss Misery" on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, and this album followed shortly after. Pete discusses hearing Elliott Smith first on MTVu but not really delving into his catalog until a few years later when his biography was released. Bran, Bill, and Pete then talk about the Oscars performance and Celine Dion, what Elliot's problem with Heatmiser was, Smith's 2003 suicide, the quality production of the album, the criminally underrated Jon Brion, a whole bunch of diving into Smith's dense lyrics, Joey and Lenny Waronker,  driving to Nashville on shrooms while listening to Weezer's "Hash Pipe," Brian Wilson's love of "Shortening Bread," how we would shorten the album a bit, and much much more are we make our way through the album track by track!

Sep 22, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill continue talking about the Grateful Dead via the War on Drugs recent cover of "Touch of Grey" from the Day of the Dead tribute compilation. Brian talks about why he loves this song, the whole collection, and how it's helped him open up to being a fan of the Grateful Dead. Then we read some listener emails including a correction about us confusing Norway for Sweden and an interpretation of an Against Me! tune.

Sep 19, 2016

Bill and Brian welcome guitarist Tom O'Leary (whose band, Small Planet Radio, just put out an excellent album* that can be heard at smallplanetradio.com) to talk about the Grateful Dead's American Beauty (1970, Warner Bros.). Known for their live jam sessions that have helped created a devoted following, the Dead sometimes struggled to translate that to their studio work. But with the release of this album (and Working Man's Dead) earlier in that same year, the band gave the world a lasting work of art. Tom talks about discovering the band through his older siblings playing the records, and then really discovering them when he befriended some nice hippies at college. Brian, Bill, and Tom discuss the influence of CSNY, how the band got tricked into having to write pop songs, a deep dive into Robert Hunter's lyrics, how honest moments between parents and children as depicted in media makes Bill cry, hippie culture, Brian sliding into people's DMs, weird chords, what timbre is and how "tambre" is not a thing, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!

*note: Host Bill Lambusta is also in Small Planet Radio and wrote this description, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt.

Sep 15, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill welcomes Brian back to talk about Laura Jane Grace, Miley Cyrus, and Joan Jett's cover of the Replacements "Androgynous." Brian, having missed out conversation about Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues earlier in the week, share some of his thoughts on trans issues before we get into to talking about how we love this song and all its nonsense lyrics. We also compare and contrast Miley with Justin Bieber and discuss the role of innovation and experimentation in pop music. Then we read some listener emails about misogyny in AC/DC and Guns'n'Roses' lyrics and bands with changing lead singers!

Sep 12, 2016

With Brian out on tour, Bill welcomes podcaster Justin Tyler (SongSpotters.com) to talk about the seminal (already) trans punk rock anthem Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014, Total Treble) by Against Me! Formed by then-name Tom Gable as a teenager in 1997, the band went on to become an icon known for their political fueled punk rock anthems. Surprising many, front woman Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012 and began transitioning to living her life as a woman. Using her own experiences and that of a fictional transgender prostitute, Grace penned and released this album a couple years later. Justin talks about how this album was his introduction to the band, and how it has factored into a cause that he feels close to. We then jump into discussing gender expression and toys, transgender dysphoria in the DSM V, how these songs are fantastic sing along songs, Atom Willard's awesome drumming, suicide rates in the trans community, how sexual identity and gender expression are troubles for many (including cisgender individuals), how Laura Jane Grace is a hero for taking on the responsibility of being a trans communicator, how even those with good intentions sometimes have trouble with pronouns, sci-fi author Ann Leckie's series that exists in a gender neutral world, and more as we make our way through there album track by track!

Sep 8, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian get political as we take a listen to and discuss Third Eye Blind's latest release "Cop vs. Phone Girl" off their upcoming EP We Are Drugs. We talk about the contemporary production style and how we're glad that a 90s band can remain relevant before jumping into the lyrical content, discussing #BlackLivesMatter, Fox News, accountability, and more! NOTE: seriously, although we tried to maintain a balanced POV and not point fingers or really talk about Democrats or Republicans, there may be some who disagree with us on what we say. If you are one of them, that's cool, but keep in mind that we were recording our reaction to a song with a strong narrative bent. If you have a different reaction, feel free to record it and release it on your own podcast instead of writing to us in all caps please.

Sep 5, 2016

Brian and Bill welcome music biz insider Mike Prince (he works in licensing music for Disney) to discuss Third Eye Blind's self titled debut (1997, Elektra). Masterminded by singer/lyricist Stephan Jenkins, 3EB took off with massive success filed by their infections pop hooks and catchy melodies. Benefiting from a great chemistry with guitarist and co-songwriter Kevin Cadogan, Jenkins famously ousted Cadogan from the band, leading them into a creative and commercial lull. Strangely, the band has lived on, outliving their 90s rock brethren and remaining a vital influence through till today. Mike talks about purchasing CD singles of the band's early hits before finally discovering the album as an art form while listening to a friend's copy on vacation in Las Vegas. Bill, Brian, and Mike discuss how a younger generation is spreading the word about this album, Kevin Cadogan's role in the band and the business dealings that leads to his dismissal, Arion Salazar's cool bass grooves, Brad Hargreaves' pay day, the non-pop oriented tracks on the album, what the heck harmonics are, the influence of Oasis and MTV's the Real World, where the album dips into a "winter" vibe, how the last 3 songs solidify the band's legacy, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!

Sep 1, 2016

It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill continue talking about the wonders from down under (didn't want to use "Thunder" twice in the same sentence) AC/DC and their tune "Thunderstruck." We discuss how this song and its parent album, the Razor's Edge, were a bit of a comeback for the band and helped solidify their place in the annals of rock. Also, we keep our promise and fill in some of the AC/DC story, getting us up to present day, Then we jump into some listener emails, tackling the controversy surrounding both Napster and Lars Ulrich's count in to the Metallica song "Leper Messiah."

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