The Beach Boys are once again our subject of conversation, this time discussing Brian Wilson's song, "Til I Die," from the Surf's Up album (1971, Brother). Set toward the end of this democratic-to-a-fault LP, "Til I Die," remains a post "Good Vibrations." While it finds Wilson in a dark place, it betrays the perception that he spent the decade "in his room," completely unproductive. Despite his output having slowed considerably, Wilson was still in complete control of his facilities. "Til I Die," is proof-positive.
Brian flies solo this week to talk about one of rock's most misunderstood albums, Smiley Smile (1967, Brother) by The Beach Boys. He attempts to recontextualize the album's importance in music's "back to basics" movement of the late 60s as The Boys transition from their signature lush, orchestral pop into something more primal. And somewhere in there, Brian realizes, quite aggressively, that Sgt. Pepper's might not be quite as good as the rest of the world thinks it is. This and more as he talks about what makes the album great, one track at a time.
While Bill and Brian come in and quickly cover Tip's song, "Let's Ride," from the album Amplified (1999, Arista), things suddenly go awry as the audience is treated to a little bit of the outtakes that don't always make the final cut. We touch on the Grisworld family Christmas and attempt to answer the age old question: Who would you rather go out with, Billy Joel or Phil Colins?
Brian and guest host Jim McGee (from our Neil Young episode) lead a tangent-filled podcast exploring the difference between "rap" and "hip hop," the ins-and-outs of hip hop culture and one thing you NEVER do while DJing a party. "Iron" Mike Bacon is our guest as we explore Q-Tip's opus, The Renaissance (2008, Universal), as always, one track at a time.
Brian, Bill, and special guest Ryan Hanratty forget about the podcast's "fans-not-critics" criteria of content for a little bit as they talk about Green Day's "21 Guns" from the album 21st Century Breakdown (2009, Reprise). Before that though, they have a little bit of an addendum to the GnR episode. We discuss how "21 Guns" was here and gone thanks to the legacy of American Idiot and its smash success. And finally, Ryan points out why that guitar solo may sound a little familiar to you...
Guitarist, singer-songwriter, and videographer Ryan Hanratty of Wolfasaurus Rex, Catch Me If You Can, and Frosted Green Interviews (respectively) travels down from Long Island to discuss Green Day's American Idiot (2004, Reprise) with Brian and Bill. Coming 10 years after the band's breakthrough album Dookie, American Idiot saw Green Day cement their superstardom as they released their hit rock opera. Ryan ends up being the best person to discuss this with because he hit his prime punk rock years of adolescence when this album was released. We break down the 3 acts, debate the use of the "other F word," discuss the political climate of the time, and find out the lewd story behind what is "frosted" and "green." All this and more in our second longest episode yet!
It's another Bonus Song Thursday! Bill amd Brian take a weekly break from going in depth and overlong on a whole album to instead focus on a single song. This week, we discuss Pearl Jam's cover of Mother Love Bone's "Crown of Thorns." As we discussed on Mondays episode, Pearl Jam was formed out of the ashes of MLB, and at their 10th anniversary show in Las Vegas, PJ paid tribute to their predecessor. We delve a little into the band's background, knowing where you came from, and how to pronounce the word "elegiac" (which we get totally wrong) as we listen to this single track!
Multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Frank Letteiri of The Paper Jets (thepaperjets.com) and Dust of Days (dustofdays.com) joins Bill and Brian to help us talk about what makes Pearl Jam's Ten (1991, Epic) so great! After the tragedy that led to the end of Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament's previous band Mother Love Bone, they sought out some new people to play with, finding Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder who completed the core of the band. On their first album, the band already showed passion and an ability to create unique sonic lanscapes. As we make our way through the album track by track, Brian gives us a lesson on how to write like Eddie Vedder, Frank makes an argument for the latter half of the album, and Bill tries not to geek out too much (and fails).
It's another Bonus Song Thursday! Bill amd Brian take a weekly break from going in depth and overlong on a full album to instead focus on a single song. On Monday, podcaster and DJ Ralph Sutton gave us some great analysis on what should have been an Axl Rose solo album instead of the first Guns'n'Roses album in 17 years, Chinese Democracy. In this episode, Bill and Brian tackle a track from that album: "Street of Dreams." Featuring a whole new band (including one of our favorites, Tommy Stinson), this new version of GnR left a little to be desired... We talk about that, and the state of the music industry (c. 2008) that thought Chinese Democracy was going to be a hit, as we break down this single track!
Podcaster and DJ Ralph Sutton (of theSDRshow.com and The Tour Bus) helps Bill and Brian get out of their comfort zone of indie rock and college radio by discussing the hardrocking debut album from Guns'n'Roses, Appetite for Destruction (1987, Geffen). Ralph gives us a peak at what it was like to be at the prime age of adolescence when this music hit the scene. We discuss GnR's impact on the state of music in the 80s, how they are better than the hair metal of the day, Ralph's idea for a Jewish tribute band, and Ralph shares some of the inner workings of being a DJ for terrestial radio. All that, plus a bit of an analysis on Chinese Democracy (!) as we discuss this album track by track!
It's another Bonus Song Thursday! Bill amd Brian take a weekly break from going in depth and overlong on a single album to instead focus on a single song. Monday's episode saw us breaking down indie-pop supergroup the New Pornographer's twin Cinema, and this episode has us continuing the theme by discussing "War On the East Coast" the lead single from the band's latest album, Brill Bruisers. We discuss the band's new direction and production acumen, Dan Bejar's fantastic songwriting, and how indie bands have started making an impact on the charts.
Brian and Bill take a listen to one of their favorite albums, Twin Cinema (2005, Matador), a power pop masterpiece from that Vancouver, BC indie supergroup the New Pornographers. Bill waxes nostalgic about his days of driving a rusty old Jeep Cherokee across New Jersey to get to his part time job at a liquor store during his senior year of college. Brian revisits time spent seeing a new relationship develop and how a great live show from the New Pornographers helped. We also discuss great big group vocals, tremolos, and just how wrong allmusic.com's Stephen Thomas Erlewine really is as we make our way through this great album, track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! We follow up the deep dive on Steely Dan's Aja with their track "My Old School." Ed Pratico (bassist for Jesse Elliot and His Band) joins Bill and Brian once again as they discuss their own old schools and more!
Let's get ready for some weird and cool music because gun for hire and highly skilled bassist Ed Pratico (Jesse Eliot and His Band) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Steely Dan's Aja (1997, ABC). With their sixth studio album, Steely Dan finally realized their vision of esoteric jazz rock thanks to the help of some great session musicians and that one of a kind voice from Michael McDonald. We discuss delicious beverages, Rescue 911, the possibility that the record is a concept album, Yacht Rock, things that rhyme with "pillar," and more as we make our way through every track of the album!
Bonus Song Thursday! Sarah Donner (singer/songwriter/creative type) is back! And, wait a minute, aren't we supposed to be bonusing (that's a word, right?) Regina Spektor? Well, she makes a special guest appearance on this Ben Folds song off his 2008 album Way To Normal. We talk about recording in bathrooms, the secret to successful marriages, and traveling to the Waffle House that's over an hour from your home on a beautiful Sunday morning. Brian also does a great impression of his significant other (if she were a gargoyle). Check it all out as we discuss this great song from Ben Folds and Regina Spektor!
Singer, songwriter, cat enthusiest, creative type Sarah Donner (sarahdonner.com) joins Bill and Brian on the podcast to talk about Regina Spektor's Soviet Kitsch (2004, Sire). We talk a little bit about Sarah's music and Settlers of Catan before delving into Regina Spektor's roots in the NY cafe scene. As we make our way through the album track by track, we discuss vocal inflections, dipthongs, and not playing the keyboards in our houses. In order to avoid discussing just how depressing "Chemo Limo" is, we instead invent a great new Benjamin Franklin themed cereal, Ben Crispies. This (and more) in the episode you will be listening to as you read this!
It's another bonus song Thursday! It gets late into the evening as Brian, Bill, and Andrew Kolbenschlag of Small Planet Radio (smallplanetradio.com) talk about Neutral Milk Hotel's "Engine." They also listen to a little bit of Jeff Goldblum's sultry voice and Andrew finally gets to promote his band!
In an attempt to go for the title, singer/songwriter/musician Andrew Kobenschlag of Small Planet Radio (smallplanetradio.com) joins Bill and Brian for a record tying second time to talk about Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998, Merge). The second of only two full length studio albums released by the band. Lo-fi production, trippy lyrics, the use of instrumentals on pop records, sexual lyrics, and the zanzithophone are discussed as we talk about what makes this one of Andrew's favorite albums of all time. An odd band and a reclusive frontman are analyzed in full as we make our way through every song on the album, track by track!
It's the very first bonus song Thursday on the Great Albums podcast! Bill and Brian talk even more about Pearl Jam, focusing on the song "The Fixer" from 2009's Backspacer. Songwriting, making positive music, new wave influences, and Matt Cameron are discussed in this episode. If you like hearing about great music, but don't have two hours to waste listening to us blather on about an entire album, then this 20 minute episode all about a single song is the one for you!
Podcaster and music expert Jason Wallace joins Bill and Brian on the latest, greatest episode of the Great Albums podcast to discuss Pearl Jam's sophomore effort Vs. (1993, Epic). As an extra treat, Joe Galuppo, Jay's partner in crime on Live From the Dining Room (diningroomradio.net), contributes throughout as an unmic'ed special guest! Bill reveals a partial bit of his Pearl Jam knowledge as he relates the band's beginnings and what went into the recording of the album. We get into some interesting territory as we talk about Jay being a PJ fan at the age of 6, how much Brian dislikes his hometown on Long Island, and which PJ drummer was the best. Track by track, we tell you what makes Vs. so great!
In another exciting episode of the Great Albums podcast, Bill shares one of his all-time favorite albums from one of his all-time favorite artists with Brian! Bill travels down memory lane as he explains how Guster helped him discover music that wasn't only about loud guitars. Harmony, songwriting, Steve Lillywhite, Judaism, Tufts University, and more are discussed as we make our way through the album, discussing each and every track from Guster's Lost and Gone Forever (1999, Palm/Reprise)!
As was correctly pointed out to us, here on the Great Albums podcast, we have not featured much music that has been made by women. This was certainly in no way on purpose, and we want to rectify that. We have some great albums from female artists coming up in a few weeks, but to tide us over, we made another song-centric episode featuring music exclusively by women. We even get to cover a little more new ground and discuss electronic music and performance art! Featuring Metric, Laurie Anderson, Chvrches, Liz Phair, Nina Simone, and Of Monsters and Men, Brian and Bill bust open a metaphorical 6 pack as we guide you through what makes these tunes great!
Guitarist extrodinaire and all around wonderful person Jim McGee joins Brian and Bill to share his exceptionally well told stories about his experiences with Neil Young and as a fan of On the Beach (1974, Reprise). No lie, this is one of our favorite episodes ever. We talk about how Jim searched far and wide for this album, eventually finding a vinyl taco with a surprise inside!
Bill and Brian are charmed by "music business big wig" Lisa Grosso (you can check out her PR outfit, Effective Immediately, at ei-pr.com) as we talk about one of The National's long list of critically acclaimed albums, Boxer (2007, Beggar's Banquet). Despite the band's affinity for complex rhythms and ornate orchestration, we discuss how The National stays rooted in rock and roll. Obtuse lyrics and a gravelly baritone vocal are also analyzed in depth as we listen to the album one song at a time.
War! Huh! What is it good for? Talking about U2, that's what! Brian and Bill welcome on Nando of the Mad Bracket Status podcast (madbracketstatus.com) and writer for pop-break.com to discuss his overall love for U2 and specifically this album. The guys get into talking about why this album was chosen over other U2 albums that some consider superior, how Bono and RDJ are so alike, and how Adam Clayton brings the big funky bass. We even stumble upon a pretty decent "In Defense of Bono" argument. But the best part is always when we hit the play button on each track of the album and remind ourselves what makes the music so good.