Bill and Brian go sans guest for the first time in months to discuss an album that came to us around the same time back in our college days, The Shins' Chutes Too Narrow (2003, Sub Pop). The band formed as primary songwriter James Mercer's new project out of a band called Flake Music back around the turn of the century. Quickly signed to indie Sub Pop, the band had modest success with their first album, 2001's Oh, Inverted World. With Chutes Too Narrow, they gained some buzz and finally broke through after actor/filmmaker Zach Braff featured their song "New Slang" in a key scene in his 2004 film Garden State. Bill and Brian discuss discovering the band early in 2004, being a little underwhelmed by their live show, Brian's summer memories as an unwilling participant at Otacon, Brian's summer memories of his family trying to set him up with a pretty girl, Bill nerding out over utopias and dystopias, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian talk about Dave Grohl's introduction to the world as a lead singer with the Nirvana b-side "Marigold." We talk a little bit about the "what ifs" that surround the career of Nirvana had Kurt Cobain lived and how this song got recorded during the In Utero sessions. Also, we reveal a winner for our Neil Young/Lookout Joe contest and read an email from a former guest on the podcast!
Bill and Brian are joined by musician/singer-songwriter Tyler Plazio from Soldiers of Suburbia (soldiersofsuburbiaband.com) to talk about Nirvana's In Utero (1993, DGC). A couple years after the enormous success of their major label debut, Nevermind, the band and frontman Kurt Cobain felt pressure to craft a worthy follow up that also represented their artistic vision. They hired producer Steve Albini, kept recording time to a minimum, and attempted to maintain their punk ideals with a noisy and concise album. Tyler talks about discovering the band as a young guitar player after a bandmate told him to cover "Smells Like Teen Spirit." He also reveals how In Utero was a bit of a grower for him but is now one of his favorite albums. Bill, Brian, and Tryle also discuss Krist Novoselic's vision for the album, Dave Grohl's awesome drumming, Cobain's views on gender, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up our conversation about Leonard Cohen with an REM song that curiously has Cohen listed as a writer although there was no collaboration between the artists. This leads us down memory lane as we discuss our college days and out first band together. Then we read a listener email about how we joined him on a Christmas day adventure and his own additions and recommendations for great albums that came out in 2016.
Bill and Brian kick off 2017 with an appreciation for the late songwriting titan Leonard Cohen. They are joined in studio singer/songwriter/voiceover artist Justin Pope (justinpopemusic.com), a lifelong Cohen fan. Along the way, the trio discusses why it might not be the best idea to follow your idol to the same college, especially when said idol graduated 44 years earlier and hasn't lived there in nearly as long. We also opine on the difference a producer can make and whether or not recording a bad version of "Hallelujah" is even possible as we make our way through 11 great Leonard Cohen tunes!
Bill takes some time to send out one last podcast in 2016 before we launch into 2017! He talks about "Auld Lang Syne" and makes a few corrections about Wilco and the Beatles before launching into a bunch of emails ranking and discussing the Beatles albums. Then he shares a listener's year end top 10. And to round it all out he gives some thanks and talks about what exciting things will be happening with the Great Albums podcast in 2017!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian close out the year by discussing one of our favorite local (to New Jersey) releases, "Where Do We Go from Here?" from the album of the same name by Lowlight. We discuss what the band's unique sound is and how it evolved before jumping into some listener emails about Wilco and Bruce Springsteen. Also, be sure to check out friend of the podcast Jim Laczkowski's new podcast Voices & Visions at voicesvisions.net!
Bill and Brian (really just Brian) count down their top picks of the albums released in 2016. We chat about the albums on last year's list, specifically what stood out and stayed with us. Bill challenges Brian with what a "best of" list really means and if they can be created without a subjective bias. Brian answers by sharing some of his criteria that went into his selections for this year. We then make our way through the list, album by album!
Part 4 of 4 is finally here! Bill and Brian welcome a new set of guests to close out our discussion of our favorite songs from every Beatles album. Joining us are musician Jim McGee (thearrivist.bandcamp.com), blogger/freelance journalist Ryan Carey (the Inappropriate Thesaurus), musician Ed Pratico (bassist for Jesse Elliot's band), and blogger Beanie Zee (sirkaytheawesome.com) as we talk about the White Album, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, and Let It Be!
In part 3 of 4, Brian and Bill continue the album by album review of the entire Beatles catalog. In this episode we cover Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Magical Mystery Tour with musicians Chris Nova and Ben Resnick and bloggers Ed Magdziak and Beanie Zee (sirkaytheawesome.com). WE talk about psychedelia, experimentation, George Martin, what would make Sgt. Pepper's better, and the film Across the Universe.
Bill and Brian continue the epic conversation (part 2 of 4) as we take on the task of having the conversation about being a fan of each and every Beatles album by discussing Beatles For Sale, Help!, and Rubber Soul. Joining us in this round of conversation are Kim and John from Casino Sundae (casinosundae.bandcamp.com) and Ed Magdziak, writer for youdontknowjersey.com! Not only do we discuss our favorite songs off these albums be we also sneak in a bit about Pete Best and some ruminating on John Lennon's death.
Bill and Brian have finally decided to do it! Here it is, us talking about the Beatles. But how could we do just a single album? Where would we start? Every album they put out could be featured on the podcast, so now they will be. This is part 1 of 4 in which we discuss every single Beatles album (UK versions). In this episode we discuss Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and A Hard Day's Night. We are joined by several guests (and will continue to be as we make our way through all the albums) including musician Chris Nova of Ruby Bones (ruby bones.bandcamp.com), musician Ben Resnick from We're Ghosts Now (wereghostsnow.com), journalist Ed Magdziak from youdontknowjersey.com, musician Brian Stabile of Casino Sundae (casinosundae.bandcamp.com), and singer/songwriter Jesse Elliot (jesseelliot.com).
Bill and Brian close out Massive Album November with Bruce Springsteen's Oscar winning ballad "Streets of Philadelphia" from the Tom and Hanks/Denzel Washington film Philadelphia soundtrack. We talk about how this helped close the second chapter of Bruce's career before reforming the E Street Band a few years later, revitalizing his tours and studio albums. We also read some more listener emails about great album opener/closer combos and Dark Side of the Moon and drugs. We discuss our own experiences with music and 'gummy bears' before giving a quick Tom Hanks career retrospective!
Bill and Brian close out Massive Album November with singer songwriter Jack Linden of Rose Boulevard (roseboulevard.bandcamp.com) talking about Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA (1984, Columbia). Springsteen was a good ways into his career, but with this album and its 7 top 10 singles, he became a household name. Jack talks about growing up having been "born into Bruce" and not really remember when he first heard these tunes. He also shares how his fandom ebbed and flowed, cementing itself as he reached adulthood. Brian, Bill, and Jack also discuss synthesizers, the E Street Band, Springsteen's effect on Jack's writing, how Bruce synthesizes his influences to be unrecognizable, Bruce's falsetto and (in)ability to harmonize with himself, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Happy Bonus Song Thanksgiving! Bill and Brian celebrate by talking about Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play." Brian breaks down a bit of the story of Syd Barrett and his time in the Floyd. Then we jump into a whole bunch of listener emails, spurred by our conversation of what could be the best album openers and closers. We got a bunch of cool suggestions and maybe threw out some controversial statements about the White Stripes and the Beatles. Also, Bill and Brian talk about what they are thankful for!
Massive Album November continues as Brian and Bill welcome podcaster Andrew James (rowthree.com) to talk about Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (1974, Harvest). Although their 8th studio album, the band finally 'broke through' in a big, bad way with Dark Side, spending 741 weeks (that's nearly 15 years) on the Billboard charts! Andrew talks about unlocking the magic of the Floyd thanks to the confluence of a friend's parents being out of town, some "gummy bears," and a sublime saxophone. Then Bill, Brian, and Andrew discuss how cool VH1/s Classic Albums program is, madness, the universal themes of the album, synthesizers, how annoying it is that Roger Waters is just better than everyone at everything (except singing), 7/8 time signatures, David Gilmore's gorgeous vocal tones, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian fast forward in the Who's career to discuss the last song off their last album (so far), "Tea & Theatre" from 2006's Endless Wire. Brian fills in the events on the band's timeline, including the deaths of Keith Moon and John Entwhistle and the bands reformation. We discuss how the band has aged gracefully and progressed into this next step in their career. The we read some listener tweets, correcting a Madonna fact and sharing some great Canadian music.
Editor in Chief for Speak Into My Good Eye (speakimge.com) Mike Mehalick joins Bill and Brian for another installment of Massive Album November as we discuss the Who's Who's Next (1971, Decca). Emerging from the 60s mod scene into their own sound with 1969's Tommy, the Who, especially primary songwriter Pete Townshend, were struggling with the next step in their career. Hoping to continue pushing boundaries, the band began work on the multimedia project Lifehouse but abandoned its grandiose ideas, leaving engineer Glyn Johns with the task of assembling the album that became Who's Next. Mike talks about his father bringing him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where the Tommy exhibit captured his imagination. Bill, Brian, and Mike then discuss commercialism, the Who vs. Led Zeppelin, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry's complementary voices, synthesizers, Borat impersonations, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill speak to you from the optimism of the past as we break down what make's Madonna's "Into the Groove," released as part of the Like a Virgin single cycle, pretty cool. We talk about the song's inclusion on the international release of the album and a bit about David Bowie before reading some listener emails about Randy Newman and the 33 1/3 series!
Massive Album November is here! Each episode this month will be a different artist and record that has attained huge sales numbers that we've somehow missed so far. To get us started, thegreatalbums.com blogger Jeff Fiedler joins Bill and Brian to discuss Madonna's sophomore effort Like a Virgin (1984, Sire). Although a success on the dance scene, Madonna had yet to make herself a household name prior to this release. With the help of producer Nile Rodgers and an excellent set of tunes, Madonna became the icon she has continued to be today. Jeff talks about becoming a record collector at a very young age and how it helped him cut through the production of 80s pop as a listener. Bill, Brian, and Jeff then discuss the contributions of Rodgers' bandmates in Chic, the songwriting talents of Stephen Bray, Madonna's early bands Breakfast Club and Emmy, how the controversy over the sexuality on the album is a bit overblown, how pop songs were songs in the 80s, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian take some time out to cover a little bit of Neil Young's weaker output by discussing "Transformer Man" off 1982's Trans. We discuss Young's rationale for incorporating electronic instruments into his music, the sincerity of his experimentations at the time, and how some better songs may have helped him in this period. Also, we read a listener email that takes back down the path of Pearl Jam as Bill attempts to defend Yield, "Wishlist," and his opinions about Ten!
Bill and Brian welcome WXPN music director and podcaster (soundcloud.com/ddmusicpodcast) to discuss the final chapter of Neil Young's so-called "ditch trilogy," Tonight's the Night (1975, Reprise). Still reeling from the drug related deaths of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry, Neil Young cast off the folk and country tinged sound he was known for with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and his own chart topping album Harvest in favor of a more raw rock and roll sound. Dan talks about discovering the depth of Young's music through a friend before diving into his entire catalog (including the Geffen years!) during his time at college. Brian, Bill, and Dan then discuss how "raw" might be describing the audio quality instead of the emotions on the album, camping, Nils Lofgren's excellent guitar (and piano), which Neil Young song should never be covered by anyone, what alcohol the band was drinking for the sessions (it was tequila), which Neil albums we love the most (other than this one), and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian decide to continue the conversation about Pearl Jam by focusing on a song from guitarist Stone Gossard's 2001 solo album Bayleaf called "Pigeon." We talk about how Stone's songwriting fits in with Pearl Jam's sound and why this is a great power pop song with a cool power chord based riff. Also, we get into some listener emails that include listener lists of top 5 Pearl Jam albums, cool untitled songs from Live on Two Legs, and a bit about Todd Rundgren!
Podcaster Jim Hanke (vinylemergency.com) makes his second appearance on the podcast to help Brian and Bill talk about Pearl Jam's Yield (1998, Epic). Coming off a bit of a downturn in their career, some would say creatively as well as commercially (but not us), Pearl Jam went into the studio looking to use each member's songwriting contributions and came out re-energized with one of their best albums. Jim talks about the ubiquity of the band's music in his life before Bill, Brian, and Jim then discuss how Bill and Jim are mirror images as PJ fans, ripping off Led Zeppelin, Eddie Vedder getting precious lyrically, Brendan O'Brien's excellent production, the Dismemberment Plan, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! With Brian jet setting about the globe (aka taking a long weekend trip to Chicago), Bill tackles some more Amy Winehouse by taking a listener suggestion and talking about her duet with Tony Bennett, "Body and Soul" from his 2011 album Duets II. Bill talks about the scene in Amy documentary where she has to overcome some initial nerves to create a wonderful performance. Also, Bill reads some lister emails about great track sequencing, the Rolling Stones, U2, Led Zeppelin, and Fran Zappa v. Tom Waits!