It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian start off this episode with a rousing debate about the merit's of Kanye West in which Bill allows himself to disregard the spirit of the podcast for a few moments and come across as a little critical. Luckily, Brian defends Kanye's art admirably, and they end up comparing and contrasting the song to the CAN tune it samples! Additionally, we read some listener emails about great albums from the 80s and aughts and then debate the merits of the Killers (this time with less conflict).
Drummer Colin Ryan (Lowlight, Roadside Graves) joins Brian and Bill to discuss avant-garde German rockers CAN and their landmark album Future Days (1973, United Artists). Colin talks about how his former bandmates convinced him that listening to CAN was a good idea, forever influencing his own playing. Bill, Brian, and Colin discuss how Jaki Liebezeit's drums and Irman Schmidt's keys hold the sound of the band together, Damo Sazuki's unique vocal style, Bill makes up a story about an android while listening to these songs, the band's strange method of songwriting and the philosophy behind it, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill chat about Brian's favorite Spoon song "Utilitarian" off 1998's A Series of Sneaks. We stumble into a conversation about what the 90s sounded like before reading some listener emails about some 2000s albums, Drive By Truckers, Levon Helm's musicianship, and whether or not we think John Mayer is a complete BS musician.
Musician Chris Nova (rubybonesband.com) joins Brian and Bill to discuss Spoon's tongue twister of an album title Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007, Merge). Chris talks about discovering the band through hit teen drama the OC. Then we discuss how consistent the band is, Brian's favorite Spoon album A Series of Sneaks, Bill's problem with the band, Britt Daniel and Jim Eno's influence on the production of the album, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill chat a bit about the Band's version of "Atlantic City" from their 1993 album Jericho. We fill in some of the group's history up through the 90s and marvel at Levon Helm's musicianship. We then read a listener submitted fun fact about James Mercer and Elliott Smith. And to round it out, we make a request of the listeners for some details on what they want to hear us talk about!
Bill and Brian welcome thegreatalbums.com blogger Chris Villalta to the the podcast to talk about the Band's Music from Big Pink (1968, Capitol). Chris talks about discovering the Band at the LA Grammy museum and thinking they looked like a bunch of dudes from the 1920s. The we get into Richard Manuel's unique voice, the Band's effortless musicianship, the friction between Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson, an interesting narrative that Chris weaves through the album's lyrics, Garth Hudson's influence on the group, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill talk about the Shins' "New Slang," which is really a way to spend time talking about the 2004 Zach Braff film Garden State. We talk about whether the film holds up, how it's important to people from different generations, and how it has stuck with us over the years. Then we read some listener emails about great, recognizable drum parts, cellos, and the maturity of Nirvana's In Utero. Also, make sure to check out Make Dad Read Comics where Bill got to talk about the Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness!
*Note: the book that Bill can't remember at the end of the episode is Frederic Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent.
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!