It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian keeping diving into the vast catalog of great French artists by discussing Daft Punk and their super massive 2013 hit "Get Lucky." With a little help from Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, the electronic duo churned out a danceable tune. While discussing it we talk about tangentially vs. tangentally, Pharrell's career resurgence at about the time this song hit, disco music, we read a listener email that helps us clarify that a slide was indeed used on Foo fights "Oh George," and we discuss which Pavement albums are our favorites!
Brian and Bill sit down in the virtual lecture hall with Professor Jonathyne Briggs of Indiana University Northwest who literally wrote the book on French music with Sounds French: Globalization, Cultural Communities and Pop Music, 1958-1980 (2015, Oxford University Press). We get a cool history lesson on how rock and roll entered French pop in the 60s and its influence on France's culture through today. From chansons and Elvis Presley to the Beatles and Dylan and onto new wave and electronic music, we explore how an international audience reacted to, were inspired by, and innovated genres we only thought we were well versed in. Jonathyne kindly curated a play list of 10 songs that includes Franciose Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg, Michel Polnareff, Telephone, Marquis de Sade, Alain Bashung, Les Rita Mitsouko, Louise Attaque, Air, and M83! We make our way through it, questioning and commenting as Bill mangles the pronounciation of everything, a track at a time.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Brian and Bill decide to mix things up a bit by doing an even deeper dive into a song from this week's album by spending way too much time discussing Pearl Jam's "Betterman" off the 1994 album Vitalogy. Bill tells the story of how PJ helped unlock his fandom of music while vacationing in the mountains of West Virginia with his family in 2000. He then talks about watching Touring Band 2000, the Pearl Jam concert film, and watching Eddie Vedder's hands to learn how to play Betterman, which of course leads to a little bit of a guitar demonstration. Additionally, we read a listener email that throws some artists at us that we should cover!
Bill and Brian are joined by rock journalist and music critic Steven Hyden (Pitchfork, Uproxx, Grantland, A.V Club) to talk about Pearl Jam's divisive third album Vitalogy (1994, Epic). Written on tour and recorded piecemeal and haphazardly, the band started to showcase its eclectic nature by featuring some noise collages and a more "punk" sound. Especially influenced by singer Eddie Vedder's trouble dealing with fame and the suicide of one of their closest peers Kurt Cobain, the album took on a darker, grittier tone that, although dismissed at the time, has become revered by Pearl Jam die hards. Steven talks about how Pearl Jam and their "feud" with Nirvana figures into his book, Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me, and how Nirvana helped shape his views on Pearl Jam and this album upon its release. Then Bill, Brian, and Steven discuss Dave Abbruzzese's excellent drumming and why his guns and sport cars got him dismissed from the band, how Eddie Vedder can be too good of a singer, how powerful the band is on "Corduroy," how using early takes both helped and hindered the album, PJ's penchant for trilogies, Vedder's ability to successfully write from a female perspective, how Pearl Jam has become the last huge rock act that has sustained its career, Vitalogy's similarities to Rust Never Sleeps, the importance of viewing this album as a whole, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Be sure to check out Steven's book, available at all fine book establishments, including at the following link!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill is once again joined by Jim Hanke of the Vinyl Emergency podcast (soundcloud.com/vinylemergency) to talk about Foo Fighters! We fast forward a little bit in the band's career to discuss a song from their 1999 album There Is Nothing Left to Lose, "Aurora." Jim talks about how this album reflected the band adopting a more mainstream sound but how this song stood out to him and has held up over the years. Bill defends his fandom of this song and the album while complimenting Nate Mendel's exceptional bass playing. Additionally, we read some listener email that gets us analyzing the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack in detail and revealing some great trivia about Lou Reed pre-Velvet Underground history!
Bill welcomes podcaster/music guru Jim Hanke from the Vinyl Emergency podcast (soundcloud.com/vinylemergency) to talk about Foo Fighters' self titled debut album (1995, Capitol/Roswell). Following the tragic suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, the band's drummer, Dave Grohl, was left with no band and an uncertain future. Instead of taking offers from Tom Petty to join the Heartbreakers, Grohl decided to take his future into his own hands and front his own group. Jim talks about his podcast, forgives Bill for not really owning vinyl, and discovering the Foos on Eddie Vedder's Self- Pollution pirate radio broadcast in early 1995. Bill and Jim also discuss the album's "indie" aesthetic, the influence of Nirvana on how the album is perceived, how Foo Fighters maybe haven't really ever put out a front to back great album, how Dave Growl has become the official spokesman of rock 'n' roll, how studio noise draws us in, the band's attitude toward and humor in music videos, William Goldsmith's heavy drumming, the album working in groups of 3, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up their interview with Those Pretty Wrongs, Luther Russell and Jody Stephens, about their debut album by discussing the b-side, ""Fool of Myself," to their 2015 single "Lucky Guy." The gentlemen talk a little about the Big Star "box," why this song doesn't quite fit with the rest of the album, and a little bit about a Badfinger "vibe." Additionally, we read a listener email about how we helped keep his sanity in check by mentioning the Beatles. Make sure to check out his web comic, crustedsalt.com!
Bill and Brian welcome legendary Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and acclaimed LA musician Luther Russell for a slightly different than usual episode. We had the pleasure to have the artists themselves provide a track by track commentary! Bill and Brian took the opportunity to head down to Memphis, spend time at Ardent Studios, and chat with Jody and Luther about the making of their album, the self titled debut from Those Pretty Wrongs (due out May 13th, 2016 from Ardent Music and Burger Records). Jody and Luther discuss the beginnings of the band, the cross continent writing process, recording at the historic Ardent using some of Chris Bell's guitars, their influences (such as Willis Alan Ramsey), and the positivity inherent throughout the album before we discuss the entire album, one song at a time. As we make our way through, we talk about how mean Eva Gardner could be (in film), Jody's dog's journey through some health issues, empty Chinese cities, arranging harmonies (that feature Danny De La Matyr!), a great story about a toy cube and sideshow freaks, the influence of Big Star's Alex Chilton and Chris Bell on the songwriting and their presence in the DNA of the music, remaining positive in the face of loss, and so so much more!
Make sure to check out the album from Those Pretty Wrongs, due out May 13th from Ardent Music in partnership with Burger Records!
Many thanks to Addison Hare for making this happen!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill has returned from his world travels to join Brian in a follow up to our remembrance of Prince to discuss his performance as part of the George Harrison tribute from the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. On a stage filled with other distinguished artists such as Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood and others, Prince stole the show with his electrifying lead guitar. In the face of such a huge cultural loss, Bill takes the opportunity and some time to discuss his own recent personal loss and how the two compare and contrast. Additionally, we read a couple emails about great film soundtracks from the 90s!
Brian is joined by thegreatalbums.com's blog author (and previous on-air guest) Jeff Fiedler to discuss the recent passing of Prince Rodgers Nelson who died suddenly and unexpectedly on April 21, 2016. They queue up six of their favorites, talking about his immense influence over the 80s and early 90s. Jeff talks about a fortuitous Prince-related Halloween experience and Brian recounts a fateful drive with his friends when he was only 18. Along the way they touch on the fact that Prince, even in the face of failure, never stopped trying to move things along and always - always - made sure that wherever he was in his career, he never stopped bringing it live!
We find John Lennon in the throes of wicked productivity during his "Lost Weekend." This time, instead of producing an album for himself or for Harry Nilsson, or writing with David Bowie, he's helming the boards for Mick Jagger on a funky version of an old blues standard. They are joined by Jim Keltner on drums and Cream's Jack Bruce on bass along with a host of Stones-related sidemen to produce what Brian believes is the best post-Exile Stones-related thing available.
Brian flies solo this week for a full episode, deciding to tackle one of John Lennon's less-regarded, but no less amazing albums; 1974's Walls & Bridges. Recorded during Lennon's legendary "Lost Weekend," W&B finds its creator at a personal and professional crossroads. And by the time we get to the end, Lennon has logged two Top 10 hits (including his first #1) and come to the realization that - while going out and having fun every night might be great for a little while - there's truly no place like home. Success achieved.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian discuss Gin Blossoms' "Til I Hear It from You" from the Empire Record soundtrack. Bill explains the legendary cult 90s film to Brian as they break down what makes the song great!
Bill and Brian delight in sharing their admiration for what may be a sometimes overlooked gem from the early 90s, the Gin Blossoms' New Miserable Experience (1992. A&M). Known as a hardworking band that loves the rigors of touring, the Tempe, AZ natives spent years toiling in obscurity, even spending over a year promoting this album, before they finally broke through to the mainstream with their third single "Hey Jealousy." The success was unfortunately timed, however, as founding member and principal songwriter Doug Hopkins, who had been dismissed from the band for drug and alcohol related issues before the album was even released, committed suicide shortly after his song ascended the charts. In this episode, Bill discusses how he started his deep dive into the band's catalog and began to see them as more than just a 90s nostalgia act after catching a performance at Six Flags Great Adventure. Bill and Brian also talk about how terrible Deep Blue Something really is, the canonization of NME, how alcoholism has touched our lives, when bass players should pull the root note 8th notes out of their bag of tricks, what BPMs are considered mid-tempo, the difference between overdrive and distortion, soloing off key, how long it takes to write a song, which Buddy Holly-esque pre-rock'n'roll melody is the best on the album, how life isn't over at the age of 29, and a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian waxes rhapsodic about one of his favorite songs and how it manages to blend free jazz, rock and roll, classical, and the avant garde to create a profound new sound. He takes a few emails from listeners, as well, shedding insight into how exactly The Strokes drumming is so precise. Brian also touches on the Ice Cube v. Gene Simmons "Is rap music eligible for the rock hall of fame" controversy.
Bill and Brian had a lot to do as Easter came early and Bill was prepping for his extensive trip to India, so they made it easy on themselves by sitting down to talk about another 10 great songs! We discuss songs from the Dollys, Frank Sinatra, Emitt Rhodes, Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Teenage Fanclub, Nada Surf, Plumtree, Band of Horses, the Decemberists.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And that means Brian and Bill once again join forces to discuss a single song. This week, we follow up our conversation with Savannah Pope of SpaceCream (spacecreamband.com) about David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by discussing a slightly less regarded section of his discography in the 80s, "Let's Dance." We talk about Nile Rodgers and Stevie Ray Vaughn's influence on the song as well as Bowie's career trajectory through the 80s. Additionally, we read some listener feedback that questions Bill's supposition that the Age of the Album started in 1964 and continued through till 2007, which leads Brian to metaphorically climb to the roof of the house and shout literal expletives.
Savannah Pope, singer for LA based glam rock outfit SpaceCream (spacecreamband.com), joins Bill and Brian via the magic of Skype to discuss David Bowie's seminal glam album the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972, RCA). What more needs to be said about Bowie that hasn't been done in the months since his death in January? He was an iconic artist that defined glam rock for many. On this episode, Savannah shares how she discovered Bowie as a teenager at reform school and helps us define exactly what glam rock is. Bill, Brian, and Savannah discuss the many phases of Bowie's career, what androgyny means creatively, the rock opera behind the music, Bowie's relationship with sanity, strange connections to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and John Williams, the meaning of the word "creature," mellotron, and as always a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill regales everyone with a story of listening to Pavement via YouTube and first connecting with this song from their album Terror Twilight (1999, Matador). Additionally, we pulled an unaired excerpt from the episode on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain in which our guest, blogger Jim Appio (cooldadmusic.com), talks with Bill and Brian about success and what means for musicians and their art.
The cool dad himself, blogger Jim Appio (cooldadmusic.com), joins Brian and Bill to talk about Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994, Matador). The brainchild of singer songwriter Stephen Malkmus, the band grew it's reputation as indie alternative auteurs with a series of EPs before releasing their debut album, Slanted and Enchanted, and becoming a touring band proper. They followed up with this "breakthrough" album that, although it only made a small impression commercially, has gone on to be an influential and critical success. Jim talks about discovering the band shortly after this release and how their noisy alt sound conflicted with his usual love of "tight pop" music. Bill, Brian, and Jim discuss how Pavement fit into the "classic alternative" mold, the band's knowing references, guitar solos and being anti-rock, how sports are like war, where the underdog exists geographically in the US, how Pitchfork forced us to discuss Pavement's place within the pantheon of greatest songs from the 90s, how every song on every album is somebody's favorite song by that band, and of course a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up their conversation with Ed and Alice Magdziak from youdontknowjersey.com about the Beastie Boys debut album by cherry picking a huge hit from the middle of the band's career, "Intergalactic" from 1998's Hello Nasty. The gentlemen discuss why Brian isn't particularly a fan of the song, how the Beastie Boys no longer had to prove themselves, why John Fugelsang's VH1 Top 20 Countdown was better than Total Request Live, the song's cool video, and the difference between kaiju, hentai, and yaoi. Also, we read some listener emails in which we find out what song Hozier's "Take Me to Church" interpolated into the pre-chorus and Brian is once again called out for his Long Island bashing!
Bill and Brian welcome bloggers Ed and Alice Magdziak from youdontknowjersey.com to help us talk about what makes Beastie Boys' License to Ill great. Formed by 3 teenage New Yorkers who held the burgeoning rap scene of the early 80s in the same regard as the hardcore punk they grew up on, the band went on to release a huge cross over hit that was only a hint at the critically acclaimed and influential series of albums they would produce. Alice and Ed discuss their very different experiences discovering the band in middle-of-nowhere Ohio and as a college sophomore who had a chance meeting, respectively. Brian, Bill, Ed, and Alice discuss the Beastie Boys' party dude image, the mysoginistic and sexist content on the album, the influence of happenstance in meeting producer Rick Rubin and label head Russell Simmons, how broad the genre divide is in rap music, the importance of sequencing especially when navigating mediocre tracks, and of course a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill goes solo to share a little more about his experience with Biggie Smalls' music by covering his nerdy middle school years and (poorly) dancing to this track at his school's monthly dances. Additionally, Bill reads a couple of listener emails where we learn how Billboard incorporates streams into their metrics, what bros do at Dave Matthews Band concerts, and what bros do at Pearl Jam shows!
A few weeks ago, Adam from the Driving in the Dark podcast kindly sent us an intriguing and convincing email on the virtues of rap music, pointing to The Notorious BIG's Ready to Die (1994, Bad Boy) as a great example of a singular vision executed with precision that would definitely benefit from the Great Albums treatment. So we immediately invited him to join us in a discussion. Adam turned out to be a well of knowledge about rap artists and the history of the genre's development over the last 40 years. On this podcast, we chronicle Adam's first experiences with rap music and this album before recounting how Christopher Wallace (AKA Biggie Smalls) went from teenage hustler to one of rap's most respected icons. Adam spends a lot of time kindly explaining the art of rap to Bill as the latter challenges himself with an album from a genre he doesn't have much experience with. During our track by track review of Ready to Die, we also discuss the function of narrative in rap, the evolution of Biggie's deep, smooth flow, the glorification of violence, literal interpretations of what rappers do on their albums, Brian's taste in rap music, Biggie's humor, his development as a pop songwriter, the unique choice of shout outs, the hypocrisy and contradictions present on the lyrics all throughout the album, juvenile sex skits, Biggie meeting Michael Jackson, and make sure to listen the fatigue we all push through as we have one of our longest conversations ever!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill welcome back musician Matt Pischl to discuss more Dave Matthews Band, focusing on the group's 2001 release Everyday and the song "The Space Between." We talk about the change in DMB's sound, Glenn Ballard, using some of these songs to entice a lady friend into making out, and we read a listener email addressing why we play songs and THEN talk about them on the podcast!