Jenny Lewis & The Watson Twins

Jenny Lewis & Reviews of Prince and The Flaming Lips

This week Jim and Greg get a visit from one of the reigning indie pop queens—Jenny Lewis. Plus they'll review the new albums from Prince and The Flaming Lips and pop a quarter into the Desert Island Jukebox.

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Prince 3121

This week's show begins with a discussion of the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince. The enigmatic musician made news this week when his new album 3121 debuted at Number 1 on the Billboard charts. Hard to believe, but this was Prince's first number-one debut. He has since been dethroned by Atlanta rapper T.I., but it was certainly an impressive comeback for this revolutionary pop icon. Before giving reviews of the album, Jim and Greg discuss other late-career comebacks. In the '90s the Grateful Dead found a new audience with their only Top 40 song, "Touch of Grey." Santana is another artist whose first couple of albums went platinum, but did not find further success until 1999's Supernatural. That album, which paired the guitarist with contemporary pop artists like Rob Thomas, Wyclef Jean and Everlast, sold 15 million copies. Clive Davis tried this same approach with Prince on the album Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic, but the results were not as, um, fantastic. Other late career successes include Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, and most recently, Mariah Carey. So is 3121 an artistic comeback as well as a commercial one? For Jim, it is not the achievement that Prince's earlier albums were, but still merits a Buy It rating. Greg is not so kind. There are a handful of tracks that are worth sampling, but this critic only suggests you Burn It.

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Music News

Jim and Greg take time to pay tribute to Buck Owens. The country pioneer died recently at the age of 76 and was buried this week in his hometown of Bakersfield, CA. While most of the headlines simply refer to Owens as the“star of Hee Haw,”he made significant contributions to rock and country music. According to Greg, he was one of the first musicians to use the Telecaster. You can hear some of that great, gritty fuzz tone in "Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass." He also played with the original alt-country rebel, Merle Haggard. Owens was not the cornpone country singer that Hee Haw made him out to be, and for this reason he was respected by people like The Beatles, Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle.

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Jenny Lewis

Another California native with a country spirit is singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis. The Rilo Kiley frontwoman joins Jim and Greg to talk about her latest solo album, Rabbit Fur Coat. Last year Rilo Kiley achieved some success with their second album More Adventurous, and even opened for Coldplay and played at Coachella. Therefore, the timing of this solo project seems to be curious. As Jenny explains, however, doing solo projects and side projects has always been apart of her band's experience. She previously worked with Ben Gibbard on The Postal Service, and Rilo Kiley bandmate Blake Sennett has another band called The Elected.

One of Jenny's motivations for this solo album was her desire to sing with women. She is joined on Rabbit Fur Coat and in our studio by The Watson Twins, Chandra and Leigh Watson. Jenny explains that she grew up singing with her mother and was inspired by albums like Gonna Take a Miracle by Laura Nyro and LaBelle.

It should be noted that Jenny didn‘t just grow up singing. She was also a fairly successful child actress and appeared in ’80s movies like Troop Beverly Hills and The Wizard. She explores some of that history on the album. She also addresses people who are skeptical of her authenticity — being that she was born in Las Vegas and bred in L.A. rather than Kentucky. But, as Jenny points out and as listeners learned in the previous segment, California and towns like Bakersfield have significant country roots. Oddly enough, Jenny is not the only member of Rilo Kiley to have that dreaded“child actor”label. Blake Sennett was a regular on shows like Boy Meets World and Salute Your Shorts.

reviewAt War with the Mystics (Deluxe Version)At War With the Mystics available on iTunes

Flaming Lips At War With the Mystics

Next up is a review of the new Flaming Lips album At War With the Mystics. The Oklahoma band has been around for almost 25 years, and this is their 12th album. The Lips' first big breakthrough came in 1993 with Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. That album was lauded by Jim and Greg at the time, and the single "She Don't Use Jelly" was one of the big alternative hits of the year. Then, in 1999, the band released The Soft Bulletin, which became a huge critical success, and in 2002, the band finally got some commercial recognition with their first Gold album Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots. After listening to one of the new songs, "Pompeii am Gotterdammerung" (which gives multi-instrumentalist and musical wizard Steven Drozd his first stab at vocals), Greg gives his review of the album. Jim refrains from offering his review because he feels he is too close to the work. Mr. DeRogatis just released his 5th book, Staring at Sound: The True Story of Oklahoma's Fabulous Flaming Lips, and the journalist in him can‘t give a rating of the record. However, listeners can certainly surmise his opinions after listening to our hosts’ discussion. Greg admits off the bat that he is not blown away. He feels like the band tried to out-gimmick itself, providing the song "Yeah Yeah Yeah" as an example. Greg admits that the songs translate better live, and Jim predicts that come this summer, when the Flaming Lips perform at Lollapalooza, Greg will have to eat his Burn It. We'll just have to wait and see.

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“Fever”Peggy Lee

This week Mr. Kot makes a Desert Island Jukebox pick. He chooses "Fever" by Peggy Lee. "Fever" is a rare example of a white singer covering a song by a black artist and actually bringing something positive to it. "Fever" was originally recorded by Little Willie John. Greg points out that Peggy Lee is the last person you'd imagine covering a testosterone-fueled R&B song like "Fever," but she certainly was up to the task.

Featured Songs

  1. Prince,“Get On the Boat,”3121, 2006
  2. Grateful Dead,“Touch of Grey,”In the Dark, 1987
  3. Santana,“Put Your Lights On,”Supernatural, 1999
  4. Mariah Carey,“We Belong Together,”The Emancipation of Mimi, 2005
  5. Prince,“3121,”3121, 2006
  6. Buck Owens,“Act Naturally,”Billboard Top Country Hits 1963, 1963
  7. Ringo Starr,“Act Naturally,”Anthology & 10 Year Anniversary, 2000
  8. Dwight Yoakam,“Streets of Bakersfield,”Billboard Top Country Hits, 1988
  9. Ray Charles,“Cryin' Time,”Sweet and Sour Tears, 1964
  10. Creedence Clearwater Revival,“Lookin‘ Out my Back Door,”Cosmo’s Factory, 1970
  11. Buck Owens,“Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass,”Buck Owens in London, 1969
  12. Jenny Lewis, "Rise Up With Fists!!" (Live on Sound Opinions),
  13. Jenny Lewis,“The Charging Sky”(Live on Sound Opinions),
  14. Jenny Lewis,“Happy,”Rabbit Fur Coat, 2005
  15. The Flaming Lips,“The Wand,”At War with the Mystics, 2006
  16. The Flaming Lips, "Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung", At War with the Mystics, 2006
  17. The Flaming Lips, "The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song", At War with the Mystics, 2006
  18. Little Willie John,“Fever”Rhythm & Blues, 1956

Footnotes

dead.net The Grateful Dead's homepage santana.com Santana's homepage amazon.com Buy ‘Supernatural’ robthomasmusic.com Rob Thomas's homepage wyclef.com Wyclef Jean's homepage amazon.com Buy ‘Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic’ ericclapton.com Eric Clapton's homepage bonnieraitt.com Bonnie Raitt's homepage allmusic.com Prince's discography allmusic.com Buck Owens bakersfield.com Bakersfield, CA wikipedia.org The Telecaster metrolyrics.com“Who's Gonna Mow Your Grass”lyrics beatles.com The Beatles' homepage dwightyoakam.com Dwight Yoakam's homepage steveearle.com Steve Earle's homepage jennylewis.com Jenny Lewis's homepage rilokiley.com Rilo Kiley's homepage metacritic.com Rabbit Fur Coat metacritic.com More Adventurous coldplay.com Coldplay's homepage coachella.com Coachella wikipedia.org About Ben Gibbard thewatsontwins.com The Watson Twins' homepage amazon.com Buy ‘Gonna Take a Miracle’ allmusic.com Laura Nyro allmusic.com LaBelle imdb.com Jenny Lewis's acting credits popmatters.com Troop Beverly Hills imdb.com The Wizard imdb.com Blake Sennett's acting career wikipedia.org Boy Meets World tv.com Salute Your Shorts flaminglips.com The Flaming Lips' homepage amazon.com At War With the Mystics' allmusic.com Transmissions from the Satellite Heart metacritic.com The Soft Bulletin amazon.com Buy ‘Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots’ metrolyrics.com“Pompeii am Gotterdammerung”lyrics nellmedia.com The Steven Drozd Appreciation Club amazon.com Jim's book on The Flaming Lips lollapalooza.com Lollapalooza allmusic.com Peggy Lee