Results for 2006

interviews

The Flaming Lips

This week's guests are two of the members of Oklahoma's Flaming Lips, co-founder Wayne Coyne and long-time member, multi instrumentalist and co-songwriter Steve Drozd. Wayne chimes in that their two other current band members, Michael Ivins and touring drummer Clifford, couldn‘t make it to the interview. Ivins was too preoccupied erecting the UFO for that night’s live gig in Chicago. Greg points out that Wayne at one time admitted he was part of a band that couldn‘t play, had a singer that couldn’t sing, and heralded from an unknown town. Yet, here they are 25 years later, still going strong. As someone who wrote a book about The Flaming Lips. Jim continues to be astounded by the extensiveness of their career. He feels it parallels the career of Pink Floyd who had at least four different incarnations over 30 or 40 years. The Lips' first era was their '80s psychedelic era with it's key album In a Priest Driven Ambulance from 1990. On this album, former Lips drummer Jonathan Donahue replaced Nathan Roberts and the band collaborated for the first time with producer Dave Fridmann. Fridmann, who would go on produce many other Lips‘ albums, brought a higher level of musicality and production to the Lips’ sound. In a Priest Driven Ambulance was also the album that introduced Steve Drozd to the Flaming Lips (he did not join the band until almost a decade into the band's career). Drozd loved the album's“loud psychedelic rock guitar”with "hokum balladry". Greg also adds that the record contained a non-ironic cover of Louis Armstrong's "It's a Wonderful World" amidst the cynical and cooler-than-thou indie rock community.

Even though the band started in 1983, it wasn't until 1992 that The Flaming Lips signed to a major label. The first album for Warner Brothers Records was Hit to Death in the Future Head. Wayne and the band saw this as an opportunity to make a record that's worth the“billion dollars”major labels can spend on albums. Greg feels that their new ambition really exceeded the ambition they had with their previous work. He feels it's clearly evident in 1993's Transmissions from the Satellite Heart. To Jim this album marks the moment when Wayne's songwriting started to rise from the background and move towards the caliber of the Lips' sonic density. Transmission from the Satellite Heart's, "She Don't Use Jelly" is such an example. Even though the song became their breakthrough“wiggy, novelty hit.”it was a "beautiful bubble gum song with a poignant lyric" wrapped inside an amazing musical production. Wayne and the band knew almost from the beginning that the song could be a hit. The song's hook was created from the lyrics which Wayne got from equating smearing chapstick on your lips to buttering your toast. Wayne's story dispels the rock critic myth that these lyrics were a code for sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. Greg brings everyone back to the dense sound of Transmissions From the Satellite Heart. He wonders how Steven came upon the idea layering the heavy“Bonham-esque”drums underneath pop songs. Steven admits that the sound was inspired by Larry Mullen's drums on U2's War.

Greg wonders if the band's next transformation happened after guitarist Ronald Jones left the band in 1996. Wayne agrees that Ronald's leaving changed the band. Although, Steve adds that he himself was burnt out and heavily into drugs at the time. At this point the Lips re-tooled into the era of their parking lot experiments, boom box experiments and the 1997 release of the four-CD album Zaireeka — an album designed for the listener play all four CD's simultaneously on four different sound systems in the same room. Each project was an orchestration of random sounds, a symphony of noise. Wayne wanted to try something new and take a chance.

After the band went through their two year sonic experiment they released the album The Soft Bulletin in 1999, which Jim considers a pop masterpiece. Wayne thinks the signature song from that album is "Race For the Prize". The song is in reference to two scientists fighting to cure a disease. Also on the album is "Waitin' for a Superman," inspired by Wayne and his brother jogging around the lake to deal with their father's bout with cancer. These two songs are full of meaningful and heartstung lyrics. Jim pipes in that that Wayne wouldn‘t have been able to write lyrics like this earlier in the Lip’s career. Wayne chalks it up to the experience of life changing you, which changed him and the band for the better.

2002's Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots is a continuation of the band's lyrical progression, especially with its song "Do You Realize??" Another key song is "Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1." (You can hear their live performance here.)

The critical response to these last two albums was, as Jim puts it,“nothing short of ecstatic.”The latest album, 2006's At War With the Mystics hasn‘t seen the same response (including from our own Greg Kot.) Steve and Wayne kind of expected it. They’re just as happy to win a Grammy for a song titled, "The Wizard Turns On…The Giant Silver Flashlight And Puts On His Werewolf Moccasins."

Go to episode 94

Kelis

R&B singer/songwriter Kelis has been making music since her debut release in 1999…longer if you count her time at the "Fame" school (New York's LaGuardia High School of Music, Art & Performing Arts). But it wasn't until 2003's breakout hit "Milkshake," that Kelis really brought all the fans to the yard. That song, produced by Chad Hugo and Pharrell Williams of The Neptunes, went gold. But, Kelis' next step was surprising. She released 2006's Kelis Was Here and then took a big break…to go to culinary school! By this time she had married rapper Nas, and in 2009 they publicly announced their split while Kelis was 7 months pregnant with her son. All of that—motherhood, family and food—has made its way on to the new record, aptly titled Food. It's a focused reinvention of sounds, produced by TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek. Kelis stopped by our studio to performed songs from Food and talk about the pitfalls of stardom, her breakup with Nas, and how Jerk Ribs found its way into a song title.

Go to episode 454

Midlake

When Jim and Greg were at SXSW last year they discovered one of their new favorite bands: Midlake. The Denton, TX quintet have been around for about 10 years, but Greg notes that the current Midlake is almost unrecognizable from the old one. He and Jim talk with three-fifths of the band (Eric Pulido, Eric Nichelson, Tim Smith) about how they came together and evolved. The lead singer Tim explains that OK Computer was integral to their development from a 30-minute jam band to what they are today. Psychedelic music fan Jim also wanted to ask what is in the water in Denton. Considering the size and location of the city, it's surprising how many bands came out of there. Eric Pullido, the band's rhythm guitarist, responds that the Denton community really supports art and music.

During their visit Tim and the two Erics of Midlake play "Van Occupanther" off their 2006 release The Trials of Van Occupanther. Tim, the chief songwriter, explains that during a game of “strangest name,”someone came up with Van Occupanther, and everything followed from there. He dismisses the notion of a“concept record,”but admits that there are recurring themes and a cohesive nature to the album due to the fact that all the songs stem from one person. The band also plays "Chasing After Deer," and discusses the process of writing Jim, Greg and Jason Lytle's favorite track, "Roscoe." You can also hear the bonus track "Bandits" here.

Go to episode 95
reviews
Consolers of the LonelyConsolers of the Lonely available on iTunes

The Raconteurs Consolers of the Lonely

Like Gnarls Barkley, The Raconteurs had a successful debut album in 2006. Now, Jack White, Brendan Benson and company are back with a follow-up called Consolers of the Lonely. From the start this project was clearly an opportunity for Jack White to step outside of the boundaries of minimalism that contain the music of The White Stripes. But at the core of all the instrumentation and experimentation of the first Raconteurs record were strong melodies. And for Greg, that's where the second album falls short. In addition to missing the great songs of the White Stripes, he found himself longing for their humor and eroticism. There isn't really anything appealing to Greg on Consolers of the Lonely, and he's not sure why the band rushed it out. Jim, who is an admitted fan of the art rock genre, says there is nothing worse than a bad art rock record — and this is a really bad art rock record. He notes that the band has made a point to encourage listeners to take in the album as a whole, but thinks this is terrible advice. There are only a couple of good tracks on the album, so listening to it as a whole was not an enjoyable experience for Jim. He calls it awful and depressing. Looks like our two hosts need the consoling. They both give the new Raconteurs a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 122
Seventh TreeSeventh Tree available on iTunes

Goldfrapp Seventh Tree

Goldfrapp is another duo with a new album out called Seventh Tree. The British electronic act formed in 1999, and since then Jim and Greg have disagreed on each album, including 2006's Supernature. Now it seems they are destined to disagree once again. Goldfrapp has returned to its bucolic, trip-folk roots and Greg is happy to hear it. He appreciates their orchestration and lead singer Allison Goldfrapp's voice and gives Seventh Tree a Burn It. Jim admits that recently he's been dissing duos a lot on the show, but he can't recommend this album. He finds it completely boring and gives a Trash It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 120
FishscaleFishscale available on iTunes

Ghostface Killah Fishscale

Wu-Tang Clan member Ghostface Killah also has a new album out. Fishscale is the fifth solo record for this hip hop veteran, who joined the Wu-Tang Clan over a decade ago. Ghostface has always been known as a complicated, skilled lyricist, and he lives up to his reputation on this release. Fishscale, itself a slang term for uncut cocaine, gives a narrative of life on the streets in New York. These stories are paired with samples and beats from producers like Jay Dilla, Pete Rock and Just Blaze. Listen to the sample of a blaxsploitation-style education film in the track we play, "Kilo." Incidentally, this is the first Ghostface solo album without any production from fellow Clansman RZA. Whether or not that bodes in Ghostface's favor is up to our hosts. Jim believes gangsta rap and songs about drug dealing are pretty played out, but admits that Ghostface brings something completely new. He compares the rapper to writer Jim Thompson and gives Fishscale a Burn It. Greg has to go with a Buy It rating. He is compelled by the stories of Ghostface's childhood, the surreal rap tangents and the immense hooks. According to Greg, this record parallels early NWA records and is not only one of the best albums of Ghostface's career, but of 2006.

JimGreg
Go to episode 20
G I R LG I R L available on iTunes

Pharrell G I R L

For a long time, baby-faced Pharrell Williams was better known as a producer for artists like Jay-Z and his own N.E.R.D. But in 2006 Pharrell stepped out more as a vocalist, releasing a lukewarm solo album and increasing his guest appereances on other artist's tracks. In 2012, two of those tracks, one with Robin Thicke and the other with Daft Punk, launched him to new heights of stardom. And with that momentum, Williams is back with a second solo album. G I R L's slick combination of disco and R&B sounds make the record an instant Try It for Jim. He would‘ve gone Buy It if it weren’t for Pharrell's tired lyrics about women. Greg also sighs at the empty lyrics, adding that Williams should stick with what he does best: producing. His ability to channel dancable rhythms from the likes of Prince and Stevie Wonder is his greatest asset and ultimately the only thing earning G I R L a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 433
dijs

Greg

“Nowhere Again”Secret Machines

Music fans experienced another loss over the holidays: Benjamin Curtis, one of the founding members of Secret Machines died at age 35 after a battle with cancer. He, brother Brandon and cousin Josh Garza, visited the show in 2006, and Greg fondly remembers their distinctive sound. While contemporaries like Yeah Yeah Yeahs and The Strokes were steeped in a New York punk and New Wave sound, Secret Machines had a more experimental and psychedelic edge. And when people lament the lack of great modern rock bands, Greg refers them to this one. So to remember Ben Curtis and Secret Machines, Greg adds "Nowhere Again" from the band's 2004 debut Now Here is Nowhere to the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 424
lists

The Best Albums of 2006 (So Far)

While most pop culture mavens wait until the end of the year to tally their favorites, Sound Opinions is so list-crazy, that we've decided to take 2006's half-way mark as an opportunity to take stock. Here are the albums Jim and Greg are loving so far:

Jim DeRogatis:

  1. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  2. Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  3. Misson of Burma, The Obliterati (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  4. Wolfmother, Wolfmother (Interscope)
  5. The Bellrays, Have a Little Faith (Cheap Lullaby)
  6. Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (Downtown) (hear Jim and Greg's interview with Art Brut)
  7. Belle and Sebastian, The Life Pursuit (Matador) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  8. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (Anti) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  9. Dilated Peoples, 20/20 (Capitol)
  10. Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror (Back Porch Records) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  11. The Flaming Lips, At War with the Mystics (Warner Bros.) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  12. Grandaddy, Just Like the Fambly Cat (V2) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  13. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Fur Coat (Team Love) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  14. Prince, 3121 (Universal/Motown) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  15. The Raconteurs, Broken Boy Soldiers (V2) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  16. Secret Machines, Ten Silver Drops (Reprise) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  17. The Strokes, First Impressions of Earth (RCA) (hear Greg's original review and interview with Julian Casablancas)
  18. The Subways, Young for Eternity (Sire)
  19. Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs, Under the Covers Vol. 1 (Shout Factory)
  20. Neil Young, Living with War (Reprise) (hear Jim and Greg's original review)

Greg Kot (in no particular order):

  1. Art Brut, Bang Bang Rock & Roll (hear Jim and Greg's interview with Art Brut)
  2. Love is All, Nine Times That Same Song
  3. Ghostface Killah, Fishscale (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  4. Neil Young, Living With War (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  5. Dirty on Purpose, Hallelujah Sirens
  6. Parts and Labor, Stay Afraid
  7. Alejandro Escovedo, The Boxing Mirror (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  8. Mission of Burma, The Obliterati (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  9. Gnarls Barkley, St. Elsewhere (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  10. Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins, Rabbit Furcoat (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  11. Neko Case, Fox Confessor Brings the Flood (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  12. Anthony Hamilton, Ain‘t Nobody Worryin’ (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  13. Mary J. Blige, The Breakthrough (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
  14. Midlake, The Trials of Van Occupanther
  15. Van Hunt, On the Jungle Floor (hear Jim and Greg's original review)
Go to episode 31

Summer Songs (Part 2)

Back in 2006, Greg and Jim put out a playlist of their favorite summer songs. Now they give you the long-awaited part 2 of their hot summer mixtape.

Go to episode 502
rock doctors

Joel

At this point in the show Jim and Greg put on their lab coats and welcome another patient for an appointment with the Rock Doctors. This week's patient is listener Joel from Chicago. Joel describes his symptoms for Drs. DeRogatis and Kot: he's a big music fan, particularly roots rock, but hasn‘t been inspired in recent years. He’s hoping the doctors can prescribe some new music that has a definite sense of blues, bluegrass and roots music, but also has some rocking edge.

Dr. DeRogatis goes first and prescribes Sparklehorse's 2006 album Dreamt For Light Years In The Belly Of A Mountain. The group is led by multi-instrumentalist Mark Linkous who has been paralyzed since 1996. Jim explains that Linkous‘ sound changed dramatically after being confined to a wheelchair. There’s a definite influence of alt-country and Southern gothic that Jim thinks Joel will appreciate. Plus, this album features some impressive guests like Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips and Tom Waits.

Dr. Kot recommends the new album from The Kills. The transcontinental duo met via the mail and have made three albums. Greg thinks the latest, Midnight Boom, is the best. He describes the band's sexy, in-your-face attitude and deep appreciation for the blues. Greg just hopes that Joel doesn't have an allergic reaction to their drum machine.

After a week taking his medicine, Joel returns for a follow-up appointment. He explains that the heavy production in the Sparklehorse initially put him off. But despite the fact that the music was a little slow at times, he can see himself returning to it. Joel describes Dr. Kot's pick as some strong medicine, but he really enjoyed The Kills' melodies and guitars. He thinks the album is at its best when the two singers are featured together, and was able to forget about the drum machine for the most part.

Go to episode 128

Julie

For what has become a recurring segment on Sound Opinions, Jim and Greg again don their white lab coats and assume the role of Rock Doctors. This week's patient is Julie, a listener who needs Drs. Kot and DeRogatis to prescribe some new music for her ailing ears. Julie consumes a steady (and stale) diet of Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and Lauryn Hill.

So, what do Jim and Greg prescribe to bring Julie into 2006?

Jim keys into how Julie appreciates Ella Fitzgerald's vocals and recommends L'Altra. He knows this is a risky (non-FDA) approved medication, but thought he'd go out on a limb and ask Julie to check out the latest album from the Chicago duo. His second remedy is D'Angelo's Voodoo. He knows Julie likes dense, layered R&B like that of Lauryn Hill and Stevie Wonder, and thinks Voodoo, though much darker and moodier, is one of the best R&B records made in the last decade.

Greg also keys into Julie's appreciation for songwriting and strong vocals, and gives her a dose of Jill Scott. He thinks that the patient will appreciate the way Scott describes the world and the way she playfully uses her voice. His second prescription is John Legend's debut album Get Lifted. Though Legend is often compared to singer/songwriters like Stevie Wonder, Greg thinks he brings that genre forward in a wonderful way.

A week later the patient returns to the Rock Doctors to let them know how she's progressing. While she appreciated the Jill Scott record, she found the songs almost too clever. Still, she wasn‘t completely turned off by this remedy, and also understood why Jim would prescribe her the D’Angelo — but that didn‘t really hit the spot. In fact, she completely forgot that she bought and listened to this album years ago. L’Altra overwhelmingly had the worst side effect. This patient can appreciate alternative medicine, but even a spoonful of sugar didn‘t help this album go down. By far the big winner of the bunch was John Legend’s Get Lifted; Julie loved this album. Sound Opinions hopes that it was just the right cure to keep her healthy and full of good, new music.

Go to episode 44
news

Music News

Jim and Greg talk about some surprising numbers Nielsen SoundScan recently released. According to the sales trackers, 40% of the albums old in 2006 were catalog sales. While there were a number of successful new releases from acts like Mary J. Blige, The Dixie Chicks and High School Musical, it seems that music fans still have a lot of nostalgia for the hair metal era of the 1980s. AC/DC's 1980 album Back in Black sold 444,000 copies last year, a figure that would make a contemporary CD a success. Also faring well was Metallica's 1991 self-titled album, Guns 'N Roses' Appetite for Destruction and Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits collection. The New Jersey band is also having success with their new release Lost Highway, though this is one figure Jim really can't wrap his head around.

Next the hosts discuss their recent experiences at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. The three day festival organized by the Chicago-based Internet music magazine pitchforkmedia.com and indie music promoter Mike Reed was attended by 48,000 people in Chicago's Union Park. In fact, both Jim and Greg worry that the concert is getting too big for its britches, and the park. There were a number of highlights including performances by Yoko Ono, Mastodon and Clipse and full-album performances from Sonic Youth, Slint and GZA. But, one of the problems with a festival that celebrates the underground is that eventually things move above ground. Even Third Stage acts like electronic artist Dan Deacon demanded a huge crowd. In addition a number of artists from previous Pitchfork Festivals are appearing at this year's Lollapalooza. One thing this proves is how big the Pitchfork tastemakers are now. More than MTV play or radio play, it's coverage on indie sites like pitchforkmedia.com that thrust an artist into the spotlight.

Go to episode 86

Music News

Kelly & Justin After fifteen years on the air, "American Idol" is being voted off. The pop cultural juggernaut ruled the airwaves for years, producing stars like Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, and Jennifer Hudson (along with plenty of forgettable "idols"). The show averaged 31.1 million viewers a week in 2006, but ratings during this final season are not even a third of that mark. Jim and Greg note the significance of “Idol,” but won‘t miss the overemotive style of singing it promoted. The show’s legacy, in any case, lives on in newer programs like "The Voice."

Go to episode 541

Music News

Jim and Greg start off the show with some good music industry news. The Internet music service Pandora has reported its first profitable quarter since launching a decade ago. Pandora seemed to be on the path of many Internet startups of the early 2000s, but now it boasts about 48 million users and projected earning of $100 million for 2010. To this we say Mazel Tov.

OK Go has been making a lot of news recently. First, after some debates with their label EMI, they released a free, embeddable video for their new song "This Too Shall Pass." This is a follow-up to the famous 2006 treadmills video for "Here It Goes Again," which has been viewed over 50 million times. The band's lead singer Damian Kulash discussed his philosophy on viral videos in an op-edin the New York Times. And just last week the band revealed that it had split from EMI to form a new label Paracadute. Prior to this announcement Jim and Greg spoke to Kulash about going viral, labels and going rogue.

OK Go

Go to episode 225