Results for electronic

interviews

Dan Deacon

Jim and Greg's guest this week is Dan Deacon. Or rather, Dan Deacon's guests are Jim and Greg. He welcomed our hosts for a conversation and live performance before his recent show at the Metro in Chicago. Dan is known for creating electronic magic with his laptop computer and keyboards and for his energetic, unique performance style. He's often right in the middle of the audience, sweating and dancing — nerd punk style, if you will. For Jim and Greg he stayed onstage with his band, but the music was no less amazing.

Go to episode 183

Scary Lady Sarah

Bauhaus For Jim and Greg, the ultimate Goth progenitors are the band Bauhaus. Named for the German art movement, the group made minimalist, electronic music that focused on dark subjects. Initially, they shied away from the term“Goth,”but with song titles like that of their debut single, "Bela Lugosi's Dead," you can understand why it stuck. Greg saw the group at the Coachella Music Festival in 2005, and vocalist Peter Murphy performed the entire song suspended upside down over the stage like a bat. So, it seems they've warmed up to the Goth moniker.

In order to go deeper into the Goth underground, Jim and Greg invite Scary Lady Sarah to join the show. Our guest has been a mainstay on the goth scene for almost 20 years. She is a DJ and promoter based in Chicago and Berlin, and runs American Goth Productions.

Scary Lady Sarah's goth rock picks:

  • Thatch Noir, "Cat in a Box"
  • Miguel and the Living Dead, "Graveyard Love Song"
  • Faith & The Muse, "Sredni Vashtar"
  • Pretentious, Moi?, "The Haunting"

Her other current faves include:

  • Blacklist
  • Diary of Dreams
  • Entertainment
  • Ether Aura
  • Frank the Baptist
  • Mephisto Walz
  • Passion Play
  • Solemn Novena
Go to episode 47

Top Albums of 2005

The“Best Records”list: It's“a sacred thing”in pop music fandom, says Jim, requiring a discerning ear and laser-like focus. Thankfully, our hosts are here to help. After sifting through hundreds of records, and countless days spent listening (perhaps to the discontent of their wives), they‘ve managed to pick out their absolute favorites. Here’s what Jim and Greg say they'll still be listening to in 2006.

Go to episode 2

Cut Copy

Next up Jim and Greg are visited by members of the Australian quartet Cut Copy. The group merges classic pop sounds with electronic dance beats, but began as just a bedroom project for former graphic designer and DJ Dan Whitford. He added guitars, drums and keyboards to the mix, and the result is a live instrumentation that rivals the production you'll hear on record. Cut Copy performs songs from their recent album Zonoscope, which packs in hooks and a sheen that harkens back to '70s pop radio. Check out video of the band in the studio.

Go to episode 308

Steve Earle

Steve Earle is Jim and Greg's guest this week. The singer/songwriter who can also add actor, novelist, radio show host and playwright to his credits visited the show with his duet partner, muse and seventh wife Allison Moorer. That's right: seven. But Steve is obviously not a man who is afraid of risks. After years living and working in Nashville, he moved to New York. And after years making rock music, he decided to incorporate hip hop beats and electronic elements on to his most recent record Washington Street Serenade. You can hear stripped down versions of the tracks, "Tennessee Blues," "Days Aren't Long Enough," and "Sparkle and Shine" during the show.

Go to episode 122

Darkside

Jim and Greg joined by the duo Darkside, featuring electronic artist electronic artist Nicholas Jaar and multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington. They first met while they were both students at Brown University. Harrington first worked with Jaar as a musician in his band during a solo tour, and then on Jaar's 2011 breakout album, Space Is Only Noise. The two musicians talk to Jim and Greg about writing songs that defy the genre definitions of electronica, jazz, funk & classical music. They also explain the route of the band's name, which involved a freak incident at a Berlin hotel. Plus, they play two tracks from Darkside's critically acclaimed 2013 album Psychic.

Go to episode 441

Jeff Chang

Jeff Chang, author of Can‘t Stop, Won’t Stop: A History of the Hip Hop Generation, joins Jim and Greg in the studio this week. Jeff, who co-founded the Quannum Label in San Francisco, was on the show previously when his book first came out, and he and our hosts engaged in a discussion of hip-hop's history. Now that Jeff's book has come out on paperback, Jim and Greg welcome him back to the show to discuss where hip-hop is today and where it is going. In order to get a sense of hip-hop's diverse makeup, the three music journalists decide to embark on a geographical tour of the genre, beginning with Chicago and working their way through the United States, and even the U.K.

Go to episode 15
specials

Wax Trax!

People in Chicago of a certain age fondly remember strolling down Lincoln Avenue into Wax Trax! Records. It was the epicenter of cutting edge culture in the 1980s. But even if you weren‘t there to sample goods from the record store and label, you’re familiar with its influence. Owners Jim Nash and Dannie Flesher created a world headquarters for artists who bridged disco, house, electronic, punk, and industrial music. Acts like Ministry, Front 242, RevCo, Underworld, KMFDM, and My Life With the Thrill Kill Kult went on to sell millions of records internationally. Nash died in 1995 and Flesher in 2010. A year later, Wax Trax friends and family celebrated its 33 1/3 anniversary at Metro in Chicago. Two key players in that scene were Chris Connelly and Paul Barker. They share their memories of Wax Trax with Jim and Greg.

Go to episode 293

Remembering Alan Vega

Alan Vega This week Jim and Greg pay tribute to Alan Vega, former singer for electronic protopunk band Suicide. Jim discusses the importance of Suicide in transforming the conception of the synthesizer from suitable for use solely in melodic or dance music into an abrasive instrument. Suicide's music often warranted extreme hate from crowds of listeners, and their aggressive electronic music helped pave the way for punk music. Suicide was widely influential and beloved by many artists –even Bruce Springsteen has been covering the band's music. Vega passed away on July 16 at the age of 78.

Go to episode 557

Remembering David Bowie

bowieremembered

Although passing away at the age of 69 seems early by today's standards, it's what music innovator David Bowie did with those 69 years that is significant. Bowie died after an 18-month battle with cancer on January 10th. He was responsible for creating magical personas, from Ziggy Stardust to Aladdin Sane to the Thin White Duke. Bowie released more than two-dozen albums exploring the genres of glam rock, dance, electronic and even jazz. Along with many of his solo hits, he participated in many memorable duets alongside artists like Mick Jagger, Tina Turner and Queen. He earned a considerable amount of success in the art world and as an actor in films like Labyrinth and The Prestige. His freedom of expression in his music, art and sexuality opened people's minds and inspired countless artists. David left behind a son (filmmaker Duncan Jones), his wife of 24 years (the supermodel Iman) and their daughter Alexandria. In this show, Jim and Greg discuss David Bowie's legacy and offer highlights from his long career. Producers and long time Bowie collaborators Brian Eno and Tony Visconti also share their memories of the pop chameleon.

If you're still missing David Bowie, take a listen to our Spotify playlist, Sound Opinions' Salute to David Bowie.

Go to episode 529

2014 In Memoriam

Jim and Greg remember some great musical figures who died in 2014. Here are just some of the people we'll miss.

Go to episode 475

Supergroups

This week Jim and Greg ponder the history of the Supergroup. This is the rock phenomenon where musicians from different bands blend together to form a new group. Take one 1 guitar virtuoso, sprinkle in a legendary drummer and add a dash of star singing-sometimes this is a great success, and sometimes the ingredients just don't mix. Recently there have been a number of new supergroups such as The Good, the Bad and the Queen, Them Crooked Vultures, Tinted Windows, Dead Weather and Monsters of Folk. For Jim the keys to a winning supergroup are that the members be individually“super,”and that they have chemistry together. Greg adds that there needs to be something especially compelling about the super-union for it to be more than just business.

Here are some hits and misses throughout history:

  • Traveling Wilburys
  • Chickenfoot
  • Million Dollar Quartet
  • Cream
  • Blind Faith
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young)
  • UK
  • Golden Palomino
  • Electronic
  • Temple of the Dog
  • Audioslave
  • Lucy Pearl
Go to episode 369

Supergroups

Jim and Greg ponder the history of the supergroup. This is the rock phenomenon where musicians from different bands join together to form a new group. Sometimes this is a great success, and sometimes the ingredients just don't mix. Recently there have been a number of new supergroups such as Them Crooked Vultures, Tinted Windows, Dead Weather and Monsters of Folk. For Jim the keys to a winning supergroup are that the members be individually“super,”and that they have chemistry together. Greg adds that there needs to be more compelling the super-union than just business.

Here are some hits and misses throughout history:

  • Traveling Wilburys
  • Chickenfoot
  • Million Dollar Quartet
  • Cream
  • Blind Faith
  • Crosby, Stills, Nash (and Young)
  • UK
  • Golden Palomino
  • Electronic
  • Temple of the Dog
  • Audioslave
  • Lucy Pearl
Go to episode 194
reviews
Pocket SymphonyPocket Symphony available on iTunes

Air Pocket Symphony

The French electronic duo Air gets the next review. Jean-Benoît Dunckel and Nicolas Godin got notice stateside with albums like Moon Safari and appearances on the Virgin Suicides soundtrack. Now they are back with their fourth album, Pocket Symphony, which was produced by Nigel Godrich. Jarvis Cocker of Pulp also makes an appearance. Greg thinks this release is more challenging than previous Air albums. He thinks the duo owes a great deal to Phillip Glass, but wishes they had introduced more of their light, pop touches. For Greg, the men of Air are better as producers than as frontmen. He gives it a Trash It. Jim calls Greg's analysis“cracked,”and thinks the combination of ambient and pop is just perfect. He gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 68
UnbreakableUnbreakable available on iTunes

Janet Jackson Unbreakable

For the first time in seven years, Janet Jackson has released a new album called Unbreakable. At the beginning of her career, she faced the challenge of stepping out of the shadow of her older brothers, which she did with the help of Minnesota songwriters and producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis. They worked together creating her signature rhythmic pop sound on many of Janet's most famous albums, including Control and Rhythm Nation 1814, and teamed up again for Unbreakable. Greg thinks Jackson's last record, 2008's Discipline, was probably her worst ever but she rebounded with a solid mid-career album. He appreciated that Janet stopped wasting her time with weak and overtly sexual material, and instead made music that is more true to her authentic self. Greg especially enjoyed the track "BURNITUP!," featuring one of his all-time favorite artists, Missy Elliott. He gives the record a Buy It. Jim agrees and highlights the strengths of Jam and Lewis' electronic, modernized sound. He thinks Janet is as confident and talented as ever. It's a double Buy It for Unbreakable.

JimGreg
Go to episode 515
Drums and Guns (Bonus Track Version)Drums and Guns available on iTunes

Low Drums and Guns

Drums and Guns is the new album from Low, the Duluth, MN "slowcore" band comprised of married couple Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker and Matt Livingston. The band recorded this album with producer Dave Fridmann, and the result is a bit of a departure. Jim notes that they've gone in a more electronic direction, but thinks that the traditional Low sound emerges after a few listens. He appreciates their experimentation, but because of a few misses, he must give the record a Burn It. Greg was also put-off by the electronic elements at first. But, like his fellow critic, he grew to appreciate and understand the album more after additional listens. Greg thinks the band did a great job of juxtaposing the noisy sound with the evocative lyrics. He gives Drums and Guns a Buy It, but warns listeners to proceed with caution.

JimGreg
Go to episode 68
KintsugiKintsugi available on iTunes

Death Cab for Cutie Kintsugi

Alternative rock mainstay Death Cab for Cutie has been going through some tough times lately and it's reflected in their latest record. Kintsugi is all about lead singer Ben Gibbard's divorce from actress Zooey Deschanel. Plus founding member, guitarist and producer Chris Walla announced he would be departing from the band in 2014. Greg thinks that the turmoil within the band makes this feel like a solo record and the new producer didn‘t make much of an impact. While the album had the potential to be melodramatic, it luckily wasn’t. The band just needed to get this record out of its system and Greg gives it a Try It. Jim enjoys Kintsugi more than Greg, and likes how the band has brought in more electronic sound and keyboards. He finds it to be another fine collection of songs and gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 489
Art AngelsArt Angels available on iTunes

Grimes Art Angels

Canadian electronic artist Grimes recently released her fourth album called Art Angels. She came from the underground music scene and rose to popularity with her 2012 album Visions, and was later signed to Jay Z's management company Roc Nation. Although Grimes is a talented singer and multi-instrumentalist, she's best known for the electronic dream pop sound that Art Angels is full of. At first, Greg was concerned that Grimes would lose her edge by putting out a more mainstream pop record. However, he is happy to report that Art Angels contains some elements of mainstream music but the entire album is done on her terms. Greg gives it a Buy It. Jim agrees; he not only enjoys the sonic components but also the powerful and feminist lyrics. He loves the record most because it's both energizing and fun. An enthusiastic Double Buy It for Art Angels.

JimGreg
Go to episode 521
Volta (Deluxe Version)Volta available on iTunes

Björk Volta

Finally, we get to Björk. The reigning Icelandic music queen just released her sixth studio album, Volta. After abandoning her trademark electronic beats for vocals with Medulla, Björk has returned to form and enlisted the help of beat-makers like Timbaland. She is also joined by Antony of Antony and the Johnsons and Malian kora player Toumani Diabate. While listeners hear two of the more upbeat tracks, including the Timbaland produced "Earth Intruders," the rest of the album is more of a mixed bag — a fact that is frustrating to Greg. To him there were great moments, but also abysmal ones. He realizes that Björk is being intentionally political and provocative, but the album as a whole is just too incoherent for her message to be heard. Greg can only give Volta a Burn It rating. Jim can't even agree that Björk is being provocative. To him, the singer is just trying to make us think, "Boy, isn't she weird?" He found himself hating this record, describing it as cold, pretentious and dreadful. Jim not only gives Volta a Trash It rating, but would like to give away the copy he currently has.

JimGreg
Go to episode 75
WildflowerWildflower available on iTunes

The Avalanches Wildflower

For the first time in 16 years, electronic act The Avalanches has released a new album. Wildflower is the follow-up to the Australian group's successful debut, Since I Left You. As on that influential first record, the new album features songs seemingly built on thousands of samples. This time around, though, the group is teaming up with several collaborators. Greg enjoyed Wildflower, and pointed out that he's a fan of The Avalanches' Day-Glo, positive energy. However, he thinks the numerous guest cameos from artists like Biz Markie, Danny Brown, and Ariel Pink are hit-and-miss. Overall, Greg is a fan of The Avalanches' quirky sound, but gives this record a Try It. Jim is a little more excited about this album, and compares it to watching Saturday morning cartoons as a kid. He thinks that this record might not be for everyone, but you should Buy It and see for yourself.

JimGreg
Go to episode 555
JunkJunk available on iTunes

M83 Junk

French electronic band M83 began as a bedroom project in 2001, but its recordings have become increasingly elaborate and lush. Now based in Los Angeles, the band reached a commercial and critical peak with its 2011 album Hurry Up, We're Dreaming and has returned with its seventh album, Junk. While previous records were unified concept albums, Junk is frustratingly all over the map, according to Jim. In interviews, leader Anthony Gonzalez claims to have been inspired by 1970s and '80s sitcoms like Who's the Boss? and Punky Brewster. The result, Jim says, is a few brilliant dance-pop moments, but also plenty of dreck, earning it a Try It. Greg misses the emotional connection that M83 built on Hurry Up, We're Dreaming. He finds Junk in contrast to be cheesy and intentionally slight, with often chintzy-sounding orchestration. But Greg hears just enough worthwhile tracks to salvage Junk as a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 540
Caracal (Deluxe)Settle available on iTunes

Disclosure Settle

With their 2013 release Settle, the British electronic duo Disclosure seemed destined to take EDM and mainstream pop by storm. They certainly pushed Sam Smith into the stratosphere. Then came a successful collaboration with Mary J. Blige on 2014's The London Sessions. But, Jim and Greg were disappointed to hear the new album Caracal is something of a let down. It's more song-focused, but also more star-focused with guest vocals by Lorde and The Weeknd. Jim and Greg have heard better from Howard and Guy Lawrence and these guest stars. Caracal gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 514
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
SurpriseSurprise available on iTunes

Paul Simon Surprise

Gnarls Barkley is not the only noteworthy collaboration discussed on this week's show — in fact, all of the albums up for review feature artists working with noteworthy producers. For example, singer/songwriter Paul Simon made the interesting decision to work with electronic music pioneer Brian Eno. Eno, who co-founded Roxy Music, has produced for David Bowie, The Talking Heads and U2. While this is an impressive résumé, Jim and Greg explain that Eno was still a surprising choice for Simon. Eno is infamous for dragging musicians out of their comfort zones, and Simon is certainly at a stage in his career where he could remain comfortable if he wanted. The result is literally a Surprise, though not necessarily a success, according to one of our hosts. Jim is fond of both the album's multi-layered, ambient sound and its complicated, occasionally self-deprecating lyrics. He gives it a Buy It. Greg, on the other hand, feels that this was a missed opportunity. He predicts that the two artists“tiptoed”around each other too much. It's a little too gentle, too sleepy, and too stagnant for Mr. Kot, who gives it a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
High LifeSomeday World available on iTunes

Karl Hyde & Brian Eno Someday World


Pop/Rock icon (and enabler of the Sound Opinions drinking game) Brian Eno boasts a tremendous library of groundbreaking work, as well as a long history of rich collaborations, including joint projects with artists such as the Talking Heads, David Bowie, U2, and Coldplay. Most recently, Eno joined forces with electronic Underworlder Karl Hyde. The partnership produced two albums, Someday World and High Life, both released in rapid succession this year. Jim believes the that the two albums must be considered together, with the latter, High life, simply an extension of the first and former Someday World. That one was a“poppier”album, mostly comprised of Eno's previously unfinished pieces bolstered by Hyde's intervention. From Jim's perspective, the duo's attempt to combine Phillip Glass-minimalism with afro-beats is“not the greatest in the world”(a staggering response from the "unofficial president of the Brian Eno fan club). And most importantly it fails to provide Eno fans with what they truly want: more singing Eno. That said, an ever-faithful student, he asserts a Buy It stance for himself and a Try It for the rest of us.

Unlike Jim, Greg argues that these two albums must be viewed as two distinct entities—separate endeavors each with their own merits and shortcomings. Although he dishes out a borderline Trash It rating to the patchwork Someday World, he remarks that“the duo really hit their stride,”with this second, more experimental attempt and gladly jumps on board Jim's Eno train to give High Life a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 450
Lost SirensLost Sirens available on iTunes

New Order Lost Sirens

At the beginning of the New Order review, Greg calls the English band's latest album Lost Sirens almost a collection of“leftovers.”That can‘t bode too well for it. New Order’s music in the 1980's was undeniably influential. There'd be no LCD Soundsystem or Radiohead without their electronic pop innovations. But, Jim doesn't hear anything that evokes their Madchester greatness on this effort. He says Trash It. Greg really liked the tracks "I Told You So" and "Hellbent", so that bumps up his rating to a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 374
In RainbowsIn Rainbows available on iTunes

Radiohead In Rainbows

While there's a lot of buzz about Radiohead's release experiment for In Rainbows, Jim and Greg believe that the album is actually one of the band's more subtle and modest efforts. It's 10 songs, 42 minutes of beautiful music, all of which feature the band's characteristic electronic elements, guitars and strings, but it's less straight-up rock than fans are used to. And, as Jim pointed out in his review of Thom Yorke's solo album Eraser, the Radiohead frontman has really refined his singing in the past couple of years. The result is almost a soul record according to Greg. It investigates human beings‘ need for love, despite the heartache it can bring. And, Jim adds, like almost all of the band’s releases, it also investigates the good and bad that can come from increased technology. Whatever themes you take from the record, Jim and Greg are confident that you will be happy to own this record — whether you pay for it or not. In Rainbows gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 99
dijs

Greg

“Another Mellow Winter”Mellow

In light of recent tragic events in Paris, this week Greg wanted to celebrate the music of France with his Desert Island Jukebox selection. He focuses in on French rock band Mellow, a group he had a memorable experience watching perform at SXSW in the early 2000s. Even though they have been relatively inactive the past few years, their 1999 album Another Mellow Spring is their masterpiece. Greg chose the track "Another Mellow Winter" off the album because of its psychedelic, electronic and surrealist vibes. It's an epic track that reminds Greg of the power and strength of French music.

Go to episode 521
news

Music News

It's no secret that Lil Wayne and his label, Cash Money, are not the best of friends these days. In fact, Cash Money boss Birdman and rapper Young Thug were recently named in an indictment for the attempted murder of Lil Wayne back in April during Wayne's tour in Atlanta. While Thug's manager Jimmy Winfrey was the only person charged with the shooting itself, the incident is yet another installment in the decade old conflict between Weezy and his label. To add to the drama, Wayne sued Cash Money earlier this year for $51 million over losses from the recorded but unreleased Carter V album. Instead of settling the suit, Cash Money has responded with its own $50 million suit against Jay Z's Tidal streaming service. Wayne's The Free Weezy Album was released earlier this summer as a Tidal exclusive, and Cash Money claims that Jay Z is using the profits in a“desperate and illegal attempt to save their struggling streaming service.”

German/Swiss electronic musician Dieter Moebius has passed away at the age of 71. The Krautrock experimentalist had a prolific career, releasing a total of 17 albums credited to his name in one way or another. Moebius is best known for his work with Harmonia and Cluster, his collaboration with Jim's old friend Brian Eno. The musician's passing was confirmed by bandmates Michael Rother (of Harmonia and Neu!) and Hans-Joachim Roedelius (of both Harmonia and Cluster) on their personal Facebook pages. Eno once called Harmonia“the world's most important rock band,”and Jim agrees that the band has influenced the work of many modern rock artists. Jim plays "Dino" by Harmonia to honor the great electronic pioneer's legacy.

Go to episode 504

Music News

First in the news Jim and Greg discuss the controversy over the censorship of political lyrics in a song by Pearl Jam during the AT&T Blue Room webcast of their recent Lollapalooza performance. While Pearl Jam criticized this kind of censorship on their website and posted both versions of the song, it appeared that the audio editing was a fluke. In the days following the festival, though, it was revealed that this was not the first time such censorship had occurred, sparking interest from advocates of Internet neutrality. Both Jim and Greg agree that webcasters have a public responsibility to broadcast what actually happens at events, and concert promoters have a responsibility to tell bands whether or not they're giving up their right to free speech. Both critics are anxious to see how things play out in the weeks leading up to the next big festival, Austin City Limits.

Another news story confirms our suspicion that music fans have better brains. Or at least more active brains. Researchers at Stanford Medical School recently released findings that show that music increases brain receptivity and reception. To find out about the study Jim and Greg speak with the paper's senior author, Dr. Vinod Menon, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and of neurosciences at Stanford. Dr. Menon explains that the greatest amount of activity occurred during moments of transition or pauses. While he used the tunes of 18th-century English composer William Boyce, it's interesting to think about how this research applies to rock music. Check out the MRI for yourself here.

In another miracle of science, (most of) the original members of '80s rock group Van Halen announced they are reuniting this fall for a series of concerts. The band's first lead singer, David Lee Roth, will perform with the band for the first time in 22 years. Fans expected this announcement a few months ago, only to be left disappointed by guitarist Eddie Van Halen's trip to rehab. But now the Sammy Hagar and Gary Cherone-haters will get their wish… sort of. Founding bassist Michael Anthony has been given the boot, and Eddie's son Wolfgang van Halen will replace him. Not only were the names Anthony and Hagar omitted from the group's press release, but Anthony's image had been airbrushed from a picture of the band's album cover on the website. As quick as history was revised, it was re-revised, though, and Anthony is back in the picture. Only literally of course.

Record label owner, broadcaster, journalist, pop impresario and nightclub founder Anthony Wilson died last week at the age of 57. Wilson is the man who put the Manchester music scene on the map, a scene that included Joy Division, New Order and The Happy Mondays. He ran Factory Records in the late 1970s and the Hacienda nightclub in the 1980s and early 1990s. Many listeners will remember Steve Coogan's portrayal of Wilson in the semi-fictional story of the Hacienda, 24 Hour Party People. But, Jim and Greg choose to remember Wilson through the music he influenced.

Go to episode 90

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

Hard rock gods Led Zeppelin announced its surviving members Robert Plant, Jimmy Page and John Paul Jones will perform live for one night only at England's 02 arena. The missing John Bonham drum slot will be filled by his son Jason Bonham. This event is all for charity. It's in honor of the late Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegün. All proceeds will go towards the Ahmet Ertegün Education Fund. Robert Plant's altruism and high regard for Mr. Ertegün must be quite substantial considering he had this harsh thing to say back in 2002 about the band reuniting. Jim points out that nowadays no band ever stays broken up and predicts that once the band finishes this gig, they'll launch a world tour. Zep heads everywhere are crossing their fingers.

"Amateur" singer-songwriter Marié Digby rose to pop success this summer from her“DIY”video of her covering Rihanna's "Umbrella" on acoustic guitar. The video has been viewed 2.3 million times and launched her into US radio and iTunes success. It turns out her entire“amateur”marketing campaign was orchestrated by the not-so-amateur Hollywood Records. The Disney owned Hollywood Records signed Digby back in 2005 — well before she/the machine posted her YouTube video. The fact the she was on a major label was kept hidden until only very recently. Greg points out how this shows you how much a sham the major labels have become when Digby herself states she didn't think people would like her if they knew she was on a major label. Greg feels now that the artifice is exposed, her 15 minutes are over.

Pioneering jazz keyboardist Joe Zawinul died recently at the age of 75. Zawinul was one of the founding members of the 1970s jazz fusion band The Weather Report. According to Jim and Greg, the band was the pinnacle of the jazz fusion sound, a melding of rock ‘n’ roll and jazz. Zawinul introduced the synthesizer and electronic instrumentation to jazz. He helped pioneer the jazz fusion genre with Miles Davis on Davis's In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew. Jim and Greg also ask listeners not to blame Zawinul and Davis for where the jazz/rock fusion led to. As a tribute to Joe Zawinul, Jim and Greg play The Weather Report's most iconic song, "Birdland."

Go to episode 94

Music News

A number of artists are making news with novel strategies for promoting their upcoming projects. Taylor Swift, whose newest album 1989 is not out until mid October, has engaged her fans through social media, creating tremendous anticipation for the release. This has been helped by a controversial video for the first single "Shake it Off." Fellow pop princess Ariana Grande has announced a collaboration with with Nicki Minaj and Jessie J and will appear at the MTV Video Music Awards with them. That, along with a relationship wtih Target and a slew of other TV commercials, should push Grande to the top. The reclusive electronic artist Richard D. James, better known as Aphex Twin, has taken the most cryptic approach to announcing an album drop. He let fans know about Syro, his first album in 13 years via blimps! So much for a press release. Finally, Bob Dylan will also be releasing a new album…sort of. A new Basement Tapes album produced by T Bone Burnett features songs partially written by Dylan while recording the original Basement Tapes in 1967. They have been set to new music and will be performed by a handpicked group of musicians including Jim James and Elvis Costello.

Go to episode 456
world tours

Canada

Justin Bieber

Every once in a while, Jim and Greg embark on the Sound Opinions World Tour and explore the music of another country. This week felt like a fine time to turn to our neighbor to the north and look at the music coming out of Canada today. As their guide, they're joined by music critic Ben Rayner of the the Toronto Star. Ben takes them from Montreal's experimental/electronic scene to the noise-pop of Halifax to the country's growing hip-hop culture. He also explains how the government supports pop music via grants and the "Cancon" regulations requiring broadcasters to air a certain amount of Canadian music. Ben also recommends two up-and-coming Canadian artists: Inuk throat singer Tanya Tagaq and Acadian folk-rocker Lisa LeBlanc.

Jim and Greg also dig through the Sound Opinions archives and share their favorite performances and interviews from Canadian artists, including a stripped down song from Montreal's Arcade Fire, a conversation with Toronto's Feist from early in her career, and a performance from the Vancouver supergroup The New Pornographers. Plus, they revisit their conversation with the most Canadian of all bands: Rush.

Go to episode 572