Results for folk-rock
Many fans know Tom Morello through his electric guitar innovations in Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave. So it was a surprise to hear he had unplugged and donned a new guise as The Nightwatchman. The Chicago native has a new solo album out called One Man Revolution, and during a visit home he stopped by the Sound Opinions studio to show off his new incarnation. During his discussion with Jim and Greg it starts to make more sense why the famed electric guitarist would go acoustic. Tom has always been a fan of folk rockers like Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan. And, the one man + guitar formula lends itself to the political content Tom has always been known for.
Tom explains that he was seeking a political and musical outlet that would fulfill that side of his personality. The hard rocking side gets fulfilled by the arena rock group Audioslave. However, Tom reveals that the band might be no more. He and Audioslave frontman Chris Cornell were both in Chicago at the same time, but haven't communicated in a while. Luckily friend and producer Rick Rubin encouraged Tom to branch out on his own with this record. And of course, Jim notes that the guitarist always has a political career to fall back on. Like his mother Mary Morello, Tom has always been a social activist. He also worked for Senator Alan Cranston for a number of years.
One person Tom Morello did hook up with while he was in town is fellow Rage Against the Machine member Zack de la Rocha. The Rage frontman joined Morello in a couple of protest rallies in support of low-wage immigrant farmworkers. And of course, as fans have been anticipating, the two will appear with Tim Commerford and Brad Wilk for Rage Against the Machine's first performance in seven years at this weekend's Coachella Music Festival. For a sneak preview, check out Morello's rendition of the band's song "Guerrilla Radio," as well as an exclusive bonus track.Go to episode 74
Rodrigo y Gabriela
The Mexican duo Rodrigo y Gabriela joined us for a special performance at the Goose Island Barrelhouse in Chicago. The duo moved from Mexico City to Dublin and famously busked on the streets. It's now a worldwide phenomenon, combining the sounds of flamenco music, heavy metal and folk rock. Gabriela acts as the bands drummer, using the body of her guitar as a percussive instrument, and Rodrigo plays the guitar as if he were headbanging. In fact, Greg wonders about his collaboration with Testament guitarist Alex Skolnik. The band's last album, Area 42, took them to Cuba, where they collaborated with local musicians.Go to episode 424
Richard Thompson Still
Still is the 25th solo album from folk rock guitarist, Richard Thompson. The former Fairport Convention musician collaborated with Wilco frontman and producer Jeff Tweedy. Greg wasn‘t exactly disappointed, but a little let down after Thompson’s ferocious 2013 album, Electric. In Still, he explores some darker and more serious themes like loss of faith in humanity. However Greg was happy he balanced those tracks with lighter and more humorous songs like "Guitar Heroes." He gives it a Buy It. Jim actually found“Guitar Heroes”cheesy. He also doesn't think Tweedy added much in his production. But because of wins like "Josephine" and "Long John Silver," Jim says Buy It.
Mumford & Sons Babel
Mumford & Sons' sophomore album Babel has done gangbusters on the album charts, but how will it fare on Sound Opinions' Buy It, Burn It, Trash It scale? Mumford & Co. emerged from London's thriving folk-rock scene in 2009 with a breakout album Sigh No More that landed them a slot performing with Bob Dylan at the Grammys. With their vests, beards, banjo, and dobro, the band sticks out in the mainstream rock scene, but as Greg explains, the difference is only skin deep. The boys' folky instruments and wardrobe are just signifiers of folk. At its base Mumford & Sons are a sadly conventional arena rock band. Jim could not agree more. The band's lyrics are vague and bland-the complete opposite of the biblical stories that they claim as inspiration. Babel gets a double Trash It.
First Aid Kit Stay Gold
The Swedish duo First Aid Kit has released its 3rd album and its major label debut, Stay Gold. The band mixes 1970's folk rock with pop and country. Greg says this record is the darkest in their catalogue, but it's not despairing. They make the pain sound bare able. He says they are not doing anything new sonically, but its a tight, efficient, beautiful album. That said, their best record is yet to come. Therefore he gives Stay Gold a Try It rating. Jim thinks Greg is not giving this release enough credit. He loves hearing this foreign take on American roots music and says Buy It rating.
Richard Thompson Dream Attic
On the other end of the music spectrum is veteran folk rock musician Richard Thompson. After releasing 5 albums with Fairport Convention, he went on to form a duo with former wife Linda Thompson, and then launched a solo career. His latest solo release is Dream Attic, which is a collection of live performances of new songs. As Greg explains, live is where Thompson is at his best. It's where audiences really get to experience his tremendous guitar skills. Previous releases focused more on Thompson's songwriting, so for Greg, this is one of his best. He gives Dream Attic a Buy It rating. Jim agrees, and would tell listeners who haven‘t experienced Thompson’s music to start here and work their way back. The songs are full of wit and wisdom and deserve a Buy It.
The Band & Dylan The Basement Tapes
A Musical History from folk-rock group The Band is one of the most comprehensive sets featured on the show. It contains five CDs with more than one hundred songs, as well as a DVD and a book. Greg suspects that the release of this set is lead singer Robbie Robertson's attempt to set the record straight on The Band's history. The many disputes over songwriting credits have been made quite public by some recent biographies, as well as Martin Scorsese concert film The Last Waltz. This set follows the long chronology of this group from its initial incarnation as The Hawks to their role as touring band for Bob Dylan on the 1966 Electric Tour. It also features tracks from The Basement Tapes, a famous bootleg of songs Dylan and The Band recorded while living in Woodstock, New York. Jim and Greg are both really impressed with how packed this set is, and are careful to point out that although Robertson has painted himself as the“auteur”of the group, The Band had many great vocalists including Richard Manuel and Levon Helm, the group's drummer. Pressed to come up with another singing drummer, Jim can only think of Genesis' Phil Collins.
The Decemberists What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World
Portland folk-rock band The Decemberists has steadily ascended the ranks of rock stardom over their career, even hitting #1 on the Billboard charts with their previous album The King Is Dead. But it's been four years since that record dropped, and in the intervening period the band has developed a new diversity in their sound. Their new album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World experiments with a variety of pop styles not found in previous records, while still featuring the trademark hyperliterate lyrics of leader Colin Meloy. Greg is happy to hear the band in top form, nicely complemented by the harmony vocals of Rachel Flotard and Kelly Hogan. Jim loves how they manage to flirt with the prog rock sounds of Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake & Palmer without a hint of pretentiousness, all thanks to Meloy's self-deprecating sense of humor. Both critics give it a Buy It, with Jim going so far as to call it the first masterpiece of 2015.
After Mumford & Sons, Jim was sorely in need of a folk-rock palette cleanser. So for his DIJ he chose one of the great folk rock musicians of all time, Richard Thompson. A founder of Fairport Convention, Thompson went on to make music with his wife, Linda Thompson, and as a solo artist. Like Marcus Mumford, Thompson has a yen for the biblical. But unlike Mumford, he used Bible stories to spine-tingling affect. Case in point, "The Calvary Cross," a track he recorded with Linda on their 1974 album I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight. Listen for the drums echoing Jesus's footsteps as he climbs the hill where he will be crucified.Go to episode 358
Greg gets to pop a quarter into the Desert Island Jukebox this week, and his choice is Sandy Denny's cover of "I'll Keep it With Mine" by fellow folk rocker Bob Dylan. Greg explains that Denny is best known for her appearance on the Lord of the Rings-inspired Led Zeppelin track "The Battle of Evermore." That's a shame, according to Greg. In addition to her work British folk-pop outfit Fairport Convention, Denny composed and performed many great solo songs, including this week's DIJ.Go to episode 9
It's Mr. DeRogatis' turn to visit the Desert Island Jukebox, and he ties the show up nicely with a selection from the band Dumptruck. Steve Wynn played with one of Dumptruck's founders, Kirk Swan, during the segment. Swan and his partner, Seth Tiven, put out their debut album D is for Dumptruck in 1994. It was heavily influenced by what Paisley Underground bands like The Dream Syndicate had been doing on the West coast. Dumptruck incorporated more folk rock and power pop into their music than contemporaries, and were also influenced by Big Star, Fairport Convention (who also count Greg Kot and Sound Opinions guest Colin Meloy as fans), and the band Television. Like Dumptruck, Television was comprised of two guitarist-vocalists: Tom Verlaine and Richard Lloyd. Jim explains that outside of Television, he has never seen two guitarists work as well together as they did in Dumptruck, as you can hear in Jim's DIJ pick, "Alive." Listeners desiring more Dumptruck should check out Haul of Fame: A Collection, for which our host provided liner notes.Go to episode 21
Greg's Mixtape: A Curse I Cannot Lift
- Lindsey Buckingham, "I Am Waiting." A cover of a relatively obscure Rolling Stones track from "Aftermath" sets the mood of sunrise expectation and apprehension.“I am waiting … waiting for someone to come out of somewhere.”
- Midlake, "Roscoe." An echo from Lindsey Buckingham's past? The sound is mid-'70s Fleetwood Mac: dusky folk-rock. I can imagine Christine McVie doing a perfect cover of this song. The song is set in 1891, like a dream about a more innocent time.
- The Decemberists, "The Crane Wife 3." Still in the past, still dreaming, but the innocence turns to despair.
- Dirty on Purpose, "Car No-Drive." Wake up. Morning rush hour. This song sounds like it's pouring from the windows of a passing subway train. We're going somewhere…
- Rhymefest, "Bullet." To Iraq. Turn on the TV, and we see young recruits wondering how they ended up in a desert in the Middle East fighting a war they don't understand.
- Serena-Maneesh, "Drain Cosmetics." A sandstorm of guitars.
- Secret Machines, "Lightning Blue Eyes." Then tunneling out, and into the sunlight where "I felt awake, I was way out."
- Parts and Labor, "A Great Divide." A call to arms, a dividing line in the mix, day becomes night.
- TV on the Radio, "Wolf Like Me." Silhouettes dash against the moon —“Got a curse I cannot lift.”
- The Roots, "In the Music." A sinister night vibe, as low-riders slink through skyscraper canyons.
- Nelly Furtado, "Maneater." Where all sorts of nightcrawlers roam …
- Justin Timberlake, "What Goes Around/Comes Around." And a reckoning goes down — "I can‘t believe it’s ending this way."
- Van Hunt, "If I Take You Home." The night winds down, uneasy partners match up…
- Love is All, "Make Out Fall Out Make Up." The hangover aftermath —"I think I'll spend all day in bed."
- Gnarls Barkley, "Gone Daddy Gone." "Love is gone away."
- John Legend, "Show Me." A morning prayer for guidance.
- Beyoncé, "Irreplaceable." And she's ready to move on, a new day begins…
With the ghost of St. Valentine looming over us all, this week's show is dedicated to those music fans for whom "Love Stinks." Jim and Greg discuss their favorite anti-love songs and hear some listeners' picks. Here are some songs to get you out of the mood for Valentine's Day.Go to episode 11
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