Results for indie rock

interviews

The Dodos

San Francisco band The Dodos are mixing Western pop and African rhythms in unique ways. In fact, with their third album Time to Die, they also added vibraphone to the mix. Jim and Greg talk to band members Meric Long, Logan Kroeber and Keaton Snyder about how they shake up the traditional indie rock formula. The trio also reveals its studio trials and tribulations with noted producer Phil Ek, as well as its downtime hobby. Check out the band's live acoustic peformance here.

Go to episode 208

Stephen Malkmus

A decade after breaking up, Stephen Malkmus and Pavement are back on the road. The indie rock king and his band recently took court in front of an adoring audience at the 2010 Pitchfork Music Festival, Pavement's 1992 debut Slanted and Enchanted established their lo-fi,“ironic”sound, and they went on to release four more independent albums. While "Cut Your Hair" was the group's only brush with the mainstream, their influence on underground rock can't be underestimated. Stephen talks to Jim and Greg about the band's decision to reunite and their own influences, and he explains what's the deal with those handcuffs.

Go to episode 244

Mark Anthony Neal and Joan Morgan

Next Jim and Greg welcome Mark Anthony Neal, a professor of Black Popular Culture at Duke University and author of New Black Man: Rethinking Black Masculinity, and Joan Morgan, a writer and critic who recently left her post as Executive Editor of Essence Magazine. Joan and Mark have been debating the merits and demerits of hip hop since they grew up as friends and neighbors in "Boogie Down Bronx." And Joan was one of the first music critics to examine the dichotomy of hip hop fandom and feminism in her 1990 Village Voice review of Ice Cube's first classic album AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted. Greg asks Joan what she makes of misogyny in modern hip hop. She explains that it was always there, but the level of it has changed. That concept of women has consumed commercial rap music, so listeners don‘t hear a lot of balance in perspective and tone. She also explains that something like the Ice Cube album is actually easier to wrestle with because it’s a brilliant album. Joan and Mark explain that labels are as complicit as artists in perpetuating a certain level of misogyny since they are the ones actually limiting the range of what you hear in hip hop.

Greg wonders if perhaps the consumer has already begun to speak out. Last year's top hip hop act, T.I., sold 1.7 million copies of his album King. Those aren‘t paltry figures to be sure, but they are definitely much smaller than what we’ve seen from star rappers in years past. Mark sees less revenue and less investment in major-label hip hop as a good thing; it's an opportunity for fresher sounds to come into the marketplace. Jim likens the trend to the development of indie rock in the '80s. That market was also glutted with big name acts like Poison and Mötley Crüe, leaving music fans to seek out underground rock from bands like Hüsker Dü and The Minutemen. Perhaps next we'll enter into an era of indie hip hop.

When asked about the effectiveness of banning certain words in hip hop music, Joan first expresses disappointment in what came out of Simmons and the Hip Hop Summit Action Network's meetings. Without doubting Simmons‘ sincerity, she calls the resulting call to action anemic at best and disingenuous at worst. Mark also grates against people, especially members of the“old guard,”making proclamations about culture or language. This kind of criticism is compounded by the fact that critics of rap music often don’t understand aesthetics. Mark's specific example is the hit hip hop single "In Da Club." People that take issue with the shallow nature of 50 Cent's lyrics may be failing to hear what makes a song like that so popular — the production and the beats. Mark furthers that rulings against specific words don't take into consideration that some rappers can make really complex, compelling statements using racial or sexist epithets. Joan adds that you can also say some really sexist, racist and homophobic things without using any“bad words”at all.

Go to episode 82

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

Superchunk

It's a cliché to say it, but when you look up "indie rock," you do in fact see a photo of Superchunk. Since forming in 1989, the North Carolina quartet have helped establish indie rock's DIY model, as well as its sound. Superchunk bassist Laura Ballance and guitarist Mac McCaughan also founded Merge Records, one of the music industry's most successful indie labels. The label is still home to the band, as well as The Arcade Fire, Spoon and Teenage Fanclub. Mac, Laura and bandmates Jim Wilbur and Jon Wurster talk with Jim and Greg about how they've done it their way for so long. They also perform songs from their most recent release Majesty Shredding.

Go to episode 269

Arcade Fire

This week Jim and Greg are joined by Régine Chassagne and Win Butler of indie rock giants Arcade Fire. Arcade Fire, critically acclaimed for their debut album Funeral, are known for their rich, anthemic sound and diverse instrumentation. Neon Bible, their latest release featuring a military choir, Hungarian orchestra, pipe organ and a hurdy gurdy among other instruments, has been an overwhelming commercial success. Régine retraces her relationship with husband, Win Butler. They became musical collaborators after Win saw Regine playing medieval music in Montreal, and eventually the band became headliners for such major festivals as Coachella and Lollapalooza. After seeing Arcade Fire perform at a number of venues, both Jim and Greg agree that their live show is something truly special.

Jim and Greg discuss the band's music-making process. Win and Régine elaborate on the primacy of beat and rhythm to the Arcade Fire aesthetic. Just as their rhythms could be perceived as classic rock and roll, Régine confers with Win about the multicolored sound they strive to create with different instruments and orchestration. Jim and Greg discuss the meaning behind the religious themes and allusions in Neon Bible with Win and Régine; Win articulates the moral ambiguity of evangelism as a source of influence and inspiration for writing the album.

Go to episode 85

Mike Watt

By the early 1980's, punk had become less about sticking it to the man, and more about conforming to a set of rules. Then came the Minutemen with Double Nickels on the Dime, the 1984 album that threw out the punk rulebook. To celebrate the 30th anniversary of Double Nickels, Jim and Greg revisit their 2011 conversation with Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, who founded the San Pedro hardcore group alongside drummer George Hurley and larger-than-life lead singer and guitarist D. Boon. The Minutemen weren't afraid to experiment with their sound, incorporating jazz and funk, as well as "Econo"—a lo-fi, DIY attitude that would later inspire indie rock. Ever the motor-mouth philosopher, Watt waxes poetic about jamming econo, the true meaning of "Double Nickels on the Dime," and his idea of a "Hot Topic."

Go to episode 433

Yoko Ono

This week Jim and Greg welcome music legend Yoko Ono. While many know her simply as John Lennon's widow, Yoko is also an accomplished artist in her own right. Since coming into the spotlight, Yoko has often been reviled her for her radical views and radical music (and for "breaking up the greatest pop group in the world"), but she recently found a new role as a heroine in the indie rock underground. A new generation of musicians who didn't grow up with the same kind of reverence for The Beatles have claimed Yoko as their own. This was especially evident at the Pitchfork Music Festival, where she headlined Saturday's show. Yoko not only played to an audience of thousands people — young and old — but she invited Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Cat Power's Chan Marshall on stage with her to perform.

Recently Yoko has been busy working on some new albums. The first is Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur, which features two discs of artists covering songs by John Lennon. She's also released a couple of disc of her own work. Yes, I'm a Witch is a collection of remixes of Yoko's songs by artists such as Peaches, Le Tigre and The Flaming Lips. This was followed by Open Your Box, a collection of dance remixes. The title is a testament to the artist's strong will. It stems from her song "I'm a Witch," which she was reluctant to officially release when she penned it years ago. She explains to Jim and Greg that it wasn‘t as acceptable at the time to come out with such strong lyrics. But, it’s much easier in 2007 to proclaim yourself a bitch.

John and Yoko both influenced each other's music greatly. Greg explains that Yoko's collaboration with her husband brought out the“beast”in him as a guitar player But, Greg wanted to know what Yoko first thought of John's“simple”pop songs considering how avant-garde her compositions were. Yoko explains that she actually found that approach quite refreshing. He helped her to understand how beautiful even the most simple, fun songs can be.

It would be unfair to categorize Yoko strictly as avant-garde. In addition to influencing John's undoubtedly mainstream music, she's also influenced contemporary bands like Cibo Matto and Deerhoof. Jim and Greg talk to the artist about hearing elements of the song "Why" in The B52s' pop hit "Rock Lobster." Yoko explains that she never looked at this as any kind of vindication, but that John actually found great joy in hearing "Rock Lobster" for the first time.

Go to episode 86

Against Me!

The punk band Against Me! formed in Gainesville, FL in 1997 by then lead singer Thomas Gabel and guitarist James Bowman. The band took the aesthetics and ideals of punk rock and filtered them through the lens of classic rock, indie rock and folk to create a sound all their own. Against Me! landed a major label deal with Sire Records but then things began to change. They were dropped by Sire, the band began to break apart and Thomas Gabel began a gender transition to Laura Jane Grace. Laura Jane has documented her transition in the band's 2014 critically lauded album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. She and the group sat down with Jim and Greg late last year to discuss the evolution of her personal and musical life. The band also played songs from their 2014 record, to which Jim and Greg both gave a Buy It rating.

Go to episode 493

The Besnard Lakes

This week's guests are the members of Canadian indie rock group The Besnard Lakes. The band is one of many up and coming acts to come out of the Montreal rock scene, including recent guests Arcade Fire. Jace Lasek, Olga Goreas, Steve Raegele, Richard White and Kevin Laing came to town for a tour in support of their second album The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse. Jim and Greg first became fans after seeing the group perform at this year's SXSW Festival.

Husband and wife Jace and Olga are the primary songwriters in The Besnard Lakes. The pair met after Jace saw Olga playing bass, and immediately became smitten. The two moved to Montreal in 2003 to start a recording studio, and they didn‘t form The Besnard Lakes until after they put their first record together. Their name comes from Jace and Olga’s favorite spot for R&R: a lake in northern Saskatchewan. But, Jim and Greg wonder if the band has gotten enough vacation time in recent years; there are very dark themes running through the record — devastation, destruction — and Jace explains that he loves writing sad and emotional songs. You can hear three such songs during the course of the interview.

Go to episode 89

Blitzen Trapper

A few weeks ago Greg recommend our Rock Doctors patients check out Furr by Blitzen Trapper. Now we have the band live in our studio for a conversation and acoustic performance. The Portland indie rock band, led by Eric Earley, has been gaining momentum after touring with Sub Pop label mate Fleet Foxes. Blitzen Trapper's music is often compared to classic American rock of the late '60s and early '70s. But as Earley explains, every musician is influenced by the past. And despite a familiar sound, there's still a sense of mystery and originality. You can hear it in the songs the band performs live in our studio.

Go to episode 175

Cursive

Greg and Jim took a trip out to Omaha, Nebraska to hang out with post-hardcore indie rockers Cursive. Performing live from The Waiting Room, the band serves up some brand new songs that have yet to be put to record. Tim Kasher talks with Jim and Greg about how he has recently added screenplay writing to his resume, in addition to his side project, The Good Life. Kasher thinks out loud about being a 33-year-old rocker with a teenage fan base, and shares what it means to him to be a songwriter. Though typically remembered for The Ugly Organ, Cursive feels content amidst evolving styles and lineups, and look forward to creating their as-yet-unnamed sixth studio album for Saddle Creek.

Go to episode 133

Mike Watt

doublenicklesonthedime By the early 1980's, punk had become less about sticking it to the man, and more about conforming to a set of rules. Then came The Minutemen with Double Nickels on the Dime, the 1984 album that threw out the punk rulebook. This week Jim and Greg are joined by Minutemen bassist Mike Watt, who founded the San Pedro hardcore group alongside drummer George Hurley and larger-than-life lead singer and guitarist D. Boon. The Minutemen weren't afraid to experiment with their sound, incorporating jazz and funk, as well as "Econo"—a lo-fi, DIY attitude that would later inspire indie rock. Ever the motor-mouth philosopher, Watt waxes poetic about jamming econo, the true meaning of“Double Nickels on the Dime,”and his idea of a "Hot Topic."

Go to episode 287

Wild Flag

Wild Flag was this year's buzzed about debut. But, its members are actually industry veterans. Members Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss are two-thirds of the pioneering indie rock band Sleater-Kinney. Rebecca Cole was a mainstay in the Minders, and Mary Timony fronted the band Helium as well as her own solo projects. Brownstein is also well known as one-half of the successful comedy duo behind Portlandia with Fred Armisen. She explains to Jim and Greg that while the band's pedigree is impressive on paper, they didn‘t take for granted that this supergroup would necessarily be super. The chemistry took time to develop, but now that it has, Wild Flag’s live performance is sure to blow your socks off.

Go to episode 311

The New Pornographers

Now for a statement late-night shows don‘t get to make: This week’s musical guests: The New Pornographers. The Canadian indie rock band, who many refer to as a“supergroup,”formed in 1997. The members include A.C. Newman, John Collins, Todd Fancey, Kathryn Calder, Kurt Dahle, Blaine Thurier, Dan Bejar and Neko Case (though Blaine, Dan and Neko couldn‘t make it to this interview). Front man and chief songwriter A.C. (Carl) Newman describes the band as just a group of friends who got together to make music. They didn’t plan to be popular, and are still“figuring out how to be a band.”But while there were no ambitions of fame, there were musical ambitions. The band is known for its sophisticated, complicated take on pop music. You can hear this in the tracks "All the Old Show Stoppers" and "Adventures in Solitude," as well as these bonus tracks.

It was with Twin Cinema in 2005 that the band received the most attention, but as A.C. explains, with attention comes expectations, and expectations are not always good for a band. He and Dan Bejar, who also pens songs for the band, are constantly striving not to repeat themselves. A.C. also strives to live up to his influences-Jimmy Webb, Brian Wilson, and most importantly, Burt Bacharach. That's not a name you hear come up very much with rockers, but AC explains that no album affected him more than a collection of Dionne Warwick's greatest hits. He admits that it might be out of step with the times, but was an example of extraordinary songwriting.

Go to episode 105

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
specials

R.E.M.

After over three decades, R.E.M. announced it was breaking up a couple of weeks ago. So during this episode Jim and Greg look back at its career highlights and lowlights, and discuss its legacy in the years to come. R.E.M., along with U2, is unique among bands from the indie rock '80s. It not only achieved career longevity, but, for better or worse, skyrocketed to arena status. Jim and Greg also have a unique relationship with the Athens, GA musicians. Both remember covering the band as mere fanzine writers, maturing as critics the same time R.E.M. was as a band.

Greg talks in-depth about R.E.M.'s I.R.S. years with landmark albums like Murmur and Fables of the Reconstruction. His favorite track from this 1st era is "Pretty Persuasion" from Reckoning in 1983. Jim goes on to discuss its transition to a major label. Their Warner releases Green, Out of Time and Automatic for the People didn't let their loyal fans down. But, things fell off after that. Greg makes an argument for New Adventures in Hi-Fi from 1996, and both critics agree that drummer Bill Berry's departure marked a great loss in terms of sound and connection. But when it comes to R.E.M.'s legacy, they're sure new generations of listeners will focus on the good years, rather than the bad. And its model of building grassroots fans that transitioned with them from label to label, club to arena is one new indie bands would be wise to follow.

Go to episode 306
classic album dissections
DoolittleDoolittle available on iTunes

The Pixies Doolittle

This week Jim and Greg conduct one of their patented Classic Album Dissections. They decided to focus on a landmark album in indie rock: Doolittle by The Pixies. As an added bonus, they're joined by one of the creators of Doolittle, Pixies singer and songwriter Charles Thompson aka Black Francis aka Frank Black. Charles and bandmates Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering recently marked the album's 20th anniversary with a tour dedicated to the record. While artists such as Kurt Cobain have cited it as a major influence, Doolittle was a slow burn record. After its 1989 release, it didn't achieve gold status until almost a decade later.

As Charles explains to Jim and Greg, his vocal style and lyrics were an amalgamation of his upbringing and the art and ideas floating around him at that time. It's a unique mix of preaching, surrealism and even sexual frustration. But, the songwriter warns against dissecting the lyrics too closely. He loves words for words' sake.

The lead singer also credits producer Gil Norton for the mix of“raw and fancy”that people associate with The Pixies. He polished up their sound, but knew well enough to leave a little roughness around the edges. Another component of the sweet but scary mix is Joey Santiago's guitar playing. Charles describes it as just like the guitarist's own personality-sweet and gentle like a little kid, but capable of smashing something to bits.

At the end of their discussion Jim and Greg ask Charles/Black/Frank to choose a favorite track from Doolittle. He goes with "Monkey Gone to Heaven," a song that encapsulates all of the album's elements-humor, darkness, violence, love, hope and references to the nautical and the mythological. Finally, Charles sees it as a great example of the yin and yang connection between him and singer Kim Deal.

Go to episode 217
reviews
Just Like the Fambly CatJust Like the Fambly Cat available on iTunes

Grandaddy Just Like the Fambly Cat

Jim and Greg get back into serious critic mode to review two important new releases. First up is Just Like the Fambly Cat by indie rock group Grandaddy. This is the fourth and final album for the Californians, as singer/songwriter Jason Lytle decided to dissolve the band during the making of this record in favor of a simpler life. The conflict between modernity and nature has been a major theme in all of Lytle's songwriting. A key to understanding this is the band's hometown of Modesto — while it is surrounded by the beautiful Northern California landscape, the city is also a victim of homogenized, suburban sprawl. (Its motto even boasts Modesto as the city of "Water, Wealth, Contentment and Health.") Modesto also has an eerie connection to two of the most infamous crimes in recent times: Both Lacey Peterson and Chandra Levy hail from he city. So, Jim and Greg understand why Lytle might want to leave. And they both agree that this album is a beautiful note to go out on. Just Like the Fambly Cat gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 24
The Suburbs / Month of May - SingleThe Suburbs available on iTunes

Arcade Fire The Suburbs

In other major indie rock news, Arcade Fire has a new album out called The Suburbs. As Jim and Greg explain, this is a concept record inspired by frontman Win Butler's suburban upbringing. It's ambitious to say the least, but more spacious and atmospheric than the previous two albums according to Greg. If there's one fault, it's that things get a little long-winded toward the end, but Greg gives The Suburbs a Buy It rating. Jim agrees and is happy that Arcade Fire ratcheted down the“Springsteen-ness.”He hears the songs as a hippy's response to urban sprawl taking over the wilderness, but you should form your own interpretation and Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 244
They Want My SoulThey Want My Soul available on iTunes

Spoon They Want My Soul

Next to Yo La Tengo there isn't a longer-running, more reliable indie rock band in business today than Spoon. This year marks twenty years and eight albums for the band, which has had success on both independent and major labels, thanks to a signature sound that only seems to get tighter with each outing. Spoon's latest, They Want My Soul comes four years after the group's previous release and features the same economical and emotional music fans and critics have come to love, but with a subtle twist that Greg feels makes this album more fragile and beautiful than past records. Jim agrees… They Want My Soul is now his second most favorite Spoon album after 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, and he's quick to point out this new album also makes a great dance record thanks to the rhythmic contributions of drummer Jim Eno. Eno's grooves opposite frontman Britt Daniel's vocals have always been the band's secret sauce, and it's still as good as ever. Both critics say They Want My Soul is a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 454
Post-WarPost-War available on iTunes

M. Ward Post-War

The final album under scrutiny this week is by singer/songwriter Matt Ward, aka M. Ward. Ward is a rather beloved member of the indie rock community and has collaborated with everyone from Death Cab for Cutie's Ben Gibbard, to Jenny Lewis, to the aforementioned Conor Oberst. Post-War is his fifth album since being“discovered”by Jason Lytle (a recent guest on the show). Jim enjoys about half of the album, including a cover of Daniel Johnston's anti-war song "To Go Home," but says the other half“sucks.”He finds it pretentious and pointlessly eclectic and can only give Post-War a Burn It. Greg, however, loves that Ward knows how to create atmosphere. He finds it a beautiful record that sucks you in from beginning to end, earning a definite Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
Trouble In DreamsTrouble in Dreams available on iTunes

Destroyer Trouble in Dreams

The final album up for review this week is Trouble in Dreams from the Dan Bejar-fronted project Destroyer. Many listeners will recognize Bejar for his work with the New Pornographers. But, neither host can recognize Bejar's strengths, which are so evident on N.P. albums like Challengers, on the Destroyer release. Greg says there are a few good songs, but doesn't think his sound holds up in an entire album. He gives Trouble in Dreams a Try It. Jim goes even further, accusing Bejar of breaking every bad indie rock rule in the book. There are affected vocals, bad melodies and pointless lyrics, according to Jim. He gives the new Destroyer a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 123
Happy HollowHappy Hollow available on iTunes

Cursive Happy Hollow

Switching gears, Jim and Greg next discuss Happy Hollow, the latest release from Omaha indie rock group Cursive. At first they were concerned that the band, and frontman Tim Kasher, were merely like the younger brothers of fellow Omaha emo outfit Bright Eyes. But Kasher and co. have proved themselves to be really adventurous songwriters and musicians, more in the New Wave tradition than the Conor Oberst tradition. Both Jim and Greg give Happy Hollow a Buy It, though they hope the band gets better live.

JimGreg
Go to episode 39
MirroredMirrored available on iTunes

Battles Mirrored

Up next is Mirrored by the math rock outfit Battles. The New York quartet has been getting a lot of attention by indie rock fans for their unique take on instrumental music. In fact, the band won't even describe their music as instrumental, but rather music without any lyrics. Jim and Greg both love the combination of electronica and 1970s prog rock. Greg even compares their unique melodies and compositions to that of space age pop musician Esquivel. Both critics note how this cerebral brand of music can usually be kind of cold and off-putting, but, Battles has put a human touch to it. Therefore Mirrored gets two Buy Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 75
Neon BibleNeon Bible available on iTunes

The Arcade Fire Neon Bible

The Arcade Fire returns this week with Neon Bible, one of the most highly anticipated albums of the year so far. The Montreal band is one of indie rock's biggest success stories in recent years, having sold over half a million copies of their debut album, Funeral. In fact, they're the number one selling artists in the history of North Carolina indie label, Merge Records. The band is known for their epic sound, amazing live performances, and dramatic, dark themes. Funeral's songs were written about the deaths of nine friends and family members. So, it's hard to imagine they could get any darker with this release. But, with Neon Bible, frontman Win Butler expanded his themes to cover religion, war, and the state of his native country. For Jim, this took some getting used to, but after a few listens he grew to really enjoy it — well, half of it. He counts six rhythmic tracks worth listening to, but names five songs that just sink the whole album. Therefore he gives it a Burn It. Greg agrees that this record does not do the band justice. He doesn't think the songwriting is strong enough, but highly recommends listeners see the Arcade Fire live. He also gives Neon Bible a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 66
Human PerformanceHuman Performance available on iTunes

Parquet Courts Human Performance

Indie rock four-piece Parquet Courts formed in Brooklyn in 2010 with three of its members originally from Texas. They debuted with a limited cassette release in 2011, but it wasn't until they released Light Up Gold in 2012 that they really turned some heads. The record was reissued on a bigger label in 2013, and after releasing two semi-official albums, Parquet Courts is back with Human Performance.

Greg thinks Parquet Courts have captured what it's like living in New York City—isolating and overwhelming at once. This mood hangs over the whole record, even during what he calls the back-and-forth conversations between Andrew Savage and Austin Brown. Savage writes melancholy break-up tunes, and Brown responds with optimism. Greg thinks that while the record does not reach the masterpiece-status of Light Up Gold, it's a Buy It nonetheless.

Jim agrees that it's a Buy It, loving the jaunty piano, droning organ and sound effects. He recalls Parquet Courts being referred to by critics as slackers on their last album, sparked in no small part by the song "Stoned and Starving," but Jim clarifies that there's nothing lazy about their songwriting and thinks "Dust" is a brilliant track. Jim nods to the dialogue between Brown and Savage, but finds even more compelling the rapport between their guitars.

JimGreg
Go to episode 543
Vampire WeekendVampire Weekend available on iTunes

Vampire Weekend Vampire Weekend

Next up is the self-titled debut from quartet Vampire Weekend. The indie rockers have been getting a lot of buzz for months now after releasing an EP. Now, with the release of their new album, they're being referred to as the next big indie stars. But, both Jim and Greg disagree with the hype — Greg feels it's unfair, and Jim feels it's completely unwarranted. Jim hates this album and finds it to be pretentious both musically and lyrically. He explains that the Paul Simon-esque African rhythms feel contrived, and the mentions of Louis Vuitton, Benetton and Oxford Commas are more prep than they are punk, earning Vampire Weekend a Trash It. Greg disagrees and says the music has clean guitars, rhythms and a sense of humor. It's a perfectly pleasant pop record — a Burn It that's a victim of hype.

JimGreg
Go to episode 114
WWIWWI available on iTunes

White Whale WWI

The first album up for review this week is by White Whale. This up-and-coming indie rock group from Lawrence, Kansas first caught the attention of our hosts at this year's SXSW Music Conference. Now they have released their debut album, WWI. Whether the title refers to the Great War, or a great record, is unclear. But, both Jim and Greg agree this album is worth a listen, though not necessarily a purchase. Jim loves the prog rock approach, but can't go with a full Buy It. Greg agrees, explaining that he likes the music and finds White Whale intriguing, but isn't clear on the emotional subtext. He wonders where the“meat”is. Therefore, WWI gets two Burn Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 36
The LoonThe Loon available on iTunes

Tapes 'n Tapes The Loon

Minneapolis band Tapes 'n Tapes released their debut album, The Loon, this week. The indie rock band has been getting a lot of buzz, especially after being added to this year's Pitchfork Music Festival bill. As Jim recounts, members of the band were merely members of the crowd for last year's festival. The Loon, which we learn is the state bird of Minnesota, actually came out independently in 2005, but is now being released by XL Records, a label that's quickly becoming a force in the music industry. Greg was skeptical that the young band would be able to say anything new with the standard guitar, bass, drums combo. And he was right — they aren't saying any thing new, but he likes the way they are saying it. He praises the band for being accomplished musicians and credits the personality of lead singer/guitarist Josh Grier for the band's edge and energy. Jim finds Tapes 'n Tapes slightly more compelling live, but both hosts give this record a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 37
Elephant Shell (Remixes) - EPElephant Shell available on iTunes

Tokyo Police Club Elephant Shell

After getting raves with their 2006 EP, Tokyo Police Club have finally released a full-length album called Elephant Shell. The four-piece band from Ontario signed to Saddle Creek Records to record 11 songs, but don't expect a denser album. This effort is still a quick jaunt into garage rock, power-pop, and new wave that ends before you know it. But, neither Jim, nor Greg, is complaining. Jim loves their great sense of melody and high-energy enthusiasm. His only quibble is with the band's minor diversion into indie-rock pretension. But, overall he gives the record a Buy It. Greg also loves the tightly constructed arrangements, but notes that the band's lyrics still haven't developed much. He appreciates their exuberance but thinks they still have room to grow. He gives Elephant Shell a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 125
Silver BulletsSilver Bullets available on iTunes

The Chills Silver Bullets

If you aren't familiar with The Chills, chances are you aren't entrenched in the New Zealand indie rock scene –not to mention this is first full-length album the group has put out in nearly two decades. The Chills are credited for popularizing the kiwi pop sound that emerged in New Zealand during the 1980s. It was a marked departure from the indie rock that was prevalent in the U.S. at the time and an original sound altogether. Greg was unsure what to expect from The Chills, as he hasn't heard a full-length album from them since 1996s Sunburnt. But he's happy to report singer/songwriter Martin Phillips is back. As a result of battling drug addiction and illness, Phillips‘ lyrics are dark and introspective. The album conveys a sense of urgency to appreciate life’s good things, and to Greg, Phillips sounds like a man renewed. Jim also likes the subtle touches of violin, timpani roll and chiming guitar. The song "America Says Hello" makes a political statement that is more direct than anything else Jim has heard from The Chills, so it's an enthusiastic Double Buy It for Silver Bullets.

JimGreg
Go to episode 520
TrueTrue available on iTunes

Solange True

Beyonce has been making a lot of news, with her lip-syncing and Superbowling, but we're more interested in kid sis Solange. She has a new extended EP out called True, and both Jim and Greg say it's a perfect, mini release. She sounds nothing like Beyonce and has been embracing alt-R&B and indie rock-exactly what you expect from someone who dragged her brother-in-law to a Grizzly Bear show. Greg is excited to hear her expand her sound even more on a full-length album. And Jim compares True to the Scorcese flick After Hours. Solange gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 375
Album ArtWild Flag available on iTunes

Wild Flag Wild Flag

Ever since seeing them perform at this year's SXSW conference, Jim and Greg have been eagerly awaiting the self-titled debut from indie supergroup Wild Flag. And now that it's here, they aren't disappointed. The band is comprised of Janet Weiss and Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater-Kinney, Mary Timony formerly of Helium and a number of solo projects, and Rebecca Cole formerly of The Minders. Greg describes the songs as intense as Sleater-Kinney, but with more joy and a sense of abandonment. He's especially in awe of Weiss' drumming. Jim also loves Wild Flag, but for different reasons. For him Sleater-Kinney was lacking in melodies, something these songs have in spades thanks to Timony, who he calls an indie rock Stevie Nicks. Wild Flag gets a double Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 302
dijs

Jim

“True Love”Têtes Noires

Jim recently visited Minneapolis public radio station The Current, where he saw lying around the studio a new reissue of American Dream by Têtes Noires. French for“black heads,”Têtes Noires was an accurate descriptor for the six raven-haired women who made up the band. Jim recalls how they stuck out in the sea of Nordic blondes called Minnesota. Their music was a capella harmony bolstered with wheezing organ and hand claps, and their lyrics fell somewhere between comedy, performance art and "killer indie rock." To show what he means, Jim plays "True Love," which features the vocalist listing all of the rotten relationships she's had since grade school. Têtes Noires may not have survived past its '80s heyday, but its spirit lives on in the new remaster – and, thanks to Jim, on the Desert Island.

Go to episode 444

Jim

“She's Like Heroin To Me”The Gun Club

For Jim's Desert Island Jukebox pick this week, he chooses She's Like Heroin To Me by The Gun Club. Jeffrey Lee Pierce and the other founders of this band played music that did not fit into any genre labels but which might be described as "psychobilly cowpunk post-punk tribal-psychobilly-blues." Jim reminisces about the very innovative period of indie rock and punk in the '80s when The Gun Club came about, and points out how important this particular track is in understanding '80s music and expressing popular punk themes like obsession, addiction, and sex.

Go to episode 558

Greg

“Dig Me Out”Sleater-Kinney

All girl indie rock group Sleater-Kinney recently announced that following their performance at Lollapalooza this year, they'd be taking an indefinite hiatus. Essentially, this means that the Portland group is breaking up, but reserving the right to reunite should they be inspired (or in debt). Sleater-Kinney is one of Greg's favorite groups. He loves all seven of the group's albums, but thinks they really hit their stride on their third effort, Dig Me Out. This is because singer/guitarists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein were joined by powerful drummer Janet Weiss. Also, there's an inherent tension in the music, which Greg imagines was caused by the demise of Tucker and Brownstein's romantic relationship. So, to say goodbye, Greg is choosing the title track, "Dig Me Out," as his Desert Island Jukebox pick this week.

Go to episode 32
rock doctors

Surgery Soundtrack

surgery-tools "Physician heal thyself," the adage goes. But, sometimes even doctors need some outside expertise, especially when it comes to music. That's where the "Rock Doctors" come in. Every once and a while, Jim and Greg don stethoscopes, un-shutter the Rock Docs clinic, and help a listener in need of musical assistance. They've suggested music for shopping and music for training, but this time the stakes are high. Dr. Michael Frumovitz is a surgeon and the associate professor of GYN oncology at MD Anderson in Houston, TX. He submitted a new patient form asking Drs. Kot and DeRogatis to prescribe new music he could listen to during surgery.

Dr. Frumovitz shares his musical preferences (melodic indie pop ala Wilco and Vampire Weekend without a lot of dirty guitars ala The White Stripes) and explains why traditional pop music provides a better background than ambient music. He also admits that surgery is a team effort, so the prescriptions can't be too abrasive. So much for the surgeon ego myth.

Jim prescribes a self-titled album by Phox, a self-described“gaggle of goofy wizards performing minor illusions and bigtop music”from Wisconsin, while Greg prescribes Atlas by the indie rock quintet Real Estate. Dr. Frumovitz is instructed to put these records to work in the Operating Room, and after a couple of weeks they see how the medicine goes down. Unfortunately, he and his team found Phox a little too sleepy for surgery, save a couple of tracks. But Real Estate was a real winner.

Do you need to see the Rock Doctors? Or know someone who does? Fill out a new patient form and send to interact@soundopinions.org.

Go to episode 445

Family Practice

Time now for The Rock Doctors to open up the clinic. Every so often Jim and Greg like to give back, so to speak, and help some listeners with an ailment of a musical variety. Whether someone is allergic to hip hop or addicted to jam bands, our hosts hope they can provide the right musical prescription. Heck, they've even taken an appointment with Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman.

Before they get to their main appointment of the episode, they run over to the emergency room to take a call from Anne in Philadelphia. Anne is getting married next month and has been racking her brain to come up with a good song for the“Father/Daughter”dance. Problem is, Dad is something of a music expert who likes to dig deep for his wedding selections. But songs like Leadbelly's "Ain't It A Shame" don‘t hit the right emotional chord (and aren’t exactly crowd pleasers).

So, Anne wants to know what Drs. Kot and DeRogatis would recommend? Greg goes first, suggesting "The Way You Look Tonight." Sure, this Oscar-winner could be an obvious choice, but it's the lesser-known version by The Jaguars that Greg prescribes. Jim takes a cue from one of rock's best Dads, Loudon Wainwright III (father to Martha and Rufus and Marshall). His song "Daughter" has the perfect mix of humor and sentimentality.

Jim and Greg call their next two patients in from the waiting room. Doug and Susan have been happily married for 18 years. But they've never been able to get along…musically. Doug is a Presbyterian minister with an indie rock past who remains as passionate as ever about music. He loves jangly pop and expansive Spector-esque production, but doesn't give a lick about lyrics. Susan, he tells our nurse, is stuck in "Classic Rock Hell and '70s Rock Purgatory." She still favors FM rock like Jimmy Buffett and Little Feat, and has little tolerance for Doug's“trash can music”and fondness for“whiny broads.”So the doctors are tasked with finding this couple something new they can listen to together.

Jim begins by recommending a dose of the California quartet Delta Spirit. He couldn‘t resist prescribing Susan a band that actually uses trash cans, but more he thinks the couple will appreciate the group’s emotional and spiritual lyrics. Greg prescribes Arrow by Heartless Bastards. On their 4th release the Ohio group finally has the songs to match the intensity of Erika Wennerstrom's vocals. And they reference much of the classic rock and soul that Susan favors.

So how did the medicine go down? Doug gives a Buy It to Delta Spirit, noting that Matthew Vasquez can really sing. Susan still just hears this as something up Doug's alley. Doug also appreciated Heartless Bastards, but despite Wennerstrom's singing style, not because of it. He's curious to see the band live, but didn‘t fall in love with the record. Susan liked the direction Greg went in more, but again, didn’t find a winner in Heartless Bastards. But both husband and wife enjoyed the process of listening to and critiquing music…and that's all the Doctors can really ask for!

Do you need to consult with the Rock Doctors? Or know someone who does? Fill out a patient form and send it to interact@soundopinions.org.

Go to episode 335
features

SXSW '06

This week on the show, Jim and Greg share their recent experiences at the SXSW Festival in Austin, Texas. Our hosts joined over 10,000 other festival registrants to attend music industry panels, conduct interviews, and most importantly, see new bands. In the four days they were there, Jim and Greg heard a lot of music. They share some of the best with you.

  • First is The Dresden Dolls. Jim went to see the Boston group and fell in love with their blend of German cabaret performance style and '80s synth-pop melodies. You can hear a little bit of "Modern Moonlight" off their upcoming release, Yes Virginia.

  • Next up, Greg discusses one his finds: Art Brut. He enjoyed this British band's straightforward melodies, catchy choruses, and witty monologues so much that he saw them twice in Austin. This critic even scrawled“New Kings of Rock”in his notebook following one performance. Jim joined him to see the band at the Pitchfork/Windish party, where they shared a bill with RJD2, Spank Rock, and one of Greg's other discoveries, Swedish indie pop quintet Love is All. Art Brut, who just recently played a sold-out show at the Metro, entertained the entire staff so much that they were invited to appear on the show the week after the festival wrapped. Listen for that interview in the weeks to come.

Beastie Boys at SXSW 2006

  • In between running from show to show, Jim and Greg took a brief moment to sit down with The Beastie Boys. The hip-hop pioneers were down in Austin to promote their recent concert film, Awesome; I Fucking Shot That, and spoke to Jim and Greg about making the movie, sampling, copyright laws, and the longevity of their career.

  • Back to the rundown of our hosts‘ favorite Austin discoveries. Jim’s next pick, The Black Angels, actually hails from the Texas state capital. After reading Jim's book on psychedelic rock, members of the band contacted him and explained that they were right up his alley. They were right. Jim, who caught some of the dark, Velvet Underground-influenced music in the sterile environment of Austin Convention Center, was totally blown away. To describe the band, he quotes their website which begs the listener to "Picture a red moonlit night, deep in the heart of Texas, with the ghosts of Nico and Timothy Leary being called back from the dead to guide you on a journey through Heaven & Hell and back again." Whoa, man…

  • Greg loves coming to Austin to see bands that may not get to the States otherwise. One such band is Serena Maneesh. The Norwegian group is one of many contemporary bands compared to My Bloody Valentine. Often referred to as“shoegazers,”these musicians are often literally standing, staring at their shoes, while producing a heavy, overdriven, almost symphonic guitar sound. Serena Maneesh is certainly channeling this influence — however, as Greg explains, this band is also quite performative. Our host describes how the lead guitar player, theatrically dressed as a gypsy showman, was joined by an“Amazonian”bass player. Only during SXSW can you see this in Texas, notes Jim.

Tim Fite at SXSW 2006

  • We next hear some audio of Jim recorded down in Austin. He is describing one of his favorite acts: Tim Fite. Some may remember Fite's previous incarnation in Little T and One Track Mic and their one hit, "Shaniqua." But after getting signed to Atlantic and touring with Outkast, Little T went nowhere. Now, Fite has reinvented himself as a 1920s southern preacher/rapper who combines an O Brother, Where Art Thou? sound with irreverent lyrics and hip-hop. Gone Ain't Gone is forthcoming on Anti-/Epitaph, making Fite label mates with Neko Case and Blackalicious.

  • The Swedish band Love is All (mentioned above) is another of Greg's discoveries. This Swedish indie-pop group is one of many European bands who are rediscovering American music. This band is particularly influenced by musicians like James Chance and the Contortions and Lydia Lunch who fused both jazz and punk. Love is All became Greg's go-to CD while he was driving around the city of Austin.

  • Listeners can now hear what Jim and Greg really sound like at SXSW: definitely over-tired, and perhaps over-served. Our hosts caught up with Sound Opinions H.Q. immediately after going to see Rhys Chatham at Austin's Central Presbyterian Church, an experience they described as slightly mind-blowing. The avant-garde guitarist has basically been living in exile in Paris for the past decade, but emerged in Austin with a newly-formed guitar army: eight guitarists including Doug McCombs of Eleventh Dream Day and Tortoise, Ernie Brooks of The Modern Lovers and Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth. Jim reports that Chatham recently received a grant allowing him to realize his long-fantasized 100-member guitar ensemble.

  • One of the SXSW events Greg always tries to attend is Alejandro Escovedo's Sunday night show. This year Grady was one of the opening acts. Greg found their huge, overpowering sound on par with that of Chatham's guitar army. He also compares their sound to that of ZZ Top's early days. Listen for yourself as Greg plays a sample of their 2004 release Y.U. So Shady?

  • White Whale is Jim's final discovery. He caught the band at the Merge showcase, a label that usually delivers for this critic. He was again not disappointed. White Whale, whose members have been in a number of other indie rock bands including Butterglory, Three Higher Burning Fire and The Get Up Kids, impressed Jim with more than just its name. He found their sound to be a mix of Nick Drake and Pink Floyd, and also reminiscent of Elephant Six bands like Apples in Stereo and Neutral Milk Hotel. So far their music can only be heard on Myspace.com, but White Whale may turn out to be another SXSW success story.

  • Greg's final pick is a band called Katahdin's Edge. He caught the group after originally trying to see a Finnish band who couldn‘t make it into the country. He was blown away, and despite getting thousands of free CDs for his day job, Greg was compelled to put down his own money for a Katahdin’s Edge album. This trio from Providence is an example of how jazz and rock can fuse in a great way. Rather than take an academic approach to jazz, Katahdin's Edge had a rock and roll, party edge that Greg really appreciated.

  • Greg was also caught on tape before and after seeing the biggest hype of this year's festival: The Arctic Monkeys. This has been quite the year for the young British band. In January they broke records for first-week sales in the U.K. with their debut release Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not. In addition, they‘ve been proclaimed by many in the press as the greatest band to emerge from the U.K. in years. That’s a lot for a new band to live up to, but Greg was pleased with what he saw. While the Arctic Monkeys may not be what their hype claims, the music was well-rehearsed, packed with rhythm, and downright“ferocious”according to our host. Plus, the lead singer already seems to have the rock and roll attitude down.

Go to episode 18
news

Music News

First up in the news the sentence handed to Daniel Biechele, the tour manager of the band Great White. Biechele was ordered to serve four years in prison and three years probation for setting a fire in a Rhode Island nightclub in February 2003 — a blaze that killed 100 fans and injured twice that number. This was the fourth deadliest nightclub fire in U.S. history. The ruling represents a compromise between the defense and the prosecution, who were originally seeking a ten-year sentence. Meanwhile. victims' families are awaiting the trial of the club owners, to take place later this summer.

Another court case also made news this week. In the battle between The Beatles' Apple Corp. and Apple Computer over trademark infringement and their shared apple logo, the judge ruled against the Fab Four. The band was contending that Apple Computer and its iTunes Music Store had breached a 1980 trademark agreement by expanding onto their turf — the music industry. However, the judge, who does own an iPod, responded that“even a moron in a hurry,”could tell the difference between the two companies. Now we just have to wait and see if the Beatles will finally release their songs to the online music retailer. Hopefully this will not confuse any of the morons in a hurry out there.

There was also an update on Keith Richards' health status, which was discussed last week. After a mysterious fall on the island of Fiji, Richards was admitted to a hospital in Auckland, New Zealand. On Monday, after complaining of headaches, he underwent an operation, which, according to his publicist, was 100% successful. The Stones' camp has not said how he fell or what the operation was for, but reports speculate that it was to drain blood from his skull. A spokesperson has, however, denied that there was more than one surgery or that Richards suffered any brain damage. Fans can expect to see the guitarist touring in June, and back to his old, randy self in no time.

Grant McLennan, frontman of Australian indie rock band The Go-Betweens, died in his sleep earlier this week. The singer/songwriter was 48. Greg discusses how The Go-Betweens, who were going strong up until McLennan's passing, were not necessarily commercially successful, but were very influential in the 1980s. Musicians like Bono and Morrissey and members of bands like R.E.M. and Coldplay have all sung the praises of McLennan and his partner Robert Foster. Many listeners will only know the band from their hit "Bachelor Kisses," but Greg points out that the songwriting pair penned many wonderful pop songs that were full of emotion and humanity. He chooses to play "Bye Bye Pride," and prompts listeners to pay attention to the oboe solo.

Go to episode 24

Music News

They truly are the champions: Queen's Greatest Hits album just became the first record in history to sell more than 6 million copies in the United Kingdom. That's about one album for every ten Britons—or, as Jim puts it, a whole lot of Freddie Mercury's overbite.

In more chart news from across the pond, the U.K.'s top-selling album this week is So Long, See You Tomorrow, the latest from Bombay Bicycle Club. Which had Jim and Greg wondering… who, exactly, is Bombay Bicycle Club? Apparently it's an indie rock outfit known for sampling Bollywood show tunes, with the nephew of the late British songstress Kirsty MacColl on guitar. The Brits must have a thing for the initials BBC.

Meanwhile back in the States, rock fans have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. And for memorabilia dealers, that's meant big business. A chunk of the Sullivan Show set signed by the Fab Four is going for a million bucks, while a signed U.K. version of A Hard Day's Night is expected to take in $60,000. There's also a signed copy of With the Beatles floating around somewhere. If you're the owner, consider paying a visit to Antiques Roadshow—you're in for at least $45,000.

Funnyman Fred Armisen of Portlandia and Saturday Night Live fame will soon return to late-night TV, this time as a musician. When fellow SNL alum Seth Myers takes over Late Night later this month, Armisen will“curate”his music and lead the in-house 8G Band, Myers announced by tweet this week. Sound Opinions saw this coming in 2012, when Fred (a former Chicago punk rocker who played in the band Trenchmouth, as well as Blue Man Group) told Jim and Greg how he's always admired bands on TV. Live the dream, Fred.

Go to episode 429

Music News

Making news are recent announcements about upcoming summer concerts. First, there was release of the lineups for the annual Coachella and Bonnaroo music festivals. The Coachella Festival in southern California usually has one of the more exciting and diverse bills of the summer, with past headliners like Coldplay, Nine Inch Nails, and Radiohead. This year, though, Jim and Greg are skeptical of whether headliners Tool and Depeche Mode can be enough of a draw. It's up to support acts like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Massive Attack and Wolf Parade to make the desert heat bearable. There is also exciting news for Chicagoans: Lollapalooza will be returning with an expanded three-day format. Plus, indie rock fans can look forward to not one, but two new festivals in the city—the Pitchfork Music Festival and the newly independent Intonation Festival.

Joining Jim and Greg for the news this week is former Supreme Mary Wilson. Ms. Wilson made headlines recently when she began a national campaign to support legislation that would prevent imposters (but thankfully not cover bands) from posing as major artists. To prove the point that there is only one true Mary Wilson, the singer did an a cappella rendition of The Supremes' "Stop! In the Name of Love" for the Illinois House of Representatives.

Go to episode 12

Music News

Proving the adage that everyone is a critic, the Vatican has released its first official Top Ten List of albums. The official Vatican paper, L'Osservatore Romano, has endorsed records by Oasis, The Beatles, Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac. And perhaps for the title alone, they also included Carlos Santana's Supernatural. It made a point of not including Bob Dylan, however, on the grounds that generations of less-talented Dylan acolytes have "harshly tested the ears and patience of listeners with their inferior imitations, thinking that their tortured meanderings might interest somebody."

In other music news, rock producer Ian Burgess passed away last week. As Jim explains, Burgess was one of the architects of the hyper-aggressive, yet melodic, indie rock sounds of the 1980's. He worked with a number of Midwest bands such as Naked Raygun, Pegboy and Big Black. He also served as a mentor to Big Black founder-turned producer Steve Albini. To honor Burgess, Jim and Greg play "I Don't Know" off Naked Raygun's 1985 album Throb Throb.

Go to episode 221