Results for New Jersey
If ever a band was perfectly named, it's the Screaming Females. Ok, true, there's only one screaming female in the New Jersey punk trio, but Marissa Paternoster has quite the set of pipes. And, as Jim and Greg point out, she can shred too. She credits people like Johnny Greenwood of Radiohead and Billy Corgan of the Smashing Pumpkins for influencing her guitar style. But when it comes to the band's ethos, that's pure DIY punk. Drummer Jarrett Dougherty explains that self-releasing albums was difficult at first, but they approached it with professional aims, unlike many of their New Brunswickpeers who were satisfied with nothing more than releasing internet demos. Now the Screaming Females are on their 5th release called Ugly. Check out their performance live on Sound Opinions.Go to episode 340
The members of Titus Andronicus named their band after a Shakespeare play, their first album after a Seinfeld reference, and the latest called The Monitor was influenced by the Civil War. Needless to say this isn't your average punk band. During their visit to Sound Opinions, lead singer Patrick Stickles talks to Jim and Greg about his book smart lyrics and New Jersey roots. They also perform live.Go to episode 284
Titus Andronicus The Most Lamentable Tragedy
The New Jersey punk band Titus Andronicus recently released their fourth album, The Most Lamentable Tragedy. The thematic nature of the record is about lead singer Patrick Stickles‘ battle with manic depression. It’s a rock opera, complete with five different acts, a silent intermission track and even a couple of covers. For Greg, every note oozes with importance and passion. He thinks the album as a whole is definitely overwhelming and opulent but ultimately a distinctive piece of work. He gives it a Buy It. Jim agrees and says that the music can overtake the listener, but one doesn't have to follow the somewhat complicated story to enjoy it. He thinks Titus Andronicus does a good job mixing a Celtic lilt with traditional punk sound and even thinks the album is on par with Hüsker Dü's Zen Arcade and Fucked Up's David Comes to Life. The Most Lamentable Tragedy receives a double Buy It.
The Feelies In Between
The New Jersey rock band The Feelies has just released their sixth album in four decades called In Between. The group is noted for its cohesion and consistency over its long tenure. Greg thoroughly enjoys this record, and admires The Feelies‘ skill in combining elements of rock with zen and existential messaging ("make a plan, let it be.") He also appreciates the band’s ability to perform as one voice, which speaks to how close these guys are. Greg gives it a Buy It. Jim couldn't agree more, and he expresses his deep admiration and love for The Feelies. He finds this record to be well worth the wait, and praises the group for their combination of the best sounds of The Velvet Underground and Brian Eno (ding!) Without hesitation, Jim gives In Between an enthusiastic Buy It.
The Feelies Here Before
Going back to New Jersey, Jim and Greg next review the new album by The Feelies. As Greg explains, they don‘t rush anything. The band started in the late ’70s and has only produced five studio albums. But Here Before is worth the wait. Jim has a soft spot for The Feelies, but that actually makes him a tougher critic. He initially found this release a little sleepy, but grew to appreciate its small pleasures. Greg oddly recommends this new album as an introduction to new listeners. It's a survey of the high points of their career. Here Before gets a double Buy It.
Yo La Tengo Stuff Like That There
Yo La Tengo's live sets are famed for including covers of obscurities from the rock canon. Their 1990 album Fakebook was filled with surprising unplugged covers alongside acoustic reinterpretations of songs from the band's own catalog. Now on their fourteenth LP Stuff Like That There, the indie veterans are revisiting that concept. Greg admires the group's mission to direct listeners' attentions to neglected records they revere, both deep cuts from the distant past as well as songs by their underrated peers. But Greg wishes there was more variety in the hushed sound, so he gives the album a Try It. Jim has always loved the acoustic side of YLT since the band formed in his hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey. Jim finds the interplay of Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan's vocals to be lovely and is happy to see the return of guitarist Dave Schramm. It may be a surprise for fans of the noisier Yo La Tengo, but for Jim, Stuff Like That There is a Buy It.
Titus Andronicus The Airing of Grievances
New Jersey rockers Titus Andronicus also have a new album out this week called The Airing of Grievances. Both Jim and Greg were wowed by the band at last year's Pitchfork Music Festival. And, the recorded songs are proving to be no less exuberant. As Greg explains, the title of the band is a nod to their mix of high art and low art. Titus' lyrics cover such lofty topics as love, death and disease, but they are all sung in the context of rude, three-chord punk songs. He gives The Airing of Grievances a Buy It. Jim admits the lead singer can‘t sing, but backed with his friends and the exuberant music, it’s definitely a Buy It.
Screaming Females Rose Mountain
Coming out of the DIY scene of suburban New Jersey, Screaming Females has built a dedicated following over the last decade behind the strength of force-of-nature singer/guitarist Marissa Paternoster. For their 6th album, Rose Mountain, they've turned to a big name producer for the first time in the form of Matt Bayles, best known for his work with Mastodon and The Sword. The result is a catchier and more melodic record than ever before. But Greg thinks that comes at a cost: the conventionality has masked Paternoster's powerful emotions. While it's a great stepping stone album for new fans, Greg suggests the three previous records better show off her personality. He gives it a Try It. Jim, on the other hand, sees the changes in the sound as a real step toward maturity. You can only be a raging 16-year-old for so long, after all. The lyrics are intense and the catharsis comes out in Paternoster's amazing guitar solos. For Jim, Rose Mountain is an enthusiastic Buy It.
To conclude this week, it's Jim's turn to drop a track into the Desert Island Jukebox. Jim becomes a bit nostalgic and recalls fond teenage memories of the thriving music scene of Hoboken, New Jersey, the hometown of classic power-pop outfit, The Bongos. Taken from the seminal album, Drums Along the Hudson, which has just been reissued, the track "The Bulrushes" connotes a“messianic”rock and roll coming of age. Jim calls this The Catcher in the Rye of power-pop, and an essential choice in his Desert Island Jukebox.Go to episode 85
Jim's been thinking about "Summer Songs" this season and remembers being 7-years old on the New Jersey boardwalk and hearing "Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey," by Paul and Linda McCartney. The Ram track is“cheesy,”to be sure, but man did McCartney have a way with hooks. Jim has no idea what the lyrics mean-are they about drugs? WWII?-but the song deserves a place in the Desert Island Jukebox.Go to episode 398
Jim was saddened by the loss last week of Michael Carlucci, a guitarist and fixture of the 1980s Hoboken, New Jersey scene where Jim cut his teeth. Carlucci was best known for leading his own band Winter Hours, but was also a member of Red Buckets, playing behind singer/songwriter Richard Mason. Red Buckets was beloved in Hoboken – Yo La Tengo has recorded two tribute songs to the band – but never achieved national success. In memory of Michael Carlucci, Jim nominates "Jane September" by Red Buckets to the Desert Island Jukebox.Go to episode 519
Jim recently made a trip back to his home state of New Jersey and did a lot of driving. So he stumbled upon a classic rock station playing "America" by Simon and Garfunkel. This song never fails to choke him up, even the versions by Yes and Bowie. It deserves a prominent spot in the Desert Island Jukebox.Go to episode 396
This week, Jim chose the unique track "The Gormleys Will Miss Me" by the 27 Various for two reasons. One explanation is that after his recent DIJ selection by New Jersey's Red Buckets, it got him thinking more about underground indie rock from the 1980s. The other reason is that ever since Sound Opinions‘ intern Libby Gormley joined the team, Jim couldn’t get this track out of his head. While the Minneapolis band never gained huge traction, Jim loves this group, and finds this obscure song to be the perfect choice for this week's Desert Island Jukebox pick.Go to episode 522
Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton recently released an official Spotify playlist for her 2016 campaign, featuring the likes of Katy Perry and Ariana Grande. Jim doubts that Clinton made the playlist herself, suggesting that the featured artists are more in tune with the tastes of a young campaign staffer. But President Obama's playlist is more authentic, featuring tracks by The Tempations, The Isley Brothers, and even one of Jim's favorite bands, Low Cut Connie. But this isn‘t to say that Obama’s playlist is flawless – Jim is sorely disappointed by the Coldplay pick.
Speaking of presidential candidates, New Jersey governor Chris Christie recently issued a statement proclaiming his adoration for Bruce Springsteen. The politician writes that the Boss“gave voice to the suburban kids like me who were filled with dreams and doubts. He was one of us.”Christie goes so far as to say "Born to Run is my Desert Island disc." Greg is surprised by the pick, given Christie's preference for Bon Jovi, another New Jersey native. Jim thinks that his home state has quite a lot to be embarrassed about these days.
From time to time Jim and Greg like to sit down and take a look at the Billboard Chart to discuss the country's most popular albums. Country rocker Luke Bryan is at #1 with his new album Kill the Lights, but Jim doesn‘t see what’s so great about this seemingly generic country music. Familiar artists Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift continue to dominate, with the #2 and #7 records, respectively. Greg is happy to see former The Voice contestant Melanie Martinez on the charts, a former member of Jim's favorite artist Adam Levine's team. And let's not forget about the #8 artist, Bullet for my Valentine, a Welsh heavy metal band that Jim and Greg just can't get enough of. But perhaps the most interesting chart topper this week is Elvis Presley, whose retrospective album Elvis Forever is selling big in your local Post Office.Go to episode 509
If you were one of the unfortunate few to tune in to last week's Golden Globes“ceremony”then you know first hand how the Writer's Guild strike can affect awards season. Now it appears the Grammy Awards might be next to fall. The Recording Academy is seeking an interim agreement from the WGA to insure that the Feb. 10th awards broadcast will go off without a hitch. While they have gotten support from other industry unions, a WGA spokesperson didn't recommend betting on a waiver. Jim, for one, would welcome a trimmed down Grammy Awards. But, Greg doesn't think that audiences will tune in without the promise of star power. The one upside — perhaps this year the Grammys will actually be about music.
By next year Live Nation will not only have severed ties with Ticketmaster, but become its biggest competition. The concert promoters, turned music moguls, announced plans to launch their own ticketing company. Therefore, they'll have their hands in every aspect of the music industry: production, marketing and sales of both albums and concert tickets. According to Jim and Greg, this brings up a lot of ethical issues that make them question how the consumer will be served. Ticketmaster is also blurring the lines of business; the company made its own announcement regarding the purchase of TicketsNow. That website is the second-largest site in the secondary-ticket market behind StubHub. Ticketmaster has been criticizing these kinds of brokers for years, but…if you can‘t beat ’em, join ‘em. As Jim and Greg explain, now there isn’t a lot stopping Ticketmaster from withholding a large quantity of tickets from the first round of sales, only to jack up the prices and make a huge profit the second time around.
The other big area of competition is turning out to be the summer concert festivals. The concert promoters behind Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California are headed east to set up shop in New Jersey. The Liberty State Park event will be held on August 8-10 — the same exact dates as the Vineland Music Festival. That event is being put on by the promoters behind Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits. Can New Jersey handle two 3-day concert festivals with a similarly diverse bill of hundreds of bands? Jim and Greg think no. The stage is set for“a blood bath”between the two corporate giants, but the real victims are probably going to be music fans.
From the concert wars to the real war… In an effort to boost morale, the U.S. Army has put out a request for a“professional rock band.”Following suit with the National Guard, who used 3 Doors Down to help them recruit moviegoers, the Army is looking to get a little more rock and roll. Or rather, Southern Rock, Pop Rock, Post-Grunge or Hard Rock. If you play these genres of music and are some kind of celebrity, national or local, and also don't mind suiting up in kevlar and being shipped off to Kuwait or Afghanistan, then submit your“proposal”today. Sound Opinions H.Q. can think of a few music celebs they'd nominate to be shipped off.
Next up Jim and Greg warn you to get ready for a full-blown Michael Jackson revival. That's right, the man who many of us reduced to an E! True Hollywood Story may actually return to being an important music figure. A 25th anniversary edition of Thriller is scheduled for release next month, and Jermaine Jackson has said that his brother will be joining the rest of the Jackson 5 for a reunion tour later this year. But kicking the revival off is rapper Rhymefest, who just posted a free download of The Michael Jackson Dedication Album on his website. The album was produced entirely with Jackson song samples, as well as inventive skits featuring the rapper and his pop idol. Jim and Greg both recommend listeners check the album out, with Greg adding that it's the best thing Michael Jackson has had his name on in two decades. Rhymefest fans should also check out his appearance on the show.Go to episode 112
This summer concert season marks a number of make-ups and break-ups. First is the news that The Police will be wrapping up their successful reunion tour. The group had one of the top grossing tours of 2007, but will be ending their“journey”in the place it began: New York City. Also making news is the Gang of Four, which is now down to the Gang of Two. But on a happier note, New Jersey's The Feelies will be reuniting after 17 years for not one, but two shows this summer. Jim and Greg are also excited about the highly-anticipated reunion from groundbreaking British band My Bloody Valentine. The question is - will any of these reunions result in new music that matches these bands' former glory? Fans will have to wait and see.Go to episode 128
Attention American music fans: Spotify has landed. The“freemium”music-streaming service, launched in Sweden in 2008, already dominates music streaming overseas. Not only does it claim 10 million (until now, mostly European) users, but of that ten, a significant 1.6 million are paying subscribers. So why did it take so long for Spotify to cross the pond? For years the service has been negotiating with the big four American record labels to overcome licensing hurdles, leaving the American field open to rival services like Rdio, MOG, and Rhapsody. Greg wonders: Will Spotify - with its vaunted 15 million track catalogue, free music, and free-ish subscription plans - be able to compete with these already entrenched services?
It's not often that a major artist goes out of his way to urge fans NOT to buy his music, but that's exactly what Nine Inch Nail's Trent Reznor did last week, telling his approximately 930,000 Twitter followers to“ignore”a reissue of 1989's Pretty Hate Machine.“A record label bulls—t move repackaging the old version”Reznor tweeted.“Ignore please.”Reissues, Jim notes, are rarely the decision of the artists, who sign away rights to reissue material when they enter recording contracts. But as Greg observes, labels have something to lose too: this is exactly the kind of rip-off that earns them fans' ill will.
Jim and Greg close out the news with two short items: Ja Rule was sentenced this week to 28 months in prison for failing to pay 1.1 million dollars in taxes. It's yet another blow for a star who hasn't been“living it up”since he started serving two years for criminal weapons possession last month. The New Jersey judge ruled that Ja Rule could serve the terms concurrently. And while we're on the subject of downward slides, Border's Books and Music just hit rock bottom. One of the few remaining large music retailers (anyone remember Tower?), Borders announced Monday that it would close its doors for good.Go to episode 295
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
Beastie Boys member Adam Yauch announced this week that he has cancer and will be undergoing surgery. He explained on a video on the group's site that the cancer was caught in time, and he will recover. The Beastie Boys are being forced to cancel a number of big tour dates, however, including headling slots at Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and All Points West in New Jersey. Lollapalooza will not be offering refunds for tickets. As Greg explains, this is standard policy at many festivals where you are there to see dozens or hundreds of bands. Jim thinks that when a headline drops out, people should be able to get a refund, especially if they purchased tickets for just that one day.
It's only July, but Jim is already thinking about Christmas gifts. He noticed that yet again, Greg missed an opportunity to get him the perfect gift — John Bonham's gong. Bonzo's famous 48-inch gong went at auction this week for $64,000. Jim thinks it's a reasonable price for such a massive gong used by such a massive drummer.Go to episode 191
Sad news: singer Ben E. King has died at age 76 in New Jersey. After being discovered in a luncheonette in 1956, King scored a string of hit singles as a member of The Drifters and then as a solo artist. With the unique blend of grit and smoothness in his voice, King bridged the gap between the doo-wop and soul eras – he's the rare artist who's charted in four different decades. He'll forever be remembered for his 1961 solo hit "Stand By Me," but Greg also loves his moving performance with The Drifters on the Doc Pomus-penned "Save the Last Dance For Me."
Last month we also lost Jack Ely of the Portland garage band The Kingsmen, who sang lead on their immortal 1963 cover of Richard Berry's "Louie Louie." Rumors spread that Ely's indecipherable singing might be covering up dirty lyrics, outraging then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and even prompting an FBI investigation. The more prosaic truth may have been that Ely's singing was slurred because his braces had just been tightened. While Ely may not be a household name, without those three chords, there would be no punk rock as we know it.Go to episode 493