Results for psychedelia

interviews

Ernie Isley

Few groups can claim the sustained success of The Isley Brothers, in no small part due to the contributions of our guest Ernie Isley. The Isley Brothers formed in the 1950s as a doo-wop vocal group in Cincinatti, scoring huge hits with the wedding staples "Shout" and "Twist and Shout." They managed to survive the British Invasion, assisted by the incredible playing of their young guitarist Jimi Hendrix. With the addition of two more brothers, Ernie and Marvin, the band started to branch out into funk, soul, psychedelia, rock, and disco. It's this willingness to defy categorization that's led to the Isleys' longevity – the band scored the rare feat of charting in six consecutive decades.

Ernie Isley picked up where Hendrix left off on guitar, creating an unmistakeable tone featured on hits like "That Lady" and "Summer Breeze." But his contributions as a songwriter were just as vital, including a pair of sociallly conscious anthems in 1975: "Harvest for the World" and "Fight the Power," which Ernie penned in the shower before a trip to Disneyland. The Isleys' influence continues to be heard today in the hip-hop realm. Artists from Ice Cube to Notorious B.I.G. to Kendrick Lamar have crafted iconic songs from Isley Brothers samples. The band is now being honored with a massive boxset called The RCA Victor & T-Neck Album Masters (1959-1983), and even that just scratches the surface of the Isleys' long career.

Go to episode 509

Los Lobos

Recently, Jim and Greg were joined by an audience of Sound Opinions and Los Lobos fans for a special recording at City Winery Chicago. Louie Perez, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano and Steve Berlin showed everyone what it means to have 4 decades of chops and unity under their belts. Since forming in high school in East L.A., Los Lobos has always pushed the boundaries of whatever genre they explored: rock, punk, Mexican folk, R&B, jazz, psychedelia. Most of that is a far cry from their huge 1987 hit "La Bamba." But, perhaps that cover got fans like Elmo in the door. Now the group has a new album called Gates of Gold, its first release in 5 years.

Go to episode 533
specials

Remembering Prince

Prince Remembered

"Life is just a party, and parties weren't meant to last." Yet the party ended much too soon for music legend Prince, who died on April 21 at the age of 57 at his Paisley Park home and recording studio in Chanhassen, Minnesota. Volumes have been said about the late Prince Rogers Nelson in the past week, but Jim and Greg draw attention to aspects of his music and career that aren't acknowledged enough. Growing out of the Minneapolis funk scene, Prince refused to be boxed into a single genre, fearlessly blending funk, pop, rock, soul, new wave, and R&B to create a sound all his own. He was known as a guitar god, but could really play any instrument he touched and often was the only musician on his recordings. Prince carried on the Marvin Gaye and Al Green tradition in R&B of mixing the sacred and the profane, sex and salvation. On records like The Black Album, he created some of the most lascivious music ever, but at the same time, Jim and Greg argue he showed a deep respect for women. Not only did he mentor and collaborate with up-and-coming female stars, but he also was eager to help out his idols like Chaka Khan and Mavis Staples.

Prince was unafraid to explore psychedelia, especially in the crucial three album run of Purple Rain, Around the World in a Day, and Parade in the mid-80s. He spent the rest of his life toiling away at Paisley Park, churning out recording after recording – not without quality control issues. But in the past couple decades, Prince was defined by his unpredictable and often transcendent live performances. Prince was ahead of his time in recognizing the internet as a way to sell music directly to his fans without a label. But his greatest legacy will of course be his music, and his influence on generations of artists is immeasurable.

Go to episode 544

The Grateful Dead

The Grateful Dead celebrated its 50th anniversary in July with a series of farewell shows at Soldier Field in Chicago. We're using that as an opportunity to reexamine the legacy of the controversial band. The Dead formed in the Bay Area in the 1960s and featured a core membership of guitarists Jerry Garcia and Bob Weir, keyboardist Ron“Pigpen”McKernan, bassist Phil Lesh, drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart, with important contributions from lyricist Robert Hunter. Though it was the prototypical "jam band," The Dead's sound was much more eclectic and harder to pin down than that sometimes derisive term indicates, incorporating free jazz, psychedelia, bluegrass, blues, early rock ‘n’ roll, and more.

The Dead built a community of devoted fans who would travel with the band from town to town, some of whom would tape the performances and share the recordings, which the band encouraged. Though Deadheads contend the true essence of the band was experienced in its experimental live shows, Jim has little patience for the erratic performances and instead prefers the band's early studio recordings. Greg argues that The Dead was a consistently great live band during its peak in the '70s, before drugs took their toll and the surprise 1987 chart hit "Touch of Grey" altered the fanbase. Garcia, who died in 1995, was an irreplaceable musical genius, and the band leaves behind a legacy of experimentation, eclecticism, and an unparalleled musical community.

Go to episode 505
genre dissections

Krautrock

Jim and Greg devote this episode to dissecting the '70s German art-rock movement known as Krautrock. The Krautrock bands themselves, however, preferred the term "kosmische Musik" (cosmic music) to describe their spacey, pulsating freak-outs that combined psychedelia with the electronic innovation of classical composers like Karlheinz Stockhausen. Kraftwerk pioneered the use of electronic instruments to achieve an industrial sound. Neu!, initially an offshoot of Kraftwerk, introduced a hypnotic drumbeat called "motorik" that has been copied by bands for decades. (Check out our 2010 interview with Neu! founder Michael Rother). Jim particularly highlights the inimitable metronomic drumming of Can's Jaki Liebezeit, who died on January 22 at age 78. For Greg, the band Faust was the prime example of the movement's willingness to experiment.

Jim and Greg also trace the incredible influence of Krautrock on music that followed. In the rock world, the German bands have been a touchstone for indie rockers like Stereolab, shoegazers like My Bloody Valentine, post-rock bands like Tortoise, and much more. But the influence is perhaps most pronounced in electronic dance music. It's hard to imagine Detroit techno, Eurodisco, or ambient techno existing without these cosmic forerunners.

Go to episode 583
reviews
Blade of the RoninBlade of the Ronin available on iTunes

Cannibal Ox Blade of the Ronin

Back in 2001, Cannibal Ox put out one of the best rap albums of the decade called The Cold Vein. It was produced by Run the Jewels rapper and recent Sound Opinions guest, El-P. Since then, Ox members Vast Aire and Vordul Mega embarked on lukewarm solo careers. But now they are back for the group's second album, Blade of the Ronin. For Jim, the two MCs are better together than they are apart. The album has elements of psychedelia and Wu-Tang Clan's style, but for Jim it feels old. It's not as good as Run the Jewels but better than most, so he gives it a Try It. Greg is a huge fan of the duo, but thinks that the merger of futurism, sci-fi and ancient Egypt is nothing new. While he enjoys the record, it's no classic. Greg also says Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 486
Era VulgarisEra Vulgaris available on iTunes

Queens of the Stone Age Era Vulgaris

Era Vulgaris is the fifth album from rockers Queens of the Stone Age. Ever since Josh Homme left the stoner rock group Kyuss in 1995, he's been celebrating and satirizing heavy metal as the lead singer of this band. He's often joined by a revolving door of musical guests, which this time around includes Trent Reznor and Julian Casablancas. Jim thinks that Homme and the band have done a great job of bringing brains, melody and psychedelia back to heavy metal. But, he hasn't loved the last two records. He worries that Homme is beginning to phone it in and only gives Era Vulgaris a Burn It. Greg has always been struck by how sensual Queens' music sounds. They embrace using sexy rhythms when most heavy metal acts abandon them, creating a completely unique sound. He calls Era Vulgaris a terrific record and recommends listeners Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 84
See Mystery LightsSee Mystery Lights available on iTunes

Yacht See Mystery Lights

DFA duo Yacht have a new album out this week called See Mystery Lights. Jona Bechtolt has been making music and art for a number of years now, but now he's partnered with vocalist Claire Evans, and Jim explains they are reaching their biggest audience to date. For both hosts, this is not undeserved. The electro-pop tracks really make you feel like you are floating in space, or are haunted by the paranormal. It's a perfect bridge of dance music and psychedelia, and both Jim and Greg give the record a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 195
dijs

Jim

“East-West”The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

We really do read your letters! After we first aired our interview with Jac Holzman, a listener wrote in saying he'd like to hear more about Paul Butterfield. So in response, Jim drops a track by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band into the Desert Island Jukebox. In 1966, on an album of the same name, the group recorded the song "East-West" written by guitarist/composer Mike Bloomfield. Bloomfield was influenced by blues, psychedelia, free jazz and Indian raga music. This track in turninfluenced everyone from the Grateful Dead to Joe Boyd. It's a landmark in rock, and it's goin' with Jim to the island. Gotta question, comment or suggestion? Contact us here.

Go to episode 486

Jim

“East-West”The Paul Butterfield Blues Band

We really do read your letters! Last week a listener commented on our interview with Jac Holzman, saying he'd like to hear more about Paul Butterfield. So this week Jim drops a track by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band into the Desert Island Jukebox. In 1966, on an album of the same name, the group recorded the song "East-West" written by guitarist/composer Mike Bloomfield. Bloomfield was influenced by blues, psychedelia, free jazz and Indian raga music. This track in turn influenced everyone from the Grateful Dead to Joe Boyd. It's a landmark in rock, and it's goin' with Jim to the island.

Go to episode 276

Greg

“What's the New Mary Jane”The Moles

Lately Greg has been binging on the music of Australian songwriter Richard Davies. Davies has worked as a solo artist and also released an album with Eric Matthews under the moniker Cardinal. But this week Greg is especially drawn to Davies' first band, The Moles, which merged baroque pop and psychedelia with a skewed sense of melody. The Moles' 1992 single "What's the New Mary Jane" lifts its title from a famous Beatles outtake, but it's much more substantive than what the Fab Four actually recorded. It's a twisted, druggy slice of pop music unlike anything else coming out during the grunge era, so it earns its place in the Desert Island Jukebox.

Go to episode 483

Greg

“Teenage Head”The Flamin' Groovies

All this Grateful Dead news has Greg thinking of San Francisco in the 1960s. And in the era of peace and love, The Flamin' Groovies were wildly out of step. In the midst of psychedelia, the group drew on '50s rockabilly and garage rock. The band has also often been called a progenitor of punk. The Flamin' Groovies even had a song about sniffing glue years before The Ramones did. The title track "Teenage Head," from their third album, channels teenage angst into three minutes. The song cites how they are the children of“atom bombs and rotten air and Vietnams.”Greg notes that in a predominately "hippy" music scene, the Flamin' Groovies were doing something completely unique both lyrically and sonically.

Go to episode 497

Jim

“Hyper Faster”Sheavy

What better way to end a show about the music of Canada than bringing a track by a Canadian band to the desert island? This week, Jim chose the song "Hyper Faster" by the stoner metal band Sheavy. Sheavey was a band that came out of Newfoundland in the early '90s. They are recognized most for blending hard rock in the tradition of '70s bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, with '90s flavored psychedelia. While the group sort of lost their way when their leader Ren Squires left in 2004, this 2000 song is peak Sheavy and a perfectly Canadian choice to bring to the desert island.

Go to episode 572

Jim

“Sour Times”Portishead

It's Jim's turn to select a song to take with him to the desert island this week. His DIJ pick was inspired by the two albums reviewed in the show. Amy Winehouse considers herself a modern day Nina Simone, and Timbaland uses a Nina Simone sample in his song "Oh Timbaland." Jim is in favor of referencing the past, but wanted to go back to a band that was able to bring a hip hop attitude to classic '60s soul and jazz much more successfully than Winehouse ever could. That band is Portishead. Portishead came out of England during the 1990s as part of the "trip-hop" movement. While their tenure was short (though word is they are making music again), Jim is still impressed by the group's ability to merge American hip hop with British psychedelia with early soul and R&B. The album he urges listeners to go back to is 1994's Dummy, and the track he wants to add to the Desert Island Jukebox is "Sour Times."

Go to episode 71
features

In Memoriam: Gregg Allman

Gregg Allman Musician Gregg Allman died May 27 at the age of 69. Gregg was a crucial member of The Allman Brothers Band, a group at the forefront of the southern rock genre, though they didn‘t like to be labeled as such. The band’s combined the blues, jazz, rock and psychedelia to make for a original sound. Gregg was the voice of the band, the organ player and the primary songwriter, writing hits like "Midnight Rider," "Whipping Post" and "Melissa." Greg Kot pays tribute to Gregg Allman with a track that's actually a demo called "Dreams."“Dreams”was the song that first helped the band take him seriously as a songwriter.

Go to episode 601
world tours

New Zealand

The Clean

Lorde is just the biggest name in a long line of important musicians coming out of New Zealand. So this week, Jim and Greg fire up the jet to take the Sound Opinions World Tour to the other side of the world. As a guide, they're joined by Wellington-based critic Nick Bollinger, host of The Sampler on Radio New Zealand and author of several books including the recent memoir Goneville.

They focus on an influential era in kiwi rock emerging in the early 1980s known as the Dunedin Sound that's closely associated with the legendary New Zealand indie label Flying Nun Records. Based around the southern university city Dunedin, the Flying Nun bands drew upon early psychedelia, American garage rock, and The Velvet Underground to create a distinctive jangly guitar-based sound, much of it released on lo-fi 4-track recordings. But while the key bands like The Clean, The Chills, and The Verlaines shared an aesthetic, Nick argues that their musical approaches actually were varied. By the late ‘80s and early ’90s, the Dunedin Sound had fully evolved to incorporate the shoegaze of Bailter Space and even the dance beats of Headless Chickens.

A key part of New Zealand's culture is its indigenous population. Maori, Samoan, and other indigenous groups make up nearly 20% of the population and have had a major impact on the island nation's pop music. Nick traces the history of Maori music from the Hendrix-esque guitar styling of The Human Instinct to the reggae boom of the '70s to the embrace of hip-hop. He also makes recommendations for great contemporary kiwi artists, including singer-songwriter Aldous Harding, power-poppers Kane Strang, electro-soul artist Electric Wire Hustle, and the eclectic producer Lord Echo.

Go to episode 605