Results for U2

interviews

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

Brian Eno

Frequent Sound Opinions listeners know they can count on one thing: Brian Eno references. In fact some have taken to making it a drinking game. The legendary producer and electronic music pioneer seems to come up no matter what Jim and Greg are talking about. And for good reason-Eno is not just an innovator in the experimental world, but a major pop force as well, first as a member of the new wave band Roxy Music, then as a producer and collaborator with David Byrne and the Talking Heads, John Cale, Devo, U2 and Coldplay. He also composes solo work as well, though whether or not he'll use lyrics, singing or poetry is never known. His last album Drums Between the Bells was inspired by the poetry of Rick Holland. And he has a new EP called Panic of Looking. Brian joins Jim and Greg from England and shares his unique philosophies on writing, recording and the studio as an instrument.

Go to episode 310

Arcade Fire

Arcade Fire has had quite a trajectory. First they were a group of anthemic art rockers from Montreal. Then they released Funeral, a successful first effort on Merge Records, followed by Neon Bible, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Chart. They were invited to open for U2 and their latest release The Suburbs won the top prize at last year's Grammy Awards. Jim and Greg spoke to Régine Chassagne and Will Butler a couple of years ago, and now we've managed to fit all seven musicians into our studio for a memorable live performance. They also talk to Will and bandmate Richard Parry about the“shock and awe”of winning a Grammy, performing during the Wrigley Field seventh inning stretch and why folks still wonder, "Who the F is Arcade Fire?"

Go to episode 290

Michael Rother

Our guest this week might not be a familiar name to most. But, Michael Rother is one of the most innovative figures in rock. Along with Klaus Dinger, he formed Neu! and created three hugely influential albums in the 1970's. They were part of a great wave of German art rock of that period and continue to be name checked by everyone from Wilco to Sonic Youth to U2. Rother talks to Jim and Greg about his solo work and his time with Neu!. The band's back catalog is now available in a limited edition box set, and Rother is touring the country with a new band under the name Hallogallo 2010.

Go to episode 253
specials

U2's Legacy

U2 recently debuted a song from the forthcoming Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark musical. Reeve Carney, the actor playing Peter Parker, performed "Boy Falls from the Sky" on Good Morning America. And the Irish rockers played their own version in concert this week. Jim and Greg couldn't help wonder how a bunch of Dublin art-punks became stadium giants and now Broadway darlings.

Jim and Greg discuss U2's unique place in music history. With 12 albums, 22 Grammys and over 150 million records sold, very few rock bands from the '70s and '80s are at their level. And they are still selling out stadiums around the world. But they didn‘t begin on such a large scale. Jim and Greg trace U2’s journey to this blockbuster point and discuss the band's different artistic phases and career highs and lows. They agree that Achtung Baby is U2's masterpiece, and can't stomach some of the righteousness and bombast of records like The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree. But each has a unique favorite. Jim chooses to highlight "An Cat Dubh" from the 1980 album Boy, and Greg plays "Your Blue Room" from the 1995 Brian Eno-produced album Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1.

Go to episode 254

U2

Jim and Greg recently experienced the launch of U2's new arena tour. While neither believe that music is at its best in a stadium, Greg admits that the band has mastered the art of spectacle. Jim was happy to hear a number of songs from U2's latest album No Line on the Horizon, but wouldn't recommend anyone pay over $200 to see the show.

The concert got our hosts thinking about U2's place in music history. Very few rock bands from the '70s and '80s can still sell out stadiums around the world. But they didn‘t begin at such a large scale. Jim and Greg trace U2’s journey to this blockbuster point and discuss the band's different artistic phases and career highs and lows. They agree that Achtung Baby is U2's masterpiece, and can't stomach some of the righteousness and bombast of records like The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree. But each has a unique favorite. Jim chooses to highlight An Cat Dubh from the 1980 album Boy, and Greg plays "Your Blue Room" from the 1995 Brian Eno produced album Passengers: Original Soundtracks 1.

Go to episode 199

When Jim and Greg Were Wrong

Music fans tell Jim and Greg they are wrong all the time, but the critics are not too big to admit it themselves. This week they come clean with some of their critical errors. Here are Greg's self-confessed mistakes:

Go to episode 139

Joy Division

In 1977 Ian Curtis, Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris formed the band Joy Division in Manchester, England. Now 30 years later, the music and the legend are as important as ever. Acclaimed video director and rock photographer Anton Corbijn just released his Joy Division feature film, Control. In addition, a number of albums and compilations are being reissued and a documentary is in the works. Jim and Greg took this opportunity to delve into the band's music and story.

So, why all the interest in a British band that lasted only three years and never even toured the States? Jim explains that Joy Division left a lasting musical influence that you can hear in dance-punk fusion bands like Interpol and LCD Soundsystem, as well as mainstream rock acts like The Cure, Smashing Pumpkins and U2. Also, because front man Ian Curtis committed suicide in 1980, just one month prior to the release of "Love Will Tear Us Apart," the band's most successful single, the idea of Curtis and the band became almost as important as the music itself. The band was adopted by Goth youths and Curtis became romanticized as a tortured genius. Unfortunately while that propelled the band's name, it overshadowed what they were really about according to Jim and Greg.

The mythology surrounding Curtis‘ death isn’t the only thing that misrepresents Joy Division. Greg explains that the band's studio albums only showcase one side of the group's music. Producer Martin Hannett crafted the sound to enhance the band's dark, twisted image. On 1978's Unknown Pleasures and 1980's Closer, the songs were sparse and claustrophobic. But, as you can hear in live tracks like "Transmission," Joy Division was an aggressive, energetic band in concert. Their singles also present a more upbeat, dance-oriented sound. To get a full perspective on Joy Division, Greg recommends checking out the Closer reissue, as well as Substance, a collection of singles.

Go to episode 101

Turkey Shoot 2014

Turkey Shoot: It's Turkey time! Dip these albums in the deep fryers (safely of course). Here are the albums that most let Jim and Greg down in 2014:

Go to episode 468

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

Aretha Franklin Amazing Grace

It's a big year for Aretha Franklin. The“Queen of Soul”just turned 70, and her bestselling album, Amazing Grace, turns 40 this June. No, you won't find megahits like "Respect" or "Think " on Amazing Grace's track list, but this 1972 album of gospel covers influenced rock and rollers as diverse as the Rolling Stones and U2, and transformed gospel as we know it. In honor of the anniversary, Jim and Greg do a classic album dissection of Amazing Grace. They're joined by Aaron Cohen, Downbeat editor and author of a book on Amazing Grace for the 33 1/3 series. Everything Aretha did in this era, Aaron explains, she did in a big way. Her return to gospel music after over a decade in the pop wilderness was no exception. The record was recorded live at a Baptist church in Watts, Los Angeles over two days. Gospel luminaries including singer Clara Ward and Aretha's father, the Reverand CL Franklin, were in the audience (as were the Stones' Charlie Watts and Mick Jagger). Freed from the constraints of cutting a three-minute single, Franklin takes her time on Amazing Grace, stretching songs and combining them in surprising medleys. But the real magic of the album, Aaron contends, comes from the combination of Aretha's voice with that of Reverend James Cleveland's Southern California Community Choir. This combination of star soloist and choir became standard in gospel music from this point forward.

As always with classic album dissections, Jim and Greg choose their own tracks from Amazing Grace to highlight. Jim goes with "Precious Lord (Take My Hand)/You've Got a Friend," a medley that melds a classic gospel tune with Carole King's decidedly secular pop hit. Greg chooses "How I Got Over," a Clara Ward cover that, he explains, was closely associated with the ongoing civil rights movement.

Go to episode 332
reviews
No Line On the Horizon (Deluxe Edition)No Line on the Horizon available on iTunes

U2 No Line on the Horizon

Irish super rockers U2 have a new album out called No Line on the Horizon. It's the band's 12th album, and after a brief stint with producer Rick Rubin, they've returned to working with Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois. Greg was pleased to hear that after a couple of“U2 by numbers”albums, they‘ve returned to emphasizing sound. They’ve restored the sense of mystery and atmosphere on a handful of tracks. But, Greg wishes the entire album was like that. He doesn't feel they quite pulled it off and gives No Line on the Horizon a Try It. Jim is shocked to hear himself say it, but he disagrees. Bono was wrong to suggest this record is the band's best, but Jim thinks they are definitely still relevant. And he finds the good tracks so extraordinarily good that they overshadow the bum ones. Jim gives the new U2…a Buy It!

JimGreg
Go to episode 170
Songs of Innocence (Deluxe Edition)Songs of Innocence available on iTunes

U2 Songs of Innocence

Bono, The Edge, Larry Mullen, Jr. and Adam Clayton have certainly made headlines with their free iTunes release Songs of Innocence. It seems not all music fans want everything for free. But not as much has been said about the album content itself. So, Jim and Greg are here to give it a Buy It, Burn It or Trash It rating. Greg doesn't pull any punches. He says "This is what a dinosaur does in its last days"—trying the same old moves in an effort to survive. The soft rock album lacks originality and spirit, a fact made more galling by nods to music greats like Joey Ramone and Joe Strummer. And don't forget about all the pretension, Jim adds. U2's Songs of Innocence gets a double Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 461
pharrelloscars

Oscar Songs 2014

When it comes to movies, Jim and Greg defer to the Academy. But, when it comes to music, they aren't as casual. 2014 has been a banner year for pop music in the movies, with three of this year's Best Original Song nominees topping the charts. In fact, this kind of crossover hasn't happened since 1984, when all five nominees hit #1. First, there's Idina Menzel's ubiquitous "Let It Go," from the animated Disney hit Frozen. Written by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez of Book of Mormon fame, it's a flashy show tune—the "Diane Warren power ballad" of Greg's nightmares—that fails to impress our hosts. Not so with "The Moon Song," from the film Her. Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, who co-wrote the song with director Spike Jonze, has since released a duet with Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend. This quiet, intimate tune wins Jim's statuette, even if it's too low-key for the Academy. Greg's giving his award to "Happy" from Despicable Me 2. While Mr. Kot admits to living under a rock when it comes to kids' movies, he considers Pharrell's single, with its layered vocals and handclaps, a pop masterpiece (despite the mediocre lyrics). Jim isn't as happy and thinks that Pharrell phoned this one in. Meanwhile, U2 took a break from ending world hunger to record a new song for Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. While the film got little attention in the U.S., "Ordinary Love" has something else working in its favor: the media empire of Harvey Weinstein. His aggressive promotion already won the song a Golden Globe for Best Song, and could similarly sway the Academy…but not our hosts. Despite the noble subject, Jim and Greg just hear standard U2 flag-waving.

JimGreg
Go to episode 431
Because of the TimesBecause of the Times available on iTunes

Kings of Leon Because of the Times

Southern rockers Kings of Leon have a new album out called Because of the Times. The members of the Nashville quartet were just in their teens when they first got signed to a major label, and now they're on to their third album. Jim comes right out of the gate with his opinion. He explains,“I loathe this album with a bile I reserve for very special occasions.”He thought the band was fairly harmless when they were just a hipper take on The Black Crowes. But, after receiving much hype from their label and being brought on large scale tours by Bob Dylan, Pearl Jam and U2, they've added an echo-drenched, reverb-laden arena rock sound that even U2's The Edge has moved on from. Because he finds the album retro, sexist and stupid, Jim gives it a Trash It rating. Hearing Jim's review of the record makes Greg like it even more. He describes Kings of Leon as sloppy Southern rock to the core, and really likes their guitar sound. It's retro, but unapologetically so for Greg. He gives Because of the Times a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 72
High LifeSomeday World available on iTunes

Karl Hyde & Brian Eno Someday World


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

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

JimGreg
Go to episode 450
The ShipThe Ship available on iTunes

Brian Eno The Ship

If you‘ve ever listened to Sound Opinions, you’ve learned one thing – Jim loves himself some Brian Eno. Eno has worn many hats over his long career, starting as a member of Roxy Music, collaborating with artists like David Bowie, and producing commercial successes for U2, Talking Heads, and Coldplay. His own solo output has varied wildly in style, recording pop albums in the '70s and basically inventing ambient music. His latest work, The Ship, is a concept album about the Titanic and the slaughter of World War I. Greg says Eno is finally merging his pop and ambient music, resulting in one of his best albums yet. He's freed himself from traditional song structures and rhythms to create cinematic images filled with orchestral synthesizer colors. Greg gives it a Buy It, impressed that Eno is still coming up with new ways to express himself. In a shocking turn of events, Jim is less impressed. He thinks that Eno's voice is the strongest tool in his arsenal, yet here he's burying it under the mix and fussing with Vocoders. Jim loves some ambient Eno, but feels he's done it better than on The Ship. But Jim says the doo-wop inflected cover of The Velvet Underground's "I'm Set Free" is amazing, earning The Ship a Try It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 545
Cash: The Legend

Johnny Cash Cash: The Legend

One of numerous Johnny Cash box sets, Cash: The Legend was released in time for the hoopla surrounding the Cash biopic, Walk the Line. Jim first points out that he doesn't like the way the set is organized. He loves the first disc, but is not sure about the rest of the choices. Greg, the show's resident Cash expert, thinks this box set is better than most, but is still flawed. It lacks many of Cash's Sun recordings, as well as his most recent work with super-producer Rick Rubin. This is a Burn It for both critics. Jim's Buy It picks for Cash fans are Love, God, Murder and Unearthed. Greg gets to pick the song this time around, and, much to Jim's dismay, chooses "The Wanderer," a track written by U2.

JimGreg
Go to episode 3
Small Craft On a Milk Sea (Bonus Track Version)Small Craft on a Milk Sea available on iTunes

Brian Eno Small Craft on a Milk Sea

In the Sound Opinions drinking game, "Brian Eno" is the key word. Perhaps no name in rock gets dropped more than the pioneering producer. But, for good reason-especially this week since he has a new album called Small Craft on a Milk Sea. Jim's“hero”has produced albums for the Talking Heads and U2, he's collaborated with John Cale and Robert Fripp, and he's been extremely influential in the worlds of experimental and ambient music. His new album is another instrumental effort. Jim wouldn‘t put it up there with Eno’s best, but thinks it's a big step up from other recent recordings-especially if considered in the ambient context. He gives the record a Buy It rating. Greg heard moments of undeniable beauty, but he wasn't wowed. He says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 259
SurpriseSurprise available on iTunes

Paul Simon Surprise

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

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
Drums Between the Bells (Bonus Track Version)Drums Between the Bells available on iTunes

Brian Eno Drums Between the Bells

And now it's time for everyone's favorite Sound Opinions drinking game: How many times can Jim name-drop Brian Eno? But let it be known that these mentions are entirely warranted. Jim's favorite“Super Genius”is out with a new record, Drums Between the Bells, a collaboration with the British poet Rick Holland. Eno has a been a major influence in the music world since the early seventies, first as a member of Roxy Music, then as a solo artist and ambient music innovator, and most recently as a producer for industry powerhouses like U2 and Coldplay. First to the plate to review Drums Between the Bells is Jim, who wants to set the record straight. He's no slavish Eno devotee, though he's championed the artist at his best. Unfortunately Eno's best isn‘t what Jim gets on“Drums.”The album is part ambient music - perfectly fine for what it is, but Jim misses the vocal gravitas that Eno himself might have brought to Holland’s poetry (instead, Eno has regular folks - non-actors and singers - speaking Holland's lines). Jim gives Drums a Burn it. Greg agrees, calling the album's vocals a little too dry. But he was intrigued enough by all the interesting rhythmic work on Drums to give the album a Burn it.

JimGreg
Go to episode 295
Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

The Beastie Boys Hot Sauce Committee Part Two

The Beastie Boys started out as snotty punks fighting for their right to party. But now they have more in common with vets like R.E.M. and U2. Their 8th album, Hot Sauce Committee Part Two, was much delayed, in part, because of Adam“MCA”Yauch's battle with cancer. But now it's here, and they haven't skipped a beat. The Beastie Boys are hardly boys anymore, but they make no attempt to be up to date. What they lack in edge they make up for in humor. Jim and Greg give this a joyful Buy It rating.

JimGreg
Go to episode 284
Harry StylesHarry Styles available on iTunes

Harry Styles Harry Styles

Musician Harry Styles has been compared to Davie Bowie in the British press. But does his debut solo album, Harry Styles, live up to the hype? Greg says the album rips off classic rock riffs from the likes of U2 and Badfinger to craft a“retro-leaning”sound. He was expecting a“pop-leaning stadium sounding record”from Styles, who was formerly a member of boy band One Direction. Greg thinks the album, however, is a“personal-sounding”record that lacks substantive lyrics. Greg says Trash It. Jim says turn to Justin Timberlake if you want to see a "young product of the modern pop machine" who became a "true visionary artist". He admits“there are some charming moments”on the record, but that "most of them [are] ripped off from other places in rock history". Ultimately, Jim gives Harry Styles a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 600
Yell Fire!Yell Fire! available on iTunes

Michael Franti and Spearhead Yell Fire!

Politicially charged group Michael Franti and Spearhead has a new album out this week. Michael Franti's songwriting has ranged from R&B to funk to hip hop, and he's been a part of numerous groups including The Beatnigs and The Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy. On this effort he expands his sound with the help of reggae greats Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. Much of Yell Fire! was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica with the seminal Jamaican producers. While the album's sound is slightly different, the message is no less socially conscious. Franti recorded it after a trip to the Middle East in 2004, and has also released a documentary film based on his travels. Jim respects Franti's message, and strongly recommends people see the movie — but he thinks that the lyrics are weak and wishes Franti didn't sound like he was trying so hard with the reggae sound. His rating is on the cusp between Burn It and Trash It. Greg disagrees, and thinks the production and the dancehall beats were done well, but he has to agree with his co-host about many of the cheesier, U2-style ballads. It's a Burn It for Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 34
Come Around Sundown (Extended Version)Come Around Sundown available on iTunes

Kings of Leon Come Around Sundown

A couple of weeks ago Jim and Greg discussed the career trajectory of U2. Kings of Leon seem to be on a similar path. The southern“band of brothers”(and cousin) are opening for the Irish band on their 360 tour, and Jim and Greg hear a lot more stadium bombast with their latest release Come Around Sundown. Lead singer Caleb Followill has turned on the rawk singing, and no funky or soul blues cliche was left unturned, according to Jim. It's way too over the top to him and lacks any experimentation or originality. Jim gives it a Trash It rating, adding that this might be one of the worst records of the year. Greg calls that a ridiculous statement, but agrees that he doesn‘t like the direction the band is headed. They’ve lost much of the rhythm and distinctiveness from their 2003 debut. But still, Greg wouldn't throw it in the bin. Kings of Leon gets a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 256
Lightning BoltLightning Bolt available on iTunes

Pearl Jam Lightning Bolt

Grunge rock stalwarts Pearl Jam are back with their tenth studio album called Lightning Bolt. It comes 22 years after their landmark debut Ten. Jim and Greg would happily trade Ten for this tenth release. Nonetheless, Greg does find some interesting experimentation in Lightning Bolt, noticeably on songs like "Pendulum" and "Yellow Moon" which show enough growth in the band's sound to earn the record a Burn It. Jim, however, thinks those same tracks are some of the weakest with their misguided allusions to the U2 and Elton John ballads. He prefers the faster pace of songs like "Lightning Bolt," which combined with a few others, might make for a decent EP. Therefore this LP gets a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 412
Wilder Mind (Deluxe Version)Wilder Mind available on iTunes

Mumford and Sons Wilder Mind

Mumford & Sons has had a "Judas!" moment with the release of their new album Wilder Mind…they‘ve gone electric. That’s right, no banjos or accordions on this album. Jim and Greg both feel this was a step in the wrong direction. Greg thought that the band's initial albums and live shows hinted at something interesting with their thoughts on life, love and religion. However with this new album, Mumford has become more generic. Jim has never liked Mumford and feels this album is in the vein of Springsteen and U2…not a good thing. They both give Wilder Mind a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 496
dijs

Jim

“St. Elmo's Fire”Brian Eno

As discussed earlier, U2, and countless other artists, turn to Brian Eno as a producer. For this week's Desert Island Jukebox pick, Jim wanted to illustrate why. Eno is a magician in the studio. He turns one sound into another and the result is pure joy. You can hear this in Eno's 1975 song "St. Elmo's Fire" from Another Green World.

Go to episode 170
lists

Better Campaign Songs

Presidential candidates keep reusing the same generically inspirational anthems (Springsteen, Mellencamp, U2, etc.) on the campaign trail. They rarely seem to pay attention to what the lyrics of the songs are actually about. So Jim and Greg are offering their services as political consultants to help freshen up the campaign rallies. Here are their picks for campaign songs that candidates should use as they run for office:

Go to episode 555

The Best of 2009… So Far

Lists are just too much fun to do them only once a year. Here are Jim and Greg's mid-year best album lists.

Greg

  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • Amadou & Mariam, Welcome to Mali
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Maxwell, BLACKsummers'night
  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz

Jim

  • Animal Collective, Merriweather Post Pavilion
  • Neko Case, Middle Cyclone
  • The Decemberists, The Hazards of Love
  • Lily Allen, It's Not Me, It's You
  • Morrissey, Years of Refusal
  • Franz Ferdinand, Tonight: Franz Ferdinand
  • PJ Harvey and John Parish, A Woman a Man Walked By
  • Moby, Wait for Me
  • Yeah Yeah Yeahs, It's Blitz
  • Passion Pit, Manners
  • Phoenix, Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
  • Metric, Fantasies
  • K'Naan, Troubadour
  • Cursive, Mama, I'm Swollen
  • Bob Dylan, Together Through Life
  • Leonard Cohen, Live in London
  • St. Vincent, Actor
  • The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, The Pains of Being Pure at Heart
  • Mastodon, Crack the Skye
  • Sonic Youth, The Eternal
  • U2, No Line on the Horizon
  • Wilco, Wilco
  • The Handsome Family, Honey Moon
  • Art Brut, Art Brut vs. Satan
  • Peaches, I Feel Cream
  • Screaming Females, Power Move
  • Dan Deacon, Bromst

A message from Jim: The following, LISTED IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER, is my tally of albums mid-year in 2009 that have all warranted 3.5 stars or more on the Chicago Sun-Times‘ 4-star ratings scale (making them all very enthusiastic“buy its”on the“Sound Opinions”scale). I will mention that these are in no particular order (sorry, but that’s reserved for the year-end list), that this list is not all-inclusive (I will no doubt catch up with quite a few discs released earlier in the year by the time I tally the year-end list) and, also, because this always confuses people, THESE ARE IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER. Yet. But they're all really, really, really good albums.

Go to episode 190

Best Albums of 2009

Go to episode 211
rock doctors

Rachel

Next up Drs. Kot and DeRogatis call another patient in from the waiting room. Rachel from Chicago, IL describes her musical symptoms as that of being stuck in a rut. She explains that she hasn't purchased any music in the past few years, and only listens to albums or mixes that her friends give her. Rachel is eager to improve her musical health though, and is willing to take her medicine — however bad it tastes. In order to steer Jim and Greg in the right direction, Rachel gives her medical/musical history . She counts U2 (during the Joshua Tree-era) and Tom Petty as two of her favorite artists, and explains that she really appreciates melody and lyrics in her music.

Dr. Jim gives the first prescription. He clues into Rachel's heartland rock leanings, but also wants to challenge her more. He decides to give the patient a dose of Wilco. Like '80s-era U2 and Tom Petty, Jeff Tweedy and the members of Wilco are strongly influenced by guitar-based American folk and rock. There is a strong emphasis on lyrics and on telling stories of the American condition. But like U2, who chose to work with avant-garde producer Brian Eno on The Joshua Tree, Wilco can also be very experimental. Jim finds this is especially true of their last album A Ghost is Born.

Dr. Greg is up next. He suspects that one of the things Rachel likes so much about her favorite music is how anthemic it is. Both Bono and Petty are strong frontmen that get a rise out of their audiences. He believes this is also the case with the music of Montreal band The Arcade Fire. In fact, U2 opened up their last tour with a performance of the song "Wake Up" off their debut album Funeral. Again, the Arcade Fire might be a little more stylized than what Rachel is used to, but Greg hopes she will appreciate their epic sound.

A week later, the patient returns. Rachel relays that she is feeling a bit better, but is not totally cured. She realized that some of the Wilco and Arcade Fire songs were actually already in her iTunes collection without her even knowing it. Rachel enjoyed both albums, but not completely from beginning to end. She liked the more anthemic songs on Funeral like "Rebellion (Lies)" and "Crown of Love," but found some of the tracks a little noisy. However nothing was as noisy as Wilco's 15-minute experimental jam "Less Than You Think." But, even Jim and Greg agree that it's OK to skip past that“test”to more traditional pop/rock compositions like "Theologians" and "The Late Greats." Rachel doesn‘t think she’s replaced her favorite standards, but looks forward to keeping up with these two bands and getting more new music like… The Shins (up next in the show).

Go to episode 61
news

Music News

First up in the news is Billboard's annual list of the year's biggest money makers in the music industry. The chart magazine compiled the list using CD and digital sales, publishing royalties and touring. And while most of the artists at the top still sell records, the majority made the cut because of their hugely successful blockbuster tours. At #1 is U2, who raked in more than $108 million in 2009, mostly through their gigantic 360-degree tour. The band is followed by Bruce Springsteen and Madonna, though a number of younger acts also made the cut including The Jonas Brothers and Taylor Swift. Two glaring omissions: Beyonce and The Black Eyed Peas, neither of whom toured in 2009.

In more Billboard news, Sade is at the top of the charts for the third week in a row with her new release Soldier of Love. She's sold more than 800,000 records. Jim and Greg were interested to see so many adult-skewing artists on the charts, including Johnny Cash and Susan Boyle. It's the older consumers who are continuing to purchase physical product. However, they note that these sales numbers wouldn't have gotten an artist into the Top 50 ten years ago.

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Go to episode 223

Music News

Last week, Irish rock band U2 invited itself into your home (or rather, your iTunes library) without a formal invitation. In a shrewd distribution move by the band, U2 partnered with technology giant Apple to share its new album Songs of Innocence for free with its 500 million iTunes users. Apple reportedly paid the band $100 million dollars for the honor, which Jim and Greg know is a better sum than Bono and company would receive through traditional sales. So far, 33 million people have accessed Songs of Innocence, but not everyone was excited about their free gift—prompting Apple to release an official“removal tool.”Jim can't help but laugh, wishing he had this tool from the beginning of his on-again, off-again relationship with U2.

Go to episode 460

Music News

A year after they started their“pay-what-you-want”experiment for In Rainbows, Radiohead has finally revealed the results. It was a complete success. The album sold three million copies at various prices, as well as 100,000 box sets at $81. And, the band gets to reap nearly all the profits since they don't have to divvy it up with a record company or middle man. Jim and Greg wonder why they waited so long to give numbers, especially since Trent Reznor was quick to reveal his success with a similar sales plan. But they are encouraged by Radiohead's success, and hope other bands will follow suit.

Another band experiencing a financial windfall is U2, but their new deal lacks the same punk spirit. The Irish rockers have linked up with corporate concert giant Live Nation for a 12-year deal that includes touring, merchandising and their web site. U2 will receive an estimated $19 million, but in Live Nation stock rather than cold hard cash. Jim thinks concertgoers can now hold Bono and his bandmates responsible for any anti-consumer practices on Live Nations' part.

Just when you think the music industry has embraced the digital revolution, you find out about another attempt to get consumers to purchase files. The latest web store is Lala.com. It is being supported by all the major labels, and many of the indies as well, and offers music to fans for only 10 cents. But, there's a catch. Lala only leases you those web songs to play online. You can‘t download or burn tracks unless you pay an additional 79 or 89 cents. Jim and Greg think a 10 cent price tag is terrific, but aren’t sure consumers will find the leasing structure that appealing. They hope that the music industry will introduce a happy medium where consumers can purchase songs at a low price and actually own them.

In one of the worst public relations moments of the year, Ringo Starr told his fans that after October 20th, he would no longer be accepting any fan mail or signing any autographs. What was his reason? It's not to be more“green,”as one might suspect. It's simply that the former Beatle is just too darn busy. Jim and Greg can‘t wrap their head around what’s filling up all his time. But, in the meantime, they have offered to accept any of Ringo's fan mail.

Levi Stubbs, lead singer of The Four Tops, passed away last week at the age of 72. As Greg explains, he's one of the great voices of the Motown generation, but never tried to overshadow the group. Despite that effort, it's hard not to notice Stubb's tremendous voice and emotional singing style. You can hear this in one of the classic pop songs of all time, "Bernadette."

Go to episode 152

Music News

Sad news for a number of rock fans this week. Both The White Stripes and LCD Soundsystem have announced they are closing up shop. James Murphy of LCD Soundsystem suggested he'd be calling it quits (at least under that name) when he was on Sound Opinions last year. But the White Stripes announcement has come as a surprise. Greg is disappointed since Jack White's other side projects as a member of The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs and producer of albums by Wanda Jackson haven't provided him the vehicle he deserves. But, as Jim notes, the adage is true: nothing gives an artist a greater boost than dying or breaking up. Albums by The White Stripes have seen a massive sales surge.

U2's Bono and the Edge have joined forces with veteran theater and film director Julie Taymor to bring Spider-Man to the Broadway stage. The early reviews are in, and they ain't pretty. From The New York Times ("sheer ineptitude") to the Los Angeles Times ("an artistic form of megalomania") to the Chicago Tribune ("incoherent"), the critical pans are far harsher than anything U2 has received on any album. And it wasn't for lack of funds. The $65 million musical production is charging fans up to $300 just for previews. Jim and Greg wonder if Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark will fare any better than Capeman.

Go to episode 272

Music News

Greg begins this week's news segment by complimenting Jim's use of the word“Blitzkrieg”in reference to The Strokes' quick tour of North America. Our first news story deals with the top 20 grossing concerts of 2005. The saggy-butted Rolling Stones led the list with a gross total of $162 million, followed by Jim's favorite band, U2. Two "artists", Celine Dion and Barry Manilow, didn't even have to tour to make the list—they simply took residency in one of Las Vegas's gaudy venues and raked in the cash.

A favorite of Sound Opinions, Courtney Love, returned to the headlines recently in a New York Post story detailing her financial woes, and more importantly, contemplating the sale of the Nirvana catalogue. Jim believes this would be a disaster, akin to Michael Jackson bringing the Beatles to Nike.

A sad story rounds out our news segment: the death of legendary Chicago singer Lou Rawls. The velvety-voiced singer died of cancer in Los Angeles. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, he referred to the the cold Chicago wind as the“Hawk,”and introduced the monologue to music, leading the way for hip-hop as an art-form. He was neighbors with another Chicago legend, Sam Cooke, and traded lines with him in the soul classic "Bring it on Home". Lou's final public appearance was a stirring rendition of God Bless America during the World Series.

Go to episode 6

Music News

These days national headlines coming out of Chicago are generally about one thing: gun violence on the south and west sides of the city. So far this year there have been more than 3,200 shootings, more than 530 of them fatal. At the same time the city is home to a vibrant and creative hip-hop movement that continues to grow. Greg recently attended two festivals that highlighted the creativity in Chicago while addressing the city's violence. Chance the Rapper hosted the Magnificent Coloring Day at US Cellular Field on the southside. The next day, Common hosted a festival on the westside. Greg says the two events were Chicago rappers addressing the city's violence while trying to do something positive about it.

Go to episode 566

Music News

The week's first news story concerns two different markers of achievement in the music industry: The Grammy Awards and the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll. Everyone, of course, knows about The Grammys—the annual awards given by the Recording Academy—but Jim and Greg argue that a better indicator of who deserved praise this year is the Pazz & Jop poll, which was taken by almost 800 music critics. There aren't many crossovers on the list of Village Voice winners and Grammy nominees, except for the critical and popular favorite Kanye West. The other musicians who finish out the top five—M.I.A., Sufjan Stevens, Sleater-Kinney and Fiona Apple—definitely don't appear on the Grammy ballot for "Album of the Year." The artists honored in that category include Mariah Carey, U2, Gwen Stefani and Paul McCartney.

Go to episode 10

Music News

For years the RIAA has been using the tactics of lawsuits and intimidation to try to curb illegal file-sharing, but recently both the consumer and the legal world are fighting back. Two prominent legal minds are calling for major copyright reform. The first is Harvard University law professor Charles Nesson, who has come to the defense of a Boston University student targeted in a music industry lawsuit. Nesson argues that as a private group, the RIAA can't carry out the civil enforcement of a criminal law and has vowed to take this case as far as it can go.

Another legal bigwig asking for reform is Marilyn Hall Patel, the judge who presided over the case that killed off original Napster. Seven years after her landmark decision, she hasn't seen the music industry make any strides to improve the situation and has proposed a new plan to create a new public/private organization with authority over the licensing and enforcement of copyrighting.

The words "Ticketmaster" and "Live Nation" are hard to escape these days, and with good reason. The two monoliths are unavoidable if you go to see concerts, and now that is the case with listening to and purchasing music as well. Jim and Greg discuss two new developments with the soon-to-be competitors. Ticketmaster has decided to be a little more customer-friendly with the next series of Eagles shows. They will reduce the convenience fees and waive delivery and handling fees for customers who print tickets at home. This decision comes after Eagles manager Irving Azoff was named the CEO of Ticketmaster Entertainment. Jim and Greg think this is a move in the right direction, but still find the price of Eagles tickets to be ridiculous.

Live Nation has also taken a new step. After inking a number of 360-degree deals with artists like U2, Madonna and Jay-Z, they now have plans to launch artist pages (similar to MySpace) pages where they can sell mp3s. This will essentially make Live Nation the world's biggest music store, and an even more powerful Live Nation is not something our hosts look forward to.

Go to episode 156

Music News

The nail has just gone in the record store coffin. The Times Square Virgin Megastore, which is the highest volume music store in America, is closing this spring. $55 million in annual revenue was not enough to keep the doors to this landmark retail outfit open. Jim and Greg agree that the Virgin store on Broadway was an institution for any music fan who visited New York City, and hope that people continue to support what record stores are still out there.

Rocker, poet, fashion designer, activist…now Bono can add columnist to that ever-growing list. The U2 frontman just published his first official column for The New York Times. It was written about music's other great ego: Frank Sinatra. Jim doesn't see why anyone would be interested in the writings of Bono, except for the fact that he is a celebrity. But Greg is a little more hopeful. He admits that Bono is not a great scribe, but thinks that if the singer sticks to what he knows– music– we may be in for some interesting stories.

Go to episode 164

Music News

Universal Music, the home to U2, Eminem and Lil Wayne, has decided to drop its CD prices to $10 or less. These new prices will certainly be welcome by both consumers and retailers, but Jim and Greg wonder if this is a case of too little, too late for the music industry. CDs were nearly $20 a decade ago when physical music sales were at a high. Now that those sales are down, $10 may draw some consumers back in, but it's still a heck of a lot more expensive than an mp3.

Alex Chilton Next Jim and Greg remember musician Alex Chilton who died last week at the age of 59. Chilton first came on the scene as the 16-year-old singer of The Box Tops' "The Letter." He then joined Big Star, and as Jim and Greg explain, became hugely significant to musicians in the 1980's. Big Star was never a commercial hit, but everyone from REM to The Replacements has name-checked Chilton and the band's power-pop sound as an influence. The singer and songwriter died only days before a scheduled Big Star reunion at SXSW. The event turned into a tribute, one that Greg describes as one of the most memorable shows he's ever seen. To honor Alex Chilton Jim and Greg play a song from Big Star's third release Third/Sister Lovers called "Thank You Friends." For more Big Star love, check out the Sound Opinions Classic Album Dissections of #1 Record and Radio City.

Go to episode 226

Music News

Two of the summer's biggest tours will not be coming to a city near you. Both U2 and Christina Aguilera have announced postponements, and the concert industry, and in particular Live Nation, will be taking a big hit. U2 alone was projected to bring in $200 million.

In other concert news, more cancellations have been announced in Arizona. A number of acts, including Pitbull and Cypress Hill, have taken the southwestern state off their schedule because of its controversial new immigration law. And even more artists are asking others to follow suit. Jim wonders if musicians might make a bigger impact by continuing to perform in Arizona and expressing their outrage live.

In New York, music fans will be experiencing some unique protection in the near future. Governor Paterson recently reminded ticket retailers like StubHub, that now that a 2007 scalping law has expired, a more restrictive law from the 1920s is back in effect. This law prevents ticket re-sellers, or scalpers, from raising the original price by more than $2. Good news for audiences, bad news for Ticketmaster.

Finally in the news, Jim and Greg remark on the absurdity of rock's V.I.P. ticket. Acts like Justin Bieber and The Eagles will be charging fans hundreds and hundreds of dollars for more access. Both our hosts miss the day when the biggest fan got to make it to the front row, not the biggest wallet.

Go to episode 235

Music News

Jim and Greg have talked on the show before about France's“3 Strikes”downloading law before on the show, and they've been wondering when the US will present its own anti-piracy initiative. Well, the Senate just did. Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont introduced the "Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act", a bipartisan bill that would allow the D.O.J. to shut down websites with pirated content. Record labels and Hollywood studios have been waiting for this for some time. Jim points out that a similar bill was introduced during the Bush administration, but, perhaps rightly so, some lawmakers didn‘t feel the government should be footing the bill for these legal actions. With President Obama’s appointment of an Intellectual Property Czar, Greg sees a trend toward supporting corporate copyright holders in this administration.

In related news, U2's manager Paul McGuinness recently published his own manifesto about the future of the music industry as it relates to downloading. There are few men as powerful in music today, so his words carry a lot of weight, but Jim and Greg aren‘t sure McGuinness is being very forward thinking. He feels that internet service providers are not doing enough to catch pirates, and that the solution is to bundle royalty costs into your internet fee. U2 is one of the few bands, like Radiohead, who could choose to revolutionize their business model. But, disappointingly, it’s business as usual for them.

Go to episode 252

Music News

The music industry now has a powerful new ally in its long-running fight against illegal file sharing: your friendly neighborhood internet service provider. After years of on-and-off negotiation with the RIAA and MPAA, the major U.S. ISPsAT&T, Verizon, Cablevision, Comcast, Time Warner – have voluntarily agreed to“police”users they suspect of downloading illegal material (or as the ISPs are spinning it,“educate”them). Illegal downloaders will receive a series of warnings before their internet connections are slowed to a crawl. U2 manager Paul McGuinness, an early advocate of ISPs taking on greater responsibility for online piracy, applauded the move. But Greg is wary. Now that ISPs have taken up the anti-piracy banner, will the U.S. government be next?

The music industry has yet another reason to celebrate. For the first time since 2004, music sales are up. (And sure, only by 1%, but still!) While sales by superstar acts like Adele and Eminem did their part, the real surprise was the spike in catalog sales. Seems people just can't seem to get enough of that Credence Clearwater Revival.

Go to episode 294

Music News

It's been a while since Jim and Greg have had an opportunity for a "Bono Rant," but this week U2 made big music industry news. The longtime Irish band has made a deal to hand over the management of its worldwide tours, merchandise sales and website to concert promoter Live Nation. This is a similar deal to the one Madonna inked a few months ago, only U2 will continue to release albums through Universal Music. Jim has to wonder why a band as big as U2 even needs a company like Live Nation, especially because they are so notoriously fan-unfriendly. But, he's more horrified at the prospect of seeing Bono and company performing live in their '60s. As Greg reminds him, geezers on stage are all too common these days.

Live Nation's ties with Ticketmaster will be severed at the end of this year, but the mega-company is making some new deals of its own. The Dave Matthews Band and Ticketmaster have teamed up to offer concertgoers a digital album filled with material from the band's upcoming summer tour. Since the DMB tour basically every year, this may not appear to be such big news, but Jim and Greg were both shocked to see the famously grassroots band get in bed with an evil empire like Ticketmaster. Whatever you think of their music (and it's evident where Jim and Greg stand), they were always an admirable band from a business standpoint…until now.

According to Brandweek, music tour sponsorships have grown 75% since 2003 and will hit $1.04 billion this year. This will come as no surprise to concertgoers who have experienced marketing and ads at every moment of a show. But Greg wonders why ticket prices haven't gone down if sponsorships have been so profitable. Jim is equally dismayed, and both hosts are anxious to see if anyone has the courage to stand up to the brand.

Go to episode 123

Music News

The numbers are in for 2011, and not surprisingly Adele has come out on top. Her album 21 sold over 5 million copies, as did her digital single "Rolling in the Deep." It's this combination of being able to push physical product and digital downloads that makes the British singer so desirable to the music industry. Number two of the year was kind of a surprise to our hosts: Michael Buble's Christmas. Over on the live music side, U2 is the touring winner with worldwide ticket sales totaling $231.9 million.

Move over Nina Totenberg, Jim and Greg have also become legal eagles. Increasingly, music trends are being affected by the courts, and according to Variety, there are a number of cases coming up in 2012 that will impact not just the record industry, but the habits of average fans. Here are a few to keep your eye on:

Go to episode 319

Music News

This year's crop of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees were celebrated last week at a ceremony in Cleveland. 2009's class includes Metallica, Run DMC, Jeff Beck, Bobby Womack and Little Anthony and the Imperials. While Metallica is getting its props, heavy metal is consistently unrepresented. Greg would vote to nominate Slayer. Jim agrees and adds that progressive rock music is also due for some representation. Love ‘em or hate ’em, Genesis, Yes and Jethro Tull are certainly as influential, if not more, than Little Anthony.

On the same day that U2 released a second set of tickets for their highly sought-after fall tour, New York Senator Chuck Schumer unveiled new legislation to crack down on the secondary ticket market, or scalping. Schumer is riding the wave of popularity he got after criticizing Ticketmaster for sales of Bruce Springsteen tickets, but Jim and Greg don't blame him. Jim calls scalping“a plague”on the music industry, and both critics urge reform.

They may have stopped making music decades ago, but The Beatles' output is still going strong. This fall Apple Corps and EMI will release the band's entire catalog remastered digitally on CD. This is long overdue; their music hasn't been upgraded since songs were first put on CD twenty years ago. But, while fans might be excited for a new model, Jim and Greg see this as a very transparent attempt to keep dipping into the same profit pool year after year.

Go to episode 176

Music News

Adele continues down her path of superstardom by scoring the biggest recording deal in the history of music. After three albums on the British indie label XL, Adele has signed a deal with Sony for around $132 million. She will be on the conglomerate's subsidiary label, Columbia, alongside artists like Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan and John Mayer. In the mid '90s and early 2000s, musicians like Prince, R.E.M. and U2 were signing massive recording deals. However in 2016, substantial contracts are much harder to come by due to the large decrease in album sales. Adele seems to be the exception to the rule, which is reflected in her new, record-breaking contract.

Go to episode 548

Music News

Major labels made a bit of news this week, and allowed Jim and Greg to justify their use of the“brontosaurus hurdling toward the tar pit”metaphor. So what is driving this particular dinosaur into extinction? According to our hosts, it's technology. Universal Music appeared to recognize this hurdle this week when they announced that they were cutting costs of some of their online music in Europe. So if you want to buy something from their catalog as a digital file, rather than as a physical CD, you'll only have to pay around $10. Seems reasonable to us here in the States. The CEO of EMI Music reiterated this idea in a statement to the London School of Economics. He said,“The CD as it is right now is dead.”A bit of an overstatement perhaps, but it's entirely possible that the market will split between iTunes listeners and die hard collectors (who want vinyl). In the meantime, EMI consumers can expect more content packaged with their old-fashioned audio CD.

One artist who hasn't been hurt by extinction is Kurt Cobain. Forbes named him the number-one-earning dead celebrity, even ahead of The King, Elvis Presley. Cobain's estate earned over $50 million this year alone, mostly due to the sale of Nirvana's song catalog to Primary Wave Publishing. Fans have widow Courtney Love to thank for that.

Sound Opinions always loves when Bono is in the news (which is usually every day). This time, though, it's more U2's music than the man himself. Apparently 150 Episcopal churches across the nation have adopted a new service entitled the U2charist, which blends the band's songs with the traditional Eucharist. The service kicks off with a rendition of "Pride," and also includes a collection for Bono's campaign to eradicate extreme poverty and global AIDS. Of course rock + religion is nothing new. Al Green and Solomon Burke infuse their pop music into religious ceremonies with great success. But the real question is how Bono measures up to Mase.

Go to episode 49