Phoenix & Opinions on Air

Jim and Greg welcome the quartet behind one of their favorite albums of the year: Phoenix. The French imports talk about being lost in translation and perform live in our studio.

Phoenix
Download Subscribe via iTunes

Music News

A few weeks ago Jim and Greg spoke to Greg LoPiccolo of Harmonix about the music video game phenomenon. Jim and Greg were anxious to get some numbers on The Beatles: Rock Band, but LoPiccolo wasn’t budging. Now, the numbers are out. That game sold almost 600,000 copies. Guitar Hero isn’t far behind with 500,000 sold. Combined these games boosted video game revenue 72%. It’s hard to think of any 2 records that could help the record industry in just one month.

Whether you find them irritating or not, music ringtones in the U.S. account for about 60% of wireless data revenue. This fact has not gone unnoticed by ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Eager to get a piece of this pie, ASCAP pursued Verizon and AT&T and tried to get their artists paid not just once, but twice. Currently these companies pay about 24 cents per ringtone to composers and others for reproduction and distribution rights. It was ASCAP’s hope that they might charge not just for ownership, but for the right to perform. A judge ruled that ringtones are not performances, and therefore don’t need a separate royalty license, though there’s something to be said for a ringtone concert, which is never crowded and always starts on time.

In other performance royalty news, a British woman has been issued an apology by the Performing Rights Society of the U.K. The PRS told a small town food store it had to get a license to play the radio for customers. When the shop decided to just flip the radio off, employee Sandra Burt, 56, began singing while she worked. The PRS then returned and told Mrs. Burt she too could be prosecuted for not having a performance license. Of course, once word got out that a cheerful shopkeeper was being bullied, the PRS admitted their mistake and sent her a bouquet of flowers.

Elvis Presley memorabilia belonging to friend and fan club president Gary Pepper recently went for more than $300,000 at an auction outside of Chicago. Among the items sold were a red ultrasuede shirt, wedding photos and the piece de resistance, a clump of Elvis’s hair, which was purchased by a phone bidder for $15,000. But, before the hair can be handed over to its new owner, a lawsuit brought by relatives of Pepper must be resolved.

Phoenix

Jim and Greg take on French Pop in the next two segments. First, they welcome up and coming quartet Phoenix. For a while, they were known as that band fronted by that guy with Sophia Coppola. But now with Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, they are more widely known by American audiences. In fact, you’ve probably heard them in this commercial. But, don’t hold that against them. The men from Phoenix are huge music fans, mentored by the members of Air. They may make heady references to 19th century Hungarian composers in their songs, but never lose sight of the goals of great pop music. You can hear that in their live acoustic performance on the show, which includes a cover of the Air song Playground Love.

Love 2 Air

Love 2

As discussed earlier, there’d be no Phoenix without Air. So what better time to review their new release Love 2? The French production duo first made waves with their 1998 debut Moon Safari, and with each subsequent release the challenge has been to top it. Jim doesn’t think they’ve succeeded with Love 2. He loves their psychedelic, spacey sound, but hears the band losing steam. Jim was hoping to hear something different and can only give the album a Burn It. Greg is surprised to hear this review. He thinks this is their strongest album since Moon Safari. They are at their best when they keep it sparse and simple; in other words, when Air sounds like air. Greg gives Love 2 a Buy It.

Jim

This past weekend, Jim was talking with someone about his book about The Velvet Underground. That person said, How can you talk about the Velvet Underground without mentioning The Fugs!? Well, he’s right. The Fugs were hugely influential on the VU, and also paved the way for the freak folk acts of today. None were half as freaky as The Fugs, who came from the beat scene of the 1950’s. These writers and musicians made crude, but wonderful protopunk rock, and Jim chooses their track Frenzy to take with him to the desert island this week.

Dear Listeners,

For more than 15 years, Sound Opinions was a production of WBEZ, Chicago's public radio station. Now that the show is independent, we're inviting you to join the band and lend a hand! We need your support more than ever because now we have to do all the behind-the-scenes work that WBEZ handled before (like buying insurance and paying for podcast hosting, ugh). Plus, we have some exciting ideas we'd like to try now that there's no one to tell us no!