Glenn Kotche & Justin Timberlake Review

This week Jim and Greg welcome Glenn Kotche. The percussionist, best known as the drummer for Wilco, stops by to perform and joins Jim and Greg in a discussion on the state of modern drumming. Plus, tune in for the latest music news and a review of the new album by Justin Timberlake.

Glenn Kotche of Wilco
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Music News

This year’s Mercury Prize winner has just been announced. The Arctic Monkeys will take home the British music prize, following in the footsteps of PJ Harvey, Dizzee Rascal, Badly Drawn Boy and Pulp. The prize is usually awarded to a non-commercial artist as an alternative to the more mainstream Brit Awards. Jim suggests that the U.S. equivalent would fall between the Grammy Awards and the more-eclectic Village Voice Pazz and Jop Critics Poll. The Arctic Monkeys were a surprising choice because they were perhaps the most obvious candidates. To say they were a huge phenomenon in the U.K. is an understatement—their album, Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not, was the fastest selling debut album in UK history. However, despite high profile appearances on Saturday Night Live and at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, they did not wow American audiences on the same level. But Jim and Greg both gave the record a Buy It rating in their review.

Also making headlines is soul legend Ronald Isley. The Isley Brother, also known as Mr. Biggs, has been convicted of tax evasion. He was sentenced to three years in federal prison and ordered to pay $3.1 million to the I.R.S—the maximum sentence he could have received. Jim and Greg had hoped that the judge would show some leniency to the musician, who recently suffered a stroke and a bout with kidney cancer, and is expecting a baby in January. Our hosts also cite Isley as one of the great talents of our time, noting that he has had a major hit in every one of his six decades as a performer. They suggest that it is Isley’s friend, R. Kelly, who deserves the harsh hand of the law.

While Mr. Biggs can stay Mr. Biggs, even in prison, Diddy can no longer be Diddy in the U.K. The artist formerly known as P. Diddy, Puffy, Puff Daddy, and Sean Combs has agreed to drop the Diddy name as part of a legal settlement with a London-based producer named Richard Diddy Dearlove. Diddy became Diddy in 2001, but Dearlove had a hit under the name in 1997. Combs, however, announced that he can now add a new name to the list: Diddy is going to be a daddy.

FutureSex/LoveSounds Justin Timberlake

FutureSex/LoveSounds

The final bit of news is the release of Justin Timberlake’s second solo album, FutureSex/LoveSounds. The ex-teen heartthrob is all grown up and has aligned himself with producer Timbaland, as well as Rick Rubin and will.i.am, for a darker, more cutting-edge—and yes, sexier—sound than ‘N Sync fans are used to. He’s also launched an impressive live show that has the charismatic singer fronting an 11-piece band. It’s just one of many adventurous moves that are impressing our hosts. Jim explains that with the exception of one bum track which tells the sad story of a life ruined by meth addiction, the diverse array of songs on FutureSex/LoveSounds all succeed. He gives it a Buy It rating. Greg agrees, explaining that the songs are fairly avant-garde and hook-less for a pop record. He does not think Timberlake is the best singer in the world, but he pulls off dance music as well as old-school soul. He also gives the album a Buy It. (By the way, Timberlake is not the only former Mouseketeer dropping a project this week. We want to extend hearty congratulations to his former girlfriend, Britney Spears, now the mom of two.)

Glenn Kotche

This week Jim and Greg are joined by percussionist extraordinaire Glenn Kotche. He is best known as one of the members of Wilco, but he also has a number of side projects, and a new solo album entitled Mobile. Glenn joins our hosts to discuss all things drumming and to play some of his inventive music. What makes Glenn’s drumming style so special is that it ranges from the avant-garde to the straight-ahead rock he does with Wilco, yet it’s always in service of the song. You can hear his solo tracks Monkey Chant and Projections of (What) Might during the show.

After playing for a bit, Glenn gives our hosts a little tour around his kit. Some of Glenn’s toys include crotales, a glockenspiel, contact mics (which amplify and alter the drum sounds), and a superball mallet (or half of it). The drummer also has a prepared snare drum which is affixed with different springs and wires, similar to a John Cage prepared piano. He also stole his wife’s fruit basket, which the two received as a wedding present. But, perhaps the most unusual percussion instruments that Glenn uses are light-sensitive toy crickets that anyone can pick up in Chinatown.

The discussion ends with a conversation about some of the best (and worst rock drummers. Some of Jim, Greg, and Glenn’s favorites include: Mo Tucker of the Velvet Underground, Meg White of The White Stripes, Elliott Smith, Levon Helm of The Band, and Keith Moon of The Who (despite the accusations of overplaying).

Jim & Greg

DIJ: Jim

This week listeners get a rare treat: double Desert Island Jukebox picks. Both Jim and Greg pick their favorite drum tracks. Jim goes first, explaining that if you asked any drummer to pick out his favorite, they’d most likely point to John Bonham of Led Zeppelin. Bonham is known for his amazing power, but Jim notes that he is also remarkably subtle and soulful. This is particularly evident in the song Dancing Days. Listen to where Jim points out what makes Bonham so special. And then check out this host’s own drumming abilities.

DIJ: Greg

Greg moves away from the rock arena for his pick. He loves soul, R&B and funk drumming, specifically that heard in James Brown’s music. Brown doesn’t ask everyone to give the drummer some for nothing. You’ll hear that command not one but six times in Cold Sweat. Greg explains that the song also marks a turning point in Brown’s music, where everything became focused on the groove. The horns, guitar, and even Brown’s voice mimicked the sound and rhythms of the drums. The drummer in this case is Clyde Stubblefield, who is one of the most sampled drummers in music history, and for good reason. Stubblefield’s drum solo in Cold Sweat is not just rhythmic, but melodic, and one of the only drum solos that you can actually dance to. And for that reason, Greg brings it with him to the Island.

Dear Listeners,

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