Benjamin Booker and Opinions on Robert Plant

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New Orleans singer-guitarist Benjamin Booker talks about his blues influences and opening for Jack White and plays songs from his self-titled debut. Later hosts Jim and Greg review the new album from former Led Zeppelin frontman Robert Plant.

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While more visual spectacle than musical, the MTV Video Music Awards have come and gone again, and what’s most interesting is what didn’t happen, rather than what did. And by what we mean controvery. After the Parents Television Council urged MTV to avoid a repeat of last year’s Miley Cyrus twerk-fest, the watchdog group announced that they were mostly pleased with the more family-friendly content. But, the PTC did express concerns about the way women were portrayed. Guess they missed Sofia Vergara’s Emmy posing.

And there were still some naked performances...Deadspin released the isolated vocals from both Taylor Swift and Beyonce’s appearances. They added a spectrum analysis layer to show how well each singer stayed on pitch. Beyonce fared better, but Jim can sympethize with Miss Swift; only a capella singers sound great without musicians.

bush

Also making news, music fans around the world are celebrating the comeback of the great British singer Kate Bush. After 35 years being offstage, she received an enthusiastic response after announcing Before the Dawn, a run of 22 shows, which sold out in 15 minutes! Fans (some say including Madonna, Lily Allen and Bjork) watched as Bush opened the first show at London’s Hammersmith Apollo with Lily, from the 1993 album Red Shoes. Bush says she was encouraged to return to performing by her son, Bertie. The show was incredibly elaborate and theatrical- hopefully not too exhausting for Kate.

We also say welcome back to Prince and his longtime frenemy Warner Bros Records. His Purple Majesty will release two new albums at the end of September, marking the end of one of the longest-running employment disputes in musical history. Prince fell out with the label in the early 1990’s, prompting him to change his name to an unpronounceable symbol and appear in public with the word slave across his face. Now he plans to release two albums: Art Official Age and Plectrumelectrum with his all-female band, 3rd Eye Girl.

Rounding out the news, Jim and Greg discuss the idea of the perfect length for a pop song. Long ago technology dictated the length of a tune. A 78 vinyl record came in two sizes—a 10-inch that held 3 minutes of music and a 12-inch that held 4. Midway through the rock ‘n’ roll era, songs like Stairway to Heaven blew out those conventions. And certainly, with the digital music revolution, all bets should be off, right? Not so. Brevity is the soul of Top 40. And a radio station in Calgary, Alberta is taking that philosophy to the extreme. 90.3 AMP is telling listeners they will no get twice the music. In fact, they’ll hear half a song. The station will be editing its plays in order to keep listeners from getting bored. In effect, this is the 140 character limit of music.

We don’t endorse this approach, but here’s our own celebration of Short but Sweet tracks

Benjamin Booker

Benjamin Booker has caused a stir in the indie rock world by melding the blues, punk and soul with a signature rasp. Fresh off the heels of his national television debut on Late Night with David Letterman, Booker visits the studio to perform songs from his first major label release on ATO records. He also tells Jim and Greg about transitioning from being a barista at Starbucks to touring with Jack White all in one year. He can also count influential label head Geoff Travis of Rough Trade Records as a fan. Despite all this, Booker’s parents are still not quite sold on this whole music thing.

lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar Robert Plant

lullaby and... The Ceaseless Roar

For over half a century, Robert Plant has been making music and pushing the boundaries of rock ‘n’ roll. But despite being known as the Golden God of Led Zeppelin, most of those years were actually spent doing solo work and special projects, many of which incorporate wide range of American and international folk sounds, from Appalachia to the Middle East. Now he’s back with his backing band the Sensational Space Shifters with the release lullaby and…The Ceaseless Roar. Again you can hear West African poly—rhythms, Southern blues tones, and country music influences, proving that, as Jim put it, Plant does whatever he wants. Despite his respect for Plant’s never-ending pursuit of the new, Jim wonders how much of this adoration should be credited to the 17-year-old Zep fan version of himself. So he says Try It. Greg, on the other hand, truly enjoyed the contemplative and quiet side of the more tender Plant displayed on this record and gladly prescribes a Buy It.

Greg

Riding a wave of nostalgia for the early 2000s, Greg washed up onto the shores of the dessert island in search of a fix for his Scandinavian garage rock craving. While bands like The Helicopters and The Hives can sometimes do the trick, Greg turns to his favorite Scandinavian invaders: The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Led by Scott Lundeberg, these Swedish music mavericks culled their favorite elements of the classic rock, post punk, and grunge to create a distinct sound from the best of the best. Greg plays the track Sister Surround from their third album Behind the Music.

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