Spoon and Opinions on Divine Styler

spoon

Veteran indie rockers Spoon return to Sound Opinions for a conversation and live performance of songs off their 8th studio album They Want My Soul.

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Taylor Swift dominated 2014 with her album 1989, selling 3.6 million copies and narrowly beating out Disney’s Frozen for the top spot. With only four records achieving platinum status, not even Queen Bey made the cut this year. 2014 also saw a change in how consumers listened to music, as streaming increased 54% and vinyl sales were at their highest since 1991.

Just when people thought they forgot about Dre, it turns out he was the highest paid musician of 2014 according to Forbes. Dr. Dre made $620 million before taxes, which can be attributed to his success with Beats headphones and collaboration with Apple. In second place is Beyoncé. Rounding out the top five are boomer acts The Eagles, Bon Jovi and Bruce Springsteen.

For the first time in UK chart history, the ten best-selling albums of the year were British acts. Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith, Coldplay and One Direction all held prominent places on the list, perhaps signaling that there is another British invasion on the way.

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Sony is reintroducing the Walkman to give music enthusiasts a new old obsession. This Walkman has 128 GB of memory and 60 hours of battery life, and the device is competing with Neil Young’s Pono, another high-fidelity music player. Young says his device does not do anything but play music and argues that is what it all should be about.

Spoon

In nearly 20 years, Spoon has managed to release 8 albums, all of them worth a listen, according to Jim and Greg. That is no small feat. Their latest, They Want My Soul, is a real expansion of their sound, from minimal post punk to a more grown-up soul. Lead singer Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno founded the band in 1993 in Austin, and they talk with Jim and Greg about how they have stayed relevant for so long, working with producer Dave Fridmann ( The Flaming Lips, Low) and calling back to Jonathan Fisk.

Def Mask Divine Styler

Def Mask - Single

R&B singer D’Angelo wasn’t the only artist to emerge from an extended hiatus last month. Brooklyn rapper Divine Styler also returned with a surprise album in December. Def Mask is his first new dose of radical hip-hop in almost 15 years. The album steers clear of Styler’s previous pseudo- psychedelic rhymes and rhythms. Instead, it charts a course for the stars joining the ranks of prominent musical Afrofuturists like George Clinton and Janelle Monae in creating a dense, sci-fi-laden sound. Styler’s impressive wordplay takes a leery look at today’s technology obsessed culture, but despite its dark, neo-noir tone, the album is able to maintain a certain amount of optimism throughout. Def Mask is an ambitious undertaking that is at times both unsettling and uplifting and it marks a celebrated return for Divine Styler. Both Jim and Greg say Buy It.

Greg

Before getting any further into 2015, Greg wants to pay tribute to one last musical talent the world lost in 2014: Pioneering hip-hop producer Larry Smith. Often overshadowed in the history books by co-producer Russell Simmons, Smith played a vital role in shaping the early sound of hip-hop, both lyrically and sonically. Before producing the oft-sampled Money (Dollar Bill Y’all) by Jimmy Spicer, Smith co-wrote The Breaks with Kurtis Blow. Later, on Run-D.M.C.’s first album, Smith pushed for stripping down the production and bringing hard-hitting drums and lyrics to the fore with just a sprinkling of synthesizer. The epitome of this minimalist approach can be heard on Run-D.M.C.’s first single It’s Like That, which arguably laid the foundation for many of today’s top hip-hop tracks and is Greg’s Desert Island Jukebox pick of the week.

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