one-person bands

One-Person Bands & Opinions on Randy Newman & Downtown Boys

Certain artists are perfectionists at heart, and if you want something done right, do it yourself. This week, Jim and Greg share some of their favorite One-Person Bands – artists who have recorded albums playing all the instruments themselves. Plus, Jim and Greg will review new releases from songwriter Randy Newman and punk rockers Downtown Boys.

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reviewDark MatterDark Matter available on iTunes

Randy Newman Dark Matter

Dark Matter is Randy Newman's first album in nine years. Greg notes that although Newman has been awarded Oscars, Emmys, and Grammys, he remains a cult figure for his darkly satirical songwriting. Although Newman's pop career has not been nearly as commercially successful, there's much more to him than "Short People" and his well-known soundtrack work. This album features narratives about a number of notables, including "Sonny Boy", which was written from the perspective of blues great Sonny Boy Williamson, and "Putin," imagining Russian president Vladimir Putin as a song and dance man. Greg thinks that many of the songs are brilliant. He says there is no one out there like Newman, and gives the album a Buy It. But Jim says that while the songs sound like great ideas on paper, he doesn't find them listenable as execued. Jim adds that though he admires and respects Randy Newman, he just doesn‘t want to listen to him. Jim can’t give Dark Matter anything better than a Trash It because he never wants to hear it again.

reviewCost of LivingCost of Living available on iTunes

Downtown Boys Cost of Living

Jim has been a Downtown Boys fan since he saw them perform at SXSW 2016, and describes them as“an undeniable force of nature.”On their new album, Cost of Living, the members of Downtown Boys are angry at today's sociopolitical climate and use their music to convey that anger, fighting the fight using "good humor, momentum, and the only good saxophone in punk rock history since X-Ray Spex." Greg names Victoria Ruiz the“perfect front woman for these times”and thinks "A Wall" is the song of the year. He also notes how producer Guy Picciotto, of Fugazi, highlights the band's excellent rhythm section. Given the sad events that occurred in Charlottesville this week, Jim calls Cost of Living an“antidote and inspiration.” Both give the album a Buy It.


One-Person Bands

One-Person Bands Ever had a vision that only you could execute? This week, Jim and Greg list their favorite one-person bands: projects where artists write all the lyrics, play all the instruments, and sing all the parts themselves, free from the annoyances of working with other people.



“Lather”Jefferson Airplane

The inspiration for this trip to the Desert Island Jukebox was a recent list of the Greatest Albums Made By Women. Greg thought it was an injustice to omit Jefferson Airplane's frontwoman, Grace Slick. He declares that hers was the voice of the Summer of Love through songs like "Somebody to Love" and "White Rabbit." In 1968's "Lather," Grace showcases her playful side while asking why openness to new ideas and new experiences needs to be sacrificed at the altar of adulthood. He thinks the song holds up, and applies to anybody dealing with adulthood today.

Featured Songs

  1. Downtown Boys, Violent Complicity, Cost of Living, Sub Pop, 2017
  2. Randy Newman, Putin, Dark Matter, Nonesuch, 2017
  3. Randy Newman, Sonny Boy, Dark Matter, Nonesuch, 2017
  4. Randy Newman, Brothers, Dark Matter, Nonesuch, 2017
  5. Sarah McLaughlin, When She Loved Me, Toy Story 2, Walt Disney, 1999
  6. Downtown Boys, Lips That Bite, Cost of Living, Sub Pop, 2017
  7. X-Ray Spex, Oh Bondage Up Yours!, Live at the Roxy, Receiver, 1991
  8. Downtown Boys, A Wall, Cost of Living, Sub Pop, 2017
  9. Downtown Boys, Bulletproof (Outro), Cost of Living, Sub Pop, 2017
  10. Paul McCartney, Every Night, McCartney, Apple, 1970
  11. Emitt Rhodes, Fresh As a Daisy, Emitt Rhodes, Dunhill, 1970
  12. Grimes, Kill V. Maim, Art Angels, 4AD, 2015
  13. Divine Styler, Heaven Don‘t Want Me And Hell’s Afraid I'll Take Over, Spiral Walls Containing Autumns of Light, Giant, 1992
  14. Todd Rundgren, Couldn't I Just Tell You, Something/Anything?, Bearsville, 1972
  15. Prince, Do It All Night, Dirty Mind, Warner Bros., 1980
  16. Mike Oldfield, Tubular Bells Pt. 1, Tubular Bells, Virgin, 1973
  17. tUnE-yArDs, Sunlight, BiRd-BrAiNs, 4AD, 2009
  18. Juana Molina, Un Día, Un Día, Domino, 2008
  19. Stevie Wonder, Higher Ground, Innervisions, Motown, 1973
  20. Jefferson Airplane, Lather, Crown of Creation, RCA Victor, 1968
  21. The Mothers of Invention, You Didn't Try To Call Me, Freak Out!, Verve, 1966
  22. The Protomen, The Hounds, Act II: The Father of Death, Sound Machine, 2009
  23. Falling Eyes, Eyelids, or, Jealous Butcher, 2017
  24. Betty Blowtorch, Love/Hate, Are You Man Enough?, Foodchain, 2001
  25. Jimi Hendrix, Who Knows, Band of Gypsys, Capitol, 1970
  26. Frank Zappa, Willie the Pimp, Hot Rats, Bizarre, 1969
  27. Frank Zappa, Willie the Pimp, Hot Rats, Bizarre, 1969