theremin

Weird Instruments of Rock, Opinions on Maggie Rogers & Sharon Van Etten

Forget about the guitar, bass, and drums. This week, Jim and Greg explore some of the weirder instruments of rock from the theremin to the ocarina to the cowbell. They'll also review new music from two singer-songwriters: the debut album from Maggie Rogers and the latest from Sharon Van Etten.

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reviewMaggie

Maggie Rogers Heard It in a Past Life

Singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers caught the ear of super producer Pharrell Williams while she was still a student at NYU. Video of her playing her song, "Alaska" for Williams, and his emotional reaction, went viral in 2016, putting Maggie on many listeners' radars. Jim and Greg hoped that her new album, Heard It in a Past Life, would have more of the unique blend of folk and electronic beats that“Alaska”offered, but Greg laments that the album's heavy handed big label production by the likes of Greg Kursten and Ricky Reed is like“putting extra icing on a cake that's already perfect.”A highlight for Greg is the introspective "Past Life" because it's just Maggie accompanied by the piano“and the producers don‘t screw it up.”Jim goes one step further, adding that he thinks the record“is all icing.”He cannot relate to the album sonically, or to the album’s message.

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reviewsharon

Sharon Van Etten Remind Me Tomorrow

Remind Me Tomorrow is Sharon Van Etten's fifth official album and first in nearly five years. Since her debut in 2009, Van Etten's profile had steadily grown until she essentially walked away from her recording career after 2014's Are We There. Instead she went to college hoping to become a mental health counselor, started a romantic relationship with drummer Zeke Hutchins, acted in the Netflix show The OA and gave birth to a son. Loyal fans didn't lose hope, though. One even made a t-shirt asking when Van Etten would record a new album. When she started work on the new album, instead of featuring guitar or piano as she has in the past, Van Etten built her sound around the Roland Jupiter 4 synthesizer. Greg says you might have heard that instrument on a Spandau Ballet album, while Jim calls it the“Farfisa trash organ of synths.”They both praise Van Etten's newly reimagined sound. Greg calls the sonics her“boldest touch here.”He says the connection between the creepy sounds and very astute lyrics and melodies indicate that Van Etten may be getting even better as an artist. Jim likens the album to Radiohead's Kid A in that it expresses uncertainty in the outside world and how it encroaches on personal life and self expression through art.

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Weird Instruments of Rock

weird Since its earliest days, rock music has been dominated by guitar, bass, and drums. But, as Jim and Greg reveal in this episode, sometimes it's the more unusual instruments (aka weird instruments) that really make a song. They play their favorite tracks featuring non-traditional rock instruments.

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Jim

“Space Truckin’”Deep Purple

Alan R. Pearlman

Jim pays tribute to the late Alan Robert Pearlman, inventor of the ARP synthesizer, who died in January at age 93. Before founding his synthesizer company in 1969, Pearlman worked for NASA designing amplifiers to be used on Gemini and Apollo spacecraft. In a nod to this aspect of his life, Jim plays "Space Truckin'" by Deep Purple in memory of Pearlman, a song Jim says is basically about“how cool it would be to be high in space.”The version on Deep Purple's 1972 live album, Made in Japan is almost 20 minutes long and features a wicked ARP solo by Jon Lord.

Featured Songs

  1. The Troggs, Wild Thing, Wild Thing, Atco, 1966
  2. Sharon Van Etten, Malibu, Remind Me Tomorrow, Jagjaguwar, 2019
  3. Maggie Rogers, Alaska, Heard It in a Past Life, Debay Sounds/Capitol, 2019
  4. Maggie Rogers, On + Off, Heard It in a Past Life, Debay Sounds/Capitol, 2019
  5. Maggie Rogers, Past Life, Heard It in a Past Life, Debay Sounds/Capitol, 2019
  6. Maggie Rogers, Back In My Body, Heard It in a Past Life, Debay Sounds/Capitol, 2019
  7. Sharon Van Etten, Comeback Kid, Remind Me Tomorrow, Jagjaguwar, 2019
  8. Sharon Van Etten, Seventeen, Remind Me Tomorrow, Jagjaguwar, 2019
  9. Sharon Van Etten, Jupiter 4, Remind Me Tomorrow, Jagjaguwar, 2019
  10. Sharon Van Etten, Stay, Remind Me Tomorrow, Jagjaguwar, 2019
  11. Sharon Van Etten, No One's Easy To Love, Remind Me Tomorrow, Jagjaguwar, 2019
  12. Rolling Stones, Honky Tonk Women, Get Yer Ya-Ya's Out!, Decca, 1970
  13. The Beach Boys, Good Vibrations, Good Vibrations, Capitol, 1966
  14. The Octopus Project, Rolrol, Golden Beds EP, Peek-A-Boo, 2009
  15. Rolling Stones, Under My Thumb, Aftermath, Decca, 1966
  16. Aphex Twin, Didgeridoo, Analogue Bubblebath Vol. 2, Rabbit City, 1991
  17. Mercury Rev, Endlessly, Deserter's Songs, V2, 1998
  18. Cat Power, Sea of Love, The Covers Record, Matador, 2000
  19. Beck, Nobody's Fault But My Own, Live at Austin City Limits, Austin City Limits, 2002
  20. AC/DC, It's A Long Way To The Top (If You Wanna Rock ‘N’ Roll), T.N.T., Albert, 1975
  21. Deep Purple, Space Truckin' (Live), Made in Japan, Purple, 1972
  22. Run-DMC, Walk This Way (feat. Aerosmith), Raising Hell, Profile, 1986
  23. Al Green, Call Me (Come Back Home), Call Me, Hi, 1973
  24. Roxy Music, In Every Dream Home A Heartache, For Your Pleasure, Island, 1973
  25. Adult Cinema, Coming From The Left, This Is Your Life, Birdsoup, 2007
  26. Drinking Boys and Girls Choir, Keep Drinking!!, Keep Drinking, Damnably, 2019