The Rock Doctors Family Clinic & Wilco Review

The rock doctors are back in session, and this time they have their greatest challenge to date: not just one patient, but an entire family of five. Jim and Greg will help another listener in need by prescribing new music that will not only please his ears, but also meet the approval of his four opinionated kids.

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Music News

This week American Idol alum Carrie Underwood's song "I'll Stand By You," hit the Billboard singles chart. This would not be a noteworthy occurrence except for the fact this is the first time that an iTunes Exclusive single — not available on CD or from any other provider — has debuted in the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100. According to Apple, more than 100,000 audio downloads of The Pretenders' cover were purchased in less than a week. Also in the news is Warner Music Group's removal of over 400 jobs. The world's fourth largest music company reported a net loss of $27 million, and decided to cut jobs in order to shift resources to digital music distribution. Both of these stories reflect a trend in the music industry - one that favors digital music sales and usage. So, Jim and Greg wanted to check in with John Kunc, owner of Waterloo Records in Austin, TX to see how news like this affects his business. As one might guess, the mom and pop record shop isn‘t what it used to be, but Kunc explains that they’re definitely "beating the industry."

rock doctors

David & Family

The Rock Doctors' patient this week is David from Minneapolis. David's“ailment”is that he has a tough time finding music that both he and his kids will enjoy. As the father of four boys between the ages of three months and 10 years, that's quite a challenge. So far he's had luck with The Decemberists, Earth, Wind and Fire and Sugar — basically anything with great pop vocals and harmonies, as well as a good beat for dancing. And of course, some of his sons have fallen under the spell of tween pop star Kelly Clarkson.

Greg's prescription is New Magnetic Wonder, the latest album from Apples in Stereo. The Robert Schneider-fronted band that emerged out of the Elephant 6 collective offers a perfect mix of sunny, exuberant vocals and sophisticated arrangements. Plus, as Greg explains, Schneider is just a big overgrown kid (something that listeners who heard his interview on Sound Opinions can attest to).

Jim prescribes a dose of Smash Mouth. A couple of years ago the California garage popsters, who Jim thinks of as the male equivalent of No Doubt, released a greatest hits album called All Star Smash Hits. Jim explains that, as a fan of garage rock, David will appreciate their edgy aesthetic and punk covers. In addition, his kids are certain to enjoy the more bubble gum aspects of Smash Mouth's music and covers of songs like "I'm a Believer" (which they might already know from the Shrek 2 soundtrack).

A week later David returns to the doctors to report on his health status. He relays to Greg that he and all his sons really enjoyed the Apples in Stereo. He describes the band's music as fun and upbeat, as well as weird and experimental. David's wife was another story, but these doctors only agreed to please five patients… six might be pushing it.

Smash Mouth was something the whole family could agree on, especially for road trips and casual listening. The six year old described it as "a lot like rock and roll." But, David and his boys found the Apples in Stereo to be“meatier”and more interesting. Perhaps we've got four young rock critics in the making!

Unless you are a full-time rock critic, it can be difficult to maintain good musical health. That's where the Rock Doctors come in. Do you have a musical allergy or addiction? Or do you have a friend or relative who needs an intervention? The Sound Opinions clinic has its doors open​.

reviewAmerican Doll PosseAmerican Doll Posse available on iTunes

Tori Amos American Doll Posse

It's been six years since singer/songwriter Tori Amos released a new album. American Doll Posse is the follow-up to 2001's Strange Little Girls, and looking at both back to back it becomes clear: Ms. Amos likes to play dress up. But, this time around she takes the concept even further. American Doll Posse is a collection of songs from the vantage points of five different characters. As Jim and Greg explain, this is Tori's way of exploring what it means to be a woman in a largely patriarchal culture. Both critics love the result. Greg wishes Tori had dialed the concept back a bit, but loves how she added an earthiness and edginess that was often missing from her former fairy tales. He gives it a Buy It. Jim notes that Tori has appeared to reclaim her glam rock roots as well as her“M.I.L.F.”status. He finds the music empowering and complex and thinks American Doll Posse is the best record she's made since Little Earthquakes. This album gets a double Buy It.

reviewSky Blue SkySky Blue Sky available on iTunes

Wilco Sky Blue Sky

After much anticipation, Sky Blue Sky, the new album by Wilco, has finally been released. As always band members Jeff Tweedy and John Stirratt are on board, and this time they're also joined by Glenn Kotche, Nels Cline, Mike Jorgensen and Pat Sansone. While their last album, A Ghost Is Born, was fairly experimental, this release is more of a return to form. In fact, Greg describes the record as kind of a“one-trick pony,”but it's a trick he really enjoys. Because the record has been streaming at Wilco's website, many fans have already formed their opinions and are not over the moon about Sky Blue Sky. But the music is so quiet, so intimate that Greg urges listeners to let it sink in more. One might expect musical acrobatics from a guitar wizard like Cline and a master percussionist like Kotche, but their performance is intentionally subtle in order to serve the song. Greg gives Sky Blue Sky and its message of consolation a Buy It. Jim also came to this conclusion, but much later in his listening experience. It took 12 times through for this critic to overcome his expectations of a ferocious, rocking record. But, as he explains, if any artist has earned the right to ask us to listen to something 12 times, it's Jeff Tweedy. Jim notes that this album is representative of a specific time and space for Tweedy and company, one that was very introspective. He wishes that Tweedy had responded more to what's happening in the world around us, and admits that at times, some of the songs can border on tedious. But, because Tweedy is as important an artist as someone like Bob Dylan or Neil Young, Jim thinks it's worth going on any journey the musician invites you on. He also gives the new Wilco a Buy It.



“No Self Control”Peter Gabriel

The show concludes with Jim's Desert Island Jukebox pick. Reviewing Tori Amos' new album got Jim thinking about other artists who have used characters in their performances and albums. One of the people who has done it best is Peter Gabriel. Gabriel assumed different identities throughout his time with Genesis. But it was on his third solo album that Gabriel really let the schizophrenia rip. In the song, "No Self Control," Gabriel sings from the perspective of an insane man in an asylum. We don‘t know what crime he’s done, nor do we know what violent act he's poised to do, but the lyrics as well as the music definitely give the listener a sense of chaos and paranoia. Part of that atmosphere can be attributed to the innovative drumming. Gabriel enlisted former Genesis mate Phil Collins and Jerry Marotta to give the drums a heavy bottom and not use any cymbals. Instead they used a Gate, an electronic device developed by Hugh Padgham. The sound was incredibly influential, and for that reason the drum geek in Jim wants it with him on the deserted island.

Featured Songs

  1. Carrie Underwood,“I'll Stand By You,”iTunes Single, 2007
  2. Ruthie Foster,“Phenomenal Woman,”The Phenomenal Ruthie Foster, 2007
  3. Loudon Wainwright,“The Doctor,”History, 1992
  4. Sugar,“If I Can't Change Your Mind,”Changes, 1992
  5. Radiohead,“2+2=5,”Hail to the Thief, 2003
  6. Sinead O'Connor,“Marcus Garvey,”Throw Down Your Arms, 2005
  7. Pink Floyd,“Take Up Thy Stethoscope and Walk,”The Piper at the Gates of Dawn, 1967
  8. Apples in Stereo,“Energy,”New Magnetic Wonder, 2007
  9. "Diggin' Your Scene," Astro-Lounge, 1999
  10. Smash Mouth,“Can't Get Enough of You Baby,”All Star Smash Hits, 2005
  11. Apples in Stereo,“Can You Feel It?”New Magnetic Wonder, 2007
  12. Tori Amos,“Secret Spell,”American Doll Posse, 2007
  13. Tori Amos,“Big Wheel,”American Doll Posse, 2007
  14. Tori Amos,“Body and Soul,”American Doll Posse, 2007
  15. R. Kelly feat. T.I. and T-Pain, "I'm a Flirt", 2007
  16. Wilco,“Either Way,”Sky Blue Sky, 2007
  17. Wilco,“Impossible Germany,”Sky Blue Sky, 2007
  18. Wilco,“Hate It Here,”Sky Blue Sky, 2007
  19. Peter Gabriel,“No Self Control,”Peter Gabriel [3], 1980
  20. Gui Boratto,“Beautiful Life,”Chromophobia, 2007
  21. New Edition,“Mr. Telephone Man,”New Edition, 1984
  22. Feist,“Brandy Alexander,”The Reminder, 2007

Footnotes American Idol Carrie Underwood“I'll Stand by You”on American Idol“I'll Stand by You” Warner Music Group Waterloo Records The Decemberists Earth, Wind, and Fire Sugar Kelly Clarkson Apples in Stereo Robert Schneider Elephant 6 Smash Mouth No Doubt All Star Smash Hits“I'm a Believer” Jim on Smash Mouth live Tori Amos American Doll Posse Strange Little Girls Jim on Tori Amos Little Earthquakes Sky Blue Sky Wilco Jeff Tweedy John Stirratt Nels Cline Mike Jorgensen Pat Sansone Greg's book on Wilco, Learning How to Die Bob Dylan Neil Young Peter Gabriel Peter Gabriel [3]“No Self Control”“No Self Control”lyrics Phil Collins Jerry Marotta The Gate electronic percussion Hugh Padgham