The Besnard Lakes & Opinions on Lollapalooza 2007

This week on Sound Opinions, the next great indie rock band out of Canada: The Besnard Lakes joins Jim and Greg live in the studio. Jim and Greg will also review last weekend’s Lollapalooza Festival, and Jim drops a track into the Desert Island Jukebox.

The Besnard Lakes
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For the third year in a row the Lollapalooza Music Festival took over Chicago's Grant Park for a weekend. Jim and Greg were both there to report on how the festivities went down, and both critics agree the highlight was, by far, Iggy Pop and the Stooges. The punk rocker's high-energy performance toed that line between good fun and danger, something Jim wishes there was more of in rock and roll. Something Jim also wished there was more of at the festival was less of a "shopping mall" environment. He asked Lollapalooza impresario Perry Farrell about the need for such extensive VIP sections and the effect that things like the "radius clause" have on struggling bands and struggling clubs. Greg actually thought the festival was run quite well and treated fans with respect; there was plenty of food, water and bathrooms -- something he can't say about all other festivals. This critic's major beef with Lollapalooza is mostly aesthetic. He would like to see fewer stages, fewer filler bands, and more emphasis on thoughtful bookings. We'll just have to wait until Lollapalooza 2008 to see if they take this free advice.

The news takes a slightly darker turn next, with two stories involving Adolf Hitler and Hitler memorabilia. The first concerns the pop purveyor of all things dark: Marilyn Manson. The goth-glam rocker is being sued for $20 million by his former keyboardist, known to fans as Madonna Wayne Gacy. He claims that Manson spent band profits on personal items, including coat hangers used by Adolf Hitler, a handbag owned by Eva Braun, and the full skeleton of a four-year old Chinese girl. Manson says the claims are ridiculous, adding, "I would never spend my money on a Chinese girl skeleton... That would be crossing the line. It's a Chinese boy, for the record.''

Another surprising news item: Around 100 records apparently belonging to Adolf Hitler have been discovered in a former Soviet intelligence officer's attic. The collection reveals that while Hitler was publicly heralding "racially pure" German music, his musical taste included some artists forbidden in the Third Reich. Some of the findings were not shocking: Wagner, Beethoven and Anton Bruckner. But, the dictator also appears to have owned works by Jewish and Russian performers like Pyotr Tchaikovsky, Sergei Rachmaninov and Artur Schnabel.

To quote Elton John's own song, "The Bitch is Back." The singer/songwriter has popped up in the news again, this time expressing his beef with...the Internet, of all things. In a piece in British tabloid The Sun, John contends that the web has destroyed music, and explains, "I do think it would be an incredible experiment to shut down the whole Internet for five years and see what sort of art is produced over that span." Sir Elton adds that he's doing his part by shutting out iPods and cellphones, and, we can only guess, communication with the world. Apparently this musician hasn't had the same experience with music on the internet as fellow Brits Lily Allen or Pete Townshend.

Just a week after Jim lauded his new album Cake or Death, psychedelic cowboy Lee Hazlewood died of cancer at the age of 78. The musician is best known for writing and producing hits for others, including "These Boots Are Made For Walkin’" for Nancy Sinatra. But, Jim and Greg discuss how he developed a cult following in later years, and became legendary for his innovation and independence. This earned him the adoration of a new generation of rock musicians that includes Nick Cave and Sonic Youth. Jim and Greg pay tribute to Hazlewood by playing his song, "Some Velvet Morning."

The Besnard Lakes

This week's guests are the members of Canadian indie rock group The Besnard Lakes. The band is one of many up and coming acts to come out of the Montreal rock scene, including recent guests Arcade Fire. Jace Lasek, Olga Goreas, Steve Raegele, Richard White and Kevin Laing came to town for a tour in support of their second album The Besnard Lakes are the Dark Horse. Jim and Greg first became fans after seeing the group perform at this year's SXSW Festival.

Husband and wife Jace and Olga are the primary songwriters in The Besnard Lakes. The pair met after Jace saw Olga playing bass, and immediately became smitten. The two moved to Montreal in 2003 to start a recording studio, and they didn’t form The Besnard Lakes until after they put their first record together. Their name comes from Jace and Olga’s favorite spot for R&R: a lake in northern Saskatchewan. But, Jim and Greg wonder if the band has gotten enough vacation time in recent years; there are very dark themes running through the record — devastation, destruction — and Jace explains that he loves writing sad and emotional songs. You can hear three such songs during the course of the interview.

Jim

It's Jim's turn to pick a track for the Desert Island Jukebox. Still on a high after seeing Daft Punk perform at Lollapalooza, he chooses a song by the French electronica duo. In fact, if you haven't heard the group's original, you may have heard it being sampled in Kanye West's new single "Stronger." The track is "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger," and it's also based on a sample-"Cola Bottle Baby" by Edwin Birdsong.

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