Results for 2015

interviews

Courtney Barnett

Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett takes small moments of the every day and turns them into musical masterpieces. Barnett's writing style is conversational and chuck-full of words. She uses sarcastic, witty and genuine lyrics to set herself apart from the alternative rock pack (she even ended up on President Obama's Summer 2016 playlist!) Aside from being a unique songwriting talent, Courtney Barnett's music is punctuated by her explosive guitar playing and powerful stage presence. While performing live, Barnett frequently plays both the lead and rhythm guitar parts, and her energy is electrifying. Jim and Greg spoke to Courtney about her 2015 debut Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit, which both hosts had in their top 10 albums list of 2015. They'll also chat about her songwriting process and musical influences, plus Courtney performs an exclusive solo set live from the Goose Island Tap Room.

Go to episode 559

Twin Peaks

Our guests this week are garage rockers, Twin Peaks. This 5-piece up-and-coming band from Chicago consists of singer and guitarist Cadien Lake James, bassist Jack Dolan, guitarist Clay Frankel, drummer Connor Brodner and recent addition, keyboardist Colin Croom. They started the group back in 2009 as high schoolers and later decided to drop out of college to pursue music full-time. Some of their influences include The Rolling Stones, The Beach Boys and The Stooges, which you can hear in their debut album, Sunken, released in 2013. Last year, they released their second album, Wild Onion, to critical acclaim and in 2015 performed at Lollapalooza. Their youthfully energetic performance style, guitar-based rock and roll and playful song lyrics make them a draw for young adult music fans looking for something other than EDM. Jim and Greg spoke to them a few weeks ago at the Goose Island Barrelhouse in Chicago and gave a performance afterwards.

Go to episode 516

Torres

Georgia-born musician Mackenzie Scott emerged out of the Nashville scene in 2013 with a critically-lauded debut under the moniker Torres. Her 2015 followup Sprinter, recorded with PJ Harvey collaborator Rob Ellis, has earned even more acclaim, including a spot in Greg's Best of 2015 (So Far) list. Torres joined Jim and Greg in the studio to discuss her emotionally charged and unconventional songwriting. She became devoted to music early on, idolizing Taylor Swift as a teen and then earning a college degree in songwriting. Her songs are both intensely personal and also sung behind the guise of characters, drawing inspiration from varied sources like the Old Testament and J.D. Salinger. Torres explains how music allows her to confront feelings about her childhood when other methods of communication have failed.

Go to episode 501
reviews
What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful WorldWhat a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World available on iTunes

The Decemberists What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World

Portland folk-rock band The Decemberists has steadily ascended the ranks of rock stardom over their career, even hitting #1 on the Billboard charts with their previous album The King Is Dead. But it's been four years since that record dropped, and in the intervening period the band has developed a new diversity in their sound. Their new album What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World experiments with a variety of pop styles not found in previous records, while still featuring the trademark hyperliterate lyrics of leader Colin Meloy. Greg is happy to hear the band in top form, nicely complemented by the harmony vocals of Rachel Flotard and Kelly Hogan. Jim loves how they manage to flirt with the prog rock sounds of Jethro Tull and Emerson, Lake & Palmer without a hint of pretentiousness, all thanks to Meloy's self-deprecating sense of humor. Both critics give it a Buy It, with Jim going so far as to call it the first masterpiece of 2015.

JimGreg
Go to episode 477
Summertime '06Summertime ‘06 available on iTunes

Vince Staples Summertime ‘06

The year 2015 has been a prosperous time for rap and hip hop, with Fetty Wap, Wiz Khalifa, A.$.A.P. Rocky, and Silento dominating the charts. However, a new and different kind of artist has emerged with the debut album Summertime '06 from California rapper, Vince Staples. An ode to growing up in his native Long Beach, Greg finds Staples to be very talented in both writing and articulating his perspective. He compares Summertime '06 to early works by gangster rappers like N.W.A. and likes how he gives a lens into a culture that no one else is really talking about right now. It's a Buy It from Greg. Jim agrees and says that gangster rap can easily become misogynistic and pro-violence sounding, but that's not really what Staples is interested in doing. Jim compares him to artists like Kendrick Lamar and Chance the Rapper, but wishes that Vince would write more about the sense of community and positivity in the neighborhoods like Kendrick and Chance do. However, he believes Staples is a very important voice and give Summertime '06 a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 505
dijs

Greg

“It's Like That”Kurtis Blow,Jimmy Spicer,Run-D.M.C.,Run-D.M.C.

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.

Go to episode 476
news

Music News

Jay Z just launched his music streaming service, Tidal, to the public. Kanye West, Madonna and Daft Punk were just a few of the artists who attended a press conference to announce their support for the service. According to emphatic speaker Alicia Keys, Tidal's mission is to give artists more control over how their music is distributed while taking some of the authority out of the hands of tech companies. The basic monthly fee is $9.99, while the premium, hi-fi subscription is $19.99. It will be interesting to see how the service will compete with giants like Spotify and Beats, or fellow artist Garth Brooks' brand Ghost Tunes.

This year Lollapalooza Festival is being anchored by a Beatle. Paul McCartney is one of the Lolla 2015 headliners, which also includes Metallica, Florence + the Machine, Sam Smith, Alabama Shakes and The Weeknd. This will be McCartney's first stint at Lollapalooza, though he previously played at Bonnaroo in 2013.

In other festival news, if you're planning on getting a pass, don't bring your selfie stick. Lollapalooza and Coachella have banned the photographic aids from the grounds as the monopods often block the views of other concertgoers and could be potentially dangerous. However rest assured, you can still take pictures and selfies as long as you use your arms like a normal person.

Go to episode 488

Music News

Last year, Apple purchased Beats headphones and its streaming service for $3 billion. This was an attempt to get away from the already antiquated iTunes method of paying to download a song. On June 8, Apple unveils what the new Beats will look like. The Wall Street Journal has reported a subscription will cost $10/month and there will be no free tier like on Spotify. Beats has also paid millions to Pharrell and Drake to be guest personality DJS (and to stay away from Jay Z's floundering TIDAL). Will it be the next big streaming service?

A$AP Rocky topped the Billboard Charts this week with his album At. Long. Last. ASAP. However he isn't the first hip hopartist to do so in 2015. Drake, Kendrick Lamar and Big Sean have all inhabited the number one spot. 2015 has had many different leaders as opposed to 2014, where the soundtrack to Disney's Frozen held top billing for much of the year. At 5th place comes a surprise: the religious band Hillsong United. Our hosts are curious to see how far their fame goes.

Go to episode 497

Music News

In the UK, pop has overtaken rock as the most popular genre of music in terms of chart success. Acts like Ed Sheeran, One Direction and Sam Smith have helped propel pop to its highest sales since 1999, but it's a different story in the United States. In 2014, rock music claimed 29% of sales, while pop only generated about half of that. These numbers have Jim and Greg thinking, are more rock fans buying physical products than fans of other genres of music?

The Library of Congress has selected new music for its National Recording Registry and there certainly is a range. The National Recording Registry is a list of recordings that are“historically, culturally or aesthetically important.”Some of the 2015 selections include Steve Martin's stand-up special A Wild and Crazy Guy, The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill, Joan Baez's self-titled album, the song "Stand By Me" and Sesame Street's "Rubber Duckie."

Go to episode 494

Music News

who-tour The big summer concert season is getting underway, and many fans have their sights set on big ticket tours to see their favorite classic rockers. But, Jim and Greg wonder if they are really getting the full band experience? The Who, for example, just kicked off their 2015 tour and are likely to rake in the bucks despite being at half capacity. Drummer Keith Moon and bassist John Entwistle have passed away, so the answer to“Who are The Who?” is merely Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend. That duo brought in $13 million during their 2012-13 tour, far more than Pete or Roger could do solo. So, for incomplete acts like The Who, AC/DC, Smashing Pumpkins and Queen, Jim and Greg suspect the brand is more important than the band.

Go to episode 492