Results for Nirvana

interviews

Melvins

Melvins The Melvins are hailed as progenitors of sludge metal, key influences on the Seattle grunge scene, and avant-garde pranksters – but their music has always been virtually unclassifiable. That's certainly the case on their new double-album A Walk With Love & Death, which veers from heavy rockers to pop songs to ambient film scores. The Melvins join Jim and Greg in the studio to talk about the new record and their long career, dating back to their 1984 formation in Washington.

Guitarist/vocalist Buzz Osborne (aka King Buzzo) and drummer Dale Crover form the core of the Melvins, alongside a rotating bassist slot that's currently filled by Steve McDonald of Redd Kross and OFF!. They discuss their ill-fated major label stint in the 1990s, the importance of playing the music that you want to play, and how they manage to survive as a band for over thirty years. They also dispel myths about Nirvana (of which Crover was an early member) and the rest of the storied Seattle scene.

Go to episode 613

The Vaselines

The Vaselines join Jim and Greg in the studio this week. The Scottish indie pop group was founded in 1986 by Eugene Kelly and then girlfriend Francis McKee. And then only three years, two singles, and one album later, the couple and the band broke up. But their sound managed to make its way across the pond, getting college radio airplay and the notice of emerging bands likes Mudhoney and Nirvana. In fact, Nirvana would go on to cover a number of Vaselines tracks, including "Jesus Don't Want Me For a Sunbeam," which they performed on MTV Unplugged in New York. Cobain convinced the band to briefly reunite and open for Nirvana in 1990. Now two decades later, the Vaselines are back together with a new Sub Pop release called Sex with an X. That's a lot of effort to avoid the sophomore slump. Eugene, Francis and the band perform tracks from the album, as well as an old gem. Check out the songs and the videos.

Go to episode 276

Butch Vig

vig Next you'll hear Jim and Greg's 2008 conversation with producer Butch Vig. He has worked on some of the most notable records of the past two decades including Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins, Dirty by Sonic Youth and Nevermind by Nirvana. In addition, he's a founding member and drummer for the band Garbage. His most recent production effort is the new album by the Foo Fighters, which Jim and Greg review later in the show. Butch talks to our hosts about some of his more memorable recording sessions. He quickly learned that a producer is as much a therapist as anything else. And he confirms the idea that geniuses are not always the easiest people. Luckily the end results make it all worth it.

Go to episode 281

Jon Brion

Jon Brion visits the show this week to perform and talk with Jim and Greg. Brion is mostly known for his production work with artists like Aimee Mann, Fiona Apple and Kanye West. Brion is also responsible for the innovative soundtracks to Magnolia, Punch Drunk Love and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The songwriter/producer/multi-instrumentalist was in town to perform at Chicago's Intonation Music Festival, and he stopped by to meet with our hosts, as well as a live studio audience.

What listeners may not know is that Jon Brion is also an accomplished solo artist, albeit not a prolific one. He holds a residency at Los Angeles club Largo, where he performs a cabaret-style act. Recently, however, a severe case of tendinitis has prevented Brion from playing live much. Lucky for Jim, Greg, and the audience, he was able to play both the piano and the "taro patch" during the interview. You can hear Brion perform "Knock Yourself Out" from I Heart Huckabees and the theme to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind for the show.

One of the ideas our guest discusses with Jim and Greg is the art of the song. He finds songs to be“astonishing”and distinguishes them from“performance pieces.”Brion's example is the music of Led Zeppelin. He loves Zeppelin, but asks the listener to compare their melodies to that of someone like George Gershwin. Brion adds that one rocker who did manage to write wonderfully constructed songs that will stand the test of time is Kurt Cobain. Listen to how he plays Nirvana's "Lithium" followed by an old Cole Porter standard.

Go to episode 32

Mudhoney

For almost 30 years, rock band Mudhoney has been a staple in the Seattle music scene. While contemporaries like Nirvana and Soundgarden earned more commercial success, Mudhoney always stayed true to themselves and Jim notes they're one of the few bands that“never sucked.”The group first garnered attention for the EP Superfuzz Bigmuff that pioneered the distorted sound big labels would later market as "grunge." Jim and Greg talked with the members of the Mudhoney: vocalist Mark Arm, guitarist Steve Turner, drummer Dan Peters and bassist Guy Maddison, at the Neptune Theatre in Seattle in front of a live audience. The hosts chatted with Mudhoney about their signature sound, musical collaborations and they also performed several songs from the span of their critically-loved career.

Go to episode 563

Eleventh Dream Day

Eleventh Dream Day Jim and Greg harken back to the alternative era this week as they sit down with Eleventh Dream Day. The band formed in 1983 and got its start as part of the Chicago underground scene alongside peers Hüsker Dü in St. Paul and Nirvana in Seattle. Greg remembers watching Eleventh Dream Day perform at that time, and knew they were destined for big things. But, while albums like Prairie School Freakout garnered high critical praise and caught the attention of Atlantic Records, they were never able to achieve major commercial success. As Jim notes, however, they are having the last laugh with their impressive longevity, especially considering founding members Rick Rizzo and Janet Beveridge Bean got married, had a child and got divorced, all while maintaining the group. In January Eleventh Dream Day released its eleventh studio album Works for Tomorrow, and they show no signs of slowing, as is clear in this ferocious live performance in the Sound Opinions studio.

Go to episode 540

Lawrence Lessig

Next up, Jim and Greg play a bit of The Grey Album, a mashup of The Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album made by DJ Danger Mouse. This album received a lot of critical praise in 2004 (it even topped both Jim and Greg's year-end lists). It's a completely modern work that could not be made without recent digital technologies. The rub? It cannot be purchased anywhere, and most people who have heard it don't own a hard copy. This is because according to current copyright law, what DJ Danger Mouse did was completely illegal. To discuss how laws like this are stifling art, and how music in the digital age is changing, Jim and Greg welcome the definitive expert on this issue: Lawrence Lessig. Professor Lessig, a faculty member of Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society, has authored three books on cyber law and free culture, tried cases before the Supreme Court and founded Creative Commons, an organization trying to expand the range of creative work legally available to share.

While copyright laws have existed for over 200 years, music was not protected for a long time. Early in the 20th century, protections for musicians and songwriters were put in place, but these laws did not necessarily hinder creativity. Once a song was recorded, anyone had the right to record it. This encouraged artists and was fundamental to the growth of the music industry — so much so that even the RIAA defended this right. The 21st century version of this kind of conversation between artists is sampling — but under current law, Professor Lessig explains, sampling is considered piracy. Therefore, creative expression and evolution are not fostered the way they were in the last century.

Digital copyright laws also affect the consumer. In fact, Lessig suggests that“creator”might be a more appropriate name. In the last century, fans would buy music or make mixtapes, but current technology allows listeners to take part in the creative process. The law currently treats these creative consumers, many of whom are kids, as thieves. While our guest doesn't condone illegal behavior, he hopes to see existing laws change, rather than prosecute fans who are hardly criminals.

In addition to changing laws, Professor Lessig recommends that record companies use the Web rather than fight it. If he ran a label, he says, he would encourage people to participate in the creative process and remix an artist's work. Lessig would also allow and encourage artists to release their music on the internet. A small number of bands including Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Wilco have been able to do this with really positive results. Finally, if he ran a label, he would not bite the hand that feeds him, backing away from the harmful DRM technologies that labels are bundling into their content.

Go to episode 12

Butch Vig

This week Jim and Greg speak with Butch Vig. The Wisconsin-based producer has worked on some of the most notable records in the past two decades including Siamese Dream by the Smashing Pumpkins, Dirty by Sonic Youth and Nevermind by Nirvana. In addition, he's a founding member and drummer for the band Garbage.

Go to episode 120

Lawrence Lessig

Next up Jim and Greg play a bit of The Grey Album, a mashup of The Beatles' White Album and Jay-Z's Black Album made by DJ Danger Mouse. This was an album that received a lot of critical praise and attention. It even topped both Jim and Greg's year-end lists. It is a completely modern work that could not have been made without recent digital technologies. The rub here is that it could not be purchased anywhere, and many people who heard it don't even own a hard copy. This is because, according to current copyright law, what DJ Danger Mouse did was completely illegal. To discuss how laws like this are stifling art and how music in the digital age has changed in other ways, Jim and Greg welcome the definitive expert on this issue: Lawrence Lessig. Professor Lessig, a faculty member of Stanford Law School and founder of its Center for Internet and Society, has authored three books on cyber law and free culture, tried cases before the Supreme Court and founded Creative Commons, an organization trying to expand the range of creative work legally available to share.

While copyright laws have existed for over 200 years, music was not protected for a long time. Early in the 20th century protections for musicians and songwriters were put in place; however these laws did not necessarily hinder creativity. Once a song was recorded, anyone had the right to record it. This encouraged artists and was fundamental to the growth of the music industry, so much so that even the RIAA defended this right. The 21st century version of this kind of conversation between artists is sampling, but under current law, Professor Lessig explains, sampling is considered piracy. Therefore, creative expression and evolution are not fostered the way they were in the last century.

To demonstrate this point, Jim and Greg discuss the evolution of one song in the 20th century. Whether it was called“To the Pines,”"In the Pines," or even“Where Did You Sleep Last Night,”musicians like Leadbelly and Nirvana would quote and reference each other, essentially engaging in a dialogue and helping to inspire one another. This kind of songwriting and recording is the definition of a musical community and has been around since music itself. The sad truth is that such a community can't legally exist today. Listen to the songs that may have been lost had this been the case before the digital age:

  • Bill Monroe - "In the Pines," recorded between 1936-1941
  • Leadbelly - "In the Pines," 1947
  • Bascom Lamar Lunsford - "To the Pines, To the Pines," 1949
  • Joan Baez - "In the Pines," recorded between 1960 - 1963
  • The Grateful Dead - "In the Mines," 1966
  • Nirvana - "Where did you Sleep Last Night," 1994
  • Rancho Deluxe - "In The Pines," 2005
  • Smog - "In The Pines," 2005

Other versions include:

  • Clifford Jordan - "Black Girl," These Are My Roots, 1965
  • Mark Lanegan - "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," The Winding Sheet, 1990
  • Dolly Parton - "In the Pines," Heartsong, 1994
  • Louvin Brothers -“In the Pines,”Tragic Songs of Life, 1956
  • Youth Gone Mad feat. Dee Dee Ramone - "In the Pines," Youth Gone Mad, 2002

Digital copyright laws affect the consumer as well. In fact, Professor Lessig suggests that“creator”might be a more appropriate name. In the last century, music fans would buy music or make mixtapes, but current technology allows the listener to be a part of the creative process. The law currently treats these creative consumers, many of whom are kids, as thieves. Our guest does not condone illegal behavior, but strives to change existing laws rather than prosecute people who are hardly criminals.

In addition to changing laws, Professor Lessig recommends that record companies use the Web rather than fight it. If he ran a label he would encourage people to participate in the creative process and remix an artist's work. He would also allow and encourage artists to release their music on the internet. A small number of bands including Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Wilco have been able to do this with really positive results. Finally, if he ran a label, he would not bite the hand that feeds him and back away from the harmful DRM technologies that labels are bundling into their content.

Go to episode 134

Danny Goldberg

While the rock stars get all the fame, it's often interesting to hear from the people who got them there. This week's guest is Danny Goldberg, a longtime music industry insider who has done everything from doing PR for Led Zeppelin, serving as a label executive at Atlantic, Mercury and Warner Brothers Records, and managing such artists as Stevie Nicks, Warren Zevon and Nirvana. He wrote about his experiences with these people in an aptly titled book, Bumping Into Geniuses: My Life Inside the Rock and Roll Business. As he relays to Jim and Greg, sometimes geniuses aren‘t easy to work with, but it’s always worth it.

Go to episode 146

Teenage Fanclub

Few bands from the early '90s are still going strong. But Teenage Fanclub is an exception. The Scottish power pop band formed in 1989, and, for most of its existence, has maintained the same lineup: guitarists and songwriters Norman Blake, Raymond McGinley, Gerard Love and Francis McDonald. Now they're also joined by keyboardist Dave McGowan. Jim and Greg talk to the band about their roots, their longevity, and the rarity of a band having three chief songwriters. They also ask them about the recording and reception of Bandwagonesque, the band's third record and the one that brought Teenage Fanclub its first taste of success in the States. In fact, Spin Magazine voted Bandwagonesque the #1 album of 1991 - favoring it over Nirvana's Nevermind, R.E.M.'s Out of Time and My Bloody Valentine's Loveless. While in the Sound Opinions studio, Teenage Fanclub performs songs from its new album Shadows, plus an oldie from 1995's Grand Prix.

Go to episode 260
specials

Sub Pop Records

Sub Pop Records, the label that made "grunge" a household word, is turning 20. Since its inception the small Seattle outfit has exploded internationally, giving music fans a dose of the Northwest punk sound with bands like Nirvana, Soundgarden and Mudhoney. Now Sub Pop is home to indie phenoms The Shins and The Postal Service, as well as comedy duo Flight of the Conchords. Jim and Greg speak with Jonathan Poneman, who started the label in 1988 with former fanziner Bruce Pavitt. Poneman explains that there was so much great rock in that area at the time that they were compelled to document it. But their ambitions didn‘t stop there. Poneman discusses Pavitt’s assertion that the most vital culture happens outside the big media centers. This kind of big thinking paved the way for the breakout of regional music scenes and the idea that indie bands can be as big as major label ones.

To celebrate Sub Pop's anniversary Jim and Greg both pick their favorite tracks from the label. Greg starts with a song by The Afghan Whigs. He explains that the tradition of signing non-Northwest bands began with the Whigs. They started out as a faux-grunge band but became more distinctive when they brought in elements of soul. You can hear that in the track "Miles Iz Dead" off the album Congregation.

Jim also wanted to pick a song that showcased the diversity of Sub Pop. It's more than just a grunge label. Jim looks to Cardinal, a band that represents much of what's happening in the indie world today. The duo gave birth to orchestral pop, and one of its members, Eric Matthews, put out a terrific debut on Sub Pop in 1995 called It's Heavy In Here. Jim chooses to play that album's opener, "Fanfare."

Go to episode 137

1991

It's hard to believe, but it has now been two decades since 1991, a year Jim and Greg believe to be as influential and significant as 1964, 1976 and other great rock years. 1991's artists, albums and events made way for big changes in the music industry, and the sounds of that year continue to be referenced today. Just look at recent guests Teenage Fanclub and Superchunk, who both released major albums in 1991 and are still filling our playlists in 2011. While Bryan Adams and Garth Brooks topped the charts, they don't tell the true story of this year. For Jim and Greg, 1991 was all about:

  • Nirvana and the birth of grunge
  • My Bloody Valentine and the growth of shoegaze
  • Lollapalooza and the rise of the Alternative Nation
  • N.W.A. and the reign of gangsta rap
  • Massive Attack and the birth of trip-hop
Go to episode 270

Revisiting 1991

1991

Though it seems like just yesterday for many, it's been 25 years since 1991. Along with 1964, '67 and '76, 1991 was a landmark year for music. You can hear its influence everywhere from neo-grunge band Bully to Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar. While Bryan Adams and Garth Brooks topped the charts, there are even more musicians that made groundbreaking strides back in '91. For Jim and Greg, 1991 was all about:

  • Nirvana and the birth of grunge
  • My Bloody Valentine and the growth of shoegaze
  • Lollapalooza and the rise of the Alternative Nation
  • N.W.A. and the reign of gangsta rap
  • Massive Attack and the birth of trip-hop
Go to episode 538

Live Albums

The concept of a Live Album is a controversial one for many rock fans. Some see these releases as merely filler between proper new albums. And some see these records as a way to experience a specific musical moment again. For Jim and Greg, the following are great albums because they either bring something new to an artist's work, or capture a time worth remembering. As you gear up for the summer concert season, enjoy the following live albums:

Go to episode 179

Box Set Gift Suggestions

This episode of Sound Opinions isn't all negative. Jim and Greg also provide you with some holiday gift suggestions for the music lover in your life. They recommend wrapping up the following box sets:

  • The Clash: The Singles
  • What It Is! Funky Soul And Rare Grooves (1967-1977)
  • Rockin‘ Bones: ’50s Punk & Rockabilly
  • Jerry Lee Lewis: A Half Century of Hits
  • Tommy Boy Presents Hip Hop Essentials

Here are some other box sets to check out:

  • Steve Reich, Phases: A Nonesuch Retrospective
  • Gram Parsons, The Complete Reprise Sessions
  • Buddy Guy, Can't Quit the Blues
  • Waylon Jennings, Nashville Rebel
  • The Byrds, There is a Season
  • Various Artists, A Life Less Lived: The Gothic Box
  • The Pretenders, Pirate Radio
  • Tori Amos, A Piano: The Collection
  • The Bee Gees, The Studio Albums, 1967-1968
  • Robert Plant, Nine Lives
  • David Crosby, Voyage

And for DVD fans:

  • Michael Franti, I Know I'm Not Alone
  • Nirvana, Live! Tonight! Sold Out!
  • Jeff Tweedy, Sunken Treasure: Live in the Pacific Northwest
Go to episode 52
reviews
Album ArtSilence Yourself available on iTunes

Savages Silence Yourself

Last year, London-based quartet Savages burst onto the indie scene seemingly fully formed. Jehny Beth, Gemma Thompson, Ayse Hassan, and Fay Milton had been a band for less than a year when the UK music press caught on to "Husbands," the group's debut single. Critically acclaimed performances at CMJ, SXSW, and Coachella followed (In our own SXSW wrap-up, Jim declared he had“seen God”at Savages' set). So do they deliver on their Matador Recordsdebut Silence Yourself? Jim's answer is an unequivocal "Yes!" Not only does he stand by his previous claim that Jehny Beth is the most compelling rock frontperson since Kurt Cobain, he extends the Nirvana metaphor. Just like that legendary nineties grunge band, Savages take familiar ingredients (post-punk and minimalism) and make them fresh. Greg agrees. This is a serious band, he says, with the album cover manifesto to prove it and the songs to back it up. Silence Yourself gets an enthusiastic double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 389
Fleet FoxesFleet Foxes available on iTunes

Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes

The latest band to break out on the Sub Pop label is Fleet Foxes. While they haven't reached Nirvana or Shins status, Jim and Greg agree that this is a band to watch. Fleet Foxes belongs to the "freak folk" music club, but Jim much prefers their deeper, more convincing sound. He loves their beautiful harmonies and melodies and is impressed by their deep influences, especially considering how young their members are. Greg agrees, adding that the sound is entirely their own, full of untraditional arrangements and dense atmosphere. Both critics give Fleet Foxes, their self-titled debut, a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 137
Wasting Light (Bonus Tracks) - SingleWasting Light available on iTunes

Foo Fighters Wasting Light

Was Butch Vig's hard work worth it on the Foo Fighters new record Wasting Light? Yes and no, say Jim and Greg. The album is excellently produced, trimmed of all fat, and will sound great on the radio. But no amount of production can make Dave Grohl's lyrics any better. The songs on Wasting Light are formulaic and clich‘e. Jim and Greg don’t deny Grohl is a tremendous drummer, and they recommend his other post-Nirvana projects like Probat and Them Crooked Vultures. But when it comes to songwriting…it's a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 281
Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings (Deluxe Soundtrack)Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings available on iTunes

Kurt Cobain Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings

Music fans around the world never thought people they would be able to hear Kurt Cobain's work as a solo artist until now, but it certainly isn't how Cobain intended it. Recently his widow Courtney Love and daughter Francis Bean authorized a documentary called Montage of Heck. It focused on his life and featured old home movies, audiotapes and present-day commentary from Kurt's friends and family. The soundtrack album is called Montage of Heck: The Home Recordings, and many of the tracks are simply Cobain strumming on his guitar or messing around with his tape deck. As a big Nirvana fan, Jim compares the release as was grave robbery. He gives it a massive Trash It. Greg agrees, and notes the whole thing sickens him. The“album”never should've seen the light of day. Cobain sounds stoned, distracted and bored, not at all like how he lit up a stage with Nirvana. Greg says Trash It, as well.

JimGreg
Go to episode 522
Excellent Italian GreyhoundExcellent Italian Greyhound available on iTunes

Shellac Excellent Italian Greyhound

Up next is another band that knows how to make its fans wait. Chicago-based indie punk group Shellac has a new album called Excellent Italian Greyhound, and it's only been a mere seven years since the last one. Guitarist and singer Steve Albini is best known as the utilitarian recordist who has captured the sounds of everyone from Nirvana to the garage band next door. He's joined by drummer Todd Trainer and bassist Bob Weston for a sound that is as real as you're ever going to hear in a recorded work. There are no fancy tricks here, just a minimalist approach. And with what Greg describes as a“tongue placed very firmly in cheek,”the band makes powerful punk music with a sense of humor. However both Greg and Jim admit that not all of the tracks are winners, and therefore Excellent Italian Greyhound gets two Try Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 84
Them Crooked Vultures (Bonus Track Version)Them Crooked Vultures available on iTunes

Them Crooked Vultures Them Crooked Vultures

The heavily-hyped new supergroup Them Crooked Vultures finally released their self-titled debut. The band consists of Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age, Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters/Nirvana and John Paul Jones of Led Zeppelin. So how super is it? Jim was truly blown away by the trio's live performance this past summer. But, with the record the experience is less visceral and more intellectual. The rhythm section is obviously still impressive, but for Jim the songs don't cut it. He gives Them Crooked Vultures a Burn It. Greg thinks Jim hasn't been this off the mark all year. The more he listens, the more he is excited by this sensual, twisting, hard-rocking record. He gives it an enthusiastic Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 208
Echoes, Silence, Patience & GraceEchoes, Silence, Patience & Grace available on iTunes

The Foo Fighters Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

Another big album this fall is Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace from The Foo Fighters. The group started off as a lark for former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl, but now, six albums later, they are one of the most consistently successful commercial rock acts around. And Jim just can‘t understand why. Granted, the age-old formula of quiet verse, loud-chorus, repeat is a proven one, but he calls Grohl one of the worst lyricists in rock. Luckily he’s also good at crafting hooks. Greg agrees that this is the only reason that the Foo Fighters have any appeal — they are catchy and not that complicated. He says there's no reason anyone needs to own more than one Foo Fighters record, and encourages the listener to completely ignore this release. Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace gets two Trash Its.

JimGreg
Go to episode 96
Researching the Blues (Bonus Track Version)Researching the Blues available on iTunes

Redd Kross Researching the Blues

Jim and Greg review Researching the Blues, the new record from California rock veterans Redd Kross. Adopted as the“little brothers”of L.A.'s hardcore punk scene when they first formed in 1980, Redd Kross always tended more Beach Boys than Black Flag in sound. Their 1990 record Third Eye was a harbinger of later alt-era successes (Nevermind for one), but the band itself never achieved Nirvana-level success and went on hiatus in 1997. Researching the Blues, the band's first new record in 15 years, reunites the“classic lineup”of Jeff McDonald, Steve McDonald, Robert Hecker, and Roy McDonald. Both Jim and Greg agree they're glad to have these boys back. Redd Kross have cut all the fat, Greg says. They get in, give you a great guitar solo and some killer harmonies, and then get out. Past records have been rife with seventies pop-culture references. Greg thinks Redd Kross are taking themselves a bit more seriously this time around, though Jim points out there are still enough kitschy references to Dracula and Frankenstein to keep things light. Researching the Blues gets a double Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 350
Reflektor (Deluxe)Reflektor available on iTunes

Arcade Fire Reflektor

Arcade Fire (arguably the most important indie rock band to crossover into the mainstream since Nirvana) is back with its highly-anticipated fourth release. Coming off the heels of last year's Grammy Award-winning album, The Suburbs, this year's offering, Reflektor, takes another stab at some very big ideas. Greg appreciates the band's continued willingness to take risks, but Reflektor's sprawling sound overextends itself onto a second disc that tips the scales unfavorably away from a Buy It. Jim agrees with Greg that the band only hits the melodic and groovy sweet spot half the time (perhaps thanks to co-producer James Murphy). Additionally, the lyrics aim high as they did on previous releases, but, this time around, are just kind of a bore. Jim and Greg both say Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 415
Beauty & RuinBeauty and Ruin available on iTunes

Bob Mould Beauty and Ruin

10 solo albums later and former Hüsker Dü frontman (and friend of the show) Bob Mould still shows no sign of slowing down. The alt-rock pioneer adds another album to that list with his latest, this month's Beauty and Ruin. Jim and Greg celebrate the release as a return to form for Mould, who has often taken creative detours away from his rock trio past—one that paved the way for bands like Nirvana, Green Day, Nirvana and more. On Beauty and Ruin, Mould returns to that influential sound and reaches deep both into the din of his instrumentation, and into his personal history, to meld huge melodies with emotionally resonant lyrics. Greg loves the honesty and says Beauty and Ruin is a Buy It. Jim agrees the album is worth purchasing, but doesn‘t think it lives up to Mould’s previous album, 2012's Silver Age, in terms of killer hooks and levity. Jim says pick both up if you can.

JimGreg
Go to episode 448
dijs

Greg

“Where Did You Sleep Last Night”Nirvana

Greg wraps up the show by picking a classic MTV moment for the Desert Island Jukebox. He highlights "Where Did You Sleep Last Night," which Nirvana performed live as part of MTV's Unplugged series. If Greg had to choose a single performance by the band, it would be this one. The late Kurt Cobain pours his heart and soul into it, and the band's backing is incredibly empathetic. Of course, Cobain did not pen this tune. It was originally recorded as "In the Pines" in the late 1930s, and Jim and Greg discussed its evolution as part of a conversation with cyberlaw and free culture guru Lawrence Lessig.

Go to episode 36

Jim

“Up Front”Poison Idea,Poison Idea

Inspired by a recent trip to Portland, OR for a special taping of the show with Broken Bells (stay tuned to hear it!), Jim spends his latest trip to the Desert Island remembering The City of Roses's 1980's hardcore punk scene. Jim tells us that trailblazers like Greg Sage and his Wire-esque band The Wipers never quite get the credit they deserve for laying the groundwork for Seattle's grunge music explosion in the ‘90’s. (Nirvana actually covered a couple Wipers tunes.) Another prominent Portland-area hardcore band, Poison Idea, was also influenced by Sage. Specifically the band's guitarist, Tom Roberts, better known as Pig Champion. Jim recalls that what Roberts may have lacked in showmanship (he mostly sat on a folding chair while on stage), he made up for in sheer metal guitar prowess. Sadly, Roberts passed away in 2006 at the age of only 47. So this week, Jim pays tribute to both the Portland hardcore scene and Robert's indelible mark on it, by playing a live recording of Poison Idea's Wipers cover "Up Front," which features more than 12-minutes of Robert's virtuoso guitar.

Go to episode 455

Greg

“Dream in Blue”Los Lobos

For his DIJ, Greg wants to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Los Lobos's Kiko. In 1992, grunge acts like Nirvana were shaking up the mainstream, and veteran acts like Los Lobos had to either reinvent or face irrelevance. Kiko, Greg says, was Los Lobos's answer to grunge's challenge. The group started out in the seventies playing a fusion of American roots rock and Mexican folk. Kiko saw main songwriters David Hidalgo and Louie Perez moving in a more trippy psychedelic direction, writing lyrics that were so concise, they were almost haiku-like. The band's new sound only really began to gel however when their label put them in the studio with producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake. Froom and Blake pumped up the distortion and keyboard effects, and suddenly Los Lobos were walking into a new sonic world. Greg says the album's opening track, "Dream in Blue," represents the door opening onto that new world. Hidalgo and Perez's lyrics describe a sleeping child who, as she begins to dream, finds herself entering a realm of unprecedented freedom.

Go to episode 355

Greg

“"Where Did You Sleep Last Night?"”Nirvana,The Vaselines,Nirvana

To cap off the show, Greg adds a track to the Desert Island Jukebox. Last week he played Nirvana's live version of "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" This week he wants to highlight another great song from that Unplugged set: "Jesus (Don't) Want Me For a Sunbeam." It was written by the Scottish duo The Vaselines. The band has headed out on a new US tour and re-released their acclaimed 1992 album The Way of the Vaselines. Both are excellent opportunities to take another look at one of Greg, and Kurt's, all-time favorite songs.

Go to episode 180
lists

Apology Songs

There are a lot of ways to say“I'm sorry,”but what better method than through song. Jim, Greg and a few listeners share their favorite apology tracks.

Go to episode 581

Rock's Best Lead-Off Tracks

This week's show is dedicated to the true rock geeks out there. Continuing in the tradition of "Track 1, Side 1" Jim and Greg take the discussion into the post-vinyl age. What songs best kick-off an album? Here are their picks for the best Lead-Off Tracks of all time:

Go to episode 92

Anti-Love Songs

With the ghost of St. Valentine looming over us all, this week's show is dedicated to those music fans for whom "Love Stinks." Jim and Greg discuss their favorite anti-love songs and hear some listeners' picks. Here are some songs to get you out of the mood for Valentine's Day.

Go to episode 11

Sophomore Success

They say that it takes a lifetime to make your first record and only a few months to make your second. If that's true, then it's no surprise that most artists face the dreaded“sophomore slump.”But, a rare few second albums meet or even exceed the first effort. Here are Jim & Greg's picks for Sophomore Success Stories:

Go to episode 252

Songs About Radio

This week's feature celebrates an important, albeit struggling medium: Radio. Last year national radio revenue fell 18%, and the industry overseas isn't immune either. Even powerhouse BBC has been facing tough economic times. While bands have many other methods of promotion and distribution these days, radio airplay still significantly boosts record sales. Musicians are now looking to radio performances as another source of revenue. Jim and Greg both fondly remember discovering new bands on their FM dials. To honor that legacy, they play these great Radio-Inspired Tracks:

Go to episode 223
rock doctors

Brendan

Even the healthiest music listener depends on recommendations from family and friends. But for more severe cases, Sound Opinions recommends people make an appointment with the Rock Doctors. When Brendan from Los Angeles contacted Sound Opinions H.Q. and described his symptoms, we immediately took him in to see the doctors and get a diagnosis. Brendan suffers from an ailment common among people of his generation: 90s-itis. Brendan loves music but hasn't moved forward since 1995. That was the high point of his music listening, and you can still find Weezer's Blue Album and Nirvana's Nevermind in his CD player. He loves the balance of noisy rock and melody in those albums. And, since he can no longer turn on an alt-rock radio station to hear a similar sound, he asks the Rock Doctors, "What sounds like '90s alternative in 2008?"

Greg's answer to this question is The Secret Machines. The group harkens back to that hard, but melodic sound. The group uses elements from that era like strong guitars and drums, and adds space rock. A fan of Nirvana, The Smashing Pumpkins, and even The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, should love "Ten Silver Drops" by The Secret Machines.

Jim's prescription for 90s-itis is Wolf Parade. The Canadian indie rockers have a lot of energy and aggression that Brendan should appreciate. There's a nod to classic rock, but the band is not living in the past. He gives Brendan a dose of "At Mount Zoomer" by Wolf Parade and invites him back for a follow-up appointment in a week.

When Brendan returns he reports that he is slowly recovering. He enjoyed both prescriptions, but thinks he needs to give them more time. Brendan found both records slightly more mellow than he expected, but liked that they weren‘t“screaming.”Brendan now has two albums in his collection that were recorded in the 21st century, and that’s all the Doctors could ask for.

Go to episode 152
news

Music News

The first story in the news this week involves that age-old practice of“pay-for-play,”or payola, in the music industry. In recent years, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has been investigating major record labels like Sony and Warner who engaged in this practice. But now, the FCC has joined the battle against this unethical behavior by launching an investigation of the four major radio corporations: Clear Channel Communications, CBS Radio, Citadel Broadcasting and Entercom Communications. The FCC's enforcement unit is looking into accusations that broadcasters illegally accepted cash or other compensation in exchange for airplay of specific songs without telling listeners. As per usual, the federal government is late to the game — but this investigation is admittance of a problem. And as we all know, that's the first step.

Also making news recently are some major acts from the early 1990s. It seems that people are already nostalgic for the music of the alternative era, and many of the surviving bands are cashing in on it. Alice in Chains announced tour dates for this summer, despite the fact that their original lead singer, Layne Staley, died of a drug overdose in 2002. Like the members of Queen and The Doors, the surviving Alice in Chains bandmates don't seem fazed by this loss, and will continue with the addition of Guns 'N Roses bassist Duff McKagan and Comes With the Fall vocalist William DuVall. Former Jane's Addiction members Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins will also tour this summer under the name Panic Channel, though their lead singer has not passed on. Rather, he's now the impresario of what may prove this summer's big moneymaker: Lollapalooza.

In the typical fashion, Neil Young is stirring up some controversy. The prolific rocker finished recording music for an upcoming album mere days ago and will have it in stores within a couple of weeks. Young is just coming off his last release, Prairie Wind (featured in Jonathan Demme's recent concert film), but on Living With War, he will shift gears completely. According to Greg, this release is a completely political, guerilla-style protest album. Young wrote and recorded songs like "Let's Impeach the President," in just one day in response to the current administration and its failed war in Iraq. Jim points out that Young works well in this situation. Less than two weeks after the Kent State shootings in 1970, Young was inspired to write "Ohio," and it was on the radio within a week. Almost 40 years later, the classic rock icon shows no sign of slowing down — neither his writing, nor his politics.

Nirvana and The Smashing Pumpkins are also in the headlines again. Nirvana widow Courtney Love sold 25% of her share of the band's publishing rights to Larry Mestel, a former executive at Virgin Music. She reportedly received over 50 million dollars for this settlement. That should help alleviate Love's financial woes, though not necessarily the woes of Nirvana fans who worry that Cobain's legacy will be boiled down to Teen Spirit ads. Smashing Pumpkins fans are also a bit curious about the fate of that band. Lead singer (and Love ex) Billy Corgan has stated that the Chicago group will reunite, but no one is quite sure in what incarnation. That really just leaves Pearl Jam, who you'll hear about later in the show.

Go to episode 22

Music News

There's no limit to the inspiration Bob Dylan provides in every medium. The latest example? A Brazilian production company has acquired the rights to adapt Dylan's 1975 album Blood on the Tracks into an English-language feature film. Whether you subscribe to the theory that the album was inspired by Dylan's marital woes or Anton Chekhov short stories, as Dylan asserts, the producers plan on capturing the“feeling”of the album. Jim and Greg suggest some albums that might make better cinematic adaptations:

  • The Kinks Are the Village Green Preservation Society
  • The River
  • The ArchAndroid
  • Parklife
  • Zen Arcade
  • The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway
  • Funeral

Jim Marshall, the father of loud and the inventor of the Marshall amp died last week at age 88. As Jim explains, nothing beats the power of the Marshall. Its sound was coveted by everyone from Jimi Hendrix to Nirvana. Only Spinal Tap's Nigel Tufnel felt the need to improve it.

Go to episode 333

Music News

Greg begins this week's news segment by complimenting Jim's use of the word“Blitzkrieg”in reference to The Strokes' quick tour of North America. Our first news story deals with the top 20 grossing concerts of 2005. The saggy-butted Rolling Stones led the list with a gross total of $162 million, followed by Jim's favorite band, U2. Two "artists", Celine Dion and Barry Manilow, didn't even have to tour to make the list—they simply took residency in one of Las Vegas's gaudy venues and raked in the cash.

A favorite of Sound Opinions, Courtney Love, returned to the headlines recently in a New York Post story detailing her financial woes, and more importantly, contemplating the sale of the Nirvana catalogue. Jim believes this would be a disaster, akin to Michael Jackson bringing the Beatles to Nike.

A sad story rounds out our news segment: the death of legendary Chicago singer Lou Rawls. The velvety-voiced singer died of cancer in Los Angeles. Growing up on the south side of Chicago, he referred to the the cold Chicago wind as the“Hawk,”and introduced the monologue to music, leading the way for hip-hop as an art-form. He was neighbors with another Chicago legend, Sam Cooke, and traded lines with him in the soul classic "Bring it on Home". Lou's final public appearance was a stirring rendition of God Bless America during the World Series.

Go to episode 6

Music News

(Unfortunately) the music news is often focused on a death in the industry. This week it's the death of a club. Maxwell's in Hoboken, NJ will be closing its doors next month. This is the famous bar where Nirvana performed, Bruce Springsteen shot the video for "Glory Days," and Yo La Tengo celebrated Chanukah. This is also the place where a young Jim DeRogatis came of musical age. Read his tribute here. And check out our own live recording at Maxwell's with The Feelies.

Jim and Greg also say farewell to Marvin Junior who sang tenor in the Chicago R&B group The Dells. As Greg explains, the original members performed together for six decades, something many groups from that era weren‘t able to do. Perhaps that’s why Robert Townsend captured their story in The Five Heartbeats.

Go to episode 393

Music News

Major labels made a bit of news this week, and allowed Jim and Greg to justify their use of the“brontosaurus hurdling toward the tar pit”metaphor. So what is driving this particular dinosaur into extinction? According to our hosts, it's technology. Universal Music appeared to recognize this hurdle this week when they announced that they were cutting costs of some of their online music in Europe. So if you want to buy something from their catalog as a digital file, rather than as a physical CD, you'll only have to pay around $10. Seems reasonable to us here in the States. The CEO of EMI Music reiterated this idea in a statement to the London School of Economics. He said,“The CD as it is right now is dead.”A bit of an overstatement perhaps, but it's entirely possible that the market will split between iTunes listeners and die hard collectors (who want vinyl). In the meantime, EMI consumers can expect more content packaged with their old-fashioned audio CD.

One artist who hasn't been hurt by extinction is Kurt Cobain. Forbes named him the number-one-earning dead celebrity, even ahead of The King, Elvis Presley. Cobain's estate earned over $50 million this year alone, mostly due to the sale of Nirvana's song catalog to Primary Wave Publishing. Fans have widow Courtney Love to thank for that.

Sound Opinions always loves when Bono is in the news (which is usually every day). This time, though, it's more U2's music than the man himself. Apparently 150 Episcopal churches across the nation have adopted a new service entitled the U2charist, which blends the band's songs with the traditional Eucharist. The service kicks off with a rendition of "Pride," and also includes a collection for Bono's campaign to eradicate extreme poverty and global AIDS. Of course rock + religion is nothing new. Al Green and Solomon Burke infuse their pop music into religious ceremonies with great success. But the real question is how Bono measures up to Mase.

Go to episode 49