Results for singer/songwriter

interviews

Feist

This week's guest is Leslie Feist, an up-and-coming singer/songwriter. Born in Calgary and bred in the Toronto music scene, Feist is one of many Canadian indie acts rising in popularity. It seems that our neighbor to the north is the next Seattle or Portland. Bands like Broken Social Scene and Peaches, who can both claim Feist as collaborators, plus The Arcade Fire, Wolf Parade, Metric, Stars, The Constantines, Hidden Cameras, and Death from Above 1979, are all coming out of Canada (and are all a far cry from Shania Twain or Bryan Adams). During her interview with Jim and Greg, Feist performs "Gatekeeper," "Mushaboom," and a cover of "Secret Heart" by Ron Sexsmith. There are a number of covers on her latest album, Let It Die, including "In and Out" by The Bee Gees and "Now at Last" by Blossom Dearie.

Go to episode 13

Jenny Lewis

Another California native with a country spirit is singer/songwriter Jenny Lewis. The Rilo Kiley frontwoman joins Jim and Greg to talk about her latest solo album, Rabbit Fur Coat. Last year Rilo Kiley achieved some success with their second album More Adventurous, and even opened for Coldplay and played at Coachella. Therefore, the timing of this solo project seems to be curious. As Jenny explains, however, doing solo projects and side projects has always been apart of her band's experience. She previously worked with Ben Gibbard on The Postal Service, and Rilo Kiley bandmate Blake Sennett has another band called The Elected.

One of Jenny's motivations for this solo album was her desire to sing with women. She is joined on Rabbit Fur Coat and in our studio by The Watson Twins, Chandra and Leigh Watson. Jenny explains that she grew up singing with her mother and was inspired by albums like Gonna Take a Miracle by Laura Nyro and LaBelle.

It should be noted that Jenny didn‘t just grow up singing. She was also a fairly successful child actress and appeared in ’80s movies like Troop Beverly Hills and The Wizard. She explores some of that history on the album. She also addresses people who are skeptical of her authenticity — being that she was born in Las Vegas and bred in L.A. rather than Kentucky. But, as Jenny points out and as listeners learned in the previous segment, California and towns like Bakersfield have significant country roots. Oddly enough, Jenny is not the only member of Rilo Kiley to have that dreaded“child actor”label. Blake Sennett was a regular on shows like Boy Meets World and Salute Your Shorts.

Go to episode 19

Tori Amos

Veteran musician Tori Amos stopped by the studio recently to talk to Jim and Greg. The singer/songwriter was in town on a tour to promote her most recent album American Doll Posse, which both Jim and Greg agreed was a Buy It. Tori is known for her strong feminist views, as well as her accomplished piano skills. But, as she explains, both those things weren't seen as positives early on in her career. After failing with her glam rock project Y Kant Tori Read, Tori decided to stay true to her heart and her musical roots. She approached record companies with her honest, political, piano-driven songs and was told that no one wanted the“girl at the piano.”Luckily for us she stuck with that and has gone on to make and sell records.

For this album Tori decided to collaborate with some true rockers: drummer Matt Chamberlain and guitarist/producer Mark Hawley (aka Mac Alladin aka Mr. Tori Amos). Jim and Greg talk to Tori about why she chose to do such an earthy, almost Zeppelin-esque record. She explains that the sound partly came out of the content of the songs — which express the anger and frustration Tori felt for and on behalf of American women after 2004's presidential election. She gave a lot of thought to the different roles American women play on a daily basis, and even adopted different female characters for different songs. If you get a chance to see Tori perform on this current tour, be ready for someone different to pop up.

Go to episode 106

Lily Allen

British import Lily Allen is Jim and Greg's guest this week. The hosts have been fans of the 21-year-old for over a year, however her album Alright, Still, was just released in the U.S. While Lily is now launching a full-blown American invasion with major label backing and major press and appearances, she started with more humble means. The singer/songwriter initially drew buzz after posting some songs on her MySpace.com page.

While her career is grassroots, Lily's upbringing still has star power. Her father is British comedian and personality Keith Allen, and she spent many of her family vacations with Uncle Joe. (That's Joe Strummer to you and me). In fact, the singer can boast that she has performed at Wembley with The Clash before she was old enough to buy herself a pint.

Jim and Greg are drawn to Lily's sound, which is a pastiche of pop, reggae, ska and even a bit of '60s“space-age bachelor pad”music. But, it's her lyrics that really“slay”them. Lily writes about everything from an average life in London to a failed relationship with a great deal of honesty, humor, and most of all, attitude. Listen to her performances of hits "LDN" and "Smile," and check out these exclusive bonus tracks.

Go to episode 65

John Prine

John Prine This week, our guest is singer-songwriter John Prine. Born and raised just outside of Chicago, Prine began his career as a mailman and started writing folk songs along his route. He performed them live in the Chicago folk scene and was soon signed to a major label. While he put out great releases in the '70s, record companies often didn‘t know what to do with him - he was a talented songwriter and a gregarious performer, but he just didn’t fit the rock mold at the time. Prine started his own label Oh Boy Records in 1984 and has remained independent since. Over time, Prine has managed to get better at his craft while also having to overcome cancer, which altered his singing and speaking voice, making it deeper and more gravelly. His latest album, The Tree of Forgiveness, is his first in 13 years and is his best performing album of his entire career. Jim and Greg talk with John about his career journey, writing songs like "Sam Stone" and about working with everyone from Steve Goodman to Phil Spector.

Go to episode 651

Phoebe Bridgers

Singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers has been performing at open mics since she was 11 years old and grew up busking at farmers' markets in her native Los Angeles. Now 23, Bridgers has been lauded for her captivating musicianship, dusky vocals, and lyrical eloquence. (Channeling his other life as an English professor, Jim compares her to Joan Didion.) Bridgers's songs pull no punches, covering topics like heartbreak and loss, living with depression, and the shadowy underside of her sunny home state. She stopped by the Goose Island Tap Room in Chicago to perform "Smoke Signals" and a few other tracks off her 2017 album Stranger in the Alps. She talks to Greg and Jim about the meaning behind the album's title, how to silence a restless crowd, and the pervasive sexism of the music industry.

Go to episode 662

Amanda Shires

This week, Jim and Greg talk to singer-songwriter and violinist Amanda Shires at the Goose Island Tap Room in Chicago. Amanda released her latest solo album To The Sunset in early August of this year to a lot of critical acclaim, especially for the intricately beautiful lyrics and genre-blending on the record (country, rock, acoustic, etc.) Shires talks with Jim and Greg about her time in the legendary Bob Wills band The Texas Playboys and about how getting her MFA in poetry elevated her lyricism. They also discuss her husband, singer, guitarist and songwriter Jason Isbell, and how becoming a mom changed her musical perspective. Shires also brought along her long fiddle and her guitar player and performs a special stripped down set.

Go to episode 679

Neko Case

This week's guest is singer/songwriter Neko Case. It's hard to categorize Neko's music. Some call her "alt-country." Others throw the word "soul" in there. But whatever you call it, fans and critics alike are happy to hear it. In addition to making her own music, Neko records and performs with Canadian pop band The New Pornographers. After wrapping up her current tour, Neko will go out on tour with the New Pornographers in support of their new album.

Fox Confessor Brings the Flood is Neko's most successful album to date. It's also one for which she did much more of the songwriting. Neko credits that songwriting with learning to play the tenor guitar. Greg compares Neko's guitar playing to that of Steve Howe, but she likes to think of herself as more of a Paul Butterfield.

Neko calls Fox Confessor Brings the Flood her most“smart-ass”album. The way in which the songwriter tells stories on the record is in large part inspired by Eastern European folktales. Neko grew up listening to this style of storytelling from her Ukrainian grandparents and appreciated how open-ended and non-judgmental the tales were.

Two of the songs Neko performs for the show have unique inspirations. The first, "That Teenage Feeling," was written after her guitarist, Paul Rigby, exclaimed that he didn't feel the need to get married for the sake of getting married. Rather, he desired that simpler, no-strings feeling that love gives you when you are a teenager. The second song, "Margaret vs. Pauline," is based on a book by Beat novelist and poet Richard Brautigan called In Watermelon Sugar. Jim's relieved to hear the song has a far less ominous meaning than he thought. You can also hear a bonus performance of "Sometimes When I Get To Thinking" by Buffy Sainte-Marie.

Go to episode 71

Donovan

This week Jim and Greg talk with legendary '60s singer/songwriter Donovan. In honor of his 40th anniversary in the music business, Donovan has written an autobiography, released a box set, and set out on tour. A contemporary of Bob Dylan and The Beatles, Donovan was acclaimed for his finger-picking style, which he garnered from The Carter Family and demonstrates for our hosts.

Jim and Greg also want to know about the sex, drugs, and rock and roll in Donovan's life. Specifically, they discuss his experience being busted for drugs in 1966. His arresting officer, Sgt. Pilcher, later targeted fellow British rockers Keith Richards, Mick Jagger, Brian Jones and John Lennon.

Another part of the Donovan mythology involves the origin of his song "Mellow Yellow." As Jim points out, many people believe that Donovan was alluding to the ability to get high by smoking banana peels. While Donovan does not refute this idea, which was tried out by Country Joe McDonald, he also admits that part of the song's imagery was taken from a“marital device”he saw advertised in a magazine. In his book, Donovan also suggests that Andy Warhol may have been inspired by the "electrical banana."

Jim and Greg also ask Donovan about covers of his songs. They play for him the Butthole Surfers' rendition of "Hurdy Gurdy Man." Other notable covers include Hüsker Dü's "Sunshine Superman," Eartha Kitt's "Hurdy Gurdy Man," and My Morning Jacket's "Wear Your Love Like Heaven."

Go to episode 7

Ani DiFranco

Singer-songwriter Ani DiFranco visits Jim and Greg this week. Ani is one of the original independent musicians, having formed her own label, Righteous Babe, at the age of 19. She has emerged as a hugely successful touring musician and one of the driving forces in folk music today. Now, Ani is back with her 18th studio album Red Letter Year, her first since becoming a mother. But though it's been described as her“happy”record, Red Letter Year is full of her trademark, political rants including "Alla This," which she performs live on the show. You can also check out her other live songs, "Present Infant," and "November 5, 2008."

Go to episode 203

Joe Boyd

nickdraketributecover

For the most part we think that rock ‘n’ roll artistry and commercials don't mix, but in the case of Nick Drake, it worked out. A 1999 TV commercial featuring his 1972 track "Pink Moon," made the English singer/songwriter a household name. It was success Drake couldn‘t enjoy in his lifetime. He died at age 26 of an overdose on anti-depressants after only releasing three albums. But the small catalog lives large today, with Drake’s work influencing R.E.M., Elliot Smith, Beth Orton and many more. He's remembered on the new tribute album Way to Blue, produced by the man who discovered him, Joe Boyd. In addition to working with Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd and the Fairport Convention, Joe Boyd produced Nick's first two albums, Five Leaves Left in 1969 and Bryter Layter in 1970. Jim and Greg talk to him about Nick Drake's own influences, his style and his legacy.

Go to episode 387

Eleanor Friedberger

Singer-songwriter Eleanor Friedberger last joined us in 2008 as one half of the duo The Fiery Furnaces, along with her older brother Matthew. Famous for their fragmented and experimental sound, they made an impressive nine albums in six years together. However since 2011, Eleanor has been pursuing a solo career that is sonically quite different from the work she was doing in The Fiery Furnaces. She's put out three albums, Last Summer (2011), Personal Record (2013) and most recently, New View. While Eleanor Friedberger is an Oak Park, Illinois native currently living in New York state, she recently joined Jim and Greg during the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas for a conversation and live performance in front of an audience at the Gibson Showroom. She speaks about growing up, going solo, Seth Meyers, and Andy Warhol.

Go to episode 550

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
classic album dissections
BlueBlue available on iTunes

Joni Mitchell Blue

In our pursuit of doing a classic album dissection of Blue, we decided to begin with a conversation with music writer David Yaffe. Yaffe wrote the 2017 biography Reckless Daughter: A Portrait of Joni Mitchell. We talked with him about the singer-songwriter's backstory, which includes overcoming polio, finding her voice and creating inventive guitar tunings. We also discuss what Joni Mitchell's life was like leading up to making her 1971 masterpiece.

Go to episode 654
reviews
SurpriseSurprise available on iTunes

Paul Simon Surprise

Gnarls Barkley is not the only noteworthy collaboration discussed on this week's show — in fact, all of the albums up for review feature artists working with noteworthy producers. For example, singer/songwriter Paul Simon made the interesting decision to work with electronic music pioneer Brian Eno. Eno, who co-founded Roxy Music, has produced for David Bowie, The Talking Heads and U2. While this is an impressive résumé, Jim and Greg explain that Eno was still a surprising choice for Simon. Eno is infamous for dragging musicians out of their comfort zones, and Simon is certainly at a stage in his career where he could remain comfortable if he wanted. The result is literally a Surprise, though not necessarily a success, according to one of our hosts. Jim is fond of both the album's multi-layered, ambient sound and its complicated, occasionally self-deprecating lyrics. He gives it a Buy It. Greg, on the other hand, feels that this was a missed opportunity. He predicts that the two artists“tiptoed”around each other too much. It's a little too gentle, too sleepy, and too stagnant for Mr. Kot, who gives it a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
The Boxing MirrorThe Boxing Mirror available on iTunes

Alejandro Escovedo The Boxing Mirror

Eno's occasional partner in crime, John Cale, also makes an appearance in this week's show, having produced the latest release from Alejandro Escovedo. The Boxing Mirror is the ninth album from the musician, who can only be described as part-punk, part-country and part-rock. Escovedo grew up admiring the Velvet Underground, and Jim and Greg agree that the match between him and Cale is one made in heaven. Jim has never been a major fan of Escovedo's singer/songwriter style, but he thinks this is his best solo effort, perhaps due to Escovedo's newly found lust for life. He survived a life-threatening outbreak of Hepatitis C a couple years ago, and the music demonstrates that he is indeed very happy to be alive. Greg agrees and compares Escovedo's renewal to that experienced by Neil Young. Both albums give The Boxing Mirror a Buy It and urge fans try to see Escovedo, along with musicians like Susan Voelz, perform live.

JimGreg
Go to episode 23
Emily King - Scenery

Emily King Scenery

Singer-songwriter Emily King's third album in ten years, Scenery, is a departure from her earlier work. The New York City native went upstate to record this album and both Jim and Greg say she's found her voice as an artist. Greg calls King a“lithe vocalist”who deftly employs subtlety, rewarding close listening. She's hard to categorize as she moves between genres like soul, funk, gospel and a little bit of rock, but Greg calls that a strength. Jim has had a stressful week and appreciates the peace he's found in her music, calling it“wonderful, meditative, beautiful, seductive and peaceful.”He says the key is "Go Back," a song he says is about commencement, moving from one part of her life to another.

JimGreg
Go to episode 689
HistorianHistorian available on iTunes

Lucy Dacus Historian

Lucy Dacus made a big splash with her first release, 2016's No Burden. Historian is the sophomore album from the indie singer-songwriter, who delivers the same thoughtful lyrics and quiet moments. According to Greg, one of the standout tracks on this album is "Pillar of Truth."“Pillar”clocks in at over 7 minutes and“just builds and builds to that moment when Dacus raises her voice for basically the first and only time on the album.”Greg adds that though No Burden got a lot of acclaim, "Historian is a better album." He gives it an enthusiastic Buy It. Jim concedes that he also“loves when the songs build, but he wants the whole album to be that way.”He says that there are great lines, but he doesn't“share the level of enthusiam”[that Greg has for the record]. Jim gives the album a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 648
To the SunsetTo the Sunset available on iTunes

Amanda Shires To the Sunset

Jim and Greg highlight tracks off singer-songwriter Amanda Shires's new album To the Sunset, which came out earlier this month. Shires has serious musical chops: At just 15, she played violin in The Texas Playboys, once the backing band for“The King of Western Swing,”Bob Wills. She later relocated to Nashville and joined the scene there. Now, when she's not releasing distinctive, genre-busting solo albums, she plays in husband Jason Isbell's touring band, The 400 Unit. Despite Jim's“limited country tolerance,”he loves To the Sunset, especially Shires's gritty violin interludes. He also can‘t help but highlight her flair for telling intense and interesting stories. Shires’s lyric writing is also a selling point for Greg, who finds her songs both pithy and powerful. He appreciates that To the Sunset eschews Americana cliches in favor of something fresh and exciting.

JimGreg
Go to episode 665
Maggie

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.

JimGreg
Go to episode 688
Intellexual

Intellexual Intellexual

This week, Jim and Greg review Intellexual, a project from Nate Fox and Nico Segal. The duo, who are also a part of The Social Experiment, came up in the collaborative Chicago-based scene that nurtured Chance The Rapper, and have worked with hip hop artists like Kanye West and Frank Ocean. This project, however, finds Nate and Nico attempting a singer-songwriter vibe a'la Carly Simon and James Taylor. Greg thinks that Intellexual is a project that defies genre categorization: in just one track ("Popstar") they employ footwork electronic sounds, classical strings, and jazz trumpet. It's a debut that Jim calls a multi-hyphenate "complete joyride."

JimGreg
Go to episode 699
RevelationsRevelations available on iTunes

Shamir Revelations

Singer-songwriter Shamir is back with a new album called Revelations. While his debut Ratchet sported a lot of house music and festival hooks, Revelations is a much more mid-fi effort that mixes genres like folk, soul and rock. Jim finds the record to be a shocking departure but in a good way. Shamir is singing about what's on his mind: racism, sexism, gender, sexuality, etc. He articulates his thoughts wonderfully with a sonically interesting blend of musical styles. Jim is a fan of Revelations and gives it a Buy it. Greg agrees, and loves that Shamir is asserting his independence and uniqueness as an artist. He also loves Shamir's allusions to other artists he admires, like the Ronettes and the Pixies. Greg finds this album to be inspired and interesting, and gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 624
American 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.

JimGreg
Go to episode 76
Family TreeFive Leaves Left available on iTunes

Nick Drake Five Leaves Left

Finally, comes Family Tree, a compilation album of home recordings by the late British singer/songwriter Nick Drake. The songs were recorded before the release of Drake's first album Five Leaves Left, and Greg thinks there are a lot of gems here. He would not recommend new listeners start out with the album, but thinks that Drake fans will get a lot out of Family Tree. He gives it a Buy It. Jim agrees the album allows you to hear another side of Drake that is less depressed and morose and sample some interesting covers by people like Bert Jansch and Bob Dylan. But, as a major Nick Drake fan, Jim was disappointed and doesn‘t think this release holds up as a proper album that the musician himself would’ve released in his lifetime. He can only give it a Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 78
Grinderman 2Grinderman available on iTunes

Grinderman Grinderman

Literary punk Nick Cave's new side project Grinderman is a Buried Treasure both Jim and Greg can agree on. The singer/songwriter is joined by Martyn Casey on bass, Jim Sclavunos on drums and Warren Ellis on electric bouzouki, violin and guitars.. The result is a filthy, punk-blues sound that Jim and Greg love. Jim in particular loves how frightening Cave can be and wishes there was more of that dark, dirty spark in rock and roll. Both the sound and the lyrics have a lot of attitude on this album, and Greg appreciates how Cave is thumbing his nose those who perceive him as an erudite professor. Both critics give Grinderman a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 87
Shine

Joni Mitchell Shine

The first album up for review is folk legend Joni Mitchell's first release in over nine years. The singer/songwriter famously quit the music biz in 2002 and criticized the record industry, calling it a“cesspool‘”full of“pornographic pigs.”So it’s surprising she's back at all, let alone with a Starbucks deal. For the album Shine, Mitchell has joined Paul McCartney on the Hear Music label, owned by the coffee chain. Jim is shocked by her choice to associate herself with such megalithic corporation, but Greg understands why someone who doesn't get commercial radio play would go this route. The music itself is another story. Jim absolutely“hated”this record. He realizes that dissing Joni Mitchell might get him kicked out of the critic's club, but after seven listens, he found no reason not to Trash It. Greg thinks Joni's harmonics, chords and voicing are as good as ever, but he doesn't find many traces of the great songwriting fans heard with "Big Yellow Taxi." He wished the lyrics had a little more poetry and a little less-finger pointing. That said, according to Greg Joni's always worth hearing, so he gives Shine a Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 96
The Real Thing - Words & Sounds, Vol. 3The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3 available on iTunes

Jill Scott The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3

Next up is another female singer/songwriter, Jill Scott. After her successful 2000 debut Who Is Jill Scott? Words & Sounds, Vol. 1, Scott established herself as one of the most powerful voices in R&B and soul. Now she's back with The Real Thing: Words and Sounds, Vol. 3, which Greg describes as having two stylistic poles, strong and sassy and soft and soul-searching, with a whole lot of“boot-knocking”music in between. Both Jim and Greg are fans of Scott, but wish there was more spunk and more hooks on this record, since they know she is capable of it. The Real Thing is a real Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 96
West (Bonus Track Version)West available on iTunes

Lucinda Williams West

It may not be fair, but Lucinda Williams gets to follow the Ramones. Her new album, West, was released last week. This is Williams‘ eighth album in a 28-year career that has established her as one of music’s premiere singer/songwriters. Williams grew up steeped in literature and poetry as well as rock, country and folk music, and that background has really affected her sound. This album is in the same vein, but takes a somewhat different turn with producer Hal Wilner. Jim loves what Wilner contributes to the album. It feels like you are right there with Lucinda, who is“venting her spleen.”But, Jim has to wonder if everything is OK in the Williams household. The album is just too dark, and too oppressive. He gives it a Burn It. Greg agrees that people should hide their razor blades while listening to this album, but notes that Wilner is really effective at setting a mood and putting William's voice in the forefront. He just wishes that she varied the musical palette more on West. He'd like to hear more songs like the fiery "Come On." It's another Burn It for Greg.

JimGreg
Go to episode 64
Golden Sings That Have Been Sung (Deep Cuts Edition)Golden Sings That Have Been Sung available on iTunes

Ryley Walker Golden Sings That Have Been Sung

Singer-songwriter Ryley Walker hails from the Chicago independent music scene, and puts his complex guitar skills on exhibition in his latest release Golden Sings That Have Been Sung. Many critics have drawn comparisons between Walker and Van Morrison because of his singing and guitar virtuoso talent. Jim first discovered Ryley Walker at South By Southwest and was blown away. Jim cites Walker's production collaboration with Leroy Bach, formerly of Wilco, as something that helped elevate his music to a new level. Overall, he finds that Walker's introspective vocals and guitar playing are the highlights of the album, and gives it a Buy It. Greg agrees, and thinks Walker has evolved on this record, establishing his own modern sound. He thinks Walker blends his complex guitar parts with more unusual sonic elements to perfection. Greg gives Golden Sings That Have Been Sung a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 560
MASSEDUCTIONMASSEDUCTION available on iTunes

St. Vincent MASSEDUCTION

Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is back with her 5th studio album MASSEDUCTION. St. Vincent has carved out a unique presence as an electronic pop singer-songwriter and teams up with Taylor Swift and Lorde collaborator and producer Jack Antonoff. So what do Jim and Greg think? Jim and Greg disagree hugely on this record. Jim finds the lyrics and melodies to be“schlocky”and too“Broadway.”He admits that St. Vincent isn‘t really his cup of tea and just can’t enjoy the record. Jim gives it a Trash It. Greg on the other hand, genuinely loves this record. He calls it St. Vincent's most personal record to date for being lyrically and vocally emotional and expressive. Greg doesn't hesitate to give MASSEDUCTION a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 620
Are We ThereAre We There available on iTunes

Sharon Van Etten Are We There

On her latest album, Are We There, indie songstress Sharon Van Etten trades in the quiet guitar and occasional backing band of her previous albums, for a fuller, more baroque sound that takes both Jim and Greg by surprise. Greg loves the pairing of Van Etten's biting lyrics opposite the music's lush strings and horns arrangements. He says that Van Etten has finally come into her own making Are We There her most accomplished work to date. Jim isn‘t as goo-goo eyed as Greg is over Van Etten’s move away from her simpler singer-songwriter days. Are We There's eclectic instrumentation occasionally stumbles over itself, but on less busy tracks when Van Etten's vocals can really shine through, all of the album's musical faults are forgiven. Both critics say Are We There is a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 445
MomofukuMomofuku available on iTunes

Elvis Costello Momofuku

Elvis Costello has a new album out called Momofuku, which is named after the creator of instant ramen. Costello made news after he decided to release a vinyl record a month before the digital/CD release, but Jim thinks the real news is the speed at which the singer/songwriter made it. Costello has released a number of albums and dabbled in a number of genres, but he isn‘t known for his expediency. Greg wishes that Costello didn’t dabble so much and would stick to his stripped down rock roots. Jim agrees, citing Costello's fantastic, pared down performance during his tour with Bob Dylan. Both critics wish this Ramen concoction had fewer ingredients. Greg gives Momofuku a Try It, and Jim gives it a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 128
The River In Reverse (Digital Version)The River in Reverse available on iTunes

Elvis Costello The River in Reverse

Elvis Costello, the singer/songwriter who has taken on New Wave, punk, ska, country and pop, is tackling R&B on his latest release, The River in Reverse. The album is a collaboration between Costello and Allen Toussaint, the multi-talented New Orleans musician. Toussaint is responsible for hits like "Working in a Coal Mine," "I Like It Like That," and "Lady Marmalade," and has worked with The Band, Paul Simon and The Meters. The two collaborated after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans, but neither Jim nor Greg think Costello's voice is up to the task of handling Toussaint's songs. Costello is a name that can garner attention for Toussaint, and Greg knows that his heart is in the right place, but it is only a Burn It record for both critics.

JimGreg
Go to episode 27
Wise Up GhostWise Up Ghost available on iTunes

Elvis Costello & The Roots Wise Up Ghost

Some artist's choice of musical collaborators can either be a match made in heaven, or a deal made with the devil. English singer/songwriter Elvis Costello's lengthy career has got plenty of both. Jim thinks Costello's latest album, Wise Up Ghost, with legendary hip-hop group The Roots, is another miss—a clunky exercise in genre busting with Costello too far out of his element. Jim can hardly wait to Trash It. Greg is less annoyed with the looseness of the album, finding Costello and The Roots more or less in sync, and the songwriting strong enough in the first half of the album to keep the whole thing afloat. Greg says Burn It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 410
Burn Your Fire For No WitnessBurn Your Fire for No Witness available on iTunes

Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire for No Witness

From Missouri to Chicago and now Asheville, NC, singer/songwriter Angel Olsen has been quietly making a name for herself. Now, with her second full LP, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, she's being compared to Leonard Cohen and Patsy Cline. Jim and Greg agree that this release is a huge step forward, combining wan, contemplative lyrics with truly rock ‘n’ roll backing band. While she may not be a Leonard Cohen just yet, both Jim and Greg think that Olsen's lyricism alone deserves your cash: Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 429
I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss (Deluxe Version)I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss available on iTunes

Sinead O'Connor I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss

Despite assertions that she wouldn't be making more music, Irish iconoclast Sinead O'Connor up and did it anyway. Her 10th studio album I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss is out this month, and Jim and Greg aren't terribly surprised by the move as the singer-songwriter has a history of marching to the beat of her own drum. She's ventured unexpected territory before with her reggae album and a release of“sexed up”Irish folksongs. And Jim is enthusiastic about this latest pop experiment because underneath the fun rhythms and catchy hooks is the same old Sinead—unapologetically opinionated. I'm Not Bossy, I'm The Boss is a Buy It for Jim. Greg finds less to love about this latest laissez-faire output from O'Connor. The first half of the album puzzled him as it lacks her usual feistiness. The second half picks up steam with songs like "Harbour" and "The Voice of My Doctor," which put O‘Connor’s attitude ahead of the "adult pop" production, so Greg can say Try It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 456
Mental IllnessMental Illness available on iTunes

Aimee Mann Mental Illness

Aimee Mann began her career as the lead singer of the Boston synth pop band 'Til Tuesday in the 1980s. Since then, she's had a successful solo career, most notably with her 2000 album Bachelor No. 2. She's just released her first solo record in five years, Mental Illness. Jim thinks that this is one of Mann's best efforts. He loves her minimal use of instrumentation and thoughtful lyrics. While he's not a fan of the singer-songwriter genre, he digs Aimee Mann and gives Mental Illness a Buy It. Greg is also a longtime Aimee Mann fan, and thinks this record is one of her all-time best. Her intelligent lyrics and melancholy vocals make Mental Illness a superb album. He gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 594
Down Where the Spirit Meets the BoneDown Where The Spirit Meets The Bone available on iTunes

Lucinda Williams Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone

Lucinda Williams has never been known as a prolific alternative country singer-songwriter. At 61-years old, she's always taken her time crafting her albums, and her latest in three years, Down Where The Spirit Meets The Bone, is no exception. However, Williams surprises Jim and Greg with her newest, having not just one, but two discs full of over 100 minutes of new material. Greg thinks she should have pared the track listing down a bit, but overall, he enjoys the album's loose vibe and shaggy instrumentation. The sprawling album is worth getting lost in in order to unearth the best of William's sincere, passionate - and sometimes seething - songwriting. Greg says Buy It. Jim seconds Greg's rating, saying if you can warm up to William's slurred vocals and the album's decidedly un-cheery tone, you‘ll be rewarded with an intimate look through the life and times of one of music’s great pioneers.

JimGreg
Go to episode 461
DiversDivers available on iTunes

Joanna Newsom Divers

Performing on a huge orchestral harp, singer/songwriter Joanna Newsom has stood out since she arrived on the scene in the early 2000s. Divers is the fourth album of her career, and the first since the 2010 triple album Have One On Me. Greg has always been intrigued by Newsom's work, viewing her as a complete original. But although he admired the musicianship on Have One On Me, he found it an exhausting listen. Divers, by contrast, is relatively accessible. She still peppers in obscure literary references, but lyrically she is much more direct in creating an emotional connection for the listener. For Greg, this is the album that Newsom's skeptics should dive into – he gives it a Buy It. Jim, however, is baffled. He scoffs at Newsom's faux-Shakespearean sentence constructions. He finds the album's lyrical concept, in which Newsom reflects on mortality after marrying comedian Andy Samberg, to be bloated. Jim is usually a big fan of pretentious prog rock, but musically he thinks Divers is sodden and lacking hooks. And he's extremely irritated by Newsom's voice, hearing it as the affected voice of an eleven-year-old girl. According to Jim, there's nothing at all to like here, so Divers gets a Trash It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 517
Have You in My WildernessHave You in My Wilderness available on iTunes

Julia Holter Have You in My Wilderness

Avant-garde singer-songwriter Julia Holter returns with her fourth studio album, Have You in My Wilderness. Holter is a multi-instrumentalist and composer who is influenced by both folk and electronic experimental music. Her earlier efforts were more abstract and disjointed, however her latest album takes on a more simple, pop demeanor. Greg really enjoyed this record and found its songs to be intelligently catchy. He really looks forward to hearing where she goes next in her musical career and gives this album a "Buy It." Jim agrees, and finds Have You in My Wilderness to be a pure joy. He appreciates her specific and unique interests in classical, folk and electronic music. Jim also compares her artistry to that of Bjork and gives Holter's album a "Buy It."

JimGreg
Go to episode 536
Some People Have Real ProblemsSome People Have Real Problems available on iTunes

Sia Some People Have Real Problems

After releasing albums by Paul McCartney and Bob Dylan, Starbucks' Hear Music label is finally putting out music by someone under 40. Sia is an Australian singer/songwriter who made a name for herself by appearing on various TV soundtracks and providing vocals to groups like Zero 7. Now she's released her third album Some People Have Real Problems. Greg is very impressed by the artist's soulful singing, but he has major problems with her songwriting. He describes the record as a boring, overproduced, tarted-up pop record with one of the worst covers he's ever seen. He gives the music and the art a Trash It. Jim completely disagrees and can't believe that a Feist fan wouldn't get Sia. He finds her lyrics to be filled with smart social commentary and gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 118
MagicMagic available on iTunes

Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band Magic

Jim and Greg have been arguing about the merits of this next artist for what seems like a lifetime. And, luckily for us, they aren't tired of it yet. Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band are back together for a new record called Magic. The Boss and his band haven‘t always had an easy relationship in their 33-year history, but they decided to take another go at it after 2002’s The Rising, although as Jim explains, the singer/songwriter and the E Street musicians didn‘t spend any actual time together in the studio. And that’s part of the problem for Jim. The effort feels very contrived to him, and he just doesn‘t buy the Springsteen“schtick.”As with most of Springsteen’s songs, the ones on Magic express nostalgia for a golden age that was never that golden. He wishes Bruce had followed suit with his peers, Neil Young and Tom Petty, and expressed political feelings in a bold way. This critic gives Magic a Trash It. Greg thinks Jim completely misunderstood the songs on this record. He prefers not to be“bludgeoned”with ideas, and finds this release to be one of Springsteen's best records in over 25 years. He gives it a Buy It.

JimGreg
Go to episode 96
dijs

Jim

Recently Jim re-watched David Lynch's '90s supernatural TV show Twin Peaks. The program uniquely incorporated music to complement its twisted murder-mystery storyline. Singer-songwriter Julee Cruise frequently offered her vocals to the show's soundtrack and collaborated with producer Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti on her debut album Floating into the Night. The single "Falling," featuring Lynch's haunting lyrics and Badalamenti's dark composition, was used as the theme song for Twin Peaks throughout its run and remains one of Jim's favorite tracks.

Go to episode 499
rock doctors

Peter Sagal

This week, Jim and Greg play doctor — rock doctor, that is. They‘ve decided to launch a new experiment where they help a listener in need of musical help. Let’s hope they don't get their licenses pulled. Their first patient is Chicago Public Radio colleague Peter Sagal. The Wait, Wait… Don't Tell Me! host listens to the show, but confessed to Sound Opinions that he doesn't always“get it.”Peter is a music fan, but is stuck in a bit of a rut, and has come to Drs. Kot and DeRogatis for some healing.

After their initial consultation, our hosts discover that their patient is a huge Elvis Costello fan. He also digs Tom Waits and Nick Lowe, and has ventured into newer territory with artists like Neko Case and Ben Folds. Peter also reveals that he likes "Jesus Walks," but may be the last person on the planet who hasn't gotten into Kanye West.

Greg cues in to Peter's fondness for singer/songwriters and theatricality. He also notes that much of the music Peter likes has a fairly wry, intellectual sense of humor. So, his prescription includes an introduction to the music of The Decemberists. Frontman Colin Meloy, who was also a guest on Sound Opinions, has a literary, almost Broadway-esque style that Greg thinks might cure what ails Peter. He also suggests that Peter check out the New Pornographers, the band that features Neko Case on vocals.

Jim's first prescription caters to Peter's dark sense of humor. He recommends a dose of the new (and improved, according to Jim) Belle and Sebastian. The Scottish band was always a bit too twee for our host, but on this year's The Life Pursuit, they create a sunnier, poppier sound, though with no less dark a point of view. Jim also instructs his patient to go for it and listen to Kanye West's second album, Late Registration. He predicts Peter will appreciate the rapper/producer's compositions and innovative orchestrations.

Peter followed his doctors‘ advice for a week, and returned to let them know how he feels. He admitted that he enjoyed most of their choices. He has never been a Belle and Sebastian fan, and probably won’t become one any time soon, but he understands why Jim recommended the band. And he tells Greg that he will continue to dig deeper into the The Decemberists and The New Pornographers. But the clear cure here was Kanye West. Peter was absolutely floored by how much he loved Late Registration. He definitely understands what all the fuss is about now. Therefore, by turning their patient on to even one new artist, the doctors can consider their medical experiment a success. They've got one patient in recovery and look forward to healing some more. So, if you or anyone you know needs to consult with the rock docs, please email Sound Opinions and tell us where it hurts.

Go to episode 34

Julie

For what has become a recurring segment on Sound Opinions, Jim and Greg again don their white lab coats and assume the role of Rock Doctors. This week's patient is Julie, a listener who needs Drs. Kot and DeRogatis to prescribe some new music for her ailing ears. Julie consumes a steady (and stale) diet of Stevie Wonder, Ella Fitzgerald and Lauryn Hill.

So, what do Jim and Greg prescribe to bring Julie into 2006?

Jim keys into how Julie appreciates Ella Fitzgerald's vocals and recommends L'Altra. He knows this is a risky (non-FDA) approved medication, but thought he'd go out on a limb and ask Julie to check out the latest album from the Chicago duo. His second remedy is D'Angelo's Voodoo. He knows Julie likes dense, layered R&B like that of Lauryn Hill and Stevie Wonder, and thinks Voodoo, though much darker and moodier, is one of the best R&B records made in the last decade.

Greg also keys into Julie's appreciation for songwriting and strong vocals, and gives her a dose of Jill Scott. He thinks that the patient will appreciate the way Scott describes the world and the way she playfully uses her voice. His second prescription is John Legend's debut album Get Lifted. Though Legend is often compared to singer/songwriters like Stevie Wonder, Greg thinks he brings that genre forward in a wonderful way.

A week later the patient returns to the Rock Doctors to let them know how she's progressing. While she appreciated the Jill Scott record, she found the songs almost too clever. Still, she wasn‘t completely turned off by this remedy, and also understood why Jim would prescribe her the D’Angelo — but that didn‘t really hit the spot. In fact, she completely forgot that she bought and listened to this album years ago. L’Altra overwhelmingly had the worst side effect. This patient can appreciate alternative medicine, but even a spoonful of sugar didn‘t help this album go down. By far the big winner of the bunch was John Legend’s Get Lifted; Julie loved this album. Sound Opinions hopes that it was just the right cure to keep her healthy and full of good, new music.

Go to episode 44

Jessica

Once again, it's time for the Rock Doctors to put on their white coats and stethoscopes. During this appointment, Jim and Greg attempt to treat a fast spreading musical virus. Their patient is Jessica from Montreal. Jessica comes to the Rock Doctors Clinic with a bad case of“musical mailase, lyric lethargy, and beat fatigue.”Jessica has become uninterested in the rock music of today, which she perceives as redundant and insincere. The doctors' job is to help her reignite her passion for her favorite genre.

Jessica is well-versed in rock music, and spends a good amount of time listening to independent radio station WFMU with her husband, a rock DJ. Jessica loves rock music's focus on instrumentation, and her favorite album of 2014 was Brand New Day by The Ugly Beats, a young garage rock band out of Texas.

Greg's prescription is the album MCII from San Francisco multi-instrumentalist Mikal Cronin, while Jim recommends the album Slow Gum from Australian singer-songwriter Fraser A. Gorman. During their follow-up appointment, Jessica shares that she really enjoyed both records. She appreciates the balance of honest, personal lyrics with dynamic instrumentation, and found that both artists avoided the musical cliches that once plagued her. Greg and Jim decide that Jessica's knowledge of rock music would make her quite the rock critic.

Do you need to see the Rock Doctors? Or know someone who does? Fill out new patient form and send to interact@soundopinions.org.

Go to episode 508
features

Hooked On Sonics: Frank Turner

frank turner British singer-songwriter Frank Turner grew up wanting to play thrash metal, but it was a very different song that he first learned to play on the guiter. Hooked on Sonics is our feature where musicians tells us about the song that first got them into music. For Frank Turner, that song was Counting Crows' "Round Here." Turner's sister was playing the first Counting Crows record non-stop and while it wasn't his first choice in music, he ended up learning to play it.“Thrash is quite hard to play…I ended up learning a bunch of Counting Crows songs partly because it meant I could play something coherent on the guitar, and partly becasuse it would please my sister.”He says he also recognized himself in the lyrics about growing up in a small town,“being from a small town and osciallating between affection for it and feeling slightly trapped in it…really resonated with me.”Turner has even played the song during his shows and one time his sister, who played that album non-stop, even joined him.

Go to episode 645
news

Music News

Singer-songwriter Terry Callier never got the acclaim he deserved in the early part of his life, but as Greg explains, his influence was strong. The Chicago native released a Chess Records debut in 1968, and went on to fuse folk with jazz and experimental music. It's a sound that caught the attention of younger artists like Beth Orton and Devendra Banhart, and you can best hear it on the 1973 track "You're Goin Miss Your Candyman."

Go to episode 362

Music News

First up in the news Jim and Greg discuss Joni Mitchell's decision to team up with Starbucks. Her first album in almost 10 years will be released on the coffee chain's Hear Music label. Jim and Greg imagine that the singer/songwriter must have been impressed with the success of Paul McCartney's recent Starbucks-released album Memory Almost Full, especially considering her notorious distaste of the music industry. One group they are surprised to hear has joined the coffee family is Sonic Youth. The alt-rockers will release a compilation on Hear Music next year.

Jim and Greg update some stories they've discussed on current shows. The first concerns pop star Kelly Clarkson. When her album My December was released a few weeks ago, our hosts talked about Clarkson's high-profile feud with BMG chairman Clive Davis. The singer appeared to be taking a tough-girl stance and defended her artistic integrity, but now she's trying to lay it all to rest. Check out her retraction.

Another topic Jim and Greg covered on the show is the scrutiny hip hop lyrics have been facing post-Imus. A recent victim is Chicago rapper Twista. McDonalds decided to pull the speed rapper from its Live Trek tour because of his“controversial lyrics.”Twista's response is that he's been making the same kind of rhymes for years, but no one cared until Don Imus said something negative about black women. He also added that he usually cleans up lyrics for kid-friendly performances.

While the gossip pages are filled with celebrities who aren't forced to pay for their crimes, singer Ron Isley is no such lucky star. He is slated to begin his five-year prison sentence for tax evasion next week, but Def Jam is hoping that Isley fans can convince the government otherwise. They sent out a petition imploring people to“call, fax or email the White House immediately to help the 64-year old cancer sufferer.”If you'd like to join in the effort you can call the President at (202) 456-1414, email him at president@whitehouse.gov, or contact the Congressional Black Caucus.

Last week Eric Clapton held the Crossroads Guitar Festival in Bridgeview, IL, and Greg was there to see the action. He recounts how historic it was to see Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton play together 38 years after Blind Faith disbanded. Greg's other highlights were witnessing B.B. King give what might be his final performance and hearing Jeff Beck do a beautiful rendition of The Beatles' "Day in the Life." Check out Greg's entire recap here.

Go to episode 88

Music News

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."

Go to episode 89

Music News

The RIAA sues people with such frequency that Jim and Greg aren't always able to keep up. But, when one defendant, Tanya Andersen of Oregon, not only won her case, but forced the Recording Industry to pay up, Jim and Greg took notice. After being sued for copyright infringement, Anderson undertook the long battle of defending herself, followed by a countersuit against the RIAA. Now a year after being ordered to pay for her court bills, the RIAA has finally paid up, with interest.

Campaign ads have been making a lot of headlines recently, and as Jim notes, with those ads comes the inevitable music-related lawsuit. The musician this time around is Jackson Browne. The famously liberal singer/songwriter is suing both Republican candidate John McCain, as well as the Republican National Committee for copyright infringement. The song "Running On Empty" was featured in a campaign ad that mocks Barack Obama's energy conservation plans. Browne is not only seeking financial damages, but also an apology. Since Browne's political leanings are so well-documented, Jim and Greg are concerned about any politician that hasn't mastered the art of Google.

Next up Jim and Greg honor music producer Jerry Wexler, who died recently at the age of 91. Wexler helped put Atlantic Records on the map. While Atlantic colleague Ahmet Ertegun was the shiny face of the label, Wexler was the behind-the-scenes mover and shaker according to Greg. Jim adds that he was one of the last of a generation of“men with ears,”meaning that Wexler's ability to find and foster talent was an art in itself. Perhaps Wexler's greatest find was Aretha Franklin. He helped the singer really shine on tracks like "I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Love You)."

Go to episode 143

Music News

Just when Taylor Swift is shaking off Spotify, her friend and singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran is embracing it. In 2014, Sheeran was the most streamed artist on Spotify with over 860 million listens. He also sold more than 1 million copies of his album X in the UK alone, proving it is possible for an artist to have albums available to stream, while still selling physical copies. Sheeran says Spotify helps him do what he does best, and he is embarking on a world tour starting out at Wembley Stadium in July.

Bill Withers, Lou Reed and Joan Jett are just a few of the musicians about to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. However one selection in particular has Jim and Greg scratching their heads: Green Day. The band becomes 1 of only 48 H.O.F. members who were admitted in their first year of eligibility. This feat is normally reserved for the Willie Mays-like musical figures, so this choice left our critics a little confused. Also, Greg and Jim note glaring omissions with the bands Chic, Kraftwerk and Nine Inch Nails.

Go to episode 473