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Music News

Jim and Greg talk about some surprising numbers Nielsen SoundScan recently released. According to the sales trackers, 40% of the albums old in 2006 were catalog sales. While there were a number of successful new releases from acts like Mary J. Blige, The Dixie Chicks and High School Musical, it seems that music fans still have a lot of nostalgia for the hair metal era of the 1980s. AC/DC's 1980 album Back in Black sold 444,000 copies last year, a figure that would make a contemporary CD a success. Also faring well was Metallica's 1991 self-titled album, Guns 'N Roses' Appetite for Destruction and Bon Jovi's Greatest Hits collection. The New Jersey band is also having success with their new release Lost Highway, though this is one figure Jim really can't wrap his head around.

Next the hosts discuss their recent experiences at the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago. The three day festival organized by the Chicago-based Internet music magazine pitchforkmedia.com and indie music promoter Mike Reed was attended by 48,000 people in Chicago's Union Park. In fact, both Jim and Greg worry that the concert is getting too big for its britches, and the park. There were a number of highlights including performances by Yoko Ono, Mastodon and Clipse and full-album performances from Sonic Youth, Slint and GZA. But, one of the problems with a festival that celebrates the underground is that eventually things move above ground. Even Third Stage acts like electronic artist Dan Deacon demanded a huge crowd. In addition a number of artists from previous Pitchfork Festivals are appearing at this year's Lollapalooza. One thing this proves is how big the Pitchfork tastemakers are now. More than MTV play or radio play, it's coverage on indie sites like pitchforkmedia.com that thrust an artist into the spotlight.

Go to episode 86

Music News

The first item in the news is a discussion of last week's Grammy Awards. For Jim and Greg, the Grammy Awards are always about as newsworthy as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fameceremonies. It is their job to cover such things, though, despite the fact that the Awards don't really represent the best music of the year. The Dixie Chicks swept the ceremonies, but Jim and Greg suspect that might have more to do with affirming the Chicks‘ politics than it does their music. The other hype surrounding last Sunday’s broadcast was the much-anticipated Police reunion. The band mates looked as distant as ever, and Greg wonders if they have the stamina to handle a large-scale tour.

Jim and Greg think there might be better gauges of the best music of 2006. The first is the Village Voice Pazz and Jop Poll which takes into consideration the opinions of hundreds of music critics, including our own Mr. Kot. This is the first year that Robert Christgau has not curated the poll, though he was still a voter. The album that reigned supreme with these critics was Bob Dylan's Modern Times. That record did not even make our hosts' top 10 lists. Pazz and Jop's number one single of 2006 was "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley.

Other awards and polls that are worth checking out are the Idolator.com critics poll, aptly named“Jackin‘ Pop,”and the heartonastick.blog-city.com, which posts the cumulative picks of a number of music bloggers. These polls are more timely than the Grammys and are much more inclusive. Jackin’ Pop and Heart On a Stick agreed with Greg and put TV on the Radio in the number one slot.

Go to episode 64

Music News

The show begins with an update of a news item from a couple of weeks ago. The Dixie Chicks, who have been stirring up controversy since announcing to the world that they were not proud to share a home state with President Bush in 2003, are struggling to sell concert tickets for their latest tour. It seems that red state fans in places like Indianapolis, Oklahoma City, Memphis and Houston are not coming out to see the band live as they have in previous years. So, the Chicks have retooled their route, focusing on playing to Midwest audiences as well as our often less-conservative neighbors to the north.

Go to episode 29