Two indie rock musicians, Bill Lambusta and Brian Erickson, dive into the fandom of great rock and pop music and how it connects to their lives through the lens of the medium they care for most, the album. Episodes frequently include guest contributions from musicians, podcasters, and journalists and always culminate in a track by track review.
Here's the Latest Episode from The Great Albums:
Bill pulls up Spotify's curated 2019 playlist and sits down to talk about what he enjoyed (or just listened to) in 2019. Bill talks about the Weakerthans, the National, the Hold Steady, Craig Finn, the Beths, PUP, Ex Hex, Charly Bliss, the Extensions, Frightened Rabbit, Wilco, the New Pornographers, and maybe more?
Bill and Brian hang out with thegreatalbums.com blogger Jeff Fiedler as he counts down his favorite albums from 2019. Listen to find out where he ranked albums from: Lana Del Rey, Bruce Hornsby, Jonas Brothers, Jenny Lewis, New Pornographers, Thomas Rhett, Raphael Saadiq, Sturgill Simpson, Vampire Weekend, and Kanye West!
Brian lists his favorite albums of 2019! Bill listens. Listen in to find out where Brian ranked albums from: Black Belt Eagle Scout, Lana Del Rey, King Princess, Jenny Lewis, Lizzo, Angel Olsen, Purple Mountains, Tyler the Creator, Jamila Woods, and Nilufer Yanya!
Bill and Brian give thanks, list our top 10 episodes, and read a bunch of emails in the midst of our indefinite hiatus.
In our final episode that'll be part of a regular release schedule, we take a look back at the first album we ever discussed, the Replacements' Let It Be (1984, Twin/Tone). Bill and Brian use the skills they've honed during their years of podcasting experience to see what a conversation revisiting the first album would sound like. Enjoy!
It's finally happening! As we reach the penultimate episode to be part of our weekly releases, Bill and Brian take the time to talk about what's great about Radiohead's OK Computer (1997, Parlophone/Capitol). Bill spends a little time talking about what happens when fans say things like they can't get into an artist or album and how it can be perceived. Then we get to the track by track review, focusing on what we enjoy in the tunes!
Author and educator Doug Robertson, AKA , joins Bill and Brian to discuss Nick Cave and the Bad Seed's Let Love In (1994, Mute Records).
Musician drops by to discuss the Hold Steady's sophomore effort Separation Sunday (2005, Frenchkiss).
Musician Scott Sylvester () hangs out with Bill and Brian while we discuss Sonic Youth's Murray St. (2002, DGC Records).
Writer, blogger, and vlogger Maureen Zahn joins Bill and Brian to discuss the Police's Synchronicity (1983, A&M). *There's a part in the show where we reference Synchronicity and Thriller being out in the same year. Thriller was actually released in November 1982 with this following in June 1983. However, it's worth noting that in that time period they were both eligible for the same Grammy awards ceremony in 1984.
Podcaster Rachel from We Are Weezer joins us from across the country to talk about one of her top 3 bands of all time, Garbage, and their debut self titled album (1995, Almo).
We're back from a month long break from the podcast with a Liner Notes episode. Bill and Brian discuss what they've been up to in their time off - check out Brian's new band the Extensions, and check out Bill's band ! Also, we've got a special announcement regarding the future of the podcast. Jump to 32:25 if you want to just get the bad news out of the way...
On another exciting episode of the Great Albums...Bill and Brian are joined by Matt Warren, Digital Content Manager for filmindependent.org, to discuss the Flaming Lips' Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots (2002, Warner Bros.).
Bill and Brian are joined by musician Savannah Pope () to discuss Aretha Franklin's I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You (1967, Atlantic).
Bill and Brian are joined by musician Nikki Karwacki (Finding Feebas, Triage, Batting a Thousand) to discuss Superchunk's unique brand of punk/power pop/alternative music on the album Here's Where the Strings Come In (1995, Merge).
Bill and Brian go sans guest this episode in order to dive into one of Bill's favorites from his formative years, Foo Fighters' There Is Nothing Left to Lose (1999, Roswell, RCA).
Podcaster and musician David Rosen ( and ) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Tenacious D's self titled debut (2001, Epic).
Podcaster James Anderson (Unabashedly Obsessed, Kids on Bikes) steps into Brian's large shoes to cohost and help Bill discuss the Barenaked Ladies' Maroon (2000, Reprise).
Bill and Brian are joined by radio-film-book-trivia guy (really unsure how else to define him!) Vincent Onorati to discuss Depeche Mode's Violator (1990, Mute). Vinny discusses finding his people when he discovered new wave radio and Depeche Mode's output. Then he explains how he got to experience the band's breakout success while interning at his favorite radio station. Then we get into a bunch of detail about loving this album with the track by track review!
Bill and Brian don't spend much time discussing albums on this week's episode. Instead, we talk about our top favorite theme songs from TV shows!
Podcaster and journalist Cassidy Robinson (Jabber and the Drone) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Sunny Day Real Estate's debut album Diary (1994, Sub Pop). Cassidy talks about his journey of first discovering the mainstream emo of the early 2000s, not enjoying it much, then finding his way back to the genre's hardcore roots, and discovering this Sunny Day Real Estate thanks to the recommendation of a record store clerk. Plus we talk about much more as we make our way through album track by track!
Bill and Brian are joined by writer-director-producer-manager KL Martin (kaleidosightfilms.com and 3143mgmt.com) to discuss Jay-Z's debut album Reasonable Doubt (1996, Roc-A-Fella). KL talks about "stealing" this album from his cousin and being fascinated by the world it depicted. We discuss how Jay-Z fits into the 90s rap world with the Notorious BIG, Tupac, and the East Coast/West Coast dichotomy. Then we get into a whole bunch of stuff about each song!
Bill and Brian are joined by musician Justin Pope to discuss Belle and Sebastian's sophomore album If You're Feeling Sinister (1996, Jeepster). Justin tells an appropriately "twee" story about hearing Belle and Sebastian on late night radio, being unable to find the band that sang the "beautiful" tune, and then finally discovering band when his crush made him a mixtape filled with Belle and Sebastian songs. Then Bill, Brian, and Justin get into the band's sound and what "twee" means, how they evolved to the point to be sharing a stage with the bombastic New Pornographers, Douglas Coupland, Stuart Murdoch vs. Morrissey, and more as we make our through the album track by track!
Bill and Brian are joined by thegreatalbums.com blogger Jeff Fiedler to discuss his favorite albums of 2018! It's all new, all different this week, so check out where Jeff ranked albums by: Leon Bridges, Gorillaz, Albert Hammond Jr., Lake Street Dive, Paul McCartney, Kacey Musgraves, Panic! At the Disco, Natalie Press, Charlie Puth, and Richard Thompson! Check out this week's sponsor: !
Brian tells Bill about his favorite albums of 2018! Learn a little about Brian's process and the trends he saw happening in music this year before we dive into a discussion on 10 albums from artists like: Caroline Rose, The Carters, Father John Misty, Kamasi Washington, Mitski, Pusha T, Serpentwithfeet, Soccer Mommy, Superchunk, and U.S. Girls (alphabetized to mask Brian's actual order, listen to find out who's #1!). Check out this week's sponsor: ! Use the code ALBUMS!
Bill and Brian open up the email inbox, check the tweets, and have some discussions about Rolling Stone, Weezer, Batman, Spiderman, and Stan Lee. Also, Bill takes a little time to update everyone on his recent health issues (it's looking pretty okay, now). Check out this week's sponsor: ! Use promo code ALBUMS! Also, if you're enjoying the tunes in this week's episode, that's courtesy of the Paper Jets' new album. Check it out at !
Musician Mick Chorba () joins Bill and Brian to discuss the iconic White Album (Apple, 1968) by the Beatles. It's our first episode dedicated to a single Beatles album! Yeah, it's taken us awhile to get there, but we did.
Massive Album November week 3 has arrived! Bill and Brian sit down with blogger and Aqualung Records head, Jeff Fiedler, to discuss Supertramp's Breakfast in America (1979, A&M). Check out this week's sponsor: !
Massive Album November reaches week 2, and Bill and Brian welcome Telegraph Hill Records' Kristen Costa () to discuss No Doubt's Tragic Kingdom (1995, Trauma/Interscope).
Massive Album November week 1 is here! And Bill and Brian dive into Sheryl Crow's huge debut Tuesday Night Music Club (1993, A&M) with podcaster James Kittle. *At one point in the podcast, we debate the sales for this album because we came across a few different numbers in different places. Per RIAA.org, Tuesday Night Music Club is certified 7x platinum on 7 million units shipped in the US. Check out this week's sponsor: !
Bill and Brian hang out with singer/songwriter Renee Maskin () and discuss Father John Misty's I Love You, Honeybear (2015, Sub Pop). Check out this week's sponsor: !
Bill and Brian are joined by podcaster and author Brian Wagner ( and )to discuss a-ha's debut album Hunting High and Low (1985, Warner Bros.). Brian helps us explain how a-ha is so much more than just an 80s one hit wonder (especially to the rest of the world). Then we get into Morten Harket's awesome voice, how Pal Waaktaar was the driving force behind the band's songwriting, Mags Furuholmen's distinctive keys, and more as we make our way through the album track by track! Also, check out this week's sponsor: !
Bill and Brian discuss the almost lost masterpiece from Ryan Adams, Love Is Hell (2004, Lost Highway). Without a guest, we explore our own origin stories of listening to Ryan Adams before getting into the allure of a tortured artist, Ryan Adams' signature reverb/echo, which songs Ricky Fataar may or may not play on, the significance of the Hotel Chelsea, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Bill and Brian hang out with musician Nick Palmer (normally, we'd link to the band's website here, but Brian and I were discussing how awesome "Generation Gap" by WAX WAV is, so click this link and go watch the kickass video for it: ) and discuss Fugazi's Repeater (1990, Dischord). All the prerequisite talk about punk and what it means to punk happens, but we also discuss Ian MacKaye and Guy Piccioto's politically/emotionally charged lyrics that are still relevant today and the awesome musicianship of the rhythm section, Joe Lally and Brendan Canty. This and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Bill and Brian couldn't pick just a single album from Harvey Danger. With 3 excellently crafted LPs, we had no idea where to start, so we decided to discuss all 3 at the same time! Bill and Brian each pick a favorite song from Where Have All the Merrymakers Gone (1997, Arena Rock/London/Slash) King James Version (2000, London/Sire), and Little by Little... (2005, Phonographic/Kill Rock Stars) and talk about what makes each song great! And check out this week's sponsors: and !
Bill and Brian list their top 5 albums they enjoy listening to while avoiding looking at the cover. This week's sponsor: !
Singer-songwriter and piano rocker Matt Cook () joins Bill and Brian to discuss Sufjan Stevens' The Age of Adz (2010, Asthmatic Kitty). Matt shares his story about discovering this album as he recovered from a coma (yes, seriously, it's a wild story!) and how he was won over despite not enjoying it at first. We get into Royal Robertson's influence on the album, whether or not to tag Sufjan with the 'genius' label, reevaluating our lives when faced with our own mortality, just what synth makes those sounds, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Bill and Brian get into the indie-pop bliss that is Nada Surf's The Weight Is a Gift (2005, Barsuk)! Bill talks about this album accompanying him on long drives home in NJ, and Brian breaks down his new knowledge about guitar effect pedals. And of course we have a track by track review, discussing this work by Matthew Caws, Daniel Lorca, Ira Elliot, Louie Lino, and Chris Walla.
Musician Tyler Plazio () joins Bill and Brian to discuss Blink-182's seminal pop-punk album Enema of the State (1999, MCA). Check out this week's sponsor, !
Musician and podcaster Chris Tull () joins Bill and Brian for one final episode in the old studio to discuss XTC's landmark album, Skylarking. We talk about the contentious relationship between main songwriter Andy Partridge and producer Todd Rundgren, the album's overarching theme of birth, life, and death, Colin Moulding's generous songwriting contributions, and Dave Gregory's idiosyncratic guitar-playing all while going through the album track-by-track. This episode sponsored by and .
In a special summer episode, Bill and Brian call each other up to discuss the Brian Wilson biopic Love & Mercy.
While Bill is vacationing with his wife and celebrating their wedding anniversary, Brian has decided to gaze shoe-ward with longtime friend Dan Drago of the , and producer, engineer, studio owner Alex Santilli of . Together, we unpack My Bloody Valentine's 1991 opus Loveless. Alex offers insight into how an album that is technically incorrect can still sound wonderful, while Dan makes us believe that soulmates may actually exist! This weeks sponsor:
Musician, producer, author, podcaster (what doesn't this guy excel at?) Jesse Cannon lends his experience and knowledge to Bill and Brian to help us discuss Refused's (apparent at the time) swan song The Shape of Punk to Come (1998, Burning Heart/Epitaph). Check out all things Jesse Cannon at !
Bill is joined by musician and podcaster Jim Laczkowski (nowplayingjim.com) to discuss Neko Case's Blacklisted (2002, Bloodshot/ANTI-). This week's sponsors: and !
Musician, blogger, and label head Jeff Fiedler joins Bill and Brian to discuss Robert Palmer's Clues (1980, Island).
Bill and Brian are joined by musician Chris Fox (rubybonesband.com) to talk about the Walkmen's Heaven (2012, Fat Possum Records)!
Bill and Brian discuss Paul McCartney & Wing's Band on the Run (1973, Apple). Brian talks about listening to this album while driving around the American Southwest. Then we get into the criticisms of this album (that we disagree with), the band recording in Nigeria, Linda McCartney's musicianship, Denny Laine's contributions, Tony Visconti's arrangements, Macca's craftsmanship and our own songwriting, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Bill and Brian open their hearts and open the mail bag and read some emails from our fine listeners.
Bill and Brian have a little fun by resurrecting the format of Bill's old podcast, High Fives, and count down their top 5 songs sung by the other person in the band. We make sure to not repeat any past songs already covered on the show (no "39" by Queen, no Dan Bejar, no Ringo, etc.), but we think we've got some pretty good tunes featured in their stead. Check it out!
One of Bill and Brian's favorite musicians and storytellers Jim McGee returns to the podcast to take us on a journey through 10(-ish) great songs from one of his favorite bands, Aerosmith. We start at the beginning with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry writing songs on a water bed, make our way through the drug fueled 70s and their initial success into Perry and Brad Whitford's leaving the band, and then back in the saddle. Jim talks about his inability to play like Joe Perry, showcases his vocal skills as a Steven Tyler sound-alike, and shares the story about how he had to buy Just Push Play 3 times. That and more as Jim shares his favorite Aerosmith songs! This week's sponsor: !
Bill and Brian are joined by musician Tom Losito () to discuss the Posies' Frosting on the Beater (1993, DGC). Tom tells the gents about discovering the band via a LastFM deep dive. Then Bill, Brian, and Tom discuss what "power pop" means to Tom, the Posies' lack of a signature sound and evolution through the years, Jon Auer's cool guitar tones, Ken Stringfellow's pop sensibility, the band's signature harmonies, Mike Musburger's killer drums, and more as we make our way through the album track by track! This week's sponsor is the very lovely . Check'em out!
Musician Jack Linden (Rose Boulevard, Karma Gambit) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Big Star's second album Radio City (1974, Ardent). Jack talks about his "power pop" phase and how influential this sound has been on him as he starts his new project, Karma Gambit.Then Bill, Brian, and Jack discuss the absence of Chris Bell and that influence on Alex Chilton and the band, Andy Hummel's songwriting chops, Jody Stephen's underrated drum skills, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track! And support this week's sponsor: !
Podcaster Jesse Jackson (Set Lusting Bruce, Next Stop Everywhere) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Paul Simon's Graceland (1986, Warner Bros.). Bill, Brian, and Jesse talk about the world-spanning influences on the music like zydeco, isicathamiya, and mbaqanga, the political difficulties and possible faux pas Simon faced with apartheid South Africa, Ray Phiri's take on that and his great guitar riffs, that bass fill Bakithi Kumalo knocked out of the park, the King of the Bayou Clifton Chenier, maybe a few name drops for the Boss himself, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track! And, of course, check out this week's sponsor: !
Podcaster and musician Dan Drago (www.25oclockpod.com and themunrowesrock.bandcamp.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Phish's Billy Breathes (1996, Elektra). Dan talks about a buddy introducing him to Phish amidst all the grunge and punk he was listening to in the 90s. Then Bill, Brian, and Dan discuss the time Brian met Tom Marshall, carpe diem vs stop and smell the roses, not comparing Phish with the Grateful Dead by comparing them with the Grateful Dead, the strengths and weaknesses of Phish live vs. album recordings, Trey Anastasio's great guitar tone, Steve Lillywhite's impressive production, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track! Make sure to support this week's sponsor, !
Musician and internet personality Chris Dubrow joins Bill and Brian to discuss the Kinks' Lola Versus Powerman and the Moneygoround, Part One (1970, Pye/Reprise).
Bill and Brian watched Once (2007), the magical indie musical directed by John Carney and starring Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova, and talk about our favorite scenes, favorite tunes, and breakdown some romantic entanglements presented in the film.
Music/entertainment reporter for and The Star Ledger joins Bill and Brian to discuss Fugees' second and final album the Score (1996, Ruffhouse/Columbia). Bobby talks about how a deep dive into this album while preparing a retrospective celebrating its 20th anniversary helped him learn to fully appreciate this work. Then Bill, Brian, and Bobby discuss Bobby's interview with Wyclef Jean, the themes on this- as Lauryn Hill describes it - "audio film," pass-the-mic style posse cuts and pop singles, the Boogah Basement, what Pras Michel is up to nowadays, the production of Jerry Duplessis, John Forte, Salaam Remi, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track! Make sure to support our sponsors for this week's episode: Learn from the best in the world at ! ...Your vinyl. Your choice.
Bill hangs out at Brian's pad for a change as we talk about Martin Shkreli's conviction and what it means for that one of a kind Wu-Tang Album, read some listener emails about definitive live versions of songs, and visit Facebook to debate the best guitar solos of the 90s! Make sure to check out Lowlight's latest single, "Can't Stop now, available on Spotify, and see the band on tour with the Pretenders this Spring! Visit for details!
Musician Dave Mooney (davemooneymusic.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Joni Mitchell's influential relationship album Blue (1971, Reprise). Dave talks about Spotify algorithms doing him a solid and making sure Joni's music crossed his plate. Then Bill, Brian, and Dave talk about the album's sparse production, the value of speculating on an artist's biographical info, Graham Nash and James Taylor's influence on the lyrical content, Stephen Stills lending his talents, accidental Christmas songs, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Podcaster BJ Kahuna (Rock and/or Roll, Cheap Talk with Trick Chat) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Cheap Trick's In Color (1977, Epic). And for all your hiring needs, check out this week's sponsor ZipRecruiter. Our listeners can try ZipRecruiter for free by visiting !
Bill and Brian are joined by musician Jaime Parker ( and ) to talk about indie artist Kevin Devine's sophomore effort Make the Clocks Move (2003, Triple Crown Records). And make sure to check out this week's sponsor, MasterClass! Learn from the best in the world at !
Bill and Brian pick up the digital phone to have a relaxed conversation about Brian preparing for a show at the Stone Pony, Quincy Jones' epic rants, and some listener emails that touch on Boston, Elliott Smith, Ben Folds Five, and the Eagles!
Musician Adam Bird (aBirdmusic.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Hole's breakthrough sophomore effort Live Through This (1994, DGC).
Author and professor Jonathyne Briggs joins Bill and Brian to discuss Blondie's breakthrough third album Parallel Lines (1978, Chrysalis). Jonathyne talks about underestimating the band as a singles band in his youth before really digging into their catalog after they reformed in the late 90s. Then Bill, Brian, and Jonathyne discuss sexism in the NYC punk scene, Mike Chapman's dictatorial production, Debbie Harry's voice, the excellent rhythm section - Clem Burke and Nigel Harrison, Robert Fripp's guest spot, disco and racism, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Musician Nick Palmer joins Bill to talk about iconic, landmark "punk" album London Calling (CBS/Epic, 1979) by the Clash. Nick describes working his way back from Green Day to picking up Combat Rock and not understanding how anyone could call it punk. Then Bill and Nick talk about Nick's fandom forming fully, the important dichotomy of Joe Strummer and Mick Jones, Paul Simonon's surprisingly good bass despite his own self-deprecating description of it, Topper Headon's killer drums, some left wing politics, the Spanish Civil war, Guy Stevens throwing chairs, and much more as we make our way through the album (mostly) track by track!
Podcaster Matt Kelly (hmnpodcast.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Norah Jones' massive breakout debut Come Away with Me (2002, Blue Note). Matt shares how Jones' blend of melancholy jazz and country helped him process the death of an important family member who passed shortly before this album was released. Then Bill, Brian, and Matt discuss the possible influence of Willie Nelson, Starbucks albums, how Jesse Harris may be the luckiest guy, Lee Alexander's soft country style, Jones' own songwriting, a genius idea for a dramedy film starring Paul Rudd and featuring these songs, summer romances, a bit about Ryan Adams, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Bill takes the weekend off, leaving the program in Brian's questionable hands. But he recruits solo artist, bandleader, and Yarnspinners Podcast maestro Brian Rothenbeck () to be the guest co-host. Together, the two Brians and special guest Jay Gogel (of The Adventuring Party) dig deep into Ben Folds Five's final album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner (1999, 550 Music). Brian recalls a sad breakup that echoes "Don't Change Your Plans," while Rothenbeck recounts his futile attempts to turn his old Sam Goody customers on to the music of The Promise Ring. Gogel breaks down the level of difficulty of some of Ben Folds' music while all three marvel at the writing contributions of drummer Darren Jessee and Moog-playing of bassist Robert Sledge. All this and more as we break this lost classic down track by track!
Multi-instrumentalist Mike Noordzy of psychedelic afro-cuban surf jazz band El Noordzo (nachtrecords.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss the eponymous album The Velvet Underground and Nico (1967, Verve). Mike talks about falling in love with a Velvets' best of he found at a random used record shop, before we get into talking about Nico's contributions as a vocalist, Tom Wilson punching up the sound, the effect Andy Warhol had on the band, John Cale vs. Sterling Morrison on bass, Lou Reed's version of a Manhattan Bohemian, Mo Tucker's primal rhythms, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Welcome to the first ever Liner Notes edition of the Great Albums podcast, a semi-monthly version of the show where Bill and Brian get to relax a little, read some listener emails, make corrections, and possibly chat about some new topics. In this episode we read some listener emails about loving Boston as a kid, giving the podcast a second chance, some top songs of 2017, guests helping the podcast get some context, and some cool local bands from other parts of the world. Check these out:
Bill and Brian dive into Heatmiser, a band that might be familiar to some as "Elliott Smith's band," and their final album Mic City Sons (1996, Caroline). Bill and Brian discuss picking this album up from the Princeton Record Exchange used section, Elliott Smith's value as a band member, co-songwriter Neil Gust going song for song in quality alongside Elliott, Tony Lash's contributions to the Pacific Northwest sound as a producer, Sam Coomes subtle arrangements on bass and keys, beets, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Bill and Brian are joined by guitarist and certified luthier Mike Virok () to discuss Boston's self titled debut album (1976, Epic). Mike talks about discovering this music while his dad played side one on the tape deck while driving to his bowling league. Then Bill, Brian, and Mike get into near one-man-band Tom Scholz production, Brad Delp's important contributions as vocalist, the band's status as "corporate rock," the Real World Boston, rocking out to these songs on Guitar Hero, an elaborate scheme that resulted in a new Taylor acoustic for Delp, and more as we make our way through the album track by track! And for all your hiring needs, check out this week's sponsor ZipRecruiter. Our listeners can try ZipRecruiter for free by visiting !
Bill and Brian close out the year by discussing an all time classic song, "Good Vibrations" by the Beach Boys (1966, Capitol). We get into Brian Wilson's arrangements and composition style, Mike Love's lyrical contributions, Dennis Wilson's musicianship, whether it's Carol Kaye or possibly Carl Wilson on bass, where the song belongs amongst other great songs from the 60s and 70s, just how many song parts there are, a little music theory [listener, be warned], and a listener email about struggling to become a fan of the Beach Boys.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian are again joined by .com blogger Jeff Fiedler to discuss some musical Christmas memories. We chat about some odd albums we've received as gifts, some of our favorite gifts, and a little about Jeff's favorite Christmas tune!
Bill and Brian are joined by thegreatalbums.com blogger and resident bin-diver Jeff Fiedler to count down his top 10 albums of 2017. Listeners are in for a treat as we get into an all new, all different list of great albums that were released in the 2017 calendar year! *Note: there is an early discussion about this year's hit of the summer "Despacito," and it being attributed to Justin Bieber. It's worth pointing out that, although the remix version that featured the Biebs as a guest vocalist helped it gain traction as a hit, the song is actually by Puerto Rican singer Luis Fonsi and features rapper Daddy Yankee.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian continue talking about our favorite albums of 2017 by highlighting a release from a local NJ band, Ruby Bones! We talk about what a great guy band leader Chris Nova is and his dedication to the scene and how Brian obtained an early copy of the album through some underhanded means. Then we read some listener emails about Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper and Jules Shear, and some possible changes coming to the Great Albums in 2018.
Bill and Brian count down their top 10 albums of 2017. As has become our custom, Bill defers to Brian to give us a list of 10 hip, cool albums that came out in the past calendar year. Stay tuned for next week's episode in which we'll have another all new, all different top 10!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian get a little tangential, finally bringing one of the all time greats to the podcast, as we discuss Phil Collins' very 90s-tastic cover of Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors." We talk a little about Phil, Genesis in the 80s, and uilleann pipes before we then read some listener emails in appreciation of horn parts, which leads to a great metaphor comparing song arrangements to cheeseburgers, and a poll of Billy Joel vs. Elton John.
Massive Albums November comes to a close as Bill and Brian chat about Cyndi Lauper's smash debut She's So Unusual (1983, Portrait). Bill and Brian talk about learning to appreciate pop albums, the contributions of the Hooters' Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian, how Lauper made this album of cowrites and voters her own, the influence of ska, reggae, and new wave on the album, Brian not saying "motored," Betty Boop, and more as we make out way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thanksgiving! Bill and Brian break out the their Ocean Pacific gear as they remember the 90s and their early experiences hearing Billy Joel's "The River of Dreams." Brian tells a heartbreaking tale of a young man who didn't get to sing the solo at school but redeemed himself at the county fair. Then we get into some listener emails about 90s rap and our plans for April Fool's Day. Make sure to check out Speak Into My Good Eye's 24 hour songwriting challenge to hear new tunes from past guests like Lowlight, James Harold, Beta Rat, Brian Rothenbeck, and even Brian Erickson. All proceeds benefit the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
Massive Albums November rolls (and rocks) on into week 3 as Bill and Brian welcome multi-talented multi-instrumentalist Matt Fernicola (Foes of Fern, Avery Mandeville and the Man Devils, the Burns, and many more) to talk about Billy Joel's the Stranger (1977, Columbia). Listener be warned: much to our delight Fern, a Berklee College of Music alum, really dives deep into music theory when describing how Joel's classical training help define his unique pop sound. Also, we compare and contrast the lyrical styles of Bruce Springsteen and Billy Joel, talk about Brian's priest singing some Billy Joel mid-mass, Liberty Devitto's timely (and possibly apocryphal) stick throwing, Phil Ramone getting the producer nod over George Martin, and much more are we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian are joined by special guest cohost - our resident bin diver and .com blogger Jeff Fiedler - to discuss one of his favorite late period Michael Jackson tunes "Butterflies." Jeff talks about how the warmer sounds and throwback vibe of the song are to his liking. Then we take a comparative look at MJ's 90s output before we get to some listener (and reader) emails about top 5 Led Zeppelin songs, Jeff's rating system for Discog Fever pieces, and Prince.
Thegreatalbums.com blogger Jeff Fiedler joins Bill and Brian as special guest cohost along with this week's guest Andrew Kolbenschlag (of indie rockers Small Planet Radio) as get into week 2 of Massive Albums November with Michael Jackson's "other" multiplatinum album Bad (1987, Epic).
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian talk about one of the rock songs of all time. Bill shares how this was his first Zeppelin album gifted to him on an Easter in the late 90s. We talk about how III had hipster appeal and has started to take its place alongside the other great albums in recent years. Then we get into some emails about Jellyfish, "He's My Best Friend" being about masturbation, Jesus' fan club, and klezmer music!
In our first installment of Massive Albums November 2017, Rock on Radio's Danny Coleman (coaradio.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Led Zeppelin IV (1971, Atlantic). Danny talks about his cool older cousin gifting him this album on his 12th birthday and his life being forever changed. Bill, Brian, and Danny then get into John Bonham's influence on Danny as a drummer, Zep vs. the Who, polyrhythms, John Paul Jones' bass keeping the band together, AM/FM radio and music fandom, how Led Zeppelin kind of does in fact have a great live album, Robert Plant's lyricism (and nerdiness), how Jimmy Page is often overlooked as a great producer, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian are feeling the sting of Jellyfish (it's a good thing) as we chat about their cover of Harry Nilsson's "Think About Your Troubles." Brian tells the tale of Nilsson's The Point! Then we get into which pop artists have had cartoons, 90s power pop, listener appreciation, a Smashing Pumpkins tale, experiencing the release of new albums, World Party, and the possibility Jeff January.
Bill and Brian go sans guest (not by choice) to talk about Jellyfish's unique blend of Baroque arrangements and power pop hooks on the band's sophomore and final album Spilt Milk (1993, Charisma). Bill and Brian discuss the band's place amongst other 90s rock bands, how the band has started to carve out its own niche in the canon of great bands, the influence of classic Disney films, where fan clubs fit in with the modern music industry, the confluence of harmony styles from both the Beach Boys and Queen, Roger Joseph Manning Jr. and Andy Sturmer's vocal styles, playing drums while standing, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian keep the Ted Leo train rolling by talking about the time that he and the Pharmacists stopped by the AV Club to cover Tears for Fears "Everybody Wants to Rule the World." We chat about when 80s pop went from being admonished to admired, the Val Kilmer vehicle Real Genius, how we don't know much Silicon Valley trivia (for either the place or the TV show), and even Dennis Miller. Then we read some listener emails filling us in on some facts and opinions on the Smashing Pumpkins.
Bill and Brian are joined by WXPN's Mike Vasilikos to talk about Ted Leo & the Pharmacists' Shake the Sheets (2004, Lookout!). Mike explains how working in Baltimore radio lead to his discovery of the band and scoring tickets to a great live show. Then Bill, Brian, and Mike discuss Pitchfork and AllMusic's middling reviews, the band's place in the indie and punk scenes, comparing Leo to the likes of Billy Bragg and Elvis Costello, obliquely political themes, the influence of the Strokes, people being bad a geography, the 2004 presidential election, and more as we make our way through the albums track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian would do anything to make sure you're enjoying the listening experience as dive into Meat Loaf and Jim Steinman's epic tune that cemented their legacy through the 90s and into today. We chat about how to make cool guitar sounds, Todd Rundgren's contributions (or lack thereof), Eddie Martinez's killer guitars, the possibility of Brian's band the Paper Jets covering some Loaf tunes, and the meaning of the lyrics. Then we get into some listener emails (but not really) that lead Brian to fill in some thoughts on the Smashing Pumpkins that didn't make it into the Siamese Dream episode, and we talk about how you can we some kick ass records and memorabilia from our pals at Vinyl Emergency while simultaneously helping hurricane relief. Make sure to head to for more info.
Bill and Brian are joined by podcaster Steve Fiorillo (inthemixpod.libsyn.com) to talk about Meat Loaf's legendary album Bat Out of Hell - Songs by Jim Steinman (1977, Cleveland International/Epic). Steve talks about inheriting his love of Mr. Loaf from his mother and how "I'd Do Anything for Love (But I Won't Do That)" is one of his earliest memories of music. We get into comparing and contrasting Springsteen with Meat Loaf and the timelessness of the albums production. Then Bill, Brian, and Steve chat about how this whole album is about sex, Roy Bittan and Max Weinberg (temporarily) defecting from the E Street Band, Todd Rundgren being coerced into some of the best guitar playing of his career, more about how this album is pretty much just about getting laid, Edgar Winter's sick sax solo, Phil Rizzuto's naivete, that the album is seriously all about Steinman's intercourse related dark humor, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill is joined by special guest, musician and songwriter Tyler Plazio (soldiersofsuburbiaband.com), as we get really tangential to discuss that time that Billy Corgan teamed up with David Bowie to perform "All the Young Dudes" at Madison Square Garden. We end up with our longest BST yet as we talk about the importance of going to college, the best age and era to listen to the Smashing Pumpkins, vinyl vs. Spotify, How Tyler got into Bowie, the Mott the Hoople version of the song, how awful Warped Tour is nowadays, how Bill missed out on seeing Green Day in a small venue, how Tyler got to live that dream, Soldiers of Suburbia's new EP Eating Cigarettes, the stigma of "creative differences," a listener email about punk music being almost completely informed by its fans, how that relates to rap, and the unlikely revival of guitar music.
Bill and Brian are joined by podcaster James Anderson of Unabashedly Obsessed (unabashedlyobsessed.com) to talk about the Smashing Pumpkins breakthrough album Siamese Dream (1993, Virgin). James tells the story of playing N64 in a friend's basement, being blown away hearing the Pumpkins for first time, and how it led to purchasing the album at Walmart, a circumstance that forever shaped how he listened to the album. Bill, Brian, and James then get into the band's evolution through the years, how Billy Corgan wishes he could resequence the album, D'Arcy Wretzky and James Iha's lack of involvement in the recording, Jimmy Chamberlain's kick ass drumming and natural tones, Butch Vig's big guitar sounds and love of acoustic tracks, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian quickly derail their own conversation about Saves the Day and their growth on their Stay What You Are follow up In Reverie by espousing the coolness of Nada Surf and their own transformation into indie power pop kings worthy of all the respect. Then they read some emails about how cool the Genuine Imitation Life Gazette is, Frankie Valli's involvement with the Watertown demos, and "songs that belong to the dance floor."
Musician and songwriter Matt Koerner (feenynj.com) joins Bill and Brian to talk about early aughts pop punk innovators Saves the Day and their breakthrough album Stay What You Are (2001, Vagrant). Matt shares his experience discovering the band as a teen pop punk devotee. Then we get into what it's like listening to a band from your hometown, Weezer's interactions with the band, Chris Conley's evolution and maturation as a songwriter and artist, Rob Schnapf's influence as producer, how this isn't Say Anything, Eben D'Amico's groovy bass, Bryan Newman's ability to make Matt air drum, the Muppets, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian take a listen to and chat about some Four Seasons, songs that belong to the dance floor, and we read some listener emails about songs that make commercials.
Bill and Brian are joined by podcaster Mike Derrico (rockunderfire.com) to chat about Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons' often overlooked, pop psychedelic masterpiece the Genuine Imitation Life Gazette (1969, Philips).
It's Bonus Song Thursday! It's slim pickings for some interesting options of Nick Drake covers, but we hit the jackpot with Robyn Hitchcock's version of "Parasite." Bill and Brian discuss Sebadoh's cover of "Pink Moon" and Joe Boyd's arrangement, before getting into some listener emails about Metallica's "Master of Puppets" and teenage Luther Dickinson's contributions to the Replacements' "Shootin' Dirty Pool" (both odor and guitar).
Musician Kevin Newcomb (funwhileyouwait.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Nick Drake's Pink Moon (1972, Island).
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up our Replacements' conversation with Tommy Stinson's follow up band, Perfect, and their tune "Miss Self-Esteem." We talk about how this band remained under the radar, especially in comparison to Tommy's other post-'Mats effort Bash & Pop. Then we get into some listener emails about bands naming themselves after songs, Paul Westerberg's counting abilities (or lack thereof), and in defense of "Nightclub Jitters."
In a special crossover episode, Bill and Brian welcome Randy and Dan from That Dandy Classic Music Hour (thatdandyclassicmusichour.com) to finally return to covering a Replacements album with their 1987 classic Pleased to Meet Me (Sire). Bill and Brian discuss the band's history and their newfound hi fi sound before cutting to our conversation with the Dandy Classic guys where we delve into Paul Westerberg showing off his lead guitar skills, Jim Dickinson's contributions, Chris Mars' art career, Tommy Stinson's post-'Mats bands Bash & Pop and Perfect, and of course everyone's favorite teen comedy Can't Hardly Wait (the film) as we make our way through the album track by track! For more of our conversation with Dan and Randy, including how we discovered the band and our top 5 songs from the album, make sure to take a listen to the Dandy Classic episodes for the next two weeks!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian discuss Pearl Jam's surprise hit "Last Kiss," the band's staying power, a listener email about second chances, and an indie rock version of the Traveling Wilburys.
Bill and Brian take the stage at the Nashville Rock n Pod Music Expo to chat about what makes Pearl Jam's Backspacer (2009, Monkeywrench) a great album. Featuring some special guests culled from the convention floor!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian dive into the deep waters with Modest Mouse (get it?) to discuss a favorite of theirs "Dashboard." We get into the contribution of Johnny Marr and the influence of disco. Then we read some listener emails letting us know some good songs covered by the Modest Mouse and a little appreciation for Frightened Rabbit.
Indie August draws to a close as Bill and Brian welcome musician and producer Derrill Sellers (lowlightnj.com) to the podcast as they make their way through Modest Mouse's the Lonesome Crowded West (1997, Up) track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian keep spreading the gospel of Frightened Rabbit (pun intended if you take a look at the theme of this parent album) and chat about "The Woodpile." We talk about the evolution of the band's sound as we compare and contrast them with their "cousins" the National. Then we read some listener emails that brightened our day, share some indie rock fantasy supergroup lineups, and discuss some good non-fiction reads about great music.
Bill and Brian continue Indie August, spending a couple hours delving into one of their new favorites and what they consider a modern classic, Frightened Rabbit's The Midnight Organ Fight (2008, Fat Cat).
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian get only semi-tangential from our Rilo Kiley episode and chat about Jenny Lewis' "She's Not Me." We talk about Ryan Adams' smooth production, the excellent guitar solo, and whether or not the the 70s gloss is a simply a hipster trope. Then we read some listener emails about Sebadoh (and how, no, we weren't criticizing Lou Barlow's post Dinosaur Jr project), best female guitarists, and the Singles soundtrack!
Singer songwriter Lance Scott Greene (not-poprecords.bandcamp.com) joins Bill and Brian as we make our way through Indie August to discuss Rilo Kiley's More Adventurous (2004, Brute/Beaute). Lance talks about discovering the band via a discman into the tape deck of his friend's busted old 90s sedan. Then Bill, Brian, and Lance discuss these songs inspiring Lance as a songwriter, the multitude of genres featured on the album, the Birch Hill in NJ, Jenny Lewis' powerhouse vocals, Blake Sennett's intricate guitar work, which songs most benefit from Jason Boesel's drums, country vs. R&B, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian take a deeper dive into Lou Barlow's non-Dinosaur Jr project Sebadoh and their song "The Freed Pig." We talk a little about what Brian loves about this lo-fi gem and the band's place maybe outside the shadow of Dinosaur Jr. Then we get into some listener emails about A Mighty Wind, transgender issues, and film soundtracks in the 21st century.
Bill and Brian kick off Indie August with podcaster Josh Flanagan (ifanboy.com) joining them to discuss Dinosaur Jr's You're Living All Over Me (1987, SST). Josh explains how his 'mid-life crisis' helped him dive into a band that has been circling him for decades. Then Bill, Brian, and Josh discuss the band's interpersonal dynamics, Murph suffering under J's dictatorial arrangements, the band's tenuous relationship with Homestead Records, how J Mascis' guitar shredding skills are integral to his songwriting, referencing a Big Muff that isn't a vagina, which album Brian would pick if he had to choose between Lou Barlow's many projects, and more as we make way through the album track by track!
Podcaster and WXPN music director Dan Reed (soundcloud.com/ddmusicpodcast) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Afghan Whig's Gentlemen (1993, Elektra) in front of a live audience at the 2017 Philadelphia Podcast Festival.
Bill and Brian continue having fun on their summer vacation, but in the meantime, we won't leave you without an episode. So we hung out and spent some time chatting about the legendary musicians that ruled the rock and roll studios in the 60s, the Wrecking Crew. We talk about the film based on this loose collection of musicians, Tommy Tedesco on guitar, Carol Kaye on bass, Hal Blaine on drums, a host of other musicians, some of the songs they contributed to, the producers they collaborated with like Phil Spector and Brian Wilson, and even a little bit about the Monkees as we talk about about what made these people great!
On a very special episode of the podcast, Brian and Bill take a break from the weekly grind, spreading the love of our favorite albums to spread the love of one of our favorite films instead. We dive into Christopher Guest's 2003 mockumentary A Might Wind. We chat a little about This is Spinal Tap, 80s hair metal, the Guest style of filmmaking, the excellent contributions of this ensemble cast, the well crafted and funny tunes, and much more as we laugh our way through a recap of what we love about this movie!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill follow up our Wu-Tang talk by discussing one of their most successful members Method Man and his hit featuring Mary J. Blige "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By." Our chat about the time period this was release quickly turned into a deeper examination of cultural appropriation, bias, and why it might be okay for two white guys to have a serious discussion examining what makes some rap music great. Also, we round up the emails and responses to our Jimmy Eat World episode. We'll be back in two weeks with a very Summer Special episode!
Improvisor and vocalist Kyle Gordon (mydarklittlecorner.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Wu-Tang Clan's seminal rap debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) [1993, Loud/RCA). After Brian goes off book to name all 9 members of the group (RZA, GZA, Ol' Dirty Bastard, Method Man, Raekwon the Chef, Masta Killa, Inspectah Deck, Ghostface Killah, and U-God), Kyle talks about discovering the group as an angry teen growing up in the suburbs of New York.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian jump into a Way Back Machine to continue the conversation about Jimmy Eat World by delving into a tune from their 1999 album Clarity. We discuss what exactly "emo" is and why Brian was wrong not to listen to Weezer's Pinkerton before we get into some listener emails about 90s rock icons that have gone soft and 21st century guitar gods.
Renaissance man and author of Processing Creativity: the Tools, Practices and Habits Used to Make Music You're Happy With, Jesse Cannon, joins Bill and Brian to discuss Jimmy Eat World's breakthrough album Bleed American (2001, Dreamworks). Jesse describes coming up in the emo scene at the same time as JEW, listening to their album Clarity as a genre defining touchstone, and loving this album when it came out. Then Brian, Bill, and Jesse talk about Mark Trombino's contributions as producer, Zach Lind's unique drumming, Jim Adkins' tone and string gauge, and a whole lot of production tips and tricks as we make our way through the album track by track. Make sure to check out all the projects Jesse is involved with - including producing and more podcasting - at jessecannon.com!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Today, Bill and Brian chat about this gem of a 90s tune! While the song doesn't lend itself to too much specific discussion, the boys take a stroll down memory lane as they attempt to decipher the difference between which bullies from what movies were played by Keifer Sutherland and Anthony Michael Hall. Meanwhile, Brian shares a story of roller rink romance that ends in an all-too-familiar fashion and Bill asks the listeners to help us figure out who went from rock to soft rock between 1997 and 2017 (similar to how Adams, Stewart, and Sting did from the 70s to the 90s). All this and more on this week's Bonus Song Thursday edition of The Great Albums!
Brian and Bill are joined by musician Kimi Howe (casino sundae.bandcamp.com) to discuss the Police's debut album Outlandos d'Amour (1978, A&M). Kim talks about listening to this album as a part of her uncle's 8 track collection (he made sure to skip "Be My Girl - Sally" so that it didn't affect her impressionable ears). Then Bill, Brian, and Kim get into talking about the band's musical talent, how they fit in the British punk scene, Sting's ego, Andy Summers' excellent and unique style, just how cool Stewart Copeland and his brother Miles really are, Sting's evolving position on Rod Stewart, and more as we make our through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill stops in for a short episode to explain that we had some technical difficulties and lost the episode we actually recorded for this. :( But Bill makes sure to fill you in on the tragic love story that made this Brian's favorite Love song, the results of our informal poll about Wilco's "Via Chicago," and a little bit of promo. Make sure to go support former guest of the podcast Tyler Plazio and his band Soldiers of Suburbia by donating to their Indie GoGo campaign! https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-debut-soldiers-of-suburbia-ep-music-rock#/
Musician, producer, and label guru Neil Sabatino (mint400.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Love's third album Forever Changes (1967, Elektra). Neil talks about how the band's early garage sound drew him in after a friend got him listening to Love's first couple albums, but then he was blown away by the maturity of the psychedelic and folk tones produced on Forever Changes. Bill, Brian, and Neil then get into the band's legacy, Bryan MacLean's genius guitar playing, how producer Bruce Botnick deftly motivated the band after bringing in some ringers from the Wrecking Crew, the band's influence on the Doors, a little on Arthur Lee's influence on Jimi Hendrix, production styles and the technology available for listening, the album’s place amongst the other classic albums of the time (such as Pet Sounds, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and the Piper at the Gates of Dawn), and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday and this week the B-Squad talks about Wilco's title track off their self-titled album! Along the way they talk about how comfortable (in a good way) the band has become in its own skin as well as what the Dad Rock of the 21st century might sound like. Along the way, they discuss their top 5 favorite Beatles albums (in honor of the recent Sgt Pepper 50th Anniversary), modern standards, and the return of Bill's band Small Planet Radio!
Bill and Brian welcome back podcaster and musician Jim Laczkowski (nowplayingnetwork.net and gardenonatrampoline.com) to discuss Wilco's foray into lush indie pop, Summerteeth (1999, Reprise). Jim talks about checking out the band after reading a favorable review from critic Greg Kot. Then Bill, Brian, and Jim discuss Wilco's evolution within their career, Jay Bennett's influence on the sound of the band, how the album maybe hit at the wrong time - namely, a time when Creed was blowing up the charts, how Jeff Tweedy is 'da bomb,' typical mid-Western Chicago guys shaving their heads and wearing dresses (y'know, like Billy Corgan), a lot about what we think Schmilco should sound like, the obvious influence of Sesame Street, Ken Coomer's welcome contributions as a great drummer, some great-but-extraneous tracks at the end, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! This week, the B-squad revisits Yeah Yeah Yeahs a few years down the road as they continue to evolve their sound and - like Weezer before them - pick up a new generation of fans along the way. We discuss Karen O's pop culture icon status, Canada's hipster Mecca, and whether or not Ryan Adams ruined The Strokes. We also talk about a pair of live podcast events taking place this July and August, as well as the return of Bill's band, Small Planet Radio (), this June!
Little Dickman Records' Amy Dickman (littledickman.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Yeah Yeah Yeah's debut Fever to Tell (2003, Interscope).
It's Bonus Song Thursday! This week the B's tackle Counting Crows' cover of Big Star's immortal "The Ballad of El Goodo." They talk about how they actually prefer to hear Big Star's music covered fairly straight (as opposed to, say, via an electronica interpretation) and how Counting Crows come eerily close to the original. Along the way, they touch upon possibly the oldest "Great Album," the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and of course, the untimely passing of beloved singer Chris Cornell. All this and more on this week's Bonus Song Thursday edition of The Great Albums.
Musician Frank Lettieri (dustofdays.bandcamp.com) joins Bill and Brian as we finally set to tackling Counting Crows' August and Everything After (1993, Geffen). Frank talks about having this album gifted to him as a part of a long tradition of uncles introducing nephews to cool music. Then Bill, Brian, and Frank discuss what one of the engineers on the album shared about the equipment used to record the album, the importance of the band's SNL performance in January of 1994, Adam Duritz's exquisite cafe poetry, how producer T-Bone Burnett influenced the overall sound of the recording, the underrated rhythm section of Steve Bowman and Matt Malley, Charlie Gillingham as a Benmont Tench-esque secret weapon, David Bryson's memorable guitar hooks, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! This week, the B's talk about Nancy Sinatra's most enduring hit single and how her father Frank signed her to his (at the time) vanity imprint, Reprise. We get into the left-of-center tendencies of under-appreciated songwriter/producer Lee Hazlewood and how there are certain songs that transcend their creators. Along the way, we discuss favorite comeback albums, and Bill answers an email, putting to bed the reason we have yet to tackle OK Computer.
Musicians Fred and Richard Fairbrass (aka Right Said Fred) join Bill and Brian to discuss Frank Sinatra's 10th studio album Songs for Swingin' Lovers (1956, Capitol). After getting the requisite conversation about their tour prepping and some of the trappings of being celebrities out of the way, Fred and Richard talk about discovering Sinatra through their parents, especially from the influence of their 'mum.' Bill, Brian, Fred, and Richard then discuss Nelson Riddle's arrangements, Sinatra's feelings about Elvis, the Beatles, and rock'n'roll, a little on Brian's favorite Sinatra album Watertown, how Sinatra found his voice as he matured, and a few of our favorite tracks from the album! Don't forget that Right Said Fred's latest album, Exactly!, is available in all the places you can find good tunes, including rightsaidfred.com.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! This week, Bill and Brian recount a track that, according to Bill, "was in the air" throughout 1998/1999. Pras, formerly of the Fugees, made his solo debut in grand fashion and had a hand from Mya and Wu-Tang Clan's Ol' Dirty Bastard. They discuss how - in total ODB fashion - he just kind of showed up one day and was asked to drop a verse (and took to the assignment admirably). Along the way, they talk about how the Fugees operated similarly to Wu-Tang, fostering members' solo careers following the success of a massively-influential group effort. Will Smith enters into the discussion and so too does superior LP side 2s. All this and more on this week's Bonus Song Thursday edition of the Great Albums podcast.
Podcaster Patrick from Make Dad Read Comics and Almost Education returns to join Bill and Brian in a discussion about Ol' Dirty Bastard's Return to the 36 Chambers: the Dirty Version (1995, Elektra). Patrick talks about being heshera and a secret Wu Tang Clan fan who fell in love with their pop culture and kung fu movie references. Bill, Brian, and Patrick discuss the lasting influence of ODB's style and humor, RZA's style as a producer, whether or not Brian can name every member of the Wu Tang Clan (spoiler: he can't, stay tuned till the end of the episode for the correct memeber names), how the Wu Tang clan style present on this album is reminiscent of punk rock, the many features on this album, the album's scatological nature, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! This week the boys in broadcast are tackling yet another duet: Johnny Cash and Fiona Apple! Bill and Brian discuss how it reminds them of a different Johnny Cash partnership from the early 70s, how singular artists like Fiona and Cash are at their best when they "do their own thing" (even when they're working together), and what qualifies as overkill for posthumous recordings. Additionally, they uncover the origins of the mysterious voices on Tom Petty's Damn the Torpedos album, and Bill lists his most representative artists of each decade. NOTE: check out our friend Chris Nova's band Ruby Bones (http://rubybones.bandcamp.com) whose album comes out on 5/12. And catch their free-admission album release party at Asbury Park Yacht Club on Friday May 19, 2017.
Bill and Brian get to spend a nice lazy Sunday afternoon enjoying each other's company without a guest, chatting about Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine (2005, Epic). Brian talks about discovering Fiona's moody, electric pop sound as a disparate soundtrack to some sunny summer days. Bill notes how he first heard of this album due to the producer and label controversy surrounding its delayed release. Bill and Brian then discuss Jon Brion's original vision, the sound Mike Elizondo and Brian Kehew eventually brought to the final product, Questlove's funky drumming, seeing Fiona live on this tour, a surprising amount of lyrical analysis, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And the boys only get mildly tangential this week as they talk about the hit single off Bella Donna, Stevie Nicks' hit debut solo LP. They talk about how Stevie was introduced to Tom Petty via her then-boyfriend, mega-producer Jimmy Iovine. Along the way, they also discuss Great vs. Classic, and the difficulty of defining a decade's worth of music with just one artist. All this and then some on this week's Bonus Song Thursday edition of the Great Albums podcast!
Bill and Brian are joined by musician Chad Stocker (the High Strung, the Mythics) to discuss Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' Damn the Torpedoes (1979, Backstreet/MCA). Chad talks about how his love of documentaries turns him into a fan of whatever their subject is - in this case, the 2007 Peter Bogdanovich film Runnin' Down a Dream. Bill, Brian, and Chad discuss Jimmy Iovine taking charge as the producer, his clashes with drummer Stan Lynch, the curse of consistency, Mike Campbell's deceptively amazing guitar leads, Ron Blair's diverse bass playing, Benmont Tench's skill on keys, Petty's battles with his label, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday as Bill and Brian return from Spring Break! On this week's edition, they talk Tina and debate whether or not her version eclipses the Creedence Clearwater Revival original. Along the way, they answer the age-old question: "By the early 90s, was Michael Jackson cool anymore?" as Brian recalls a very specific McDonalds commercial sponsored by the NBA. It's nothing but net on this week's Bonus Song Thursday, so check it out!
Musician Adam Weiner (lowcutconnie.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Creedence Clearwater Revival's Willy and the Poor Boys. Adam talks about the ubiquity of CCR and how it led him to discover some other great music. Then Bill, Brian, and Adam discuss Philly accents, Flannery O'Conner and the Southern Gothic, how a song's overuse can affect how we listen to it, who sung it better (CCR or the Beach Boys?), Lead Belly and his influence on this album, the influence of Chuck Berry and Roy Orbison, Barack Obama's official playlist, and more as we make our way through the album track by track! Low Cut Connie's Dirty Pictures (part 1) available for pre-order now! https://www.hellomerch.com/collections/low-cut-connie/products/dirty-pictures-part-1-cd
Bill and Brian continue their Spring Break, doing something a little different and fun, by taking a look at 6 music videos where the visual is just as important as the music. We talk about not being allowed to watch MTV, some gender politics in regard to the acceptance of male sexuality, Louis CK, the present accessibility of music, and more as we discuss videos from Peter Gabriel, Michael Jackson, Chris Isaak, Blind Melon, Seal, and Blur.
Bill and Brian take a short Springtime respite from our usual release schedule and talk instead about something a little different and kind of fun - a film with a soundtrack as important as its script, Empire Records (1995). Bill talks about how he loved this movie since his teenage years, and Brian reveals that he had never seen it until the very day of this discussion. We get into the differences between the theatrical and Special Fan Edition, our favorite tunes from the soundtrack (including songs from the Gin Blossoms, Edwyn Collins, the Cranberries, Evan Dando, and Dire Straits), how 90s angst may not resonate with viewers todays, and how some of our own love tales mirrored AJ and Cory. No Bonus Song Thursday this week. We'll be back with another Spring break episode next week!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian talk about that time Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff and the Wrens' Charles Bissell swapped covers and released a single. They get into how well Sheff did with the indie classic "Ex-Girl Collection" and get excited about the possibility of the impending new release from the Wrens. Also, we read a listener email that highlights some great lyrics from Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf. Also, we delve into some more #Trypod recommendations including Radiohead podcast the Daily Mail, Steven Hyden's Celebration Rock, and the fantasy epic the Once and Future Nerd. Also, make sure to stay tuned through the end for a special announcement about our very first live show at the Nashville Rock n Pod Expo! Check out more details and donate to the cause at www.gofundme.com/rocknpodexpo.
Musician Katie Miller (katedressedup.bandcamp.com) joins Bill and Brian to dive into Okkervil River's the Stand Ins (2008, Jajaguwar). Katie talks about discovering the band via Bon Iver's cover of "Blue Tulip" and how frontman Will Sheff's lyrical acumen drew her in. Bill, Brian, and Katie discuss why we chose this album over others, caring about lyrics, how Sheff's voice is on the fence of the indie-emo and indie-folk movements, Brian Cassidy's contributions as an arranger and multi-intrumentalist, dueting with Shearwater's Jonathan Meiburg, Charles Bissell's guest appearance, the narrative on the nature of art and pop music that runs through the album, the option of succeeding, quitting, or dying, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! This week, Bill and Brian break down Tori Amos' cover of Slayer's "Raining Blood," and wonder whether or not it started the trend of rock songs getting turned into haunting ballads to accompany certain films. Along the way, Bill discusses a new podcasting trend happening in the month of March while Brian shares his first experiences with Tori Amos and other badass female artists via his very first girlfriend. All this and more on this week's Bonus Song Thursday episode of The Great Albums podcast!
Publisher and author DX Ferris (6623press.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Slayer's entry into the metal class of '86 Reign in Blood (1986, Def Jam). Ferris talks about taking his fandom to the extreme, from discovering the band as a teenager in Pittsburgh in the 80s, to having the opportunity to write two books on the band - one being the entry for this album in the acclaimed 33 1/3 series. Bill, Brian, and Ferris then discuss the influence of Rick Ruben and Andy Wallace on the record, Dave Lombardo's genre defining double bass drum, Jeff Hanneman and Kerry King's unique and sick guitar style, Tom Araya's unique vocals and spirituality, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! This week, the boys tackle Lady GaGa's recent single, "Perfect Illusion" which features Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme on guitar. In this episode, we mention how GaGa - taking a page from Beyonce's book - enlisted a number of high-profile collaborators in order to create a varied, interesting-sounding new record. We dive into whether or not GaGa is currently beefing with other A-List pop stars all the while concluding - once and for all - if Bruce Springsteen was considered "cool" in his time. All this and much, much more on this week's Bonus Song Thursday edition of The Great Albums Podcast!
Musician Adam Bird (facebook.com/adambirdmusic) joins Bill and Brian to discuss hard rockers Queens of the Stone Age's Songs for the Deaf (2002, Interscope). Adam talks about discovering the band via their connection with Nirvana drummer and Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl and how his enjoyment of the band blossomed through this album. Bill, Brian, and Adam discuss how Josh Homme attains his unique guitar tone, the dichotomy of bassist Nick Oliveri's screaming and singing, Mark Lanegan and Alain Johannes' contributions to the band, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! This week Bill and Brian discuss how this Prince-penned song struck that sweet spot of early 90s production and - yes - also about the other thing O'Connor became known for once it became a hit. They also make a few corrections regarding T. Rex's origins and hit on what exactly can be defined as nostalgia. All this and more on this week's Bonus Song Thursday edition of The Great Albums podcast!
Podcaster Bill Ackerman (nowplayingnetwork.net/supportingcharacters) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Prince's multimedia spectacular, Purple Rain (1984, Warner Bros.). Bill talks about falling in love with this music as it saturated the airwaves in his youth, and then revealing that access to this film and album would have been denied to him if it not for a precocious baby sitter willing to collude with him. The Bills and Brian discuss the Minneapolis scene, First Avenue, the Revolution, Wendy & Lisa, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! The boys discover a mid 80s Replacements version of this T. Rex classic and Bill loses his chill (in all the right ways) at just how hot they sound! Also on the show, a listener figures out how much he loves Taylor Swift, Bill and Brian revisit the pronunciation of the word "timbre," and Brian announces a free live music event that features no fewer that six previous guests! All this and more on this week's Bonus Song Thursday edition of the Great Albums Podcast!
Singer Nikolina the Terrible of the Production (theproductionband.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss T. Rex's Electric Warrior (1971, Reprise). Nicole talks about how this album is one of her earliest memories and how she grew up listening to T. Rex. Bill, Brian, and Nicole then talk about how T. Rex didn't quite cross the pond with the same success they enjoyed in the UK, Marc Bolan's unique voice, Tony Visconti's production, what exactly glam is, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian talk some more about the Beastie Boys and how their song, "Sabotage," soundtracked their youth and reminded them of Rage Against the Machine. This leads us into analyzing the late 90s rap/rock boom before we get into some listener emails about New Zealand NPR and Ryan Adam's new album. Make sure to check out Tweed at tweed-nz.com!
Dan LeRoy, the man who literally wrote the book on Paul's Boutique (both the 33 1/3 entry and a follow up For Whom the Cowbell Tolls), joins Bill and Brian to talk about the Beastie Boys and their 1989 sophomore album. Dan talks about discovering the band as an early adopter of rap and then loving this album in his college days. Dan also shares his experience of writing his books and working through the many samples present on this album. Dan, Brian, and Bill discuss the Dust Brothers and Matt Dike's influence on the album, the maturation of the band, the importance of (or lack thereof) a hit single, Adam Yauch guiding "A Year and a Day," Mike Diamond disavowing how important their contributions are, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up Sleater-Kinney with some more Sleater-Kinney, by talking about "A New Wave" off 2015's No Cities to Love. We talk about how the band didn't miss a beat in its 10 year hiatus and a bunch about how cool Bob's Burgers is. Then we delve into a bunch of emails responding to our divisive Kanye West comments on last week's episode!
Musician Nick Palmer (thedangeros.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Sleater-Kinney's 'breakout' 7th album, the Woods (2005, Sub Pop). Nick describes discovering the band while working at Journeys in the mall, and then thinking the distortion on his pirated copy was a mistake until he bought the album and the liner notes told him that Dave Fridmann was the producer. We talk about Janet Weiss's drumming skills, Carrie Brownstein's rockstar presence, Corin Tucker's soaring vocals, why the band doesn't need a bass player, sexist micro-agressions and pronoun choice, whether or not the last track is any good, how the band should be viewed as one of the greatest of their time, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian start off this episode with a rousing debate about the merit's of Kanye West in which Bill allows himself to disregard the spirit of the podcast for a few moments and come across as a little critical. Luckily, Brian defends Kanye's art admirably, and they end up comparing and contrasting the song to the CAN tune it samples! Additionally, we read some listener emails about great albums from the 80s and aughts and then debate the merits of the Killers (this time with less conflict).
Drummer Colin Ryan (Lowlight, Roadside Graves) joins Brian and Bill to discuss avant-garde German rockers CAN and their landmark album Future Days (1973, United Artists). Colin talks about how his former bandmates convinced him that listening to CAN was a good idea, forever influencing his own playing. Bill, Brian, and Colin discuss how Jaki Liebezeit's drums and Irman Schmidt's keys hold the sound of the band together, Damo Sazuki's unique vocal style, Bill makes up a story about an android while listening to these songs, the band's strange method of songwriting and the philosophy behind it, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill chat about Brian's favorite Spoon song "Utilitarian" off 1998's A Series of Sneaks. We stumble into a conversation about what the 90s sounded like before reading some listener emails about some 2000s albums, Drive By Truckers, Levon Helm's musicianship, and whether or not we think John Mayer is a complete BS musician.
Musician Chris Nova (rubybonesband.com) joins Brian and Bill to discuss Spoon's tongue twister of an album title Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007, Merge). Chris talks about discovering the band through hit teen drama the OC. Then we discuss how consistent the band is, Brian's favorite Spoon album A Series of Sneaks, Bill's problem with the band, Britt Daniel and Jim Eno's influence on the production of the album, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill chat a bit about the Band's version of "Atlantic City" from their 1993 album Jericho. We fill in some of the group's history up through the 90s and marvel at Levon Helm's musicianship. We then read a listener submitted fun fact about James Mercer and Elliott Smith. And to round it out, we make a request of the listeners for some details on what they want to hear us talk about!
Bill and Brian welcome thegreatalbums.com blogger Chris Villalta to the the podcast to talk about the Band's Music from Big Pink (1968, Capitol). Chris talks about discovering the Band at the LA Grammy museum and thinking they looked like a bunch of dudes from the 1920s. The we get into Richard Manuel's unique voice, the Band's effortless musicianship, the friction between Levon Helm and Robbie Robertson, an interesting narrative that Chris weaves through the album's lyrics, Garth Hudson's influence on the group, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill talk about the Shins' "New Slang," which is really a way to spend time talking about the 2004 Zach Braff film Garden State. We talk about whether the film holds up, how it's important to people from different generations, and how it has stuck with us over the years. Then we read some listener emails about great, recognizable drum parts, cellos, and the maturity of Nirvana's In Utero. Also, make sure to check out Make Dad Read Comics where Bill got to talk about the Scott Pilgrim & the Infinite Sadness! *Note: the book that Bill can't remember at the end of the episode is Frederic Wertham's Seduction of the Innocent.
Bill and Brian go sans guest for the first time in months to discuss an album that came to us around the same time back in our college days, The Shins' Chutes Too Narrow (2003, Sub Pop). The band formed as primary songwriter James Mercer's new project out of a band called Flake Music back around the turn of the century. Quickly signed to indie Sub Pop, the band had modest success with their first album, 2001's Oh, Inverted World. With Chutes Too Narrow, they gained some buzz and finally broke through after actor/filmmaker Zach Braff featured their song "New Slang" in a key scene in his 2004 film Garden State. Bill and Brian discuss discovering the band early in 2004, being a little underwhelmed by their live show, Brian's summer memories as an unwilling participant at Otacon, Brian's summer memories of his family trying to set him up with a pretty girl, Bill nerding out over utopias and dystopias, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian talk about Dave Grohl's introduction to the world as a lead singer with the Nirvana b-side "Marigold." We talk a little bit about the "what ifs" that surround the career of Nirvana had Kurt Cobain lived and how this song got recorded during the In Utero sessions. Also, we reveal a winner for our Neil Young/Lookout Joe contest and read an email from a former guest on the podcast!
Bill and Brian are joined by musician/singer-songwriter Tyler Plazio from Soldiers of Suburbia (soldiersofsuburbiaband.com) to talk about Nirvana's In Utero (1993, DGC). A couple years after the enormous success of their major label debut, Nevermind, the band and frontman Kurt Cobain felt pressure to craft a worthy follow up that also represented their artistic vision. They hired producer Steve Albini, kept recording time to a minimum, and attempted to maintain their punk ideals with a noisy and concise album. Tyler talks about discovering the band as a young guitar player after a bandmate told him to cover "Smells Like Teen Spirit." He also reveals how In Utero was a bit of a grower for him but is now one of his favorite albums. Bill, Brian, and Tryle also discuss Krist Novoselic's vision for the album, Dave Grohl's awesome drumming, Cobain's views on gender, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up our conversation about Leonard Cohen with an REM song that curiously has Cohen listed as a writer although there was no collaboration between the artists. This leads us down memory lane as we discuss our college days and out first band together. Then we read a listener email about how we joined him on a Christmas day adventure and his own additions and recommendations for great albums that came out in 2016.
Bill and Brian kick off 2017 with an appreciation for the late songwriting titan Leonard Cohen. They are joined in studio singer/songwriter/voiceover artist Justin Pope (justinpopemusic.com), a lifelong Cohen fan. Along the way, the trio discusses why it might not be the best idea to follow your idol to the same college, especially when said idol graduated 44 years earlier and hasn't lived there in nearly as long. We also opine on the difference a producer can make and whether or not recording a bad version of "Hallelujah" is even possible as we make our way through 11 great Leonard Cohen tunes!
Bill takes some time to send out one last podcast in 2016 before we launch into 2017! He talks about "Auld Lang Syne" and makes a few corrections about Wilco and the Beatles before launching into a bunch of emails ranking and discussing the Beatles albums. Then he shares a listener's year end top 10. And to round it all out he gives some thanks and talks about what exciting things will be happening with the Great Albums podcast in 2017!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian close out the year by discussing one of our favorite local (to New Jersey) releases, "Where Do We Go from Here?" from the album of the same name by Lowlight. We discuss what the band's unique sound is and how it evolved before jumping into some listener emails about Wilco and Bruce Springsteen. Also, be sure to check out friend of the podcast Jim Laczkowski's new podcast Voices & Visions at voicesvisions.net!
Bill and Brian (really just Brian) count down their top picks of the albums released in 2016. We chat about the albums on last year's list, specifically what stood out and stayed with us. Bill challenges Brian with what a "best of" list really means and if they can be created without a subjective bias. Brian answers by sharing some of his criteria that went into his selections for this year. We then make our way through the list, album by album!
Part 4 of 4 is finally here! Bill and Brian welcome a new set of guests to close out our discussion of our favorite songs from every Beatles album. Joining us are musician Jim McGee (thearrivist.bandcamp.com), blogger/freelance journalist Ryan Carey (the Inappropriate Thesaurus), musician Ed Pratico (bassist for Jesse Elliot's band), and blogger Beanie Zee (sirkaytheawesome.com) as we talk about the White Album, Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, and Let It Be!
In part 3 of 4, Brian and Bill continue the album by album review of the entire Beatles catalog. In this episode we cover Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, and Magical Mystery Tour with musicians Chris Nova and Ben Resnick and bloggers Ed Magdziak and Beanie Zee (sirkaytheawesome.com). WE talk about psychedelia, experimentation, George Martin, what would make Sgt. Pepper's better, and the film Across the Universe.
Bill and Brian continue the epic conversation (part 2 of 4) as we take on the task of having the conversation about being a fan of each and every Beatles album by discussing Beatles For Sale, Help!, and Rubber Soul. Joining us in this round of conversation are Kim and John from Casino Sundae (casinosundae.bandcamp.com) and Ed Magdziak, writer for youdontknowjersey.com! Not only do we discuss our favorite songs off these albums be we also sneak in a bit about Pete Best and some ruminating on John Lennon's death.
Bill and Brian have finally decided to do it! Here it is, us talking about the Beatles. But how could we do just a single album? Where would we start? Every album they put out could be featured on the podcast, so now they will be. This is part 1 of 4 in which we discuss every single Beatles album (UK versions). In this episode we discuss Please Please Me, With the Beatles, and A Hard Day's Night. We are joined by several guests (and will continue to be as we make our way through all the albums) including musician Chris Nova of Ruby Bones (ruby bones.bandcamp.com), musician Ben Resnick from We're Ghosts Now (wereghostsnow.com), journalist Ed Magdziak from youdontknowjersey.com, musician Brian Stabile of Casino Sundae (casinosundae.bandcamp.com), and singer/songwriter Jesse Elliot (jesseelliot.com).
Bill and Brian close out Massive Album November with Bruce Springsteen's Oscar winning ballad "Streets of Philadelphia" from the Tom and Hanks/Denzel Washington film Philadelphia soundtrack. We talk about how this helped close the second chapter of Bruce's career before reforming the E Street Band a few years later, revitalizing his tours and studio albums. We also read some more listener emails about great album opener/closer combos and Dark Side of the Moon and drugs. We discuss our own experiences with music and 'gummy bears' before giving a quick Tom Hanks career retrospective!
Bill and Brian close out Massive Album November with singer songwriter Jack Linden of Rose Boulevard (roseboulevard.bandcamp.com) talking about Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA (1984, Columbia). Springsteen was a good ways into his career, but with this album and its 7 top 10 singles, he became a household name. Jack talks about growing up having been "born into Bruce" and not really remember when he first heard these tunes. He also shares how his fandom ebbed and flowed, cementing itself as he reached adulthood. Brian, Bill, and Jack also discuss synthesizers, the E Street Band, Springsteen's effect on Jack's writing, how Bruce synthesizes his influences to be unrecognizable, Bruce's falsetto and (in)ability to harmonize with himself, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Happy Bonus Song Thanksgiving! Bill and Brian celebrate by talking about Pink Floyd's "See Emily Play." Brian breaks down a bit of the story of Syd Barrett and his time in the Floyd. Then we jump into a whole bunch of listener emails, spurred by our conversation of what could be the best album openers and closers. We got a bunch of cool suggestions and maybe threw out some controversial statements about the White Stripes and the Beatles. Also, Bill and Brian talk about what they are thankful for!
Massive Album November continues as Brian and Bill welcome podcaster Andrew James (rowthree.com) to talk about Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon (1974, Harvest). Although their 8th studio album, the band finally 'broke through' in a big, bad way with Dark Side, spending 741 weeks (that's nearly 15 years) on the Billboard charts! Andrew talks about unlocking the magic of the Floyd thanks to the confluence of a friend's parents being out of town, some "gummy bears," and a sublime saxophone. Then Bill, Brian, and Andrew discuss how cool VH1/s Classic Albums program is, madness, the universal themes of the album, synthesizers, how annoying it is that Roger Waters is just better than everyone at everything (except singing), 7/8 time signatures, David Gilmore's gorgeous vocal tones, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian fast forward in the Who's career to discuss the last song off their last album (so far), "Tea & Theatre" from 2006's Endless Wire. Brian fills in the events on the band's timeline, including the deaths of Keith Moon and John Entwhistle and the bands reformation. We discuss how the band has aged gracefully and progressed into this next step in their career. The we read some listener tweets, correcting a Madonna fact and sharing some great Canadian music.
Editor in Chief for Speak Into My Good Eye (speakimge.com) Mike Mehalick joins Bill and Brian for another installment of Massive Album November as we discuss the Who's Who's Next (1971, Decca). Emerging from the 60s mod scene into their own sound with 1969's Tommy, the Who, especially primary songwriter Pete Townshend, were struggling with the next step in their career. Hoping to continue pushing boundaries, the band began work on the multimedia project Lifehouse but abandoned its grandiose ideas, leaving engineer Glyn Johns with the task of assembling the album that became Who's Next. Mike talks about his father bringing him to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame where the Tommy exhibit captured his imagination. Bill, Brian, and Mike then discuss commercialism, the Who vs. Led Zeppelin, Pete Townshend and Roger Daltry's complementary voices, synthesizers, Borat impersonations, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill speak to you from the optimism of the past as we break down what make's Madonna's "Into the Groove," released as part of the Like a Virgin single cycle, pretty cool. We talk about the song's inclusion on the international release of the album and a bit about David Bowie before reading some listener emails about Randy Newman and the 33 1/3 series!
Massive Album November is here! Each episode this month will be a different artist and record that has attained huge sales numbers that we've somehow missed so far. To get us started, thegreatalbums.com blogger Jeff Fiedler joins Bill and Brian to discuss Madonna's sophomore effort Like a Virgin (1984, Sire). Although a success on the dance scene, Madonna had yet to make herself a household name prior to this release. With the help of producer Nile Rodgers and an excellent set of tunes, Madonna became the icon she has continued to be today. Jeff talks about becoming a record collector at a very young age and how it helped him cut through the production of 80s pop as a listener. Bill, Brian, and Jeff then discuss the contributions of Rodgers' bandmates in Chic, the songwriting talents of Stephen Bray, Madonna's early bands Breakfast Club and Emmy, how the controversy over the sexuality on the album is a bit overblown, how pop songs were songs in the 80s, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian take some time out to cover a little bit of Neil Young's weaker output by discussing "Transformer Man" off 1982's Trans. We discuss Young's rationale for incorporating electronic instruments into his music, the sincerity of his experimentations at the time, and how some better songs may have helped him in this period. Also, we read a listener email that takes back down the path of Pearl Jam as Bill attempts to defend Yield, "Wishlist," and his opinions about Ten!
Bill and Brian welcome WXPN music director and podcaster (soundcloud.com/ddmusicpodcast) to discuss the final chapter of Neil Young's so-called "ditch trilogy," Tonight's the Night (1975, Reprise). Still reeling from the drug related deaths of Crazy Horse guitarist Danny Whitten and roadie Bruce Berry, Neil Young cast off the folk and country tinged sound he was known for with Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young and his own chart topping album Harvest in favor of a more raw rock and roll sound. Dan talks about discovering the depth of Young's music through a friend before diving into his entire catalog (including the Geffen years!) during his time at college. Brian, Bill, and Dan then discuss how "raw" might be describing the audio quality instead of the emotions on the album, camping, Nils Lofgren's excellent guitar (and piano), which Neil Young song should never be covered by anyone, what alcohol the band was drinking for the sessions (it was tequila), which Neil albums we love the most (other than this one), and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian decide to continue the conversation about Pearl Jam by focusing on a song from guitarist Stone Gossard's 2001 solo album Bayleaf called "Pigeon." We talk about how Stone's songwriting fits in with Pearl Jam's sound and why this is a great power pop song with a cool power chord based riff. Also, we get into some listener emails that include listener lists of top 5 Pearl Jam albums, cool untitled songs from Live on Two Legs, and a bit about Todd Rundgren!
Podcaster Jim Hanke (vinylemergency.com) makes his second appearance on the podcast to help Brian and Bill talk about Pearl Jam's Yield (1998, Epic). Coming off a bit of a downturn in their career, some would say creatively as well as commercially (but not us), Pearl Jam went into the studio looking to use each member's songwriting contributions and came out re-energized with one of their best albums. Jim talks about the ubiquity of the band's music in his life before Bill, Brian, and Jim then discuss how Bill and Jim are mirror images as PJ fans, ripping off Led Zeppelin, Eddie Vedder getting precious lyrically, Brendan O'Brien's excellent production, the Dismemberment Plan, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! With Brian jet setting about the globe (aka taking a long weekend trip to Chicago), Bill tackles some more Amy Winehouse by taking a listener suggestion and talking about her duet with Tony Bennett, "Body and Soul" from his 2011 album Duets II. Bill talks about the scene in Amy documentary where she has to overcome some initial nerves to create a wonderful performance. Also, Bill reads some lister emails about great track sequencing, the Rolling Stones, U2, Led Zeppelin, and Fran Zappa v. Tom Waits!
Bill and Brian welcome future podcasters (Indie Heroes, available soon) David Hillier (also a journalist) and Chris Barrett (who works in the West End) to the podcast to talk about Amy Winehouse's Back to Black (2006, Island). British singer songwriter Amy Winehouse was immediately noticed by the public, as much for her music and voice as for her tabloid escapades. With producers Mark Ronson and Salaam Remi, she hit the charts in a big way with her second and final album before her untimely death at the age of 27. David and Chris talk about what it was like watching the British tabloids take hold of her before they really got to appreciate her music. Then Bill, Brian, David, and Chris make their way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Brian and Bill continue discussing Tom Waits by...talking about Norah Jones? That's right, Norah Jones covered an obscure Waits song on 2004's Feels Like Home. We talk about how Jones tried to pull away from the glut of female singer-songwriters that dominated the early aughts as we analyze what makes this song cool. We also read some listener emails that help fill in some info we missed way back when we talked about Guns'n'Roses on the show. And we get talking about what albums we think are well-sequenced, prompting Brian to discuss the many virtues of the Beatles' Abbey Road!
Bill and Brian are joined by podcaster and musician Joe Galuppo (diningroomradio.net and joegaluppo.bandcamp.com) to talk about Tom Waits' Bone Machine (1992, Atlantic). Waits, with his idiosyncratic musicianship and distinctive voice, emerged from a 5 year hiatus to create one of the tentpole albums of his career. Joe talks about how his cool dad, noting his son's taste for the unusual, pointed him toward Tom Waits. Brian, Bill, and Joe then discuss how death permeates the album as a theme, the echo-filled concrete studio it was recorded in, Wait's unique vocal performance, a train made of bones, Fight Club and masculinity, Frank Zappa, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill talk about Scott Weiland and Dean DeLeo's acoustic performance of "Plush" off their 1992 debut Core. We talk about the song's structure, Dean's chord style, Scott's excellent vocal skills, and whether or not Led Zeppelin was cool in the 90s. We also read some listener emails about our mind reading prowess while discussing Ben Folds and what musicians play like Elliott Smith.
Musician Zach Calhoun (from Cadet, cadetcadets.bandcamp.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Stone Temple Pilots transformative sophomore effort Purple (1994, Atlantic). After debuting with the 8 million-selling Core (home to mega-hits "Plush," "Creep," and "Sex Type Thing"), STP fell into grunge's bottom tier as far as critics were concerned. Purple was the band's successful attempt to right the ship and show the world there was quite a bit more to them than just power chords. Zach tells us how he discovered this album via his brother's cassette tape and it helped shape his love of alternative music. Bill, Brian, and Zach discuss the albums cool artwork, how people who say that only one song off an album is good don't get it, Weiland's powerful voice, the negative stigma surrounding the band, Dean's awesome chord voicings, Robert's wild bass playing, a little on Weird Al, Chester Bennington and the band's legacy, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian take a very circuitous route to keep talking about Elliott Smith by discussing Jimmy Eat World's cover of the Heatmiser tune "Half Right." The song was written by Smith and added as a hidden track to the band's last album, 1996 album Mic City Sons, as Smith left to pursue his solo career full time. Brian and Bill talk about how the song is a faithful recreation, the story of the EP that contains it, and how Brian himself covered the song in his first live performance of a complete set. We also read some listener emails about the Grateful Dead, Levon Helm, and the word "timbre."
Centennials and Rose Boulevard drummer Pete Stern joins Bill and Brian to discuss singer songwriter Elliott Smith's major label debut XO (1998, Dreamworks). Coming up in the Portland indie scene of the 90s, Smith eschewed the alt stylings of his band Heatmiser and gained attention with his folksy, DIY home recording. He got his big break when director Gus Van Zant included the song "Miss Misery" on the Good Will Hunting soundtrack, and this album followed shortly after. Pete discusses hearing Elliott Smith first on MTVu but not really delving into his catalog until a few years later when his biography was released. Bran, Bill, and Pete then talk about the Oscars performance and Celine Dion, what Elliot's problem with Heatmiser was, Smith's 2003 suicide, the quality production of the album, the criminally underrated Jon Brion, a whole bunch of diving into Smith's dense lyrics, Joey and Lenny Waronker, driving to Nashville on shrooms while listening to Weezer's "Hash Pipe," Brian Wilson's love of "Shortening Bread," how we would shorten the album a bit, and much much more are we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill continue talking about the Grateful Dead via the War on Drugs recent cover of "Touch of Grey" from the Day of the Dead tribute compilation. Brian talks about why he loves this song, the whole collection, and how it's helped him open up to being a fan of the Grateful Dead. Then we read some listener emails including a correction about us confusing Norway for Sweden and an interpretation of an Against Me! tune.
Bill and Brian welcome guitarist Tom O'Leary (whose band, Small Planet Radio, just put out an excellent album* that can be heard at smallplanetradio.com) to talk about the Grateful Dead's American Beauty (1970, Warner Bros.). Known for their live jam sessions that have helped created a devoted following, the Dead sometimes struggled to translate that to their studio work. But with the release of this album (and Working Man's Dead) earlier in that same year, the band gave the world a lasting work of art. Tom talks about discovering the band through his older siblings playing the records, and then really discovering them when he befriended some nice hippies at college. Brian, Bill, and Tom discuss the influence of CSNY, how the band got tricked into having to write pop songs, a deep dive into Robert Hunter's lyrics, how honest moments between parents and children as depicted in media makes Bill cry, hippie culture, Brian sliding into people's DMs, weird chords, what timbre is and how "tambre" is not a thing, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track! *note: Host Bill Lambusta is also in Small Planet Radio and wrote this description, so feel free to take it with a grain of salt.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill welcomes Brian back to talk about Laura Jane Grace, Miley Cyrus, and Joan Jett's cover of the Replacements "Androgynous." Brian, having missed out conversation about Against Me!'s Transgender Dysphoria Blues earlier in the week, share some of his thoughts on trans issues before we get into to talking about how we love this song and all its nonsense lyrics. We also compare and contrast Miley with Justin Bieber and discuss the role of innovation and experimentation in pop music. Then we read some listener emails about misogyny in AC/DC and Guns'n'Roses' lyrics and bands with changing lead singers!
With Brian out on tour, Bill welcomes podcaster Justin Tyler (SongSpotters.com) to talk about the seminal (already) trans punk rock anthem Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014, Total Treble) by Against Me! Formed by then-name Tom Gable as a teenager in 1997, the band went on to become an icon known for their political fueled punk rock anthems. Surprising many, front woman Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012 and began transitioning to living her life as a woman. Using her own experiences and that of a fictional transgender prostitute, Grace penned and released this album a couple years later. Justin talks about how this album was his introduction to the band, and how it has factored into a cause that he feels close to. We then jump into discussing gender expression and toys, transgender dysphoria in the DSM V, how these songs are fantastic sing along songs, Atom Willard's awesome drumming, suicide rates in the trans community, how sexual identity and gender expression are troubles for many (including cisgender individuals), how Laura Jane Grace is a hero for taking on the responsibility of being a trans communicator, how even those with good intentions sometimes have trouble with pronouns, sci-fi author Ann Leckie's series that exists in a gender neutral world, and more as we make our way through there album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian get political as we take a listen to and discuss Third Eye Blind's latest release "Cop vs. Phone Girl" off their upcoming EP We Are Drugs. We talk about the contemporary production style and how we're glad that a 90s band can remain relevant before jumping into the lyrical content, discussing #BlackLivesMatter, Fox News, accountability, and more! NOTE: seriously, although we tried to maintain a balanced POV and not point fingers or really talk about Democrats or Republicans, there may be some who disagree with us on what we say. If you are one of them, that's cool, but keep in mind that we were recording our reaction to a song with a strong narrative bent. If you have a different reaction, feel free to record it and release it on your own podcast instead of writing to us in all caps please.
Brian and Bill welcome music biz insider Mike Prince (he works in licensing music for Disney) to discuss Third Eye Blind's self titled debut (1997, Elektra). Masterminded by singer/lyricist Stephan Jenkins, 3EB took off with massive success filed by their infections pop hooks and catchy melodies. Benefiting from a great chemistry with guitarist and co-songwriter Kevin Cadogan, Jenkins famously ousted Cadogan from the band, leading them into a creative and commercial lull. Strangely, the band has lived on, outliving their 90s rock brethren and remaining a vital influence through till today. Mike talks about purchasing CD singles of the band's early hits before finally discovering the album as an art form while listening to a friend's copy on vacation in Las Vegas. Bill, Brian, and Mike discuss how a younger generation is spreading the word about this album, Kevin Cadogan's role in the band and the business dealings that leads to his dismissal, Arion Salazar's cool bass grooves, Brad Hargreaves' pay day, the non-pop oriented tracks on the album, what the heck harmonics are, the influence of Oasis and MTV's the Real World, where the album dips into a "winter" vibe, how the last 3 songs solidify the band's legacy, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill continue talking about the wonders from down under (didn't want to use "Thunder" twice in the same sentence) AC/DC and their tune "Thunderstruck." We discuss how this song and its parent album, the Razor's Edge, were a bit of a comeback for the band and helped solidify their place in the annals of rock. Also, we keep our promise and fill in some of the AC/DC story, getting us up to present day, Then we jump into some listener emails, tackling the controversy surrounding both Napster and Lars Ulrich's count in to the Metallica song "Leper Messiah."
Bill and Brian make the best of an odd situation in which a guest was supposed to come on to be our gritty Australian rock and roll connoisseur but ended up not joining us. So we tackle AC/DC's legendary Back in Black (1980, Atlantic). After years of working their way to the top of the Australian charts, the band, founded by brothers Angus and Malcolm Young, broke through to an international audience with 1979's Highway to Hell. Tragically, after a night of heavy drinking, charismatic frontman Bon Scott passed away during the winter of 1980. Choosing to carry on, the band brought in singer Brian Johnson who helped them reach even greater heights of success and critical acclaim. Brian and Bill talk about AC/DC's presence in their younger days, Bill while listening to the radio and Brian while broadcasting on the radio. They also discuss the influence of producer Mutt Lange, Brian Johnson's back story, the band's unique ways of honoring Bon Scott, how the band made it's distinctive sound, Angus' killer leads, the chart topping-ness of the album and its singles, what Max Weinberg might think of Phil Rudd, a bit about if there is any misogyny on the album, and as always a track by track review!
On another very special episode, Bill and Brian take some time to fill in the big gap from back before we started the Bonus Song Thursday tradition. We play our way through songs from the Replacements, Miracle Legion, the Rentals, Billy Bragg and Wilco, Our Lady Peace, the Wrens, the Hold Steady, Oasis, Arcade Fire, Bruce Springsteen, the National, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, and Guster.
On a very special episode of the Great Albums, Bill and Brian take a break from our usual geeking out over the minutia of an album to geek out over the minutia of a film. We talk about the best fictional biopic of a 60s pop band That Thing You Do! Written and directed by Tom Hanks, the film follows four small town musicians as they rise to fame on the strength of their danceable rock'n'roll tune (also called "That Thing You Do"). Brian and Bill talk about how they started watching the movie and how they've watched it too much. Also, we follow the plot, talking about what we loved and giving some insight into what made it cool. Also, Bill pulls out some lessons from his Literary Criticism classes from over a decade ago to deconstruct some of characters and plot devices!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill continue talk about Metallica, jumping 10 years ahead from 1986's Master of Puppets to "Hero of the Day" from 1996's Load. We discuss the evolution in the band's sound and image, how their alternative leaning contemporaries influenced their sound (maybe bringing in some Bowie influence?), and more about Lars' heavy kick drum. Also, we read a bunch of listener emails, first tackling some singers who reference a person/character in multiple songs, then we finally get an answer to what the heck dream pop is, and then blogger Jeff Fiedler finally clues us in to what the heck was going on with Queen and Elektra Records! Additionally, we read an open letter from one listener to all the others, that makes Jared my "Hero of the Day."
Bill and Brian are joined by educator and author Doug Robertson (aka the Weird Teacher, @theweirdteacher) to talk about what makes Metallica's Master of Puppets (1986, Elektra) great. Metallica, forebears of thrash metal and icons within the metal genre, spent a few years in the underground building a rabid fanbase before finally breaking through with their major label debut (which did so without the help of radio airplay or any music videos). Doug shares how listening to Metallica for the first time forced his body to experience puberty within a matter of seconds as a high school freshman. He then became a ravenous fan, taking in their back catalog and falling in love with each album in turn. Brian, Bill, and Doug discuss Nu metal, growing with fast and loud music, Metallica's musicality, Winger, Lars Ulrich's drumming skills (and maybe lack thereof), how Hetfield's lyrics are smarter than you may think, a whole bunch of really cool guitar things, Dave Mustaine, which song on the album is actually a sonata, a bunch about Cliff Burton's life (and death), and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill tackle Liz Phair's 2003 attempt at a mainstream breakthrough "Why Can't I." We discuss the sound curated by production team the Matrix, the early aughts sing-songwriter sound, and how this song alienated as many fans as it gained, basically not helping Phair's career the way the label had envisioned. Additionally, we read some listener emails and tweets. We got a lot of interaction from the Television episode, so we tackle the Elektra stable of artists, who the band influenced, and some great 10 minute songs!
Bill and Brian welcome the host of the podcasts Director's Club and Pop Culture Club (both part of the Now Playing Network, nowplayingnetwork.net) Jim Laczkowski to discuss Liz Phair's debut exile in Guyville (1993, Matador). Through talent and a little luck, Phair turned her demo project into being signed by Matador records. She took the $3000 given to her to record a single and instead did an entire album with producer Brad Wood. Hailed for its lo-fi charm and the brazen attitude of the the songwriter it showcased, the album, went on to find critical success and a devoted fanbase. Jim shares how he came across this album as a lucky 15 year old with cool friends. Bill, Brian, and Jim discuss Phair's career choices and her major label turn, how Guyville is supposedly tracked to respond to the Rolling Stone's Exile on Main Street, the difference between lo-fi and "hi-fi," Phair's low vocal tone, the acerbic Steve Albini, the atrociously 90s-styled video for "Never Said," how weird it is that some in the media have labeled Liz Phair a "sex kitten," Jim's favorite Chicago bands, and more as we make our way through the album track by track.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian continue discussing Television (you know, the band, not the thing you stare at in the living room) by listening to and chatting about "1880 of So" from their 1992 "comeback" self titled album. We speculate on the possibility of a Television biography and why the band reformed when they did. Then, spurred by a Twitter interaction, we attempt to once again explain what we are trying to accomplish with the podcast and the best way to interact with us by inviting everyone to join the conversation.
Bill and Brian welcome journalist/Jersey music expert Jim Testa () to talk about Television's Marquee Moon (1977, Elektra). Emerging out of the CBGB "punk" scene, Television struggled to find mainstream success with their quirky rock and only put out two albums before calling it quits (a third followed in the 90s after they reformed). Despite this, the band has gone on to be critically well regarded and highly influential. Jim Testa, who has been writing about music since before the release of this album, tells us about the early days at CBGB and discovering this music as it was released. Bill, Brian, and Jim discuss the Ramones, what the heck post-punk is, how Television is completely unique, what Robert Christgau had to say about the album, the quality of Tom Verlaine's voice, the strange rhythms in the songs, a little on what Brian thinks sounds "angular," what cinematic sounds like, Suicide (the band), and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Because Brian was a little busy, Bill brings some well researched facts about Aimee Mann's cover of the Harry Nilsson song "One!" He talks about the history of the song as it made it's way from Nilsson to Three Dog Night to Mann to the Magnolia soundtrack! Additionally, Bill reads some listener emails about cool comic books about music and how we obviously inspired Jeff Tweedy as he pondered what to name the latest Wilco album!
Brian and Bill are joined by podcaster Dan Drago (25oclockpod.com) to talk about Harry Nilsson's triumphant hit album, Nilsson Schmilsson (1971, RCA Victor). Nilsson started his career as both a recording artist and songwriter who finally broke when Three Dog Night covered his tune "One" in 1969. He enjoyed continued success with a series of unique albums through the 70s before retiring from the music business in the 80s. Dan shares how he knew Nilsson without knowing it, until he checked out this album after not getting an in-joke perpetuated by his brother and their friends' band. Bill, Brian, and Dan talk about Nilsson's influence on solo Beatles output, his collaboration with Randy Newman, the idiosyncratic humor found on this album, multi-Harry harmonies, the Bo Diddley beat, Badfinger and their sad story, how Nilsson wrote a song that feels like it wasn't written by anyone, Nilsson's continuing legacy, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian take a closer look at the song stylings of the iconic actor William Shatner by listening to and discussing his collaboration with Ben Folds on the latter's experimental pop record Fear of Pop Vol. 1. We talk about how this song hinted on what was yet to come. We also read a few listener emails that help us finally put the nail in the coffin on what the deal is with winter in Australia and New Zealand, explore more about how we want to discuss the technical aspects of music and production, and a shout out to our friends in the band Ayer Amarillo!
Bill and Brian take a deep dive into the unique and unexpectedly great work of William Shatner and his collaboration with Ben Folds, Has Been (2004, Shout! Factory). The iconic Star Trek actor was often maligned for his previous foray into pop music, 1968's The Transformed Man, but he found a willing collaborator who helped channel his spoken word poetry fantastic songs that muse on success, tragedy, and growing older. Bill and Brian talk about how they were pleasantly surprised when this came out. We came for Ben Folds but stayed for Shatner. We also discuss Pulp, Joe Jackson, anxiety in the face of success, relationships with dads, the passage of time, the Great Cosmic Joke, having fun at funerals, choosing how you feel, how Shatner took control of who and what he is with his own self-awareness, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill ask (and answer) the question: What is Kim's Deal? This is, of course, a reference to Pixies member and Breeders front woman Kim Deal, as we continue our conversation from our Doolittle episode by following her career with the band's hit single "Cannonball." Bill and Brian talk about who got the last laugh in the Kim/Black Francis feud, the very 90s-ness of the fact that this song was even a hit, and we read some listener tweets about the first day of Winter in Australia!
Bill and Brian welcome drummer John Petrick of the Stewart Dolly (thestewartdolly.bandcamp.com) to the podcast to discuss the Pixies sophomore full length release Doolittle (1989, 4AD). The band formed around the core of primary songwriter Black Francis and guitarist Joey Santiago after the two met at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before bassist Kim Deal and drummer Dave Lovering solidified the lineup. Signed to British indie label 4AD, the band took off with college radio and have since maintained their legacy as one of THE most important alternative bands. John shares how he discovered the band through looking up Weezer on allmusic.com. Bill, Brian, and John discuss Black Francis' name, whether or not his character in the songs reveals who he is in life, Joey Santiago's noisey guitars, Brian not knowing anything about superhero names, the monolithic nature of the album, how to learn to play bass using the Kim Deal method, how Black Francis' voice cracking during a particular song is John's favorite moment on the album, Ennio Morricone, a surprising amount about how the band is like the Beatles in many ways, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up their conversation on Sam Cooke's Night Beat by discussing one of his last releases ever, "A Change Is Gonna Come." Written after a particularly tense interaction at a motel, Cooke released this song hoping to affect change within the Civil Rights Movement. We talk about how the song's dense arrangement contrasts with what was produced for Night Beat, the difficulty of navigating racism as a pop icon in a time known for its social injustice, how anger can be used to fuel positivity, and a little on race relations and integration in general. Additionally, we read a listener email, asking us to explain some recording processes we often talk about, specifically the art of mixing!
Joining Brian and Bill to discuss Sam Cooke's landmark and influential Night Beat (1963, RCA) is Randy W. Hall, cohost of our podcast kin That Dandy Classic Music Hour (thatdandyclassicmusichour.com). Night Beat found Sam Cooke enjoying the benefits of his restructured contract, exercising his right to choose his own backing band, go into a studio, show off his skills as the father of soul, and put together one of the first purposely crafted albums. Randy talks about playing hooky from school and heading to his local record shop to discover the reissue of Night Beat on the shelf and then just being blown away when he put it on in his car. Bill, Brian, and Randy discuss the birth of soul, Motown vs. Stax, Cooke's conversational style, Sam's voice being out front, Dylan covering "Freebird," Barney Kessel's excellent guitar work, Billy Preston's excellent organ interplay with Ray Johnson's piano, the unfortunate circumstances of Sam Cooke's death, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill discuss one of the Ramones most recognizable songs "I Wanna Be Sedated," how the Ramones have become a ubiquitous legacy act without huge hits, and all the bands that have covered the song. Also, we read a listener email about the necessity of separating art from the artist.
Bill and Brian welcome musician (hellstroms.bandcamp.com), podcaster, and our new resident punk avatar Jack Fitzsimmons onto the podcast to talk about the Ramones' self titled debut (1976, Sire). The four kids who went on to change their names and the landscape of music grew up in the hostile environment of Queens, NY where they decided to embrace themselves as outsiders, turned up the volume, and pretended to be rock stars. Jack shares how he first delved into the band and this album while visiting family in Great Britain and meeting the punks from across the pond who idolized the Ramones. Jack helps us understand, from his perspective, what it means to be a punk and part of that culture. Bill, Brian, and Jack discuss the band's intelligence and their dumb image, the strange mixing choices on the album, the emergence of teenager culture, making mix tapes for former high school girlfriends, Dee Dee's troubles and sexuality, the birth of the punk cover, and much more as we talk about the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian continue talking about Waylon Jennings and his unique brand of "outlaw country" by discussing his duet with Willie Nelson "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)." A listener wrote in, giving us a lot of insight on this song and how it shows off Waylon's "big brass balls." We also read some tweets that corrected our British slang, challenged our perception of fandom, and lead us to talking about "who's in" and "who's out." We also read another email in which a listener heartily disagrees with some of our assessments on the La's album!
Joining Brian and Bill on the podcast this week is trunkworthy.com writer and co-founder David Gorman to talk about Waylon Jennings' Dreaming my Dream (1975, RCA Victor), a key album at the start of his "outlaw country" years. Tired of the Nashville machinery, Jennings was able to wrestle creative control away from his label and into his own hands, sparking a legendary run of albums. David talks about discovering Waylon through recommendations and his live albums before lauding him with accolades for his DIY ethic and unique vocal delivery. Bill, Brian, and David discuss how Waylon challenge the Nashville industry, his rapscallion ways, David's hatred for harmonicas, a theory for the concept of the record, the greatest cheatin' songs bracket, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
Brian and Bill take a little time to discuss one of the tracks from the deluxe edition of the La's set titled album, "I Am the Key." After Bill tells a wedding story that he forgot to tell on the main episode and Brian fawns over the songs harmonies, the two take a really deep dive into two of Bill's favorite subjects: data sifting and Pearl Jam. A listener challenged our claim that Pearl Jam's Ten outsold Nevermind. We accept the challenge and take it to the mat. We discovered some surprising facts, including how the RIAA and Nielsen Soundscan work, what labels have to do to receive gold and platinum certifications, and of course which album really outsold which (on both US domestic and international levels)!
Bill and Brian dive into a wonderful, under-appreciated and under-discovered set of songs by Brit-pop forebears the La's with their self titled album (1990, Polydor/Go!). Best known for their single "There She Goes," which is perhaps better known Stateside as the 1999 hit for Sixpence None the Richer, the band has only put out this single album to date. But in the time since its release, the band has gone on to become a cult favorite. Bill and Brian discuss the evolution of this album under the guidance of several producers, how frontman Lee Mavers is still unsatisfied with the eventual Steve Lillywhite helmed version, the economical songwriting, how re-amping basses works, the intelligence and depth imbued into simple lyricism, the conundrum of tracking an album with so many great songs, how the heck to play the lead to "There She Goes," what great British rock band a particular song sounds like, what other great British rock band another song sounds like and how Brian is wrong about not liking a particular song, how a bit of contention and friction helps shape songs to be their best, and more in our track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian keeping diving into the vast catalog of great French artists by discussing Daft Punk and their super massive 2013 hit "Get Lucky." With a little help from Pharrell Williams and Nile Rodgers, the electronic duo churned out a danceable tune. While discussing it we talk about tangentially vs. tangentally, Pharrell's career resurgence at about the time this song hit, disco music, we read a listener email that helps us clarify that a slide was indeed used on Foo fights "Oh George," and we discuss which Pavement albums are our favorites!
Brian and Bill sit down in the virtual lecture hall with Professor Jonathyne Briggs of Indiana University Northwest who literally wrote the book on French music with Sounds French: Globalization, Cultural Communities and Pop Music, 1958-1980 (2015, Oxford University Press). We get a cool history lesson on how rock and roll entered French pop in the 60s and its influence on France's culture through today. From chansons and Elvis Presley to the Beatles and Dylan and onto new wave and electronic music, we explore how an international audience reacted to, were inspired by, and innovated genres we only thought we were well versed in. Jonathyne kindly curated a play list of 10 songs that includes Franciose Hardy, Serge Gainsbourg, Michel Polnareff, Telephone, Marquis de Sade, Alain Bashung, Les Rita Mitsouko, Louise Attaque, Air, and M83! We make our way through it, questioning and commenting as Bill mangles the pronounciation of everything, a track at a time.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Brian and Bill decide to mix things up a bit by doing an even deeper dive into a song from this week's album by spending way too much time discussing Pearl Jam's "Betterman" off the 1994 album Vitalogy. Bill tells the story of how PJ helped unlock his fandom of music while vacationing in the mountains of West Virginia with his family in 2000. He then talks about watching Touring Band 2000, the Pearl Jam concert film, and watching Eddie Vedder's hands to learn how to play Betterman, which of course leads to a little bit of a guitar demonstration. Additionally, we read a listener email that throws some artists at us that we should cover!
Bill and Brian are joined by rock journalist and music critic Steven Hyden (Pitchfork, Uproxx, Grantland, A.V Club) to talk about Pearl Jam's divisive third album Vitalogy (1994, Epic). Written on tour and recorded piecemeal and haphazardly, the band started to showcase its eclectic nature by featuring some noise collages and a more "punk" sound. Especially influenced by singer Eddie Vedder's trouble dealing with fame and the suicide of one of their closest peers Kurt Cobain, the album took on a darker, grittier tone that, although dismissed at the time, has become revered by Pearl Jam die hards. Steven talks about how Pearl Jam and their "feud" with Nirvana figures into his book, Your Favorite Band Is Killing Me, and how Nirvana helped shape his views on Pearl Jam and this album upon its release. Then Bill, Brian, and Steven discuss Dave Abbruzzese's excellent drumming and why his guns and sport cars got him dismissed from the band, how Eddie Vedder can be too good of a singer, how powerful the band is on "Corduroy," how using early takes both helped and hindered the album, PJ's penchant for trilogies, Vedder's ability to successfully write from a female perspective, how Pearl Jam has become the last huge rock act that has sustained its career, Vitalogy's similarities to Rust Never Sleeps, the importance of viewing this album as a whole, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track! Be sure to check out Steven's book, available at all fine book establishments, including at the following link! http://www.amazon.com/Your-Favorite-Band-Killing-Rivalries/dp/0316259152/ref=sr_1_1_twi_pap_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1463490702&sr=1-1&keywords=steven+hyden
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill is once again joined by Jim Hanke of the Vinyl Emergency podcast (soundcloud.com/vinylemergency) to talk about Foo Fighters! We fast forward a little bit in the band's career to discuss a song from their 1999 album There Is Nothing Left to Lose, "Aurora." Jim talks about how this album reflected the band adopting a more mainstream sound but how this song stood out to him and has held up over the years. Bill defends his fandom of this song and the album while complimenting Nate Mendel's exceptional bass playing. Additionally, we read some listener email that gets us analyzing the Dumb and Dumber soundtrack in detail and revealing some great trivia about Lou Reed pre-Velvet Underground history!
Bill welcomes podcaster/music guru Jim Hanke from the Vinyl Emergency podcast (soundcloud.com/vinylemergency) to talk about Foo Fighters' self titled debut album (1995, Capitol/Roswell). Following the tragic suicide of Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain, the band's drummer, Dave Grohl, was left with no band and an uncertain future. Instead of taking offers from Tom Petty to join the Heartbreakers, Grohl decided to take his future into his own hands and front his own group. Jim talks about his podcast, forgives Bill for not really owning vinyl, and discovering the Foos on Eddie Vedder's Self- Pollution pirate radio broadcast in early 1995. Bill and Jim also discuss the album's "indie" aesthetic, the influence of Nirvana on how the album is perceived, how Foo Fighters maybe haven't really ever put out a front to back great album, how Dave Growl has become the official spokesman of rock 'n' roll, how studio noise draws us in, the band's attitude toward and humor in music videos, William Goldsmith's heavy drumming, the album working in groups of 3, and much more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up their interview with Those Pretty Wrongs, Luther Russell and Jody Stephens, about their debut album by discussing the b-side, ""Fool of Myself," to their 2015 single "Lucky Guy." The gentlemen talk a little about the Big Star "box," why this song doesn't quite fit with the rest of the album, and a little bit about a Badfinger "vibe." Additionally, we read a listener email about how we helped keep his sanity in check by mentioning the Beatles. Make sure to check out his web comic, crustedsalt.com!
Bill and Brian welcome legendary Big Star drummer Jody Stephens and acclaimed LA musician Luther Russell for a slightly different than usual episode. We had the pleasure to have the artists themselves provide a track by track commentary! Bill and Brian took the opportunity to head down to Memphis, spend time at Ardent Studios, and chat with Jody and Luther about the making of their album, the self titled debut from Those Pretty Wrongs (due out May 13th, 2016 from Ardent Music and Burger Records). Jody and Luther discuss the beginnings of the band, the cross continent writing process, recording at the historic Ardent using some of Chris Bell's guitars, their influences (such as Willis Alan Ramsey), and the positivity inherent throughout the album before we discuss the entire album, one song at a time. As we make our way through, we talk about how mean Eva Gardner could be (in film), Jody's dog's journey through some health issues, empty Chinese cities, arranging harmonies (that feature Danny De La Matyr!), a great story about a toy cube and sideshow freaks, the influence of Big Star's Alex Chilton and Chris Bell on the songwriting and their presence in the DNA of the music, remaining positive in the face of loss, and so so much more! Make sure to check out the album from Those Pretty Wrongs, due out May 13th from Ardent Music in partnership with Burger Records! www.thoseprettywrongs.com ardentmusic.11spot.com www.burgerrecords.org Many thanks to Addison Hare for making this happen!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill has returned from his world travels to join Brian in a follow up to our remembrance of Prince to discuss his performance as part of the George Harrison tribute from the 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony. On a stage filled with other distinguished artists such as Tom Petty, Jeff Lynne, Steve Winwood and others, Prince stole the show with his electrifying lead guitar. In the face of such a huge cultural loss, Bill takes the opportunity and some time to discuss his own recent personal loss and how the two compare and contrast. Additionally, we read a couple emails about great film soundtracks from the 90s!
Brian is joined by thegreatalbums.com's blog author (and previous on-air guest) Jeff Fiedler to discuss the recent passing of Prince Rodgers Nelson who died suddenly and unexpectedly on April 21, 2016. They queue up six of their favorites, talking about his immense influence over the 80s and early 90s. Jeff talks about a fortuitous Prince-related Halloween experience and Brian recounts a fateful drive with his friends when he was only 18. Along the way they touch on the fact that Prince, even in the face of failure, never stopped trying to move things along and always - always - made sure that wherever he was in his career, he never stopped bringing it live!
We find John Lennon in the throes of wicked productivity during his "Lost Weekend." This time, instead of producing an album for himself or for Harry Nilsson, or writing with David Bowie, he's helming the boards for Mick Jagger on a funky version of an old blues standard. They are joined by Jim Keltner on drums and Cream's Jack Bruce on bass along with a host of Stones-related sidemen to produce what Brian believes is the best post-Exile Stones-related thing available.
Brian flies solo this week for a full episode, deciding to tackle one of John Lennon's less-regarded, but no less amazing albums; 1974's Walls & Bridges. Recorded during Lennon's legendary "Lost Weekend," W&B finds its creator at a personal and professional crossroads. And by the time we get to the end, Lennon has logged two Top 10 hits (including his first #1) and come to the realization that - while going out and having fun every night might be great for a little while - there's truly no place like home. Success achieved.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian discuss Gin Blossoms' "Til I Hear It from You" from the Empire Record soundtrack. Bill explains the legendary cult 90s film to Brian as they break down what makes the song great!
Bill and Brian delight in sharing their admiration for what may be a sometimes overlooked gem from the early 90s, the Gin Blossoms' New Miserable Experience (1992. A&M). Known as a hardworking band that loves the rigors of touring, the Tempe, AZ natives spent years toiling in obscurity, even spending over a year promoting this album, before they finally broke through to the mainstream with their third single "Hey Jealousy." The success was unfortunately timed, however, as founding member and principal songwriter Doug Hopkins, who had been dismissed from the band for drug and alcohol related issues before the album was even released, committed suicide shortly after his song ascended the charts. In this episode, Bill discusses how he started his deep dive into the band's catalog and began to see them as more than just a 90s nostalgia act after catching a performance at Six Flags Great Adventure. Bill and Brian also talk about how terrible Deep Blue Something really is, the canonization of NME, how alcoholism has touched our lives, when bass players should pull the root note 8th notes out of their bag of tricks, what BPMs are considered mid-tempo, the difference between overdrive and distortion, soloing off key, how long it takes to write a song, which Buddy Holly-esque pre-rock'n'roll melody is the best on the album, how life isn't over at the age of 29, and a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian waxes rhapsodic about one of his favorite songs and how it manages to blend free jazz, rock and roll, classical, and the avant garde to create a profound new sound. He takes a few emails from listeners, as well, shedding insight into how exactly The Strokes drumming is so precise. Brian also touches on the Ice Cube v. Gene Simmons "Is rap music eligible for the rock hall of fame" controversy.
Bill and Brian had a lot to do as Easter came early and Bill was prepping for his extensive trip to India, so they made it easy on themselves by sitting down to talk about another 10 great songs! We discuss songs from the Dollys, Frank Sinatra, Emitt Rhodes, Scott Walker, Bob Dylan, Teenage Fanclub, Nada Surf, Plumtree, Band of Horses, the Decemberists.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And that means Brian and Bill once again join forces to discuss a single song. This week, we follow up our conversation with Savannah Pope of SpaceCream (spacecreamband.com) about David Bowie's The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars by discussing a slightly less regarded section of his discography in the 80s, "Let's Dance." We talk about Nile Rodgers and Stevie Ray Vaughn's influence on the song as well as Bowie's career trajectory through the 80s. Additionally, we read some listener feedback that questions Bill's supposition that the Age of the Album started in 1964 and continued through till 2007, which leads Brian to metaphorically climb to the roof of the house and shout literal expletives.
Savannah Pope, singer for LA based glam rock outfit SpaceCream (spacecreamband.com), joins Bill and Brian via the magic of Skype to discuss David Bowie's seminal glam album the Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars (1972, RCA). What more needs to be said about Bowie that hasn't been done in the months since his death in January? He was an iconic artist that defined glam rock for many. On this episode, Savannah shares how she discovered Bowie as a teenager at reform school and helps us define exactly what glam rock is. Bill, Brian, and Savannah discuss the many phases of Bowie's career, what androgyny means creatively, the rock opera behind the music, Bowie's relationship with sanity, strange connections to "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and John Williams, the meaning of the word "creature," mellotron, and as always a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill regales everyone with a story of listening to Pavement via YouTube and first connecting with this song from their album Terror Twilight (1999, Matador). Additionally, we pulled an unaired excerpt from the episode on Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain in which our guest, blogger Jim Appio (cooldadmusic.com), talks with Bill and Brian about success and what means for musicians and their art.
The cool dad himself, blogger Jim Appio (cooldadmusic.com), joins Brian and Bill to talk about Pavement's Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain (1994, Matador). The brainchild of singer songwriter Stephen Malkmus, the band grew it's reputation as indie alternative auteurs with a series of EPs before releasing their debut album, Slanted and Enchanted, and becoming a touring band proper. They followed up with this "breakthrough" album that, although it only made a small impression commercially, has gone on to be an influential and critical success. Jim talks about discovering the band shortly after this release and how their noisy alt sound conflicted with his usual love of "tight pop" music. Bill, Brian, and Jim discuss how Pavement fit into the "classic alternative" mold, the band's knowing references, guitar solos and being anti-rock, how sports are like war, where the underdog exists geographically in the US, how Pitchfork forced us to discuss Pavement's place within the pantheon of greatest songs from the 90s, how every song on every album is somebody's favorite song by that band, and of course a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up their conversation with Ed and Alice Magdziak from youdontknowjersey.com about the Beastie Boys debut album by cherry picking a huge hit from the middle of the band's career, "Intergalactic" from 1998's Hello Nasty. The gentlemen discuss why Brian isn't particularly a fan of the song, how the Beastie Boys no longer had to prove themselves, why John Fugelsang's VH1 Top 20 Countdown was better than Total Request Live, the song's cool video, and the difference between kaiju, hentai, and yaoi. Also, we read some listener emails in which we find out what song Hozier's "Take Me to Church" interpolated into the pre-chorus and Brian is once again called out for his Long Island bashing!
Bill and Brian welcome bloggers Ed and Alice Magdziak from youdontknowjersey.com to help us talk about what makes Beastie Boys' License to Ill great. Formed by 3 teenage New Yorkers who held the burgeoning rap scene of the early 80s in the same regard as the hardcore punk they grew up on, the band went on to release a huge cross over hit that was only a hint at the critically acclaimed and influential series of albums they would produce. Alice and Ed discuss their very different experiences discovering the band in middle-of-nowhere Ohio and as a college sophomore who had a chance meeting, respectively. Brian, Bill, Ed, and Alice discuss the Beastie Boys' party dude image, the mysoginistic and sexist content on the album, the influence of happenstance in meeting producer Rick Rubin and label head Russell Simmons, how broad the genre divide is in rap music, the importance of sequencing especially when navigating mediocre tracks, and of course a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill goes solo to share a little more about his experience with Biggie Smalls' music by covering his nerdy middle school years and (poorly) dancing to this track at his school's monthly dances. Additionally, Bill reads a couple of listener emails where we learn how Billboard incorporates streams into their metrics, what bros do at Dave Matthews Band concerts, and what bros do at Pearl Jam shows!
A few weeks ago, Adam from the Driving in the Dark podcast kindly sent us an intriguing and convincing email on the virtues of rap music, pointing to The Notorious BIG's Ready to Die (1994, Bad Boy) as a great example of a singular vision executed with precision that would definitely benefit from the Great Albums treatment. So we immediately invited him to join us in a discussion. Adam turned out to be a well of knowledge about rap artists and the history of the genre's development over the last 40 years. On this podcast, we chronicle Adam's first experiences with rap music and this album before recounting how Christopher Wallace (AKA Biggie Smalls) went from teenage hustler to one of rap's most respected icons. Adam spends a lot of time kindly explaining the art of rap to Bill as the latter challenges himself with an album from a genre he doesn't have much experience with. During our track by track review of Ready to Die, we also discuss the function of narrative in rap, the evolution of Biggie's deep, smooth flow, the glorification of violence, literal interpretations of what rappers do on their albums, Brian's taste in rap music, Biggie's humor, his development as a pop songwriter, the unique choice of shout outs, the hypocrisy and contradictions present on the lyrics all throughout the album, juvenile sex skits, Biggie meeting Michael Jackson, and make sure to listen the fatigue we all push through as we have one of our longest conversations ever!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill welcome back musician Matt Pischl to discuss more Dave Matthews Band, focusing on the group's 2001 release Everyday and the song "The Space Between." We talk about the change in DMB's sound, Glenn Ballard, using some of these songs to entice a lady friend into making out, and we read a listener email addressing why we play songs and THEN talk about them on the podcast!
Musician Matt Pischl stops by to help Bill and Brian talk about what makes Dave Matthews Band's Before These Crowded Streets (1998, RCA) great. Formed when a shy songwriter approached the local musicians he admired to collaborate, the band has gone on to become a popular concert attraction and bestselling group. Matt tells us how playing the saxophone all throughout elementary and high school led to his ear taking note of Leroi Moore's contributions to DMB's unique sound and eventually transitioning to guitar as his own main instrument. The guys talk about the band's image as a stoner jam band, the portion of their fanbase that is just bros, Steve Lillywhite's influence on the band's sound and development, the impressive musicianship throughout, cool guest contributions (Bela Fleck, Alanis Morissette, the Cronos Quartet), happy hippie music, cutting songs for the single version, Matthews' carpe diem lyrics, and a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian continue talking about the Violent Femmes and analyze their newest release, "Memory" from the forthcoming album We Can Do Anything. The gentlemen discuss how the music is a continuation of their early sound and contrast it with their mid-career sound. We also read a listener email that helps us address why we on't always cover hidden tracks at the end of some of the great albums we've covered. Imogen Poots.
Brian and Bill welcome DJ Wendy Rollins (radio1045.com) and musician Paul Nance (theloudcompany1.bandcamp.com) from the Alter Natives podcast to help us discuss the Violent Femmes' self titled debut album (1983, Slash). Working as an acoustic trio, the band was discovered while busking outside a Pretenders concert. After playing a short set at that show, the band began work on this album, mostly written while primary singer/songwriter Gordon Gano was still in high school. Wendy and Paul share their experiences discovering the band in college (Wendy) and, surprisingly, at an earlier age (Paul) and how it helped shape their lives. Bill, Brian, Paul, and Wendy discuss receiving their copy of this album at college freshman orientation, the band's success in their later years, their dorky image and id-driven rock, the inter-band conflict over selling a song to Wendy's Old Fashioned Burgers, what genre the Femmes fit in and their timeless sound, songs with involuntary physical reactions, Brian and Wikipedia being in agreement, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, any perceived misogyny or sexism on the album, the music literally saving Wendy's life, Beatle-esque harmonies, Jeb!, xylophone vs. marimba, what the heck a tranceaphone is, and the ubiquitous track by track review!
Bill and Brian welcome substitute guest (Ryan Carey unfortunately had to go have Valentine's dinner) Matt Pischl (who you'll be hearing talk about a group with the initials DMB in a couple weeks) to talk about "Dream of the Wild Horses" by Gary Lucas, a song which would have been worked into a collaboration between Jeff Buckley and Lucas if it weren't for the singer's untimely death halting progress on the follow up to Buckley's Grace. Brian, Bill, and Matt discuss how this song would have worked in Buckley's catalog and how they can hear Buckley in the song. We also read a listener email that gives great insight into poetic lyrics, Bob Dylan, Paul Westerberg, and Kurt Cobain's lyrics.
Bill and Brian welcome journalist and blogger (The Inappropriate Thesaurus) Ryan Carey to talk about Jeff Buckley's landmark but only album Grace (1994, Columbia). Although critically revered, the album never became a commercial success within his lifetime (he tragically died in a drowning accident in 1997 at the age of 30), but has since gone on to become one of the most respected and well known albums from the 90s. Buckley was the son of folk singer Tim Buckley, who gained attention in the 70s before his own untimely death. Although he tried to distance himself from his father, Buckley ended up following in his footsteps as a skilled musician and uncanny singer. (After a slight detour into a discussion about politics) Bill, Brian, and Ryan talk about how Ryan discovered Buckley's music a little later than others, the epic nature of each song on this complex album, Buckley's start in a New York City coffee house, his perfect hair, Buckley's legacy as an artist with a single album, Gary Lucas' influence, how perfect "Hallelujah" really is, cowrites and covers, William Wordsworth, and as always a track by track review.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill discuss Alanis Morissette's as a continuation of the conversations from our episode on Jagged Little Pill by listening to and reviewing "Thank You" from Alanis' 1998 follow up Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie. We talk about how Alanis addressed criticisms about her image by releasing an overtly positive song with a video that featured her singing in the nude. Additionally, we read some listener emails about Jens Lekman, how British bands are received in the US, William Shatner, and what it's like to walk next to Sir Paul McCartney on the streets of NYC.
Singer, songwriter, ukulele player Devon Moore from folk/pop/reggae band Fun While You Wait (fwywmusic.com) joins Bill And Brian to discuss Alanis Morissette's landmark international debut Jagged Little Pill (1995, Maverick). Alanis started her career as a Canadian teen pop idol, but shed that image, incorporating rock, grunge, and folk song styles into the confessional and starkly honest music on this album. Thanks to the success of several hit singles, the album sold over 16 million copies in the US. Devon relates how she discovered the album amidst her elder siblings' CD collection when she entered her early teen years, while Bill and Brian compare and contrast their own experiences hearing Alanis Morissette as a ubiquitous radio presence during their time in middle school. Brian, Bill, and Devon also discuss novice harmonica playing, grunge pop, supposed image-making, Flea being in his own world, Dave Coulier, a bit of a lesson on gating and comp'ing vocals, how Bill doesn't understand references to masturbation, the origins of Buddhism, why Brian's 7th grade was the worst, what irony really is, and a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian welcome back singer, songwriter, and musician Renee Maskin (lowlightnj.bandcamp.com) to continue talking about that guy/historical figure/musical genius Bob Dylan. Because it's Bonus Song Thursday, we focus on a single song, and this time it's "Pay in Blood" off Dylan's 2012 album Tempest. Brian, Bill, and Renee talk about the lyrics, the Christ and war imagery, how the song evokes a little bit of Tom Waits, songs about the Titanic that references the 1997 film, and how that reference is similar to songs about Westerns or political activism of the 60s.
Singer, songwriter, and musician Renee Maskin (lowlightnj.bandcamp.com) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Bob Dylan's country-tinged Nashville Skyline (1969, Columbia). After becoming a historical icon in the progressive folk movement of the 60s, Dylan broke huge after "going electric" and embracing rock and other popular music. Tired of the spotlight, Dylan took some time off after a motorcycle accident sidelined him a while. He took that opportunity to revamp his sound too, culminating in this classic that eschews his usual rambling lyrics and froggy voice in favor of simple melodies and a lilting vocal tone. Renee, Brian, and Bill discuss Dylan's arrangements, his role as a historical figure, the sound of contentment on this record, arranging in the studio, George Harrison's influence and vice versa, the cult of personality around Dylan and how he interacts with fans, how Dylan maintained his fame without radio hits, and (as always) a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill welcome back singer songwriter and musician Jeff Linden (jefflinden.bandcamp.com) to talk a little more about Queen and their collaboration with David Bowie, "Under Pressure." We talk about which Queen song we're sending to the aliens in outer space, legendary bass lines, "Ice Ice Baby" (briefly), the opening bass line to "Walk on the Wild Side," what the heck the song is about, and who came up with this bass line. Additionally, we have a little bit of a surprise at the beginning of the episode that you can listen to at soundcloud.com/thegreatalbums!
Singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Linden (jefflinden.bandcamp.com) of Rose Boulevard and his own solo work (backed by the Black Spot Society) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Queen's A Night at the Opera (1975, EMI/Parlophone/Elektra). Probably the definitive album in the band's career, it was a great leap forward both sonically and in composition. With all four members contributing songs, it was an eclectic mix of progressive, hard rock, folk, and vaudeville all anchored by the band's signature harmonies. Jeff talks about discovering Queen at a young age and later coming under their influence again after making his way through a period of listening to serious big songwriters rooted in cars and summer. Along the way, we also discuss how Queen evolved out of a band called Smile, Freddie Mercury's consistent voice, John Deacon's motivations for writing songs, gender roles and sexual identity in songwriting, what a canon is, theremin, Bohemian Rhapsody (of course), and what kind of show we think Roger Taylor and Brian May should be doing curating at Radio City Music Hall.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up our episode on the Strokes' Is This It by talking about "Juicebox," off the band's third album First Impressions of Earth (2006, RCA). Representative of the turning point in the band's sound, the song is muscular and driving, a stark contrast to their earlier work. Brian and Bill discuss David Kahne's production and career, how the Strokes and the Gaslight Anthem have had the same problem, the Strokes side projects, Brian's discovery of the band, and a tweet that (thankfully) corrected who the characters are in Jack Kerouac's On the Road.
From the Jabber and the Drone podcast (jabberandthedrone.podbean.com), Cassidy Robinson joins Bill and Brian to discuss the final installment of Debut Album January, the Strokes' Is This It (2001, RCA). Coming together in New York City and first gaining a following in the UK, the Strokes were a breath of fresh air during a period of nu metal, boy bands, and emo. We talk about when Cassidy first discovered the band, listening to them while riding the bus to school, and how it changed his outlook on the aural landscape available to him as a fan of music. Before we get to our track by track review, we discuss the lasting impact the band made even though they were unable to maintain the level of quality on their first few releases. Additionally, we cover the possible reasons for starting an album with a low key song, which song sounds the most like a Velvet Underground song, stabby guitars, the unique production style of Gordon Raphael, which song sounds like the best song Weezer didn't write, the "conversation" between musicians when a song is being arranged, and more!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill welcome Patrick from the Almost Education and Make Dad Read Comics podcasts to continue talking about Warren Zevon. This time we eschew the long conversation about a whole album to talk a Zevon's biggest and most memorable song "Werewolves pf London" off of the album Excitable Boy (1978, Asylum). We discuss how to rationalize this song as part of Zevon's whole career, whether or not this is a novelty, Kid Rock sampling the song, what happens when you put two Lynyrd Skynyrd live CDs on shuffle, and when Zevon drifted away from the mellow mafia. We also read some listener emails and share their music, podcasts, and trivia about Dennis Wilson and SNL!
Patrick from the Almost Educational and Make Dad Read Comics podcasts joins Bill and Brian as we continue Debut Albums January to discuss Warren Zevon's self titled album (1976, Asylum). Often a misunderstood artist, the eclectic singer songwriter found success after falling in with like minded individuals in the mid-70s LA scene, including the producer for this album Jackson Browne. We talk about how Warren Zevon helped teenage Patrick expand his musical palette, why some people view him as kind of a hokey songwriter, and as always a track by track review. Along the way, we discuss Zevon's storytelling balladry, the reliability of oral histories, if Warren Zevon fits in with the mellow mafia, what brunch with Warren would be like, what podcasting in hell would be like (hint: Satan is an Eagles fan), what it takes to be the world's most successful jug player, and the secret to Brian's listening habits!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Singer, songwriter, musician Jesse Elliot (jesseelliot.com) joins Brian and Bill once again to discuss Elvis Costello. We jump a couple albums into the artist's discography to discuss his single "Oliver's Army" from Armed Forces (1979, Radar/Columbia), the second album to feature backing band the Attractions. We discuss the polish and improved production on this album, Costello's move into New Wave, what the song's lyrics refer to, irony, the use of controversial lyrics, and when Costello recently addressed that topic.
Brian has recorded a special episode to honor the passing of David Bowie. In it, he explains how a simple soda ad brought the man into his life. It was during this time that Bowie's career was on the wane, coloring Brian's earliest memories toward the negative. But Brian speculates that--during Bowie's self-imposed hiatus--he was able to achieve icon status by staying out of his own way and instead becoming all things to all people.
Singer, songwriter, and musician Jesse Elliot (jesseelliot.com) joins Brian and Bill to discuss Elvis Costello's My Aim Is True (1977, Stiff/Columbia) as we continue to highlight debut albums in January's First Month of First Albums! Incorporating an innumerable score of influences, Declan Patrick McManus (aka Elvis Costello) burst out of the British pub rock scene with some spiky music and a brash attitude. We discuss how Jesse first came to know the music through a mix tape, inherited from his brother and played in his crappy old car, before trying to delineate between punk, post-punk, and new wave. Along the way, we talk about what genre each album track belongs in, Nick Lowe's contributions as a producer, whether Clover was up to the task of backing Costello or if the Attractions would have done a better job, what causes the clipping we hear in the recording, Irish folk music, if Less Than Zero is actually a subpar tune, which songs are totally about sex, and as always a track by track review! Additionally, it's the new year, and we've got a new segment where our guest plays an Elvis Costello tune for us!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian follow up their episode on Big Star's seminal #1 Record by taking a listen to Those Pretty Wrongs' "Lucky Guy." A teaming of Big Star's Jody Stephens and LA-based singer songwriter Luther Russell, the song was released as a 7" single in June 2015. Brian and Bill use the context of Jody Stephens emergence as a songwriter within Big Star to talk about and frame the band's career over the intervening years that led up to this release. We talk about how the song's production is a little reminiscent of Stephens' former band, the great bass tones that come out of Ardent Studios, and how happy Brian is that Jody is stepping out on his own as a songwriter. Additionally, we read a very special email that had us floored and will lend a little insight to a few of the things we discussed on the #1 Record episode.
Brian and Bill ring in the new year and kick off the First Month of First Albums with one that has the number "one" in the title: Big Star's #1 Record (1972, Ardent/Stax). Having grown tired of "the biz" after he helped bring his teen rock group, the Box Tops, to the top of the charts with his smokey vocals, Alex Chilton wanted to make his own original music and found a kindred spirit in fellow Memphis native Chris Bell. Thanks to the close relationship Bell had with Ardent Studios founder John Fry, the band had a home in the studio and on their label, distributed by Stax Records. After solid promotion and stellar reviews across the board, the album somehow only found its way onto a small number of record store shelves, relegating it to cult status for many years. Brian and Bill talk about how the album found its way out of that hole and into a place in our hearts. Along the way we discuss why we we weren't immediately blown away by the album, how the music influenced what we all got used to hearing from our favorite bands over the years, the secret weapon that is Andy Hummel, Chris Bell's guitar solos and expert production, That 70s Show, Chilton's smooth delivery vs. Bell's broken tones, if the Bell-less albums stack up against this one, and as always a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Christmas! Wait, what? Didn't we say that the last Bonus Song Thursday was the last episode of the year? Well, it turns out Bill and Brian don't understand how calendars work and we didn't get our releases and recording days lined up so that we could talk about our listeners' suggestions for cool (and terrible) Christmas songs. So Bill took a little bit of time out of his Christmas Eve celebrations (which mostly consists of listening to "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" and dancing with his dog Murray's floppy basset hound ears) to read some emails and play a couple new tunes. Featured on this episode are songs by Ron Sexsmith, Over the Rhine, Marah, and Squeeze! Happy holidays, again!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Brian and Bill cap off the year by reading and discussing the lists sent to us by the listeners of the podcast. Before we get to that, we take a listen to local favorites the Vaughns (thevaughns.bandcamp.com). Then we make our way through the lists of recommended albums, touching on what would be a valuable Dave Matthews Band or Husker Du album to cover. Also, we dive into a little bit about modern listening habits. Happy New Year!
Bill and Brian (really just Brian) count down their favorite albums from the 2015 calendar year! First we talk about why Adele didn't make the year end list and which pop artist could release the next great album. Then we discuss Brian's criteria for his choices, including the future legacy of these albums and the benefits of year end top 10s. In the course of the conversation, artists like Chicago and Lana Del Rey come up (but were not chosen for this list). Also, Bill shares some thoughts on the defining characteristics of rap music, comparing the tone of the lyrics to jazz and the blues, while Brian discusses 2015 as a year of violence and political upheaval. It's been a very good year for us at the Great Albums podcast, and we are forever thankful to each listener! Happy New Year and see you in the next one!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! On our previous episode, Brian and Bill were joined by their awesome photo taking significant others, Amanda Guthrie (amandaguthriephtography.com) and Beanie Zee (beaniezee.com), to share some holiday cheer and talk about some of their favorite Christmas songs. But now, as we celebrate the release of the latest Star Wars film, we too must turn to the dark side to discuss some absolutely terrible songs. These songs are the Worst (with a capital W). Paul McCartney makes another unfortunate appearance on the podcast along with some other dreck. Additionally, a listener points us in the direction of some music that takes a Nirvana song into a new sonic landscape!
Bill and Brian celebrate the season by having their significant others Beanie Zee (beaniezee.com) and Amanda Guthrie (amandaguthriephotography.com), both very talented photographers, join them to count down their favorite Christmas songs. We discuss our individual relationships with the holiday and share some memories about what what Christmas means to us. Between the 4 of us we end up with an interesting selection of songs that include the classics, some universally cherished songs, some kind of funny songs, and (of course) Bing Crosby! Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian welcome indie rocker Andrew Kolbenschlag of Small Planet Radio (smallplanetradio.com) to continue talking about some Gaslight Anthem-adjacent music--namely, primary singer-songwriter Brian Fallon's side project the Horrible Crowes. We talk about how the band evolved over it's 5 albums, where this fits within that trajectory, how these guitar tones differ from the Gaslight anthem, and a little speculation about what Brian Fallon's upcoming solo LP will sound like.
Small Planet Radio's Andrew Kolbenschlag (vocals, guitar, and keys) joins Brian and Bill as our first guest in a month (!) to talk about New Jersey natives The Gaslight Anthem and their album The '59 Sound (2008, Side One Dummy). On their sophomore effort, the band matured into the Springsteen-by-way-of-punk-rock sound that had made them stand out on their previous release. Drawing on punk rock energy, classic guitar tones, and bittersweet anthems about youth, the band found a voice that they could call their own. Bill, Brian, and Andrew discuss how they got into the music, the band's image and how curated it might be, listening to punk as you get older, appealing to a Rock'n'Roll audience (note the capital Rs), Ted Hutt's transparent production, Brian trying to get to second base at Corey Beach on Long Island, what makes this album great, and as always a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Brian and Bill are here to continue talking about Carole King's long and immensely successful career as a songwriter for other artists throughout the '60s. We take a listen to the Monkees' "Porpoise Song" written by King and her songwriting partner (and then-husband) Gerry Goffin for the 1968 film starring the band, Head. Brian details the Monkees' career as Bill is amazed in his enjoyment of the song. We also take some time to look at our Facebook page and discuss some conversations happening there, including a closer look into Bill's criticisms of OK Computer and Graceland.
Bill and Brian have finally reached the end of Massive November, and we close it out with the classic Tapestry (1971, Ode) by legendary songwriter Carol King. Having written many hits for artists like the Shirelles, the Monkees, and Aretha Franklin throughout the '60s, King struck out as a performer herself in the early '70s. With her second album as a performer, she found inspiration after moving to Laurel Canyon and coming under the influence of singer songwriters like James Taylor and Joni Mitchell. Massive hits followed. Brian and Bill discuss a specific and special memory about listening to this album in Brian's life, a fire that consumed part of Bill's house in his teenage years, the ubiquity and effect legacy acts have on the radio, Danny Kortchmar, the utility of sadness within happiness, James Taylor being a badass, what "Tapestry" would sound like as performed by Iron Maiden, and as always a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thanksgiving! Bill and Brian revisit the pre-Buckingham/Nicks era of Fleetwood Mac in a little more detail by discussing the Bob Welch penned "Hypnotize" off the band's 1973 album Mystery to Me. We discuss Welch's jazz influenced style and how the beginnings of the band's sound on Rumours started here. Additionally, we discuss the Great Polly Controversy of 2015 as we amend our comments on Nirvana's "Polly" and its electric versions. Happy Thanksgiving!
Bill and Brian continue the Massive Month of Massive Albums That We Also Call Massivember by talking about Fleetwood Mac's Rumours (1977, Warner Bros.) The band's second album with its most well known lineup (and 11th overall!), found them flourishing under the leadership of guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and the mystical voice of Stevie Nicks. The band reached new heights, selling 40 million copies of this album worldwide, drawing inspiration from their recent breakups, within and without the band, and internal struggles. Bill and Brian do their best to explain the long and winding road that is the story of Fleetwood Mac and how it ended in the sound and production of this album. Along the way we share some of our own break up stories and how they led to better lives, what it would sound like if Bono and the Edge joined the Rolling Stones, Lindsey Buckingham's chops, what the band lacks on their 2003 album Say You Will, "easy listening," the Goo Goo Dolls, and as always a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian delve a little deeper into Nirvana's catalog by discussing the band's cover of David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World" from their MTV Unplugged performance. The guys talk about the elegiac nature of the song, how well the Unplugged performance works as an album, Nirvana's ability to bring a nuanced touch to their softer songs, and Pat Smear. Additionally, we talk about why we won't by discussing Radiohead's OK Computer anytime soon but where listeners can scratch that itch if they feel the need.
Bill and Brian continue "Massivember" (?) this week by delving into the watershed alternative album Nevermind (1991, DGC) by Nirvana. With their second album and major label debut, the band was launched into superstardom by the iconic hit single "Smells Like Teen Spirit" off the album. Paving the way for scores of alt bands to follow, the style and sound of this music was oft imitated, sometimes verging on copycats. Brian and Bill discuss Nirvana's formation, the Seattle sound, and how the music was developed. As the talk continues, we discuss who could have broke alternative if not Nirvana, Butch Vig's production, Kurt Cobain's guitar tone, Krist Noveselic's musicianship, Dave Grohl as the king of rock and roll, the tragic demise of Cobain and the band, and as always a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And Bill and Brian return to discuss some more about Michael Jackson and his collaborations with Sir Paul McCartney. Released on McCartney's album, the poorly received Pipes of Peace (1983, Parlophone/Columbia). The guys talk about how this is a better song than most give it credit for, the production on the song and its corresponding album, the picaresque video, and the falling out between the singers over a royalty dispute. Also, we read a listener email, which leads to a discussion about Guided by Voices and how one should attempt delving into their catalog.
Bill and Brian start off the month of massive albums with the biggest and bestselling album of all time, Michael Jackson's Thriller (1982. Epic). Following up on the success of his collaboration with Quincy Jones on 1979's Off the Wall, Jackson re-teamed with the producer to create this career defining record. Hailed as the album that saved the music industry, no less than 7 of Thriller's 9 tracks were released as singles. Bill and Brian discuss how they view Michael Jackson, his career, and the legacy he created. They also talk about Brian's first experience with Jackson's music when he was in kindergarten, Jackson's development into a worldwide phenomenon, world music, legendary bass lines, the cult of personality, and as always a track by track review of the whole album!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian are once again joined by musician and songwriter Eric Nelson (thelightsbeneath.com) to discuss some music by the legendary blues rockers Led Zeppelin. We tackle the behemoth tune "Stairway to Heaven" off the band's legendary untitled album (1972, Atlantic). In the midst of talking about what makes "Stairway" so great (and maybe not so great), we stumble across an epic Zeppelin vs. The Who debate! We also discuss Celebration Day and Eric makes a selection from the Great Stack of Vinyl!
Brian and Bill are joined by musician and music aficionado Eric Nelson, guitarist of the Lights Beneath (thelightsbeneath.com), to discuss Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy (1973, Atlantic). Hot on the heals of their massive arena rock success with their previous untitled record and "Stairway to Heaven," the band released an album of tunes that cemented their reputation for studio prowess and furthered their dynamic range with cross-genre experimentation. Brian, Bill, and Eric discuss how Eric was drawn to the excellent blues rock that Jimmy Page cranked out, driving down dark roads listening to "No Quarter," how Zeppelin came together in a very convoluted manner, multilayered guitars, the ubiquity of "Stairway to Heaven," impressing girls with "Over the Hills and Faraway," and as always a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! We didn't want to burden you with twice over 2 hour long podcasts in the same week, so we take a slice out of an album and discuss a single song on this episode. Following up on our episode on Say Anything's ...Is a Real Boy, we discuss "Judas Decapitation" from their album Hebrews (2014, Equal Vision). Bill and Brian discuss how the band continued to mature and challenge themselves 10 since their breakthrough record with an album featuring zero guitars. Afterwards, we get into a pretty interesting discussion about the state of music and music discovery thanks to an email from a listener, Shane, who questions if the accessibility of music has a deminishing effect on the enjoyment of it. Decide for yourself after hearing what we have to say!
Singer, songwriter, and musician from the band Centennials (centennials.bandcamp.com), Rhonette Smith, joins Bill and Brian to discuss one of her favorite albums, Say Anything's ...Is a Real Boy (2006, J Records). Written and recorded during a period of mental instability for primary songwriter Max Bemis, the album plays with emo tropes and attempts to break the mold. Originally written to be part of a rock opera, the album finds solid ground with great songs, great tones, and a solid team behind the production. Rhonette, Brian, and Bill discuss the ambition to make art, mental health, the emo conundrum, hypocrisy, ego, the influence of Weezer and the Rentals, well-written lyrics, and of course a track by track review of the whole album.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! We jump 30 years into the future after discussing Willie Nelson's Stardust on the previous episode to talk about his 2006 collaboration with Ryan Adams, "Blue Hotel" from the album Songbird. We discuss who Ryan Adams is, if this was basically a Ryan Adams album, and Willie and Ryan's production choices. Also, Joe picks an album to take as his own from the stack of LPs lying around the studio!
Musician and podcaster Joe Galuppo (check out his NJ indie rock radio podcast at diningroomradio.net) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Willie Nelson's Stardust (1978, Columbia). Having abandoned Nashville in favor of the so-called "outlaw country" scene, Willie found mainstream success and stardom with his country records in the early 70s. although some thought Stardust would ruin his career, Willie proved that he could make an album of standards from the "great American songbook" a hit. In this episode, Joe, Bill, and Brian discuss discovering Willie Nelson in our youths, what a standard actually is, a little about the production of this piece, and (as always) a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Bill and Brian talk about the Talking Heads side project of Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz, Tom Tom Club, and their song "Genius of Love" off their self titled debut album (1981, Sire). Brian and Bill discuss the band's formation, the lasting influence of the song, the Great 1981 Adrian Belew Coup, Mariah Carey and her legacy, and we read a few listener emails about Bare Naked Ladies and Big Star!
Podcaster Alex Gomory, of the Riff n Ralk Music Tock podcast (riffnralk.com), joins Bill and Brian to discuss Talking Heads' Remain in Light (1980, Sire). The band's fourth release in as many years found them trying to work as a cohesive band and experimenting with both technology and world music. Utilizing loops and digital sounds, the band also focused on utilizing African polyrhythms, creating unique songs that were met with unanimous critical acclaim. Brian, Bill, and Alex discuss how Alex discovered the band in college, Fela Kuti, the odd sound the band makes while playing off each other, what it means when a terrorist is shown as a sympathetic character, and as always a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday, and Brian is still missing! Bill takes this opportunity to fill in some blanks left from when he talked about Mono (the album, not the disease) by talking about Paul Westerberg's Stereo (2002, Vagrant). Bill shares some of his favorite tunes from the album. Then, he talks about some exciting news in the world of the Great Albums, including what podcast he guested on, a new partnership, and a fun show that should appeal to the Venn diagram of listeners of this podcast and fans of the Replacements!
With no guest and Brian taking the week off, Bill decided to talk to himself for an hour about one of his favorite artists and one of his favorite albums. Credited to Paul Westerberg's alias Grandpaboy, Mono (2002, Vagrant) was paired with the release of a Westerberg solo album called Stereo. Stereo was the softer side, and Mono was the rocking side. Both recorded at home in Paul's basement, these albums were hailed as a return to form for the singer songwriter after his disappointing prior 3 post-Replacements solo albums. Bill talks about how he slowly developed a love for this album during his freshman year of college, Paul's guitar choice, Westerbergian lyrics, dirty sounds and beautiful melodies, and a track by track review!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Drew Novelli (actor, writer, videographer, musician) joins Bill and Brian to talk about a single song in conjunction with our previous episode. Earlier this week, we discussed our 12 favorite guilty pleasure songs, so naturally, we turned to one of our favorite artists, Ryan Adams, who just released an ENTIRE ALBUM covering one of his guilty pleasures Taylor Swift. We listen to a little bit of Adams' version of "Blank Space" and discuss surprise releases, the value of music, how pop songs translate into alt country, and respect for T-Swizzle. Also, Drew makes his choice from the vinyl grab bag!
You know you have a few of these, too. Songs that you don't want to admit to friends, especially the cool record collecting types, that you know you'll crank up every time you're in a car by yourself. Even here at the Great Albums podcast, we have a few of those. So we decided to enlist our friend Drew Novelli (writer, actor, musician videographer and creator of the 'Guacamole' video) to help us share some of those guilty please songs! We talk about what makes you feel guilty when listening to a guilty pleasure, some off color jokes not common to this podcast, and a bunch of stories about why we love this music. Featuring the music of Seal, Carly Rae Jepsen, Jason Mraz, Shakira, Brent Rusche, Meatloaf, Dio, Parry Gripp, Chicago, Marcy Playground, Chicago Bears, Kelly Clarkson, and Flickerstick!
It's Bonus Song Thursday on the Great Albums podcast and our friend from Roy Orbitron, Conor Meara, is back to talk about Al Green's "You've Got the Love I Need." Released in 2008 on the album Lay It Down, produced by ?uestlove, the music showcases that Green's voice hasn't lost anything over the years. The guys talk about the music, Al Jackson Jr., and Conor chooses an LP from the mystery pile!
Singer/songwriter and musician from Roy Orbitron (royorbitron.org) joins Bill and Brian to talk about Al Green's I'm Still in Love with You (1972, Hi). Recorded at the hieght of his fame and creative output with producer Willie Mitchell, with this album Al Green found a comfort zone for his sweetly soulful music. Filled mostly with love songs and ballads, the album gently helps its listeners as they make their way through a romantic eveing. Brian, Bill, and Conor talk about their personal experiences finding this music, the simple intricacies of the production, Al Green's unique voice, Al's alluring pose on the back cover, how underrated Al Green is amongst the soul giants, and (of course) a track by track review of the album!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! But wait, what's this? It's a cover of the Cure's "In Between Days" from their 1985 album The Head on the Door. Brian and Bill discuss Fold's career, chart success, striking while the iron is hot, and heat stroke. They also announce the winner of the "Petunia" contest, what singer-songwriter was the basis of the film Danny Collins, and big green monkeys!
Bill and Brian welcome Jack Sullivan as a guest to talk about the Cure's Disintegration (1989, Elektra/Asylum). Released after a series of songs that helped the band break into the mainstream, principal songwriter and poorly-applied-makeup enthusiast Robert Smith wanted to create a great album that solidifed how the band was perceived amongst both fans and critics. Written and recorded shortly before Smith's 30th birthday, a sense of doom and gloom dominated the album's new wave/alternative music and the lyrical content. Bill, Brian, and Jack discuss how this album became a soundtrack to breakups, 80s schlock, how Robert Smith spends his day to day life, how Jack would resequence the album, the metaphorical impact of Christmas, and more as we make our way through the album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday, which means Brian and Bill tackle a single song from the artist featured on the previous episode! This week, we take a look at Rod Stewart's version of "Corrina Corrina," a bonus track from his 2013 album Time. A traditional blues tune, based on the version by Bob Dylan, it's a bit of a return to the sound Stewart perfected in the early 70s. Brian and Bill also discuss Stewart's return to songwriting and read some fan mail!
Bill and Brian get together to discuss Rod Stewart's third in a series of five wonderful solo albums for Mercury records that he released early in his career, Every Picture Tells a Story (1971, Mercury). After working with the Jeff Beck Group and running concurrent to his output with the Faces, Stewart found success with the b-side "Maggie May." With a unique rock-and-roll-meets-folk-with-a-little-soul songwriting and production style, this album stands out. Brian and Bill discuss how they were able to move past their own prejudices toward Stewart, why more people don't discuss the importance of Rod's early solo career, why unique sounds and instrumentation sound so good, and a track by track review of the entire album!
It's Bonus Song Thursday on the Great Albums Podcast! In our previous episode we talked about Tom Waits and the impact he's had on others' careers thanks to their covers of his songs. So Bill and Brian take a closer look at the Eagles version on "Ol' 55," originally released on Waits' debut album, Closing Time, in 1973. We discuss the Eagles as a dad band, their use of harmony, soft rock radio, and how covering other's songs fits in the world of rock and roll.
Bill and Brian welcome cohost of the Pruning Session podcast (from audiobonsai.com) Moksha Gren to help us talk about Tom Waits' Rain Dogs (1985, Island). The successor to the album where Waits left his balladier days behind him, the experimental Swordfishtrombones, Rain Dogs found universal critical acclaim as it solidified the eclectic music mixed with found sounds and a raspy vocal that Waits became synonymous with. Bill, Brian, and Moksha discuss how they first came to be fans of Toms Waits, the production of the album, and then a track by track review. Along the way, we also find room for a lot about Rod Stewart, how Moksha is raising his kids with the right kind of music, a bit about the state of country music, and more!
Get ready to be sad on this week's Bonus Song Thursday as Brian and Bill welcome back singer-songwriter, musician, and podcaster Brian Rothenbeck (rothenbeck.com) to talk about the Weakerthans' "Virtute the Cat Explains Her Departure" from their 2007 album Reunion Tour. Bill and the Brians share stories about lost pets and Rothenbeck explains why this song makes him cry. Also, in a new ongoing segment, we explore some some yacht rock!
Bill gets to play the "Hey, Brian!" game as Brian returns from touring with his band, the Paper Jets, and welcomes singer-songwriter, musician, and podcaster Brian Rothenbeck (rothenbeck.com) as a guest. In this episode, we discuss the Weakerthans' Reconstruction Site (2003, Epitaph). Their first record with major label distribution behind it, the Weakerthans broke through to a wider audience with their infectious pop hooks, intelligent lyrics, and fantastic guitar tones. As we discuss the album with a track by track analysis, we also talk about sonnets, the difference between a pedal steel and a lap steel, the philosophy of Cream, a theory about pet ownership and relationships with fathers, how to write songs in a single key, rhyming, and more!
Bonus! Song! Thursday! It's what it is! Brian is still away, touring the Northeast with his band The Paper Jets (thepaperjets.com), so Bill enlists the help of his own bandmate, Andrew Kolbenschlag of Small Planet Radio (smallplanetradio.com), to fill in as guest host. Returning from Monday's episode is guest Eric Nelson, guitarist and songwriter for The Lights Beneath (thelightsbeneath.com), to talk a little bit more about Bright Eyes. This time, we focus on the song "Poison Oak" from the 2005 album I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning.
While Brian is out on tour with his band, The Paper Jets, Bill invites friend of the podcast, musician, and songwriter Andrew Kolbenschlag to fill in as guest co-host! Joining us is musician/songwriter Eric Nelson from The Lights Beneath (hear their whole debut album at www.thelightsbeneath.com) to talk about Bright Eyes' Digital Ash in a Digital Urn (Saddle Creak, 2005). Released as a companion to the slightly more commercially successful, folk influenced album I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, "Digital" took the opposite approach to Conor Oberst's stark, honest lyrics and nestled them amongst computer programming and digital instrumentation. Bill, Andrew, and Eric discuss their reasoning for talking about this album over other Bright Eyes' albums, breathing fetishes, electronic music production, death and drug use as themes on the album, and more as we talk about what makes this album great and then get into a track by track review of it!
It's bonus song Thursday! Bill and Brian discuss a Ryan Adams' version of "Wonderwall" from his 2004 album Love is Hell. Originally recorded and written by 90s British rockers Oasis, Adams turns the song into a haunting ballad. While delving into the music, Brian and Bill also talk about counting in Spanish, a drummer from the Beach Boys, how Beck maybe borrowed a little too liberally from other artists, how Ryan Adams' career lines up with Neil Young's, the Moody Blues, the Pixies, and more!
Brian and Bill sit down to talk about Ryan Adam's first foray away from alt-country and into the world of rock and roll with his appropriately titled album Rock n Roll (2003, Lost Highway). Following the success of his previous album and its single "New York, New York," Adams submitted 5 attempts that his label turned down. As a final "screw you," he made this album as, both a wry nod at their desire for something more marketable and a not-so-subtle response to their request for something less alternative. Bill and Brian talk about what makes this album great despite not changing the face of rock and roll, Brian's college years yearning for a certain girls, how the album neatly separates in to 4 distinct parts, and how the tracklist seems to tell a particular story of a crazy night in NYC.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! And it finally happened. We had a technical glitch and the audio is terrible on this episode. Regardless, we forged ahead and decided to release the episode. Bill and Brian talk about U2's "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" from their 1991 album Achtung Baby. We talk about the bands evolution and how intentional it was before reading some listener emails about bands with underated rhythm sections.
This week, Bill and Brian go sans guest to talk about U2's super-massive-megadon hit The Joshua Tree (1987, Island). Recorded after the band had spent years touring the US, alternately falling in love with its ideals and becoming outspoken critics of its international policies, and wanting to create something bigger and better than anything they had done before, U2 released this album to massive sales and critical praise. Brian and Bill talk about their personal connections with the music, how the album got made, and a track by track analysis of each song. Along the way, we discuss religion and secularism, Euler's number, how addiction has touched our lives, the legality of immigration, how music can spur community in the face of tragedy, and more!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! We listen to Beck's "Cold Brains" off his 1998 follow up to Odeley, Mutations and discuss Beck's transformation as an artist, how the aging of a listener helps one appreciate the music of an artist over the years, the politics of labels and releases, and if in fact Van Morrison still perform's "Gloria!"
With his sophomore effort, Beck quieted the critics and pundits who thought he may be a one trick pony by collaborating with production team the Dust Brothers. Known for their work in sampling, the producers helped Beck combine elements of hip hip, rock, soul, jazz, alternative, and R&B to create a nearly undefinable sound. Bill and Brian do their best to analyze and discuss a very dense piece of art. Along the way, they discuss Beck's originality, exactly which samples are being used and how (but we're still not totally sure), positivity, Andy Wharhol, the strange connection betwen Beck and Hanson, Brian's formative years, and more as we talk about the album's production and each song, track by track!
On this week's Bonus Song Thursday, Bill and Brian take a deeper dive into Van Morrison's early career and listen to Them's garage rock classic "Gloria." Along the way, they talk about what the sound of the British invasion entailed, "nuggets," the criteria for being electrocuted by your guitar amp, and Stax v. Motown.
Photographer and artist Amanda Guthrie (amandaguthriephotography.com) joins Bill and Brian to talk about Van Morrison's Moondance (1970, Warner Bros.). With his third (second, depending on who you ask) release, Van "the man" found himself finally shedding his one-hit-wonder status after the initially dissappointing reaction to Astral Weeks in 1968 (the album has since gone on to establish itself as one of the best records of all time). With this album Morrison cemented himself as a gyspy folk icon. As we talk about what went into the album and what made it great, Amanda shares the tale of the magical Moondance CD that found its way into her car, Brian makes an argument for why the title track is his least favorite on the album, and Bill brings up Phil Collins. That and more as we get into a deep dive on the album, analyzing each song track by track!
Bill, Brian, and special guest Colin McDonough continue this week's topic, Otis Redding, by taking a listen to a deep cut from his posthumous releases, "I'm a Changed Man." The guys talk about Otis Redding's evolving sound, what something "swampy" sounds like, and how the soul singer's legacy is treated with respect (no pun intended). The guys also catch up on some fan outreach (that Bill missed because he got too excited when talking about 1980s Philadelphia phenoms The Hooters a couple weeks ago) and read several emails from our listeners!
Musician/guitarist Colin McDonough joins Brian and Bill to talk about Otis Redding's second posthumous release, The Immortal Otis Redding (1968, Atco). Recorded shortly before the soul and R&B singer's death at the end of 1967, the album shows off a lot of what the singer/songrwriter did best, including what the Stax Records house band(s), Booker T & the MGs and the Memphis Horns, could do. Bill, Brian, and Colin get into talking about discovering great music for the first time, Stax vs. Motown, Telecasters, Steve Cropper's signature arpeggiated guitar in 3/4 ballads, and Colin plays a few licks for us as we get into this album track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday, and Renee Maskin and Jim McGee are back to talkabout Iggy Pop's "The Passenger." In his second collaboration with David Bowie, Iggy decided to have a little more fun than the dour The Idiot. In this episode we discuss how we all first experienced Iggy Pop, his existence as a pop icon, and Problem Child (the movie)!
Singer, songwriter, and musician Renee Maskin, solo artist and member of Lowlight and the Roadside Graves (soundcloud.com/reneemaskin, lowlightnj.bandcamp.com, and roadsidegraves.tumblr.com), joins Brian and Bill along with guitarist Jim McGee (jesseelliot.com) to talk about Iggy Pop's solo debut The Idiot (1977, RCA). Produced by and written with David Bowie, this landmark album gave a preview of what was to come in Bowie's "Berlin years." Recorded several years after the Stooges disbanded and Iggy did a stint at a mental institution, both he and Bowie went to Germany to kick their heroin habits and create new music. They ended up making this weird proto-industrial mood piece. Brian, Bill, Renee, and Jim talk about how this album affected them, what happens if future paleontologists discover The Idiot, and what to do when you "missed it" as they make their way through the album track by track.
It's Bonus Song Thursday! Unfortunately, Brian couldn't make it for this episode, but we got friend of the show and Hooters afficionado Jeff Fiedler (singer, songwriter, and musician for sleepingsatellites.bandcamp.com) to come on and share his expertise. Since there was no "album" for Monday's episode, we continued down a thread we touched on by exploring more of the Hooters and their work. In addition to finding about the band's origins writing for Cyndi Lauper and opening Live Aid in Philadelphia, we discuss their album Nervous Night (1985, Columbia). And, it turns out some of Cyndi Lauper's music makes a cameo!
Musician and luthier Mike Virok (of the Paper Jets and Bordentown Guitar Rescue, bordentownguitarrescue.com, respectively) joins Bill and Brian to discuss some great songs off of some not-so-great albums. In a reprise of the format we introduced back in our "10 Great Songs," we push the limits by adding one more song! We talk about the Hooter's influence over all great music, Father's Day, whether or not one should date a person who has traveled the country for John Mellencamp, the value of Michael Jackson's songwriting, and the difference between Joe Dante and Joe Johnston! Songs by the following artists are discussed on this episode: The Police, Joan Osborne, Boston, Butthole Surfers, John Mellancamp, Michael Jackson, Todd Rundgren, Fleetwood Mac, The Gaslight Anthem, Modest Mouse, and Jimmy Eat World.
It's bonus song Thursday! In our follow up to Monday's Pet Sounds episode, we examine The Beach Boys' (or is it Jesse and The Rippers'?) "Forever" off of their 1970 album Sunflower. Featuring drummer Dennis Wilson's lead vocals after he took pen to paper to craft this song, the song helped bring the band back to minor chart succes and critical good graces. Luthier and musician Mike Virok (a preview of next week's episode) helps Bill and Brian break down the song, figure out how The Beach Boys fit into the annuls of 90s sitcoms, and develop a morning zoo-esque terrestrial radio program!
If we're talking about great albums of music, it's hard to escape the influence of The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (1966, Capitol). Part of a group of LPs that helped usher in the "age of the albums" (c. 1964-2007), The Beach Boys' 11th studio album in under 4 years heralded a sea change in music fandom and criticism. Eschewing their "fun in the sun" image, band leader Brian Wilson attempted to create something personal and beautiful and musically dense amidst the culture and technology of the mid 60s. Bill and Brian break down this masterpiece of art track by track as they try to share what makes this album great.
The Beach Boys are once again our subject of conversation, this time discussing Brian Wilson's song, "Til I Die," from the Surf's Up album (1971, Brother). Set toward the end of this democratic-to-a-fault LP, "Til I Die," remains a post "Good Vibrations." While it finds Wilson in a dark place, it betrays the perception that he spent the decade "in his room," completely unproductive. Despite his output having slowed considerably, Wilson was still in complete control of his facilities. "Til I Die," is proof-positive.
Brian flies solo this week to talk about one of rock's most misunderstood albums, Smiley Smile (1967, Brother) by The Beach Boys. He attempts to recontextualize the album's importance in music's "back to basics" movement of the late 60s as The Boys transition from their signature lush, orchestral pop into something more primal. And somewhere in there, Brian realizes, quite aggressively, that Sgt. Pepper's might not be quite as good as the rest of the world thinks it is. This and more as he talks about what makes the album great, one track at a time.
While Bill and Brian come in and quickly cover Tip's song, "Let's Ride," from the album Amplified (1999, Arista), things suddenly go awry as the audience is treated to a little bit of the outtakes that don't always make the final cut. We touch on the Grisworld family Christmas and attempt to answer the age old question: Who would you rather go out with, Billy Joel or Phil Colins?
Brian and guest host Jim McGee (from our Neil Young episode) lead a tangent-filled podcast exploring the difference between "rap" and "hip hop," the ins-and-outs of hip hop culture and one thing you NEVER do while DJing a party. "Iron" Mike Bacon is our guest as we explore Q-Tip's opus, The Renaissance (2008, Universal), as always, one track at a time.
Brian, Bill, and special guest Ryan Hanratty forget about the podcast's "fans-not-critics" criteria of content for a little bit as they talk about Green Day's "21 Guns" from the album 21st Century Breakdown (2009, Reprise). Before that though, they have a little bit of an addendum to the GnR episode. We discuss how "21 Guns" was here and gone thanks to the legacy of American Idiot and its smash success. And finally, Ryan points out why that guitar solo may sound a little familiar to you...
Guitarist, singer-songwriter, and videographer Ryan Hanratty of Wolfasaurus Rex, Catch Me If You Can, and Frosted Green Interviews (respectively) travels down from Long Island to discuss Green Day's American Idiot (2004, Reprise) with Brian and Bill. Coming 10 years after the band's breakthrough album Dookie, American Idiot saw Green Day cement their superstardom as they released their hit rock opera. Ryan ends up being the best person to discuss this with because he hit his prime punk rock years of adolescence when this album was released. We break down the 3 acts, debate the use of the "other F word," discuss the political climate of the time, and find out the lewd story behind what is "frosted" and "green." All this and more in our second longest episode yet!
It's another Bonus Song Thursday! Bill amd Brian take a weekly break from going in depth and overlong on a whole album to instead focus on a single song. This week, we discuss Pearl Jam's cover of Mother Love Bone's "Crown of Thorns." As we discussed on Mondays episode, Pearl Jam was formed out of the ashes of MLB, and at their 10th anniversary show in Las Vegas, PJ paid tribute to their predecessor. We delve a little into the band's background, knowing where you came from, and how to pronounce the word "elegiac" (which we get totally wrong) as we listen to this single track!
Multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Frank Letteiri of The Paper Jets (thepaperjets.com) and Dust of Days (dustofdays.com) joins Bill and Brian to help us talk about what makes Pearl Jam's Ten (1991, Epic) so great! After the tragedy that led to the end of Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament's previous band Mother Love Bone, they sought out some new people to play with, finding Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder who completed the core of the band. On their first album, the band already showed passion and an ability to create unique sonic lanscapes. As we make our way through the album track by track, Brian gives us a lesson on how to write like Eddie Vedder, Frank makes an argument for the latter half of the album, and Bill tries not to geek out too much (and fails).
It's another Bonus Song Thursday! Bill amd Brian take a weekly break from going in depth and overlong on a full album to instead focus on a single song. On Monday, podcaster and DJ Ralph Sutton gave us some great analysis on what should have been an Axl Rose solo album instead of the first Guns'n'Roses album in 17 years, Chinese Democracy. In this episode, Bill and Brian tackle a track from that album: "Street of Dreams." Featuring a whole new band (including one of our favorites, Tommy Stinson), this new version of GnR left a little to be desired... We talk about that, and the state of the music industry (c. 2008) that thought Chinese Democracy was going to be a hit, as we break down this single track!
Podcaster and DJ Ralph Sutton (of theSDRshow.com and The Tour Bus) helps Bill and Brian get out of their comfort zone of indie rock and college radio by discussing the hardrocking debut album from Guns'n'Roses, Appetite for Destruction (1987, Geffen). Ralph gives us a peak at what it was like to be at the prime age of adolescence when this music hit the scene. We discuss GnR's impact on the state of music in the 80s, how they are better than the hair metal of the day, Ralph's idea for a Jewish tribute band, and Ralph shares some of the inner workings of being a DJ for terrestial radio. All that, plus a bit of an analysis on Chinese Democracy (!) as we discuss this album track by track!
It's another Bonus Song Thursday! Bill amd Brian take a weekly break from going in depth and overlong on a single album to instead focus on a single song. Monday's episode saw us breaking down indie-pop supergroup the New Pornographer's twin Cinema, and this episode has us continuing the theme by discussing "War On the East Coast" the lead single from the band's latest album, Brill Bruisers. We discuss the band's new direction and production acumen, Dan Bejar's fantastic songwriting, and how indie bands have started making an impact on the charts.
Brian and Bill take a listen to one of their favorite albums, Twin Cinema (2005, Matador), a power pop masterpiece from that Vancouver, BC indie supergroup the New Pornographers. Bill waxes nostalgic about his days of driving a rusty old Jeep Cherokee across New Jersey to get to his part time job at a liquor store during his senior year of college. Brian revisits time spent seeing a new relationship develop and how a great live show from the New Pornographers helped. We also discuss great big group vocals, tremolos, and just how wrong allmusic.com's Stephen Thomas Erlewine really is as we make our way through this great album, track by track!
It's Bonus Song Thursday! We follow up the deep dive on Steely Dan's Aja with their track "My Old School." Ed Pratico (bassist for Jesse Elliot and His Band) joins Bill and Brian once again as they discuss their own old schools and more!
Let's get ready for some weird and cool music because gun for hire and highly skilled bassist Ed Pratico (Jesse Eliot and His Band) joins Bill and Brian to discuss Steely Dan's Aja (1997, ABC). With their sixth studio album, Steely Dan finally realized their vision of esoteric jazz rock thanks to the help of some great session musicians and that one of a kind voice from Michael McDonald. We discuss delicious beverages, Rescue 911, the possibility that the record is a concept album, Yacht Rock, things that rhyme with "pillar," and more as we make our way through every track of the album!
Bonus Song Thursday! Sarah Donner (singer/songwriter/creative type) is back! And, wait a minute, aren't we supposed to be bonusing (that's a word, right?) Regina Spektor? Well, she makes a special guest appearance on this Ben Folds song off his 2008 album Way To Normal. We talk about recording in bathrooms, the secret to successful marriages, and traveling to the Waffle House that's over an hour from your home on a beautiful Sunday morning. Brian also does a great impression of his significant other (if she were a gargoyle). Check it all out as we discuss this great song from Ben Folds and Regina Spektor!
Singer, songwriter, cat enthusiest, creative type Sarah Donner (sarahdonner.com) joins Bill and Brian on the podcast to talk about Regina Spektor's Soviet Kitsch (2004, Sire). We talk a little bit about Sarah's music and Settlers of Catan before delving into Regina Spektor's roots in the NY cafe scene. As we make our way through the album track by track, we discuss vocal inflections, dipthongs, and not playing the keyboards in our houses. In order to avoid discussing just how depressing "Chemo Limo" is, we instead invent a great new Benjamin Franklin themed cereal, Ben Crispies. This (and more) in the episode you will be listening to as you read this!
It's another bonus song Thursday! It gets late into the evening as Brian, Bill, and Andrew Kolbenschlag of Small Planet Radio (smallplanetradio.com) talk about Neutral Milk Hotel's "Engine." They also listen to a little bit of Jeff Goldblum's sultry voice and Andrew finally gets to promote his band!
In an attempt to go for the title, singer/songwriter/musician Andrew Kobenschlag of Small Planet Radio (smallplanetradio.com) joins Bill and Brian for a record tying second time to talk about Neutral Milk Hotel's In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1998, Merge). The second of only two full length studio albums released by the band. Lo-fi production, trippy lyrics, the use of instrumentals on pop records, sexual lyrics, and the zanzithophone are discussed as we talk about what makes this one of Andrew's favorite albums of all time. An odd band and a reclusive frontman are analyzed in full as we make our way through every song on the album, track by track!
It's the very first bonus song Thursday on the Great Albums podcast! Bill and Brian talk even more about Pearl Jam, focusing on the song "The Fixer" from 2009's Backspacer. Songwriting, making positive music, new wave influences, and Matt Cameron are discussed in this episode. If you like hearing about great music, but don't have two hours to waste listening to us blather on about an entire album, then this 20 minute episode all about a single song is the one for you!
Podcaster and music expert Jason Wallace joins Bill and Brian on the latest, greatest episode of the Great Albums podcast to discuss Pearl Jam's sophomore effort Vs. (1993, Epic). As an extra treat, Joe Galuppo, Jay's partner in crime on Live From the Dining Room (diningroomradio.net), contributes throughout as an unmic'ed special guest! Bill reveals a partial bit of his Pearl Jam knowledge as he relates the band's beginnings and what went into the recording of the album. We get into some interesting territory as we talk about Jay being a PJ fan at the age of 6, how much Brian dislikes his hometown on Long Island, and which PJ drummer was the best. Track by track, we tell you what makes Vs. so great!
In another exciting episode of the Great Albums podcast, Bill shares one of his all-time favorite albums from one of his all-time favorite artists with Brian! Bill travels down memory lane as he explains how Guster helped him discover music that wasn't only about loud guitars. Harmony, songwriting, Steve Lillywhite, Judaism, Tufts University, and more are discussed as we make our way through the album, discussing each and every track from Guster's Lost and Gone Forever (1999, Palm/Reprise)!
As was correctly pointed out to us, here on the Great Albums podcast, we have not featured much music that has been made by women. This was certainly in no way on purpose, and we want to rectify that. We have some great albums from female artists coming up in a few weeks, but to tide us over, we made another song-centric episode featuring music exclusively by women. We even get to cover a little more new ground and discuss electronic music and performance art! Featuring Metric, Laurie Anderson, Chvrches, Liz Phair, Nina Simone, and Of Monsters and Men, Brian and Bill bust open a metaphorical 6 pack as we guide you through what makes these tunes great!
Guitarist extrodinaire and all around wonderful person Jim McGee joins Brian and Bill to share his exceptionally well told stories about his experiences with Neil Young and as a fan of On the Beach (1974, Reprise). No lie, this is one of our favorite episodes ever. We talk about how Jim searched far and wide for this album, eventually finding a vinyl taco with a surprise inside!
Bill and Brian are charmed by "music business big wig" Lisa Grosso (you can check out her PR outfit, Effective Immediately, at ei-pr.com) as we talk about one of The National's long list of critically acclaimed albums, Boxer (2007, Beggar's Banquet). Despite the band's affinity for complex rhythms and ornate orchestration, we discuss how The National stays rooted in rock and roll. Obtuse lyrics and a gravelly baritone vocal are also analyzed in depth as we listen to the album one song at a time.
War! Huh! What is it good for? Talking about U2, that's what! Brian and Bill welcome on Nando of the Mad Bracket Status podcast (madbracketstatus.com) and writer for pop-break.com to discuss his overall love for U2 and specifically this album. The guys get into talking about why this album was chosen over other U2 albums that some consider superior, how Bono and RDJ are so alike, and how Adam Clayton brings the big funky bass. We even stumble upon a pretty decent "In Defense of Bono" argument. But the best part is always when we hit the play button on each track of the album and remind ourselves what makes the music so good.
In revisiting another one of our favorite artists, Brian and Bill welcome singer, songwriter, and musician Jesse Elliot (jesseelliot.com) to talk about Weezer's Pinkerton (1996, DGC). We address honesty, heartbreak, and the stigma of being labeled a weirdo as we discuss the album, track by track.
Go big or go home, boys. So we went with one of the biggest albums, both sonically and in legacy, that has ever existed. Writer and director of The Once and Future Nerd (onceandfuturenerd.com) Christian Madera skypes in to help Bill and Brian tell you what makes Bruce Springsteen's Born to Run (1975, Columbia) so great. But seriously, do we really need to tell you? Just listen to that darn thing! A masterpiece. Unfortuantely, our recording didn't come out quite as flawless. There was a skype call drop that we couldn't quite cleanly edit out, so please forgive our minor production snafu. Now let's go murder some lions!
Bill and Brian welcome musician, songwriter, and singer Jaime Parker (of the Timid Roosevelts and Physical Thing) to the podcast to discuss Arcade Fire's Funeral (2004, Merge). We find these Montreal natives had quite a bit to say about growing up, eventually coming to the conclusion that the tititular "funeral" must be one for childhood. That may not be right, but it sounded cool. We also discuss some of our own experiences with death and, on a lighter side, 4D movies (amongst other things). As usual, we let the album itself guide our discussions as we listen to it track by track.
Bill and Brian welcome photographer, videographer, and Bill's wife Beanie Zee (beaniezee.com) to the podcast to talk about influential Britpop band Oasis (who also achieved massive worldwide success with this album). Former crushes, the evolution of Britpop, the art of the tracklist, Teenage Fanclub, sibling rivalries, and more are all discussed as we make our way through the crossover hit (What's the Story) Morning Glory (1995, Creation), one track at a time. Also, you'll hear quite a bit of podcast mascot, Murray the basset hound, whining and pacing in the background.
Bill and Brian talk about indie kids' favorite sons of New Jersey, the Wrens, and their early aughts comeback/first-time-most-of-our-generation-heard-them album The Meadowlands (2003, Absolutely Kosher). Upside down guitars, lo-fi production, and essay-like lyricism dominate the discussions about the music. Also, talking about the greater legacy that the Wrens will leave behind forces Bill and Brian to acknowledge their own fears and anxieties about being aging songwriters in original local bands. All this thanks to a song-by-song breakdown of one of THE defining indie rock records!
Bill and Brian take a break from going deep on a single album (because, you know, the holidays...) and instead bring you 10 great songs from some not-so-great albums. Bill shows you exactly how uncool he is by sharing 5 of his favorite tracks from underated late-90s bands. Brian shows you exactly how cool he is by giving you 4 songs written by dead dudes (you know they're cool because they're no longer living) and 1 song by a band we can't go a single episode without mentioning. Seriously, I think Murray the dog lost his job as podcast mascot to REM.
Bill and Brian return to the classic dynamic duo format to discuss The Hold Steady's Boys and Girls in America (2006, Vagrant). Listen for Bill having issues with a stupid cable as we talk about every song on this album. But mostly, this episode can be summed up by Brian's apt quote, "It's like Angus Young joined the E Street Band."
Bill and Brian have Erin Lamy, Bootstrap Bandits' vocalist (bootstrapbandits.com), come on to talk about one of her favorite albums, Our Lady Peace's Spiritual Machines (2000, Columbia). As it turns out Bill loves this album too! And Brian found himself enjoying it despite the fact that he previously lumped OLP in with all that other late 90s alternative schlock. Ray Kurzweil, AI, the Singularity, time travel, and Art-with-a-capital-A are all discussed.
Brian and Bill welcome Jeff Fiedler (sleepingsatellites.bandcamp.com) back onto the podcast to revisit one of our favorite bands The Replacements with their major label debut Tim (1985, Sire). The guys get serious and straightforward because there's no other way to tell you how awesome The Replacements are. Despite the up and down structure of any 'Mats album, we still talk about every single song on this album, one at a time!
Bill and Brian are without a guest yet again as they delve into one of Brian's favorite albums from one of his favorite artists. This here is the music that got adolescent, turtle-neck wearing Brian out of the Jazz LPs section of his local Borders and turned him into the indie pop-rock lovin' hipster we all know and love today! There's a lot of Wikipedia level knowledge on this episode as Brian spent way too much time trolling the message boards of benfolds.org back in the early aughts. And, as always, we talk about every single track on Ben Folds Five's Whatever and Ever Amen (1997, 550/Epic)!
Bill and Brian are joined by writer, actor, comedian, musician, friend, and lover Drew Novelli (check out his web series Just a Cop, Just a Surgeon, and How To With Drew!) to discuss Green Day's breakthrough album Dookie (1994, Reprise). All three reminisce about their formative years and how this album made such an impact. Also, the great "Peter Buck" stops by to give his opinion on a couple songs! As is our norm, we break down Dookie (ew) track-by-track.
Bill and Brian hang out with Small Planet Radio's (smallplanetradio.com) Andrew Kolbenschlag and discuss Wilco's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (2002, Nonesuch). The finer points of pressing vinyl, the then-timely Cosby scandal, and Wilco's inner turmoil are all examined in detail. And, of course, a track-by-track discussion of the whole album!
Bill and Brian discuss REM's Murmur (1983, I.R.S.) with Mr. Jeff Fiedler--musician, songwriter, singer, producer extrodinaire (sleepingsatellites.bandcamp.com). Jeff shares his near encyclopaedic knowledge of all things pop music related and helps us figure out exactly what makes Murmur so great. Is it Brian's butt baby? You'll just have to listen to until the end to find out!
Bill and Brian dissect Weezer's first album, as well as some bonus material, in another wonderful episode of the Great Albums podcast! This also turns into our longest episode (for an album with only 10 tracks???) thanks to lengthy discussions about mysogeny and the mid-nineties-ness of certain tracks.
In this episode Bill and Brian discuss the soundtrack to one of our favorite children's programs, the Adventures of Pete and Pete. Masterminded by singer/songwriter Mark Mulcahy, the semi-fictitious Polaris released this single album, which just so happens to contain some amazing music.
Welcome to the first episode of the The Great Albums podcast. In our debut, Brian and Bill discuss and listen to The Replacements' Let It Be (1984, Twin Tone). A seminal work for sure. Seminal of what? We're not sure--punk, indie, alt, etc. Thanks for listening.