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Meshell Ndegeocello: Revolutionary Soul Singer; interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye


Meshell Ndegeocello is a singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Her work in the early to mid 1990s presaged "neo-soul," and she continues to push boundaries today, recording everything from rock to jazz. We talk with Meshell about coming up in DC's GoGo scene, imagining the sound of the bass, and much more. Ndegeocello's most recent release is "The World Has Made Me the Man of My Dreams."

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Raphael Saadiq
Seun Kuti
Mark Oliver Everett of Eels

Monsters of Podcasting

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Monsters of Podcasting
Originally uploaded by Nicole Lee

Thanks to everyone who came out to the show last night. And thanks to the great Dennis Richmond for providing moral and visual support for the Jordan, Jesse Go! portion of the program.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Radio Freetown"

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Who on WFMU is not awesome? This is a serious question. You Max Funsters may — nay, should — already know all about the likes of The Best Show and Seven Second Delay, but the framework built by the entire schedule of what I shall dub America's ultimate free-form radio station is packed with the styrofoam of pure awesome. For just one example, take Radio Freetown [iTunes link], which airs Mondays at 7pm Eastern. Behind the mic and on the turntables is DJ Frank O., a.k.a. DJ Franc O., a.k.a. Frank Gossner, a German so dedicated to his mission of finding and preserving rare West African pop and rock vinyl from the 1970s that he blogs about the stuff, is the subject of a documentary about the stuff and, of course, sends the stuff out weekly on the frequency of 91.1. This dude, let it be said, is an awesome dude.

Fortunately for listeners outside of Jersey and NYC, WFMU boarded the podcasting boat early, and consequently Frank's broadcast spinning sessions are available everywhere in the world — even in the countries his music itself comes from: your Ghanas, your Benins, your Togos, your Nigerias, your Ivory Coasts, your Guineas. Having grown weary of the "sleazy listening" he made his name playing in New York clubs and the classic funk he then became known for laying down in Berlin, Frank relocated to Guinea and picked up a nasty addiction to its dusty old vinyl. Radio Freetown's cuts are the fruits of a dogged quest through the west side of the continent: by foot, bus or rickety makeshift taxi, Frank scoured (with the aid of a network of friends) the remains of all the collections he could dig up, searching for that sweet Afrobeat, Afro-funk, Afro-pop and Afro-rock.

It's tough to know exactly how to describe this music. Though certain recordings are unexpectedly slick, most of it's decidedly "lo-fi", though not in an unappealing, deliberate or ironic way. (Especially not in an ironic way.) West African musicians of the 1970s were, perhaps unsurprisingly, working with fairly basic technology even for the time, and thus had to creatively compensate or adapt to their gear's limitations. The result is a bold, enthusiastic sound filled with sharp horns, spidery guitar, distinctively solid rhythms, borderline-hypnotic repetition and lord knows how many sung languages. So perhaps it's easier to describe its sound than to covey, with much precision, its appeal; in the interest of not dancing too much about the architecture, it's probably best to leave the music to speak for itself. (The music and its cover art, to be precise. Who on Earth, no matter the region, could see covers like these and not want to hear what's pressed into the vinyl inside them?)

Listening to Frank's mixes has, for your Podthinker, been something of an enlightenment. If you hang out with music people, you know — maybe all too well — that anyone who's really into organized sound can easily become afflicted with tunnel vision, or, as it were, tunnel hearing. They delude themselves into thinking that they "know what they like" and tribally restrict their allegiances to a certain style, consciously or unconsciously avoiding all alien musical stimuli, forgetting that when the total music-producing area of the world is multiplied by the time it's been producing music, a huge probability space opens up. In it hide so very many many excellent tracks, albums and entire genres that few have ever even heard of. In previous eras, they'd have an excuse for their ignorance; now, thanks to the sweat-of-the-brow efforts of hardworking DJs like Frank, they don't.

Vital stats:
Format: music; 70s West African music, specifically
Running since: October 2008
Duration: ~1h
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: previous month only (but like all WFMU podcasts, older shows can be heard via the fate worse than death that is using RealPlayer)

[Podthinker Colin Marshall receives all his way-out-of-normal-experience music suggestions at colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Radio Freetown"

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Who on WFMU is not awesome? This is a serious question. You Max Funsters may — nay, should — already know all about the likes of The Best Show and Seven Second Delay, but the framework built by the entire schedule of what I shall dub America's ultimate free-form radio station is packed with the styrofoam of pure awesome. For just one example, take Radio Freetown [iTunes link], which airs Mondays at 7pm Eastern. Behind the mic and on the turntables is DJ Frank O., a.k.a. DJ Franc O., a.k.a. Frank Gossner, a German so dedicated to his mission of finding and preserving rare West African pop and rock vinyl from the 1970s that he blogs about the stuff, is the subject of a documentary about the stuff and, of course, sends the stuff out weekly on the frequency of 91.1. This dude, let it be said, is an awesome dude.

Fortunately for listeners outside of Jersey and NYC, WFMU boarded the podcasting boat early, and consequently Frank's broadcast spinning sessions are available everywhere in the world — even in the countries his music itself comes from: your Ghanas, your Benins, your Togos, your Nigerias, your Ivory Coasts, your Guineas. Having grown weary of the "sleazy listening" he made his name playing in New York clubs and the classic funk he then became known for laying down in Berlin, Frank relocated to Guinea and picked up a nasty addiction to its dusty old vinyl. Radio Freetown's cuts are the fruits of a dogged quest through the west side of the continent: by foot, bus or rickety makeshift taxi, Frank scoured (with the aid of a network of friends) the remains of all the collections he could dig up, searching for that sweet Afrobeat, Afro-funk, Afro-pop and Afro-rock.

It's tough to know exactly how to describe this music. Though certain recordings are unexpectedly slick, most of it's decidedly "lo-fi", though not in an unappealing, deliberate or ironic way. (Especially not in an ironic way.) West African musicians of the 1970s were, perhaps unsurprisingly, working with fairly basic technology even for the time, and thus had to creatively compensate or adapt to their gear's limitations. The result is a bold, enthusiastic sound filled with sharp horns, spidery guitar, distinctively solid rhythms, borderline-hypnotic repetition and lord knows how many sung languages. So perhaps it's easier to describe its sound than to covey, with much precision, its appeal; in the interest of not dancing too much about the architecture, it's probably best to leave the music to speak for itself. (The music and its cover art, to be precise. Who on Earth, no matter the region, could see covers like these and not want to hear what's pressed into the vinyl inside them?)

Listening to Frank's mixes has, for your Podthinker, been something of an enlightenment. If you hang out with music people, you know — maybe all too well — that anyone who's really into organized sound can easily become afflicted with tunnel vision, or, as it were, tunnel hearing. They delude themselves into thinking that they "know what they like" and tribally restrict their allegiances to a certain style, forgetting that when the total music-producing area of the world is multiplied by the time it's been producing music, a huge probability space opens up. In it hide so very many many excellent tracks, albums and entire genres that few have ever even heard of. In previous eras, they'd have an excuse for their ignorance; now, thanks to the sweat-of-the-brow efforts of hardworking DJs like Frank, they don't.


Vital stats:
Format: TTW/BGBAC
Running since: April 2008
Duration: 50m-1h50m
Frequency: erratic
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Podthinker Colin Marshall is also beyond down for both Wild Style andStyle Wars, and will discuss both via e-mail at colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

The Wire for $82

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"SHEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEIT!"

The complete series of The Wire, the best television show ever made, is on Amazon today only for $82. If you live in the first world and have a job, a tv and a dvd player, I can't imagine a better way to spend $82. Actually, The Wire is so good that it's worth buying a TV and DVD player on craigslist for another $50.

If you're already a Wire fan, have you listened to our interview with Andre Royo ("Bubbles") and Wendell Pierce ("Bunk")?

10 Ways to be Best Friends with TSOYA

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Here are ten things you can do to be best friends with The Sound of Young America...

1) Link to our site from your blog or webpage. I will link back to you!

2) Get some stickers for free by sending an SASE to: The Sound of Young America / 720 S. Normandie Ave. #512 / LA CA 90005

3) Fill out the listener survey if you haven't already. Takes five minutes.

4) Buy a t-shirt. They're cheap and nice and make great gifts.

5) Sign up for the email list. I send an email about once a month, and it usually has something good in it.

6) Donate to support the show. Your donations keep the lights on. Contrary to popular belief, none of the stations that carry the show pay me, and I receive no grants or other outside funding.

7) Advertise or underwrite on the website or show. Email me for more info and rates. If you're an individual or non-profit, we can work something out.

8) Hire me for voiceover or podcasting consulting (anything from instruction on techniques to soup-to-nuts production) for your business or non-profit. Again, email me.

9) Review The Sound, the Kasper Hauser Comedy Podcast, or The College Years in iTunes.

10) Be our friend on MySpace or Facebook.

The Writers of The Late Show with David Letterman: Eric & Justin Stangel and Bill Scheft, an interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye

Eric and Justin Stangel are the co-head writers of The Late Show with David Letterman. Bill Scheft is a monologue writer on the show, who started working for Letterman in the NBC days. The writers of the Letterman show have just published a book compilation of Letterman's "Late Show Fun Facts" segment. They talk about starting as comedy writers, and what it's like to work for the funniest man in America.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Chris Elliott
Life Changes with Matt Besser and Rodney Rothman
Observations with Merrill Markoe and Caleb Crain

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Remember When"

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This selection comes straight from the recommendation thread on the forum. Max Funster anabur wrote of the podcast's hosts that "you can tell they do it just because it's so fun for them," which sounded promising indeed; if there's one thing that separates the podcasts that peter out before you unsubscribe from the podcasts to which your subscription peters out first, it's passion. Apologies for using such a clichéd term, but it's true. It's no accident that passion is the first of the Three Ps of Podcasting: Passion, Production and, uh... Potency.

From minute one, it was obvious that, for their subjects of geekery, Remember When's [iTunes link] Jay and Parris have passion to spare. One might say the show itself is the child of a sheer passion overflow, a spillage of excess enthusiasm. While the guys are better known for their video game podcast UncleGamer Radio, one of its episodes veered straight down the pop culture path without so much as a backward glance, prompting the genesis for a spinoff show focusing entirely on movies and television.

Unfortunately, it almost immediately became evident that, whoever this podcast is made for, that person is probably not your Podthinker. First, he hasn't viewed a narrative TV show — much less sprawling stuff like The Shield and Battlestar Galactica, two Remember When favorites — in years and years. Second, though almost any film talk piques his interest, this is a setting where The Dark Knight, Iron Man and Tropic Thunder dominate the best-of-2008 lists. For a man almost entirely unable to get with Lord of the Rings, The Matrix or Star Wars, it's a little disheartening to load up the first episode in the playlist and hear the opening strains of an intense, probing, detail-oriented discussion of Revenge of the Sith [MP3].

That said, it's obvious even to someone unstirred by the popular sci-fi, fantasy and superhero trilogies (and quadrilogies) of the late 1970s to the present that Jay and Parris know their stuff. And it's not just that repeated re-watchings embedded all the facts firmly into their brains; they also seem to care. Whether Mace Windu did or did not recieve a worthy death scene may forever remain a matter of active inquiry, but it's not because these guys are asleep at the switch. By the same token, would the Riddler fit into Christopher Nolan's Batman universe? Can the standard-issue Kurt Russell performance truly convey the character of Wyatt Earp? Which is the better Indiana Jones, Raiders or Last Crusade? If you can think of no questions more pressing than these, this is the podcast you want. (None of this is meant to sound culturally high and mighty; when Parris started talking about The Last Dragon, Krush Groove and House Party, your Podthinker could not have been more down for it.)

Remember When's most entertaining feature is a semi-regular one where Parris, evidently the more cinematically experienced of the two, assigns Jay one of his favorite movies to watch. This is usually some well-worn classic of the past couple decades like Caddyshack [MP3] or The Blues Brothers [MP3. If the opinion Jay forms is not properly worshipful, Parris threatens to hop a plane from Los Angeles, fly down to Dallas where Jay is, and regulate. All this is reminiscent of the best of Experts and Intermediates, which, if you recall, is the podcast that prompted your Podthinker to come up with the genre name TTWGBAC, or Two Twenty/Thirtysomething White Guys Bullshitting About Culture. Remember When would be the ultimate expression of the very essence of the TTWGBAC, but for the fact that Parris' non-whiteness would throw the abbreviation off. Oh well.

Vital stats:
Format: TTW/BGBAC
Running since: April 2008
Duration: 50m-1h50m
Frequency: erratic
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Podthinker Colin Marshall is also beyond down for both Wild Style and Style Wars, and will discuss both via e-mail at colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

Rickey Henderson & Jim Rice on Letterman

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Congratulations to Rickey Henderson, one of the greatest baseball players of all time. And to Jim Rice, because if Jim Rice is in the Hall of Fame, Kevin Mitchell can't be far behind. Also: Willie McGee. And finally, Ken Oberkfell.

Penguin in the Pants: The Videogame

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Game designer Dan Henrick took our "Penguin in the Pants" challenge on last week's Jordan Jesse Go to heart, and designed this amazing (OK, more like mildly diverting) "Penguin in the Pants" themed flash game.

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