The Mountain Goats

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards and John Darnielle

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Merrill Garbus
Guests: 
John Darnielle
Guests: 
Josh Dorman

If you're in Los Angeles, come see Bullseye with Jesse Thorn LIVE on Wednesday, October 15th at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Featuring conversation with Rob Corddry (Wedlock, Childrens Hospital) and Dan Harmon (Community, Harmontown), music from Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family Hour), comedy from Steve Agee (New Girl, The Sarah Silverman Program) and Andy Kindler (Maron, Letterman) and more! Plus, your ticket gets you a free beer after the show at our meet-and-greet sponsored by NPR's Generation Listen.

Tickets are going fast - get yours now!

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Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs on Discovering the Ukulele, Hip Hop, and a Sense of Place

Merrill Garbus is the creative force behind the musical project tUnE-yArDs. The group’s first album, BiRd-BrAiNs, was released in 2009 and if it sounds lo-fi, it's because it is. Garbus recorded the album almost entirely on handheld voice-recorder. All those music loops? She created them by copying and pasting the sound files over and over on her computer.

tUnE-yArDs released a new album earlier this year. It’s called Nikki Nack. It still features the band's signature mix of drum loops, samples and ukulele, but it’s a much smoother-sounding production than their debut.

Garbus talks to us about why she was drawn to the ukulele as a hormonal teenager, how she fell into producing Bay area hip hop, and how to weave political and social issues into music without getting preachy.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.


Landscape with Yellow Birds, Paul Klee


Memento Mori, Josh Dorman

"I Wish I'd Made That": Josh Dorman Experiments with Childlike Vision

Artists are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something that an artist sees is so good, so perfect that they wish they had made it themselves.

This happens so often to the people we talk to, that we made a segment about it. It’s called I Wish I’d Made That.

Josh Dorman is a fine artist from New York. He specializes in invented landscapes, created in a mixture of collage, drawing and painting. His images play around with the ideas of time and space to create an unusual reality.

Dorman was a sophomore in college when he discovered Paul Klee and his painting Landscape With Yellow Birds. And it really affected him -- maybe too much? He'll explain.

If you’re in New York, you can see Josh Dorman’s solo exhibition, Whorled, at the Ryan Lee Gallery, through October 11.

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John Darnielle on 'Wolf in White Van', Working with Teenagers, and Artistic Responsibility

You probably know John Darnielle as lead member (and sometimes only member) of the band The Mountain Goats. His music is known for its poignant lyrics and simple instrumentation. Darnielle started the band in 1991 and has since released 14 albums.

Now, he’s written his first novel, which is long-listed for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Wolf In White Van is the story of Sean, a young man who has survived a suicide attempt, but is horribly disfigured in the process. Sean goes on to create a mail-order role-playing game, only to find out how his imagination can have real-world consequences.

Darnielle talks to Jesse about why lyrics are so important to him, subliminal messaging, and how much artistic responsibility we should assign to writers, musicians, and other creative people.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.

The Outshot: The Area Man

Jesse praises the true hero of The Onion: The Area Man.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band, Mark Frauenfelder

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Charlie Wilson
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder


Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: "Good Dog" and Super Durak

Mark Frauenfelder, founder of BoingBoing and host of the Gweek podcast joins us to weigh on his latest obsessions in the form of geeky pop culture. This time, it's Graham Chaffee's Good Dog and the virtual version of Russian card game Super Durak, for iOs.

Chaffee's book, out this week, is a tour through a stray dog's life as he weighs a life of independence against the security of being a house pet, exploring the psychology of dogs in a vein similar to White Fang. Frauenfelder also suggests downloading the Super Durak app for a card game with a unique twist -- there are no winners.

Click here to share these recommendations with your friends.


Charlie Wilson: Creating Funk Jams with the Gap Band, Overcoming Addiction, and Recovering a Career

From his years as the frontman of the funk-R&B group the Gap Band, to singing hooks for rappers like Snoop Dogg and Kanye West, to his solo career recording R&B hits in his airy tenor, Charlie Wilson has been all about music. He grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of a Pentecostal preacher and a music minister mother. Wilson spent his early years singing for his father's congregation and formed the Gap Band with his brothers, Ronnie and Robert, as a teenager.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, the Gap Band took their signature funk and R&B sound and made chart-topping hits like "Burn Rubber on Me", "Outstanding", "You Dropped a Bomb on Me", and "Party Train". The band's management was rocky in the mid 1980s, and Wilson's life took a downturn. A few years later, he was addicted to drugs and living on the streets. But a love for music and sense of pride helped right the course, and he retooled his career into Grammy-nominated solo work.
Wilson talks to us about crafting the now-classic sounds of the Gap Band, encounters with Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone, and why he returned to music after years of isolation and addiction.

Charlie Wilson's newest record is Love, Charlie. He'll receive BET's Lifetime Achievement Award on June 30th.

Embed or share this interview with Charlie Wilson by clicking here.


Comedy: Al Madrigal Meets the "Cholo Soccer Dad"

There's a very specific kind of subculture you might encounter in East Los Angeles. Al Madrigal explains his encounter with it in this clip from his new stand up special, Why Is the Rabbit Crying?.

Al Madrigal is a stand up comic. You can catch him on the road in selected cities this summer and fall, and on TV as The Daily Show's Latino Correspondent.

The Outshot: "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton" by The Mountain Goats

Jesse explores a song about two high school friends, a death metal band, and dreams. It's "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton".

The Mountain Goats are on tour this summer. You can find those dates on their website.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Share your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forums.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Liam Lynch, Geoff Nunberg and Kasper Hauser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Liam Lynch
Guests: 
Geoff Nunberg
Guests: 
Maggie Serota
Guests: 
Daniel Ralston
Guests: 
Tom Scharpling


Music Picks with the Low Times

We're joined this week by the entire cast of the Low Times podcast for their music recommendations. Daniel Ralston goes with Rock Bottom by King Krule, Maggie Serota suggests Your Side by Fear of Men, and Tom Scharpling recommends The Diaz Brothers by The Mountain Goats.

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Musician and Director Liam Lynch on the Return of Sifl and Olly

Liam Lynch is a writer, director and musician who's made a career out of a certain kind of alternative musical and skit comedy -- the kind that is "funny the way your friends are funny with each other." That sensibility lent itself well to Lynch's directorial work in Sarah Silverman's Jesus is Magic and Tenacious D's The Pick of Destiny.

His sock puppet duo, Sifl & Olly, found a niche on late-night television on MTV. Joined by the occasional sidekick or home shopping network representative, Sifl and Olly ribbed each other, took calls from the public, and broke out into songs like Lynch's strange and catchy "United States of Whatever."

He's now revived the puppets, more than ten years after the last Sifl & Olly Show broadcast, to conduct fake video game reviews for the YouTube channel Machinima.

(Click here to listen and share more of our conversation with Liam Lynch that didn't make the radio cut!)


The News with Kasper Hauser

The Kasper Hauser news team is back with another update. If you’re tired of telling fact from fiction in your news, we'll make it simple for you: this news is completely fake.

The members of Kasper Hauser are based in San Francisco and are the authors of Obama's Blackberry, Weddings of the Times, and the forthcoming Earn Your MBA On the Toilet.

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Linguist Geoff Nunberg on The First Sixty Years of Assholism

Geoff Nunberg is a professor at UC Berkeley, the resident linguist of Fresh Air, and the author of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years. He talks to us about his studies into the word "asshole," which began life as a bit of slang used by WWII servicemen and has come to envelop the concept of modern incivility.

(More of our conversation with Geoff Nunberg that didn't make the radio edit! Click to listen and share.)


The Outshot: Comedian Bill Burr

Jesse shares his enjoyment of the analytical comedy of Bill Burr.

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Who’s your favorite standup? Jump over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Photo cred: D.L. Anderson
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
John Darnielle

John Darnielle began making music as the frontman of indie rock band The Mountain Goats in 1991. The band has since gained a cult following, and Darnielle has been hailed for his eloquent songwriting as one of indie rock's greatest lyricists. The Mountain Goats' newest release is All Eternals Deck, and you can see them on tour in the US and Europe this spring.

JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guest, John Darnielle, is both a member of and pretty much all of the band The Mountain Goats. For 20 years now he's been writing and recording intimate songs that are intimate in unusual ways for a singer/songwriter. Often written in the third person; often taking a form that's as much of a short story as a confessional. His dozens of albums have earned him a rabid following. His latest record is called All Eternals Deck. Let's hear a little bit of a song from that album, this is For Charles Bronson.

John Darnielle, welcome to The Sound of Young America.

JOHN DARNIELLE: Thank you so much.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.

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