This week's pop pundits, Daniel Ralston and Maggie Serota, come care of The Low Times Podcast (co-hosted by Tom Scharpling of The Best Show on WFMU). Daniel is enamored with Caitlin Rose's alt-country spin on The Arctic Monkeys' tune "Piledriver Waltz", while Maggie can't get enough of the infectiously poppy and deceivingly upbeat synth heartache of Lemonade's "Soft Kiss."
Ice-T is a rapper and actor, with more than ten albums and nearly eighty acting credits to his name. He's also one of the forefathers of west coast hip-hop. This week he adds "filmmaker" to an already diverse resume, as he makes his directorial debut with the hip hop documentary Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap, in theaters this Friday, June 15th.
Ice sits down with us to talk his desire to bring an artful appreciation to hip hop's origins and about going through his phone book to sit down with friends to discuss the craft, and to resolve the mystery as to whether or not he was a ghostwriter for an 80s rap album by Mister T.
For much of his musical career, Aaron Freeman might have been better known to you as Gene Ween, guitarist and co-founder of the experimental rock band Ween. In May, Freeman released his first solo record, Marvelous Clouds, a collection of covers of songs by 60s poet/songwriter Rod McKuen. And just a few weeks ago, Freeman announced he was retiring the Gene Ween persona for good. This week he tells us about the song that changed his life: Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry".
Greta Gerwig is an actress and filmmaker, whose starring role in the 2007 comedy Hannah Takes the Stairs put her right at the heart of the mumblecore movement. She's since gone on to leading roles in bigger indies alongside Ben Stiller in Greenberg, as well as major motion pictures like Arthur, opposite Russell Brand. The indie darling has had a particularly prominent year in 2012, with starring roles Damsels in Distress and the romantic comedy Lola Versus, both in theaters now, and a supporting role in Woody Allen's latest, To Rome With Love, due later this month.
Greta joins us to discuss her artistic upbringing in Sacramento (complete with dreams of being a ballerina), her meteoric and slightly serendipitous rise as an actress, and the way her public perception seems to change with each role she plays.
On this week's Outshot, Jesse misses the old days of pure wacky comedy insanity exemplified by the unfiltered goofiness of Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I.
Is there a film that never fails to make you laugh like a mad man? Share the laughs on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.
Our pop culture luminaries from The AV Club return for another round of recommendations. Sitting in the hot seat this week are Genevieve Koski and Josh Modell, as they select their all-time favorite records. Josh can't resist the lure of Fiona Apple's 1999 album When The Pawn.... Genevieve, meanwhile, opts for a relative modern selection: it's Dessa's lyrically resonant 2010 release A Badly Broken Code.
Daniel Handler delved into his memories of young love and high school frustrations to pen the novel Why We Broke Up -- the twist? He writes the girl's side of the story. The story is illustrated by a collection of items collected during the relationship; the paintings are provided by New Yorker illustrator Maira Kalman. Daniel Handler is also known by his alter ego, Lemony Snicket, who authored A Series of Unfortunate Events. (Originally aired February 14, 2012)
Nico Muhly is a classical composer who's worked with a wide range of musicians, from high-profile composer Philip Glass, to Icelandic snger-songwriter Bjork to indie rockers Grizzly Bear. His opera Two Boys is set to debut at the Metropolitan Opera in the 2013-14 season. He talks to us about the song that changed his life -- Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians. (Originally aired February 14, 2012)
Randy and Jason Sklar, known collectively as The Sklar Brothers, are comedians and actors perhaps best known for their ESPN Classic show Cheap Seats. They're currently hosting a new TV series called United Stats of America, Tuesday nights on the History Channel. Their latest stand up album is Hendersons and Daughters and you can hear them each week as the hosts of the comedy podcast Sklarbro Country.
They sat down with us earlier this year to reflect on forming identities as stand up comedians (and twins), broadening sports comedy for the average Joe, envisioning the writing process for Grimm's Fairy Tales, and more. (Originally aired February 14, 2012)
Americans enjoyed a wave of cringe-inducing awkward comedy in Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Office. This week Jesse recommends one of their precedents, the Canadian series The Newsroom. (Originally aired February 14, 2012)
Sound of Young America contributor Andrew Noz just dropped off his top 50 rap singles of 2011. I have to admit that I look forward to this list every year.
Above is one of my favorites of the year, Pete Rock's "Roses," with Smif & Wessun and Freeway. Noz's top pick this year is a natural, N*ggas in Paris.
Between 1987 and 2003, Fugazi played over 1000 concerts and more than 800 of them were recorded by the band's sound engineers. Now, for a small fee, you can download many of these recordings for your own library. Adding to the fun for discerning and nostalgic fans, the archive will also list available photos, flyers and miscellaneous show info associated with each performance. Only 130 shows are available now, but they will continue to release more monthly until the archive is complete.
The process is also a collaboration with the band's fans. They are actively welcoming the contribution of photos, recordings, corrections, and any additional info that may be missing from the record of specific shows.
This is a fascinating way for the band to take control of both its legacy and its body of work. I'm really curious to see what fans think of it.
Probably my favorite song by a white person.
Also: who knew that Fred Wesley toured with Van Morrison?
Yeah, you better give Fred Wesley a solo.
Check out this terrific Red Bull Music Academy interview with legendary joy creators, The Free Design. As most of you know, the band wrote and performed the delightful JJGO! opening song, "Love You". And while I'm certainly partial to that classic (we played it at our wedding), I also recommend nearly all of the songs on "Kites are Fun", especially the other popular wedding tune "I Found Love".
Their story is an engaging read. Apparently, they not only appeared on the Tonight Show and Merv Griffin - but also on Captain Kangaroo! Perfect match!
It also features this clip of "Umbrellas" which I had never heard before. Friend, if this doesn't start your morning with a smile, then your bliss button is in need of repair.
Our power was out for about 54 hours here at MaxFun World HQ, thanks to WIND SURGE LA 2011. I had to go over to my friend Adam Lisagor's house to record an edition of The Song That Changed My Life with the great Dan Deacon. Dan was a guest on The Sound of Young America a couple years ago, and his music continues to amaze and inspire me. We ended up palling around for half an hour besides the STCML interview. Class act, that Deacon.
Below is the song Dan chose, Conlon Nancarrow's "Canon X (Study No. 21)." Our piece will most likely be out next month.
Nile Rodgers, recent Sound of Young America guest.
You might not recognize Nile Rodgers, who began his music career as part of the purposely faceless band Chic -- but you'd for sure know his music if you heard it. He founded Chic with bassist and friend Bernard Edwards, and launched a string of hits including "Le Freak" and "Good Times", and went on to become a songwriting and producing superstar with a tried-and-true formula.
The anthem "We are Family"? That's one of his, too. He was behind Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out", David Bowie's "Let's Dance", Madonna's "Like a Virgin" and many more. Now, he reflects on decades of hitwriting, the legacy of disco, and the meaning of music in his life.
His new autobiography, out now, is Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny.
Fun new video from They Might Be Giants - just in time for Halloween!
TMBG also has a terrific new rarities release available called "Album Raises New and Troubling Questions". It contains loads of unreleased tracks and is therefore required listening for the devoted fan. You can grab it here.