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Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "Sound Opinions"


Freelance journalist Ian Brill offers another quick take on a popular podcast. - Jesse

FM radio, once the home of the personality DJ, is now a wasteland. MTV has all but forgotten what its first initial stands for. MySpace is one of the few places to find new music, but there you’ll find nothing but self-promotion. There seem to be few places that brings audiences new music and put that music in any kind of context. There is, however, one beacon of harmonic hope ,and it comes from a city with a great musical heritage.

Sound Opinions broadcasts from WBEZ Chicago, the public radio powerhouse that produces This American Life. The show used to be found on commercial radio, and it still provides archival material from that time, but since moving to public radio last year the podcasting service has greatly improved. Shows are posted only a day or two after their original broadcast and are easily available on iTunes. The website includes helpful notes accompanying each episode.

The show mirrors the classic Siskel & Ebert approach to criticism, right down to the newspapers the two hosts work for. Chicago Sun-Times critic Jim DeRogatis can be sure to champion rock ‘n’ roll tinged with psychedelic or otherwise intellectual elements, such as The Flaming Lips or Wire. The best glimpse into DeRogatis’s taste would be his book Turn on Your Mind: Four Decades of Great Psychedelic Music. While DeRogatis can be counted on to enthusiastically expound upon the merits of personal favorites, Chicago Tribune critic Greg Kot tastes proves to be far more eclectic in the music he showcases. In past shows Kot has extolled the virtues of Rock en Espanol and soul music legend Mavis Staples.

While the hosts may have their favorites Sound Opinions covers a wide range of styles. Each show usually includes about two reviews. The discussions of albums such as Paul McCartney’s Memory Almost Full and Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky (Kot has written a book on Wilco) are intelligent, passionate and informative. It’s rare to hear popular music engaged with such trenchancy. Because the hosts look for music that is worthy of discussion the show will often spotlight lesser known artists making music that is in someway smart and/or complex. Recent guests on the show include songwriter/producer Jon Brion, known for an improvisational approach to performance that has garnered him a cult following in his home of Los Angeles. Another guest on the show, the experimental group Parts & Labor create music so challenging I wonder what public radio listeners must think when they hear these sounds coming out of their car radio.

It’s such a relief to hear a professional radio show pay so much attention to new music. Sound Opinions doesn’t see artists and songs as “units” that need to be sold as TV commercials or ringtones. For the people who want more out of the music industry this show is there to help them.

Stacy on Late Night

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Back when Late Night writer Brian Stack was on the show, we talked a bit about the Stacy bits, but I had a terrible time finding one. Here's a great one. Amy Poehler, of course, portrays Stacy.

Louis CK - "Ice Cream"

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Best video ever. Louis just put up several brilliant shorts here.

Hendrix at Newport '69


Thanks to LA Observed for this amazing Jimi Hendrix performance before 200,000 spectactors at Devonshire Downs near Northridge. Spectacular.

Later today I'll post my interview with Betty Davis, funk and soul legend and a close friend of Jimi's.

Kanye West, quote of the century.


This whole time you thought it was the "George Bush doesn't care about black people" thing.


It's this, about his new single, and why he sampled Daft Punk: "For people that dress super-good, this is the music that we listen to. If you don't like it, you probably can't dress that good."

(via Status Ain't Hood)

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe, Ep. 11: The Droner

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In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. Today, their humor is a cultural touchstone for artists as varied as Henry Rollins and The Upright Citizens Brigade.

These recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

This week, "San Francisco's newest, freshest talent: James P. Coyle, a Droner."

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Zach Galifianakis + Kanye West = True Love


Not to be missed is this interview with Zach Galifianakis in Impose Magazine.

Mostly for this part:

Are you into much hip hop these days?
Zach: Not really, even though strangely I’m shooting Kanye West’s new music video here at the farm. He asked me to do it. He doesn’t want to be in it, but he sent me this new song and then asked me to make a video for him here at my farm. He saw me do stand up a few weeks ago here in Los Angeles, and we chatted after the show. He had seen me do these other music videos; I did one for Fiona Apple and I did one of my own where I sing an Anita Baker song. So he saw the Anita Baker one and asked me if I would come up with something. So we’ve been going back and forth trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the song. So I’m figuring that out here at my farm.

Do you know if this is going to be the first single off his new album?
Zach: No I don’t think so. I don’t know what the single is? I have no idea. I think he just wants to release it. No one really does music videos anymore, so he just turned it over to me and gave me a few bucks. I guess I’ll probably shoot it at the end of the day.

Do you have a large crew for this shoot?
Zach: My director will fly in from California, and he and I will go shoot it. Maybe me, him and one other person will go around the Black Mountains of North Carolina and shoot it.

What about some of the smaller hip-hop acts that are operating on an independent level outside of the major labels?
Zach: I don’t know where to find it I guess, it’s not the sort of stuff I’m seeking out. I don’t really know about a lot of hip hop acts right now. Most of that stuff is hard to find, I mean if you listen to regular radio it’s hard to find. I’m trying to think of the last hip hop group I was really into?

Arrested Development?
Zach: No. [laughs] Well Digable Planets I really love, they were amazing yeah. I can’t really think of anybody currently that I’ve listened to.

Further enjoyment:
Zach Galifianakis on TSOYA
Digable Planets: Blackitolism & Dial 7 videos

Dungeon Family Celebration


This post is for the folks who think the Dungeon Fam is the Outkast and, uhm, Gnarls Barkley.

Cool Breez et al "Watch for the Hook"

Dungeon Family - Trans DF Express

Youngbloodz f. Big Boi - "85"

Cee-Lo - Closet Freak

Joi - Ghetto Superstar

Outkast f. Goodie Mob - Git Up Git Out

Sleepy Brown - Sunday Morning

Killer Mike - AKshon

Cherokee f. Andre 3K - Nectarine

Backbone - Five Deuce, Four Tre

Society of Soul - Pushin'

Slimm Cutta Calhoun f. Andre 3K - It's OK

Podcast: TSOYA: Soul Sides with Oliver Wang


Oliver Wang, PhD, is the man behind the popular soul and hip-hop blog Soul Sides. He's also a professor at the California State University at Long Beach, and a long-time club and radio DJ (as DJ O-Dub). He recently produced the second of a series of CD compilations of classic soul: "Soul Sides Volume Two: The Covers." It collects classic and contemporary cover tunes by soul artists both well known (Al Green performing the Beatles "I Wanna Hold Your Hand") and more obscure (Bill Withers' classic "Kissing My Love" performed by Spanky Wilson). We discuss a few of the tracks with Dr. Wang as well as his new career in academe.

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Our intersititial music is provided by Dan Wally

You might also enjoy these past programs:
Faking It: The Quest for Authenticity in Pop Music
Southern Soul: Devin the Dude and Stax Records (MP3)
The College Years: Swamp Dogg

Podcast: TSOYA: Michael Cera


Our interview guest Michael Cera starred as "George Michael" on the cult sitcom Arrested Development. He's currently appearing in the web series Clark & Michael, which he and his partner Clark Duke also write. Later this summer, he'll star alongside Jonah Hill in "SuperBad," a film co-written by Seth Rogen and produced by Judd Apatow.

Please share your thoughts on this program on our forum!

Download This Show (MP3)
Subscribe in iTunes
Review the show in iTunes
Please Donate to Support the Show

Listen to This Week's Show Online

Please allow our low-bandwidth server a little time after you click "play"

Our intersititial music is provided by Dan Wally

You might also enjoy these past programs:
The Human Giant
Jack McBrayer
Zach Galifianakis

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