Category: Podcast

Podcast #1-10. Kronos Quartet: Black Angels

SEASON FINALE! I imagine a lot of people will shut off their players right after the “You are listening” bug at the start of this show. Nothing like a screech of amplified violins …

I immediately fell in love with Black Angels (the piece and the album) the first time I listened to it. I was 18 years old at the time, and the pieces were so alien, I couldn’t help but be fascinated. Dmitri Shostakovich’s Quartet for Strings No. 8 spurred me to try my hand at writing a quartet. (And no, it’s not a very good one.)

Black Angels is one of my desert island discs, and it’s an album I can go back to again and again. Usually, though, when I’m in a very dark mood.

Some notes:

  • “Jewish” can a pretty hard work to pronounce when your mouth is full of cotton. The Thomas Tallis piece is originally a vocal work.
  • Dmitri Shostakovich wrote the Quartet for Strings No. 8 in 1960. The script makes it sound like he saw Dresden getting destroyed during World War II. Rather, he was working in Dresden when he wrote the quartet, and he was moved by the ruins from the bombings.

Pieces featured:

  • George Crumb: Black Angels
  • Thomas Tallis: Spem in Alium
  • Charles Ives: They Are There!
  • Istvan Marta: Doom. A Sigh
  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Quartet for Strings No. 8: II. Allegro
  • Dmitri Shostakovich: Quartet for Strings No. 8: V. Adagio

Podcast #1-9. Wendy and Lisa: Girl Bros.

This show is by far the most rushed of the season. I didn’t write much of a script, and the music excerpts really stretch out. I’m not sure what I could have really said about this album aside from “I like Wendy and Lisa, and this album is good.” So that’s pretty much all I say.

Still, I wanted to feature Wendy and Lisa because I really do like their work. These days, they do a lot of film and television scores, most recently for the NBC show Heroes. I never really could get into Prince, but I got into Wendy and Lisa. Go figure.

Some notes:

  • My voice broke while I was saying “high expectations”, so it sounds like “a high expectations”, which is bad grammar. I didn’t feel like rerecording it.
  • I didn’t intend to sound so sinister when I say “Jonathan’s death“.
  • The next show is the season one finale for the podcast. I haven’t started working on the next season yet, but I do have an idea of what I want to cover. Any premiere date would have to happen after SXSW.

Songs featured:

  • Reaching One
  • I Will
  • Uh, uh, Don’t Look Down
  • Bring You Back
  • Anyway/All I Wonder

Podcast #1-8. The Klezmatics: Jews with Horns

Because I was caught in the momentum of getting all the shows of this season done, I recorded this podcast at 11 p.m. on a Saturday. I didn’t realize how tired I sound till after I was well into editing the show. I could have gone back and rerecorded it, but I didn’t feel like starting from scratch. Also, I let the audio excerpts play a bit longer to make up for the lack of narration.

I’ve been meaning to write about Jews with Horns for a while now, but when it comes to the likes of the Klezmatics, Jayne Cortez or anything outside the purview rock music, it’s better to hear it than to read about it.

Songs featured:

  • Fisherlid
  • Khsidim Tants
  • Nign
  • Simkhes-Toyre
  • Freyt Aykh, Yidlekh
  • Man In A Hat

Podcast #1-7. In Tua Nua: The Long Acre

The next few podcasts aren’t very good, at least in my opinion. I rushed through the writing and recording of them, producing all of them in one weekend. It kind of shows. This particular show is actually the shortest of the season, and I don’t really go into as much detail as the other shows.

In Tua Nua was popular in Europe, and the band was on the periphery of a big break. U2 signed In Tua Nua to its Mother label in the late ’80s. The band gave Sinéad O’Connor a shot by letting her write lyrics to their songs. Violinist Steve Wickham left the band to join the Waterboys. But the band broke up before any of those connections could turn into real opportunities.

It was pure chance I heard this band.

Some notes:

  • In Tua Nua’s albums have been out of print for a long time, but last year, both The Long Acre and its predecessor, Vaudeville, were reissued on iTunes. Recently, the band’s unreleased 1989 album, When Night Came Down on Sunset, was also released on iTunes.
  • I include “Seven into the Sea” on this podcast, even though that track is actually on Vaudeville. On the US release of The Long Acre, “Seven Into the Sea” replaced one of the tracks from the European release.

Songs featured:

  • Woman on Fire
  • All I Wanted
  • Wheel of Evil
  • The Innocent and the Honest Ones
  • Seven Into the Sea

Podcast #1-6. 椎名林檎: 無罪モラトリアム (Shiina Ringo: Muzai Moratorium)

Like my review for NUMBER GIRL’s SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT, my original review for Shiina Ringo’s Muzai Moratorium didn’t have much depth, and I really didn’t know what I was talking about. And like the podcast for SCHOOL GIRL DISTORTIONAL ADDICT, this show is an attempt to flesh that review out. I’m so glad I never published the original version of this podcast — the script for this show was edited many, many times before I ended up with the show you hear here.

Some notes:

  • In the teaser from last week’s show, I used the kana pronunciation of “moratorium”, but for the podcast itself, I decided to stick with the English pronunciation. It felt weird saying certain words in proper English and transliterated words with Japanese pronunciation. So in most cases, I went with English.
  • The album itself is compressed within an inch of its life. There’s a big debate about how dynamic range is missing in recent albums, and Muzai Moratorium — Shiina Ringo’s entire discography, in fact — could serve as Exhibit A in that debate. Most of the albums benefited from the overall compression in the show. Not so this one.
  • This show is the only one so far to use an audio excerpt from a different album.

Songs featured:

  • 正しい町 (Tadashii Machi)
  • 宗教 (Shuukyou)
  • ここでキスして。 (Koko de KISU Shite)
  • 歌舞伎町の女王 (Kabuki-chou no Jyoou)
  • 幸福論 (Koufukuron)
  • 積木遊び (Tsumiki Asobi)
  • モルフィン (Morphine)

Podcast #1-5. Wayne Horvitz/Pigpen: V as in Victim

After I discovered John Zorn’s Naked City, I wanted to explore the works of its individual members. I assumed their own albums would sound like Naked City. That wasn’t the case with Bill Frisell and Wayne Horvitz. I bought a number of albums by both, and I have to admit I was kind of bored by them.

But then I stopped expecting Naked City and listened to them as individuals. Horvitz’s music grew on me to the point where I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a fanboy. His work is so varied, I could — and probably might — spend a few more podcasts exploring them. Pigpen most closely resembles Naked City, and V as in Victim is the band’s tightest album.

Songs featured:

  • ‘Cause I’m in Love Yeah
  • Testament
  • Speech
  • A Portrait of Hank Williams, Jr.
  • Stompin’ at the Cranium
  • Again (Bill Frisell cover)
  • V as in Victim

Podcast #1-4. Duran Duran: Medazzaland

I’ve been pretty hard on Duran Duran since the start of the decade, if only because I’ve heard the band at its best. Astronaut and Pop Trash are not their best.

The last time Duran Duran really produced something distinct and signature was Medazzaland. It had some of the band’s best writing, but none of it was very suitable for radio play. Back in 1997, major labels attempted to trumpet underground dance music as the new face of alternative rock, and Medazzaland had the raw material to broker such a transition. But then the Spice Girls and Hanson happened that year, and the labels went where the cash was.

Some notes:

  • Midazolim has been used as a plot device on Law & Order and The Closer. Anytime it’s mentioned, I always think of this album.
  • I wrote the script for this show when I wasn’t so bitter about the band. I had a hard time delivering the line about Duran Duran paying no mind to time with a straight face.

Songs featured:

  • Medazzaland
  • Big Bang Generation
  • Be My Icon
  • So Long Suicide
  • Midnight Sun
  • Electric Barbarella

Podcast #1-3. Emmylou Harris: Wrecking Ball

Wrecking Ball is one of my desert island discs. It’s an album I can go back to again and again and never get tired of it. This album really got me into Emmylou Harris, and as a result, country music stopped being verboten. Thing is, the album isn’t overtly country — I don’t think it even got airplay on country radio — but Harris has such a spellbinding voice, it’s difficult not to be curious about her previous work. If I revisit Harris again, I may feature Bluebird or Pieces of the Sky.

Some notes:

  • Is “route” pronounced like “boot” or like “gout”?
  • “Other-worldly” is a damn hard compound word to pronounce.
  • I don’t even mention Neil Young, Lucinda Williams and Larry Mullen, Jr. of U2 all play on this album.
  • A boxed set of Harris rarities hits stores on Tuesday, Sept. 18. I didn’t intend to time the broadcast of this podcast with that release.

Songs featured:

  • Where Will I Be?
  • Wrecking Ball
  • All My Tears
  • Sweet Old World
  • May This Be Love
  • Waltz Across Texas Tonight

Podcast #1-2. Jayne Cortez & the Firespitters: Cheerful & Optimistic

I’ve been meaning to write about Jayne Cortez & the Firespitters for a long time, but I don’t think writing about this album would do as much justice as listening it. Cheerful & Optimistic is one of those acquisitions that just stick out in my collection. It’s not Japanese pop, it’s not indie rock, it’s not from the ’80s — it might be close to downtown New York stuff, but that’s a stretch. When I play this album in front of my family, they get annoyed by the repetition of Cortez’s verse. To my ears, it’s just musical punctuation.

I think there’s one Firespitters album available on CD Baby, but if you want to find her other works, good luck — I had to order mine through a magazine called Cadence. The difficulty of finding her albums pretty much discourages me from trying it again. Even her poetry is hard to find.

Cortez did record an album for her ex-husband Ornette Coleman’s label, Harmolodic, back in 1996, but that album is long out of print.

Some notes:

  • I finally learned about harmolodics about a year after I encountered Jayne Cortez through an interview with Coleman in Pulse! magazine.
  • It’s kind of weird for me to describe how “dark and chaotic” “War Devoted to War” gets when I don’t actually excerpt the part that gets dark and chaotic.
  • Yeah in retrospect, I’m not sure how African instruments and social consciousness really relate.

Songs featured:

  • Hello, Everybody
  • She Got He Got
  • Find Your Own Voice
  • War Devoted to War
  • I Wonder Who
  • Cheerful & Optimistic

Feeds, shortcuts and other such details

Podcasting veteran Ryan suggested I create a separate feed and a dedicated page for the podcast. The former was already in place for the inaugural show, and I waited till it was up to publicize the URL.

I debated whether to spin the podcast off to its own site with at least its own subdomain. I was too lazy to create that setup, and the podcast itself isn’t very big. For a five-minute show that "broadcasts" in 8- to 10-episode seasons, an entire site seems a bit much. Instead, I’m offering a shortcut to the podcast category page:

Ryan also mentioned getting on iTunes, and I submitted the URL yesterday. So it’s under review by the Powers that Be.