Sound Opinions
Sound Opinions, being the scholarly work it is, has provided footnotes to help you navigate through the show's vast maze of musical knowledge.

Because, let's face it—sometimes even we have no idea what the heck Jim and Greg are talking about.
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07-22-06 Footnotes
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1 Online social forum was recently announced to be the number one most-frequented web site in the U.S. according to internet traffic firm Hitwise. This puts MySpace above Internet network, Yahoo. And while these stats are sometimes dubious, the influence of MySpace on the youth market, and particularly on music fans cannot be denied. The website, which started as a rather grassroots way for bands to post their music and communicate with fans, caught the attention of major labels and media insiders. It was purchased by Rupert Murdoch last year, and already is being copied by the likes of Walmart.

2 In addition to trying to reach listeners via the web, record labels seem to be trying everything under the sun to make their product stand out. Two recent publicity gimmicks caught Jim and Greg’s attention. The first is by pop diva Janet Jackson. Ms. Jackson has not been heard from in some time and is hoping that her upcoming album, produced by boyfriend Jermaine Dupri, could be something of a comeback. Apparently her label, Virgin Records, wants fans to get in on the marketing as well. They are leaving it up to the public to create the album art for 20 Years Old, which is due out in September. Fans are limited to Jackson-approved photos, however, so you won’t be seeing any of this in record stores.

3 The second pop star stunt is being pulled by Jessica Simpson. The ex-newlywed recently released the single, “Public Affair,” and in addition to playing it on MTV, airing it on the radio and selling it on iTunes, the Simpson camp is also offering a customizable version. Fans who want to hear Jessica (or rather her backing vocalists) sing their name can purchase a version of the track with their names inserted into the lyrics of the song. There are about 500 to choose from, so thankfully it wasn’t hard to find “Jim” or “Greg.” But, those with more unusual names will have to wait a few weeks. Sorry, Suri.

4 This week on the show Jim and Greg play doctor. Rock doctor that is. They’ve decided to launch a new experiment where they help a listener in need of musical help. Let’s hope they don’t get their licenses pulled. Their first patient is Chicago Public Radio colleague Peter Sagal. The Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me host listens to the show, but confessed to Sound Opinions H.Q. that he doesn’t always “get it.” Peter is a music fan, but is in a bit of a rut, and has come to Drs. Kot and DeRogatis for some healing.

5 The history:
After their initial consultation, our hosts discover that their patient is a huge Elvis Costello fan. He also digs Tom Waits and Nick Lowe, and has ventured into newer territory with artists like Neko Case and Ben Folds. Peter also reveals that he likes “Jesus Walks,” but may be the last person on the planet who hasn’t gotten into Kanye West.

The diagnoses:
Greg cues in to Peter’s fondness for singer/songwriters and theatricality. He also notes that much of the music Peter likes has a fairly wry, intellectual sense of humor. So, his prescription includes an introduction to the music of The Decemberists. Frontman Colin Meloy, who was also a guest on Sound Opinions, has a literary, almost Broadway-esque style that Greg thinks might cure Peter of some of his ailments. He also suggests that Peter check out the New Pornographers, which features Neko Case on many of the tracks.

Jim’s first prescription is also for someone who appreciates a darker sense of humor. He recommends Peter take a dose of the new (and improved according to Jim) Belle and Sebastian. The Scottish band was a bit too twee for our host, but on this year’s The Life Pursuit, they create a sunnier, poppier sound, though one that has no less dark a point of view. Jim also instructs his patient to go for it and give a listen to Kanye West’s second album, Late Registration. He predicts Peter will appreciate the rapper/producer’s compositions and innovative orchestrations.

The follow-up:
Peter followed his doctors’ advice for a week, and returned to let them know how he feels. He admitted that he enjoyed most of their choices. He has never been a Belle and Sebastian fan, and probably won’t become one any time soon, but he understands why Jim recommended the band. And he told Greg that he will continue to dig deeper into the music of The Decemberists and the New Pornographers. But the clear cure here was Kanye West. Peter was absolutely floored by how much he loved Late Registration. He definitely now understands what all the fuss is about. Therefore, by turning their patient on to even one new artist, the doctors can consider their medical experiment a success. They’ve got one patient in recovery and look forward to healing some more. So, if you or anyone you needs to consult with the rock doctors, please email Sound Opinions H.Q, and tell us where it hurts.

6 Politicially charged group Michael Franti and Spearhead have a new album out this week. Franti’s songwriting has ranged from R&B to funk to hip hop, and he’s been a part of numerous groups including The Beatnigs and the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy, and on this effort he expands his sound with the help of Reggae greats Sly Dunbar and Robbie Shakespeare. Much of Yell Fire! was recorded in Kingston, Jamaica with the seminal Jamaican producers. While the album’s sound is slightly different, the message is no less socially conscious. He recorded it after returning from a trip to the Middle East in 2004, and has also released a documentary film based on his travels. Jim respects Franti’s message, and strongly recommends people see the movie; however he doesn’t think that the lyrics are very strong and wishes Franti didn’t sound like he was trying so hard with the reggae sound. His rating is on the cusp between Burn It and Trash It. Greg disagrees, and thinks the production and the dancehall beats were done well, but he has to agree with his co-host about many of the cheesier, U2 - style ballads. It’s a Burn It for Greg.

7 The second album up for review is from Peaches. The Canadian electroclash singer, born Merrill Nisker, has released her third album this week, and she doesn’t fail to deliver the controversy. Jim and Greg couldn’t even say the record’s title, Impeach My Bush, on the air, instead opting for “Impeach My President.” Peaches, who has toured, collaborated and even roomed with a number of other artists including Justine Frischmann of Elastica, M.I.A., Feist and Gonzales, has always enjoyed pushing buttons and playing with gender roles and cultural norms. Greg usually appreciated this sensibility when it was paired with sparse production and Peaches’ trusty beat box, but he found he was much more entertained by her live show, than he was listening to the album. He doesn’t think her ideas are as strong as her visual presence and can only give Impeach My Bush a Burn It. Jim, on the other hand, believes this is Peaches’ first beginning-to-end album, and loves Peaches' take on the Bush administration, as well as her modern feminist philosophy. He gives the record a Buy It, and would even purchase a copy for his daughter.

8 As a nod to Peaches’ irreverent, gender-bending ways, Greg digs deep down in his music collection for this week’s Desert Island Jukebox. He chooses a track by ‘70s and ‘80s model/pop star/diva Grace Jones. Before Peaches, or even Madonna, shocked and awed people with their controversial lyrics and style, Grace Jones was crossing lines between genders and musical genres. She was beautiful, but also masculine. Her music was rock, but also disco. So, like David Bowie, Jones had audiences questioning the idea of identity. But, it wasn’t until she collaborated with Island Records founder Chris Blackwell and his Compass Point (house band that she made music that could be taken seriously. Greg chooses to play her cover of Joy Division’s song “She’s Lost Control.” In Jones’ version, she assumes the role of the woman on the verge of a losing her mind. And after listening to the song, you may find that this role wasn’t such a stretch.

Songs Featured in Show #34

Arctic Monkeys, “Bigger Boys With Stolen Sweethearts”
Janet Jackson, “Call on Me,” 20 Years Old,
Jessica Simpson, “A Public Affair,” A Public Affair,
Ramones, “Let’s Go,” End of the Century, 1980
Black Sabbath, “Rock and Roll Doctor,” Technical Ecstacy,
Elvis Costello, Blood and Chocolate,
Elvis Costello, “I Almost Had a Weakness,” Juliet Letters,
The Rolling Stones, “Dear Doctor,” Beggars Banquet, 1968
Belle and Sebastian, “Act of the Apostle,” The Life Pursuit,
The Decemberists, “Sixteen Military Wives,” Picaresque,)
New Pornographers, “Bleeding Heart Show,” Twin Cinema,
Kanye West, “Heard ‘Em Say,” Late Registration,
Dr. Octagon, “Dr. Octagon,” The Return of Dr. Octagon
Michael Franti & Spearhead, “Time to Go Home,” Yell Fire! 2006
Michael Franti & Spearhead, “Everybody Ona Move,” Yell Fire!
Peaches, “Boys Want to Be Her,” Impeach My Bush, 2006
Peaches, “Two Guys for Every Girl,” Impeach My Bush, 2006
Grace Jones, “She’s Lost Control,” Private Life: The Compass Point Sessions
Credits: Rick Ross, “Hustlin,” Port of Miami, 2006

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