Created with Sketch.
143 minutes | 10 days ago
Episode 88: Steve Singiser / Living Colour
Scot and Jeff discuss Living Colour with Steve Singiser. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Steve Singiser. Steve is a contributing editor at Daily Kos Elections. Find him on Twitter at @stevesingiser. Steve’s Music Pick: Living Colour That riff is indelibly inked on your brain. You know the one. The first musical notes put to vinyl/tape/compact disc by Living Colour, kicking off “Cult of Personality.” That riff that comes just after a quote from Malcolm X and carries through to famous orations from JFK and FDR. Yes, from the start, this all-black rock/funk/soul/metal band from New York really was something different. The band was driven by the guitar heroics of Vernon Reid, who would put his signature all over various tracks through the band’s existence. Lead vocalist Corey Glover featured rare range and power, and the rhythm section of drummer Will Calhoun and bassist Muzz Skillings (later replaced by Doug Wimbish) held down the bottom end. VIVID, the debut album, sold more than two million copies, presenting a foursome with solid melodies, street-smart lyrics, and an incredible intensity. Mick Jagger was such a fan he produced two songs on the record and invited the band to open for the Rolling Stones. The follow-up album, TIME’S UP, didn’t miss a beat, featuring guests such as Little Richard, Queen Latifah, Doug E. Fresh, and others. The songs were just as satisfying, and lyrically the band dove deeper into the political, including social commentary on racism in America. The subsequent offering STAIN, features a darker, grittier sound. The band would split soon after. Three post-reunion albums of varying quality are covered on the show, but more importantly, we offer an appreciation for a band that has somewhat slipped through the cracks but deserves a second, or for some, a first look. What’s your favorite color?
208 minutes | a month ago
Episode 87: Brad Birzer / Genesis [ Part 2]
Scot and Jeff discuss second part of Genesis’s career (the Phil Collins years) with Brad Birzer. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Dr. Brad Birzer. Brad is the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies and Professor of History at Hillsdale College. He’s the co-founder of, and Senior Contributor at, The Imaginative Conservative. And he’s the author of a number of books, including Neil Peart: Cultural (Re)Percussions. Find him online at bradbirzer.com or @bradleybirzer on Twitter. Brad’s Music Pick: Genesis After joining us to celebrate life of Neil Peart and the career of Rush back at the beginning of the year, Brad Birzer returns to discuss his other great musical love, Genesis. We pick up where we left off last time with Patrick Frey, telling the story of Genesis from the departure of Peter Gabriel after The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway to the present day. And what an amazing musical tale it is, the story of a niche British progressive rock band that was all but left for dead by the musical press after Gabriel’s departure, only to immediately come blazing out of the gates with one of the most impressive albums of the Seventies in 1976’s A Trick Of The Tail. With their diminutive balding drummer (a gent you may be familiar with by the name of Phil Collins) accidentally promoted to the role of lead singer during the sessions for that album, Genesis went on to not only weather the loss of their lead guitarist Steve Hackett, but to improbably ascend to the heights of worldwide commercial superstardom with Phil as their frontman. Genesis was ubiquitous during the 1980s, and in a good way: as Scot, Jeff, and Brad all argue, NONE of these albums have dated much at all, and in fact their stature has grown over the years (not even Patrick Bateman jokes could prevent it). Welcome to Political Beats’ loving conclusion to a tale that spans from Genesis to Revelation, one of the great underdog stories of the rock era . . . a band that spent 30 years making new music, evolving constantly, and never getting lost in a changing world.
204 minutes | a month ago
Episode 86: Patrick Frey / Genesis [Part 1]
Scot and Jeff discuss Genesis (1967-1975) with Patrick Frey. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Patrick Frey. Patrick has been a blogger of national repute since 2003 and is still committed to the form, even though it has been dead for years. Read his work at Patterico’s Pontifications and follow Patrick on Twitter at @Patterico. Patrick’s Music Pick: Genesis We’ve been waiting here for so long to discuss this band, and all the time that’s passed us by? It hardly seems to matter now, because Political Beats is finally tackling the first half of Genesis’s career (the Peter Gabriel years; 1976-1997 will come in our next installment) with the sort of reverent fervor that only happens when one of the show’s two hosts is discussing their single favorite group of all time. No prizes for guessing which of the two co-hosts feels that way about them. During this era Genesis — originally formed by a group of 16-year-olds at a genteel London-area private school — rapidly evolved from a halting group of adolescent pop songwriters (failed pop songwriters, mind you) into one of the biggest progressive rock bands of all time. Later, after the years discussed in this episode, they would also become one of the biggest commercial successes on the planet as well, without ever really losing the core of what made them uniquely Genesis. But for now, buckle up as the gang travels through tales of Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford, Peter Gabriel, Anthony Phillips, Steve Hackett, and a young drummer you might have heard of by the name of Philip Collins. This is some of the best, most well-composed, goofiest, and most profound music ever made during the 1970s, extremely British but also universal in its eternal musical verities. For the next three hours we will enjoy selling you England by the sound. P.S. Don’t worry, none of you are going to die. But you may need to make a visit to the Doktor when all is said and done. If you think that that’s pretentious . . . well then, you’ve been taken for a ride.
170 minutes | 2 months ago
Episode 85: Christian Schneider / Ramones
Scot and Jeff discuss Ramones with Christian Schneider. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Christian Schneider. Christian is a reporter for The College Fix, contributor to The Dispatch, The Bulwark, USA Today, and sometimes National Review, and author of 1916: The Blog. Find him on Twitter at @Schneider_CM Christian’s Music Pick: Ramones 1, 2, 3, 4! In an episode we joked should only last two minutes, to honor the band, the Political Beats crew take a look at the music and career of Ramones. Formed in Queens in 1974, Ramones have been credited as the first punk rock group, and we tackle that question in the course of the conversation. The band’s first four albums are essentially unimpeachable; short, quick melodic tracks, paying deep debt to the rock music of the late ’50s and early 1960s, The Beach Boys and surf music, and, of course, the magic of fast, loud, downstrokes on the electric guitar. We discuss why the band’s songs often are deeper and more complex than on first listen and dismiss the criticism that “all their songs sound the same.” An unfortunate experience with Phil Spector is forgiven, as all of us heap praise upon the somewhat forgotten PLEASANT DREAMS. At some point, the idea of “quality control” does escape the band’s grasp, and some of the band’s drama becomes more interesting than the recorded output. Still, Ramones stand as one of the most influential groups in rock history and continue to inspire despite the early deaths of all four original members. It might not be a two-minute show, but the time will fly by. Gabba Gabba Hey!
175 minutes | 3 months ago
Episode 84: Steven Levy / The Doors
Scot and Jeff discuss The Doors with Steven Levy. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Steven Levy. Steven is editor at large of Wired magazine and author of Facebook: The Inside Story. Follow him on Twitter at @StevenLevy. Steven’s Music Pick: The Doors It’s been oft-observed that the day destroys the night while the night divides the day, but no matter how much Political Beats tried to run and tried to hide, we could not avoid breaking on through to the other side with our episode about The Doors. In many ways The Doors are the most controversial artist that the show has ever covered, for the simple reason that they are so polarizing: People tend to either adore them or hate them with a fiery splenetic passion. Which makes this episode one of the most fun and interesting ones we have ever done, because you get three perspectives on Jim Morrison & company: a true super-fan who was there at time (indeed in the audience at several of their concerts) in Steven, an ex-fan who doesn’t hate them but definitely has criticisms in Jeff, and then . . . well then there’s Scot. Is this The End for Political Beats? No, we’ll be back at it again soon enough, but now that summer’s almost gone we figured we’d send it out with a bang, and keep at it until the music’s over and we’ve turned out the lights.
196 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 83: Andrew Feinberg / Hüsker Dü
Scot and Jeff discuss Hüsker Dü with Andrew Feinberg. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Andrew Feinberg. Andrew is a Washington, D.C.-based journalist whose coverage of the White House, Capitol Hill, and other political venues and matters of import has appeared in The Independent, Newsweek, Breakfast Media, and Politico Magazine. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewFeinberg. Andrew’s Music Pick: Hüsker Dü Is this your celebrated summer? You might not think so given the state of the world in 2020, but Political Beats is here to convince you that it still could become true if you immerse yourself in the music of one of America’s most fearlessly inventive, creative, and critically adored indie bands, Hüsker Dü! (Don’t let the exotic-sounding name throw you off: These were three Minneapolis-St. Paul kids naming themselves after a Scandinavian board game from the 1970s.) The Hüskers — Bob Mould (guitars, vocals, songwriting), Grant Hart (drums, vocals, rival songwriting), and Greg Norton (bass, peerless mustache) — emerged from the MSP-area D.I.Y. punk scene to first become the most fearsome hardcore band on the planet, and then swiftly developed into one of the most ambitious and melodic groups of the entire 1980s. From their early years as punk neophytes to their era as the world’s most intensely ear-shredding hardcore band to their creative zenith to their legendarily bitter collapse and break-up, the Hüskers blazed a path through rock music that remains unique to this day, and left behind some of the finest music of the decade. Searingly personal, buoyantly poppy and melodic, skin-rippingly hardcore . . . and often all three of these things simultaneously: Join us on a journey beyond the threshold as we (most likely) introduce you to the work of Hüsker Dü (and also quite a bit of solo Bob Mould).
222 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 82: Dan McLaughlin / Bruce Springsteen [Part 2]
Scot and Jeff discuss the second part of Bruce Springsteen’s career (1980-2020) with Dan McLaughlin. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Dan McLaughlin. Dan is a Senior Editor at National Review and you can find his work, well . . . here! Just click on that tab over there, it’s not hard to figure out! Find him online at @baseballcrank on Twitter. Dan’s Music Pick: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Maybe you had a brother in Khe Sanh fighting off the Viet Cong, but after forty years from 1980 onwards to the present day as we resume the second part of our Springsteen summer spectacular, Bruce is still there, and we’re all gone. Part Two witnesses Springsteen’s explosion from cult favorite, critical darling, and sometime-chart-entrant into The Biggest Musician Of The Eighties sweepstakes (it’s a four person standoff between him, MJ, Prince, and Madonna). From Nebraska to Born In The U.S.A. to Live 1975-85 (a five record set that entered the Billboard charts at #1) to the deeply personal Tunnel Of Love, Springsteen owned the decade like few other artists, and his retreat from that during the Nineties (and subsequent reclamation of both the E Street Band and the massive concert audiences from 1999 onwards) is only part of an incredibly complicated and rewarding story set out in musical form. Join us as we run through all of it — not just the albums, but the outtakes, the live performances, the archival releases, heck even the autobiographies — on this epic installment of Political Beats, bringing our survey of The Boss to a close. And after you’re done, assuming you’re the last one out, make sure to shut out the light. Part Two of Two.
201 minutes | 4 months ago
Episode 81: Dan McLaughlin / Bruce Springsteen [Part 1]
Scot and Jeff discuss the first part of Bruce Springsteen’s career (1972-1980) with Dan McLaughlin. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Dan McLaughlin. Dan is a senior editor at National Review and you can find his work, well . . . here! Just click on that tab over there, it’s not hard to figure out! Find him online at @baseballcrank on Twitter. Dan’s Music Pick: Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band Summer’s here and the time is finally right for racing in the street. Yes, Political Beats is finally throwing its arms around the single most-requested artist in its three-year history: Mr. Bruce Springsteen, an artist who achieved a modest amount of fame during the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, and ’10s (and most likely the ’20s as well). Who is Bruce Springsteen? Well, if you only know Springsteen from his years of mega-stardom and commercial ubiquity during the Eighties then you’re missing out on a long, winding artistic evolution that he underwent during the Seventies, the decade that Jeff for one asserts was truly his. From “the new Dylan” to Van-Morrison-meets-the-Jersey-Shore to The Future Of Rock And Roll to dusty roads littered with broken dreams, Political Beats takes you on a lovingly detailed tour of Bruce Springsteen’s evolution, over the first eight years of his career, into The Boss. Outtakes? Obscure live performances? Surprising amounts of Danny Federici on accordion? This episode has it all, a story about a guy in a town full of losers pulling out of there to win. Part one of two.
148 minutes | 5 months ago
Episode 80: Randy Barnett / The Zombies and Argent
Scot and Jeff discuss The Zombies and Argent with Randy Barnett. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Randy Barnett. Randy is the Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Legal Theory at the Georgetown University Law Center, where he directs the Georgetown Center for the Constitution. He also writes at The Volokh Conspiracy. Follow him on Twitter at @RandyEBarnett. Randy’s Music Pick: The Zombies and Argent It’s summertime, and the livin’ is easy, which also means that it’s the time of the season to discuss not one, but two of the great semi-forgotten bands of pop-rock era in The Zombies and their progressive-rock sequel Argent. The Zombies — led by keyboardist Rod Argent, bassist Chris White, and lead singer Colin Blunstone — may have gotten inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame very recently, but odds are that unless you are a Sixties music snob you still aren’t aware of just how brilliant they actually were as a band, how underrated Argent and White were as pop songwriters and lyricists, and how shockingly great their entire discography is. As Jeff says during the show, even though The Zombies scored three big hits in America (trust us, you’ve heard “She’s Not There” and “Time Of The Season” even if only subliminally, and you probably know “Tell Her No” as well), the rest of their career exemplifies most bizarre losing streak in rock history, because practically every single one of the songs they released (and several that they didn’t!) were top-tier pop and art-rock compositions, and they ended their career with what ranks among the finest albums of the decade in Odessey And Oracle. But the story doesn’t end there! After The Zombies broke up due to lack of commercial success and critical recognition (both would eventually come, albeit too late for the group), Argent and White went on to form a new band, the eponymous Argent, based around the songwriting skills of Rod and Chris and with the added strength of lead singer Russ Ballard bringing his own music to bear. Argent rapidly moved away from the bright, brisk pop-rock of The Zombies into the piano/organ-based art- and progressive-rock style of the Seventies, and yet still managed to put out a remarkable amount of fine music on their own. Click play and enjoy — is this the dream band you’ve been crying out for?
162 minutes | 6 months ago
Episode 79: Lynyrd Skynyrd / Mark Davis
Scot and Jeff discuss Lynyrd Skynyrd with Mark Davis. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Mark Davis. Mark is a talk show host at 660 AM The Answer in Dallas-Ft. Worth and can be heard filling in on shows nationally for the Salem Media Group. He’s also a columnist for the Dallas Morning News and Townhall.com. Find him online @markdavis on Twitter. Mark’s Music Pick: Lynyrd Skynyrd What song is it you want to hear? If you answered “Free Bird!”, chances are this episode on Lynyrd Skynyd is for you. The band, pronounced ‘Lĕh-‘nérd ‘Skin-‘nérd, of course, formed in Jacksonville back in the 1960s and essentially invested their own genre of music, fusing blues, rock, country, and “swamp music” to define 1970s southern rock. Ronnie Van Zant wrote the lyrics and led his band to a major label deal following years of honing their craft for hours a day in the “Hell House.” What emerged were two of the finest albums of the classic rock era and a string of memorable tales while working for MCA. We discuss the band’s not-so-secret weapon in Ed King and dive into the back stories of “Sweet Home Alabama.” Tragically, the band’s prime years were cut short following a plane crash in 1977, just months after adding guitarist Steve Gaines to the lineup, reinvigorating the group’s sound. Van Zant, Gaines, his sister Cassie, and three others were killed; other band members suffered brutal injuries. The less said about subsequent reunions, the better, though it is covered in the show. Give a fresh listen to the music of one of the finest American rock bands of all time. Don’t forget to turn it up!
151 minutes | 6 months ago
Episode 78: Jeff Pojanowski / Crowded House
Scot and Jeff discuss Crowded House with Jeff Pojanowski. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Jeff Pojanowski. Jeff is a professor of law at Notre Dame Law School. He also writes about administrative law, legal interpretation, and philosophy of law. Find him online @pojanowski on Twitter. Jeff’s Music Pick: Crowded House You might think of Crowded House as a one-or-two-hit wonder in the U.S., but by the end of this episode you’ll be falling at their feet to praise their body of work. The band started with the demise of Split Enz in the mid-80s, leaving main songwriter Neil Finn to carry on by focusing on a stripped down, back-to-basics style of music. The debut featured a couple of songs you might have heard — “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and “Something So Strong.” Crowded House failed to follow up that success in the states, but found interested audiences in the U.K. and their homelands, Australia and New Zealand. Finn and the band wrote and recorded some of the best pop music of the era, then added two surprisingly good reunion albums in the late ‘00s. Those songs are carefully crafted, well-produced, and feature incredibly melodic hooks. We also briefly touch on Neil Finn’s solo records and his work in Split Enz and the Finn Brothers. Listen alone or with a group of friends as you quarantine in your own crowded house.
171 minutes | 7 months ago
Episode 77: Nick Gillespie / The Byrds
Scot and Jeff discuss The Byrds with Nick Gillespie. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Nick Gillespie. Nick Gillespie is an editor at large at Reason and the co-author of The Declaration of Independents: How Libertarian Politics Can Fix What’s Wrong with America. Find him online at @nickgillespie on Twitter. Nick’s Music Pick: The Byrds Today the gang is soaring high in the friendly skies as they contemplate the career of one of the greatest and most important bands in the history of post-’50s rock music, The Byrds. Jeff is at pains to emphasize how The Byrds are not just a “Dylan covers act,” but rather one of the most influential acts of the entire era, sparking three separate musical revolutions in popular music with folk-rock, psychedelia, and country-rock. Nick adds that there is true pathos to the story of The Byrds, who brought forth such an effulgence of musical beauty (particularly on their first six albums, a run which represents one of the best winning streaks in pop music history), and yet were always crippled by warring egos and human frailties that prevented them from reaching even higher. But what they did achieve is staggering nonetheless; if for some reason you have remained ignorant of the greatness of what Jim (now Roger) McGuinn, David Crosby, Chris Hillman, Gene Clark, and Michael Clarke accomplished during their heyday, click play and prepare for takeoff.
141 minutes | 8 months ago
Episode 76: Cam Edwards / Fountains of Wayne
Scot and Jeff discuss Fountains of Wayne with Cam Edwards. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Cam Edwards. Cam is the editor of Bearing Arms, the host of Bearing Arms’ Cam & Co, and the 40 Acres & A Fool podcast. Find him online @camedwards on Twitter. Cam’s Music Pick: Fountains of Wayne Are you alone now? Did you lose the monkey? Good. Then you’re prepared for the Political Beats dive into the music of Fountains of Wayne. This special episode is in honor of the late Adam Schlesinger, the bassist and co-songwriter for the band. Nominated for the “Best New Artist” award at the 2003 Grammys, Fountains of Wayne had been active for nearly a decade prior to that point. Their output was remarkably consistent; power pop through and through, with bright chords, innovative rhymes, and huge hooks. The band had only one Top 40 song to their credit (“Stacy’s Mom”), but any number of these songs will remain in your head for weeks after listening to this episode. But that’s not all he did! Though FOW is the focus, we also touch on his work in movies and television, plus his creative efforts with other bands. Schlesinger clearly was one of the most prolific and talented songwriters of his generation and his absence will be sorely missed.
176 minutes | 8 months ago
Episode 75: Ben Domenech / The Who [Part 2]
Scot and Jeff discuss the second part of The Who’s career (from 1970 to 1982 and afterwards, thereabouts) with Ben Domenech. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Ben Domenech. Ben is the publisher of The Federalist and also writes a daily newsletter, The Transom, which you can subscribe to at thetransom.com. Follow Ben on Twitter at @bdomenech. Ben’s Music Pick: The Who Today the gang resumes its discussion of the greatness of The Who with . . . well, all the stuff that you’ve probably heard on classic rock radio since you were wearing diapers! Yes, Who’s Next is a mainstay of radio (and television ads, and shows starring David Caruso . . .) and while nobody here is really going to say a bad thing about it, what would you think if someone told you it wasn’t even The Who’s best album from this era, or even in the top two? Yes, there will be a person who makes this hot take on the show, because this is the adulthood of The Who’s career, when Pete Townshend turns his writing and conceptual talents towards far more serious matters than deaf dumb & blind boys, Roger Daltrey graduates from a cub to a lion in the vocal department, John Entwistle doubles down on his incredible bass-playing with an awful lot of horn charts, and Keith Moon remains the best “Keith Moon-style drummer” for as long as he possibly can. The Who released what at least one member of this show (okay, it’s Jeff) considers to be the single greatest rock album of all time during this period, and unless you’ve been following him for years on Twitter it’s probably not the one you’re thinking of. And they didn’t really fall off that much afterwards. We give a brief mention to Pete Townshend’s solo career (but alas, there just wasn’t time to delve too deeply), but as for the rest, well . . . rest assured: This is not a group of people just taking The Who by numbers.
185 minutes | 8 months ago
Episode 74: Ben Domenech / The Who [Part 1]
Scot and Jeff discuss the first part of The Who’s career (from 1964 to 1970) with Ben Domenech. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Ben Domenech. Ben is the publisher of The Federalist and also writes a daily newsletter, The Transom, which you can subscribe to at thetransom.com. Follow Ben on Twitter at @bdomenech. Ben’s Music Pick: The Who Today the gang is talkin’ ’bout its generation as they cover the first part of the career of one of the greatest and most important bands in the history of rock music, The Who! Yes, the ‘orrible ‘Oo, more or less the definitive power trio (despite the fact that they had four members), innovated in so many different ways — instrumentally, lyrically, vocally, conceptually, and also in terms of writing songs about masturbation and dog-racing — that it takes us a little over three hours to cover the explosively imaginative first six years of their career, up through Live At Leeds. Sit back, relax and let your mind roll on over all your problems as Political Beats brings you Emergency Quarantine Relief by revisiting the glory of a band that you might have known, during their early years, mostly for anthemic proto-punk singles, but which was also by equal turns inspiring and charmingly goofy. We promise we will not put a car in your swimming pool.
134 minutes | 9 months ago
Episode 73: Alfred Schulz / The Pogues
Scot and Jeff discuss The Pogues with Alfred Schulz. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Alfred Schulz. Alfred is a former SiriusXM host and producer and current podcast producer and, for eight years was the senior producer and on-air contributor to Stand Up with Pete Dominick and host of Sit Down with Alfred and Chris, covering the 2012 and 2016 Republican and Democratic conventions, the elections, and debates. Find him online at @alfredschulz on Twitter. Alfred’s Music Pick: The Pogues Happy St. Paddy’s Day! Okay, so you probably didn’t get to attend a parade (and we hope for prudence’s sake that you ‘socially distanced’ yourself on Saturday instead of hitting the bars), but let Political Beats keep you company this Monday instead as consolation as the gang covers the most Irish band of all time that is actually ironically composed mostly of English people, The Pogues! Yes, most of them had Irish blood running through their veins, but the fascinating thing about Shane MacGowan & company was how they actually emerged into prominence during the mid-’80s as rebellious standouts in the London music scene, where their fusion of Irish traditional music and punk drumming and speeds stood miles apart from everything else out there. Combining a magnificent touch for traditional and Irish covers with the magnificent lyrics and concepts of Shane MacGowan (whose self-presentation as a stumbling bad-toothed drunkard in no way disguised his literary skill), The Pogues redefined what was possible in terms of mixing popular and traditional music and also helped define a nation’s modern musical tradition in doing so. As Alfred points out: People will often put The Pogues on for St. Patrick’s Day, or maybe Christmas, but it’s music that deserves to be listened to all year ’round. Póg mo thóin, ladies and gents.
116 minutes | 9 months ago
Episode 72: Sean Hackbarth / Tears for Fears
Scot and Jeff discuss Tears For Fears with Sean Hackbarth. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Sean Hackbarth. Sean is a long time blogger — so long they were called, “weblogs,” — and currently is a writer and editor at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Find him online @seanhackbarth on Twitter. Sean’s Music Pick: Tears For Fears There are some (many?) out there who might only think of Tears For Fears as a one- album wonder. Songs from the Big Chair was rightfully a smash, with three massive hits. But the boys at Political Beats are here to tell you why it’s well worth while to dig into the rest of their discography. Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith made great music both before and after the massive chart success. And, in fact, why one album from the 1990s and one from the 2000s deserve space in the conversation about the band’s best work. You could say there will be a lot of hurting, as we’ve been laid so low and broken down again in our attempts to fully appreciate Tears For Fears’s work. Come along, shout the lyrics if you know them, and leave yourself open to the possibility that you’ll fall head over heels for some previously unheard music.
156 minutes | 10 months ago
Episode 71: Brad Birzer / Rush
Scot and Jeff discuss Rush with Brad Birzer. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Dr. Brad Birzer. Brad is the Russell Amos Kirk Chair in American Studies and Professor of History at Hillsdale College. He’s the co-founder of, and Senior Contributor at, The Imaginative Conservative. And he’s the author of a number of books, including Neil Peart: Cultural (Re)Percussions. Find him online at bradbirzer.com or @bradleybirzer on Twitter. Brad’s Music Pick: Rush Following the death on Neil Peart, Jeff has agreed to lift his embargo on listening to the music of Rush (an old joke he explains on the show) and take a closer look at the Canadian power trio. What’s clear from even the early going is the superb musicianship of all three members — Geddy Lee on bass and later syths, Alex Lifeson on guitar, and Peart on drums. Peart also took the duties of writing the words for the band’s music, and while there’s some different opinions about the early albums, all agree he found his voice and became a top-notch lyricist. Over the course of 40 years, the band was incredibly consistent in its output and became legendary for its live performances. This episode should serve the interests of both die-hard fans as well as newbies like Jeff. Listen and enjoy. Conform or be cast out.
138 minutes | a year ago
Episode 70: Vincent Caruso / Roxy Music
Scot and Jeff discuss Roxy Music with Vincent Caruso. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Vincent Caruso. Vincent is a writer and community manager at the Illinois Policy Institute, a nonpartisan state-based think tank focused on fiscal policy and good government. Vincent is on Twitter at @vin_jc. Vincent’s Music Pick: Roxy Music We wish you a Ferry Christmas and a Roxy New Year as Political Beats closes out its third (!) year of existence with a tribute to one of the most influential art-rock and glam-rock groups (though were they really “glam?” The topic is discussed!) of all time, Roxy Music. This is a band that is thought by many to just be “that group Brian Eno started out in,” but in truth it’s always really been lead singer/songwriter/pianist Bryan Ferry’s baby. And he steered them — with the help of superlative art-school weirdos Andy Mackay (saxophone & oboe) and Phil Manzanera (originally their roadie, who quickly became their lead guitarist) — through a series of legendary albums in the early to mid-1970s and a later turn-of-decade revival as a much softer, dancier band. There is something immediately disarming about the unapologetic eclecticism of early Roxy — the first two albums with Eno that sound like they’ve been put together with a staple-gun like a glam Frankenstein’s monster, and the three later ones where the band came even more into their own — but it you like incredible musicianship, a deeply committed lyrical approach (centered around the ennui of the era of post-European dominance and the emptiness of romance), and an occasionally ridiculous sense of humor . . . well, then it’s quite likely you know about Roxy Music already. If for some reason you don’t, then get ready to have your mind blown like an inflatable love doll. And then after that Ferry turned the band into suave, smooth balladeers putting out albums like the legendary Avalon, a record (as Jeff says) seemingly designed solely for middle-aged people who have seen it all and are tired of it all but still keep coming back for more against their better instincts. Come join us on our final episode of 2019, and we hope you too will feel the thrill of it all.
145 minutes | a year ago
Episode 69: Jane Coaston / Jimi Hendrix
Scot and Jeff discuss Jimi Hendrix with Jane Coaston. Introducing the Band: Your hosts Scot Bertram (@ScotBertram) and Jeff Blehar (@EsotericCD) with guest Jane Coaston. Jane is Senior Politics Reporter at Vox with a focus on the GOP, conservatism, the far-right, and white nationalism. Jane is on Twitter at @cjane87. Jane’s Music Pick: Jimi Hendrix Excuse us while we praise this guy. Jimi Hendrix’s career lasted only four years while alive (with decades of posthumous releases to follow), but he remains one of the most influential guitarists in history. He pioneered new uses of the guitar, experimenting with feedback, distortion, and effects on a higher level. The songs weren’t so bad either, of course, kicking off with the single releases of “Hey Joe” and “Purple Haze” and continuing through Are You Experienced? and Electric Ladyland. Hear Jeff and Jane fight over the relative merit of Noel Redding’s songwriting contributions to the band! And as for those posthumous releases? We spend specific time discussing First Rays of the Rising Sun and Blues, along with various live releases. So much has been said about the music of Jimi Hendrix, but we find new angles for you to consider on this edition of Political Beats.
Terms of Service
© Stitcher 2020