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Skipped on Shuffle
47 minutes | 10 days ago
Ep. 055 – Ben Folds Five – “Air”
The fifty-fifth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Air” by Ben Folds Five off the 1998 soundtrack Godzilla: The Album. Ben Folds Five — a quirky rock trio led by pianist and main songwriter Ben Folds — came to the music scene as alternative rock was peaking. The band’s self-titled debut in 1993 stood out by eschewing guitars and presenting quirky piano-based pop tunes with humor and harmonies in sharp contrast to the rock music dominating radio at the time. While associated with funny songs about a variety of eccentric characters, Ben Folds Five did have a more serious side, most notably heard on their sophomore album Whatever and Ever Amen and the poignant track “Brick.” As the band climbed into the mainstream with critical and commercial success, they contributed “Air” to the soundtrack to the 1998 film Godzilla, a huge summer blockbuster movie that placed them alongside some of the biggest popular artists at the time, including Rage Against The Machine, Puff Daddy, and Green Day. “Air,” in many ways, was a preview of the new Ben Folds Five. The band would go on to further reveal their more mature and nuanced sound with The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner the following year. It marked a serious transition for the band, featuring lusher instrumentation and production with bandleader Ben Folds striking a more somber tone in his lyrics and delivery. Scott and Jason discuss how this transformation ultimately failed when The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner hit store shelves and appeared on the radio. While fans of the band would find songs such as “Army” familiar, much of the new material did not fit the mold Ben Folds and his bandmates had established on their first two records. “Air” serves as a notable, yet easy-to-miss song by a band in a profound stylistic change. It preserves the three-part vocal harmonies mostly absent from The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner album and highlights an emotional experience one could argue is about a struggle of one kind or another. While more ambiguous than the story told in “Brick,” the song relies equally on music and lyrics to take listeners on a mesmerizing journey. While not a Ben Folds Five fan, Jason discusses how “Air” helps a listener connect with the band on a deeper level, thanks to its vague lyrics that leave interpretation up to the audience, allowing individuals to feel themselves through the words and music to apply their own experiences to it. Jason discusses how this is a powerful contrast to the earlier Ben Folds Five, who can make listeners feel like a bit of an outsider when they struggle to find comparable situations and people in their own lives to make the songs resonate. Scott reflects on an experience seeing Ben Folds perform by himself, shortly after the first breakup of the band, and how it helped him think about the man behind this unique music.
51 minutes | a month ago
Ep. 054 – Jane’s Addiction – “Price I Pay”
The fifty-fourth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Price I Pay” by Jane’s Addiction off their 2003 album Strays. To say Jane’s Addiction is a volatile band would be an understatement. Surviving numerous breakups and personal excesses, the original lineup of the band initially lasted only five years, from 1986 to 1991. But their impact on music — particularly the alternative scene — far outweighed the length of their career. While Jane’s reconvened for reunion tours that brought together three-quarters of the band (and one time around with all four members) and two new albums this millennium, the peak years of the band laid a blueprint for alternative rock. The band represents a celebration of the fringe of culture and rejection of the mainstream. They approached all aspects of sex, violence, and drug use with no judgment and accompanied by the unparalleled musicianship of its members. Strays serves as the third Jane’s reunion and the first to be accompanied by a record of mostly new material. Returning to the studio proved difficult for the band, even with a seasoned producer, Bob Ezrin, at the helm. After a changing of the guard on bass, the newly invigorated Jane’s took their latest material on the road, resurrecting the Lollapalooza music festival, and inviting a public that had changed quite a bit in the ensuing years since their 1987 self-titled indie debut. Scott and Jason feel “Price I Pay” encapsulates the sound and perspective of the newer Jane’s, which can appear to be a bit more mature and reserved, but is still as sonically and lyrically experimental and over-the-top as the early days. There is a bit more thoughtfulness this time around, most notably on “Price I Pay,” acknowledging the band’s tumultuous history and commitment to reckless behavior. The electricity of the track bursts from a deep bass groove that climbs out of a psychedelic intro in which lead singer Perry Farrell asks for forgiveness for his actions and thoughts, but also concedes that his personal reasons — an unabashed lust for life and love and fame and a good time — always justifies them. For all their flaws and theatrics, on stage and off, Jane’s is committed to transparency and honesty about who they are, what they love, and how they love. Scott and Jason discuss seeing Jane’s perform, emphasizing how the live experience of the band is so critical to understanding and appreciating the band’s ethos as well as their prowess as entertainers and musicians.
44 minutes | 2 months ago
Ep. 053 – Corinne Bailey Rae – “Love’s On Its Way”
The fifty-third Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Love’s On Its Way” by Corinne Bailey Rae off her 2010 album The Sea. British singer/songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae quickly rose to fame with her eponymous debut album in 2006 thanks to hits “Like A Star” and “Put Your Records On.” Further boosted by a string of Grammy nominations, Bailey Rae’s road to superstardom took a sharp turn when her husband, Jason Rae, died of an accidental overdose of methadone and alcohol in March 2008. Bailey Rae had been writing songs for her follow-up album when she learned of his passing. In 2009, she started recording a selection of tracks composed before and after her husband’s death. The result, 2010’s The Sea, is a sophomore record unlike what you would expect from most artists, especially ones that had been through her experience. The record explores their relationship while also touching upon themes of loss and struggle in a social and political sense as well as celebrating the good times we have in life. The Sea also delves musically into her jazz sensibilities and steers away from the pop tendencies more recognizably heard on her previous record. Scott and Jason discuss how Bailey Rae’s personal loss deepens the listener’s experience of the record. Taking into consideration the combination of songs written before and after this personal trauma, it is a subtly ambitious album covering a number of themes that seem to become more complex and nuanced with every spin. “Love’s On Its Way” is a call to action and a song of faith and hope. While Scott and Jason believe the song was written before Jason Rae’s death, it fits the theme of the album. The ocean is unpredictable, sweeping away the familiar and offering little consolation or promise for what it may bring in its place. Bailey Rae hints that deference to a higher power, whether natural or spiritual, is no substitute for the hard work that we all face in making ourselves and the world a better place in the face of uncertainty. “Love’s On Its Way” and The Sea as a whole serve as a reminder life is full of high and low tides. It suggests how we react to the ebbs and flows of things beyond our control is who we are and we should seize those opportunities to be the best we can be.
48 minutes | 4 months ago
Ep. 052 – Talking Heads – “City Of Dreams”
The fifty-second Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “City Of Dreams” by Talking Heads off their 1986 album True Stories. Talking Heads got their start at the renowned CBGB’s in New York City, opening for The Ramones in 1975. Originally a three-piece band with singer and guitarist David Byrne, drummer Chris Frantz, and bassist Tina Weymouth, two years later they would add guitarist Jerry Harrison to their lineup and release their 1977 debut album, Talking Heads: 77, which featured the hit song “Psycho Killer.” Talking Heads quickly teamed up with producer Brian Eno for their next three records, releasing a new album each year. The collaboration led to extensive experimentation with sounds and rhythms, culminating in one of their most beloved albums, 1980’s Remain In Light. While the band continued exploring new sounds and styles after Eno, they perfected their art-rock approach when they released the self-produced Speaking In Tongues in 1983. The album was a critical and commercial success with its unique blend of pop, funk, and dance. The subsequent tour would result in the concert film, Stop Making Sense, which captured the band at their prime. At this point, the band was increasingly coming under the creative control of Byrne. This fact became rather obvious with 1986’s True Stories. Byrne was directing his first — and only to date — feature film, True Stories. He enlisted his bandmates to provide the musical accompaniment on the soundtrack, which was composed of pop songs by Byrne. These songs were planned to mostly be sung by the characters in the film. This cast-recorded version of the soundtrack was shelved at the time, despite the characters performing them in the completed film, and the record ended up being released with Byrne providing all the vocals and sold as a new Talking Heads record. “City Of Dreams” was not one of the cast songs and was always intended to be sung by Byrne. It bookends the True Stories film with many of the lyrics referenced in the song taking shape in a historical narrative that appears in the prologue of the movie. This beginning is narrated by Byrne’s unnamed main character. The studio recording plays over the end credits of the film. Scott and Jason discuss the True Stories film and soundtrack as well as how “City Of Dreams” is woven into the film. They talk about how much meaning and enjoyment of the album is lost without being familiar with the songs in the context of the movie. It is likely a reason why this record, and “City Of Dreams” in particular, is often ignored by even fans of the Talking Heads. “City Of Dreams” is a heartfelt and moving song that Jason feels should hold a place alongside tender ballads like “Heaven” and “This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody).” Scott recommends everyone see the True Stories film as soon as possible, in order to gain a new appreciation for the album and Byrne’s quirky worldview.
45 minutes | 5 months ago
Ep. 051 – Bill Withers – “Where You Are”
The fifty-first Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Where You Are” by Bill Withers off his 1976 album Naked & Warm. Bill Withers started his music career later than most artists. He had served for nearly a decade in the Navy and then returned to a series of blue-collar jobs after his military discharge. One night he overheard how much singer Lou Rawls was making playing at a small California club and it convinced Withers to give his interest in music a more serious try. He moved out to Los Angeles and after a few years landed a record deal and released his debut album, Just As I Am. The album brought success to Withers, who was now in his early 30s, thanks to the power of the melancholy soul song, “Ain’t No Sunshine.” Known for his folk-influenced and personal songwriting, Withers would continue to pen a number of hits through the mid-70s before a dispute with his record company made him temporarily step back from his career. He would sign with Columbia Records and the move soon marked a shift in his music away from the introspective style of songwriting for which he had been known towards a more upbeat and energetic tone. While not nearly as successful as his previous albums, Naked & Warm, introduced listeners to the new Withers, who was setting down his acoustic guitar in favor of piano-based, uptempo songs. “Where You Are” finds Withers celebrating love amid a funky beat. Jason discusses how “Where You Are” lyrically and musically shares many similarities to a hit Withers would have a year later with the song “Lovely Day.” He reflects how songwriters, like other artists, sometimes tend to make similar works trying to perfect an idea. Scott discusses how he admires Withers’ steadfast commitment to keeping creative control of his songs and his image as a Black singer-songwriter. Withers’ personal integrity causes him to leave the music industry altogether, which Scott and Jason feel is why Withers is not as well-known to a younger generation, despite how enduring his songs have proven to be. Jason gives a recent example of just how powerful and abiding Withers’ music is, even if many are not as familiar with the singer and his remarkable life.
49 minutes | 5 months ago
Ep. 050 – Stone Temple Pilots – “Long Way Home”
The fiftieth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Long Way Home” by Stone Temple Pilots off their 2001 album Shangri-La Dee Da. Stone Temple Pilots arrived on the Southern California music scene in the early ’90s. Their debut record, Core, was filled with distorted guitars playing heavy riffs amid thundering drums and singer Scott Weiland’s howling dark lyrics. For these reasons, the band was instantly labeled as part of the grunge movement associated with the US Northwest. Critics derided what they saw as the band’s attempt to adopt the sound and style of their musical contemporaries while audiences loved them for their instantly classic hard rock hits. The band worked to shake off these comparisons and began crafting records that distinguished themselves as unique songwriters and musicians. Their follow-up album, 1994’s Purple, honed their rock and pop foundation while their third record, 1997’s Tiny Music: Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, delved into jazz and psychedelia, resulting in their most adventurous album yet. Despite the band’s success, Stone Temple Pilots battled not only with critics but also Scott Weiland’s drug use. Suffering from a debilitating addiction that frequently resulted in canceled shows and even jail time for the singer, Weiland’s demons often seemed to stifle the band’s momentum. In 1999, the band regrouped after a brief hiatus and had a period of relative stability where they were able to write, record, and tour steadily, overcoming the turmoil of the last several years and hitting a creative stride. This industrious era peaked with 2001’s Shangri-La Dee Da, a record as diverse as Tiny Music and at times as heavy as Core, exemplified by songs like “Long Way Home.” According to Weiland, “Long Way Home” pays homage to one of their greatest influences, Led Zeppelin, with this huge, arena-ready track. The lyrics and Weiland’s delivery, desperate with a desire to run away while also to hide — possibly indicative of his own drug use and personal problems — makes for an uneasy end to the record. The song continues on into the unknown, fading out slowly during one of guitarist Dean DeLeo’s best solos, as did the band, who would face more setbacks and tragedy, but still continue on today. Scott and Jason are both huge fans of Stone Temple Pilots. They discuss how Shangri-La Dee Da is one of their defining accomplishments despite not having the commercial success of its predecessors, meaning many fans probably missed out on “Long Way Home.” Scott discusses how the band deserves a place among the most esteemed icons of rock and Jason reflects on the deep connection he feels to the band’s music.
46 minutes | 6 months ago
Ep. 049 – U2 – “The Refugee”
The forty-ninth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “The Refugee” by U2 off their 1983 album War. In 1976, drummer Larry Mullen, Jr. posted a note on a school bulletin board in Ireland that would bring Paul Hewson (Bono), David Evans (The Edge), and Adam Clayton to his house in an effort to start a new band. While a few friends and family also showed up to play, it wasn’t long before the others dropped away, leaving a four-piece rock band that was ready to conquer the world. U2 would release their first album, Boy, in the fall of 1980. Audiences and critics across the US and Europe took note of the band, praising the record and becoming enthralled by their passionate performances. The momentum of the band would be interrupted by a number of problems crafting their follow-up album, October, but by the end of 1982, U2 was ready to record their biggest record yet. Featuring iconic tracks — including “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” — War brought the band even more acclaim and bigger audiences. The accompanying live record and concert film from the tour, Under a Blood Red Sky, cemented their prowess as a live act. Interestingly, “The Refugee” never made its way into U2’s live sets. The song is a powerful track that encapsulates many of U2’s common themes of finding a home and solace and the hopeful symbol of America as a promised land that seems perfectly crafted for live performance. Listeners can imagine Bono engaging the crowd during Mullen’s extended drum parts and then leading the audience into singing along with lyrics that tell of a woman yearning for freedom and peace. Scott and Jason share their love/hate relationship with U2, particularly its lead singer, Bono. While they agree that U2 are undeniably an important band with many great tracks, they discuss the band’s inconsistent output, particularly after The Joshua Tree, and their increasingly ostentatious staging that makes it difficult to take the band and its music seriously.
43 minutes | 7 months ago
Ep. 048 – Simon & Garfunkel – “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies”
The forty-eighth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies” by Simon & Garfunkel off their 1967 single Fakin’ It. Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel attended elementary school in New York City together. Their love of music and ability to harmonize together made them fast friends. By the time they were only 15, the duo was already writing and recording music with a hit single, “Hey Schoolgirl,” under their belts. At the time known as Tom & Jerry, the two struggled early on despite their initial breakthrough. But when a record producer remade their classic folk track “The Sound of Silence” as a rock song by overdubbing additional instruments without the band’s knowledge and re-releasing it, the duo found success. Simon & Garfunkel quickly released and recorded a follow-up record, but then began to slow their pace, asserting more creative control and taking more time and care to produce material. Simon, who wrote nearly all of the duo’s material, began to struggle with crafting new songs and disliked the record company’s pressure for more singles. After a lengthy recording session and creating additional tracks for a film soundtrack to The Graduate, the duo released Bookends to critical and commercial acclaim. It is during this period that “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies” was released, but many fans may have missed the song. “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies” did not appear on any of the original album releases. The song was only available as a B-side on the Fakin’ It single for many years. While it has since been released elsewhere on compilations and as a bonus track on the CD version of Bookends, the song was written during a time when the duo was transitioning into superstardom and experimenting with sounds beyond their folk roots. Scott and Jason talk about the surprising arrogance of the song’s narrator, which serves as a sharp contrast to a duo that’s known for their soft and thoughtful expressions and reserved approach. The overall sound might have more in common with the British Invasion bands, perhaps due to Simon’s time overseas, which Jason mentions in the duo’s history. It also features a bridge that arrives abruptly and gives the song a surprisingly jazzy interlude. While Scott and Jason agree “You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies” is an outlier for many reasons, the song is a catchy tune and one that went largely unnoticed given the duo’s continuous string of hits.
50 minutes | 9 months ago
Ep. 047 – The Smiths – “Paint A Vulgar Picture”
The forty-seventh Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Paint A Vulgar Picture” by The Smiths off their 1987 album Strangeways, Here We Come. From 1982 to 1987, the English rock band The Smiths fashioned a unique sound that broke from many musical conventions in rock and pop at the time. Founded on Johnny Marr’s distinctive jangly guitar riffs coupled with Morrissey’s playful lyrics addressing class differences and love and longing all with a particularly dark sense of humor, the band established a cult following. They are frequently cited by countless rock musicians as an influence and inspiration and new fans continue to discover the band’s music. “Paint A Vulgar Picture” comes at the end of the band’s spectacular five-year run of successful albums and singles. The band had already called it quits by the time their last studio album, Strangeways, Here We Come landed in stores. A harsh critique of the music industry for its greed, the song tells the story of label executives discussing ways to profit off of a musical star’s recent death with repackaging and re-releasing material to sell to grieving fans. Scott and Jason discuss the irony of Morrissey’s disgust with the music business as he portrays it in the song. The Smiths had compilations and reissues even during their short time as an active band to promote themselves. Morrissey was quite vocal in the press about feeling the band should be more popular and they had even signed with a major label, EMI Records, shortly before their breakup. Scott and Jason reflect on the band’s history, Morrissey’s persona, and how Morrissey and Marr are never going to reunite The Smiths. Through this lens, “Paint A Vulgar Picture” is an interesting tale of past, present, and future.
46 minutes | 10 months ago
Ep. 046 – Living Colour – “Sacred Ground”
The forty-sixth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Sacred Ground” by Living Colour off their 2003 album Collideøscope. Living Colour is a hard rock and metal band best known for their energetic debut album Vivid in 1988. The record’s lead single, “Cult of Personality,” propelled the band to fame when its music video went into heavy rotation on MTV. At the time Vivid was released, the band was a frequent performer at New York City’s CBGB, but they soon found themselves playing for thousands as an opening act for The Rolling Stones. Their follow-up record, Time’s Up, continued to push boundaries, infusing even more jazz, funk, gospel, and R&B into their sound. As a four-piece band with all black members, Living Colour shattered perceptions about what a hard rock band could look and sound like, with lyrics that spoke candidly about stereotypes and their personal experiences as people of color. The band would release another record, Stain, in 1993 before calling it quits two years later. Fortunately, the breakup did not last long and by the early 2000s, they were back together, writing what would become 2003’s Collideøscope. An album thematically connected to 9/11, the record’s subject matter is dark and difficult at times with the band continuing to explore new sonic landscapes. Scott and Jason discuss the muddied sound of many songs on the record. Vernon Reid’s heavily distorted guitar dominates the musical space while singer Corey Glover seemingly has to shout to be heard throughout the album. This dominant stylistic choice seems appropriate on songs like “Sacred Ground,” an aggressive and catchy metal tune about fighting for the future. The song champions those who stand up to protect the environment and preserve their culture and dignity. Scott and Jason share their appreciation for the activism that Living Colour brings through their music and the impact first hearing the band had on each of them.
46 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 045 – The Verve – “Valium Skies”
The forty-fifth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Valium Skies” by The Verve off their 2008 album Forth.
50 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 044 – Steely Dan – “Almost Gothic”
The forty-fourth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Almost Gothic” by Steely Dan off their 2000 album Two Against Nature.
53 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 043 – Nine Inch Nails – “Lights In The Sky”
The forty-third Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Lights in the Sky” by Nine Inch Nails off their 2008 album The Slip.
49 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 042 – Oasis – “Roll It Over”
The forty-second Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Roll It Over” by Oasis off their 2000 album Standing on the Shoulder of Giants.
52 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 041 – Eagles – “Too Many Hands”
The forty-first Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Too Many Hands” by Eagles off their 1975 album One of These Nights.
45 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 040 – Cream – “Those Were The Days”
The fortieth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Those Were the Days” by Cream off their 1968 album Wheels of Fire.
43 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 039 – Seal – “Don’t Make Me Wait”
The thirty-ninth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Don’t Make Me Wait” by Seal off his 2003 album Seal.
48 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 038 – Billy Joel – “The Great Suburban Showdown”
The thirty-eighth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “The Great Suburban Showdown” by Billy Joel off his 1974 album Streetlife Serenade.
57 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 037 – R.E.M. – “Beat A Drum”
The thirty-seventh Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Beat A Drum” by R.E.M. off their 2001 album Reveal.
51 minutes | a year ago
Ep. 036 – King Crimson – “Into The Frying Pan”
The thirty-sixth Skipped on Shuffle episode will be focused on the song “Into the Frying Pan” by King Crimson off their 2000 album The ConstruKction of Light.
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