Nakedly Examined Music is a podcast about making music: Why do we do it? Why do we do it the way we do it? Mark Linsenmayer interviews songwriters and composers famous and otherwise about specific recordings, which are presented in full on the podcast.

NEM #35: Daniel Ash: Going Against Your Own Grain

The singer/guitarist shifted gears many times through Bauhaus, Tones on Tail, Love and Rockets (which shifted from acoustic to electric to electronica), and has since put out five distinctive solo albums.

We discuss, from the collection Freedom I Love (2017), the title track and “Indie Boys”; and then “Christian Says” from Stripped (2014). End song: “Flame On” from the Hog Fever soundtrack (2016). Intro music: “So Alive” from Love and Rockets. Learn more at www.danielashmusic.com.

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NEM #34: Todd Long: Don’t Have to Say “Frontman”

Todd held down the beat and wrote some songs for Grand Rapids, MI’s Molly in the ’90s through 2003, then wrote more songs and sang a bit for Dutch Henry for about ten years, then pushed forward to sing and write all the songs for his projects The Star Darts and now Cartorson.

Featuring Cartorson’s “The Last Time” and “Hearts on the Highway” from the new Richfield Skyline EP, “Say It” from Shooting Star Darts (2014) and “44 Days” by Dutch Henry from All That Space (2007). Opening music: Molly’s “Another Day of Regrets” from The Finger (2002). Learn more at toddlongmusic.com.

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NEM #33: Asif Illyas Colors It Old School (i.e., ’80s)

Asif led Canadian band MIR from 1998 to 2008, and has since recorded with real instruments for commercials and films, and released a one-man-band Police-influenced album Synesthesia in 2013.

We discuss the title track and “Electrical” from that album, also MIR’s “A Day in Your Life” from 7 Directions (2004). We conclude by listening to “The Chosen One” from MIR’s A Soldier’s Carol Christmas EP (2008). Intro music: “No Taxidermy,” produced for Empire Theaters.

Learn about Asif’s music at asifillyas.com and his studio at theshire.ca.

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NEM #32: Bradley Skaught’s The Bye-Bye Blackbirds: Crafting Power Pop

Bradley fronts the Bay Area band, The Bye-Bye Blackbirds, which inhabits the niche of Byrds-influenced “power pop” even though Bradley really doesn’t like that term. We discuss the band’s 2016 boogie single “Let Your Hair Fall Down,” the country ballad “Hats” from Fixed Hearts (2011), and a pre-Blackbirds song eventually recorded for Fixed Hearts, “Elizabeth Park.”

End song: “All in Light” from We Need the Rain (2013); opening music: “The Ghosts Are Alright” from Houses & Homes (2008). Visit byebyeblackbirds.com.

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NEM #31: Michael Manring’s Limitless Bass Guitar

Michael has played on 500+ recordings; he was the house bassist for the Windham Hill label in the ’80s and has put out seven solo albums. He expands what electric bass can do by using many tunings, even retuning on the fly using a custom-built system, using his bass as a percussion instrument, and sometimes playing multiple basses at once.

We discuss “Excuse Me, Mr. Manring” from Soliloquy(2005), and “My Three Moons” and “The Enormous Room,” both from Thonk (1994). The opening music is “Thunder Tactics” from Unusual Weather (1986), and we wrap up with “Unclear, Inarticulate Things” by Attention Deficit from Idiot King (2001).

Learn more at manthing.com.

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NEM #30: Paul Wertico and David Cain: Improv Without a Net

Seven-time Grammy winning drummer Paul Wertico and his multi-talented cohort David Cain are two-thirds of Wertico, Cain and Gray, an improvisational, “impressionistic” jazz trio who have released five albums since 2013.

We discuss six tracks from Short Cuts: 40 Improvisations (2016) and “Where Brush Meets Flow (Go Van Gogh)” from Sound Portraits (2013). Intro music: “Destroy the Box” from Organic Architecture (2014).

Hear and see more at werticocainandgray.com.

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NEM #29: Jason Seed’s “Stringtet”

Jason fattens out his eclectic guitar pieces by writing string and horn parts, and The Jason Seed Stringtet includes members of the Chicago Symphony sawing away furiously. Hear more at jasonseedmusic.com.

We’ll discuss “Ishtar,” a Bulgarian/Latin-inflected piece from In the Gallery (2013), “Any Night Now” a more traditional chamber jazz number from 2015, and “Mammoth” from the Jason Seed Exlier Ensemble’s album 3 (2008). We’ll wrap up by listening to “Pinch” from the Stringtet’s The Escapist (2010). Intro music: “Invocation” from In the Gallery.

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NEM #28: Jill Freeman on Fairy Tales and Psychological Truth

Jill was part of a 3-woman vocal band in the ’80s called The Life is Grand Band, and then in 1995 released Songs About Sex & Depression, and only in 2015 unveiled her long-awaited study of the dark psychology of fairy tales, A Handmade Life.

We focus on this most recent project, discussing “Letters from Murdertown” and “Eyes of Fire,” and playing at the end “Walking on Glass.” Our third discussion song goes back to the previous album with “Everything Makes Me Cry.” Opening music is The Life Is Grand Band’s “Harry’s Song” from Feel Like Makin’ Art (1989).

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NEM #27: Peter Knight (Steeleye Span): Free Fiddlin’ in the Face of Death

Peter’s violin was a key part of Steeleye Span’s updating of traditional folk songs from 1971–2013. His original songs were among the group’s most heartfelt. We talk about being creative with traditional music, authenticity, and finally getting the hang of songwriting late in his career.

We discuss “We Shall Wear Midnight” from Steeleye Span’s Wintersmith (2013 with Terry Pratchett), “Bows of London” from Gigspanner’s Layers of Ages (2015), and “From a Lullaby Kiss” (2014 solo). End song: “Who Told the Butcher” from Bedlam Born (2000 Steeleye); intro: “The Butterfly” from Lipreading the Poet (2008 Gigspanner).

For more info, see peterknight.net and gigspanner.com.

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NEM #25: Bill Bruford: Drumming Matters

Bill was the original drummer for Yes, a default member of King Crimson, and briefly played with Genesis and the late ’70s supergroup U.K., but most of his output has been with his own jazz-inflected Earthworks and Bruford, as rock proved too confining for his rhythmic and tonal creativity.

We discuss King Crimson’s “One more Red Nightmare” from Red (1974), “Thistledown” from If Summer Had Its Ghosts by Bill Bruford, Eddie Gomez and Ralph Towner (1992), and “The 16 Kingdoms of the 5 Barbarians” from Every Step a Dance, Every Word a Song by Bill Bruford/Michiel Borstlap (2004). We also hear “Hell’s Bells” and the title track of One of a Kind by Bruford (1979), plus “Five Per Cent for Nothing” from Fragile (1972) by Yes.

Learn more at billbruford.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music.

NEM #24: Tyler Hislop (Sacrifice): Copious Rhymes

Tyler (editor of this podcast!) can rap endlessly, and has filled up ten albums with his machine-gun musings on life and politics. A great intro to indie hip-hop for the ignorant (like me)!

Songs: “Negative Space,” “Long Way Down,” and “Ciphers” (feat Grimm) from Long Way Down (2015), and “Kids of the Earth” from Quest for Meaning (2008).

Hear more at soundcloud.com/sacrifice.

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NEM #23: Sean Beeson’s Two-Minute Hi-Tech Symphonies

Sean writes music for video games. He uses five computers, with massively realistic orchestra sounds, and he performs every part with a breath controller for expression.

We discuss “Beyond the Desert” (from Empires Apart), “Mega Adventure Time” (from Adventure Time: Magic Man’s Head Game for Gear VR), and “Celestial Light” (from Stellar Wanderer).

We conclude by listening to a non-video-game tune, “Salve Regina” featuring Fr. Gabriel. Opening music is “Dr. Evil’s Lair of Doom.”

Hear more at seanbeeson.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music.

NEM #22: Jon Langford (Mekons) on “Natural” Art

Jon has been a key member of art collective The Mekons since 1977, injecting country/folk/reggae/etc. influences into a seminal punk band to create an inimitable melange that has put out 19 albums, plus he puts out solo albums and is involved with many side projects including the country-punk Waco Brothers.

We discuss “Lil’ Ray O’ Light” from his solo album Here Be Monsters (2014) and two Mekons songs: “This Funeral Is for the Wrong Corpse” recorded in 1991 and released on I Have Been to Heaven and Back: Hen’s Teeth and Other Lost Fragments of Un-Popular Culture, Volume 1 in 1999, and “Cockermouth” from Natural (2007).

We conclude by listening to the title track from the 2016 Waco Brothers album Going Down in History. Intro/outro music is from “Mephis Egypt” from The Mekons Rock ‘n’ Roll (1989).

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NEM #21: Trey Gunn and the Discipline of Tap Guitar

Trey is master of a many-stringed type of guitar that you play by tapping with both hands at the same time. His mentor was Robert Fripp, with whom he played in the seminal progressive rock band King Crimson. He has also released over a dozen exploratory solo albums. Learn more at treygunn.com.

We talked about “Kuma” from his solo album The Third Star (1996), “Level Five” from King Crimson’s The Power to Believe, and “God’s Monkey” from the David Sylvian/Robert Fripp album The First Day (1993).

We conclude by listening to Trey’s current touring group The Security Project, as they play the Peter Gabriel classic “No Self Control” from Live 1 (2016). Beginning and end music is from Trey’s Live and Hugo House EP (2015).

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NEM #20: Dave Nachmanoff Crafts Specific Yet Universal Stories

Dave is a consummate craftsman in the acoustic singer-songwriter vein, but with the added bonus that he’s an amazing guitar player, who for 15 years or so has acted as sideman for ’70s Brit-legend Al Stewart, i.e., filling in the entirety of the musical palette apart from Al’s singing and strumming. And Dave has a philosophy Ph.D., and put that to use in crafting his most recent album Spinoza’s Dream (2016), where each song reflects a particular philosopher.

We talk about the title track from that album, plus two songs from Step Up (2011): “Sheila Won’t Be Coming Home” (a duet with Al Stewart) and “Descartes in Amsterdam” (originally written and recorded in 1997). We finish by listening to “All Good” from the new album. The opening music is Dave’s instrumental version of Al’s hit “Year of the Cat” from Wordless Rhymes (2005).

Learn more at davenachmanoff.com.

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NEM #19: Chad Clark (Beauty Pill): Smart Went Electro-Soundscapey

Chad’s 2015 album Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are has received heaps of nice reviews, with its carefully crafted, groove-oriented soundscapes and cinematic lyrics. We discuss “Afrikaner Barista” and “Steven & Tiwonge,” and then go back to Beauty Pill’s first release with “The Idiot Heart” from the Cigarette Girl from the Future EP (2001).

We close by listening to “The Prize,” a cover of an Arto Lindsay song. The opening music is “A Good Day” by Chad’s previous band, Smart Went Crazy, from Con Art (1997). Learn more at www.beautypill.com.

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NEM#18: Jill Sobule Takes America Back

Jill is a big personality, rivaling Elvis Costello in the creation of acerbic, stylistically varied singer-songwriter material, and shes been putting out tuneful, story-laden albums since 1990. Visit jillsobule.com.

We discuss “Jetpack” from Underdog Victorious (2004) and get to meet her frequent co-writer Robin Eaton, “Empty Glass” (co-written with Elise Thoron) from The California Years (2009), and “Pilar (Things Here Are Different)” from Things Here Are Different (1990). Finally, we hear a new recording of her political manifesto “America Back.” The intro/outro music is “Supermodel” from her 1995 self-titled album.

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NEM#17: Carrie Akre’s Different Ways of Fronting

Carrie fronted Seattle grunge favorite Hammerbox in the early ’90s, then moved to the more poppy guitar rock band Goodness for the latter part of the decade, and released three solo albums in the ’00s. The overall movement is from harsh exuberance to quiet reflectivity, and Carrie’s role evolved with her starting off as new newbie to rock bands singing over already-composed music and ending up in a much more controlling position, as she experiments with different musicians to get deep textures.

We discuss “No” from Hammerbox’s Numb (1993), “Cozy” from Goodness’s Anthem (1998), and “Reflection” from her solo album Home (2000). We also listen to “Coat of Arms” from the Rockfords’ self-titled 2000 album (a band that features members of Goodness as well as Mike McCready from Pearl Jam), and the opening music is Hammerbox’s single “When 3 is 2,” also from No.

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NEM#16. Narada Michael Walden Funks the Moment

Narada started as a fusion drummer in the ’70s (with Mahavishnu Orchestra, Jeff Beck, etc.) then released numerous solo albums and produced and wrote for artists like Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Aretha Franklin, and many more. He believes in working fast: creating a mood and getting the most out of it.

We discuss “Freedom” (written by Richie Havens) from Evolution (2015), “I Shoulda Loved Ya” from The Dance of Life (1979), and the title track from Garden of Love Light (1976). We also listen to “Billionaire on Soul Street,” also from Evolution. The opening music is from “Freeway of Love” which Narada wrote and produced for Aretha Franklin, and the outro music is from “How Will I Know?” which Narada produced and wrote the verses to for Whitey Houston.

Learn more about Narada at naradamichaelwalden.com.

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