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#15. Craig Wedren’s Non-Linear Clarity

Craig led Shudder to Think from 1986 to 1998 and has since had a solo career and done soundtrack work. Shudder to Think was a band that started as part of Washington DC’s “hardcore” scene, but challenged musical conventions to try to achieve U2-level success with Captain-Beefheart-level weirdness (they failed). We discuss their song “Pebbles” from Get Your Goat (1992), then go post-Shudder to “Show Down” by Craig’s short-lived pop-dance band, Craig Wedren & Baby. Then we talk about working on assignment on “I Am the Wolf, You Are the Moon,” for Wet, Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp. We also listen to “Heaven Sent” from Crag’s album Wand (2011).

The opening music is “X-French Tee Shirt” from Pony Express Record (1994) and the closing music is the theme from The State. Learn more at craigwedren.com.

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NEM#14. Jonathan Donahue (Mercury Rev): Mountain Man of Subtlety

After serving a stint with the Flaming Lips, Jonathan has been putting out albums with Mercury Rev since 1991. Over time, their music has shifted from noisy alternative rock to symphonic, soundtrack pop songs… still psychedelic, but now with an unapologetically Disneyesque influence, with the magic of nature swirling out through harp glissandos and french horns, all standing behind a simple, stark melody delivered by Jonathan’s high, Neil-Youngesque voice, which sings of nature and things more abstract.

We discuss “Autumn’s in the Air” from The Light In You (2015), “Holes” from Deserter’s Songs (1998), and “Empire State (Son House in Excelsis)” from See You on the Other Side (1995). We also listen to “Central Park East” also from the new album and intro music is “Car Wash Hair” from Yerself Is Steam (1991).

Learn more about Mercury Rev at mercuryrev.com.

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NEM#13. Beth Kille Rocks and Leads Others to Rock

Beth fronted Clear Blue Betty from 2000–2007, then in 2009 became a solo artist, co-founding Madison’s Girl’s Rock camp and letting music consume all of her professional life. She’s a classic singer-songwriter whose mission is to help others unlock their creative rockery.

We talk about “Wrong Side of Gone” from the Beth Kille Band’s 2015 EP Stark Raving Songbird, “Dead Man in a Dream” from Dust (2012), and “Through the Walls” from the EP of that name by Clear Blue Betty (2007). Plus, “Little Bit Drunk” from Beth Kille’s Ready(2010). The intro music is “Go Back” from Clear Blue Betty’s Never Been a Rebel (2004).

Learn and hear more at bethkille.com. Hear more Nakedly Examined Music.

NEM#12. John Philip Shenale: String Arranger, Composer, Producer

Phil is the long-time string arranger for Tori Amos and has done a heap more production, arrangement, and keyboard work. He has a very deliberate production style, carefully crafting a very natural-sounding theatrical background using both cutting-edge and very old tools.

We talk about “Cross the Channel” from the Brik & Shenale EP (2012), Phil’s arrangement and production of “Stars that Speak” by Willie Deville from Pistola (2008), and “Pornokiss” from a project Phil initiated called The Royal Macadamians from their album Experiments in Terror (1990).

We also listen to a brand-new Shenale instrumental “Gautama in Love.” The opening music is from “Yes, Anastasia” by Tori Amos from Under the Pink (1994). Learn more about Phil at johnphilipshenale.com.

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NEM#11. Bob Manor: No Alt-Country for Old Men

Bob leads the Madison, WI band The Getaway Drivers; he shares the vocal duties with his wife Shiela Shigley. Though Bob has displayed a lot of affection toward old-timey, world-weary music since starting off his major songwriting efforts around 2000 at the ripe age of 28ish, The Getaway Drivers’ new album Bellatopia is a conscious attempt to break with that, though Bob still likes telling stories informed by nostalgia for a long-gone past.

We discuss “Suburban Summer Shine” and “Signs” from the new album, as well as “Stuck” from the Bob Manor 2005 album Ghosts of Yesterday. We end by listening to “Stay” from The Getaway Drivers (2006). The opening/end music is from “A Call Out” from the new album.

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NEM#10. Nick Eede (Cutting Crew): Escape from the ’80s

In 1986 Nick van Eede released a song (“I Just Died in Your Arms”) that will be played long after we are all dead. But he’s got a lot more going on than that, and on his new album (still under the moniker “Cutting Crew”) he’s recorded his best songs from the last decade without regard for continuity with the sound that made him famous.

We discuss “Reach for the Sky” from The Scattering (1989), “Berlin in Winter” from Add to Favourites, “Frigid as England” from Compus Mentus (1992), and wrap up by listening to “Looking for a Friend,” also from the new album. Learn more at cuttingcrew.biz.

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NEM#9. Roderick Romero: Psychedelic Treehouse Poet

Roderick Wolgamott Romero founded and fronted the Seattle 90s space rock band Sky Cries Mary. So how does a poet get a band? Is a poet’s process different from a typical lyricist’s?

We discuss “Gliding” from Taking the Stage Live: 1997–2005 (2011), “December Snow” from Roderick’s in-progress project One Point Moment Still (featuring Romanian techno duo We’d), and “Queen of Slug Theater” from Moonbathing on Sleeping Leaves (1997).

We also listen to “You Are” from Sky Cries Mary’s final studio album, Small Town (2007), and the opening/closing music is “Walla Walla” from A Return to the Inner Experience (1993).

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NEM#8. Tim Quirk Is the Philosopher-King of Beers

Tim describes himself as not a singer, but a writer with a band, and he shouted at the front of Too Much Joy in the late’ 80s–’90s and has since recorded as Wonderlick while working as a big dog in the digital music industry with Google, Rhapsody, and now Freeform.

We discuss “King of Beers” from Cereal Killers (1991), “Donner Lake” from Wonderlick (2002), “Just Like a Man” from Mutiny (1992), and also listen to “Extraordinary People” from Wonderlick’s Super (2015). Read Tim’s words at tbquirk.com, and toomuchjoy.com.

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NEM#7. Gary Lucas on Zen and the Avant Ghetto

Gary is a guitar virtuoso who’s put out more than 30 albums, typically by writing guitar instrumentals that then get a melody and words added by a singer/songwriter, the most famous of these being Jeff Buckley (Gary wrote a book about it!), but also Joan Osborne, and he started out playing with Captain Beefheart.

We discuss “Will O’ the Wisp” (a new instrumental), “Overture” (with singer Jann Klose), and “The Wall” (from his album of Chinese pop The Edge Of Heaven. We also listen to “The Kid” (with Peter Hammill), and talk about working with all these singers, working intimately with your instrument, and putting out music that is experimental yet accessible. Learn more at garylucas.com.

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NEM#6. Steve Petrinko: Self-Contained Stalwart

Steve is a one-man band, overdubbing his compositions both in jazz (steel drum!) and pop/rock (featuring his unique and sometimes disco-high voice). He’s also drummed and/or fronted bands (including one in college with your host Mark). The common thread through all of this is a love of his craft: a dedication to creation in the studio, whether or not anyone hears the result.

We discuss “P.I.” from his last original full pop album to date, Acoustinaut (2002); his jazz number “Perseverence” from the 2013 EP Where You Going with That?; and “Darkness” from his full-band album BAMF! (1997). Plus we hear the 2012 single “Warren Zombie Apocalypse.” Get Steve’s music at www.cdbaby.com/Artist/StevePetrinko.

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NEM#5. Jeff Heiskell: Positive Vérité

Jeff was the voice of JudyBats until ’94, and is now Heiskell. He sings with character, or characters, always articulate, overly introspective, with intimacy issues. We discuss his current status as happy, self-funded, free-styled, hands-off yet obsessive compulsive solo artist and his high-pressure, compromise-filled time on a major label that led him to quit music altogether for a while.

Songs covered: “Firefiles” and “Just Can’t Say” from Heiskell’s Arriving (2015) and “What We Lose” from the JudyBats’ Full-Empty (1994). Plus we listen to “Our Story” from Down in the Shacks Where the Satellite Dishes Grow (1992). Learn more at heiskellmusic.com.

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NEM#4. Gareth Mitchell: Granular Creativity

Gareth Mitchell is a post-rock academic, an innovative guitarist who now uses recorded splices of treated guitar (among other things) made into loops to meticulously construct electronic music, as on his upcoming album, 72. We dive deep into his tracks “Circle” and “Decay” from this album and get a taste of his dreaming singer/songwriter material with “Sovereign” from Spectre (2012). We also debut the track “Granulations.”

Gareth is as thoughtful an artist as you could possibly want to talk to, and really gives us some great insight into his unique approaches to composition. Learn more at garethmitchell.info.

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NEM#3. Kevin Godley: Pure Play in the Devil’s Shoes

Kevin Godley is a multi-media master, having directed many of the coolest music videos you’ve ever seen. But before that, he was half of Godley & Creme and 1/4 of 10cc, singing, drumming, and mostly coming up with ideas, ideas, and more ideas. Today he runs Whole World Band, a platform for collaborative video creation, and recently released his iBook autobiography Spacecake, but he still performs on occasion, and for the first time produced some solo music as part of his soundtrack to the audioplay Hog Fever.

We first discuss his song from that project, “Confessions” (2015), then “Punchbag” from the Godley & Creme album L (1978), “Barry’s Shoes” from GG06 (2006), and finally play “Lost Weekend” (feat. Sarah Vaughan) from Consequences (1977).

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NEM#2. Fritz Beer: Knuckle Draggin’ To and Fro

Fritz maintains a cool, direct front-man persona even while engaging in self-help, snarling social commentary, and referencing classic literature. He aims to write simple, repetitive songs that catch you and hit you and make you their dog. He’s been out there since the ’80s, moving around the country from band to band, but consistently delivering the goods.

We discuss “Spray Job” (The Bishops, 1994), “Try Something New” (Punchy, 2001), and “When I Say Jump” (Crown Vic, 2013), and also play “I’m on a Leash” (Crown Vic, 2008). Learn more about Fritz at fritzbeermusic.com.

Send a Song Self-Exam video link or your thoughts about future guests and topics to mark@nakedlyexaminedmusic.com.

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NEM#1. David Lowery on Story Songs and Songs About Nothing

Welcome to Nakedly Examined Music, an offshoot of “The Partially Examined Life” focusing on the head and heart of songwriting. The front man of Cracker and Camper van Beethoven joins Mark Linsenmayer to discuss his songs: “All Her Favorite Fruit,” “I Sold the Arabs the Moon,” and “Take the Skinheads Bowling.” Plus “Almond Grove.” Learn more at davidlowerymusic.com.

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