NEM Ep 52: Kim Rancourt’s Authentic NYC Rock n’ Roll

Kim is a poet, archivist, and New York City tour guide. We discuss his album plum plum featuring “The Dream Band”: his producer friend Don Fleming, Joe Bouchard (Blue Öyster Cult), Steve Shelley (Sonic Youth) and NEM guest Gary Lucas. We discuss “Circle’s Gotta Go” and “Arizona Burning,” and conclude with “Claudine.” We also discuss “I Comb My Hair with My Hand” by Jad Fair and the Shapir-O’Rama from We Are the Rage (1996). Intro: “East Side Story” by When People Were Shorter and Lived Near the Water from Bill Kennedy’s Showtime (1993). Follow Kim on Facebook.

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NEM Ep 51: Andy Powell (Wishbone Ash): The Privilege of a Legacy

Britain’s Wishbone Ash started in 1969 and has released 25+ albums, with guitarist/singer Andy the sole member left from the original band.

We discuss “American Century” from Blue Horizon (2014), “Master of Disguise” from Bare Bones (1999), and “Roads of Day to Day” (1970, released on First Light (2007). End song: “In Crisis” from The Power of Eternity (2007). Intro music: “Blowin’ Free” from Argus (1972). Visit for more.

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NEM Ep 50: Anton Barbeau’s Neo-Psychedelic Musings

Californian-turned-British singer-songwriter Anton has released over 25 albums since 1993, generally moving from alterna-guitar-pop to colorful-pychedelic, but remaining tuneful.

We discuss “High Noon” and (and listen to “Swindon”) from Magic Act (2016), “Dust Beneath My Wings” by Three Minute Tease (2011) and its subsequent incarnations, and the title track from In the Village of the Apple Sun (2006). Intro: “King of Missouri” (2002). Learn more at

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NEM #48: Thalia Zedek’s Slow Burn Memory Games

Most famous for her ’90s Boston grunge band Come, Thalia has since 2001 put out six albums and some EPs, with a stripped-down yet not acoustic sound that makes good use of her low, smoky voice and tasteful electric guitar, often accompanied by viola and/or piano with prominent drums.

We discuss “Northwest Branch” by The Thalia Zedek Band from Eve (2016); opening music is “Afloat,” also from that album. We then cover “Desanctified (Full Circle)” from Been Here and Gone (2001) and “Hell is in Hello” from Trust Not Those in Whom Without Some Touch of Madness (2004). End song: “Regatta” from the self-titled debut album (2016) by a collaboration called E.

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NEM #46: Chandler Travis: Strongman of North America

Chandler was a comedian in the ’70s, launched a rock group in the ’80s, and has released dozens of albums, fronting multiple bands at a time.

We discuss “The Strongman of North America” by The Chandler Travis Philharmonic from Waving Kissyhead Vol. 2 & 1 (2017), “The Crutch of Music” by the Catbirds from Catbirds Say Yeah (2012), and “Fluffy” by the Philharmonic from Llama Rhymes (2003). We conclude by listening to another Kissyhead track, “By the Way.” Opening music: “Long As You Have Somebody Else” by The Incredible Casuals from That’s That (1987). For more, see

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NEM #45: Steve Hackett: Visualize the Music (with 300+ tracks!)

Steve released six studio albums with Genesis between 1971 and 1977 and twenty-five solo albums that feature his virtuosic guitar and the spirit of ’70s prog rock. He now works with producer/keyboardist Roger King to create dense, cinematic soundscapes.

We discuss “In the Skeleton Gallery” (and listen to “Anything but Love”) from The Night Siren (2017), “Love Song to a Vampire” from Wolflight (2014), and “Omega Metallicus” from Darktown (1999). Opening/closing music: Steve’s solo from “Firth of Fifth” from Genesis’s Selling England by the Pound (1973). More at

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NEM #44: Lys Guillorn: Freedom from Explanation

Lys is a Connecticut singer/guitarist with an eccentric country twang who’s put out two albums, plus EPs and other stuff since 2003. We discuss “M.K.” from the I’m a Boy EP and also get to hear “Nothing to It” and a bit of the title track from that EP. We also address “Silver” from Winged Victory (2013), and “When I Was a Tiger Lily” from Three Songs (2006). Opening music: “Little Wren” from Lys Guillorn (2003). More at

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NEM #43: Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate): Coming Up 7’s

Starting with the Dream Syndicate in the early ’80s in L.A. and then going solo in 1990, Steve has released over 35 albums of lyrically driven rock.

We discuss “Resolution” from Northern Aggression (2010), “Punching Holes in the Sky” from Crossing Dragon Bridge (2008), and “There Will Come a Day” from Here Come the Miracles (2001). We wrap up with “I’m Not Listening,” a 2007 recording released on Sketches in Spain (2013). Opening music: “Tell Me When It’s Over” by Dream Syndicate from The Days of Wine and Roses (1982). Learn more at

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NEM #42: Karla Kane: Don’t Choose Princess

Karla has put out four albums since 2006 with the Corner Laughers, a Bay Area band that has been categorized as “twee” given Karla’s ukulele, sparkly Brit-pop ornamentation, and similarly colorful lyrics.

We discuss “Queen of the Meadow” from Matilda Effect (2015), the Nov. 2016 single “Don’t Hush, Darling,” and “Grasshopper Clock” from Poppy Seeds (2012). We also listen to “Fairytale Tourist” from Matilda Effect, and the opening/closing music is from that album’s “Midsommar.” Learn more at

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NEM #40: Clive Farrington (When in Rome): One-Hit Wonderful

Clive is the guy who dreamt up the melodies and initial motifs for “The Promise” and other songs for When in Rome in the late ’80s, and after leaving the business for a while, the continued use of that one big song (most notably for the Napoleon Dynamite closing sequence) enabled his return to touring and recording.

We discuss two songs from his solo album Independence (2013), “Fall” and “Just Another Love Song,” and then look back to the 1988 self-titled When in Rome album for “Something Goin’ On.” We close by listening to a 2016 single performed with his fellow WIR frontman Andrew Mann, “Lost (Driving All Night).” The intro/outro music is of course “The Promise.” Hear more Clive at

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NEM #39: Ken Stringfellow: Posies, Big Star, etc.

Since 1988, Ken has put out several sparkly/grungy albums with The Posies, more under his own name and in various collaborations, played in the revived version of Big Star and in the touring band for R.E.M., and much more. He’s a busy guy!

We discuss “The Sound of Clouds” by the Posies from Solid States (2016), “Shittalkers!” and “Jesus Was an Only Child” from his solo album Danzig in the Moonlight (2012), and “Turn My Back on the Sun” from Big Star’s In Space (2005).

We close by listening to “Whatever Hell” by Holly and Ken from The Record (2015). Opening/closing music: “Solar Sister” by The Posies from Frosting on the Beater (1993).

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NEM #38: Jonathan Segel’s Long-Form Songs

Jonathan played in the ’80s with Camper van Beethoven and has since put out 40+ solo albums, sometimes with songs, sometimes guitar improvisations, or instrumental music for dance or film.

We discuss his lengthy art-rock songs with political content: “Sleep for a Hundred Years” and the title track from Superfluity (2017), then look back to “Civil Disobedience” from Edgy not Artsy (2003). End song: “Hey You (I Know You Know Me)” from All Attractions (2012). Opening music: “Auspicious Circles” from Site (2008). Closing music: “Still Wishing to Course” from Camper Van Beethoven (1986).

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NEM #37: Nik Kershaw: Follow the Melody

Nik had some huge hits in the ’80s (e.g., “Wouldn’t It Be Good”) and has been described by Elton John as “the best songwriter of a generation.”

We discuss “These Tears” from his most recent album EI8HT (2012), “Lost” from You’ve Got to Laugh (2006), and the acoustic re-recording of 1984’s “The Riddle” for No Frills (2010). Closing song: “Men United” (2016), written for Prostate Cancer UK’s A Gift for Men United.

For more, visit

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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

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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

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#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).

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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

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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

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PEL Special: Nakedly Examined Music #1 with David Lowery

Welcome to Nakedly Examined Music, our first spin-off of PEL. Hear more at or find it via iTunes. Mark interviews songwriters about why and how they do what they do. Think of it as applied philosophy.

Four episodes are now posted; this cross-post of our pilot features David Lowery of Camper van Beethoven and Cracker talking through three of his songs. He’s as well-spoken and full of ideas as many a decent philosopher, so sit back and turn on your active listening function!