Pretty Much Pop #71: Rap Battles w/ Sacrifice (Tyler Hislop)

Mark, Erica, and Brian are rejoined by our audio editor Tyler to discuss a form of entertainment close to his heart: Priming the rhymes to deliver the crimes: an attack on the character, caring not what-you-wear, anywhere, hug-a-bear... man, battle rap is difficult! So what are the rules? How does modern battle rap compare to free-styling and the beefs aired on rap  Continue Reading …

NEM#137: Brian Cullman, Writer About Town

Brian started as a teen music enthusiast and journalist as early as 1970, learning about and often meeting everyone in the biz, and has thus stumbled into finding vehicles for his songs first with OK Savant (ca. 1990) and then through three and half solo albums starting in 2008. He’s also been an active producer and collaborator for artists like Ollabelle, Lucinda Williams  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #69: Story Songs w/ Rod Picott

Plenty of songs purport to tell stories, and the narrative ballad of course has a long enough history that the two forms certainly aren’t alien. But how do our listening practices conditioned by pop music jibe with recognizing and understanding narrative? Singer/songwriter and short story author Rod Picott joins Mark, Erica, and Brian to talk about classics by writers like  Continue Reading …

NEM#136: Mark Bingham: To and In New Orleans

Mark got signed as a teen in 1966, left to play theatrical prog jazz in Indiana during college, had a spell in a “no wave” band in New York, and finally settled down in the ’80s as an in demand producer and collaborator in New Orleans, working with groups like R.E.M., Flat Duo Jets, and John Scofield. He’s only finished two solo albums but has a ton of archive recordings being  Continue Reading …

NEM#135: Peter Milton Walsh (The Apartments): No Assembly-Line Recording

Peter started The Apartments in Australia in the late '70s and has been its only consistent member. After releasing his first full album in 1985 and being featured on a John Hughes soundtrack, he released four lush, moody albums in the '90s but then retired when family tragedy struck until the late '00s; he's had four releases since 2011. We discuss "What's Beauty to Do?"  Continue Reading …

NEM#134: Laraaji’s Free Association Meditations

Jazz multi-instrumentalist Edward Larry Gordon Jr. became Laraaji around the same time he started releasing meditative zither music in the late 70s and was then discovered by Brian Eno, who produced our intro, "The Dance No. 1" from  Ambient 3: Day of Radiance (1980). Laraaji has since had around 40 releases of largely improvised music. We discuss "Hold on to the Vision" (and  Continue Reading …

NEM#133: Jon Hassell (and Rick Cox): Fourth World Improvisation

Jon started playing trumpet with composers like Terry Riley and La Monte Young in the late 60s, has since guested with Peter Gabriel, Talking Heads, Ani DiFranco, Ry Cooder, et al, and has released 18 solo albums since 1977. We discuss "Unknown Wish" from Seeing Through Sound: Pentimento Volume 2 (2020), "Manga Scene" from Listening to Pictures: Pentimento Volume 1  Continue Reading …

NEM#132: Chris Frantz Looks Back on Talking Heads and Tom Tom Club

On the publication of his memoir, Remain in Love, Chris and your host Mark Linsenmayer discuss “Psycho Killer” and “Warning Signs” by Talking Heads from Talking Heads ’77 and More Songs About Buildings and Food (1978), plus “Bamboo Town” and “Who Feelin’ It?” by Tom Tom Club from Close to the Bone (1983) and The Good the Bad and the Funky (2000). We conclude with the title  Continue Reading …

NEM#131: Ward White Audited

Ward has issued about ten releases of lyric-driven, stylish pop since 2003. We discuss the title track from Leonard at the Audit (2020), "Titans" from Diminish (2018), and the title track from Pulling Out (2008). Intro: "Sabbath" from Ward White Is the Matador (2014). End: "Bubble and Squeak," also from the new album. For info see wardwhite.net. Here's that video we  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #58: “TAYLOR SWIFT RULES!” (Conversation with a Swiftie)

Prompted by the release of new album Folklore and the 2020 documentary Miss Americana, Mark, Erica, and Brian speak with guest Amber Padgett about her love of Taylor, ranking the albums/eras, Taylor as songwriter/puppetmaster, why the hate, weird levels of fan engagement, double standards in expectations for female artists, and more. Like all of our discussions, this one is  Continue Reading …

NEM#126: Jim Peterik Eyes Much More Than the Tiger

Jim was the main songwriter for Survivor, writing all their hits including "Eye of the Tiger" in 1983, but that was the second lightning strike, the first of which was his 1970 hit "Vehicle" with the Ides of March, a band he started in high school in 1964 and is still in today. He's co-written hits with Brian Wilson, 38 Special, Sammy Hagar, Cheap Trick, etc. and has released  Continue Reading …

NEM#123: Rick Kemp (Steeleye Span) Slows Down

Rick played bass on 15 albums with Steeleye Span between 1971 and 2016 and had released five solo albums since 1996 (plus another with his then-wife Maddy Prior). We discuss "Race Against Time" from Perfect Blue (2018) and two Steeleye tunes: "Cromwell's Skull" from Dodgy Bastards (2016) and "Samain" from They Called Her Babylon (2004). We conclude by listening to  Continue Reading …

NEM#122: Jack Hues (from Wang Chung) Plays Jazz and Prog

Jack fronted Wang Chung for five albums in the '80s, left the limelight to produce, and got a jazz combo going by 2000 which he's released five albums with, reformed Wang Chung, and only now is having a debut solo release, the double album Primitif. We discuss "Whitstable Beach" from that album, "Class War and Sex War" by Jack Hues and the Quartet from A Thesis on the Ballad  Continue Reading …

NEM#121: K.C. Clifford on Brokenness and Power

K.C. has created seven releases of confessional folk (sometimes gospel, sometimes country) since 2000. We discuss “No More Living Small” and listen to “You Couldn’t Stay” from her 2020 self-titled album, then talk about “Broken Things” from Orchid (2010) and “Find My Way Home” from Teeth-Marks on My Tongue (2004). Intro: “Emily” from Times Like These (2000). For more  Continue Reading …

NEM#120: Steve Harley is Wiser and Less Hungry

Steve started fronting Cockney Rebel in the early '70s and has released a dozen albums of of narrative-driven, tuneful songs. We discuss "Compared with You (Your Eyes Don’t Seem to Age)" and listen to "Only You," his two originals from his new solo album Uncovered (2020) then look back to "Faith & Virtue" from Stranger Comes to Town (2010) and Cockney Rebel's "Bed in the  Continue Reading …

NEM#119: Chris A. Maxwell: The Power of What You Don’t Fully Understand

Chris emerged in the early '90s fronting the melodic Gunbunnies and then again as a member of the noisy Skeleton Key, but he’s best known for being half of the production team Elegant Too, producing music for Inside Amy Schumer, Bob’s Burgers, Malcolm in the Middle, etc. Since 2014 he’s returned to form with a pair of solo albums. We discuss two songs from 2012’s New Store  Continue Reading …

NEM#118: Matt Wilson (Trip Shakespeare) Is Still a Writer

Matt led the razor-sharp Trip Shakespeare in the '80s, releasing his first album with them in '86, got signed to a major label by the early '90s, but then stepped back while his brother and co-Tripper Dan Wilson went on to hits with Semisonic, Adele, etc. But by '98 Matt was back to the front with a solo album, spent many years with co-Tripper John Munson (first as The Flops  Continue Reading …

NEM#117: Chris McQueen (FORQ, Snarky Puppy): Like Fusion, But Cool

Chris has been guitarist for the Dallas/New York-based fusion group Snarky Puppy since its inception in 2004 and his simultaneously headed rock bands (Oso Closo then Foe Destroyer) and most recently explored acoustic guitar duets. We discuss "M-Theory" from his main band at this point, FORQ, from their album Four (2019), co-written with keyboardist Henry Hey. The intro music  Continue Reading …