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.

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NEM #36: Robbie Fulks: Ambassador of Country

Robbie has recorded 12 solo albums of crafty-lyric, country-folk music since 1996, including the new, Grammy-nominated Upland Stories. We discuss “America is a Hard Religion” and “Fare Thee Well, Carolina Gals” from that album, then look back to “Where There’s a Road” from Georgia Hard (2005) and conclude with “I Told Her Lies” from South Mouth (1997). Opening/closing music: “Hamilton County Breakdown” a 1989 live recording released on The Very Best of Robbie Fulks. Learn more at

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

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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

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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.

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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 #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).

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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).

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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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PEL Special: Bill Bruford on Nakedly Examined Music #25

NEM now features jazz, hip-hop, classical, folk, and more. Check out all the episodes at, where you can subscribe and follow on Facebook.

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.

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).

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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.”

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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

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).

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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

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