Monday, November 4, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 517: Top of the Heap

It's part 3 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling as we conclude our countdown of our favorite albums of the decade. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- Kumar's #3 of the decade: Parquet Courts cements their post-punk presence (2014)
- Impressive body of work with an art-rock vibe
- Breitling's #2: Johnny Foreigner's self-produced magnum opus (2011)
- Breitling was running a JF-themed blog for a while
- Kumar's #2: A punk explosion of political anger from Superchunk (2018)
- Still vital after all these years
- Breitling's #1: Post-punk legend Walter Schreifels' debut solo album (2010)
- Sincere folk rock with incredible hooks
- Kumar's #1: Bowie's final album was a masterpiece (2016)
- Recorded in secret with an unknown jazz band
- He thought he had more time, but died a few days after the album came out
- That's a decade

Completely Conspicuous is available through Apple Podcasts and just about anywhere else you get your podcasts. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 516: Tally It Up

It's part 2 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling as we discuss our favorite music of the past decade. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- Breitling's top 10 aren't ranked in order
- JB's #10: 2014 compilation of singles by Cookies
- Experimental stuff, hooks galore
- JK's #10: Magnum opus by Titus Andronicus (2010)
- Sprawling album with lots of guest stars, loosely based on Civil War
- JB's #9: Breakout 2013 album from Speedy Ortiz
- Hot '90s indie rock sound
- JK's #9: Double album from Toronto's Fucked Up (2011)
- Sound of hardcore singer fronting Velocity Girl
- JB's #8: Dan Bejar brings the heat in 2011 with Destroyer
- Catchy '80s yacht rock vibe
- JK's 8: Jeff Rosenstock's post-election response (2018)
- Deals with disappointment and hitting your 30s
- JB's #7: Snowball II with an early '90s homage (2017)
- Produced by Kurt Heasley of Lilys
- JK's 7: Epic 2013 release from Queens of the Stone Age
- Near-death experience led to different lyrical approach
- JB's #6: The only War On Drugs worth fighting (2014)
- Adam Granduciel's mainstream breakthrough, attracting scorn from Mark Kozelek
- JK's #6: Arctic Monkeys continue evolving their sound (2013)
- Incorporated funk and hip hop beats into their indie rock
- JB's #5: Infinity Girl's debut for Topshelf (2015)
- Underappreciated shoegaze masterpiece
- JK's #5: Bob Mould's first album with Narducy and Wurster (2012)
- First of a strong stretch of ass-kickers, on par with his work with Sugar
- JB's #4: She Sir's 2014 release is painstakingly crafted
- Shimmering shoegaze
- JK's #4 and JB's #3: Courtney Barnett burst on the scene with strong 2015 debut
- Interesting lyrics combined with hot rock guitar
- To be continued: Our top picks

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 515: Be Kind and Rewind

It's part 1 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling as we discuss our favorite music of the past decade. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- We did this 10 years ago, a little differently (starting here)
- Ten years is a long time inside a car
- The shift from downloads to streaming
- Not everything is available from streaming services
- iTunes didn't die, it was just split up
- Music can also disappear from streaming services
- Original MP3 players only held a handful of songs
- The kids like the vinyl
- Concerts business has evolved: Bands are playing smaller venues
- Who the hell are the Chainsmokers?
- Bands we like can't fill hockey rinks
- Nobody's making money off albums
- It's all merch
- Vinyl and box sets are big bucks
- Lots of reissues
- Albums that didn't make our top 10
- Breitling: Releases from Lubec, Funeral Advantage, Hop Along, LCD Soundsystem
- Kumar: LCD Soundsystem, Grinderman, Arcade Fire, Wild Flag, Sloan, Destroyer, METZ, Savages, Speedy Ortiz, Kurt Vile, Ex Hex, Protomartyr, Run the Jewels, Ty Segall, The War on Drugs, Jeff Rosenstock, IDLES, Fucked Up, Sharon Van Etten, PUP
- To be continued: On to the top 10

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 514: A Punk Rock Future

I'm joined by guest Steve Zisson as we discuss the new sci-fi short story anthology he compiled, A Punk Rock Future. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- Take 2 of our conversation after the first one didn't record
- A Punk Rock Future is available on Oct. 8
- Book mashes up Steve's love of punk rock and science fiction
- Inspired by other self-published sci-fi anthologies
- Steve and I go back to the late '80s when we were both newspaper reporters
- Later worked together at three different companies
- Zisson: Love for sci-fi started with the original Star Trek series
- Wrote sci-fi in his teens, but then went into journalism
- Jay: Realized that chemical engineering wasn't the path for me and decided to go into journalism
- Zisson: Got into music in the mid-'70s, including early incarnation of the Cars (R.I.P., Ric Ocasek)
- Was going to see bands like Queen, the Kinks, Roxy Music before checking out early punk acts
- Saw Ocasek and Ben Orr's pre-Cars band Cap'n Swing at a small club in Nahant, Mass.
- Then a year or so later, sees the Cars playing at UMass right before they hit it big
- Then would go see the Clash, the Jam, and local Boston punk acts like the Neighborhoods and DMZ
- Zisson got back into writing sci-fi around 2012
- Would dedicate time to write in his spare time
- Discovered a lot of great young writers
- Got a few stories published in well-known sci-fi journals and sites
- More ways to get published now, but more competition, too
- Used to be primarily U.S. writers, now more international
- Came up with the idea for the book after 2016 election
- Drew parallel to late '70s and talked to some writers about "a punk rock future" as an anthology idea
- Put the call out for stories and got over 400 submissions
- Started a Kickstarter to raise $5,000 to pay the authors selected
- Enlisted former Webnoize colleagues to help read the submissions
- With music now, there's so much out there, it's impossible to keep up
- The goal of the project was to get it done and showcase the authors
- One of the authors, Sarah Pinsker, has a new book out that's getting good buzz called A Song For a New Day
- A Punk Rock Future is available on Amazon and at indie bookstores
- Don't confuse Steve Zisson with Steve Zissou
- Next up: Get some more writing done
- Maybe do an anthology of really short stories, like an album of 2-minute songs

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 513: Blues for Allah

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's album Blues for Allah. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- The Dead's 7th studio album, came out in September 1975
- The band's highest-charting album until 1987
- Very non-commercial record
- Jay: The best thing about the album is the cover
- Moved in a much different direction from previous album
- Band had stopped touring after From the Mars Hotel
- Mickey Hart was back
- Also in 1975, Zeppelin had released Physical Graffiti, Talking Heads and Sex Pistols played their first shows, disco started hitting the charts
- Phil: Very sparse, subdued jazz-rock album
- Studio songs are blueprint, but they change after repeated live playings
- Dead fans were used to changing sounds
- The live show was the thing
- Commercial success was less important to the band and its fans
- Some songs on this album went on to become concert staples
- Not a lot of bands that have fans following them around the country: Phish, Afghan Whigs, Pearl Jam, Tragically Hip
- Album has a Middle Eastern feel; a few years later, they played in Egypt
- Jay: Liked the first few songs, then it started to meander
- Next album was live album Steal Your Face, which many fans didn't like
- Next we'll listen to Terrapin Station and Cornell '77
- Springsteen's live shows are long, but full of songs (as opposed to long jams)
- Phil just saw Apocalypse Now for the first time

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Wednesday, August 21, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 512: From the Mars Hotel

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's album From the Mars Hotel. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ on the 13th birthday of the podcast
- The Dead's 7th studio album, came out in June 1974
- Watergate hearings were the big news story
- Beer was a lot cheaper back then
- In '74, there was a good variety of rock acts releasing important albums, plus funk
- Mars Hotel had some classic Dead songs
- Phil Lesh sang two songs, which was rare, and Bob Weir had one
- Garcia is in prime form on this record
- The Dead was touring with the "Wall of Sound," a massive "distortion-free" speaker setup
- Playing larger venues
- The cost was so high that they eventually quit touring for a few years
- Maybe the last great Dead studio album
- The Grateful Dead Movie was taken from the final shows of this tour
- Working out new songs in the live setting
- Rivalry between lyricists Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow
- The Dead would play with guest musicians from time to time including Pete Townshend, Branford Marsalis, Santana, Huey Lewis
- The Dead probably got some airplay on FM rock radio in the '70s
- Rock radio has changed a tremendous amount over the years; it's mostly corporate, formatted now
- College and online stations have the most freedom
- Second-tier album in the discography
- Pretty representative of the Dead's sound
- Next: Blues for Allah

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 511: On With the Show

Part 2 of my conversation with guest Gary Barth as we discuss the concertgoing experience. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded in Gary's car on the way to the show
- Driving before and briefly after an Iron Maiden concert at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA
- Jay: Big fan of club shows
- Like to get up close to the stage
- The downside of theater shows
- Some shows are made for big venues
- Getting your face melted by Ty Segall
- Demographics: We're the target market for Maiden, but often among the oldest when seeing newer acts
- If you were 30 when you saw Maiden during their early days, you're pushing 70 now
- Still weird to be "the old guy"
- No institutional knowledge of what came before
- Gary: Raised our kids on the Beatles
- Jay: My kids love Taylor Swift; at least she writes her own songs
- I listen to a lot of pop these days when I drive the girls around
- Making the kids listen to your music
- Gary: We played Beatles Rock Band a lot as a family
- Will we still go to rock shows as senior citizens?
- No such thing as guilty pleasures
- We both love the Bee Gees
- Jay: Traded the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack for a Zeppelin album
- Reconciled with my disco-loving childhood
- People who watch a show through their smart phones
- Making Gary self-conscious about phone use at concerts
- Artists who ban cellphone use at shows
- After the concert
- We paid extra to park in a lot to get out earlier
- High energy, over-the-top stage show
- Saw some people with toddlers
- Fun to go to a big show with friends
- Gary's next show: Raconteurs in September
- Jay's next show: Sleater-Kinney in October
- Gary plays about 20 shows a year

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.