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.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 510: Maiden Voyage

Celebrating 13 years of podcasting with part 1 of my conversation with guest Gary Barth as we discuss the concertgoing experience...while we drive to a concert. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded in Gary's car on the way to the show
- Driving to an Iron Maiden concert at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA
- Gary's first concert: Huey Lewis and the News in 1985
- Huey's got rock cred
- All the big shows back in the '80s were at hockey rinks
- Many bands now play smaller theaters and clubs
- Jay: Used to go see only arena shows back then
- Arenas in Worcester, Portland, Providence
- Shows were cheaper back then, but we had less money
- People would get really wasted before concerts
- The guy who sat behind us and still missed the entire Maiden show
- Getting rides to concerts from parents
- Gary plays in a Grateful Dead cover band, Deadbeat
- Listening to some "nice hahd rawk"
- Jay's (very) short-lived high school band
- Jay: Liked a lot of metal and hard rock in high school, turned away from it in the '90s
- We both started listening to Maiden again in 2006
- Bands don't make money from selling albums anymore
- Saw Drive-By Truckers at the local theater in Beverly
- Go see Deadbeat at the Bull Run in Shirley, MA on 8/9
- Cover bands are doing pretty well these days
- Heavy Metal Cul de Sac
- Bands keep touring into their old age
- The Iron Maiden guys are all in their 60s but put on a high-energy show
- To be continued

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, July 1, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 509: The Good Stuff

It's part 3 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling as we discuss our favorite music of the year so far. Listen to the episode below or download it directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at Clicky Clicky world HQ
- Breitling's #6
- Changing his take on "Steve Miller Band for millennials"
- Kumar's #6
- Band recently relocated to Nashville
- Breitling's #4
- Another accomplished Boston indie rock act continues to evolve its sound
- Kumar's #5
- Don't call it a comeback; fuzzy power pop from low-key indie rocker
- Breitling's #3
- Reissue of mid-'90s release from San Jose hardcore trio
- Definitely check out the reissue of Silkworm's In the West
- Kumar's #3
- Scrappy pop punk from Toronto band
- Breitling's #2
- Veteran act with inspired new release
- Kumar's #2 and Breitling's #5
- Inspired by '80s riff rock
- Breitling's #1 and Kumar's #4
- A triumph from a legendary rock god
- Possibly as good as anything from his previous bands
- Kumar's #1
- Out of left field for me, but a great sweeping folk pop record
- Female solo artist who has come into her own
- New albums coming from Titus Andronicus, Sleater-Kinney, Redd Kross, Purple Mountains, possibly Ava Luna

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, June 24, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 508: Ten Spot

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


Show notes:
- Recorded at Clicky Clicky world HQ
- Breitling's bubbling under albums: Purple Mountains, Katie Dey, Ava Luna, Coaches, Fennesz, William Basinski
- Kumar's not-quite top 10: Swervedriver, Piroshka, Cherry Glazerr, L7, Jenny Lewis, Flat Worms, Hash Redactor, Versing, Kiwi Jr., Business of Dreams
- Breitling's #10
- Veteran indie pop act from Seattle
- Kumar's #10
- Fuzzy power pop that's short and sweet
- Breitling's #9
- Shout out to Matt Graves
- Glittery guitar pop from Austin
- Kumar's #9
- Vital post-punk noise straight outta Dublin
- Breitling's #8
- Shoegaze from prolific LA band
- Kumar's #8
- Welcome return from indie rock veterans
- Breitling's #7
- Blistering EP from great Boston indie act
- Perry Farrell's face
- Kumar's #7
- Western Canadian stoner rock
- Next week: Our top 6 albums of the year so far

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, June 18, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 507: Half and Half

I'm joined by guest Jay Breitling as we discuss the year in rock music so far. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at Clicky Clicky world HQ
- Back for the attack
- Kumar: Just back from Philly
- Coming up in December: We pick our favorite music of the decade
- Apple is doing away with iTunes, but it's not that big a deal
- Some people are freaking out, but there are other options
- It was good for making playlists
- Kumar: Still need downloads to build radio show playlist
- People don't need to own music anymore
- Kumar: Use free versions of Spotify and YouTube to stream
- Somebody stole a bunch of Radiohead outtakes, band responds by putting it up for sale on Bandcamp
 - Breitling's curb vinyl haul
- The Dio hologram tour is ongoing
- Our verdict: Stay home
- The festivals keep going
- The Woodstock 50 debacle
- Our verdict: Festivals suck
- Breitling may want to choke you
- Reality show people are annoying
- Ja Rule explains it all
- Both of us have gone to fewer concerts this year
- We like watching the rock videos on the YouTubes
- Whither Arsenio?
- Next week: Our favorite albums of the year so far

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, March 19, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 506: Wake of the Flood

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


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- Jay: Knew nothing about this album until recently
- First album on the Dead's own label
- New phase for the Dead: No Mickey Hart, the Godchauxs arrive, Pigpen had died
- Shades of jazz fusion
- Three years after their last studio album, American Beauty
- Material was well-honed in concert before making it to studio recording
- Horns featured throughout
- Phil: Live versions of these songs are better
- Two big shows with Allman Brothers and the Band that summer
- The rise of Frampton
- Nobody cares about live albums anymore
- "Stella Blue" is a standout track
- On the merits and demerits of Rush
- Back when AOR stations would play album sides
- Pulled back on the country influence of previous two albums
- No immediate "hits"
- Touring is one of the few ways bands can make money nowadays
- Ultimately, not one of their best, but a piece of the puzzle

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, March 5, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 505: Europe '72

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's live triple album Europe '72. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- Triple album documenting the Dead's European tour
- Displays new Americana sound
- Mickey Hart's gone, Keith and Donna Godchaux join
- Full tour was documented on a 73-CD box set
- Letting it all hang out at an Oregon show
- Garcia and Weir released solo albums this year
- The Dead's influenced ranged wide, eventually including members of punk/indie acts like Black Flag and Meat Puppets
- Greg Ginn, noted Deadhead
- The greatness of "Jack Straw"
- Later covered by eventual guest keyboardist Bruce Hornsby
- Grateful Dead keyboardists : Spinal Tap drummers
- "A long f-ing album"
- Unrelated: The Dirtbombs rule
- "China Cat Sunflower" sounds very different here than the original
- This is Peak Dead
- The band captured the communal live experience and attracted a huge following
- When you party too hard before the show
- Pigpen's last hurrah
- "Morning Dew" is stretched out to 10+ minutes of apocalyptic jam
- Tangent: Janelle Monae is great
- Variety is important
- No more guilty pleasures
- Waaaaaaay off topic
- The strange career of Robert Palmer
- Phil: Europe '72 is like comfort food
- Next up: Wake of the Flood

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, February 5, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 504: American Beauty

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


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- Cover art could also be read as "American Reality"
- Also released in 1970; recorded a few months after Workingman's Dead came out
- Even more countrified, Americana-sounding
- Mickey Hart was on his way out, less involvement
- Featured on Freaks and Geeks episode where Lindsay gets into the Dead
- Half the album features "hits": Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil, Sugar Magnolia, Ripple, Truckin'
- Very low-key record
- Play Ripple at Phil's funeral
- On 50th birthday playlists
- Phil's idea for a playlist: 5 songs from every year of his life, no repeat artists
- Around this time, the Dead started really growing their fanbase
- Dead fans started following them on tour
- A lot of guests, including David Grisman
- This album isn't as dark as the previous one
- Another fairly concise record
- The Dead played the old Boston Tea Party club (now House of Blues) on New Year's Eve 1969
- The sound on this album is more timeless than the original acid-rock
- Jay: Just say no to DMB
- Phil: More into the Dead's music than the scene
- Truckin' is autobiographical, all about touring and getting hassled by the Man
- Ends the album on an upbeat note, with some ripping lead guitar
- Next up: Europe '72

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, January 29, 2019

Completely Conspicuous 503: Workingman's Dead

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's 1970 album Workingman's Dead. Listen to the episode below or download directly.


Show notes:
- Recorded at CompCon world HQ
- First show of the new year
- Workingman's Dead is the band's 4th studio album
- First of two releases in '70
- Recorded in nine days
- Stripped down sound, less psychedelic
- Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote the whole album
- Folk, country, Americana elements
- Rock was moving away from psychedelia, toward singer-songwriters and acoustic sounds
- Bookended by two of the band's biggest songs
- More of an emphasis on vocals like Crosby, Stills and Nash
- "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" as a torture device
- Phil: Prefer live Dead, but still break out the studio albums on occasion
- Warm sounding record
- "New Speedway Boogie" is about Altamont
- Recently covered by Courtney Barnett
- Hunter's solo releases are all over the place
- Jay: Only heard two songs before
- Fairly concise album; not much jamming
- Moved away from acid blues into a new direction
- "Easy Wind," sung by Pigpen, was the outlier
- Like the Entwistle song on a Who album
- "Casey Jones" evolved in an interesting way over the years
- Talking about cocaine
- Next up: American Beauty

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.