Oh God. They did it. The bastards finally did it. We’re doing the Rolling Stones.
Which is a bit of a departure for us. We’ve been vocal about our distaste for the classic rock songs of the 60’s and 70’s, to the point where we avoided long-time Rolling Stones adversaries The Beatles by hitting their solo albums instead. But this was a direct request from ever-popular recurring guest Caroline Rayner, and when the prospect of bringing on both her and her partner/long-time friend of the island/driest of dry-wits Caroline Stewart, it sounded too fun to resist.
So don’t worry Stones fans—this episode won’t just be Max ranting about how much she hates British blues (although there’s plenty of that). Caroline and Caroline are the best kind of fans—conflicted, self-aware, and still incredibly enthusiastic for a bunch of old white dudes even in the face of all opposition and reason. And with their expert tutelage, we’re taking on what’s often considered the prime swath of the Rolling Stones discography: Aftermath through to Exile on Main Street.
It’s the era when a bunch of mop-topped blues-devotees finally started writing their own goddamned songs, embarking on a journey that would take them through sitar jams, sweet folk, and a psychedelic phase before doubling down on their blues roots for a stretch of critically acclaimed albums that are still held up as the best of their genre by 90% of rock critics.
For Max and Andrew, such a trip is akin to Dante’s descent through hell. But hopefully, with the help of the Carolines, this episode will be an equally monumental work of literature. If nothing else, we got some real good chants out of it.
Also: Andrew professes his love of watersports, Max debuts her new perfume, and the Carolines eat some real bad chili.
Caroline Rayner’s Chapbook: http://www.witchcraftmag.com/shop/calorie-world-by-caroline-rayner
Caroline Belle Stewart’s Chapbook: http://www.factoryhollowpress.com/books/husbandly-things-caroline-belle-stewart
It’s sort of a sad occasion that brings this episode to you, dear listeners: as of about a week ago (when this episode was recorded), it’s been 8 years since Mark Linkous died outside of his new Nashville home. As the singer, songwriter, and often sole member of Sparklehorse, Mark left behind him a legacy of curiously underrated music that nonetheless meant a lot to those who were fortunate enough to hear it. Today, we bring on Caroline Rayner to help us celebrate his life and work.
Born from the ashes of a failed music career in LA, Sparklehorse made the kind of indie rock that you’d usually find in the holds of wrecked steamboats or haunting ancient attics, combining deft pop sensibilities with a deep love of broken things, junk, and detritus. You’re often as likely to hear a toy plastic saxophone as a scorching guitar riff on his songs, and it’s all put together with a genuine enthusiasm and pathos that keeps it from devolving into the sort of kitschy cuteness that such descriptions often evoke.
Over fifteen years, Sparklehorse released four albums (and one collaboration with Danger Mouse and David Lynch), many of which were so good that they inspired a lifelong devotion from a young Max and college-aged Caroline, both of whom spend the vast majority of this episode frantically enthusing about the beauty, sadness, and hope in this immensely enjoyable music (Andrew, meanwhile, brings the newcomer’s perspective in that irresistibly Andrew way of his). It’s a heartfelt episode that comes from a dear place, and somehow Uncle Kracker comes up anyway. We hope you enjoy it.
Also: Caroline becomes a tough-skinned bitch, Andrew takes Frank Capra to task, and Max finally snaps at these damn kids.
Happy anniversary to us! As of today, we have been stranded on this disc-filled island for a year, and what better way to commemorate the occasion than to bring back our first ever guest for one of the most love-filled episodes in our catalogue? Yep, this fortnight, Caroline Rayner makes her triumphant return to our nerdy shores to talk about possibly her favorite musicians ever: Allison and Katie Crutchfield (spoiler alert, we like them a lot too).
And what’s not to love? From their first band together (when they were teenagers!) to the continued evolution of their respective solo careers, Allison and Katie have left an indelible mark on the world of indie rock with their heart-stabbing lyrics and the kind of rock-solid hooks you can set your watch to. There’s so much to love here, you can hear us grasping for the language to capture it, gasping and going silent in the wake of so many stunning songs.
This music is also just really damn fun, as is apparent from our unbridled enthusiasm and inability to shut up all throughout. We challenge you not to feel the same way by the end. Also: regular Chumbawamba’s, what does and doesn’t rip, and what happened to Andrew the night of the Prince episode.
CW: Homophobia, mention of r*pe
We’re mid-way through the first month of 2018, and already we’re beset with strife on all sides. At times like these, we must ask ourselves the eternal question: can we kick it? To find our answer, we’re going on a leader quest mission with Max’s all-time favorite hip-hop group, A Tribe Called Quest. Like most journeys, this one starts all sunshine and roses and De La Soul shout-outs—but the ending may surprise you.
Started in 1985 by teenage MC’s Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, and Jarobi, as well as DJ-turned-NPR host Ali Shaheed Muhammed, A Tribe Called Quest quickly made a name for themselves as positive jammers with a relentlessly innovative aesthetic. Over the course of their first five albums they would pioneer a (mostly) progressive lyricism, bring jazz to the hip-hop world, and team up with a little-known producer named J Dilla to create some of the weirdest albums of the era. It’s that latter fact that makes them such perfect candidates for the island—they were one of the few rap acts at the time that were truly album-focused, creating complete and deliberate artistic works that defied cherry-picking, even as they wrote a string of iconic singles that still influence artists. And after all that, after an 18 year hiatus and the death of Phife Dawg, they come back with one of their best albums. Who does that?
A Tribe Called Quest is one of those bands that made us remember why we love doing this show, and that plus a rather strict time crunch has produced an episode as tight, shining, and artificially inflated in value as a diamond. Also: Max hears Langoliers on the wind, Andrew reveals the kinky undertones of Moby Dick, and we discuss duck penises. Again.
If you are reading this, you have made it through this year, and it didn’t kill you, and dammit we’re all going to celebrate that fact. Of course, being a music podcast, we can only celebrate this occasion by doing what we do best—picking the albums of this year that helped us get here. So in this part two, we pick our most disappointing albums, our most surprising, and, yes, our Top 5 Albums of 2017. You’ll also hear even more returning guests revealing their own top fives, including a blast from our very distant past. So join us in salvaging the only things worth keeping from this blasted hellscape of a year, secure in the knowledge that we have survived, and that we may continue to survive, at least long enough to hear the next Guided By Voices album. Also: impersonations of dear friends, hardcore emotional realness, and the official sign of every song on Lorde’s Melodrama.