Singer-Songwriter Amanda Shires & Opinions on Anderson .Paak & Art Brut


This week, Jim and Greg have a conversation with country  singer-songwriter  Amanda Shires at the Goose Island Tap Room in Chicago. They discuss her literary lyrics, her latest album To The Sunset and how becoming a mom has influenced her art. She'll also perform live. Jim and Greg will also review new albums from hip hop artist Anderson .Paak and indie rock band Art Brut.

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Oxnard Anderson .Paak


Singer, rapper, and drummer  Anderson .Paak stole the hearts of critics and fans alike with his debut solo album, Malibu, in 2016. But, Greg argues that his half dozen features on Dr. Dre's 2015 album Compton initially put .Paak on the map for many listeners. Dr. Dre returns the favor here, producing Oxnard: Anderson's ode to his hometown of Oxnard, California. Both Greg and Jim agree that the production shines here, and Jim is happy that the sound returns to the groovy, old-school roots of West Coast  G-Funk. He thinks the album has a "wonderful, sunny vibe"; but, Oxnard is ulimately "a letdown." According to Jim, tracks like "6 Summers" sum up "everything that's wrong with the record." He laments that lyrically, .Paak has "nothing to say" and can't decide whether he wants to be a "mack daddy" or "woke." Greg complicates that idea, noting that the conflictedness of the album reflects .Paak's upbringing: he was raised in church in a community surrounded by a darker street element. They both agree that the record loses steam by the end, and that it's propped up by big-name cameos from rappers like Kendrick Lamar and Q-Tip. Greg adds that .Paak is a better artist than that and should be making records that don't need those kind of crutches."

Bang Bang Rock & Roll Art Brut

Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out! - Single

On their fifth album, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let’s Rock Out!, post punk band Art Brut continues to rise and fall on the strength of singer Eddie Argos's self-deprecating lyrics. Working in the tradition of Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers, Argos speak-sings self aware songs full of music nerd references about his own modest music career. Jim and Greg were both huge fans of their 2005 debut album Bang Bang Rock & Roll, but their follow up albums never improved on that album's formula. Greg doesn't find much new on Wham! Bang!... other than some horn arrangements, but declares his undying love for Eddie Argos' persona. Jim, however, finds the new album interesting for turning to a new category of rock cliches to subvert. Instead of "a poor schlub who wants to be in a band but has no talent," Argos now depicts a sadder figure: "a poor middle-aged schlub who was in a band, but has no talent." He finds it sadder and more effective than ever.

Amanda Shires

This week, Jim and Greg talk to singer-songwriter and violinist Amanda Shires at the Goose Island Tap Room in Chicago. Amanda released her latest solo album To The Sunset in early August of this year to a lot of critical acclaim, especially for the intricately beautiful lyrics and genre-blending on the record (country, rock, acoustic, etc.) Shires talks with Jim and Greg about her time in the legendary Bob Wills band The Texas Playboys and about how getting her MFA in poetry elevated her lyricism. They also discuss her husband, singer, guitarist and songwriter Jason Isbell, and how becoming a mom changed her musical perspective. Shires also brought along her long fiddle and her guitar player and performs a special stripped down set.

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