Disq dives into The Byrds

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

My guest today is Disq. Disq is a band from Madison, Wis., and they’re one of my favorite new bands. I think the thing that I like the most about Disq is that they have music that is really interesting and complex but it still sounds really casual and laid back. My guest today is Isaac, lead singer of Disq.

Sean Kelly Disq Photo: Sean Kelly

Isaac, what’s the last song that you couldn’t stop listening to?

Well, it’s probably “It Won’t Be Wrong” by The Byrds. I was watching a Laurel Canyon documentary that’s on Netflix and they cover that song in there. I wasn’t a super huge fan of the cover, but I knew I had heard the song before and it kind of stuck with me after the movie. Especially The Byrds, just in general. I think I actually just downloaded an album that that’s on and once I got to that song I was like, “Oh right, it’s this one.” 

What’s special about The Byrds? 

Well, I don’t know. They haven’t influenced me a whole lot in the past. Like I’ve known them and I’ve listened to a lot of music that’s adjacent to that kind of like American-’60s-psychedelic, but it was never something that I was quite as into. I always find a lot of happiness in discovering something that’s new-ish for me that I can get into for a while. Especially if it’s something old that I still haven’t really delved into a lot. Because it’s cool to hear how The Byrds and The Beatles and whatever they’re kind of playing off each other’s influences on one another. It’s pretty cool. And I’m a big Beatles fan. That’s why The Byrds, I would say. That song, it’s really short, I guess it’s not even quite psychedelic yet. It’s sort of pre-psychedelic songs. And it really kind of exemplifies that, I feel. I like that a lot about it.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Trixie Mattel shares the Courtney Love deep cut she relates to the most

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

My guest today is Trixie Mattel. Trixie is the biggest drag queen In the world. You may know Trixie from “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” or “Drag Race All-Stars,” which Trixie won.

Trixie is also releasing a new album this year and is going to be in Milwaukee tonight, bringing all the talent to Turner Hall Ballroom. Trixie called me from a 414 number.

Trixie Mattel | facebook.com/trixiemattelfanpage

So Trixie, I am wondering, what is the last song that you couldn’t stop listening to? 

I recently fell in love with this band that everyone knows about but me called Hole. Are you familiar with Hole, Courtney Love’s band? 

Oh, yeah, yes. 

Okay, I never grew up listening to “Live Through This,” which is a lot of people’s favorite album, favorite grunge album. I recently found Hole and I listened to their album “Celebrity Skin” that has like “Malibu” and a bunch of their hits on it, but they have this song on that record called “Boys On The Radio,” oh my god it’s beautiful. It’s this pretty song. It’s kinda just a song about the rock ‘n’ roll boys that she falls in love with and how ultimately doomed the relationships are with people who are performers. It’s so pretty and it sounds like summer and being a little drunk and kissing someone you think is hot. And it has this like, blind-willing sort of like “I would do anything for you, I’m that kind of crazy about you” feel. “Boy On The Radio,” Hole. 

It’s not one of their hits, but anyone who likes that band, it’s their favorite song by them. Does that make sense?

This thing happens every once in a while, it happened with me and the Flaming Lips last year. Everyone in the world knows that band, and like Hole, I don’t really know a lot about Hole. I’m not really a fan, but music is not linear and suddenly you discover a band that you feel like everyone knows about but it’s new to you and it’s such a fun discovery for you. 

Yeah, I love them. What’s funny is,  I was calling my friends, “Are you familiar with this band Hole?” and they’re like, “Are you kidding? Everyone knows Hole.” Like every gay person grew up worshipping Hole. Right, that album “Live Through This”  was like a lot of gay people’s like… they loved it when they were younger. When they felt weird, and this album is so angry, and feminine and sexual. And I only knew Courtney Love as we knew her in the Zeitgeist which is this kind of, like people say she’s an adulterer and a murderist and a drug addict. And I didn’t know her music, truthfully.

I fell into her music. Oh, my God, did I fall in love quickly. The lyrics, the lyrics, the lyrics. I mean, she just … It’s grungy. She sounds angry. She sounds in anguish. But the harmony and the lyrics have such a strong pop feel and I’m a pop lover.

Yeah.

It just sounds dirty, grungy guitar music that still has a bubblegum feminine edge. I just love it. I love it.

That is so wonderful. I listened to an interview with her the other day. It was just a clip. It was a clip of her saying something about Harvey Weinstein back in the day. She was this punchline for a while where she was just easy for macho media to make fun of because she was a woman who was going against the grain.

The narrative was real easy to be like, “Oh, let’s just take a swing at her or something.” Now, I’m glad that you’re bringing this up because it’ll will make me listen to it, who I’ve never gone through a big phase or something like that. But I think it must have been so difficult for her to always be a punching bag or to be easy to criticize when it seems that if we go back through history, she was right all along, and she should be regarded a lot higher than she … Or treated better than she has been.

Also in Hollywood and in music, we give male drug addicts almost like a godlike status.

Yes.

They’re so troubled. They’re so broken. They’re so complex and artsy. They’re coping. We treat women with mental health or drug issues like garbage.

Like Hollywood trash. You can hear that a lot in her record and Celebrity Skin that opens … That song, Celebrity Skin, that’s literally being like, “Yeah, I’m famous and you all say horrible things about me. Welcome to the show.” You know what I mean?

Yeah.

It’s like Anna Nicole. She hosted, presented the VMAs slurring her speech and nobody would step in. They would just laugh at her. That’s her whole thing and that she’s a mess.

You know? We don’t do that to men the way we do to women. Anyway.

Not at all. We glorify that. We say how great, what a renegade.

We love it.

Until someone dies and then they’re a god.

But until you die, you’re a mess and you are garbage and you can’t pull it together. There’s also the fact that Courtney Love, she’s not the best guitar player. She is not the best singer. I can certainly relate to that. It was their presentation and the performance and the attitude. The fact that she’s up there in lingerie with no panties on in this mop top screaming, very in your face in a way that people maybe weren’t comfortable with. But that album sounds like it was made yesterday.

Yes.

That’s how you know it’s a good record. That’s from 1998.

Yeah.

“Boys on the Radio.” “Boys on the Radio” could be a Katy Perry B-side from like “Teenage Dream.”

It’s beautiful.

Okay, let’s do it. “Boys on the Radio” by Hole.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Robert Randolph forgets, then remembers, that he shredded with Ozzy

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

Our guest today is Robert Randolph from Robert Randolph & The Family Band. Robert Randolph has been at it with his family and by himself since he was a kid. He’s been nominated for four Grammys, he’s one of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.” My guest today is the one and only Robert Randolph.

Listen to the whole segment below.

Robert Randolph on Ozzy Osbourn

Do you have your phone with you? The question is, what is the song you have on pause on your phone right now? 

Oh lets see, it’s actually an Ozzy Osbourne “Sympathy for the Devil” cover.  

Really? Why’d you play this? 

I have no idea why that’s still on there. I have no idea, but it was on, it was playing this morning. I have no idea.

Ozzy Osbourne, from his… actually, you know what, I’m on that song! We did a collaboration some years ago.  

Just checking it out, seeing how it is? 

Just checking out how it sounded, like, it’s pretty cool. Ozzy Osbourne and Robert Randolph. 

How’d you come together? 

You know man, I was done in like 2008 or 2009 and I got a call from Sharon actually, and she was like, “Ozzy wants to get you on his record,” and I was like, “Yeah? Cool, rock on.” You know? We flew to LA and got in the studio with him and [in the tone of Ozzy Osbourne] “Please allow me to introduce myself.” It was like a dark, it’s a dark version.

Really? What are your additions to it? 

Dark steel, shredding [vocalizing drums]

Are you happy with how it turned out? 

Yeah it came out really great, man. Y’all gotta check it out, y’all gotta play it sometime. Play it on the station 88Nine, baby.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Devon Gilfillian on the Illiterate Light bop he can’t shake from his head

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

Our guest today is Devon Gilfillian. Devon Gilfillian is from Philadelphia, he just released the album “Black Hole Rainbow” last year and we’ve got the song “Unchained” in heavy rotation. He also did a session with us last year and he was just like, the nicest human being in the entire world. Tonight (Feb 6) he is going to be playing at the Pabst Theater. He’s opening for Grace Potter.

Listen to the whole segment below.

Devon Gilfillian on Illiterate Light

Devon, what is the last song that you couldn’t stop listening to?  

Dude, funny enough, I’ve been listening to this song called “Better Than I Used To” by Illiterate Light. Have you heard of it? 

Oh, yeah, we’re playing it! 

Dude that song is a bop! It’s like ear candy. I can’t get it out of my head. And it’s funny because we played Newport and we also played a festival in Knoxville with Illiterate Light. And like they rock, they slayed it. They slayed both times, live. I was like, who is this band? And then I heard this song on the radio and I was like, man, this song is so good, who is this? And it was them. 

What are they like in real life, what’s their vibe? 

I met Jeff briefly, he’s the guitar player, he’s super sweet and super nice. Also I got to get lunch with Jake the drummer and he’s also a sweetheart as well. Such a sweet, sweet dude. He just moved to Nashville. And he hit me up and he was like ‘Hey man I’m moving to Nashville and don’t know anybody, just wondering if you want to get lunch?’ And I was like man yes. Yes of course!

And it’s weird, I swear I’m not biased because I heard the song on the radio and didn’t know who it was and was just like listening and I was just like ‘wow this is amazing.’ And then I actually Shazamed it and then I found out it was them and was like ‘oh man, wow.’

That is a testament to the band and to the song as well. 

Good peeps, good music. It’s beautiful when that happens, when those two things come together. 

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Frances Quinlan discusses her obsession with Frank Ocean

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

My guest today is Frances Quinlan. Frances Quinlan is one of my favorite songwriters and emoters. She is a lead singer for the band Hop Along. She also had released her own solo record called “Likewise” that is out now. My guest today is Frances Quinlan.

Listen to the whole segment below.

Frances Quinlan on Frank Ocean

What is the last song you couldn’t stop listening to?

The last song I couldn’t stop listening would have to be “Lost” by Frank Ocean, it’s a jam. Our friend Lucy she has been touring with us in Hop Along on one of the trips because she’s an incredible singer, keyboardist, guitar player, so she was playing with us for a couple of tours. She put it on. Mark had been playing, Mark the drummer in Hop Along had been playing Frank Ocean in the van, but I think I had my own headphones on and wasn’t prime for the moment and then that song came on, and I was utterly blown away. It’s just the perfect perfect song.

So many people connect with Frank Ocean in a very personal way. How does he connect with you?

I admire him so much with his ability to traverse genres. Basically, I think in general I would say currently that hip-hop and R&B are doing the greatest job at stretching boundaries of what genres are even supposed to be. I think they’re the least fearful but they’re bands that I hear exciting for sure, but as far as giving constant reminders that there are no rules. I think hip-hop R&B do it magnificently. I love that, but Frank Ocean constantly is successfully bending styles for sure.

What do you connect to specifically on “Lost?”

I love that at its heart, pop, you know, I suppose kind of a pop song. I love how fraught that song is and it’s about this troubled relationship, and there’s so much guilt in it. Yet, it’s so undeniability joyful and how it sounds to me. It’s sad and joyful at the same time and I just think that’s the best.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Black Pumas speak of the mysterious pacing of Peggy Lee’s voice in ‘Me and My Shadow’

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

My guest today is Eric Burton, the lead singer of Black Pumas. We’ve been playing Black Pumas since the beginning on 88Nine. They actually borrowed a drum kit from one of those sets before they came in town once, and now they are up for Best New Artist at the Grammy Awards this Sunday. Back on the program we got Eric Burton lead singer of Black Pumas.

Listen to the whole segment below.

Black Pumas on Peggy Lee

What is the last song you couldn’t stop listening to?

Last song I couldn’t stop listening to is a song by Peggy Lee. Well actually I don’t know if it’s by Peggy Lee, but she sings a song called “Me and my Shadow.” The reason why I really dig it because has like this rhythmic execution in her vocal that is reflective of syncopation and jazz music. I really like the sparseness of the instrumentation of the song it starts off with a piano, it seems like it has this really dark presentation and then when the baseline comes in with the drum it gives it this kind of nice happy trot, so it got a perfect balance between light and darkness.

What is her voice doing?

She’s just waiting. She’s allowing for space between lines and words that isn’t so standard as pertains to pop music.

That can be difficult thing to have in a song is to give it space. I think the inclination is to fill every second, so to leave some hanging.

Totally, and just from that vocal delivery I really love this song because she has a lot of personality and the way she’s delivering those lyrics. I think that when you have that it’s not so hard to be yourself. You just feel the music and you allowing yourself to feel your own pace within time.

I love Peggy Lee so much when she leaves those spaces it’s like she’s devilishly looking at you. You can feel the gaze.

Maybe she knows something that we don’t know.    

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Abby Jeanne on the transformational power of Curtis Mayfield’s ‘Move On Up’

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

Listen to the whole segment below.

Abby Jeanne on Curtis Mayfield
PWR FWRD

Our guest today is local hero Abby Jeanne.

Abby, what is the last song you couldn’t stop listening to?

I’d say the last song would be “Move On Up” by Curtis Mayfield. Even though it’s like seven minutes long. I would just put it on repeat, like all day. I’m like, walking? “Move On Up.” Driving? “Move On Up.” It doesn’t stop.

Why this song? What stands out to you about “Move On Up”?

Well Curtis Mayfield in general is a genius. But also, just the feeling that it makes you feel, which is very good. It’s like an extremely positive song. There’s like, this makes me feel good. “Move On Up” is like all day, nonstop, having a great time. And, yeah, it just makes you feel really good. And on top of that, I mean the instrumental itself is really good. Even when people aren’t singing. There’s a slew of instrumentation going on. He uses like six different drums and you know so many instruments that meld together like a kaleidoscope of positivity. And that would be “Move On Up.”

Do you use music like that, to make you feel better? Do you listen to that and you’re like, I need to feel better and I’m going to listen to this song? And then do you feel the difference?

Oh definitely. I mean I could listen to the song on any given day, but I actually have had specific moments in my life where I’ve played that song to feel good. I mean the message itself, just in the lyrics, is positive. But then on top of it, it’s got this, like, if you had to assign an aura to that song, it would be like orange and yellow and bright. It’s very bright sounding and bright feeling, so yeah, definitely.

Do you think that was like such a particular time, what makes that sound? What creates that? It’s not just the time, but it’s like the microphones and the pedal and the instrument. 

Right, I mean it’s interesting because every instrumentalist, or every musician in general, has their own tweaking things that you can’t recreate. So there is kind of this overlap of tone when you associate with a time period. Which might be something as simple as recording on tape, but this is something I talk about a lot with producers and friends who are musicians. It’s always the question. How do I get that? How do I get that? When really in actuality it’s the artist themselves who are tweaking certain things. So if they have a pedal, that is very specifically tweaked to their sound. You know?

So I couldn’t say there was just some master button that says, “now you sound like you’re playing the seventies.” There is no master sound. It’s very catered to the artist themselves.

For a Curtis Mayfield, for that song, how do you create that “we’re feeling good” sound? What is that? What is it in the song?

I don’t know, that the thing! That’s why I can’t stop listening to it. I’m still trying to figure it out.

Abby will be playing at Turner Hall Ballroom on Feb 7.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Alex Cameron says Angel Olsen is speaking to him in an alien tongue

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

Listen to the whole segment below.

Alex Cameron on Angel Olsen
Chris Rhodes

Our guest today is Alex Cameron. Alex Cameron is this musician from Australia who is doing things that other musicians just aren’t doing. He’s talking about subjects other musicians aren’t talking about. He’s very comfortable on the stage. Above all, what he is doing is interesting. And I love him. I think he’s one of the more underrated musicians making music. I hope that more people listen to his music because of this. Our guest today is Alex Cameron.

Alex, what is the last song that you couldn’t stop listening to?

I had to press replay on Angel Olsen’s “Lark.” I had to go back and listen to it again. And then I watched the video who was directed by Ashley Connor, who I’ve worked with on a number of occasions. Again, I had to press replay on that.

There is just something about it that is just scary. Angel is operating on a level that is…she’s speaking in a futuristic language. It’s like she is communicating in some kind of alien tongue, but it makes sense.

She’s unreal.

She always surprises me with what she does, and it’s always good.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Mumford & Sons’ Winston Marshall suggests listening to Kiah Victoria

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is our chance to talk to artists we love about songs they love.

Listen to the whole segment below.

Winston Marshall on Kiah Victoria
Ross Gilmore

Our guest today is Winston Marshall from the band Mumford & Sons. We’ve been playing Mumford & Sons new song, “Blind Leading the Blind.” We had this conversation before they played to 17,000 people at the Fiserv forum last year. Winston Marshall brings that signature banjo to Mumford & Sons as well as doing backing vocals and other instruments as well.

Could you tell me the last song that you couldn’t stop listening to?

Well, there’s a song last night. I found it so entertaining. I listened to it three times back to back.

She’s from California and her name is Kiah Victoria. I look up the name of the song but it’s got an amazing video with it. Sort of odd, very odd choreographed video. The song is called “Ornament.” The production on that is absolutely phenomenal.

What makes the production stand out?

It’s just weird. And very simplistic.

I noticed that the lot of the new music coming out from very young musicians now it’s very, everything is very, um, minimalist. That’s a cheesy word to use him in music “minimalist,” but it’s really just vocal. Very occasionally. Like Billie Eilish kind of like, she’s the best, one of the most famous artists who does that. It’s all about the vocal melody and the lyrics. And the performance and everything else around it might as well not be there. It could just be a vocal take.

Check out our full interview with Winston here.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Justin Barney’s top five songs of 2019

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There were a LOT of great songs in 2019, and let me just say, this is my list, Justin Barney, Music Director at 88Nine. I have a particular taste and things I like for who knows what reason. These ain’t the best, they have been my personal favorites and I would love to share them with you and hope they connected with you or connect with you in the way they connected with me. I just want to share these with you.

Ebru Yildiz Justin Barney and Big Thief Photo: Ebru Yildiz
My favorite songs of 2019

5. Maxo Kream – “Brenda”

Maxo Kream is one of music’s great songwriters right now. On most of his album this year, “Brandon Banks,” he tells his story. Born into dire straits Emekwanem Biosah Jr. in Houston, Texas, he looked to be clean, and ended up praying to the dope.

But in this song he doesn’t tell his own story. He tells Brenda’s. He takes the character of Brenda from 2Pac’s song “Brenda’s Got A Baby.” That character is based on a profile that the New York Times wrote of a girl in New York City in 1991. The New York Times did not name the girl in the profile. 2Pac gave her a name, “Brenda.” So, this song carries on music’s long tradition of call and response songs and it also has an archival quality to the song that is poetic in itself.

And then there is the story of Brenda. Her mom’s an addict. She’s a prostitute. She’s pregnant. And she wants to do right for her baby but she knows what they will be born into. It’s what she was born into. Then it shows the cycle.

The first time I listened to this song I was driving down to Chicago, tears streaming down my face as I listened to this story unfold. This is Brenda’s story.

4. Bill Callahan – “Son of the Sea”

After three musicians picked Bill Callahan’s album for this segment, I figured it was time to give the album a spin. Turns out, they were right. Bill Callahan’s style of songwriting is wandering and a touch magical. Sometimes it can seem like a riddle or stand up bit. One of my favorite lines from the album comes from the song Angela, where he somberly says, “like motel curtains, we never really met.”

“Son of the Sea” is kind of everything that I love about his songwriting style in one.  He’s got a touch of that mysticism, he implicated that he may be dead, saying, “Some say I died, and all that survived are my lullabies.” He cracks, a joke, talking about turning the panic room into a nursery. But at it’s core, it’s a ode to the importance of and his love for his family. 

3. FKA Twigs – “Cellophane”

I love sad songs and this might be the saddest song of 2019.

FKA Twigs, asking, “Why didn’t I do it for you?”

I interviewed her and she said she did it in one take. She sat down at the piano and it just came out. It is one of those songs that sounds like she said, fully formed and from within. Waiting to spill out, in great swells, as she sat at the piano, asking hat it is within her that can’t be accepted.

2. Shura – “the stage”

There are a lot of songs about desire. And I love those songs, but they are usually one sided. Desiring something you can’t have.

But the stage is mutual longing. It’s flirtation.

My favorite part of the song is, after building this tension through the whole song she says, “we don’t wanna dace, we just wanna ___” And then she doesn’t say it. You know what they wanna do. But it’s so tasteful.

Match that with a killer drum pattern from Liam Hutton and a part where this phaser takes the entire song and turns it inside itself as they are turning with desire.

The stage is flirtatious from beginning to end, and I am hanging on every word.

1. Big Thief – “Not”

There are two parts to most every song. There are the vocals, and there are the instruments. “Not” by Big Thief is my favorite song of 2019 because I think it has the best the best vocal performance and the best instrumental solo of any song of the year.

Let’s start with the vocals. My favorite song of 2017 was Big Thief’s song “Mary” and the thing I liked about that song was that it carried this vocal momentum. “Not” takes the best part of their best previous song and pushes it even farther. The repetition of what it is not builds and occasionally released like in the best moment of the song where she rips, “It’s not the hunger revealing” and her vocals break behind her passion. The vocals are raw and emotive as the band itself.

And then, at the emotional crest of the song, all that momentum and propulsion, all those words. It gets to a point where words are not enough and it tears into a swirling and emotional guitar solo that it never returns from.

It gets lost in itself and never returns.   

88Nine Radio Milwaukee