Fred Armisen shares the song that made him a bluegrass fan

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From the music desk at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, I’m Justin Barney. This is Five Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To, and my guest today is Fred Armisen. Fred Armisen is a comedian of “Portlandia” fame. He was also a cast member and writer on “Saturday Night Live” from 2002 to 2013. He was a band leader for “Late Night with Seth Meyers.”

He is also a very funny standup comedian, and he is coming to Milwaukee tomorrow. He’s going to be playing at Turner Hall Ballroom Wednesday, Dec. 11 — tomorrow night. My guest today is Fred Armisen.

Fred Armisen | flickr.com/photos/jdlasica/8439045921
Fred Armisen on Earl Scruggs

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

Well I have to be honest with you because you know sometimes I want to pick something that sounds cool to say. You know what I mean? Or like I’ll try to think of a favorite of the last 10 years, just because there are certain songs that I just go to all the time, but my real answer is a little different in that recently I’ve been watching this PBS documentary on country music.

Oh yes, I’ve watched the whole thing.

Yeah. So you know, with music sometimes I think I’ve, I’ve heard it all and I know what’s what, and everything’s in its own compartment, and there’s stuff that I don’t know. And there’s stuff that I do know, but I’m set in my ways. But then with this documentary, it sort of unlocked something in my ear where I heard country music in a different way just from the documentary.

Totally.

So, hearing it, and you’ve seen it, so you know how they sort of deconstruct what goes into these songs. I started looking for it. I don’t think I had very… Might have had some Merle Haggard in my collection, but not much.

Sure.

I didn’t have much country music, and it’s not that I dislike it or anything. I just wasn’t exposed to it. So then I start looking for stuff. And I’m like, I had to write down names. I was like, “Okay, here’s some people who, I’ve never heard of this person. Who is that? Okay, I’m going to write that down. Look for this record.” And then I wrote down Earl Scruggs, right? I was like, “Earl Scruggs, who is that?” Oh, it’s like kind of bluegrass.

So then I was searching for music, and I found a song called, “I Saw the Light.” And it’s Earl Scruggs, “I Saw the Light,” and it looks like it’s from 1971, and I put it on, I was like, “Okay, Oh yeah, this is like, kind of has a gospel, feel it.” And I was in my car and I was like, “Oh my God.” And I listened to it one more time, and then I just kept going.

Nice.

It’s been a while since I’ve done that with music, where I didn’t hear. Like I kind of never heard it before really. So, that is my answer. So like even though you know, I don’t know. I feel like kind of late in the game to be all of a sudden talking about bluegrass, but I got to say, my honest answer is that’s the song I’ve been listening to.

I love that. Of all the things, I wouldn’t expect you to be drawn to bluegrass, because the bluegrass and the string music is completely devoid of drums of any sort.

Absolutely. I agree. But, I hear banjo as percussive.

Got it.

Because since it’s kind of like based on an African instrument and it looks like a drum. It looks like a snare drum, so that finger-picking style to me takes the place of it. It’s closest to the Timbales to me, same kind of drum, metal drum, and it’s like the same sound. So that to me fills in the drum, but I’m with you. In fact, that’s what I used to say to people. I was like, “Oh, I don’t get into much of that because there’s not enough drums.” And I’m like, “Fred, you dummy. It’s all drums.”

I’ve said the same thing you know? Okay.

Yeah.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Angel Olsen gushes about a deep ’70s cut from The Alessi Brothers

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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.

Angel Olsen on The Alessi Brothers
Angel Olsen | Courtesy of the artist

I’ve been a huge Angel Olsen fan since her 2014 album “Burn Your Fire For No Witness.” Then there was “My Woman” in 2016 with “Shut Up, Kiss Me.” My heart! And this year she released the fantastic “All Mirrors.” My guest today is Angel Olsen.

What’s one song that you can’t stop listening to or has been around you?

I’ve been listening to a lot of, have you ever heard of…  I don’t know if I’m saying it right, The Alessi Brothers?

Oh yeah! For sure, LCD Soundsystem-inspired.

Umm, the song “Seabird?”

Yes! Oh my god, yes!

That song just on repeat. It’s kind of driving me crazy because I’ll just be somewhere and like the rest of the record is so not my style. I’m like not super into it because it’s just over the top cheese, but that song just, to me it’s just all about never being home and I can really relate to that and it’s really beautiful as well.

I love about The Alessi Brothers that like the brother that is singing, that’s doing the vocals has a lisp that they don’t put any effort in hiding it or anything. They just go with it and I love that little imperfection is just so beautiful.

Yeah it kind of reminds me, there’s another song also same time period ’70s, brothers, they recorded in their dad’s studio and it made this, the song was called “Oh Baby” or something, but it was like everywhere and every movie when it came out. Kind of the same situation, brothers, that time period, and kind of singing out of tune, but it worked really well.

How did you come about The Alessi Brothers’ song “Seabird?

My friend was visiting from out of town and we just like played a bunch of music and just we were both going through kind of a hard time and we were just playing each other’s songs, like he been listening to this stuff and I’ve been listening to like a totally different spectrum of stuff.

He played this one song which I can’t find on the record, probably have to buy the actually record, so sad. It’s by Flaming Tunes called “Nothing On,” which I really loved. Just playing new stuff, I need some new stuff every now and then. I get tired of listening to Neil Young and now I can only really listen to records on my phone which is really sad, but I’m gone a lot.

My friend who plays bass with me, Emily use to be a DJ and she’s got all of her records in storage just for being on tour. I think once things slow down it would be really fun to have a DJ night when we can hang and have a party.                              

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

FKA Twigs talks about getting medieval on the making of ‘MAGDALENE’

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FKA Twigs released the album “MAGDALENE” in November. It’s an album that is steeped with ancient stories like the one of Mary Magdalene, Jesus Christ’s partner, and ancient sounds like the Gregorian-inspired song “thousand eyes” that starts the album. We wanted to uncover a bit of those ancient mysteries of this modern Gothic and get some insight into the thought that was put into this beautiful album. This is our conversation with FKA Twigs.

Matthew Stone FKA Twigs

I love that you picked up on the concept of Mary Magdalene. For maybe those that aren’t as familiar with that story, can you kind of tell or give a brief about Mary Magdalene and who she was and her impact?

Well, I think for me I was always very fascinated with Mary Magdalene from when I was younger because her story seemed quite dark and scary. I remember hearing about her when I was at Sunday school and my Sunday school teacher telling me that she was a prostitute and she has to have demons expelled from her and there wasn’t that much more information. I just found that very interesting considering, you know, everyone asks you to have a back story and a lot of the focus in the Bible, with the male characters seem a lot more fleshed out in three days. But then there was this one woman that, it just seemed a bit thrown together. And she just wasn’t a very 360 character, essentially, in a 360 way in the Bible, at least from what I learned when I was a child.

So I was always quite interested in her. And as I got older, I learned so many amazing things about her like the fact that she was an herbalist. She had these oils, she was a healer, and she founded a lot of Jesus’s missions and in many ways was behind the operation. I just found it so interesting that I never was taught that as a child, and the sort of amazing kind of mysteries that surround her. There’s like rumors that she has, that all of her collection of oils apparently is still in Paris. I don’t know, there’s lots of different pieces of information that are kind of hard to put together. But one thing that is for sure is that she wasn’t just a prostitute that had to have lots of demons expelled from her.

I was also just very interested in, for me, she represents a certain archetype that in today’s society, doesn’t exist anymore. That’s the archetype of the virgin whore. That a woman can be innocent and pure and fresh and desirable and all the things that we associate with virginity, but she can also be dark and mysterious and all knowing and healing and productive and dangerous. I just realized that I can do both of those things at the same time. I realized that through the revelation of discovering Mary Magdalene and what she was about and the things that she did, and just kind of looking deeper into her history and just how her narrative had been changed so much. How many women’s’ narratives were changed by the patriarchy to kind of suit a bigger picture or story that they want, or agenda. And Mary Magdalene, I guess fell victim to that.

But you know, the truth always comes out in the end. I think that’s why, it’s only in the last 50 years, I believe that Mary Magdalene has been named a saint, and the film was made about her.

I’ve made this album about, well not about her, but about in some ways the energy that she gave me.

I was inspired in my writing by her, and I was inspired to get to know myself better as a woman through her story. To kind of focus on myself rather than on what my narrative may become. How she clearly did. So I don’t know, to me, it’s hard to kind of know that we’re looking at such an inaccurate theory of history. But I just feel, I know that there’s more to her story.

She’s kind of one of the first women who, her narrative just got co-opted. I’d like to know what was the moment where you were reading something of hers and decided that you needed to make this about it, or that you needed to title the album that, or needed to tell that story.

Well originally before I really started making any songs on the album, I was researching Lilith who was Adam’s first wife and I decided before I really made any songs I wanted to call this album “Lilith.” So I started researching into her story, which is also very fascinating and I was kind of going down that path. Of course, you know, when you work from the outside in as an artist, it doesn’t always serve you. So Lilith came from the outside in, and the journey kind of stopped when Magdalene came from the inside out in terms of, I just kind of accidentally kept on coming across images of her. And it just so happened that a friend of mine who’s a mystic was also doing a lot of work around Mary Magdalene as well. We got together in L.A. and we started to talk about oils and fragrances and herbs that are associated with Mary Magdalene and like rose and spikenard and certain things like that. Like when Jesus died, Mary Magdalene put spikenard on his feet. And, I think her narrative just took over actually. And it was just quite natural.

So with songs like “Thousand Eyes,” you’re talking about like her, her oils are still at this place in France and, you know, with the first song it has this kind of like Gregorian, medieval sound to it as well. And where did you find that or what do you see in that music that made you want to bring it to a new album?

It just sort of happened, you know, it wasn’t a contrived thing. I think I was listening to a lot of Gregorian music at the time and sort of studying some of the chord patterns and harmonies and it happens very naturally. I just found that those melodies started to seep out of me. And I never really go into the studio with a specific kind of goal of what to do, it just kind of happen.

Finally I do this segment called Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To. So I was wondering, what is the last song that you couldn’t stop listening to?

I really like Nico, “Chelsea Girls” at the moment.

What is that song? Like Nico, like The Velvet Underground & Nico?

Yeah, Nico has a song called “Chelsea Girls.”

What do you like about that song?

I just like Nico in general because it’s very raw. I just like the rawness and I like just the way that her voice sounds. I like the way that she just unapologetically uses her instrument and it sounds really beautiful.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Bill Callahan gets super meta, talks about writing his song ‘Writing’

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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.

Bill Callahan on Bill Callahan
Hanly Banks Bill Callahan: Photo by Hanly Banks

My guest today is Bill Callahan. A peculiar thing has been happening on 5 Songs. Normally, I ask an artist that we’re playing what is one song they can’t stop listening to and they pick the song. Usually, those picks are just random. It’s whatever they have been listening to. But in the past couple of months, three artists have all picked different songs from the same album. That album is “Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest” by Bill Callahan. David Gray, Kevin Morby and Adrianne Lenker from Big Thief have all picked different songs from this album they love. There is something about this album. So I figured I need to talk to the man himself and ask him what is his favorite song from his own record. My guest today is Bill Callahan.

[phone rings]

Hello?

Hey, Bill?

Yes.

How are you?

I’m good. How are you?

I’m good. What’s your favorite song from the record?

I think it might be “Writing.” There’s a certain way that a person feels when they know something that they are working on has been set free. It had been such a long time between records for me. That feeling is always a rush and an exciting time for me. But on this record in particular because it had been so long. I wrote a song to capture that feeling, so I guess it’s the one that I like to hear the most. And I really like Matt Kinsey’s guitar playing. It’s really out of this world on that song.

“Writing” is a song that I love on the album as well. How did you get that song down onto paper and be like, “This is the song I’m going to write” not “I’m writing again, let’s write about something else” but to actually write about writing?

Well, I think with this record, because there are 20 songs, I was trying to cover the story in as many different perspectives as possible. One of them was to look at who is writing the story. Turning the camera around and looking at the person writing all the songs.

Humor is such a part of this record. What role does humor play in the record?

I want some songs to have the highs and the lows all in one. Because that’s basically what being alive is like. It’s a mixture of those things.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

“Shazam Daddy” Kyle Kinane bumps pop bangers and shares a fun Milwaukee story

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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.

Kyle Kinana on Selena Gomez
Evan Mays and Buddy Anthony Diaz

From the Music Desk at 88Nine RadioMilwaukee. I’m Justin Barney. This is 5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To and my guest today is Kyle Kinane. Kyle Kinane is a great comedian. He came up in Chicago and he has done a variety of things that comedians do, he’s been on Comedy Central, he did Drunk History, he’s got a great podcast called The Boogie Monster Podcast, but he is best known for being a great standup comedian. And he is bringing that act to Milwaukee on Sunday, November 24th he’s going to be standing up at Turner Hall Ballroom. My guest today is the very funny Kyle Kinane.

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

“Bad Liar” by Selena Gomez.

How did this song arrive to you?

I’m a real Shazam Daddy these days. I used to do it shamefully. Cause you’re like, “Oh man, I really like the corporate playlist at this Levi’s.” But now, I’m looking for a speaker and I’m holding it up like I’m testing for a gas leak. I don’t care. And I heard that strong somewhere, and I was like, “Oh man, what’s this?”

Like, you know when you get old enough, like what am I, 42, being like, “No! Punk rock forever!” It’s like, yeah, that’s the roots. But you can like this stuff. It’s okay. There’s no affiliation. There’s no scene when you’re in your forties, for sure. Yeah, my scene is like gout sub-Reddits. That’s my scene right now. I’m not going to shows. I’m like, this song’s great. Who’s this? Selena Gomez? Wasn’t she on The Real World? I don’t know anything about her, but I was like, this song’s great.

I made a playlist for a road trip. I was taken out to Colorado and that was the song where I was like, “Rewind that one again.” The song we played two or three times in a row cause you’re just getting into it more.

Yes. What do you like about this song?

It’s not, well, it’s not a great song. She does… she does like the whispery… like you could tell maybe she’s not a great singer and it’s old. It’s just so overproduced. It’s the antithesis of everything I should like, but it’s still got me. I love that.

Here’s a little behind the scenes bonus.

Do you have any experiences in Milwaukee?

Uh, my first time going to Milwaukee, it was, you know, it was in college, but I was in community college, so we thought the only spring break, we deserved a road trip to Milwaukee. We weren’t even drinking. We just went up. I think there’s a place called Atomic Records. I don’t know if that’s still around.

It’s not still there, but it’s still remembered and loved.

I think we’ve, I think we found that place in a Maximum Rocknroll. So we were like, yeah, let’s go. We never been to Milwaukee. So we drove up there. I think we just got some food. I don’t remember where, went to Atomic Records and then came back.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Overcoats finds inspiration from the sub-Saharan rock of Tinariwen

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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.

Overcoats on Tinariwen

Our guest today is Overcoats. Overcoats is a duo from New York, they are Hana Rose Elion and JJ Mitchell. In 2015 they released an EP with the song “Leave the Lights On” that we played a ton. They just released a new EP and we’ve been playing the song “The Fool.” My guests today are JJ and Hana from Overcoats.

JJ, what is one song that you can’t stop listening to?

(JJ) I’m on a weird kick right now where I’ve been listening to a lot of this band from Malawi. It’s a Sub-Saharan rock group called Tinariwen. I think they’re incredible.

How did you find them? And what are they doing that you think is interesting?

(JJ) I found them on Instagram. Maybe somebody posted about it, I think it was Bob Boilen. Somebody whose music taste I trust. So I went to see them in L.A. when we had a day off during our tour. It was very serendipitous because it happened to be the one day that we had in L.A. and they were playing at this Mayan theater in downtown Los Angeles. The thing that I’m really loving from their work is the way that they’ve managed to mix very gritty rock guitar sounds with what I assume is more traditional sounds from Malawi but originally Algeria. I can’t understand the lyrics very well, but I feel like I can get a really good sense of what the songs are about despite that. I really respect that in music when emotions and sentiments translate regardless of language.

I cannot wait to play that. I’m so glad that we’ll have an opportunity to play that on the radio.

(JJ) I would request the song that’s called “Sastanàqqàm.”

Perfect.

(Hana) This is funny because her favorite joke is that she doesn’t listen to music, but then she actually has the most eclectic music taste out there.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Liz Phair shares a song that makes her grateful for music, ‘It’s an emotional best friend.’

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is a collection of our newest favorite songs. Every week we ask an artist that we love to tell us about the music they love.

On this segment, I’m talking with Liz Phair. Listen to the whole segment below.

Liz Phair on Lydia
Elizabeth Weinberg Liz Phair. Photo credit: Elizabeth Weinberg

Justin Barney: I wanted to talk about “Good Side” for a bit since we’re playing it so much. There is this part in “Good Side,” in the background, where you can hear a voice saying some things off in the distance.

Liz Phair: [Laughing] You have blown my scoop. I’ve been thinking the last couple of days that I wanted to do a giveaway for guessing what I’m actually saying in that part. I want you to keep trying to figure out what I’m saying, but I’m not going to tell you until I figure out my holiday giveaway if you can guess.

That’s fair, but good that we are on the same track.

Yeah, totally. I wouldn’t say it’s a huge payoff, but there’s definitely like an “Oh.”

And its got horns at the same time. The song has a whole lot of dynamic in there with the voice in the background and the horns coming through so beautifully. What went into the composition?

In the last 10 years I’ve done a lot of composing for television, and I think sound design has now just become a feature of my music. I know Brad likes to take a lot of — one of the things we enjoy doing together — is taking fragments, or taking pieces or parts of an instrument track and isolating sections and building off of that to make it into a sort of beautiful mess, if you will. We both enjoy doing that, and I think you can hear a lot of that in “Good Side.” It’s a great song, but it’s also decorated with a little bit of experimentation.

So, you released the song and the book. Before we get into the book, is the song part of a larger project? Or is it in tandem with the book?

It’s kind of both. I think I designed both the book and the music to work in concert with each other. They’re not directly related, per se, but I will be talking a little bit more about how they’re related later. So, they’re related, I’ll put it that way, but it’s not as exciting as what I am saying in that mumbled part giveaway.

You’ve released the book “Horror Stories: A Memoir.” Why did you want to write the book in the first place?

Well, part of what inspired me to write my memoir at this point was what was going on politically in the country around the 2016 election. And the kind of questions we were all asking ourselves about character, and honesty and judgment, in the sense of “Oh, they’re wrong, I’m right.” Immediately as an artist, I then grapple with “Am I right?” and “Who would judge me and how would they judge me?”

I also think the loss of iconic music artists like David Bowie and Prince had another even more deepening effect on me. The conversation suddenly became, “What would you want to leave behind?” No one really knows how long they’re going to be around and “Are you making work that would speak for everything you want to leave behind?” I changed my mind about how I’m going to do my art from now on. I’m going to use that as a guideline. I want to make stuff that speaks to everything that I think, or care about, or believe in.

What was the most important thing that you wanted to put in this book? In that lens, what did you want to grapple with, or what did you want to say? What was most important for you?

What I wanted to grapple with in the book was how do we become the people that we are? What are the actual decisions and events that have transformed our sense of ourselves or the life around us? And sometimes, those are really big impactful moments that anyone could point to and say, “Well, of course that would have a profound effect on you.” But some of the time, they’re private and personal and maybe not glamorous or exciting at all, but they shape you. My career and life has been shaped by forces that I think would surprise a lot of people. You all recognize the person that I became, but you don’t necessarily know how I got there.

Could you give us an example of one of those smaller moments that changed things for you?

Well, I certainly do think that the chapter hashtag which does address the “Me Too” movement in terms of “How does the industry treat women?” That persona that everyone is familiar with, the sort of loose, fair, brash, in your face sexuality was actually the result of many small interactions that I had growing up where I didn’t feel like I had a voice, or I didn’t feel like I was being seen as a person. I was being seen as a sex object. I think I put a more brash persona on myself to not be afraid, and to push back a little. I think that became part of what my music is known for.

It’s a difficult thing to say “This is the way the world is telling me to be and I am going to fly in the face of that.” That takes a lot of courage. How did you find that or know that it was going to be received?

It was hard to find the courage to write about those kinds of experiences. I was emotionally unwilling to unearth some of the things that have happened to me in the past. The reason why I think it’s meaningful right now for women to share their stories about this is because there’s a sense that we’re expected to absorb all this. It’s really not being generated by us, it’s coming toward us. If women know that other women experienced this, and that you can make it through and still make your art, that’s both inspiring and alerting. It lets people know this is not okay, don’t put yourself in a position to be vulnerable.

These stories are an ultimate vulnerability, you know?

They are. They’re emotionally vulnerable. I think the beauty of America is that I’m not in physical danger for writing a book. That’s really awesome.

Right. Were you at all concerned that these things are out there and the impact that they have?

I would say even now, even after the book is out, every other day I have a moment where I sort of shutter in horror that all these people are reading these intimate moments of my life. But at the same time, I’ve learned over a 25-year career that the things that mean the most to people, and that have been most helpful about my music and people’s lives, are the times when I’ve been the most honest. And I’ve revealed things about myself that are embarrassing to share. But that’s a lot of people’s experience. We’re all privately grappling with stuff. I think it helps when we can be honest about it, and then everyone feels a little bit less alone.

I absolutely agree. And also, as a man, it’s so important for me to hear you talk about these things in a way that’s super honest, and to hear that. That is a gift to me, so I just want to thank you.

Thank you. Just the thought process to understand — rather than the perfect sound bites — to let you see the behind the scenes. Nobody really has all the answers. All we do is struggle to find the best position we can put ourselves in to keep moving forward and feel healthy and happy and excited about our lives, which we all have to do with whatever struggles that we’re overcoming.

I was wondering, Liz, if we could get a song from you. What is one song that you can’t stop listening to or have been listening to a lot recently?

Well, currently the song that I’m obsessed with is by an artist called Lydia. I don’t know anything about them. It’s off of their album called “Liquor,” and the song is called “Gypsy.” It’s on repeat here in Phair world.

I think a lot of times when you listen to something, it’s not super important to know a lot about the artist. If you do, that’s great, but how does this song make you feel?

Exhilarated and ever so slightly competitive, in the best way. And just grateful.

Grateful for what?

Music. It’s an emotional best friend to carry with you everywhere.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

Steve Gunn tells the story of Gene Clark’s troubled, forgotten and now remembered album ‘No Other’

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

Listen to the whole segment below.

Steve Gunn on Gene Clark
Annabel Mehran Steve Gunn

From the music desk at 88.9 Radio Milwaukee, I’m Justin Barney. Recently the label 4AD re-released the 1974 album, “No Other,” by The Byrds’ Gene Clark. The album was a commercial flop in 1974, but it has been a cult favorite for musicians and music fans across the world. One of them being a guitarist and musician, Steve Gunn.

We are here to talk about Gene Clark. Could you, and specifically the album, “No Other,” but could you tell me how you were introduced to the artist himself?

Well I think, when I graduated high school and was listening to a lot of bands from the 60s, I definitely gravitated towards The Byrds. And I remember kind of liking the songs in The Byrds, kind of preferring them a little bit. He had this calming kind of presence as a singer. But also I think he was — sort of — the most introspective one of the group. And kind of more went hard on free of the mediums more than some of the other members.

I think that his songs were a bit more sensitive, and they stuck out to me.

Learning a little bit more about his life and seeing where he was in his life when he made this record, and he was poised to have a big budget, and he’s kind of this completely amazing group of musicians. He almost had a freedom to kind of do whatever he wanted. I think that I guess you can call it his most experimental record. When he came up with these songs and when he left LA you really like Mendocino. And with his family, and he was pretty healthy. But also, just trying to expand his mind and obviously explain his music, and Gene was feeling like he wanted to kind of expand himself and his sounds kind of go in the maximum sort of direction in the studio. The record was extremely high budget.

He put everything you had into it.

After it came out and with an enormous sort of sub. And I think it didn’t really do well on the charts or anything like that. I think perhaps it was misconstrued by the label. And I think that, I think Jean just kind of came a bit lost again, and he’s such a sensitive person, and I think it had a profound effect on his direction.

I think demise started really sort of coming into view. I think his personal climate was kind of fell apart. He moved back to LA, and then I think he sort of fell into being more of a shadowy figure and got kind of back into drugs and all that stuff. And I think that he perhaps thought that he never got the respect that he was likely due. It’s interesting to see that this record gets such a claim now. It’s really a masterpiece in my opinion. And I think it just took a long time for people to kind of wrap their heads around it. And it’s one of those albums that’s just, it’s someone who’s a genius and it kind of, his talents were too big in, I don’t know, for the world to handle or himself to even comprehend.

Do you have a favorite song from the album?

One song that really sticks out to me is “Silver Raven.” He has this way of explaining the beyond, and apparently that song was just a story about simply a satellite traveling through space. But he’s kind of using this, he’s kind of metaphorically sort of using this satellite that is traveling through space.

What do you think is the larger point that he’s getting at there?

Perhaps he’s in this satellite looking down on the world and seeing that it’s extremely troubled, and it’s interesting to talk about and to think about that song now because it’s very, very relevant now as well. It’s heavy, but the thing that I really love about Jean Clark, too. There’s this kind of longing, hopefulness in his songs too as well. I think just the sound of his voice is comforting and somewhat hopeful, although he’s singing about some serious, troubled ideas. So, and to me, to mix those kinds of aspects in the song is super, super important. And also just really hard to do and quite beautiful.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

U.S. Girls’ Meg Remy recalls Gene Clark: The Byrd who couldn’t fly

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

Listen to the whole segment below.

Meghan Remy on Gene Clark
Drew Reynolds Meghan Remy of U.S. Girls

From the Music Desk at 88Nine Radio Milwaukee, I’m Justin Barney. Today the record label 4AD is reissuing the 1974 album, “No Other” by Gene Clark. Gene Clark was a member of The Byrds, and then he embarked on his solo career and released the album “No Other” in 1974. It was a big, ambitious album. It was a complete commercial failure and it sidetracked Gene Clark’s entire career. But the album has found an audience with musicians and music listeners around the world. One of their fans is Meg Remy from the band U.S. Girls. So I’ve got Meghan on the line and we’re going to talk about this album from Gean Clark. This is Meg Remy from U.S Girls.

We are here to talk about Gene Clark, specifically the album, “No Other.” Could you just tell me what you know about Gene Clark?

The thing everyone always said was he was The Byrd who couldn’t fly.

Hmm.

You know he was in The Byrds but he was terrified of flying. He was like a farm boy, scared of planes. And so he was kind of blamed, from my understanding, blamed for The Byrds, not being able to carry on.

The other people in the band really tortured him and kind of picked on him and stuff cause he was obviously a sensitive person but also the most talented and best looking in the group. So I’m sure they were jealous. And it’s, I mean, I think he died from complications from dental stuff. I think he had a hard life after it. He wasn’t maybe cut out for the industry. I think he was probably too good for the industry and they didn’t know what to do with them.

What sticks out to you about this album?

I think it’s his voice. The pain in his voice. I just believe him way more than I believe David Crosby or Neil Young or any of any of these kinds of guys of that same time. Gene Clark I fully believe.

You can just hear a sensitivity. If you read the lyrics on the record, he was looking at stuff. He was really looking at himself. He was looking at the culture he found himself in and I think he was critiquing it.

What was he critiquing?

I think he’s critiquing the very idea of like the music industry and stardom in general. Artists being put above non-artists. I guess we could say the spotlight. The spotlight as anything that gives any sort of nutrition at all. I think he saw through that and was weary of it and saying, “I want this, but I’m weary of it when I don’t trust it.” And “I’m seeing these things that are connected to it and I don’t know what to think.” It seems very real and coming from within himself.

What’s your favorite song on the album?

It’s hard to choose. I think “Some Misunderstanding.”

Is just a hell of a song.

I mean, he says bearing so much of it. Talking about the spotlight thing. I mean that’s in, in the lyrics in the song. Saying, “We all need a fix at a time like this,. Like that line works today. But also, that’s any time.

We all…life is… we don’t know what it is. We just literally are born. We show up here, we know we’re going to die. Whether we acknowledge it or not. And you can’t be carrying that around every day in full focus. So you need these fixes, right? There’s a million reasons why you need a fix. And that’s okay. He’s saying that.

That’s the thing, he’s so nonjudgmental and he also doesn’t act like he has answers. And that’s like the greatest teacher, you know? Teachers should be.

It sounds like drugs too. It sounds like drugs. But in a way no one else did drugs. It sounds like bad cocaine.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee

The pastoral-loner-banger that Frankie Cosmos can’t get out of her head

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5 Songs We Can’t Stop Listening To is a collection of our newest favorite songs. Every week we ask an artist that we love to tell us about the music they love.

Listen to the whole segment below.

Frankie Cosmos on Lomelda
Jackie Lee Young Frankie Cosmos | Courtesy of the artist

Frankie Cosmos picks “Columbia River” by Lomelda

Our guest today is Frankie Cosmos. Frankie Cosmos is actually the name of the band. The name of the lead singer of Frankie Cosmos is Greta Kline. Greta is my guest today. Her band Frankie Cosmos has made a bunch of great records that we have played including this year’s “Close It Quietly.” We’ve been playing the song “Wannago.” My guest today is Greta Kline, lead singer of Frankie Cosmos.

What’s on pause on your phone right now?

I know the last song that I was listening to.

What is the last song?

It’s called “Columbia River” by Lomelda. It’s just so good. We just did a few days with Lomelda and she’s one of my favorite songwriters and singers and musicians on Earth. On that song, she’s doing this super different version of it live. She’s doing kind of an electronic set right now and it rekindled my interest in that song. It’s so beautiful, I’ve had that song stuck in my head for days.

For those who aren’t as familiar with Lomelda, how would you describe her sound?

I wanna say it’s pastoral. The melodies get stuck in your head, but you can’t sing them because they’re too good. They’re too hard to sing but they’re still able to be stuck in your head.

So let’s talk about the song. What is the song about?

It feels like a really good loner anthem. The lyrics are “Everybody tries to fall in love, but I just keep making friends,” and the first lyric is “Everybody tries to make me dance, but I just want to sit still.” It’s also kind of a love song at the same time. It’s just this feeling of being different from everyone else and feeling like a loner, but at the end there’s this “I find that I wish I was yours” lyrics that gets repeated. It’s just really gorgeous and the melody is all over the place. It’s amazing and addicting. I always have a hard time describing songs because I’m like, “You just have to listen to it.”

And that’s what we’ll do.

88Nine Radio Milwaukee