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Mostly Musical in Nature
August 7, 2013 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Sound Opinions, the ever-excellent radio show / podcast based out of Chicago, have embarked on a 'world tour'. With the aid of a local musician or journalist, each episode covers the history of modern music in a certain country. They look at what's new and exciting in both the mainstream and underground as well as what foreign music is cracking the market. So far the tour has touched down in Mexico, Japan and Sweden, and Greg & Jim are encouraging feedback on where they should go next.

**The typical format of each episode is bookended by news, reviews and the Desert Island Jukebox segment; the World Tour sections run from approx. 6:00 - 40:00**

Footnotes for each episode:

Mexico
2a Fresh from stops in Japan and Sweden, the Sound Opinions World Tour continues south of the border. Public radio’s “The Latin Alternative” co-host Josh Norek is our guide to Mexico’s music scene. As Vice President of the Latin alternative music label Nacional Records, Norek’s had a chance to work with many of Mexico’s pioneering rock acts, from Saul Hernandez’s Jaguares, to pop-rock arena act Maná. He’s seen the audience for Mexican music in the U.S. grow (as second and third generation Mexican-Americans get in touch with their musical roots), and he’s seen it get more experimental. Norek argues that Mexico’s musical renaissance really kicked into gear with Café Tacvba in the nineties. Tacvba fused genres like ska, metal, and punk with traditional Mexican regional music. Café Tacvba sounded Mexican and were proud of it. More recently, DJ outfits like Nortec Collective and Mexican Institute of Sound have adapted the same approach to techno, merging beats and norteño samples, for example. Norek says Mexico’s music scene continues to develop in spite of formidable challenges; drug-related violence has forced artists in cities like Monterrey, Guadalajara, and Tijuana to relocate to Mexico City and L.A.

2b Jim and Greg round out their Mexican tour stop with a call-in to Sesiones TV host and music journalist Alejandro Franco in Mexico City. Their mission? To find out what Mexican music fans are listening to right now. Franco says that while rockers Zoe are topping the charts, it’s Carla Morrisson and Juan Cirerol who are packing Mexico City’s hipster clubs.


Japan
2a Two months ago, Jim and Greg kicked off the Sound Opinions World Tour with a musical survey of pop powerhouse Sweden. This week, our series on global rock and pop continues with a stop in Japan. Jim and Greg recruit Tokyo-based music journalist and podcaster Daniel Robson to be their guide through the contemporary Japanese music scene. As Daniel explains, it’s a scene that’s at once similar and very different from that of the Americans and Europeans. Consider this: the Japanese music industry is still profitable, and physical sales still outpace digital. That’s in large part to the stranglehold J-pop production companies have on the domestic market. But for every saccharine commercial confection like AKB48, Daniel says there’s an underground group sure to thrill indie ears. Mamadrive and Shinsei Kamattechan are just two bands poised for Western success in the tradition of Japanese experimenters like Boris, Melt Banana, Acid Mothers Temple, and The Boredoms. Another point of difference with the West? Japanese musicians are roughly 50% women. Today singers like Shiina Ringo and Kyary Pamyu Pamyu carry on the tradition of eclectic rock and J-pop pioneered by all-women groups from Shonen Knife to Puffy AmiYumi.

Sweden
3 Jim and Greg have always insisted that rock ‘n’ roll belongs to the world. In our new series, the Sound Opinions World Tour, they prove it by zeroing in on countries that’ve made big contributions to global rock and pop. Their first stop is the largest exporter of music per capita in the world: Sweden. Swedish DJ and public radio host Stefan Wermelin is our guide through the country’s musical history. Stefan explains that in the ‘50s and ‘60s, Sweden was a pop music backwater. Musicians churned out cut-rate covers of American and English hits. The ‘60s hippie “Progg” movement injected some originality and artistic ambition into Swedish music, but things didn’t really change until ABBA hit it big with “Waterloo.” According to Stefan, ABBA set the template for Swedish success. The band created big hits by co-opting the best bits of global pop music and stitching them together with meticulous production. That tradition of pastiche continues today with Swedish producers like Max Martin, the man behind a hundred-and-one Billboard Top Ten hits (Britney Spears’ “…Baby One More Time” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” among them). But today, Sweden’s also experiencing an indie renaissance in genres as varied as death metal, dance music, and Americana. Decades after ABBA, artists like The Knife,Lykke Li, Robyn, Opeth, and First Aid Kit are staging a second Swedish invasion.
posted by mannequito (3 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love how much they love music. They disagree amicably (unlike Siskel and Ebert). Thanks for the post!
posted by zerobyproxy at 2:52 PM on August 7, 2013


Thanks for remonding me of this podcast. I loved it until they started focusing on interviewing musicians. This series looks perfect for re-subscribing.
posted by hydrobatidae at 4:19 PM on August 7, 2013


Oh, right on. I love Sound Opinions, but only check in with them every couple of months and binge on several weeks of programming in a day. This reminds me I should check them out again.

I love when they do this kind of thing. The episodes when they dig deep into a single album are also pretty great.

Plus their album reviews are part of the mix on Public Radio Remix, which if you love informative audio which is not news, is probably the most awesome thing ever. (Shout out to KPBZ, the first station in the country to be all PBX, all the time. Great stuff, always my fallback "listen to" if other stations aren't doing it for me.)
posted by hippybear at 6:23 PM on August 7, 2013


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