World Tour: Russia

The Sound Opinions World Tour in Russia & Angel Olsen Review

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Music News

They truly are the champions: Queen's Greatest Hits album just became the first record in history to sell more than 6 million copies in the United Kingdom. That's about one album for every ten Britons—or, as Jim puts it, a whole lot of Freddie Mercury's overbite.

In more chart news from across the pond, the U.K.'s top-selling album this week is So Long, See You Tomorrow, the latest from Bombay Bicycle Club. Which had Jim and Greg wondering… who, exactly, is Bombay Bicycle Club? Apparently it's an indie rock outfit known for sampling Bollywood show tunes, with the nephew of the late British songstress Kirsty MacColl on guitar. The Brits must have a thing for the initials BBC.

Meanwhile back in the States, rock fans have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of The Beatles' first appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. And for memorabilia dealers, that's meant big business. A chunk of the Sullivan Show set signed by the Fab Four is going for a million bucks, while a signed U.K. version of A Hard Day's Night is expected to take in $60,000. There's also a signed copy of With the Beatles floating around somewhere. If you're the owner, consider paying a visit to Antiques Roadshow—you're in for at least $45,000.

Funnyman Fred Armisen of Portlandia and Saturday Night Live fame will soon return to late-night TV, this time as a musician. When fellow SNL alum Seth Myers takes over Late Night later this month, Armisen will“curate”his music and lead the in-house 8G Band, Myers announced by tweet this week. Sound Opinions saw this coming in 2012, when Fred (a former Chicago punk rocker who played in the band Trenchmouth, as well as Blue Man Group) told Jim and Greg how he's always admired bands on TV. Live the dream, Fred.

world tour


Last year, Jim and Greg racked up lots of frequent flier miles during the Sound Opinions World Tour with trips to Sweden, Japan, South Africa and Mexico. This year, just in time for the Winter Olympic Games, they grab their passports once again and head for Russia. Moscow-based author and music critic Artemy Troitsky serves as their guide, lifting the shroud of the Iron Curtain to reveal Russia's complicated rock ‘n’ roll history. Up until the mid-1980's, the Communist government heavily censored the media, so listeners eager to hear the latest Beatles or Beach Boys song from the West had to rely on pirate radio stations and an underground market of reel-to-reel tapes. According to Troitsky, the tense environment actually helped push many artists to quietly rebel and make relevant and provocative music right under the noses (and ears) of the government. Inpsired by artists in the West, bands like Aquarium, DDT, and Nautilus Pompilius started making their own music complete with poetic and thoughtful lyrics which fit in nicely with Russia's long, rich literary tradition. After the fall of the Berlin Wall in the mid-1980's, media censorship was relaxed some, and many more underground acts rose to the surface. However, for every topnotch band like Kino, or talented singer like Zhanna Aguzarova that emerged, there were three lackluster pop and chanson (a type of Russian country music) acts which specialize in fun and nostalgia. These musical styles continue to dominate the Russian charts to this day, but Artemy says there's still plenty of non-mainstream Russian music to be excited about with rappers like MC Noize, electro-punks Barto, and agit-rockers Pussy Riot, unafraid to challenge the status quo and explore new sonic frontiers.

Russian artists featured in this episode:

  • Mashina Vremeni
  • Center
  • Nautilus Pompilius
  • Aquarium
  • Natalia Vetlitskaya
  • Lubeh
  • Zemfira
  • t.A.T.u.
  • Pussy Riot
  • Kino
  • DDT
  • Zhanna Aguzarova and Bravo
  • Noize MC
  • Barto
reviewBurn Your Fire For No WitnessBurn Your Fire for No Witness available on iTunes

Angel Olsen Burn Your Fire for No Witness

From Missouri to Chicago and now Asheville, NC, singer/songwriter Angel Olsen has been quietly making a name for herself. Now, with her second full LP, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, she's being compared to Leonard Cohen and Patsy Cline. Jim and Greg agree that this release is a huge step forward, combining wan, contemplative lyrics with truly rock ‘n’ roll backing band. While she may not be a Leonard Cohen just yet, both Jim and Greg think that Olsen's lyricism alone deserves your cash: Buy It.



“"Open Your Eyes"”The Lords of the New Church

This week we looked at the music, past and present, of Russia. Jim thought about one band that curiously made a splash there: The Lords of the New Church. The band was somewhat of a supergroup, with punk pioneers Stiv Bators of The Dead Boys, Brian James of The Damned, Dave Tregunna of Sham 69 and Nick Turner of The Barracudas, all coming together to play, what Jim readily admits, a 1980's sound that mixed punk with goth. While he didn't love most of their output, he really loved the first single that penetrated the Iron Curtain: "Open Your Eyes".

Featured Songs

  1. Queen, Killer Queen, Sheer Heart Attack, Elektra, 1974
  2. The Beatles, I Want to Hold Your Hand (Live on The Ed Sullivan Show), I Want to Hold Your Hand (Single), Capitol, 1963
  3. Official Academic Ensemble of the Ministry of the Interior of the Russian Federation, Get Lucky (Live at Winter 2014 Olympics Opening Ceremony), N/A, N/A, 2014
  4. The Beatles, Back in the U.S.S.R., The Beatles, Apple, 1968
  5. The Doors, The Unknown Soldier, Waiting for the Sun, Elektra, 1968
  6. Mashina Vremeni, Povorot, The Rough Guide to the Music of Russia, World Music Network, 2002
  7. Center, Navsiegda, Made in Paris, Union, 1989
  8. Nautilus Pompilius, Bitva S Magnatom, Pereyezd, DANA Music, 2002
  9. Aquarium, Can't Take My Eyes Off You, Zoom Zoom Zoom, Russian Entertainment, 2005
  10. Natalia Vetlitskaya, Moon Cat, Playboy, Image Records, 1994
  11. Lubeh, Ty nesi menya reka…, Davay za…, Igor Matvienko Production Centre, 2002
  12. Zemfira, Dengi, To Live in Your Head, Navigator Records, 2013
  13. t.A.T.u., All the Things She Said, 200 km/h in the Wrong Lane, Interscope, 2002
  14. Pussy Riot, Putin Lights Up the Fires, N/A, Self-released, 2012
  15. Kino, Hochu Peremen, Posledni Geroi, Moroz Records, 2012
  16. DDT, Pesnya O Svobode, Inache, Navigator Records, 2011
  17. Zhanna Aguzarova and Bravo, I Believe, Zhanna Aguzarova and“Bravo,”1983-1988, General Records, 1993
  18. Noize MC, The Universe is Infinite, New Album, Mystery Sound, 2012
  19. Barto, KGB, Mind, Conscience & Honor, Soyuz Music, 2010
  20. Angel Olsen, Hi-Five, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Jagjaguwar, 2014
  21. Angel Olsen, White Fire, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Jagjaguwar, 2014
  22. Angel Olsen, Iota, Burn Your Fire for No Witness, Jagjaguwar, 2014
  23. The Lords of the New Church, Open Your Eyes, The Lords of the New Church, I.R.S. Records, 1982
  24. The Fall, Telephone Thing, Extricate, Mercury/Universal, 1990
  25. Richard & Linda Thompson, Together Again (Live), I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight, Hannibal Records/Universal, 2004
  26. Richard & Linda Thompson, Walking on a Wire, Shoot Out the Lights, Hannibal Records, 1982
  27. L'Altra, Nothing Can Tear It Apart, Telepathic, Acuarela, 2011
  28. Rilo Kiley, Portions for Foxes, More Adventurous, Brute/Beaute Records, 2004
  29. Against Me!, Unconditional Love, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Total Treble Music, 2014
  30. THEESatisfaction, Sweat, awE naturalE, Sub Pop, 2012

Footnotes Queen's ‘Greatest Hits’ Passes 6 Million Bombay Bicycle Club at #1 Beatles Memorabilia Sales Surge Fred Armisen to lead Late Night band Artemy Troitsky, Back in the USSR More Russian Music Angel Olsen on Jagjaguar