Passion Pit & Opinions on Shamir

Passion Pit first broke through via MySpace with its danceable electronic sound. But beneath the bright synth-pop are often tortured lyrics about frontman Michael Angelakos’s struggle with manic depression. Angelakos joins Jim and Greg for a stripped-down performance and frank conversation about his illness. Then, they review the debut record from genre-defying singer Shamir.

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Music News

The thrill, alas, is gone: B.B. King, international ambassador for the blues, has passed away at 89. Although the blues is associated with pain and heartbreak, King took great joy in his music, playing shows around the world non-stop until practically the day he died. King had a unique approach in which his voice was in a constant conversation with his legendary guitar, Lucille. That style was picked up by British blues-rockers like Eric Clapton and Fleetwood Mac's Peter Green, and he influenced countless others after that. Greg thinks King's iconic sound was on display as early as 1951 on his song "Three O'Clock Blues," so he plays that recording in tribute to the great Mississippi bluesman.


Michael Angelakos

Indietronica act Passion Pit recently released its third album of electronic pop Kindred, eliciting a Buy It from both Jim and Greg. This week, we revisit our 2012 interview with Passion Pit frontman Michael Angelakos, who joined Jim and Greg in the studio for a frank conversation and stripped-back live set. Passion Pit first found success after Angelakos posted some songs on MySpace in 2008 and the track "Sleepyhead" quickly exploded on the net. Passion Pit have since released three critically acclaimed albums and toured the world. The danceable tracks and high production values of the band's music can be deceptive. If you don‘t listen closely, you can miss the highly introspective lyrics that explore Angelakos’s own experience with addiction and mental illness. As Michael tells Jim and Greg, the band had to cancel dates so that he could deal with issues related to his manic depression. The contrast between upbeat music and dark lyrics, Michael explains, is what he's always found interesting in pop music, and it's the key to the Passion Pit project. Despite the often harrowing content, Michael says his music is ultimately hopeful – an effort to achieve transcendence amid tough circumstances.

reviewRatchetRatchet available on iTunes

Shamir Ratchet

Shamir was first brought to our attention by the one and only Mr. Greg Kot as one of his favorite artists from this year's SXSW in Austin. The 20-year-old singer defies categorization on his debut album Ratchet in so many ways: vocal style, presentation and sexuality. Jim and Greg both love the way he uses all the musical influences of his own past including country rock and brings in things like Chicago House, which embraced pan sexuality and ambiguousness along with killer danceable hooks. Shamir really impressed Jim and Greg with this debut; he earns a double Buy It rating.



“California Soul”Marlena Shaw

One of the best things about music is it can transport you to a whole other place without ever having to leave the room. Greg's DIJ pick this week is Marlena Shaw's 1969 track, "California Soul." The song was written by Ashford & Simpson and had been covered by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell and The 5th Dimension. However Shaw's version is the most definitive, having been sampled numerous times over the years. Her cover combined elements of R&B, soul, jazz and a hypnotizing string arrangement. While Shaw recorded the track in Chicago, it transports the listener straight to California.

Featured Songs

  1. B.B. King, The Thrill is Gone, The Thrill is Gone (Single), Bluesway, 1969
  2. B.B. King, Three O'Clock Blues, Three O'Clock Blues (Single), RPM, 1951
  3. Passion Pit, My Brother Taught Me How to Swim, Kindred, Columbia, 2015
  4. Mary O'Hara, Óró Mo Bhaidin, Songs of Ireland, Tradition, 1958
  5. Passion Pit, Sleepyhead, Manners, Frenchkiss, 2009
  6. Passion Pit, Little Secrets, Manners, Frenchkiss, 2009
  7. Passion Pit, Constant Conversations, (Live on Sound Opinions), Gossamer, Columbia, 2012
  8. Passion Pit, Cuddle Fuddle, Chunk of Change EP, Frenchkiss, 2008
  9. Passion Pit, Folds in Your Hands, Manners, Frenchkiss, 2009
  10. Passion Pit, Cry Like a Ghost, Gossamer, Columbia, 2012
  11. Passion Pit, I'll Be Alright, Gossamer, Columbia, 2012
  12. Passion Pit, Sleepyhead (Live on Sound Opinions), Manners, Frenchkiss, 2009
  13. Passion Pit, Carried Away, Gossamer, Columbia, 2012
  14. Shamir, Vegas, Ratchet, XL, 2015
  15. Shamir, Call it Off, Call it Off (Single), XL, 2015
  16. Marlena Shaw, California Soul, The Spice of Life, Cadet, 1969
  17. Hot Chip, Huarache Lights, Why Make Sense?, Domino, 2015
  18. Tommy Tutone, 867-5309/Jenny, Tommy Tutone 2, Columbia, 1981
  19. Against Me!, Unconditional Love, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, Total Treble, Xtra Mile, 2014
  20. Donnie Iris and the Cruisers, A Sword and a Shield, Footsoldier in the Moonlight, Seathru, 1993
  21. New Order, Love Vigilantes, Low-Life, Factory Records, 1985

Footnotes B.B. King Greg's B.B. King obit Passion Pit“Kindred”review“Gossamer”review“Manners”review Sound Opinions on synth-pop Shamir Bailey