Artist from the Art

The Artist vs. the Art, The National, Queens of the Stone Age & Walter Becker

Should we hold musicians to a moral standard? Jim and Greg talk with Duke University professor and cultural critic Mark Anthony Neal and music and culture journalist Britt Julious about whether art can be evaluated separately from the artist's ethics. Plus, reviews of new releases by The National and Queens of the Stone Age, and tributes to Walter Becker of Steely Dan, and Holger Czukay of the influential "Krautrock" group Can.

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The Artist vs. the Art

Oscar Wilde once wrote, “There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written.”That is, should we judge an artist's output by their personal morals? Can you enjoy a song, when you know the person performing it has done some despicable things? This question is not new to music criticism. It applies to artists like Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Miles Davis and more contemporary artists like Pwr Bttm and R. Kelly. Jim and Greg are joined by journalist Britt Julious (who has written for the Chicago Tribune, Esquire, Elle, and others) and Mark Anthony Neal (cultural critic and professor of African and African American Studies at Duke) for a discussion about whether we can, and should, hold a musician's artistic output to a moral standard.

reviewSleep Well BeastSleep Well Beast available on iTunes

The National Sleep Well Beast

The indie rock band The National just released their 7th studio album, Sleep Well Beast. On this record, Jim says the band's expressive lyricism, whether it's about world and governmental politics or politics in lead singer Matt Berninger's marriage, is as strong as ever. He's generally been a fan of the group, but what makes this album a Buy It for him is the record's electronic experimentation in the vein of Radiohead, as well as its impressive and steady guitar work. Greg believes that The National has always been a consistent band, and agrees with Jim that the ominous electronic undertones of the album make it unique and almost eerie. While Greg thinks this record is missing a little bit of The National's signature emotional explosiveness, he still finds it to be a Buy It.

reviewVillainsVillains available on iTunes

Queens of the Stone Age Villains

Queens of the Stone Age talk Villains on their 7th release (double 7s this week!). Led by Josh Homme, the group emerged from the ashes of the desert rock band Kyuss and released their debut record in 1998. Almost 20 years later, Queens has had a revolving cast of characters making up the band, but both Jim and Greg think they finally settled on the right chemistry with Dean Fertita, Troy Van Leeuwin, Jon Theodore and Michael Shuman alongside Homme. While initially skeptical, Greg likes producer Mark Ronson's (Amy Winehouse & Bruno Mars collaborator) spin on the record. He thinks Ronson helped elevate the more“dancy”and rhythmic components of Queens. Greg gives Villains a Buy It. Jim loves the riffs and rhythms on this record, but thinks that Greg's praise of the lyrics as more than just another element in the wall of sound are a bit much. However, Jim loves the song "Feet Don't Fail Me" because of its myth-like storytelling. Jim gives Villains a Buy It as well.


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Featured Songs

  1. Queens Of The Stone Age, Un-Reborn Again, Villains, Matador, 2017
  2. Queens Of The Stone Age, Villains Of Circumstance, Villains, Matador, 2017
  3. The National, The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness, Sleep Well Beast, 4AD, 2017
  4. The National, Turtleneck, Sleep Well Beast, 4AD, 2017
  5. The National, Guilty Party, Sleep Well Beast, 4AD, 2017
  6. The National, Dark Side of the Gym, Sleep Well Beast, 4AD, 2017
  7. Queens Of The Stone Age, The Evil Has Landed, Villains, Matador, 2017
  8. Queens Of The Stone Age, Feet Don't Fail Me, Villains, Matador, 2017
  9. Tobacco, Higher Kind Of Thing, Ripe & Majestic, Rad Cult, 2017
  10. Steely Dan, Reelin' In The Years, Can't Buy A Thrill, ABC, 1972
  11. Steely Dan, Black Friday, Katie Lied, ABC, 1975
  12. Can, Mushroom, Tago Mago, United Artist, 1972
  13. Can, Halleluwah, Tago Mago, United Artist, 1972
  14. Pee Wee Crayton, Telephone Is Ringing, Make Room For Pee Wee, Murray Brothers, 1983
  15. The Melvins, Christ Hammer, A Walk With Love & Death, Ipecac, 2017
  16. Dale Crover, I Found The Way Out, The Fickle Finger Of Fate, Joyful Noise Recordings, 2017
  17. Big Star, Thirteen, #1 Record, Ardent, 1972
  18. Marvin Gaye, Too Busy Thinking About My Baby, M.P.G., Tamla, 1969
  19. Stanley Clarke, School Days, School Days, Nemperor, 1976