Completely Conspicuous

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September 2019
S M T W T F S
     
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Syndication

I'm joined by guest Steve Zisson as we discuss the new sci-fi short story anthology he compiled, A Punk Rock Future.

Show notes:

- Recorded at CompCon world HQ

- Take 2 of our conversation after the first one didn't record

- A Punk Rock Future is available on Oct. 8

- Book mashes up Steve's love of punk rock and science fiction

- Inspired by other self-published sci-fi anthologies

- Steve and I go back to the late '80s when we were both newspaper reporters

- Later worked together at three different companies

- Zisson: Love for sci-fi started with the original Star Trek series

- Wrote sci-fi in his teens, but then went into journalism

- Jay: Realized that chemical engineering wasn't the path for me and decided to go into journalism

- Zisson: Got into music in the mid-'70s, including early incarnation of the Cars (R.I.P., Ric Ocasek)

- Was going to see bands like Queen, the Kinks, Roxy Music before checking out early punk acts

- Saw Ocasek and Ben Orr's pre-Cars band Cap'n Swing at a small club in Nahant, Mass.

- Then a year or so later, sees the Cars playing at UMass right before they hit it big

- Then would go see the Clash, the Jam, and local Boston punk acts like the Neighborhoods and DMZ

- Zisson got back into writing sci-fi around 2012

- Would dedicate time to write in his spare time

- Discovered a lot of great young writers

- Got a few stories published in well-known sci-fi journals and sites

- More ways to get published now, but more competition, too

- Used to be primarily U.S. writers, now more international

- Came up with the idea for the book after 2016 election

- Drew parallel to late '70s and talked to some writers about "a punk rock future" as an anthology idea

- Put the call out for stories and got over 400 submissions

- Started a Kickstarter to raise $5,000 to pay the authors selected

- Enlisted former Webnoize colleagues to help read the submissions

- With music now, there's so much out there, it's impossible to keep up

- The goal of the project was to get it done and showcase the authors

- One of the authors, Sarah Pinsker, has a new book out that's getting good buzz called A Song For a New Day

- A Punk Rock Future is available on Amazon and at indie bookstores

- Don't confuse Steve Zisson with Steve Zissou

- Next up: Get some more writing done

- Maybe do an anthology of really short stories, like an album of 2-minute songs

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_514_093019.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 11:25pm EDT

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's album Blues for Allah.

Show notes:

- Recorded at CompCon world HQ

- The Dead's 7th studio album, came out in September 1975

- The band's highest-charting album until 1987

- Very non-commercial record

- Jay: The best thing about the album is the cover

- Moved in a much different direction from previous album

- Band had stopped touring after From the Mars Hotel

- Mickey Hart was back

- Also in 1975, Zeppelin had released Physical Graffiti, Talking Heads and Sex Pistols played their first shows, disco started hitting the charts

- Phil: Very sparse, subdued jazz-rock album

- Studio songs are blueprint, but they change after repeated live playings

- Dead fans were used to changing sounds

- The live show was the thing

- Commercial success was less important to the band and its fans

- Some songs on this album went on to become concert staples

- Not a lot of bands that have fans following them around the country: Phish, Afghan Whigs, Pearl Jam, Tragically Hip

- Album has a Middle Eastern feel; a few years later, they played in Egypt

- Jay: Liked the first few songs, then it started to meander

- Next album was live album Steal Your Face, which many fans didn't like

- Next we'll listen to Terrapin Station and Cornell '77

- Springsteen's live shows are long, but full of songs (as opposed to long jams)

- Phil just saw Apocalypse Now for the first time

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_513_082719.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 7:53pm EDT

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's album From the Mars Hotel.

Show notes:

- Recorded at CompCon world HQ on the 13th birthday of the podcast

- The Dead's 7th studio album, came out in June 1974

- Watergate hearings were the big news story

- Beer was a lot cheaper back then

- In '74, there was a good variety of rock acts releasing important albums, plus funk

- Mars Hotel had some classic Dead songs

- Phil Lesh sang two songs, which was rare, and Bob Weir had one

- Garcia is in prime form on this record

- The Dead was touring with the "Wall of Sound," a massive "distortion-free" speaker setup

- Playing larger venues

- The cost was so high that they eventually quit touring for a few years

- Maybe the last great Dead studio album

- The Grateful Dead Movie was taken from the final shows of this tour

- Working out new songs in the live setting

- Rivalry between lyricists Robert Hunter and John Perry Barlow

- The Dead would play with guest musicians from time to time including Pete Townshend, Branford Marsalis, Santana, Huey Lewis

- The Dead probably got some airplay on FM rock radio in the '70s

- Rock radio has changed a tremendous amount over the years; it's mostly corporate, formatted now

- College and online stations have the most freedom

- Second-tier album in the discography

- Pretty representative of the Dead's sound

- Next: Blues for Allah

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_512_082119.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 9:38pm EDT

Part 2 of my conversation with guest Gary Barth as we discuss the concertgoing experience.

Show notes:

- Recorded in Gary's car on the way to the show

- Driving before and briefly after an Iron Maiden concert at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA

- Jay: Big fan of club shows

- Like to get up close to the stage

- The downside of theater shows

- Some shows are made for big venues

- Getting your face melted by Ty Segall

- Demographics: We're the target market for Maiden, but often among the oldest when seeing newer acts

- If you were 30 when you saw Maiden during their early days, you're pushing 70 now

- Still weird to be "the old guy"

- No institutional knowledge of what came before

- Gary: Raised our kids on the Beatles

- Jay: My kids love Taylor Swift; at least she writes her own songs

- I listen to a lot of pop these days when I drive the girls around

- Making the kids listen to your music

- Gary: We played Beatles Rock Band a lot as a family

- Will we still go to rock shows as senior citizens?

- No such thing as guilty pleasures

- We both love the Bee Gees

- Jay: Traded the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack for a Zeppelin album

- Reconciled with my disco-loving childhood

- People who watch a show through their smart phones

- Making Gary self-conscious about phone use at concerts

- Artists who ban cellphone use at shows

- After the concert

- We paid extra to park in a lot to get out earlier

- High energy, over-the-top stage show

- Saw some people with toddlers

- Fun to go to a big show with friends

- Gary's next show: Raconteurs in September

- Jay's next show: Sleater-Kinney in October

- Gary plays about 20 shows a year

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_511_081219.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 9:35pm EDT

Celebrating 13 years of podcasting with part 1 of my conversation with guest Gary Barth as we discuss the concertgoing experience...while we drive to a concert.

Show notes:

- Recorded in Gary's car on the way to the show

- Driving to an Iron Maiden concert at the Xfinity Center in Mansfield, MA

- Gary's first concert: Huey Lewis and the News in 1985

- Huey's got rock cred

- All the big shows back in the '80s were at hockey rinks

- Many bands now play smaller theaters and clubs

- Jay: Used to go see arena shows only back then

- Arenas in Worcester, Portland, Providence

- Shows were cheaper back then, but we had less money

- People would get really wasted before concerts

- The guy who sat behind us and still missed the entire Maiden show

- Getting rides to concerts from parents

- Gary plays in a Grateful Dead cover band, Deadbeat

- Listening to some "nice hahd rawk"

- Jay's (very) short-lived high school band

- Jay: Liked a lot of metal and hard rock in high school, turned away from it in the '90s

- We both started listening to Maiden again in 2006

- Bands don't make money from selling albums anymore

- Saw Drive-By Truckers at the local theater in Beverly

- Go see Deadbeat at the Bull Run in Shirley, MA on 8/9

- Cover bands are doing pretty well these days

- Heavy Metal Cul de Sac

- Bands keep touring into their old age

- The Iron Maiden guys are all in their 60s but put on a high-energy show

- To be continued

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_510_080519.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 7:39pm EDT

It's part 3 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling as we discuss our favorite music of the year so far.

Show notes:

- Recorded at Clicky Clicky world HQ

- Breitling's #6

- Changing his take on "Steve Miller Band for millennials"

- Kumar's #6

- Band recently relocated to Nashville

- Breitling's #4

- Another accomplished Boston indie rock act continues to evolve its sound

- Kumar's #5

- Don't call it a comeback; fuzzy power pop from low-key indie rocker

- Breitling's #3

- Reissue of mid-'90s release from San Jose hardcore trio

- Definitely check out the reissue of Silkworm's In the West

- Kumar's #3

- Scrappy pop punk from Toronto band

- Breitling's #2

- Veteran act with inspired new release

- Kumar's #2 and Breitling's #5

- Inspired by '80s riff rock

- Breitling's #1 and Kumar's #4

- A triumph from a legendary rock god

- Possibly as good as anything from his previous bands

- Kumar's #1

- Out of left field for me, but a great sweeping folk pop record

- Female solo artist who has come into her own

- New albums coming from Titus Andronicus, Sleater-Kinney, Redd Kross, Purple Mountains, possibly Ava Luna

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_509_070219.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:41pm EDT

It's part 2 of my conversation with guest Jay Breitling as we discuss our favorite music of the year so far.

Show notes:

- Recorded at Clicky Clicky world HQ

- Breitling's bubbling under albums: Purple Mountains, Katie Dey, Ava Luna, Coaches, Fennesz, William Basinski

- Kumar's not-quite top 10: Swervedriver, Piroshka, Cherry Glazerr, L7, Jenny Lewis, Flat Worms, Hash Redactor, Versing, Kiwi Jr., Business of Dreams

- Breitling's #10

- Veteran indie pop act from Seattle

- Kumar's #10

- Fuzzy power pop that's short and sweet

- Breitling's #9

- Shout out to Matt Graves

- Glittery guitar pop from Austin

- Kumar's #9

- Vital post-punk noise straight outta Dublin

- Breitling's #8

- Shoegaze from prolific LA band

- Kumar's #8

- Welcome return from indie rock veterans

- Breitling's #7

- Blistering EP from great Boston indie act

- Perry Farrell's face

- Kumar's #7

- Western Canadian stoner rock

- Next week: Our top 6 albums of the year so far

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_508_062519.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 11:33pm EDT

I'm joined by guest Jay Breitling as we discuss the year in rock music so far.

Show notes:

- Recorded at Clicky Clicky world HQ

- Back for the attack

- Kumar: Just back from Philly

- Coming up in December: We pick our favorite music of the decade

- Apple is doing away with iTunes, but it's not that big a deal

- Some people are freaking out, but there are other options

- It was good for making playlists

- Kumar: Still need downloads to build radio show playlist

- People don't need to own music anymore

- Kumar: Use free versions of Spotify and YouTube to stream

- Somebody stole a bunch of Radiohead outtakes, band responds by putting it up for sale on Bandcamp

- Breitling's curb vinyl haul

- The Dio hologram tour is ongoing

- Our verdict: Stay home

- The festivals keep going

- The Woodstock 50 debacle

- Our verdict: Festivals suck

- Breitling may want to choke you

- Reality show people are annoying

- Ja Rule explains it all

- Both of us have gone to fewer concerts this year

- We like watching the rock videos on the YouTubes

- Whither Arsenio?

- Next week: Our favorite albums of the year so far

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_507_061819.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 8:12pm EDT

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's album Wake of the Flood.

Show notes:

- Recorded at CompCon world HQ

- Jay: Knew nothing about this album until recently

- First album on the Dead's own label

- New phase for the Dead: No Mickey Hart, the Godchauxs arrive, Pigpen had died

- Shades of jazz fusion

- Three years after their last studio album, American Beauty

- Material was well-honed in concert before making it to studio recording

- Horns featured throughout

- Phil: Live versions of these songs are better

- Two big shows with Allman Brothers and the Band that summer

- The rise of Frampton

- Nobody cares about live albums anymore

- "Stella Blue" is a standout track

- On the merits and demerits of Rush

- Back when AOR stations would play album sides

- Pulled back on the country influence of previous two albums

- No immediate "hits"

- Touring is one of the few ways bands can make money nowadays

- Ultimately, not one of their best, but a piece of the puzzle

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_506_031919.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 8:12pm EDT

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's live triple album Europe '72.

Show notes:

- Recorded at CompCon world HQ

- Triple album documenting the Dead's European tour

- Displays new Americana sound

- Mickey Hart's gone, Keith and Donna Godchaux join

- Full tour was documented on a 73-CD box set

- Letting it all hang out at an Oregon show

- Garcia and Weir released solo albums this year

- The Dead's influenced ranged wide, eventually including members of punk/indie acts like Black Flag and Meat Puppets

- Greg Ginn, noted Deadhead

- The greatness of "Jack Straw"

- Later covered by eventual guest keyboardist Bruce Hornsby

- Grateful Dead keyboardists : Spinal Tap drummers

- "A long f-ing album"

- Unrelated: The Dirtbombs rule

- "China Cat Sunflower" sounds very different here than the original

- This is Peak Dead

- The band captured the communal live experience and attracted a huge following

- When you party too hard before the show

- Pigpen's last hurrah

- "Morning Dew" is stretched out to 10+ minutes of apocalyptic jam

- Tangent: Janelle Monae is great

- Variety is important

- No more guilty pleasures

- Waaaaaaay off topic

- The strange career of Robert Palmer

- Phil: Europe '72 is like comfort food

- Next up: Wake of the Flood

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_505_030519.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 8:55pm EDT

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's album American Beauty.

Show notes:

- Recorded at CompCon world HQ

- Cover art could also be read as "American Reality"

- Also released in 1970; recorded a few months after Workingman's Dead came out

- Even more countrified, Americana-sounding

- Mickey Hart was on his way out, less involvement

- Featured on Freaks and Geeks episode where Lindsay gets into the Dead

- Half the album features "hits": Box of Rain, Friend of the Devil, Sugar Magnolia, Ripple, Truckin'

- Very low-key record

- Play Ripple at Phil's funeral

- On 50th birthday playlists

- Phil's idea for a playlist: 5 songs from every year of his life, no repeat artists

- Around this time, the Dead started really growing their fanbase

- Dead fans started following them on tour

- A lot of guests, including David Grisman

- This album isn't as dark as the previous one

- Another fairly concise record

- The Dead played the old Boston Tea Party club (now House of Blues) on New Year's Eve 1969

- The sound on this album is more timeless than the original acid-rock

- Jay: Just say no to DMB

- Phil: More into the Dead's music than the scene

- Truckin' is autobiographical, all about touring and getting hassled by the Man

- Ends the album on an upbeat note, with some ripping lead guitar

- Next up: Europe '72

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_504_020519.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 6:47pm EDT

I'm joined by guest Phil Stacey as we discuss the Grateful Dead's 1970 album Workingman's Dead.

Show notes:

- Recorded at CompCon world HQ

- First show of the new year

- Workingman's Dead is the band's 4th studio album

- First of two releases in '70

- Recorded in nine days

- Stripped down sound, less psychedelic

- Garcia and Robert Hunter wrote the whole album

- Folk, country, Americana elements

- Rock was moving away from psychedelia, toward singer-songwriters and acoustic sounds

- Bookended by two of the band's biggest songs

- More of an emphasis on vocals like Crosby, Stills and Nash

- "Suite Judy Blue Eyes" as a torture device

- Phil: Prefer live Dead, but still break out the studio albums on occasion

- Warm sounding record

- "New Speedway Boogie" is about Altamont

- Recently covered by Courtney Barnett

- Hunter's solo releases are all over the place

- Jay: Only heard two songs before

- Fairly concise album; not much jamming

- Moved away from acid blues into a new direction

- "Easy Wind," sung by Pigpen, was the outlier

- Like the Entwistle song on a Who album

- "Casey Jones" evolved in an interesting way over the years

- Talking about cocaine

- Next up: American Beauty

Completely Conspicuous is available through the iTunes podcast directory. Subscribe and write a review!

The opening and closing theme of Completely Conspicuous is "Theme to Big F'in Pants" by Jay Breitling. Voiceover work is courtesy of James Gralian.

Direct download: CompCon_503_012919.mp3
Category:Completely Conspicuous -- posted at: 7:56pm EDT

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