Tag Archives: podcast

Episode 112: Go Easy

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Listening back through this show, I’m reminded how much I love the deep album cut. Maybe it’s my contrary nature that won’t allow me to enjoy the first few songs on a record (the accessible ones clearly aimed at some amount of radio play) or maybe I just like those moody songs that land after the album’s hype and hooks. Or, could it be those really are the best tracks on the album?

Whatever the case, it feels good to be back, blathering about the music I love.

  1. “Maple Trees” by Cascading Slopes (Towards a Quaker View of Synthesizers / Plastiq Musiq / 2013)
  2. “Four Long Years” by Wire (Object 47 / PinkFlag / 2008)
  3. “Sun” by Echo Lake (Era / No Pain in Pop / 2015)
  4. “English Subtitles” by Swervedriver (I Wasn’t Born to Lose You / Cobraside Distribution / 2015)
  5. “It’s Easy” by Robert Pollard (The Crawling Distance / Guided By Voices Inc. / 2009)

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #112 (07/01/15)

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Episode 110: On Route to Somewhere

Come see this show, bring lots of friends and buy Robert's music!

Come see this show, bring lots of friends and buy Robert’s music!

I usually despise the term singer/songwriter. But then again, I have to check myself, as some of the most life-changing music has come from dudes pouring out their hearts in stories and arpeggios on acoustic guitar. I believe Robert Deeble is one such guy. When I hear his music, I imagine he has spent (un)healthy amounts of time in his bedroom listening to Songs from a Room or The Times They Are a’Changin’ and perfecting his own songs. As you might guess, I’m no casual fan. Gallons of virtual ink could easily be spilled on the importance of Deeble’s music in my life over the past 15 years. My wife is also a huge fan of his music, and counts him among her favorite interviews from her days in music journalism.

A while back, Deeble began talking with us about the possibility of hosting a small concert. As long-time fans, we greeted this discussion with enthusiasm and are happy to announce that he will play at Morton Hall in Westport on October 4, 2013. To help promote the show–and his music in general–this week’s show is dedicated to his songs. Hopefully you can attend the $5 show, but at the very least, I hope this show piques your interest to check out his catalog on Bandcamp.

Enjoy.

  1. “Heart Like Feathers” (Heart Like Feathers/Dead Letter Records/2013)
  2. “Peter and the Lion” (Thirteen Stories/Pete Records/2004)
  3. “Two Statues” (Earthside Down/Jackson Rubio/1998)
  4. “The Colors of Dying” (Heart Like Feathers/Dead Letter Records/2013)
  5. “Lovers on Route” (Earthside Down/Jackson Rubio/1998)
[audio https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/1415312/110radiofreeraytown.mp3 ]

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #110 (9/15/13)

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Episode 107: Wait Underwater with Me

Sometimes I wonder if it would be more convenient to just post Spotify playlists instead of recording these episodes. Whenever I start believing this work is in vain, supporters come out of the proverbial woodwork. For example, last week a friend encouraged the audience at his concert to check out my blog. “Jonathon Smith knows your favorite bands before you do,” he announced.

Who knows? Maybe I’ve included songs from of your new favorite bands this week.

Enjoy.

  1. “Moonshake” – Can (Future Days / United Artists / 1973)
  2. “Lists, Plans” – A Sunny Day in Glasgow (Scribble Mural Comic Journal / Notenuf / 2007)
  3. “Sea Birds” – Burning Hearts (Aboa Sleeping / Shelflife / 2009)
  4. “Crest” – The Antlers (Undersea / ANTI / 2012)
  5. “Please Let Me Wonder” – The Beach Boys (Today! / Capitol /  1965)

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #107 (8/3/12)

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Episode 106: The middle of July in a stocking cap.

Dan Billen, performing with The Billions

I don’t know what the weather’s like in your neck of the woods, but it’s been insanely hot in Raytown this summer. About the only thing worth doing is watching my son play around in the living room and listening to records. Fortunately for us, a ton of great music has been released in the past few months.

I’m occasionally accosted by dudes who want me to play their music on my show. (As if they’ll see a substantial uptick in albums sold, right??) Usually their music is, at best, mediocre. But when Michael Edwards told me to check out his band, I was blown away. Not because it was the best thing I’ve ever heard or that it was something entirely new. No, the band impressed me with how comfortable it feels with itself and the audience. In this episode, I play a song from Genetic Engines’ new EP, Feed My Mind. Please buy it. It’s only four bucks.

I’m also petitioning discerning music lovers to buy Dan Billen’s new EP, Not Alone. Billen is a long-time friend who played bass in The Billions. Since the band broke up, he has quietly sat by as his brother amassed quite a catalog of indie pop. (Truth be known, he and his wife were trying to get their family started, a focus of many of his songs.) Like his best work in The Billions, Not Alone, boasts diverse styles and honest lyrics. Name your price and buy it.

I’m excited to record another episode. It seems like it’s been forever since my last one. I hope you enjoy. (For some reason, WordPress won’t allow me to stream episodes like I used to, so just use the download link at the bottom.)

  1. “Into the Cold” – Genetic Engines (Feed My Mind / independent / 2012)
  2. “When We Come To” – Michael Miller (When We Come To / Shiny Shiny / 2003)
  3. “Flying Backwards” – Doug Gillard (Malamute Jute / Cushion Records / 1998)
  4. “Let a Dreamer Dream” – Dan Billen (Not Alone/ independent / 2012)
  5. “See Right Through Me” – The Bats (Free All the Monsters / Flying Nun / 2011)

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #106 (7/20/12)

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Episode 103: The Hymns You Hide

When I get in a musical rut, it sucks for everyone in my life. I’ve been listening to a Nick Drake album every night before bed for the past two weeks. (I think Pink Moon has narrowly beat out Bryter Layter, but that’s probably because it’s a quieter album, more suitable for bedtime listening.) I’ve also found Gary Murray’s music chill and perfect for Ian’s early morning feedings.

At any rate, I’ve been so busy. No time to write much of an introduction this week, so just enjoy the music.

  1. “Horn” – Nick Drake (Pink Moon / Island / 1972)
  2. “Things Behind the Sun” – Nick Drake (Pink Moon / Island / 1972)
  3. “Could This Be True” – LN (Plum Brook / Velvet Blue Music / 1999)
  4. “This is How I Feel” – Derri Daugherty (Clouds Echo in Blue / Galaxy 21 / 2012)
  5. “Cure for This” – Golden Smog (Another Fine Day / Lost Highway / 2006)
  6. “Origins” – Tennis (Young and Old / Fat Possum / 2012)
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1415312/103radiofreeraytown.mp3″

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #103 (5/11/12)

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Episode 102: Milestones

I can still remember the day I coerced Tim into buying his first Miles Davis album. We were visiting Earwaxx Records, and I showed him to a couple crates in the back filled with 60’s and 70’s jazz records. Most were marginal efforts by washed-up cats trying to make a go at the easy listening market, but I had found a few gems. One such gem was Bitches Brew, Miles’ head-first dive into fusion and tape edits and manipulation. The double album was only $12, and I knew my friend needed it.


Several records sit next to Tim’s turntable. It gives a peek into what he’s recently played or, like the radio stations of yore, his heavy rotation. While the stack always changes, one constant remains: Bitches Brew. He told me he has to listen to it once a week. (He listens to it so much, in fact, that he bought another copy!)

It probably didn’t take you 101 episodes to realize I’m excited to help others discover an artist. I’m especially happy when it’s a jazz artist. See, anxiety seems to mount when the discussion turns from post-punk (or whatever I’m blathering about at the time) to jazz. It’s almost as if jazz is a menu at an Ethiopian restaurant: no one knows what he’s ordering, and no one knows what to do with it once it arrives.

I certainly get people’s trepidation; jazz can be heady. In the 20 years after World War II, virtually all big bands went the way of the dinosaur. Small combos took their place, allowing artist-composers freedom to write more complex tunes. Eventually, jazz became polarized. Either the artists played free or they boasted in their ability to improve in a certain mode and in a time signature in opposition to the rhythm section. Either extreme scares off most of my friends.

But it doesn’t have to be this way, and I think Miles Davis’ work proves this. He could be, at once, complex and accessible. The problem with his vast catalog is knowing where to start. Hopefully I can give you a few starting points this week. Enjoy.

  1. “Circle” – Miles Davis Quintet (Miles Smiles | Columbia | 1967)
  2. “Milestones” – Miles Davis (Milestones | Columbia | 1958)
  3. “Miles Runs the Voodoo Down” – Miles Davis (Bitches Brew | Columbia | 1970)
  4. “Prelude (Part One)” – Miles Davis (Agharta | Columbia | 1975)

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1415312/102radiofreeraytown.mp3″

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #102 (4/27/12)

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Episode 101: Who needs tomorrow?

Cover image from Blue Trapeze's first album, Who Were You Then?

I love jangly college rock from the 1980’s. These bands usually invoke classic 1960’s psychedelia of The Byrds or The Velvet Underground, but with the immediacy of punk. These bands were also crucial to creative music’s development, as they helped carve out the college rock niche (which would later be called alternative or indie). While not necessarily a themed show, I play several songs in this episode that belong in the canon of eighties college rock.

The last song I play this week is from Chris M. Short’s compilation, On the 45: A Compilation of Obscure-to-Semi-Obscure Power Pop/Punk/New Wave. It’s a mind-blowing collection of songs he compiled from his personal collection of obscure 45s. It’s free, so download it now.

At any rate, enjoy the show.

  1. “It’s Only Obvious” – The Orchids (Air Balloon Road | Sarah Records | 1990)
  2. “Lazy Day” – Beach Fossils (Beach Fossils | Captured Tracks | 2010)
  3. “This Fear” – Blue Trapeze (Who Were You Then? | Fullspeak | 1984)
  4. “Black Night” – Green on Red (Green on Red | Down There | 1982)
  5. “Headphones Theme Form Seemingly Infinity” – Steven Drozd (Flyin’ Traps | Hollywood Records | 1997)
  6. “Kill Another Night” – Phil Daniels + The Cross (On the 45: A Compilation of Obscure-to-Semi-Obscure Power Pop/Punk/New Wave | RCA | 1979)

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1415312/101radiofreeraytown.mp3″

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #101 (3/30/12)

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Episode 100: I’m the tick, you’re the bomb.

Last month, my co-workers voted me as the Support Staff Employee Of the Year (SSEOY) in our school. This has allowed me to throw my proverbial hat in the ring for the district-wide SSEOY award. It’s tempting to merely view the process as tooting my horn: collecting three letters of recommendation, writing an essay about my educational impact and then, next week, interviewing before a panel.

Working on my essay regarding my educational impact served as the impetus for much thought on the paradoxical topic of recognition. We all want to be recognized, but we don’t necessarily want the spotlight on us. When the principal announced that the staff had voted for me, it led me to a conversation about humility with my student. He’s in eighth grade, so I’m sure he’s never really given the topic much thought. The conversation found me paraphrasing C.S. Lewis: humility isn’t merely thinking of yourself a little bit, it’s not thinking of yourself at all.


I received some attention from friends and acquaintances when I posted my fiftieth episode, so I expect I may get notifications or mentions in social networks for my hundredth show this week. I’ve been trying to formulate a response besides an obligatory “thank you for listening,” but nothing sincere quite comes to mind. I guess it’s because this show is, in part, an exercise in narcissism. But this show is also about sharing my love of music with you all, my fellow discerning lovers of music.

I have a large collection and knowledge of music, but it’s no good if it doesn’t benefit others. I am always excited to hear that folks have learned about a band or genre through my show. It’s also been cool to get responses from some of the bands I play and discuss (solicited or not).

I don’t think it’s an exercise in false humility to step aside while the spotlight’s on me to draw your attention to the dude who encouraged me to start this blog. My friend, Ben Helt, has made trips to record stores with me, ridden in the car with me while I dissect albums and has relaxed in my living room while I play him some of my favorite chillout music. He wanted me to channel my penchant for proselytism into a podcast. Thank you, Ben, for pushing me to do this.


Knowing I was approaching number 100, I emailed some friends and asked them to choose a song to discuss on this episode. I put no parameters on their choices, and I didn’t berate them when I disagreed with their song choices. The ones who appear on this show were incredibly respectful of my time, usually preparing their stories ahead of time. I think their preparation paid off for the listener, as well, with choice stories and brevity. Thank you to Joel, Russ, Jeff, and Shane, and to my wife, Kate. You all are the best!

Enjoy.

  1. “Buggin'” – The Flaming Lips (The Soft Bulletin | Warner | 1999)
  2. “Upon 9th and Fairchild” – The Boo Radleys (Giant Steps | Creation | 1993)
  3. “The Way of Love” – Charlie Peacock (West Coast Diaries, Volume 2 | Sparrow | 1991)
  4. “24” – Red House Painters (Down Colourful Hill | 4AD | 1992)
  5. “Silhouettes” – Kissing Cousins (EP 1 | Velvet Blue Music | 2006)
  6. “Closer” – Jars of Clay (The Long Fall Back to Earth | Essential | 2009)
  7. “The Hearttaker” – Starflyer 59 (Americana | Tooth & Nail | 1997)

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1415312/100radiofreeraytown.mp3″

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #100 (3/23/12)

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Episode 98: Crucial Point Becomes a Crime

Super awesome krautrock band, Harmonia

I have a friend who claims to merely like the music that he enjoys and not necessarily fill his iPod with only good, critically-praised music. While this seems a cop-out when faced with criticism for guilty pleasures, he has certainly got me thinking this week about what influences my musical taste.

I think I can not-too-flippantly claim to liking music that I sincerely enjoy. While critics can obviously inform opinion, my taste has developed mostly through listening to lots of music. Simply put, discernment comes from listening to good records.

Hopefully that’s where this blog comes in. I hope to not only share my enthusiasm for music (It really is okay to prefer records to talk radio after college!) but also other bands and styles to investigate. You can decide what you like, but make it an informed decision. Enjoy.

  1. “Chanson Sans Issue – Ne Vois-Tu Pas)” – Autour de Lucie (Immobile | Netwerk | 1998)
  2. “Den Her Sang Handler Om At Fa Det Bedste Ud Af Det” – Under Byen & The Danish Radio Sinfonietta (Siamesisk | Paper Bag Records | 2008)
  3. “Gollum” – Harmonia (Deluxe | Brain | 1975)
  4. “Age of Consent” – The Golden Filter (Mojo Presents Power Corruption & Lies Covered | Mojo magazine | February 2012)
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1415312/98radiofreeraytown.mp3″

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #98 (2/10/12)

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Episode 94: I Must Move On

Ian and me, photograph by Tim Mahurin

Adjusting to my son’s birth has been rather difficult. My wife returned to work only three weeks after he was born, and he didn’t take well to a sleep schedule. (I know, I know, these are common.)

Anyway, I’ve returned to recording episodes. I can’t guarantee they’ll come weekly, but they will most assuredly blow minds. I hope you enjoy this week’s show and have a great Christmas.

  1. “I Just Don’t Understand” – Les Paul and Mary Ford (Swingin’ South | Columbia | 1963)
  2. “Don’t Like Goodbyes” – Frank Sinatra (Close to You | Capitol | 1957)
  3. “Travelers” – Aaron Parks (Invisible Cinema | Blue Note | 2008)
  4. “Cynthia Lewis” – M83 (Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming | Mute | 2011)

Radio Free Raytown – Episode #94 (12/22/11)

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1415312/94radiofreeraytown.mp3″
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