Song Exploder

A podcast where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.

Song Exploder No. 27: Blonde Redhead

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Show: 
Song Exploder

The band Blonde Redhead formed in 1993. Twenty-one years later, in 2014, the trio released their 9th album, and in this episode, they deconstruct Penultimo, a song from that record that caused some dissent between the band members. At the heart of the controversy was the Pitchfactor effect pedal by Eventide, a harmonizer that does a lot, or maybe too much. Coming up, you’ll hear how tricky it was to begin this song, as well as to finish it.

Buy "Penultimo" on iTunes.

footnotes
Other songs in this episode:
Fleetwood Mac - Tusk



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Song Exploder No. 26: Ghostface Killah

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Show: 
Song Exploder
Guests: 
Bob Perry
Guests: 
Wes Mingus

In November 2014, Ghostface Killah of the Wu-Tang Clan released his 11th album, called 36 Seasons. A lot of people worked on it: soul band The Revelations served as a kind of house backing band for the whole thing. Lil' Fame from M.O.P. and engineer Daniel Schlett helped produce, and there’s a host of guest vocalists, including the ones on this track: singer Tré Williams, and rappers AZ and Kool G Rap. But the person who put the whole thing together, came up with the idea, and corralled all of these contributors is someone who doesn’t appear on the record. His name is Bob Perry, and his title is A&R, which stands for artist and repertoire. Nowadays, that usually means the person at a record label who acts as a talent scout for new artists, but back in the day, the A&R reps were often responsible for much more. In this episode, Bob Perry talks about how the Ghostface song “The Battlefield” came together, and Revelations guitarist Wes Mingus breaks down how the beat was assembled.

Buy "The Battlefield" on iTunes.

footnotes
Other songs in this episode:
The Revelations & Tre Williams - I Forgot to Be Your Lover



M.O.P. - Ante Up



The Revelations - I Love You for All Seasons



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Song Exploder No. 25: The National

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Show: 
Song Exploder
Guests: 
Matt Berninger
Guests: 
Aaron Dessner

The National formed in 1999. They’ve released six albums, and have been nominated for a grammy. Their music is everywhere from Game of Thrones, to Bob’s Burgers, to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign. In 2013 they released their sixth album, Trouble Will Find Me, which debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts, The band is made up of singer Matt Berninger along with two sets of brothers: guitarists Bryce and Aaron Dessner, who are twins, and Brian and Scott Devendorf, who play drums and bass, respectively. In this episode, Matt Berninger and Aaron Dessner break down “Sea of Love,” a song that they co-wrote. You’ll hear how it went from Aaron’s original guitar demo to a densely layered recording with contributions from their bandmates and others, and they’ll talk about how collaboration is an intrinsic part of their process and their band identity.

Buy "Sea of Love" on iTunes.

footnotes
Nirvana
Crazy Horse
Jimi Hendrix
Richard Reed Parry
Arcade Fire

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Song Exploder No. 24: Tycho

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Show: 
Song Exploder
Guests: 
Scott Hansen

Tycho is the project of Scott Hansen, along with guitarist Zac Brown and drummer Rory O’Connor. I spoke with Scott in front of a live audience in San Francisco (thanks to Noise Pop). In this episode, he breaks down the title track from the 2014 Tycho album Awake, including a note he misplayed, and a vocal part you aren’t really supposed to know about.

Buy "Awake" on iTunes.

See some of Scott's design work for Tycho at Re-form on Medium.com.

footnotes
The Interpol song that influenced Scott is "PDA."

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Song Exploder No. 23: Stars

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Song Exploder

Stars is a band from Toronto, who have been making music together since 2000. Their seventh album was released in October 2014. For this episode, I spoke to several members of the band: singer Amy Millan over the phone, and to Evan and Patty in their studio in Toronto along with their co-producer Liam O’Neil. Coming up, they’ll talk about the inspiration for the phrase “No One Is Lost" which is the title of this song as well as the album. And you’ll hear the original version of the chorus: one that they wrote, recorded, mixed, and finished but then, ended up changing completely.

Buy "No One Is Lost" on iTunes.

Donate to the Pablove Foundation and learn more about their mission, at pablove.org/donate.

footnotes
James Shaw of the band Metric remixed the chorus.

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Song Exploder No. 22: The Books

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Show: 
Song Exploder
Guests: 
Nick Zammuto

Before The Books broke up, they released four albums that combined composed music and found sounds. In this episode, Nick Zammuto explains how he crafted the song Smells Like Content, off of their 2005 album Lost and Safe, out of unlikely sources, like geometry, chance encounters, and a corrugated PVC pipe.

This video demonstrates how Nick Zammuto creates rhythms within the locked groove of a vinyl record:

Buy "Smells Like Content" on iTunes.

footnotes
After The Books ended, Nick Zammuto started a solo project, called Zammuto. Check out the new Zammuto record, Anchor.

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Song Exploder No. 21: Julia Holter

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Show: 
Song Exploder
Guests: 
Julia Holter

Julia Holter studied composition, and in the song “Horns Surrounding Me,” she arranges not only acoustic and electronic instruments, but also layers of ambient field recordings and background noise. The song was released in 2013 on her acclaimed album Loud City Song. In this episode, Julia deconstructs the recording, and talks about what she did to evoke a feeling of fear in both the music and the way she sang, changing her voice on different parts of the song to create character and texture.

Buy "Horns Surrounding Me" on iTunes.

footnotes
The song playing when Brian Ferry sings is Roxy Music's "Love Is the Drug."

Song Exploder t-shirts are now available here.

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Song Exploder No. 20: Valley Lodge

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Show: 
Song Exploder
Guests: 
Dave Hill

Dave Hill is a comedian and host of his own podcast that, like Song Exploder, is on the Maximum Fun network. He's also the frontman of the band Valley Lodge. In this episode, Dave will deconstruct the Valley Lodge song Go, which you might recognize as the opening credits of the HBO show Last Week Tonight with John Oliver. This is a special episode produced for MaxFunWeek, seven days of celebrating the community of listeners and shows that make up the Maximum Fun podcast network.

Buy "Go" on iTunes.

footnotes

Song Exploder t-shirts are now available here.

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Song Exploder Live

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Date: 
11/15/2014 - 21:00 - 22:00
Show: 
City: 
Seattle, WA
Venue Name: 
The Rendezvous

Buy tickets here:
http://therendezvous.strangertickets.com/events/18365890/song-exploder-live

Song Exploder No. 19: RAC

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Show: 
Song Exploder
Guests: 
Andre Allen Anjos
Guests: 
Amanda Warner

Andre Allen Anjos is better known as RAC, a musician who first found success by remixing other people’s songs. His remixes for artists like Lana Del Rey have gotten millions of plays online. In 2013, RAC released Strangers, his first album of original material, and in this episode, he breaks down the song Let Go from that record. It features guest vocals from Kele, best known as the frontman of the band Bloc Party, and singer MNDR, who also talks about her experience working on the track.

Buy "Let Go" on iTunes.

footnotes
The Bloc Party song at the beginning is "Helicopter." You can hear André's full remix of the song here. The voice from Portal is the character GLaDOS from the games Portal and Portal 2. Listen to Michael Giacchino's opening theme to Lost.

Tickets for Song Exploder live in Seattle on November 15, 2014, can be purchased here. Sign up for Five Song Fridays at tinyletter.com/songexploder.

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