The pop culture luminaries at the AV Club return to recommend some of their favorite new releases. Josh Modell suggests a listen to the new album Amok from Atoms for Peace, a supergroup featuring Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Scott Tobias recommends a new Romanian drama, Beyond the Hills. The movie enters limited US release on March 8th.
Josh Modell is the AV Club's Managing Editor and Scott Tobias is the site's Film Editor.
When he was a kid growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Andrew Rannells never pictured his face beaming out to millions of television screens. He loved acting, but his future was on the stage. The most realistic way to make it big? Broadway.
Now, he's garnered a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Elder Price in the Broadway run of The Book of Mormon and made his way to TV, co-starring in The New Normal on NBC and popping up as a regular on HBO's Girls.
Andrew talks to us about growing up gay in Nebraska, finding his characters' voices for The Book of Mormon and The New Normal -- and how to avoid uncomfortable moments when
filming nude scenes.
The New Normal airs Tuesdays at 9:30 / 8:30c on NBC. A new episode, "Rocky Bye Baby", airs this evening.
Thao Nguyen fronts the folk-pop band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. The band's new album, We The Common, has an intense and spirited sound. The songs feature rhythmic guitar, taut drums, and Nguyen's clear and passionate vocals.
Thao remembers when music became important to her and the song that changed her life -- Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got a Hold On Me."
Thao and the Get Down Stay Down head out on a cross-country tour this week. Find their tourdates and more information here.
Jim Lehrer anchored the Newshour on PBS for more than three decades and remains its executive editor to this day. He's also moderated twelve presidential debates and in 2011 he wrote a memoir about those experiences called Tension City. Yet another hat that Lehrer wears is that of a novelist. He's written 20 of them, the most recent of which is a charming mystery called Super.
Lehrer talks to us about his early job at a bus depot, the benefits of producing media on a tight budget, and the role public broadcasting ought to play in the future.
[This interview originally aired in May, 2010]
Jesse suggests a look at his favorite Mike Judge creation. It's not Beavis and Butthead, and it's not Office Space. It's a low-key workplace comedy starring Jason Bateman, called Extract.
This week, a live recording of Bullseye, held at the Punchline Comedy Club as part of SF Sketchfest.
The San Francisco Chronicle's pop culture critic, Peter Hartlaub, joins us to share some of his favorite San Francisco films.
He recommends Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation for its realistic depiction of San Francisco, as well as the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which, in spite of its terrifying story, might give San Francisco's public transit planners some food for thought.
Peter Hartlaub writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and blogs about pop culture at The Big Event.
You'd think that it'd be almost impossible to tell stories about architecture and design in a completely invisible medium, but Roman Mars makes it work. The public radio host and producer's stories show that design is everywhere – he's produced stories about the unintentional music of escalators, failed prison designs, and reclusive monks who make the best beer in the world.
These stories are all a part of 99% Invisible, "a tiny radio show about design" that Roman hosts and produces. The show is truly tiny; it airs for only five minutes on a handful of public radio stations, including KALW. But the podcast is another story. Episodes of the podcast version of 99% Invisible are longer and more detailed – and they reach a much larger audience. Last year, Roman led a massive Kickstarter campaign to fund the show's third season. Fans gave more than $170,000, making it the most successful journalism Kickstarter to date.
Roman joins Jesse onstage to discuss his theory of creativity, his reasons for exchanging his dream of becoming a scientist for a career in public radio, and his Doogie Houser-esque college experience.
99% Invisible is available on iTunes and Soundcloud. You can follow Roman on Twitter at @RomanMars.
Why did God invent the internet? Steve Agee has an idea. It's probably not what you think.
Steve Agee is a writer, actor, and standup comedian. He's a former writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and appeared as Steve Myron on the beloved Sarah Silverman Program.
You can follow him on Twitter at @SteveAgee.
Boots Riley's life has always been about change, and never about complacency. He was already an leftist activist in high school, staging walkouts on school grounds, and he followed his parents' lead into community organizing. He was immersed in rap and hip hop in his hometown of Oakland, California, but didn't make the connection between the power of music and activism for several years.
Boots has fronted the hip hop group The Coup for over two decades as an MC and producer, and the group's positive, funky, and danceable music is still clearly message-driven in 2013. Their lyrics confront injustice, police brutality, and the rise of corporatism with aggressive wit. The group released a new album, Sorry to Bother You, late last year.
Boots talked to us about why he thinks an active engagement with world makes life worth living, finding humor in the disturbing reality of poverty and injustice, and what he learned from his time in, of all things, telemarketing.
What says "Bay Area" to you? For Jesse, it's all about I Got 5 On It by the Luniz – specifically, the Bay Ballers remix.
It’s official: starting in April, Bullseye with Jesse Thorn will be distributed by National Public Radio! This is the culmination of months and months of meetings, negotiations and planning, and we’re so, so proud to make it public today. (And so, so proud of the sweet illustration that we just made (above).)
We’re excited to be joining forces with the big dogs in public radio, and excited that we’ll no longer have to spend like half of every conversation at every cocktail party explaining the complicated square-rectangle relationship between “public radio” and “NPR.” (From now on, we can just be all, “yup, I do a show on NPR.” It’s gonna be great.)
We’ll be on the same team as our all-time favorites like Terry Gross and Brooke Gladstone, and our new jack favorites like Glynn Washington and Jad Abumrad. It’s an ideal situation.
If you’re a longstanding Bullseye listener, you’ve got nothing to worry about. The show will continue to be produced independently by MaximumFun.org, but now we’ll also have the cachet and manpower of NPR helping us to bring it to public radio stations around the country. Our hope is that this partnership will mean a better show, better guests and a bigger station lineup.
This is the next chapter in a story that started at my college radio station when I was 19. Twelve years later, I think our show is the best it’s ever been, and now we’re in position to take advantage of that fact.
As a great American once said… haters don’t be mad, ‘cause it’s all about progression… loiterers should be arrested.
Andrew Noz joins us this week to talk about throwback 90s sounds and a rapper gone viral on Youtube. He talks to us about the DC-based Ras Nebyu's "Washington Slizzards" and Chief Keef's "Laughin' to the Bank".
W. Kamau Bell wants to talk to you about race. And about urban inequality, and politics, and Spider Man too. He came to his own brand of sociopolitical comedy after working as a comic for years, eventually shaping his work into a one-man show in which he promised to "end racism in about an hour."
A lucky break with an audience member at one of those shows – Chris Rock, to be precise – landed Bell his own TV talk show, called Totally Biased. He joins us to talk about transitioning into the talk show world, the sweet spot of gentrification, and remaining true to his own comedic voice.
Totally Biased airs Thursday nights at 11pm on FX.
(Embed or share this interview with W. Kamau Bell)
This segment originally aired on September 4th, 2012.
Singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell had one of those experiences as a kid that was a hallmark of experiencing music before the internet. She heard a song she liked, went out to the record store, and picked an album by the same artist. The problem? It sounded totally uncool, and not at all like the song she'd heard. It did, however, open her up to a whole new way of listening to music.
Eleni talks to us about the song that changed her life, Tom Waits' "Tom Traubert's Blues." Eleni grew up in Los Angeles loving both punk rockers X and folk rocker Bob Dylan, and her own music mixes airy vocals with 60s pop, country, and folk sounds.
(Embed or share Eleni Mandell on the Song that Changed Her Life)
This segment originally aired on September 4th, 2012.
Mike Birbiglia knows his own story pretty well by now. After struggling as a stand up, he started working some personal details from his life into his comedy. Some of it was pretty standard, like wrapping his head around the idea of getting married to his longtime girlfriend. And some of it was less familiar stuff, like running out of a window while sleepwalking.
Birbiglia went on transform these thoughts into a one-man show, a book, and finally, a movie. And although talking about the subject matter was second nature, directing a movie about it was not. He joins us to discuss being a first-time director, the difficulty of delivering stand up in a casual, easy way, and why he considered long-lasting marriage to be a totally foreign concept.
(Embed or share this interview with Mike Birbiglia)
This segment originally aired on September 4th, 2012.
Jesse recommends the ESPN documentary Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks for a look at a volatile shooting guard, an intense basketball rivalry, and some courtside conversations with Spike Lee.
(Embed or share The Outshot: Winning Time)
This segment originally aired on September 4th, 2012.
Are you a sports fanatic with a favorite doc? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.
Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and the podcast Gweek zeroes in on his favorite card games. His first pick is The Struggle for Catan, a spin-off of the colony-building board game Settlers of Catan. He also plugs Anomia, a crazy-fast word game that "makes your brain confuse being first with being the loudest."
Nick Kroll has a knack for taking humanity's very worst and turning it into comedy. You can see it in his portrayal of Ruxin, the overly-aggressive lawyer and fantasy football player of FX's The League, but it's even more apparent in his new Comedy Central series, Kroll Show.
Kroll Show features amazingly specific characters that have become familiar as artifacts of our reality-show, fame-gripped culture: self-indulgent trust fund party boys, vapid PR professionals, and a wannabe record producer who lives with his mom.
Kroll returns to Bullseye to discuss how he finds inspiration in people lacking self-awareness – and, on the other hand, the perils of being too self-aware.
Kroll Show airs Wednesdays at 10:30/9:30c on Comedy Central.
This episode marks the debut of our new segment: Canonball. We'll take a flying leap into the canon of popular music and find albums that deserve a closer look.
He'll tell us about Led Zeppelin III. With that album, Led Zeppelin moved away from the 60s obsession with authenticity and deep ideas -- and into a whole new sound.
Comedian Billy Eichner roams the streets of New York with a camera crew, roping unsuspecting pedestrians into playing his game show, Billy on the Street. While Cash Cab paved the way for street-ambush game shows, Eichner's approach has a unique twist.
The correct answers are often subjective (as in the game "Dead or Boring") and his game show persona is hyper-energetic and over-the-top. He's ready to swoon with a contestant who shares his love of Meryl Streep, or yell and stalk angrily away from a contestant who doesn't.
Eichner tells us about his screaming encounters with Madonna, the influence of Pee-wee Herman on his on-screen persona, and the role that game show laws played in the development of his show. (It turns out that "game show compliance lawyer" is a real job.)
Episodes of Funny or Die's Billy on the Street are available online and air Fridays at 10/9c on FUSEtv.
On the Outshot, Jesse features João Gilberto, a musician who stripped away the heat and intensity of samba to create a cool, minimalist genre: bossa nova.
Jason Kottke, proprietor of Kottke.org, a collection of some of the most interesting links the internet has to offer, joins us this week to share some all-time internet picks. First, he enlightens us about the practice of sending children through the mail. He also shares a mind-bending physics thought experiment -- if an airplane moves forward on a conveyor belt that's moving in the opposite direction at the same speed, can the airplane take off?
When Benedict Cumberbatch spoke to us last year, the interview centered on his portrayal of one of the most well-represented heroes in literature -- Sherlock Holmes. Jesse started off their discussion with talk of a more sinister role, however -- Cumberbatch's upcoming portrayal of the Star Trek villain John Harrison. With the release of Star Trek: Into Darkness so far away from the interview's original air date, that part of their chat didn't make the cut. Now that the film's release is a matter of months away, however, it seems a fitting time to revisit it.
Cumberbatch shares his appreciation for the mystery surrounding the new Star Trek film, deconstructs the challenges inherent in bringing a fresh perspective to his interpretation of the legendary detective for the BBC series Sherlock, and details how he emerged from a tremendous trauma with a renewed dedication to living life fully.
(A alternate cut of this interview originally aired 5/15/12)
Craig Finn is the lead singer and guitarist for the Brooklyn rock outfit The Hold Steady. Earlier this year, Finn released his debut solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes. This week he tells us about the song that changed his life: The Replacements' "I Will Dare", off their 1984 album Let It Be.
(This segment originally aired 5/15/12)
Celebrated director Errol Morris's acclaim is well-earned -- his documentary films are all masterfully executed and extraordinarily compelling. Some of his films, such as The Thin Blue Line
(which ultimately helped secure an innocent man's freedom from prison) drive at an objective truth, while others are more concerned with the unique truths of individuals' experiences.
Errol Morris joined us in 2011 to talk about his film making process, celebrating reality versus fiction, and the enduring popularity of his Miller High Life commercials. Morris's most recent film, Tabloid, and most recent book, A Wilderness of Error: The Trials of Jeffrey MacDonald are available in stores now.
(This interview originally aired 07/18/11)
For The Outshot this week, Jesse basks in the warm, loving glow of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready", and explains exactly why the singer's smiling face hangs on the wall above his son's crib.
If you've got a song that lifts you up like this one does, share the warmth on the MaxFun forum by picking your own Outshot.
(This Outshot originally aired 5/15/12)
Andrew Noz joins us this week to share a couple of his current favorite rap tracks. His first pick is Mouse On Tha Track's smooth and mellow "Get High Get Loaded," featuring Fiend. His second recommendation is Mystikal's incredible new song "Hit Me."
Aimee Mann rose to prominence in the 80s with the success of her new wave band 'Til Tuesday's single, "Voices Carry," but she found the limelight uncomfortable. Tired of contending with record companies' attempts to pigeonhole her and her work, Aimee struck out on her own. She joins us this week to discuss that transition from frontwoman to solo artist, the stresses of fame, and coping with uncertainty at a time in her life when she thought she would have had everything figured out.
Aimee's new album, Charmer, is available now.
2013 is a whole new year chock full of things that want ranking -- who has the time to tackle that task? Fortunately, we have Jordan Morris to tell us what's what!
Seth Godin is best known as a marketing guru, but he brings far more compassion and genuine insight to his work than the title might lead you to expect. And his observations aren't just valuable for CEOs. He makes his work for content creators operating on every scale. He joins us this week to delve into the "assets that matter" -- the qualities and values critical to creating great, meaningful work.
Seth Godin's new books are V Is for Vulnerable: Life Outside the Comfort Zone, The Icarus Deception: How High Will You Fly?, and Whatcha Gonna Do with That Duck?.
Trickery and deception are featured prominently in some of Orson Welles's finest works, so it is fitting that the existence of an objective truth and its relative importance is most thoroughly explored in Welles's final major film, F for Fake. Part documentary, part film essay, F for Fake features tricks and truths layered atop each other, creating a mesmerizing narrative.
It was a great year in comedy, so selecting the best of the best and compiling it into an hour-long special was a tall order. We have done just that, however, and we're kicking a new year off with a bang and The Best Comedy of 2012, as curated by the Bullseye staff.
You'll hear selections from the following, all of which are available for purchase now:
Josh Modell and Andrea Battleground from The Onion's AV Club join us this week with some holiday gift ideas. Josh recommends Tarantino XX, a 10-disc, Blu-ray collection of several of Tarantino's most loved films. Andrea suggests picking up one of the Rediscover jigsaw puzzles of your gift recipient's favorite album covers.
John Roderick and Jonathan Coulton each carved his own warm, authentic, relatable space in the indie rock scene, and their sounds and aesthetics are complementary enough to make a collaboration welcome and exciting. That the collaboration comes in the form of a Christmas album is unexpected, but the end result, One Christmas at a Time, is a fun and charming exploration of familiar holiday themes -- from coping with drunk uncles to the one ultimate childhood gift. Roderick and Coulton join us this week to discuss their first meeting, the challenge inherent in capturing the feelings and emotions of the holiday season while maintaining secular points of view, and why celebrating Christmas in Los Angeles is contemptible.
Navigating the holidays can be a treacherous task; between divining proper party etiquette, appropriately selecting gifts for your loved ones, and just coping with all of the little things that spring up around this time of the year, you're probably aching for some guidance right about now. Fortunately, an ace team of (terrible) advice-giving brothers joins us this week to set us straight.
The choral symphonic band The Polyphonic Spree's new album, Holidaydream: Sounds of the Holidays started out as an experiment -- what happens when you take The Polyphonic Spree's ethereal, angelic sound and apply it to holiday favorites? The Polyphonic Spree's lead singer Tim DeLaughter joins Bullseye contributor Daniel Ralston to explore this question, the role of spectacle in the act, and DeLaughter's experience collaborating with his young son on the record.
Daniel Ralston is a co-host, producer and editor of The Low Times Podcast.
Popular Christmas music can be pretty hit or miss, and a relatively small catalog of options combined with seasonal overexposure to the genre can make the hits seem few and far between. One Christmas pop song that never disappoints Jesse: Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas".
Brian Heater and Alex Zalben join us this week to share some comics picks. Alex suggests you check out Derek Kirk Kim’s Tune: Vanishing Point, a charming, insightful graphic novel with a great twist at the end. Brian recommends the 73rd issue of John Porcellino’s King Cat, a long-running, autobiographical mini-comic featuring tight, minimalist artwork and storytelling.
Judd Apatow is a man who wears many hats: director, producer, screenwriter, husband, and father to name a few. His new movie, This is 40, explores the struggle many married couples face as they try to keep careers and children sorted while nurturing a strong relationship. Apatow talks about his relationship with his wife and collaborator, Leslie Mann, grappling with insecurity, and the source of his lifelong aversion to being the “bad guy.” He also fills us in on the latest Pee-wee Herman movie news.
This is 40 opens in theaters December 21st.
Jason Reece of the band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead spent many of his teenage years listening to stereotypical punk music from the 80s, and while he loved music, he felt stuck and uninspired by the genre. Fortunately, he stumbled across the Fugazi album 13 Songs in a record store. The song “Waiting Room” changed his perception of what punk music could be.
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’s most recent album is called Lost Songs.
Dolly Parton’s beautiful voice could have easily carried her through life. Parton’s unwavering drive and embrace of hard work meant she was ready and willing to carve her own path, however, despite the great sacrifices such commitment required. Parton joins us this week to discuss some of these sacrifices, how they have affected her life, and how she feels about them now. She also shares stories from her childhood (having grown up in a large family in the mountains of Tennessee, Parton has no shortage of fondly remembered anecdotes) and relates the story behind one of her most well-loved songs, "I Will Always Love You."
Dolly Parton’s new book is called Dream More, and it is available now.
ego trip’s Big Book of Racism takes the beloved coffee table book genre and flips it on its head – it’s a book you might hesitate to display in your living room, just based on its provocative title. The content, however, is a pitch-perfect analysis of the absurdity of racism in modern and historical times – observations any host should be glad to broadcast to his or her guests.