Heat Rocks

Hosted by Oliver Wang and Morgan Rhodes, every episode of Heat Rocks invites a special guest to talk about a heat rock - a hot album, a scorching record. These are in-depth conversations about the albums that shape our lives.

Our guests include musicians, writers, and scholars and though we don't exclusively focus on any one genre, expect to hear about albums from the worlds of soul, hip-hop, funk, jazz, Latin and more.

New episodes every Thursday on Apple Podcasts or whatever you get your podcasts.

Subscribe to our website updates for exclusive bonus content (including extra interview segments, mini-episodes, etc.)

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EP 54: Women Behaving Boldly #1: Oliver & Morgan on Millie Jackson's Caught Up (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks

The Album: Millie Jackson Caught Up (1974)

Some months ago, Oliver and Morgan kicked around the idea of celebrating women over the course of a few Heat Rocks episodes. We decided we'd package it as a series and Oliver came up with the name "Women Behaving Boldly". Gotta love it.

To kick off the series, we chose the incomparable, ahead-of-her-time, OG provocateur Mildred Virginia Jackson known professionally as MILLIE JACKSON.

Millie Jackson is the Queen of Raunchy Rap. She spent much of the seventies singing about relationships and situationships. Her lyrics and conversations in the interludes of songs talked about complicated adult dramas like infidelity and divorce. Her words were raw and honest but also grown and sexy.

1974's Caught Up, her fourth release was a concept album which dealt with the before during and aftermath of an affair told from varying perspectives. Oliver and Morgan sat down to talk about all the elements that make this album fire - a heat rock.

More on Millie Jackson

More on Caught Up

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Caught Up unless indicated otherwise):

  • So Easy Going, So Hard Coming Back
  • Rihanna: Needed Me
  • Millie Jackson: Phuck U Symphony
  • Millie Jackson: All the Way Lover
  • The Rap
  • Millie Jackson: Gospel Truth
  • The Rap
  • All I Want is a Fighting Chance
  • It's All Over but the Shouting
  • A House for Sale
  • Gladys Knight and the Pips: Neither One of Us (Wants to be the First to Say Goodbye)
  • I'm Tired of Hiding
  • The Rap
  • The First Time
  • I'm Through Trying to Prove My Love to You
  • A House for Sale

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP53: Chris Ryan on the Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street" (1972)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Chris Ryan

The Album: The Rolling Stones: Exile On Main Street (1972)

In 1972, The Rolling Stones were at the peak of their success...and excess. In order to flee British tax collectors, Keith, Mick and the crew fled to France where, over the course of many months - and a ton of drugs - the group pieced together what would become an epic double album. It would take Mick dragging the tapes to Hollywood to complete production but once finished, Exile On Main Street would become embrace as one of the group's greatest albums and for some, it marked the end of the group's "golden era," in terms of how it blended together rock, soul, and blues together in a mish-mash of styles that still invoke awe - and controversy - today.

The album pick came to us via Chris Ryan, executive editor at The Ringer, where he contributes or hosts a number of podcasts himself, including the pop culture show, The Watch, and the site's movie discussion show, The Rewatchables. Before that, Chris was a long-time music writer, based out of New York, and one of the funniest and smartest critics Oliver's ever met.

More on Chris Ryan

More on Exile On Main Street

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Exile On Main Street unless indicated otherwise):

  • Rocks Off
  • Casino Boogie
  • Ventilator Blues
  • Sweet Black Angel
  • Shake Your Hips
  • Sweet Virginia
  • Tumbling Dice
  • Turd on the Run
  • Rocks Off
  • Happy
  • The Rolling Stones: Miss You

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP52: Aurora Guerrero on the "Mosquita Y Mari" soundtrack (2012)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Aurora Guerrero

The Album: "Mosquita Y Mari" soundtrack (2012)

Aurora Guerrero is a Chicana filmmaker whose 2012 sweet coming-of-age story about two young Chicanas falling in love in Huntington Park was hit at Sundance that year. The Hollywood Reporter called it "...a robust work of self-discovery for two girls at the most awkward and confusing years of their young lives, and a testament to Aurora Guerrero's storytelling prowess." Traditions and emotions merge as the Yolanda and Mari's relationship grows intensely over time.

The narrative is underscored by a gorgeous soundtrack - the sound of East Los Angeles' eclectic underground music scene featuring indie artists across genres: ska, punk and hip hop with bands like Mexico 72, Pistolero, Viernes 13 and La Pobreska.

We sat with Aurora to talk about her curation process, the music vibe of Huntington Park, what falling in love sounds like when you're 15 and how Mosquita Y Mari put Southeast L.A. on the map in a new way.

More on Aurora Guerrero

Show Tracklisting (all songs from soundtrack unless indicated otherwise):

  • Mosquita Y Mari - Main Title
  • Yoli On the Rooftop
  • Ponle Frenos
  • Las Cruces de Tijuana
  • Esta Soledad
  • Pierdete Chica
  • El Dia Previo
  • Mi Corazon Es Para Ti

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many song as we can find there.
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP51: James Spooner on Minor Threat's "Minor Threat" (1983)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
James Spooner

The Album: Minor Threat: Minor Threat (1984)

In 2003, James Spooner released Afropunk, a personal love letter/manifesto dedicated to people like him: punk fans of a different shade whose acceptance in the scene was often hard-fought and tenuous. That became a movement, with annual afropunk festivals becoming entities unto themselves, across the world. Spooner is now a tattoo artist and graphic novelist, living in Los Angeles.

For our episode, Spooner joined us to talk about Minor Threat's self-titled compilation of their early singles, one through which he discovered the ethos of straight-edge (no drugs, drinking, etc.) and a wider world of possibilities within punk rock. Minor Threat, the short-lived but heavily-influential group out of Washington D.C., fronted by Ian MacKaye is legendary and this compilation was one of the first ways in which listeners could discover the group, their sound and their philosophy.  During our episode, we discussed how what about straight-edge appealed to him, the racial politics of punk and how a kid from the high desert of California came across this music and culture to begin with.

More on James Spooner

More on Minor Threat

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Minor Threat unless indicated otherwise):

  • Minor Threat
  • Straight Edge
  • Screaming at the Wall
  • Guilty of Being White
  • Black Flag: White Minority
  • Patti Smith: Rock N Roll N--
  • The Monkees: (I'm Not Your) Steppin' Stone
  • Steppin' Stone
  • Bottled Violence
  • I Don't Wanna Hear It
  • The Murder City Devils: Boom Swagger Boom

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there.
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP50: Sidibe on Joni Mitchell's "Court and Spark" (1974)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Sidibe

The Album: Joni Mitchell: Court and Spark (1973)

In 1973, Joni Mitchell was in the midst of one of the greatest pop music runs of the decade. By that time, the Canadian-turned-temporary-Angelino had already put out Ladies of the Canyon, Blue and For the Roses, establishing her as one of the very few women that the rock establishment of the era would deign to even recognize. But with Court & Spark, Mitchell showcased her abilities beyond just the folk-rock world by minting a pop album that would become a defining statement of the time and her most successful LP of all time.

To talk about Court & Spark, we had in another transplant to L.A.: singer/songwriter Sidibe. Since moving out here 10 years ago, she's steadily raised her profile, especially after the release of her 2014 EPs, Metaphysical and Soul Siren. Alongside the likes of Anita Baker and Sade, Joni has been a longtime influence and inspiration on Sidibe and during our convo, we discussed Mitchell's vocal gifts, her jazz-rock collaborations on Court & Spark plus a tangential discussions on how bagging groceries might help one get discovered.

More on Sidibe

More on Court & Spark

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Court and Spark unless indicated otherwise):

  • Help Me
  • Sidibe: Unreachable
  • People's Parties
  • The Same Situation
  • Just Like This Train
  • Help Me
  • Joni Mitchell: Sweet Sucker Dance
  • Twisted
  • Raised on Robbery
  • Help Me
  • Sidibe: Love is Stronger Than Pride

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many songs as we can find on there

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP49: serpentwithfeet on Björk's "Homogenic" (1997)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
serpentwithfeet

The Album: Björk: Homegenic (1997)

Josiah Wise aka serpentwithfeet joined us to talk about one of his biggest influences: Björk and 1997 album, Homogenic. First introduced to her as a child, serpentwithfeet found a kindred spirit in the eclectic creativity of the Icelandic star. That especially extends to Homogenic, which, thanks to Björk and producer Mark Bell, would mark a hard turn from the more pop-friendly sounds of Post towards a new, baroque, electronic majesty. Our conversation touched on the mesmerizing nuances of Björk's voice, the album's heavy embrace of dance music, and what it's like to be a fan of an artist when you don't even know what they look like.

More on serpentwithfeet

More on Homegenic

Show Tracklisting (all songs from Homogenic unless indicated otherwise):

  • All is Full of Love
  • Björk: Bænin
  • All Neon Like
  • Björk: Human Behaviour
  • Joga
  • serpentwithfeet: blisters
  • Unravel
  • serpentwithfeet: whisper
  • All is Full of Love
  • Björk: Hidden Place
  • Hunter
  • Immature
  • Bells Atlas: Bachelorette
  • Unravel
  • Erykah Badu: On & On
  • Radiohead: Exit Music (For a Film)
  • Janet Jackson: Got Til it's Gone
  • Missy Elliott: The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)
  • Roni Size: New Forms
  • Unravel
  • Björk: Pagan Poetry
  • serpentwithfeet: blisters
  • serpentwithfeet: bless ur heart

Here's the Spotify plalist of as many songs as we could find on there
If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP48: Tiffany Gouché on Destiny's Child's "The Writing's On the Wall" (1999)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Tiffany Gouché

The Album: Destiny's Child: The Writing's on The Wall (1999)

She sings about love and about longing. Hometown heroine and triple threat (singer/songwriter/producer) Tiffany Gouché (Inglewood, CA) sang her way into our playlists with silky smooth vocals and a production style that reminds us of R&B’s glory days in the 90s, mixed with the eclectic futuristic sound LA music has come to be known for.

She was, therefore, the perfect person to talk Destiny’s child platinum smash heatrock “The Writing’s On The Wall”.

We revisited an album that was full of anthems, an album that Tiffany experienced on cassette tape! Tiffany spoke to us about the layers of inspiration she got from this album as well as what made “Writing’s On The Wall” classic 90s R&B.

More on Tiffany Gouche

More on The Writing's on the Wall

Show Tracklisting (all songs from The Writing's on the Wall unless indicated otherwise):

  • Say My Name
  • Bug A Boo
  • Tiffany Gouché: Dive
  • Commisioned and Fred Hammond: So Good to Know (The Savior)
  • Kim Burrell: Holy Ghost
  • Outro (Amazing Grace Dedicated to Andretta Tillman) 
  • Bills, Bills, Bills
  • Hey Ladies
  • Jumpin, Jumpin 
  • Beyonce: Love Drought 
  • Say My Name
  • Bills, Bills, Bills 
  • Usher: I Don't Know 
  • P!nk: There You Go
  • Confessions (feat. Missy Elliott)
  • Now That She's Gone
  • Bug A Boo
  • If You Leave (feat. Next)
  • Aretha Franklin: At Last - Let Me In Your Life Outtake
  • Aretha Franklin: Hard Times (No One Knows Better Than I) 

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP47: Summer Spectacular feat. Quetzal

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Quetzal

The Albums: 

We wanted to dedicate an episode to talking about the music of summer, easily the one season that people have the deepest sonic associations with. To that aim, we invited the two founding members of L.A.'s Quetzal, Martha Gonzalez and Quetzal Flores. Since 1992, the group has melded the son jarocho tradition into all manners of other genres, resulting in seven albums (and counting), including last year's The Eternal Getdown
Together, each of our quartet got to pick an album that we associate with the summer and as you see above, we covered a whirlwind of styles and eras that bring up all manners of thoughts and feelings for us. Summer love may be fleeting but it lingers, always. 
More on Quetzal

Show Tracklisting:

  • Quetzal: Fig Pulp 
  • Alé Kumá: Vola Pajarito 
  • Alé Kumá: Por Que Me Pega 
  • Alé Kumá: Oiaymelo 
  • Mary J Blige: Love No Limit 
  • Mary J Blige: Reminisce 
  • Mary J Blige: Sweet Thing 
  • Mary J Blige: What's the 411 
  • Mary J Blige: I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By 
  • The Smiths: Sheila Take a Bow 
  • The Smiths: Shoplifters of the World Unite 
  • The Smiths: Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now 
  • Kendrick Lamar: Hood Politics 
  • Kendrick Lamar: Alright 
  • Kendrick Lamar: King Kunta 
  • Kendrick Lamar: These Walls 
  • Kendrick Lamar: i 

Here is the Spotify playlist of as many of the songs above as we can find on there.

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP46: Thomas Golubic on De La Soul's "Three Feet High and Rising" (1989)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Thomas Golubic

The Album: De La Soul: Three Feet High and Rising (Tommy Boy, 1989)
I (OW) mention this on the episode but this album changed my life. It wasn't my introduction to hip-hop but it was the album through which I fell in love with hip-hop and that set me down a path that shaped the rest of my professional (and even personal!) life: as a writer, scholar, DJ and of course, humble podcast host. 
It clearly had an impact on Thomas Golubic too. Our guest for this episode is one of the top music supervisors in the game (as Morgan jokes, he's not just a member, he's the president, literally). He worked on Six Feet Under Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, and right now, Better Call Saul; those in L.A. may also remember him from his KCRW days. 
Thomas and us dug deep into everything that makes this album so special, not the least of which is how it shifted the perception of what hip-hop could sound and look like. It's may be hard to remember now, nearly 30 years later, but in 1989, hip-hop was dominated by larger-than-life, superhero MCs such as KRS-One, Chuck D, Rakim, etc. But here were these four guys from Long Island, with a wholly creative irreverence, embracing their inner nerdiness (and soul ya'll) and mining a treasure trove of samples beyond the James Brown catalog (the latter would get them in trouble, which we talk about as well). The album, and group, changed the proverbial game. No more no less.  
More on Thomas Golubic

More on Three Feet High and Rising

Show Tracklisting (all songs fromThree Feet High and Rising unless indicated otherwise):

  • Say No Go 
  • Sia: Breathe Me 
  • Nat King Cole: Pick Yourself Up 
  • Little Richard: Hurry Sundown 
  • The Magic Number 
  • The Turtles - You Showed Me 
  • Transmitting Live From Mars 
  • Steely Dan: Black Cow 
  • Peter Gunz: Deja Vu (Uptown Baby) 
  • Say No Go 
  • The Invitations: Written on the Wall
  • Plug Tunin 
  • Bob Dorough: Three is a Magic Number 
  • The Magic Number 
  • Jenifa Taught Me (Derwin's Revenge)
  • Kool G Rap and DJ Polo: Road to the Riches 
  • Say No Go 
  • Intro 
  • Eye Know 
  • Me Myself and I 
  • Tread Water 
  • D.A.I.S.Y. Age 
  • Double Huey Skit
  • Cool Breeze on the Rocks
  • I Can Do Anything

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!

EP45: Amber Navran on King's "We Are King" (2016)

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Show: 
Heat Rocks
Guests: 
Amber Navran

The Album: KING: We Are KING (2016)

Los Angeles' underground soul scene is full of talent. The scene's unique blend of soul, jazz, lo-fi, and electronica has helped to bring LA into prominence. Amber Navran is part of the community, first as a member of soul jazz trio Moonchild, and now as a solo artist. Her debut project, Speak Up was released to critical acclaim in 2017 and showcases both her musicianship and her buttery vocals. She joined us to talk about KING, the Grammy-nominated trio whose EP The Story blew them all the way up and thrust them into the Twitterverse where they remain faves.

We talked about the harmonies that make KING's music so swoon-worthy, the arrangements that have dazzled listeners since 2011, and the many reasons "We Are KING" is a heat rock.

More on Amber Navran

More on KING

Show Tracklisting (all songs from We Are King unless indicated otherwise):

  • The Greatest
  • Moonchild: Be Free
  • Amber Navran: He's Been Gone
  • Hey
  • Adele: Rolling in the Deep
  • Lalah Hathaway: Where it all Begins
  • Little Dragon: Ritual Reunion
  • Supernatural
  • The Story
  • Hey
  • Moonchild: Every Part (For Linda)
  • Supernatural
  • The Right One
  • Red Eye
  • Quincy Jones: Tell Me A Bedtime Story
  • Carry On
  • Mister Chameleon
  • In the Meantime
  • The Right One
  • The Greatest
  • Supernatural
  • Moonchild: Run Away (Remix)
  • Hey

Here's the Spotify playlist of as many of the songs above as we can find on there.

If you're not already subscribed to Heat Rocks in Apple Podcasts, do it here!