Discord & Rhyme: An Album Podcast

Discord and Rhyme is a podcast where we discuss the albums we love, song by song.

Grand Haven, Michigan: Your Source for Paralyzing Depression

by Chris Willie Williams

A lot of my colleagues here have written about how their parents' specific musical taste and collections acted as a starting pistol for their lifelong musical geekiness. I can't say the music my own parents liked was necessarily was a catalyst for my music gluttony (though I do admit to an enduring fondness for Hall & Oates). However, they wholly supported my obsession with music. Mom and Dad would drive me to bookstores to purchase album guides, so I'd know where to start my journey. (The Trouser Press Guide to '90s Rock was essential to me, and the SPIN Alternative Record Guide is far more informative than you'd think.) Once I then had a plan of action, they'd happily drive me to record stores so I could look through the CDs with the intense focus of a crime scene investigator. They were also willing to often listen to my albums in the car when we were riding around. They may not have shared my particular taste—they like R.E.M., but They Might Be Giants drove them positively garanimals—but Dad and Mom understood it. 

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The Democratization of Music Criticism

by Phil Maddox

I’ve been a huge music nerd for literally as long as I can remember. My parents and family played music constantly and I’ve always ravenously consumed as much music as I could. Ultimately, though, if you want to get into more music, recommendations from friends and family are only going to get you so far. You’ll eventually need to branch out and start finding stuff on your own. These days, this is mostly accomplished via YouTube, Spotify, and various other streaming services - learning about new music that you’re curious about is unbelievably easy. Back in the nineties, however, it was considerably more difficult. You largely had to depend on a combination of taking chances on stuff you heard on the radio, a small handful of blogs, and professional music critics.

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Synesthesia Corner

by Amanda Rodgers

If you’ve been listening to Discord & Rhyme for a while, you’ve probably heard me and Rich talk about synesthesia. That is the difficult-to-explain situation where your five senses get their wires crossed; in other words, sounds have shapes, or days of the week have colors, or any number of other strange combinations.

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The Rules of Haterade

by Benjamin Marlin

"Criticism", by definition, sounds like it should be negative. The word brings to mind bitter keyboard jockeys who couldn't make it in the arts and, consequently, pledged to burn it all down. (If you're David Lee Roth, it also brings to mind a bunch of guys who look like Elvis Costello.)

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The Origins of John McFerrin’s Reviews of Music

by John McFerrin

As of July 2019, “John McFerrin’s Reviews of Music” (otherwise known as “John McFerrin’s Rock and Prog Reviews”) has existed in some form for 20 years (initial writing began in late July, and the site first went public, with a whopping 4 artist pages, in October, 2019). The site has grown slowly but steadily from humble beginnings into something I am genuinely proud of, and it has served as a gateway for me to many personal connections I would otherwise not have (not least of which are the other members of Discord & Rhyme). In commemoration of this anniversary, I wish to tell the story (a story that I have most definitely not told in public previously) of why I began this site in the first place, and why I continued with it despite every opportunity to discard it.

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Fighting the Nostalgia Trap

by Dan Watkins

I tend to credit my parents with unintentionally guiding me down my path of music obsession. In the dark, cold days before the internet and Spotify, their record collection was an invaluable resource that fed and educated my musical fixation. Their extensive collection established the basis of my musical palate. For instance, if I’ve ever made your eyes glaze over while talking about Frank Zappa, you can place the blame squarely on my dad. My parents' music library did have one major shortcoming: Aside from a few exceptions, their collection basically ended right around 1980. It turns out this was fairly representative of their taste overall, as they generally have very little to say about music from the 1980s and beyond. By their early 30s, current music had seemingly ceased to be a major concern for them, and most of their everyday listening consisted of music from their youth. In fairness, I can imagine that staying on top of new music trends might become a low priority once you’re busy raising two kids, working full-time jobs, paying a mortgage, and tending to other grown-up responsibilities that are supposedly more important than the new Killdozer album. 

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The Vinyl Bug and How it Bit Me

by Mike DeFabio

Most of the music I listened to when I was a kid was either on a record or on a tape I’d made from a record, and as was typical for me, I didn’t properly appreciate it at the time. Records, as I saw it, were what you bought used because you didn’t have a CD player, and tapes were too expensive. You couldn’t dance around while they played or the needle would jump. You couldn’t bring them with you on a long car ride. You had to get up and turn them over halfway through.

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22 2's

by Rich Bunnell

On Discord & Rhyme, I frequently refer to a song being “a good track two,” which may seem completely arbitrary in the era of streaming and shuffle. But I mean it every time, and I mean it even more as we get further into this epic project obsessing over the dying art of the album. Similar to how film editing is part of what turns a bunch of shots into a movie, sequencing is part of what turns a bunch of songs into an album. When a critic rolls out the cliche that an album is more than the sum of its parts, in a majority of cases it means that the album was really well sequenced.

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What Makes an Album "the Worst"?

by Phil Maddox

The other day in the Discord and Rhyme Slack, John and I were having the kind of discussion that only two enormous music dorks would ever have - debating what the worst Yes album of all time was. John claims that it’s Union, the disastrous 1991 album that saw two warring factions of Yes coming together and producing an album that was immediately loathed by every single Yes fan that bothered listening to it. I, however, claimed it was Heaven and Earth, the 2014 album that has successfully bored every single person that’s listened to it into a coma. The crux of our debate came down to this: Union has a couple of great songs on it, but a good chunk of it is insanely terrible - some of the worst music ever released by a respectable band.  Heaven and Earth, however, is just boring. There’s no good songs on it, but nothing quite as bad as the junk that piles up on Union. I thought the good songs on Union were enough to elevate it; John thought the bad songs were bad enough to sink it.

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I Give Up

by Chris Willie Williams

Let's say there's an artist you love so much that you are convinced that you'll always buy every album they release, for the rest of their career or until you lose all your money in some sort of medical supplement pyramid scheme. How many disappointing albums would this artist have to release before you finally gave up? I know it varies from artist to artist, depending on such things as the intensity of your bond, how much you dislike their new output, and whether you possess what scientists call The Rock Geek Completism Gene, but in general, I'm curious to know how far you all will let an artist skate by solely on long-lasting goodwill.

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Ladies of the Road: Women and Music

by Amanda Rodgers

There’s a strange popular perception that music is for men. Even now, the majority of bands are made up of men (women tend to be solo artists), music critics are men, and most of the music podcasts these days feature an all-male panel. A lot of people seem to think that women enjoy listening to music but are not into discussing and analyzing it – and nowhere is this more true than in the world of prog rock.

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When Everything Isn't Enough

by Benjamin Marlin

The future of music consumption appears to be streaming services: Spotify, Apple Music, Google Music, and the Jay-Z one. For a few dollars each month, these services allow people to stream millions of songs to their smartphones and bluetooth speakers. It's an amazing innovation, perhaps the best tool ever invented for making music easy to access and play. 

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Sowing the Seeds of Discord & Rhyme

by Rich Bunnell

Hi everyone,

I’m stunned that less than a year into this project, there are people — some of whom we haven’t even met! — who are actually willing to pay money for what we do. As much as we promote our “tip jar” on the show, Discord & Rhyme is foremost a passion project by eight friends who have kept all of this obsessive energy bottled up for years and finally have an outlet. Patreon covers our hosting and equipment costs, reimburses us for the time and work we put in to every episode, and hopefully will eventually grow to a level where we can start directly supporting the artists we cover.

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Dr. Jazzlove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Supreme

by John McFerrin

As has been the case for many a self-professed “rock lover” through the years, I had little use for jazz as a whole into my late 20s. I didn’t exactly mind its existence, but I only had interest in consuming it second-hand, through rock musicians that either came from a jazz background or who had been influenced by jazz in regards to compositional or playing style. The idea of actually listening to a jazz album for fun seemed completely foreign to me; I had a couple of Miles Davis albums on mp3 that I had listened to once or twice, but they seemed far too diffuse and too focused on superior instrumental technique at the expense of discernable melody and structure for me to enjoy them. In late 2008, though, I decided that I hadn’t given the genre a fair chance, and I asked my brother and some online acquaintances to offer me recommendations, both for individual albums and for overall listening and purchasing strategy. By the end of 2009, I could reasonably be called a jazz enthusiast, and my jazz collection and love for the genre has continued to expand at a steady pace ever since. In this post, I want to share some insights that I have picked up through the years that might help somebody unsure of how to proceed when venturing into the vast rewarding world of jazz.

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Why Would Anyone Listen to Merzbow?

In 2002, some friends and I took a trip down to LA to go to the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival, which was curated by Sonic Youth that year. On the bill were some names that I knew and loved, like Aphex Twin and Stereolab, and a lot more that I’d never heard at all. One of these was an unassuming fellow with a laptop who went by the name of Merzbow. Merzbow’s set began with an enormous low drone, the kind earplugs are almost useless against because it makes its way in through the bones of your face. Over the course of what I think was probably a 45-minute set, that drone gradually changed and grew into its ultimate form: a wall of hissing, squealing noise. Noise, you see, is Merzbow’s instrument. He plays the noise.

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In Defense of Bad Albums

by Phil Maddox

As long as I can remember, I’ve never been satisfied with just getting a greatest hits album by a band, or even just getting a band’s most acclaimed work. Ever since I was a kid, if I got into a band, I wanted to hear absolutely everything the band ever recorded. The earliest band I can remember doing this with is the Moody Blues - I remember scouring every store that sold cassette tapes in the hopes of finding an album that I didn’t recognize. I didn’t have access to discography information at that time, so I didn’t even know what albums I didn’t have - I’d just keep checking in the hopes that I’d eventually encounter something new.

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The Electric Six and the Elusive, Enduring Cachinnation

by Chris Willie Williams

There are countless songs that have made me laugh in my rock-geek career, from Fannypack's naughty double-dutch chant “Cameltoe” to Bill Callahan's somewhat more sophisticated “Eid Ma Clack Shaw,” whose final verse cleverly yanks the rug out from under the truly affecting lyrics preceding it. But it's rare to find a song that continues to make me laugh no matter how many times I revisit it.

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Paul Simon's underappreciated followup to Graceland

by Amanda Rodgers

It’s no secret that Paul Simon was interested in world music. He was experimenting with it as far back as “El Condor Pasa” on Bridge Over Troubled Water in 1970, continuing with “Mother and Child Reunion” and “Late in the Evening,” and eventually leading to his classic Graceland, a surprising mix of South African music, accompanied by Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and zydeco music out of New Orleans. 

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This website and all episodes' discussion/commentary © 2018—2019 Discord & Rhyme. Excerpts from recordings appearing in episodes are included for purposes of review only, and all rights to such material remain property of their copyright holders. Please note that we make a good-faith effort to ensure all information included in these episodes is accurate, but if we get something wrong, let us know at discordpod@gmail.com and we will print a correction in the show notes. Website design by Amanda Rodgers. Thank you for visiting, and be ever wonderful.

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