Discord & Rhyme: An Album Podcast

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

019: Stevie Wonder - Songs in the Key of Life (1976)

Good morn and evening, friends, and get ready for a super-sized episode. Stevie Wonder has a deep catalog of classic, beloved LPs, but since this week’s host, Ben, follows the “because it’s there” approach to choosing albums for this podcast, we’re tackling the longest, most epic one of all: 1976’s Songs in the Key of Life. Encompassing two LPs and a bonus EP, Songs is “massive and meant to be massive,” Ben argues to co-hosts Phil, Mike, and John — and just look at the list of personnel if you don’t believe us. Even if not every song lands, the album is such a mountain range of joyous musical peaks that you’re likely going to emerge from it adoring at least a dozen tracks. Plus, ‘90s kids will recognize the source material for both Coolio’s legendary anthem “Gangsta’s Paradise” and Will Smith’s much less legendary soundtrack cash-in “Wild Wild West.” This one might take you a few commutes, but if you’ve somehow not yet experienced the music of Stevie Wonder, we promise you’re about to have a new favorite artist.

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018: Devo - Duty Now for the Future (1979)

Put down the chainsaw, and listen to us — it’s time for Discord & Rhyme’s guide to Devo! You probably best know Devo for their 1980 hit “Whip It,” but that song is only the tip of the Devo iceberg, which is red and shaped like an energy dome. This episode, Dan skews from the standard Devo path, choosing neither their critically adored debut Q: Are We Not Men? A: We Are Devo nor their commercial breakthrough Freedom of Choice. Instead, he guides Mike, Rich, and Will through the album between those two, Duty Now for the Future, a pioneering album in the genre of synthpop, and an example of the gristly “connective tissue” that enriches a really great band’s discography. You might not have heard of anything on the album, but every single song is brimming over with that distinctive Devo identity.

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017 (feat. Shivam Bhatt): Takashi Tateishi - Mega Man 2 OST (1988)

Discord & Rhyme is breaking format this week to talk about ... a video game soundtrack! This week’s host, Rich, has a love for the classic Capcom NES series Mega Man that may run even deeper than his love of music, and composer Takashi Tateishi’s legendary soundtrack combines the two with panache. Mega Man 2 was a true passion project, developed on the side while its team worked on games that were deemed more profitable. To give Tateishi inspiration under such stressed circumstances, producer Akira “A.K.” Kitamura encouraged him to build the level design into his compositions, giving him a series of punchy phrases (“Keep moving along at a brisk pace… don’t stand in one place for too long!”) to use as frameworks. The result is routinely considered one of the greatest video game soundtracks of all time, and a fine standalone piece of electronic music, to boot. Rich takes Phil, Will, and special guest Shivam Bhatt through the soundtrack’s most important cuts — including a handy primer on the NES sound chip!

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016: Procol Harum - Exotic Birds and Fruit (1974)

British art rock band Procol Harum is remembered today mainly for its 1967 single, “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” and for almost nothing else. This is a mistake; far from a one-hit wonder, Procol Harum established itself from 1967 to 1974 as one of the more consistently solid album-oriented bands of the era, even as their style shifted from art rock to hard rock and back. In this episode, Prog John makes his triumphant return by leading Rich, Phil, and Mike through a look at a long-time favorite of his, the 1974 album “Exotic Birds and Fruit.” The album saw the band make a conscious turn from an orchestra-centered style towards a style that synthesized its whole past (including its mid-60s R&B roots). Join us we take a journey through a wonderful (mostly) album and a band that does, indeed, go far “Beyond the Pale.”

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015: Parliament - Mothership Connection (1975)

You can’t have the funk unless you have the whole funk and nothing but the funk, so Discord & Rhyme is treating you to a second round of P-Funk. This time, Mike rounds out the story by discussing Parliament, who are tighter and much more orderly than the looser, rougher Funkadelic, and feature a truly excellent horn section. Their 1975 masterpiece Mothership Connection officially declared Parliament-Funkadelic as a cohesive, galactic entity, and its space-age soundscapes have massively influenced music since, even spawning the “G-Funk” subgenre of hip-hop most famously associated with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. Even more relevant to this podcast’s very particular tastes — it’s kind of proggy! And if you don’t believe us, read the epigraph above and then join us as soon as you are groovy.

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014: Funkadelic - Maggot Brain (1971)

Do not attempt to adjust your podcast apps. Discord & Rhyme is devoting the whole month of January to the world of George Clinton’s Parliament-Funkadelic, better known as P-Funk. Though P-Funk eventually came to comprise a single, massive collective of musicians releasing records under the names Parliament and Funkadelic, the two sides of P-Funk have different sounds and histories, and in this episode and the next, we’re going to dive in to what makes each one supergroovalistic. We’re starting with Funkadelic, as Phil takes Ben, Dan, and Mike through 1971’s Maggot Brain, a ragged, scuzzy, surreal album that some consider P-Funk’s crowning achievement. And be sure to come back in two weeks, when Mike will be covering Parliament’s masterpiece Mothership Connection, thus completing the P-Funk cosmology.

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013: Meat Puppets - Forbidden Places (1991)

MEAT!!! Chris Willie Williams is the eighth and final Discord & Rhyme host to take the helm — and, ever the prankster and hopeless hipster, he has chosen an album that is out of print. 1991’s Forbidden Places was the major-label debut for Meat Puppets, a critically adored 1980s Phoenix alternative rock band known for its mixture of country and psychedelia, as well as vocalist Curt Kirkwood’s only vague regard for a song’s meter. Forbidden Places was meant to give the Puppets a Traveling Wilburys-style spitshine for the airwaves — then, three months later, Nirvana’s Nevermind came along and changed the face of music. Acknowledging the Puppets as an influence, Kurt Cobain invited Curt and brother Cris to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged sessions to play on covers of three songs from Meat Puppets II (1983), but by that point, the band’s momentum had been interrupted. So with today’s episode, Will hopes to do justice to a fine, sturdy power pop album that, in an alternate universe, would have made the Kirkwoods & Co. huge.

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012: Rhiannon Giddens - Tomorrow Is My Turn (2015)

American folk music has always been heavily influenced by black musicians, many of whom have been largely forgotten — especially the women. Rhiannon Giddens is aiming to change that by using her phenomenal voice as a spotlight and shining it on the artists that came before her. In this episode, Amanda leads the Discord & Rhyme team through Giddens’ 2015 album Tomorrow Is My Turn, a mix of well-known standards and obscure gems. The album is not only fantastic on its own, but serves as a wonderful starting point for a larger discussion of the music that has come out of American history and the women who helped to shape it.

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011: Joni Mitchell - Blue (1971)

Joni Mitchell's fourth album, Blue, is host Ben Marlin’s favorite Joni album and one of his favorite albums of all time. But it's also the Canadian singer-songwriter’s most accessible album, direct and hooky in a way she would rarely allow her music to be, before or since. For that reason, it's probably the best gateway to Joni Mitchell for listeners who aren't familiar with her.

Aside from the catchy melodies, Joni’s lyrics pushed the “confessional singer-songwriter” style further than it had ever gone before. Her songs here are deeply personal, but in a way that is still beautifully universal. Dive into Blue with us and revel in Joni’s unique genius.

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