Discord & Rhyme: An Album Podcast

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

027: The Jam - Setting Sons (1979)

Get jammed by Discord & Rhyme! This week, we spotlight British punk rockers the Jam, specifically their 1979 post-punk opus Setting Sons. John, Rich, Dan, and host Ben unpack Paul Weller's dark subject matter and make the case that it can still result in fun — and even uplifting — music. It doesn't hurt that the band's spare, crackling energy makes even the dourest songs danceable, and that the 20-year-old Weller's worldview — cynical and biting, but somehow still hopeful — transcends the grimy streets of late-1970s England. Join four Yanks (plus one expat in an edifying guest appearance) as we discuss how Paul Weller's message resonates with us — even 40 years later, even Over Here, and even in our decidedly un-punky mid-thirties.

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026: Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band - Trout Mask Replica (1969)

This week, the Discord and Rhyme crew settle in for a breezy, fast ‘n bulbous chat about one of the most infamously impenetrable albums of the 20th century. Sure, we could have made it easy on ourselves and chosen one of Captain Beefheart’s shorter, more accessible records, but where’s the fun in that? On this episode, Dan guides Mike, Phil, and Rich through Beefheart (and the Magic Band)’s 1969 magnum opus Trout Mask Replica, a double (yes, double) album that, depending on who you ask, is either a hugely influential, groundbreaking masterpiece or completely unlistenable noise. Listen as we discuss the insane story behind how the album was made, list the dozens upon dozens of bands and artists who have scrapped the album’s sound for parts in the decades since, and break down why people who enjoy it aren’t just trying to prove how cool they are.

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025 (feat. Dave Weigel): Yes - The Yes Album (1971) and Drama (1980)

It’s Discord & Rhyme’s 25th episode, and we’re celebrating by tackling not one, but two Yes albums (with more in common than they appear to have): The Yes Album from 1971, and Drama from 1980. In this double-length episode, Rich, Phil, and Amanda join forces with Prog John and (making a return appearance) with Washington Post reporter David Weigel, aka Prog Dave, aka The Man Who Wrote The Book On Prog. Yes has one of the craziest histories of any major band from the 1970s onward, marked by a willingness to replace anybody at any time, most notably demonstrated by the time that they responded to the departure of their singer and keyboardist by replacing them with The Buggles, and this episode features a deep dive into the history of Yes and the circumstances that led to one of the least likely lineups ever formed. Join us for a discussion of one of John’s very favorite bands, full of silly sing-alongs, ridiculous listicles of yesteryear, and one of the most scorching hot takes this show will ever produce.

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024 (feat. Libby Cudmore): The B-52’s - Wild Planet (1980)

SURPRISE!!! We just thought we’d drop by, for an episode that’s truly a Discord & Rhyme party out of bounds. This week, Rich turns his watch back to late ‘70s Athens, GA, where you were either a student, a townie, or one of the artsy deadbeats in between. The B-52s fit into that last category, and the quintet had no artistic inspirations — they just sort of alternated between hanging out and crashing people’s parties, until a fateful encounter with a flaming volcano rum drink birthed the band proper. You most likely know the B-52s from their late ‘80s MTV comeback hits “Love Shack” and “Roam,” but we’re delving into their 1980 sophomore album Wild Planet, which captures every side of the band’s unique vibe, as well as how all five members contributed to their signature sound. And we’ve got a B-52s-sized panel for you: Rich is joined by Amanda, Phil, Ben, and special guest Libby Cudmore, who we hope will make a return visit to Discord & Rhyme’s wild planet.

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023: Kate Bush - The Dreaming (1982)

Discord & Rhyme’s panel is just a power trio this week of John, Rich, and host Producer Mike, but that didn’t stop them from covering an album with some of the headiest concepts in popular music. On 1982’s The Dreaming, Kate Bush opines on the futility of squeezing the totality of human knowledge into your puny brain; tells a tale of a heist caper that’s more about the anxiety of pulling off a heist; and puts you in the head of a Viet Cong soldier who’s about to throw a grenade — and that’s just the first three songs! Mike loves The Dreaming because the music sounds like it’s “happening in some non-Euclidean space inside Kate Bush’s head,”  and if you’re only familiar with her already out-there hits like “Running Up That Hill” and “Wuthering Heights,” the pure sonic experience of this album may be overwhelming. But if you sit back and let the weirdness in, this is music unlike anything else on this plane of reality.

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022: Blue Öyster Cult - Secret Treaties (1974)

Yeah, yeah, we know, I got a fever, yadda yadda. At this point, Blue Öyster Cult are probably best known for the 2000 Saturday Night Live sketch “More Cowbell,” where Christopher Walken repeatedly demands that the band play up the faint cowbell in their 1975 hit single “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,” and we all had a good laugh. But the sketch barely scratches the surface of the fascinating, strange depths of BÖC’s music. The band started off as basically a vessel for the vision of rock critic Sandy Pearlman, who filled their lyrics with convoluted mythology and gave the band rock music’s very first decorative umlaut. And despite their goal of being “the American Black Sabbath,” BÖC didn’t really sound like any rock music of the time, to the point where Eric Bloom could call his rhythm guitar “stun guitar” and nobody would think to ask why. In this episode, Phil leads Dan, Mike, and Rich through Secret Treaties, the pinnacle of the band as a cohesive vision, featuring a lyrical cameo by Patti Smith and the story of a U.S. Supreme Court justice who steals people’s eyeballs. You know, like people do.

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021 (feat. Barbara Manning): The 6ths - Wasps' Nests (1995)

Tribute albums are generally mighty rough terrain. Admittedly, you will every so often come across a gem of an interpretation like the Cowboy Junkies' killer version of "Ooh Las Vegas" (on Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons), but these collections generally require you to paw through a disproportionate amount of oyster gunk to get to their pearls. Lucky for us, the Magnetic Fields' fastidious idea-geyser Stephin Merritt decided to preempt anyone else's attempts to pay tribute to his music by doing it himself. The result was 1995's indie-pop classic Wasps' Nests, recorded under the tongue-punishing name the 6ths, for which Merritt wrote and recorded all original songs, but recruited the cream of the who's-who of mid-'90s indie-rock to sing each of the tracks.

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020: Robert Plant and Alison Krauss - Raising Sand (2007)

Remember when Amanda said T-Bone Burnett is her favorite producer? She’s proving it this episode by walking Rich, Will, and John through Raising Sand, the unlikely collaboration between blues-rock god Robert Plant and bluegrass goddess Alison Krauss. These two found the common ground between their respective genres by covering artists from the Everly Brothers to Sam Phillips, and found their own beautiful sound while they were doing it. All of the musicians on this album are incredible, but nobody except T-Bone Burnett could have seen this project through, and that is why we love him.

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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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