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Music Picks

'Sound Opinions'

Three chords, two guys and the truth.

By Thom Wong 2 Aug 2007 |

Thom Wong regularly writes for The Tyee's Music Picks column. He wrote the 40 bLinks column for The Tyee, and writes the Thomas in Law School blog.

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If you're reading this, then chances are you're looking for some new music: some new sounds to shake up the old dry air that's pumping out of your speakers. But if you've been thinking that a drunken monkey with a highlighter and a copy of Rolling Stone would have the same success rate that I do, you might want to check out the Sound Opinions podcast, brought to you by the good people at Chicago Public Radio.

Every week, Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot, writers for Chicago's two daily newspapers, get together for about an hour and discuss rock 'n' roll with the kind of passion that most of us lost somewhere between high school and full-time employment. Name me one other show that would have Arcade Fire one week and The Curse of John Ono the next. And not to be pigeonholed, the boys spent an entire episode deconstructing the Don Imus debacle (just Google the name if you happened to miss it), with no less a luminary than Chuck D.

Downloading their "Best of 2007 (So Far)" is a must for anyone with an iPod -- that hour alone will introduce you to more good new music in one show than I could in a year's worth of Music Picks. And if it sounds like I'm trying to drum myself out of writing gig, you couldn't be more wrong; Jim and Greg have simply challenged me to reach for higher heights and deeper deeps when examining the world's universal language.

Also essential is the "Buried Treasures" episode where they somehow manage to discuss even more great music than would fit into the "Best Of" show. Here they choose what is easily one of my top three albums of 2007: the soundtrack for the heart-on-its-sleeve musical, Once. I was thinking of devoting a Music Picks to both the movie and the soundtrack, but Sound Opinions does a better job of explaining why, if you care about music, you must see this movie immediately. Glen and Marketa sit in an empty music store and bring together what will be the film's centrepiece, "Falling Slowly," and it is at that exact moment that you'll either believe in the magic of music and love and a love of music...or you'll burn James Blunt in effigy.

Of course, it wouldn't be much of a show if the hosts just sat around agreeing all the time, and they frequently argue about an album's relative merits. They're certainly not above the odd name-calling. I couldn't find it again, but if you like what you hear, download every available show and find the one where they verbally eviscerate the latest Killers LP. The carnage is spectacular.

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