music, politics, x marks the pod

X Pod Episode 9: Fishbone and the reality-based community

The myth of the reasonable, reality-based Republican died Jan. 15, 2022, in Richmond, Va. 

That’s when Glenn Youngkin took office as Virginia’s governor. The Republican businessman won in a tremendous upset in a state that has been comfortably blue in recent elections. Biden won by 10 points, and even in this election, exit polls showed more people identifying as Democrat than Republican. Youngkin, who trailed in the polls until the last few days, won in part due to the usual failure of young people to show up and in part by keeping Donald Trump at arm’s length. He was the reasonable Republican, running alongside a Black woman for lieutenant governor and a Latino for attorney general. 

And they’re off to a flying start.

Jason Miyares, the incoming attorney general, made some staff changes, which is typical. Less typical is to give virtually no notice before dismissing people who are holding the line on civil rights like the dudes on the Night’s Watch in Game of Thrones. (Is that the right analogy? I didn’t watch much of that show.)

The Richmond Times-Dispatch especially noted that he fired someone with 20 pending court cases on housing discrimination. Lest you think Miyares is just interested in trampling on civil rights, he also terminated someone who has focused on scams targeting older people — someone who voted for Miyares

(We’re going to get to Fishbone, I promise.)

(Also available on Apple, Google and Spreaker.)
Continue reading
music, x marks the pod

X Pod Episode 8: The terrific Thompson Twins

Hello, Gen Xers and Gen X sympathizers! Quick note on show notes today — I’m going to start doing these episodes as both a podcast AND a blog post, so you can check them out on the medium of your choice. Here on the site, you can scan through the transcript and see more links and videos, but I recommend listening to the podcast. Especially if you’re driving.

Here we go …

One mistake a lot of people make in looking at 80s music is dismissing pop musicians because they have nice hair or funny videos or whatever. Critics wrote off Duran Duran as pretty boys, only later realizing that John Taylor is a fantastic funk bass player and Nick Rhodes is a keyboard pioneer. 

And when you think of the Thompson Twins, the first thing you think of is probably hair. 

That’s not fair. 

You might also think they were a band that had a superfluous member or two — the classic “What did Andrew Ridgeley contribute to Wham?” question. After all, bands of that era sometimes recruited people specifically for their looks. That was taken to an extreme when the band ABC added a blonde bombshell (who happened to be an irreverent music journalist) and a very short, bald Japanese man, neither of whom played any instruments. 

In Thompson Twins, Tom Bailey was the lead singer, the guitarist, the keyboardist, the bassist and the co-producer. Alannah Currie, in addition to having the most eye-catching hair this side of A Flock of Seagulls, sang backup and played percussion. Joe Leeway was pictured with a bass on occasion and played a bit of keyboards live, but he was hired as a conga player and backup singer who came to the band as a roadie after a brief career in theater. 

Thompson Twins were a trio (yes, we know, they’re neither Thompsons nor twins — it’s apparently a literary allusion of some kind) after they got rid of all the members of a traditional rock band — two guitarists, a bassist and a drummer.

But just as you can’t write off image-conscious bands, you can’t write off image-conscious members. Watch Thompson Twins videos and live clips, and you’ll see that Currie can play. And if you track their career, you’ll see that they tailed off after Leeway left, which may or may not be coincidental.

Before that happened, they had one of those careers in which they were only big for 3-4 years, but they packed a lot into those years. A LOT.

Let’s take a look. This is X Marks the Pod.

Continue reading
music, x marks the pod

X Pod Episode 6: Zwan, the great lost Smashing Pumpkins spinoff

When the Smashing Pumpkins broke up in 2000, the talented, tortured genius of Billy Corgan was on display again in Zwan, a band with the Pumpkins’ monster drummer Jimmy Chamberlin, future Pixies bassist/vocalist Paz Lenchantin, and dual guitarist Matt Sweeney and David Pajo. It’s a pity it didn’t work out. 

Links: 

Featured photo is from Zwan’s SNL appearance.

A slightly abridged version (no Spotify music) of this episode is also available at or on its way to Apple, Google and Spreaker/iHeart.

music, x marks the pod

X Pod Episode 4: Albums revisited: Fables of the Reconstruction, R.E.M.

Housekeeping note: If you prefer other platforms to Spotify, good news — I’m re-editing previous episodes for Spreaker, Apple and Google, where episodes will be available for a limited time. See next post (above, since this is reverse chronological).

This episode won’t be on other platforms because it’s dependent on music at Spotify.

In 1985, an up-and-coming band from Athens, Ga., released a quirky album that seemed a little puzzling to themselves, let alone a general audience. But in retrospect, how important was this album to the band’s development? And how good is it in its own right?

This is a Spotify/Anchor exclusive, taking advantage of the feature in which we can embed songs. If you’re a Premium user, you should get the whole song (though you can skip it if you like). Otherwise, you get 30 seconds, not of my choosing.

A few links:

music, x marks the pod

X Pod Episode 3: Today’s awful(?) music, with Dave Lifton

Fellow soccer lover, Popdose alumnus, freelancer and early 50-something Dave Lifton joins me to discuss why today’s music sucks. Or does it? Our conclusions may surprise you. 

At the end, you’ll hear either 30 seconds (Spotify users) or the full blast (Spotify Premium users) of Metric’s Gimme Sympathy, comedian Matt Braunger’s take on white privilege, Jason Isbell’s 24 Frames and The Pretty Reckless’s’s’s Take Me Down. The discussion makes reference to those things and a few others things, such as: 

The bit with Julianne Moore dissing Twilight is from the film Crazy Stupid Love, which is great in places and cringe-worthy in others.

One clarification: Cardi B and Megan Thee Stallion’s WAP is due to be included on Cardi B’s next album, but it’s been more than a year since the song was released. The point about the single standing alone without an album release still seems valid.

Finally, check out the New Orleans radio station Dave mentions at WWOZ.org