The Speed of Sound
Click below to hear interviews with legendary musicians and up-and-coming bands hosted by Kyle Meredith. And check back often for more cool conversation.
I’m a huge Elbow fan. Love every record they’ve put out. Guy Garvey’s voice, the cinematic quality of their songs, lyrics, and movements, it all hits me in just the right way. Their new album Little Fictions has all of those qualities and comes at a time when people might need it most. It’s an album of aural optimism in a time of arguments and challenges. But still, it’s even more than that, as you’ll hear in my conversation with Guy.
Saying that I dare you not to at least bob your head along with Saint Motel’s “Move” isn’t really a fair challenge. It’s near impossible as long as you're not immobile in a neck brace. And maybe even then your body would find a way to hit the groove. It was the lead-off single to their newest record, Saintmotelevision, which announced that they weren’t just any pop rock band, but finely tuned craftsmen.
Fitz & The Tantrums may have arrived as a pop throwback for the next generation, but they didn’t stay in that box for long. They were quick to move into 80s sound experiments with 2013’s More Than Just A Dream, and a present sound all their own in last year’s self-titled effort. That direction progression was accompanied lifestyle and location changes for the band members, too, which is where my conversation starts with co-founder Noelle Scaggs.
Before Josh Ritter heads back into the studio to start recording his next album, he’s road testing new material in front of a fanbase always eager for his next pieces. It’s not something most artists can get away with, but then again, Josh Ritter isn’t most artists.
If it comes down to one man to save rock and roll, my money's on Chuck Prophet. His most recent run of albums harkens back to the purest form of the genre, with feet in both 60s garage and 70s riff-rock. His most recent LP, Bobby Fuller Died For Your Sins, also looks at the legends we’ve lost, and on a wider scale, our troubling surroundings. It’s a statement from an artist who’s finding a new stride to hit 30 some odd years into his career.
It’s been six years since power pop god Matthew Sweet released an album of original music, but brothers and sisters, I am here to tell you that there is a light at the end of that tunnel. Sweet has completed what is essentially a double album, though being released as a single disc and a separate bonus collection that’s due out this year. So I thought I’d give him a call to get the details.
If you were a 120 Minutes on MTV obsessive like I was, you’ll remember the band Velvet Crush. Their 1994 breakthrough, Teenage Symphonies To God, featured the song “Hold Me Up,” which got some great buzz bin play on the channel. These days, the duo spend their time backing Matthew Sweet in his band, but with 2016 marking their 25th anniversary, they gave their landmark album the deluxe treatment with a standalone disc of demos, lost takes, and live cuts called Pre-Teen Symphonies. I gave Ric Menck a call to get all of the details, and a little reminiscing.
It isn’t as easy to find great rock and roll as it use to be. Something solid, loud, fast, and most importantly, fun. But if The Struts have anything to say about that, we won’t have that problem any longer. The new gods of glam came roaring out of the gate with fist pumping, shout-out-loud choruses that keep you on your feet, and inspire you to be a better person. Let me introduce you to their lead singer, Luke Spiller.
Jimmy Eat World released their 8th album, Integrity Blues, last year in what some called a return to form of their earlier works. But that’s not exactly true. Sure, the top songwriting hallmarks are all there, as Jim Adkins is a master at melody and storytelling, but the LP also has more than it’s fair share of surprises, proving that this is still a band with forward momentum.
After two decades in NYC, Mike Doughty made a big lifestyle change recently by moving to Memphis. While the change of scenery isn’t exactly evident in his songwriting, you can definitely sense a man inspired when you talk with him. Not that he seems to ever have a lack of creativity, regardless of where he’s living now. Doughty is a man who, ultimately, doesn’t stop or sit still, something that’s always been great for us fans.
My Morning Jacket may be between albums right now, but that hasn’t slowed any of the members down. Most of the guys ended up backing Ray Lamontagne as his backing band last year, and there were a couple of solo records, too. One of those came from guitarist Carl Broemel, who hadn’t taken a solo outing since 2010’s All Birds Say. Whatever the reasons for taking the time, it’s made for a great collection called 4th of July.
As the story goes, My Morning Jacket’s Jim James had been working on scoring a soundtrack when the studio fired him for being too weird. The jams wouldn’t go completely unheard though thanks to some unfortunately inspiration due to the political climate and world happenings. Still, the resulting solo album, Eternally Even, isn’t a completely dark record, thanks to an unflinching optimism in humanity that Jim carries.
The four years spent between Regina Spektor’s 2012 LP, What We Saw From The Cheap Seats, and the new Remember Us To Life, was spent taking care of a couple of major events; a new marriage and then in 2014, the birth of their first child. So obviously, there are some bigger themes on her mind, including parenthood, love, and time. It was that last theme that she and I fell upon during a recent call.
I first discovered Beth Orton on the 2002 Daybreaker record, unaware at the moment that she had been making music for several years before. But from that day on, I was a fan and always rush to hear anything that she releases. Her 2016 album Kidsticks ranks up there at the top and finds her in the electronic world again, but pairing it her style of songwriting that has graced her last few discs. It’s a perfect marriage.
Mondo Cozmo's Joshua Ostrander spoke to Kyle Meredith about the bridge between his former band, Eastern Conference Champions, and this new one, as well as his hit single "Shine" and what's to come.
Tom Jones has seen it all, and played it all. We first fell in love during his 60s big band sounds, followed his early 80s country turn and rock resurrection later in that decade, but I have to say that his recent foray into Americana is one of my favorite Tom Jones eras. The sound suits him well.
Arctic Monkeys had their biggest success ever with 2013’s AM, which is saying something as one of the UK’s biggest exports since they debuted in 2016, but it just goes to show how many tricks Alex Turner’s gang has up its sleeve. I caught up with them backstage during a festival run to see how it was all working out for them.
Hot Hot Heat arrived on the scene just after the turn of the millennium with 2002 Make Up The Breakdown, instantly grabbing our attention with songs like Bandages, and later, Middle of Nowhere and Goodnight Goodnight. A few years ago though, the band decided to call it a day, but not before one last hurrah. So it’s bittersweet that their final album, this past summer’s self-titled disc, is possibly their best one yet, something I wanted to talk with lead man Steve Bays about. Is it really over?
There’s a common misconception outside of the music industry, but for those of us that get to see the sausage made on a regular basis know, there is no such thing as an overnight success. Take Kaleo for instance. 2016 was definitely the year they seemingly came out of nowhere, an Icelandic band with a love for gritty blues rock, but what most didn’t see were the years spent in their native country, then a strategic move to Austin, their 2013 debut LP and it’s accompanying EP. Still, what they have accomplished in the time they’ve been at it is no small feat, accumulating millions of listens across streaming services, and plenty of sold out shows.
It’s been a lot of fun to watch the rise of The Black Keys. They started out as a couple of guys who like to jam on their amped up version of the blues, and have went on to headline stadiums around the world. Both also spend their time away behind the boards producing for other acts, but it all eventually comes back to the magic that only happens when both are in the same room.
Have you heard the new Garbage record, Strange Little Birds? It’s been difficult for me to stop listening to it. Over 20 years in and the band hasn’t lost a step and Shirley Manson still has plenty to say. In fact, listening to the album, it’s hard not to think this is these are the most personal lyrics she’s put out yet in both personal relationships and world happenings.
Let’s start with the hook. Tanya Donelly has been part of three of the most important bands of the 90s, first with Throwing Muses, then briefly with The Breeders, and eventually her biggest spotlight leading the band Belly. She recently reunited Belly and has spent the summer and fall on a critically acclaimed tour, but started the year concentrating on her solo work, compiling her last few EPs into the Swan Song Series album.
Did you know that for the past few years, Jack Johnson has donated 100% of his tour proceeds to charity? 100%! He’s as much of an environmental activist as a songwriter, but let’s not forget that he’s also a documentary filmmaker and record label owner. He’s also a seriously awesome guy.
It’s an election year and Ani DiFranco is on tour. You can bet that she’s not on the road just for the fun of it. As much an activist as a renowned artist, DiFranco has dubbed her 2016 run The Vote, Dammit! Tour, a phrase she used in the early 2000s when the stakes were just as high. Beyond just the political discussion, we also get a an idea of when her next record will arrive.
It took much longer than it should have, but Cheap Trick are sitting on top of the rock and roll mountain after recently being inducted into the Hall of Fame. What better time to release a new album, right? Bang, Zoom, Crazy… Hello has all of the best hallmarks of the band, power pop chords and soaring choruses. And Rick Nielsen seems as happy as ever to be playing. I should also mention that Cheap Trick are one of my all time favorite bands, so excuse me if I was a little starstruck on this one.
Does it get any better than Bonnie Raitt? When you think of an artist in control, she’s gotta be one of the first names that come to mind as an artists whose seemingly always done it her own way. That can be heard all over her latest record, Dig In Deep, which tackles politics on The Comin Round is Going Through, but also knows when to let it’s hair down, like on the INXS cover I Need You Tonight. It’s probably best to let her tell you about it though.
Ziggy Marley’s newest LP is self titled, possibly because it’s one of the truest representations of the reggae legend, at once expression his humanitarian concerns and the laid back and full of love attitude we’ve come to know from Bob’s oldest boy. He’s also made it a family affair with his brother Stephen joining in for a song.
If it looks like Graham Nash hasn’t been doing much lately, you’re not really paying attention. The rock and roll hall of fame member of both The Hollies and CSNY may have taken 14 years between solo records, but he’s been more than busy touring with his classic bandmates, showcasing his award winning photography, and discovering a new life with new love. It all goes into his newest LP, This Path Tonight, which finds Nash releasing some of his best songwriting to date.
I found myself sitting in a closed hotel restaurant, dim lights and only a few workers milling about. The back room had been opened just for us, for an interview that I never imagined I’d be lucky enough to be part of. While I was mostly calm, the thought that I was about to be sitting across the table from someone as monstrously talented and original as John Cale, co-founder of The Velvet Underground, producer of Patti Smith’s Horses, writer of Paris 1919, made it impossible to have complete composure. So, I got a cup of tea to settle in with, when in walked that legendary mop of hair complete with the soul patch he’s been sporting. After a few pleasantries and talk of air travel, we began. And that’s when I realized, “I’m having tea with John Cale.”
Guster have always been one of the most creative bands in the game. Always up for the adventure of promoting their records in different ways, to their ever changing sound. Their latest album, Evermotion, finds them dipping their toes into synth waters, and occasionally jumping right in. For a band who’s always had an identity crisis, this record is miles away from the acoustic guitar and bongos that you think the band sounds like. And if that is the image that you have of Guster, you haven’t been paying attention. Let me help correct that.
Colin Meloy says he wishes he would have never used the word "hiatus" when referring to his band The Decemberists taking time off after The King Is Dead, and album that took the Portland collective to their highest hights. It doesn’t look to have stifled them too much considering the critical acclaim of their most recent, don’t-call-it-a-comeback LP What A Terrible World, What A Beautiful World, and it’s companion EP Florasongs.
Harry Connick, Jr. talks with Kyle Meredith about about his new album, That Would Be Me, how the Newtown shootings became the inspiration for one song, and his own relevancy in the pop market.
Kyle Meredith caught some microphone time with Billy Corgan to talk about The Smashing Pumpkins' album, Monuments To An Elegy, and writing "alternative" for a generation born long after the genre's heyday.
Sarah McLachlan has been a source for many, some that you wouldn’t expect like DMC from Run DMC, who’s on record saying that her song Angel saved his life. Her songwriting and optimistic outlook are both keys to her longevity, evident in the sold out theatre shows that still pack her tour schedule. She’s a lifer, and she’s still got plenty to say.
Kyle Meredith talks with David Lowery and Johnny Hickman of Cracker about their 25 year journey from the ashes of Camper Van Beethoven to writing music for Sharknado.
After 13 years of being backed by The Nocturnals, Grace Potter has taken 2015 to strike out on her own. Her debut solo disc, Midnight, is full of glittery pop and all night dance party anthems that might have seemed out of place with her full band. It was with that in mind that we dove into the LP’s creation, as well as her life outside of music.
The legendary Rickie Lee Jones invited her New Orleans surroundings to become part of her band on The Other Side of Desire, her 13th disc. The people, the language, and mood of the Crescent City are on full display throughout. But Jones is still an artist that you’d fail at trying to define or categorize, always shifting her sound. That’s what makes her one of the most unique, and greatest, artists of all time.
Taylor Goldsmith of Dawes discusses the band's fourth album, "All Your Favorite Bands."
Mumford and Sons explain the sound of their most recent effort, "Wilder Mind."
You’d find little debate about calling Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn the king and queen of the banjo—Fleck, a master who has taken the instrument across multiple genres, and Washburn as someone who re-radicalized it by combining it with Far East culture and sounds. As the story goes, the two met each other at a square dance, eventually fell in love, played together in a quartet alongside Ben Sollee and Casey Driessen, got married and would occasionally pop up in each other’s solo shows. But it wasn’t until last year’s Béla Fleck & Abigail Washburn LP that the two finally made it musically official.
A soundtrack of U2's new album, Songs Of Innocence, and a few older favorites, serves as the undercurrent in this interview with The Edge and Adam Clayton talking with Kyle Meredith during their Innocence + Experience Tour.
Kyle Meredith talks with Paul McCartney about the science behind his songwriting, the redemption of Wings, and his life outside of music, all set to the soundtrack of one of the greatest musicians of all time.