Category: Personal Playlist

Personal Playlist: Jack Black is looking to rock


Jack Black has concerns about the state of rock music. "We’ve got a song on the new album called 'Rock Is Dead,’" says the actor-musician in reference to "Rize of the Fenix," the latest from his L.A. comedy-metal band Tenacious D, due out May 15. "It’s not dead -- it’s actually on life support. I’m hoping that it, too, will have a rebirth like the phoenix. Maybe we’ll usher it in." Black shared some signs of life with Pop & Hiss.

Tom Waits, "Bad As Me." "Those first three tracks are worth the price of admission. He’s so real; he’s gonna be here in a hundred years. Don’t you feel it? Objectively speaking, can’t you look at some people and go, 'Hundred years -- still gonna be here’?"

Leonard Cohen, "Songs of Leonard Cohen." "I had never listened to him. Everyone’s always like, 'Ah, Leonard Cohen,’ genuflecting over the genius. And I just never listened, or I listened a little bit and never got it. So finally I was like, 'I’ve gotta see what all the hubbub is about.’ And I got his first one, the one with 'Suzanne,’ and I just listened to it and was like, 'Hundred years.’"

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Personal playlist: Marc Maron

Marc Maron

Aggressively honest stand-up comedian Marc Maron generally reserves the guest spots on his "WTF" podcast for his comedy peers. In an episode posted this week, however, Maron sat down with "Cruel to Be Kind" songwriter Nick Lowe. In honor of the occasion, Maron shared some of the music he's been listening to — and reading about — with Pop & Hiss. 

"I went on a little bit of an Art Pepper kick for a while after I read his autobiography," Maron said of the late saxophonist's "Straight Life." "It’s such an insane book. There’s about 25-30 pages of music talk, and 400 pages of jail and dope talk. He's one of the great alto-sax players, and after 400 pages the moral of his life is, 'Don’t be a rat.' "

Maron, whose music picks touch on jazz, blues and punk rock, will appear Wednesday night at Largo with Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony.

John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." "I’ve been playing some vinyl lately, and not just because I have an old turntable. People have been giving me records, and that means I get back into my records. Someone gave me this double album, this boxed set. It’s a vinyl pressing on 180 gram vinyl, and it runs at 45 rpm, and I guess this is the way it was put out originally. It’s beautiful. It sounds great. I’ve been listening to that a lot. I love this stuff. I don’t know a lot about it. I’m not educated in it, but I have a lot of the bebop stuff on CD, primarily the names everyone knows — Thelonious, Miles and Coltrane.

"I listen to that stuff, but I can’t claim to know a lot about jazz. I do like to have it on sometimes. It’s pretty exciting stuff. There’s very few mediums where people so clearly went over the edge. It’s like, ‘Here’s your structure, and now I will see you later.' "

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Personal playlist: Fred Armisen

Portlandia's Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein
Few comedians are as intrinsically tied to rock 'n' roll as "Saturday Night Live's" Fred Armisen. He was a drummer in the early '90s Chicago hard-core band Trenchmouth, and his role on IFC's "Portlandia" often sees Armisen lampooning indie rock culture alongside Carrie Brownstein of Sleater-Kinney/Wild Flag fame. Here, Armisen speaks with Pop & Hiss about some of the records he can't live without.

"I haven’t put that much thought into this, and that’s a good thing," Armisen said beforehand. "Otherwise, I would over-think this. These are generally the albums I go to the most, or the albums that stick out in my mind as perfect from beginning to end."  

Prince's "Sign o' the Times." "Everything is perfect on this album. Everything. Every note, every lyric, every piece of artwork. It’s a monster of perfection. It sounds like it was created by someone who isn’t of this earth. It’s almost like an alien came down to make music.

There’s a song called 'The Ballad of Dorothy Parker,' and I still can’t figure out what kind of music it is. There’s a drum pattern to it that can’t be classified as anything. It has a danceable quality, but it’s still something different, and it’s not regular R&B. I can’t even tell if it’s a drum machine. I don’t know if it’s electronic pads or how that pattern is working. There’s a roll in it -- a snare roll, but it still sounds electronic. And the lyrics? There’s no way you can do them justice. And the artwork? On the cover, he’s a little out of focus. I love that. There’s a drum kit, and he’s a little out of focus. It’s everything an album should be. And then there’s androgynous photos on the inserts. Who is that? It’s great. Prince had every opportunity to make ‘Purple Rain Part 2,' or something to try and compete with Michael or Janet Jackson. Instead, it’s an R&B concept album."

Kraftwerk's "Computer World." This will never sound dated to me. It’s from 1981, and it still sounds futuristic. It’s still ahead of its time. I was a teenager when I bought that record, and I remember when I put it on my turntable. The sound was so crisp. It was so minimal, and it just sounded great on my stereo. Even today, however I listen to it, it’s still crisp and bright. I like that they had to use analog to record it, but it’s still digital sounds. It’s a perfect mix of instrumentation and recording technology. It jumps out of my speakers and headphones all the time.

This is another one where I can’t figure out how they made the sound. It’s not as simple as finding a setting on a synthesizer. It’s like, ‘What is that?’ Especially the rhythms. It almost sounds like the equivalent of a CD that’s scratched -- the clicks on the scratched CD. It’s so tinny, but it has so much rhythm to it. They could have new-waved it up. This was the prime time for new-waving it up. Instead, this is ice cold. This is an ice cube of an album."

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Personal Playlist: Alexandra Patsavas

Head of Chop Shop Music Supervision Alexandra Patsavas talks about her favorite music these days.


As head of the L.A.-based firm Chop Shop Music Supervision, Alexandra Patsavas has placed music in television shows and films such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Gossip Girl,” “Mad Men” and the “Twilight” series. Her ear for music and knack for breaking new acts via the big and small screens have translated into sales for Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, the Killers, Snow Patrol and the Fray. The longtime music supervisor spoke with Pop & Hiss about what she listens to, and what she wants you to hear.

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Personal Playlist: Henry Rollins

The musician/DJ favors Miles Davis, Vum, Le Butcherettes and Boris.

Henry Rollins!!!
If there’s any musician with a passion for potent playlists, it’s Henry Rollins. As a Saturday-evening DJ on KCRW-FM (89.9), you could say the former Black Flag frontman depends on them. His aggressively eclectic tastes range from iconic jazzmen to obscure Japanese acts. The gregarious punk legend shared some of his recent favorites with Pop & Hiss.

The Miles Davis Quintet “Live in Europe 1967: The Bootleg Series Vol. 1”: “It’s the lineup featuring Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter, Ron Carter and Tony Williams. That’s the lineup that did ‘Miles Smiles’ and ‘Seven Steps to Heaven.’ Super prolific. It’s Miles with one of his most ridiculous lineups of all, just black belt samurai jazz killers. And it’s ‘Bootleg Series Vol. 1,’ which means that there’s hopefully more to look forward to.”

The local Topanga Canyon duo Vum and their limited edition vinyl, “Night Sun”: “It’s a guy and a girl, and they make this really low-key minimal music. I get so much stuff sent to me and a lot of it is, ya know, pretty bad. But this band immediately jumped out. One of the great things about the radio show is that you get to help some really good bands, when they’re basically running a record company out of their living room. So I’ve played them almost weekly on the radio.”

The bilingual punk band Le Butcherettes and their record “Sin Sin Sin”: “It’s a great record, but live, forget about it. [Frontwoman] Teri Gender Bender is a full-on rock star … in a good way. I saw her open for Iggy the other night and she just owned it up there. It’s great to have such raw talent happening right here in L.A. So I try to amplify anything like that.”

Japan’s Boris and “New Album”: “Boris is one of my favorite bands but they make it really difficult to collect them. It’s fun but it’s expensive. They’ll do like three versions of all of their albums. They did a version of the two albums mixed together called ‘The New Album’ and I think it had a few songs from ‘Heavy Rocks’ and a few from ‘Attention Please.’ Remixed and reinvented, it’s completely amazing and completely worth it.”


Personal playlist: Tom Waits recalls Captain Beefheart, the late Don Van Vliet

Personal Playlist: Joss Stone: A lot of ‘Blue,’ a little Birdy

Personal Playlist: Peter Stormare’s obsession with Billie Holiday

--Nate Jackson

Photo: Henry Rollins  Credit: Kevin Winter / Getty Images

Personal playlist: Tom Waits recalls Captain Beefheart, the late Don Van Vliet

The singer-songwriter, whose new album is called ‘Bad as Me,' talks about Captain Beefheart, the late Don Van Vliet.

Tom Waits

Tom Waits sat at a table at Pete’s Henny Penny in Petaluma last week talking about his forthcoming release, “Bad as Me.” The 61-year-old singer, songwriter, actor and roustabout calls record promotion “doing the dishes” — talking to the press after the feast that is the creative process is finished. The Times will have a full-length feature on his new album in Sunday’s paper, but here he discusses the late singer and artist Don Van Vliet, a.k.a. Captain Beefheart, who died earlier this year.

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Personal Playlist: Joss Stone: A lot of ‘Blue,’ a little Birdy

Personal Playlist is a Pop & Hiss series in which personalities in and out of the pop world share their recent music picks.

Joss Stone 1

Joss Stone chilled after a recent media event/listening session at Henson Recording Studios in Hollywood, where she shared the stage with Mick Jagger, Dave Stewart, A.R. Rahman and Damian Marley — all fellow members of SuperHeavy, a new supergroup in which she shares the microphone with Jagger.

The British singer, 24, has had a busy summer. In addition to prepping for SuperHeavy’s September release, she’s also just dropped her fifth solo album, “LP1.” Co-produced with Stewart, it was recorded in Nashville, and features Stone’s confident voice above country-soul instrumentation.

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Personal Playlist: Peter Stormare’s obsession with Billie Holiday

The character actor and musician assembles an eclectic group of artists such as Esperanza Spalding and Angela Bassett for ‘A Tribute to Billie Holiday.

Peter Stromare's personal playlist

It would be quite a stretch to watch Peter Stormare’s turn as the demonically silent henchman Gaear Grimsrud in “Fargo” and think, “This is a man moved to tears by the music of Billie Holiday.” But the man who pushed Steve Buscemi into a wood chipper in the Coen brothers’ classic knew he wanted to be an artist after being cut to the bone by Lady Day’s music and life story.

“I grew up in a snowy Swedish town, and when I heard her music and read ‘Lady Sings the Blues,’ I couldn’t fathom her life,” he said, driving through downtown Los Angeles en route to a video shoot for a collaboration between Christina Aguilera and Maroon 5. “Her story was a dagger. I felt her blood and pain, and I knew right then I had to leave for America and be an artist.”

Holiday’s music and story became a deep-rooted passion for the actor, who consistently steals scenes in darkly funny character roles in films such as “The Big Lebowski” and “Constantine” (in which he played Satan). This month, his boutique record label, StormVox, is releasing “A Tribute to Billie Holiday,” its most high-profile release yet. Recent best new artist Grammy-winner Esperanza Spalding, producer maven Babyface and folk standout Rickie Lee Jones are among the pointedly eclectic artists tasked with re-imagining Holiday’s standards, no mean feat given the singularity of the originals.

“I’ll Look Around” is one of the most beautiful songs ever recorded, Stormare notes, adding, “But Esperanza Spalding took today’s view of it. I grew up in theater where we do plays over and over, and every time I hear that you can’t remake Hitchcock I think ‘Why not?’ That goes for music too.”

Stormare, a musician and songwriter in his band Blonde From Fargo, knew he couldn’t compete with the originals. “‘Strange Fruit’ is a landmark of the civil rights era,” he said. “She was a Martin Luther King for music.” In hiring Angela Bassett to read parts of Holiday’s memoir as interludes, he underlined that the album was meant to tell her life story as well as explore her catalog.

“Tribute” was a labor of love that also threw his bank account into the metaphorical wood chipper. But he felt he had no choice.

“I had to sell my cabin in Big Bear to finance the album,” he said, laughing ruefully. “But I had to do it. I had to get this out of my system.”

Photo: Peter Stormare in Touchstone Pictures'/Jerry Bruckheimer Films movie Bad Comapny


Personal Playlist: Patti Smith listens to opera — and Adele

Personal Playlist: Music producer Tricky Stewart

Personal Playlist: Nick Offerman, a.k.a. Ron Swanson of 'Parks & Recreation'

— August Brown

Personal Playlist: Patti Smith listens to opera — and Adele

Patti Smith can’t stop listening to Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ She’s been busy touring, accepting awards for ‘Just Kids,’ acting in a Law & Order’ episode and writing a crime novel.

Patti smith

 We ran into Patti Smith in London when she dropped by the set of “Dark Shadows” to visit with her good friend Johnny Depp. She wanted to “see him work and watch his process” on the Pinewood Studios soundstages, where Tim Burton is making his latest eyeliner epic.

As it happens, the 64-year-old made her acting debut last month on an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent,” but it’s hardly a surprise to see her pushing into new areas of art and expression. Smith just won a Polar Music Prize in May and is still collecting trophies (a National Book Award among them) for “Just Kids,” the 2010 memoir of her relationship with artist Robert Mapplethorpe.

Smith has said that she’s also working on a crime novel set in London, but when we bumped into her all she wanted to talk about was opera — and her singular obsession in the pop music world.

“I've been listening to Adele nonstop,” Smith said. “That ‘Rolling in the Deep’ song, I must have listened to that a thousand times. I’ve been on tour and I got really sick. I had bronchitis, but to rev myself up I listen to Adele's ‘Rolling in the Deep.’ I would just play that and feel stronger. I just love her. She’s got a very touching yet mature delivery. I love her voice, and that is just a killer song. I'm going to get my band to cover it. I have to sing it in a lower range. She’s so young, too. I’d love to meet her ... and tell her to stop smoking cigarettes.”

— Geoff Boucher

Personal Playlist: Music producer Tricky Stewart

Trickystewartstory Asking a music producer what's on their playlist can easily turn into a self-promotional list of the songs they've had a hand in crafting. But Grammy-winning producer Tricky Stewart, the man behind game-changing hits for Beyoncé ("Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)"), Justin Bieber ("Baby") and Rihanna ("Umbrella"), like most of America, currently has a big-voiced Brit at the top of his list.

" 'Rolling in the Deep' from Adele is my favorite thing out right now," Stewart recently told Pop & Hiss. "I skip around a lot. I'm listening to Chris Brown a lot, Wiz Khalifa, Frank Ocean” (Stewart, it should be noted, produced Ocean's first single, "Novacane").

Stewart said he's less attracted to "producer-driven tracks" as a music listener, drawn instead to the "connection between the artist and the music, and the realness of the story behind it." When asked what someone would find if they scrolled through his iPod, Stewart had no idea -- not that it was a lapse in memory.

"I have people that I respect their opinion make me iPods. I have a couple of different ones from people of music they think I should hear,” Stewart said, including his manager, close friend and assistant engineer who have pushed music on him. “I haven't started listening to them yet."

Stewart recently logged studio time with Kelly Rowland, Mary J. Blige, Leona Lewis, Ne-Yo, Drake, Jesse McCartney, Bieber and has two songs on Beyoncé's latest album, “4,” including promotional single "1+1."


Personal Playlist: Justin Timberlake

Personal Playlist: Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Personal Playlist: Nick Offerman, a.k.a. Ron Swanson of 'Parks & Recreation'

-- Gerrick D. Kennedy

Photo: Tricky Stewart. Credit: Joe Scarnici / Getty Images.


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