Stephen Kallao

Hope you brought your volume knob. J Mascis co-founded Dinosaur Jr. and over the past decade, the band sounded just as vital as when it debuted in 1984. Mascis has also been just as prolific when it comes to his own solo albums. He's recorded three records in the last seven years as a place to showcase some of the quieter (yet still loud) songs.

The band Lawrence is led by two siblings, Clyde and Gracie Lawrence. The New York City-raised pair started the band, now an eight-piece group, with a love of pop and soul music. They've had artistic talents for a while: Elder brother Clyde scored his first songwriting credit at the age of 6 for the movie Miss Congeniality and Gracie's pursuing an acting career.

Johnny Marr has a lot of accolades. From co-founding The Smiths to playing alongside folks like The Pretenders and Talking Heads, from invigorating Modest Mouse in the aughts to a successful solo career, Marr has earned himself a legion of devoted fans.

PJ Morton loves Christmas. He even joked that he's been making music just so he could be able to record an album of classics (and a handful of originals too).

Explaining Christmas to someone who's never heard of it is a strange proposition. As our guest and old friend JD McPherson puts it, there's a tree in your living room, a strange man's walking around your house at midnight eating cookies, and then you get clothes.

I imagine it's an even stranger proposition to write an album of modern Christmas originals. Christmas means so many different things to so many people, and the differences matter: Is your audience children or adults, religious or not? Are they jaded? Feeling humorous? Maybe sentimental? You've got a lot of options.

Back in the day, morning radio programs would take all the week's bits, interviews, and wacky phone pranks, and build a brand-new show out of those parts. They'd call it "The Best of...whatever" But it really wasn't 'best of.' It was 'more of.' If you didn't like Sparky's Morning Playhouse, you'd probably hate The Best of Sparky's Morning Playhouse.

The first thing I remarked after finishing my conversation with Marcus King: "This guy doesn't act or sound like a 22-year-old at all." He's incredibly perceptive, and thoughtful, and the music he's making sounds like it's coming from someone who's been working at it for decades. But I mean, he's been playing guitar for audiences since he was 11. I should have seen this coming.

Kurt Vile's song "Loading Zones" is in my head. It's a song about Kurt's adventures driving around Philadelphia. In particular, I've been thinking the last few minutes, wherein he repeats this line over and over: "I park for free."I parked for free. Until I didn't.

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Doyle Bramhall II is a musicians' musician.

In the 1990 book  Bound To Lead: The Changing Nature Of American Power, economist Joseph Nye introduces us to a term he coined; soft power. Soft power is the act of trying to change things through coercion and appeal rather than force and intimidation. In the book, Nye's talking about government and politics, but our guest today, Doe Paoro, writes intimately about the power dynamics of her personal relationships. And Soft Power is the name of her new album.

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