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We go track by track through the underbelly of music history using research and trivia to locate the roots of our obsession with vinyl records. Proud part of Pantheon - the podcast network for music lovers.

Highway Hi-Fi Podcast Ryan & Joe

    • Musikhistoria

We go track by track through the underbelly of music history using research and trivia to locate the roots of our obsession with vinyl records. Proud part of Pantheon - the podcast network for music lovers.

    The Women Who Pioneered Experimental & Electronic Music (Episode 82)

    The Women Who Pioneered Experimental & Electronic Music (Episode 82)

    There is a long history of the unjust treatment of women musicians whose contributions were often overlooked, dismissed, or stolen. Sadly, it’s likely to be a long future as well. This is on the top of the extra effort and persistence that it took to establish themselves in a sexist business that is stacked against female creators and performers. In particular, the development of experimental and electronic music has been established on the skills of a number of women artists who made monumental and transformative contributions to forward-thinking, technology-minded music. Unfortunately, many of these artists remain far too obscure for their importance in progressing the genre. This episode is an examination of the unsung women who shaped the sounds during the formative years of electronic music. 
    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 2 tim. 13 min
    Desert Island Recordings: The Pod by Ween

    Desert Island Recordings: The Pod by Ween

    Ween set forth on a career-long ambition to tear down standard music industry conventions by hook or by crook. To take that which is weird, obnoxious, and unclean, and show it as important as the falsely pristine parts of life. They were never more successful in this endeavor than on their 76 minute slog of a second record, The Pod. Recorded alone together in Dean and Gene Ween’s apartment that was a converted barn smack dab in the middle of a horse field while both were suffering through mono and high on, well, probably everything. The record sounds like you need to scrape off layers and layers of shit and grime to get the pop tunes hidden within. Underneath the juvenile jokes, the impressive assemblage of vulgarity, fast food orders, molasses-dipped song-smithing, sonic fuckery, squishy atmosphere, and overall friendly misanthropic posturing is a solid and comprehensive American pop music revue. Dinner theater at the slaughterhouse.
    So, tonight’s offering...another scoop of isolation but this time with a heaping of flies, scotch guard, and glandular fever. If you’ve ever woken up and found that someone had taken a deuce on your kitchen floor, you’ve already sort of heard this masterpiece. The sludgiest, brownest record of Ween’s illustrious decades long trouncing of indie music. Come on, it's a beautiful night for a walk on the beach, wouldn't you say?

    Listen to Fewer Owls, mentioned in this episode!

    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 53 min
    The Music of Cults, Part 2 (Episode 80)

    The Music of Cults, Part 2 (Episode 80)

    Today’s episode is a continuing examination of the strange bedfellows of cults and music. Last time, we discussed some of the more academic reasons why leaders and their minions utilize music to recruit, indoctrinate, isolate, and elevate their group, so today we are going to dive right into the fringiest of the fringe groups. The absurd ashrams. The Kookiest communes. The flakiest faiths. The goofiest gurus. The screwiest sects. And the zaniest zealots. So go ahead and plaster your best “Up with People” smile on that face, schedule tomorrow’s deprogramming session, and hunker in your bunker as we prepare to astrally project the second installment of the fascinating world of cult music.
    One of the main resources we used for this episode was WFMU's Music of Mind Control with Micah
    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 2 tim. 12 min
    The Music of Cults, Part 1

    The Music of Cults, Part 1

    Cults can manifest themselves in any number of ways. They deal in the currency of human beliefs….religious, political, racist, or terroristic beliefs. And can be delivered in the form of a prophesying doomsday, increasing human potential, or enhancing one’s position using new age techniques, black magic, crystal skulls, anything on Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, or other supernatural means. And while it can be difficult to know exactly when a group is truly a cult, they tend to share three things: a charismatic, often authoritative leader; an indoctrination program into a transcendent belief system; and a system of control through exploitation. 
    These self-styled leaders prey upon the most malleable members of society. Generally, those are the most stable and predictable of us. Cults use varying means of conditioning and thought reform through deception, isolation, dependency, and fear. One of the more fascinating tools in their horrible toolbox of manipulation is the use of music. As with the case of Bixby and DeGraff, there is a strange balance and codependency of music and mind control. Music is consistently seen playing a role in the establishment and functioning of cults, radical sects, and new religious movements. It can not only bring people together, it can also bring people into the fold.
    In this episode, we delve into the bizarre world of music made from within cults. Tunes that were left behind as relics of evidence of exploitation and excessive, destructive devotion. Results that are so strange because they were almost certainly weaponized by a brainwashed minion. Music that is created in a vacuum of narcissism, removed from free thought and outside influence. Hymns to self-appointed prophets, saviors, divine conduits, Christ reincarnates, gurus, faith healers, alien leaders, and Sting (probably). We will look at music from some of the world’s most infamous cults as well as the songs that are so insular, they make no sense outside of their context, even when that context makes no sense either. So, cleanse off your chakra, open your mind, pull on your robes, lace up your Nikes. Today, the music of the cults. Join us, won’t you? Forever?
    One of the main resources we used for this episode was WFMU's Music of Mind Control with Micah
    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 1 tim. 59 min
    Desert Island Recordings: Laughing Stock by Talk Talk

    Desert Island Recordings: Laughing Stock by Talk Talk

    Like it or not, we are all chained to our past. What we have done slowly becomes who we are.  This holds especially true for musicians as they constantly struggle against what they have already created for the world to behold. The pieces of art that fans, labels, journalists, and maybe themselves become forever tethered to their identity. The crusty joke about “I like their old stuff better” is often truly a death knell for a band’s growth. An artist is frozen in time by their own past success. Why try anything new if it won’t matter to most of the people who care about your product anyway? And, frankly, for a lot of bands, they’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t. Changing styles might spark the sell-out or jumped the shark chants with angry mobs carrying pitchforks and reading Pitchfork. If you don’t, though, you risk growing stale and fading away.
    Some bands lean into a stylistic steadfastness and can compel allegiance through sheer resolute commitment. The Ramones, Motorhead, and the Cramps built a brand on a singular style, albeit their own very unique style. Most artists with some longevity, ebb and flow, grow and retreat, but hang around their general vicinity of comfort. There are tons of examples of this. Artists like Wilco, REM, Willie Nelson, Rolling Stones, etc. It goes on and on. Some artists reinvent themselves constantly throughout their careers but never to a completely unrecognizable degree. This would include David Bowie, Prince, Madonna, and Bob Dylan. Some simply pinball from one horrific sound to the next. Sting, for example, and his tantrically mediocre existence. Some artists might occasionally take an oddball flier on a totally random genre record that exists squarely outside of their cannon, maybe for fun, or by accident, or out of contract obligations...think Serge Gainsbourg’s Reggae album, Ween’s country album, Neil Young’s Trans, Metal Machine Music, Pat Boone’s unfortunately satisfying metal album, and of course, the oft cited here, Chris Gaines taking off the goatee mask to become Garth Brooks. These often sound more on the wrong side of the “novelty to homage” scale. However, there are a few rare cases when an artist completely reinvents themselves, elevating the limits of ambition and shattering preconceived notions of their music. Scott Walker left behind his teeny bopper career to become a pork-pounding master of the avant-garde. Tom Waits evolved from a barroom balladeer to a carnival barking madman. Brian Eno disrobed from his leopard print glam tendencies to essentially single-handedly herald in ambient music. And finally, Talk Talk who started as a group of synth-toting Duran Duran doppelganger doppelgangers to being at the forefront of the post-rock movement.
    As we continue to delve into different forms of isolation shaped and sculpted into musical artifacts, Talk Talk’s Laughing Stock is intentionally distancing from the sentiment and bias of the past. A band that desperately works to create space and blatant disregard from what they are supposed to be. And in the end, it turns out to be too destructive of a force for the group to continue.  
    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 1 tim. 4 min
    The History of Laughing Records (Episode 77)

    The History of Laughing Records (Episode 77)

    For being studied from philosophical, sociological, psychological, and biological perspectives for centuries, there is no one unified theory on the meaning of laughter. A common condition of all cultures, every person is susceptible to these involuntary responses. As Aristotle put it, “Humans are laughing animals”. One factor that most Gelotological philosophers and scientists agree upon is that laughter is an essential social tool. Laughter creates connection, expresses emotion, adds conversational context, signals acceptance, creates positive feedback loops, acts as a defense mechanism, and helps to ferret out the weak and embarrass them. In short, laughter is how we bond. It’s how we tell others and ourselves that things are going to be okay. Social, emotional, and cognitive regulation. A primitive means to deal with our unpredictable, inconsistent, and intense existence. 1900s French Philosopher Henri Bergson wrote that laughter was a collective apparatus that causes a separation from logic and emotion which allows society to intellectually adapt to situations, balance moral quandaries, and correct eccentric behavior. Of course, not too many people are worried about where laughter comes from or what it does, we just know that videos of men sustaining testicular injuries is never not funny. 
    All this begs the question...what do you get when you cross a joke and a rhetorical question? In the 1920s, an answer to that might have been the laughing record fad. 78s featuring uncontrollable cackling took hold of the culture causing a sort of mass hysteria in the sitting rooms around the world. It was a regular pole-sitter laughageddon. Inexplicably, millions of people could not get enough of songs that were interrupted with the wild pre-recorded howls and snorts flatulating from their Victrola phonograph machines. The bizarre novelty record phenomenon had a long lasting impact in both humanizing the nascent technology and laying the groundwork for embedded laugh tracks to assist audiences with remembering the hilarity they were witnessing. On this episode, we chuckle, chortle, snicker, titter, giggle, and guffaw our way through the bust-your-gut history of laughing records. 
    Primary sources for this episode:
    Ian Nagoski of Canary Records
    Cary O'Dell - Library of Congress
    Vocal Tracks by Jacob Smith

    Highway Hi-Fi is a proud member of the Pantheon Music Podcast Network - Home of the Finest Music Podcasts

    • 1 tim. 20 min

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