The New Pornographers are kind of a supergroup, with seven members in the band, including Neko Case and Dan Bejar, who are both acclaimed songwriters with their own successful solo careers. But the band is led by Carl Newman, and in this episode, he breaks down the title song from their sixth album Brill Bruisers. Plus you'll hear some thoughts from bassist and co-producer John Collins. My interview with Carl Newman was recorded live at the Greene Space at WNYC.

Direct download: SongExploder64.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:10pm PDT

Kelela is a singer and songwriter based in Los Angeles. In 2015, she released Hallucinogen, and landed on critics' lists in The New York Times, The Washington Post, Pitchfork, and more. In this episode, Kelela takes apart her song Rewind. To make the track, she worked with five different producers, picking and choosing each for what they could best contribute to her overall vision for the song. This interview was recorded live in San Francisco, at Fusion's Real Future Fair.

This episode is sponsored by Parachute (use code SONGEXPLODER for $25 off).

Direct download: SongExploder63.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:33am PDT

MGMT was formed by Ben Goldwasser and Andrew VanWyngarden in 2001. The song Time to Pretend was one they wrote early in their career. It first came out on their debut: the Time to Pretend EP in 2005. And three years after that, they put out a new version of the song, on their first full-length album, Oracular Spectactular, which was named album of the year by NME and was one of Rolling Stone's top 20 albums of the decade. It went on to sell over a million copies worldwide. In this episode, Ben and Andrew trace how the song Time to Pretend was made, from its dorm room origins, to its first recording, to re-envisioning it with Grammy-winning producer Dave Fridmann. They also uncover the hidden sounds and easter eggs within the recording.

Direct download: SongExploder62.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:44am PDT

Courtney Barnett released her debut album in March 2015. By the end of the year, she had been nominated for a Grammy for Best New Artist, Spin named her the Songwriter of the Year, and she won four ARIA Music Awards in her native Australia. In this episode, Courtney Barnett breaks down the song "Depreston," which began with a visit to an open house, on a househunting trip she took in the town of Preston.

Direct download: SongExploder61.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:59am PDT

In January 2015, Björk released Vulnicura. She described it as "a complete heartbreak album." And in November, she released Vulnicura Strings, a companion album that stripped away the electronics. In this episode, Björk breaks down the making of both the original version of the song "Stonemilker," as well as the strings version. She traces her writing and recording process for the track, her collaboration with the electronic producer Arca, and why she wanted to make a second version.

This episode is sponsored by Hover, Lagunitas Brewing Company, and Turntable Lab.

Direct download: SongExploder60.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:31am PDT

Transparent is an Amazon original series, created by Jill Soloway. The story centers on a family where the father, played by Jeffrey Tambor, comes out to his children and the to world at large as transgender. The first season was released in September 2014. It was critically acclaimed and won a lot of awards, including an Emmy for Outstanding Main Title Theme Music. In this episode, composer Dustin O’Halloran breaks down how he made the Transparent theme, using an 80-year old piano and channeling his own family nostalgia.

This episode is sponsored by Hover, Lagunitas Brewing Company, and MeUndies.

Direct download: SongExploder59.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:21am PDT

Wilco formed in 1994, and 21 years later, they released their 9th album, Star Wars. In this episode, Jeff Tweedy, the band’s singer and principal songwriter, breaks down the song Magnetized. In addition to collaborating with his five bandmates, John Stirrit, Pat Sansone, Mike Jorgensen, Nels Cline, and Glenn Kotche, it turns out Jeff Tweedy makes an active effort to remove his own ego from the process of songwriting.

This episode is sponsored by Vinyl Me Please, Turntable Lab, and lynda.com.

Direct download: SongExploder58.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:56pm PDT

Natalia Lafourcade has won eight Latin Grammys, including three for the song Hasta la Raíz, which won the 2015 Song of the Year and Record of the Year, as well as Best Alternative Song. In this episode, Natalia breaks down the writing and recording process for the track, which borrows from a traditional Mexican folk music called huapango, but also still includes a Juno synthesizer and a pop sensibility.

This episode is sponsored by Lagunitas Brewing Company, Larsen & Lund, and MeUndies.

Direct download: SongExploder57.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01pm PDT

Youth Lagoon is the moniker of Trevor Powers, who has been releasing albums under the name since 2011. In this episode, Trevor breaks down “The Knower,” the lead single from his newest record, Savage Hills Ballroom. He talks about how the idea for the song started by manipulating sampled vocals, and how he flew to Bristol to record the album with producer Ali Chant.

This episode is sponsored by Hover (use offer code LAGOON), Sony Legacy Recordings presenting the new Bob Dylan Box set, andMeUndies.

Direct download: SongExploder56.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:43am PDT

The Arcs is a new project from Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. He started the band with some of the musicians and producers he's worked with over the years. For this episode, Dan and his bandmates Richard Swift and Leon Michels break down how they made the song Put a Flower in Your Pocket, and how its title was inspired by a three-year-old girl.

Plus: the story behind the Radiotopia logo, and the sounds that went into making it.

This episode is sponsored by Hover (use promo code POCKET), MeUndies, and lynda.com.

Direct download: SongExploder55.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:45am PDT



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