Esoterica the Podcast discussions are a conversation that borders on the offbeat and unusual. On Esoterica the Podcast, hosts Chris Schultz and Aaron Christian offer a multigenerational look at obscure and esoteric pop culture; covering music, movies, books, or whatever grabs their interest.
Merriam-Webster defines esoteric thusly: designed for or understood by the specially initiated alone. This week's album choice, on the surface, may seem to be the antithesis of esoteric. But it is with this definition in mind that we take a look at one of, if not the biggest bands in the world: BTS.
BTS (Bangtan Sonyeondan), also known as the Bangtan Boys, is a seven-member South Korean boy band that debuted in 2013 under Big Hit Entertainment. The septet—composed of RM, Jin, Suga, J-Hope, Jimin, V, and Jungkook—co-writes and co-produces much of their own output. Originally a hip-hop group, their musical style has evolved to include a wide range of genres. Their lyrics, often focused on personal and social commentary, touch on the themes of mental health, troubles of school-age youth, loss, the journey towards loving oneself, and individualism. Their work features references to literature and psychological concepts and includes an alternate universe storyline. The group has released several albums and performed on several world tours.
Here's the thing about BTS: Despite being second only to Drake as the best-selling artists worldwide, here in the US they get very little radio play. The band sings in their native Korean, making the dense imagery and storytelling of the songs largely inaccessible to many.
Joining us to take a listen to their fourth EP, The Most Beautiful Moment In Life Part 2, is super fan, Kerry Schultz. In addition to being a card-carrying member of the BTS Army, Kerry is an English major who takes a more poetic approach to her translation and interpretation of the band's lyrics. You can check out her Facebook page President Kim's BTS Lyrics Spot. Kerry helps us unpack all that is going on with both the lyrics and the band's storytelling.
Hopefully, we all walk away from this episode with a better understanding of the Bangtan Boys and the many layers of their music. We feel they fit in with our theme, but that's just us. It's up to you the listener to decide if we've helped unlock the mystery of their appeal or simply jumped the shark in our quest for more listens. Let us know what you think over on our subreddit!
This week we continue our journey through Aaron's "laid back and heavy" motif with Highly Suspect.
Highly Suspect is an American rock band from Cape Cod, Massachusetts. The band consists of twin brothers Rich (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Ryan Meyer (drums, backing vocals), Johnny Stevens (guitar, lead vocals), and Matt Kofos (guitar, synthesizer, backing vocals). After starting as a bar cover band, they relocated to Brooklyn, New York, where they recorded The Worst Humans EP with producer Joel Hamilton.
The band's first studio album, Mister Asylum, was released on July 17, 2015, earning Highly Suspect a nomination for Best Rock Album at the 58th Annual Grammy Awards. It's that album we take a dive into this week. Mister Asylum debuted at No. 56 on Billboard 200, and No. 7 on the Top Rock Albums chart, selling 4,000 copies in its first week. Although not as obscure as some of the albums we discuss, the grungy hard rock of Mister Asylum shares the same DNA as albums from Royal Blood, cleopatrick and The Fairview.
You can check out their music video for Lydia here!
So, here's the thing. Morphine was one of the best bands to come out of Boston in the '90s. You can argue the point, and you can be wrong. Formed in 1989 by Mark Sandman, Dana Colley, and Jerome Deupree, Morphine combined blues and jazz elements with more traditional rock arrangements, giving the band an unusual sound. Sandman sang distinctively in a "deep, laid-back croon", and his songwriting featured a prominent beat influence. The band themselves coined the label "low rock" to describe their music, which involved "a minimalist, low-end sound that could have easily become a gimmick: a 'power trio' not built around the sound of an electric guitar. Instead, Morphine expanded its offbeat vocabulary on each album."
The band enjoyed positive critical appraisal but met with mixed results commercially. In the United States, the band was embraced and promoted by the indie rock community, including public and college radio stations (WFNX anyone?) and MTV's 120 Minutes, which the band once guest-hosted, but received little support from commercial rock radio and other music television programs. This limited their mainstream exposure and support in their home country, while internationally they enjoyed high-profile success, especially in Belgium, Russia, Portugal, France, and Australia.
For this episode, we take a listen to their 1993 album Cure For Pain. The tracks "Sheila" and "In Spite of Me" were prominently featured on the soundtrack of the 1994 independent film Spanking the Monkey. The video for "Thursday" also appeared on an episode of Beavis and Butt-head. The track "Buena" also appears in the first season of The Sopranos and in the Daria episode "The Teachings of Don Jake". In 2014, the album placed eighth on the Alternative Nation site's "Top 10 Underrated '90s Alternative Rock Albums" list. It also contains one of my personal top 5 songs of all time, "Cure For Pain."
Sadly, on July 3, 1999, Sandman collapsed on the stage of the Nel Nome Del Rock festival at the Giardini del Principe in Palestrina, Italy, outside of Rome. He was soon pronounced dead of a heart attack and Morphine immediately disbanded.
WBUR has an excellent article about the impact of this seminal album that you can find here. The surviving members of Morphine joined up with singer/guitarist Jeremy Lyons to form Vapors of Morphine. The band continues to perform Morphine's body of work as well as originals. Definitely worth checking out!
This week we listen to and discuss one of Aaron's picks: English rock duo Royal Blood. Formed in Brighton in 2011, Royal Blood consists of Mike Kerr on vocals and bass and Ben Thatcher on drums. Their sound is anchored in Kerr's unique bass playing technique, in which he uses various effects pedals to make his electric bass sound like a standard electric guitar. Their self-titled debut album was released in August 2014. Their second album How Did We Get So Dark? followed in June 2017.
For this episode, we breakdown their eponymous debut album. Most of the album's songs revolve heavily around the riffs written and played by bassist Mike Kerr. The recording of the album was kept under strict conditions, with the band essentially recording the album with only Mike Kerr's vocals and bass guitar and Ben Thatcher's drum kit, with the exception of shakers and tambourines on some of the album's tracks. The production of the album did not involve the use of samples or overdubbing, which meant that most of the album's material was recorded in one take, thus producing a more natural sound as opposed to the popular method of recording various takes and combining them in the final mix.
Sit back and join us we discuss Royal Blood.
Chris and Aaron celebrate Esoterica the Podcast's first birthday by listening to the 1982 album Dog Police by Dog Police. On top of the album feature, they also discuss the unaired pilot for Dog Police from the 1990s featuring Adam Sandler and Jeremy Piven.
Chris and Aaron also muse about the past year from documenting a raging pandemic accidentally, interviewing a bunch of celebrities, and drinking a whole lot of Esoteric beverages.
Help us celebrate the birthday of Esoterica the Podcast and head over to www.esotericathepodcast.com and check out all of our content such as our Famous Folks Series, Vlogs, 1 on 1's, and Free Form Fridays! Also, maybe treat yourself and buy an Esoterica the Podcast T-shirt!
Until next time, stay Esoteric!
This week we are joined by Nolan McGovern and Jake Perreault of The Fairview as we discuss their album Fresh Faced & Effervescent.
The Fairview is a pop punk DIY outfit from Southeastern Massachusetts / Rhode Island. Started in 2014 by Nolan McGovern and his friends from high school, the amateur band played small venues, colleges, and talent shows, including the local stage at Warped Tour MA in 2014 and 2016. 5 years and numerous line-up changes later, The Fairview remains a powerhouse staple in the NE music scene, having co-headlined numerous tours around the Eastern United States and since releasing their first studio release “It Could Be Worse… And It Is” EP in 2017, & debut LP “Fresh Faced & Effervescent” in the summer of 2020
Balancing along the lines of emo and indie with an obvious pop-punk feel, The Fairview is inspired by 2000s pop punk and contemporaries like The Wonder Years and Modern Baseball, but also pull from genres like classic rock, R&B, and jazz.
The band features co-frontmen Nolan McGovern and Jake Perreault, both vocalists on guitar, Isaac Hiller on drums, and Brenna Guay on bass as of late 2019.
Nolan and Jake break the album down with Aaron, and then we share our thoughts on the songs.
Check out the full unedited interview here!
Welcome to our newest venture, Free Form Fridays! FFF is an opportunity for Aaron and I to do what we like best: Sample beers, muse about things, and discuss things that may not fit within the parameters of our regular show. We're not sure what every episode will look like, but we know it will be fun! For an added bonus, these episodes will be recorded on video and uploaded to our YouTube channel, so you can see what we're talking about!
Join us for our first episode, where we consult our Magic 8 Ball and chat with the members of Paint By Numbers.
Read the full blog post here: https://esotericathepodcast.com/2021/...
In September of 1967, an eccentric young musician named Don Van Vliet released his debut album under his stage moniker, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. That album was called Safe As Milk.
Van Vliet was quite a character. He was a singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist. His music blended elements of blues, free jazz, rock, and avant-garde composition with idiosyncratic rhythms, absurdist wordplay, and his wide vocal range. Known for his enigmatic persona, Beefheart frequently constructed myths about his life and was known to exercise an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians. Although he achieved little commercial success, he sustained a cult following as a "highly significant" and "incalculable" influence on an array of new wave, punk, and experimental rock artists. The Residents, Tom Waits, Sonic Youth and many others site him as an influence.
Safe As Milk is the first album from Beefheart, and although more approachable than some of his later work, is definitely unusual. A&M Records decided to drop the band after hearing the demos.
If you're interested in Beefheart, this is a good place to start. So sit back, relax, and join us as we listen to Safe As Milk.
This week we go North of the border to talk with Canadian rock duo cleopatrick about their 2018 EP the boys.
Childhood friends Ian Fraser and Luke Gruntz grew up in Cobourg, Ontario. They have been friends since age 4 and began getting interested in music around age 8 when they first listened to AC/DC. Later in their teens they began recording their own music.
The band's first music festival was the 2018 installment of Lollapalooza in Chicago. In late 2018 they were booked to play at Shaky Knees Music Festival in 2019 in Atlanta.
The band has drawn comparisons in their sound and personal reflection of music to bands such as Highly Suspect, Royal Blood, Artic Monkeys, and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Ian and Luke join Aaron to discuss the boys, and then we share our thoughts.
Listen to the full, unedited interview with cleopatrick here!
On this week’s episode, we take a listen to The HU‘s 2019 debut album The Gereg.
The HU is a band from Mongolia that blends heavy metal and traditional Mongolian throat singing. The band’s name, The HU, is the Mongolian root word for human being. They call their style “Hunnu Rock,” inspired by the Hunnu, an ancient Mongolian empire known as The Huns in Western culture. Some of the band’s lyrics include old Mongolian war cries and poetry.
Founded in 2016 in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia by their producer Dashka, along with members Gala, Jaya, Temka, and Enkush. The HU combines rock music with traditional Mongolian instrumentation like the Morin Khuur (horsehead fiddle), Tovshuur (Mongolian guitar), Tumar Khuur (jaw harp), guttural throat singing and the bombastic bass and drums of rock. All four members have earned Bachelor’s or higher degrees in music and have several years of touring experience throughout Asia and the Pacific Rim.
Since the formation of their band, they have been working on their first album, The Gereg. The word Gereg was used as the first diplomatic “passport” by the Mongol Empire during the time of Genghis Khan.
Thanks to an interview with Louder Sound, we take a look at the meaning of the lyrics on the songs and discuss our impressions.
If you want to hear more of The HU, check out this documentary about their journey to create the album and tour in support of it.
The HU recently released a new single, this amazing cover of Metallica's "Sad But True".
This COVID-19 Relief Effort concert, in addition to live versions of the album tracks, contains some kick-ass new songs which hopefully will be included on their net album.
Make sure to check out their YouTube channel for tons of great content, including "Cooking with The HU!"
This week we revisit a Season One favorite: Modern Baseball. This time around we're taking a look at their 2014 release "You're Gonna Miss It All."
Like their debut album Sports (2012), You're Gonna Miss It All was written while the band members were attending college. Unlike Sports which only featured Lukens and Ewald, "we were just excited to have a full band and make [You're Gonna Miss It All] that way", according to Ewald. Discussing writing, Ewald said one member of the group would come up with a lyric "and we'll go run off by ourselves and try to build around that" All band members take turns on vocals as well.
You're Gonna Miss It All reached No. 97 on the US Billboard 200 and No. 15 on US Alternative Albums. By September 2014, the album had sold over 12,000 copies worldwide. By May 2016, the album had sold almost 30,000 copies in the U.S. "Your Graduation" appeared on a best-of emo songs list by Vulture.
Modern Baseball appears to be on an indefinite hiatus. In January 2017, vocalist Brendan Lukens released a statement saying he would not be joining the band on their upcoming Europe/UK tour, instead opting to stay at home to focus on his mental and physical well-being. In February 2017 the band announced that they would be cancelling their US tour and taking a break to help protect their mental health and friendships.
President of the Cryptic Corporation and long time manager of The Residents Homer Flynn joins Chris and Aaron once again to discuss Resident’s 1980 release, Goosebump.
The Resident’s Historical site describes Goosebump thusly:
“The Residents had long planned to produce a children’s record — of sorts. Goosebump is a collection of Mother Goose rhymes set to music with all of the “original sinister overtones” left in place. They teamed up with their long-time collaborator Snakefinger and recorded the songs using only musical instruments bought at Toys-R-Us. Although children’s toys were used to produce the music, The Residents’ grown-up toys were used afterwards in the mixing of the recording.”
Homer gives Chris and Aaron some background on both the “Diskomo” single and “Goosebump,” along with an update on what the eyeballed ones are up to now. Followed by Chris and Aaron's thoughts on the EP.
Our hosts are joined by the one and only David Ossman to discuss the forthcoming album Dope Humor of the Seventies by Firesign Theatre, a 2 disc collection of previously unreleased material from the early 70's.
Our hosts discuss the very definition of esoteric: Jean-Michel Jarre's 1983 Musique pour Supermarché ( Music for Supermarkets). Only a single copy was pressed and distributed, and its master plates were deliberately destroyed.
Our hosts discuss The Arctic Monkey's 2018 release, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino. The Arctic Monkeys are an English band, formed in Sheffield in 2002. This is their sixth studio album.
Joining us on Famous Folks is CEO Peter Wingsoe, an innovator turned serial entrepreneur and veteran of start-ups with over 20 years of experience in retail management, marketing, strategic advisory, and business development. Peter shares with us his favorite album, Tina Turner's 1984 release, Private Dancer.
For their first album review of season two, Aaron and Chris discuss Denver based 16 Horsepowers 1996 album Sackcloth & Ashes. 16 Horsepower are often credited with helping to create the "Gothic Americana" genre. This album is sure to get under your skin.
Our hosts Aaron and Chris start off Season Two discussing their favorite pastime, Geocaching. If you have ever wanted to utilize multi million dollar satellites to find Tupperware containers in the woods, this is the activity for you!
Aaron and Chris are joined by Something Saturday's lead singer, Aaron Christian, as they discuss their album Trying. Trying was Something Saturday's first and last full length studio album, released in 2018.
For the twentieth episode, Aaron and Chris take a listen to some gothic Americana from the alternative country band The Handsome Family. Aaron and Chris discuss the husband and wife duo's sixth studio album, Singing Bones.
Riffing on a theme, Aaron and Chris muse about their first cars. Like your first love, no matter how bad it ends, it always sticks with you.
The subject of this episode is Hobo Johnson’s album Hobo Johnson’s 94 Corolla. Hobo Johnson is an Abstract Hip Hop and Spoken Word vocalist who was kicked out of his house by father at age 19, spending time living in his car. It was in that car, a 94 Corolla, that Johnson recorded his debut album.
Special guests Jake Morse and Nick Cronin, the artists of this week's album, join our hosts to discuss the 2016 release "Untainted", Jake's newest singles "Something About U" and "Selfless Self Improvement", and future projects. Your hosts enjoy their discussions with Jake and Nick with a tall glass of Yoo-hoo...cue Song 2 by Blur!
For the first official installment of the Famous Folks series, actor RJ Mitte (Breaking Bad, Now Apocalypse) joins The Mad Wanderer and Traveler Excessive (Chris & Aaron) to discuss his favorite obscure album, God Loves Ugly by hip hop duo Atmosphere.
Special guest Homer Flynn, President of the Cryptic Corporation and manager of The Residents, joins our hosts to discuss the pandemic, upcoming Residents projects and his favorite esoteric album "Frank & Clyde Play the Music You've Asked For," a rare and relatively unknown 1962 release from Frank Hope and Clyde Smith of Indiana.
Southeastern Massachusetts local group Bicycle Inn's 2016 release "Reruns" is the subject of this week's episode! Chris and Aaron choose one movie where all but one character gets replaced by Muppets characters whilst also blowing off some steam in regards to COVID-19.
Outsider artist Daniel Johnston's 1983 release "Hi, How Are You (The Unfinished Album) is the subject of this episode. The Austin, Texas based artist struggled with mental illness his whole life, and recorded his albums on a cassette player in his living room. Hi, How Are You was popularized by Kurt Cobain of Nirvana.
Aaron and Chris let their imaginations run wild as they come up with stories for each track from the 1966 Perrey-Kingsley album "The In Sound From Way Out." This album is noted as one of the first ever examples of electronic music!
Our musings on the stock market are interrupted by the news of America's national treasure, Mr. Tom Hanks contracting COVID-19. We recover from the shock to review Land of the Loops 1996 outing "Bundle of Joy."