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LGM Podcast: Elizabeth Nelson Presents…The Interrogator


Rob and I were excited to talk to Elizabeth about the fantastic new Paranoid Style album The Interrogator. And Anna Wintour’s attack on Pitchfork, and playing live in Athens later this month, and Doug Yule, and no-money-in-this-deal professions, and stuff like that there.

With the addition of Peter Holsapple the new album is the best musical framing for Elizabeth’s always top-tier songs yet. But don’t take my word for it! Ken Tucker:

The Washington D.C.-based band is led by Elizabeth Nelson, who is also a published music critic. It shows — the music is packed with wordplay, jokes and an undercurrent of serious dread….The signature sound of The Paranoid Style is the voice of songwriter Elizabeth Nelson – a sure, firm tone clearly enunciating the cascade of words that fill out every lyric. Most often half-sung, half-spoken, Nelson’s declarative sentences reveal themselves to be artfully composed verse packed with wordplay, jokes and an undercurrent of serious dread…This is The Paranoid Style’s most tuneful album to date, at least in part because of its new lead guitarist, Peter Holsapple, co-founder of the great pop rock band The dB’s. Nelson, Holsapple and the rest of the band, including Nelson’s guitarist husband Timothy Bracy, hit a peak of pleasure with the guitar solo in the middle of a song called “The Ballad Of Pertinent Information.”

Michael Toland:

The Interrogator sounds like manna from heaven for a certain type of rock & roll fan – specifically those that prefer their riffs ‘n’ grooves to be accompanied by a barrage of smart, pointed, funny lyrics. Unsurprisingly for a writer by trade, Nelson clearly loves words, and has the perfect conversational singing style with which to deliver them. “Are You Loathsome Tonight” and “I Love the Sound of Structured Class” combine sociopolitical wordplay with nods to rock history, ribbing Elvis Presley and Nick Lowe while skewering more modern, less musical concerns.

Joseph Neff:

Nelson’s word gush in The Paranoid Style has been compared to John Darnielle, a similarity that hovers around the fringes of The Interrogator but really comes into focus in the record’s finale “The Findings” (interestingly, it’s the only co-write on the record, the credit shared with Nicky Beer). Deepening the Darnielle connection, “The Findings” moves at a slower pace than the up-tempos and middles that dominate the album as it bustles forward.

Yes, The Paranoid Style is a band. Along with Nelson and new addition Holsapple, the lineup finds Timothy Bracy (Nelson’s husband) on guitar, William Corrin on bass, Jon Langmead on drums, and William Matheny on guitar and keyboards, plus assistance from Matt Douglas, Lisa Walker, and Will Rigby in unspecified roles (there is a smattering of horns and additional keyboards in a few tracks, and even a little violin).

But mostly, The Interrogator is lean guitar rock, with those faster tempos brimming with energy that reinforces The Paranoid Style’s punk foundation. However, Nelson’s love of a wide range of earlier rock styles shines through, but in a thoroughly non-retrograde way, e.g. the inspired Chuck Berry rips in the boisterously stomping opening title track.

The results can sound a little new wavy in flashes, and that’s cool, but maybe better said, Nelson’s songs are more consistently reminiscent of the punk-friendly song-smithing from cats like Nick Lowe, Graham Parker, Wreckless Eric, and Elvis Costello after he hooked up with the Attractions. And so, the instrumental thrust can occasionally exude a post-pub-rocky Stiff Records vibe (bringing us back around to new wave), but there’s a contemporary inventiveness and urgency that further elevates The Paranoid Style’s stuff.

The Interrogator can be pre-ordered digitally and physically, and streamed at all yer major services starting Friday — every hundredth of a cent counts! And you can join Elizabeth for a listening party later today:

Transcript available here.

The LGM podcast is now available from a variety of corporate overlords, so please perform freedom by making your consumer choice. We would very much appreciate reviews, whether of the thoughtful written variety or just by clicking on the appropriate star. The podcast is time-consuming and expensive, so also contemplate tossing a nickel in the jar.

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