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Sound Decisions

Author: Dan Nosheny

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Each Sound Decisions episode focuses on a songwriter and a song. Combining lyrical analysis and music theory geekiness, we take a close-up look at how artists create the songs we love.
8 Episodes
Robin Aigner - Greener

Robin Aigner - Greener


Robin Aigner has been electrifying the Brooklyn scene and beyond with intelligent, quirky, vintage-sounding original songs since 2002. She has shared festival bills with the likes of Gillian Welch, The Avett Brothers and Jolie Holland and in 2010 opened for Emmylou Harris at the inaugural show of The Loveless Cafe in Nashville. A multi-instrumentalist (banjo, tenor uke, guitar) who weaves tall tales into smart, quirky songs, she's been likened to the Decemberists and Regina Spektor. A member of New York's "Antique Guarde," she has toured the United States and Europe. I sat down with Robin to talk about her song “Greener” from the upcoming album "Con Tender." Robin Aigner's music can be found at Her latest CD "Con Tender" is available on October 25th on CD Baby and Bandcamp.
Geoff Simpson is a singer/songwriter in the Philadelphia area. In 2010, while spending year in England, he frequented the legendary open mic scene at Oxford, writing and developing the songs that he eventually recorded on his album OXFD 2010 AD. His lyrics are dense with imagery, and are complimented by an accomplished folk guitar sonority and sweet vocal harmonies. We sat down to discuss his song “The Poverty of Illness or the Luxury of Health.”
Brian Gray is a songwriter and recording artist in the Philadelphia area. His songs encompass a wide variety of styles, though he sums up his overall genre as "nerd rock." They feature digitally programmed instruments as well as catchy wordplay. Brian is in the process of recording his debut album about such subjects as man crushes, philosophical dinosaurs, and pacifist fight songs. We sat down to discuss his song Walk (Live from Woodbury). Brian's music can be found at
Ari Picker’s band Lost in the Trees is an American orchestral folk pop band from Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Ari writes the songs for the group and scores them with orchestral instruments such as violin, cello, horn, and tuba. In 2012, Lost in the Trees released their album, A Church That Fits Our Needs. Picker based the album largely on his mother's suicide in 2009, stating that " I wanted to give her a space, in the music, to be, and to become all the things she didn’t get a chance to be when she was alive." I sat down with Ari to talk about his song An Artist’s Song. To hear the latest from Lost in the Trees, visit
Today I spoke with James Hearne, a Philadelphian singer-songwriter with a powerful voice and a talent for lyrics. James is the lead singer of the four piece band, The Way Home. The band imparts its love of Americana into its well-crafted songs with a blend of jangly rock 'n roll, layered vocal harmonies, and fluid expansive arrangements. James writes the songs for the band as well as for his solo project and plays frequently throughout the east coast. I spoke with James about his song Boundary Blurring, which was recorded by The Way Home on their debut album in 2012. To find James Hearne and The Way Home online you can visit and
In this episode, I converse with Dutch Huff. Together with his brother TJ, they make up the band The Facebreaker. Their eponymous first album was released in 2012, and features eclectic instrumentations and arrangements, styles ranging from metal to electronica to world music to surf, and guest performances by many of their musician friends. The album has a cinematic approach with vivid imagery in both the lyrics and the music. In their own words, “this first album is drawn from the high and lonesome sounds of folks eating dinner, organizing their garages, harvesting wheat, celebrating birthdays, and swimming.” The album also features a set of variations on a theme titled It Just Do/It Just Don’t placed every other track. On this episode of Sound Decisions, we sat down and analyzed the complete set of nine variations. Looking for The Facebreaker album? Check it out and purchase the accompanying booklet at
In this episode, I talk with Bay Area musician Art Elliot about his song Earth Abides. Art's music broaches subjects such as apocalyptic futures, lost loves, bleak ice ages, and depression-era folk art. Fashioning himself as a modern day alchemist Art transmutes popular music to the experimental, jazz to power pop and folk to blues. His tropes are cryptic messages etched into the ether for a generation deaf and droned out to their portable electronic listening devices. Art has performed at many local Bay Area venues including Mama Buzz, El Rio and AMF Southshore Bowling Alley. At the time of this writing Art has emerged from his laboratory with his first EP, Earth Abides, which features songs about robots, national parks, loneliness and a planet where the rich sell the rest of society for monetary gain and shoot themselves into outer space. Check out Art Elliot's music at
In this episode, I talk with the New York City-based singer, songwriter, and pianist, Anna Dagmar about her song Satellite. Anna mixes elements from her training in jazz piano with inviting pop melodies and classical piano textures. For her previous album, Let The Waves Come In Threes, DJ George Graham of WVIA called it “one of the best singer-songwriter albums of the year.” She has been favorably compared to Joni Mitchell, Billy Joel, Judy Collins, and Regina Spector, and cites inspirations including George Gershwin, Anais Mitchell, Sufjan Stevens and Jonatha Brooke. In June Anna released her latest album titled Satellite. The album’s most vulnerable moment is the single, also titled “Satellite.” Inspired by her father’s mathematical mind and her mother’s spirituality, the song joins together the Story of Creation with The Big Bang, and asks the question, “Are we the sum of all we’ve chosen to believe? Can I be somewhere in between?” Dagmar scored an elegantly elegiac string quartet intro that appropriately evokes this grappling introspection. This initial heady mood is then transformed by a winsome hook as the band joins in and uplifts the track with a warm, nuanced groove. Dagmar sings with grace and purity; she elongates notes with an ease and humility that shows her range without “showcasing” it. Her crystalline piano playing is similarly understated. She works with rich and expansive chords interspersed with sensitive melodic flourishes. You can find Anna's music at
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