We kick off this week's episode of All Songs Considered with the sludgy, shoegaze-y sounds of Whirr, a band started by Nick Bassett, bassist for one of co-host Robin Hilton's favorite acts of 2014, Nothing. We follow up with a new track from The Bots, two young brothers from L.A. whose "All I Really Want" is a two-minute sugar rush of high-powered pop-punk.
Ryan Adams used to be the picture of ramshackle prolificacy — a man with Prince's desire to flood the market with product, not to mention an equally slippery grip on the quality-control lever. But Adams has calmed down dramatically in recent years, for reasons ranging from a stabler personal life to his battles with Ménière's disease, which attacks the inner ear and affects hearing and balance.
Originally published on Tue July 22, 2014 10:28 am
If emo has cheerleaders, they're Keith and Cathy Latinen. Since 2007, the Michigan-based husband and wife have tirelessly run the Count Your Lucky Stars label during a time when the genre didn't have many vocal supporters. Many of its releases have inspired bands in the now-thriving young scene to take up the '90s Midwest emo sound and do what they will.
World Cafe's guest today is Ben Watt from Everything But The Girl, the band he led with his partner (now wife) Tracey Thorn in the '80s and '90s. He has a new solo album called Hendra, which he recorded with Suede guitarist Bernard Butler.
No theme has dominated country radio playlists and charts more in the past couple of years than celebration of the sort of small-town good life that features trucks, beer and scantily clad women as the must-have accessories. The young country duo Maddie & Tae aren't fans of the third element in the "bro-country" trinity.
This week's World Cafe: Next artist is Honeyblood, the Glaswegian duo of singer Stina Tweeddale and drummer Shona McVicar. The band's intriguing self-titled debut, released earlier this month, mixes country and folk with moments that veer into lo-fi punk. Download two of its songs here.
The Avett Brothers, led by siblings Seth and Scott Avett, released a proper debut in 2002, then went on to release five studio albums and two live compilations before breaking through to a mainstream audience with 2007's Emotionalism. For a follow-up, The Avett Brothers worked with legendary producer Rick Rubin on I and Love and You. The band performs three of its best-known songs here.
Mark Lanegan has a voice that stops you dead in your tracks, no matter when or how you hear him. The former singer of Screaming Trees has released a series of deep, dark solo albums that have grown progressively more expansive. So has the roster of artists with whom he's collaborated over the years, from fellow rockers like Layne Staley, Queens of the Stone Age and Greg Dulli to folk-minded singers like Isobel Campbell and Duke Garwood, not to mention electronic composers Moby, The Soulsavers, U.N.K.L.E., Massive Attack and too many others to list.
Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 10:31 am
"Nostalgia has no place for the woman traveling alone," the great travel writer Mary Morris once wrote. "Our motion is forward, whether by train or daydream." She's describing a necessary ruthlessness: Women are so often defined by their attachments (family, romance, even the fetishes of style) that becoming light enough to move often requires behavior others might read as cruel or, at best, distanced.
Twenty years is a long time in the life of a band. In the case of Quetzal, its two decades have been spent playing the soundtrack of its East L.A. neighborhoods: an evolving mash-up of Mexican son jarocho, low-rider oldies, cumbia, boleros, rock and blues.
Many Angelenos consider Quetzal as much as an institution as its East L.A. brethren in Los Lobos. Much of the current revival of son jarocho can be traced to Quetzal's history of playing the music when few others bothered.
Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 10:39 am
Two minutes and 11 seconds into "They Dream," from Bear in Heaven's fourth album Time Is Over One Day Old, the music takes a strange turn. The band has been shuttling along at a riveting adventure-movie clip, with Jon Philpot's reverb-swaddled voice functioning as the primary distinct element in a sleek blur. Then, abruptly, the tempo stops. A wash of Space Mountain synths dissolves slowly — the set has been struck. When Philpot begins to sing again, he's the sole occupant of the spotlight.
Broadcasting live from the land of legal weed and sliding into the frame like a giant Pacific octopus, here comes Lese Majesty, the third album from Seattle's Shabazz Palaces. It's definitely hip-hop, but... was that a drum? Human? Synthesizer? Sample of an old record? We may never know. MC and producer Ishmael Butler keeps his cards close.
In a career spanning three decades, Harvey Bassett has done a bit of everything. He bashed drums in a John Peel-approved U.K. punk band in the late '70s, then found himself taken with hip-hop and turntables while visiting New York City in the early '80s.
Even when he was in his late 20s, Tom Petty had a curmudgeonly edge to him, so it's no surprise that he's sneering about threats to the American dream in the opening moments of his new album, Hypnotic Eye. At 63, Petty is well into his transition to full-blown misanthropy, at times splitting the difference between Randy Newman and Bob Dylan.
If you're a classical guitarist, it may be impossible to resist the pull of one iconic piece: the Concierto de Aranjuez by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Many musicians regard it as the holy grail of guitar repertoire, including a man so big in the classical world he is known by only one name: Milos.
Once upon a time, Jenny Lewis was one of those child actors you might have seen on shows like Growing Pains and Mr. Belvedere. But then she started making music, and in the late '90s that started taking off. Once her band Rilo Kiley started scoring hits, it was hard to go back to sitcoms.
Marisa Ronstadt bears a musical name but she has her own style, which seems to be a mix of Mariachi, Classic Rock, Soul, R&B, Indie Pop - maybe she'll fill in any that we've missed. She's played music since she was seven and has her own band now "Marisa Ronstadt And The Know-It-All's." Their debut album is "Blueberry Moon." It's out now - let's hear a little.
Marisa Anderson knows where American guitar music has been and where it is now, and probably possesses an inkling of where it can go. She's studied the history and musical nuance of blues, country and folk music through and through, and ingests it all in a style that's as raw as it true. But mostly, Anderson just wants to kick up some dirt — which isn't easy here, given that the NPR Music offices are relatively clean. (Mind the towering stacks of CDs, though. They could topple over at any time.)
The last time Fred Hersch was featured on Weekend Edition Saturday, the headline read, "Back On Stage By No Small Miracle." It was 2009, and scarcely a year earlier, the jazz pianist had suffered AIDS-related dementia and fallen into a coma for several months. Since recovering, Hersch has come roaring back to music, releasing a string of live albums to critical success.
World Cafe's week-long series Sense of Place: Iceland draws to a close with an unexpected treat. We'd been in Reykjavik for a few days when we learned that June 17 would mark a daylong celebration of Icelandic National Day, the anniversary of Iceland's independence from Denmark in 1944. Events planned for the holiday ranged from outdoor chess matches to accordion concerts, culminating in a free outdoor show for an audience expected to hit 10,000.
Carmen Lundy's contralto voice perfectly conveys the soul and depth of her compositions. She joined Piano Jazz host Marian McPartland in 1999 to perform Mary Lou's Mass by Mary Lou Williams at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.