Vocalist, guitarist and songwriter Nick Waterhouse has been called "the young man who makes old R&B" (LA Weekly). His first single, "Some Place," was recorded in an all-analog studio and released on vinyl. Although his records recall the sound of the 1950s, his style is all his own.
On this Song Travels, Waterhouse joins host Michael Feinstein to shares his love of 45 rpm records and raw, live rock 'n' roll. Joined by Jay B. Flatt on piano, the session includes his original songs "Sleeping Pills" and "Hands on the Clock."
Pianist and composer Jessica Williams has gained critical acclaim and multiple Grammy nominations for her writing and remarkable skill at the keyboard. Dave Brubeck called her "one of the greatest jazz pianists I have ever heard."
On this episode of Piano Jazz from 1992, Williams solos on "Why Do I Love You" and joins host McPartland for "Straight, No Chaser" — one of two Thelonious Monk tunes during the session.
For our World Cafe: Next this week we are featuring the music of Sam Morrow's debut album, Ephemeral. Morrow is from the South. He's in his early 20s. His songs are almost all influenced by his recent struggle with addiction and the insights of its aftermath. But by no means is the album depressing — particularly the tracks we'll play today. Meet Sam Morrow.
Courtney Barnett may prefer the mundane, but that doesn't mean we have to. In the songs on her debut album, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, really two early EPs mashed together, the young Australian singer-songwriter relates with hyperfocus the details of a day and moments of simply average significance. A failed attempt at gardening, an invitation to a friendly gathering, a post-breakup rant, an after-party adventure, a concerned call from mom — this can all happen to you!
Nickel Creek's Sara Watkins, Sean Watkins and Chris Thile started out as child prodigies, then built their band into a Grammy-winning commercial force. At the height of their success, though, the three decided to break up and pursue other projects — albeit temporarily, as the title of 2007's "Farewell (For Now) Tour" suggested.
Equal parts rowdy and loving, the husband-and-wife South Carolina duo Shovels & Rope radiates knockabout charm. Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent are equally adept at crooning moonily while locking eyes and tearing through blistering folk-rock anthems without seeming to take a breath. Hearst and Trent often swap instruments, giving their sets a freewheeling, unpredictable quality.
You can bundle it up in MP3s and send it zinging through the ether, but Pokey LaFarge's music still seems as though it has emerged from the dustiest 78 at the thrift shop. LaFarge is a man out of time and a true wanderer, with the vintage clothing to match, but he never seems like a mere novelty act: His songs are too sturdy, with too much infectiously zippy energy, to feel anything but authentic.
Cinematic sweep is hardwired into Band of Horses' sound: Ben Bridwell's voice always seems to be echoing through some canyon or other, whether the guitars are chiming to the rafters or drifting along drowsily. The group's most recent records, Infinite Arms and Mirage Rock, have tended toward the latter half of that equation, but Band of Horses remains versatile in tone, especially onstage.
Originally published on Mon July 28, 2014 11:47 am
Describing Horse Feathers almost inevitably diminishes the band's music: "Let's see, the lead singer has a beard and a soft voice, and he plays the acoustic guitar, and there's a string section. Oh, and they're from Portland, of course." All those identifying details hold true, and yet Horse Feathers' music never feels slight or ineffectual.
One hundred years ago today, the Austro-Hungarian Empire declared war on Serbia. The conflict drew in country after country and grew to an unprecedented scale. An estimated 9 million combatants lost their lives and more than 21 million were wounded in what came to be known as The Great War and, eventually, World War I.
There are a couple moments in "Where Mountains Pierce the Sky" — after nine minutes of acoustic guitar, fiddle and Native American flute, what could conceivably be called a black metal riff with a pop-punk bounce and flurry of twin lead guitars — that clue you into Roads to the North's M.O. (As if the first nine minutes weren't enough.) First, the key-change climax, which may not seem like much, but this tectonic shift is the sound of a mountain piercing the damn sky. Then there's the chugga-chugga breakdown, the enemy of all that is grim.
To music obsessives of a certain age, the current generation of listeners sometimes appears as lightweight grazers at the Internet smorgasbord who seem unwilling (possibly unable) to focus attention at depth on a single piece of music. The summary dismissal: The kids today, they can't handle all of what somebody like a Frank Zappa (or a band like King Crimson) throws at them.
Christopher Denny's voice wasn't the easiest to place when he debuted with Age Old Hunger in 2007. His sensitive vibrato was likened to Roy Orbison's, but there's really quite a chasm between the Big O's ethereal elegance and Denny's more earthbound timbre and flickers of humor.
Upon the dissolution of his old, great New Jersey punk band, the DC Snipers, Dan McGee's two former band members went the way of Horatio Alger, with Eric Holmgren running the Daggerman label in the boom-bust heyday of late '00s garage punk, and Mike Sniper helming the wildly popular Captured Tracks imprint. McGee stayed the course with music, moving down to North Carolina and toughing it out with his follow-up group, Spider Bags. Following multiple lineup and label switcheroos, McGee has stripped the group down to a trio and made another fine rock 'n' roll record in Frozen Letter.
Fin Greenall is a singer, songwriter and guitarist. His band, Fink, has been releasing albums since 2006 and dropped its latest, Hard Believer, this month. He's also a songwriter for hire, who has lent his talents to tracks by John Legend and Amy Winehouse. But before any of this, he was a success in a very different world: dance music.
Jenny Lewis' voice has helped provide a soundtrack to the last 15 years, but it's not part of one specific sound: She's sung heartsick ballads and spiky rock (in Rilo Kiley), summery surf-pop (in Jenny and Johnny), winsome electro-pop (in
La Edad de la Violencia — "the age of violence" — is a pretty dire name for an album of upbeat synth-pop. Tijuana-born singer Ceci Bastida says that's the point: She was pregnant when she began writing her latest set of songs, and found her joy tempered with concern about raising a child in a violent world. Bastida spoke about the origins of the album with NPR's Arun Rath; hear their conversation at the audio link.
There are, you could argue, two strands of Eric Clapton fans: those who love his scorching electric solos and groundbreaking fusions of blues and rock, and those who prefer his mellow, unplugged pop songs from later years.The two groups might just find common ground on his latest album.
When an opera company is in the midst of contentious labor negotiations, the results can be dramatic. This week, the war of words between unions and management at New York's Metropolitan Opera, the world's largest opera company, escalated. An Aug. 1 shut down now seems likely.
At the center of the debate is the ballooning Met budget, which stood at $200 million in 2006 but has since climbed to more than $325 million. Met General Manager Peter Gelb asserts that union salaries and benefits are his biggest costs, accounting for two-thirds of the operating budget.
My first time seeing this Norwegian band was at a fairly soulless convention center in Austin, Texas. They transformed that big, open room into an intimate affair. So having them perform at the Tiny Desk, an already intimate space, was a thrill. It was also the first appearance of a flugabone here. Kristoffer Lo plays that mournful horn and Ingrid Helene Håvik compliments the yearning with words that are mysterious, somewhat dark and contain surprising twists.
A thumbnail description of The Devil Makes Three — "acoustic string-band music with no drummer" — makes its music seem old-fashioned, even quaint. But the California trio plays with boozy aggression and unhinged intensity. If there were a Newport Punk Festival (and, really, why shouldn't there be?), The Devil Makes Three wouldn't be out of place in its lineup, amplification be damned.
There's ambition rooted in the pursuit of personal glory, and then there's creative ambition, rooted in a desire to do what hasn't already been done. Anais Mitchell is a folksinger with a kind, approachable voice.
The Australian musician and singer-songwriter Geoffrey Gurrumul Yunupingu, who goes by simply Gurrumul, is an international star. He has sung a duet with Sting, performed for Britain's Royal Family and President Obama and even graced the cover of Rolling Stone, who called him "Australia's most important voice." That's remarkable for a man who was born blind, is extremely shy and doesn't speak much English.