Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 11:57 am
I've never seen anyone play guitar quite the way Marian McLaughlin does, or sing the patterns she sings. After catching her live a few years ago, I thought this could either be someone naively noodling or deliberately taking an adventure. I've come to the conclusion it's a bit of both. You can see and hear how McLaughlin pulls this off in a new video for her song "Before You Leave."
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the whale-sedatives we ordered to help us endure the Green Bay Packers' losing streak is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how to handle the desire to take a break from music.
When your first full-length album draws fans like ?uestlove of The Roots and Gilles Peterson from the BBC, you've probably hit on something special. That's just what Melbourne, Australia's Hiatus Kaiyote did with Tawk Tomahawk, a record that blends jazz and soul with warm vocals and fuzzy effects.
It's hard to keep your eyes off singer Nai Palm: She's a true original, as you can see in this live performance of "Nakamarra" as part of Hiatus Kaiyote's Morning Becomes Eclectic debut.
Friday night at 1:45 a.m., at least a hundred people were on the main door line for Output, a dance club in Brooklyn that opened near the beginning of the year. They wouldn't be getting in for a while: the spot had reached capacity a half-hour before, shortly after the night's headliner, John Digweed, had begun his DJ set, and they were only letting in folks who'd bought tickets specifically for the show. "No wristbands," said the doorman. The wristbands were all-events passes for the sixth annual Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival (BEMF) — the nominal reason for Digweed's appearance.
"I feel as though there's almost two streams going through my veins, two bloodstreams," says trumpeter and composer Amir ElSaffar, leader of Two Rivers. "A lot of my life has been about reconciling the two."
Originally published on Thu March 27, 2014 3:25 pm
On this installment of World Cafe's Latin Roots series, music producer and singer-songwriter Rachel Faro discusses an Afro-Uruguayan style of Latin music called Candombe.
Separated by a river from Argentina and nestled next to southern Brazil, Uruguay experienced the same influx of African slaves as Brazil, which resulted in a similar but often overlooked musical impact. Played on sets of three drums, Candombe is highly rhythmic; it's been an integral part of carnival celebrations for centuries.
Originally published on Fri March 28, 2014 3:26 pm
Today's Vintage Cafe is a studio performance from the Austin band Okkervil River. The music performed here, from 2013's The Silver Gymnasium, pays homage to singer Will Sheff's life as a boy in Meriden, N.H., during the late '80s.
Red Baraat appears on this special 800th episode of Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston, W.V. The Brooklyn band's eight members draw on North Indian rhythms, hip-hop, funk and New Orleans jazz to create undeniably singular party music. The band has performed during its own TED Talk, at the White House and at Google's Mountain View headquarters, and closed the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Originally published on Fri November 15, 2013 9:58 am
World Cafe's Sense of Place visit to Toronto continues with a discussion between host David Dye and the co-creators of the Canadian label Arts & Crafts: Jeffrey Remedios, formerly of Virgin Records, and Kevin Drew, co-founder of Broken Social Scene.
Dawes appears on this special 800th episode of Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston, W.V. Founded by brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, Dawes' breakthrough debut, North Hills,drew instant comparisons to work from iconic California rock acts like Jackson Browne and Buffalo Springfield.
This was a perfect night. The setting: A magnificently refurbished synagogue from the turn of the 20th century, with a stunning domed ceiling, menorah's flanking the sides of the stage. Add to it a minimal band of guitar, bass, drums and the beautiful, if deadpan, baritone of singer and guitarist Bill Callahan.
The growing Syrian diaspora streaming out of a country being torn apart includes one of its most popular singers: Omar Souleyman. The musician combines songs of love and desire with driving techno beats, performed on a synthesizer.
Originally published on Thu November 14, 2013 9:07 pm
A while back (a long while back), Bob Boilen and I were sitting around the office, chatting like we do about music and life, and got to wondering: Is it possible to come up with a top ten list of albums that everyone can agree on?
12 Years a Slave is the most compelling film about music to be released this year, maybe this century. It's so many other things, too, as others have noted: a corrective to the weird cocktail of piety and cartoonishness that Hollywood usually supplies when depicting slavery; a gorgeous art film and an actor's hellish paradise; a cultural highlight of the Obama administration.
Dave Mason appears on this special 800th episode of Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Clay Center for the Arts and Sciences in Charleston, W.V. As a singer, songwriter and guitarist, Mason has had a hand in the creation of a staggering number of classic rock and pop songs.
World Cafe has long been a fan of singer-songwriter Laura Veirs: Host David Dye recalls when she first broke through nationally with 2004's Carbon Glacier. Veirs now records on her own label, Raven Marching Band Records.
You've probably never seen or heard an instrument like this. The Hindustani slide guitar is the creation of Debashish Bhattacharya, whose creation pairs his first love — a Hawaiian lap steel guitar, a gift from his father when he was only 3 — and the sounds of India. You can see the similarities to a lap steel guitar, as Bhattacharya lays the guitar across his legs, sliding a metal bar to create the fluid, almost vocal melodies.
To launch the partnership between NPR music and KCRW's Metropolis, Cut Copy drew a packed house to downtown New York for a dynamic set of new material from Free Your Mind, along with a few older gems to the delight of an adoring crowd at Le Poisson Rouge. The Aussie dance rockers showed their experience in the live arena, keeping spirits high and working the crowd until late.
Originally published on Tue November 12, 2013 10:31 am
For about five years, we at NPR Music have been listening to G-Side, a rap duo from Huntsville, Ala., and the group's in-house production pair the Block Beattaz. Some of us rocked 2008's Starshipz & Rocketz until the tape popped, reveling in the sequined sound and mostly level-headed lyrics that alternate between the gruff and drawled deliveries favored by Clova and ST 2 Lettaz, respectively.
KEXP has a long history with No Age, dating back to a 2008 performance in our employee parking lot. Over the years, the band's music has grown even more experimental, as its recent album An Object demonstrates. Still, the two-man onslaught — guitarist Randy Randall and singer/drummer Dean Spunt — remains riveting.