WUIS Xponential

WUIS Xponential

There's a reason Paul Weller is so respected by his fans despite his shifts in musical styles over the years. Weller follows his heart and his tunes stay true to the times and his age. I first heard him in 1977, when I bought a British import of a 45 and later an album, each called In The City, by The Jam. Inspired by The Who, the music of The Jam was infused with urgency and melody. Then Weller wanted more from music and began The Style Council with a bit of R&B, ballads and even jazz.

Ivan Moravec, a Czech pianist known for his lyrical and selfless approach to music, died Monday in a Prague hospital, according to a management representative, Linda Marder of CM Artists in New York. Moravec had been treated for pneumonia. He was 84.

Guest DJ: Leon Bridges

Jul 28, 2015

Even the clearest recollections from childhood tend to be coauthored by time and imagination. Looking back on early memories, fun or frightening, we know the mind can play tricks on itself. Did everything happen exactly as our adult brains remember?

Today we have a lengthy conversation with The Tallest Man on Earth, the stage name for Swedish artist Kristian Matsson, as our Sense of Place visit to Stockholm continues. Matsson started making folk-inspired music on his own in 2006, recording by himself and giving charismatic one-man performances. He added instruments and other players for the first time on his new album, Dark Bird Is Home, expanding the sonic possibilities.

Our former World Cafe: Next artists Small Feet are our guests as part of our Sense of Place — Stockholm series. Songwriter Simon Stålhamre, who leads the band, has been making music from an early age, but he only recently got the courage to make his first album, From Far Enough Away Everything Sounds Like The Ocean.

Peter Bjorn and John, the band that brought whistling back to pop music with their 2006 hit "Young Folks" and its award-winning video, are our first guests as our Sense of Place visit to Stockholm begins. This session was recorded at X-Level studio in Stockholm with our World Cafe travel adventurers in attendance. The band has not released a new album in four years and is still in the midst of writing a new one, making this live performance even more exciting.

As cosmic as their jams can be and as free-floating as their new album's title appears, Built to Spill have never seemed more grounded. On Untethered Moon, their eighth studio album and their first in six years, the veteran rockers haven't drifted away from their roots.

Nick Drake's music is catnip to a certain kind of artist. Melodically pristine and rhythmically complex in quiet ways, the small songbook of the late English singer-songwriter offers interpreters a chance to be enchanting without stretching much. Yet to make Drake's songs new is a challenge. His vocal style of lingering around a beat, while playing guitar parts that were never flashy but always dazzlingly complex, is possible to imitate but difficult to make truly personal.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The first line of Palehound's "Cushioned Caging" begins in the middle of a thought. "And when the organ starts a-playin," sings frontwoman Ellen Kempner, whose voice arrives in a crashing wave of sound after a twangy, beachy one-chord intro. It sends a message that resonates through the rest of the too-brief song: This ain't the half of it.

The dog days are decidedly over in "Queen of Peace/Long & Lost," the new double-feature video from London indie pop-rock megastars Florence and the Machine. The nearly 10 minute mini-movie is a gorgeous ode to the Scots countryside (director Vincent Haycock filmed it on the isle of Easdale), but its emotional frequency is less ode and more lament.

If the Newport Folk crowd was scandalized by Bob Dylan going electric in 1965, they would've hated Courtney Barnett's grungy, hard-rocking performance 50 years later.

I'd never imagined a great song poet writing "Getting Ready to Get Down," but there we have it. It's a hard and humorous look at religion, sex and a "risky" teenager becoming herself despite Bible school intervention. I talked with Josh Ritter about this song, and you can hear that interview and the song here or subscribe to the All Songs Considered podcast.

The guitars that open "Rider of Days," the first single from folk giant Patty Griffin's forthcoming album Servant of Love, take a moment to come into focus. They swim up from silence and surface just in time for Griffin's unmistakable voice to arrive and settle over them. Everything about "Rider of Days" is a slow burn, in the same way a victory lap is taken slower than the rest of the race.

Jason Isbell, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2015

Jul 26, 2015

Barely a week after releasing Something More Than Free, Jason Isbell took the stage at Newport Folk for a set that highlighted many of the new songs from that album. Isbell has attained star status in the alt-country world, but his performance channeled the best of the southern rock tradition that emerged in north Alabama and Georgia in the 1970s — two places where Isbell lived and worked before relocating to Nashville.

When Bomba Estereo began a decade ago in Bogotá, audiences didn't quite know what to make of it. The group was combining some of the most traditional Colombian sounds with some of the most modern electronic sounds, and not everyone appreciated the idea.

Sufjan Stevens told the Newport Folk Festival crowd that this was his dream come true. What he never would have imagined in his wildest of dreams was that his performance was to follow a surprise performance from James Taylor. He was humbled to play after "Sweet Baby James," but honestly, his songs carry a power similar to that of Taylor's for a new generation of folk music fans.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Some musicians argue that instruments have souls. Guitarist Richard Bishop says he felt a relationship forming the moment he saw a mysterious acoustic guitar in a secondhand store in Switzerland. He's known for playing electric guitar in the improvisational rock trio Sun City Girls, but something told Bishop the acoustic had to be his.

Even when playing to a crowd of thousands at the Newport Folk Festival, Kristian Matsson formed an intense, intimate connection with his audience. During his overcast Friday set, the Swedish songwriter who performs as The Tallest Man On Earth drew listeners in with a combination of highly personal lyrics and irresistibly rollicking guitar.

Zach Williams, Kanene Pipkin and Brian Elmquist — The Lone Bellow — make glowing folk-pop that illuminates emotional, occasionally dark themes with soaring arrangements and gut-punching three-part harmony. The Brooklyn trio's second album, the Aaron Dessner-produced Then Came The Morning, continues their quest for redemption and uplift. Confessional songs like "Marietta" resonate with honesty, while the title track offers the promise of an inevitable sunrise and a brighter day.

In the early 1960s, burgeoning folk music scenes were burbling up all over the country, and the Newport Folk Festival was their confluence.

The most puzzling musician on the lineup at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival was easily Pink Floyd's Roger Waters. For me, Pink Floyd represents the antithesis of folk music, with the band's psychedelic pulsating landscapes and big rock drums and guitars. Out there and psychedelic, yeah — down home and folky, nope.

Size Matters: The Vocabularies Of Pop Musicians

Jul 25, 2015
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Amy Helm, daughter of The Band's Levon Helm, grew up surrounded by music.

Pages