Music

Music

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

William James Stokes is the son of a church man, and on his first album he comes right out with it. The Preacher's Kid is the singer and rapper's debut as Sir the Baptist, a name he felt suited his origins in the Bronzeville district of South Side Chicago. "I grew up in a Chicago area where they called it 'Chi-raq' — and I felt like if I was gonna be the voice crying out in the wilderness, I would want to be John the Baptist," he says.

This week, World Cafe rebroadcast a 2011 session with The Civil Wars. When we recorded that session, Joy Williams and John Paul White had just released their album Barton Hollow; they'd go on to win four Grammy awards, achieve a gold record and play sold-out concerts. But the duo's success wasn't enough to sustain their partnership, which fell apart in 2014.

Here are 10 more great duos that, unfortunately, weren't built to last.

In the mid-19th century, Shakers practiced their faith in farming communities from Maine to Kentucky. Numbering 6,000 at their peak, they gave up worldly possessions, marriage and sex, instead devoting themselves to prayer and work. They also wrote songs, thousands of them — including "Simple Gifts," which endures in popular culture despite dating back to the 1840s.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KSUT is featuring the brand new release from our friends the New Orleans Suspects, Kaleidoscoped, this Friday 8/26 at noon, just hours before their Durango concert. Durango Acoustic Music (DAM), presents the high energy NOLA-based band at the VFW Hall at 7:30. 

The Suspects branch out a bit on 'Kaleidoscoped', continuing to embrace their deep roots in New Orleans rhythms, with open boundaries. Guests include Little Feat's Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett, Tower of Power's Lee Thornburg, and Big Chief Juan Pardo. 

Check it out before the show on KSUT!

Rudy Van Gelder, an audio recording engineer who captured the sounds of many of jazz's landmark albums, died Thursday morning in his sleep. He was at his home studio in New Jersey, according to Maureen Sickler, his assistant engineer. He was 91.

Hard Working Americans On World Cafe

Aug 26, 2016

Todd Snider has proven himself an agile (and very funny) solo performer, but in 2013 he decided he wanted to start performing in a band. So, he persuaded some friends, including bassist Dave Schools of Widespread Panic and guitarist Neal Casal of Ryan Adams' backing band The Cardinals, to form Hard Working Americans. (Snider jokes that he no longer even has to bring a guitar to gigs.)

An empowerment anthem can be a beautiful thing, a dramatic transcending of suffering's isolating power. But what's glorious about Sarah Potenza's blistering, riff-propelled personal anthem "Monster" is that it doesn't seek to transcend the unpleasantness of her reality — the fact that she's been told countless times in countless ways that the body she inhabits is socially unacceptable. Instead, we hear a woman's fierce determination to stay present, to stare down those who would shame her, to revel in her corporeality.

When I first saw Nina Diaz back in 2010, she was fronting a punk trio from San Antonio called Girl In A Coma. She and the band sounded ferocious, with an unmistakable spirit of fun — for proof, here's their Tiny Desk concert from a couple years later.

Imagine you're a teenager in Beijing in the 1960s and '70s, during the Cultural Revolution. Everything that's deemed Western and bourgeois is banned — so listening to a 78 rpm recording of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, powerfully transformative as it might be, is off limits.

Italian writer-director Nanni Moretti's Mia Madre (My Mother) is about an everyday drama in which nearly everyone eventually participates: the death of a parent. It begins not in a hospital but in the streets, where striking factory workers clash with police. It looks real enough, until the director yells, "cut!"

The ability to interlace reality and fantasy is one of cinema's strengths, and at times Mia Madre is as bewitchingly surreal as 8 1/2, Fellini's stream-of-consciousness classic. But Moretti's movie is less swaggering and more tender.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

She's a poet, a writer, an artist, an entrepreneur and someone who knows how to use her voice to encourage social change. Early in 2016, when Ani DiFranco's Paint Congress Blue Tour came through the 30A Songwriters Festival in Florida, she stopped by for a Folk Alley session. Here, she performs her poem "Binary," the title track from her forthcoming album (due in 2017), which she says addresses the overriding concept that "consciousness is binary."

In the five years since the group reactivated, Witch Mountain's ascent has been swift and monumental. In 2011, the Portland doom-metal band was rejuvenated after a decade of dormancy by Uta Plotkin, a raw yet multifaceted singer. Three stellar albums followed before Plotkin left the band to pursue other projects, with bassist Charles Thomas exiting soon thereafter.

Not to open on a down note, but the arrival of The Frightnrs' debut album, Nothing More To Say, is a bittersweet affair. The group's lead singer, Dan Klein, died from ALS earlier this summer, and much of the album was recorded after he was diagnosed last fall. His piercing, wailing tone feels all the more plaintive as a result, but even if Nothing More To Say marks a career cruelly curtailed, the album's release also represents a dream fulfilled.

First Listen: Eluvium, 'False Readings On'

Aug 25, 2016

Few artists have had as fecund a post-millennium stretch as Portland, Ore., musician Matthew Cooper. He released nine Eluvium albums in 11 years, with each successive release performing the neat trick of sounding both more expansive and more distilled than the one before it. It was a remarkable run, capped by two mammoth 7xLP box sets, Life Through Bombardment -- so thorough a retrospective of his work up to that point that it might have provided the bookends for the Eluvium project.

For the Portland, Ore., band Y La Bamba, creativity and talent have combined and crystalized to form a unique sound. That sound is the sum of many individual musical experiences and influences, but it also reflects a shared vision. Most importantly, on the new Ojos Del Sol, it sounds as if the group is having a blast playing music.

First Listen: James Vincent McMorrow, 'We Move'

Aug 25, 2016

The strain of 21st-century neo-soul that helped close the gap between the likes of Bon Iver and Kanye West has a formidable new ambassador in James Vincent McMorrow. A dewy Irishman with a falsetto-flecked voice and a past haunted with songs played on acoustic guitars, McMorrow gives himself an impressive makeover on an album propelled by the encouraging calculus of post-genre collaboration.

NPR's Kelly McEvers talks with professor Christian Herbst, who was part of the team that released a study that explores the science behind Freddie Mercury's amazing voice. This story originally aired on April 25, 2016 on All Things Considered.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Los Angeles musician Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker had a problem: A few years ago, he was asked to tackle the weighty subject of Latin American modernism in sound. His response was to invent a new persona, and to restrict himself to a spare and specific set of tools. Under the new name Frankie Reyes, he set off to record a dozen instrumental versions of Spanish-language ballads and waltzes from the 1930s through the '60s, using only a vintage analog synthesizer.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

George Clinton, the mastermind behind the bands Parliament and Funkadelic, is one of the foremost innovators of funk music.

The latest song from Angel Olsen is both epic and reflective, a melancholy meditation on heartache and coming to terms with lost love. "'No' is forever," she sings, as the video shows her wandering through her lonely days against the Los Angeles landscape. "Show me the future. Tell me you'll be there."

Odonis Odonis' industrial music clangs and bangs, capturing the nightmare of an increasingly cold world where technology severs us from humanity, leaving us awash in narcissistic nihilism.

The remarkable new video from DJ Shadow and Run The Jewels, for the song "Nobody Speak," opens at what could easily be the United Nations, where a large group of diplomats has gathered to ostensibly sort out the world's problems. But tensions are high as two men face off, verbally assaulting one another in the voices of El-P and Killer Mike. "I'ma send you to the yard," one says.

First Watch: Ian Sweet, '#23'

Aug 24, 2016

Ian Sweet's new video for "#23" honors the sacred, as the band dreams of Michael Jordan, depressing karaoke nights and old VHS tapes. Directed by Eleanor Petry, the video takes place on Coney Island, as frontwoman Jillian Medford walks around, dressed all in white; we see her holding a basketball and passing children as they make sandcastles. While the video plays out, Medford sings about dancing in her favorite socks and trying to relate to the alienating world around her.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Public-radio music curators know that a great remedy for the late-summer blues is fall's deluge of new releases. In this month's mix, hear new songs by L.A. art-rock favorite Warpaint, soulful newcomer Ethan Burns, Chicago rapper Noname and more, including a premiere from North Dakota folksinger Tom Brosseau.

Pages