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.
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.
"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.
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.
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.
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.