It's common to spot blues influences in rock music, but they're still fairly new in the music of Brooklyn's Parquet Courts. The band's third album, Sunbathing Animal, functions as a modern retelling of rhythm and blues: It's reminiscent of when British bands of the '60s embraced the form with energy and passion, with pressure that looms and haunts, rhythms that activate, and a call for listeners to move.
The former leader of Pavement, one of the most important bands of the 1990s, Stephen Malkmus has continued his enduring career with The Jicks. Malkmus and his more recent group have released six albums together, the most recent being Wig Out at Jagbags. He and The Jicks recently performed "Chartjunk" live in the studio at The Current in St. Paul, Minn.
Natalie Merchant became the creative center of the band 10,000 Maniacs when she was only 17, then made seven albums with the group before leaving to pursue a solo career in 1993. After taking a hiatus to raise her daughter, Merchant is back with a new self-titled album — her first solo material in 13 years. On this session of World Cafe, Merchant plays a set of new songs.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the six-pack of Hanson-branded beer that cost $25 to ship is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on disposing of music in a digital age.
Tami Anderson writes via Facebook: "How long do you keep songs in your collection when you rarely/never seem to listen to them?"
KSUT goes south of the border for this week's feature CD, "9 Dead Alive" by the flamenco duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. We'll play the album in its entirety at noon Friday. Correctly answer Jim Belcher's trivia question at around 12:30 and you could win lunch at Zia Taqueria!
Baggy pants make different music than skinny jeans. Cowboy hats sound different than fedoras. T-shirt-and-jeans bands make a different noise than suit-and-tie bands. You can often look at a band's clothing and have a pretty good idea what it'll sound like.
Founded by vocalist and songwriter Dee Dee Penny, Dum Dum Girls takes its name from Iggy Pop's "Dum Dum Boys." The group brings its mix of lo-fi rock and noise-pop to its latest album, Too True, which was produced by longtime collaborator Richard Gottehrer.
During this session for World Cafe, Penny discusses how damaging her voice affected the time it took to record Too True — and, of course, the band plays a few tracks from the album.