Next: Jordan Hull

Sep 3, 2012

Jordan Hull has always been a creative type. Growing up in Dayton, Ohio, Hull explored theater, writing and painting, and eventually got into music as an escape during his rebellious high-school years. Now in Nashville, the 23-year-old singer-songwriter writes lyrics that draw inspiration from great troubadours of yesteryear, including Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie.

The musician known as Cat Power has a penchant for goofing around. That might come as a surprise to those familiar with her music, which is always at least a little bit mournful.

Husky: Music For The Heart And Head

Sep 1, 2012

After years on the Melbourne scene, the Australian band Husky is making inroads to the world of American folk and chamber-pop with its new album, Forever So.

Husky's support in Australia grew after the group won Triple J's "Unearthed" contest, which gave it national exposure. No stranger to big crowds, Husky has opened for the likes of Laura Marling, Gotye, Noah and the Whale, and The Shins. The group's acoustic, folk-inspired songs are captivating and marked by sweet harmonies, like those heard in this performance of "History's Door."

It's late in August, and after six straight months of touring, Nate Ruess is in the parking lot of the Al Bedoo Shrine Auditorium in Billings, Mo. Ruess, who sings in the band fun., owners of one of the year's biggest hits "We Are Young," has just finished assembling a portable basketball hoop outside the band's tour bus.

Song Premiere: Sick Fix, 'Phoenix'

Aug 30, 2012

"If you aren't angry, you aren't paying attention." The unattributable but ubiquitous phrase provides a rallying call for activists, especially those in the punk scene. If I've learned anything from years spent crushed into poorly lit basement shows and scouring xeroxed lyric sheets, anger doesn't amount to much without level-headed passion and a willingness to get dirty. If the Baltimore/Washington, D.C.-based hardcore band Sick Fix only has a couple tapes and seven-inch singles to its name until now, it's because vocalist Michelle Northam was out there, walking the talk.

Family Band On World Cafe

Aug 30, 2012

The Brooklyn-based ambient-folk duo Family Band is a collaboration between visual artist turned frontwoman Kim Krans and her husband, former heavy-metal guitarist Jonny Ollsin. Together, they craft beautifully dark, folk-influenced songs, which they fittingly describe as "heavy mellow."

Bloc Party Gets Back To Basics

Aug 30, 2012

When a band sits down to write new music, there's often a goal in mind: They want to tell listeners a story; make them feel something; or evoke an atmosphere. But for the British rock band Bloc Party, the goal was more modest: to sound, simply, like four guys playing music in a practice room.

Bob Boilen and I were out in Portland and Seattle last week on our summer listening party tour, so we didn't post a new poll of albums everyone can love. Fear not: To make up for the week off, this week we've got 40 albums for you. In the coming weeks we'll let you know which records have been doing the best and have some sort of runoff between the highest vote-getters to come up with a top ten we all can agree on (well, most of us, anyway).

Here's this week's double-size poll. Just tell us whether you love, don't love or haven't really heard each album.

KCRW Presents: Beachwood Sparks

Aug 29, 2012

The L.A. band Beachwood Sparks took a decade-long hiatus before releasing a fantastic new album, Tarnished Gold, earlier this year. A standout on a set of easygoing alt-country, the title track is sure to appeal to fans of The Grateful Dead and especially cosmic-country hero Gram Parsons.

Diamond Rugs On World Cafe

Aug 28, 2012

Muddying the waters separating indie rock, country and Southern blues, Diamond Rugs formed in Nashville as an all-star music collective assembled by John McCauley of Deer Tick.

All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton are back from their 2012 World Tour, which is to say they visited Seattle and Portland, Ore. last week, and have returned with a batch of new songs and stories to share. On the west coast Bob and Robin hosted a couple of listening parties, where they played music for an audience, the audience got to rate the songs, then everyone talked about them, just like hardcore music fans.

Next: Matthew E. White

Aug 27, 2012

Matthew E. White is an old soul conversant in music's past. On the cover of his debut album, Big Inner, his aesthetic is reminiscent of 1970 John Lennon on the cover of Abbey Road. The Manila-born, Virginia-raised musician was heavily influenced by the early works of Randy Newman — specifically Newman's 1972 album Sail Away.

The Milk Carton Kids

Aug 27, 2012

KSUT will be featuring a second CD this Friday at 12:35 PM, in celebration of the 17th Annual Four Corners Folk Festival, this one from a little known, but wonderful duo called The Milk Carton Kids. Their debut CD "Prologue" was released last summer, and they perform at the festival Saturday afternoon at 1:45. 

Singer-songwriter and producer Joe Henry wrote this foreward to Prologue:

"Keep Your Hands Where I Can See Them" 

The second installment of The Wood Brothers’ live set, ‘Live, Volume 2: Nail and Tooth’, will be released this week on Southern Ground Records. KSUT will feature it on Friday at noon, as a little preview of what to expect from their performance later that day (7 PM) at the Four Corners Folk Festival

"Duquesne Whistle," begins in the middle of a scene, like the fade-in in a classic Western. It's the first song we get to hear from Bob Dylan's Tempest, the album he will release on September 11, 50 years and six months after the commencement of his recoding career.

Dispatch In Concert

Aug 24, 2012

Dispatch formed in 1994, and quickly became a staple of college campuses and summer music festivals across the country. When members Chad Urmston, Brad Corrigan and Pete Heimbold decided to call it quits in 2002, fans knew the band would be missed.

Two weeks ago, we premiered the video for Lord Huron's "Time to Run," in which the group ran around in the desert simulating an old Spaghetti Western — and, with the help of its director, captured the washed-out look and feel of old film stock.

JD McPherson On World Cafe

Aug 22, 2012

JD McPherson's "big break" came when he introduced himself to producer and bassist Jimmy Sutton of The Four Charms via MySpace. After receiving several of McPherson's demos, Sutton immediately recognized his talent, and the Oklahoma native moved to Chicago to begin recording with Sutton. The pair released a music video for "North Side Gal," which became a viral hit.

Seth and Scott Avett spend a good chunk of their lives on one tour bus or another, so asking them to perform in one isn't all that different from asking them to perform in one of their own living rooms. They may be far away from their native North Carolina — to be exact, they're captured here in a Camden, N.J., parking lot in conjunction with the XPoNential Music Festival — but the setting is cozy enough for Seth Avett to brew tea before performing.

At 65, Loudon Wainwright III is older than his father ever was, and it’s got him thinking, and writing, and singing. As he puts it, the new album deals with “death ‘n’ decay” and he’s approached the subject from all angles, with his customary insight, honesty, and rueful humor. But pondering the imponderables can be a lonely business, and so, like never before, Loudon has brought in friends and family to help him with the heavy lifting.

Rebecca Gates: The Spinanes' Star Floats On

Aug 21, 2012

The Float marks the first release in 11 years from former Spinanes singer Rebecca Gates, who enlisted a host of musical friends (17 by our count, collectively addressed as The Consortium) while working on the record on and off over the past few years. In this session, she joins us with the slimmed-down version that's been joining her in Portland over the past year or so: Joanna Bolme on bass, Rebecca Cole on keys and Ji Tanzer on drums.

What was the most important band of your college years? The one that you held above all others? The one you turned to when you needed it most?

When Bob Boilen asked me this recently, I froze. I knew he was fishing for something loud and rebellious. The words "college years" imply youth and freedom and celebration and tearing life up!

Next: Carrousel

Aug 20, 2012

The Tallahassee band Carrousel released its first full-length album, 27 rue de mi'chelle, in May. The group's trippy, cathartic, lovelorn dream-pop often references time spent around the ocean, but there's meticulousness to the sound that could only come from countless hours in the studio. Download Carrousel's head-turning "14" and the new album's title track in this installment of World Cafe Next.

We'd never tried to squeeze a piano behind the Tiny Desk, but when I saw a chance to have Rufus Wainwright play here, I wouldn't — and he probably wouldn't — have had it any other way. Somehow, we managed to fit a glossy black Yamaha upright against my full bookshelves. Then we tuned it and waited for some glorious moments.

Summer's slowing down, but the band fun. is still cruising at a high speed. Along with Weekend Edition Saturday, NPR Music has been following fun. this summer, checking in with the band as it continues on its world tour.

Band Of Horses In Concert

Aug 17, 2012

Band of Horses has survived a tumultuous history. Of the four original members, only frontman Ben Bridwell remains. In 2005 the band got its first real break opening for Iron & Wine, catching the ear of the celebrated indie label Sub Pop. Under Sub Pop, Band of Horses was able to release Everything All the Time in 2006 to a large audience.

As a math-loving parent of a math-loving tween girl, I'm worried that women are significantly underrepresented in science and engineering fields. A new benefit album of kids music called Science Fair gathers musicians together to take on that disparity both by raising awareness and firing up the imagination.

KCRW Presents: thenewno2

Aug 15, 2012

Dhani Harrison formed thenewno2 as an arts collective during a very dark period. With the passing of his father, George Harrison, and the September 11 attacks fresh in our collective consciousness, he needed a fresh direction to help bring some clarity to the swirling chaos of emotions. Channeling these complicated feelings, and with the support of some enduring friendships, Dhani has delivered thefearofmissingout, a layered and confident album that brings his individual voice to the fore.