Sometimes you just know that a band isn't going to have to wait long before it reaches the stardom you think it deserves. Earlier this year, a friend sent me the new album from Shovels & Rope before it had been released. I'd requested it after seeing a video for "Birmingham," which shows the duo's members — Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent — playing the song as their dog runs around. I had to watch the video again just to confirm that the song was as great at I thought it might be. The second time confirmed it, and I immediately started playing it on my show.
Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 1:54 pm
Recently, I was listening to a new tribute album covering the songs of Fleetwood Mac, and thought once again how dreadful most tribute albums are: They don't add much to the legacy of the artists being saluted, while inadvertently freezing vital old music in an amber of sentimentality. Then I turned to When I'm President, an album of new songs by Ian Hunter.
Originally published on Tue September 4, 2012 10:18 am
Paul Simon's 1986 album Graceland marked an unprecedented intersection of music, culture and politics. In a conversation with World Cafe's David Dye — presented here in four parts — Simon speaks candidly about his legendary collaborations with South African musicians such as Joseph Shabalala and his vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo.
Originally published on Thu September 6, 2012 8:34 am
Hear two new songs from Jordan Hull
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.
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."
Originally published on Tue September 18, 2012 5:15 pm
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.
Originally published on Fri August 31, 2012 6:35 am
"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.
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."