Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 3:12 pm
There's usually reason to be apprehensive when an artist spends years in the workshop on a single set of songs. The results can seem joyless; think Chinese Democracy, which took Guns N' Roses 14 tortured years to finish. D'Angelo spent nearly as much time crafting his new record. He took his time and loaded up some of the tracks with everything from the audio candy store. Incredibly, the music rarely sounds cluttered or overwrought.
This week's World Cafe: Next artist is the Canadian alt-country trio Elliott Brood. With five albums under their collective belt, Casey Laforet, Mark Sasso and Stephen Pitkin have been playing together since 2002, and the experience shows. The band moves with the easy flow of musicians who know each other well, which in turn lends its rootsy songs lived-in authenticity.
Elliott Brood's latest album is titled Work And Love. Hear and download two of its songs on this page.
Originally published on Mon December 15, 2014 5:29 pm
Kindness, born Adam Bainbridge, knows his way around grooves. Otherness, his second album, is a fitting introduction to the Blood Orange collaborator's sincere, kinetic take on R&B and synth-pop. Songs begin deep in the pocket and slowly unravel in a spray of horn blasts and drum hits. In this way, "World Restart" functions as both a song title and a mission statement: Kindness is rejuvenating.
Hear the full segment at the audio link and individual songs below.
Paul Janeway and his band St. Paul And The Broken Bones make their first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live before a sold-out crowd in Charleston, W.Va. Hailing from Birmingham, Ala., the group has a sound that forcefully channels Memphis. Comparisons to Stax Records heavyweights write themselves: the Memphis Horns, Steve Cropper and Duck Dunn and, perhaps most notably, Otis Redding, thanks to Janeway's mammoth vocal chops.
A tambourine jingled merrily and spirits were high when Afro Blue visited NPR's Studio 1 to share a brilliant assortment of holiday music. The group delighted the audience with fresh, thoughtful arrangements of Christmas favorites, from a rollicking "Angels We Have Heard On High" to a sublime, weighty "Silent Night." Also on the bill were a few lesser-known holiday numbers, such as director Connaitre Miller's original piece "That Is Love," which offers a meditation on the meaning of the holiday season.
"Put your hand on the chest / of a heart that is beating."
That line, from The Barr Brothers' new album Sleeping Operator, might as well be the Montreal band's mission statement. While the new songs mix acoustic folk-rock, electrified blues, lush chamber-pop, traditional West African styles and other influences, each conveys immediate emotive force.
This is especially true of "Come In The Water," a song inspired by the tragic 1997 shooting of Israeli teens along the Jordan River. It's lovingly performed here in the intimate confines of a KEXP studio.
For this edition of our holiday special we turn to the healing and uplifting power of the human voice with the Washington, D.C.-based group, Cantigas. The group's 25 members assembled in NPR's Studio 1 in front of a live audience to present an eclectic mix of songs and rhythms from Mexico, Spain, Venezuela, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Cuba and Puerto Rico–the home country of its artistic director, Diana Sáez.