Music

Music

A Night Out In New Orleans' New Bohemia

Jun 13, 2012

I'm spending June in New Orleans, digging into the soft wet earth of American music. A week in, I feel like I've barely begun to explore. The minute I try to say what draws me to New Orleans music, I realize that the core of it is always changing. It's not just the variety, though I love that in the first few days here, I caught classic blues on Frenchmen Street, a wild bounce night downtown, my longtime favorite Susan Cowsill singing Dusty Springfield covers in the Garden District, and a brass band on the corner in the French Quarter.

Around this time each year I begin to marvel at how we've already reached the halfway point. I haven't even taken down my Christmas lights yet and already everyone's reflecting on all the great music we've had so far.

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The dB's: After A 25-Year Absence, A Vital Return

Jun 12, 2012

For even the most distinguished of bands, the phrase "first album in a quarter-century" is cause for concern. Who among us is anything close to what we were "back then"? By what means of dark magic could any group reunite after such a layoff and reproduce anything resembling its previous chemistry? Band reunions come and go, and most often the result is forgettable at best.

Next: Broncho

Jun 11, 2012

 

Grammy Award-winner Rodney Crowell and New York Times Best Selling author Mary Karr  have just released their CD KIN – songs by Mary Karr and Rodney Crowell on Vanguard Records. Produced by Joe Henry, Kin marks the first collaboration between the two writers and is Karr’s entry into the world of music.

Fiona Apple: 'I Don't Really Have A Plan'

Jun 10, 2012

It's been seven years since Fiona Apple has released a new album. The singer-songwriter, who broke out in 1996 with Tidal, says the delay is a quirk of her creative process.

The British ska-revival band The Selecter formed in the late 1970s, playing what can be described as rock fused with calypso and American jazz.

Much of what set the band apart was its charismatic lead singer, Pauline Black. As one of few women in a musical movement dominated by men, she was called "The Queen of British Ska."

That experience is one of many recounted in her new memoir, Black by Design, which has just been released in the U.S.

Kishi Bashi: Unique Performances In Time

Jun 8, 2012

Consider this name: Kishi Bashi. It has a pleasant, repetitive character with a nice — if unusual — little loop. It's an apt stage name for a musician who's creating something haunting, beautiful and maybe a little off-kilter through the technology of looping.

A band's sound is only as big as its members, and Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros' music is huge. The 10 members are a whirl of roving horns, as well as whistles, claps, shouts, strummed string instruments and percussion involving drums, hands and anything else they can find. The group's communal folk sound blew up in 2009 with the heart-pounding, foot-stomping single "Home"; with its universal sentiment, the song includes a back-and-forth between frontman Alex Ebert and bandmate Jade Castrinos.

Spiritualized On World Cafe

Jun 7, 2012

Sweet Heart Sweet Light, the new album by the English space-rock band Spiritualized, was recorded while frontman Jason Pierce was undergoing chemotherapy for liver disease. Pierce set out to craft the record as a clear-cut pop record in between hospital stays, and though he says he isn't convinced he succeeded, most of the album is composed of could-be Top 10 radio hits from the early '70s.

Tim Fite has always been an odd bird, going back to his 2001 novelty hit "Shaniqua" as part of Little-T and One Track Mike. Since going solo in 2005, Fite has released 10 albums, many available for free download from his website. (The best, 2007's Over the Counter Culture, features the hilarious hip-hop send-up "I've Been Shot.")

The rock band Japandroids is two men, not from Tokyo but from Vancouver, British Columbia — guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse. Both of them sang and very often shouted on their 2009 LP Post-Nothing, which received a lot of praise from music blogs. Their second album is out now; it's called Celebration Rock, and I think it's the best rock record I've heard this year.

Neil Young: The Fresh Air Interview

Jun 6, 2012

Neil Young and Crazy Horse's latest project — their first together in nine years — is an album featuring American folk songs and the tunes many of us learned as children, performed with grit, wit and a whole lot of electric guitar.

Merrill Garbus, the woman behind the experimental folk-rock band tUnE-yArDs, wrote her song "My Country" with the state of the union on her mind. The melody resembles "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" at first but quickly veers into more chaotic territory.

Fans of the Brooklyn-based art-pop group Grizzly Bear won't have much longer to wait for a new record. The band says it'll drop the as-yet-unnamed album on Sept. 18. It'll include this opening cut, "Sleeping Ute."

This is Grizzly Bear's fourth full-length studio release, and first since 2009's Veckatimist. Here's the full track listing for the new record:

We're always happy to kick off the festival season with this gem. Tune-in this week for some special festival-related programming. We'll be playing music from performing artists throughout the Blends all week. And, join us for phone interviews scheduled with the following:

Monday 11:15 a.m.  Angela Oudean with Bearfoot

Monday 2:30 p.m. David Wilcox

Tuesday 10:15 a.m. Cahalen Morrison & Eli West

Wednesday 2:30 p.m. Daniel Rodriguez with Elephant Revival

 

 

The roots of Cahalen Morrison & Eli West are strong, their branches are shady, and the guitars, banjos, mandolins, and harmonies will carry you far off the beaten path to a place under open Western skies.

The Honeydogs: A Retail Solution For Heartbreak

Jun 4, 2012

Pulling off horns in a rock song is always a challenge. Even two of the most notable successes, Chicago and Bruce Springsteen, have crossed the line into cheese at times. (Chicago spent the '80s nose-deep in it.)

Blunderbuss, Jack White's first solo album, is not just about him. It's about characters, he says.

"The 'hes' and 'shes' and 'Is' are sort of all arbitrary," White tellsGuy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered. "Some of them fall in the blues context of just 'man versus the world' or 'man versus woman,' or something like that, but they don't really have anything to do with male or female."

The Beach Boys are in harmony again. The group is recording and performing together, after years of disputes and estrangement.

Brian Wilson and Mike Love tell Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, that they're not surprised at the reunion.

"We've had 50 years' practice," Wilson says, "not just in music but in being guys."

Love says once they got back in the studio and started writing again, it felt like they had never left.

"It was nuts," Wilson says. "It was a nutbuster."

In summer music festivals, as with TMZ news scoops and the vintage car market, exclusivity is the name of the game. The thinking goes like this: Festival attendees are looking for a good time and a good deal.

"I started singing in bars when I was still in high school," says Kelly Hogan. "It's not the easiest thing to do if you like to eat something besides ramen noodles and have insurance."

When an old musical "friend" puts out a record, I secretly pray for greatness, as if rooting for a favorite team. These later records often pale in comparison to their early predecessors, but still I listen and try to find something I love.

I just deleted over 25,000 songs from my iTunes library. I am going to trust in the cloud, where my library now lives. I'm a bit scared, but I backed everything up, took a deep breath and stepped into the future.

Abandoning the way I've come to listen to music over the last decade feels like a big experiment, but in some ways, the decision was a long time coming. I've been close to maxing out the hard drive space on my laptop for a while, and in a single day this week, I reclaimed nearly 200 gigabytes.

Lana Del Rey On World Cafe

Jun 1, 2012

Lana Del Rey got her start at 18, when she was still known as Lizzy Grant and moved from Lake Placid to New York City to write songs and perform in clubs. In 2008, under her given name, she produced and released the EP Kill Kill independently. In 2010, her first album — the doubly eponymous Lana Del Ray [sic] a.k.a. Lizzy Grant — came out and was quickly pulled from circulation, though it'll be reissued this summer.

Portraits Of An American Metal Festival

May 31, 2012

Last weekend I was among the legion of ecstatic metalheads that had descended upon Baltimore to attend Maryland Deathfest. In its 10th year, the Sonar compound was bursting at the seams with fans from across the spectrum and around the globe, stoking a community that stays connected long after the outdoor stages on East Saratoga Street are taken down.

The Magnetic Fields' music provides one of several outlets for frontman Stephin Merritt's inspired songwriting. The band began recording a string of eclectic albums in 1993, and finally found mainstream recognition with 1999's three-disc 69 Love Songs.

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