Ever since his days as a feather-boa-wrapped synth strangler in Roxy Music in the early 1970s, Brian Eno has — beyond his own solo career — been a sonic abettor and collaborator. After leaving Roxy, Eno conspired with Talking Heads to infuse the band's wiry punk with Fela Kuti's Afrobeat on 1980's Remain in Light.
Lykke Li is a pop star looking to change the pop conversation. The Swedish singer's new third album, I Never Learn, forms the final installment in a conceptual trilogy — and it's extraordinary as both a collection of songs and a tactical re-wiring of her genre's circuit board.
Originally published on Fri June 13, 2014 11:50 am
K. Ishibashi opens his second solo album, Lighght, by taking a tone-setting 48-second violin solo. Titled "Début - Impromptu," it skids and squeaks with accelerating abandon until the notes distort and smash together chaotically; by the end, the instrument has become largely indistinguishable from the machines he so often uses to loop and manipulate it. It's equal parts introduction and mission statement for Lighght, in which technique and experimentation collide in high-spirited, even disorienting ways.
It's right there in the band's name, but the music of Quilt is truly a tapestry. Its songs are made of small bits of verses and choruses that, heard individually, may not seem to fit. But in the hands and voices of this band, they stitch together beautifully. Interweaving harmonies and guitar lines from Anna Fox Rochinski and Shane Butler set the tone for these tunes — soft and benevolent, dreamy and quivering, with poetry that's thoughtful and playful. The opening song at this Tiny Desk Concert, "Arctic Shark," questions and enchants.
Originally published on Mon April 28, 2014 8:30 am
Dan Wilson is originally from Minneapolis, where in the 1980s he formed the beloved band Trip Shakespeare with his brother Matt. That group evolved into Semisonic, which scored major hits in 1998 with "Closing Time" and "Secret Smile."
Wesley Stace appears on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va.
With 17 albums released under the name John Wesley Harding, the British singer-songwriter and novelist is a veteran of both the music industry and the literary world. Influenced by Bob Dylan and John Prine, Stace's 1989 U.S. debut featured Elvis Costello's backing band The Attractions. Stace has gone on to record with The Decemberists, Peter Buck and Rosanne Cash, among others.
The creators of pop music are usually able to break down the fundamentals of their craft — that search for the clever rhyme, the killer beat, the singable chorus. They are less articulate, understandably, about the other quest, the one that powers those everyday searches: the pursuit of ecstasy in sound. There's something almost paranormal about that part of the creative process, yet we know those moments, instantly, when we hear them.