Music

Music

In its 21-year career, Enslaved has stayed ahead of the curve. While defenders of the orthodox black-metal sound have a field day hating modern-day mold-breakers like Wolves in the Throne Room and Deafheaven, Enslaved was tearing down Valhalla with Pink Floyd-ian psychedelia and '70s prog-rock back around 2000's Mardraum.

Nothing about the wounded confessionalism of Sharon Van Etten's early work even begins to portend rock stardom: All raw nerves and whispered coos, 2009's Because I Was in Love explores tiny, tentative moments with a sort of graceful vulnerability. Ever since, Van Etten has kept adding layers of sinew to her sound, to the point where she's become a bona fide blood-and-guts rock 'n' roll frontwoman.

In 282 Songs, Blur Comes Into Focus

Aug 7, 2012

Blur was never huge in the U.S. Even the British group's best-known song (the two-minute explosion "Song 2") failed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100. So the moment the group is having right now might be confusing for casual listeners. Blur has reunited in recent years to play live (it'll headline the closing ceremony of the Olympics this weekend) and release a few new songs (last month's "Under the Westway" is lovely). Last week, the band put out a career-spanning box set.

Predicting the sound of any given Stars song takes some doing: The Montreal band traffics in everything from joyfully guitar-driven power-pop to synth-based dance music to string-swept ballads that detail the heartbreaking minutiae of doomed romance. Even the lead voices shift from song to song, with Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell singing to, over and about each other, occasionally swapping verses.

Let's start with the familiar. Three fifths of the band Black Prairie are members of The Decemberists. The band's new album is produced by one of music's finest producers, Tucker Martine. And it gets better. In addition to The Decemberists' Chris Funk, Jenny Conlee and Nate Query, Black Prairie also includes Annalisa Tornfelt (violin and voice) and John Neufeld (guitar), both very talented players.

Dan Auerbach, one of two founders of The Black Keys, also maintains an active side business as a producer for other bands that share his love for blues- and country-influenced rock. Auerbach's production work can be heard on two new records: Hacienda's third album, Shakedown, and the major-label debut of JEFF The Brotherhood, titled Hypnotic Nights.

Keane On World Cafe

Aug 3, 2012

The English piano-rock band Keane formed back in 1997, but it wasn't until 2004 that the group's album Hopes and Fears took off on the strength of the smash single "Somewhere Only We Know." A Best New Artist Grammy nomination followed, and in the years since, the group has released three more albums: 2006's Under the Iron Sea, 2008's Perfect Symmetry and this year's Strangeland.

New Jersey has a proud heritage in rock music, from punk legends like Misfits to the Boss himself. The sonic imprint of the Garden State is unmistakable in the music of The Gaslight Anthem, which carries on in Jersey's proud rock 'n' roll tradition.

Like many artists performing under the broad umbrella of "folk music" at this year's Newport Folk Festival, Gary Clark Jr. isn't settling inside any genre, let alone folk. Working off a template of bluesy rock, he infuses the gritty songs on his Bright Lights EP with elements of soul, pop and even reggae. Above all, he's a positively ferocious young guitarist, with a reputation as an up-and-comer poised for one of those 30-, 40-, even 50-year careers.

With Michael Kiwanuka, it’s all about the voice. A voice that he describes as “hitting straight through to the core” with direct, emotional songs about love, yearning, comfort and belonging. It’s a voice that built him a following via MySpace and small London gigs, and led Paul Butler from The Bees to invite him to the band’s Isle of Wight studio to lay down these introductory tracks from what promises to be a major new British singer/songwriter.

Justin Currie On Mountain Stage

Aug 2, 2012

Singer-songwriter Justin Currie appears on this archival episode of Mountain Stage, recorded live in West Virginia in December 2007. Currie was a teenager when he founded the Scottish rock band Del Amitri in Glasgow in 1983. Soon eclipsing its DIY beginnings, Del Amitri went on to score several international hits in the '90s — including "Kiss This Thing Goodbye," "Roll to Me" and "The Last to Know" — and its videos became a mainstay on MTV and VH1.

Blasphemy didn't always belong to dudes in corpse paint and spiked armbands. At one point in history, rock and blues were the devil's music, existing mainly for hip-shaking and corrupting the youth. Blues has a sinister past — the most obvious example being Robert Johnson's "Cross Road Blues" — but there's also Brownie McGhee's "Dealing With the Devil," Charley Patton's "Devil Sent the Rain Blues" and a long list of others.

Yesterday my husband and I had the same thought at the same time. It's not an uncommon occurrence for two writers who've spent decades arguing and enthusing about pop music. I mention it, in part, to stave off accusations that I'm plagiarizing from a nearby source, but also because I think what we reflected upon in light of the writer Jonah Lehrer's fatal mistake was probably in the minds of many music obsessives.

Everything I've ever written about Sam Phillips has been a cheat.

Sometimes there's just no room for subtlety. Sometimes you hate everyone and everything because that's the only way the world makes sense. Sometimes you wonder what the musical equivalent of a panther rattling a barbed-wire cage is. Well, maybe only Gaza has thought of that last one.

Liars: Laying Down An Ominous Groove

Jul 31, 2012

The career of the experimental rock trio Liars has been defined by nomadic wanderings, both geographically and sonically. Formed in L.A., the trio relocated to Brooklyn, then to rural New Jersey, and eventually to Berlin, before returning to L.A.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall. That old expression came to mind when I read the headline of a recent press release:

'Grand Funk Railroad, Boston, Kansas at Aberdeen Proving Ground, August 11'

Matt Nathanson On Mountain Stage

Jul 31, 2012

Matt Nathanson performed this set for Mountain Stage, recorded live in West Virginia, back in December 2007. The singer, who was born in Massachusetts but now lives in San Francisco, began writing songs in high school, and made his first record while attending college in 1993. He's recorded seven studio albums since — the latest of which, Modern Love, came out last year.

Apart from Rubber Soul by The Beatles, there weren't any big winners in last week's poll, the latest in our summer-long attempt to identify the albums we can all agree on.

Highlights: The 2012 Newport Folk Festival In Photos

Jul 30, 2012

There's no hiding that the Newport Folk Festival has become a more musically diverse experience.

After more than five months in prison, some Russian dissidents are getting their day in court. The three young women are accused of being members of Pussy Riot, a feminist punk band that staged a protest against then presidential-candidate Vladimir Putin in February.

Merrill Garbus, the mastermind behind tUnE-yArDs, often uses a minimal assortment of resources — a ukulele, some pedals, a bit of percussion here and there — to craft an explosive, unpredictable, worldly, beautiful and utterly inventive sound. On last year's widely beloved w h o k i l l, Garbus' music forms a cut-up collage of coos, howls and bold statements of purpose, but her live shows fan out into epic rave-ups, complete with a pair of saxophonists.

“Having fun with the songs of Allen Toussaint” is how Jon Cleary describes his new record, a celebration of great songs put through Cleary’s unique set of funky filters. Featuring Dr. John, Bonnie Raitt and The Absolute Monster Gentlemen, there are unexpected twists and turns on this journey through the Toussaint songbook that will keep surprising you till the last piano glissando fades away.  

Jon Cleary will perform at the Telluride Jazz Celebration. Tune-in to KSUT Friday at noon for a warm up when we feature his new CD Occapella. 

Telluride Jazz Celebration

Jul 30, 2012

August 3 - 5, 2012

Let there be no mistake, something extraordinary happens when you visit Telluride. More than a festival, the Telluride Jazz Festival is a lifestyle stepped in beauty, intimate in nature and alive with character. A place where music, food, people and culture are woven together in a seamless tapestry of laid back fun and pure enjoyment.
 

The L.A. band Dawes carries a serious torch for the greatest moments of rock's collision with folk and country: Buffalo Springfield, The Flying Burrito Brothers, The Band.

Imagine being able to rock a piano so well that Aerosmith wants you as its touring keyboardist. That's what happened to Russ Irwin, and he's been sharing the stage with Steven Tyler and Joe Perry for 15 years.

"I'm staring at their backsides," he tells NPR's David Greene. "It's an interesting place to be."

For all the attention Alabama Shakes' music has attracted in 2012 — and its album Boys & Girls marked a huge breakthrough earlier this year — the live stage is where the soulful blues-rock band transcends mere "one to watch" status. Boys & Girls is the work of polished professionals at the top of their game, but in concert, Alabama Shakes' music reaches ecstatic, sprawling, rafter-shaking heights.

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