Music

Music

The Lumineers On World Cafe

May 29, 2012

This week's Vintage Cafe goes back to 2012, when good things were starting to happen for a trio of musicians from Denver. The Lumineers' original members, Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, were high-school friends who moved to Denver thinking they'd have a better shot at getting noticed than they had in Brooklyn — plus, it was affordable. There, they met their third member, cellist Neyla Pekarek, through a Craigslist ad.

The L.A. indie-folk band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros has been described as looking like something of a hippie cult on stage. Of course, every cult should have a leader, and this one is led by a singer whose real name is Alex Ebert. He has a long beard and long, unkempt hair, and he often doesn't wear a shirt or even shoes. During shows, he dances around in circles shaking a tambourine.

K-Holes: A Grimy Smear Of Rock 'n' Roll

May 29, 2012

K-Holes' frayed, exhausted, grimy smear of rock 'n' roll is swaddled in the uneven patchwork of New York City's '80s no-wave scene. The band wields its own unique sort of holler — an earth-colored concrete mold of sax and group mantras and waves of ricocheting build. Within "Child," the opener from K-Holes' second full-length album Dismania, the group's sonic theory is made plain: malignant patience and a straightforward attack, with all five tongues in cheek and aching jaws set firm.

Storied musician and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dr. John—Mac Rebennack—released Locked Down, a startling album that marks a significant departure from his recent efforts. The new album, produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, is an entirely new approach for the iconic Dr. John, featuring as it does his collaboration with Auerbach and a band of young musicians Auerbach hand-picked to make Locked Down at his Nashville studio.

John Mayer On World Cafe

May 25, 2012

Becoming a rock star has major implications — just ask John Mayer. The singer-songwriter's personal history and relationships are all public knowledge, thanks to the enormous media attention that the 34-year-old attracts. The attention in turn attracts trouble, but Mayer, who has just released his fifth solo studio album, tries to take it all in stride.

This week's quiz comes courtesy of Janet Weiss, drummer for the band Wild Flag (and former drummer for Sleater-Kinney). She's got some killer fills and intros here that (I thought) ranged from pretty easy to pretty hard. But see what you think.

Drag the intro or fill (or beat) to the album it's from. If you get it right, the song names will appear.

What were you doing when you were 16?

When he was 16, James Burton was inventing the American guitar. He'd been born in Dubberly, La., in 1939, and was apparently self-taught on his instrument. At 15, he cut a single backing local singer Carol Williams, and then one day he came up with a guitar riff that he liked. He took it to a singer from Shreveport he was touring with, and they worked out a song to use in his act. One thing led to another, and it wound up on a record called "Suzie Q," credited to Dale Hawkins, the singer.

Chuck Prophet: Tawdry, Tattered Glory

May 25, 2012

San Francisco has long been a refuge for people on society's fringes, from sailors and hookers to beatniks, hippies and non-conformists of every stripe. Chuck Prophet revels in their oddness as much as he revels in the retro coolness of shoo-be-doo-wop pop and the chime of a pedal-pushed guitar chord. On his latest album, Temple Beautiful, he injects healthy doses of both into sonic portraits of his city's most outrageous inhabitants.

Metalheads Are People, Too

May 24, 2012

For one long weekend at the end of May, nearly every hotel, hostel, B&B and flophouse in Baltimore is booked up. Traffic gets brutal, the sidewalks fill and locals are more than a little miffed by all the clueless tourists. Many of them are in town for Maryland's high school lacrosse state championships, but for plenty of others, a stay in Charm City promises the polar opposite of all the good clean fun going down at the stadium. These visitors are ready to sweat too, but they've come for something quite different: feedback, blood and distortion.

Turing Machine: End Of The Road

May 24, 2012

Seven years in the making, What Is the Meaning of What marks the end of a difficult road for Turing Machine, the often-snarling instrumental trio. The group's prolific drummer, Jerry Fuchs, died suddenly in 2009, about a year into the recording of What Is the Meaning of What and left behind his last work within the still-fleshless new record.

The Ramones were there at the birth of punk rock.

None of the Ramones were actually related, but they all changed their last names to Ramone. They wore matching skinny jeans and leather jackets, and their songs were short and to the point, with hooks that are still impossibly catchy. The band's first album stunned listeners and critics. Joey Ramone described its influence in a 1991 interview in Finland that's posted on YouTube.

Birth Of An Album: In The Studio With Neko Case

May 24, 2012

In the months ahead, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep will check in from time to time as singer-songwriter Neko Case creates the follow-up to her 2009 album Middle Cyclone. In the first installment, we listen in to a song that's not quite finished, not quite recorded, not even quite written. First, Case has to learn what the song is.

Kent Hartman On World Cafe

May 23, 2012

Almost every record you know that was a 1960s radio hit had a secret weapon — a crew of L.A. backing musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew." This group, which included the likes of Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye, helped artists ranging from the Partridge Family to the Beach Boys make great-sounding albums.

Joachim Cooder On World Cafe

May 23, 2012

Joachim Cooder is no stranger to collaborations, nor is he new to scoring soundtracks, yet Cooder's newest project combines his past experiences in an unexpected way. Son of legendary guitarist Ry Cooder, he took to the drums early on, and eventually played in the famous documentary Buena Vista Social Club. He's also worked behind the scenes, writing for the soundtracks of films such as Lars and the Real Girl.

Paul Kelly On Mountain Stage

May 23, 2012

Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly makes his fifth appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.V. Kelly has been recording for more than 25 years, earning awards back home for his film and TV compositions and a cult-like following in the U.S. and abroad. Though Rolling Stone has called him "Australia's rock icon," Kelly has diversified through the years, recording albums that borrow from country, rock, folk and bluegrass.

Neal Casal On World Cafe

May 22, 2012

Many fans of American rock love Neal Casal's guitar work, whether they know his solo music or not. Primarily a solo artist and guitarist for Ryan Adams' backing band The Cardinals, Casal built his career on country-rock sensibilities and tireless output. His first solo album came out in 1995, and since then, he's kept up his solo work while playing with The Cardinals, Chris Robinson of Black Crowes and countless others.

Note: This week's All Songs Considered offers a preview of the upcoming Maryland Deathfest.

Rich Robinson On Mountain Stage

May 22, 2012

Rich Robinson makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.V. By his mid-20s, Robinson had already achieved remarkable commercial success as the lead guitarist for Black Crowes. Alongside his brother Chris, the band all but single-handedly reintroduced soulful, bluesy Southern rock to a mainstream that had been occupied with hair-metal and glitzy pop. Robinson's guitar helped lay the groundwork for a sound that launched a long, successful, and tumultuous career.

Spiritualized, a neo-psychedelic outfit with Jason Pierce (a.k.a. J. Spaceman) at its center, formed out of the ashes of Pierce's previous group, Spaceman 3. The newer band's seven albums of panoramic space-rock are deeply influenced by soul, gospel and all things Velvet Underground.

In the mid-1990s, the moody rock song "Only Happy When It Rains" was all over radio and MTV. Now, after a hiatus, Garbage returns with a new album, Not Your Kind of People.

Warning: This post, about a song by Balthrop, Alabama (a 10-piece Brooklyn band, not a extremely musical township), includes numerous instances of coordinated jazz hands and chorus line kicks. The band's new song "You've Gotta Be Gay," is filled with theatrical sounds from all different places and times: stomps, grunts and rattles from a 1930s chain gang, a tinny player-piano from an old-timey saloon and an accordion out of every stereotypical Parisian boulevard scene.

The Mastersons

Husband and wife, singing and playing together.  Each deft instrumentalists, they’ve spent years playing in others’ bands before coming together as a unit. They’re bound by music and an uncommon depth of companionship, they’re good enough to make Steve Earle swoon, and all of that sounds quite nice. 

The Polyphonic Spree In Concert

May 21, 2012

The Polyphonic Spree is exactly what its name suggests: a chorus of voices with little restraint. The group is led by Tim DeLaughter and, though the line-up changes constantly, it typically involves some 20-odd individuals who provide talents from singing to piccolo. The Polyphonic Spree came about after DeLaughter's previous band, Tripping Daisy, broke up following member Wes Berggren's death in 1999.

French singer, multi-instrumentalist and film composer Yann Tiersen isn't massively well-known, but he did craft the score for the beloved 2001 film Amelie, about which virtually everything is held in massively high regard. Since then, Tiersen has built a name for himself as a solo artist who gently stretches the boundaries of pop music.

Deep Sea Diver: Density And Depth

May 21, 2012

Jessica Dobson plays guitar in the newest incarnation of The Shins, James Mercer's well-known outlet for supremely precious, sweetly self-effacing indie-pop. With her band Deep Sea Diver and its first album History Speaks, Dobson assembles a complex, precisely arranged and lyrically pensive suite of songs about heartbreak and yearning. The result is no less fun or toe-tappable than the product of her more famous day job, but it also achieves tremendous density and depth in its own right.

YACHT, 'Beam Me Up': A Laser Tag Apocalypse

May 18, 2012

Maybe YACHT wouldn't be that sad if the complete and total annihilation of the human race happened tomorrow. The video for their song "Beam Me Up," off their recent album Shangri-La, finds the band playing around with the upsides of doomsday in a laser tag arena. Think of a future where cyber-soldiers fight each other in the smouldering metallic ruins of society, except with children shooting fake lasers.

JD McPherson: When A Punk Goes Vintage

May 18, 2012

How does a former punk rocker raised on an Oklahoma cattle ranch end up sounding like a classic rockabilly singer? JD McPherson found his groove in the style of 1950s rhythm and blues, rock and rockabilly. To help create that vintage sound on his debut album, Signs and Signifers, he used vintage mics, old amplifiers and a Berlant reel-to-reel recorder from the '60s — all analog. McPherson's love for this classic sound all goes back to a record store in McAlester, Okla.

Zeus On World Cafe

May 17, 2012

Zeus' music sounds as if it's being beamed straight out of the '70s, but a shared interest in making music that recalls The Band isn't what brought the Canadian group together. Most of Zeus' members were brought into Jason Collett's backing band, and from there decided to play together outside of their work with Collett.

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