The Scottish band Travis formed in Glasgow in 1990 and had major worldwide success with 1999's The Man Who. Its success helped lay the groundwork for other soaring and smooth pop-rock groups — including Coldplay and Keane, which achieved stardom shortly after Travis' breakthrough.
The British folk trio Bear's Den (Joey Haynes, Andrew Davie and Kev Jones) has put out a string of EPs in the U.K., the latest being Agape, for the label owned by Mumford & Sons' Ben Lovett. Hear the rich harmonies and warm vibe of Bear's Den in this session for World Cafe.
The Georgia band Of Montreal put out its first record in 1997, and leader Kevin Barnes has taken a step forward with each album since. The recent Lousy With Sylvianbriar represents a major turn toward reverence for the songwriting process — and away from layering backing tracks and relying on a dazzling live show.
High Hopes is a different sort of release for Bruce Springsteen. It features original and cover songs that had been performed live over the years, some never recorded in a studio setting, as well as a few older songs reconceived with new arrangements and musicians.
Anna Fox Rochinski, Shane Butler and John Andrews make up the Boston psych-folk band Quilt. Together, they released their self-titled debut in 2011 and spent the spring of last year in New York City recording Held in Splendor, which comes out later this month.
The Zombies' jazzy, sophisticated single "She's Not There" showed another side of the British Invasion back in 1964. In this World Cafe interview with the band, singers Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent join us to tell the stories behind songs like "Time of the Season" and new ones from their 2011 album, Breathe Out, Breathe In.
Blunstone and Argent are in fine voice in this session, recorded in front of an audience and originally broadcast in 2011.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 9:58 am
A few years back, the band Low sold T-shirts emblazoned with a fine unofficial motto for its music: "I don't like cool, I like beautiful." For the four women who make up Warpaint, those two qualities aren't mutually exclusive: The L.A. group's swirling sound is full of mysterious buzzes and coos, and there's a sense of everything-in-its-right-place grace and impeccability to it, yet the songs themselves never feel icy or distant.
Originally published on Wed January 22, 2014 10:01 am
The bracingly political Florida punk band Against Me! has been a going concern since 1997, but Transgender Dysphoria Blues can't help but feel like a debut: It's the group's first album since singer Tom Gabel came out as a woman. Now named Laura Jane Grace, she still barks her lyrics with fiercely assertive intelligence — with a voice as yet largely unchanged from the one in the band's earlier work — but Against Me!'s subject matter can't help but be turned on its head.