Since winning the Icelandic Music Award for best album of the year in his home country a few years ago, Ásgeir Trausti — best known simply as Ásgeir — has begun to win over larger parts of the world, including the U.S. He has a calm upper range voice, a voice not unlike Justin Vernon of Bon Iver. Later, he released In The Silence, a version of that award-winning album with the lyrics translated into the English.
We call on Cardiff, Wales for our World Cafe: Next artists this week. Kutosis is a power-pop trio whose music has been described as "post punk, reverb-drenched and breezy." Their second album, Dream It Away, was released in June on Jealous Lover's Club Records. From album artwork to song titles, this group is all about surfing — a fitting match for their sunny power pop.
Don't forget to download our World Cafe: Next podcast with two songs from Kutosis.
Sometimes music and life intersect in ways beyond words. Filmmaker James Marcus Haney set out to do two things, make a music video for the British trio Bear's Den and capture the last days of his little brothers carefree college days with friends.
What he wound up with is tragic and poignant. Shortly after arriving in Seattle to film, a campus shooting occurred. Haney relayed his story to me via email. He's as good with words as he is with imagery. I'm going to let him tell the story.
This week's Feature CD is "Love and Hate," the latest by Joan Osborne. Joan is one of the headliners at this weekend's The Ride festival in Telluride, playing from 2:45-3:45 Saturday afternoon in Town Park. Hear the CD in its entirety at noon this Friday. If you correctly answer our weekly trivia question at around 12:30, you could win lunch at Zia Taqueria.
People ask me all the time to name my favorite Tiny Desk Concert. It's my desk and I've seen almost all of the nearly 400 concerts up close. So you'd think this would be easy. Moon Hooch have made it a lot easier.
It's fitting that the first episode of Front Row Boston (a new digital and television series produced by WGBH Music and Crossroads Presents in association with NPR Music) features Boston-based Celtic punk legends Dropkick Murphys. Here they perform "The Boys Are Back" from their eighth studio album, Signed and Sealed in Blood.
With all the sunlight in Los Angeles, it's easy to overlook the beauty in the darkness there. Yet Chelsea Wolfe doesn't. The SoCal singer-songwriter has carved a unique place in the musical landscape with her epic "drone-metal-art-folk" style. On her recent third album, Pain Is Beauty, she takes a decidedly more electronic approach to her haunting sound, further highlighting her timeless singing, powerful arrangements and seductively mysterious aesthetic.
It seems the unlikeliest of collaborations: Cat Power, a American songwriter and singer who can be quiet and somewhat insular, and Coldplay, now a veteran band from London that is immensely popular, confident and bold. And still, what happens in this recording, the title track for the film Wish I Was Here, feels so right.
Sheffield, England — the setting for The Full Monty and part of the British equivalent of the Rust Belt — seems an unlikely spawning ground for the wistful pop of this duo with a deceptively static name. But from the youthful, acoustic-and-harmony-based pop of their early material to the more elaborate arrangements of 2011's Paradise, Slow Club's music has always had an upful sheen that's sometimes belied by melancholy lyrics and melodies.
Too much sugar is unhealthy — and it's easy, in today's world, to get too much. Sugar is empty calories, it causes decay, it implies a lack of substance, and yet we crave it. But our brains also run on it, and it's critical in energy production. For better and worse, sweetness is intoxicating. So how do we find balance? On its latest album, Hello Memory, the Brooklyn trio Little Daylight offers a sort of nutritional road map.