The Weather Station is the work of Tamara Lindeman, a Toronto-based singer-songwriter and actress in TV and film. Her third album, Loyalty, examines the many meanings behind its title; it was recorded in a decaying 19th-century mansion in France, where Lindeman played guitar, banjo, keys and vibes.
In this episode of World Cafe: Next, you can hear two songs from Loyalty — and download them as part of a podcast here.
The title of Death Cab For Cutie's new album, Kintsugi, refers to the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery using precious metals — the idea being that broken items can be made more valuable than they ever were before. It's an apt metaphor for what's gone on in the band's recent history, and in the life of singer-songwriter Ben Gibbard.
Bellows' debut album, Blue Breath, was among my Top 20 records of last year. What sets Bellows apart from thousands of other guitar-bass-drums bands out there is its heart. Oliver Kalb sings about things that matter to him in ways that matter to me. His sing-song, matter-of-fact phrasing and guitar melodies are memorable, and the harmonies are lovely, with the staying power to drift in my head for days on end.
On the heels of her unamplified Pin Drop Tour, Northwest roots-rock singer Brandi Carlile has just released her fifth and and most rocking album. On The Firewatcher's Daughter, Carlile trades sheen for grit by recording deeply emotive songs in single takes. In this live studio performance at KEXP, she and her band blaze through the defiant barn-burner "Mainstream Kid."
Ladysmith Black Mambazo's latest song, with Malian singer Salif Keita, is a plea for peace in South Africa, which has been grappling with the fallout from deadly violence against immigrants from other parts of Africa.
Holly Herndon works in a post-human mode that's become customary in electronic music, yet remains abstract in realms beyond. Voices figure heavily in Platform, her follow-up to a breakthrough album in 2012, but they're spliced, diced, dissected — too processed, in any case, to suggest origins in a fleshy human being with dynamic feelings and moods.
Throughout a long and varied career, Jim O'Rourke has approached music the way a watchmaker might approach complications, the catch-all term for parts of a timepiece that go beyond simply telling the time.