Alex Zhang Hungtai is a musician who has spent his life drifting from home to home. His parents were children of communist China, and since setting out, he's lived in places as far-flung as Honolulu, Montreal and most recently, Berlin.
Under the name Dirty Beaches, Hungtai makes washy, dreamy rock music that often feels nostalgic. Hungtai's whole last album was dedicated to his father; he was inspired after finding out his dad had been in a doo wop cover band during his youth in China.
Clairy Browne & the Bangin' Rackettes are an Australian band whose sound is a little bit of soul fused with blues, doo-wop, jazz and R&B. That musical diet, rich in harmony, is the same one lead singer Clairy Browne grew up on.
"My dad had a band in South Africa in the '60s called Browne, and so he really brought that into our home," she says. "We were always around the kitchen table with a guitar and four-part harmonies, playing on late into the night.
Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 3:56 pm
The L.A. band Fitz & The Tantrums broke through in 2011 with its debut album, Picking Up the Pieces. Undeniable songs and exciting concerts led the group to festival dates and other high-profile live appearances around the world.
The Swiss-German duo Boy has enjoyed worldwide success with its charming debut album, Mutual Friends. Members Sonya Glass and Valeska Steiner met in 2005 at a six-week song workshop and quickly developed a rapport.
In this installment of World Cafe, the two discuss the nuances of writing in English, and describe how their friendship grew along with their musical success.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the booklets of money-saving coupons we use to light kindling in the fireplace is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, tips for obsessive music fans in an age of instant online gratification.
Remember the slow-moving, ridiculously armed ED-209 in the first RoboCop movie? The poor thing couldn't walk down a stairwell, but boy, could that machine leave a bloody mess. Author & Punisher does much the same, for both the ears and whatever's left of the body.
Mount Moriah is a rock band formed around the duo of guitarist Jenks Miller and singer Heather McEntire. Its second full-length album, the recent Miracle Temple, combines the strum and twang of Southern rock with vocals that hit hard emotionally.
On this installment of World Cafe, host David Dye discusses with McEntire the complexity of Mount Moriah's sound, as well as her push to explore the nuances in her vocals.
The Sea, The Sea makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. The duo of singer-songwriters Mira Stanley and Chuck E. Costa first began performing and recording together in the fall of 2011. No stranger to West Virginia's most famous stage, Stanley spent much of her youth backstage at shows alongside her father, Mountain Stage bandleader Ron Sowell. She even auditioned once, as a very young girl, for host Larry Groce — "Don't call us, we'll call you," he told her. Many years later, he kept his word.
Yo La Tengo has been able to stick together and make music on its own terms for more than 20 years; in today's climate, that's as rare as it is impressive. In an interview for KCRW, singer Ira Kaplan said the band likes to keep its process in the air and of the moment.
The latest episode of Q2 Spaces takes us to Washington state's Puget Sound and the small sailboat where musician, composer and producer Jherek Bischoff was raised — and to his Seattle apartment, where he surrounds himself with instruments and not much else.