Music

Music

Songs We Love: Joanna Newsom, 'Sapokanikan'

Aug 20, 2015

"What the hell kind of word is 'Sapokanikan'?"

One of this year's most exciting new artists, Texas singer Leon Bridges sings soulful songs with a personal touch and flair that sets him apart instantly. With a backing band that includes members of White Denim, Bridges recently played an incredible set in KCRW's studio, including this performance of "Better Man."

SET LIST

  • "Better Man"

Opposites attract in songs by siblings Tyler and Maggie Heath, who perform as the folk duo The Oh Hellos. Their instrumentation and singing are exuberant, just this side of ecstatic, even though their lyrics deal with wandering, grief and regret.

Beach House works with a simple set of ingredients — a few vintage keyboards, programmed drums, an electric guitar and the drowsily alluring voice of Victoria Legrand — to evoke a specific tone that rarely varies. And yet Depression Cherry, the Baltimore duo's fifth album in the last decade, still feels vibrant and versatile. There's sticking to a formula that works, and then there's teasing out its subtleties in surprising, consistently rewarding ways.

The album might be called In the Light of Air, but it's anything but conventionally light or airy. Instead, this rumbling, evocative music by composer Anna Thorvaldsdottír seems grounded deep in the beautifully austere landscapes of her native Iceland. Don't listen too hard for hummable melodies. While there are flashes of lyrical writing, the composer excels at weaving sound textures together to create distinct atmospheres.

Review: Ruby Amanfu, 'Standing Still'

Aug 19, 2015

Ruby Amanfu made an incredible impression as Jack White's visual and vocal foil during live and recorded performances of his 2012 single "Love Interruption" — she as the inscrutable, bouffant-sporting woman of color, possessed of a live-wire vibrato, and he as the spectral, stylized rocker.

People on the cusp of maturity get called a lot of things. They're juveniles when they're in trouble, teenagers when they're having fun, adolescents when they're at the therapist's office, young adults when they're reading or going to see a movie based on a favorite book. As for pop music, that's youth's realm, incorporating the slang, dances, shifting mores and free-floating fears of every new generation. Yet it isn't that easy to capture, in a song, the particular sense of living in between childhood and the next thing.

Review: Destroyer, 'Poison Season'

Aug 19, 2015

While membership in Canadian power-pop supergroup The New Pornographers brought attention from a generation of indie-rock fans, Dan Bejar was already two albums deep into his solo project, Destroyer. Bejar's earliest albums reveled in glam at a time when such archness and excess stood at odds with the prevailing trends in independent music. But as Bejar got out his T.

"We would write our songs soft / Then we would try to make them tough." That's a line from "Before We Stopped To Think," a song by the obscure, now-defunct indie-rock band Great Plains, covered by Yo La Tengo on its new album, Stuff Like That There. The choice of song is telling. Like Great Plains, Yo La Tengo was formed in the '80s, when indie rock had yet to become a genre, let alone a mainstream phenomenon — and when playing jangly, noisy pop was as radical as playing hardcore punk.

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