Segments and Articles
- Listen The Jesus and Mary Chain: Still Influential, 30 Years After 'Psychocandy'
- Listen Until The Ribbon Breaks: Elusive And Cinematic Electronic Pop
From Elvis Costello's "Alison" to Townes Van Zandt's "Loretta," we're probably all familiar with the stories of the men who wrote songs about their sultry muses and lovers that scorned them. But what about the women behind these songs? On her latest album, Woman To Woman, Esmé Patterson decided to give voices to the ladies lost in rock lyrics with a record comprised of response songs to some of our favorite pop hits.
Take the song "The Glow," in which the Denver singer-songwriter and Paper Bird member delivers a rebuttal to The Beach Boys' 1966 classic, "Caroline, No." Patterson responds as the titular "Caroline" of Brian Wilson's pining: "Where did your long hair go / Where is the girl I used to know / How could you lose that happy glow." Instead she sings, "I cut off my long hair / Turned the glow inside / All that leaves must die / You're crying for what you can't keep."
Now, Patterson has released a new music video for the song that illustrates the concept perfectly.
Adjacency is what makes The Barr Brothers tick. In the most literal sense, it was the act of moving in next door to harpist Sara Page that catalyzed Brad and Andrew Barr into a new band. The brothers had moved to Montreal in the wake of the demise of their New England-based avant-rock trio The Slip. Folding Sara's intricate harp runs into their sound, and adding multi-instrumentalist Andrew Vial, the newly consolidated The Barr Brothers created a lush and eclectic folk rock that earned them a Polaris Prize nomination on their first outing. Their sound is in the adjacency of polyrhythmic drums, delicate accents, and sprawling guitars -- a melange that would swamp less capable groups.
I first heard Emma-Lee Moss (a.k.a. Emmy The Great) in 2009, when the producer and songwriter Fatboy Slim invited her to be a part of his Brighton Port Authority project. The name struck me as slightly presumptuous. But then I heard her contribution to the album. “Seattle” was cool and elusive and beautiful, and it also featured one of the most poetic descriptions of a sunrise I’ve ever heard in song: "I’ve never seen a blue sky forming / Like a wire warming up America." Brilliant.
It's said musicians find writing their sophomore album is harder than the first. But for English singer songwriter Jessie Ware, creating her second album, Tough Love, was as smooth as her soulful voice. She wrote the songs that became her new record in three different cities - -New York, Los Angeles, and her home in London -- at an especially hectic time: in the midst of her engagement and subsequent marriage.
Collaboration is the driving force behind the Brooklyn-based jazz quintet known as Sketches. Each of their compositions begins when one member offers a tiny musical fragment. The tiny idea is then developed by another member, and finally completed by the band as a whole, democratically. Hear how that process is realized on this track, “Caught in the Storm.”
Sketches will be performing their New York CD release show for their album Volume 2 tonight at Cornelia Street Café in Greenwich Village.
Idan Raichel met Malian guitar virtuoso Vieux Farka Touré in a chance encounter in 2008. Raichel, one of Israeli top-selling pop stars and keyboard player, was already an admirer of Touré's music -- as well as the work of his father, the late Ali Farka Touré -- for many years before they crossed paths at a German airport. And when Touré performed a concert in Tel Aviv, Raichel sat in. Soon thereafter, the two met up in studio for a jam session, recording for three hours, and kindling a strong collaboration that became the Touré-Raichel Collective.
Most of us got to know New Zealand singer and guitarist Kimbra from her 2012 duet with the Belgian-Australian singer Gotye, called "Somebody That I Used to Know." In addition to becoming a chart-topping hit, the song also won Grammy Awards for Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance, and was accompanied by a highly-viewed stop-motion music video that featured both singers' bodies being covered with patterns of paint.
ARTIST: Touré-Raichel Collective
When Malian guitar virtuoso Vieux Farka Touré first collaborated with the Israeli keyboardist and composer Idan Raichel, they recorded in Tel Aviv, and called the superb resulting album The Tel Aviv Session. The two have gotten together once again -- but this time they recorded in Paris. Care to wager what they called the album? Here’s the song “Hodu” from The Paris Session.
You can see the Toure-Raichel Collective live tonight at Symphony Space – OR catch a special live stream from our studio at 2 ET.
When you've lived as a rock god for as long as Jimmy Page has, it's useful to have a camera handy. Instead of spilling ever more ink on Led Zeppelin's famous journeys to the land of black magic and sexual excess, Page decided to create a photographic autobiography -- the result of which is his new book, Jimmy Page by Jimmy Page. The guitarist curated more than 600 rare and never-before-seen photos from before, during and after his time with Led Zeppelin, and added his own notes (for example, a picture of a bottle-swilling Page is simply captioned "homeopathic remedy.")
In his extensive conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Page talks about his attempt to play the most-heard guitar solo in the world, how he somehow still has his hearing, and why he never throws anything away.
Anawan is a 5-piece from Red Hook, Brooklyn, that strives for the avant garde in folk music. On their website they say that they are trying to carve out an alternative mode of being-in-the-world, and part of that includes completely avoiding social media. Here’s their song, “Smokes in the Sun.”
Until The Ribbon Breaks has yet to put much music out there, but it's clear even in its few singles and five-song EP, A Taste Of Silver, that the U.K. electronic pop trio has arrived practically fully-formed. There's a dark quality in the music of Until The Ribbon Breaks; it's spare and elusive, yet visually stimulating. You can hear it in songs like "Pressure," which evokes the pulpiness of Tarantino flicks and the eerie cinematic tone of David Lynch films. In fact, singer Peter Lawrie Winfield cut together his own music video for that song using footage from Lynch's 1997 film, Lost Highway. Throughout its songs, the programmed electronic beats are sparse, yet are bass heavy and danceable enough to propel the grinding synths and robotic samples which serve as the bed for singer Winfield's soulful voice.
As the 1980s became the '90s, a new sound from the UK began to rumble across the Atlantic: Built around countless layers of heavily distorted guitars and fuzzed out, yet melodic vocals, the music made by bands like My Bloody Valentine and Slowride was eventually dubbed "shoegaze." But anyone who traced that sound back to the source would know The Jesus And Mary Chain, and its groundbreaking album Psychocandy, which is considered by many to be the first and finest in the genre.
While The Jesus And Mary Chain is mostly known in the States for those radio-friendly, poppier songs like "Sometimes Always" and "Just Like Honey," the band had a far grittier reputation back in the U.K.
Most don't immediately associate the blues with blonde-haired, alabaster-skinned Scandinavian women. But Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Ray Charles all agreed that when Peggy Lee sang, they heard an unmistakable quality, a tone we've come to call "softly, with feeling." They heard the blues.
"Peggy had this air of strangeness and mystery about her that you couldn't quite identify when you heard her sing,"
One would think that after years of constant touring, a hiatus between albums would be a welcome respite to decompress from music -- or at least allow time to catch up on a little TV. For Yukon Blonde frontman Jeffrey Innes, it meant getting back to work, writing songs intended for a new collaborative project. But when his friends ended up being busy on the road, the Vancouver songwriter instead recorded the songs himself under a new moniker, High Ends.
For his recently-released debut, Super Class, Innes worked quickly, making sound-rich rockers built around grinding synth textures, clicking electronic beats, and poppy hooks. You can hear it in the single “Intoxicated,” a song about a disintegrating relationship where he can only express his feelings when he’s drunk, and much too late: “When I’m intoxicated, I love you / Everything you do, I’m addicted to your indifference...” sings Innes in the opening lines.
Still, for a song about dependency and heartache, High Ends’ new music video is actually quite cute and sunny.
ARTIST: Glen David Andrews
Trombonist and gospel shouter Glen David Andrews was born in the historic New Orleans neighborhood of Treme, considered by many to be the center of the brass band universe. It’s also the namesake of an HBO show, in which some of Andrew's music appears.
In this episode: Peggy Lee was born in a poor North Dakota village but became one of the 20th century’s greatest pop and jazz singers. James Gavin, the author of a new biography, Is That All There Is? The Strange Life Of Peggy Lee, talks about the singer's unique vocal style, her brief but bright acting career, and her many reinventions.
Then: Forgotify is a new gizmo that finds all the songs that have never been played on the music-streaming service Spotify. PopMatters columnist Ben Rubenstein samples a few of the four million tracks with zero plays.
And: Los Angeles singer-songwriter Noah Lit -- who performs as Noah And The MegaFauna -- expands on his indie-rock-meets-jazz template on the his latest album Pale Blue Dot. Hear the band play selections in the Soundcheck studio.
Above, listen to Soundcheck host John Schaefer talking with All Things Considered host Richard Hake about the legacy of rapper Big Bank Hank. Below, John Schaefer writes about the first time he heard the Sugarhill Gang's "Rapper's Delight."
Henry Jackson, better known as Big Bank Hank of the pioneering rap group the Sugarhill Gang, died Tuesday of complications from cancer.
Electric Youth first won over scores of fans with “A Real Hero” -- a collaboration with French musician David Grellier (a.k.a. College) -- which was prominently featured twice in Nicolas Winding Refn’s Ryan Gosling-starring 2011 film Drive. The 1980s-styled pop song perfectly matched the doomed neo-noir tone of the crime drama, and presented an evocative cinematic scope that carries through all of the L.A. and Toronto-based synth duo’s music. That sense of timeless romance no accident; in fact, it’s almost too good to be true: Electric Youth’s members, Austin Garrick and Bronwyn Griffin, have been a couple since they were in 8th grade -- and making music together since 2009. And as one might expect, there’s a seamless ease in the way the melodies unfurl and intimately intertwine on the band’s recently-released debut, Innerworld.
Inspired by countless films played on repeat while writing, recording and sculpting the sounds of Innerworld, the record is stunningly rich in imagery, tailor-made for pairing with visuals on the screen or in the duo’s stage shows. That’s especially true in this gorgeous live performance video of the single “Runaway” -- shot in a Toronto studio for its label, Secretly Canadian.
ARTIST: Midnight Faces
Combine the instrumentals of 80s British post-punk with the vocals of 70s classic Americana and you get Midnight Faces. The LA-based duo is comprised of vocalist Phil Stancil and multi-instrumentalist Matthew Doty. Midnight Faces share the stage with Electric Youth tonight at the Music Hall of Williamsburg.