Produced by

Recent Episodes and Articles

Download This: Abjeez, 'Tu Me Haces Falta.'

Friday, July 25, 2014

ARTIST: Abjeez

DOWNLOAD: 

Abjeez, 'Tu Me Haces Falta'  

GIG: Tonight at Drom.

The group Abjeez takes its name from Persian slang for sister, and indeed the band revolves around a sister act, the Iranian-born musicians Safoura and Melody Safavi, But the group also sings in English, Swedish and Spanish. Abjeez plays an unplugged show tonight at Drom; this song is called "Tu Me Haces Falta."

Read More

Comment

Idina Menzel Of 'Frozen' And 'If/Then' Performs Live

Thursday, July 24, 2014

For updates on Soundcheck's upcoming guests and in studio performances, follow us on Twitter at @Soundcheck and Like us on Facebook.

Within in the theater community, Idina Menzel has been known and celebrated for years. Beginning with her role as Maureen in Rent, and later for originating the role of Elphaba in the Broadway musical Wicked -- for which she won the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical -- Menzel has demonstrated her powerful, stirring voice in countless beloved stage productions, as well as on TV shows (Glee) and in films (Enchanted).

But it wasn't until last year, with her turn as the voice of Elsa the Snow Queen in the 2013 Disney film Frozen, that the New York actress and singer achieved international stardom. Built on the strength of the ubiquitous empowering hit "Let It Go," which reached No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, Frozen not only became the highest-grossing animated film of all time, but made Menzel a household name. (Well, that and John Travolta's bizarre "Adele Dazeem" name flub at this year's Academy Awards.)

Read More

Comments [11]

'Mateo' Tells The Surprisingly Dark Story Of 'Gringo Mariachi'

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The documentary film Mateo tells the story of one of the more unusual figures in Latin music. "Mateo" is actually Matthew Stoneman, a red-headed white man from New Hampshire who learned mariachi music and a bit of Spanish while serving time for robbery in a California prison. Living in Los Angeles, California, Stoneman becomes a kind of cult figure as the "Gringo Mariachi" and begins making enough money to record periodically in Havana, Cuba.

Sounds like a light-hearted fish-out-of-water story, doesn’t it? But the film has a surprising dark side. Yes, Mateo has a lovely voice, but he's a complicated guy, and he’s almost shockingly okay about sharing that with the camera.  

Read More

Comment

Brasslands: The Story Of Serbia's Cutthroat Brass Band Competition

Thursday, July 24, 2014

The town of Guča, in Serbia, has a population of just over 2000 people -- except for August, when the annual trumpet festival and competition, Dragačevo Assembly, -- known to some as "the World Cup of brass band music" -- attracts nearly half a million people. Most of them, of course, are Serbian fans of the infectious Balkan brass bands and their distinctive rhythms. But many come from elsewhere. One Balkan brass band that’s taken part in the Guča festival is from right here in New York, Zlatne Uste Brass Band.

Their story -- plus the larger, more complicated story of the Serbian festival itself -- is told in the documentary film Brasslands. As the film vividly depicts, there is much more to the competition than just dancing and good vibes. At stake is national pride, the famous golden trumpet trophy, and for some native musicians, even a year of income.

Read More

Comment

New Doc 'We Like It Like That' Remembers The Peak Of Boogaloo

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Boogaloo was the reigning Latin music of 1960's New York City. The distinctive genre combined the sounds of the last decade's popular Cuban mambo with R&B, jazz, and funk to create distinctive and danceable beats that were popular across ethnic and racial lines. While boogaloo enjoyed a heyday in the '70s thanks to the iconic label Fania Records, salsa music eventually eclipsed it and gained a national following that eludes boogaloo to this day. But now a new documentary, We Like It Like That, aims to honor and to introduce listeners to the infectious sounds of the genre. The film celebrates the 50th anniversary of Fania and remembers the boogaloo legends that shaped the label and New York's Latin music scene.

In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, the film's director Mathew Ramirez Warren talks about discovering boogaloo when sifting through old records, and brings along bandleader Joe Bataan to talk about music industry resistance that some claim was the death of boogaloo.

Read More

Comment

Summer '94: Jeff Buckley's 'Grace' Still Endures At 20

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

This summer Soundcheck is looking back to the summer of 1994 to explore the hits, defining albums and pop culture of 20 years ago.

In August 1994, 27-year-old Jeff Buckley quietly released his album Grace. The album was the only full-length studio record that the singer-songwriter -- and son of folk legend Tim Buckley -- released before his death in 1997. With songs like "Last Goodbye" and a stunning cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah," the record is now viewed as one of the best albums of all time.

"Everything was special: The vocals, the emotional depth, passion, energy," says Daphne A. Brooks, professor of African-American Studies, Theater, and American Studies at Yale University, and author of the 33 1/3 book on Grace. "This is the height of alternative rock masculinity."

Read More

Comments [4]

'Hallelujah': The Story Of One Song's Ascent

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It’s possible that you might have first heard "Hallelujah" in its original form, on Leonard Cohen's 1984 album Various Positions. But it’s much more likely that you first encountered it somewhere else: Maybe in a small East Village pub, being sung by Jeff Buckley. Or at the Winter Olympics, being performed by k.d. lang. Or on the soundtrack for the animated film Shrek, sung by Rufus Wainwright. Or in a scene on TV drama The O.C., performed by Imogen Heap. Simply put: "Hallelujah" has, against all odds, become one of the most widely recorded songs in music history.

In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, music journalist and author Alan Light explains the enduring popularity of the song in his book, The Holy Or The Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & The Unlikely Ascent Of Hallelujah.

This segment originally aired on Dec. 13, 2012.

Read More

Comments [7]

Download This: Lage Lund, 'Foolhardy.'

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

ARTIST: Lage Lund

DOWNLOAD:

Lage Lund, 'Foolhardy'  

GIG: Tonight and tomorrow at Small’s. 

Lage Lund titled his most recent album “Foolhardy,” but clearly this Norwegian-born guitarist is making some smart moves. Lund attended the Berklee and Juilliard schools of music and won the coveted Thelonious Monk International Jazz competition.

Read More

Comment

Summer '94: Jeff Buckley's 'Grace'; The Ascent Of 'Hallelujah'; Phox Plays Live

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

In this episode: In August 1994, 27-year-old Jeff Buckley quietly released Grace, the only full-length studio album the singer-songwriter would put out before his death three years later. Twenty years later, it’s one of the greatest records of all time. Daphne Brooks, professor of African-American Studies, Theater, and American Studies at Yale University, who wrote about Grace for the 33 1/3 book series, shares her favorite tracks.

Then: Music journalist and author Alan Light explains the enduring popularity of "Hallelujah" -- the Leonard Cohen song given new life by Jeff Buckley. It's the subject of his book, The Holy Or The Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley & The Unlikely Ascent Of Hallelujah.

And: Hear Wisconsin sextet Phox, led by singer Monica Martin, perform its understated folk pop songs in the Soundcheck studio.

Read More

Comment

Sharon Jones: Back On Her Feet, And Back On The Road

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Prison guard-turned-soul singer Sharon Jones is known for her vintage R&B sound and her energetic stage presence. But a recent battle with cancer put her music career on hold, and made her doubt that she'd ever sing again. In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Jones reflects on her path to recovery, and about hitting the road again with her band the Dap-Kings. Plus, they take a listen to some of her latest album, Give The People What They Want.

Read More

Comment

Pick Three: WDET's Ann Delisi Shares Three Songs From '94

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

This summer Soundcheck is looking back to the summer of 1994 to explore the hits, defining albums and pop culture of 20 years ago.

Normally, Ann Delisi seeks out new discoveries as a DJ at Detroit public radio station WDET. But in a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, she looks back 20 years, to her first "tour of duty" at the station in the 1990's, and shares a playlist of three favorite songs from 1994.

Read More

Comments [1]

Download This: Arto Lindsay, 'Personagem.'

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

ARTIST: Arto Lindsay

DOWNLOAD:

Arto Lindsay, 'Personagem'  

GIG: Tonight at 8pm at Le Poisson Rouge.

During a long career, the musician and producer Arto Lindsay has worked in so many different styles, it was perfectly reasonable to call his new CD retrospective The Encyclopedia of Arto. A member of New York’s so-called “No Wave” scene of the 1970's, Lindsay is a pioneer of modern experimental music, while embracing jazz, funk and the sounds of his Brazilian homeland. Here’s the song “Personagem.”

Read More

Comment

Sharon Jones On Fighting Cancer And Her Latest Album; Summer '94 Pick Three; Bell X1 Plays Live

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

In this episode: Sharon Jones is one of soul music’s most magnetic and energetic stars. But last year, she was diagnosed with cancer – and it almost took her life. Now, seven months after it was announced that her cancer was in remission, she’s back and on the road again with her band, The Dap-Kings. She talks her about her treatment and her upcoming VH1 special, and listen to some of her most recent album Give The People What They Want.

Then: Ann Delisi of WDET in Detroit shares a Summer ’94-themed playlist of three of her favorite songs from Jeff Buckley, Massive Attack and Beck.

And: Irish band Bell X1 performs songs from its latest album, Chop Chop, in the Soundcheck studio.

Read More

Comment

Watch: PHOX, Live On Soundcheck

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

While PHOX may have only just released its self-titled album in June, the sextet has already won people over with heartfelt pop songs and the charismatic stage presence of lead singer Monica Martin. When you see PHOX perform, or to hear those songs, there's an undeniable chemistry that extends past the music. 

But it makes sense: PHOX's members all share the same hometown, Baraboo, Wisconsin. After graduating high school, each left home to pursue an array of passions: music, cosmetology, and even a job in Homeland Security. But eventually, they all found their way back to Wisconsin, moved into a house together in Madison, and soon began writing and performing together. It's not surprising that their cohabitation has become an influence on their work: "It's the collaboration and having a wide variety of influences is what makes us PHOX," says guitarist and trumpet player Matt Holmen. "If there was one person directing the record, it wouldn't be us."

Read More

Comment

Summer '94: Comedian Hari Kondabolu On The Golden Age Of Weezer

Monday, July 21, 2014

This summer Soundcheck is looking back to the summer of 1994 to explore the hits, defining albums and pop culture of 20 years ago.

In May 1994, quirky garage rockers Weezer released their self-titled debut album, often called The Blue Album. It went triple platinum in the U.S., charmed critics with its geeky realness and wry lyrics, and gave millions of angsty teenagers a smart, goofy outlet. The Blue Album made Weezer a household name and opened the door for nine more studio albums. The music videos for smash singles "Buddy Holly" and "Undone -- The Sweater Song" won director Spike Jonze four MTV Video Music Awards and, along with his video for The Beastie Boys' "Sabotage," essentially kickstarted his career. 

Somewhere in Queens during that summer of '94, an adolescent Hari Kondabolu was nurturing a new love of Weezer -- and beginning to traffic in bootlegs and ultra-slow downloads on his 28.8k modem. (The future comedian's first AOL screen name was a blatant Weezer reference.) Kondabolu joins Soundcheck host John Schaefer to talk about his obsession, pick his favorite songs from The Blue Album, and discuss the heartbreaking disappointment that comes with being a Weezer fan (discussed at length on Kondabolu's new comedy album, Waiting for 2042.)

Read More

Comments [2]

That Was A Hit?!?: Warren G, 'Regulate'

Monday, July 21, 2014

This summer Soundcheck is looking back to the summer of 1994 to explore the hits, defining albums and pop culture of 20 years ago.

Given its lyrical content, "Regulate" is shockingly smooth. Performed by Warren G and featuring Nate Dogg, "Regulate" is a hip hop song built on the most unlikely of foundations: a sample from a No. 4 hit from 1982 called "I Keep Forgettin'" by Michael McDonald. That slick vibe audibly forms the basis of "Regulate," which peaked at No. 2 on the charts in 1994, out-placing the original, and even appeared in the film Above The Rim.

In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, pop chart analyst and contributor to NPR Music and Slate Chris Molanphy tells the story of 1994's summer smash and its improbable chart success as part of Soundcheck's That Was A Hit?!? series.

Read More

Comment

Hear Weezer's New Song 'Back To The Shack'

Monday, July 21, 2014

Ask anyone who grew up listening to those first Weezer albums, and they'll tell you that news of a new record comes attached with some trepidation. It's a fair reaction, especially for fans who felt a little burned by a string of, um, not-so-good, seemingly tossed-off efforts -- I'm looking at you, Raditude! Now it's been four years since the band's previous record, 2010's Hurley, and honestly, it's been even longer since a great Weezer album.

So when Weezer unveiled "Back To The Shack" during its Weezer Cruise back in February, many fans guessed this garage-y new song would not only land on the band's next record, but serve as a return to that Blue Album\Pinkerton era we all know and love. There's some rumblings and teases that the recently-announced Everything Will Be Alright In The End will indeed channel those early years -- Ric Ocasek is back as producer -- and of course, there's a great deal of anticipation (second guessing and "Oh god, please don't hurt me again" snark) over what these new songs will be like. Plus, with 2014 being the 20th (!) anniversary of Weezer's iconic debut, it makes sense that even Rivers Cuomo himself is experiencing some nostalgic feels for the good old days when it was just him and his unravelling sweater.

Today, Weezer has officially premiered the studio version of "Back To The Shack" -- and judging from the song's title, its signature pop punk riffs, and some completely self-referential lyrics ("rocking out like it's '94") the band's itch to recapture its past could not be clearer. 

Read More

Comment

Download This: Jenifer Jackson, 'Texas Sunrise'

Monday, July 21, 2014

ARTIST: Jenifer Jackson

DOWNLOAD:

Jenifer Jackson, 'Texas Sunrise'  

GIG: Tonight at 8pm at Rockwood Music Hall

Jenifer Jackson moved from New York to Austin, Texas a few years ago, and the Lone Star State certainly has left its rootsy mark on her music. The prolific songwriter’s eleventh album is called Texas Sunrise, and on it Jennifer Jackson is backed by her band, the Texas Gentlemen. Download the title track from the album Texas Sunrise.

Read More

Comments [1]

Relive Summer '94: Weezer And 'Regulate'

Monday, July 21, 2014

In this episode: Soundcheck's Summer ‘94 retrospective continues: Comedian Hari Kondabolu looks back on an album so near and dear to his heart that it that inspired his very first AOL screen name – Weezer’s self-titled debut, known to most as the "Blue Album."

Then: Also that summer: hip hop met yacht rock, when Warren G and Nate Dogg sampled Michael McDonald’s hit slow jam “I Keep Forgettin’” on their song “Regulate.” It was a match made in heaven. We feature the song in our occasional series “That Was A Hit?!?”

And: Hear Dum Dum Girls perform music from its latest album, Too True, in the Soundcheck studio.

Read More

Comments [2]

The Soundcheck Guide To Bassist Charlie Haden

Friday, July 18, 2014

Last week, the jazz world lost Charlie Haden, one of the most renowned and influential bassists of all time, who died at the age of 76. Haden played with luminaries like Ornette Coleman, Pat Metheny, and Keith Jarrett -- with whom he recorded the fittingly titled album, Last Dance, which was released about a month ago. But he also sometimes stepped outside of the jazz realm, revisiting the country music of his childhood spent touring with his family’s band.

In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Nate Chinen, the jazz and pop critic for the New York Times, reflects on Charlie Haden's diverse musical career and shares a couple of his must-hear recordings.

Read More

Comment