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Live Today At 2PM ET: Jeff Goldblum's Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, In The Studio

Thursday, September 18, 2014

To hear Jeff Goldblum's session live, click on the player below at 2 p.m. ET.

Most know Jeff Goldblum from his roles in Jurassic Park, Independence Day, or The Fly -- or more recently, in Wes Anderson's film, The Grand Budapest Hotel. However, unless you're familiar with the Los Angeles jazz scene, Goldblum's long-time hobby may come as a surprise: The actor, now 61 years old, has been playing jazz in front of audiences every week since the 1990s. Before beginning his acting career, Goldblum started piano at an early age. By 15, he was setting up gigs as a pianist at cocktail bars around Pittsburgh.  

Inspired by Woody Allen's weekly gigs at New York City's Café Carlyle, Goldblum is now making his New York debut this week for a series of shows at the same café. Goldblum performs alongside his band, The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra, which features guitarist John Storie, bassist Tim Emmons, Zane Musa on tenor saxophone and Kenny Elliott on drums. Mixing standards and a few originals, Goldblum's shows are known to stray from a setlist, with sets mostly improvised in a jam-session style.

In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Goldblum tells us how he came to this music, and shows off his piano chops in the Soundcheck studio with his jazz orchestra.

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The Road To Justice For Chilean Singer Victor Jara

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Victor Jara is one of the most beloved Latin American musicians of all time, but his death is still shrouded in controversy. Jara was a vocal supporter of the socialist regime that was brought down by a violent (U.S.-backed) coup in 1973. And just this month, three suspects were charged in the brutal 1973 torture and killing of Jara.

In the world of protest singers, few have been as controversial and inspirational as Jara, and his music lives on through the many activists and musicians he inspired -- including Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Bruce Springsteen, and Bob Dylan. 

On her new album, Recordar: Latin American Songs of Love and ProtestAni Cordero -- a singer-songwriter and one of the founding members of the Latin rock band Pistolera -- includes a cover of Victor Jara's song "Deja La Vida Volar." In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Cordero reflects on the secret to Jara's lasting musical influence, the Chilean politics that inspired him, and the latest in the 40-year-long search for his killers.

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John Darnielle On His New Book 'Wolf in White Van'

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

John Darnielle's new book is Wolf In White Van.

John Darnielle is best known as the mastermind behind the The Mountain Goats, a band that built a following for both the emotionally raw music and the literary quality of its song's lyrics. And Darnielle himself earned a reputation as one of rock's great storytellers. So it makes some sense that the songwriter's latest project is working with a bigger canvas, his new novel, Wolf In White Van.

The book tells the story of a horribly disfigured man, Sean Phillips, who runs a role-playing mail game out of his home. And the story adds a structural twist: it's told backwards. In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Darnielle talks about the similarities between him and the book's main character, about Christian rock, and writing in reverse.

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Download This: Islands, "Death Drive"

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

ARTIST: Islands

DOWNLOAD: 

Islands, "Death Drive"  

Gig: Wednesday night at Baby's All Right 

The protean rock group known as Islands routinely reinvents its sound, neatly side-stepping any genre label you can throw at them. The Montreal group’s latest record is called Ski Mask, and takes a raw, straightforward tack. The record features this darkly-titled but surprisingly bubbly song, "Death Drive."

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The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle's New Novel; A Music Guide To Victor Jara; Camera Obscura Plays Live

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

In this episode: John Darnielle is the mastermind behind the indie group The Mountain Goats, and has gained a reputation as one of rock's great storytellers. Lately, he's been working on a bigger canvas, his new novel, Wolf In White Van.

Then: Chilean folk singer and activist Victor Jara was a casualty of the violent U.S.-backed coup d’etat that brought Augusto Pinochet to power in 1973. He’s recently been in the headlines as the Chilean government has charged three individuals with the singer’s death. Singer Ani Cordero provides a short guide to Jara’s life and work.

And: On the eve of the Scottish independence referendum, Soundcheck revisits a recent session with one of that country’s great musical exports, Camera Obscura. The indie pop band performs songs off their latest record, Desire Lines, in the Soundcheck studio.

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Ask John Schaefer Anything: What Is The Bakersfield Sound?

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

By most anyone’s standards, John Schaefer knows a lot about music. Yet despite his two radio shows and various other music-related projects, we get the feeling he's withholding some of that knowledge. So now's your chance to ask Soundcheck's famously brainy host anything as long as it has something to do with music.


Katie Irish asks: "What was happening in Bakersfield, California that spawned its own sound in country music, otherwise known as the 'Bakersfield Sound'?"

Since John Schaefer is a Brooklyn boy, he reached out to Jessie Scott, director of the American roots music performance series Hill Country Live, to find out more about Buck Owens, Jean Shepard, Merle Haggard, and how they influenced The Beatles.

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Glass Animals: Otherwordly Ambient Rock

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The chorus of Glass Animal's song "Gooey" is impeccably written and horrifyingly descriptive: "While my naked fool, fresh out of an icky gooey womb / A woozy you, dopes upon a silky smooth perfume," they sing. It's not surprising that Glass Animals found its lyrics while reading Heart Of Darkness and watching The African Queen. But those smooth lyrics coagulate perfectly into a carefully concocted brew of otherworldly indie rock. Their synth-pop beats come from a grounded, tribal place while frontman, David Bayley's voice adds a lighter, iridescent quality. 

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How To Be Smarter About... Willie Nelson

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Willie Nelson has achieved legendary status in American culture. But that doesn’t quite exempt him from being in some music fans’ blind spots. Nelson might be best known for penning and performing “On The Road Again,” as a designated member of the "Outlaw country" movement, or, perhaps his signature bandana and braids. Or maybe he’s more famous for his "extra-musical activities," like his run-ins with the IRS, or his well-known love of marijuana, a cause which he actively fights to legalize -- and for which he’s been arrested several times.

However, Nelson’s achievements go beyond his cultural cache, says Laura Cantrell, the country singer-songwriter, longtime WFMU radio host, and sometime-Soundcheck guest-host. In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Cantrell explains how Nelson rose to fame, provides some essential tracks, and tells us whether Nelson, at 81 years old, has still got it.

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Song Premiere: Buck 65, 'She Fades'

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Richard Terfry -- the two-time Juno Award-winning Nova Scotian rapper known as Buck 65 -- has always been primarily a storyteller, crafting tales from personal experiences and characters based on people he knows. But with Neverlove, Buck 65’s forthcoming album, and first in three years, his songs have never been more self-reflective. The record delves into what he describes as one of the most wrenching times in his life: the crumbling of his marriage and eventual divorce.

A few months back, fans got to hear the Neverlove's first single, “Only War,” a track that showcases Tiger Rosa -- one of nine female voices that sing opposite Buck 65’s plaintive delivery. Today, we’re getting another preview with the opulent, layered song “She Fades.”

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Download This: Raul Midón, "Don't Hesitate"

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

ARTIST: Raul Midón

DOWNLOAD:

Raul Midón, "Don't Hesitate"  

GIG: Tuesday night at Littlefield

“Eclectic” is a word minted specially for the New York guitarist Raul Midón. He’s played with everyone from Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder to Queen Latifah and Snoop Dogg. Bill Withers is on Midón’s new record “Don’t Hesitate,” which is out at the end of the month. Download the title track "Don't Hesitate."

Head to Littlefield tonight at eight to catch Raul Midón.

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Ask John Schaefer Anything: Bakersfield Sound; How To Be Smarter About... Willie Nelson; Helado Negro Plays Live

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In this episode: A listener recently asked John Schaefer to explain country music’s so-called “Bakersfield Sound.” Since Schaefer is a Brooklyn boy, he called on Jessie Scott, director of the American roots music performance series Hill Country Live, to talk him through Buck Owens, Jean Shepard, Merle Haggard, and…The Beatles?

Then: Willie Nelson has been making music for nearly 60 years, but many still know the iconic country singer primarily as the bandana and braided hair-wearing hippie with the cloudy bus and tax problems. Songwriter -- and occasional guest host -- Laura Cantrell gives us some more substantive reasons to love Willie in this primer as part of Soundcheck's How To Be Smarter About... series.

And: Helado Negro is the stage name for Brooklyn-based electronic musician Roberto Lange. Hear Helado Negro and singer Xenia Rubinso perform songs from his latest record, Double Youth, which features cascading synths and psychedelic swirls, and Lange’s unique vocal delivery. Also: tinsel dancers.

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Eugene Mirman's Picks For The Funniest Songs Of All Time

Monday, September 15, 2014

Here at Soundcheck HQ, we're on a mission to build the funniest playlist of all time. Fall is a busy season on the comedy circuit here in New York -- what with several comedy festivals coming through town in the next month or two. And because we can only afford to go to like, one and a half shows, we've decided to supplement our diet of funny with what musical hilarity we can scrounge up in our record collections and on the interwebs. 

This is where you come in – we want you to tell us about the songs that crack you up. Maybe they were intended to be funny -- like songs by Weird Al and PDQ Bach. Or maybe they weren't meant to be funny at all, but are completely gut-bustingly hilarious (to you, at least). Tell us about the songs that make you laugh in the comments section below, tweet us @Soundcheck or leave a voicemail at 866.939.1612. 

Comedian Eugene Mirman knows from funny: In addition to being a TV star (he's currently the voice of Gene on the Fox animated series Bob's Burgers) and a frequent comedic sidekick to Neil deGrasse Tyson on StarTalk Radio, he's also the curator of the Eugene Mirman Comedy Festival, coming up this weekend in Brooklyn. In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Mirman offers up his own list of the funniest songs of all time. 

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Sarah Jaffe: From Folk Songwriter To Adventurous Electro-Pop Artist

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sarah Jaffe became known as a folk singer-songwriter making quiet acoustic songs on her 2010 debut, Suburban Nature. Over the last few years, however, the Texas native has seamlessly transitioned to pop. But this stylistic shift didn’t happen overnight. Jaffe’s previous album, The Body Wins, marked a turning point in her new musical direction, working with producer John Congleton (St. Vincent, Angel Olsen) to enliven her stormy songs with a denser sound full of industrial electronic beats and synthesizers.

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Download This: Youn Sun Nah, 'Lament'

Monday, September 15, 2014

ARTIST: Youn Sun Nah

DOWNLOAD:

Youn Sun Nah, "Lament"  

GIG: Monday night at Blue Note Jazz Club

Youn Sun Nah was born in South Korea to musician parents. As a young woman, she decided she would just, y’know, enjoy music as a hobby. Fast forward a few years, and the singer was attending FOUR music conservatories in Paris – all at the same time. The work has paid off in a dazzling way --- you can hear it on a song like “Lament.”

Head to Blue Note Jazz Club tonight to hear Youn Sun Nah. 

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Eugene Mirman's Funniest Songs Of All Time; Ryan Adams Plays Live

Monday, September 15, 2014

Comedian and actor Eugene Mirman presents his list of The Funniest Songs Of All Time. Plus, Soundcheck asks listeners to chime in with your suggestions and stories -- and we’ll compile the (sort of) authoritative playlist at the end of the week.

Once known for his songwriting prolificacy, Ryan Adams stepped away from music for a time to deal with a crippling inner ear disorder and build his Los Angeles studio Pax-Am. Now, the singer-songwriter is back, not only with a new self-titled album of country and rock songs, but a 10-song punk EP. Hear Adams perform a pair of songs from each recording in the Soundcheck studio. Plus, he explains why 7-11 is the gravitational center for the world’s weirdos, geeks out on recording gear, and explains how Star Wars legitimizes analog recordings.

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'20,000 Days' In The Life Of Nick Cave

Friday, September 12, 2014

The new documentary 20,000 Days On Earth revolves around the enigmatic Australian musician Nick Cave, best known for a 30-year career supported by his backing band, the Bad Seeds. Unlike a traditional "rockumentary," the film aims to depict an ordinary day in Cave's extraordinary life, as he chats with a psychotherapist, rummages through his personal archive, writes songs for a new album (2013's Push the Sky Away) and drives around in his luxury car with pop star Kylie Minogue, actor Ray Winstone and former Bad Seed and Einstürzende Neubauten founder Blixa Bargeld. 

The film's experimental combination of Cave's scripted narration and fly-on-the-wall footage is the result of Cave's long relationship with its directors, Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard. Over the past eight years they developed a friendship, shooting the Bad Seeds' promotional music videos and producing the soundtrack for the audiobook version of Cave's 2009 novel, The Death Of Bunny Monro

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That Was A Hit?!?: Enigma, 'Sadeness'

Friday, September 12, 2014

Romainian-born, Germany-based Michael Cretu had been a fixture in the German music scene long before the success of "Sadeness — Part 1." When he produced a cover of "Everlasting Love" for pop singer Sandra, Cretu mixed in a faint Gregorian chant at the beginning of the track. But with "Sadeness," Cretu wanted to take the concept further, combining old gothic recordings with contemporary dance beats to create "Sadeness" under the moniker Enigma.

The song became a global hit and went on to become one of Virgin Record's best sellers for a number of years.

In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, charts guru and frequent guest Chris Molanphy helps explain the unexpected — and long-lasting — popularity of the 1990 song as part of the series That Was A Hit?!?

This segment originally aired on May 27, 2014.

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Listen To This: Egberto Gismonti, "Salvador"

Friday, September 12, 2014

ARTIST: Egberto Gismonti

LISTEN:

Egberto Gismonti, "Salvador"  

GIG: Friday night at Symphony Space

In 1970, the Brazilian guitarist and composer Egberto Gismonti recorded two singles in France, one record in Italy, another in Brazil… and ANOTHER in Germany. He’s slowed the pace just slightly, but he remains one of Brazil’s most prodigious cultural treasures. Here he is on the song “Salvador,” released in 2000.

Don’t miss the iconic Brazilian guitarist and composer Egberto Gismonti, live at Symphony Space tonight. 

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Bob Mould Plays Live; '20,000 Days' In The Life Of Nick Cave; That Was A Hit?!? Enigma Edition

Friday, September 12, 2014

In this episode: Bob Mould, the former angst-ridden Husker Du and Sugar frontman, first went solo 25 years ago with Workbook, and just released his 11th studio album, Beauty & Ruin, earlier this summer. Hear him perform solo in the Soundcheck studio.

Then: The film 20,000 Days On Earth is a movie about musician Nick Cave, but it's not quite a documentary. Directors Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard talk about this unusual film, which began during the recording of Push the Sky Away, Cave's latest album with his backing band, the Bad Seeds.

And: Charts guru and writer Chris Molanphy explores the puzzling success of another chart-topping single -- this time, the sexy New Age, Gregorian chant-laden “Sadeness” by Enigma -- as part of our series That Was A Hit?!?

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Watch: Helado Negro, Live On Soundcheck

Friday, September 12, 2014

False memories manifest when parents recall the story of your first movie, or finding an old photo of yourself that you have no recollection of taking. Trying to piece together hazy and vague memories is what Roberto Lange's latest album as Helado Negro, Double Youth, is all about.

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