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Recent Episodes and Articles

James Vincent McMorrow, Live At Gigstock

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Every morning on WNYC, Soundcheck’s John Schaefer offers listeners a Gig Alert -- a profile of one outstanding artist set to perform that night in New York. Now, Soundcheck is presenting Gigstock, a mini-festival featuring another killer double-bill: Conor Oberst and James Vincent McMorrow.

The Dublin-based musician James Vincent McMorrow traveled to a pecan farm in Mexico to make his second album, Post Tropical, which he wrote, performed and produced himself. McMorrow stepped outside the comfort zone established by his acclaimed 2011 debut and embraced R&B, hip hop and experimental sounds. On tour with a backing band, McMorrow will perform solo on The Greene Space stage -- returning to the environmental conditions that led to Post Tropical.

 

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Conor Oberst in Concert

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Every morning on WNYC, Soundcheck’s John Schaefer offers listeners a Gig Alert -- a profile of one outstanding artist set to perform that night in New York. Now, Soundcheck is presenting Gigstock, a mini-festival featuring another killer double-bill: Conor Oberst and James Vincent McMorrow.

Conor Oberst is best known for albums released under the name Bright Eyes. Since founding the project in the mid-1990's, Oberst has also been a solo artist and a collaborator in the indie super-group Monsters Of Folk, the Omaha punk band Desaparecidos and more. Before he sets out on a world tour with Dawes serving as his backing band and opening act, Oberst is set to release his latest solo record, Upside Down Mountain. Watch him preview all new material live in WNYC's Greene Space, recorded on April 10, 2014.

 

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Listen: Rubens Askenar, 'El Puerperio'

Thursday, April 17, 2014

ARTIST: Rubens Askenar

LISTEN

GIG: Thursday night at The Kitchen ($20)

The MATA Festival, held annually here in NYC, highlights promising young composers from around the world. It’s taking place this week, at the Chelsea venue The Kitchen. Tonight’s program features the Spanish pianist and composer Rubens Askenar Garcia Hernandez. He’ll be performing his dark, sometimes unsettling piece "El Puerperio."

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The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart, Live At Gigstock

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

For one night, Soundcheck and the concert calendar Web site Oh My Rockness joined forces to present Gigstock, a mini-festival featuring two freaking awesome bands: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Parquet Courts.

Led by singer, guitarist and lyricist Kip Berman, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart will soon release its third album, Days Of Abandon. Since the 2011 release of the Brooklyn group’s dream-pop influenced album, Belong, the band has re-imagined its sound and its lineup, and describes its latest effort as “joyful and full of light.”

Watch the band preview brand new songs from Days Of Abandon live in WNYC's Greene Space.

 

 

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Hear: White Hinterland, Live On Soundcheck

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Baby, Casey Dienel's third album under her moniker White Hinterland, arrives after a period of personal upheaval and reinvention. After living in Portland, Ore., Dienel felt stuck and anxious trying to juggle a job and her music. So she took a chance and moved back to her childhood home in Scituate, Mass., spent months assembling a studio in her parents’ basement, and taught herself production techniques from YouTube tutorials.

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Parquet Courts Play Live At Gigstock

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

For one night, Soundcheck and the concert calendar Web site Oh My Rockness joined forces to present Gigstock, a mini-festival featuring two freaking awesome bands: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and Parquet Courts.

Parquet Courts exploded into New York music fans’ collective consciousness early last year, with the release of their blistering post-punk LP, Light Up Gold. The album earned them a mention in Soundcheck host John Schaefer’s “Top Ten Reasons Why New York Music Ruled The World In 2013.” Last fall, the four-piece band followed up with the EP Tally All The Things That You Broke. The band has just released the first single “Sunbathing Animal” from its upcoming full-length album, set to be released this summer.

Watch the young band preview some new material and play some favorites live in the Greene Space at WNYC.

 

 

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Kiss' Paul Stanley On Being Starchild, Discovering Beethoven And Entering The Hall Of Fame

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Last week at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, Tom Morello of Rage Against The Machine took the stage at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to introduce a band being inducted that evening. 

"Kiss was never a critic’s band," said Morello. "Kiss was a people’s band!" 

 

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Pick Three: New York City Council Member Stephen Levin

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

As a member of the New York City Council, Stephen Levin represents the 33rd district, which includes some of Brooklyn's hippest, if not hipster-iest neighborhoods: Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights, Gowanus, and part of Bed-Stuy. It comes as no surprise that he's a big music fan. But Levin is also a musician who, for years, played bass in a band called Stylofone.

So what kind of music does this recovering musician-turned-politician listen to? Soundcheck was curious too, so we invited him to share a few favorite songs as part of our Pick Three series (including a pair of bands with whom he shares a personal connection), talk about bass players, and finally address the pesky rumor that he was a member of MGMT (spoiler alert: he's not).

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Gig Alert: Hear Juana Molina's 'Wed 21'

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

ARTIST: Juana Molina

LISTEN:

Juana Molina, "Wed 21"

GIG: Tuesday evening at Le Poisson Rouge ($20)

The Argentine singer Juana Molina’s recent album Wed 21 was her first in five years. But her strikingly catchy blend of loops and quirky harmonies remains wholly intact. The main percussion on the title track sounds the way a mattress does when kids jump on it. The song might get you jumping too. Juana Molina is at Le Poisson Rouge tonight.

BONUS: Check out Juana Molina's appropriately bizarre video for the song "Eras"...

 

 

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Kiss Co-Founder Paul Stanley; A Political Pick Three; Roy Nathanson Plays Live

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

In this episode: Fresh off of Kiss' induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, we talk with co-founder Paul Stanley -- known to fans as “Starchild” -- about meeting Gene Simmons, the ear deformity that affects his hearing, writing the unofficial anthem of rock and roll, and why the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is important for Kiss fans.

Then: Stephen Levin, New York City Council member for the 33rd district (which includes some of the hipster-iest parts of New York: Williamsburg, Greenpoint, Dumbo, Brooklyn Heights and part of Bed-Stuy) shares a Pick Three of some favorite new music.

And: Saxophonist and bandleader Roy Nathanson assembles another of his all-star New York bands to play songs that fuse jazz, pop harmonies, beatboxing and poetry. Hear the band play live in the Soundcheck studio.

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Kristeen Young: Beguiling And Visceral Rock

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

For many, Kristeen Young first made a splash in a performance with Morrissey on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2007, wearing a handcrafted yet futuristic "bubble dress" that could rival anything in Lady Gaga's wardrobe. But more, it was her soaring voice and beguiling stage presence that managed to steal a little spotlight from Moz himself. He's such a devoted fan in fact, that he's frequently handpicked her for a series of tours, including one that begins this May. But Morrissey is not the only fan of Young's music: She's written for and recorded duets with David Bowie and Placebo's Brian Molko.

Now, following her 2011 high-concept EP, V The Volcanic, Kristeen Young is set to drop a new album, The Knife Shift. Produced by frequent Bowie collaborator Tony Visconti, it's an intense collection of bold rockers propelled by the furious drumming skills of Dave Grohl. Still, at the heart of these visceral songs is Young's catchy yet operatic vocals and a distinct percussive piano style that has already won over some of music's biggest names.

 

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Nas: Still 'Illmatic' At Twenty

Monday, April 14, 2014

Nasir Jones -- the hugely successful and influential rap emcee known as Nas -- is one of the greatest musical voices to emerge from New York City. His 1994 debut, Illmatic, announced him as a premier voice in the burgeoning world of hip hop, and it continues to be honored at the top of all-time best-of lists for its unflinching look at poverty, race, class, and spirituality, as seen through the lens of a twenty-year-old resident of a Queens housing project. Five of the album’s ten tracks reached single status. 

Since his debut, Nas has consistently been regarded as one of hip hop's leading lights. These days, he's also known as an entrepreneur, a mogul, and an actor. A new documentary film about the making of Illmatic is opening the Tribeca Film Festival, and the record is being re-released as Illmatic XX.

In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Nas reflets on his early musical influences (including his father, jazz cornetist Olu Dara) and the ways in which his city has changed in the last 20 years.

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Remembering Fred Ho

Monday, April 14, 2014

Fred Ho, the baritone sax player, composer, and bandleader, died this weekend in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was 56. And that tells you nothing you need to know about Fred Ho.

Ho was one of the most colorful characters I’ve come across. Some of that was the clothes. I've never believed that “clothes make the man,” but in this case, the man made the clothes and they reflected who he was. Brilliantly colored and clearly referencing his own Asian roots, Fred’s shirts and jackets were as much a statement of who he was and what he stood for as his music.

But it was more than that: Fred Ho was a powerfully built man with a shaved head and a ready smile. I’d occasionally see him bicycling around Brooklyn -- because he refused to buy a car -- and if he saw me he’d stop and we’d catch up. The last time was probably around five years ago, when he was already two years into his war on cancer, as he insisted on calling it. It was a war he could not win, but that didn’t stop him from fighting it, loudly and publicly.

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Download This: Tongues In Trees, 'Meri Bhavana'

Monday, April 14, 2014

ARTIST: Tongues In Trees

DOWNLOAD

Tongues In Trees, "Meri Bhavana"

GIG: Monday night at Nublu ($10)

Indie dream pop and Indian rhythms collide in the band Tongues In Trees. The group includes members of the Brooklyn bhangra dance outfit Red Baraat and alt-classical group itsnotyouitsme, so the sound is equal parts Sonic Youth and Sufi trance. Though the song "Meri Bhavana" is the group at its quietest and most contemplative. Catch Tongues In Trees at Nublu tonight.

BONUS: Check out the rhythmic chops on the band's co-founder and drummer, Sunny Jain:

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Nas On 'Illmatic's 20th Anniversary; Radiolab Looks At Hip Hop, Race And Tastemakers

Monday, April 14, 2014

In this episode: You can call him an entrepreneur, a mogul and an actor. But Nasir Jones -- the hugely successful and influential rap emcee Nas -- is best known as one of the greatest musical voices to emerge from New York City. In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Nas reflects on his 1994 debut album Illmatic -- which now being reissued to commemorate its 20th anniversary -- and a documentary film.

Then: Soundcheck presents a new Radiolab podcast segment called “Straight Outta Chevy Chase,” about Peter Rosenberg of the New York hip hop station Hot 97. Raised in suburban Maryland, Rosenberg hustled his way into an on-air position at the country’s most powerful tastemaker in rap, R&B and more. Now, he’s something of an arbiter of authenticity in the genre, so-called “real hip hop.”

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Liv Warfield: An Edgy And Soulful Voice

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Unexpected, Liv Warfield's new album, is not simply a sophomore album, but a reinvention. It's been seven years since the supremely talented singer and guitarist's debut was released, and in that time, she's honed her craft with none other than Prince, collaborating closely with him and his band New Power Generation. In fact, Prince has acted as a frequent supporter and mentor to Warfield's solo career -- he served as executive producer on this new album, and even co-wrote a few songs.

But the music and vision comes entirely from Warfield, who skillfully blends R&B, soul, and hard-driving rock on The Unexpected. And Warfield has recently won over big audiences thanks her charming stage presence and infectious sound on both Late Night with Jimmy Fallon (pre-Tonight Show) and The Late Show with David Letterman.

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Listen: Hassan Hakmoun, 'Balili'

Friday, April 11, 2014

ARTIST: Hassan Hakmoun

LISTEN

Hassan Hakmoun, "Balili (My Father)"

GIG: Saturday at Joe's Pub ($20)

Hassan Hakmoun is one of Morocco’s greatest musical exports. Since he moved to the US in 1987, he’s been busy mixing the traditional melodic sounds of his homeland with jazz, western classical, soul and blues. The hypnotic results are evident on new track "Balili (My Father)." 

Hassan Hakmoun is at Joe’s Pub tomorrow night to celebrate the release of his new record called Unity.

 

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Listen: Conor Oberst, 'Hundreds Of Ways'

Thursday, April 10, 2014

ARTIST: Conor Oberst

LISTEN:

Conor Oberst, "Hundreds Of Ways"

GIGGigstock, Thursday, April 10

These Gig Alerts tune you in to the best show in New York each night. Well, if we do say so ourselves, the biggest show in town is at our house tonight: in The Greene Space. Singer songwriter Conor Oberst will be closing the two-day festival we’ve been calling Gigstock. If you were lucky enough to score a ticket, you might hear Conor play this new song, "Hundreds of Ways."

Yes, tonight’s show is sold out, but you can catch the whole thing on our special live webcast at Soundcheck.org. Tune in at 8 p.m. for James Vincent McMorrow, with Conor immediately following.

 

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Three Generations Of Britpop: The Beatles Vs. The Stones; The Stone Roses; Arctic Monkeys Play Live

Thursday, April 10, 2014

In this episode, Soundcheck looks back on three different decades of Britpop. First up, The Beatles versus The Rolling Stones is of course one of rock’s greatest rivalries. But how did the bands themselves feel about it? It’s a topic John McMillian explores in his recent book, Beatles Vs. Stones.

Then, 25 years ago, a Manchester band called The Stone Roses released an influential, self-titled debut album. A recent documentary chronicles the unlikely reunion of the group, whose rise and fall is the stuff of rock legend. The film's producer Mark Herbert and New York Times writer Jeff Gordinier talk about the band's musical and cultural legacy.

And: When Arctic Monkeys emerged in 2006, the band did more than just turn heads. The English rock band’s first album, Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not was the fastest selling debut record in British history. Its latest album, AM, is full of layered, energetic, and always witty electro-rock songs. Hear Arctic Monkeys perform a stripped-down set in the Soundcheck studio.

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Decoding the Sounds of AMC's Spy Series, 'Turn'

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

The last time Marco Beltrami talked with Soundcheck, the fate of humanity rested in the balance. We were all facing the zombie apocalypse. (Again.) But inspired perhaps by Marco’s dramatic soundtrack, the world was saved in the movie World War Z, so that left the composer free to tackle a subject closer to home -- though further away in time.

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