Produced by

Recent Episodes and Articles

Cellist Maya Beiser 'Uncovers' Rock Classics

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

The intersection between classical music and rock is nothing new at this point, but in the hands of Maya Beiser, there's still room for re-imagination. For the her latest project, the renowned cellist presents a series of covers -- or "uncovers," as she calls them -- re-contextualized as multi-layered, multi-tracked cello performances. 

Read More

Comment

Summer '94: The Enduring Legacy Of Portishead’s Cinematic ‘Dummy'

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Even though there was a bumper crop of great albums released during the summer of 1994, Portishead’s debut, Dummy, stands out as one of the most unusual. The English band, composed of instrumentalist and co-founder Geoff Barrow, vocalist and co-founder Beth Gibbons, and guitarist and keyboardist Adrian Utley, constructed a thoroughly cinematic record, both in its musical references (the TV show Mission Impossible) and dramatic sound that incorporated the snaps, crackles, and pops of vinyl.

Read More

Comment

Tori Amos Plays Live; The ‘Doolittle’ Challenge

Monday, September 01, 2014

In this episode: After three albums with big, overarching concepts, songwriter and pianist Tori Amos explores a wide range of subjects on her 14th album: the Edward Snowden affair, Cezanne’s color palette and, yes, the flames from Satan’s tongue. Hear Amos perform two new songs from Unrepentant Geraldines and one old classic in the Soundcheck studio.

Plus: In April 1989, Pixies released its second full-length album, Doolittle, earning raves from critics, but performing poorly on the charts. Now, 25 years later, Soundcheck looks back at the record's influence. 

 

This is an encore edition of Soundcheck.

Read More

Comment

Listen To This: The Drifters, "Under The Boardwalk"

Monday, September 01, 2014

EVENT: A Decade Of Soul: Classic Soul & Motown Revue

LISTEN:

The Drifters, "Under The Boardwalk"  

GIG: Monday night at B.B. King's Blues Club & Grille

What better way to ring out the summer than an evening of classic soul? That’s what you’ll get if you head to B.B. King Blues Club tonight, as members of The Drifters and the Midnight Movers salute the music of James Brown, Aretha, Stevie Wonder, Sam & Dave, and others. You’ll likely hear this Drifters tune, "Under The Boardwalk."

Head to B.B. King’s Blues Club tonight for a bit of time-traveling. 

Read More

Comment

Listen To This: Linda Oh, 'Footfall'

Friday, August 29, 2014

ARTIST: Linda Oh

LISTEN:

Linda Oh, "Footfall"  

GIG: Sunday Night at 55 Bar

Linda Oh was born in Malaysia, raised in Australia, and has played piano, clarinet, and bassoon. These days, she’s a New Yorker -- and a celebrated bass player and band leader. This 2013 song is called “Footfall” and one has to wonder if the title has anything to do with all that traveling…

Catch Linda Oh and her group at 55 Bar on Sunday night.

Read More

Comment

Novelist Philipp Meyer Picks Three; That Was A Hit?!? 'Kung Fu Fighting' Edition; Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks In Studio

Friday, August 29, 2014

In this episode: Author Philipp Meyer’s epic novel, The Son, ended up on best-of 2013 lists from The New York Times, USA Today, and The Washington Post. Tackling big themes about the American West, race relations and oil, the book follows multiple generations of the McCullough family in Texas. Today, Meyer -- a former derivatives trader -- tells us how The Clash and union anthems like “Which Side Are You On?” got him thinking about a creative life beyond Wall Street.

Carl Douglas scored a No. 1 hit in 1974 with a catchy but not-quite-politically-correct track called “Kung Fu Fighting.” Pop chart obsessive Chris Molanphy explains how the birth of disco and the death of Bruce Lee created a perfect storm for this truly weird hit.

Stephen Malkmus has now released more music as a solo artist than he did with his influential former group, Pavement. Now, he and his band The Jicks have recently released their new album, Wig Out At JagbagsHear Malkmus and the Jicks play some of it in the Soundcheck studio.

 

This is an encore edition of Soundcheck.

Read More

Comments [1]

Video Premiere: Heaven's Jail, 'Long Island Sound'

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Synths and laptop beats might seem ever-present right now, but don’t count out good old guitar rock just yet. From The War On Drugs’ sprawling moody jams to Strand Of Oaks’ explosive anthems to Ty Segall’s lip-curling glam, it’s already been a particularly strong year for bands putting their spin on familiar classic rock sounds. Compared to those three, Heaven’s Jail may be a relative newcomer. But the Brooklyn band is still capable of exploring similar territory on its just-released album, Ace Called Zero.

Heaven's Jail makes blustery rockers perfect for drives on wide open highways, yet it's brooding enough to channel the Pacific Northwest -- as seen through the lens of Twin Peaks or The X-Files. The distinctive visuals of those shows certainly comes to mind in the band’s eerie new music video for the “Long Island Sound.”

Read More

Comment

The Ways 1976 Rocked America; Curtis Harding Exercises 'Soul Power' In Studio; James Fearnley's Years With The Pogues

Thursday, August 28, 2014

In this episode: In The Spirit of '76: From Politics to Technology, the Year America Went Rock & RollDavid Browne reminds us that 1976 was the year of the Apple computer, Saturday Night Live, the Ramones, and a presidential candidate who hung out with rock stars. He tells host John Schaefer why it was the year the counter-culture became the culture

And: The Michigan-bred, Atlanta-based songwriter Curtis Harding has written and sung backup for Cee-Lo Green, spent time rapping with Georgia group Proseed, and currently plays in the band Night Sun with Cole Alexander and Joe Bradley of punk outfit Black Lips. But somehow, despite his history of songwriting, Soul Power is Harding's first solo effort. The record takes the many musical influences Harding has encountered and re-contextualizes them over a foundation of energetic soul, and Harding joins us to play some of the songs in the Soundcheck studio.

Plus: Here Comes Everybody: The Story Of The Pogues is James Fearnley's account of his 12 years touring with the shambolic Celtic-punk band from London. Fearnley talks about the unpredictable genius of frontman Shane MacGowan, and about how he himself went from being a session guitarist, to a novelist, to an accordion player for a punk band. He also describes the sometimes fraught position of being in a British band playing politically-charged Irish music. 

 

This is an encore edition of Soundcheck. 

Read More

Download This: Reigning Sound, 'North Cackalacky Girl'

Thursday, August 28, 2014

ARTIST: Reigning Sound

DOWNLOAD:

Reigning Sound, "North Cackalacky Girl"  

GIG: Thursday Night at Bowery Ballroom ($8)

The new record from the band Reigning Sound is called Shattered… a slightly misleading title, since the songs offer evidence of a group coming together and finding their beat. The song “North Cackalacky Girl” highlights both the band’s chemistry and production work from the white hot Daptone studios.

Catch Reigning Sound live tonight at Bowery Ballroom.

Read More

Comment

Listen: Chris Thomas King, 'The Wind Cries Mary'

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

ARTIST: Chris Thomas King

LISTEN:

Chris Thomas King, "Wind Cries Mary"

GIG: Wednesday Night at Iridium ($25)

Chris Thomas King is known by many for his film role as bluesman Tommy Johnson in the Coen Brothers film “O Brother Where Art Thou.” But the New Orleans-based guitarist has found success both on-screen and on record. Here’s his nuanced and multi-layered treatment of the Jimi Hendrix standard, “The Wind Cries Mary.”

Read More

Comment

Jenny Lewis On 'The Voyager'; WTF's Marc Maron Picks Three; How Herman's Hermits Hit No. 1

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

In this episode: Singer-songwriter Jenny Lewis rose to prominence as the vocalist for the guitar pop band Rilo Kiley. Her latest solo album, The Voyager, was six years in the making, and features production work from Beck and Ryan Adams among others. Hear Lewis and her band play a few new songs and an old classic in the Soundcheck studio.

Comedian Marc Maron is the host of the hugely popular podcast WTF, and star of the IFC series Maron. We call him up in his famous garage to talk about music snobbery, his growing vinyl collection, and his passion for blues guitar riffs -- plus, he shares a few of his favorite songs as part Soundcheck's Pick Three series.

Charts guru Chris Molanphy explains how two songs by the British group Herman's Hermits hit No. 1 in 1965 -- “Mrs. Brown You’ve Got a Lovely Daughter” and “I’m Henry VIII, I Am,” as part of Soundcheck's series That Was A Hit?!?

This is an encore edition of Soundcheck. 

Read More

Download This: Jen Shyu, 'Eu e Tu'

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ARTIST: Jen Shyu

DOWNLOAD:

Jen Shyu, "Eu e Tu"
GIG: Tuesday Night at Korzo ($20)

Singer and multi-instrumentalist Jen Shyu merges traditional Taiwanese, Korean, and Javanese music with Western classical, jazz, and other genres – and a voice powerful enough to peel the paint off walls. The combined effect is mesmerizing. This song has a Portuguese title, “Eu e Tu” – me and you.

Read More

Comment

World's Most-Used Musical Sequence; Five-Part Harmonies With Pentatonix; How To Ruin Your Band Name

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

In this episode: David Garland, host of WNYC's Spinning On Air, has compiled more than 50 tracks that feature the distinctive musical footprint known as the Andalusian Cadence. In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Garland argues that the so-called "Diatonic Phrygian Tetrachord" may be the most-used theme in Western music, and he explains how -- and why -- you can hear this sonic architecture in everything from "Greensleeves" to *NSYNC.

And: the young vocal quintet known as Pentatonix performs in the studio. The Texas-based a cappella group won NBC's The Sing-Off back in 2011, scoring $200,000 and a recording contract with Sony. Since then, they've put out two full length albums (PTX Vol. I and II) and racked up hundreds of millions of YouTube views. The group stops by our studio to share a couple of originals and a few of their famous covers, and to talk about their skyrocketing pop career. 

Plus: Dan Ozzi is the editor for VICE's music site, Noisey, and he has a problem with band names. Lots of problems, actually. He talks about a few of them and explains why he shouldn't have to know decades' worth of history to understand a name like SUNN O))).

This is an encore edition of Soundcheck. 

Read More

Comments [1]

Download This: Shilpa Ray, 'Mother Is A Misanthrope'

Monday, August 25, 2014

ARTIST: Shilpa Ray

DOWNLOAD:

Shilpa Ray, "Mother Is A Misanthrope"  

GIG: Monday Night at City Winery ($15)

You and I might find it difficult to have a swaggering stage presence while playing a harmonium, but it can be done. Witness the Brooklyn singer-songwriter Shilpa Ray, who is also armed with a voice can go from growl to purr and back again in an instant. This song is called “Mother is a Misanthrope.”

You can see Shilpa Ray at City Winery tonight.

Read More

Comment

Big Star's Alex Chilton Revisited; Elizabeth & The Catapult Plays In Studio; How 'Teenage' Was Invented

Monday, August 25, 2014

In this episode: He may not be a household name, but Alex Chilton, the late songwriter and frontman of the band Big Star, sure does get a lot of attention -- from the The Replacements' song “Alex Chilton” and name-checks by R.E.M. and Wilco to the recent documentary film, Big Star: Nothing Can Hurt Me. Alex Chilton’s status as an underground music icon is reaffirmed – again – in Holly George-Warren’s recent book, A Man Called Destruction: The Life and Music of Alex Chilton, From Box Tops to Big Star to Backdoor Man

After the success of their 2010 album The Other Side of Zero, Elizabeth & the Catapult frontwoman Elizabeth Ziman took several years off from the band. But now, Ziman has reunited with her old bandmates Dan Molad and Pete Lalis (both of whom also play with the band Lucius) for a new record, Like It Never Happened. Hear Elizabeth & the Catapult perform songs from that new album in the Soundcheck studio.

Plus: The concept of “teenage” -- that angsty, pubescent and glorious time between childhood and adulthood -- didn’t really even exist until the 20th century. Matt Wolf, director of a recent documentary that explores the advent of the term, delves into the earliest examples of movements defined by teenagers -- and why music often played a defining role.

This is an encore edition of Soundcheck. 

Read More

Comment

Inside Joy Division With Peter Hook

Friday, August 22, 2014

The British post-punk band Joy Division existed for less than three years -- all told, from January of 1978 to May of 1980. But its influence on music over the last 30 years has been enormous, heard in the sound of bands from U2 to Interpol. Joy Division’s story is also a sad one; the group’s singer, Ian Curtis, took his own life just days before the group was scheduled to make its first US tour.

The other three members soldiered on under the name New Order -- changing from the dark, intense sound of Joy Division to something more dance oriented. New Order went on to rule '80s radio, but Joy Division never really went away.

Peter Hook, who played bass in both bands, tells his side of the tale, with his book Unknown Pleasures: Inside Joy Division. Along the way, you get a tale full of humor, dopey pranks, perseverance, fights, friendship, and a band that changed the sound of rock.

This segment originally aired on Jan. 31, 2013.

Read More

Comments [1]

Watch: Trixie Whitley, Live On Soundcheck

Friday, August 22, 2014

Trixie Whitley is one performer who has made quite an impression on us here at Soundcheck. You may have heard her in the studio a few years back singing with Daniel Lanois in the group Black Dub. Or, you may have listened to a recent Check Ahead album stream of her brand new blues-soul record, called Fourth Corner. In fact, a lot of you did, and told us how much you liked it. Now, she returns to the studio to play music from the record, and tell us more about her triumphant debut.

This segment originally aired on Jan. 31, 2013.

Read More

Comment

Download This: SW/MM/NG, 'All I Want'

Friday, August 22, 2014

ARTIST: SW/MM/NG

DOWNLOAD:

SW/MM/NG, "All I Want"

GIG: Friday night at Muchmore's

The Fayetteville, Arkansas, quintet known as SW/MM/NG has a new record coming out next week. It’s called “Feel Not Bad,” and there’s no false advertising here: the band’s shimmering, jangly pop is concocted to make you feel… not bad. Might even make you feel…good! Take a listen to “All I Want.”

You can see Swimming at Muchmore’s tonight, Radio Bushwick tomorrow night, and Baby's All Right on Sunday. 

Read More

Comment

Peter Hook On Joy Division; Trixie Whitley's Powerhouse Blues

Friday, August 22, 2014

In This Episode: Longtime New Order bassist Peter Hook reflects back on his first band: the short-lived yet influential post-punk group Joy Division. The band existed for less than three years -- and its story is tragic. But its influence on music over the last 30-odd years has been enormous.

Plus: The powerful blues singer Trixie Whitley, daughter of the late musician Chris Whitley, brings her triumphant debut album to the Soundcheck studio. Watch a video of her performing the song "Gradual Return."

This episode originally aired on January 31, 2013.

Read More

Comment

Electric Zoo EDM Festival Returns To New York

Thursday, August 21, 2014

One of the last events on the summer concert calendar is the Electric Zoo Festival. The electronic dance music gathering returns for its sixth year in New York City this Labor Day weekend. But last year, the festival was shut down early after two festival-goers died. Both of their deaths were attributed to their consumption of “molly,” a popular term for a drug that people often assume to contain pure MDMA, or ecstasy -- but often contains other adulterants and contaminants as well. 

This year, several drug-related deaths have already been reported at EDM concerts and festivals across North America. This month alone, two people died at the VELD Music Festival in Toronto, and two more died at the Mad Decent Block Party in Columbia, Maryland. Two others died in July at the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas.  

In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Missi Wooldridge, executive director at DanceSafe -- an organization that works to promote health and safety within the EDM community -- talks about what Electric Zoo is doing this year to try to prevent fatalities, and about the limits that festivals have when approaching drug education and on-site testing. 

DanceSafe is holding a "Zoo Survival Night" on August 28 near Union Square.

Read More

Comment