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Recent Episodes and Articles

Song Sequels: What Happened After The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia?

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

One recent afternoon in the Soundcheck office, we got to talking about great songs -- and how they leave you hungry for more. And that got us to talking about… sequels. Sequels are common in Hollywood, maybe too common if you ask some people. And outside of Godfather II or Empire Strikes Back, rarely are they better than the original. But songwriters rarely opt to write the next chapter or a continuation of their great songs.

So, we're gonna do it for them, and we’ve enlisted some help: Mario Correa, a writer and a co-host of Entertainment Weekly Radio on Sirius XM, and Mo Rocca, a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning, frequent voice on NPR's Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me!, and host of My Grandmother’s Ravioli on the Cooking Channel.

In a conversation with Soundcheck producer Joel Meyer, Correa and Rocca each pitch a few sequel ideas to some songs that could maybe use a part two.

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Her Husband's Stupid Record Collection, And Her Divisive Blog

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sarah O'Holla was tired of hauling the crates containing her husband's vinyl albums around each time they moved. So she recently decided she ought to know just what it was she was schlepping from basement to basement. The result is the blog My Husband's Stupid Record Collection. The premise: listen to each of her husband's 1,500 records, one a day, in alphabetical order, and write her impressions. 

"It was meant to be fun, just between us," says the titular husband, Alex Goldman. [Full disclosure: Alex is a producer for WNYC's On The Media.] Which is why it was so surprising when the blog went completely viral, and certain corners of the internet began probing Sarah's blog for more than her take on Adam Ant.

There are those who see the blog as a continuation of generations-old gender stereotypes. High profile music writers like Maura Johnston, NPR's Ann Powers, and contributors at sites like JezebelSlate and Flavorwire had more nuanced reactions. But there's no question the blog hit a nerve.

"I don't know 'how' to write about music," Sarah says. "But I love to write, and it's not your typical way to write about music, and I'm just being myself."

"It's actually exciting," Sarah continues, "because the blog went from being a silly little project to kill time and have fun with to a bigger conversation that I'm happy to be a part of."

Sarah and Alex talk about the project with host John Schaefer, and take a listen to a few high- and low-lights from the collection so far.

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Calle 13's Residente, On 'Multi_Viral,' Latin American Politics, And Julian Assange

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

It's no exaggeration to say that Calle 13 is divisive within the Spanish-speaking world. The Puerto Rican rap duo first gained notoriety in the mid-2000s as vulgar jokesters with undeniable talent for cranking out raunchy club hits full of big beats and catchy hooks. But over the years, the funny, self-deprecating lyrics of frontman Rene Perez Joglar (a.k.a. Residente) and his collaborator and stepbrother Eduardo Cabra have veered deeper into social commentary, and the group has evolved into Latin America's premier political act.

Earlier this month, Calle 13 unveiled the music video for "El Aguante" -- a track from its latest album Multi_Viral, which translates to "tolerance" or "endurance" in English. And in true Calle 13 fashion, the Irish folk-infused song and its rapid-fire, witty lyrics don't mince words, delivering a list of grievances that humanity must "tolerate" -- from politics and religion, to economic struggles and war and natural disasters to second-hand smoking and more. The track is emblematic of the duo's mix of satire, sarcasm and call to action on Multi_Viral

In an interview with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Rene Perez Joglar talks about his turn towards being a socially conscious band, and the new album which features contributions from Uruguayan poet Eduardo Galeano, Cuban trova singer Silvio Rodriguez, and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

 

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Listen: Alexia Bomtempo, 'It's A Long Way'

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

ARTIST: Alexia Bomtempo

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Alexia Bomtempo, "It's A Long Way"

GIG: Tuesday night at Joe's Pub ($15)

Alexia Bomtempo is a Brazilian-American singer. Last year she released I Just Happen To Be Here – a collection of English-language songs, written by the great Brazilian songwriter Caetano Veloso. Bomtempo’s version of “It’s A Long Way” keeps the rhythm of the original, but adds a new level of depth. Alexia Bomtempo is at Joe’s Pub tonight.

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My Husband’s Stupid Record Collection; Liv Warfield Plays Live; Calle 13’s Residente

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

In this episode: New York librarian Sarah O’Holla is on a mission: to listen to each album in her husband’s vinyl record collection -- all 1500 of them. She’s chronicling her journey on the blog My Husband’s Stupid Record Collection, and even though it’s only a few months old, it has divided some readers.

Then: After releasing an unsuccessful first album, R&B singer Liv Warfield was ready to leave the music world behind. And then, Prince called. Now a member of his backing band The New Power Generation, she performs songs from her new Prince-produced album in the Soundcheck studio.

And: Calle 13 co-founder Rene Perez Joglar, (a.k.a. Residente) talks about Multi Viral -- the group’s latest album which includes vocals from Uruguayan poet Eduardo Galeano and Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.

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The Baseball Project: Honoring And Skewering The National Pastime

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Well, we're nearly a month into baseball season, which, for many of us means taking in a game on a Sunday afternoon, stuffing yourself with hot dogs and overpriced beer, and maybe watching the presidents race. But, no baseball season would feel complete without hearing from The Baseball Project.

The rock band formed in 2007 by Scott McCaughey (Minus 5, R.E.M.) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate, Miracle 3), as a way for these two musicians and longtime fans to honor the national pastime. The roster has since expanded to include Zuzu’s Petals and Steve Wynn drummer Linda Pitmon and R.E.M.’s Peter Buck and Mike Mills, and the group has now put out several albums telling stories and paying tribute to favorite stars and long-forgotten minor leaguers, and everything in between. The Baseball Project's latest, 3rd, collects a whopping 17 songs about sabermetrics ("Stats"), card collecting ("The Baseball Card Song"), the Hall of Fame ("To the Veterans Committee") -- and even digging disgraced Yankees third baseman, Alex Rodriguez on the track “13.”

The core trio -- McCaughey, Wynn and Pitmon -- return to the Soundcheck studio to perform some songs of the new album. Plus, the band geeks out on all things baseball with Soundcheck producer Joel Meyer, and gives their World Series predictions for this current season.

 

Soundcheck producer Joel Meyer shows off his Minnesota Twins pride with The Baseball Project in the Soundcheck studio.

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Why We Love To Listen To Music Over And Over (Until We Don't)

Monday, April 21, 2014

You probably wouldn't want to listen to a person speaking the same thing over and over and over. So why would you want to listen to the same song again and again? Yet research has found that generally the more that people hear a song, the more they like it -- unless, of course, they listen so much that they end up liking it even less than when they started. 

This topic is just one that's covered by Elizabeth Margulis, Director of the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Arkansas in a new book, On Repeat: How Music Plays The Mind. In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Margulis explains about why repetition and music are so closely intertwined. 

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Song Premiere: Tropic Of Pisces, 'They Count'

Monday, April 21, 2014

It’s always illuminating when an artist breaks out of their normal role, and we get to hear the kind of music they’d make when left to their own devices. For Matthew Scheiner, the native New York guitarist known primarily for his work in the catchy indie pop band Oberhofer, it’s a mix of buoyant beats, and ornately packed electronic sounds, under his new moniker Tropic Of Pisces.

As Tropic Of Pisces, Scheiner is set to release his debut, a taut four-song EP, Symmetry, and we’ve already heard three of those tracks. Today, we’ve got the fourth track, “They Count.”

 

 

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The Most Relaxing Playlist Ever; Why We Listen On Repeat; Neil Finn Plays Live

Monday, April 21, 2014

In this episode: As WNYC continues crowdsourcing sleep data through its “Clock Your Sleep” project, Soundcheck attempts to create The Most Relaxing Playlist of All Time. Tell us which songs you find most relaxing -- and hear suggestions from musicians and other guests.

Then: You probably wouldn’t want to listen to a person speaking the same thing over and over and over. So why would you want to listen to the same song again and again? That question and many more are at the heart of Elizabeth Margulis' new book called On Repeat: How Music Plays The Mind.

And: New Zealand singer-songwriter Neil Finn -- frontman of bands like Crowded House and Split Enz -- plays songs from his new solo album.

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Download: Claudia Acuña, 'Tulum'

Monday, April 21, 2014

ARTIST: Claudia Acuña

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Claudia Acuña, "Tulum"

GIG: Monday night at Rockwood Music Hall ($12)

The Chilean-born, New York-based vocalist Claudia Acuña has been a staple of the jazz club circuit going on twenty years. Take a listen to a tune like “Tulum” from her last album, En Este Momento, and it’s easy to see why sax star Branford Marsalis signed her to his label a few years ago. Catch Claudia Acuña at Rockwood Music Hall tonight. 

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Check Ahead: Wye Oak, 'Shriek'

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Wye Oak's new album, 'Shriek,' is out April 29 on Merge.

Let’s get this out of the way: There's no guitar on this album. When Wye Oak revealed this tidbit last fall, many of us surely wondered what the Baltimore duo might even sound like without one of its most important elements. After all, the delight in Wye Oak's music has always come from the interplay between Jenn Wasner's blustery voice, her glorious cyclone of guitar riffs and screaming feedback, and skillful multi-tasker Andy Stack, who plays drums and keyboards -- and on stage, simultaneously. But after the success of 2011’s Civilian, and countless tours performing within that "indie rock" format, it's understandable that they’d feel restless and creatively blocked, and need to blow it up to start anew.

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What's The Most Relaxing Song Ever? Help Us Make A Playlist

Friday, April 18, 2014

For the next few weeks, WNYC is undertaking a station-wide crowdsourcing experiment called Clock Your Sleep. This "Sleep Project" hopes to collect data on how people sleep, asking listeners to track their own sleep -- using the WNYC app, a Jawbone or Fitbit, or with an online journal -- and see how it compares to everyone else's.

And all this talk about sleep, has gotten us, well, sleepy. But also, it's made us curious about the kinds of music that people use to relax to and maybe even play to fall asleep. Is there genre of music, a song, an album, an artist that's tailor-made for playing when you want zone out or kick back or fall asleep?

So, we thought we'd ask our Soundcheck listeners to make suggestions. What's your "Most Relaxing Song Ever"? 

Tell us your song below in the comments, tweet us @Soundcheck, or leave us a voicemail at 866-939-1612 and help us build the Most Relaxing Playlist

 

 

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Download: Karen Mantler Trio, 'My Cat Arnold Is Dead'

Friday, April 18, 2014

ARTIST: Karen Mantler Trio

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Karen Mantler, "My Cat Arnold Is Dead"

GIG: Tonight at Barbes ($10 suggested)

Karen Mantler’s long singing career contains enough reinvention for six careers. She has a new CD coming out in June, so expect to hear some of that tonight when she plays at Barbes. But she might even play a few songs off her album Pet Project -- a musical homage to her dead cat, Arnold. Which...is why this song is called “My Cat Arnold Is Dead.”

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'Missed Connections' At Coachella

Friday, April 18, 2014

The second weekend of Coachella takes place this weekend in Indio, California. And that means it’s time for Soundcheck to dive back into the local "Missed Connections" section of Craigslist, where people try to find and hook up with people they missed out on hooking up with the first time they met. (Or, even better, did hook up with, but had no way of finding them afterward.) 

We searched Palm Springs and L.A.'s Craigslist sites for Coachella-related posts, and as usual, they didn't disappoint. Take a listen to members of the Soundcheck team reenacting a some favorite posts below. 

 

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R. Crumb Plays Live With East River String Band; Rock Journo Lisa Robinson Tells All

Friday, April 18, 2014

In this episode: Famed illustrator R. Crumb, who is also a huge fan of early folk and jazz, is an honorary member of New York's East River String Band. Or if he isn't, he should be -- he does all their artwork and plays live with them in the Soundcheck studio.

Then: Lisa Robinson has interviewed and written about some of the biggest names in music, from Jay Z to John Lennon to Michael Jackson. Her new memoir, There Goes Gravity: A Life in Rock and Roll, details her days spent with some of music’s shining stars, and offers perspective on a career spent working in a male-dominated field.

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Moon Taxi: Progressive Jam-Rockers With Tight Pop Hooks

Friday, April 18, 2014

Moon Taxi was born in Nashville, Tenn. in 2006. Fronted with startling stage authority by singer Trevor Terndrup, the band -- including guitarist Spencer Thomson, bassist Tommy Putnam, drummer Tyler Ritter, and Wes Bailey on keys -- went about establishing itself as a reliable staple on the jam-band scene. 

But by the time of its second album, 2012's Cabaret, the band was developing a keener ear for tighter pop sensibilities. The transition from Southern-fried jam-rockers to anthemic choruses has earned them comparisons to Kings Of Leon. Sure it's shorthand, at best, and the band's newest album, Mountains Beaches Cities, shows the band still tinkering with its sound, exploring fresh sonic territory, and (mostly) avoiding the pitfalls of "going pop." Produced in-house by guitarist Thomson, the shine and polish on the new batch of songs belies the relative youth of the band and their still-developing instincts.

Very much intact is the band's sonic adventurousness and jam-rock pedigree, guaranteeing Moon Taxi will remain in demand in a festival-heavy summer season. Hear the band's call-and-response-ready rock in a live set in the Soundcheck studio.

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Music Journalist Lisa Robinson Tells All

Friday, April 18, 2014

Mick Jagger and Patti Smith, David Bowie and Lou Reed, Eminem and Bono. There are countless instantly recognizable names in the rock world. And in the world of rock music criticism, Lisa Robinson's name is just as big. As a journalist with unparalleled access, she's been present at what seems like every significant milestone in pop music.

Now, Robinson, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, has collected a huge swath of stories with hundreds of music figures -- some famous, some obscure -- in her new memoir, There Goes Gravity: A Life In Rock And Roll. In a conversation with Soundcheck host John Schaefer, Robinson reflects on four decades of exploring the careers of everyone from John Lennon and Zeppelin to Joe Strummer and Freddie Mercury to Michael Jackson to Kanye and Jay Z.

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Conor Oberst, 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.

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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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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Hear: R. Crumb And The East River String Band, Live On Soundcheck

Thursday, April 17, 2014

You'll probably recognize Robert Crumb from his artwork -- the prolific cartoonist was a founder of the underground "comix" movement, and illustrated iconic album covers for Janis Joplin and The Grateful Dead. What you may not know is that from time to time, R. Crumb sits in on mandolin with the East River String Band, the New York City-based country blues duo of Eden Brower and John Heneghan.

An avid collector and evangelist of old-time blues, jazz and exotica, Crumb joins the East River String Band at the Bell House this Saturday for an evening set at the Brooklyn Folk Festival. Hear them perform some tunes from their newest record, last year's Take A Look At That Baby, in the Soundcheck studio and chat about how this collaboration began.

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