In this episode: Composer, arranger, producer, and musician Van Dyke Parks has worked with an array of artists from The Beach Boys to Bonnie Raitt to Skrillex. Now, he's released Songs Cycled, his first album of new material in over 20 years .
Plus: Does your baby need a soundtrack? Père Music, a new startup, will compose a theme for your child – for a tidy sum. We talk with the co-founders.
And: Classical guitarist Benjamin Verdery goes beyond his genre — he's performed classic rock songs by Jimi Hendrix and Cream, and has collaborated with musicians from many other genres. He performs live in the studio.
In this episode: Tom Jones, the Welsh singer who launched his career in 1965 with "It’s Not Unusual," just released the new album Spirit in the Room. In covering Leonard Cohen, Blind Willie Johnson, and Tom Waits, Jones demonstrates that his unmistakable voice is in fine form.
And: The Vermont-raised, London-based musician Sam Amidon plays songs from his new album, Bright Sunny South, in our studio.
In this episode: Director Baz Luhrmann’s film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s 1925 novel features a soundtrack packed with rap and hip hop. Wall Street Journal contributor Will Friedwald tells us about modern sounds (of the ‘20s) Fitzgerald described in his work.
Plus: Faith Salie asks a simple question: “What’s the difference between rap and hip hop?” As we find out, the answer is complex.
And: Hip hop mixes with funk and punk when the Oakland, California-based group The Coup performs in the studio.
In this episode: We spin some of our favorite recent performances recorded in the Soundcheck studio -- including those from the folk-pop band Ivan and Alyosha, string quartet Brooklyn Rider, rapper Talib Kweli, and electro-pop musician Jamie Lidell.
Hear something you like? Check out the full sessions with each artist or band by clicking on the links below.
In this episode: Louder Than Hell bills itself as “the definitive oral history of metal” and boasts 250 interviews with key players. Editors Jon Wiederhorn and Katherine Turman talk about a project 25 years in the making.
Plus: Actor and longtime musician Creed Bratton plays an ultra-weird employee (also named Creed Bratton) on the NBC’s The Office. Before the show airs its series finale tomorrow night, we ask Creed to weigh in on the grunge band Creed. It gets a little weird, of course.
And: British soul singer Alice Russell joins us to perform songs from her new album To Dust.
Also: a profile of Radiation City, the dream pop quintet whose upcoming album is streaming in our Check Ahead this week.
In this episode: Season 12 of American Idol wraps up this week, and writer Jethro Nededog recently reported that the show will have all new judges next year. He talks about why Idol is making the change and how it can reverse the show's ratings slump.
Plus: Pulitzer Prize-winning sportswriter Ira Berkow just published Summers at Shea: Tom Seaver Loses His Overcoat and Other Mets Stories. He joins us with a few of his favorite songs -- and some sports lore.
And: American Symphony Orchestra music director Leon Botstein explains why 1913 was the right time for Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
Also: Unofficial candidates for “best band name in recent memory” French Horn Rebellion bring their strobe lights, glowing jackets, and irresistible dance beats to the studio. (Oh, and yes, French horns are involved.)
In this episode: Detroit Symphony Orchestra conductor Leonard Slatkin talks about Stravinsky’s landmark work “The Rite of Spring,” which celebrates its 100th birthday this month. Plus: Soundcheck and Q2 Music announce a special “Rite of Spring” event in the Greene Space on May 29 at 7 p.m.
Plus: For the latest issue of the offbeat magazine Esopus, founder and editor Tod Lippy commissioned musicians to write songs about a potentially infuriating topic: customer service. The results? Hilarious. We hear some of the tracks.
And: British musician Victoria Hesketh records under the name Little Boots. She joins us with a gaggle of synthesizers for a danceable set in our studio.
In this episode: The race is now on for song of the summer! Amanda Dobbins, who writes for New York Magazine’s Vulture blog, joins us with some of the early contenders.
Plus: Pianist Anthony de Mare recently invited composers and musicians to re-imagine the works of Stephen Sondheim as solo piano pieces. He plays some of them live.
And: Last week, we learned of the death of Chris “Mac Daddy” Kelly, one half of the ‘90s hip hop duo Kriss Kross -- whose 1992 debut single "Jump" hit the top of the charts and became a huge party hit. We hear about that song -- and the history of songs about jumping.
Also: more of your musical guilty pleasures.
In this episode: Natalie Maines is the Grammy Award winning lead singer of the Dixie Chicks. Now, she has a debut debut solo album, Mother. She drops by the Soundcheck studio to discuss the record.
Plus: More guilty pleasures.
And: Singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan, lead singer for the progressive bluegrass band Crooked Still, performs songs from her debut solo album, Fossils.
In this episode: Sixteen Candles star Molly Ringwald recently released an album, Except Sometimes, made up of jazz standards — and a jazzified version of the angsty Breakfast Club movie theme, “Don’t You Forget About Me.” She stops by our studio.
Plus: Keli Goff, special correspondent for The Root, joins us to talk about a lack of diversity behind-the-scenes on Broadway — particularly when it comes to producers.
And: Classical guitarist Jason Vieaux is expanding the bounds his genre. He shows off his chops in the Soundcheck studio.
In this episode: We talk with musician, producer, songwriter and all-around big thinker Brian Eno about the East Coast premiere of his audio-visual installation, 77 Million Paintings.
Plus: Singer and composer Rachel Zeffira performs songs from her dreamy debut album, The Deserters, in our studio.
And: Choreographers, dancers and brothers Rich Talauega and Tone Talauega have worked on music videos for Chris Brown, Jennifer Lopez, Madonna and more. They talk about growing up with Samoan traditional dance, and getting their first big break with Michael Jackson.
Also: More of your musical guilty pleasures.
In this episode: All this week, we’re talking about musical guilty pleasures. We talk with Grantland writer Andy Greenwald about his claim that he has none – and, we talk with Northwestern University marketing professor Kelly Goldsmith about how the emotion of guilt could be making that Britney Spears track sound even better.
Plus, string quartet Brooklyn Rider shares some of their musical guilty pleasures – including one that inspired us to create a mashup that you won’t hear anywhere else.
And, Colin Stetson is the go-to sax player for groups like Arcade Fire and Bon Iver. But his new album To See More Light is just him on his own– although you might not believe it. He plays live.
In this episode: The string quartet Brooklyn Rider performs selections from their new album, A Walking Fire, in our studio.
Plus: We hear from a few more listeners about how they deal with noise in their day-to-day lives -- and, we bring you an excerpt from a recent BBC 4 radio series called "Noise: A Human History." In the final episode of the series, "The Search for Silence," Professor David Hendy of the University of Sussex explores how humans have attempted to manage and escape noise throughout the ages.
Also: Two weeks ago, the New York violinist, vocalist and composer Caroline Shaw became the youngest person to win the Pulitzer Prize for music. She talks about her award-winning composition.
And: more from our occasional series That Was A Hit?!?
In this episode: They’re coming… before the 17-year cicadas emerge this spring, we talk with writer, musician, and philosopher David Rothenberg about his book Bug Music, which examines the connection between human music and insect noise.
Plus: Guitarist and songwriter Marnie Stern gives us an inside look into her apartment. And, WNYC reporter Arun Venugopal’s Micropolis series examines musicians who rehearse in their apartments — and the neighbors that live next to them.
Plus: A profile of this week's Check Ahead artist - the singer and songwriter Joshua James.
Also: The classically trained violinist and songwriter Marques Toliver showcases his compelling hybridized sound, where classical, pop, and R&B meet.
In this episode: Former Gossip Girl star Penn Badgley talks about portraying the late musician Jeff Buckley in the film Greetings From Tim Buckley.
Plus: Singer-songwriter John Grant talks about his new album, Pale Green Ghosts, and performs some of it for us live in our studio.
And: Trumpeter and composer Wadada Leo Smith talks about "Ten Freedom Summers," his epic, four-hour jazz piece inspired by moments in the civil rights struggle.