Podcast

Soundcheck

Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.

Episodes

  • Marissa Nadler Sharpens Her Elegant and Eerie Dream-Folk

    Sep 24 2018

    Boston-based Marissa Nadler writes intimate, sweeping dreamy and eerie songs, that shimmer with gothic melancholy. On her latest record, For My Crimes, she’s enlisted accomplished musicians: harpist Mary Lattimore, drummer Patty Schemel (Hole), experimental multi-instrumentalist Janel Leppin, and Eva Gardner plays additional bass. Guest vocals come from Angel Olsen, Kristin Kontrol (Dum Dum Girls), and Sharon Van Etten, and there is but one non-female collaborator - saxophonist Dana Colley (Morp...more

  • Havana Pianist Harold López-Nussa's Exciting Cuban Jazz

    Sep 20 2018

    Havana pianist, composer and bandleader Harold López-Nussa delivers a range of drama and the irresistible rhythms of Cuban music, fully integrating his conservatory training and love of the jazz continuum with his Cuban roots and soul.   His wide mastery of styles includes a jazz album and documentary film with David Sánchez, Christian Scott and Stefon Harris, an album of compositions by revered Cuban classical guitarist, composer and conductor Leo Brouwer, and three years spent in the touring b...more

  • 'Mutant Chamber Jazz' From Robbie Lee and Mary Halvorson

    Sep 17 2018

    Mary Halvorson has established herself as one of the finest guitarists of her generation; Robbie Lee has established himself as a versatile flutist, sax player, and keyboardist. But if they’re not careful, they could wind up being known as the weird instrument team, because their new album together sports such oddities as a 19th-century harp guitar with 18 strings, the world’s smallest saxophone, and a Renaissance reed instrument called the chalumeau. The music of edited improvisations covers a ...more

  • Richard Thompson OBE Is Still the Shreddingest

    Sep 13 2018

    British singer, songwriter and guitarist Richard Thompson OBE was part of the groundbreaking folk rock band Fairport Convention in the 1960's, made records with his then-wife, Linda Thompson, and has many fan-favourite solo records as well. Rolling Stone lists him as one of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time and the LA Times called him the greatest living songwriter after Bob Dylan. His new album is called 13 Rivers and it is largely an electric, band record. The folk-shredder and troubadou...more

  • Singer/Songwriter Blaze Foley Burns Brightly From Beyond in Film

    Sep 10 2018

    The Texas singer/songwriter/poet Blaze Foley never hit it big, although his song “If I Could Only Fly,” would later be covered by the great Merle Haggard. Actually, several of his songs have been covered by John Prine, Willie Nelson, Nanci Griffith, Lyle Lovett, and others. But if you’ve never heard of him, don’t worry – the new film called Blaze will change that. The film recounts Foley’s stormy career – a career that ended when he was shot and killed in Austin at the age of 39. The film was di...more

  • Aukai's Electroacoustic Music for a Timeless State

    Sep 04 2018

    German producer & multi-instrumentalist Aukai, aka Markus Sieber, grew up in the former East Germany, but his travels have taken him through Latin America, and he is now based in Colorado. "Aukai" is a Hawaiian term for a seafaring traveler, and on his second record, Branches of Sun, he has captured a certain nomadic wanderlust which might connect a listener to a certain peace of being in nature, high in the mountains. With an ensemble that centers on the South American ronroco, a kind of ma...more

  • Dark Dance-Pop Duo Bob Moses Confronts the Battles Within

    Sep 03 2018

    Canadian electronic outfit Bob Moses is actually two guys: Tom Howie and Jimmy Vallance, who are originally from Vancouver, British Columbia. Named after master builder and urban planner Robert Moses, their thinking went something like - choose a New York icon because the aim was to be kings of the New York club scene, but keep it a bit irreverent, with “Bob.” The guys also think that it might be the gloomy northwest climate they grew up in that keeps their dance-floor ready yet moody pop songs ...more

  • Remembering Randy Weston, the Afro-Centric Jazz Pioneer

    Sep 01 2018

    Randy Weston, who died today at 92, was a jazz pianist. There, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let me tell you why he was so much more than a "jazz pianist." Well before World Music became a trend, and then a marketing term, Weston was creating a personal, deeply spiritual style of music that assimilated West African, Moroccan, and later Egyptian and East Asian elements. Although he was a Brooklyn boy through and through, he did live in Morocco for a few formative years and over the cour...more

  • Songwriter Gabriel Kahane Rides the Rails, Sings with Strangers

    Aug 29 2018

    Singer-songwriter, pianist, and composer Gabriel Kahane writes music between classical art song and pop song. His best-known work is probably Craigslistlieder (2006) – a song cycle of personal ads set to music -which made it clear that this songwriter could make music from the most unlikely of source material. The day after the 2016 Presidential election, he unplugged from the internet and slowed down time; he spent two weeks traveling the country on Amtrak. He logged 8980 miles and lots of conv...more

  • Rule-Breaking Punchy Americana by String Band The Devil Makes Three

    Aug 27 2018

    The trio The Devil Makes Three has always had a punk rock approach to string band music with their two guitars and upright bass and narrative-driven tunes. Musically, they draw from the deep roots of Delta blues, folk, and rock, along with slow metal, experimental music and drone. (Their list of influences ranges from The Reverend Gary Davis to Django Reinhardt and Steve Earle, as well as from the heavy side- Iron Maiden and Sleep.) They got a little crazy on their latest record, Chains Are Brok...more

  • Stirring, Epic, and Intimate Cinematic Songs of DeVotchKa

    Aug 22 2018

    Having made their way through Eastern European gypsy cabaret leanings, mariachi horns, and Bollywood string stylings, the multi-instrumentalist band DeVotchKa— Nick Urata (vocals, guitars, Theremin, trumpet, piano), Jeanie Schroder (acoustic bass, sousaphone), Shawn King (drums, percussion, trumpet), and Tom Hagerman (violin, viola, accordion, piano)— returns with grand, pop-leaning, cinematic indie rock, full of swells and turns. Their new record, the first in seven years -This Night Falls Fore...more

  • Italian Pianist Ludovico Einaudi, In-Studio

    Aug 20 2018

    Prolific Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi has been commissioned by prestigious orchestras and festivals, scored music for films and TV, and headlined festivals alongside Kendrick Lamar and Lady Gaga. He has also done collaborations with Malian kora virtuoso Ballaké Sissoko, Armenian duduk master Djivan Gasparijan (the duduk sounds like an oboe, and is made of apricot wood), and with the brothers Lippok as a post-rock trio called Whitetree. Born in Turin, Einaudi trained at the Conse...more

  • NYC-Based Spanglish Fly Leads the Boogaloo Revival

    Aug 16 2018

    New York-based band Spanglish Fly are part band and part celebration with their brasstastic mix of Latin dance-funk and soul in homage to Boogaloo - that fusion of soul music, Rhythm & Blues, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms that was born in New York City in the 1960s. [See this excellent article from The Guardian for more history, and a bit of background on the documentary in which Spanglish Fly appears.] On their latest record, Ay Que Boogaloo!, Spanglish Fly both tips a cap to boogaloo and take...more

  • Ava Rocha's Forward-Looking Brazilian Pop

    Aug 13 2018

    Brazilian musician Ava Rocha has quickly become a leading figure in Brazil’s post-Tropicalia movement and is blazing ahead making inventive Brazilian pop. Her new album Trança means Braid, and it weaves together strands of rock, funk, post-punk abrasiveness, fuzzy and playful electronica, Afro and Amazonian grooves, and Brazilian styles like percussion-heavy samba, smooth bossa nova, and tropicália. She and her husband, the Brazilian guitarist and songwriter Negro Leo, often write and play toget...more

  • Trixie Whitley, with Marc Ribot, from the New York Guitar Festival

    Aug 09 2018

    Hear the Belgian-born guitarist/songwriter Trixie Whitley, from the 2017 New York Guitar Festival, presented in The Greene Space. Her songs draw from her favorite styles – punk, electronica, R & B, and feel something like quietly watching the sun rise after a long, adventure-filled night. She was joined onstage by Marc Ribot for many of these tunes. -Caryn Havlik Set list: "Oh the Joy" "Fear for Permanence""Long Time Coming" "Fourth Corner" "Hotter | Burn"

  • Fantastic Negrito's Fiery Blues with a Punk Attitude

    Aug 06 2018

    Self-described “lifelong hustler,” Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz, is better known by his stage name Fantastic Negrito, and makes “black roots music for everyone” - blues with a giant undercurrent of punkass. Fantastic Negrito’s songs tell of a hard life with some complete do-overs and a few near-death experiences. Coming from a crossroads with optional deals, his music might be informed just as much by California funk-punk (Bad Brains and Fishbone), hip hop, thrash metal, punk, Prince and his self-ta...more

  • The Folk-Rock of Passenger, from Busking to 'Runaway" Hit-Maker

    Aug 02 2018

    English singer-songwriter and folk-rocker Mike Rosenberg, formerly of the band Passenger, might be best known for his song “Let Her Go.” Originally from Brighton & Hove,  Rosenberg busked his way through England and Australia in the early 2000’s and worked with a five-piece band until 2009, when he decided to continue under that name as a solo artist. He’s played giant stages and summer festivals in Europe, opening for old friend Ed Sheeran. Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, joins us to play ne...more

  • Tropical Electronica 'DreamBow' by Balún

    Jul 30 2018

    Brooklyn-based via San Juan band Balún came from DIY electrified bedroom pop that embraced punk on the island of Puerto Rico. Now, with an even wider range of influences, (please see their ethnomusicological, technological, punk, hardcore, and New York Philharmonic credentials) their "dreambow" tropical electronica harnesses Caribbean rhythms, grime/jungle/IDM, Puerto Rican folk music, shoegaze and is a playfully-informed take on global pop music. Balún joins us in the studio to play music from ...more

  • Jupiter & Okwess Spread Positivity Via Funk and Dance Grooves

    Jul 26 2018

    From the Democratic Republic of the Congo comes Jupiter & Okwess, percussion-driven socially-conscious funky guitar-buoyed dance music. Led by “Jupiter” Bokondji, the self-dubbed “rebel general”, incites partying but with positive messaging for the long-term, to work towards Congo’s recovery from the kleptocracy of previous generations, to respect and protect women, combat injustice, and embrace unity. The highly danceable tunes represent not only Congolese pop but also other regional and lo...more

  • Junun Featuring Shye Ben Tzur and The Rajasthan Express

    Jul 23 2018

    Junun is a musical collaboration between India-based Israeli composer Shye Ben Tzur, a group of Indian musicians called The Rajasthan Express, and composer (and Radiohead’s guitarist) Jonny Greenwood. The music is in the ecstatic Sufi music style known as qawwali (made famous by the late Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan), and it's devotional music—sometimes in Urdu, Hebrew, and Hindi, and is built on a percussion-dense and brass enriched groove with everything to love. The band has been opening for Radiohe...more

  • Fluid, Borderless Solo Guitar by Marisa Anderson

    Jul 19 2018

    Portland, Oregon-based Marisa Anderson channels the history of the guitar and stretches the boundaries of tradition. From spacious melancholic laments to transcendent minimalism, Anderson is coming from a place between country, blues, and drone. On her latest record, Cloud Corner, she touches on Tuareg scales from "desert blues," the finger-style picking of so-called “American Primitive,” and chiming sad cowboy chords, while continuously moving and traveling on her guitar. She joins us in the st...more

  • Orquesta Akokán Channels Golden Era of Cuban Mambo

    Jul 16 2018

    Orquesta Akokán bursts and flows with the spirit of dance orchestras of the 1940’s and 1950’s of Havana on their debut record of nine tunes - all sparkling, blazing, soulful, and meticulously arranged and composed mambo originals. Together, singer José "Pepito" Gómez, producer Jacob Plasse, and arranger Michael Eckroth, along with Cuba’s finest players, young and old, recorded the record live to tape in a three-day session at the legendary and revered Estudios Areito in Cuba – where percussion a...more

  • Powerhouse Singer-Producer Ebony Bones Live In-Studio

    Jul 05 2018

    Singer-songwriter and producer Ebony Bones is a powerhouse performer with seemingly no limits. She creates energetic and driving songs with twinges of pop, punk, afrobeat, and dance music, all wrapped up into a compelling display of raw emotion and stunning degree of detail and intricacy. She has already worked with Yoko Ono, CeeLo Green, the New London Children's Choir and more. Her latest single, "Nephilim," is the title track of her upcoming album and features a dramatic performance from the ...more