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

  • Aimee Mann's Catchy, Dark, Smart & Thoughtful Songwriting (Archives)

    Jan 20 2022

    Songwriter Aimee Mann left her successful major label band Til Tuesday back in the early 1990's and never looked back. Her stunning recording resume includes classic songs from "Magnolia," include the Oscar-nominated "Save Me", as well as numerous records, released on her own label. Many of her slow, bruising, crafty, and catchy songs may shine with sadness on the outside, but as ever, they bristle with smart observations and intriguing perspectives. Aimee Mann and her trio play songs from her 2...more

  • Beirut-based Band Mashrou' Leila Courts Controversy (Archives)

    Jan 17 2022

    Beirut-based indie-rock band Mashrou’ Leila tackles taboo topics - political corruption, same-sex love, religion (inter-religious marriage), and Middle Eastern feminism. Their catchy and danceable Arabic pop songs are full of guitars, drum machines, samples, violin and frontman Hamed Sinno’s sensual voice. In the years since they first formed in 2008, they’ve become both enormously popular and enormously controversial, even banned in some countries. Mashrou’ Leila’s 2015 record, Ibn el Leil - me...more

  • Silvana Estrada Explores Love and Loss

    Jan 13 2022

    The Mexican singer-songwriter and arranger Silvana Estrada offers poeticism and a fresh take on traditional folk music resulting in a deeply heartfelt and lyrical sound which may tug at the heartstrings. A multi-instrumentalist raised in a musical home in the mountain town of Veracruz, she plays the Venezuelan cuatro (a four-stringed guitar) in many of her songs. The tangled roots of her musical influences mix the folk stylings of son jarocho (from the Gulf Coast of Mexico), Portuguese fado, jaz...more

  • Guitarist Margaret Glaspy Delivers Crunch & Thunder (Archives)

    Jan 10 2022

    Guitarist and singer Margaret Glaspy released her album Emotions and Math in 2016, and promptly found herself on a whole bunch of year-end lists of the best albums of the year, including those of the New York Times and NPR. It’s not hard to hear why – at times Glaspy snarls her way through love’s trials and travails, while her guitar snarls and thunders right along with her. At others, she offers something a little more subdued, even melancholy. Glaspy and her trio join us to play songs from Emo...more

  • John Doe (Frontman of X): An L.A. Punk Plays Tough Folk (Archives)

    Jan 06 2022

    John Doe is a musician, actor, and author, and one of the founding fathers of the L.A. punk scene with his band X, which continues to this day. He has co-authored and collected first-hand accounts of L.A. punk experiences in the book, Under the Big Black Sun. John Doe has also done country and folk music with his other band The Knitters, and released ten solo albums. The last is called The Westerner, which came out in 2016, and John Doe returned to play some of his solo songs in-studio in 2017. ...more

  • The Captivating Analog Synth Artistry of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith (Archives)

    Jan 03 2022

    The west coast-based sound-maker and experimenter Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith weaves melodic patterns and pulses, using various analogue synthesizers – like the rare EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer, a vintage Buchla modular synthesizer, earning her a fun title as a composer and producer – “synthesist.”  On Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's 2017 album, The Kid, she crafts a playfully strange expression of human awareness via these synthesized sound designs that falls neither in the pop world nor the avant/classical o...more

  • Best of Soundcheck Podcast 2021, Part 2

    Dec 30 2021

    Listen to London’s Afrofuturist jazz masters Sons of Kemet, New York-based poet, composer, and stutterer JJJJJerome Ellis, and the custom baritone guitar of South African Guy Buttery. AND you must see and hear the prepared guitar of Sardinian composer, ethnomusicologist, and instrument builder Paolo Angeli, who filmed a beautiful remote session on the shores of Sardinia. Grammy-winning diva Angélique Kidjo brings a super-charged performance to The Greene Space and puts an exclamation point on 20...more

  • Best of Soundcheck Podcast 2021, Part 1

    Dec 27 2021

    Hear/Watch some of the 2021 highlights for the Soundcheck Podcast by Amsterdam-based Turkish psych band Altin Gün, London pianist and soundscape artist Neil Cowley, composer/vocalist/pianist Samora Pinderhughes’ art/protest songs, and Guatemalan cellist Mabe Fratti. Plus, singer and guitarist Torres and her band, live from The Greene Space. - Caryn Havlik Altin Gün – “Ordunun Dereleri” Neil Cowley – “String Think” Samora Pinderhughes – “Stare Straight Ahead”Mabe Fratti – “Nadie Sabe”Torres – “T...more

  • Angelica Garcia Rocks With Country-Blues Roots (Archives)

    Dec 23 2021

    Los Angeles-born, Virginia-based singer-songwriter Angelica Garcia harnesses some country-blues twang, playing songs from her debut full-length, "Medicine for Birds," live, with her full band, in the studio. She taps into the magnolia trees, starry skies, and the ghosts of gothic Americana, written in her newfound isolation of a dusty old parish house in Accomac, Virginia.  

  • Sam Lee: A Trailblazer For The Traditional (Archives)

    Dec 20 2021

    Sam Lee is much more than a musician - he's a storyteller. In "Blackbird," from his album The Fade In Time, his deep croons and intricate vocals breathe life into forgotten stories, drawing you into a colorful and heart-wrenching world. The album title is appropriate, since he collects traditional English songs and repurposes them for a new place and time.  Not many traditional English folk singers came from North London, studied at Chelsea School of Art and worked as a forager and wilderness ex...more

  • Garland Jeffreys: Still 'Wild In The Streets' (Archives)

    Dec 16 2021

    Lou Reed. Dr. John. Bruce Springsteen. John Cale. Levon Helm. Garland Jeffreys has collaborated with all of them, and his gravelly voice, roots-rock DNA, and trenchant writing has always channeled the best bits of each of them.  A recording artist since the 1960s, Brooklyn native Jeffreys has had more career ups (and downs) than most artists can dream of today, but he's riding yet another wave of creativity and energy. His loose and rollicking 2013 album Truth Serum was lauded by critics and fan...more

  • Kate Simko & London Electronic Orchestra Build Crystal Structures of Chamber-Dance Music (Archives)

    Dec 13 2021

    London-based dance music artist, classically trained pianist/composer, and Chicago native Kate Simko, along with the London Electronic Orchestra, combine harp, violin, cello & laptop, live in the studio. Layers of clubby electronics and keyboards support delicate harp, violin and cello melodies. Altogether, the result is a buoyant, airy, and uplifting hybrid dance music - something like a film score for a documentary about a days-long party in Ibiza. (From the Archives, 2017.)  

  • Songwriter Jennifer O'Connor Shakes It Up And Surprises

    Dec 09 2021

    Singer, guitarist, songwriter, and label owner, Jennifer O’Connor has gone from acoustic guitar to plugged-in rockenroll band and now to crafting nostalgic-sounding Logic-based songs in her 20-year career. Her latest album is the perhaps misleadingly-titled Born at the Disco, recorded in large part by O’Connor herself at home, upending her usual process by using drum machines and synths to play and create, with touchstones like the Jesus and Mary Chain and maybe the Swedish pop artist, Robyn. Je...more

  • The Brilliant Power Pop of The New Pornographers (Archives)

    Dec 06 2021

    Since forming back around the turn of this century, the New Pornographers have consistently been one of indie rock’s top attractions - reliable purveyors of big hooks, anthemic choruses, and Technicolor orchestrations. The band is a supergroup of sorts, with a mutable lineup of singers and instrumentalists, but the first among equals has always been vocalist and songwriter Carl Newman. He joins John Schaefer to talk about the band’s 2017 album, called Whiteout Conditions. AND, some of the band p...more

  • Southern Blues & Rock of Reverend Sekou & The Sealbreakers (Archives)

    Dec 02 2021

    The Reverend Osagyefo Sekou draws from a deep well of American music on his new album, called In Times Like These. Blues and gospel traditions, but specifically also "North Mississippi Hill Country Music, Arkansas Delta Blues, 1960s Rock and Roll, Memphis Soul, Chuck Berry St Louis vibes, and Pentecostal steel guitar." Now if you’re thinking that those are musical holdovers from another time, the activist, author, documentary filmmaker and theologian Reverend Sekou wants you to know that that mu...more

  • Into It. Over It. Has Standards. (Archives)

    Nov 29 2021

    There’s something about the band name Into It. Over It. that seems perfect for the digital age, when we rush to crown the Next Big Thing one week and abandon it for the new Next Big Thing a week later. But Chicago singer and songwriter Evan Thomas Weiss has managed to keep an even keel through nearly a decade and several full-length albums, keeping Into It. Over It. as both a touring band and as an occasional solo project. The band’s 2016 album was called Standards (no, he doesn’t sing Gershwin ...more

  • Sharkmuffin: Jagged, Riotous Power Pop (Archives)

    Nov 25 2021

    Brooklyn's Sharkmuffin met cute on July 4, 2012 at a beach house that was later destroyed by Hurricane Sandy - a possible reason why the band's music is visceral, explosive, sharp and a little dangerous. Tarra Thiessen (guitar, vocals, theremin, pocket piano) and Natalie Kirch (bass, vocals, claps) make up the core of the band, with frequently-rotating drummers. Hear them perform their short slap-in-the-face songs live in-studio. (From the Archives, 2015.)

  • Mac McCaughan: Superchunk's Frontman Goes Solo On 'Non-Believers' (Archives)

    Nov 22 2021

    For longtime indie rock fans, it's kinda hard to believe that Mac McCaughan has been making music for more than 25 years. Soon after leaving Columbia University in 1987, the Durham, North Carolina native both formed Superchunk and co-founded Merge Records - alongside bassist and savvy financial manager Laura Ballance - in 1989. And since then, Superchunk has released ten albums and countless singles -- and several more records with his on-again/off-again project Portastatic. And Merge has grown ...more

  • Torres Approaches Power Pop Crunch

    Nov 18 2021

    Torres, aka singer and guitarist Mackenzie Scott, unleashes the exuberant energy of a post-plague celebration with her latest album, Thirstier. She writes about passion and desire and “bringing my girlfriend lunch so she can keep painting.” Adding to these romantic sentiments are the overt power pop crunch of muscular and hooky guitars, Moog-enhanced melodies and Torres’ expressive voice, which goes from hug to howl. Torres and her band declare their arena rock intentions live in The Greene Spac...more

  • Little May: Urgent Harmonies, Anthemic Appeal (Archives)

    Nov 15 2021

    Little May is an Australian trio whose signature sounds include dark and poetic lyrics, urgent guitar strumming and, above all, beautiful 3-part vocal harmonies. Their 2015 album, For The Company, was produced by The National’s Aaron Dessner and may have a bit of New York in its musical DNA. The band has toured with Mumford and Sons, Alabama Shakes, and others, and in 2015, they stopped by our studio for a live set. (Archives.)

  • Danish Chamber-Pop Group Efterklang Keeps Experimenting

    Nov 11 2021

    Efterklang is a Danish band consisting of the 3 childhood friends Mads Brauer, Casper Clausen & Rasmus Stolberg, although the band often expands when playing live. For over twenty years, they have been collaborating and experimenting to arrive at a sound that evades easy labeling, so we’ll call it art-rock-indie-folk-chamber-pop. They play new songs from their latest, "Windflowers," remotely for the Soundcheck Podcast.

  • Poet, Composer, Stutterer JJJJJerome Ellis Creatively Shapes Time

    Nov 08 2021

    Poet, sax player, electronic music producer, storyteller, and composer JJJJJerome Ellis is a stutterer. On his 2021 album The Clearing, he takes speech disfluency and considers how it affects one’s experience of time. JJJJJerome Ellis offers live performances of works from his new album and shares how to say “I stutter” in Portuguese. 

  • Paolo Angeli: Between Innovation and Tradition

    Nov 04 2021

    The guitarist, composer, ethnomusicologist, and instrument builder Paolo Angeli is associated with traditional Sardinian music and has co-organized an international arts festival in Palau since 1996. He has collaborated with Pat Metheny (who uses Angeli's guitar in Orchestrion), Fred Frith, Hamid Drake, Iva Bittova, Zeena Parkins, and Derek Gripper. Paolo Angeli plays the prepared Sardinian guitar, a hybrid electro-acoustic instrument that looks like a guitar crossed with a cello, and has virtua...more

  • Angélique Kidjo: Building Connections and Living Her Passion

    Nov 01 2021

    Multiple Grammy-winner and longtime UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador Angélique Kidjo pulls together multiple generations, collaborating with global pop stars Burna Boy and Yemi Alade among others, in addition to focusing on our connection to the natural world for her latest album, Mother Nature. Through a signature combination of West African music, jazz, and funk, and using her incredible voice as instrument, Kidjo asks us to honor Mother Nature, and hopes that one lesson that people might learn from...more

  • Squealy-Fuzz Pop Band Upper Wilds Throws Down Very Fast Love Songs

    Oct 28 2021

    Brooklyn trio Upper Wilds features Dan Friel (ex-Parts & Labor) on guitar, vocals, and effects, bassist Jason Binnick, and drummer Jeff Ottenbacher and is really exceptional at making fuzzy-noisy songs with big pop riffs, usually concealed within explosive sonic textures.  They’ve now released the third in a series of albums about the planets, Venus, and the band is continuing their way further out as they go, planning to release a seven inch when they get to Pluto. Friel confides that he’s ...more

  • South African Guitarist and Sound Technician Guy Buttery Plays With Possibility

    Oct 25 2021

    Guitar innovator and part-time sound technician Guy Buttery discusses the spontaneous recording session with two master musicians, Mohd. Amjad Khan (tabla) & Mudassir Khan (sarangi), called One Morning In Gurgaon. He plays Indian classical music-inspired tunes remotely from South Africa on a custom baritone guitar and improvises on Raag Yaman playing the surbahar (bass sitar). Watch "Kya Baat": Watch "Surbahar the Mule": 

  • Buffalo Nichols Is Bringing the Blues of the Past Into the Future

    Oct 18 2021

    Austin-based guitarist, songwriter, and vocalist Carl “Buffalo” Nichols wants to remind folks of the value of the blues as a cultural art form. “Listening to this record, I want more Black people to hear themselves in this music that is truly theirs.” The self-described music nerd considers Delta blues, Chicago blues, West African Malian guitar rhythms, and the African ancestry of the clawhammer banjo in his sonic experimentation and ongoing study of chords and riffs. Nichols, who lived in Milwa...more

  • Angélica Negrón Performs on Plant Art, Live at The Greene Space

    Oct 14 2021

    Puerto Rican composer/performer/educator Angélica Negrón, who writes tiny and big sounds for chamber ensembles, orchestras, films, plants, robots and drag queens, joins us for the Soundcheck Podcast. Angélica takes us into her sensory world, and explains how her overlapping creative adventures feed into each other – say writing for the Dallas Symphony or for drag queens, or for the dreambow band, Balún. She offers a live performance - triggering sounds via plant art, programmed surface poppers, ...more

  • Lucero: Musical Ghosts and Memphis Soul (Archives)

    Oct 11 2021

    Musical ghosts haunt the Memphis band Lucero. The late Warren Zevon is evoked in one song, and the spirit of the late Alex Chilton’s groundbreaking Memphis group Big Star can be felt throughout the record. (Their 2015 album title, All A Man Should Do, is a line from a Big Star song.) Songwriter Ben Nichols uses a stirring blend of classic rock and Memphis soul, but maintains a distinctive voice. Lucero plays songs from All A Man Should Do, in-studio. (From the Archives, 2015.)

  • Indie-Pop Band Wet (Archives)

    Oct 07 2021

    The Brooklyn-based band Wet first turned heads in 2013 with an EP packed with 90s-style synth-pop goodness. New Yorker magazine critic Sasha Frere Jones referred to their song “Don’t Wanna Be Your Girl” as “completely perfect” and made it one of his songs of the year. In 2016, after a major label bidding war, they released their full-length debut, called Don’t You. Wet (as a trio) joins us to play some of those songs, in-studio. (From the Archives, 2016.)

  • Passenger's Wandering Heart (Archives)

    Oct 04 2021

    It's no small thing to command the attention of billions of people with nothing but the sound of your voice and an acoustic guitar. Ask British singer/songwriter Mike Rosenberg, aka Passenger, whose song "Let Her Go" became a legit worldwide phenomenon after its release in 2012. The song snowballed in slow motion, no instant smash, and wormed its way into ears and hearts one play at a time. Rosenberg brings his thoughtful and subtle songwriting to bear, playing songs from his 2016 record, Young ...more

  • Vijay Iyer Trio's Music Evolves Every Time They Play

    Sep 30 2021

    Pianist Vijay Iyer, bassist Linda May Han Oh, and drummer Tyshawn Sorey, wear their composer and collaborator hats simultaneously in new music by Vijay Iyer, who reminds us that “the most turbulent music may contain stillness, coolness, even wisdom,” (Uneasy liner notes.) They share the joy in hearing each other together in a room creating something collaboratively based on something put on the page. The members of the trio talk about optimism and hope - in spite of it all, their decades of shar...more

  • Guitarist Hayden Pedigo Evokes Wide-Open Texas Spaces

    Sep 27 2021

    In Hayden Pedigo’s acoustic guitar playing one might hear the “loneliness and the space” of the Texas panhandle. The musician, composer, and former city-council candidate cites inspiration by guitarists from previous generations like Anthony Phillips (original Genesis guitarist), John Fahey, and Leo Kottke to sound very much like kickass fingerstyle guitarists of now, like Gwenifer Raymond and Toby Hay. Guitar nerds take note: Segovia is invoked, as are variations on multiple non-standard tuning...more

  • Rosanne Cash: Songs of Protest and Memory (From Live With Carnegie Hall, 2020)

    Sep 23 2021

    Singer-songwriter Rosanne Cash curates a program exploring the importance of protest music as part of our shared cultural history. She talks of how the rich oral tradition of roots music embraces migration stories, loss, resistance, and how we are moving to something better, but that it might be painful. And ultimately, protest songs can show us a path to get there. (Originally from Live With Carnegie Hall from June 2020.) Set list: Rosanne Cash and Leventhal plays Bob Dylan's "License to Kill" ...more

  • Farao: Implacable Outlier Pop (Archives)

    Sep 20 2021

    The Norwegian-born, London-based singer Kari Jahnsen records under the name Farao. Her 2015 debut album is called Till It's All Forgotten, and prompted comparisons with Tune-Yards, countrywoman Jenny Hval, and a few other musical outliers. But Farao’s blend of arty pop and unusual arrangements might actually fool listeners into believing they’re hearing something like conventional pop. They are not. Farao uses stately synthesized strings, big grooves with anxious bursts of drumming, and her own ...more

  • BRONCHO: Indie Pop Hooks You Can't Stop Singing (Archives)

    Sep 16 2021

    Some songs you love because they communicate deep thoughts or powerful emotions. And sometimes you just want a ridiculously catchy hook. BRONCHO is certainly capable of the former, but in the case of its song "Class Historian," it wouldn’t matter if the band was singing about filing taxes, you might still be bouncing in our seats with that infectious melody stuck in your head all day. While the Oklahoma band has been banging out classic fuzzed-out sounds for awhile, the band got a spike of atten...more

  • Amythyst Kiah's Roots Music Deals With Loss, Grief, and Pain

    Sep 13 2021

    Tennessee-based songwriter Amythyst Kiah loves both roots and alternative music; and her songs often clothe dark subjects - suicide of a loved one, a descent into alcoholism - in bluesy stomps and ecstatic rock. The singer, guitarist, banjo player, and scholar (she holds a degree in Bluegrass, Old-Time, and Country Music Studies), has made records on her own and is a member of the formidable quartet called Our Native Daughters. On her 2021 solo album Wary + Strange, Amythyst Kiah sings of loss, ...more

  • Golden Suits Let the Joy In (Archives)

    Sep 09 2021

    The Brooklyn band Golden Suits is led by singer and guitarist Fred Nicolaus. You may know him from his earlier band Department of Eagles, or perhaps his duo with Grizzly Bear’s Daniel Rossen. Fred released the first Golden Suits album in 2013 and has just put out the band’s followup effort, called Kubla Khan. It’s full of catchy, often literate, occasionally eccentric songs, which the band plays in-studio. (From the Archives, 2015.)   Here's the dancey "Gold Feeling," where Nicolaus is out to pr...more

  • Becca Stevens Band: Powerful Voice, 'Perfect Animal' (Archives)

    Sep 06 2021

    Guitarist and singer Becca Steven's resume includes stints with the adventurous jazz bassist Esperanza Spalding, electrifying trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire, and hip-hop inflected jazz vocalist José James. She’s part of New York’s new music scene, and has contributed to a compilation of Laura Nyro covers. So you might guess that The Becca Stevens Band would not be your typical indie rock group. And you’d be right. The band’s 2015 debut record is called Perfect Animal, and it’s full of shimmering, ...more

  • Jazz Pianist And Innovator Randy Weston Renews a Connection With His African Past (Archives)

    Sep 02 2021

    The late American pianist, composer, and “Legend of Jazz,” Randy Weston, stretched across history to forge connections to an African past, as he had done for decades. On his 2017 recording, The African Nubian Suite, Weston took as his subject matter the very origins of humanity – the fossilized skeletal remains of “Ardi,” a hominid who lived around 4.5 million years ago in what is now Ethiopia. This "planetary music," as Weston called it stretches across millennia, looking to the Nubian empire (...more

  • Indian Tabla Master Zakir Hussain's Percussive Wizardry (Archives)

    Aug 30 2021

    Genius Indian tabla player Zakir Hussain, is one of the world’s exceptional percussionists. The son of Ustad Alla Rahka, Zakir is also a composer, improviser, and a great communicator in Persian, Gujarati, German, English, as well as in jazz, Afro-Cuban rhythms, Nigerian talking drums, or Indonesian gamelan. One of the most exciting ways that Zakir Hussain shares this deep and vast knowledge in performance is by way of the Masters of Percussion Tour – which is exactly as stunning as a music fan ...more

  • Pom Pom Squad's Cinematic and Quiet Grrrl Punk

    Aug 26 2021

    Pom Pom Squad is more than a punk band. Led by singer and songwriter Mia Berrin, their music is a romp through many musical styles: a seemingly disparate collection of punk and grunge, Motown, crooner jazz, and wall-of-sound 60’s pop all built on feelings - heartbreak and injustice and intimacy, and navigating the way through treacherous waters. Their 2021 album Death of a Cheerleader takes a knowing, ironic look at pop culture through a queer lens, focusing on the romance and glamour of 20th ce...more

  • Dan Deacon: Riffing With A New Voice (Archives)

    Aug 23 2021

    Since his 2007 breakthrough album, Spiderman Of The Rings, Dan Deacon has assumed numerous roles. He’s a staple of Baltimore's Wham City art collective - and a classically-trained composer and film scorer. On stage, he’s a mad scientist tinkering with colorful electronics - and a ringleader encouraging his wild fans in absurdist dance-offs. Likewise, his music delivers both exquisite bliss and full-on beat-heavy cacophony. But no matter the setting, Deacon's unfettered sense of humor and his mas...more

  • Guitarist, Composer, and Audio Architect Rachika Nayar Crafts Fantastic Layered Works

    Aug 19 2021

    Rachika Nayar is a composer and producer who uses her electric guitar as a sound source, creating rich layers of sound in real time. She then "mutilates" and "contorts" these sounds, processing them, arranging them into the finished pieces on her 2021 LP Our Hands Against The Dusk and its companion record, the 2021 EP Fragments, which could be considered as a collection of Etudes; none of the works on Fragments were translated into larger pieces. Nayar's guitar playing is informed by math rock, ...more

  • Aoife O'Donovan Conjures 'Magic' Again (Archives)

    Aug 16 2021

    It took Aoife O’Donovan a decade to record her debut as a solo artist, the 2013 album Fossils. But it’s not like she was sitting around twiddling her thumbs prior to that. She was busy playing with the high energy bluegrass band Crooked Still, or collaborating with Yo-Yo Ma, Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile, and other stars of the strings. O’Donovan’s gorgeous 2016 record In the Magic Hour ties together elements of pop, folk, and bluegrass in a cohesive, emotive package. She plays songs in-studio (from ...more

  • Natalia Lafourcade Finds Power at the Root of Things (Archives)

    Aug 12 2021

    Natalia Lafourcade had writer's block. Her 2009 album Hu Hu Hu had been a critical and commercial triumph, nominated for Grammy awards and hailed as one of the best records of the decade by tastemakers in the Latin music world. How to move forward? She returned to her roots to find inspiration, mining her home country of Mexico for fresh ideas and deep connections, and responding to Latin American songwriters like Simón Díaz and Caetano Veloso. In fact, she called the 2015 record Hasta la Raíz -...more

  • Publicist UK: Urgent Underground Rock (Archives)

    Aug 09 2021

    "Warm and melodic" aren't exactly words the members of Publicist UK are used to hearing. Each of them has worked in some heavy, aggressive bands on the metal and hardcore scenes. But together, in this new underground supergroup, they have created urgent and moody music that revels in melody and massive, insistent choruses. And if it's not all warm and fuzzy, it is at least supportive: Publicist UK's debut album is called Forgive Yourself.  The band began as a long-distance experiment by undergro...more

  • Laura Stevenson: "A Purge and a Prayer"

    Aug 05 2021

    Singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson documents the turbulent and heavy stuff of life with warmth and fierce intensity. The multi-instrumentalist offers an album, “written as a sort of purge and a prayer,” of dynamic contrasts, clasping hands with blistering rage and working out how to deal with fear and pain. Laura Stevenson plays tunes remotely with her band from her self-titled 2021 record. Set list: “State,” “Don’t Think About Me,” “Sky Blue, Bad News” Watch "State":

  • Jaimeo Brown's Work Songs (From the Archives)

    Aug 02 2021

    The jazz drummer Jaimeo Brown formed his trio Transcendence back in 2013 – their first album, also called Transcendence, was built around samples of old southern singing married to an inventive mix of blues, jazz, and distant echoes of hip hop. Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendence released Work Songs in 2016, which takes more sampled sounds from America’s past and uses them as the template for a new series of songs. Actually, the samples extend well beyond the States this time, but the song “For Mama Lu...more

  • Forró In The Dark: A Charismatic Update on a Brazilian Classic (Archives)

    Jul 29 2021

    Forró In The Dark's music is meant to be played under the cover of night. The band is named after forró, a type of Northeastern Brazil dance music. The New York based Brazilian ex-pats give traditional music an update with jazz, rock, psychedelia, folk and charismatic and attentive rhythms. Since their formation in 2002 (beginning as a birthday entertainment for lead singer, Mauro Refosco), Forró In The Dark has worked with musicians like the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Thom Yorke's Atoms For Peace a...more

  • Olivia Chaney: A New Wave Of British Folk (Archives)

    Jul 26 2021

    Olivia Chaney is part of the latest wave of British folk music, although her definition of “folk” is as likely to include Baroque music, Norwegian jazz, and original songs as it is old murder ballads or sea shanties. Chaney plays an assortment of instruments, including guitar and piano, and has a strikingly pure vocal tone. Her debut full-length, The Longest River, is on Nonesuch Records, and while performing a brief set at a Nonesuch 50th anniversary event in 2014, she so impressed her label-ma...more

  • Quiet Hollers: Roots Music with Indie Swagger (Archives)

    Jul 22 2021

    In Appalachia, a "holler" is a colloquialism for a valley or "hollow." So not only is the band name Quiet Hollers a fun oxymoron, it's also a sly shout-out to the band's roots in Kentucky. The group says it makes "weird, sad music for weirdos like you." But they named one of the standout songs from their 2015 self-titled record "Aviator Shades," which might just mean they're going for something cool and even sexy. They share their tunes in live setting, in-studio.

  • Cellist Mabe Fratti Figures Out Her Driving Forces

    Jul 19 2021

    Guatemalan-born, Mexico City-based cellist, singer, producer, and songwriter Mabe Fratti creates music using electronics, voice, and cello, and the sounds of nature. Fratti has a mighty array of effects, turning the cello into sound source capable of drone, full feedback squeals, percussive plucky samples, and talks about how she is "addicted to improvisation." Her latest soundscapey, outer-worldly album is called Será Que Ahora Podremos Entendernos? (Will We be Able to Understand Each Other Now...more

  • The Knights & Andy Akiho Play Steel Pan & Cake Pans (Archives)

    Jul 15 2021

    The Brooklyn-based orchestral collective known as The Knights began as an informal gathering of friends to play late night chamber music. Founded by brothers Colin and Eric Jacobsen, the Knights have grown into a variable ensemble that brings the element of surprise back into orchestral concerts. Sometimes that’s in the way they present the music, and sometimes it’s in the music itself, like their collaboration with composer Andy Akiho. Andy’s main instrument in the steel pan, something usually ...more

  • Mucca Pazza: Colorfully Clashing Marching Band Rock (Archives)

    Jul 12 2021

    Pulling from soul and funk, psychedelic rock and punk, New Orleans brass bands and "Gypsy-reggaeton," Mucca Pazza's repertoire is can be a bit proggy (Yes, Weather Report, Rush) and perhaps hard to march to. Chicago’s “interdisciplinary instrumental music and performance ensemble” – or circus-spectacle alt marching band joins us in-studio. (From the Archives, 2015.) 

  • London-Based Sons of Kemet Uses Poetry to Go 'Black to the Future'

    Jul 08 2021

    British quartet Sons of Kemet blends jazz, Afrofuturism, electronic music, hip hop and Caribbean rhythms in their music and is composed of sax/clarinet player and composer Shabaka Hutchings, tuba player Theon Cross, and two drummers - Tom Skinner and Eddie Hick. Their latest album Black to the Future comes packed with urgent social commentary, and Sons of Kemet artfully brings the fiery hot dance-jazz party to bear. They offer these remote performances from London. Set list: "Hustle," "Pick Up Y...more

  • Swedish Quartet Dungen Scores 1926 Silent Film With Psych-Rock (Archives)

    Jul 05 2021

    Swedish psychedelic rock outfit Dungen plays instrumentals from their recent score to the silent film The Adventures of Prince Achmed, and other tunes. (From the Archives, 2017.) 

  • Public Service Broadcasting Samples the Past, Makes Music of the Future (Archives)

    Jul 01 2021

    The English outfit called Public Service Broadcasting builds its records around archival and documentary sounds, then layering in live drums, guitar, banjo, bass flugelhorn, and electronics. Their 2015 album The Race For Space was full of voices from the Apollo moon missions; and their 2017 album, Every Valley, is built around documentary sounds of the mining communities of southern Wales – the boom and its subsequent collapse. Public Service Broadcasting performs live in our studio with a dance...more

  • Red Baraat Spreads Defiantly Joyful Bhangra Music (Archives)

    Jun 28 2021

    On the face of it, Red Baraat is a dhol-driven big band full of brass instruments and drums (both the dhol and drumset keep the groove going), rooted in Bhangra music (Punjabi dance music), who bring a party with them wherever they go. On their l2018 record, Sound the People, they combine the sounds of South Asian diaspora, along with jazz, hip-hop, psychedelia, and a bit of Caribbean music, to draw attention to issues of migration, colonialism, and our current political climate. The record blen...more

  • Mischievous Electronic Pop from Argentine Singer & Producer Juana Molina (Archives)

    Jun 24 2021

    The Argentine singer/songwriter and brilliant producer of experimental off-kilter folk-tronica, Juana Molina, has a former life as a well-known comic actress. She embraces that playful humor and explores ancient folk legends involving bone on her latest record, Halo. The ever-changing electronic textures feel mysterious, and are full of shadows, but with a sense of devious fun, even at the risk of being morbid. Juana Molina joins us to play some of these fantastical (and fantastic!) tunes live i...more

  • Xylouris White, Lute Meets Drums, In-Studio (Archives)

    Jun 21 2021

    Lute-based and percussion driven, the rugged duo of Cretan lauto player George Xylouris (scion of one of Greece’s most revered musical families) and Australian drummer Jim White (he’s played with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, PJ Harvey, Nina Nastasia, Cat Power, and Dirty Three) perform groove-based, improvisatory music that is both grounded in Cretan tradition- the island has a great history of singers, lyra players, and other folk musicians – and fused with the rugged vitality of raw rockenroll. The ...more

  • Samora Pinderhughes Poetically Merges Art and Urgent Protest

    Jun 17 2021

    Composer, pianist, and vocalist Samora Pinderhughes writes urgent, poetic and immersive music that responds to the times and fits neatly into no genre, all while putting his heart right on the table. Samora Pinderhughes plays some of these intimate and revolutionary songs remotely: recent work from his Black Spring EP, along with new work from his song cycle “Grief.”

  • Blick Bassy Heals By Remembering The Stories (Archives)

    Jun 14 2021

    France-based Cameroonian musician Blick Bassy’s quiet and beautiful songs fall somewhere on the spectrum of blues, folk-soul, and pop, and embody a deep reverence for the traditional music of Cameroon and other parts of Africa. On his latest record, 1958, dedicated to the memory of Ruben Um Nyobé, Felix Moumié and the other heroes of Cameroonian independence, Bassy embraces a listener (mostly in his ancestral language of Basaa) over minimal cello, trumpet, trombone, keyboards, and electronic pro...more

  • Indian Classical Singer Priya Darshini Incorporates a World of Influences

    Jun 10 2021

    Mumbai-born singer, composer, bandleader, and ultra-marathoner Priya Darshini is based in Brooklyn. Her musical studies range from Indian Classical music and ghazals (devotional songs) to jazz, and she has experience in Mumbai indie rock bands and on Bollywood film soundtracks besides. Darshini takes a cross-cultural approach to song for her original compositions from her Grammy-nominated debut record, Periphery. She joins us with a band that includes hammered dulcimer, bass, and drums, performi...more

  • Bachelor (Jay Som and Palehound): Mutual Fans and Collaborators

    Jun 07 2021

    Brooklyn-based Ellen Kempner (who performs as Palehound) and L.A.-based musician Melina Duterte (who performs as Jay Som), have joined forces as Bachelor – a friendship, not just a band. They play songs from their collaborative debut album, Doomin’ Sun, which combines vivid imagery, adventures in production, and an intimate sense of comfort. On June 10, the duo will present and perform at their first concert, Doomin’ Sun Fest, a livestream whose line-up includes Tegan & Sara, Adrianne Lenker...more

  • Gypsy Punks Gogol Bordello Turn Rage Into Joy (Archives)

    Jun 03 2021

    New York’s own gypsy punks Gogol Bordello have roots in Eastern European folk and Brecht-ian cabaret, along with punk and dub. With a band that usually includes accordion, fiddle, horns, percussion, jangly and electric guitars, Gogol frontman Eugene Hutz leads the turbo-charged “avalanche of rage-turned-joy,” whipping up frenzied crowds all over the world in every savage live performance. Their latest record, Seekers & Finders is coming for us all, and even features Regina Spektor as a guest...more

  • Singer Ala.Ni Captivates, Sets a Mood (Archives)

    May 31 2021

    The singer Ala.Ni has a cosmopolitan background: born in Britain to parents from Granada and now based in Paris. So it perhaps shouldn't be a surprise that her music is varied too. And yet, Ala.Ni’s forthcoming debut album, called You And I, is nothing but surprises. Often sounding like a long lost artifact of the mid-20th century, her striking voice goes from torchy jazz to intimate pop to atmospheric vocalise. Ala.Ni made her American radio debut, with guitarist Marvin Dolly in our studios, in...more

  • Banjo Innovators Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn, In-Studio (Archives)

    May 27 2021

    Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn have each – in their own separate ways during their separate careers – been reinventing the sound of the banjo. Bela has drawn on jazz, classical, rock, folk, and world music; Abigail is fluent in Mandarin and has used her voice and banjo to draw connections between Chinese and Appalachian music. Together, though, this husband and wife team has released a couple of albums that really go for the old fashioned front porch sound. Their 2017 record is Echo In The Vall...more

  • The Strength, Resilience, and Joy of Songwriter Allison Russell

    May 24 2021

    Nashville-based Montreal-born Scottish-Grenadian-Canadian multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, poet, mother, and runner Allison Russell (Birds of Chicago, Our Native Daughters, Po’ Girl) presents her autobiographical record, Outside Child, which sees her  breaking the cycles of abuse and violence and celebrating having found her chosen community and chosen family. Allison Russell and her band - some of the members of her musical community- play some of these songs from Outside Child remotely.

  • Pianist and Improviser Erika Dohi In Parallel, Solo, and With Friends

    May 20 2021

    Japanese-born, NYC-based pianist and composer Erika Dohi, is also one half of Contemporary Music Duo RighteousGIRLS. Her new record I, Castorpollux (37d03d) deals with duality, the idea of a “split self”–in works that float between composed and improvised music, as well as Dohi’s exploration of her Japanese-American identity, as well as pondering the idea of the multiverse, where there are alternate selves in parallel universes [as in Haruki Murakami’s novel 1Q84, or Spider-Man: Into the Spider-...more

  • The Tender Heartfelt Indie Folk of Old Sea Brigade

    May 17 2021

    Old Sea Brigade is the work of Nashville-based, Georgia-born musician Ben Cramer, who makes atmospheric Nashville-informed indie folk, infused with 80s synthpop and jangly guitars. "Cramer’s feathery vocals dovetail nicely with the guitars’ indie-rock-in-the-aughts sound," and the melodies are enhanced with warm synths and hazy production (John Schaefer). Old Sea Brigade plays songs from his new album Motivational Speaking, remotely.   "Mirror Moon":  "How It Works":  "Day by Day": 

  • Manchester Orchestra: No Rules and No Ceiling

    May 13 2021

    Atlanta-based Manchester Orchestra crafts cinematic, lush, long-form rock, with such detail about the characters, that it makes the stories even more believable on the songs from their latest record, The Million Masks of God. The band’s songwriting duo of Andy Hull and Robert McDowell, invokes the poem that inspired the album’s title, “Gold Leaves” by G.K. Chesterton, and talks about trying to find connections to the divine or the things that are in the way when searching. Hull and McDowell of M...more

  • The Soul of 'Sacred Steel' Virtuoso Robert Randolph and The Family Band (Archives)

    May 10 2021

    As a performer, Robert Randolph is nothing like the guys who play pedal steel in country music. He sets off pedal steel fireworks with his gospel-rooted soul-funk; he'll dance around the instrument, wrestle it, push it off its four legs, moved by the spirit - an ecstatic spectacle. Randolph, on his 2017 record Got Soul, continues to take the pedal steel where it has seldom been heard before – recruiting special guests like Hootie and the Blowfish singer Darius Rucker, R&B crooner Anthony Ham...more

  • Helado Negro Refracts Music Through a Latinx Lense (Archives)

    May 06 2021

    Since 2009, the Ecuadorian-American singer and songwriter Roberto Lange has been making records under the name Helado Negro (that’s “black ice cream” in Spanish.) His music has been literally bilingual, in the sense that he sings in both Spanish and English, but it’s also been metaphorically bilingual, with its mix of art and pop. 2016's Helado Negro album, Private Energy, responds to the Black Lives Matter movement, and contains some explicitly political material. They play some of those songs,...more

  • Gracie and Rachel: Intimate Orchestral Pop (Archives)

    May 03 2021

    Dark and light constantly fuse, diverge, and unite in Brooklyn violin-piano duo, Gracie and Rachel. Their 2015 debut album Go, begins with a single haunting note. Pizzicato violin from Rachel Ruggles and Gracie Coates' piano ebb and flow together in a rocking orchestral rhythm, while Gracie's milky vocals add a delicate layer of gothic pop on top. Gracie usually wears white, Rachel wears black. Together they make a kind of orchestral indie pop music that plays with light and dark, and they’ve be...more

  • Adrian Crowley's Songs Are True Stories and Born of Another Place

    Apr 29 2021

    Irish singer and songwriter Adrian Crowley is known for his often detailed but surreal storytelling, and for his rich baritone voice. Crowley says that his latest batch of songs “straddle the conscious and subconscious world and some are even psychedelic in my mind, but to me they are all at once true stories and born of another place.” Produced by John Parish (Aldous Harding, PJ Harvey) and featuring members of Portishead and Crash Ensemble, these tunes were initially composed on a “charity sho...more

  • The Steady Reinvention of Mexican Alt-Rockers Café Tacvba (Archives)

    Apr 26 2021

    The rock band Café Tacvba, (who sing exclusively in Spanish) is constantly opening new creative doors. They first formed in Mexico City in the 1990’s and consistently, over eight albums, they’ve shown themselves to be masters of reinvention and experimentation. They’ve played it all: techno-folk garage rock, pop, ambient electronica, instrumental music, even collaborated with Kronos Quartet, which brings us to their latest - Jei Beibi, which was recorded in Los Angeles in 2016 with their longtim...more

  • Music Adrift From Time By Shakey Graves

    Apr 22 2021

    Ten years ago, Alejandro Rose-Garcia released his debut album as Shakey Graves, featuring songs rooted in the haunted blues of the American South. The Texas Americana and roots-rock musician holds forth on learning fingerpicking from a song by Kansas, the legendary Dr. John, sports metaphors, and the making of music not of this time. Rose-Garcia has reissued a deluxe edition of that album, Roll The Bones X, and Shakey Graves plays some of those songs remotely.  Set list: “Built to Roam,” “Georgi...more

  • Emile Mosseri's Music Is Made to Tell Stories

    Apr 19 2021

    Emile Mosseri wrote the moving soundtrack to the family drama film Minari, (about a Korean-American family struggling to achieve the American dream in the 1980’s) and has been nominated for an Academy Award for it. (It's also up for best director, Lee Isaac Chung, and best film.) The pianist and songwriter also wrote the scores to The Last Black Man in San Francisco and Kajillionaire. He plays some of his Oscar-nominated music for Minari for us at the piano and drops a hint about his forthcoming...more

  • The Stretch Music of Trumpter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah (Archives)

    Apr 15 2021

    New Orleans trumpeter, composer, producer, and instrument designer Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah makes Stretch Music. Jazz-trained, he stretches and marries the seemingly disparate sounds of Trap Music (Southern hiphop, mixed with techno, dub, and dutch house), traditional West African percussion and New Orleanian Afro-Native American styles. Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah is also intent on using music as political protest to confront social issues. His 2017 record Ruler Rebel, the first in his C...more