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

  • Songs Without Words by Guitarist Yasmin Williams

    Jul 13 2020

    Yasmin Williams reinvents the guitar with a dazzling array of two-handed techniques, hammering, bowing, and percussion effects – but all in the service of the music. Music that dances, and, in its own way, sings. Her next full-length album, Urban Driftwood, both a beautifully melodic and, of course, percussive affair, is due out in the fall of 2020. Yasmin Williams shares her latest songs without words – featuring all her multi-tasking limbs - remotely, from her home in Virginia. 

  • Robert Glasper Experiment with Bilal (From the Archives)

    Jul 09 2020

    Robert Glasper draws together his parallel passions for hip hop and jazz on his 2012 release, Black Radio. In addition to his formal jazz training, the pianist has long navigated the nebulous territory between the two genres – working with artists like Q-Tip, Kanye West, and Erykah Badu. In 2012, The Robert Glasper Experiment (featuring Casey Benjamin, Derrick Hodge, and Chris Dave) joined us for a live set in the Greene Space with a special guest – “Black Radio” collaborator and Grammy-nominate...more

  • The Weather Station's Intimate Folk (From the Archives)

    Jul 06 2020

    The Weather Station's 2015 record Loyalty features eleven songs with that most laudable quality of sounding like they are being sung directly to the listener, and recorded in a small quiet room. Which is all the more remarkable for the fact that the album was actually made in a large tumbledown French chateau outside of Paris. But the intimacy captured on the record is no accident. It's the sound of The Weather Station principal Tamara Lindeman and just two multi-instrumentalist accomplices, who...more

  • Leon Bridges: Polishing The Golden Era Anew (From the Archives)

    Jul 02 2020

    Nostalgia permeates the blood running through Leon Bridges' debut album, Coming Home. It's unusual for a 25-year-old to be so plugged into the Golden Age of soul and R&B, but with an expansive online music education and an influential mother from the era, it's hard not to be. The Fort Worth native's music is haunted by Sam Cooke's swaying rhythms and Nat King Cole's smooth romance, yet Bridges doesn't get lost in wistfulness.  The album outlines a world in vintage bass lines and delicate per...more

  • The Continuing Aural Adventures in Kaki King's Guitar Family

    Jun 29 2020

    Guitarist Kaki King is perhaps best-known for her virtuosic instrumental guitar compositions and extended technique, but she’s also written songs, chamber music, and film scores. She’s come up with innovations that change the nature of the guitar itself; she taps, she bends, she projects onto the guitar body, and now she has added a bridge called a Passerelle to her guitar. A Passerelle is a bridge that turns any regular six string guitar into a twelve note zither-like creation that can produce ...more

  • Trent Reznor And Atticus Ross On The Sound Of 'Gone Girl'

    Jun 25 2020

    Trent Reznor is a thoughtful composer and meticulous sonic manipulator. With Nine Inch Nails, he has constructed ominous, seething and often abrasive songs and dense albums built upon infinite layers of sounds, invoking feelings of pain, rage and doom. And together with British composer, audio engineer, and longtime collaborator Atticus Ross, he has scored David Fincher's The Social Network (2010), The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (2011) -- which won a Grammy, and in 2014, Gone Girl. For that fil...more

  • Jake Blount Transforms American Roots Music

    Jun 22 2020

    Jake Blount is a singer, fiddler, banjo player, and scholar of old time American music –he’s especially interested in the deep roots of the African-American music of the southeast, where his own family is from. And given that this is Pride month, it’s probably worth mentioning he’s a board member of the group Bluegrass Pride as well. Jake has just released his first full-length album, called Spider Tales – a reference to Anansi, the West African trickster figure who takes the shape of a spider. ...more

  • The Relatives: Gospel Funk In The Greene Space (From the Archives)

    Jun 18 2020

    In the early 1970's, veteran Dallas gospel singer Rev. Gean West and his brother Tommie formed The Relatives, a band that pulled together traditional gospel and soul with psychedelia and funk and earned a reputation for their fiery live shows. While the band toured nationally, they recorded only three singles, apparently pressing small batches of 45's that never seemed to get any traction outside of North Texas. And unfortunately after recording their final session with legendary engineer Phil Y...more

  • John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats Takes It Back to the Boombox

    Jun 15 2020

    Songwriter, guitarist, bestselling novelist, former nurse, and the mastermind behind The Mountain Goats, John Darnielle delivered an April surprise: a boombox album of songs. As he writes on The Mountain Goats Bandcamp page, "pandemics call for wild measures" - and this was one thing he could do to offset the cost of a cancelled spring tour. The album was inspired by the Pierre Chuvin book A Chronicle of the Last Pagans, and recorded with his trusty boombox to cassette, with stories - "told in b...more

  • Celestial Hymns By Pedal Steel Guitarist Luke Schneider

    Jun 11 2020

    You might have heard the weepy twang of Nashville-based Luke Schneider playing pedal Steel with Margo Price, or more recently with Orville Peck. But Schneider has just released a new record of experimental and dreamy drone music for the end of the world, called Altar of Harmony. No matter how unrecognizable it might sound, this is ambient atmospheric music made with only the pedal steel guitar (a 1967 Emmons Push/Pull pedal steel guitar, to be precise), and processing (shout-out to Electro-Harmo...more

  • British Artist Jessie Ware Finds Her Spotlight (From the Archives)

    Jun 08 2020

    English singer-songwriter and podcaster Jessie Ware's profile has grown very quickly into stardom in just a few years. With her new album, What's Your Pleasure?, due this June 2020, we revisit a studio visit from 2014, on the release of her second album. Written in three different cities - -New York, Los Angeles, and her home in London- Jessie Ware's Tough Love showcased Ware's skill as a songwriter and singer, while maintaining her South London charm amid the spotlight.  In a conversation with ...more

  • John Cale's 'Shifty Adventures'

    Jun 04 2020

    John Cale made rock history as a founding member of The Velvet Underground in the 1960s. He's also a composer, singer, songwriter, and record producer. He's long been a part of the musical avant-garde, working with the first of the so-called minimalist composers, and later with people like Brian Eno. He sings and can play guitar, bass, keyboards and viola.  Cale dropped by with his band in 2012 to perform songs from his album Shifty Adventures In Nookie Wood and to talk about his days with The V...more

  • Composer and Producer Emily Wells Scales Back to Elemental

    Jun 01 2020

    Violinist, singer, keyboardist and drummer Emily Wells is a producer and composer capable of producing a full band sound; her series of “symphonies” turned her voice and live-looped violin, drums, percussion, and effects into a one-woman orchestra. In 2019, she released her swirling and dramatic chamber-pop collection, This World Is Too _____ For You, complete with a string quintet and French horn. Now, Emily Wells has revisited some of those grand cinematic songs on her latest record, In the Da...more

  • Janka Nabay: Bubu Music With An Indie Rock Twist

    May 28 2020

    The songs of singer Janka Nabay (aka "the Bubu King") mix a regional folk music from his native Sierra Leone called bubu with the high-octane sounds of Brooklyn's vibrant Afropop scene. Bubu music has found new fans in the indie rock community thanks to its driving rhythms and psychedelic guitar riffs. Janka Nabay and the Bubu Gang's record En Yay Sah is both political and highly danceable, while revamping some of the classic bubu sounds. In this in-studio visit from 2012, Janka Nabay and the Bu...more

  • Filmmaker Alex Gibney: 'Sinatra Grew Up With America' (From the Archives)

    May 25 2020

    Ol' Blue Eyes. The Chairman of the Board. Frank Sinatra has been called a lot of things—not all of them flattering—but there's no denying his stature as a true American icon.  Oscar-winning documentarian Alex Gibney turns his lens on the singer for the film, which came out in 2015, in time for the singer's 100th birthday. Sinatra: All Or Nothing At All chronicles the unlikely rise of the kid from Hoboken, through his peerless celebrity years, and centers around Sinatra's 1971 "Retirement Concert...more

  • Overcoats Fight To Feel Excited for the Future

    May 20 2020

    The NY-based indie-pop duo Overcoats latest, 'The Fight,' was birthed in March 2020 - the "before times." They preview a benefit online festival, called The Fight For NYC,” which they've curated and are playing in, and share new songs from the record. 

  • Courtney Barnett, In The Greene Space (From the Archives)

    May 18 2020

    Courtney Barnett's songs are wild, shaggy and wordy, mixing witty, mundane, and sometimes heartbreaking observations with devastating self-assessment. And with a sound rooted in the slack jangle of the late 1980s and the early 1990s, Barnett delivers plainspoken lyrics and roll off the tongue as if she's thinking them up on the spot. You can hear that in her break-out song "Avant Gardener" or in "Pedestrian At Best," from  2015's superb album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit,...more

  • Bandleader, Comedian, and Beatboxer Reggie Watts (From the Archives)

    May 14 2020

    Vocal artist, comedian, actor, beatboxer, musician, and bandleader Reggie Watts is versatile and unpredictable. But to watch him do his thing live, is even more extraordinary. He's masterful at looping layer upon layer of beats and rhythms, melodies and countermelodies, entirely with his voice, to create a dense and soulful, hip-hop-infused sound. And his hilarious lyrics seem to be pulled out of thin air, improvised with impossibly quick wit. Watch Reggie Watts demonstrate his brilliant skills ...more

  • Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers (From the Archives)

    May 11 2020

    Actor, author, and comedian Steve Martin released his debut album as a banjo player in 2009, but he first picked up the instrument as a teenager and later incorporated it into his hit stand-up act during the 1970's. He joined us back in 2011 with his band from North Carolina, the Steep Canyon Rangers, playing songs from his Grammy-nominated album, Rare Bird Alert, in this session from the archives. (Recorded live in The Greene Space)

  • Ed Helms, on Making Old-Timey Magic for The Whiskey Sour Happy Hour

    May 07 2020

    Banjo player, comedian, actor, and musician Ed Helms has combined music and comedy in an online show for the pandemic era, The Whiskey Sour Happy Hour, presented by The Bluegrass Situation. He joins John to talk about making old-timey magic, with music performed by the featured artists like Aubrie Sellers and her mother Lee Ann Womack, multi-instrumentalist Robert Ellis and his glorious robe, and Helms himself. Plus, a discussion of that scene of Helms playing the sitar in the Christmas party ep...more

  • Legendary Drummer Tony Allen (From the Archives)

    May 04 2020

    Pioneering drummer Tony Allen, who was called “perhaps the greatest drummer who has ever lived" by Brian Eno, has died in Paris, at the age of 79. Allen was the longtime drummer and musical director for the Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti where his unique, propulsive, funky, innovative drum patterns helped to define the style known as Afrobeat. He was self-taught and said that he created that signature sound through listening to recordings of Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers and Max Roach. A l...more

  • Soul Singer Charles Bradley (From the Archives)

    Apr 30 2020

    The late funk and R&B singer Charles Bradley’s life story was one filled with poverty, struggle and unappreciated talent. But after catching the eye of a Daptone Records agent (while doing a James Brown routine in a Bushwick club) Charles Bradley put out several singles and several full-length releases on Daptone. His debut record was called No Time For Dreaming, and the soulful singer was in-studio to sing some of it live, back in 2011.

  • Parquet Courts Thrashes With Elegance (From the Archives)

    Apr 27 2020

    Parquet Courts exploded into New York music fans’ collective consciousness in early 2013, with the release of their blistering post-punk LP, Light Up Gold. They formed in Brooklyn, in 2010, but its members all met in Texas years before. Lean and urgent like the best of the early punk rock bands, Parquet Courts’ output is of mostly short and spunky songs, written by guitarists Andrew Savage and Austin Brown. They performed in-studio for us, back in early 2013. Set List: "Master Of My Craft"/"Bor...more

  • Regina Spektor, In-Studio (From the Archives)

    Apr 23 2020

    Songwriter, pianist, and singer Regina Spektor was born in the then-Soviet Union and moved to the States on the cusp of her teenage years. She began playing small cafes and clubs, before moving up to big arenas, and in 2019, a run of shows at a Broadway theater. Her songs are full of charm, wit, and surprises, and very often portray an outsider trying to make sense of things. This session from 2012, was around the time of her release What We Saw From the Cheap Seats. Here’s Regina Spektor, in-st...more

  • Jon Batiste and Stay Human, In-Studio (From the Archives)

    Apr 20 2020

    Pianist, composer, and bandleader Jon Batiste comes from a long line of New Orleans musicians, and got his start playing in his family’s band as a percussionist when he was just 8. Now based in New York as the musical director for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, we sometimes forget what a formidable musician he is. Jazz, funk, R & B, even classical music – he plays it all. It’s clear that most chances he gets, he’d gladly lead a parade just about anywhere with his “mouth piano,” but for ...more

  • Robyn Hitchcock and the Venus 3, In-Studio (From the Archives)

    Apr 16 2020

    In his four decades writing songs and playing them alone or with friends, the English-born Nashville-based singer-songwriter Robyn Hitchcock has earned a devoted fan base. His songs can mix gleeful surrealism, sexual frustration, drinking, death, sadness, spiders, snakes, and the occasional movie quote. Never one to be at a loss for words, and possessed of the greatest patterned shirt collection in all of folk-alt-psych-pop-dom, the singer-songwriter, guitarist, harmonica player, and pianist Rob...more

  • Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Live (From the Archives)

    Apr 13 2020

    For many years, the late, great soul singer Sharon Jones played wedding gigs while working as a corrections officer. Then, in her forties, for her second act, came a record deal and a partnership with the Dap-Kings, a band whose resume includes work with such artists as Amy Winehouse and Al Green, Sturgill Simpson, Kesha, and Mark Ronson. Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings became known for their roof-raising shows, fiery horn section, and of course, the defiant yet vulnerable vocals of their singer...more

  • English and German Punk Band, Art Brut, In-Studio (From the Archives)

    Apr 09 2020

    In 2005, the band Art Brut burst upon the indie rock scene with an album of hilarious, half-spoken stories and manic, melodic punk. For this archival podcast, revisit a performance from the Berlin-based post-punk art rock band, Art Brut, who had just released the 2009 album Art Brut Vs Satan. They joined us to play live and talk about putting the fun back in rock’n’roll. P.S., try their 2018 album, Wham! Bang! Pow! Let's Rock Out!  

  • Bill Withers, on "Still Bill" (From the Archives)

    Apr 06 2020

    One of the sweetest voices of soul’s golden era in the 1970s, Bill Withers is best known for hits like “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Lean on Me,” about growing up in a West Virginia coal mining town. In 2010, Withers joined us in studio to talk about the documentary Still Bill, which chronicled his life and career. Bill Withers, the artist behind the classic “Just the Two of Us,” and “Grandma's Hands,” (it was his favorite song), died on Friday at 81.

  • Kimbra: Making 'Vows,' In The Studio (From the Archives)

    Apr 02 2020

    New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra joined us with her band and an impressive array of pedals, playing songs from her album Vows back in 2012. You might recognize her from her guest vocals on Gotye's multi-platinum hit "Somebody That I Used To Know." She also appeared in the viral video for that song as well - wearing nothing but a coat of paint. Kimbra joined us with her band and an impressive array of pedals for an in-studio performance, playing songs from Vows. She blew us away with her powe...more

  • Oldies of the Future (From the Archives)

    Mar 30 2020

    In recent years, oldies radio stations have inched further into the future - and have begun to focus on favorites from the '70s (and even '80s) rather than from the '50s and '60s. So we wondered, forty years from now - in 2052 - will songs of the '90s, '00s and '10s make it onto oldies radio? What will be in heavy rotation - and what will be left off of the playlist? We ask Chris Molanphy - author of the "100 & Single" Billboard charts column in the Village Voice – and we talk with Scott Sha...more

  • Cuban Pianist Roberto Fonseca Presents Music From His Latest Record

    Mar 26 2020

    Grammy-nominated Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca presents an infusion of rap, funk, reggaeton and electronic music, performing songs from his latest record in studio. Yesun is the Havana-born artist’s ninth solo album, it explores the music of his homeland, and incorporates electronic beats, spoken word, and retro-modern keyboards. "[It's] the album I’ve always wanted to make, all my influences are here. All the sounds and vibes that make me who I am.” - Rosa Gollan Watch the session here:

  • Bartees Strange presents his heartfelt homage to The National, In Studio

    Mar 23 2020

    Oklahoma-raised, Brooklyn- and DC-based artist Bartees Strange presents his re-imaginings of songs by The National in studio. Both a heartfelt homage and a political act of critique, he takes inspiration from the music, the lyrics, and even the cover art to examine how black artists can find room in white spaces. The idea for his debut EP, Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy (out March 13), started when Strange attended a concert of The National in 2019 and he was surprised by how few black people were th...more

  • Montreal Cellist Rebecca Foon Lifts Her Voice in Concern

    Mar 19 2020

    Rebecca Foon, the cellist, producer, composer and climate activist, is a central part of the Montreal new music scene. She's a former member of Thee Silver Mt. Zion, co-founded the progressive chamber band Esmerine, and created albums of cello and electronic soundscapes under the name Saltland. But her new album features a lot more piano, other instruments, and the the quiet kick of her own cello-like voice. The album’s called Waxing Moon, and it’s come out under Rebecca Foon’s own name. Cellist...more

  • The Dark Drone of Dublin Folk Miscreants Lankum, In-Studio

    Mar 16 2020

    The quartet of “Dublin folk miscreants” called Lankum reworks traditional folk songs so that they are infused with an “urban punk” vibe as well as some psychedelic drone. Made of brothers Ian Lynch (uillean pipes, tin whistle, vocals), Daragh Lynch (vocals, guitar) alongside Cormac Mac Diarmada (fiddle) and Radie Peat (harmonium, accordion, vocals), the band deconstructs and reassembles traditional Irish songs, allowing them to grow and breathe, yet bathing them in a dark and raw energy. Lankum’...more

  • The World/Inferno Friendship Society Pushes on Limits of Punk

    Mar 10 2020

    The Brooklyn-based collective The World/Inferno Friendship Society is a righteous gumbo of dark cabaret, which might touch on punk, ska, blues, rockenroll, klezmer, gospel, and jazz. With catchy tunes, and pizzazz-filled energy, World/Inferno pushes the limits of what could possibly be perceived as punk rock. Their brand-new record is hot off the presses, All Borders Are Porous To Cats, and it brings the band to make some mischief, in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Watch the live session here:

  • Katie Gately's Spectral Electronic Songs, In-Studio

    Mar 09 2020

    In her music, singer and producer Katie Gately delivers spectral singing, layers of electronics, and an array of unusual sampled sounds for an effect that is unsettling, yet somehow inviting. Her latest record, Loom, was created in reaction to her late mother's illness, and is a lovely and challenging soundworld into which she poured her heart. Katie Gately performs some of these songs, in-studio. Watch the session here: 

  • Jack Penate Seeks To Inspire, Comfort With 'After You'

    Mar 05 2020

    British singer-songwriter Jack Penate gets spiritual with soul and mysticism, and throws down raw emotion with pop polish. He reflects about his decade of hiatus and cites his inspirations: Turkish and Iranian psychedelic music as well as the influence of powerful classic gospel by the Chicago Pastor T. L. Barrett and his youth-focused ministry. Also, he talks about scouting the dramatic cliffs, stone quarry, and cave in Dorset as part of the video shoot for "Murder," and poetry by his grandfath...more

  • Modern Malian Singer Fatoumata Diawara Respects Her Roots

    Mar 02 2020

    Malian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor Fatoumata Diawara is a multiple Grammy Award nominee, currently living in Paris. "Fatou" Diawara has become an enthusiastic collaborator - with musicians from other African countries - Cheikh Lô, AfroCubism, and Orchestra Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - as well as rock stars like Damon Albarn and Flea and traditional players from Cuba and Brittany. She has also worked as a social activist, campaigning against the trafficking and sale of black migrants in L...more

  • Filmic Down-Tuned Piano Music By Dutch Composer Joep Beving

    Feb 28 2020

    Dutch pianist and composer Joep Beving records for the world’s most prestigious classical music label, but his streaming numbers are more like a pop star. He creates introspective and often filmic instrumental piano compositions, representing a quest for essence and beauty. Beving plays one piece from each of his mostly solo piano records on a down-tuned piano (A=432), in-studio.  - Caryn Havlik Watch the session here:   

  • Pop and Protest Music by Puerto Rican singer-songwriter iLe

    Feb 24 2020

    Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Ileana Mercedes Cabra Joglar – is better known as iLe - but for a long time she was known as PG-13, in the Puerto Rican hip-hop group Calle 13. Her 2016 solo debut, iLevitable, was a masterful survey of traditional Latin forms - boleros, ballads, boogaloo, and mambo. Now, with her latest, Almadura (the title means “strong soul” and is a play on words of the Spanish word for "armor" ("armadura") - thanks, Wikipedia) she draws from traditional musical genres li...more

  • Omar Sosa and Yilian Cañizares Reinterpret Cuban Roots, In-Studio

    Feb 20 2020

    Pianist Omar Sosa grew up in the Afro-Cuban tradition, studied jazz in America, and now lives in Barcelona. Yilian loves to go back to her Cuban roots but refuses to be locked into stereotypes. Together, these two Cuban artists living outside their homeland blend Afro-Cuban roots, jazz, and Western Classical music in work inspired by the important influences of water – and called AGUAS Trio. Omar Sosa and Yilian Cañizares (Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles) play live in our studio. Watch ...more

  • Bonny Light Horseman Takes New Look at Old Folk Songs

    Feb 17 2020

    Bonny Light Horseman is a new trio consisting of Anais Mitchell, the songwriter behind the all-conquering Broadway musical Hadestown; Eric D Johnson, who leads the band Fruit Bats; and Josh Kaufman, who’s played with The National, Craig Finn, and many others. Together they are taking a new look at old folk songs from both sides of the Atlantic. The band name is actually from an old Napoleonic folk song about a handsome soldier who may or may not ever come home (here's their version.) With intima...more

  • The Mighty and Relentless Groove of the Funky, Afrobeat Band Antibalas

    Feb 14 2020

    The 12-piece plus Afrobeat orchestra known as Antibalas (Spanish for "bulletproof") first made its reputation with hard-hitting, politically charged music in the style of the Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti. In the more than 20 years that they've been playing together, the Brooklyn collective served as the house band and musical directors for the Broadway show Fela!, in addition to being the house band at Carnegie Hall at tribute shows performing the music of Paul Simon (2014), David Byrne and Tal...more

  • Acoustic Storytelling From The Lone Bellow

    Feb 09 2020

    Brooklyn-born folk-rock outfit The Lone Bellow blends passionate, acoustic-based blues, country, and roots music into acoustic Americana with three-part vocal harmonies. That sound can be a very comforting one, but the trio has responded to our turbulent times with their most expansive album yet. With a big sonic palette that acknowledges the darkness but also offers reassurance and togetherness, their brand new album called Half Moon Light might be just what we need right now. The Lone Bellow j...more

  • The Wild Ride of Nashville-Based Indie-Rockers The Grahams

    Feb 05 2020

    New York grown, Nashville-based couple Alyssa and Doug Graham lead the roots-rock band The Grahams. With their 2013 debut record, they hit the Americana scene, continuing with their 2015  followup, influenced by the couple’s train adventure all over America. And now comes Kids Like Us, written during a wild motorcycle ride along Route 66, at the height of the 2016 election season. The Grahams and their band play guitar-led songs about the desert, heartbreak, rust, and nostalgia, from Kids Like U...more

  • Norwegian Bass Player Sigurd Hole Explores Light and Dark

    Feb 02 2020

    The Norwegian bass player Sigurd Hole is generally thought of as a jazz musician, and for good reason – he’s played with many of the top players like Tord Gustavsen trio/quartet, Karl Seglem, and Helge Lien on Norway’s thriving jazz scene. But he’s also a composer, and his most recent project is at once both intimate and ambitious. It’s a double LP set called Lys/Mørke, which means Light/Darkness, and it’s essentially a solo bass album. But it was recorded on an Arctic island and those sounds ar...more

  • 'Gregorian Country Music' By Guitarist-Songwriter Torres

    Jan 29 2020

    Mackenzie Scott has made ever-evolving pop throughout the 2010’s as TORRES. Raised in Bible-belt Georgia, she learned to sing and play the guitar in front of the residents of a senior citizens center. Building on her 2015 self-described “space cowboy record,” her latest, Silver Tongue, is an album about being in love, and one where she embraces both her love of Gregorian chant and country music (and her inner "redneck alien" - Vinyl Me Please.) The silver-tongued guitarist, songwriter and produc...more

  • Survival Music by Post-Punk Power Quartet Algiers

    Jan 27 2020

    The London/Atlanta band called Algiers makes “churning, electrifying gospel-inflected rock, with singer Franklin James Fisher leading his congregation in songs that take on social injustice, racism, and government corruption” (Schaefer.) Fisher’s ferocious crooning over a whip-tight rhythm section of Ryan Mahan (bass, beat programming and synth constructions) and drummer Matt Tong (ex-Bloc Party), together with guitarist/saxophone player Lee Tesche’s sound-sleeves always leaves more to discover ...more

  • The Eloquent Musical Interplay of the Anat Cohen Tentet

    Jan 23 2020

    Tel Aviv-born, New York-based Anat Cohen is a multiple Grammy-nominated clarinetist, composer, and bandleader whose Anat Cohen Tentet ranges from chamber-funk to large and sensuous orchestral jazz, from Brazilian music to African grooves, vintage swing to tango, boogaloo to ballads. Their latest album, Triple Helix, has been nominated for a Grammy and is built around a three part clarinet concerto, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall and Chicago’s Symphony Center,and written by Anat’s longtime musi...more

  • Agnes Obel Delights in the Quiet Recesses of the Inner Mind

    Jan 20 2020

    Berlin-based Danish singer, pianist, and composer Agnes Obel presents her ghostly, beautiful, classical chamber music-informed self-produced art-pop. Listen for luthéal (a kind of mechanism that can make a piano sound like a harp or cimbalom), piano, viola, cello, percussion, and lots of dreamy, ethereal vocals, asking questions about trust and doubt. For the latest record, Myopia, Obel experimented with recording processing, warping and pitching down vocals, melting and twisting the chamber mus...more

  • Ethio-Jazzer Meklit Invites Us Into Joy

    Jan 16 2020

    San Francisco-based Ethio-American singer, composer, songwriter and bandleader Meklit Hadero, is a TED Senior Fellow, National Geographic Explorer, and co-founder of the visionary pan-African Nile Project ensemble. With a sound that merges Addis Ababa, Los Angeles, New Orleans and San Francisco, Meklit’s approach as bandleader sees two percussionists, groovy sax and bass. Singing in both English and Amharic, she delivers Ethio-roots-jazz with a heavy dose of pop and soul that makes bodies move. ...more

  • Les Amazones d’Afrique Team Up in Music and Power

    Jan 12 2020

    Les Amazones d’Afrique is a creative collective of women from West and Central Africa, formed in Mali in 2014. At their strongest, they are 16 multi-generational vocalists spanning Africa, Europe and Latin America. The music blends electronic sounds, African traditional sounds, reggae and hip-hop elements together with cool harmonies and grooves, and the Congotronix-style production of legendary producer Doctor L (aka Liam Farrell.) Members of Les Amazones d’Afrique may come from many different ...more

  • Gypsy Jazz Guitarist Stephane Wrembel's Hot Django-Inspired String-Swing

    Jan 09 2020

    French-born, NYC-based jazz guitarist Stephane Wrembel, a leading player and improviser in "gypsy jazz," has recorded with mandolin legend David Grisman, toured with master violinist Mark O’Connor, and famously wrote a theme song for a Woody Allen film, Midnight In Paris. The Gitane guitar company has even named a model after him.  Wrembel honed his "gypsy jazz" skills in Roma campsites in the French countryside and has championed music of the brilliant Belgian-born Romani-French guitarist Djang...more

  • Attacca Quartet Plays Caroline Shaw in the Greene Space

    Jan 06 2020

    The Attacca Quartet performs music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Caroline Shaw and chats about collaborating with a living composer, gardens, and Star Wars. The music and interview were recorded live in the Greene Space for the 10th anniversary marathon in April 2019.  Set list:  Entr’Acte Plan and Elevation Punctum Valencia

  • Party Horns and Drums of Red Baraat, From Brooklyn Bowl

    Jan 02 2020

    The group Red Baraat has become synonymous with a raucous good time, a celebratory mix of bhangra – the dance music of the Punjab region, New Orleans horns, go-go and a bit of hip-hop besides. They’re led by drummer-composer Sunny Jain, who plays the dhol, a traditional two-headed drum slung over the shoulder. A talented and energetic army of horns, guitar, and percussion instruments rounds out the lineup, wedding the bhangra roots of the dhol to a N’awlins brass funk ‘n’ street party. The band ...more

  • Best of Soundcheck 2019, Part 2

    Dec 30 2019

    Hear some of the best performances from the Soundcheck Podcast series from 2019, including spacey folky confessional electro-pop by Helado Negro and new hooky pop from British guitar band Bombay Bicycle Club. Also, hear joyous folklore-infused electro-chamber music using Haitian women's voices, flute, and strings, from Nathalie Joachim & Spektral Quartet. Listen to “Worthy,” a mostly acoustic, yet powerful assurance from Grammy-winning singer/songwriter/producer India.Arie. Plus, sweaty cosm...more

  • Best of Soundcheck 2019, Part 1

    Dec 26 2019

    Hear some of the best performances from the Soundcheck Podcast series from 2019, like the tropical psych-rock from NYC-based quartet Combo Chimbita and the slamming wordplay in work by London's Kate Tempest, a poet, rapper, and spoken word performer. There's also collaborative music from soul singer Emily King and chamber band yMusic. Then, Baltimore-based electronic duo Matmos share some of their sampled "audio gold" mines from the sounds of nothing but plastics. Plus hear the crafty chamber-ja...more

  • Banjo Master Tony Trischka and Friends Celebrate the Winter Holidays

    Dec 23 2019

    Banjo master Tony Trischka and sacred harp tunester and multi-instrumentalist Tim Eriksen, with fiddler Hannah Read, mandolinist Dominick Leslie, bassist Larry Cook, and drummer Sean Trischka play seasonal tunes turned loose on Bluegrass and Americana. Trischka and Eriksen and crew revel in little-known songs and carols, working in the haunting sound of shape note music that might date back to the Revolutionary era. Tony Trischka and friends play a few of these tunes, in-studio. - Caryn Havlik W...more

  • Black Violin Challenges Stereotypes With "Classical Boom" Sound

    Dec 19 2019

    From J.S. Bach to Biggie Smalls, Shostakovich to Nas, and the odd Tchaikovsky or Imagine Dragons, the classical-meets-hip-hop duo Black Violin continually challenges stereotypes with their music. Composed of classically trained violist and violinist Wil Baptiste and Kev Marcus, Black Violin combines musical ingredients of jazz, hip-hop, funk, and classical to create a distinctive sound that is described in their press as “classical boom.” Black Violin's Wil and Kev also connect with more than 10...more

  • Black Belt Eagle Scout Shares Community With Songs

    Dec 16 2019

    Black Belt Eagle Scout is the work of Oregon-based singer and multi-instrumentalist Katherine Paul, whose songs often draw on her Native American (specifically Swinomish) heritage. KP identifies as a radical indigenous queer feminist, and some of her lyrics touch on her being a water protector, connected to the land, and a womxn. Her latest record, At the Party With My Brown Friends, explores love, desire and friendship. Black Belt Eagle Scout and her band play some of these songs, in-studio. Wa...more

  • Guitarist Thurston Moore's Spirit Counsel, In-Studio

    Dec 12 2019

    During his four decades making music, Thurston Moore has been many things – guitarist, composer, improviser, collaborator, co-founder of the trailblazing rock band Sonic Youth. His new project might be his most ambitious yet.  It’s a 3-record set of expansive, guitar-driven sonic meditations called Spirit Counsel. Radical guitarist Thurston Moore and his co-conspirators present these altered states based in guitars, in-studio, and in tribute to some of the musicians and art that have influenced ...more

  • Vintage and Modern Philly Soul From Son Little

    Dec 09 2019

    Son Little is a singer, songwriter, and multi instrumentalist based in Philadelphia, born Aaron Earl Livingston to a preacher and a teacher in Los Angeles. He cites Stevie Wonder and Jimi Hendrix as heroes, and has collaborated with both The Roots and RJD2. Little's music blends a bit old Philly soul with R&B and classic rock. But Son Little isn’t rehashing earlier styles – he’s made something new and personal out of those familiar old elements. His third album, called Aloha, comes out at th...more

  • Gloria Gaynor Gives 'Testimony' With Gospel-Roots Groove Music

    Dec 04 2019

    New Jersey-born and Grammy Award-winning superstar singer Gloria Gaynor might be best-known for her disco-era hits, but she has deep gospel roots and with her 2019 release, Testimony, she gives powerful voice to these roots. She cites as influences Blind Boys of Alabama, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi and Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, and watching her brothers perform as a gospel quartet (Cross Rhythms Radio.) While she had recorded a Christian music record to go with her 2013 book, We Wi...more

  • Robbie Robertson Leans In the Direction of Noir

    Dec 02 2019

    Canadian musician, film composer, and songwriter Robbie Robertson is probably best known as the lead guitarist in The Band. He’s written written a wide variety of music over the years, not just for The Band. On the release of both the score for The Irishman and his first solo record in years, Sinematic, Robertson talks us through several main events.

  • Jangle Rockers Real Estate, From Brooklyn Bowl

    Nov 28 2019

    Brooklyn rockers Real Estate (their home state is New Jersey) are a self-admitted “indie band that should become a jam band.” Their bright and jangly songs are laid-back, with tidy clean guitars and “unfussy” drums (The Quietus) that might evoke the sounds of R.E.M., Big Star or Teenage Fanclub, for some. There’s a new record coming in 2020, along with a tour, but this past June of 2019, Real Estate played a mighty set for New York Public Radio at Brooklyn Bowl. Here are some of their latest tun...more

  • Drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science, In-Studio

    Nov 25 2019

    Grammy Award-winning drummer, producer, collaborator, and educator Terri Lyne Carrington is a drummer’s drummer whose laudable technique, creative choices, and tasteful flow speak to wide listening, and intense focus. Carrington is also the director of Berklee’s Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, working towards a vision of “jazz without patriarchy.” (NY Times) She’s played with countless jazz luminaries over her career, and has gathered many more for her new band, Social Science; pianist Aar...more

  • Saxophonist Matana Roberts Carves Out Her Own Musical Space

    Nov 20 2019

    Composer, saxophonist, and mixed media artist Matana Roberts presents her latest in the multi-chapter work Coin Coin project which documents the African-American cultural and historical experience. “Memphis,” which is chapter four, mixes jazz, blues, traditional songs, free improv, and Afro-futurism into a heavy sonic quilt of “21st century liberation music.” (Matana Roberts calls her approach “panoramic sound quilting.”) She "speaks memory," and "sings an American survival" in this chapter of t...more

  • Olivia Jean's Unusual Mix of Surf-Infused 'Bubblegum Garage'

    Nov 18 2019

    Detroit-born Nashville-based guitarist and songwriter Olivia Jean worked as a hairstylist and makeup artist before she was able to make music full-time (Mariana Timony, Bandcamp Daily.) She first cut her teeth as a Third Man Records studio musician, then with the garage-goth band, The Black Belles. She released her debut solo record of “bubblegum garage” Bathtub Love Killings in 2014, which had some heartache, revenge, and a bit of delightfully dark strangeness to it. Now with her latest, 2019's...more

  • Yasser Tejeda y Palotré Celebrate Ancestral Dominican Traditions

    Nov 13 2019

    Brooklyn-based guitarist and composer Yasser Tejada & the group Palotré combine African-rooted Dominican traditional folk styles and fuse them with r&b, church gospel, funk, jazz, and rock into a celebration of Afro-Dominican culture. They play this roots and funk fusion from their brand-new record, Kijombo, in-studio.  Watch the session here: 

  • Singer and Songwriter Tom Goss Tells Stories That Need To Be Told

    Nov 11 2019

    LA-based singer and songwriter Tom Goss is a romantic who tells overlooked stories through soulful vocals and lush pop soundscapes. A former Catholic seminarian turned guitar- and keyboard-toting troubadour, Tom is known for his songs about love (some inspired by his husband Mike, whom he married in October 2010), and all of its complexities. He's taken up the cause to raise awareness about same-sex domestic violence and partnered with Trevor Project and PFLAG, in an effort to give LGBTQ youth h...more

  • Benny Gebert's Piano Music Holds Promise of Serenity

    Nov 07 2019

    Sound artist, songwriter, pianist, and composer Benny Gebert is one-half of the Brooklyn-based pop group HAERTS. For his latest solo adventure, Triptych, he combined the sounds of nature through open windows and used three pianos to create zen-like sound sculptures. He joins us to perform some of his inviting and serene piano-based instrumentals.  

  • Orchestral Pop Band San Fermin's Enchanting Grandeur

    Nov 04 2019

    Brooklyn-based orchestral pop outfit San Fermin has a reputation for grand and enchanting music. Led by songwriter and composer Ellis Ludwig-Leone, and joined by new collaborators Attacca Quartet and harpist Lavinia Meijer, as well as talented vocalists and bandmates who play violin, trumpet, sax, percussion, and guitars, San Fermin's latest, ‘Cormorant I,’ is both a search for the profound and a dose of nostalgic reflection. Although the full record combines the elegance of chamber music and th...more

  • Nathalie Joachim and Spektral Quartet, In-Studio

    Oct 31 2019

    Haitian-American composer Nathalie Joachim is the co-artistic director and flutist of the Grammy-winning contemporary chamber ensemble Eighth Blackbird, and one half of the art-pop duo, Flutronix. She's worked with Bryce Dessner, Bonnie “Prince” Billy, Richard Reed Parry, Miguel Zenón, and the International Contemporary Ensemble as well. Her latest, with Chicago-based string ensemble Spektral Quartet, is "Fanm d’Ayiti" (Women of Haiti), a joyous and magic-infused work celebrating Haitian song, a...more

  • Folk-Rocker Frank Turner Shares Lesser-Known Stories in Songs

    Oct 28 2019

    The English singer-songwriter Frank Turner who was once a vocalist for hardcore band Million Dead – has become a folk-punk troubadour, spinning jangly songs with punk intensity that often respond to social and political situations. Frank’s latest record, No Man’s Land, is a collection of songs about overlooked historical figures – Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Christa McAuliffe, "Nica" Rothschild - many of whom happen to women. He joins us to play a solo set in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Watch the session ...more

  • Bombay Bicycle Club Finds Solace in Music

    Oct 24 2019

    British guitar band Bombay Bicycle Club cites New York bands like LCD Soundsystem, The Strokes, Yeah Yeah Yeahs as inspiration. But since they signed to Island as teenagers more than a decade ago, they’ve run the gamut from indie-jangly-folky, then electro-based, and now growly yet melancholy guitar-based pop. Now back together after some time away, there is new hope in their riff-driven hooky sound, which is about finding solace in music. Bombay Bicycle Club joins us in the studio to preview so...more

  • Ani Cordero's Protest Music for Dancing

    Oct 21 2019

    New York-based Puerto Rican musician, songwriter, and activist Ani Cordero has toured as the drummer for the legendary Os Mutantes, and was a founding member of the celebrated Mexican rock band Pistolera. She's written love letters to a complicated world, addressing issues like immigration, Black Lives Matter, Feminism, and government corruption. Her latest record, El Machete, goes into subjects like colonialism, feminism, and the harsh reality of life in Puerto Rico after the devastation of Hur...more

  • Queer Punk Pioneers Team Dresch Are Back on Active Duty

    Oct 16 2019

    Formed in the 1990’s in the Northwest, queercore icons Team Dresch were one of the first “out” bands who wrote about homophobia (fearing holding hands with their partners in public, and railing against conservative Christian anti-gay policy), and searching for love and companionship. (The “queer” coming from the identities of all members, and the “core” from the band’s punkass and metal roaring tendencies.) Team Dresch's members also embody the punk DIY spirit - they ran their own record labels ...more

  • Rwandan Band The Good Ones Offers Strength and Peace

    Oct 14 2019

    The Good Ones are Rwandan genocide survivors who write acoustic folk songs. They’re often sung in the Kinyarwanda street dialect of the outskirts of their nation's capital, Kigali, (the area had for centuries been known as the region for producing poets for the Kings.) With vocalists trading melody and harmony lines seamlessly, these “worker songs from the streets” use one-of-a-kind instruments, often incorporating their own farming tools as percussion. Their forthcoming record, (due out in Nove...more

  • Dusty Psych-Soul and Fiery Groove From Black Pumas

    Oct 10 2019

    Both old and new, Austin-based band Black Pumas is centered around guitarist and producer Adrian Quesada and 27-year-old songwriter Eric Burton. Grammy Award-winning Quesada has played in Grupo Fantasma and Brownout, and accompanied artists from Prince to Daniel Johnston. Burton grew up in church and then got heavily involved in musical theater. He arrived in Austin in 2015 after busking his way across the country from Los Angeles, and connected with Quesada on the phone. From idea to session to...more