Music

Music

"I started singing in bars when I was still in high school," says Kelly Hogan. "It's not the easiest thing to do if you like to eat something besides ramen noodles and have insurance."

When an old musical "friend" puts out a record, I secretly pray for greatness, as if rooting for a favorite team. These later records often pale in comparison to their early predecessors, but still I listen and try to find something I love.

I just deleted over 25,000 songs from my iTunes library. I am going to trust in the cloud, where my library now lives. I'm a bit scared, but I backed everything up, took a deep breath and stepped into the future.

Abandoning the way I've come to listen to music over the last decade feels like a big experiment, but in some ways, the decision was a long time coming. I've been close to maxing out the hard drive space on my laptop for a while, and in a single day this week, I reclaimed nearly 200 gigabytes.

Lana Del Rey On World Cafe

Jun 1, 2012

Lana Del Rey got her start at 18, when she was still known as Lizzy Grant and moved from Lake Placid to New York City to write songs and perform in clubs. In 2008, under her given name, she produced and released the EP Kill Kill independently. In 2010, her first album — the doubly eponymous Lana Del Ray [sic] a.k.a. Lizzy Grant — came out and was quickly pulled from circulation, though it'll be reissued this summer.

Portraits Of An American Metal Festival

May 31, 2012

Last weekend I was among the legion of ecstatic metalheads that had descended upon Baltimore to attend Maryland Deathfest. In its 10th year, the Sonar compound was bursting at the seams with fans from across the spectrum and around the globe, stoking a community that stays connected long after the outdoor stages on East Saratoga Street are taken down.

The Magnetic Fields' music provides one of several outlets for frontman Stephin Merritt's inspired songwriting. The band began recording a string of eclectic albums in 1993, and finally found mainstream recognition with 1999's three-disc 69 Love Songs.

Neil Young and Crazy Horse have a new record coming out Tuesday. Americana is blistering guitar romp through the classic American songbook, from the 1800s to doo-wop and beyond. Well today we we have a 40 minute film created by Bernard Shakey (Young's alias) filled with the music from Americana.

Patrick Watson has a lovely, flexible voice and a gift for wringing evocative sounds out of everything from vintage keyboards to bicycle chains, but his real gift lies in his ability to maximize beauty at all times; to guide every noise in such a way that it coheres into something dramatic and graceful. When the Polaris Prize winner performs, he seems almost hypnotized by the sounds around him, yet every second and every unlikely component seems plotted to maximize its impact.

KCRW Presents: Father John Misty

May 30, 2012

In recent years, J. Tillman has moved from Seattle to Los Angeles, quit his gig as the drummer of Fleet Foxes and abandoned his real name, all to become Father John Misty. On his way into KCRW's studio for a live set, Tillman grabbed a photo of David Lynch off the walls in the hallway — a fitting gesture to his surreal musical alter ego. Here, he shimmies his way through a dedication of sorts to an L.A.

The Lumineers On World Cafe

May 29, 2012

This week's Vintage Cafe goes back to 2012, when good things were starting to happen for a trio of musicians from Denver. The Lumineers' original members, Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, were high-school friends who moved to Denver thinking they'd have a better shot at getting noticed than they had in Brooklyn — plus, it was affordable. There, they met their third member, cellist Neyla Pekarek, through a Craigslist ad.

The L.A. indie-folk band Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros has been described as looking like something of a hippie cult on stage. Of course, every cult should have a leader, and this one is led by a singer whose real name is Alex Ebert. He has a long beard and long, unkempt hair, and he often doesn't wear a shirt or even shoes. During shows, he dances around in circles shaking a tambourine.

K-Holes: A Grimy Smear Of Rock 'n' Roll

May 29, 2012

K-Holes' frayed, exhausted, grimy smear of rock 'n' roll is swaddled in the uneven patchwork of New York City's '80s no-wave scene. The band wields its own unique sort of holler — an earth-colored concrete mold of sax and group mantras and waves of ricocheting build. Within "Child," the opener from K-Holes' second full-length album Dismania, the group's sonic theory is made plain: malignant patience and a straightforward attack, with all five tongues in cheek and aching jaws set firm.

Storied musician and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Dr. John—Mac Rebennack—released Locked Down, a startling album that marks a significant departure from his recent efforts. The new album, produced by The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, is an entirely new approach for the iconic Dr. John, featuring as it does his collaboration with Auerbach and a band of young musicians Auerbach hand-picked to make Locked Down at his Nashville studio.

John Mayer On World Cafe

May 25, 2012

Becoming a rock star has major implications — just ask John Mayer. The singer-songwriter's personal history and relationships are all public knowledge, thanks to the enormous media attention that the 34-year-old attracts. The attention in turn attracts trouble, but Mayer, who has just released his fifth solo studio album, tries to take it all in stride.

This week's quiz comes courtesy of Janet Weiss, drummer for the band Wild Flag (and former drummer for Sleater-Kinney). She's got some killer fills and intros here that (I thought) ranged from pretty easy to pretty hard. But see what you think.

Drag the intro or fill (or beat) to the album it's from. If you get it right, the song names will appear.

What were you doing when you were 16?

When he was 16, James Burton was inventing the American guitar. He'd been born in Dubberly, La., in 1939, and was apparently self-taught on his instrument. At 15, he cut a single backing local singer Carol Williams, and then one day he came up with a guitar riff that he liked. He took it to a singer from Shreveport he was touring with, and they worked out a song to use in his act. One thing led to another, and it wound up on a record called "Suzie Q," credited to Dale Hawkins, the singer.

Chuck Prophet: Tawdry, Tattered Glory

May 25, 2012

San Francisco has long been a refuge for people on society's fringes, from sailors and hookers to beatniks, hippies and non-conformists of every stripe. Chuck Prophet revels in their oddness as much as he revels in the retro coolness of shoo-be-doo-wop pop and the chime of a pedal-pushed guitar chord. On his latest album, Temple Beautiful, he injects healthy doses of both into sonic portraits of his city's most outrageous inhabitants.

Metalheads Are People, Too

May 24, 2012

For one long weekend at the end of May, nearly every hotel, hostel, B&B and flophouse in Baltimore is booked up. Traffic gets brutal, the sidewalks fill and locals are more than a little miffed by all the clueless tourists. Many of them are in town for Maryland's high school lacrosse state championships, but for plenty of others, a stay in Charm City promises the polar opposite of all the good clean fun going down at the stadium. These visitors are ready to sweat too, but they've come for something quite different: feedback, blood and distortion.

Turing Machine: End Of The Road

May 24, 2012

Seven years in the making, What Is the Meaning of What marks the end of a difficult road for Turing Machine, the often-snarling instrumental trio. The group's prolific drummer, Jerry Fuchs, died suddenly in 2009, about a year into the recording of What Is the Meaning of What and left behind his last work within the still-fleshless new record.

The Ramones were there at the birth of punk rock.

None of the Ramones were actually related, but they all changed their last names to Ramone. They wore matching skinny jeans and leather jackets, and their songs were short and to the point, with hooks that are still impossibly catchy. The band's first album stunned listeners and critics. Joey Ramone described its influence in a 1991 interview in Finland that's posted on YouTube.

In the months ahead, Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep will check in from time to time as singer-songwriter Neko Case creates the follow-up to her 2009 album Middle Cyclone. In the first installment, we listen in to a song that's not quite finished, not quite recorded, not even quite written. First, Case has to learn what the song is.

Almost every record you know that was a 1960s radio hit had a secret weapon — a crew of L.A. backing musicians known as "The Wrecking Crew." This group, which included the likes of Glen Campbell, Hal Blaine and Carol Kaye, helped artists ranging from the Partridge Family to the Beach Boys make great-sounding albums.

Joachim Cooder On World Cafe

May 23, 2012

Joachim Cooder is no stranger to collaborations, nor is he new to scoring soundtracks, yet Cooder's newest project combines his past experiences in an unexpected way. Son of legendary guitarist Ry Cooder, he took to the drums early on, and eventually played in the famous documentary Buena Vista Social Club. He's also worked behind the scenes, writing for the soundtracks of films such as Lars and the Real Girl.

Paul Kelly On Mountain Stage

May 23, 2012

Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly makes his fifth appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.V. Kelly has been recording for more than 25 years, earning awards back home for his film and TV compositions and a cult-like following in the U.S. and abroad. Though Rolling Stone has called him "Australia's rock icon," Kelly has diversified through the years, recording albums that borrow from country, rock, folk and bluegrass.

Neal Casal On World Cafe

May 22, 2012

Many fans of American rock love Neal Casal's guitar work, whether they know his solo music or not. Primarily a solo artist and guitarist for Ryan Adams' backing band The Cardinals, Casal built his career on country-rock sensibilities and tireless output. His first solo album came out in 1995, and since then, he's kept up his solo work while playing with The Cardinals, Chris Robinson of Black Crowes and countless others.

Note: This week's All Songs Considered offers a preview of the upcoming Maryland Deathfest.

Rich Robinson On Mountain Stage

May 22, 2012

Rich Robinson makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.V. By his mid-20s, Robinson had already achieved remarkable commercial success as the lead guitarist for Black Crowes. Alongside his brother Chris, the band all but single-handedly reintroduced soulful, bluesy Southern rock to a mainstream that had been occupied with hair-metal and glitzy pop. Robinson's guitar helped lay the groundwork for a sound that launched a long, successful, and tumultuous career.

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