Saturday, August 16, 2014
By NPR Staff
Thursday, August 14, 2014
In this episode: Soundcheck's How To Be Smarter About... series -- about addressing musical blind spots -- continues with WNYC host Brian Lehrer, who tells us a musical topic he’d like to know more on – and we help to fill in the gaps.
Then: Claudia Roth Pierpont discusses her new essay for the New Yorker which explored Nina Simone’s complicated relationship with the civil rights movement and with her own racial self-identification. Pierpont tells Soundcheck about how these issues influenced both the singer’s public persona and works like her perceptive song “Four Women.”
And: Hear the infectious, expansive synth pop of Wildcat! Wildcat! as the L.A. band performs songs from its debut, No Moon At All, in the Soundcheck studio.
Wednesday, August 13, 2014
In this episode: During the late ‘90s, Sirius XM host Mario Correa was listening to singer-songwriters from the Lilith Fair circuit -- and he completely missed out on the debut of Jay Z. As part of Soundcheck's How To Be Smarter About... series, we attempt to bring him up to speed on the global rap star’s rise to power, his must-hear tracks and why we can no longer use the hyphen in spelling his name.
Then: From the Residents to Daft Punk to Deadmaus, there’s been a long history of musicians who cover up their true identities by wearing masks. But even so, the British performer known as Frank Sidebottom stood apart. The comedian and singer known for his signature papier-mâché head is the inspiration for the new film Frank starring Michael Fassbender. Journalist and author Jon Ronson talks about being a member of Frank Sidebottom’s band back in the ‘80s -- and why he decided to bring Frank’s story to the big screen.
And: The Danish singer and pianist Agnes Obel has become an unexpected phenomenon, with tens of millions of YouTube views for her eerie, beautiful, classically-informed art pop. Hear her perform songs from Aventine live in the Soundcheck studio.
Tuesday, August 12, 2014
In this episode: We’ve all heard the story about Van Halen’s famous anti-brown M&M tour rider. But, what is a tour rider, anyway? Why do bands have them? And what happens if their demands aren’t met? As part of Soundcheck's How To Be Smarter About... series, Jack “Skippy” McFadden, talent buyer for Austin City Limits Live, fills us in about what he does to keep artists happy backstage.
Then: The idea of the “genius” has existed for centuries – singlular people who stand out for their brilliance or ingenuity in a particular field. But a new book aims to broaden that scope, and take a look at not the lone genius, but at creative pairs. Author Joshua Wolf Shenk talks about his book, Powers of Two, and about history-altering musical duos.
And: The Rosebuds got its start a little over ten years ago, and along the way, the duo -- Ivan Howard and Kelly Crisp -- got married. Their 2011 album, Loud Planes Fly Low, chronicled the end of that marriage -- a breakup which, surprisingly, didn't break up the band. Since then, The Rosebuds has continued making music and just released its latest album. Hear the band perform songs from Sand + Silence in the Soundcheck studio.
Monday, August 11, 2014
In this episode: Soundcheck kicks off our “How To Be Smarter About…” series with a look at the feminist punk movement known as riot grrrl. Sara Marcus, author of Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution, clears up misconceptions and drops some knowledge on producer Katie Bishop.
Then: Singer-songwriter Tori Amos is back in New York this week on her Unrepentant Geraldines tour and stops by the Soundcheck studio to share three songs that left a lasting impact on her.
And: In 2011, the New York-based vocalist and songwriter Somi traveled to the Nigerian city of Lagos. Now, her experiences and observations from her 18-month stay are reflected on her latest album – fittingly titled The Lagos Music Salon. Hear her perform live in the Soundcheck studio.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
In The Valley Below could probably just do bright synth-pop, but what you get instead is something slightly more subversive. The Los Angeles duo's upcoming album, The Belt, isn't out for a few weeks yet, but the band has already unveiled a handful of songs with killer hooks and edgy guitars.
Wednesday, August 06, 2014
When you hear Somi's globe-spanning music, you can hear her past come to life. The Illinois-born musician spent 18 months living in Nigeria -- where she collected the ideas that form her new album, The Lagos Music Salon. Watch Somi perform in the Soundcheck studio.