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First Listen: Neneh Cherry, 'Blank Project'

Monday, February 17, 2014

The inventive singer's first new solo album in nearly 20 years follows a fascinating career arc. Blank Project still contains familiar pieces of Cherry's youth (the beats, the attitude, the knowledge), but they've been stripped of all inessentials, the mark of a wise and transient mind.

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Elizabeth And The Catapult: Sophisticated And Whimsical Chamber Pop

Friday, February 14, 2014

Since Elizabeth and the Catapult's 2010 album, The Other Side Of Zero, frontwoman Elizabeth Ziman stepped away from it all: She took up the guitar, busked in the subways, played drums with Kishi Bashi, and wrote music for films. But now, Ziman has reunited with her old bandmates for a new record, Like It Never Happened. Hear the band play its new songs in the Soundcheck studio.

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The 12 Most Romantic Songs Ever... Maybe

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Soundcheck challenged listeners to make a case for The Most Romantic Song Ever. Soundcheck host John Schaefer wades through the results and presents a crowd-sourced playlist.
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That Was A Hit?!? Disastrous Love Songs; Siberian Punk; Tom Brosseau Plays Live

Thursday, February 13, 2014

In this episode: With Valentine’s Day coming up Friday, Soundcheck asked That Was A Hit?!? regular Mario Correa to bring in a few love songs that, really, had no business on the pop charts. From disaster movie themes to songs about potential threesomes, we take a listen.

Then: Bryan Swirsky has been digging up, researching, and translating Soviet-era underground punk records for a decade. He’ll join us to talk about the differences between Siberian and Yugoslavian and Ukrainian punk groups, and why their forgotten musical legacy is important.

And: Singer, songwriter and guitarist Tom Brosseau performs “Cradle Your Device” and more in the Soundcheck studio.

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That Was A Hit?!?: Disastrous Love Songs Edition

Thursday, February 13, 2014

On the eve of Valentine’s Day, it’s important to pay tribute to the less successful entries in the love-song genre. Mario Correa -- writer and Entertainment Weekly Radio host -- offered up these three “disastrous love songs” for Soundcheck's occasional series That Was a Hit!?!.

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Veteran Sideman Benmont Tench Goes Solo

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

He's served as the keyboardist in Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and as a go-to veteran session player for Bob Dylan, Elvis Costello and countless other greats. Now, Tench is taking center stage with his debut solo album, You Should Be So Lucky

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The Most Familiar Cadence In Western Music Has A Very Funny Name

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

WNYC's David Garland explains how -- and why -- you can hear a pattern called "the Diatonic Phrygian Tetrachord" in everything from 'Greensleeves' to *NSYNC. 

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Watch: Yuna, Live On Soundcheck

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Yuna is already a major star in her native Malaysia thanks to richly textured songs and a lovely voice. But now with her latest album, Nocturnal, she's rising to international acclaim and reaching audiences in the U.S. Watch the pop singer perform live in the Soundcheck studio.

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Neuroscientist Daniel Levitin Picks Three; Why Movie Musicals Rolled Over And Died; Yuna Plays Live

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

In this episode: When Soundcheck wants to talk about the music and the brain, Daniel Levitin has been our go-to guy. So when author and neuroscientist -- whose books include the bestsellers This Is Your Brain On Music and The World In Six Songs -- was approaching his 1000th interview, he marked the occasion sharing a playlist of some of his favorite songs as part of our Pick Three series.

Then: Mary Poppins, The Sound of Music, and My Fair Lady mark a high point in the movie musical -- and sounded the death knell for the form at the same time. Roadshow! author Matthew Kennedy explains why.

And: Yuna is a Malaysian singer-songwriter who's gotten attention for her R&B-inflected pop both at home and abroad. Hear her perform a stripped down set in the Soundcheck studio studio and to tell us about why Coldplay is uber-romantic.

 

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Check Ahead: Art Decade, 'Art Decade'

Monday, February 10, 2014

Art Decade is part of a small boom young bands playing earnest and ambitious orchestral pop full of sweeping strings, big choruses and epic melodic peaks. Hear the Boston band's self-titled sophomore album in its entirety before its release next week.

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B.J. Novak On Why He Loves French Songs; Jeremy Messersmith Plays Live

Monday, February 10, 2014

In this episode: B.J. Novak is best known for his role as Ryan, the ne’er-do-well temp from the NBC comedy The Office, as well as an actor in films like Inglorious Basterds and Saving Mr. Banks. He’s also a screenwriter, producer, and now, author of a new book of short stories, One More Thing: Stories And Other Stories. Novak shares a decades-spanning playlist of some of his favorite songs as part of Soundcheck's Pick Three series -- and talks about what he thinks is the most romantic song of all time.

And: Minneapolis singer-songwriter Jeremy Messersmith performs songs from his latest album, Heart Murmurs, in the Soundcheck studio.

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Hear: Jeremy Messersmith, Live On Soundcheck

Monday, February 10, 2014

Hear the Minneapolis singer-songwriter play songs of his latest record, Heart Murmurs, in the Soundcheck studio.

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Make Your Case For The Most Romantic Song Ever

Friday, February 07, 2014

Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, and here at Soundcheck, we know that music might play a key role in your Friday night. No need to elaborate on your specific plans, but we do want you to make a case for a single track as The Most Romantic Song Ever.

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Brighton Beach: A Little Bit Of Russia In Our Backyard

Friday, February 07, 2014

Capping a week-long look at Russian music and culture, Soundcheck explores Brighton Beach -- an enclave on the ocean where several generations of Russian immigrants and descendants live and work. Alexander Rudoy is a choreographer and entertainment programmer active in the Brighton Beach scene, and he takes host John Schaefer on a guided tour of sorts.

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The Gate Arrival Heard 'Round The World: The Beatles Meet America

Friday, February 07, 2014

Fifty years ago today, The Beatles landed at the newly-renamed JFK Airport and launched a musical and cultural revolution. Allan Kozinn -- The New York Times' cultural critic and author of a biography of The Beatles -- talks about the plane touchdown that started it all. 

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A Rational Conversation: Ambition Returns To The Music Video

Friday, February 07, 2014

A decade after the MTV era ended, music videos are enjoying an Internet-fueled rebirth. Racy, interactive and homemade videos now go viral regularly and corporate partnerships and industry recognition are boosting budgets.

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From Russia With Soundcheck: Brighton Beach; The Beatles And The Cold War; Steve Earle Live

Friday, February 07, 2014

In this episode: Capping a week-long look at Russian music and culture, Soundcheck explores Brighton Beach -- an enclave on the ocean where several generations of Russian immigrants and descendants live and work. Alexander Rudoy is a choreographer and entertainment programmer active in the Brighton Beach scene, and he takes host John Schaefer on a guided tour of sorts.

Then: Today marks the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’ arrival in the United States. Beatle biographer Allan Kozinn looks at a pivotal moment in pop fandom. And, we hear about The Beatles in the U.S.S.R.

And: Over a five-decade career and 15 albums now, Steve Earle's songs have carried the weight of his past struggles with addiction, incarceration and heartbreak. Hear him perform the title track from The Low Highway, plus a couple older favorites, in the Soundcheck studio.

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How To Get Your Mind Around Pussy Riot; Jason Isbell Plays Live; David Fricke On Guitar Hero Mike Bloomfield

Thursday, February 06, 2014

In this episode: From Russia With Soundcheck continues with a look at the political Russian performance art collective Pussy Riot: While the members of Pussy Riot were serving their sentence in a labor camp, journalist Masha Gessen painstakingly researched the social and political conditions that led a group of otherwise “ordinary” young women to stage a protest that galvanized Russian society. Gessen talks about Pussy Riot and the book Words Will Break Cement.

Then, Jason Isbell -- a former member of Drive-By Truckers -- landed on many best of 2013 lists with Southeastern, an album filled with emotion, regret and one super-bad night in a Super 8. Isbell has since gotten sober -- and married the singer and fiddler Amanda Shires. The duo perform in the studio.

And: Mike Bloomfield is rock's greatest forgotten guitar hero, says Rolling Stone's senior editor David Fricke. Fricke reflects on Bloomfield's lasting legacy, as documented in a new box set.

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Watch: Hospitality, Live On Soundcheck

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Watch the Brooklyn indie pop band Hospitality perform songs from its brand new album, Trouble, in the Soundcheck studio.

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Regina Spektor On Her Russian Music Idol; Russia's Samizdat Movement; Hospitality Plays Live

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

In this episode: From Russia With Soundcheck week continues with Regina Spektor, the Moscow-born, the New York-based indie-pop star, who schools us about a personal hero, the late Soviet-era singer Vladimir Vysotsky.

Then, a look at "Samizdat" -- the name given to an underground, DIY counterculture that was a huge part of life in the old Soviet Union. There's an exhibit of Samizdat artifacts consisting of pamphlets, books, cheap cassettes and more collected at George Washington University's Gelman Library. The exhibit's curator, Mark Yoffe, explains the movement.

And, Brooklyn band Hospitality performs songs from it's second record, Trouble, in the Soundcheck studio.

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