Originally published on Wed June 20, 2012 10:58 am
Of Monsters and Men is an Icelandic sextet specializing in catchy folk-pop. The group came together in 2009 when singer Nanna Bryndís Hilmarsdóttir began recruiting backups for her acoustic solo act. In 2010, Of Monsters and Men gained national fame when it won an annual Icelandic battle of the bands; since then, the buzz has only grown.
Today's episode of Latin Roots features Felix Contreras, co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's online music program about Latin Alternative music. Also a reporter and producer for NPR's Arts Desk, Contreras specializes in jazz, world music and Latino arts and culture. A part-time musician who plays Afro-Cuban percussion in several Latin and jazz bands, Contreras is uniquely qualified to discuss Latin Alternative music. In today's episode, he speaks about boogaloo, how it developed and how it impacts Latin music today.
Grimes is the one-woman project of Claire Boucher, a talented and eclectic Canadian singer. Born and raised in Vancouver, she moved to Montreal for college but left to pursue her craft when her work as Grimes began to take off. Marrying lo-fi punk with dreamy pop, Grimes quickly became a fixture in Montreal's underground music scene. Boucher incorporates elements of dance, video and still images into her live performances, creating otherworldly and entrancing multimedia experiences in the process.
Emeli Sande is young, but she already has an enviable list of accomplishments under her belt. Along with a specialty in neuroscience from the University of Glasgow, she's become a global R&B phenomenon at just 23. The U.K. soul singer wrote her first song at 11 and began participating in music competitions in her teens. Given her powerful vocals and keen understanding of what makes a great song, there was little doubt that her debut would be a doozy — especially once her first single, the soulful "Heaven," became a worldwide hit.
Geographer's glittery, electronic pop-rock sound has been winning over fans on the West Coast for years. The trio formed in 2008 and released its first full-length album, Innocent Ghosts, a few months later. Now, four years after its debut, Geographer has finally returned with a new set of earnest, sonically sugar-coated songs.
After playing shows with their parents as children, the members of Haim now work as a serious stand-alone act. The Haim sisters are Danielle, Este and Alana, and their childhood experience of performing live has shaped them into a musical force as young adults. They first hit the L.A. music scene a few years ago — when each of the sisters was pursuing music, mostly in separate contexts — but their relatively recent decision to work together was inevitable.
Originally published on Thu December 27, 2012 4:18 pm
Gotye (a.k.a. Wouter "Wally" De Backer) has become an international pop star on the strength of his new album, Making Mirrors. The poppy collection includes "Somebody That I Used To Know," which has topped the charts in six countries and hit the Top 20 in 14 others. There's something hauntingly relatable and undeniably catchy about the insightful, ubiquitous break-up song.
Originally published on Thu April 12, 2012 4:00 pm
Named after a French novella by poet Charles Baudelaire, Fanfarlo is a pop band from London with a wide range of instrumentation: mandolin, glockenspiel, musical saw, melodica, sax, clarinet and the usual drums, bass and guitar. With its beguiling and uplifting pop-folk, the quintet makes music that's accessible, refreshing and whimsical.
Electric bluesman Joe Louis Walker is a living legend. He was strumming a guitar by age 8, and by 16 was on stage; he's released 23 albums over the course of his career. Given his formidable talent and prodigious supply of soul-stirring vocal inspirations, it's little wonder that Walker has become a blues-rock hero and award-winner. He's still going strong, as evidenced by his fierce new album, aptly named Hellfire.