Originally published on Thu September 11, 2014 3:20 pm
Last week in New York City, on the fringe of Times Square, a band of busy artists gathered in a building brimming with songwriting history. The Brill Building's golden age, when songs like "Will You Love Me Tomorrow" and "Be My Baby" were written in its offices, are in the past, but The New Pornographers' pop music would fit into the mold of that era. You can easily imagine the group's members writing songs in small, secluded rooms to be played on tiny transistors and monophonic record players.
Chet Faker takes an inventive approach to electronic music, wrapping his expertly crafted voice-and-keyboard compositions in layered loops. An independent artist who writes, records, and produces his own music, the Australian one-man band performed live at Boston's Paradise Rock Club earlier this year — and we captured this video of him performing "I'm Into You," the first track from his 2012 EP Thinking In Textures.
Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 4:09 pm
11 min 31 sec
We threw a curve ball at Justin Townes Earle. Despite his five albums full of well-loved songs, we asked him to play new material for this Tiny Desk Concert; songs we hadn't yet heard. Earle's new album Single Mothers comes out this week, and here he performs two tracks from that record: "White Gardenias," his nod to Billie Holiday, and "Burning Pictures."
Josh Carter's dark hooks and Sarah Barthel's breathy vocals are to die for. But on this year's Voices — the dance-rock band Phantogram's first album in five years — they reach a new level that suits the stadiums they're filling and their songs' ubiquity on television and in movies.
The Saratoga Springs, N.Y., duo recently visited KEXP to perform some of its songs and chat with host John Richards. Watch "The Day You Died" now and be seduced.
Originally published on Mon September 8, 2014 12:02 pm
Many people know Dom Flemons as one-third of the original membership of groundbreaking revivalist stringband Carolina Chocolate Drops. Indeed, with the CCDs, Flemons achieved international acclaim and earned award nominations from organizations like the Americana Music Association and the Grammys. But, before the Chocolate Drops made their debut, he was a performing songster and songwriter, covering the entire scope of what constitutes American folk and roots music — not just the stringband, Carolina-based stuff that would eventually make him folk-famous.
Originally published on Sat September 6, 2014 5:04 pm
12 min 37 sec
These days, Jessica Lea Mayfield is all contrasts, starting with the way she sets her wistful voice against her shimmering guitar. It's got a harder edge to it than the rootsier music of her past. Then there's that cotton-candy hair and all the glitter; her guitar glitters, her eyes glitter, her shoes glitter. It's easier to talk about what isn't glittered — and mostly that'd be her lyrics. In the final song from both her album Make My Head Sing...
In between sold-out shows in Los Angeles, John Legend joined KCRW for an intimate performance at Apogee Studios in Santa Monica, where he played old favorites, new songs, and even a few covers. The nine-time Grammy-winning singer has been on the road nonstop behind his 2013 album Love In The Future, and was in fine form singing his smash ballad "All Of Me."
Originally published on Wed September 3, 2014 2:54 pm
It wouldn't be an overstatement to suggest that New Orleans singer-songwriter Benjamin Booker had a pretty good summer. Even before releasing his debut album last month, Booker's gravelly voice and bluesy swagger had guitar fans buzzing with anticipation. It didn't hurt that he'd nabbed a gig touring as the opening act for Jack White, one of his idols.
What immediately attracted me to Trampled by Turtles when I first saw the band was its speed, but the Minnesotans are about more than just blistering bluegrass. They also write beautiful, heartfelt folk-pop songs, as this Tiny Desk Concert demonstrates.
All three of these tunes come from Trampled By Turtles' new eighth album, Wild Animals. Watching the band gathered around one mic seemed perfectly right.
Shabazz Palaces' music sounds like nothing else. Whether you describe them as "sci-fi," "way-out" or just a little strange, the Seattle duo's songs might as well come from outer space, considering how different they sound from most rap.