Not sure if it's a compliment to be called a "thinking man's metal band" — if nothing else, it's not so nice to the other metal bands — but Helmet has always made smart music that never loses its punch. Singer and guitarist Page Hamilton founded the group back in 1989, and since then it's gone through the usual motions of a successful band: early attention leading to a label signing, a series of albums that grow more critically acclaimed but sell less than expected, band dissolution and breakup, subsequent solo work and collaborations, and an eventual reboot.
"If you're meaning to seduce anybody, you don't announce your intention," L.A. singer-songwriter Joe Henry joked when introducing his new song "Swayed." Nevertheless, he hooked us by the heart during a recent in-studio appearance.
Originally published on Tue January 21, 2014 8:37 pm
24 min 49 sec
The third song in this Tiny Desk Concert, explains the jocose pianist Robert Glasper, first appeared on one of his trio's albums of acoustic, instrumental jazz. It was called "F.T.B." then, though it later acquired words and a singer and was retitled "Gonna Be Alright" on the record which won the 2013 Grammy for Best R&B Album. That in itself provides a sense of the worlds to which Glasper has access; depending on your point of view, he either freely traverses or explodes those boundaries.
Jonathan Clay and Zach Chance met when they were 14 in Magnolia, Texas, but started out as solo musicians. For their U.S. radio debut on Morning Becomes Eclectic, Jamestown Revival — the duo plus a talented supporting cast — played songs from its first EP, like the destined-to-be-a-hit "California (Cast Iron Soul)," a folk- and roots-inspired ballad about duo's pilgrimage west.
U.K. musician Jon Hopkins brings warmth to dance music through his inventive sampling of organic sound: hands clapping, hitting things, even using his own voice to build seductive percussion. It's no wonder his fourth album, Immunity, was nominated for the prestigious Mercury Prize in 2013.
When Malian singer-songwriter Rokia Traore stopped by KCRW's studio, she was in the middle of a cross-country tour and bound for Northern California. The travel-ready artist is the daughter of a diplomat who has been all over the world and cites her rich cultural experiences as her source of inspiration. Singing in both English and her native language, songs like "Mama" function as a tapestry of her life.
Originally published on Thu January 9, 2014 12:11 pm
10 min 45 sec
Sisters Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz aren't the youngest musicians ever to play the Tiny Desk, but they come pretty close. Their music — a restrained, homespun mix of folk and pop with undeniably sweet harmonies — certainly ranks among the loveliest we've heard.
Last month, Seattle songwriter Mary Lambert was nominated for a Grammy for her contribution to the gay-rights anthem "Same Love," by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis. This past summer, she took to the KEXP airwaves to perform her rendition of "She Keeps Me Warm," which expands on the chorus to the hit that made her voice famous.