"It's the dreamiest of scenes," Sylvan Esso singer Amelia Meath sighed as she looked out over the sold-out crowd at Washington, D.C.'s 9:30 Club. Wearing six-inch platform tennis shoes and an all-black jumpsuit, Meath gyrated and pumped her fists, urging the crowd on. Meanwhile, the other half of Sylvan Esso, Nick Sanborn, tweaked the knobs on a small control panel plugged into a laptop.
Rodney Crowell performs with the ease and swagger of a man comfortable in his ways. He carries his songs the way he carries his old guitar: out in the open, no case, almost as an extension of his body.
Liars' dark, atmospheric studio session cast a captivating spell over us. Wrapped in a colorful skein of yarn, inspired by the cover for its new album Mess, the long-running L.A. electro-punk band spun an intoxicating mix of dark dance-pop.
Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world's best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy. I find his exuberance and their performance undeniably brilliant, inspiring and so completely universal.
When we plan Field Recordings, we usually look far and wide to find off-the-beaten-path locations for filming musicians. But a unique opportunity presented itself when a duo called Wanderlust Projects — designers of "transgressive placemaking experiences" for urban explorers, usually in abandoned or otherwise off-limits places — invited us to come along on an adventure.
KEXP hosts hundreds of in-studio sessions a year, but it's rare when our entire staff is blown away the way we were over the soulful Scottish trio Young Fathers. DJ Larry Rose, a longtime fan who conducted the interview, said the energy in the room when those three childhood friends combined their voices was intense: a mix of guttural yelps, sharply recited verses and powerfully soaring vocals. Our video team couldn't stop raving about Young Fathers' passionate, energetic performance.
Many of us at NPR Music fell hard for Arizona's Sergio Mendoza and his band La Orkesta this year. Together, they mix myriad Latin styles — what Mendoza calls "indie mambo," salted with generous handfuls of cumbia, merengue and ranchera — and then feed all that through a psychedelic prism. They perform their songs with charm and panache, set off by the fireworks of the group's resident showman, the multi-talented Salvador Duran.
New York's Greta Kline has been cranking out lo-fi releases over the last few years under a number of different aliases. This spring, she released her debut full-length, Zentropy, as Frankie Cosmos — her first recording with a band.
Almost any pianist, from a budding beginner to a pro like Simone Dinnerstein, will tell you that one of the basic techniques of keyboard playing is also the toughest to master: making your hands to do separate things simultaneously.