Originally published on Tue August 5, 2014 8:02 pm
Twenty-plus years into its career, Spoon retains its capacity to surprise and delight. They Want My Soul, the Austin band's follow-up to 2010's Transference, has all the hallmarks you'd expect: the fiery voice of frontman Britt Daniel; the wry if bittersweet lyrics; the punchy, concise, immediately identifiable pop-rock sound.
There's a decent chance you're about to discover your favorite new band. Based in San Francisco and led by Liam McCormick, The Family Crest builds its songs from a combination of infectious enthusiasm and powerful talent. The group owes its huge sound not just to its seven members, but to the community that records and plays with them. Eighty people are credited on The Family Crest's first album, Beneath the Brine.
The Southern California band Quetzal recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a blowout concert that seemed to attract as many musicians as regular people. The band has maintained such a strong presence in the SoCal Chicano music scene that its members could be considered padrinos and padrinas of that free-flowing musical community.
After many years of making music, Shelby Lynne won the Grammy Award for Best New Artist for her work on the album, I Am Shelby Lynne. This year, she plans on re-releasing that 2000 album along with some B-sides that didn't make the original disc. On a recent visit to Morning Becomes Eclectic, the singer shared those songs, as well as her excitement about putting the record back out into the world.
One of the many instruments you may hear Saintseneca play — beyond the banjo, baglama, bulbul, balalaika, bowed banjo, baritone ukulele, bass and bouzouki — is a stomp box. Basically, it's a roughly 2'x2' plywood floorboard meant for pounding the beat. At a show just before this Tiny Desk Concert, craftily bearded singer Zac Little put his boot right through that floorboard.
Courtney Barnett may prefer the mundane, but that doesn't mean we have to. In the songs on her debut album, The Double EP: A Sea of Split Peas, really two early EPs mashed together, the young Australian singer-songwriter relates with hyperfocus the details of a day and moments of simply average significance. A failed attempt at gardening, an invitation to a friendly gathering, a post-breakup rant, an after-party adventure, a concerned call from mom — this can all happen to you!
My first time seeing this Norwegian band was at a fairly soulless convention center in Austin, Texas. They transformed that big, open room into an intimate affair. So having them perform at the Tiny Desk, an already intimate space, was a thrill. It was also the first appearance of a flugabone here. Kristoffer Lo plays that mournful horn and Ingrid Helene Håvik compliments the yearning with words that are mysterious, somewhat dark and contain surprising twists.