A hundred years ago, the Italian operatic composer Giacomo Puccini was having lunch in New York with Victor Herbert, the leading composer of operettas in this country. Then, the band in the restaurant began playing music from Herbert's current hit, Sweethearts. Puccini became outraged, according to songwriter Paul Williams, the current president of the performing-rights organization ASCAP.
Lake Street Dive is powered by the voice of Rachael Price; it's what hits you first when you listen to this quartet. It's a ringingly clear, strong voice, a sound that's at once beseeching and in control. Price regularly harmonizes with the other members of Lake Street Dive — bassist Bridget Kearney, drummer Mike Calabrese and Mike Olson, who also plays guitar and trumpet. But most of the songs on Bad Self Portraits are showcases for Price's surging vocals.
The music of the psychedelic Seattle band Rose Windows mixes folk, blues, Persian and Eastern European influences, as well as '60s psych and prog; the group name-checks The Doors and even Black Sabbath along the way. Its lyrics address songwriter Chris Cheveyo's Christian background, singer Rabi Shaheen Qazi's Muslim influences and much more.
Rose Windows released a debut full-length called Sun Dogs last year, and we'll hear the band perform on stage during this episode of World Cafe.
Unlikely collaborations can unnerve and unwind heavy and extreme music in ways we'd never before imagined. There's Painkiller, the guts-spilling grind-jazz band featuring saxophonist John Zorn, bassist Bill Laswell and Napalm Death drummer Mick Harris.
If you try to watch this video for its plot, good luck. There's a mermaid, a sandstorm, a dude, a chase, sea creatures, close-up lips ... I tried, but gave up and simply gave in to the flow of the song and the images.
Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 2:09 pm
Phantogram plays spiky, dense and danceable pop-rock songs with an electronic pulse: Most of its songs have an insistent grind to them, with a percussive through-line snapping and jabbing and infusing virtually every moment with jumpy urgency. But singer/keyboardist Sarah Barthel and guitarist Josh Carter still let these songs breathe in surprising ways, so that the moments of quiet that slip through — like the spare and surprising piano which pops up at the end of "Black Out Days" — have that much more impact.