Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 11:39 am
Two minutes and 11 seconds into "They Dream," from Bear in Heaven's fourth album Time Is Over One Day Old, the music takes a strange turn. The band has been shuttling along at a riveting adventure-movie clip, with Jon Philpot's reverb-swaddled voice functioning as the primary distinct element in a sleek blur. Then, abruptly, the tempo stops. A wash of Space Mountain synths dissolves slowly — the set has been struck. When Philpot begins to sing again, he's the sole occupant of the spotlight.
Even when he was in his late 20s, Tom Petty had a curmudgeonly edge to him, so it's no surprise that he's sneering about threats to the American dream in the opening moments of his new album, Hypnotic Eye. At 63, Petty is well into his transition to full-blown misanthropy, at times splitting the difference between Randy Newman and Bob Dylan.
Every summer for the last 15 years, the Latin Alternative Music Conference gathers musicians and industry folks within the corner of the Latin music industry known as Latin alternative. This summer was no different, and Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd from NPR's Alt.Latino podcast were there in New York to scout bands and geek out over the music business. Felix and Jasmine, welcome.
FELIX CONTRERAS: Good morning.
JASMINE GARSD: Thank you for having us.
RATH: So 15 years. Was this a quinceanera for the conference?
The diatonic phrygian tetrachord - just rolls off the tongue, doesn't it? Well, maybe you're not familiar with this expression. It's actually a sequence of four musical notes. But I can pretty much guarantee you've heard it played over and over again.
(SOUNDBITE OF COMPOSITION, "PASSAGLIA FOR SOLO VIOLIN")
If you're a classical guitarist, it may be impossible to resist the pull of one iconic piece: the Concierto de Aranjuez by Spanish composer Joaquín Rodrigo. Many musicians regard it as the holy grail of guitar repertoire, including a man so big in the classical world he is known by only one name: Milos.
Once upon a time, Jenny Lewis was one of those child actors you might have seen on shows like Growing Pains and Mr. Belvedere. But then she started making music, and in the late '90s that started taking off. Once her band Rilo Kiley started scoring hits, it was hard to go back to sitcoms.
Marisa Ronstadt bears a musical name but she has her own style, which seems to be a mix of Mariachi, Classic Rock, Soul, R&B, Indie Pop - maybe she'll fill in any that we've missed. She's played music since she was seven and has her own band now "Marisa Ronstadt And The Know-It-All's." Their debut album is "Blueberry Moon." It's out now - let's hear a little.
Marisa Anderson knows where American guitar music has been and where it is now, and probably possesses an inkling of where it can go. She's studied the history and musical nuance of blues, country and folk music through and through, and ingests it all in a style that's as raw as it true. But mostly, Anderson just wants to kick up some dirt — which isn't easy here, given that the NPR Music offices are relatively clean. (Mind the towering stacks of CDs, though. They could topple over at any time.)
The last time Fred Hersch was featured on Weekend Edition Saturday, the headline read, "Back On Stage By No Small Miracle." It was 2009, and scarcely a year earlier, the jazz pianist had suffered AIDS-related dementia and fallen into a coma for several months. Since recovering, Hersch has come roaring back to music, releasing a string of live albums to critical success.