Chelsea Wolfe has a surreal voice that cuts through her foggy, soulful, often haunting rock and folk music. There's a thorny vision of yearning, heartbreak and death in Wolfe's songs that's striking, yet always brings us back to what makes these bleak themes so appealing, even beautiful. When I heard that Wolfe would "go electronic" for the forthcoming Pain Is Beauty, it was no shock; after all, synths and noise had been part of her textures all along. But with "The Warden," Wolfe has taken the fog to the club.
Singer-songwriter Barbara Jean makes her first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Grand Marais, Minn., in partnership with the North House Folk School. A resident of Grand Marais, Barbara Jean has worked as the news director at WTIP North Shore Community Radio since 2006. She was also one of the first musicians Mountain Stage encountered when it first traveled to Grand Marais in 2011; she was playing a set at the beloved Gunflint Tavern.
Quadron combines the efforts of singer Coco O and super-producer Robin Hannibal (also of Rhye), who together craft a beautiful, soulful sound. With a modern take on soul and R&B and a mutual love of Michael Jackson, they've created one of the year's best albums in Avalanche. Coco O recently led a talented band of Los Angeles musicians through songs from the albumin a recent show for a small audience, including the KCRW favorite "Hey Love."
At first, the inconspicuous facade of the El Segundo-based South Bay Customs motorcycle shop doesn't seem like the most compelling setting for one of our Field Recordings. But once we walked past the front doors, we quickly realized that this wasn't your everyday L.A. bike shop. South Bay's walls are lined with eccentric oddities, and the facility also houses an art gallery and a performance space for local musicians.
Originally published on Fri September 27, 2013 5:15 pm
U.K. singer Laura Mvula has been well-served by her conservatory training, which helped her uncover her own unique sound: Mvula's first full-length album, Sing to the Moon, blends classic pop, jazz and soul.
With help from producer Steve Brown, Mvula's choral-like arrangements are wonderfully layered and complex. In this installment of World Cafe, the singer performs live with her band and talks to host David Dye about how she separates her roles as a songwriter and a performer.
At the keys, Duke Ellington abstracted from stride piano, which modernized ragtime. Ellington's own spare percussive style then refracted through Thelonious Monk and Cecil Taylor, as well as a generation of freewheeling pianists active in Europe, like Aki Takase. Her new solo piano album is My Ellington, on which she plays some stride bass herself, as in "In a Mellow Tone."
Summer is heating up and so are dozens of classical music festivals all around the country. We couldn't possibly list them all, but here's a sampling of some of the best events, from open-air venues and seaside spots to historic concert halls. Been to a great summer festival we've missed? Feel free to pass along your own reviews in the comments section.