Music

If the band's debut EP (Treasure Pains) is any indication, Chicago's Slow Mass exists somewhere between Hoover's post-hardcore heft and Braid's weird hooks. Featuring members of Into It. Over It's live band (drummer Josh Sparks and guitarist Josh Parks), plus guitarist/vocalist Dave Collis (My Dad) and bassist/vocalist Mercedes Webb, Slow Mass isn't so much the sum of its parts, but rather part high-speed collision, part mutation.

The new video and song from the Brooklyn noise duo Sleigh Bells throb with rage and fiery defiance. Words flash on screen over Derek Miller's jagged guitars as the video opens: "As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to build a fire."

Note: With hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton away this week, we've got an encore presentation of The Worst Songs Of All Time, from May. 2011.


This week: the moment it all went wrong, relived in vivid detail. Members of the All Songs Considered crew share stories of hope and heartache as they remember some of the bands they've broken up with over the years and why. NPR Music's Daoud Tyler-Ameen joins hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton for the discussion.

World Cafe Next: Julia Jacklin

Aug 29, 2016

Julia Jacklin's debut album, Don't Let The Kids Win, showcases the lyrical density of her songs. The Australian singer-songwriter treats her music as an outlet for emotions that weren't discussed much in her family as she was growing up — she finds it easier to deal with those personal stories by putting them into songs. Jacklin, who's 25, has said Don't Let The Kids Win captures her nostalgia for the ambition she had when she was younger. Hear two songs at the audio link above.

Dusk is Ultimate Painting's third album in three years, but the London duo still sounds like it takes time to get moving. The guitars of Jack Cooper (Mazes) and James Hoare (Veronica Falls) loop in and out of each other like rubber bands, taut one moment and wobbly the next. Where past records crossed Velvet Underground's third album with a paradoxically easygoing motorik beat, Dusk expands the duo's pop sensibilities, finding tension in quiet melodies.

Wilco's latest song is the Beatles-inspired "Someone To Lose," both a woozy acoustic strummer and a fiery rock song with a playful melody. Partly a reflection on past mistakes in romance and relationships, "Someone To Lose" perfectly captures the almost comical cluelessness we sometimes experience as we fumble our way through life and love. "Wouldn't you know it," sings frontman Jeff Tweedy. "I keep rollin' considerin' no one... ...I'm so confused, I can't lose."

This week, World Cafe rebroadcast a 2011 session with The Civil Wars. When we recorded that session, Joy Williams and John Paul White had just released their album Barton Hollow; they'd go on to win four Grammy awards, achieve a gold record and play sold-out concerts. But the duo's success wasn't enough to sustain their partnership, which fell apart in 2014.

Here are 10 more great duos that, unfortunately, weren't built to last.

Hard Working Americans On World Cafe

Aug 26, 2016

Todd Snider has proven himself an agile (and very funny) solo performer, but in 2013 he decided he wanted to start performing in a band. So, he persuaded some friends, including bassist Dave Schools of Widespread Panic and guitarist Neal Casal of Ryan Adams' backing band The Cardinals, to form Hard Working Americans. (Snider jokes that he no longer even has to bring a guitar to gigs.)

An empowerment anthem can be a beautiful thing, a dramatic transcending of suffering's isolating power. But what's glorious about Sarah Potenza's blistering, riff-propelled personal anthem "Monster" is that it doesn't seek to transcend the unpleasantness of her reality — the fact that she's been told countless times in countless ways that the body she inhabits is socially unacceptable. Instead, we hear a woman's fierce determination to stay present, to stare down those who would shame her, to revel in her corporeality.

In the five years since the group reactivated, Witch Mountain's ascent has been swift and monumental. In 2011, the Portland doom-metal band was rejuvenated after a decade of dormancy by Uta Plotkin, a raw yet multifaceted singer. Three stellar albums followed before Plotkin left the band to pursue other projects, with bassist Charles Thomas exiting soon thereafter.

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