KNBA - KBC

Music

The Olms On World Cafe

Aug 8, 2013

Pete Yorn has long had a way with hooky rock songs, so it was easy for him to connect with fellow L.A. musician J.D. King over a mutual love for '60s music. The two first started recording together just for fun, blending folk-rock and subtle psychedelia into a joint project they call The Olms.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the heavily taped packages that can't be opened without the aid of a utility knife and a blowtorch is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This week: an array of tips for anyone hoping to launch and sustain a career in music journalism.

We forget to listen closer, look closer. As a big-picture kind of guy, I do that myself, and that means missing details that make day-to-day life more vivid. Listening to High Aura'd, it's apparent that creator John Kolodij hears life with great clarity. Last year's Sanguine Features was a personal favorite of mine: a dark and buzzing LP that, when turned up loud, felt like a dark hallway with treasures tucked away in the corners.

Vattnet Viskar's self-titled 2012 EP blazed through atmospheric, doom-ridden black metal with authority; it had promise for a style that's been mined endlessly in recent years.

Hanni El Khatib and his band braved sharp desert succulents, chilly temperatures and an aggressive maraca for this performance of the appropriately titled "Save Me." The Los Angeles singer-songwriter, on a break from touring in support of his latest album In the Dirt, gamely stripped down his loud, bluesy garage-rock sound and let the stunning backdrop of Joshua Tree National Park provide the drama.

When Telekinesis' Michael Benjamin Lerner plays live, he sings from behind his drum set, but he plays almost all the instruments on his albums. The power-pop multi-instrumentalist recorded his latest record, Dormarion, at Spoon drummer Jim Eno's house — fittingly located on Dormarion Lane.

You know the drill by now. Each month, NPR Music polls public-radio personalities and asks them to share their favorite new song with the world. You get to download the track. Here's this month's panel:

  • Ernesto Lechner, co-host of WEXT's syndicated show The Latin Alternative
  • David Dye, host of WXPN's syndicated show World Cafe in Philadelphia

The Montreal pop band Stars wears many faces, literally and figuratively: Singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell swap lead vocals in songs that range from effervescent pop-rock to grandiose dance music to melancholy, string-enhanced dirges. With so much to choose from in the group's toolbox, a few gems are bound to get left off its records — a wrong Stars will help right with a new single next month.

KCRW Presents: Franz Ferdinand

Aug 6, 2013

The Glaswegian dance-rock champions in Franz Ferdinand took a brief hiatus, but they never missed a beat; in fact, they sound better than ever. Upon their return to Morning Becomes Eclectic, Franz Ferdinand's members seemed to be having a blast. In songs like "Love Illumination," you can hear the group's signature bass lines and crisp drum fills making it seem as if no time has passed at all.

The Mountain Goats' John Darnielle spent the 1990s recording his songs — just a voice, an acoustic guitar and bracingly articulate lyrics about catastrophe and survival — on low-fidelity equipment like boom boxes. It got to the point where the tape hiss felt like another instrument, but in the last decade, the Mountain Goats' music has become ever more polished.

Pages