When we first approached Bill Callahan to do a Field Recording in New York City, we asked him if he had any special place in mind. His reply surprised me: "A community garden." I guess I'd stereotyped him in my head, because after all those years of dark, thoughtful songwriting — first as Smog and then on the pensive records he's made under his own name — I'd imagined a library, someplace quiet and dark.

Mark Mulcahy On World Cafe

Sep 10, 2013

If you were an indie-rock fan in the mid-1980s, then you undoubtedly stumbled upon Miracle Legion. In the post R.E.M. jangle-rock landscape, they called it "college rock" and the Connecticut-based Miracle Legion ruled. It happened again with his work on Nickelodeon's Adventures of Pete & Pete with the fake-band Polaris made up of Miracle Legion musicians.

As lead singer of the youthful Manchester band The 1975, Matthew Healy has cranked out a batch of enjoyably wiry songs, most notably the singles "Chocolate" and "Sex" — each of which has attracted more than a million YouTube plays. The group has been bubbling up, here and in the U.K., for the last year or two, as it's toured with Muse and released an album and four EPs full of brash-but-winsome, electronics-tinged pop-rock.

The Head And The Heart On World Cafe

Sep 9, 2013

This session, from Dec. 12, 2011, is the second in our Vintage Cafe series, where we revisit some of our best studio performances.

The Head and the Heart was formed after five twentysomethings met at an open mic night in Seattle.

"None of us knew each other beforehand," recalls singer Josiah Johnson. "I just happened to go to the same open mic. [Jonathan Russell] played some songs and I played some songs, then we started talking and hanging out."

KEXP Presents: Sharon Van Etten

Sep 9, 2013

From within the quaint wooded oasis of the Bunny Glade at the Portland, Ore., festival Pickathon, singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten thrilled us during a brief acoustic set with a brand-new song. "It'll be a radio debut," she said after performing a gorgeously sung version of "Tarifa" with her touring bandmate, Heather Woods Broderick.

The Mix: Britpop At 20

Sep 8, 2013

Franz Ferdinand On World Cafe

Sep 6, 2013

Scottish dance-rock band Franz Ferdinand are back with its fourth album, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action. A year-and-a-half in the making, the record includes collaborations with members of Hot Chip and Peter Bjorn and John. In this episode of World Cafe, we speak with lead singer Alex Kapranos and drummer Paul Thomson, and the band treats us to a live set.

"I hate music, what is it worth? / Can't bring anyone back to this earth," the band Superchunk sings. It's the kind of sentiment you'd imagine someone blurting out with bitter spontaneity, but it's not really music the band hates; it's the despair and grief to which their music bears witness. Superchunk's new downbeat-but-upbeat album, I Hate Music, is dedicated to a close friend who died last year.