Stephen Kellogg On Mountain Stage

Aug 21, 2013

Singer-songwriter Stephen Kellogg is one of the nicest guys ever to play Mountain Stage. Mere seconds before his performance began, a heavy writing desk that was anchored to the backstage wall came lose, and Stephen was there to catch it – and hold it, with his guitar in the other hand – until a pair of stagehands relieved him.

Viking's Choice: Windhand, 'Orchard'

Aug 20, 2013

Windhand is one of those body-rattling bands whose decibels clobber the smoke-filled air. This is especially true in a live setting, in which masses of people are drawn to the riffs like moths. The Richmond stoner-metal band gets close to that desperately heavy live vibe on its second album, Soma, especially in "Orchard."

Did you want to hear how a song evolves? How a single spark of inspiration transforms into words and then melody and finally a fully produced complex production?

Jordon Gieger, known by the moniker Hospital Ships, has unveiled his journey as a songwriter for us. "Desolation Waltz" is a song Geiger began writing in Columbus, Ohio after "listening to a very fiery preacher on the radio, who would break into little melodies in the middle of his sermons. I decided to write songs a capella, in my car."

All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton has been feeling a little dazed and confused lately, so host Bob Boilen gives him a "sonic hug" with a new song from the Austin, Texas rock band The Octopus Project. Robin follows with a surprising cut from the first new Nine Inch Nails album in five years. NPR's Sami Yenigun brings a healthy dose of dance beats from Seven Davis Jr.

When I first saw The Front Bottoms, I was stunned to see 350-plus singing, shouting club-goers repeat verse after complicated verse back at singer Brian Sella. Then it happened again at a hot, sweaty club in Philadelphia, and later in D.C., and then again in Baltimore. The community that's formed around these songs — as total strangers purge deep emotions in a public space — is a beautiful phenomenon, a testament to the passion and compassion that this band radiates.

Almost 10 years after "Take Me Out" helped the band break through commercially, win a Mercury Prize and craft a zeitgeist-defining sound — and two years after a rumored breakup — Franz Ferdinand returns with its first new album since 2009. It's the Glaswegian dance-rock ambassadors' best work since their 2004 arrival: Confident and freshly energized, Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action captures the ease of pressure that comes with knowing that a decade-old band can't be co-opted as a cool new thing.

Camera Obscura On World Cafe

Aug 16, 2013

Heartbreak has long resided at the center of Tracyanne Campbell's songs for Camera Obscura. Remember, she's the one who wrote a song responding to Lloyd Cole's "Are You Ready to Be Heartbroken?" — naturally, it's titled "Lloyd, I'm Ready to Be Heartbroken."

August is shaping up to be American music month in Shanghai. Metallica, the legendary heavy metal band, has just wrapped up its long-awaited China debut with two packed shows at the city's Mercedes-Benz Arena. This weekend, Limp Bizkit headlines a two-day festival. Next week, Aerosmith plays a Shanghai soccer stadium followed by a concert by Pitbull, the Cuban-American rapper from Miami.

Mikal Cronin On World Cafe

Aug 15, 2013

Mikal Cronin's second solo album, MCII, contains more of his delightful, frequently dazzling, guitar-drenched pop-rock. Originally from Southern California, Cronin wrote his first record in response to making the post-college move to San Francisco. The new album is more about what happened when he got there and started playing in Ty Segall's band.

On this episode of World Cafe, Cronin sits down to chat with host David Dye and play a few songs with his band live in the studio.

Doom is as doom does. No matter how many sub-sub genre tags you put on it — blackened, atmospheric, sludge, bedazzled (okay, I made that up, but what if) — all descend from Black Sabbath. But you knew that. Doom thrives on repetition, in both its riffs and its tributes. The Salt Lake City doom-metal band SubRosa isn't out to reinvent the stone wheel, but it does offer a unique perspective by looking back to America's melancholic folk roots for something darker and more soulful.