Summary: WNYC, New York Public Radio, brings you Soundcheck, the arts and culture program hosted by John Schaefer, who engages guests and listeners in lively, inquisitive conversations with established and rising figures in New York City's creative arts scene. Guests come from all disciplines, including pop, indie rock, jazz, urban, world and classical music, technology, cultural affairs, TV and film. Recent episodes have included features on Michael Jackson,Crosby Stills & Nash, the Assad Brothers, Rackett, The Replacements, and James Brown.
New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra joined us with her band and an impressive array of pedals, playing songs from her album Vows back in 2012. You might recognize her from her guest vocals on Gotye's multi-platinum hit "Somebody That I Used To Know." She also appeared in the viral video for that song as well - wearing nothing but a coat of paint. Kimbra joined us with her band and an impressive array of pedals for an in-studio performance, playing songs from Vows. She blew us away with her powerful vocals and expressive performance. And we weren't the only ones who were impressed: Her performance of "Settle Down" in the Soundcheck studio quickly became the most viewed video on WNYC's YouTube channel. Here's this from the archives... Set List: "Two Way Street" "Withdraw" "Settle Down"
In recent years, oldies radio stations have inched further into the future - and have begun to focus on favorites from the '70s (and even '80s) rather than from the '50s and '60s. So we wondered, forty years from now - in 2052 - will songs of the '90s, '00s and '10s make it onto oldies radio? What will be in heavy rotation - and what will be left off of the playlist? We ask Chris Molanphy - author of the "100 & Single" Billboard charts column in the Village Voice – and we talk with Scott Shannon - who was, back in 2012, a WPLJ host and creator of the syndicated radio network The True Oldies Channel - about the state of oldies today. Check out Chris Molanphy's playlist (chronological listing): Twenty songs we’ll still be hearing on oldies radio in 2052 by Chris Molanphy (In chronological order by original release) 1. Sir Mix-a-Lot, “Baby Got Back” (1992) – This hit was underestimated by critics in ’92, compared with Arrested Development’s “Tennessee” (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 1) 2. Pearl Jam, “Yellow Ledbetter” (1992) – An example of how classic-rock acts are eventually remembered for a song that wasn’t their biggest radio hit. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 97) 3. Radiohead, “Creep” (1993) – Still their U.S. biggest hit, and though they’ve recorded greater albums this is still most likely to be in rotation decades from now. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 34) 4. Snoop (Doggy) Dogg, “Gin and Juice” (1994) – Because a great line is a great line, and “With my mind on my money and my money on my mind” is a great one. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 8) 5. Mariah Carey, “Always Be My Baby” (1996) – She was the biggest pop star of the ’90s, but a lot of her hits got burned out long ago; this one hasn’t. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 1) 6. Sublime, “What I Got” (1996) – Because bros and stoners, like it or not, are going to have a new “The Joker”/”Slow Ride.” (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: N/A—Airplay chart peak No. 29) 7. Blur, “Song 2” (1997) – Sports will still be the way we hear a lot of pop songs. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: N/A—Airplay chart peak No. 55) 8. Backstreet Boys, “I Want It That Way” (1999) – Great song; but also the Chinese brothers’ lip-dub (2005) was one of YouTube’s first viral videos—the future of hits. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 6) 9. Eminem, “Lose Yourself” (2002) – He won an Oscar for it, essentially because it’s this generation’s “Gonna Fly Now”/“Eye of the Tiger.” (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 1) 10. Coldplay, “Clocks” (2002) – Every generation has its easy-listening songs. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 29) 11. The White Stripes, “Seven Nation Army” (2003) – Because you can’t stop a good bassline, even when it’s actually played on a guitar. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 76) 12. The Postal Service, “Such Great Heights” or Yeah Yeah Yeahs, “Maps” (2003) – One of these will be the “Just Like Heaven” of our era—the hipster love song. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: N/A, No. 87) 13. OutKast, “Hey Ya!” (2003) – Burned out in its heyday but will probably never die. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 1) 14. Kelly Clarkson, “Since U Been Gone” (2005) – It will be the Millennial generation’s “sass anthem,” akin to “Respect” or “I Will Survive” (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 2) 15. Gnarls Barkley, “Crazy” (2006) – Because of its malleability as a song; decades hence it might be a folk classic. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 2) 16. Rihanna, “Umbrella” (2007) – It’s the lyrics: beneath its hip-hop exterior lie the bones of an old-time, sentimental love ballad. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 1) 17. Beyoncé, “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” (2008) – Weddings alone guarantee this a permanent hit-parade spot. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 1) 18. Jay-Z, “Empire State of Mind” (2009) – Rap’s Frank Sinatra ensured himself decades of royalties with his own Yankee-game-worthy perennial. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 1) 19. Lady Gaga, “Bad Romance” (2009) – Its nonsense lyric is “wamp-baba-lula” worthy; its video is a classic. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 2) 20. Taio Cruz, “Dynamite” (2010) – I’ve never met a kid under 10 who doesn’t love it, and they will all be in their fifties in 2052. (Peak on Billboard’s Hot 100: No. 2)
Grammy-nominated Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca presents an infusion of rap, funk, reggaeton and electronic music, performing songs from his latest record in studio. Yesun is the Havana-born artist’s ninth solo album, it explores the music of his homeland, and incorporates electronic beats, spoken word, and retro-modern keyboards. "[It's] the album I’ve always wanted to make, all my influences are here. All the sounds and vibes that make me who I am.” - Rosa Gollan Watch the session here:
Oklahoma-raised, Brooklyn- and DC-based artist Bartees Strange presents his re-imaginings of songs by The National in studio. Both a heartfelt homage and a political act of critique, he takes inspiration from the music, the lyrics, and even the cover art to examine how black artists can find room in white spaces. The idea for his debut EP, Say Goodbye to Pretty Boy (out March 13), started when Strange attended a concert of The National in 2019 and he was surprised by how few black people were there to watch, and he asked himself the questions: "Why was it so rare to see black people at shows like these, to see black musicians freed from reductive definitions of genre, to see black acts with this level of success in a genre that is deeply informed by legacies of black music in America?" So he focused his attention on reinterpreting and translating their songs through a personal lens, acknowledging the possibilities and contradictions within the genre. Read more at Bandcamp. Set List: About Today (The National cover) Lemonhead (The National cover) Going, Going (Original) Watch the session here:
Rebecca Foon, the cellist, producer, composer and climate activist, is a central part of the Montreal new music scene. She's a former member of Thee Silver Mt. Zion, co-founded the progressive chamber band Esmerine, and created albums of cello and electronic soundscapes under the name Saltland. But her new album features a lot more piano, other instruments, and the the quiet kick of her own cello-like voice. The album’s called Waxing Moon, and it’s come out under Rebecca Foon’s own name. Cellist and pianist Rebecca Foon performs some of this new material, in-studio. Watch the session here:
The quartet of “Dublin folk miscreants” called Lankum reworks traditional folk songs so that they are infused with an “urban punk” vibe as well as some psychedelic drone. Made of brothers Ian Lynch (uillean pipes, tin whistle, vocals), Daragh Lynch (vocals, guitar) alongside Cormac Mac Diarmada (fiddle) and Radie Peat (harmonium, accordion, vocals), the band deconstructs and reassembles traditional Irish songs, allowing them to grow and breathe, yet bathing them in a dark and raw energy. Lankum’s press makes no bones about their wide-ranging interests in Krautrock to drone to ambient to Brian Eno, and describes them as “born of years criss-crossing the folk, squat and experimental scenes. The band plays some of their distinct drone-folk, in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Set list: "Katie Cruel," "Bear Creek," "Rocky Road to Dublin" Stream this Web Extra, "Rocky Road to Dublin" from Lankum: Here's a video of their song, "The Young People":
The Brooklyn-based collective The World/Inferno Friendship Society is a righteous gumbo of dark cabaret, which might touch on punk, ska, blues, rockenroll, klezmer, gospel, and jazz. With catchy tunes, and pizzazz-filled energy, World/Inferno pushes the limits of what could possibly be perceived as punk rock. Their brand-new record is hot off the presses, All Borders Are Porous To Cats, and it brings the band to make some mischief, in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Watch the live session here:
In her music, singer and producer Katie Gately delivers spectral singing, layers of electronics, and an array of unusual sampled sounds for an effect that is unsettling, yet somehow inviting. Her latest record, Loom, was created in reaction to her late mother's illness, and is a lovely and challenging soundworld into which she poured her heart. Katie Gately performs some of these songs, in-studio. Watch the session here:
British singer-songwriter Jack Penate gets spiritual with soul and mysticism, and throws down raw emotion with pop polish. He reflects about his decade of hiatus and cites his inspirations: Turkish and Iranian psychedelic music as well as the influence of powerful classic gospel by the Chicago Pastor T. L. Barrett and his youth-focused ministry. Also, he talks about scouting the dramatic cliffs, stone quarry, and cave in Dorset as part of the video shoot for "Murder," and poetry by his grandfather, Mervyn Peake. Jack Penate plays stripped-down arrangements of songs from his latest record, in-studio. - Caryn Havlik
Malian singer-songwriter, guitarist, and actor Fatoumata Diawara is a multiple Grammy Award nominee, currently living in Paris. "Fatou" Diawara has become an enthusiastic collaborator - with musicians from other African countries - Cheikh Lô, AfroCubism, and Orchestra Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou - as well as rock stars like Damon Albarn and Flea and traditional players from Cuba and Brittany. She has also worked as a social activist, campaigning against the trafficking and sale of black migrants in Libyan slave markets. On her most recent, Fenfo (“Something to Say”), electric guitar riffs combine with the strings of the kora and kamel ngoni and drum kit combines with the timeless rhythms of traditional percussion. The record was co-produced by French auteur Matthieu Chedid aka M, who plays guitar and organ, and the versatile cellist Vincent Segal is a guest on a few tracks. Fatoumata Diawara shares the fruits of her latest musical adventures, in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Watch the session here:
Dutch pianist and composer Joep Beving records for the world’s most prestigious classical music label, but his streaming numbers are more like a pop star. He creates introspective and often filmic instrumental piano compositions, representing a quest for essence and beauty. Beving plays one piece from each of his mostly solo piano records on a down-tuned piano (A=432), in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Watch the session here:
Grammy-winning singer and songwriter Ileana Mercedes Cabra Joglar – is better known as iLe - but for a long time she was known as PG-13, in the Puerto Rican hip-hop group Calle 13. Her 2016 solo debut, iLevitable, was a masterful survey of traditional Latin forms - boleros, ballads, boogaloo, and mambo. Now, with her latest, Almadura (the title means “strong soul” and is a play on words of the Spanish word for "armor" ("armadura") - thanks, Wikipedia) she draws from traditional musical genres like bomba and boogaloo, and continues to learn from her own roots, serenading her native Puerto Rico and calling for political action. iLe and her band play some of these tunes, in-studio. - Caryn Havlik Watch the session here:
Pianist Omar Sosa grew up in the Afro-Cuban tradition, studied jazz in America, and now lives in Barcelona. Yilian loves to go back to her Cuban roots but refuses to be locked into stereotypes. Together, these two Cuban artists living outside their homeland blend Afro-Cuban roots, jazz, and Western Classical music in work inspired by the important influences of water – and called AGUAS Trio. Omar Sosa and Yilian Cañizares (Venezuelan percussionist Gustavo Ovalles) play live in our studio. Watch the session here:
Bonny Light Horseman is a new trio consisting of Anais Mitchell, the songwriter behind the all-conquering Broadway musical Hadestown; Eric D Johnson, who leads the band Fruit Bats; and Josh Kaufman, who’s played with The National, Craig Finn, and many others. Together they are taking a new look at old folk songs from both sides of the Atlantic. The band name is actually from an old Napoleonic folk song about a handsome soldier who may or may not ever come home (here's their version.) With intimate harmonies and heartbreaking choruses, the trio Bonny Light Horseman plays music from their shimmering, chill-inducing self-titled debut, in-studio. Watch the session here:
The 12-piece plus Afrobeat orchestra known as Antibalas (Spanish for "bulletproof") first made its reputation with hard-hitting, politically charged music in the style of the Nigerian bandleader Fela Kuti. In the more than 20 years that they've been playing together, the Brooklyn collective served as the house band and musical directors for the Broadway show Fela!, in addition to being the house band at Carnegie Hall at tribute shows performing the music of Paul Simon (2014), David Byrne and Talking Heads (2015) and Aretha Franklin (2017). The music of Antibalas comes from an adventurous place where one might find horn-heavy funk, Afro-Cuban music, the loping rhythms of Ethiogroove, Caribbean dance, punk rock, and extra-planetary cosmic jazz all sharing the same playground. For their latest record, Fu Chronicles, Duke Amayo (lead singer, percussionist and composer) and Antibalas founder/baritone saxophonist Martín Perna look back to pre-gentrified Williamsburg, Brooklyn, when Antibalas and Daptone Records "spawned out of Amayo’s kung fu dojo.” (Amayo is a senior master of the Jow Ga Kung Fu School of martial arts. -Bandcamp) Antibalas joins us in-studio to play some of the new tunes. - Caryn Havlik Fu Chronicles by Antibalas