Named for the legendary Malibu, California recording studio where it was recorded, Shangri-La is a classic Mark Knopfler album. Including his great body of work with Dire Straits, Knopfler’s signature guitar sound, vocals and intelligent lyrics and songs have made him a favorite artist of XPN listeners and members.
Elvis Costello’s first album for the Lost Highway label is a roots-rock laden collection of songs inspired by the history and cultural import of the location where it was recorded – mostly in Oxford, Mississippi, but also in Clarksdale, Mississippi and Nashville. Costello - working with his band Steve Nieve on keyboards, bassist Davey Farragher and drummer Pete Thomas – touches down on gospel and soul, sweet ballads and rollicking rock.
In early 2002 WXPN listeners and members got their first taste of the sounds and music of Citizen Cope on his self-titled debut record on the Dreamworks label. Fusing soulful, down-home grooves with pop sensibilities, Cope’s record quickly found a home on 88.5 and developed a nice following in our listening areas. Cope’s debut was smart, intelligent, high quality music for an integrated world. Not afraid to take on weighty, social, cultural and political issues in his lyrics, he’s both a realist and an optimist. Songs like “If There’s Love,” “Let The Drummer Kick It,” “Mistaken Identity,” and “Contact” quickly became staples on the radio dial at XPN, as did Cope’s collaboration with Santana on the song “Sideways” from Santana’s Shaman album.
One of XPN’s Artists To Watch for 2004, singer-songwriter, Ray Lamontagne explains how Stephen Stills saved his life. One of six children raised by a single mom who worked hard to make ends meet, Lamontagne – who barely made it out of high school left his family for Lewiston, Maine. Bored, going nowhere in his life and doing some serious soul searching Ray was in Lewiston working long hard hours in a shoe factory when he experienced a musical epiphany.
In 1963, renowned chemists Bear Owsley and Nick Sands developed a strain of designer LSD which had a reputation for inducing tribal hallucinations. This strain of acid was called “west indian girl,” hence the name for which the Los Angeles duo of Robert James and Francis Ten have chosen to call their musical collaboration.
Everyone Is Here is Neil and Tim Finn’s first collaborative studio album in eight years. Throughout their careers, the Finn’s have enjoyed global success alone and together. Between their solo careers, Crowded House, and Split Enz, Neil and Tim Finn have written more than their fair share of classic tunes we have come to love over the years. There are too many songs to list, however a handful will remind you of their stature as significant songwriters: “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” “Weather With You,” ”Six Months In A Leaky Boat,” “I Got You,” “Persuasion,” and “She Will Have Her Way.” No fan of pop music can deny the power of these songs over time.
One of XPN’s Artists To Watch for 2004, Charlotte Martin is a remarkable new talent. In 2003 Ms. Martin released an EP called In Parentheses that signaled her engaging arrival. An intense piano-laden collection of confessional songs in which she demonstrated her amazing vocals, it was but a hint of the magic she would ultimately release on her full debut album, On Your Shore.
It’s been two years since the release of Bruce Hornsby’s Big Swing Face and on his debut for a new label, Columbia Records, Hornsby comes out swinging with 11 great songs. On Halcyon Days, Hornsby is in classic form; it’s a 21st century album that recalls some of his best work starting with his debut The Way It Is in 1986 and on 1993’s Harbor Lights.
For her debut on the distinguished Nonesuch label, k.d. lang’s new album is filled with songs that she says are “part of her cultural fabric, my Canadian soundtrack.” On Hymns, lang chose to cover songs written by some of her favorite Canadian singers and songwriters including Neil Young, Bruce Cockburn, Leonard Cohen, Ron Sexsmith, Jane Siberry, and Joni Mitchell.
Coming off their explosive performance at this year’s XPN Singer-Songwriter Weekend, the Old 97’s – fronted by Rhett Miller – return with a fine new collection. It’s their first new collection since 2001’s Satellite Rides and the first since Rhett Miller’s solo debut in 2002, The Instigator.
Singer-songwriter Ben Arnold is no stranger to XPN listeners and members. A staple of the local music scene since the early Nineties Ben is an honest and earnest songwriter of immense talent whether doing a solo gig with an acoustic guitar, as a member of the Philly super-group 4 Way Street or leading his own highly engaging rock band.
A fantastic new artist is emerging from the acoustic music world and she’s one of our Artists To Watch for 2004. Nashville singer-songwriter Adrienne Young’s debut album is a beautiful, well-crafted and passionate collection of songs that brings to mind the work of artists like Gillian Welch, Mindy Smith and Nickel Creek in their musical context and breadth. Like each of those artists Ms. Young is a unique artist with a compelling vision and message. She’s a neo-traditionalist comfortable with old-timey music who spins it out in a modern, contemporary world.
Joining us this year at XPN’s 11th annual Singer Songwriter Weekend on Saturday July 17th will be Michael McDermott, whose new album is a collection of rock and roll – quite simply – at its best. Passionate, committed, great songs, intense playing –it’s all on Michael’s new album, Ashes.
Wilco is a difficult yet intelligent band that demands your love and attention. They can be equally frustrating and exhilarating, and are one of the last remaining artistically challenging and interesting American bands.
The fact that Keane stand on their own, with songs so gorgeously filled with shimmering pop radiance is the reason, why we’ve chosen the band as one of our Artists To Watch for 2004.
One of our Artists to Watch for 2004 - XPN listeners have had a glimpse of the talented Rachael Yamagata since the release of an EP from which the song “Worn Me Down” has become one of XPN’s most requested songs. Over the last six months Rachael has been putting the finishing touches on her debut album, Happenstance. The album was produced by John Alagia, whose magic touch can be heard on favorite XPN albums from artists including Jason Mraz, Dave Matthews, John Mayer, and O.A.R.
The welcoming phrase that serves as the title to the 18th volume in our Live at the World Cafe series puts you the listener in a very good place indeed. As we move to our new World Café studio these songs will always remind us of what will forever be the “old World Cafe.”
Born in New York, singer-songwriter David Mead spent most of his life in Nashville where he still lives. After spending several years as a member of a couple of Nashville’s most popular local bands, including Joe Mark’s Brother, David left the band and released his solo debut in 1999 with The Luxury Of Time. Mead specializes in sweet, melodic pop songs that often recall Paul Simon’s early solo work, the more romantic side of Paul McCartney and the pop wizardry of Fountains of Wayne.
Welcome to the shape of jazz to come. He is pianist and singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum, currently one of a handful of “twentysomething” “jazz” artists interpreting pop songs old and new, and writing originals on his own unique terms. Cullum’s album Twentysomething, and his charismatic, energetic shows land him in the States as a bonafide UK superstar. Superstardom in the UK rarely assures success in the States (ask the Smiths and Robbie Williams about that), however, early stateside reviews of Cullum’s new album and his sensational stage show are pointing towards something new and interesting coming our way.
One would think that after 7 years of near exile and having recently turned 45, that the concept of Morrissey – let alone his music – would be irrelevant in the world of music as we know it. You Are The Quarry – Morrissey’s first album since 1997’s disappointing Maladjusted - is anything but irrelevant. It’s a solid, completely important comeback from the former Smiths' front man whose music never quite found the level of popularity in the States as it deserved.
Extraordinary songwriting, brilliant production, remarkable performances and a voice that sounds as confident as it did when she debuted 40 years ago in Nashville mark one of the years best albums from a country legend pushing 70 and produced by one of rock’s alternative hot shots. Loretta Lynn’s collaboration with Jack White of the White Stripes, Van Lear Rose, is a collaboration that far exceeds any expectations about the album when it was being produced and recorded and word started circulating in the music world about the project.
The Wolves are back!
Los Lobos’s latest album pulls together some of the best songs from their back catalogue, throws in a handful of new tunes and features collaborations with some all-time great musicians.
Joining Lobos are guests with as wide-ranging musical styles as eclectic as those of Los Lobos themselves. New songs like “Kitate” feature Tom Waits, “Somewhere In Time” with Dave Alvin, “Hurry Tomorrow” was co-written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, and “Ya Se Va” with Ruben Blades on vocals and Alberto Salas of Los Super 7 on piano.
Singer-songwriter Bob Schneider has been a fixture on the Austin music scene who made his solo debut in 1999 with the underrated album Lonelyland. Prior to his solo career a band project he’s most noted for was as a member of the Ugly Americans, a jam-influenced band that had some success opening for Dave Matthews and the HORDE festival.
Jem Griffiths hails from Cardiff, Wales - home of Tom Jones, and if you’re a fan of Beth Orton, Dido, or even The Sundays, and Everything But The Girl, you’ll appreciate Jem’s wonderful debut collection of pop-oriented and orchestrated beats.
On his new album, Eric Clapton covers 14 of the 29 songs that legendary bluesman Robert Johnson wrote during his lifetime. Robert Johnson has always been one of Clapton’s primary musical influences. “It is a remarkable thing,” writes Clapton in the liner notes to this record, “to have been driven and influenced all of my life by the work of one man. His music is like my oldest friend.” During his career - from John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to Cream and his own solo records