Heavy Rotation: 5 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing
We've also got picks from WNYC's Soundcheck program, KUNM's excellent gospel show Train to Glory and KMHD in Portland, which was named Jazz Station of the Year by Jazz Week magazine.
Amy Cook, "Airplane Driver"
In rotation on: KUTX in Austin, Texas
Amy Cook spent her formative years in California (like an astonishing number of adopted Austinites), but her music is far more atmospheric, moody and introspective than any stereotype might suggest. Cook has fast become one of the most enchanting musicians to graduate from the coffeehouse scene to bigger rock clubs, earning recent accolades from the likes of Paste Magazine and American Songwriter. Though her latest album (2012's Summer Skin) references her sun-drenched Pacific Coast roots, "Airplane Driver" works remarkably well as a winter song — warm, magnetic and haunting. Alert ears will pick out a couple of other Austin-based musicians (Patty Griffin and Robert Plant) singing backup. Judging by the reaction we've gotten from listeners, 2013 will be another big year in the ascendancy of Amy Cook. —David Brown, host of Texas Music Matters
Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, "Hanging Up My Heart"
In rotation on: XPN2: Singer-Songwriter Radio in Philadelphia
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell are both legends in the world of country and folk music. The singer-songwriters have released seminal solo records over the years, but they began their working relationship way back when Crowell became a member of Harris' Hot Band in the mid-'70s. Their new album of duets, Old Yellow Moon, sounds classic in every sense of musical accomplishment: from their gorgeous singing and inspiring studio performances to their excellent choice of material, including covers of songs by Roger Miller and Kris Kristofferson and originals by Crowell. It hearkens back to classic recordings like Harris' Elite Hotel and Crowell's Diamonds and Dirt, and brings the best out of the two veterans. —Bruce Warren, XPN2 program director
Parquet Courts, "Borrowed Time"
In rotation on: WNYC's Soundcheck
Nothing to see here, folks — no string of hyphens trying to pin down a band that can't be placed in a neat musical box. No clever turns of phrase describing said band as [Slightly Older But Almost As Obscure Act] meets [Forgotten Cult Artist]. So just move along. But first, listen to "Borrowed Time" by the Brooklyn group Parquet Courts; it's punk rock that hurtles forward and brandishes a sneaky, sticky hook. The words are retrospective without wallowing in nostalgia, with an inventive internal rhyme scheme. Parquet Courts' songs often clock in at just more than a minute in length (cue reference to punk classics by The Minutemen), so at an epic two and a half minutes, with a pregnant pause in the middle, this feels like a song so nice, the band went and played it twice. We all like Parquet Courts here at Soundcheck, and the group will do a live set for us in February. —John Schaefer, host of WNYC's Soundcheck
Bishop Richard "Mr. Clean" White, "I'm Glad"
In rotation on: KUNM in Albuquerque, N.M.
"I'm Glad (I Don't Look Like What I've Been Through)" is an upbeat traditional gospel song for just about anyone. Beyond its title, the track chronicles a life of hard times ("You see me now, but you didn't see me when") and offers reassurance that things are going to get better. It's there to provide hope that hard times don't seem so bad when viewed as part of a larger picture. Whenever we play it, the Train to Glory phones light up with comments celebrating the song's ode to truth and survival. —Cecilia Webb, host of KUNM's Train to Glory program
PROJECT Trio, "Sweet Pea"
In rotation on: KMHD in Portland, Ore.
The members of Brooklyn's PROJECT Trio are out to demonstrate that chamber music need not be a stuffy, high-minded genre that only appeals to a narrow demographic. With just three acoustic instruments (upright bass, cello, flute), the trio conjures up a big sound. In "Sweet Pea," listeners are treated to a sort of rhythmic, jazzy groove that incorporates themes from classical, hip-hop and Americana. What first stood out to me, however, was the beat-boxing flute technique of Greg Patillo (with obvious nods to Rahsaan Roland Kirk). When we play this song on the air, listeners often call to ask, "What is that?" "Who is that?" "Where can I get this?" I can see why: There's a nice punch and a lot of fun packed into these three and a half minutes. —Matt Fleeger, KMHD Program Director