Born in Jersey and now based in Nashville, folk songstress Jessie Baylin has roots in classic pop, jazz, and even the blues. Growing up on a steady diet of Nina Simone, Ella Fitzgerald, and Billie Holiday, Baylin also acquired an affinity for the intimacy and wildness of bar performances--by the time she was 13, she was singing at the local jazz bar herself. She later moved to Los Angeles and became enamored with the Laurel Canyon brand of rootsy folk, and later debuted with an album entitled You and produced by Grammy winner Jesse Harris. Since then, she's toured with likes of Marc Broussard, James Morrison, and Brett Dennen. She also released "Firesight", a deeply personal and soulful album that showcased her budding creativity. She's now back with a follow up, the rich and powerful Little Spark.
Released just this past January, Little Spark is deeply influenced by Dusty Springfield and other such soul queens. Yet Baylin doesn't spend too much time looking for nostalgia--she's inventing her own expansive, modern take on classic pop. Given the orchestral components and the choral passages, the sound of Little Spark certainly does conjure a time of living room radios and big bands, but Baylin's sultry, expansive, and gorgeous vocals carry home the freshness of her music.
Be sure not to miss out on hearing the talented Jessie Baylin live--it's the weekly Live Friday XPN Free At Noon performance, and there's no better way to start the weekend. You can also catch Jessie, with The Watson Twins for a full show on March 3 at World Cafe Live.
Hailing from Ridgewood, NJ, but now comfortably situated (both in sound and influence) in Brooklyn, NY, Real Estate is a young five-piece making waves in the music market. Band members Alex Bleeker (bass), Martin Courtney (vocals, guitar), Mathew Mondanile (guitar), Jackson Pollis (drums), and Jonah Mauer (keys and guitar) have all been together for just one year, though the roots of Real Estate were planted in 2008. In the last few years, Real Estate have been building a reputation for coherent, catchy, and precise tunes--but tunes that are also introspective or effervescent at all the right times. Real Estate's summer-y indie rock is nothing short of spell-binding.
Since releasing a set of demos and their self-titled debut in 2009, Real Estate has since been named 'Best New Music' by Pitchfork, toured with the likes of Deerhunter, Girls, and Kurt Vile, and played at festivals around the world. Now that they're out with their follow-up, Real Estate is picking up even more followers and buzz. This latest album, entitled "Days" and released on their new label Domino, is just as cheerful yet just as sentimental in sound. Influenced by power-pop and beach sun by turn, it's clear that Real Estate is definitely here to stay.
Don't miss your chance to see Real Estate as the week winds down--they're here for a Free at Noon session this Friday! There's no better way to start the weekend.
Chicago's JC Brooks & The Uptown Sound play Kung Fu Necktie with Sunny Day in Philly on Thursday night, December 15. They'll be here for a double header with Gary Clark Jr., for a Free At Noon on Friday, December 16, 2011
XPN Artist To Watch, JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are hopelessly nostalgic, in love with the Chicago soul scene from the 1970s. self-described as heavy-soul, and guitarist Billy Bungeroth explained that the group marries classic soul with contemporary sound thus: they take rock and R&B from prior to 1975, before it lost its novelty, and the then underground punk and hip-hop movements of the same period. "Our music is just re-imagining that first era with the knowledge of the second underground era," he explained in a 2009 interview, after their debut album "Beat of Our Own Drum," was released. Since then, they have collaborated with the likes of Syl Johnson, Renaldo Domino and Nate Evans from the Impressions. They've also released another album, "Want More." Their shows are outrageously fun, and it's difficult to believe that singer JC Brooks isn't a soul legend from the '70s when he belts out their danceable, lyrically packed tunes. JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound are reincarnating a moment in music history by breathing fresh air into it. Here's to hoping they never move on.
JC Brooks & the Uptown Sound will be performing here at WXPN and World Cafe Life on December 16 at noon. Make sure to come out for a show that's sure to be as soulful as it is fresh.
And just about every listener feels the pull as keenly with the Peace Creeps on stage or through headphones. Don't miss them on the stage with Beck & Cauthen this Friday at noon.
Boasting a trio of self-produced albums under his belt, Gary Clark Jr. is a rising star of the thriving music scene in Austin, Texas. He began playing guitar at the tender young age of 12, and has since expanded his repertoire to the harmonica, bass, and drums; he's also the winner of multiple accolades, including the Austin Music Award for Best Blues Band in three separate years. But he plays more than just blues, cutting through genres to produce a stunning blend of reggae, rock and soul. Though still only in his 20s, Clark has shared the stage with legends like Jimmie Vaughan, Sheryl Crow, and Eric Clapton. And, this past summer, he played the XPoNential Music Festival (http://www.xpn.org/events/xponential-music-festival/2011/artist?artist=23). Clark can sing some sweet R&B but mostly he's a blistering blues and rock artist at heart
In Augst, he released his third offering, an EP entitled "The Bright Lights EP." The four-song collection has already gotten rave reviews, with Rolling Stone describing Clark as a mind-blowing young blues guitarist. If anything, this tantalizing release has built Clark an eager audience, excitedly anticipating a full-length.
Gary plays The Mercurry Lounge in New York City on Debember 13, 8x10 Club in Baltimore on December 16, and Red Palace in D.C. on December 17.
Gary Clark Jr. joins JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound for a free noontime concert this Friday at WXPN and World Cafe Live. There's no better way to start the weekend, especially if it's a double dose of blues and soul.
JD Souther is a veritable country-rock living legend, writing songs over his impressive career for the likes of The Eagles, Linda Ronstadt, and Jackson Browne. He's on tour in support of his latest album "Natural History," and will be here for an XPN Free At Noon on December 2, along with a special set by Magnolia Memoir.
After Souther relocated to Nashville, he wrote for an even greater variety of artists--India Arie, Trisha Yearwood, George Strait, and Brooks & Dunn and over time has accumulated numerous awards for hit records, Grammy nominations and gold and platinum albums. He's also a successful solo artist, releasing several charting albums in the '70s and '80s. In 2008, he released his fifth solo album. Though "If the World Was You" is undeniably Souther--hearty, solid country-rock--the years of change are evident in this collection. Now he's back with a follow-up, released just this past May.
"Natural History" is retrospective and hearty, full of a mix of obscure recordings from Souther's long history, a new song, and plenty of reclamations from his past - the Eagles with 'The Sad Cafe', 'Best Of My Love' and 'New Kid In Town', and Linda Ronstadt with 'Faithless Love' are now all Souther's again. Souther described the result as "smoky and rainy", almost like "film noir", full of occasionally jazzy acoustics and his sophisticated vocals.
Don't miss JD Souther at this Free at Noon, as he brings some truly inspired country rock to the World Cafe stage. There's not a better way to start the weekend!
And, be sure to catch him for a full show on Saturday night, December 3 at Sellersville Theater.
Magnolia Memoir brings the sultry danceability of jazz to contemporary rock. Self-described as "Billie Holiday meets the Killers with a dash of the Clash," LA-based Magnolia Memoir is making waves. Vocalist and songwriter Mela Lee boasts a five-octave range and a girlishly sweet voice, which has been featured in numerous movies, television shows and commercials. With Alexander Burke as music director and keyboardist, bassist Gordon Bash, guitarist Aron Forbes and Matt Lucich on drums, the ensemble will be doing a special acoustic set opening for J.D Souther this week's Free at Noon show. They are currently touring their EP "What's A Good Girl Do?" and their debut album "The Perfect Crime" will be released on eOne Music Group in February.
From the Santa Monica Pier to Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble, with three solid years of touring under their collective belt, Angel Band has rapidly expanded their following from opening act up to headliner status. No audience has been known to have been unmoved by Angel Band's all-out stage presence, signature rootsy, bluesy Americana songs, superb back-up band and the vocals of leader and lyricist Nancy Josephson and fellow Angels Kathleen Weber and Aly Paige. Initially performing as opening act and backup singers for Josephson's husband, world-class roots musician David Bromberg at Bonnaroo, Merlefest, the Philadelphia Folk Festival and other high profile events, Angel Band has moved up to playing prestigious concert venues on their own. Voted one of the Top 10 Favorite Bands at Bonnaroo, Angel Band are clearly a group on the ascent.
Born and raised in new York City, Nancy Josephson says "I don't ever remember not singing," and was thumping on an acoustic guitar at age six. She learned to play stand-up bass and was a founding member of the all-girl bluegrass group, the Buffalo Gals. After a move to California in the mid 70's she performed with a number of well-known bluegrass and "new grass" performers, including Arlo Guthrie, Peter Rowan and the Free Mexican Airforce, Laurie Lewis and Kathy Kallick (of the Good Ol' Persons), and The David Bromberg Big Band. She has also sung back-up with Bonnie Raitt, Linda Ronstadt and Phoebe Snow, among others.
In 1980, David and Nancy moved to Chicago, where he studied violin making while Nancy sang commercial jingles, joined The Annettes as the only Caucasian in a 30-voice women's choir, raised two young children and switched to visual arts as her main creative outlet. When the city of Wilmington, Delaware asked David and Nancy to become artists in residence in 2002, Nancy initially refrained from joining the bluegrass sessions David organized there, until Bromberg started raving about a mother and sister vocal duo that might accommodate a third voice. "Mainly to satisfy David" Nancy attended the next jam and was hooked by the resultant three-part harmonies. Thus began the formation of Angel Band.
Kathleen Weber comes from a musical family in Philadelphia. She is a four-year veteran of the Angel Band and a lifelong singer; one critic exclaimed "her deep, bluesy voice seems almost out of place in her small frame." You can really hear her influences channeled: Mahalia Jackson, Aretha Franklin and and Alison Krause, among others. Her versatility allows her to move easily between Angel Band's low down and dirty and simple, sweet songs. Aly Paige's vocals are clear, clean and powerful. Originally from Delaware, now living in Philadelphia, Aly joined the band as a novice in the Americana world, but with some roots in the world of opera. Aly belts with the best of them, and one can hear a little Etta James in her approach to the material; soulful, soaring, then close up and intimate, Aly's approach captivates and ignites the audience.
Matthew Sweet is on tour in support of the 20th Anniversary re-issue of his classic 1991 album, Girlfriend and plays World Cafe Live at the Queen in Wilmington, on Friday night October 28, and Sellersville Theatre on Thursday, November 3. He'll play XPN Free At Noon at the Queen on Friday, October 28.
Creating catchy rock/powerpop music seems to always have been an integral part of Matthew Sweet's life. Sweet was off to an early start in his musical career, self-recording several solo pieces onto four-tracks and later recording with his high-school band Specs for a battle of the bands LP. Such mild stepping stones in Sweet's life lead him straight to the heart of the 80's Athen's music scene. After settling in Athens for college, he found himself collaborating with several groups and top artist including Community Trolls with Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Oh-Ok and Buzz of Delight. By the mid-80's, Sweet landed himself a deal with Columbia Records and later A&M Records. While his poppy tunes and catchy riffs were praised, he never quite achieved mainstream status. It wasn't until the release of his third album "Girlfriend" (1991) that his expanding melodic sound broke through the boundaries of the pop aesthetic and paved the way to a more successful career. With a newfound momentum, Sweet embarked on assembling new bands, such as The Thorns (2002), and working on several new solo projects. Among his most recent work is his solo-album Modern Art. Full of yearning pop, infectious medolies, and witty wordplay, "Modern Art" proves to be another successful release for Matthew Sweet.
One of the longest-running bands to come from the first-generation British punk
movement, The Mekons have been making music since 1977. Punk at the core but not afraid to mix it up, The Mekons have dabbled in a range of other genres, from folk to reggae. But the eight members of The Mekons are still defined by their brand of post-apocalyptic cowboy punk, which has garnered them a significant amount of acclaim. Their 28th album, titled Ancient and Modern, was released just this past September--and it holds to Mekon sound, albeit some evidencing some of the Mekon's mellowing over time. But that doesn't mean it's any less charming.
True to form, the Mekons have infused Ancient and Modern with plenty of hooks and clever, thought-provoking lyrics. Group choruses abound in The Mekons' music and the band actually sound they are having fun when they play. It is this fact that makes The Mekons so appealing: in an age where being cool means acting unaffected, The Mekons are still not afraid to put everything on the table and to have fun while doing it.
Wrapping up a list of tour dates in the Midwest and Eastern US, the Mekons will be visiting World Cafe. Come see one of the longest-running, and still rocking, bands in the history of punk at XPN's Live Friday on October 7. It's free and it's undoubtedly the best way to start your weekend.
XPN Artist To Watch, Diego Garcia is on tour in support of his debut album, Laura, and plays two shows at the Tin Angel on September 21. He'll be here for a Free At Noon show Friday, September 23.
Former frontman of the indie band, Elefant, Diego Garcia went solo in 2010. His new album Laura is on many "Best of the Year 2011" lists, and is also a XPN Featured Album of the Week.
Incorporating his Latin background – his parents are both Argentinean – into his lush, delicate music, Diego Garcia’s deeply reflective music calls to mind the likes of Leonard Cohen and Morrissey. Garcia writes incredibly introspective, often-anguished lyrics, and subtly fuses the Spanish guitar with a more traditional folk sound. With lyrics that explore a range of emotional planes, Garcia is a master of subtlety: Whether it is with panicking guitar strums, twinkles of Spanish guitar, or his soft and intimate musings, Garcia is able to delicately move the listener on an emotional level. He manages to weave his sounds like a tapestry, crafting a dreamlike, confidential album that is sure to leave listeners wanting more. After all, the album is all about his wife, Laura, and signifies a new, more personal chapter in music-making for this talented artist.
Don't miss this Free at Noon--Diego Garcia's emotional web of sound can't be beat when it comes to starting off the weekend.
And be sure to listen to his live session in the World Cafe Archives, including two web extra songs - at WorldCafe.NPR.org.
Fresh off an appearance on the David Letterman Show, and just nominated by Mojo Magazine as "Best Live Band," The Jim Jones Revue play The Blockley in Philly on Friday September 16, and will surley rock, on the next XPN Free At Noon on September 16!
There's sure to be not a little fire and brimstone. If you've ever wanted to see rock'n'roll incarnated, the Jim Jones Revue is probably the closest thing to it. The five-piece garage-and-blues rock outfit from London came together in 2008, when frontman Jim Jones (a veteran of rock, creating solid songs since the '80s) met guitarist Rupert Orton at the aptly named 'Not the Same Old Blues Crap' club night. They recorded an eponymous debut in just 48 hours that year, and news of their back-to-basics sound, inspired by the likes of The Sonics and Little Richard, quickly began to spread.
Now The Jim Jones Revue is onto their second release, which is out on August 16th in the US. They've created another masterpiece of bluesy riffs and raspy vocals, all infused with endless, primal energy. The band previewed "Burning Your House Down" at London nightclub Madame Jojo's for a sold-out audience last September. Oasis singer Liam Gallagher as well as members of Grinderman and Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were in attendance, and it's safe to say that the reputation of The Jim Jones Revue is growing. "Burning Your House Down" could very likely take the US by storm, just as it has across the pond.
Produced by Jim Sclavunos (Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Grinderman), this 11-track collection catches most of the power of The Jim Jones Revue on stage, but to get the full effect of their take-no prisoners vibe, a live performance is necessary. Thus, this week's Free at Noon is not to be missed. There's not a better way to start the weekend!
Complete with strings, drums, guitars, and bass, Deer Tick is a self-described rock-rock-rock outfit with a little something more--a twist of alt-country and gritty blues, as demonstrated on their 2010 studio album, The Black Dirt Sessions. With their serious music and humorous on-stage banter, these five young musicians have one goal: to rock across the continent.
One of two great Live Friday artists gracing the World Cafe stage this week, The Peace Creeps are a Philly-based psychedelic rock outfit. Front man Richard Bush was originally the leader of local icons The A's, but after some label issues Bush brought together guitarist John Marchiano, drummer Jeff Pancoast and bass guitarist Roy Fisher. The Peace Creeps had gotten their start. Their debut, "Autumn of Love", brought together a number of local musiciams on a nostalgic and colorful journey through human experience.
Just about five years later, The Peace Creeps are back with their second offering. "Time Machine" is definitely an album for Bush to hold his '60s rock reverence high--one can easily here the Beatles, the Stones, and British Invasion as influences, along with more contemporary and closer inspirations such as Dr. Dog and Wilco. Yet "Time Machine" is aptly named--it's clear that this album was deeply inspired by the Era of Flower Children and their best rock. Any listener can tell that Bush means it when he sings,
"We can do anything we want to when I get my time machine together. I'll stop back and pick you up, we'll go and meet The Beatles."
And just about every listener feels the pull as keenly with the Peace Creeps on stage or through headphones. Don't miss them on the stage with Beck & Cauthen this Friday at noon.
David Beck and Paul Cauthen have both been professional musicians, going solo, for some time. Both natives of Texas, they had childhoods full of music--Beck was the son of a successful touring artist, and Cauthen was singing in church at the age of seven, learning guitar from his grandfather. Both eventually made their way to Austin, where they formed a collaboration in 2009 after a series of chance musical encounters. Today, Beth & Cauthen have just cut their studio debut, "Sons of Fathers".
Beck & Cauthen could best be described as roots rock powerhouse--with influences such as Robert Earl Keen, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and the Stones, the moving harmonies of this duo can be deeply country, folksy, experimental, or just plain rock-based. After secluding themselves in Doss, Texas, to perfect their finest work, Beck & Cauthen headed to the studio. Their debut was produced by Grammy winner Lloyd Maines, and it promises to be full of their signature melodies, fine instrumentation, and the feel of Texas on the road. Beck & Cauthen currently have a number of shows lined up in the Lone Star State, but they will be in Philly this weekend, so catch them at the Free at Noon! They're playing with Philly natives, The Peace Creeps. There's no better way to start the weekend--two great acts, a beer, and good company.
This week's Live Friday features a local band that's been gaining a lot of buzz, both here and across the pond. With lyrical and vocal techniques reminiscent of Petty, Springsteen, and Dylan and the blazing guitar rifts of Sonic Youth and My Bloody Valentine, Philadelphia trio The War on Drugs plays retrospective music in a progressive manner. Founding members Adam Granduciel and Kurt Vile met at a party and indulged in their mutual admiration for Bob Dylan. The two would soon begin recording together. Granduceil's gritty vocals are supported by the band's dreamy ambience, inventing a masterful soundscape. With their full-length debut, "Wagonwheel Blues", the band experimented with various sounds and influences, blending noisy distortions and roots rock.
Though Kurt Vile has left the band and other line up changes have occured, The War on Drugs have been steadily building an audience--locally and abroad--in the past few years. Their latest release, "Slave Ambient", has them embarking on an extensive tour both in the States and abroad. "Slave Ambient" is a hearty dose of rock 'n' roll, with plenty of side influences. From the expertly placed synthesizers and bold electric guitars to the undercurrents of country rock and old pop ditties, "Slave Ambient" is just plain stimulating. It's been under construction for four years, recorded in Granduciel's home studio here in Philly. Don't miss this chance to hear from The War on Drugs right before the official release of their second proper album. It's the Free at Noon at World Cafe Live, and it's the best way to start off the weekend.
And, check out their performance from the 2008 XPoNential Music Festival. Listen to the full concert at NPR.org/music, recorded live in concert from WXPN at Wiggins Park in Philadelphia on July 11, 2008.
Frightened Rabbit is in town supporting Death Cab for Cutie, and plays the Mann Music Center on Friday night at 7:30pm - opening for Death Cab for Cutie. They will be here for a live "Free At Noon" show Friday, August 5.
Since their formation in 2004, Scottish indie rockers Frightened Rabbit have been lauded for their folk-tinged introspection. Their breakthrough album, "Midnight Organ Fight," launched the band into international acclaim. Led by singer/guitarist Scott Hutchison, Frightened Rabbit recently released "The Winter of Mixed Drinks" to critical acclaim. A grand, sweeping album, "The Winter of Mixed Drinks" finds Frightened Rabbit adding an uplifting, optimistic tone to their music that was previously not to be found. This works well for Frightened Rabbit too; their music sounds urgent and
important, while still being very soulful and emotive. Featuring intelligent wordplay, densely layered guitars, and fervent choruses, the album's themes of liberation and escape are highlighted throughout. Complete with smooth, slick production, "The Winter of Mixed Drinks" serves as a sort of bridge for these Scottish musicians from their more lo-fi, folk roots. Thanks to many years spent honing and polishing their sound, Frightened Rabbit have created an impressive, complex album worthy of all its hype.
"The Winter of Mixed Drinks" has done very well since its release, charting very high on the US and UK Independent Albums. Critics are not holding back the praise either, first calling it a contender for the Best of 2010 and often noting the 'sharp' songwriting. As best put by Dave Simpson from The Guardian, "...most of their songs – with themes of escape, freedom and reinvention – have huge impassioned choruses that are made to be shouted from the nearest available mountain." Their live performances are just as passionate.
Currently, Frightened Rabbit is touring the US, headlining as well as sharing the stage with names as big as Death Cab for Cutie. Don't miss them this Friday as the light up the stage at World Cafe--it's the Free at Noon, Scottish style! There can't be a better way to start the weekend.