The New York band LVL UP, whose four members met at SUNY Purchase, makes propulsive, experimental indie rock that sounds a little like Dinosaur Jr. with more pop melodies. The band is getting ready to release its third album, Return To Love, which comes out Sept. 23 on Sub Pop Records. LVL UP's two guitarists, Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, lead the way as the songs get louder and denser and turn unexpected corners. Hear two tracks at the audio link above.
Singer-songwriter Amos Lee started singing at open mics in Philadelphia, and since then his career has grown onto ever-larger stages across the globe. Now, for the first time, Lee has produced one of his own albums. It's called Spirit, and it brings to the forefront the R&B qualities his fluid voice has always exhibited.
The new Okkervil River album Away features a number of songs written very quickly by Will Sheff during sessions in the Catskills last year. He was in a period of transition: Several members of Okkervil River left the band during this time, and he also lost his beloved grandfather.
Like so many indie-rock bands nowadays seem to be, Caveman is from Brooklyn. What's a bit more surprising is that its five members are actually from Brooklyn — born and raised. The band formed in 2010, with Matt Iwanusa at the helm, and has just released its third album, Otero War. The record, which took Caveman six years to write, is an open-ended concept album whose songs nevertheless stand well on their own. Hear some of those songs performed live for World Cafe in this session.
The Melbourne duo Oh Pep! combines the talent of Olivia Hally and Pepita Emmerichs. (You guessed it: The band's name is a derivative of both of theirs.) The two met in music school, where they studied classical music — but they shared a love of pop, and they found their work together was far superior to their solo projects.
Julia Jacklin's debut album, Don't Let The Kids Win, showcases the lyrical density of her songs. The Australian singer-songwriter treats her music as an outlet for emotions that weren't discussed much in her family as she was growing up — she finds it easier to deal with those personal stories by putting them into songs. Jacklin, who's 25, has said Don't Let The Kids Win captures her nostalgia for the ambition she had when she was younger. Hear two songs at the audio link above.
One of the beautiful surprises in the Irish singer-songwriter Damien Rice's 2002 album O was the introduction of singer Lisa Hannigan, who has one of the most direct, simple and arresting voices you'll ever hear. After singing with Rice for several years, Hannigan flexed her own songwriting muscles and released her solo debut, Sea Sew, in 2008.
This week, World Cafe rebroadcast a 2011 session with The Civil Wars. When we recorded that session, Joy Williams and John Paul White had just released their album Barton Hollow; they'd go on to win four Grammy awards, achieve a gold record and play sold-out concerts. But the duo's success wasn't enough to sustain their partnership, which fell apart in 2014.
Here are 10 more great duos that, unfortunately, weren't built to last.
Todd Snider has proven himself an agile (and very funny) solo performer, but in 2013 he decided he wanted to start performing in a band. So, he persuaded some friends, including bassist Dave Schools of Widespread Panic and guitarist Neal Casal of Ryan Adams' backing band The Cardinals, to form Hard Working Americans. (Snider jokes that he no longer even has to bring a guitar to gigs.)
Catalina Maria Johnson, the host and producer of Beat Latino, visits World Cafe to discuss the music associated with the Chicano Power movement of the 1960s, including songs by activist and folk singer Agustín Lira. In some ways, she says, this music has become the oral history of the time.