Is Ryan Adams' new album, Prisoner, as heartbreaking as Heartbreaker, his classic 2000 solo debut? In this session, we do talk with Adams about breakup songs, but he says that some of the somber songs on Prisoner came at a different stage in his life. "Strangely, as heavy as the record is for some people, I wrote it when I was very much falling down a rabbit hole of feeling very romantic again in my life," he says.
Sure, the incredibly intuitive duo Sylvan Esso is releasing its second album, What Now, on April 28, but here's something even better: a chance to hear the new songs before the record's out. Amelia Meath and Nick Sanborn — on voice and electronics, respectively — performed a selection live in concert at World Cafe's recent 25th anniversary celebration.
Rarely have we heard a more cogent description of the creative process of a true artist than from singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop. "A great artist is not someone who is fully confident, but someone who carries self doubt," she says. "And it's that doubt that carries you into your stronger ideas."
Timothy Showalter is the band called Strand of Oaks. Originally from Indiana, Showalter now lives in Philadelphia, where he's reimagined himself as a rocker after releasing a couple of quieter albums. This latest phase of his career started with his well-received 2014 album Heal; he recently released the follow-up, Hard Love.
The 1970s was an incredibly diverse decade for recorded music: from hippie folk at the start to disco, punk, the rise of reggae and the very first stirrings of hip-hop. At the beginning of the decade, Frank Sinatra had a song on the charts for 122 weeks. There was soft rock, metal and country. Album sales and progressive radio were huge.
All this is true. That's why it is so fascinating to look at the songs that ended up at the very top of Billboard's pop chart for each year of the decade — they certainly don't always represent all the change that was going on.
What's the best way to become the unchallenged expert on a particular genre of music? Invent it. Enter JD Ryznar, Hunter Stair, David B. Lyons and Steve Huey: coiners of the description "yacht rock," creators of a hilarious web series of the same name and now de facto captains of the genre.
Guitarist Harvey Mandel was on the very short list to replace Mick Taylor in The Rolling Stones, but you've probably never heard of him — or even heard him play. Mandel grew up playing in Chicago blues clubs in the early '60s and made a breakthrough record with Charlie Musselwhite called Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's South Side Band.
Music was a solace for Chris Robinson long before he and his brother Rich formed The Black Crowes. "Being a little weirdo, outsider, dyslexic kid from the Deep South in the early '70s, to me music and art was an oasis away from everybody," he says. When the brothers dissolved their longtime band for good a few years ago, Chris formed the Chris Robinson Brotherhood with guitarist Neal Casal and others.
Cameron Avery may have a day job as the bassist in Tame Impala, but bandmate Kevin Parker, kept encouraging him to make his own album. After relocating from Perth to Los Angeles, he made Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams, an album of romantic songs that's influenced by older favorites like Johnny Hartman and Sarah Vaughan but also nods to Nick Cave and Scott Walker. Producer Jonathan Wilson inspired Avery to explore his baritone voice more, and a sound combining new and old was born.