The label that's brought you Arcade Fire, Spoon, The Magnetic Fields, Neutral Milk Hotel and Superchunk turned 25 last year. Superchunk bandmates Laura Ballance and Mac McCaughan formed Merge Records just to release singles from their band and friends in 1989.
On this episode of World Cafe, we'll discuss the label's emergence as a major force. We'll also hear performances from Superchunk, Telekinesis, The Rock*A*Teens and others recorded at last summer's 25th-anniversary Merge Festival in Carrboro, N.C.
Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 12:08 pm
Arrayed around a deserted auditorium on the grounds of a long-abandoned Texas college, the Nashville band Fly Golden Eagle recorded the 26 songs that became its album Quartz. Led by songwriter Ben Trimble, Fly Golden Eagle recently released a streamlined version of the collection (called Quartz Bijou) for a national label. The songs were influenced by the 1973 film The Holy Mountain, by director Alejandro Jodorowski, and even function as a soundtrack to the film.
Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 12:09 pm
Damien Rice's new album, My Favourite Faded Fantasy, marked his return to recording after eight years away from the music business. In 2002, the Irish singer-songwriter's gorgeous solo debut, O, went gold and platinum around the world.
But after touring to support his second album (2006's 9), Rice stepped away from music. As he says in this interview, he had to. With help from producer Rick Rubin and others, Rice says he's rediscovered his love for songs. He performs some of his new ones in this session for World Cafe.
Originally published on Wed January 7, 2015 12:11 pm
After all the time we've spent looking back at the best music of 2014, it is finally time to explore some of the releases we can look forward to over the first few months of 2015. NPR Music's pop critic Ann Powers keeps her eyes on wide range of music; she helps us understand the middle and explore the edges.
We have a wonderful collection of artists — friends old and new — visiting to perform music from the new compilation An Americana Christmas. We will hear a high-energy original by Nikki Lane, called "FaLaLaLaLove Ya." Robert Ellis covers a Willie Nelson classic. Ronnie Fauss adds to a growing history of "Christmas in prison" songs.
For 15 years, singer-songwriter Judith Owen and her husband, humorist and actor Harry Shearer, have been hosting holiday singalongs at home and in venues throughout the country. Today, they're with us on the World Cafe. This year's edition is called Christmas Without Tears — originals, a Spın̈al Tap Christmas song and classics, all in an intimate in-studio performance.
The World Cafe: Next artist for this week is a folk-rock sextet from Boston and Washington, D.C., called Kingsley Flood. Fueled by Naseem Khuri's songwriting, the band is about to step out of the album-release cycle by releasing To The Fire EP in early 2015 — followed by a new EP for each season of the year.
Yusuf Islam, a.k.a. Cat Stevens, just completed his first U.S. tour in 36 years, in which he performed music from his just-released album Tell 'Em I'm Gone alongside favorites from his long career. He'd stopped playing the latter for nearly three decades after changing his name and embracing Islam in 1977. In this performance, he plays old and new music alike in a session recorded at Philadelphia's Tower Theater.