Kishi Bashi, a.k.a. multi-instrumentalist K Ishibashi, creates an otherworldly musical experience. On this episode of World Cafe, a string quartet joins Ishibashi to translate arrangements he often plays solo, looping his parts into complex arrangements.
The Lafayette, La., band Feufollet is this week's World Cafe: Next artist. The title of its new album, Two Universes, contains multiple references: the French and English language and culture of Southwest Louisiana, the band's two songwriters (Chris Stafford and Kelli Jones-Savoy), and Feufollet's willingness to straddle the worlds of pop and traditional Cajun music. Hear and download two of its songs on this page.
Steve Earle is back on World Cafe, and he has the blues. His new album — titled Terraplane, named for a Robert Johnson song — draws from the genre both musically and lyrically.
Earle is going through a divorce, his seventh, after an eight-year marriage to singer Allison Moorer. But even with that backdrop, these blues songs aren't downers. As Earle says here, Terraplane couldn't have happened without his current cast of backing players in The Dukes, who take it to the crossroads in this session.
Joan Shelley's music takes time to work its magic. Last year, the Louisville folk-pop singer released Electric Ursa, a patient record whose languid beauty builds and unfolds over time. Here, she performs a few of its songs for World Cafe.
PHOX's members grew up together — attending high school in Baraboo, Wisconsin — but it took some time out in the world before they decided to form a band in the nearby college town of Madison.
Together, they built PHOX's sound around the irresistible, smoky-shy voice of Monica Martin. PHOX released its charming self-titled debut last year, and today World Cafe catches up with the group on stage at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.
There's something entrancing about the electro-funk of Sinkane. The Brooklyn band is led by Ahmed Gallab, who spent time in Sudan as a child before moving around the U.S.
Sinkane subtly incorporates East African sounds, complete with a loping repetition of lyrics and musical phrases. Last year, the band released its third album, Mean Love, and it's the most concise and poppy Sinkane record yet.
Today's World Cafe: Next artist is Nora Jane Struthers And The Party Line, which just released a new album called Wake. It's Struthers' third record in a career that finds her transitioning from bluegrass roots to a sound that encompasses pop and country. Hear and download two of Struthers' songs on this page.
The scoring of TV shows is not all done in a big studio with giant monitors and orchestras. For example, the music in Orange Is The New Black gets made in a tiny, cramped garage behind a home in Altadena. There, Gwendolyn Sanford, Scott Doherty and Brandon Jay toil for long hours, collaborating with the producers in pursuit of the right sound to complement what's on the screen.
In this segment, they're joined by Ben Vaughn, whose twangy surf guitar proved to be the right sound for a show about aliens living on earth: Third Rock From The Sun.
World Cafe's guest today is Rhiannon Giddens — formerly of Carolina Chocolate Drops, whose album Genuine Negro Jig won a Grammy in 2010. That record provided an introduction to the way she makes a song her own. (In that case, it was a dynamite cover of Blu Cantrell's "Hit Em Up Style.") Giddens has done more solo work — she was a show-stopper in the film of the Another Day, Another Time concert, as she sang a Gaelic song — and performs in the folk supergroup The New Basement Tapes.
We're fans of Jenny Lewis' latest album, The Voyager. Since she and her band already came in to play the new songs live, Lewis invited us to do something different — drive through the San Fernando Valley, where she grew up, to find the inspiration for the title of The Voyager. So it's kind of a mystery in the back seat of a rental car, where we will also hear an acoustic version of the album's title track.