I love mixtapes. Don't we all? If I'm having a party or even a dinner, I meticulously program the music â€” even though, if it's a good party, no one will hear it because they're all talking!
Here's my Fourth of July mixtape for you. No in-studio guest today, just a wide variety of music with the only stipulation that "America," "American" or "U.S." has to be somewhere in the title. It's not even all from the U.S.! There's a version of the Brazilian singer Jorge Ben's "So Loco Porti America." There are some stirring classic tunes from Tom Petty and The Steve Miller Band.
Ever since she helped form The Pretenders in the late 1970s, Chrissie Hynde has identified as part of the legendary British band. Recently, though, Hynde set out as a solo artist, releasing the album Stockholm in June.
Hynde tells World Cafe that the album is a product of collaboration; she even traveled to Sweden to work with Bjorn Yttling of Peter Bjorn and John. That pairing led to others, including unlikely appearances by Neil Young and John McEnroe.
English electro-pop musician Dan Croll released his debut album earlier this year; it's titled Sweet Disarray, an apt name for such a stylistically rich record.
Croll went to school for music at the Liverpool Institute for the Performing Arts, which was founded by Paul McCartney. Croll was even chosen by his classmates to meet Sir Paul; we'll hear that story and a live set in the studio today.
John Fullbright is from Okemah, Okla., the hometown of Woody Guthrie. World Cafe first showcased Fullbright in 2012, when he released his diverse, Grammy-nominated album From the Ground Up.
His latest album is simply called Songs. As the title suggests, it's a collection of straightforward compositions, but they take on complicated topics. "Happy," for example, poses the question, "Do you have to have to be depressed to write a great song?"
Hear "Happy" and three other Fullbright songs in today's session.
This week's World Cafe: Next artist is the Brooklyn band Heaven's Jail. Frontman Francesco Ferorelli grew up listening to metal and hip-hop, later discovered country, and now plays indie-rock music. Producer Matthew Houck (of Phosphorescent fame) says of Ferorelli, "[He] is my favorite kind of songwriter â€” sensitive but not sappy, smart but not precious."
Ace Called Zero, the debut album by Heaven's Jail, is due out August 26. Download two songs as part of the World Cafe: Next podcast.
If you've heard the gospel-tinged "Take Me to Church" from Irish singer-songwriter Hozier, it's unlikely that you've forgotten it. The soulful, emotive singing could sustain the song on its own, but when you combine it with a powerful video, it's easy to understand why Hozier's rise to popularity has been so swift. That video alone has more than four million views and climbing.
For World Cafe's new Latin Roots segment, Judy Cantor-Navas, an editor at Billboard, plays new music from Cuba. She says the easing of the cultural embargo with the U.S. has yielded major results, allowing artists and their music to travel more freely out of the country. Cantor-Navas plays a couple of examples of how that can be good for music in Cuba and beyond.
"There's zero symbolism, and that's the scary thing," Timothy Showalter says. "Every single lyric is either a direct thought or a direct event. It's exactly my life."
The Philly musician who performs under the name Strand of Oaks is talking about his new album, HEAL, which in a way functions as a memoir. Fueled by a string of tragic personal incidents, from infidelity to a near-fatal auto accident, the album brings these events to life, from the teenage isolation of "Goshen 97" (a track featuring J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.) to the bittersweet romance of "Plymouth."