Spoon is one of the best bands working today, with each new release eagerly anticipated. Lead vocalist and guitarist Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno formed the band twenty years ago in Austin, Texas. Since around 2001, each new Spoon record has been an affirmation of the quality of the band's work. Daniel, Eno and the others have been involved in more side projects in recent years, yet every three or four years we are treated to a new Spoon album. They Want My Soul is another fine record, well-crafted and brimming with rock 'n' roll excitement.
Listeners of Iowa Public Radio's Studio One know that Iowa has a thriving music scene, and that bringing the music of these talented artists to a larger audience is a key part of IPR's mission. And now, some of those artists are receiving recognition from outside our home state.
It takes a special group of musicians to be able to combine a variety of influences and create a sound that only they could have come up with. The North Carolina band Reigning Sound have been doing it since 2001, and they've done again on Shattered, their first album since 2009 and first for the legendary Merge label. Classic soul/R&B, '60s garage rock, country and more are all in the mix here, and vocalist Greg Cartwright is in top form throughout the whole record.
Elvis Presley died 37 years ago, Aug. 16, 1977. The first hour of this remembrance program was originally aired Jan. 4, 2014 (check that week's listing for complete song list), hour #2 (3-4pm) is a syndicated special on The King's recordings done at Stax Studios in Memphis in 1973 and 1974, and hour #3 is a syndicated special focusing on the 1968 Comeback Special done in the summer of 1968. Long Live The King!
House Of Spirits is the fifth full-length album (and 8th release overall) from the San Francisco band The Fresh & Onlys. Written partly at a horse ranch in the Arizona desert, the album has a dreamy feel to it, and features huge arrangements that still offer a lot of space. It rarely makes any sort of literal sense, but at the same time, that’s what makes it relatable. Listeners will notice a definite ‘80s guitar pop/New Wave influence.
Twin Cities Celtic-rock band The Langers Ball visited IPR's Studio One last week, while they were in the area for the Iowa Irish Festival. The group originally started as an acoustic duo of accordionist and pennywhistler Hannah Rediske and guitarist and mandolinist Michael Sturm. They recruited some other musicians to play with them in the studio, and decided that it was so much fun, they wanted to be a full band all the time.
The East Coast band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are known for exemplifying the phenomenon of the Internet buzz band at the start of their career. The band's totally self-made debut album rode a tide of blogger attention to great success in 2005. Since then, there have been side projects, personnel changes and three more full-length albums of consistently well-crafted indie pop. The new Only Run satisfies with both dance-oriented tracks and rockers.
With August upon us, we are now near the middle of summer. Some of my summer music obsessions have been the debut albums from Spanish Gold (South of Nowhere), Mø (No Mythologies to Follow), and St. Paul and the Broken Bones (Half the City). They may be new to the scene but don’t let that fool you, for instance the core members of Spanish Gold are seasoned musicians who have ties with My Morning Jacket, Hacienda, Dan Auerbach’s Fast Five, and Groupo Fantasma.
It has been said that the closest and most enchanting vocal harmonies are created by siblings. This is certainly borne out in the case of the Swedish duo First Aid Kit. Sisters Johanna and Klara Soderberg are from Enskede, a suburb of Stockholm. For Stay Gold, their third full-length album, producer Mike Mogis (of Bright Eyes fame) is back at the helm, having helped to make the last First Aid Kit album a great success. Mogis showcases the sisters' beautiful Swedish-accented harmonies with rich indie-folk instrumentation.
The band Scythian (pronounced SITH-ee-unn - they’re named after a nomadic Eurasian tribe) has an unlikely combination of influences. Three of the members are siblings: fiddler Alexander, guitarist Danylo and cellist Larissa Fedoryka are from a family of Ukrainian immigrant, and were classically trained. Bassist Josef Crosby, who also doubles on fiddle, was classically trained as well. Drummer Tim Hepburn started out in jazz, and banjo player Ben-David Warner grew up on a diet of Celtic music via NPR’s Thistle and Shamrock.
Our featured release this week on Studio One is the second full-length album from the young Chicago band, The Orwells. Actually, they are from Elmhurst, Illinois, a western suburb of Chicago, making them that much closer to being a regional band! Of course, their place of origin is not as important as the vital, tuneful garage rock that they play on the new Disgraceland. The five members of The Orwells have known each other for years, forming the band and getting signed to Autumn Tone Records for their first album while still in high school.