Soundcheck

Soundcheck

From WNYC Radio

Soundcheck, hosted by John Schaefer, is WNYCs daily talk show about music. Covering all musical genres, Soundcheck celebrates the musical passions of performers, composers, critics, and the public radio audience. Listeners enjoy intimate conversations with and live performances by leading artists from around New York and around the globe.More from Soundcheck »

Most Recent Episodes

Vampire Weekend Drummer Chris Tomson's "Youngish American"

Drummer Chris Tomson, has joined his three Vampire Weekend bandmates in releasing an album of his own solo material, under the name Dams Of The West. Only Chris doesn't just play the drums here – he moves back to his original instrument, the guitar, and actually plays almost everything on the record. The album is called Youngish American, and it brings Dams Of the West to our Soundcheck studio.

Guitarist Margaret Glaspy Delivers Crunch & Thunder

Guitarist and singer Margaret Glaspy released her album Emotions and Math last year, and promptly found herself on a whole bunch of year-end lists of the best albums of the year, including those of the New York Times and NPR. It's not hard to hear why – at times Glaspy snarls her way through love's trials and travails, while her guitar snarls and thunders right along with her. At others, she offers something a little more subdued, even melancholy. Glaspy and her trio join us to play songs from Emotions and Math.

Bing and Ruth Stretch Limits of "Classical" Music

The band called Bing & Ruth makes evocative, almost cinematic soundscapes, built around the sounds of acoustic instruments and tape delay. The mastermind behind the group is pianist and composer David Moore, whose music blends a kind of post-minimalist approach to the keyboard with the ambient textures of some of Brian Eno's music. The band has an unusual lineup to go with their unusual name – there isn't a Bing or a Ruth to be heard, but the five people who are in the group are here to play live for us.

The Intimate & Grand Pop of Shy Girls

Shy Girls is a one-man band out of Portland Oregon, who is now based in Los Angeles. That one man is Dan Vidmar, who has a remarkable voice and a knack for dreamy, often dark-hued songs that blend R&B and electronica. After releasing an EP and a mixtape, the debut full-length by Shy Girls came out in January, and Dan has put together a touring version of the band that has joined us today in the SC studio.

The Knights & Andy Akiho Play Steel Pan & Cake Pans In The Studio

The Brooklyn-based orchestral collective known as The Knights began as an informal gathering of friends to play late night chamber music. Founded by brothers Colin and Eric Jacobsen, the Knights have grown into a variable ensemble that brings the element of surprise back into orchestral concerts. Sometimes that's in the way they present the music, and sometimes it's in the music itself, like their collaboration with composer Andy Akiho. Andy's main instrument in the steel pan, something we usually associate with calypso music and almost nothing else. Today, some of the Knights have joined us in the studio, and they'll give us a sneak peek at their new recording of a new Akiho septet, and they'll also play live.

Minneapolis Rapper P.O.S. Delivers His Comeback Record

The rapper and producer P.O.S. – aka Stefon Alexander - has been a central figure on the thriving music scene in the Twin Cities in Minnesota for well over a decade. He's a founding member of the hip hop collective Doomtree, and a punk rock guitarist and vocalist, all of which has kept him busy. But in 2012, P.O.S. had to back off his musical activities because of failing kidneys. He had a kidney transplant in 2014, and two years later reappeared with a single track. Now, he is back with a full-length album called Chill, Dummy, a reminder to himself as well as a way to make listeners think.

Nikki Lane, Champion of Outlaw Country

Nashville singer and guitarist Nikki Lane conjures classic country grit and twang. Rolling Stone refers to her as 'the outlaw country princess' but rock fans will find a lot to like in her music too, in that her vintage country-pop looks towards the blues, whisky, and being on the road, rather than auto-tuned heavily-produced stuff of the Nashville machine. The new record, "Highway Queen," builds on the success of her last LP, 2014's All or Nothin', (produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys), touches on monster trucks, last-call blues, Vegas benders, and sometimes being a lonesome romantic. Nikki Lane and her band are here today and they'll play music from the forthcoming record, due out in February. For now, here's "Jackpot," the afore-mentioned Vegas homage:

Singer Ala.Ni Captivates, Sets a Mood

The singer Ala.Ni has a cosmopolitan background: born in Britain to parents from Granada and now based in Paris. So it perhaps shouldn't be a surprise that her music is varied too. And yet, Ala.Ni's forthcoming debut album, called You And I, is nothing but surprises. Often sounding like a long lost artifact of the mid-20th century, her striking voice goes from torchy jazz to intimate pop to atmospheric vocalise. Ala.Ni is making her American radio debut, with guitarist Marvin Dolly in our studios! Here she is on Jools Holland, with "Cherry Blossom":

"The Past Still Present Tense" for American Football

In the late 90s, in Illinois, a band called American Football released its debut EP, simply called American Football. People liked it, and so they did a full LP, also called American Football. Then, in 1999, the band called it quits, with its members going on to form quite a number of other bands. But a funny thing happened while they were, you know, living their lives and playing their music. That early record started growing in reputation and stature. And in 2014, American Football surprised everyone by announcing a reunion concert, which quickly turned into a series of sold out events. This past fall, American Football released its sophomore album, the creatively named American Football. It's the same youthfully optimistic, carefully-layered music which can evoke a melancholy nostalgia. Slowly developing guitar licks unfold precisely, supported by difficult-to-count rhythms on the low end, and crowned with Mike Kinsella's appealing melodies, charmingly crooned. Despite the fact that almost 17 years have passed, their music picks up right where they left off, and the band American Football plays some of these songs in the studio for us.

A Visit With the Bluesy Country of Tift Merritt

Raleigh, NC-based singer-songwriter Tift Merritt seems to be constantly on the move. It's not just the life of a touring musician, it's that her music refuses to sit still in the nice little alt-country box that people wanted to put her in when she began making albums in 2002. And over the years, we've had visits from Tift that have seen her traveling from across the country and from across the street. Literally. For the moment, she's back in our studio today to play some songs from her soon-to-be-released 2017 album, called Stitch of the World.

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