Even though its members started out as the L.A. punk band The Bronx, Mariachi El Bronx isn't faking it. They play with just right amount of passion and pathos, strum as if they've studied the masters and don't look out of place in those pants and little jackets. Watch a fun set at the NPR offices.
While the new Rhythm and Repose feels like a low-key '70s singer-songwriter record (think Cat Stevens or Van Morrison), this five-song set gives Hansard a chance to flex his neck muscles a bit, as he lends blustery force to an assortment of new songs and deep cuts.
A troubled soul with a talent for writing honest, disarmingly direct songs, Johnston performs in the NPR Music offices. His short set closes with one of his classics: "True Love Will Find You in the End."
The drummer is an awfully busy player — as likely to improvise with jazz musicians as she is to back Brandi Carlile — but in recent years, she's carved out time to write music for her own group. A few tunes are dedicated to friends like her first teacher, a "sometimes great guy."
Hogan brings confidence and unflappable professionalism to her new album, I Like to Keep Myself in Pain. That carries over to this performance in the NPR Music offices, as she and her ace band knock out three songs with seeming effortlessness and easygoing charm.
With a gifted backing band on hand to help flesh out three songs from Adventures in Your Own Backyard, Watson conducts a swirl of interlocking loveliness that still finds room for surprises, from a singing saw to a microphone that makes his voice sound as if it's bouncing off some faraway satellite.
Chuck Daellenbach and his fresh-faced players, each with red-striped sneakers and matching outfits, strolled into the NPR Music offices, took their places behind Bob Boilen's desk and started blowing as if they'd played this peculiar gig a hundred times.
The French singer and multi-instrumentalist just released a new album called Skyline, and it captures his aesthetic perfectly: Its rich, buzzy, liltingly eccentric pop music is constructed from lots of sweet, intricate pieces.
While clearly rooted in acoustic traditions, the folk music of Arborea stands out for its calm beauty and rough edges. The duo incorporates harmonium, electric guitars played with an EBow, and a Ban-Jammer — a hybrid instrument that's part banjo, part mountain dulcimer.