David Dye

John Doe of X was World Cafe's guest earlier this week, as he played live with a rock band that included original X drummer DJ Bonebrake. You can hear it again in the World Cafe archive. Doe also discussed the early days of the L.A. punk scene to which X belonged.

Expanding, questioning, digging, changing every tactic: These are all elements of the creative process that's led to the uplifting music on Local Natives' new album Sunlight Youth.

A distinct American voice is gone. The bluegrass and old-time singer Ralph Stanley died Thursday at age 89. He lived a rich, full life of music; singing with his brother Carter as The Stanley Brothers, he helped define the bluegrass sound from the 1940s onward. After Carter Stanley died in 1966, Ralph continued playing with The Clinch Mountain Boys.

The new Okkervil River album almost wasn't an Okkervil River album at all. That's how the band's lead singer and songwriter, Will Sheff, explains it. "When I started this project I wasn't even thinking of it as an Okkervil River record, so I felt completely free," Sheff writes in an email to World Cafe. "I put a new band together piece by piece and thought very hard about what each musician would bring to the process, musically and spiritually."

Ray LaMontagne says the shape of his sixth album, Ouroboros, revealed itself to him as a whole in a dream. An easy-to-interpret dream, at that: A colorful puzzle representing the songs assembled itself as a whole picture as he slept.

There was a time when the world of World Cafe and the world of the Grammys only intersected with a few Contemporary Folk nominees. These days, that category doesn't even exist — hello, Americana! — and World Cafe guests like Melbourne's Courtney Barnett are cropping up as nominees across the board.

The imminent release of The Lumineers' second album, Cleopatra, warrants the cliche "long-awaited." It isn't simply the fact that the self-titled debut by the unassuming Denver trio came out almost four years ago (April 2012), but because it was the rare case of a new folk-rock artist making a major impact.

Hop Along has more friends in the Philadelphia music scene than just about anybody; Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield even has a tattoo of the band's first album cover. Singer Frances Quinlan is an exciting, unorthodox performer whose phrasing in "Waitress," from Painted Shut, isn't intuitive. But that makes it all the more powerful.

In 2012, the musicians who formed The Suffers started jamming on ska tunes — the name comes from the 1978 reggae film Rockers/ital — and evolved into the tight, inventive "Gulf Coast soul" band it is today. Kam Franklin is a ball of energy out front, but she's only part of why so many are shouting The Suffers' praises these days. Come join the chorus.

The Philadelphia-based band Hop Along is getting its national breakout moment with Painted Shut (out May 4), its second full-length and first for Saddle Creek Records.

Hop Along's power rests squarely on the talents of lead singer and writer Frances Quinlan. Her voice is huge: urgent, dynamic, sometimes harsh but undeniably intense. Get into it and you'll live and die by her reflective, first-person stories in songs like "Waitress." The words here stem from places of frustration and occasional darkness, but the music is pure, headlong joy.

Brandi Carlile has a deserved reputation for a dynamic voice that she has really learned to work over the years. But it's always in service to the song. Case in point: this version of the new song "The Eye." It's a beautiful, subdued World Cafe performance with The Twins, Tim and Phil Hanseroth.

Kishi Bashi's compositions seem free and effortless, yet they require elaborate attention to detail for the magic to work. Whether he's crafting multilayered, loop-intensive solo arrangements or working with a string quartet (as he does here), it takes chops to make "Philosophize In It! Chemicalize With It!" soar. It works as pop music, but it's so much more.

Rhiannon Giddens' ascent began with her beat-box-infused version of Blu Cantrell's "Hit 'Em Up Style" — from Carolina Chocolate Drops' album Genuine Negro Jig — and continued with her show-stealing Gaelic song performance in the concert film Another Day, Another Time. Her take on Bob Dylan lyrics as a member of The New Basement Tapes dazzled.

The Cure On World Cafe

Sep 2, 2014

The Cure was one of the first alternative bands to have huge commercial success in the 1980s, both in the U.K. and here in the states. Starting in 1979, the band released a trilogy of albums that established its popularity with those, who like lead singer Robert Smith, donned black garb and heavy eye makeup. Then came the hits: "Heaven," "Love Cats," Friday I'm In Love" and many others.

I love mixtapes. Don't we all? If I'm having a party or even a dinner, I meticulously program the music — 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.

Today's Vintage Cafe comes from 2007, when the Swedish band Peter Bjorn and John released its hit album Writer's Block. That record contained "Young Folks," a song that became the whistle-along smash of the year. Here, we'll hear performances of several songs from Writer's Block — including "Young Folks," of course.

This segment originally aired on May 25, 2007.

We made 20 stellar World Cafe in-studio performances available for download during February, but they're all coming down Feb. 28 at midnight. Grab music from Neko Case, Parquet Courts, Jason Isbell and more today, before they're gone tomorrow.

To download each song, click the title in the SoundCloud playlist (the song will begin playing), and then click "download" arrow to the right of the title.

Tom Jones On World Cafe

Dec 26, 2013

This segment, from June 27, is part of our Best Of 2013 series, in which we revisit some of our most memorable interviews and performances of the year.

In the second installment of this two-part broadcast interview, the members of Pearl Jam continue their engagingly in-depth discussion with comedy director and producer Judd Apatow.

Pearl Jam is set to release its 10th studio album, Lightning Bolt, on Oct. 15, making it the band's first record since 2009's Backspacer. The group members aren't doing much publicity for the album — but when they do, they make it count.

On Tuesday's edition of World Cafe, listeners can hear director and producer Judd Apatow (Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up) talk with the premier American rock band in a wide-ranging interview.

In hour one of Tuesday's installment of World Cafe, we talk with Elvis Costello and The Roots' powerhouse drummer Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson about how they met and came to utilize hip-hop techniques to make a non-hip-hop record. Costello and The Roots unveiled their collaborative album Wise Up Ghost last week — it's a project they'd made in semi-secrecy.

Joining us in the studio for hour two of Tuesday's World Cafe is the Los Angeles band He's My Brother, She's My Sister. As the name implies, lead vocalists Robert and Rachel Kolar are indeed siblings.

Neko Case On World Cafe

Sep 18, 2013

This segment, from Sept. 18, is part of our Best Of 2013 series, in which we revisit some of our most memorable interviews and performances of the year.

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