Posts Tagged ‘NPR’

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NPR continued their at-home version of their Tiny Desk Concerts series this week with a special performance by Michael McDonald.

After five-time Grammy winner Michael McDonald finished “Matters Of The Heart,” the opening song in his Tiny Desk (home) concert, there was a brief pause. The bewilderment on his face was unmistakable. It’s a look I believe we all can relate to in this moment of uncertainty. He sat in his home studio, complete with an illustration of the Tiny Desk drawn by Mr. McDonald himself. That pause, usually reserved for the anticipated applause, was replaced by complete silence.

After offering his solo cut “Matters of the Heart,” McDonald dives into two Doobie Brothers classics, “Minute By Minute” and “What A Fool Believes.”

After 25 years, McDonald reunited with the Doobies in November 2019, announcing a full summer tour to celebrate the band’s 50th anniversary.

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Tiny Desk Concerts are stripped down sets recorded at the desk of Bob Boilen, the host of NPR’s All Songs Considered. But as with everything else, adjustments have been made to account for COVID-19 and now NPR have launched a Tiny Desk (Home) Concert series, with artists performing from home under quarantine. The first participant is Soccer Mommy (the project of Nashville native Sophie Allison), who performs three songs solo on acoustic guitar: “Bloodstream,” “Circle the Drain,” and “Royal Screw Up.” .

Soccer Mommy released her new album, “color theory”, in February via Loma Vista. Color theory is the follow-up to Allison’s debut full-length album, Clean, released in 2018 via Fat Possum.  Gabe Wax produced the album (he also produced Clean), which was written on tour and recorded in Nashville at Alex The Great. Lars Stalfors mixed the album, which features the live Soccer Mommy band on studio recordings for the first time.

On Monday March 30th, Sophie Allison, aka Soccer Mommy, was to perform a long awaited Tiny Desk concert at my desk. Now the world has changed, and with the coronavirus keeping us at a distance, we’re taking a break from filming Tiny Desks at the office for a while. Sophie wanted to share her music and her thoughts with you. So we’re kicking off our Tiny Desk (Home) Concerts series with Soccer Mommy from her home in Nashville.

SET LIST:
“Bloodstream”
“Circle the Drain”
“Royal Screw Up”

The album titles and song titles are all intended to be written in lowercase. color theory also features two songs Soccer Mommy first shared in 2019. In November she shared a seven-minute long “yellow is the color of her eyes,” via a video for the track directed by Alex Ross Perry . “yellow is the color of her eyes” featured Mary Lattimore on harp and followed “lucy,” another new song . When the album was announced in January, Soccer Mommy shared the first single from it, “circle the drain,”

Then Soccer Mommy shared another song from the album, album opener “bloodstream,” via a Bella Clark-directed animated video.

A previous press release had this to say about color theory: “Confronting the ongoing mental health and familial trials that have plagued Allison since pre-pubescence, color theory explores three central themes: blue, representing sadness and depression; yellow, symbolizing physical and emotional illness; and, finally, grey, representing darkness, emptiness and loss.

Allison had this to say about the album in the previous press release: “I wanted the experience of listening to color theory to feel like finding a dusty old cassette tape that has become messed up over time, because that’s what this album is: an expression of all the things that have slowly degraded me personally. The production warps, the guitar solos occasionally glitch, the melodies can be poppy and deceptively cheerful. To me, it sounds like the music of my childhood distressed and, in some instances, decaying.”

In December Soccer Mommy shared another new song, “Feed,” that’s not found on color theory. It is instead taken from the soundtrack to the horror film The Turning, which is a more modern version of Henry James’1898 horror novella The Turn of the Screw. The soundtrack came out on January 24th, 2020 via KRO/Sony Music Masterworks, the same day as the film.

On their debut LP Swear I’m Good at This, this New Paltz, N.Y., duo strike a winsome balance between sugary, sometimes plaintive vocals and serrated guitar riffage over galloping drums on catchy songs that sift through the tumult and confusion of young adulthood. Onstage, Alex Luciano and Noah Bowman add explosive energy: Luciano scarcely stands still, bouncing around the stage like she’s spring-loaded and pausing occasionally for leg kicks worthy of the Rockettes. The result is a communal catharsis that is upbeat, life-affirming and a hell of a lot of fun.

Eskimeaux’s OK is easily my most played album of the year, next to the Courtney Barnett record. There’s lighthearted, almost childlike beauty in the way Gabrielle Smith puts words to song. Here are OK’s first lines:

In my dreams you’re a bathtub running,
You are warm and tender,
And bubbling,
Oh, you are cold and bristling and struggling

As an adopted child, Smith discovered that her biological father is Tlingit Eskimo; she describes the -eaux suffix as “just a playful jumble of letters that represents the way I record — a confusing layering of sounds that somehow coalesce into something simple.”

Smith has performed at the Tiny Desk before: She’s part of a New York art collective that includes Told Slant, Small Wonder and Bellows, and Bellows played here not too long ago. Some of the players in those bands sing with Smith in her final song — one of my favorite songs of the year — called “I Admit I’m Scared,” which ends with a few perfectly chosen words:

And if I had a dime for every time I’m freaking out,
We could fly around the world
Or just get out of your parents’ house,

Set List
“Folly” 00:00
“A Hug Too Long” 02:42
“I Admit I’m Scared” 05:25

The Prettiots’ songs are winsome and clever, but most of all they’re honest and funny. Goodness knows pop music needs some clever fun.

The three women in The Prettiots — Kay Kasparhauser on ukulele and lead vocals, Rachel Trachtenburg from the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players on drums, and bassist Lulu Prat — share their love of everything from Law & Order to old-school girl groups like the Shangri-Las. Their song “Stabler,” performed here, is based on Kasparhauser’s infatuation with the Law & Order character Elliot Stabler.

“Boys (I Dated In High School)” is the Prettiots tune that first charmed me, thanks mainly to the perfect portrait its brainy rhymes paint:

Martin, that was your name,

I met you on the 1 train

You were super duper duper hot

On the 1 train

You said you were a painter

Mostly you were a waiter

A stoner and a skater

So I had to say later,

These are the boys that I dated in high school

I thought they were so nice

And I thought they were so cool

These are the boys that I dated in high school

They weren’t very nice

And they weren’t very cool

It’s the sort of music you’ll either adore or abhor; it’s hard to be neutral and you’ll know it quickly. For me, their appearance at the Tiny Desk totally made my day.

Set List

  • “Boys (I Dated In High School)”
  • “Stabler”
  • “Suicide Hotline”

the Wytches psych rock band member KRISTEN BELL performs a few songs Unplugged in a small sunny backyard at the SXSW festival