Each time I see James Blake and his band perform, I feel the extreme rush of hearing something for the very first time. The sound is sharp and visceral; it oddly vibrates the hair on my arms and, at moments of extreme bass, gets me feeling claustrophobic before the inevitable release when Blake sings. It's hopeful, mournful, always thoughtful.
The video for Chinese artist Ai Weiwei's newly released song starts by re-creating the conditions of his captivity during the 81 days he was held in police detention in 2011, and later dissolves into a dystopian nightmare.
Credit Louisa Lim / NPR
Ai monitors the reaction to his new song on Twitter on Wednesday, the day the song was released.
The Sea, The Sea makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. The duo of singer-songwriters Mira Stanley and Chuck E. Costa first began performing and recording together in the fall of 2011. No stranger to West Virginia's most famous stage, Stanley spent much of her youth backstage at shows alongside her father, Mountain Stage bandleader Ron Sowell. She even auditioned once, as a very young girl, for host Larry Groce — "Don't call us, we'll call you," he told her. Many years later, he kept his word.
I freely admit that, until the new Random Access Memories, I wasn't much of a Daft Punk fan. I could appreciate the craft and imagination that went into creating the French duo's mixture of electronic genres — techno, house, disco — but the mechanical repetitions and heavily filtered vocals didn't turn me on in any other way.
Yo La Tengo has been able to stick together and make music on its own terms for more than 20 years; in today's climate, that's as rare as it is impressive. In an interview for KCRW, singer Ira Kaplan said the band likes to keep its process in the air and of the moment.