SoundcheckAuthor: WNYC Studios
17 Aug 2018


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Live performances and conversations in which artists talk about their work, their process, and themselves. Genre-blind but open-eared. Hosted by John Schaefer.

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    NYC-Based Spanglish Fly Leads the Boogaloo Revival

    New York-based band Spanglish Fly are part band and part celebration with their brasstastic mix of Latin dance-funk and soul in homage to Boogaloo - that fusion of soul music, Rhythm & Blues, and Afro-Caribbean rhythms that was born in New York City in the 1960s. [See this excellent article from The Guardian for more history, and a bit of background on the documentary in which Spanglish Fly appears.] On their latest record, Ay Que Boogaloo!, Spanglish Fly both tips a cap to boogaloo and takes that style in unexpected directions, incorporating bolero, New Orleans funk, swing jazz, Arabic chant, and other new sounds. The band brings their irresistible groove to be our in-studio dance party.

    Watch the live session here:

  • Posted on 16 Aug 2018

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    Ava Rocha's Forward-Looking Brazilian Pop

    Brazilian musician Ava Rocha has quickly become a leading figure in Brazil’s post-Tropicalia movement and is blazing ahead making inventive Brazilian pop. Her new album Trança means Braid, and it weaves together strands of rock, funk, post-punk abrasiveness, fuzzy and playful electronica, Afro and Amazonian grooves, and Brazilian styles like percussion-heavy samba, smooth bossa nova, and tropicália. She and her husband, the Brazilian guitarist and songwriter Negro Leo, often write and play together, and today they’re playing a few stripped down songs for us.

    Watch the live session:

  • Posted on 13 Aug 2018

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    Weekly Music Roundup: Ginkgoa and Aphex Twin

    Week of August 13: This week, protest songs from Marc Ribot, Ginkgoa, and possibly Aphex Twin.

    Marc Ribot and Meshell Ndegeocello Offer Song Of Resistance


    Guitarist Marc Ribot is best known for his work with Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and many others. He is also a prolific composer and bandleader, and he has been writing and collecting songs of resistance since the completely random date of November 8, 2016. Last year, in a performance in our Greene Space, he and Trixie Whitley performed his version of “Ain’t gonna let them turn me around,” and he mentioned that it was part of a larger project. Now we know that project is an album called Songs of Resistance 1942-2018, and the first single is just out. It’s called “The Militant Ecologist,” and it’s actually a reworking of a World War II partisan song from Italy. But instead of a male soldier fighting for his country, we get a female singer – the redoubtable singer/songwriter/bassist Meshell Ndegeocello – fighting for our world. The song could easily be a loud scream in your face, but that’s not the tack they take here: Ribot’s guitar is brooding, Ndegeocello’s voice is soft and husky, and the whole effect is almost like a Morricone score with its twangy guitar and orchestral strings. 

    Songs of Resistance comes out on September 14.

    After Cosby Protest, Ginkgoa’s New Song Says “Time’s Up”


    The French-based electro-swing duo known as Ginkgoa is led by singer Nicolle Rochelle, who made headlines in April when she was arrested for appearing topless outside Bill Cosby’s sexual assault trial with the names of his accusers written on her chest. Interestingly, in the 1990s she appeared on The Cosby Show four times, under the name Nicole Leach. Now, she and producer Antoine Chatenet have released a video and single called “One Time” that combines 20th century swing rhythms with a very 21st century message – “you better run now/your time is up now” Rochelle sings, while clips of old movies trace a story of gathering female empowerment. I know, it all sounds very serious and weighty; but the song is a swinging good time. 

    Aphex Twin’s New Song Is No Weirder Than Anything Else He’s Done


    By now, no one should be going to Aphex Twin albums expecting electronic dance music. The British producer (real name Richard D James) has spent two decades slicing and dicing the tropes and clichés of electronic dance music, making smart, strange music that has come to be known as IDM – Intelligent Dance Music. He’s about to release an EP called Collapse, and unlike Syro, his 2014 album which was released on a hidden server on the deep web, this one will actually be available for us to hear. The first “single,” called “T69 collapse,” is out now, and it sports many of Aphex Twin’s trademarks: the frantic breakbeats, the use of mangled language as a visual element, and the three-prong Aphex Twin logo. The video, with images of buildings covered with letters and later falling into a cubist black hole, might point to the threat to civilization from climate change or our own reliance on technology, but who can tell. 

    The full EP will be released on September 14.

    DeVotchKa Try Being A Rock Band For A Change


    It’s kind of amazing that DeVotchKa, the Colorado quartet of multi-instrumentalists, has the sizable following it does, given that their music fits in no traditional musical category. They started as the backing band for neo-burlesque performer Dita Von Teese and then went on to explore their own blend of cabaret/gypsy/cinematic rock, using a lineup that includes theremin, melodica, trumpet, and sousaphone among others. But now, the band is preparing to release a new album, their first since 2011, and the new single, “Angels,” suggests the group might be exploring a more guitar-based sound. Frontman Nick Urata has been a successful film and TV composer in recent years, so the arrangement is still full of almost orchestral touches, but this about as straightforward a song as you’d ever expect from DeVotchKa. 

    The album, This Night Falls Forever, comes out on August 24. The band plays a live set in our studio on August 22 at 2pm ET, and a show at Rough Trade on August 23. 

    Marissa Nadler’s New Single Is a Slow Burn


    Guitarist/singer/songwriter Marissa Nadler has often written songs that have a haunted quality, and that use the electric guitar to build up to a shoegaze-style storm of music and noise that looms on the horizon but never quite breaks overhead. “Blue Vapor,” her new single, is one such song. Nadler’s feathery vocals (sung in harmony with Kristin Kontrol of Dum Dum Girls) seem to mourn the beginning of the end of a relationship, and her guitar sounds hushed, and expectant. Only at the end, when drummer Patty Schemel of Hole enters the fray, does the song (and the video) approach something like a release. 

  • Posted on 13 Aug 2018

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    Trixie Whitley, with Marc Ribot, from the New York Guitar Festival

    Hear the Belgian-born guitarist/songwriter Trixie Whitley, from the 2017 New York Guitar Festival, presented in The Greene Space. Her songs draw from her favorite styles – punk, electronica, R & B, and feel something like quietly watching the sun rise after a long, adventure-filled night. She was joined onstage by Marc Ribot for many of these tunes. -Caryn Havlik

    Set list:

    "Oh the Joy"

    "Fear for Permanence"

    "Long Time Coming"

    "Fourth Corner"

    "Hotter | Burn"

  • Posted on 09 Aug 2018

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    Fantastic Negrito's Fiery Blues with a Punk Attitude

    Self-described “lifelong hustler,” Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz, is better known by his stage name Fantastic Negrito, and makes “black roots music for everyone” - blues with a giant undercurrent of punkass. Fantastic Negrito’s songs tell of a hard life with some complete do-overs and a few near-death experiences. Coming from a crossroads with optional deals, his music might be informed just as much by California funk-punk (Bad Brains and Fishbone), hip hop, thrash metal, punk, Prince and his self-taught ways - specifically Dirty Mind (according to this Guardian interview) and the blues records he’d heard as a kid, visiting family in southern Virginia.

    Lately, his tunes have been placed and licensed for TV and film series (Empire, Hand of God, and in the case of his song “Working Poor,” Bernie Sanders’ political campaign.) But back in the early 2000's he had co-founded a record label, which grew into Oakland-based multimedia creative collective, the Blackball Universe cooperative, fed and financed with the publishing royalties of his own musical alter egos Chocolate Butterfly, Me and This Japanese Guy and Blood Sugar X. 

    Fantastic Negrito's latest record, Please Don’t Be Dead, references his own near-fatal car crash, and is driven in part by political and social issues in these broken and fractured times. The record is full of heavy riffs, cheeky songwriting, playful musicianship, and a whole lot of surviving. It brings Fantastic Negrito to the studio to play some of these tunes. -by Caryn Havlik

    Watch the full session here:


    Watch the individual songs below:



  • Posted on 06 Aug 2018


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