Popular Music

Nik Carman (right) records "Wagon Wheel" at Studio Anatomy, accompanied by his brother, Andrew, on guitar.

Interlochen Public Radio is your source for the arts from northern Michigan. Whether you're looking for new music from northern Michigan artists or NPR's First Listen, you'll find the stories here.

If Keith Richards put on a poodle skirt for a production of Grease and you added a 40-piece orchestra, you might have something resembling Foxygen's new record, Hang. Just released today, it marks the follow-up to the band's 2013 breakthrough album We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors Of Peace & Magic, and it cements Foxygen's reputation as eccentric and theatrical purveyors of pure fun.

Lalo Schifrin On Piano Jazz

Jan 20, 2017

Composer, arranger and pianist Lalo Schifrin trained classically as a young man in Argentina. He went on to study at the Paris Conservatory as he developed a career as a jazz musician and began playing and recording in Europe. He has written more than 100 film and television scores and has won multiple Grammy and Academy Award nominations.

Members of the Philly punk scene and from across the country have come together for Don't Stop Now, a compilation of covers that benefits the American Civil Liberties Union. It was released today via Bandcamp, with this note:

This compilation is an expression of love, anger, hope and protest on inauguration day. Let it serve as a reminder that the fight for justice is not over, that the celebration of diversity is essential to progress, that we must work together for what is fair and good. Can't stop. Won't Stop. Don't stop now.

Love songs can often feel myopic. Sometimes it's to their benefit: When done with a certain emotional depth, lyrical particularity can take on a universal quality. It's as simple as someone telling a story that evokes an intimate memory in someone else. That's one of the many reasons why love (and subsequent heartache) is the most popular songwriting topic of all, but also the most exhaustive — and exhausting.

Long before Marea Stamper was The Black Madonna, feminist DJ heroine, she was a known and beloved figure on the Midwestern rave scene: the mixtape girl. Stamper, who grew up in a small eastern Kentucky town and found her dance-music calling early because of a record-collecting stepfather, spent a chunk of her late teens and the mid-1990s going from party to party all over Middle America, selling DJ mix cassettes and spreading the rave gospel, while simultaneously receiving an unparalleled music education.

"Our best musicians in the jazz tradition were radical imaginers," Samora Pinderhughes says. A pianist and composer in his mid-20s, he has asserted his connection to that lineage with The Transformations Suite, an earnest and ambitious new work combining music, words and visuals. The piece, which took five years to chisel into shape, was inspired by African-American resistance and protest movements, as well as the oppression that many still endure.

Edna Vazquez grew up in Jalisco, Mexico — the same place that gave birth to mariachi music. Although the style was traditionally reserved for men, in 1998 Vazquez (who now lives in Portland, Ore.) became one of the first female mariachi vocalists and vihuela players in the Pacific Northwest. Since then, she has earned hard-won respect for her spectacular guitar playing and passionate, forceful vocals.

The Bay Area artist Hazel English makes jangly dream pop that has landed her on a lot of "Artists to Watch in 2017" lists. She premiered some brand-new songs from a forthcoming release in KCRW's first live session of 2017. "More Like You" was an instant favorite.

Set List

  • "More Like You"

"So much breaks, wears down, fails in us," the poet Marge Piercy once wrote. "We must forgive our broken promises — their sharp shards in our hands." But it's difficult to be that generous toward disappointment. It's so much simpler to keep on guarding a sublime ideal, to rail against a letdown, to reject a ravaged expectation by submerging in melancholy. That's what makes the forgiving qualities of Tift Merritt's new album, Stitch Of The World, so welcome.

Amid social and political upheaval, it's only natural to seek out interpreters who use screams, brush strokes and dance to articulate the intangible. It's only natural that art responds in kind to its environment and the hostilities it faces. It's only natural, if flippant and ignorant and unfair, to think that punk only thrives under such circumstances, as if musicians prefer oppression to freedom.

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