Originally published on Thu August 16, 2012 12:53 pm
Chicago-based music journalist Catalina Maria Johnson curates this 14th installment of World Cafe's "Latin Roots" music series. The bilingual and bicultural journalist is of half-Swedish and half-Mexican descent, and grew up in two different cities with the name St. Louis — one in Missouri, and the other, in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. She writes in Spanish and English for publications such as HOY, RevistaContratiempo, Gozamos and Nat Geo Music.
Bear in Heaven, the brainchild of Jon Philpot, spent the winter trimming down (from a quartet to a trio) and stocking up, releasing its third album I Love You, It's Cool this spring. To promote the record, Philpot posted it in its entirety on the band's website, but not before slowing the audio down 400,000 times. At its original tempo, Bear in Heaven's music is at once ambient and energized, resonating in synth-driven waves that swell and pulse through an electric sea.
Originally from Memphis but a resident of New York City for the past decade or so, singer-songwriter Megan Reilly has a fan in Sonic Youth's Steve Shelley, who helped her get her original record deal. Ever since, Reilly's country-inflected soft rock has evolved further into pop territory since her 2002 debut Arc of Tessa and 2006's Let Your Ghost Go.
Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Norah Jones has been a star since the 2002 release of her debut album, Come Away With Me, which sold more than 10 million copies in the U.S. and won eight Grammys. Her success hasn't let up: Subsequent releases have all reached gold or platinum status.
Jones' fifth album, Little Broken Hearts, came out in May, and was recorded with producer Danger Mouse. Here, Jones sits down with World Cafe's David Dye to discuss her creative process.
Lucero — bright star in Spanish — has been creating quality punk-inflected country since the late '90s. Hailing from Memphis, frontman Ben Nichols gives the act a gruff Southern twang with both his voice and his guitar. Since the release of 2001's eponymous debut, Lucero has recorded five more studio albums and plays an impressive 200 shows a year in the U.S. and Canada.
Kin: Songs by Mary Karr & Rodney Crowell, released last month, is a collaboration between a best-selling author and a Grammy-winning singer-songwriter. Karr and Crowell sing songs about growing up in Texas in the '50s, material they've each grappled with in their own work. Karr's best-selling memoir The Liar's Club deals with themes of family, love and loss.
Before Japandroids reached the popularity they've earned today, guitarist Brian King and drummer David Prowse had to endure some ups and downs. In the beginning, the duo gave up the search for a lead vocalist and third member, deciding instead to split vocal duties. This turn of events ended up affecting the band's dual but equal decision-making process — even the band's name is a hodgepodge of ideas from each member.