Since 1991, World Cafe has emerged as the premiere public radio showcase for contemporary music. Host David Dye serves up an eclectic blend that includes indie rock, singer-songwriters, folk, alternative country, blues, and world music.
Laura Gibson's new album, La Grande, is built around a surprising musical contrast: Her hushed voice remains as quiet as ever, but her songs are louder and more complex. Although simplicity and lack of volume characterize Gibson's earlier work, her music today feels bigger without sacrificing intimacy: It meditates on mortality, carrying a weight of seriousness without being heavy. It's dark, but dispensed with a light touch.
Harriet blends Americana and electronic music to create a sound that embodies the L.A. rock scene: Its debut EP, Tell the Right Story, sounds like a chillwave re-imagination of Kings of Leon or The National. The group combines hoarse vocals, dramatic riffs and electronic flourishes on its debut — available for free on Harriet's website, though probably not for long.
On Nada Surf's new album, The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy, the long-running band alternates between infectious optimism and sweet sadness. In spite of countless label changes, the group has remained remarkably consistent in its 20 years together: Blending good-natured affirmations with catchy pop-rock hooks, Nada Surf sounds like a bunch of fresh-faced kids, albeit unusually wise ones.
Formed by four Peruvian high-school friends in 2001, Novalima has been making traditional music sound sultry and modern ever since. In the past decade, the group has grown to a nine-piece band that's helping change the way the world thinks about world music.