On today's episode of Latin Roots, NPR's Felix Contreras returns to discuss the Latin Alternative music of the 1970s. Contreras is a connoisseur of Latin music who hosts NPR's Alt.Latino, reports on jazz, world music and Latin culture for NPR's Arts Desk, and plays in several Latin and jazz bands. Here, Contreras describes how politics in the 1970s influenced Latin music of the era.
The English group Band of Skulls makes music that recalls The Black Keys and The Kills' heavy, distorted, guitar-driven rock. On its 2009 debut, Baby Darling Doll Face Honey, Band of Skulls proved it could own several styles of classic rock. But the follow-up, Sweet Sour, is comparatively airtight — and has already hit the U.K. charts.
British artist Jasmine van den Bogaerde — better known as Birdy — is probably best known for her 2011 cover of Bon Iver's "Skinny Love." The 15-year-old started playing piano at 5, began composing a few years later and won the Open Mic UK competition in 2008 at the age of 12. The win guaranteed the young artist a recording contract, but before releasing her debut, she'd already scored a spot on the U.K. pop chart with her cover of "Skinny Love," making Birdy a household name in the U.K.
Originally published on Fri April 27, 2012 4:29 pm
Karl Wallinger is best known as the brains behind the Britpop band World Party. A Welsh singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, Wallinger displayed an early obsession with all things folk and pop. After experience directing The Rocky Horror Show on stage and working in music publishing, he played keyboards for the Scottish folk-rock band The Waterboys.
Originally published on Mon August 6, 2012 10:36 am
Michael Kiwanuka combines roots and soul with such old-school, retro-sounding verve, it's hard to believe he's still a rising star — let alone a 24-year-old. Kiwanuka is of Ugandan descent and grew up in Muswell Hill, London.
By now, Daniel Rossen's name is synonymous with the kind of raggedy, whimsical, airy music he writes. A contributing songwriter and musician in Grizzly Bear, Rossen often saved his most personal compositions for his other band, Department of Eagles, which shares Grizzly Bear's roots in Rossen's undergraduate years at NYU. Both bands saw success, and Rossen continued to work in both projects.
A surfer and songwriter, Ben Howard's two loves intertwined when the English surfing world became the first audience for his quiet, meditative music. At the encouragement of friends, Howard released two EPs and was soon invited to tour with Xavier Rudd. Howard is a talented artist in the vein of labelmate and influence Nick Drake, with similarly dark and soulful lyrics.