Though Robert Glasper Experiment is a fairly new entity, Glasper himself has been experimenting in genre mash-ups for his entire musical career. First and foremost a jazz pianist, Glasper grew to love hip-hop and began to incorporate it into his music. He's played in a jazz trio and toured the world playing at jazz festivals, but recently, he's become renowned for his ability to mix unlikely elements into something startlingly original — even if he's covering the work of another artist.
Joey Ryan and Kenneth Pattengale, known as The Milk Carton Kids, are getting a lot of well-deserved buzz. When the folk duo released its second album Prologue for free online last year, more than 60,000 fans downloaded the tracks. Acoustic, soothing, rich in ballads — the signature Milk Carton Kids form of fusing two voices into one sound is mesmerizing.
Deeply influenced by the pop of The Beatles while also incorporating alt-country elements from his Texas background, Salim Nourallah found solace in music at an early age. He's released several albums as a solo artist, earning a reputation for the power of his words and the deftness of his melodies.
With simple melodies and sardonic lyrics, Archie Powell and the Exports' new album, Great Ideas in Action, may well be the soundtrack to this summer. The group released its first EP (Loose Change) in 2009, and its debut album, Skip Work, followed a year later. Skip Work was praised for its addictive hooks, lyrical wit and sophistication. Buried beneath catchy, raucous rock 'n' roll, the album's emotional content reflected the nervous energy and anxiety that the band members say they felt graduating college.
On the latest segment of the "Latin Roots" music series, Josh Norek, co-host and executive producer of The Latin Alternative (a one-hour radio show of Latin funk, hip-hop and electronica), stops by the studio. A musician, producer and journalist who works for the Latin indie label Nacional Records, Norek spends a good deal of his time exploring the history and direction of Latin hip-hop.
The Cincinnati band Heartless Bastards is led by Erika Wennerstrom, whose husky vocals have fueled the group's progression into a powerhouse rock force on its fourth studio album, Arrow. The new record marinates in all that is classic rock — catchy hooks, big riffs, a powerful voice — but also sets itself apart with Wennerstrom's distinct voice.
Nika Roza Danilova, known on stage as Zola Jesus, has crafted an experimental, genre-straddling sound which incorporates Gothic rock, lo-fi acoustic music, orchestral instrumentals, ambient electronic sounds and strong, diva-esque vocals. She's released three full-length studio albums in the span of three years, and each has sounded more purposeful and powerful than the last.