Kimberly Junod

The Head and the Heart's latest album, Living Mirage, is warm, open and definitely leans hard on the "heart" part of the band's name. The band went to Joshua Tree in the desert to create the music. The trip was bassist Chris Zasche's idea — he thought the wide-open landscape would give the member's all a chance to start fresh and maybe see themselves differently.

Karen O is a punk rock icon known for snarling, searing live shows as lead singer of Yeah Yeah Yeahs.

David Bazan has been releasing solo records steadily for the past decade, but Phoenix marks his first album returning as Pedro the Lion in 15 years. The record was inspired by Phoenix, Ariz., where Bazan lived until he was 12 years old.

As you may guess from the title of her third solo album, Leyla McCalla tackles social and economic issues pretty directly on The Capitalist Blues. The multi-instrumentalist and Carolina Chocolate Drops alumna sings about everything from injustice and poverty to her daughter's experience with elevated levels of lead.

The Beths is a rising band in the indie-pop scene, and yes, there is an Elizabeth leading the band! There is also a Jonathan, a Benajmin, and for today's session, a Trystan, for those of you wondering where the harmonies are coming from in this mini-concert.

What could be better than a new project built on the mutual fandom and friendship of two of our World Cafe favorites? Phoebe Bridgers grew up as a fan of Conor Oberst's band Bright Eyes, while Oberst became an instant fan of Bridgers when they played a show together a few years ago in LA.

Imagine being a young touring band playing a house party when the host approaches you, sits you down on his gold-encrusted fireplace and reads you his manifesto. Yes, that's one of the many interesting things that happened to BAILEN while on the road.

On her wonderful new album The Question, Anna Tivel zooms in on the kinds of people who don't usually get the red carpet treatment and makes them the stars of her songs. From the janitor sweeping up garbage at the theater late at night to a mother experiencing homelessness, Tivel's characters are so vivid and nuanced that each song could sustain its own feature film.

When Mikaela Straus, who records as King Princess, says "I've never been subtle. I don't think now is the time," she means it. Straus is a producer, multi-instrumentalist, writer and emerging gay icon with incredible confidence charisma and the musical chops to back it up.

Guster's latest album, Look Alive, is a trippy and textured twist on everything you might already love about the band. Lead singer Ryan Miller and drummer Brian Rosenworcel dropped by to talk about the making of the album, which included three producers, Leo Abrahams, John Congleton and Collin DuPuis, as well as a very fruitful visit to synthesizer and keyboard heaven, a.k.a. Canada's National Music Centre.

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Twenty years into his career, it's safe to say Josh Ritter is a master songwriter and musician.

The guy who always calls it like he sees it pays tribute to his late friend, mentor, and outlaw music icon, Guy Clark. In this session, we welcome back Steve Earle for a live performance.

Rising star Nilüfer Yanya caught so much well-deserved buzz with her first two EPs, it was difficult for her to carve out time to write a full-length debut album. But the Londoner has done it, and her debut, Miss Universe, out now, shows off the catchy melodies and grounded guitar playing that first earned Yanya attention, not to mention her unique and stunning voice.

If you're a fan of the band Metric, you might know their original name was Mainstream. It's worth sharing this tidbit since the band has spent the last 20 years making and publishing its own music outside the mainstream, while being quite successful.

Jenny Lewis' new album On the Line is an amazing feat of songwriting. She paints vivid and memorable pictures, from guardian angels with stethoscopes to a narcoleptic poet, Paxil to poppies. The rewards grow bigger with every listen, and a detail that made you laugh the first time might make you tearful the next. Her hooks are surprising and unforgettable, her vocals are warm and it's all absolutely epic without being overdone.

As a musician who has spent two decades on the road, Menno Versteeg of Hollerado understands the particular challenges of caring for your mental health when you make your living as an artist. There are the high-highs and low-lows of performing, being surrounded by all sorts of substances, having to deal with lots of pressure and little sleep.

"I'm feeling things! This is awesome!" Emily King describes the moment she stood outside with tears in her eyes, and sang aloud the lyrics to the first song she wrote for her new album. That song is called "Remind Me" and it captures the renewed inspiration King found after packing up her New York City life, learning to drive and moving to a small town in the Catskills.

There's something extra special about going to visit an artist in the place where it all began. On our recent trip to Dublin, Paul Noonan, lead singer of beloved Irish band Bell X1, took us on a walking city tour to show us some of the spots that have been important to the band over its 20-year career.

When Paddy Moloney formed The Chieftains in 1962, he wanted to take the sounds he loved from his Irish upbringing and share them with the rest of the world. Little did he know things would go so well that eventually, The Chieftains would help take the sounds of Ireland to outer space.

We had a blast visiting this Irish four-piece band Pillow Queens at the iconic Windmill Lane Recording Studios in Dublin. Pillow Queens has a delightfully DIY approach to pop punk and the band's songs are sneak-attack catchy. We found ourselves singing them long after the last amp rang out. Plus, the members sing clever lyrics in loud and proud full-on Irish accents.

David Keenan is a young singer with an old poet's soul and wardrobe. His acoustic guitar is adorned with pieces of poems, love letters and photographs.

Amanda Palmer has made a living out of delivering emotionally sobering strikes. From her early street performing days dressed as an 8-foot bride handing flowers and intense eye contact to passers-by through her current album cover, where she stands completely full frontal naked wielding a sword overhead, Palmer has always demanded we see her and feel something. You don't get to call yourself "Amanda F****** Palmer" for nothing.

On his latest album, Gold In a Brass Age, David Gray's voice still sounds as glorious, distinct and beautiful as it did when he broke through the mainstream with 1998's White Ladder. But the sounds surrounding Gray's voice, both natural and digital, have grown like ivy winding over bricks, adding depth and color to his songs in new ways.

After eight years of playing cello and singing with The Lumineers, Neyla Pekarek left the band this past fall. In January, she struck out on her own with a solo album called Rattlesnake. It's a concept album based on the true story of Colorado's Rattlesnake Kate, who rescued herself and her 3-year-old adopted son from an attack by killing more than 140 snakes in 1925.

We're being treated to a special kind performance from a tight-knit group of friends.

It's been 40 years since Steve Forbert released his debut album, Alive on Arrival, and he's marked the occasion with a new album and a new memoir. The new album is called The Magic Tree, a collection of songs, all but one of which have never been released before and some of which he started writing back in the '80s.

Known for putting on raucous shows and turning Scottish traditional music on its head, Elephant Sessions won Live Act of the Year from The Scots Trad Music Awards and were shortlisted for Scottish Album of the Year in 2018. The band is a festival favorite that has earned accolades from Rolling Stone and its third album comes out later this year.

Explaining Christmas to someone who's never heard of it is a strange proposition. As our guest and old friend JD McPherson puts it, there's a tree in your living room, a strange man's walking around your house at midnight eating cookies, and then you get clothes.

I imagine it's an even stranger proposition to write an album of modern Christmas originals. Christmas means so many different things to so many people, and the differences matter: Is your audience children or adults, religious or not? Are they jaded? Feeling humorous? Maybe sentimental? You've got a lot of options.

"Odds are the people that love you are just dying for you to tell the truth." When Kiley Lotz, who records as Petal, says this, you believe her. Kiley made her second full length album, Magic Gone, while she was coming to terms with seeking help for major depressive and panic disorders and subsequently going through treatment. She also came out as queer at that time.

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