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Soundcheck is WNYC’s daily talk show about music. Covering all musical genres, Soundcheck celebrates the musical passions of performers, composers, and critics as well as the public radio audience. Hosted by John Schaefer, listeners enjoy intimate conversations with and live performances by leading artists from around New York and around the globe.

Soundcheck is WNYC’s daily talk show about music. Covering all musical genres, Soundcheck celebrates the musical passions of performers, composers, and critics as well as the public radio audience. Hosted by John Schaefer, listeners enjoy intimate conversations with and live performances by leading artists from around New York and around the globe.
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New York, NY




Soundcheck is WNYC’s daily talk show about music. Covering all musical genres, Soundcheck celebrates the musical passions of performers, composers, and critics as well as the public radio audience. Hosted by John Schaefer, listeners enjoy intimate conversations with and live performances by leading artists from around New York and around the globe.






WNYC Radio 160 Varick St. New York, NY 10013 (212) 433-9692


Literary Chamber Rock Quintet Oracle Hysterical Adapts Greek Tragedy

Part book club, part composer collective, Oracle Hysterical’s works occupy the fluid space between classically-inclined song-cycle and art-rock concept album. The group’s songs take on great literary with text sources from Grimms’ Fairy Tales to Greek tragedy, and falsely-attributed Shakespeare, all in modern settings that might be chamber rock, baroque folk or (staff favorite:) “Alt-classical.” The chamber band’s latest is "Hecuba," a “savage story of revenge in which the disgraced queen of...


Vijay Iyer Sextet's Hard-Driving Chamber-Funk

Pianist, composer, MacArthur Fellow, and bandleader Vijay Iyer has done imaginative re-workings of pop songs, explored the connections between jazz and the music of India, and veered into the classical realm as well, with electronics. His most recent album, Far From Over, features an all-star lineup of virtuoso jazz improvisers: horn players Graham Haynes, Steve Lehman and Mark Shim alongside rhythm partners Stephan Crump and Tyshawn Sorey. And the rhythms under some these tunes have come...


Daring Ambition of The Magnetic Fields: One Song For Every Year of a Life

Watch Live via Facebook: Some folks get a fast car, a tattoo, or a drum set for their mid-life crisis. However, New York singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Stephin Merritt, songwriter of The Magnetic Fields recorded 50 Song Memoir: a five-disc, two-and-a-half-hour audio autobiography, featuring one song for each year of his life from conception to teenage years; early explorations of synthesizer to when he founded The Magnetic Fields, and made 69 Love Songs; all the way up to...


Tuareg Guitarist Bombino's Irresistible Grooves Bring Folks Together

Bombino, aka guitarist and songwriter Omara Moctar, comes from the nomadic Tuareg people of North Africa. On his latest record, Deran, recorded close to his native Niger in the southern Sahara, he extends best wishes for peace and celebrates his desert home. Bombino’s guitar-based “desert blues” or “desert groove” tunes might have that camel gait-like loping rhythmic feel, or even Bombino’s own style of ‘Tuareggae’ - and are sung in Tamashek, the language of the Tuareg. He plays some of this...


The California Honeydrops Kick It Old School

The California Honeydrops play stripped-down rootsy music that might sound like country-blues, Southern soul, New Orleans second-line, and R&B - all at once old school and really old-school. Their origin story is inspirational – Polish-born Lech Wierzynski (vocalist, guitarist and trumpeter) and drummer Ben Malament got their start busking in an Oakland subway station, and 10 years later, have added members, gotten tighter, and played all kinds of major tours, opening for Bonnie Raitt,...


Eleanor Friedberger Is (Goth) Dancing (Mostly) on Her Own

Eleanor Friedberger, best known as one half of the indie rock duo The Fiery Furnaces, has recently shifted her musical landscape, swapping out live instruments in favor of drum programming and synths for a sound that she can create mostly on her own. (Part of her desire to be more self-reliant, in the wake of the 2016 election.) On her latest record, Rebound, she channels the sound and energy of an experience at a very smoky 80’s goth disco in Athens where they do a “chicken dance.”...


Speedy Ortiz Delivers Pop Stingers For the Times

The latest music from American pop band Speedy Ortiz, ‘Twerp Verse,’ speaks smartly to political and social situations of the present from a feminist perspective of truth-telling and is designed, on purpose, to make us uncomfortable lyrically and musically. With songs that airdrop aggressive, unpredictable chord progressions and disorienting rhythms behind enemy lines, this record is music for popping out from the cover of safety, armed with teeth and claws. Speedy Ortiz plays some of...


Okkervil River's Will Sheff Previews Songs From ‘In The Rainbow Rain’

Okkervil River excels at wistful, melancholy, intimate songs, yet there’s possibly an undercurrent of happiness to these latest creations on the forthcoming record, In The Rainbow Rain. Somehow singer/songwriter Will Sheff both reflects on this new world we live in and celebrates being alive. The new songs are inviting and soothing, with mellow Motown-style arrangements, controlled electric guitar bursts, ambient background vocals and 80’s-sounding production elements. Okkervil River’s...


Fatoumata Diawara: A Traditionalist Who Needs to Experiment

Some time ago, Malian singer, songwriter, guitarist and actress Fatoumata Diawara did a wonderful and daring thing – inspired by her friend Rokia Traore, she bought an acoustic guitar, and taught herself to play it. Since then, Fatoumata has put out her debut record, Fatou, collaborated with Damon Albarn's Africa Express, and contributed vocals to albums by Cheikh Lô, AfroCubism, and Orchestra Poly-Rythmo de Cotonou. Her forthcoming record, Fenfo translates as “Something to Say”, and she’s...


Party With The Lost Bayou Ramblers, Swinging Cajun-Style

Louisiana-based Lost Bayou Ramblers are a swinging punkass party band who mix Cajun melodies on fiddle, accordion, guitars, and some electric sounds. They just won a regional roots Grammy for their record, Kalenda, but they’ve also done an original score for ROUS, a film about Nutria Rats and Louisiana’s coastal land loss, and contributed to the score for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Fresh from the French Quarter Festival in New Orleans, the Lost Bayou Ramblers join us in the...


Anna & Elizabeth Transform Old Traditions of Mountain Music

As bands go, Anna & Elizabeth have quite the origin story. Anna & Elizabeth began thanks to a broke down car and a shared desire to explore the traditions of Appalachian roots music. The immersive, intimate combination of Elizabeth LaPrelle’s deep mountain voice (from Virginia), Anna Roberts-Gevalt’s modern one (from Vermont), their sweet harmonies, and minimalist arrangements is striking. The duo’s latest record, The Invisible Comes to Us, co-produced by Anna and Benjamin Lazar Davis...


Anbessa Orchestra Plays Music of Ethiopia Straight Outta Brooklyn

In the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, during the 1960’s and ‘70s, the sounds of American jazz and James Brown-style funk rocketed through the clubs there, combining with Ethiopia’s own exotic scales to produce the golden age of Ethiopian pop. The New York-based 7-piece band Anbessa Orchestra draws from this era and aims to take the listener on a musical journey from Addis Ababa to Brooklyn, with the loping grooves, buoyant brass lines, moody organ, crisp guitars, and solid percussion....


The Lone Bellow Pushes Forward Into Nashville

The folk-rock outfit The Lone Bellow crafts passionate, acoustic-based Americana that hints at elements of blues, country, and roots music. They’ve recently moved from Brooklyn to Nashville, (let that fact be read into, musically) and the band in their touring configuration, joins us to perform some of their songs built around warm, twangy guitar riffs and beautiful three-part harmonies, from their latest record, Walk Into A Storm. Watch the full session here: Watch The Lone Bellow's...


Mary Chapin Carpenter Re-imagines Her Musical Travels

Singer, songwriter and guitarist Mary Chapin Carpenter re-imagined and rearranged songs from her 30-year catalog, along with the brand-new title track, for her most recent record, Sometimes Just the Sky. That title comes from a speech given by Patti Smith, where she "touched on both hard and beautiful aspects of life." The country music prize-winning Carpenter, who is now based deep in the Virginia countryside has spent her musical career “exploring depths of language and emotion,” using...


Get into the Spiritual Trance Music by Innov Gnawa

The New York-based band Innov Gnawa performs the traditional healing music of Morocco: Gnawa - a trancey, rhythmic music that is played on an array of unique instruments — from the lute-like gimbri (sintir), to the metal qarqaba (castinets) with which the kouyos (chorus) keep time and pound out clattering, hypnotic rhythms. One of Innov Gnawa's innovations is to collaborate with modern electronic acts like Bonobo, but they've just released a new record, Aicha, and they'll be performing at...


Singer/Producer/Songwriter Charlotte Day Wilson Taps Into Cold Strength And Intimate Beauty

Toronto-based Charlotte Day Wilson is a singer, multi-instrumentalist (she plays piano, saxophone, bass, and guitar), and producer who draws on her classical background to make bedroom-intimate, yet intensely emotional tunes that are influenced by everything from R&B to electro, to jazz revival. She joins us in the studio to perform songs from her self-released records and hopefully will talk about how she aims to change the entire studio production industry to help younger songwriters and...


Squirrel Nut Zippers Sling Some Hot Swing

The big band jazz and hot swing revivalists Squirrel Nut Zippers from Chapel Hill, North Carolina have always been a guaranteed good time since they broke through in the late 1990’s,with their platinum album Hot. Although they stopped recording around the turn of this century, they have returned to form with a brand new album, Beasts of Burgundy. It’s crammed full of the same swinging hot jazz of the roaring 1920's brass, banjo, explosions of fun! The Squirrel Nut Zippers play some of...


Randy Weston Distills Music's Spiritual Essence

The American pianist, composer, innovator, and "Legend of Jazz," Randy Weston, joins us to play some of his solo piano works - many of which border on ritual blues with a dash of Ellington stride here and there a crashing note cluster of Thelonious Monk in mind. His latest recording is a two-album set called Sound, which contains many of his own compositions, recorded when he was 75 years old, back in 2001. In advance of his 92nd birthday, he honors our studio once again. Watch the...


Vicente García's Immersive Collision of Bachata, Merengue, Funk, and Rock

Coming from a rock and funk place, Dominican singer-songwriter Vicente García has become something of a folk pop revivalist, incorporating his love of Afro-Caribbean rhythms, from acoustic bachata to reggae on his latest record, A La Mar. Formerly the lead singer of the band Calor Urbano, the winner of Best New Artist at this year’s Latin Grammys has been digging into Dominican folklore, despite his having relocated to Bogotá, Colombia. (He was also up for Best Tropical Song for "Bachata...


South African Choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo Sings of Peace and Harmony

The great South African a cappella choir Ladysmith Black Mambazo are a global phenomenon. With their uplifting vocal harmonies and signature dance moves, they’ve been anointed “cultural ambassadors to the world” by no less than Nelson Mandela. (Some listeners might recall them appearing on Paul Simon’s Graceland album back in 1986.) The group was formed in 1960 by Joseph Shabalala, has recorded more than 50 albums, and won five Grammys. Joseph Shabalala is now retired, but his sons and...


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