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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.






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


Public Service Broadcasting Samples the Past, Makes Music of the Future

The English outfit called Public Service Broadcasting builds its records around archival and documentary sounds, then layering in live drums, guitar, banjo, bass flugelhorn, and electronics. Their 2015 album The Race For Space was full of voices from the Apollo moon missions; and their current album, Every Valley, is built around documentary sounds of the mining communities of southern Wales – the boom and its subsequent collapse. We anticipate a dance-able, yet intentional history lesson,...

Duration: 00:34:33

The Captivating Analog Synth Artistry of Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith

The west coast-based sound-maker and experimenter Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith weaves melodic patterns and pulses, using various analogue synthesizers – like the rare EMS Synthi 100 synthesizer, a vintage Buchla modular synthesizer, earning her a fun title as a composer and producer – “synthesist.” Her palette includes strings, bassoons, clarinets, and horns, natural sounds, and noisy textures, along with her layered vocals with arresting results. On Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith's latest, The Kid, due...

Duration: 00:29:48

Shilpa Ray Hand-Stamps The Nightlife And She's Stronger For It

The wonderfully twisted, self-possessed, wry, leather jacket-armored dark humored queen of the downtown night, Shilpa Ray, continues to survive working the door at the Lower East Side / New York City bar Pianos. And she’s turned that harsh reality into an album of cutting commentary. On the forthcoming record Door Girl, Shilpa Ray plays with throwback “girl group” sounds – except she’s got backing guy vocals and crisp production. Her songs are full of acerbic observations on desperate...

Duration: 00:29:46

Cigarettes After Sex Ignite the Slow Burn

Here's the Facebook Live session: Cigarettes After Sex is a sensual pop-noir band founded in El Paso, TX, but now based in Brooklyn. Frontman Greg Gonzalez’ dark androgynous voice wouldn’t be out of place in a David Lynch creation, or in "The Handmaid's Tale" (one of the songs WAS used in the TV series - "Nothing's Gonna Hurt You Baby") with its moody, dreamy, seductive and – a bit creepy - undertones. The spirit of arthouse cinema haunts these slow-burn romantic and very filmic songs,...

Duration: 00:29:42

Lee Ranaldo & Steve Gunn, from the New York Guitar Festival, in the Greene Space

Hear music from one of the two Sonic Youth guitarists, Lee Ranaldo, along with the fingerstyle folk rocker Steve Gunn, recorded at the 2017 New York Guitar Festival in the Greene Space. Ranaldo rhapsodizes about how he had been writing recently on acoustic guitar instead of electric, playing these “wooden” guitars, and even using standard tuning for most of the songs on his forthcoming record, Electric Trim (MUTE Records, due out September 15) . Jonathan Lethem helped out with the lyrics...

Duration: 00:36:19

Electro-Cumbia Bomba Estéreo Mix Traditional Sounds With Psychedelic Dance Music

Based in Bogota, Columbia, the band Bomba Estéreo continue to explore their South American roots, mixing up cumbia, vallenato, and champeta with reggaeton, hiphop, dubstep and Euro electronica. On their latest record, Ayo, they anchor melody lines with traditional woodwind instruments like flauto de millo or gaita played by folkloric musicians; bassist and synth master Simón Mejía augments them and marries them to electronica. The band gaily trips through a garden of pop delights, dropping...

Duration: 00:27:46

Feel the Force of OMD's Electro Dance-Pop Revival

The appealingly danceable music of Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, or OMD, as the trailblazing synth-driven electronic band came to be known, has delighted and charmed listeners for decades. They formed in the late 1970's, greatly inspired by Kraftwerk, and with influences ranging from CAN to Barry White. Their string of breakout hits stretched through the 1980's, like "Electricity," "Tesla Girls," & "So In Love," while their song, "If You Leave," written specifically for the John...

Duration: 00:37:13

Gypsy Punks Gogol Bordello Turn Rage Into Joy

New York’s own gypsy punks Gogol Bordello have roots in Eastern European folk and Brecht-ian cabaret, along with punk and dub. With a band that usually includes accordion, fiddle, horns, percussion, jangly and electric guitars, Gogol frontman Eugene Hutz leads the turbo-charged “avalanche of rage-turned-joy,” whipping up frenzied crowds all over the world in every savage live performance. Their latest record, Seekers & Finders is coming for us all in August, and even features Regina...

Duration: 00:24:32

Vetted: The Harmonium-Wielding Chicago Soul Singer Zeshan B

Chicago-based soul singer Zeshan B takes on deep cuts from 1960s and 70s soul gems, as well as groovy, bluesy gospel-infused originals, sometimes in English. But, he also sings in Urdu and Punjabi, which is only natural, since Bagewadi’s parents are immigrants from India. (Other pertinent facts: he is a trained opera singer, he plays harmonium, and his earliest singing was in a mosque.) Zeshan B’s sound is wholly reminiscent of the Stax Records sound, with classic horn arrangements...

Duration: 00:22:39

Low Cut Connie Pounds Out Some Bluesy-Garage Rockenroll

This session has ended. Follow us @soundcheck on Twitter or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes, and we'll let you know when the audio is ready for download & streaming! Low Cut Connie is a garage rock band that actually recorded its first album in a garage. Led by Adam Weiner and Shondra (Weiner’s upright piano, which he brings wherever he goes), the Philly-based band has become known for its wild live sets and for being included on President Barack Obama’s summer playlist in 2015. The...

Duration: 00:29:42

Sam Amidon Experiments with Folk Music

The Vermont-born singer/fiddler/banjoist/guitarist and scion of a family of shape-note singers Sam Amidon has a reputation for having collected, re-imagined, and performed American traditional tunes other folk music, in addition to collaborations with Kronos Quartet and composer Nico Muhly. That said, this spring, Amidon released his first album of original music, which is an experiment in trying out the Appalachian music he loves, as well as "improvisation, beats, Don Cherry, Vermont,...

Duration: 00:29:43

Outlaw Master Steve Earle Rolls Into Town & Serves Up Badass & Heart

Watch live on Facebook: Activist, actor, author, and multiple Grammy-winning Americana artist Steve Earle is back in our studio, this time with a scorching and heartfelt new album called So You Wanna Be An Outlaw, done with his band The Dukes. But today, Steve Earle is here to play some of those songs solo. With gritty, nasty, snarling lines like "I'm fixin' to die, and I reckon I'm going to hell," the rebellious country songwriter is back in what NPR Music calls "an outlaw state of...

Duration: 00:29:49

Mondo Cozmo Sparkles With Sunny Pop

Here is the Facebook Live session: Singer-songwriter Josh Ostrander has led a couple of bands over the years, but these days he records under the name Mondo Cozmo. And for an artist who still hasn’t released his debut full-length LP, he’s been making some big noise. The single "Shine" hit #1 on Billboard’s Adult Alternative chart, the band was a hit at the recent South By Southwest Festival, and now Mondo Cozmo is touring around with Bastille playing big arenas. From little blasts of...

Duration: 00:28:16

Bluesman Jake La Botz Taps Into Vintage American Roots

Delta blues-inflected singer, guitar player, and songwriter Jake La Botz plays American traditional music that would be at home in juke joints, blues clubs, and tattoo parlors. It’s a little bit twangy, steeped in vintage blues; it’s also part busker on a street corner with a love of gospel music & Tom Waits. Ever the renaissance man, Jake La Botz also has made a side career as an actor, in addition to teaching meditation. The Chicago-raised, Nashville-based musician joins us to play songs...

Duration: 00:29:44

Kate Simko & London Electronic Orchestra Build Crystal Structures of Chamber-Dance Music

London-based dance music artist, classically trained pianist/composer, and Chicago native Kate Simko along with the London Electronic Orchestra, combine harp, violin, cello & laptop, live in the studio. Layers of clubby electronics and keyboards support delicate harp, violin and cello melodies. Altogether, the result is a buoyant, airy, and uplifting hybrid dance music - something like a film score for a documentary about a days-long party in Ibiza.

Duration: 00:26:58

Songwriter Ani Difranco's Sharp & Urgent Poetic Observations

Watch the session: Folk rocker Ani DiFranco is more than just another guitar-playing singer/songwriter. Since she founded her Righteous Babe Record label back in 1990 as a DIY pioneer, she has used her music to tackle heartbreak, gender identity, parenthood, and a host of other issues, from feminism to politics, to civil rights, workers' rights, class and race. Her latest (her 20th studio record) is called Binary, and she joins us to play some stripped-down songs from it. Here's “Play...

Duration: 00:32:21

Thurston Moore's Latest Jangly Shimmering Guitar Bursts

Guitarist & singer Thurston Moore blazed all kinds of musical trails with the band Sonic Youth, but even before the dissolution of the group in 2011, he was doing all kinds of outside projects, ranging from noise, drone and black metal collaborations. His latest is a solo album called Rock ‘n’Roll Consciousness, and it brings Thurston Moore here to play a couple of songs for us, one acoustic and one electric.

Duration: 00:29:04

Guitarist Blick Bassy Shares His Cameroonian Raw Materials

The Cameroonian guitarist, Blick Bassy, now resides in rural France and wields a convincing banjo as well. The tunes on Bassy’s magic record, Akö, were intended to be an homage to the Mississippi bluesman Skip James, yet manage to parade between folk and jazz, perhaps stopping to dance with Malian music (think Ali Farka Toure) and Brazilian Tropicalia (Caetano Veloso), along the way. Revel in Bassy’s falsetto vocal lines sung in the Cameroonian language of Basaa over elegant and minimal...

Duration: 00:29:36

Alison Moyet's Latest Electro-Pop Adventure, "Other"

Back in the early 1980s, Alison Moyet first topped the charts as half of the English band Yaz – or Yazoo as they were known on their side of the Atlantic. There were lots of new wave/electronic bands on the radio and on the brand new MTV, but Moyet’s richly textured contralto rang out above the fray. Since going solo in 1984, Moyet has had more hits, as well as a long period of time away from music. But that distinctive voice was built for the long haul, and Alison Moyet is back with a new...

Duration: 00:29:29

Showtime Goma: Dream-Pop by Jen Goma of A Sunny Day in Glasgow

Jen Goma, of A Sunny Day In Glasgow unleashes hopeful exuberance in her solo project, Showtime Goma, on a record of alternately dancey & dreamy sugar boosts. Jen’s singular inspiring voice lifts and envelops a listener on her debut album Smiley Face. With collaborators like Deerhoof drummer/composer Greg Saunier, plus appearances by composer Shahzad Ismaily, along with personnel from ASDiG, the music is clearly carefully crafted with love and an irreverent sense of humor. Jen Goma and her...

Duration: 00:34:38

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