Music News & Reviews

When the spirit of Nirvana surfaces in a song, the artist paying tribute almost always shares style points with that treasured band. The hair is shaggy, the clothes a little ragged; the lineage unfolds, relatively neatly, from punk to the present.

Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg first made their names with feather-light chamber-folk confections that echoed the soaring sweetness of Fleet Foxes. A cover of that band's "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" even helped launch the then-teenagers to YouTube fame back in 2008. But in 2014, styles have changed and so have the Söderbergs: First Aid Kit's major-label debut, Stay Gold, moves well beyond the portentous prettiness of the pair's 2012 breakthrough, The Lion's Roar.

WCBE proudly presents Dallas' Old 97's with local great Lydia Loveless and her band at The Newport on Friday, June 6th! 

In north central Alabama, punk rockers often know as much about football as they do mosh pits. A guy with an arm-sleeve tattoo will open the door for a woman and call her "ma'am." Self-identifying as a blue dot in a red state doesn't preclude Sunday brunch with relatives whose own cars boast confederate-flag stickers. Such differences can arise anywhere, but they can feel more pressing in the Deep South, where history is sticky, like a 90-degree rainy day, and intimate, like Grandma's questionable advice.

Here's the starting point for the story of Seun Kuti: He's the youngest son of Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. He began playing with his father's band Egypt 80 at age 8 — and took it over upon his father's death just six years later.

First Listen: Lee Fields, 'Emma Jean'

May 22, 2014

Press play on any of the songs from Lee Fields' new album, Emma Jean. It'll take just a few moments for you to connect his sound to that of decades past — but in all fairness, he's lived through it. Now 63 years old, Fields has been pumping out soul, funk and Southern blues since he was a teenager.

WCBE presents Americana Whiskey Wednesdays every week at Park Street Patio

These are FREE events and will take place from 6-9PM!

Park Street Patio is located at 533 Park St. Columbus, OH  43215

Artist Schedule:

5/7     Holy Ghost Tent Revival

5/14   Rice Bros. w/ Clear Blue Sunday

The music of Pacifika draws you in almost immediately: The Vancouver trio's musicianship is superb, buoyed by a voice that stopped me in my tracks the first time I heard it. Pacifika's sound has been labeled as world fusion, but that label is more of a restriction than a description. The group's acoustic base and subtle electronic flourishes provided a great way to start its musical journey, but Amor Planeta raises the stakes with an electric-guitar bite that adds a crucial dimension.

First Listen: Lykke Li, 'I Never Learn'

Apr 29, 2014

Lykke Li is a pop star looking to change the pop conversation. The Swedish singer's new third album, I Never Learn, forms the final installment in a conceptual trilogy — and it's extraordinary as both a collection of songs and a tactical re-wiring of her genre's circuit board.

Many young singers are stalked by an ill-fitting, virtually unshakable descriptor, whether it's a limiting and vaguely dismissive adjective ("quirky," for example) or a limiting and vaguely dismissive noun ("songstress," to pick one that should be banished from the language and buried under 10,000 pounds of rock salt). For Nikki Lane, that descriptor seems to be "outlaw country" — a generally defensible expression, but one that can subtly imply an element of posturing, even posing.

First Listen: Dolly Parton, 'Blue Smoke'

Apr 29, 2014

The cover art of Dolly Parton's latest album looks like an airbrushed T-shirt design you might find in a souvenir shop at Dollywood. Both her flawless, beaming close-up and the mountainous skyline behind are her ringed in artist-rendered ribbons of mist, and the rising sun has a painterly, paradisiacal look to it. What gives her Smoky Mountain theme park its character is a combination of rural resilience, commercial sheen and aspirational sensibility.

The creators of pop music are usually able to break down the fundamentals of their craft — that search for the clever rhyme, the killer beat, the singable chorus. They are less articulate, understandably, about the other quest, the one that powers those everyday searches: the pursuit of ecstasy in sound. There's something almost paranormal about that part of the creative process, yet we know those moments, instantly, when we hear them.

A lover's obsessiveness may charm at first, but it can soon turn frightening. For an artist, the relentless pursuit of one object — a sound, a memory dragged up and reshaped, a fantasy that makes the long hours of work feel intimate — feeds creativity or freezes it. Greg Dulli has been chasing the same seductive nightmare since he was 22, when his band The Afghan Whigs formed. Next year, he'll turn 50. He's spent a long time, in his mind, sitting in a darkened car in front of the same house.

WCBE proudly presents the return of Leon Russell at Park Street Saloon on Sunday, July 2oth!  TICKETS!

With a twang and a yodel, Saintseneca's new album, Dark Arc, begins on a foreboding note. "You're drenched in blood, still warm with with wear," frontman Zac Little sings before leading the band into a driving rock chorus.

Banjo, baglama, bulbul, balalaika, bowed banjo, baritone ukulele, banjo, bass, bouzouki... Saintseneca might pick up any of these instruments at any given moment, and those are just the ones that start with the letter B. The band has its origins and heart in a small Appalachian town in Ohio, as well as a passion for sounds and textures with acoustic instruments at their core. Saintseneca's members eventually settled in Columbus, and they like their acoustic music a bit punkish, with stomping feet as a heartbeat to accompany mind-altering words and music.

Every language has words and phrases that elude easy translation. In Portuguese, "saudade" (pronounced by Brazilians as "sow-DAH-djee") is one of those. Some musicians equate it with the blues; it's generally associated with melancholy and longing. In its most recent bio, the Washington, D.C., electronic duo Thievery Corporation defines it as "a longing for something or someone that is lost."

The Austin, TX quintet the Wheeler Brothers will return to Columbus on Thursday, April 4th to perform at The Basement

The same week that Neil Young introduced his Pono music player designed to spark a huge boost in audio fidelity, I listened for the first time to a recording of a Grateful Dead concert I attended almost 40 years ago. And I realized that passions about good-sounding music go through cycles. Today, the lo-fi medium is MP3s through earbuds.

NPR Music At SXSW 2014: Wednesday

Mar 13, 2014

For most of Wednesday, our team in Austin, Texas, had their eyes on the stage at Stubb's BBQ, where we presented our SXSW showcase featuring sets by Damon Albarn, St. Vincent, Kelis, Eagulls and Perfect Pussy. But near the end of the night, we started hearing news of a terrible accident involving dozens of people outside another venue.

"Under the Pressure," the nine-minute song that kicks off Lost in the Dream, opens with a few seconds of hair-raising electronic ticking and closes with two and a half minutes of full-band, synchronized, undulating feedback. In between, The War on Drugs shows many of the cards in its stacked deck: chugging drums, horn stabs, guitar runs that fly off into the atmosphere, keyboards with a strong melodic gravitational field pulling weight for singer Adam Granduciel's wandering mystic tenor.

WCBE proudly presents Bluegrass outfit the Steep Canyon Rangers at Woodland's Tavern on Sunday, March 9th!  Door are at 6:30PM and local group

Strung Up will kick things off soon after that!  See you there!

Townes Van Zandt Tribute and Benefit for WCBE!
Courtney Riley

Please join us for The Ninth Annual Townes Van Zandt Tribute & Benefit For WCBE!

We celebrate the life and music of Townes Van Zandt on the day of his birth, March 7th.

So many talented local songwriters and musicians will grace the stage at Dick's Den to pay tribute. The money will be recycled back into our community by benefiting your favorite Public Radio station, 90.5 - WCBE

Always a blast. Bring yer Flyin' Shoes.

Hosted by the awesome Eric Nassau!

Beck's Long Balancing Act

Feb 25, 2014

Beck was recording his latest album when he encountered an unexpected hazard in the studio.

"I got bit by a black widow in the middle of this recording session," he says laughing. "I was in the hospital, and my arm was all swollen up."

That was only one of the indignities Beck suffered on the way to Morning Phase.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit


The Santa Barbara based reggae/rock/world music outfit Rebelution will be returning to Columbus on Thursday February 6th to play The Newport Music Hall! 

WCBE Presents Yonder Mountain String Band
Dorothy St. Claire Photography

Yonder Mountain String Band will return to Columbus and The LC Pavilion on Fri. Feb. 14, 2014. 

WCBE proudly presents the return of Phosphorescent to The A&R Music Bar on Thursday, January 30th! 

WCBE proudly presents Keller Williams on his "What The Funk" tour with the funky group More Than A Little.