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World Cafe is a two-hour long, nationally syndicated music radio program that originates from WXPN, a non-commercial station licensed to the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. The program began in 1991 and was originally distributed by Public Radio International. Since 2005, the show has been distributed by NPR. Hosted by David Dye, World Cafe features live performances and interviews with established and emerging artists. The program's format covers a wide spectrum of musical genres, including indie rock, folk, hard rock, singer-songwriter, alt-country, and world music. The program produces two weekly podcasts containing interviews and information about musical performers: "World Cafe Words and Music," which features more established singers and bands, and "World Cafe Next," which highlights emerging artists.

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World Cafe
3:13 pm
Fri November 30, 2012

Freelance Whales On World Cafe

Freelance Whales.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 4:43 pm

Freelance Whales' members make huge tiny music. Their instruments tend to produce delicate sounds: banjos, violins, xylophones, drums played delicately with brushes. But their songs are arranged in such a way that these small sounds form grand, swelling passages that start out softly, then build to something majestic.

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World Cafe
3:34 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Latin Roots: A Brief History Of Tropicália

Os Mutantes, reunited since 2006, is one of the most influential acts in the Tropicália movement.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed October 2, 2013 4:58 pm

In this segment of World Cafe's Latin Roots, Alt.Latino host Jasmine Garsd discusses how the Brazilian artistic movement of Tropicália, also known as Tropicalismo, emerged and became a prominent force in Latin American music. Tropicália is a unique style which conflates traditional Brazilian music with elements from other genres, ranging from avant-garde to rock 'n' roll. The movement developed in the 1960s, as widespread corruption and oppression spread throughout Brazil.

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World Cafe
1:33 pm
Thu November 29, 2012

Yeasayer on World Cafe

Yeasayer
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 3:34 pm

"Dense" and "lush" have long been necessary adjectives for anyone attempting to describe Yeasayer's sound. The band's approach entails folding many disparate elements together, twisting and pulling them until they decide to play nice. Although its first two albums, 2007's All Hour Cymbals and 2010's Odd Blood, don't sound terribly similar, they at least have this wide-reaching approach in common.

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World Cafe
5:13 pm
Wed November 28, 2012

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion On World Cafe

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.
Stefano Giovannini

Originally published on Wed November 28, 2012 5:48 pm

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion — Jon Spencer, drummer Russell Simins and bassist Judah Baer — has kicked out the jams for more than 20 years. Formed in 1991, the band draws on punk, blues and rockabilly, and has collaborated with artists ranging from Elliott Smith to Solomon Burke to Martina Topley-Bird to Steve Albini and even Ad-Rock of The Beastie Boys.

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World Cafe
4:27 pm
Tue November 27, 2012

Electric Guest on World Cafe

Electric Guest.
Courtesy of the artist

Sometimes it pays to be somebody's little brother. Were it not for his fraternal ties, singer and multi-instrumentalist Asa Taccone probably wouldn't have been able to get acclaimed songwriter and producer Brian Burton (better known as Danger Mouse) to produce his band's debut album. Taccone's older brother, a friend of Burton's, asked the producer to listen to the songs his little brother had been working on and give some constructive criticism.

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World Cafe
5:09 pm
Mon November 26, 2012

Next: Elephant Stone

Elephant Stone.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon December 17, 2012 9:41 am

Though the shock value of dropping a sitar into Western pop music has decreased since George Harrison's Hare Krishna days, the metallic, resonant drones of the instrument can still take a normal pop song and twist it into something unexpected. Rishi Dhir, sitarist, bassist and founding member of Elephant Stone, takes full advantage of the juxtaposition.

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World Cafe
1:03 pm
Fri November 23, 2012

Ben Folds Five On World Cafe

(From left) Robert Sledge, Ben Folds and Darren Jessee of Ben Folds Five.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 12:50 pm

Three albums into a thriving career, Ben Folds Five abruptly announced it was over in 2000. Luckily for fans, Folds got the band back together 11 years later and even released a new album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, this September.

The album is classic Ben Folds Five — at times irreverent, cerebral, quirky, wistful and playful. The Sound of the Life of the Mind peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and the video for the first single, "Do It Anyway," features Anna Kendrick, Rob Corddry and the cast of Fraggle Rock.

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World Cafe
10:02 am
Thu November 22, 2012

Calexico On World Cafe

Calexico.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri March 29, 2013 1:33 pm

It's not easy to pin a single genre on Calexico. Joey Burns and John Convertino's band blends Americana, Tejano and indie rock music. Burns and Convertino began recording under the name — borrowed from the California border town — in 1996 in Tucson, Ariz., and have released several well-received albums, including this year's Algiers.

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World Cafe
2:03 pm
Wed November 21, 2012

Delta Rae On World Cafe

Delta Rae.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed November 21, 2012 3:31 pm

Siblings Ian, Eric, and Brittany Hölljes — three of the four lead singers in the American folk-rock band Delta Rae — first learned the power of a good story when their parents read them mythological tales. In fact, the band's name is inspired by a fictional story the Hölljes' mother intended to write. Flash forward to 2012, and the band has put those lessons to good use.

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World Cafe
4:51 pm
Tue November 20, 2012

Leonard Cohen On World Cafe

Leonard Cohen.
Nicolas Maeterlinck AFP/Getty Images

It's hard to write a biography of an artist with as many career and relationship arcs as Leonard Cohen has experienced in his 78 years on Earth. But that's exactly what celebrated music journalist Sylvie Simmons has done with I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen.

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World Cafe
4:46 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Next: The Fresh And Onlys

The Fresh and Onlys.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue November 20, 2012 12:28 pm

Fusing vintage garage-rock and pop with modern punk, the San Francisco band The Fresh & Onlys has enjoyed a rapid rise, touring across Europe and North America and performing at its hometown Noise Pop festival.

Led by Tim Cohen and Shayde Sartin, the band recently released the accessibly psychedelic Long Slow Dance (Mexican Summer). Listen to two of its songs on this installment of World Cafe: Next, and don't miss the video for "Presence of Mind."

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World Cafe
4:39 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Latin Roots: The Conga

Dizzy Gillespie's "Manteca" is one of the earliest examples of Afro-Cuban jazz.
Herman Leonard

In this edition of "Latin Roots," Alt.Latino correspondent Felix Contreras discusses the history and the impact of the conga — or more properly known as the tumbadora — in Cuba and abroad. Originally from Africa, the conga became a critical instrument in Afro-Cuban religious culture.

Contreras talks about the varying techniques and styles one can produce with the conga — and gives a short demonstration in our studio. From guaguancó to rumba and the cha-cha-chá, the instrument is fundamental to a number of different rhythms.

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World Cafe
3:30 pm
Fri November 16, 2012

Father John Misty On World Cafe

Father John Misty.
Emma Garr Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon January 28, 2013 1:03 pm

Father John Misty is a character — literally. A persona invented by singer-songwriter Josh Tillman, Father John Misty is there to showcase Tillman's rock-friendly side. In 2008, Tillman joined the Seattle folk-rock band Fleet Foxes as its drummer. After leaving the band at the beginning of the year, he loaded his van and hit the road.

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World Cafe
2:53 pm
Thu November 15, 2012

Titus Andronicus On World Cafe

Titus Andronicus.
Kyle Dean Reinford

The New Jersey band Titus Andronicus doesn't shy away from big ideas: It's named for Shakespeare's first tragedy, and its last record (2010's The Monitor) is a concept album drawing on the history of the Civil War. The group's big, shambling rock 'n' roll doesn't mess around with the everyday, opting instead for life-and-death urgency.

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World Cafe
1:48 pm
Wed November 14, 2012

John Cale On World Cafe

John Cale.
Shawn Brackbill

Originally published on Wed November 14, 2012 3:49 pm

Legendary songwriter and producer John Cale is back with Shifty Adventures in Nookie World, his 15th solo album and first since 2005. Cale shape-shifts often throughout the record, channeling a discotheque in the Danger Mouse-produced "I Wanna Talk 2 U," picking an acoustic guitar throughout "Living With You" and venturing into folklore in "Sandman (Flying Dutchman)." Post-punk, hip-hop and everything in between comes into play at one point or another.

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