Music

Ian Svenonius doesn't like to sit still. The singer, bandleader, and author is always juggling multiple projects, and the one he's helmed longest — the garage-rock group Chain And The Gang — has gone through multiple configurations in its eight years of existence. In June, he released a sampling of their catalog re-recorded by recent members, and now, just a few months later, he's back with a completely original album, Experimental Music, made with a new set of co-conspirators.

What a Diff'rence a Day Makes, released in 1959, was her biggest record, and not a single person who knew Dinah Washington could describe her any better than that. Her temperament was so changeable that a producer at Mercury Records reportedly kept four to five different playlists of prospective songs that she might sing during a recording session, hoping that one might match her mood. But Washington's mood — like a sneaky left hook — was not so easily divined. Some of those songs probably never got sung.

Nashville gospel singers the McCrary Sisters know how to make a 500-strong crowd feel like they've been personally invited to the party.

It wasn't all that long ago that the qualities valued most highly in the youthful sectors of folk-pop and folk-rock were earnestness and simplicity. This was music made with minimum fuss — all four-on-the-floor foot stomps, straight-ahead strumming and spirited sing-along choruses.

There was a time, earlier in their careers, when Alabama-born sisters Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer took care to give each other space. They seldom showed up on each other's recordings or offered on-the-record comments on each other's careers.

If The Blind Boys of Alabama's surviving founders, Clarence Fountain and Jimmy Carter, never get around to writing their memoirs, the autobiographical slant of the legendary gospel group's new album, Almost Home, will be close enough. Fountain (87 years young) and Carter (85) started singing together as schoolboys in 1939 and went pro in 1944; The Blind Boys of Alabama began their recording career four years later. Nearly seven decades down the line, Almost Home looks back on the long, hard, but ultimately gratifying road they've taken.

When Rainer Maria first surfaced in the punk-rock basements of Madison, Wisconsin, 20 years ago, its sound was a tense and jagged jumble of youthful feelings: of confinement, of frustration and of having too many words rushing through your brain to capture and convey everything you want the world to hear.

This week's show features music inspired by the rolling hills and moorland of the border country between Scotland and England, a landscape of forbidding beauty with a turbulent history of feuds, raids and conflict. Hear songs from Archie Fisher, Capercaillie, Kathryn Tickell and more.

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