Music

Word of Mouth
2:54 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

Help Us Name Our Children's Song!

Producer Taylor Quimby and his ukulele
Credit Zach Nugent

Our interview with Chris Ballew, also known as Caspar Babypants (also the frontman for the band The Presidents of The United States of America!) made us want to try and write a children's song.  SO WE DID! But we need your help naming it.

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Word of Mouth
2:01 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

From Rocker To Raffi: Chris Ballew Of "PUSA" And Caspar Babypants

Chris Ballew/Caspar Babypants
Credit via presidentsrock.com and babypantsmusic.com

The Presidents of The United States of America - the same band responsible for the enigmatic 1995 hit single “Lump”  - is releasing their 6th studio album in February, their first since 2008.  Since then, PUSA’s frontman Chris Ballew has been keeping himself busy making music geared towards an entirely different generation of listeners: the three and four year old set!  Under the alias “Caspar Babypants”, Chris has released 7 albums of children’s music, including a collection of Beatles tunes.  In this interview Chris explains why he started making music for families, how “being a parent is a little like being in a penitentiary in 1887”, and gave us a preview of songs off PUSA’s new record!  

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Word of Mouth
1:18 pm
Tue January 14, 2014

From Las Vegas To New Hampshire, "Recycled Percussion" Play A Hometown Show

Credit Recycled Percussion

In 2009 the New Hampshire based “junk rock” band Recycled Percussion successfully made it to the final round of NBC’s show “America’s Got Talent”. For their final performance the four piece band pounded away on assorted junk as water rained down on them and strobe lights flashed in rhythm. After coming in third place in the competition out of 100,ooo acts, Recycled Percussion landed a headlining show in Las Vegas where they’re still going strong. This Thursday the band will finish up a string of homecoming shows at The Music Hall in Portsmouth. Our guest is founding member of Recycled Percussion and Legacy X Justin Spencer.

Word of Mouth
5:08 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

What's Your Most Revered And Most Reviled Holiday Ditty?

One of Virginia's favorite Christmas songs.
Credit Affendaddy via flickr Creative Commons

Maybe it’s the repetition, or maybe the obligatory cheeriness, but there’s something about hearing holiday songs that you don’t like that rankles much more deeply than other assaults on the senses.  We asked listeners to share their favorite seasonal tunes on our Facebook page, along with the ones they hate.

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Word of Mouth
4:51 pm
Thu December 19, 2013

Why Is There A Dearth Of New Holiday Songs?

Credit mariahcarey.com

The song, “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey was released in 1994, and has become a Christmas standard, consistently topping the billboard holiday charts. Despite the sleigh load of holiday albums released every winter, there hasn’t been an original holiday single with the staying power of Mariah Carey’s hit for nineteen years.

So, has our culture stopped welcoming new holiday songs? Has our Christmas carol quota been met?  Chris Klimek, is here to weigh in, his article for Slate:  “All I Want For Christmas Is A New Christmas Song,” pretty much says it all.

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Word of Mouth
11:54 am
Thu December 19, 2013

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band Presents "Creole Christmas"

Credit Shannon Brinkman / preservationhalljazzband.com

The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, one of New Orlean’s most legendary bands, will be rousing the crowds at The Music Hall in Portsmouth this Saturday with its “Creole Christmas” show… a joyful mix of Christmas tunes, jazz standards, and original music that busts out of the nutcracker and King Wenceslas mold. 

Ben Jaffe is creative director and sousaphone player for the band and joined us from the road.

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Word of Mouth
1:53 pm
Tue December 17, 2013

What Does Quality Mean In the Age Of Hi-Def?

Will TVs get even larger than this 75" Samsung? It's hard to imagine.
Credit SamsungTomorrow via flickr Creative Commons

Whether scoping out plasma-screen HDTV’s, or picking up a PlayStation 4, consumers upgrading their entertainment systems this Christmas are generally looking for products promising a better picture, superior sound, or next-generation graphics.  We’ve come a very long way since the VHS and Atari 2600.  So far, in fact, that one may wonder how much better the visuals, sound and graphics on entertainment systems can get – and would the casual user even be able to tell the difference?  

Joining the conversation about where entertainment technology can go from here is Jamin Warren – founder and editor-in-chief at Killscreen, a videogame arts and culture magazine, Slate music columnist Carl Wilson, and, David Ewalt, contributing editor at Forbes.

Word of Mouth
1:11 pm
Thu November 21, 2013

How Selling Out On TV Became Indie Rock's Saving Grace

Credit millerfarm via Flickr Creative Commons

The relatively unknown song "Daylight" by Brooklyn-based band Matt and Kim was featured in a 2009 Bacardi commercial, and by the following year went gold, selling over 500 thousand copies and sweeping Matt and Kim into the mainstream. Not so long ago, selling your music to ad agencies was considered the lowest form of selling out, a sure-fire way to lose hard-core fans. Today many musicians see it as the only way to make a living. And fans, for the most part, seem to be turning a blind eye. 

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Word of Mouth
10:50 am
Fri November 15, 2013

Word Of Mouth 11.16.2013

Credit Logan Shannon / NHPR

Not sure how you're going to muster the energy to rake another pile of leaves this weekend? Let us make the chore a little easier by distracting you with a solid hour of public radio encouragement. The Word of Mouth Saturday show is carefully designed to take you on a sound odyssey that's perfect even if you decide to forgo the leaf raking for another day.

On this week's show:

  • Please don't send shoes: Jessica Alexander makes the case for sending money instead of food or clothing when disaster strikes.
  • Why is Sweden so good at pop music? Nolan Feeney outlines the many reasons Sweden is a country of hit makers. We dare you to not get "The Sign" stuck in your head.
  • Talking about death: It's not an easy subject, but a new Showtime series, "Time of Death" approaches the taboo with unflinching realism. Jaweed Kaleem from the Huffington Post, and Miggi Hood, co-executive producer of the series join us to talk about death.
  • The Warren Commission 50 years later. Justice Richard Mosk was a 23-year-old attorney when he became the youngest member of the commission established by President Johnson to investigate the murder of JFK and his assassin. He tells us about the commission and why conspiracy theories can be harmful.

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Word of Mouth
2:15 pm
Wed November 13, 2013

Why Sweden Rocks At Pop Music

Credit via The Land of Abba

Two decades have passed since Swedish quartet Ace of Base picked up Abba's mantle. Their single, 'The Sign,' topped U.S. charts and cemented a permanent place on pop playlists for decades to come.

Ace of Base also ushered in the so-called 'Swedish Miracle,' an era between 1990 and 2003 when music royalties earned by Sweden from foreign markets were twice as much per capita as royalties paid to songwriters and performers in the U.S. Today, Sweden is the world’s number three music exporter.

Nolan Feeney writes and produces for The Atlantic's entertainment channel, where he asked “Why Is Sweden So Good at Pop Music?”

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Word of Mouth
3:27 pm
Fri November 1, 2013

Word Of Mouth 11.02.13

Credit Linus Bohman

Listening to Word of Mouth's Saturday broadcast is like sitting around a campfire and chatting with a bunch of super-smart, super-interesting people.  So go sharpen a stick, grab your bag of marshmallows and pull up a log - here's what's coming up this hour:

  • The Science of Superstition:  Psychologist Stuart Vyse explains the collective power of the Red Sox beards.
  • MORE COWBELL!!!  From Strauss to Def Leppard, writer Lori Rotenberk traces the musical history of the cowbell.
  • A Grimm Cinderella Story:  Author Adam Gidwitz shares the original gruesome version of the classic fairy tale, and explains why Disney has done the Brothers Grimm a disservice.
  • #NoFilter: Brian Ries, social media guru for The Daily Beast, on how a growing number of private dealers are legally selling guns on Instagram
  • WHEN JELLYFISH ATTACK!  They're clogging nuclear reactors, capsizing ships, wiping out fish populations, and causing cerebral hemorrhages... So basically, jellyfish are scarier than sharks.  There, I said it.  Quartz reporter Gwynn Guilford explains.
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Word of Mouth
11:25 am
Thu October 24, 2013

I've Gotta Have More Cowbell! A History Of The Humble Instrument

This cow has no shortage of cowbell.
Credit Ingo Lütkebohle via flickr Creative Commons

One of comedian Will Ferrell’s most memorable Saturday Night Live characters was musician Gene Frenkle, the belly shirted cowbell player from the ‘70s rock band, Blue Ӧyster Cult. His cowbell playing was intoxicating and hilarious and prompted this now quotable line: "I got a fever, and the only prescription is more cowbell."

That line, delivered by Christopher Walken, catapulted onto t- shirts and bumper stickers, and helped put the instrument designed for agriculture into the mainstream musical spotlight. But where did cowbell come from? And how did it migrate from the farm to the recording studio? Chicago based journalist Lori Rotenberk  wrote an article for Modern Farmer called “More Cowbell: From Herdsman’s Tool to Cultural Icon.

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Word of Mouth
9:21 am
Wed October 23, 2013

Live From Studio D: Red Heart The Ticker

Logan Shannon

Each month the husband and wife duo, Robin MacArthur and Tyler Gibbons, from Marlboro, Vermont write and record a song to be released on the day of the full moon. The beautifully layered, tunes have a backwoods feel are recorded in a barn, and sent out to subscribers. It’s an intimate and unique take on the ever growing DIY music scene.  They joined us in studio back in July to talk about their album and to play live in Studio D.

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Word of Mouth
1:32 pm
Thu October 17, 2013

Government Shutdown Playlist

Congress may have gotten back together, but we're not sure the American people have forgiven them yet.
Credit Big Machine Records

Before the legislature agreed on a deal yesterday, we asked for your contribution to our Un-official Partial Shutdown Playlist – music reflecting your feelings about how our government has been functioning, or not functioning these past two weeks. A number of you contributed to the list by posting your picks on Facebook, Twitter, and by calling our listener hotline.

Many in the nation breathed a sigh of relief on the news that the standoff was over on Capitol Hill, the deal makes our collective shutdown playlist a little un-necessary, but we’re pretty happy it didn’t need such a long run.

Perhaps our collective effort had something to do with the shutdown ending...for now.

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Word of Mouth
2:36 pm
Thu October 10, 2013

This Weekend's N.H. Arts Scene: Mary Pickford And Fountains Of Wayne

Mary Pickford

For anyone who’s ever driven by a crumbling old New Hampshire barn and wondered what could be in there, here’s one answer…a stack of dusty old film reels that turned out to be the only surviving reel from a long lost 1911 film. The movie, called Their First Misunderstanding , was written by and stars Mary Pickford, one of the most beloved actresses of the  silent film era. We spoke with Professor Emeritus of Film Studies at Keene State College Dr. Larry Benaquist about the discovery of this rare, important and now celebrated film.

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