This weekend's competition in Wisconsin is a bit more intense than it was in your grade school gym class.
This week, NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson introduces us to the band Minor Alps.
The band is made up of singer-songwriter Juliana Hatfield and Matthew Caws, the lead singer of the power-pop band Nada Surf.
Thompson says that the music is a new direction for both Hatfield and Caws, though the themes they explore aren’t far from their usual material.
“They’ve both had surprisingly similar career experiences,” Thompson told Here & Now. “Each had a big left-field hit in the ’90s, each has clawed out a long-running career as an independent artist, and together, they’re both able to sing from the perspective of survivors who’ve been around a while, experienced disappointments and successes, and haven’t run out of songs worth singing along the way.”
Minor Alp’s new album “Get There” will be released October 29.
MEGHNA CHAKRABARTI, HOST:
NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson joins us now with a new idea for your playlists. And, Stephen, what have you got for us this week?
STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: All right. I've got a duo called Minor Alps with a new single called "Buried Plans." The band name on its own doesn't sound terribly familiar, but its members have been making music for decades now. So it's a duo. Half the band is Juliana Hatfield, who was in Blake Babies, who sang with Evan Dando and The Lemonheads, and had her own huge hit in the early '90s with The Juliana Hatfield Three.
The other half is Matthew Caws, who's the lead singer of a wonderful power-pop band called Nada Surf. Together they're Minor Alps. And it's an out-of-nowhere side project for both of them, but it brings out things I really love about both singers. Let's hear a little bit.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BURIED PLANS")
MINOR ALPS: (Singing) Such a loner, hardly bring anyone over. I keep everything as quiet as I can. And over I just think it over. I've got lots of buried, buried plans. Oh, oh...
THOMPSON: I like the way it doesn't sound much like either singer's usual music. Matthew Caws tends to make really big uplifting rock anthems, while Juliana Hatfield makes very smart, spiky, but a little bit more personality-driven folk and pop. And together they have a very light, agreeable touch that to me is incredibly appealing.
CHAKRABARTI: So, Stephen, it was interesting to me that you said the music doesn't sound like either of their usual style. But what about the themes that they explore in the music? Are they going over familiar territory there?
THOMPSON: Well, if you think about it, they - both Matthew Caws and Juliana Hatfield have had surprisingly similar career experiences. Both of them had big left-field hits in the '90s, and each has clawed out ever since kind of a long-running career as an independent artist. So together, they're both able to sing from the perspective of these industry survivors, who've been around for a long time and experienced highs and lows and disappointments and successes. But they haven't run out of songs worth singing along the way.
CHAKRABARTI: That's "Buried Plans" from Minor Alps' debut album, "Get There." It comes out October 29th. The song, however, is out now. NPR music writer and editor Stephen Thompson, thank you so much.
THOMPSON: Thank you, Meghna.
(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BURIED PLANS")
MINOR ALPS: (Singing) Oh, oh...
JEREMY HOBSON, HOST:
From NPR and WBUR Boston, I'm Jeremy Hobson.
CHAKRABARTI: And I'm Meghna Chakrabarti. Robin Young is back tomorrow. This is HERE AND NOW. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.