NPR FOR THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When You Can’t

mad_men_season_4_poster_CROPPED.jpgFRESH AIR

This season of Mad Men has been a transformative one, to say the least, for lead character Don Draper, the star partner at ad firm Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. His wife, Betty, has left him, having learned that he stole a fellow soldier’s identity during the Korean War. He’s been striking out at pitch meetings. He’s become what Jon Hamm, the actor who created the previously bulletproof character, calls a “less-functioning alcoholic,” living a bachelor life in Greenwich Village but grappling with both profound loneliness and a shattering personal loss. “Don is losing touch with not only his life but with the world around him,” Hamm tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross. “As the world is changing — as he’s getting older and his circumstances are shifting — the old paradigms aren’t working so much anymore.” Mad Men‘s fourth season, Hamm says, is “about redefining who you are: When you no longer have the perfect life and the perfect family and the perfect job and the perfect approach to every problem, when all of that stuff gets stripped away, who are you at the foundation?

ALL SONGS CONSIDERED: Song Of The DayHoots_Face_Downjpg

The Philadelphia group Hoots and Hellmouth twists up the many roots of Americana to create its signature sound — an ever-shifting blend of folk, rock, country, bluegrass and blues. The four gems on the band’s newest EP, Face First in the Dirt, feature sounds across that stylistic spectrum. “Threadbare” encapsulates its laid-back bluegrass vibe, but with enough grit to make it worthy of the “Hellmouth” name.Stretched to the point of breaking, worn until there isn’t much left, “Threadbare” unravels easily. The band’s fascination with localism and the rural existence come through in all of its songs, but “Threadbare” does more to acknowledge the difficulty of hard work. It’s the kind of life where grass stains you green and is “wearing my soul out / over the knees … till I’m threadbare.” MORE

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