Ann Powers

Ann Powers is NPR Music's critic and correspondent. She writes for NPR's music news blog, The Record, and she can be heard on NPR's newsmagazines and music programs.

One of the nation's most notable music critics, Powers has been writing for The Record, NPR's blog about finding, making, buying, sharing and talking about music, since April 2011.

Powers served as chief pop music critic at the Los Angeles Times from 2006 until she joined NPR. Prior to the Los Angeles Times, she was senior critic at Blender and senior curator at Experience Music Project. From 1997 to 2001 Powers was a pop critic at The New York Times and before that worked as a senior editor at the Village Voice. Powers began her career working as an editor and columnist at San Francisco Weekly.

Her writing extends beyond blogs, magazines and newspapers. Powers co-wrote Tori Amos: Piece By Piece, with Amos, which was published in 2005. In 1999, Power's book Weird Like Us: My Bohemian America was published. She was the editor, with Evelyn McDonnell, of the 1995 book Rock She Wrote: Women Write About Rock, Rap, and Pop and the editor of Best Music Writing 2010.

After earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in creative writing from San Francisco State University, Powers went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in English from the University of California.

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First Listen
9:20 pm
Sun July 20, 2014

First Listen: Jenny Lewis, 'The Voyager'

Jenny Lewis' new album, The Voyager, comes out July 29.
Autumn de Wilde Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon July 21, 2014 9:31 am

"Nostalgia has no place for the woman traveling alone," the great travel writer Mary Morris once wrote. "Our motion is forward, whether by train or daydream." She's describing a necessary ruthlessness: Women are so often defined by their attachments (family, romance, even the fetishes of style) that becoming light enough to move often requires behavior others might read as cruel or, at best, distanced.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun July 6, 2014

First Listen: Morrissey, 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business'

Morrissey's new album, World Peace Is None Of Your Business, comes out July 15.
Greg Gorman Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu July 17, 2014 9:12 am

The rhetorical essence of punk is the decision to say what others believe should not be said. It points out the "no" lurking within or near every "yes." It demands an ongoing reckoning with true outsiders, and with what remains wrong in society despite everyone's best efforts, simply because people and the structures they make are flawed.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun May 18, 2014

First Listen: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, 'Dereconstructed'

Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires' new album, Dereconstructed, comes out May 27.
Wes Frazer Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed May 28, 2014 10:08 am

In north central Alabama, punk rockers often know as much about football as they do mosh pits. A guy with an arm-sleeve tattoo will open the door for a woman and call her "ma'am." Self-identifying as a blue dot in a red state doesn't preclude Sunday brunch with relatives whose own cars boast confederate-flag stickers. Such differences can arise anywhere, but they can feel more pressing in the Deep South, where history is sticky, like a 90-degree rainy day, and intimate, like Grandma's questionable advice.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun March 30, 2014

First Listen: EMA, 'The Future's Void'

EMA's new album, The Future's Void, comes out April 8.
Leif Shackelford Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon March 31, 2014 10:53 am

Erika M. Anderson appreciates the flickering quality of meaning. She likes the sparks that fly off sounds, igniting constructive confusion: the buzz that makes an old synth sound like a guitar, or the way an acoustic beat can crash into an electronic one to make a whole nervous system of rhythm. She's also into wordplay, starting with the name of her ongoing project EMA — an acronym that could stand for a government agency but, read another way, is a feminine name. Then there's the title of her second album, The Future's Void, with its odd, homonym-like instability.

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The Record
1:39 am
Fri February 21, 2014

Hearing Devotion In Pop's Details

Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons performs onstage at the Amnesty International Concert presented by the CBGB Festival at Barclays Center on February 5, 2014 in New York City.
Neilson Barnard Getty Images

Originally published on Fri February 21, 2014 9:08 am

This week, the rock band Imagine Dragons set a record for the longest run on Billboard's Hot 100 singles chart — 77 weeks, since it debuted in August of 2012.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun February 9, 2014

First Listen: St. Paul And The Broken Bones, 'Half The City'

St. Paul and the Broken Bones' new album, Half the City, comes out Feb. 18.
David McClister Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Wed April 2, 2014 12:08 pm

About a year ago, I saw St. Paul and the Broken Bones perform at a tiny club in Tuscaloosa, Ala., called the Green Bar. The Birmingham band's six members squeezed onto the stage, looking like ragtag school kids. Singer Paul Janeway, nerd-tastic in spectacles and a Sunday suit, unfurled a handkerchief. He started to croon, then shout and wail.

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The Record
1:36 pm
Sun October 27, 2013

What Lou Reed Taught Me

Lou Reed onstage in Amsterdam in 1975.
Gijsbert Hanekroot Redferns

Originally published on Mon October 28, 2013 8:57 am

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The Record
10:23 pm
Thu September 12, 2013

'90s Nostalgia Revisited: 6 Musicians We Miss

P.M. Dawn, sometime in the '90s.
Mick Hutson Redferns

Originally published on Fri September 13, 2013 6:11 am

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All Songs Considered
3:45 pm
Thu July 11, 2013

Hear Pearl Jam's New Single, 'Mind Your Manners'

Pearl Jam (from left: Jeff Ament, Mike McCready, Eddie Vedder, Stone Gossard and Matt Cameron) will release its 10th studio album, Lightning Bolt, on October 15.
Danny Clinch Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu July 11, 2013 4:46 pm

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The Record
3:19 am
Thu June 6, 2013

Country Music's Year Of The Woman

Miranda Lambert performing in April at the Academy of Country Music Awards, where she won best song, best record and best female vocalist for the fourth year in a row. The Lambert Effect has opened doors for many of the new hopefuls blending hard country sounds with feminist-aware attitudes.
Kevin Winter/ACMA2013 Getty Images for ACM

Originally published on Thu June 6, 2013 4:41 am

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