Benjamin Naddaff-Hafrey

Margo Price sings classic country songs that manage to enchant, even as they disillusion. Her steadfast voice and songwriting conjure a powerful sense of nostalgia — she emerged in 2016 with Midwest Farmer's Daughter, an album that didn't so much callback to '70s country as it did flawlessly reanimate it. But if her musical signifiers are comfortably familiar, her lyrics stand in stark opposition to that feeling.

Justin Vernon's career as Bon Iver has perfectly aligned with NPR Music's existence. It was 10 years ago this past summer that For Emma, Forever Ago began to write the project and the myth of its creation into indie-rock legend, making Vernon's own name nearly synonymous with it in the process. The idea of that cabin in the woods and Vernon's wounded, multi-tracked falsetto have since become iconic.

Despite having visited the Tiny Desk three times, and traveling to the tunnels beneath Fort Adams State Park, Jeff Tweedy has brought only a fraction of his many musical permutations to NPR Music during our first 10 years.

Tank and the Bangas' live show never fails to make an impression.

The first time the NPR Music team encountered the band, it was early 2017 and our staff was sifting through entries to our Tiny Desk Contest. It's easy to disappear into a crowd of more than 6,000, but the band's entry immediately distinguished itself through its palpable joy and arresting charisma and was, not long after, named the winner of our contest.

Those close to Adrianne Lenker know her by many names. The lead singer of Big Thief is Anne or Anna sometimes to her parents; Anna or Annie to her grandmother. She's Dran to her sister and brother, and Lunx to her college bandmates. She's Charlie sometimes to Mat Davidson of Twain, who opened at the first Big Thief show, and 'Aderrianne' to Max Oleartchik, the bassist in her own band. "She's probably many things to many people," an old teacher of hers from Berklee College of Music says. She calls her Adriannie.

Between songs at her soundcheck at PUBLIC ARTS, the venue attached to Ian Schrager's PUBLIC hotel in downtown Manhattan, Jamila Woods is quick to pull out her phone. For the Chicago-based singer, it isn't a sign of disengagement; in fact, it's just the opposite. As her musical star has risen, Woods has held onto her full-time job as the Associate Artistic Director at Young Chicago Authors. She teaches, writes curricula and trains teachers at the non-profit, and is still coordinating via email, even as she takes vacation to promote her album's re-release on Jagjaguwar Records.

After the unfortunate Songs of Innocence roll-out, many people questioned whether there was still a place for U2 in 2014 and beyond. U2 seems to have asked themselves the same question. As other, more grippingly consequential upheavals occurred over the ensuing years, the band found themselves touring their newly relevant 1987 classic, The Joshua Tree.

As with the best Van Morrison songs, "Transformation" billows out from its oft-repeated refrain. The lead single off Morrison's upcoming Roll With The Punches (out Sept. 22) consists largely of the 71-year-old Irish singer belting "gonna be a transformation" over a triumphant soul progression. But if there's been a transformation in Morrison over his long career, it isn't evident here. This is a soaring bit of classic Morrison roots-soul — and his best outing in recent years.

There's a trace of Charlie Chaplin's The Little Tramp in the way Courtney Marie Andrews struts her way through The Family Grocer in the new video for "Irene." Her character works for a small-minded manager at a local grocery store in rural Washington state. Playful at heart, she is a constant disappointment to her employer, whose managerial responsibility seems to be consumed entirely by containing Andrews' joie de vivre. Few characters could do justice to the irrepressible heart of this sweet, uplifting song — this one does.

By the end of the beautiful video for "I Would," Slow Dancer is cloaked in muddied white fur and dancing with ecstatic abandon on a frigid beach in Melbourne, Australia. If you don't know the romantic Australian singer-songwriter, you couldn't ask for a better introduction — it's a moment that captures the warmth, nostalgia and yearning that animates his work.

Everyone in the East Nashville band Cordovas is a lead vocalist. The country-rock group is committed to the sound of brotherhood — a few voices sharing a feeling. Nowhere is that clearer than on the tender ballad "I'm The One Who Needs You Tonight," off the band's upcoming record That Santa Fe Channel.

Early on a spring morning in Manhattan, Sufjan Stevens, Bryce Dessner, Nico Muhly and Nadia Sirota gathered at Reservoir Studios in Manhattan to play a song first performed five years ago and an ocean away.

"Mercury" is the closing track off Planetarium, a song cycle about the planets by Stevens, Dessner, Muhly and James McAlister. The work was originally composed on commission for the Dutch concert hall Muziekgebouw Eindhoven, and first performed there in 2012. Five turns around the sun later, Planetarium will arrive in recorded form on June 9 via 4AD.

On January 27, a New Orleans group called Tank And The Bangas uploaded a video to YouTube. It was a simple, one-shot clip of the R&B, spoken-word and hip-hop group performing their song "Quick": a danceable, NOLA revenge-fantasy of sorts.

Another grueling and glorious SXSW has finally come to a close. Bob Boilen and Stephen Thompson, the last men on the All Songs Considered island, gathered at 2 a.m. to recap the sets they loved on the festival's closing day. On Stephen's recommendation (he's written about her before), Bob saw Los Angeles singer-songwriter Phoebe Bridgers in the Central Presbyterian Church.

Late yesterday evening, Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Katie Presley and Stephen Thompson wandered the streets of Austin recapping a day of music. For everyone, it was a day of political music that still made space for joy. Katie saw mostly rap yesterday, and she was especially struck by Moor Mother, whose fiery set had also inspired an excellent performance from New York-based rapper SAMMUS.

Amid truck horns and the distant sounds of Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It," the All Songs Considered team gathered outside of Stubb's BBQ to recount a day overflowing with new musical discoveries and old favorites. On Wednesday night, NPR Music hosted its annual showcase at Stubb's. That event at that place has become as ritual as tacos and crowded streets for this crowd, but the show still astonished them. Stephen Thompson fell for Sylvan Esso's new songs.

It was raining in New York on Nov. 9, 2016, and New Yorkers, tired as the rest of the country from a late night after a long election season, walked about in a fog of their own. The sky was still overcast when we met Angel Olsen at the Fordham University Church, an 1845 New York City landmark whose carillon is said to have inspired Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Bells." There, wearing a green raincoat and accompanying herself on electric guitar, she sang "Give It Up," from her excellent 2016 release My Woman.

In August 2016, Swedish singer-songwriter Daniel Norgren made his first U.S. appearance. His music, however, is indigenous to this soil: His rock-steady ragtime piano playing has a chooglin' ease, and his voice would be right at home echoing off the walls of Levon Helm's barn.

The four women of Warpaint may hail from Los Angeles, but their sound has always conveyed the windswept heft of a rainy Seattle scene. Their hypnotic grooves, ethereal harmonies and massive drums recall bits and pieces of the grunge, alt-rock and shoegaze scenes that mark the region. In a set recorded live in Washington, D.C., that spanned three records — from 2010's The Fool to this year's Heads Up — the band showcased the full power of its moody, grooving sound.

Eyes On The Lines is a striking title for Steve Gunn's latest record. A trucker phrase, it captures the chooglin', highway hypnosis of the songwriter's sound. But to the untrained ear, it might suggest purposefulness or direction. This is not Gunn's artistic project. As he sings in "Night Wander," "He likes to wander / Lose direction and go back home." Even if you know where home is, there's no clean route you follow to get there. The well-defined path is a myth.

The East River Ferry is one of the more whimsical ways for New Yorkers to commute, but it retains its claim to practicality with one key characteristic: It is a very fast boat. So it was that Local Natives came hurtling toward our crew up the river one overcast evening this summer, shouting three-part harmonies over roaring engines for a surprised clutch of fans. When the ferry docked, three of the band's members hurried over to our pier off WNYC Transmitter Park to play this Field Recording.

A day after performing "Hotter Than Hell" on The Tonight Show, rising pop star Dua Lipa performed another one of her songs, "Thinking Bout You," for a much smaller audience: our Noteworthy video crew. Enjoy this extra from our Noteworthy documentary on Dua Lipa and be sure to watch the entire documentary here.

The Columbus Theatre has sat in vaudevillian splendor atop Federal Hill in Providence, R.I., since 1926. It's a place invested with peculiar meaning. Off the intersection of America Street and Broadway by the Atlantic ocean blue, the Columbus supposedly has 1,492 seats. Once a movie theater, then a smut house, the theater has recently found new life through another national pastime, indie folk.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.


Nashville instrumental guitarist William Tyler never has to nail down the meaning behind the songs on his new record, because a word never crosses them. But his freedom from explicit meaning is a gift for listeners, as well. These songs stretch out past the limits of most lyrics and approach a rare sense of mystery.

When All Songs Considered's Bob Boilen heard Car Seat Headrest's new album Teens of Denial, he immediately dubbed it "what is likely to be my No. 1 album of 2016." Twenty-three-year-old bandleader Will Toledo has brought his project from DIY Bandcamp releases onto the big stage. The group performed live at Black Cat in Washington, D.C., on Monday, May 23.

If Explosions In The Sky's records are watershed moments for its fans, then the band's live shows are a Biblical flood. The group recently released its sixth studio album, The Wilderness. On Thursday, Explosions In The Sky brought its epic, searching sound to a sold-out show at Washington, D.C.'s famed 9:30 Club.

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