Music

Music

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SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

The last time New York's Metropolitan Opera presented a work written by a woman was 113 years ago. It's a drought that lasted longer than the years between the Cubs' World Series victories. That situation has finally been rectified this week with the New York premiere of the opera L'Amour de Loin by Finnish composer Kaija Saariaho.

The Rolling Stones' new album is a collection of blues covers called Blue & Lonesome. Recorded in three days during December of last year, with co-producer Don Was, the album pays tribute to the blues legends that inspired the band when it was just getting started.

There's a confessional quality to the songs of Pinegrove that feels reassuring. The problems that swirl around Evan Stephens Hall's head feel universal, so it's comforting in "Old Friends" when he sings, "I should call my parents when I think of them / I should tell my friends when I love them."

I'll bet that all of us can remember what we were doing and thinking on this past Election Day. The members of Drive-By Truckers were at World Cafe Live, performing and discussing their new album, American Band. The timing couldn't have been better — American Band may be the most political record of Drive-By Truckers' career, though the band has been writing songs about being from the South since its 2001 debut.

Christmas is coming, and soon TV screens everywhere will light up with that 1946 holiday classic, It's a Wonderful Life. But the same story is coming a little early to the stage of the Houston Grand Opera. That's right: An operatic version of George Bailey's struggle with life and death opens this Friday.

Librettist Gene Scheer admits that adapting such a beloved movie has sometimes felt like a fool's errand. "It's almost secular scripture, this piece," he says. "Everyone knows all the lines."

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Irish art-pop queen Róisín Murphy visited us in the middle of her first ever U.S. solo tour. The former vocalist for trip-hop duo Moloko has a singular aesthetic both musically and visually, with more outfit changes and masks than we've ever seen for a live radio session. It was a stunning performance, particularly "Exploitation."

SET LIST

  • "Exploitation"

Photo: Brian Lowe/KCRW.

Today's All Songs +1 podcast is a conversation with The Antlers' Peter Silberman on how hearing loss would eventually lead him to create his first solo album.

There are times when a beat can save your life, and others when it's the last thing you need. For the past three weeks or so, the sound of drum machines has mostly felt numbing — dissociative from the reality of the culture, and not in a good way. The music that has best soundtracked the current feeling of confusion and embattlement is mostly dark, ambient and atmospheric, though not without hope.

You can hear Harold Lopez-Nussa's training when he plays. The 33-year-old pianist is reluctant to admit the classical influence on his jazz playing, but he's quick to acknowledge that he, like many other great Cuban pianists, was classically trained. "This is the school that we have to learn music in Cuba; it's classical," he says. "I did all my stuff there from 8 years old to 25."

Each week KSUT plays a set of new and back-catalog songs from a featured artist at 11:06 AM, and gives listeners a chance to win lunch from Zia Taqueria for answering a music trivia question.

On December 2, we'll focus on Dr. John and take a listen to some tracks from the new CD Musical Mojo of Dr. John: A Celebration of Mac and his Music.

The bowed electric guitar droned as Thao & The Get Down Stay Down revved up a mighty sound. This set, recorded live this past August as part of the Lincoln Center Out Of Doors series in New York's Damrosch Park, was the fiercest set I've seen from this San Francisco group. Singer Thao Nguyen has been a bandleader for the past dozen years or so, and these three songs — from Thao & The Get Down Stay Down's fourth studio album, A Man Alive — more than capture her quirkiness and angular power.

On the cover of Aaron Lee Tasjan's new record Silver Tears, he almost looks the perfect picture of an Americana star. He's wearing a cowboy hat, he's got a brooding expression and he's walking thoughtfully under a cloudy sky. And then there's the Bonanza-meets-disco-ball suit. Bejeweled with hand-glued pieces of mirror, it's a fitting outfit for an artist whose avant-garde and often irreverent approach reflects Americana back at itself.

This week, all the songs I play ended up being about the ways people, particularly women, empower themselves in the face of difficult times. Singer Sam Phillips offers a feast of sound in less than two and a half minutes with "World On Sticks," a song about the indomitable human spirit.

Katie Melua has become one of the U.K.'s most popular young musicians, with six studio albums already to her name. She began her life in the ex-Soviet Union country of Georgia, on the coast of the Black Sea.

When you see Mary Halvorson on stage, she doesn't look like much of a trailblazer. She plays sitting down. She's small, and mostly hidden behind her hollow-body guitar and glasses. But then she starts to play. And the sounds coming out of her amp are anything but conventional.

Music Of Mali: Rokia Traore

Nov 27, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Aretha Franklin performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Thanksgiving Day football game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings Thursday afternoon. And, as, the Queen of Soul usually does, she stole the show.

Before there was Dark Side Of The MoonPink Floyd's magnum opus, which stayed on the charts for years and years and has come to define progressive rock — there were years of albums and experimentation for the band. That included ballets, film scores and even live accompaniment to the moon landing. All this material, which also includes outtakes, BBC recordings and more, has been gathered into a 27-disc box set of music and video called The Early Years 1965-1972.

For the second year in a row, the annual All Things Considered Thanksgiving music chat is a multi-part conversation. Host Ari Shapiro welcomes four musicians, each of whom was named by one of his or her fellow guests as an artist to be thankful for.

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