Music

Music

Ashley Monroe was barely old enough for a driver's permit when she first began making the rounds on Music Row, trying to get her country career going and envisioning the inevitable progression it would follow.

Vagabon: Tiny Desk

4 hours ago

Laetitia Tamko, the artist known as Vagabon, is a 25-year-old, Cameroon-born musician with a big, tenor voice just bursting with new musical ideas. I've seen her as a solo artist, with a band and, here at the Tiny Desk, both solo and with a bassist.

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What if your goal was to just write some good songs? What if you and your longtime friend did that and then went back to your day jobs at a law firm and in the music industry? Then what if everything changed? Your song gets 10 millions plays on Spotify, you are spotlighted by NPR Music, you perform live on Conan and you sign a major label deal — and all before your debut album's release!

Tori Amos made her major-label debut not with her landmark album Little Earthquakes, but with an embarrassingly cheesy hair-metal album, Y Kant Tori Read. It was 1988, albums by Bon Jovi and Poison were selling like crazy and Atlantic Records — Amos' label at the time — wanted her to try something similar. It was a massive flop, but Amos came out of it with the chance to fight for the piano-driven music she had wanted to make all along.

Brett Dennen brings great vibes with him wherever he goes. He stopped by our studio for a solo acoustic set on the release date of his new EP, Let's. The first single, "Already Gone," is an easy favorite.

SET LIST

  • "Already Gone"

Detroit-bred rapper and producer Black Milk's new video for "Laugh Now Cry Later" plays like an episode of Netflix's sci-fi horror hit Black Mirror, with its incisive commentary on the impact of technology.

Blind Pilot On Mountain Stage

22 hours ago

Singer and guitarist Israel Nebeker and drummer Ryan Dubrowski began making music together in Portland, Ore. almost a decade ago. Since then, they've grown their band, Blind Pilot, by adding four additional talents to fill out their folk-pop melodies. Since 2008, the band has released three records and made several high-profile television appearances, as well as taken the stage at various large-scale music festivals throughout the country.

The music of Soccer Mommy — aka 20-year-old Nashville songwriter Sophie Allison — often focuses on uneasy desire, sometimes peered at in retrospect and always with a kind of world-weary wisdom. "I want to be the one you miss when you're alone / I want to be the one you're kissing when you're stoned ... I'm clawing at your skin / trying to see your bones," Allison sings on the dreamy "Skin" from her new album, Clean.

Recent headlines out of Australia make burgeoning rock trio Camp Cope look like die-hard activists. At the end of 2017, bassist Kelly-Dawn Hellmrich wrote an essay on music industry discrimination for Australian publication The Music.

When Joan Baez was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2017, she jettisoned much of the inside-baseball career reflection usually seen in acceptance speeches. Instead, Baez connected the dots between the folk scene from which she emerged, her life-long dedication to the nonviolence movement and political activism, and how vital it is to repair today's divisive society.

"49 Hairflips," one of the breakup songs on Jonathan Wilson's arrestingly ambitious third solo album, is set late at night, in the reflecting hour. The tune is a waltz with a "Mr. Bojangles" gait, and Wilson darkens it by singing listlessly, with almost chemical detachment. Near the end, just after the Hollywood strings clear out, he makes a declaration: "I'm not leaving these walls without the prettiest song I can find."

Since last fall, when reporting on film mogul Harvey Weinstein's decades-long pattern of sexual assault instigated the movements now known as #MeToo and #TimesUp, many have wondered when the music industry's own dam would break. While few high-profile music industry leaders have met with the striking repercussions brought to celebrities such as Louis CK and Charlie Rose, the movement within music hasn't been stagnant.

Looped: Lo Moon

Feb 21, 2018

Looped is an audio & visual journey through the eyes of KCRW DJ Anthony Valadez. Explore the streets, beats and meet the people who make it happen.

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The Thistle & Shamrock: Clear Sounds

Feb 21, 2018

This week, Fiona Ritchie presents some great solo performances from both sides of the Atlantic. This includes the pure, clear acoustic sounds of Jean Redpath, Julee Glaub, and Maura O'Connell.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

August Greene: Tiny Desk Concert

Feb 21, 2018

August Greene, the collaborative effort of Common, Robert Glasper and Karriem Riggins, was born at the White House in 2016 during a special Tiny Desk concert. It was during that unprecedented performance that the then-untitled ensemble premiered the powerful "Letter to the Free," an original song for Ava DuVernay's Netflix documentary 13th that eventually won an Emmy for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics.

I gotta say I had a bit of a hard time holding it together during this session. Sitting in a room two feet away from Glen Hansard as he plays an acoustic guitar is transcendent. When we were talking, he was this warm, gregarious storyteller, but as soon as he started to sing, Glen summoned so much force and conviction and blood, that I forgot there was anything else in the entire world. And you'll hear that in my reactions.

We remember D.W. Griffith's Birth Of A Nation today for the lasting impact of its racist propaganda. Although it sparked a wave of national protests led by the NAACP at the time, the film's monstrous portrayal of black America persisted, shaping the specter of race relations for the remainder of the 20th century.

Amid a ceaseless stream of horrors recounted via push notification, inner turmoil takes a backseat to personal survival. And sometimes, survival requires not caring about anything, at least for a little while. But there's a cost.

There is another revolution happening in Cuba these days.

A group of young female musicians — including Daymé Arocena, Danay Suárez and the all-female band Jane Bunnett and Maqueque — are challenging both musical and cultural conventions, creating innovative Afro-Cuban music fused with a variety of genres like R&B, hip-hop, reggae, electronica and jazz.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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George Li is a young pianist on the rise. At age 10, he gave his first public concert and at 15, he won a silver medal at the revered Tchaikovsky Competition in Moscow. Li recently released his debut album on a major label and has been fielding offers, performing with some of the world's great orchestras.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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