Music

Music

Who exactly was Whitney Houston?

Was she the radiantly beautiful pop princess who earned the love of mainstream America with enduring hits like I Will Always Love You?

Was she the down-to-Earth onetime gospel singer from the 'hood in Newark who couldn't believe when the crowd at the 1989 Soul Train Awards booed her as a sellout to black music?

Spotify and other streaming services have begun removing white supremacist content from their platforms, as websites and musicians alike scramble to distance themselves from the white nationalist movement.

In a statement on Wednesday, Spotify blamed the labels and distributors that supply music to its database but said "material that favors hatred or incites violence against race, religion, sexuality or the like is not tolerated by us. Spotify takes immediate action to remove any such material as soon as it has been brought to our attention."

Natalia Lafourcade has been one of Latin America's leading indie-pop artists for many years. Her latest album, Musas, is a tribute to some of her musical inspirations, featuring famed acoustic guitar masters Los Macorinos. A standout of this session is one of her original compositions, "Tú Sí Sabes Quererme."

SET LIST

  • "Tú Sí Sabes Quererme"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

In this session, we bring you a live session with Overcoats. The duo's music rests on two voices so perfectly in sync you'd swear they were coming from the same person — or, at least, from people who are related. Or, at least, people who've known each other their whole lives.

Its name alone suggests an explosive whizzbang of cotton candy pop — Pinkshinyultrablast makes shoegaze that yanks tufts of sound every which way in some kind of cinematically sped-up slow-mo. It's irrepressibly cool music — last year's Grandfeathered was a personal favorite, a sonic treasure hunt on every listen.

Those of us who fell in love with her debut album, Sprained Ankle, have been hungering for more of Julien Baker's sparse, confessional songs — brutally honest and cripplingly insecure, self-deprecating but laced with just enough hope to keep you hanging on — since the album's 2015 release (only briefly sated by the release of "Funeral Pyre," a one-off single, in January).

Jason Heller is a Hugo Award-winning editor and author of the forthcoming book Strange Stars (Melville House). Twitter: @jason_m_heller

For artists who make breakup records, a big part of the appeal is having their uninterrupted, unqualified say. It can be a cathartic experience to call out former partners for heartlessness and narcissism, to stake your claims to the high ground and come out looking good. There's a seductiveness to that sort of indignation. Just ask Justin Bieber. But the elements of emotional truth in such approaches are often enmeshed with unreliable narration.

Where will you live after the apocalypse? That question becomes more relevant once you realize the apocalypse is now, and ongoing, with society unmaking itself in convulsions and recovering in spurts. And the place where it's leaving Americans is what Erika M. Andersen calls the Outer Ring. It's that circular band of highways and avenues surrounding a city, where vape shops share strip-mall space with Halal butchers and Triple XXX Pleasure Zones, and immigrants stand at the bus stop next to Trump voters while their children get stoned together in the Kwik Mart parking lot.

This may seem like an odd thing to say of a band fronted by one of the more successful songwriters in Nashville, but there's actually something that contributes even more to the distinctive identity of Cadillac Three albums than the songs themselves, and that's feel.

Most of us know Chuck Berry as a pioneer, if not the pioneer, who defined rock 'n' roll. My guest today knew him as dad.

Charles Berry Jr. is here to share memories of growing up watching the elder Berry on TV, joining him on tour in his later years and contributing to what would be his final record, an album called Chuck that was released in June.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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Tens of thousands of people attended a candlelight vigil in Memphis, Tenn., last night. But it wasn't an entirely somber event.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SAVED")

Until last year, few Greeks had heard of Marina Satti.

LCD Soundsystem's new disco-boogie song is about songs inspired, he tells Zane Lowe's Beats 1 radio show, by the hit singles James Murphy kept hearing in taxis set upon the same theme, that "we only have tonight."

Jo Walker-Meador, one of the most important behind-the-scenes advocates of country music, has died. Walker-Meador, who led the Country Music Association as its executive director from 1962 to 1991, died Tuesday night in Nashville at age 93 after suffering a stroke. Her death was announced by the Country Music Association and the Country Music Hall of Fame.

The Manchester Arena will reopen next month just three-and-a-half months after a bomb attack in the venue's foyer killed 22 people at the conclusion of an Ariana Grande concert.

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.

On the same night that torch-bearing white nationalists wound up staging a rally at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, Van Jones stood at a podium, in the nation's capital, telling a theater full of supporters why they should let love rule in the face of racial hatred.

When MF DOOM emerged from the ether just before the last millennium's end, with a metal faceplate masking his grill, a raspy voice and a vicious internal rhyme scheme, he quickly amassed a cult-like following.

His villainous persona, an amalgamation of comic book characters ranging from Dr. Doom to G.I. Joe's Destro, masked his true identity as he exacted revenge on an industry which had metaphorically disfigured him.

This July, on a beautiful summer day just after the sun set, Chile's Javiera Mena took the outdoor stage to perform her first show in the city of Philadelphia. Mena is a Latin Grammy and MTV Europe Award nominee whose been cranking out indie electro-pop for the past decade.

In the French Quarter of New Orleans, there's a tiny venue with old wooden floors where on a good night you can cram in around a hundred people. The audience sits right up in front of the band and it's so intimate that the musicians don't need microphones. It's a truly magical place, where the spirit of New Orleans jazz is not only alive but evolving. It's called Preservation Hall. And it's home to our guests – the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

Forebears: The Endearing Grace Of Lena Horne

Aug 16, 2017

This essay is one in a series celebrating women whose major contributions in recording occurred before the time frame of NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women.

It's only rolled out a few songs so far, but the Brooklyn band Frances Cone has already carved out a distinct sound — a sweet slow burn in which songs build gradually and carefully into something truly grand. The gorgeous "Unraveling," from a forthcoming album called Late Riser, really gets at what works about Frances Cone's music: Each cooed "ooooh" is in the exact right place, weaving together to form a warm and hypnotic tapestry.

Guest DJ Week: Björk

Aug 16, 2017

Note: Our week of Guest DJs continues with Björk. The Icelandic singer recently announced she'll be releasing a new album, possibly before the end of the year.

Good Booty

Aug 15, 2017

Here’s a game: Complete this lyric …

A-wop-bop-alu-bop-a-wop-bam-boom

Tutti Frutti, ______

“Aw rooty” is on the record of Little Richard’s seminal hit, but the original rhyme was “good booty.” And that’s where NPR music critic Ann Powers gets the title of her new book.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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