Music

Music

Thursday night, singer Frank Ocean released a long-awaited new work: Endless, available exclusively — at least for now — as a 45-minute film on Apple Music.

This is Ocean's first studio project since his Channel Orange was released in 2012, the musician's breakout year as a solo artist after his days as a member of the Odd Future collective and, prior to that, as a songwriter for artists like Justin Bieber, John Legend and Brandy.

Natalie Maines took one look at the wildly cheering fans in Nashville's Bridgestone Arena Wednesday night and knew just what to say. "I like what you're wearing," she coyly remarked. It felt as if the singer could see every Southwestern-print skirt, pair of fringey ankle boots and vintage "Cowboy Take Me Away" t-shirt in the packed arena.

Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats never fail to deliver a rousing, soulful performance. Rateliff and his band were in fine form — particularly in this take on their hit single "S.O.B." — when they stopped by our studio in the middle of summer-festival season.

SET LIST

  • "S.O.B."

Photo by Dustin Downing for KCRW.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Recalcitrant singer-songwriter Cass McCombs has never cared for The Man. The quiet iconoclast is about to release his eighth studio album, Mangy Love, and not once has he caved to the whims of labels, critics or fans. That's not to say his music is confrontational; in fact, his '70s AM vibe might go down too smoothly for some. But McCombs' dedication to craft and distaste for compromise is unwavering.

When Jerry Garcia died unexpectedly in August 1995, his Grateful Dead bandmate Bob Weir went right back out on the road to deal with the loss of his friend.

First Listen: The Album Leaf, 'Between Waves'

Aug 18, 2016

Jimmy LaVelle hasn't always been this quiet. Before launching the hushed solo ambient project The Album Leaf in 1999, the native San Diegan made chaotic noise in a handful of experimental hardcore bands, most notably Swing Kids, The Crimson Curse and The Locust. He turned toward more contemplative sounds with the post-rock group Tristeza, which he co-founded in 1997 (and left in 2003). But it's his solo effort that's brought LaVelle the most attention and acclaim.

The shiny, polished pop of today sometimes sounds effortless, as if it hatched fully realized from the keyboards of genius producers. But just because the technology is different doesn't mean the creative process is.

Noteworthy, a new video documentary series from NPR Music, spends a day with a musician to understand the real work that goes into the creative process: how they get ideas for melodies and lyrics, the places and people that inspire them.

This week, KSUT is featuring another artist performing at this year's Four Corners Folk Festival over Labor Day weekend.  Sierra Hull was first recognized as a virtuoso mandolin-player at age 11, astonishing audiences and fellow-musicians alike. Now a seasoned touring musician nearing her mid-20s, Hull has delivered her most inspired, accomplished, and mature recorded work to date; no small feat. 'Weighted Mind' is a landmark achievement, not just in Sierra Hull's career, but in the world of folk-pop, bluegrass, and acoustic music overall.

Dinosaur Jr. On World Cafe

Aug 17, 2016

Dinosaur Jr., formed in 1984 in Amherst, Mass., is well known for its influence in the noisy, guitar-heavy, DIY style that permeated college-radio airwaves in the late 1980s and 1990s. The group, which then included Lou Barlow on bass and Murph on drums, often served as a vehicle for frontman J Mascis' songwriting and guitar work.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Our childhood haunts us. In playgrounds, forests, bedrooms and on neighborhood streets, we try to understand a new world as beings in constant formation — full of wonder, full of fear. It's there we first make ourselves human and, in many ways, that nascent humanity scars like an old wound never stitched.

Bobby Hutcherson, a vibraphonist whose improvising and composition helped to define modernity for jazz as a whole, has died. He had long struggled with emphysema. He was 75.

As a mallet percussionist, he expanded the scope of what was possible on his instrument. And the sound he created was widely influential.

Jace Clayton circles the globe looking for new sounds, from home studios in Morocco to teen parties in Mexico. Performing as DJ /rupture, he incorporates them into his work — and in his travels, he's found that digital technology has profoundly changed how music is produced, even in the most unlikely places.

That's the subject of his new book, Uproot: Travels in 21st-Century Music and Digital Culture. He joined NPR's Audie Cornish to talk about it; hear the radio version at the audio link, and read an edited version below.

Steve Gunn On World Cafe

Aug 16, 2016

The guitarist, singer and songwriter Steve Gunn has become increasingly well known for his dense, energetic playing. Even when he's not working on his own material, Gunn always seems to have another project going on; most notably, he was an early member of his friend Kurt Vile's band The Violators.

The fabulously flamboyant duo PWR BTTM takes a melancholy turn on its latest single. The sweetly sentimental sounding "New Hampshire" ponders the end of everything, from a love affair to the birds in the sky and the burning sun. But it shrugs it all off as an inevitable evolution of any life. "Don't be sad," sings guitarist Ben Hopkins. "I've done my share of living."

Rafael Pereira and Felipe Salmon, who make up the Peruvian duo Dengue Dengue Dengue, create electronic music inspired in part by time-honored Latin American styles. Their approach is all about building layers upon layers.

After a five-year hiatus, Blind Pilot released its third album, And Then Like Lions, last week. The group's frontman, Israel Nebeker, wrote the songs coming out of a period of grief following the death of his father (Oregon painter and teacher Royal Nebeker) and the end of a long relationship. The album leads with songs, like "Umpqua Rushing," that open quietly and bloom into lush and hopeful folk-pop arrangements.

Many stylistic winds blow through the repertoire of The Westerlies. The unconventional brass quartet from New York (Riley Mulherkar and Zubin Hensler, trumpets; Andy Clausen and Willem de Koch, trombones) embraces jazz, classical, new music and dance — and in this case, puts a new spin on an old British ballad.

Since his 1996 album, Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, launched him to stardom and helped define the 1990s school known as "neo soul," Maxwell has spent two decades faithfully crafting his own unique brand of R&B that explores emotional and spiritual needs alongside sensual ones. Followers have come to depend on his flawless falsetto, his skill for draping a song in perfectly-fitted production and that velvet voice's ability to sound so intimate it makes everything else drop away.

Obama Releases His Summer Music Playlist

Aug 15, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Alt.Latino Shares New Favorites

Aug 14, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Yesterday in New York, something very big happened outside Lincoln Center: One thousand people gathered to sing a new piece by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Lang. Entitled the public domain, it was a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Mostly Mozart festival.

Right now, the world's focus is on Rio for the 2016 Olympics. Brazil is on our minds, too, so we've made a weekend playlist filled with international collaborations between Brazilian artists and other musicians from around the globe. These are some extraordinary duets, from bossa nova to tropicalia and beyond. No Olympic competition here — just collaboration!

The O'Connor Band, the family band led by acclaimed musician and composer Mark O'Connor, has just released their new album Coming Home, on Rounder Records. KSUT will be featuring the full CD, Friday, 8/12 at noon as a preview to the band's performance at the Four Corners Folk Festival over Labor Day weekend.
 

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