Music

Music

Put your love of perfection outside the office door and come in for some office fun. This collaboration between Philadelphia's Kurt Vile and Melbourne's Courtney Barnett is more about newfound friends poking jabs, goofing around and having fun with words than reaching any new musical heights.

What do you get when you cross an Australian post-punk drummer with a lute player who is the descendant of Greek musical royalty? Easy: Today's guests Xylouris White!

Xylouris is George Xylouris, from a famed family of musicians based in a mountain shepherding village on the Greek island of Crete. George has been a professional musician since he was 12.

White is Jim White, an Australian post-punk drummer with a deft touch, able to go from thunderous to tender on a dime. Jim held it down in the instrumental trio Dirty Three, and has also backed Cat Power and PJ Harvey.

In this session, you've got front-row seats to a mini concert by Combo Chimbita, who absolutely lit up the World Cafe with what they call "tropical futurism." What does that mean? You're about to hear it in action. But, just so you know what you're in for, Combo Chimbita uses cumbia as a building block but they get psychedelic, trippy and downright freaky, with an inventive combination of rhythms and sounds from Africa, the Caribbean and Latin America.

In 2018, country rock will be 50 years old; that's according to most official histories, anyway, which mark the subgenre's beginnings with the release of two Gram Parsons projects, the International Submarine Band's Safe At Home and The Byrds' Sweetheart Of The Rodeo. Why not celebrate a little early?

Chris Dave possesses innumerable gifts as a drummer, but chief among them is the ability to make a groove just feel ... right. This isn't as simple or straightforward a feat as it sounds. And it can be a recipe for invisibility, at least among the general listening public.

There's a brilliant new instrumental project from violinist Andrew Bird. Echolocations: River takes its musical inspiration from landscapes and environments with distinctive acoustics.

Today we have a film of Andrew Bird performing under the Hyperion bridge in Los Angeles's Atwater Village. An earlier Echolocations project was recorded at the Coyote Gulch canyons of Utah in 2015. Andrew wrote us to explain how these compositions take shape.

Bobby Osborne is trying to find his way back to the lakeside home where he first heard "Rocky Top," the song that would define his career as one half of the Osborne Brothers, one of bluegrass' most popular and innovative groups.

Lawrence Rothman is one of the most interesting artists to come on our radar this year. The Laurel-Canyon-based artist channeled their journey of self-discovery into some incredibly catchy songs on their debut album. "Wolves Still Cry" was fantastic live, and the lyrics are worth a closer listen.

SET LIST

  • "Wolves Still Cry"

Photos: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

In France today, nothing else matters. Johnny Hallyday is dead.

The French rock star, who died at 74 of lung cancer at his home outside Paris Wednesday, had a career spanning 57 years. He sold more than 100 million albums, but was little known outside his own country. USA Today once called him "the greatest rock star you never heard of."

Retrospectives and tributes have poured in, and France's Prime Minister Edouard Philippe paid tribute to Hallyday in Parliament.

Bette Smith grew up in a rough neighborhood in Brooklyn: Bedford–Stuyvesant, pre-Mayor Giuliani. Her father was a church choir director who once had to protect his kids by running out of the house waving a two-by-four. He taught Bette to sing. He also taught her that a career in music outside the church was wrong, and it wasn't until after he died that Bette really pursued music. She'll tell the story of coming to that decision, and what she imagines her late parents might think of what's she's doing now.

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.

Chicago-based singer and poet Jamila Woods sat down with Vocalo's Reclaimed Soul host Ayana Contreras to talk about her debut album HEAVN and the spiritual, social and political themes behind it.

"Through my poems and songs, I ask more questions than I try to nail down answers," Woods says. "I think art is a good way to free your mind up and make things more complicated."

The Thistle & Shamrock: Music Migration

Dec 6, 2017

Join host Fiona Ritchie as she uncovers the deep roots across several generations that run under a family tree of songs from the British Isles and Ireland to the Southern Appalachians.

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

Singer Johnny Hallyday, known as the "French Elvis," for his role in popularizing rock 'n roll in his country, has died of lung cancer at age 74.

The Ooz, the title to King Krule's latest album, is the perfect name for his music. It conjures, in my mind, a word mashup of "cool" and "jazz." The music is eerily evocative with lyrics that talk about the sorts of depression singer and guitarist Archy Marshall has dealt with in his young life. And, at 23, he has a lot to say on the subject.

Updated, Dec. 8, 8:20 a.m. ET with a subsequent statement from James Levine and James Lestock.

New allegations of sexual assault have been made against James Levine, the music director emeritus of the Metropolitan Opera in New York and its conductor for over forty years. Levine was suspended from his position over the weekend, and now, with more allegations made public, repercussions for the lauded musician are continuing to pile up.

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.

Classical music has never lived in a bubble. For centuries, it's always found common ground with folk music.

Enter, the Danish String Quartet.

The numbers are in. Spotify has released its year-end round up of the most-listened to music on its platform, revealing new leaders in a sea of familiarity.

In this session, we've got Bootsy in the house, baby! Bootsy Collins has a new album, his first in six years, called World Wide Funk. Bootsy grew up in Ohio and turned to the bass as his instrument because his older brother Catfish grabbed the guitar first. The two had a group together, and later became James Brown's backing band, The J.B.'s.

Seth Glier On Mountain Stage

Dec 5, 2017

Seth Glier has an otherworldly voice, which explains why Mountain Stage guest host Michael Cerveris admits to lingering perhaps too long outside of Glier's dressing room, listening to him warming up.

Part of the fun of stepping into an old-time diner is getting swept away by love songs of decades past. Gems made in the 1940s like Lena Horne's "'Deed I Do" and Ella Fitzgerald's "I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling" capture the casual exaltation of swooning in a crush's footsteps. What makes them resonate is a combination of simplicity and sincerity: Having a crush is an all-consuming weightlessness that leaves you flushed, no matter how fortuitous it may be.

Richard Reed Parry plays to arenas full of fans as a member of the Grammy-winning band Arcade Fire, but he impressed listeners in 2014 with a more intimate record. Parry's Music For Heart And Breath featured compositions that asked some of the best musicians in contemporary classical music to use their own heartbeats and breathing to guide their performances.

The Metropolitan Opera has suspended its longtime conductor and former music director, James Levine, following allegations of sexual abuse reported by The New York Post and The New York Times. The three sets of allegations span from the 1960s to the '80s.

The students entering college are not millennials. The next generation, Generation Z, has arrived. The oldest in the group are in their early 20s.

Not only have they never known a world without the Internet, some have had smartphones since middle school.

And for this group, memes, animated GIFs and emojis are second nature, says Geoff Nunberg, a linguist who does features on language on NPR's Fresh Air.

The 40th annual Kennedy Center Honors last night (Dec. 3) recognized those in the arts who've made lifetime achievements in American pop culture and ushered in some new traditions in the process.

Luna On World Cafe

Dec 4, 2017

Around the time Luna announced it was breaking up back in 2004, lead singer Dean Wareham said, "This is what bands do." But you can bet any fan of Luna's dreamy, moody sound was secretly hoping they would undo it. And after about a decade, Luna did. (Or: undid.)

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