Music

Music

Once we reach adulthood, it's easy to dismiss childhood musical obsessions as frivolous rather than formative. That enthusiasm can be seen as embarrassing, or some form of misguided, or infantile, admiration. It's far more challenging to take the uncynical view and honor the passion behind the musical fixations of our youth.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

Good morning. I'm David Greene. You might recognize this from the Beach Boys.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SURFIN'")

BEACH BOYS: (Singing) Surfin' is the only life, the only way for me. Now surf.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Musician and composer Nils Frahm must feel like a chef who has finally assembled his dream kitchen. Frahm's new album, All Melody (due out Jan. 26), was crafted at Saal 3, a vintage studio space he was offered in an old East Berlin broadcast facility built in the 1950s.

Whenever I imagined a St. Vincent Tiny Desk Concert, it was always going to be loud and electric. But I didn't see this coming – the brilliant guitarist arrived at NPR with one steel string acoustic guitar and without a warm-up or soundcheck. Annie Clark stood at my desk, in front of a few hundred-plus NPR employees and close friends, and hit us hard with her un-amplified voice, unplugged guitar, her checkered wardrobe and most importantly, her songs.

Connie Lim, who writes and records as MILCK, makes music for anyone who feels out of place in the world. Hers are songs of empowerment and cathartic healing for the displaced and brokenhearted.

In 1983, the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto tried a grand experiment. While the singers performed Elektra in German onstage, simultaneous translations in English were projected above the stage. These "supertitles," as they've come to be known, were quickly adopted at opera houses and are now an expected part of the opera-going experience.

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LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

And now for something I saw this week that brought me a lot of joy because even reporters get starstruck. It's true. Ana Belaval is a reporter with WGN TV in Chicago. And she is, to put it mildly, a huge fan of Ricky Martin. Listen.

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

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

It's clear Drake has earned the right to play by his own rules. And while the quadruple platinum-selling star was fairly silent in the last half of 2017, he did give fans a promise at the end of his March project, More Life.

"I'll be back in 2018 to give you the summary," Drizzy raps at the end of "Do Not Disturb."

Musician MILCK On The Women's March

Jan 20, 2018

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

You may have heard this song before.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "QUIET")

MILCK: (Singing) Put on your face. Know your place.

I am MILCK. I am a singer-songwriter. I have found myself on a whirlwind of a journey ever since January 2017.

The death of rocker Tom Petty in October 2017 came as a result of an accidental drug overdose with a toxic mix of drugs taken for several ailments, including a fractured hip.

The results of an autopsy were released Friday by Los Angeles County Medical Examiner-Coroner Jonathan Lucas.

Petty died at 66 of "multisystem organ failure due to resuscitated cardiopulmonary arrest due to mixed drug toxicity," according to a brief statement.

The drugs listed included "fentanyl, oxycodone, temazepam, alprazolam, citalopram, acetylfentanyl, and despropionyl fentanyl."

The Hotel California was, according to a case filed against it by legendary rock band The Eagles, living it up a little too much. The rock band sued the Mexico-based hotel, which shares a name with the band's iconic 1976 song, resulting in a settlement Thursday. The settlement's terms were not disclosed.

In a career full of accolades, Dolly Parton now adds two world records to her collection. Guinness World Records recognized her as the female artist with the most hits on Billboard's Hot Country songs charts and for the most decades with a top 20 hit on Billboards Hot Country Songs Chart.

Fred Hersch is no stranger to the art of introspection. As a pianist, a composer, a bandleader and a sideman, he has always combined clarity of projection with a willingness to go deep. His latest expression of interiority is a graceful and revealing memoir, Good Things Happen Slowly, which takes shape as a gradual declaration of selfhood, in personal as well as artistic terms.

You've been here before. You're staring at fresh cookies through the oven door, they smell so good, you want so badly to eat them, but you have to wait until the timer goes off. And they cool down. Today's session, for me, is like those cookies.

First Aid Kit came through World Cafe headquarters in October. But we had to wait until today - the day their new record Ruins is out — to share it with you. Ding! Cookies. Are. Ready.

The folks at Daptone Records know a thing or two about the magic of recording studios.

Here's a fact few white American musicians feel comfortable facing: every kind of American music, from Top-40 pop to high mountain bluegrass, has some root in the work and creativity of people of color. Arguments about appropriation surface most commonly when artists are clearly borrowing from well-known sources; Justin Timberlake's decision to repackage his blue-eyed funk in Ralph Lauren-style quasi-neutrals is the latest example of white performers side-stepping the fact that they owe their very souls to black collaborators, acknowledged or not.

The title and subject of Amadou & Mariam's latest album, La Confusion, would lead you to believe that the music this married, Malian couple make might be sad and troubled. But Amadou & Mariam, on the contrary, bring some of the most lyrical melodies and joyful sounds we've ever had at the Tiny Desk, and their performance comes while their country endures great turmoil, including a coup and insurgencies.

For nearly a decade, Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus has been known for drumming, strumming and dancing wildly onstage as she coaxes sound from a handful different instruments and a trusty loop pedal. While the signature sound of Tune-Yards is distinct, Garbus isn't one to put labels on her music.

"It's always the hardest thing," she says. "I appreciate how I'm allowed to maybe not classify the music I play because as soon as you do, assumptions begin to be made and you start shutting out people."

Based on a YA novel by Heidi McLaughlin, the endearingly old-fangled Forever My Girl is basically a stretched-out country music song with eye-catching Southern visuals and a familiar loop of lovelorn sorrow topped with uplift you can see coming from scene one.

Brandy Clark On Mountain Stage

Jan 18, 2018

Brandy Clark notes in her first appearance on Mountain Stage that she has become known for songs with a "tinge of revenge," citing Miranda Lambert's "Mamma's Broken Heart" (which she co-wrote) and her own hit "Stripes" as examples. In the introduction of her latest tale of retribution, "Daughter," Clark says it has become her favorite because "it's not about blowing anything up or slashing any tires.

Fifteen hours southwest of the bustling metropolis of Johannesburg is the beautiful city of Cape Town. A picturesque spot along the coast, mountains rise out of the sea and winding roads snake along the ocean, connecting a downtown filled with high rises to smaller bayside villages. People here have a reputation for being more relaxed, and moving at a slower pace.

Over the last five years, a psychedelic and garage rock scene has sprung up here that has gained attention across the country.

For our latest installments of the series Sense of Place we're exploring two cities in South Africa: Johannesburg and Cape Town.

We started our trip off in Johannesburg, which is the economic hub of the country. (Think skyscrapers, a fast pace of life and a sense of energy — and sometimes danger.) The city still feels the lasting effects of apartheid, with the much poorer township of Soweto nearby. Both are a sharp contrast to the city 900 miles to the south we would later visit, the more laidback – and maybe more beautiful – Cape Town.

Take Me On: The Art Of The Cover Song

Jan 18, 2018

What makes a great cover song?

Is it a total reimagining, like Devo singing “Satisfaction,” Ike and Tina Turner taking on “Proud Mary” or Jimi Hendrix playing “All Along The Watchtower?”

Is it a performance that brings a new energy or feeling to the original, like Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Got To Get You Into My Life” or Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah?”

Or can a covering artist bring a weight to a song that makes it feel all their own, like Johnny Cash singing “Hurt?”

The answer is yes.

Hot Snakes is a rock 'n' roll band. Just the name alone — Hot Snakes — sounds like a weathered 45 from the Nuggets proto-punk era, when no one really knew what they were doing. When John Reis started Hot Snakes with Drive Like Jehu bandmate Rick Froberg in the early 2000s, that felt like the M.O.: plug in and play as loud as possible. In 2005, they broke up.

I have a soft spot for Yo La Tengo's curiosities, like the cloudy bossa nova shimmy of "How To Make A Baby Elephant Float" or the spelunking drones and gurgling rock improvisations heard on The Sounds Of The Sounds Of Science, which soundtracked a series of underwater documentaries.

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