Music

Music

Andy Shauf's latest album, The Party, landed on last year's short list for Canada's prestigious Polaris Music Prize. It's filled with songs that chronicle the awkward moments and juicy encounters that can happen at a house party in a small town: the half-wit spilling his guts after a bottle of wine, the friend making late-night confessions to his crush while her boyfriend stands oblivious and stoned in the corner, what it feels like to be the first person to show up at the party.

Southern California's The Wild Reeds is made up of three singers, each one also a songwriter, who have been combining their voices since they met in college. Each of the women — Kinsey Lee, Sharon Silva and Mackenzie Howe — has a distinctive style, but together they find a way to blend them to create amazing harmonies.

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.

Mona Haydar is a Syrian-American artist from Flint, Mich. She wears a hijab with pride. She's been a performance poet for 13 years, writing about love, trauma, loss and joy.

Carrie Brownstein has made a name for herself as creator and star of Portlandia and as one-third of the beloved riot grrl band Sleater-Kinney, whose seminal album Dig Me Out recently turned 20. But before all that, Brownstein was just another music fan — and as she tells NPR, her local record store, Rubato Records, was the site of an awakening.

David Amram On Piano Jazz

Apr 22, 2017

Ralph Towner first came to the attention of a wide audience nearly 50 years ago as a member of the Paul Winter Consort, for whom he composed the group's most famous tune, "Icarus." The piece was so beloved, the Apollo 15 astronauts took the record to the moon — and named a crater after it.

Recovering alcoholics tend to avoid the bar. But when the bar is your office, that's not so easy. New Orleans bluesman Anders Osborne figured out how to get back to work despite the temptations, and now he's trying to help others.

Drugs and alcohol nearly destroyed Osborne's career, and his family. The guitarist and singer-songwriter was showing up for tour dates unable to perform. At his worst, he was spending nights on a park bench.

Tacocat Talks Being A 'Tiny-Font' Band At Coachella

Apr 22, 2017

On April 14, the first day of the annual Coachella music festival in Indio, Calif., the Seattle band Tacocat was taking in their surroundings. "We'd had a few drinks and a little bit of marijuana," Tacocat lead singer Emily Nokes says over the phone from Los Angeles, where the band is hanging out between Coachella's two weekends. "And drummer Lelah Maupin, she's like, 'I really want to write a song that's called "The Poorest Girl at Coachella." ' It's kind of unlike anything I've ever seen. ... Just really, really high-scale fashion and people and food.

Ray Davies On World Cafe

Apr 21, 2017

In this session, we welcome the legendary frontman of The Kinks, Ray Davies, who is backed by The Jayhawks on his new solo album, Americana. One of the themes Davies writes about in this new batch of songs is his relationship with the United States. He says that when The Kinks first came to the U.S.

Record Store Day, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, is a consumer ploy in the guise of a cultural event. Or, depending on your vantage, maybe it's the other way around. Whatever the case, record stores across the country and around the world are happily (or gamely) bracing for impact: Record Store Day 2017 falls this Saturday, April 22, with a wave of exclusive releases, in-store appearances and other retail enticements.

Kendrick Lamar has spoken. In his first interview since the debut of his (soon-to-be) chart-topping cultural phenomenon-of-an-album, DAMN., the rapper sat down for the now-requisite interview with Zane Lowe of Apple's Beats 1 Radio.

If, like so much of the general listening public, you have found yourself grappling with the themes and depth of his mystical masterpiece since its release one week ago today, you should find solace in the fact that this is exactly as Lamar intended.

Goldie has released a remix of "Inner City Life," his landmark drum and bass song from 1995's Timeless, by none other than Burial.

Bill MacKay's become a stealth fixture on the Chicago music scene over the last decade and change. The guitarist deftly glides through folk, experimental rock and jazz in his band Darts & Arrows and has worked with everyone from Fred Lonberg-Holm and members of Bitchin' Bajas to a blossoming creative partnership with with Ryley Walker — they released an album of guitar duets in 2015.

The War On Drugs is sharing its first new music since 2014's well-regarded Lost In The Dream. Clocking in at more than 11-minutes, "Thinking Of A Place" is both epic and wistful, with moody reflections and memories of a time gone by. And what do you know — it also includes some extended guitar shredding.

"Thinking Of A Place" will be a 45 RPM 12" release for Record Store Day this Saturday, April 22.

Imagine, if you will, a traveling Canadian singer-songwriter with the voice (and humor) of Norm Macdonald and the attire of a Toy Story 2 character. Then imagine him taking the stage with his wife, Tif Ginn, to sing an innuendo-drenched ode to the toggle switch. There's no one quite like Fred Eaglesmith, who makes his sixth appearance on Mountain Stage with this humorous performance of "Toggle Switch," recorded live in Charleston, W.Va.

Set List

  • "Toggle Switch"

Photo Credit: Brian Blauser/Mountain Stage

This Saturday is Record Store Day, and one of its many offerings is an unreleased film soundtrack by Thelonious Monk. We celebrate that release and Monk's centennial with one of his ballads.

GAS isn't really meant for the club, but that's where I first heard it — a cavernous basement was hosting a night of experimental music, the definition of which was determined by the DJ. It sounded and felt like a symphony buried underground, beats programmed from a different galaxy. Pop didn't change the landscape of ambient music — it evolved its purpose, its tone, its movement.

"Smell The Roses," the first song Roger Waters is sharing from his upcoming album Is This The Life We Really Want?, is a rage against complacency and an elegy to the American dream.

"Wake up and smell the roses," he sings. "There's nothing but screams in the field of dreams. Nothing but hope at the end of the rope."

Prince died one year ago today, and for the first anniversary, fans had been told to expect six new songs, as part of an EP titled Deliverance. The first single, also called "Deliverance," is a soaring, stirring mix of rock and gospel.

Juana Molina Shares Eerie New Video For Upcoming Album, 'Halo'

Apr 21, 2017

Argentine experimental artist Juana Molina's music is a beautiful and strange creature in a category of its own, and no genre, Latin or otherwise, can adequately categorize its alluring ambiguity.

The problem was that Prince, a control freak, didn't leave a will. He didn't even have a cause of death — initial reports suggested an overdose of fentanyl, and recently unsealed affidavits and search warrants revealed painkillers were scattered throughout his Paisley Park home and studio. Dr.

The cars were piled on top of each other and bleeding onto the curb of the highway as they inched west and north towards the Lake Ann Park parking lot, each blasting their favorite from the windows; families walked down the trail and under the tunnel beneath the highway they'd just come from, holding the strings of the purple balloons floating just behind them; families walking back to their cars had no balloons and little expression. Altars of brown paper lanterns, unlit during the overcast day, peppered the path towards the off-white, square-paneled compound.

Prince Without Permission

Apr 21, 2017

It is important — and always devastating — to remember that Prince died alone. He had probably also been in great pain that evening. But there was, as far as we know, nobody around to help him.

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