Music

Music

The first thing you notice when you get on Willie Nelson's tour bus is a pungent aroma. Parked outside a gigantic casino and performance venue in Thackerville, Okla., Nelson offers NPR's David Greene a joint, which Greene declines. Nelson says he understands.

Vijay Iyer is probably best known as a pianist and bandleader in the African-American creative improvisational tradition — most say "jazz" for short — though he's also several other things in music. He's a composer of chamber, large-ensemble and mixed-media works; a Harvard professor; a student of Indian classical music; a father and New York City resident. Committed as he is to multiplicity, there's one place where you can see many of his interests distilled at once: in the trio he's led for nearly a dozen years.

World Cafe Next: John Moreland

May 4, 2015

This week's World Cafe: Next artist, John Moreland, is an Americana singer-songwriter from Oklahoma who just released his second album, High On Tulsa Heat.

Before turning to songwriting, Moreland was in a metal band; nowadays, though, his work channels a deep well of emotion and pain. In this segment, you can hear two of his songs, which can also be downloaded here.

The London Souls On World Cafe

May 4, 2015

The London Souls' members aren't from London; instead, they form a drum-and-guitar duo based in Brooklyn, where they carve their music out of the best of '60s psychedelic rock and soul.

Tash Neal (guitar) and Chris St. Hilaire (drums) have extraordinary communication live. On record, their music sounds like an undiscovered gem of British psychedelic rock or a lost Cream song.

"Family band" is a term that can evoke either wholesome '70s stereotypes or embittered alt-rock rivalries, but the London siblings in Kitty, Daisy & Lewis seem to come from a time farther removed. Their sound and style recall those carnivalesque clans of Dust Bowl days that sought their fortune from town to town.

It's tempting to mythologize Buffy Sainte-Marie — to call her a folk-music mother of dragons, or at least a shaman calling up lost spirits in her music. It's easy, after all, to exoticize individualistic women, especially women of color; doing so can even feel like offering a compliment. But on Power In The Blood, her first studio album since 2008, the 74-year-old firebrand defies categorization, as she has throughout a half-century of recording.

Review: Surfer Blood, '1000 Palms'

May 3, 2015

After the middling reception that greeted 2013's Pythons, the Florida band Surfer Blood parted ways with its major label and returned to its DIY roots, hunkering down in attics and parents' houses to make its third album, 1000 Palms. If you can take the band out of the professional studio, however, it's harder to take the professionalism out of the band — and Surfer Blood circa 2015 only distantly recalls the sneakily clever slacker-rock of its beginnings.

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