Music

Music

Marlon Williams has a timeless vocal style and effortless confidence. His latest album, Make Way For Love, was birthed from the ashes of his breakup with fellow singer Aldous Harding.

This excellent live performance of "What's Chasing You" is a perfect example of what makes this New Zealand artist stand out from the crowd.

SET LIST

  • "What's Chasing You"

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.


Building anything, whether it's a home, a life, or an album, is tireless work. A blueprint helps, but having one hardly means things will go according to plan. Learning to build around the plans when they fall through is a necessary skill — and, often, one that you don't know you possess until you're in the middle of the process.

In the balcony of the Marquis Theatre on Broadway, Jimmy Buffett watches the final rehearsal for his new musical, Escape to Margaritaville. Down below, technicians inflate beach balls, which, in true Buffett fashion, are to be dropped on theater-goers' heads at the end of the show.

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.

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.

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.


Lately, certain troubling and regressive aspects of our national discourse have veered dangerously close to casting economic, mental and emotional instability and uncertain legal status as moral failings. According to that way of thinking, empathy is an unwelcome distraction. Prosperity comes to those who deserve it.

Raul Midón lives in a world of sound — blind since birth, Midón's interpretation of his surroundings is borderless. He sings with the passion of the best classic soul singers, and his instrumental chops stand along side the most accomplished jazz musicians.

Normally backed by a band that straddles styles just as well as he does, for his turn behind Bob Boilen's desk Midón stripped it down to just voice and guitar, the musical equivalent of tightrope walking without a net.

"This is your final warning / You know I give you life / If you try this s*** again / You gon' lose your wife." — Beyoncé, "Don't Hurt Yourself."

"Look, I apologize, often womanize / Took for my child to be born / See through a woman's eyes / Took for these natural twins to believe in miracles." — Jay-Z, "4:44"

A laid-back disco cool and bouncing bassline groove don't make Natalie Prass' recent single "Short Court Style" seem like a natural candidate for quiet reflection — perhaps, instead, a hard-earned frolic betwixt lovers who work hard to make their love work.

The Current presents five artists at the Blackheart Bar on Rainey Street, from 12:30-5:30 p.m. CT.

SCHEDULE (all times CT)

12:30 p.m.: Warbly Jets

1:30 p.m.: Marlon Williams

2:30 p.m.: Mt. Joy

3:30 p.m.: Naked Giants

4:30 p.m.: Natalie Prass

Late Night Dispatches From SXSW

Mar 14, 2018

The annual SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas can be overwhelming. With thousands of bands performing over five days across the city, there's no way to see everything, but there's always a great opportunity to discover a great musician you've never heard before. That's one of the reasons that at the end of each night during SXSW, members of our team in Austin gather and discuss the best of what they saw and heard that day.

The members of Wax Chattels introduce "In My Mouth" as "our homage to Auckland's best dive bar." If that's the case, this dive bar has been shattered, battered and fried into a post-punk surrender. No survivors, just a fluorescent strip dangling from the ceiling, flickering the remnants of a crazed brawl.

We mark the 10th anniversary of the Swannanoa Gathering's Traditional Song Week with more music and interview highlights from Julee Glaub Weems, David Holt, and Jean Ritchie.

Diana de los Santos, better known as Amara La Negra, is black and proud. She's also the breakout star of this season of Love & Hip Hop: Miami. Most importantly, she's an Afro-Latina singer who won't compromise her blackness for her Latinidad.

Big black and white letters that spelled out "Preservation Hall New Orleans" made the jazz band's sousaphone hard to miss. That was, at least, until it went missing.

"If you're trying to identify the sound of the tuba in one of our recordings or when you hear us live, you listen to the low end," tuba player Ben Jaffe says. "You listen for the bass, you listen for the bottom, the thing that carries the band. It's the rhythmic and harmonic foundation of the band."

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club has that quintessential rock and roll swagger. The band is celebrating its 20th anniversary, but to say that the members celebrate things seems inaccurate. They're fighters. They're defiant, even a bit skeptical. All the pomp and circumstance of a 20th anniversary would be overly indulgent.

When I told Mal Blum about the Future of Secrets art installation in which they'd be performing a South X Lullaby, Blum immediately had the perfect song.

Soul music savant Leon Bridges has announced a new album, Good Thing, and with it, two new tracks.

One of the bands I'm thrilled to catch at SXSW is Balún, who will be part of a showcase of Latin bands this week. When I first met the Brooklyn-based band at NuevoFest in Philadelphia last summer, they really stood out for their exciting, genre-morphing explorations into alternative rock, electronic pop and Puerto Rican folkloric grooves.

On the 2017 debut Jump Ship, No Thank You frontwoman Kaytee Della Monica offered the kind of millennial snark heard from the edge of a cigarette with lyrics like "Still listen to Nimrod when I'm getting high / I'm twenty something, I'm doing just fine."

The Current presents five artists at the Blackheart Bar on Rainey Street, from 12:30-5:30 p.m. CT.

SCHEDULE (all times CT)

12:30 p.m.: Morgan Saint

1:30 p.m.: Son Little

2:30 p.m.: Nilüfer Yayna

3:30 p.m.: Sunflower Bean

4:30 p.m.: Jade Bird

Craig Mack, the rapper best known for the classic '90s single "Flava In Ya Ear," has died. Richard Harvey of the Colleton County Coroner's office confirmed to NPR Music that Mack died in his home near Walterboro, S.C., around 9 p.m. on March 12, of natural causes. He was 47.

Two weeks ago, we reached out to Haley Heynderickx, a three-time Tiny Desk Contest entrant and Slingshot artist, about writing for the Tiny Desk Contest newsletter. "The Tiny Desk Contest changed my life," she said, so we asked her to tell that story in her own words:

Hello everyone!

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

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A 22-year-old musician has discovered an innovative way to connect with her fans.

LAUREN SANDERSON: My name is Lauren Sanderson, and I write letters.

Late Monday afternoon, New York's hallowed Metropolitan Opera announced that it had fired conductor James Levine — an artist who had a close affiliation with the opera house for more than four decades — after a months-long investigation into claims of "sexually abusive and harassing conduct."

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.


Every band needs to refresh and reconsider its sound sooner or later, no matter how sharp it's gotten over the course of a long career. Creative stagnation comes for us all — even The Decemberists, a band whose records have always come bursting with verve and verbosity.

Pages