Music

Music

There's a word that follows Chris Forsyth's music around and makes the Philadelphia guitarist uncomfortable. "I have a complicated relationship with transcendence," he tells NPR. He understands why his guitar epics invite the comparison: Channeling Television, Pere Ubu and kosmische questers past, they race towards some receding target like a rocket aiming for Mars, or greyhounds hurtling hungrily towards a stuffed rabbit.

Before a month-and-change ago, Slowdive hadn't released an album in 22 years. So you'd be forgiven for watching the band perform "Sugar For The Pill" and struggling to pin down what era you're in — especially since NPR Music plopped the group in a playfully retro Brooklyn shuffleboard parlor for the occasion.

The Lone Bellow's earnest and magnetic folk-pop was built to shake the rafters: It's hooky and rousing and performed with absolute commitment. It has been since the beginning, from the band's charming, self-titled 2013 debut through the Aaron Dessner-produced Then Came The Morning two years later. And, if a new song called "Time's Always Leaving" is any indication, it'll carry on through the release of The Lone Bellow's third album, Walk Into A Storm.

The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Jazz Masters award, which comes with a $25,000 prize, is widely described as United States' highest honor for jazz. Today, the NEA announced its four newest recipients of the prize: pianist Joanne Brackeen, guitarist Pat Metheny, singer Dianne Reeves and producer Todd Barkan.

Olutosin Oduwole was in his dorm room at Southern Illinois University when police knocked on his door one day in 2007. They were there to arrest him.

"In my mind I'm thinking, 'Okay, maybe a warrant for a ticket.' I really didn't know what was going on," he says.

What was going on was that the police suspected that Olutosin, a college student and aspiring rapper, was on the brink of committing a Virginia Tech-style mass shooting on his campus. He was soon charged with attempting to make a terrorist threat, and was eventually convicted and sent to prison.

Monday marks the anniversary of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, when a gunman opened fire at Pulse nightclub in Orlando last year. The shooter killed 49 people and wounded more than 50. Pulse has become an unofficial site of remembrance.

The music of Perfume Genius can be intense, shuddering with a breathtaking fragility — but also shimmying with self-assured defiance. The songs, much like Hadreas himself, are strong, but not hard. As he worked his way through two new tracks ("Valley," "Slip Away") and one older ("Normal Song"), there were moments that were both beautiful and unnerving, in no small part because the songs are so deeply personal.

To call Colin Stetson's new band "metal" isn't quite right. Ex Eye is heavy, maximalist music made compact — proggy, noisy, metallic particles sent through the Large Hadron Collider to make black holes of sound.

Sincerity plays a key role in powerful pop music — candor is the catalyst for connecting an artist with their listenership. For indie-pop purists The Pains of Being Pure At Heart, that's never been a problem. From the band's dreamiest shoegaze influences to its most lucid lyricism, The Pains of Being Pure At Heart has found strength in heart-on-your-sleeve songwriting.

Even if you've never heard of Memphis' Royal Studios, you probably know some of the records made there. Royal was the home studio of Hi Records and producer Willie Mitchell in the '70s; it's the birthplace of countless Al Green hits, including "Tired Of Being Alone" and "Let's Stay Together," as well as records by Ann Peebles, Syl Johnson and others.

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.

Hearing ALA.NI sing for just a moment feels like being transported back in time. On her debut album, You & I, the British-born, Paris-based singer's voice evokes greats like Billie Holiday and Judy Garland. But ALA.NI is not one for blindly indulging nostalgia: She's just staying true to the music she's always loved.

Paramore has been described as emo, pop-punk, grunge and rock — but regardless of the genre, the adjective "catchy" has always applied to its music. The same can be said of the Tennessee band's latest release, After Laughter. Heavily inspired by '80s sounds, the album is filled with synth and pep.

On Friday, the legendary singer-songwriter Glen Campbell bid a final farewell to his fans by releasing his last-ever album. Titled Adiós, it was recorded in 2012, when the "Rhinestone Cowboy" formally ended his music career after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease the year before.

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

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Birmingham's Place In Rock 'N' Roll History

Jun 10, 2017

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

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BIRMINGHAM BOUNCE")

HARDROCK GUNTER: (Singing) In the heart of Dixie in Alabam', there's a place we love called Birmingham.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

If you caught Weekend Edition's live show from Birmingham, Ala., on Saturday, you might have heard John Paul White's guitar between stories. The Alabama singer-songwriter, known for his work as one-half of The Civil Wars, released his solo album Beulah in 2016.

Nat Hentoff On Piano Jazz

Jun 9, 2017

A prolific author and jazz critic for more than half a century, the late Nat Hentoff (1925 — Jan. 7, 2017) wrote for publications including the Village Voice, Down Beat, The New Yorker and The Washington Post.

Exactly one month after Pandora secured a highly conditional financial lifeline, the company has secured a sizable investment from satellite radio leader SiriusXM, which has had its eyes on the digital radio pioneer for some time.

The Southern dialect is a complex thing, especially when pouring out the mouths of three of the regions best rappers ever. From the marble-mouthed flow of trapper du jour Gucci Mane, to the elongated vowel sounds of the dearly departed Pimp C, to the sticky, multi-syllabic delivery of OutKast's most consistent player Big Boi, it comes in all drawls and colors.

Judging by the headlines Friday morning, Taylor Swift's music has finally returned to streaming services. But that's not exactly the case.

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