Music

Music

Each year dozens of new artists become part of my life soundtrack. Last year Courtney Barnett, Soak, Ibeyi, Girlpool and many more all became a huge part of my listening for the year and some wound up on my final top ten list.

This year, Lucy Dacus, Big Thief, Margaret Glaspy, Mothers, Overcoats and Weaves are all part of my everyday listening, and are all artists making a debut either with their first album, EP or very first songs.

Let's hear it for part-time punks: the musicians who go to work by day so they can get to work at night, and who give the man 40 hours a week rather than let him dictate the terms of their art. It's a sacrifice most of us won't make to pursue our passions, especially when it's so much easier to consume than create.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

What do Van Morrison's "Domino," the Rolling Stones' "Brown Sugar" and Marvin Gaye's "What's Going On?" have in common? All of them were recorded or became hits in 1971 — the year music journalist David Hepworth insists is the best year in rock 'n' roll history.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

At first it seems like a typical music video.

A big, calm-looking bearded man sits in a posh armchair and sings in an emotion-choked baritone, "I'm running, I'm running, I'm running."

He's Grammy Award-winning jazz singer Gregory Porter.

A little bit into the song, a rapper joins in: "I fight through the night just to find a stronger day."

Before he turned twenty-five, Van Morrison had written a rock and roll standard ("Gloria"), essayed arguably the greatest-ever Bob Dylan cover ("It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" — both with Them), made a top-ten American hit ("Brown Eyed Girl") and recorded two very different, very compatible LP masterpieces, Astral Weeks and Moondance — the former concerned with "childhood, initiation, sex, and death," per Greil Marcus in Stranded, the latter with rebirth, experience, love and living for its own sake.

Bob Boilen is the man behind NPR's All Songs Considered and the Tiny Desk concert series, which takes place at his desk. Needless to say, he's always in search of new music; last year alone, he saw more than 400 bands live.

On this week's All Songs Considered we come full circle. Robin Hilton opens the show by looking back in time with a weird, psychedelic track by Cornelius from his long out-of-print, newly reissued album Fantasma. If the song doesn't justify itself, Bob Boilen provides an argument for looking back with a song by The Wild Reeds called "Everything Looks Better (In Hindsight)."

Also on the show: We also play an electro-folk track by the Israeli sisters A-WA and a new song by Tiny Desk veterans Bellows.

But first, Robin and Bob talk knee surgery.

Over two decades and 11 studio albums, the Alabama-born, Georgia-bred band Drive-By Truckers has crafted a multifaceted vision of a stubborn, changing South, decimating stereotypes by excavating the truths from which those myths had sprung. The Truckers' sound has always been an equal mix of punk and Muscle Shoals, freshly inked graffiti and used-car exhaust; over the years, its messages have grown both more refined and thicker with meaning, more historically informed, more urgent.

Very few musical gatherings during the crowded summer festival season have been going on as long as CMA Music Fest, which launched under the name Fan Fair in 1972 and now descends upon Nashville just after the heat and humidity set in each June. One of the secrets to its longevity is that it's always been a place where country fans can encounter artists up close; folks who get a bit of face time with their favorite artists, maybe even a hug, are prone to keep coming back.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

For every country star and insurgent new sensation, Nashville boasts a dozen musicians who've perfected their art over many years. Tomi Lunsford is one such exceptional, undersung talent. She hails from a prestigious family — her great-uncle was the revered folklorist and songwriter Bascom Lamar Lunsford, and her father, fiddler Jim Lunsford, played with the likes of Roy Acuff and Bob Wills. Tomi herself began singing professionally as a teen with Jim and her harmonizing sisters.

World Cafe Next: The Mystery Lights

Jun 20, 2016

Daptone Records, known for recording blues, R&B and funk artists like Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, has entered into the world of rock music with a new offshoot: Wick Records. Wick's label debut, from Queens-based garage-rock band The Mystery Lights, definitely sets the standard.

There's no explicit narrative threading together Brandy Clark's second album, Big Day In A Small Town. Instead, the 11 interconnected songs map a small collection of streets, landmarks, loves, betrayals and heartbreaks that cohere into a place as particular and as universal as Winesburg or Grover's Corners.

The songwriting supergroup performed their new album, case/lang/veirs, in its entirety at OPB in Portland, Oregon. You can watch the concert, thanks to our friends at VuHaus, public radio's new live performance video platform.

case/lang/veirs is on tour now.

Set List

  • "Atomic Number"
  • "Honey & Smoke"
  • "Song For Judee"
  • "Blue Fires"
  • "Delirium"
  • "Greens of June"

Success never shields us from tragedy; it's just a barrier waiting to break down. While on tour in October 2014, vocalist Jeremy Bolm received news that his mother's cancer had finally taken her life. Touché Amoré's new album title, Stage Four, carries a double meaning; this is both the post-hardcore band's fourth album and an emotional autobiography that attempts to make sense of a lifetime with his mother.

Several years ago k.d. lang sent an email to Neko Case and Laura Veirs on a whim. It read simply, "I think we should make a record together." Though the three musicians were barely more than acquaintances "Laura and I both responded immediately," recalls Case. "There was no question."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Watch Lucius, Live In Concert

Jun 19, 2016

Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig, the stars of Lucius, are sometimes mistaken for twins. Sure, they dress identically on stage, in the bright colors and zigzagging patterns that befit their vibrant style of pop music. But the single-minded and flawless execution of their performance provides the strongest reason to mistake the pair for siblings.

Set List

  • "Madness"
  • "Tempest"
  • "Nothing Ordinary"
  • "Almost Makes Me Wish For Rain"

Mitski Miyawaki likes to probe heartache in her music, but melodrama isn't really her thing. Her songs explore vulnerability, yet always sound sturdy and confident — and it's that combination that's made her one of the most talked-about young rock artists of the past few years.

Luke Bell Returns To Wyoming In Debut Album

Jun 18, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Mudcrutch On World Cafe

Jun 17, 2016

In 1970, five guys — Tom Petty, Tom Leadon, Randall Marsh, Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench — formed a band, moved from Florida to Hollywood, made a single and broke up. If it hadn't been for Petty holding onto Campbell and Tench as part of The Heartbreakers, that original band, Mudcrutch, might have never come back together — but in 2007, they did just that to make a new record.

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