Music

Music

The first time Mike Birbiglia wrote, directed and starred in a film (Sleepwalk With Me) he played a stand-up comic. This was not a huge stretch for him, as he is, himself, a stand-up comic.

His second film, Don't Think Twice, doesn't stray too far from that model. It's about an improvisational comedy troupe a lot like the one in which Birbiglia got his start. And if this seems like quite a bit of navel-gazing for one filmmaker, rest assured that Birbiglia's been keeping it funny.

Listening to John Congleton can be scary. The imagery — of "blood between my legs," of loving another "like a lion loves its kill" — can be horrifying. But the songs Congleton sings (from his album Until The Horror Goes) touch on what it means to be human, and what it means to face the fact that we are flesh-and-blood "temporary custodians" in vessels that will inevitably return to the earth and decay.

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

First Watch: River Whyless, 'All Day All Night'

Jul 21, 2016

For consumers, "free" is rarely ever free — especially when it comes to social media and other online platforms. In exchange for utilizing services like Facebook, for example, users allow information about themselves — everything from their ages and zip codes to the particular products, services and companies they like — to be collected, sliced, diced, and sometimes given to other advertisers, who pay for access to that information.

First Watch: Jaala, 'Ticket'

Jul 21, 2016

First Listen: Descendents, 'Hypercaffium Spazzinate'

Jul 21, 2016

Anyone who's seen the recent Descendents documentary Filmage knows how tumultuous and poignant the band's 39-year, on-and-off existence has been. After forming in 1977, the Southern California group helped craft the template for what would become known as American pop-punk — a warp-speed amalgam of adolescent angst, snotty attitude and championship melody. It also began, in just a slightly tongue-in-cheek way, to advocate excessive caffeine consumption as a method of playing faster and living better.

Robert Elllis On World Cafe

Jul 20, 2016

Singer-songwriter Robert Ellis released his self-titled fourth album earlier this year. A gorgeous, stylistically diverse roots-country record whose songs are made more real by the human characters in his lyrics, the album was chosen by the NPR Music staff as one of 2016's best so far.

Zdzisław Beksiński, a Polish artist who was brutally murdered in 2005, surreally captured the darkness of humanity with hellish landscapes and nightmarish figures. His work adorns the cover of Mizmor's second album, Yodh: Two grim creatures float over a fading grey horizon, one with mouth agape, as if to swallow the earth whole. It's a fitting image for the existential dread in Mizmor's looming, blackened doom metal, which is both sublime and mesmerizing.

First Watch: Hannah Gill & The Hours, 'Austin'

Jul 20, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Birds Of Chicago On World Cafe

Jul 19, 2016

Birds Of Chicago's JT Nero and Allison Russell have been making what they call "secular gospel" records together since 2012. Before that, the now-married couple had worked with other bands — including, in Russell's case, the Canadian roots-music group Po' Girl. The duo's new album, Real Midnight, was produced by Joe Henry.

In this session for World Cafe, Russell and Nero perform songs from the new record and discuss touring as a young family.

KSUT will feature Sam Bush's new album Storyman this Friday at noon. The freewheeling collection  gleefully picks and chooses from jazz, folk, blues, reggae, country swing, and bluegrass to create a jubilant noise only classifiable as the "Sam Bush sound." Many of the songs are stories––several of them true––and the legendary mandolin player co-wrote every one of them with friends, including the late Guy Clark, Emmylou Harris, Jon Randall Stewart, Jeff Black, bandmate Stephen Mougin, and others.

World Cafe Next: Pinegrove

Jul 18, 2016

The thoughtful New Jersey indie-rock band Pinegrove is the featured artist on this week's installment of World Cafe: Next. The group features singer-guitarist Evan Stephens Hall, as well as brothers Jack and Nick Levine on drums and guitar, respectively.

Pinegrove's new album, Cardinal, is its sixth — and first since the release of a mixtape in 2010. Hear two of its songs as part of this segment, using the audio link above.

John Doe On World Cafe

Jul 18, 2016

John Doe has been a founding member of the L.A. punk band X, a solo artist, an actor, a member of the folk-rock band The Knitters, and now the author of a new memoir about the early days of L.A. punk, titled Under The Big Black Sun. Doe also has a new album out, titled The Westerner, on which he performs a song with his former wife and fellow X founder, Exene Cervenka.

Gregory Porter's healing soul music sends a message of compassion, and he's got a baritone voice that resonates love. When Porter visited NPR, we'd just learned that our colleague, photojournalist David Gilkey, had been killed while working on a story for NPR in Afghanistan. When Porter began singing the calmly beautiful "No Love Dying," he may not have known how much it would mean to us.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

When I first heard You Got Me Singing, a new record by Amanda Palmer and her father Jack, I thought, "How sweet. They probably sang many of these songs together long ago." Then I discovered how wrong I was.

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

Music Review: 'Wildflower,' The Avalanches

Jul 15, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

We recently asked people what they think about new technology that can disable their phone cameras or otherwise lock away their devices while at concerts.

Carla Bley And Steve Swallow On Piano Jazz

Jul 15, 2016

Bassist Steve Swallow and pianist Carla Bley are both acclaimed jazz composers and performers with international reputations. On this 1996 episode of Piano Jazz, they team up to talk with host Marian McPartland about their combined repertoire of innovative music.

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