Music

Music

The Chicago band Wilco's 10th studio album, Schmilco, is KSUT's feature CD of the week, 9/15 at noon. We're fundraising this week, and will be offering a limited number of the CD for your pledge of support, while it's playing.

Schmilco features 12 new songs written by Jeff Tweedy and is the band’s third release on their own dBpm Records. It follows Star Wars, which was released for free and as a surprise in July 2015.

Just this afternoon, it looked like David Bowie was a shoo-in for this year's Mercury Prize. Even though the prestigious U.K. award had never before been given to an artist posthumously, Blackstar was the final and widely adored album from a British rock god. Even bookies were betting on Bowie as a 4/7 favorite.

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Blind Pilot's new album is proof that profound loss can result in profoundly beautiful music. After a five-year hiatus, during which frontman Israel Nebeker lost his father, the Portland, Ore., band has returned with And Then Like Lions. The band's live set for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic was gorgeous, particularly the anthemic "Packed Powder."

SET LIST

  • "Packed Powder"
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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

It would be reductive to describe P.S. Eliot as a footnote in the careers of Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield and her sister Allison (Swearin', The Fizz). Instead, the group should be seen as a springboard that offered the twins a head-first leap into the life of professional musicianship. Five years after P.S.

Tim Page is no longer afraid of death. That's the one positive takeaway for him after surviving a traumatic brain injury.

Last year, the University of Southern California music and journalism professor — who was also a child prodigy filmmaker, Pulitzer-winning critic, person with Asperger's and father of three — collapsed at a train station. He woke up in an ambulance speeding to the hospital. He's still recovering, still fumbling a bit with the jigsaw pieces of a life a now a little more puzzling, a little more amazing.

Advisory: This interview contains profanity.

On this week's All Songs +1 podcast, I'm taking the host chair usually occupied by Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton for a conversation with Danny Brown about the Detroit rapper's upcoming album, Atrocity Exhibition, his admiration for contemporaries like ScHoolBoy Q and what Brown calls his all-time favorite rap song, Nas' "The World Is Yours." In our talk, Brown also explains how he hooked up with South African singer/producer Petite Noir for the new song we're premiering in the podcast, "Rolling Stone."

Talk to nearly any classical music critic about heroes of the trade and one name usually comes up: Virgil Thomson. Anthony Tommasini of the New York Times advises: "Every practicing and aspiring critic today should read Thomson's exhilarating writings."

The songs Jillian Banks writes for her alt-pop alter-ego, BANKS, are spare, danceable and sometimes harrowing, as if the singer had decided to throw a party and invited only her darkest and most powerful thoughts. As she reveals to Jason King in the latest episode of NPR Music's series Noteworthy, she began writing music at 15 when she discovered a keyboard in her closet, and had the first of many artistic breakthroughs. "What the f***?" she says she remembers thinking. "Why didn't anyone tell me about this?"

There is life in the modular synth, which ripples and gurgles in ways that can feel human or otherwise. Sunergy brings together two synthesists of different generations for a stunning album that feels deeply conversational. Suzanne Ciani was a classically trained pianist before meeting musical inventor Don Buchla in the early '70s, radically altering her creative path.

There's not resting on your laurels, and then there's trying on new creative identities as soon as the old ones have begun to pay dividends. Jenn Wasner, best known as the singer and lead guitarist for Wye Oak, could have simply coasted through a long and fruitful career as one of rock's most gripping bandleaders, a shredder whose slurred and alluring vocals articulate a world of worry and self-discovery.

"I use the same voice I always have," Hamilton Leithauser sings in the chorus of "Sick As A Dog," and he's got a point: The former Walkmen frontman is instantly identifiable, whether he's singing with his old band, working as a solo artist or, in this case, recording with Vampire Weekend's Rostam Batmanglij under the name Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam.

Has any country artist made a more convincing case for the hipness of hillbilly sensibilities than Dwight Yoakam? He's built a singular career out of challenging the opposition between what's perceived as artless and rustic and what's seen as cultivated and citified.

Sometimes album titles really do say it all: A Loud Bash Of Teenage Feelings, the second full-length album by the Philly rock band Beach Slang, pulls off exactly what it promises.

In the mid-1960s, Larry Kane was a young, straight-arrow radio news guy who lucked into what had to be the greatest assignment in the history of rock: flying from show to show with The Beatles. Ron Howard's new documentary, Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, follows the band through their early years on tour. It also features Kane, the reporter who got to ride along when The Beatles traveled through the U.S. in 1964.

When you think of an orchestra, you're probably picturing refined woodwoods, brass, and strings. But one ensemble I recently met is made up mostly of kids who play instruments made out of literal trash. This is the Recycled Orchestra from Cateura, Paraguay, and their group is the subject of a new documentary film.

"Tupac wasn't cool."

It felt sacrilegious to even hear my brother say those words the other day, but I knew instantly that it was true.

David and I were little kids when Tupac Shakur died. That was 20 years ago. We were stunned by the drive-by in Las Vegas; the four gunshot wounds; Pac's death on Friday the 13th.

I'd called David because I wanted to remember why we were once so obsessed with the rap superstar.

Justin Trosper's creative arc is as jagged as it is long. Through the '90s, his band Unwound brought an extraordinary catalog of noisy, desperate music to life. When Trosper returned with Survival Knife in 2014, it was a thoughtful and loud exercise in "regular" rock 'n' roll that was anything but. His music is a study in unconventional rock that, at its edges, makes its own conventions.

There is a magical new film by Bill Morrison, who has has garnered love and accolades for his films that use archival footage to tell new stories.

His work has been shown around the world, recently as part of a mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Along with his use of found footage, Bill Morrison often teams up with modern composers. He's made films using music by Philip Glass, Harry Partch, Vijay Iyer and Bill Frisell which gives you an idea of his reach into both the world of classical, avant-garde and jazz.

From the terrifying adolescent witches of American Horror Story to teen tarot tutorials to mass hexings organized on social media, witchcraft is having a moment. The moniker once used to silence women by labeling them crazy has become a hip shorthand for feminine power. But in the new video for Tancred's "Pens" — a dark power-pop gem about feeling insane — there are no good witches.

Peter Gabriel's new video, for his song "The Veil," pays tribute to former CIA employee and whistleblower Edward Snowden. The video features footage from military training exercises, real-life combat images and surveillance tapes, mixed in among scenes from director Oliver Stone's new biopic Snowden. Snowden himself also makes a surprise appearance in Gabriel's video.

Since Angel Olsen's first album in 2010, she's carved out a smoky, country-flavored corner of the indie rock world for herself. Her distinctive voice delivers taut meditations on love and loneliness, sometimes with a shout and other times with more of a whisper. Her music earned her critical acclaim, but also a reputation as a tortured soul — one she wasn't really looking for.

The On-The-Road Education Of Lucy Dacus

Sep 13, 2016

Lucy Dacus needs another suitcase.

The gang's finally back together! And by gang we mean hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, who find themselves in the studio together for the first time in a month. With the summer break finally over, the two return with this week's essential mix, from both veteran artists and new discoveries.

Don't Google Sex Stains unless you add some keywords: Allison Wolfe, '90s riot grrrl, Bratmobile. Formed in L.A. a couple years ago with Wolfe and choreographer Mecca Vazie Andrews, plus former and current members of Warpaint and Prettiest Eyes, Sex Stains just released its self-titled debut. This is hilarious, raunchy, sneering feminist punk rock to inspire spastic dancing — and everyone else can just piss off.

It's tempting to assign personal signifiers to music once we acquire it and make it our own, and thus it remains an attractive goal of making music to create something that can hold all of that meaning. This is well-worn territory for Marching Church leader Elias Bender Rønnenfelt, whose other notable musical outlet, the punk band Iceage, issued its debut into a storm of social media hype and sideways questioning — a lot for a group of 18-year-olds to weather, and a proposition that bands of their kind from generations before did not need to endure.

On Sept. 13, 1996, Tupac Shakur died, six days after he was targeted in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. Twenty years later, Tupac has become a celebrated figure around the world. He's not only a lodestar of hip-hop, but a global cultural phenomenon.

There's a new album from Phish coming on Oct. 7, the band's 13th, titled Big Boat, and this news is always met with some conflicted opinions from fans. Throughout an impressive career that now spans 30 years (including a couple hiatuses -> breakups -> reunions along the way), Phish is still known best for its epic live performances rather than its albums. For at least a portion of the diehard concert-collecting fanbase, new songs are more of a refined framework for the lengthy improvisations to come.

Every so often, you run across a collection that opens up an entirely new way to think about an artist. Jack White's new, 26-track retrospective, which focuses on his unplugged, less raucous songs, does just that. The unreleased songs, album tracks and B-sides that make up Jack White Acoustic Recordings, 1998-2016 offer a fresh window onto the work of the creative, prolific rock musician.

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