Music

Music

The transporting music of Exitmusic is so grandiose, so romantically rich, it could easily envelop a concert hall or cavernous church. It's a beautifully buzzing mix of distorted guitars, synth pads and sparse electronic beats, all of which intermingle around Aleksa Palladino's alluring, heartsick voice like a swarm of bees in your chest.

The Mix: The Sound Of Your American Dream

Jul 1, 2012

A few weeks ago, we asked you what your American Dream sounds like.

Barring a massive shake-up of the Billboard charts — and American tastes — "Little Mistakes" will not be the song of the summer. But that's not for lack of trying.

The song is the lead single off Brick and Mortar, the latest album by Watershed — a band from Columbus, Ohio, that most people have never heard of. But they have been playing dingy bars, tiny clubs and even the occasional arena for 27 years.

That career has inspired a new memoir called Hitless Wonder: A Life in Minor League Rock and Roll, written by one of the band's founders, Joe Oestreich.

Metric: A Rock Band Declares Independence

Jun 30, 2012

Metric has long been identified as an indie-rock band, but it recently embraced the "indie" part of that descriptor in a big way.

For their last album together, the band's members formed their own company — Metric Music International — to distribute the record, organize a tour and handle promotion without a label's support. The result was the biggest album of Metric's career: Fantasies sold half a million copies worldwide.

Shawn Colvin, All Fall Down, Feature CD, July 6

Jun 30, 2012

Nonesuch Records has just released the new Shawn Colvin album, All Fall Down. A collection of 11 songs, All Fall Down is Colvin's eighth studio album and the first to be produced by her longtime friend and cohort Buddy Miller (Robert Plant, Solomon Burke). Recorded in Nashville, with a group of stellar musicians, All Fall Down features performances by Alison Krauss, Emmylou Harris, Jakob Dylan, Bill Frisell,Viktor Krauss, Brian Blade, Stuart Duncan, and Julie Miller, among others.

Jukebox The Ghost In Concert

Jun 29, 2012

"The Germans can't pronounce it," Jukebox the Ghost says of its name, which its members admit is "impossible to say." The trio came together while attending George Washington University in Washington, D.C., when the drummer and keyboardist responded to a flyer the guitarist had posted in the school's music department. The trio initially performed under the name The Sunday Mail, but after a few years decided that a new identity was in order.

Wye Oak's Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack combine to form a huge-sounding, full-blooded rock band, with the former blustering epically on guitar and the latter multitasking on drums and keyboards. Moody and portentous, the Baltimore duo's songs billow menacingly when they're not booming majestically, aided and shrouded by Wasner's enigmatic mumble.

On June 19, a week and a half ago, Fiona Apple released a brand new album, her first in seven years. The entire album had been available for streaming by NPR Music for a week and a half by then. Three days later, my copy arrived in the mail. It hasn't left my desk since.

I still haven't listened to it.

Reignwolf: A One-Man Rock Show

Jun 29, 2012

The way he was tearing it up during an impromptu set at the Sasquatch Music Festival, you'd barely notice that Jordan Cook, a.k.a. Reignwolf, broke a string midway through his fiery rendition of "In the Dark" — that is, until you saw the mangled remnants of his guitar, smoldering on the ground after he'd wrenched every wailing chord from its guts.

John Lydon On World Cafe

Jun 28, 2012

Though John Lydon remains best known as Johnny Rotten, former lead singer of The Sex Pistols, his music career didn't end with the pioneering punk act's split in 1978. Lydon formed Public Image Ltd shortly thereafter and dropped his adopted stage name. Widely considered the first post-punk band, PiL experiments with a wide palette of sounds, including dub, rock and disco.

Call JD McPherson's style a throwback if you like, but don't mistake it for novelty. The former punk rocker and middle-school art teacher crafts a raw and energetic blend of jump blues, rockabilly and early rock 'n' roll on his debut album Signs & Signifiers, recording to 1/4 tape on analog equipment. Still, McPherson is as likely to cite The Smiths or Wu-Tang Clan as influences as he is Little Richard or Ruth Brown.

Second Stage: Vows, 'Winter's Grave'

Jun 28, 2012

Vows' debut album Winter's Grave arrived to NPR folded carefully in a worn piece of paper xeroxed with hand-drawn artwork. True to it's packaging, Winter's Grave is delicately hand-crafted rather then sloppily home-spun.

Vows is a dreamy, atmospheric band with pop sensibilities from a small town in New Jersey. The album's title track has a satisfying blend of enchanting and eerie sounds. It opens with a vibrant riff that rattles over synth keys but slips into dissonant, creepy organ sounds.

Attention fans of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros, Mumford & Sons and Old Crow Medicine Show: You are bound for glory! Big Easy Express is a new film featuring all three bands and their whistle-stop journey from Oakland to New Orleans aboard a vintage train.

We're a few weeks and a few polls into our summer search for the albums everyone can love, and so far the results have challenged some of our long-held assumptions. Most of you have never heard Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova's soundtrack to the film Once (we thought it was wildly popular).

"These ideas of mine / percolate the mind," Fiona Apple sings in "Every Single Night," the song that opens her new album, The Idler Wheel Is Wiser Than the Driver of the Screw and Whipping Cords Will Serve You More Than Ropes Will Ever Do. Some people are going to listen to the entire record and come away with the feeling that the percolation in Apple's mind has bubbled over like a coffee pot left on a stove too long. But for me and perhaps for you, Apple's bubbling thoughts, words and music are thrilling — eager and direct, heedless about being judged or misunderstood.

This week on All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton offer sneak previews of some of the summer's most anticipated releases.

There are as many ways to interpret someone else's song as there are to write one yourself, but covers needn't play out as complex deconstructions or intellectual exercises. Covers can be simple celebrations — a way of saying, "Damn, I wish this were my song."

I fell in love with Bruce Springsteen for his swagger. It was ridiculous and offered so much hope. Here was a bony dude with the worst haircut ever, who wore T-shirts covered in holes — seriously, he looked like the fry cook at the amusement park where I worked as a counter girl in the summer — making music as big as the known universe.

The Mix: 100 Essential Noise Pop Songs

Jun 25, 2012

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Dr. Dog On World Cafe

Jun 25, 2012

The Philadelphia pop-rock band Dr. Dog has continued to get better since forming in the early 2000s. The group's seven albums of layered psychedelia are deeply influenced by the best of '60s pop, adding up to a sound that's both timeless and classic.

Next year will mark the 20th anniversary of Siamese Dream, the second album by The Smashing Pumpkins and the one, along with 1995's Melon Collie and the Infinite Sadness, that broke the band into the mainstream and spawned its most lasting hits.

Sonny Landreth’s 11th album, bearing the fittingly evocative title Elemental Journey, is something very different from the Louisiana slide wizard. Released on his own Landfall label, the new CD is Landreth’s first all-instrumental effort and his most adventurous work to date. Sonny will be in the region, performing at the Taos Solar Music Festival over the weekend.

A Summer With Fun.

Jun 23, 2012

Fun. is in the middle of quite a run. For six weeks this spring, the band had the No. 1 song in the country with "We Are Young," an anthemic pledge of drunken solidarity that has appeared in countless commercials and TV shows, and dominated radio playlists and sales charts since March (it's still in the top five).

"Why music?" It comes off like a Philosophy 101 essay question at first, but the more I twist my head around it, the more it causes a volcanic hurl of thought: Why do I love music? Why do I write about it? Why do I care what other people write about it? Do I love a song for the story or for itself? Does that matter? What if I go deaf? Am I going to miss my deadline?

For Family Band's Kim Krans, music and visual imagery are inexorably intertwined as means of expressing a dark, delicate vision. Recording with her guitarist husband Jonny Ollsin as Family Band, she's crafted a beautifully unsettling ballad in "Night Song," but it's almost difficult to imagine hearing it without the visuals she created for its video:

Metric In A Non-Synthetic Situation

Jun 20, 2012

In a matter of minutes, Metric singer Emily Haines and guitarist James Shaw went from rocking in front of thousands of fans on the main stage of the Sasquatch Music Festival to hiking through a rumored thicket of rattlesnakes overlooking the Columbia River. The duo gamely made the trek for an acoustic performance of "Synthetica," the title track from Metric's new record.

The results are in and it turns out most of you who voted in our mid-year poll really love Jack White's explosive and eclectic Blunderbuss. But the race was close: White's album beat-out the Alabama Shakes record Boys & Girls by less than 25 votes. Beach House's Bloom, one of the most popular records ever in our First Listen series, came in at third. The Shins' Port Of Morrow and Of Monsters And Men's My Head Is An Animal round out the top five.

Back in March, former All Songs intern Dan Raby used this space to sing the praises of Montreal singer-songwriter JBM, a.k.a. Jesse B. Marchant, whose deliberately paced folk-pop hangs on the lingering empty spaces between notes.

There's more than one way to qualify as a "guitar band": You can shred, sure, or you can lay down layer upon layer of guitars to weave an intricate tapestry. For Diiv — yes, the group was once called "Dive," and yes, it's from Brooklyn — guitars dominate, but as warm, chiming mood-setters.

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