Music

Music

After a ten-year break, Grandaddy is back. The Modesto, Calif. band has signed with Danger Mouse's 30th Century Records and released two new songs, "Way We Won't" and "Clear Your History." The group has also officially announced a new full-length album coming sometime next year. It's the first new music from Grandaddy since 2006's Just Like The Fambly Cat. From the sound of the new songs, the band has lost nothing in the years since.

M.I.A. grew up in war-torn Sri Lanka, and later in public housing in London. She's made a career singing and speaking about the social justice issues around refugees and minorities.

Soul singer Allen Stone, the son of a preacher and a self-described hippie, hails from rural Washington. He's said Stevie Wonder is one of his biggest influences, and that's evident in a brand-new song he played live on KCRW, "Naturally."

SET LIST

  • "Naturally"

Photo by Dustin Downing/KCRW.

Nels Cline is unabashed about his love for sound. "I get a kind of fundamental, if not moronic, pleasure from sound as soon as it starts," he tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross. "Even in sound checks, once we start playing, I'm in the zone. I'm happy, because I like playing."

Ever since he left Rage Against The Machine in 2000, there have been rumors, false starts and complete scraps of Zack de la Rocha's debut solo album.

The Pretenders are back with the band's first new album in eight years, this time collaborating with The Black Keys' Dan Auerbach as producer. The album is called Alone, and the first single is a jangly pop cut with arpeggiated synths and quirky guitar riffs called "Holy Commotion!"

First Listen: Cymbals Eat Guitars, 'Pretty Years'

Sep 8, 2016

First Listen: Against Me!, 'Shape Shift With Me'

Sep 8, 2016

Two years ago, Against Me! released Transgender Dysphoria Blues, the band's first album since leader Laura Jane Grace came out as a transgender woman. Up to that point, the Florida band had become renowned for gritty, literate slices of life set to roaring folk-punk.

Review: Dawes, 'We're All Gonna Die'

Sep 8, 2016

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

First Listen: Jóhann Jóhannsson, 'Orphée'

Sep 8, 2016

One of the most enduring stories at the intersection of music and love is the Orpheus myth. The ancient Greek paragon of all-encompassing musical talent and fatalistic passion has inspired artists of all stripes in all eras.

Amanda Shires has a way of pausing over a note and pulling it in a few directions. Some have called this a warble, others a catch. In "Harmless," a dive-bar torch song from her new fourth album, My Piece of Land, Shires employs this instrument of indeterminacy while describing the beginning of a risky relationship: "Yea-a-ah," she intones after each phrase about spilling a drink or admiring this stranger's thunder-colored eyes.

As a 16-year-old, Pretty Yende was sitting with her parents in their rural South African home watching TV when a British Airways ad came on. As the sweet music swelled and voices intertwined, Yende was mesmerized. The only problem: She had no idea what to call the beautiful music she'd just heard.

When he first surfaced as a solo artist four or five years ago, singer and multi-instrumentalist K. Ishibashi specialized in piecing together an intricately looped sound, centered on violin samples he'd recorded live, cut to ribbons and re-purposed to head-spinning effect.

Keaton Henson can't help but make things. But, as he establishes throughout his new album Kindly Now, the English songwriter not only suffers for his art; he also seems to suffer because of it. In "The Pugilist," one of Kindly Now's many heartbreakers, Henson reveals the inner struggle he endures so that he can craft work that connects with others, and possibly last after he's gone.

The Head And The Heart On World Cafe

Sep 7, 2016

The Seattle band The Head and the Heart had major success with its second album, Let's Be Still, which came out on Sub Pop in 2013. Its folk-pop sound, superior harmonies and fine writing struck a chord with audiences and sent the band on the road for over a year.

First Watch: T-Rextasy, 'Gap Yr Boiz'

Sep 7, 2016

In T-Rextasy's new animated video for the song "Gap Yr Boiz," a female protagonist tries to deal with the boys who have broken her heart during that year-long break between high school and college.

When we invited William Bell to the Tiny Desk, we looked forward to witnessing part of a veteran soul hitmaker's journey back to the spotlight. Bell is known for writing and performing several of the R&B classics that emerged from Memphis' Stax Records in the 1960s, "You Don't Miss Your Water" and "Everybody Loves A Winner" among them.

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Brian Fallon starts to answer the question.

"It's funny, because..."

He trails off, and then tries again.

"And it... uh..."

He laughs.

Fallon has a solo record out. His band, The Gaslight Anthem, went on hiatus last year, and since then he's fathered a second child.

The question was about how having children changed him and his songwriting.

American Football's return to the studio was not just a surprise to those of us locked into the wistful, youthful feels of its 17-year-old debut album. It's also cause for reflection on what those feels mean now — for the band members about to enter their 40s, as well as for the fans who've grown in and out of them.

Asteriod Named For Queen's Freddie Mercury

Sep 7, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "DON'T STOP ME NOW")

QUEEN: (Singing) Having a good time. I'm a shooting star leaping through the sky like a tiger...

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

If you're like me, somewhere in your house you imagine there must be a pile of lost white iPhone earbuds. The pile is probably right next to the stack of single socks. It's one of several reasons I never liked wireless Bluetooth headphones. They're smaller and even easier to lose.

"It's just a dot of light, but it's a very special dot of light." That's how Queen guitarist Brian May describes the asteroid named for his late friend and bandmate Freddie Mercury.

Official designation: Asteroid 17473 Freddiemercury.

"Happy Birthday Freddie!" May wrote on Twitter. "They already named a planet after you, but this little ROCK is a bonus! ha ha."

Watch Ages And Ages, Live From A Portland Church

Sep 6, 2016

Known for handclaps, group harmonies and earnest, uplifting lyrics, the Portland, Ore., band Ages And Ages changes approaches slightly on its new album, Something To Ruin. The music is just as catchy, but the subject matter has taken a dark turn for the topical, delving into booming real-estate markets, consumerism and the impending Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake.

When we settled into the studio for this week's All Songs Considered, a clear theme quickly emerged: We had a whole lot of music by artists we already adore! This includes a rare acoustic demo by R.E.M., a glorious new electro-pop cut from Sylvan Esso, a heartbreaking tribute song from Sharon Van Etten and more.

A recent tweet from Philadelphia's Mannequin Pussy says "i appreciate heartbreak only because of how transformative it can be." That may as well be the thesis of the band's forthcoming album, Romantic, though you wouldn't necessarily know it from the record's sound: brawny punk with a fuzzy pop streak.

Copyright 2016 WBUR. To see more, visit WBUR.

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

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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Please welcome Miss Sharon Jones.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED BROADCAST)

World Cafe Next: LVL UP

Sep 5, 2016

The New York band LVL UP, whose four members met at SUNY Purchase, makes propulsive, experimental indie rock that sounds a little like Dinosaur Jr. with more pop melodies. The band is getting ready to release its third album, Return To Love, which comes out Sept. 23 on Sub Pop Records. LVL UP's two guitarists, Mike Caridi and Dave Benton, lead the way as the songs get louder and denser and turn unexpected corners. Hear two tracks at the audio link above.

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