Music

Music

Turnstile's music swirled just as much as it pounded, turning some of the stranger, studio-driven moments of its recent album Time & Space into a live-action stage match. As the band explored every inch of the worn hardwood at All Souls Unitarian Church in Northwest Washington, D.C., stirring up heart rates and exalting the moment, one body would jump from the stage and be immediately replaced by another, all in constant motion.

Liz Brasher is on the move big time. The raven-haired Memphis singer is currently on tour with Red Wanting Blue and raves are abounding. Brasher brought her band to WMOT Roots Radio on Feb. 28, where we filmed four songs in advance of her new EP Outcast, which is available April 27.

SET LIST

The results are in for the first-ever NPR Turning the Tables readers' poll, and they send a strong message to anyone fancying themselves a cultural justice warrior in 2018. It is this: check your intervention.

Reconsidering The King: Elvis In America

Apr 9, 2018

Elvis Presley’s reputation sways as much as his hips. He’s alternately the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, a megastar with big hits and an even larger life, or he’s a cultural thief who appropriated black music on his path to the top of the charts.

It would be easy to call Peach Kelli Pop's bright and frenetic music bubblegum or twee, but it would also be wrong. To refer to a song like "Hello Kitty Knife" this way removes the agency and intention that makes it so earnest. The first single off the band's upcoming fourth album Gentle Leader is at once a more maturely written song than previous work and a return to childhood.

Detroit based singer-songwriter and guitarist Anna Burch recently released Quit The Curse, her debut solo album. Burch, a longtime member of the folk-rock band Frontier Ruckus, has a musical change of pace and exudes a confident and breezy appreciation for indie-rock on the debut, written when she first moved to Detroit after finishing graduate school in Chicago.

Rhye: Tiny Desk Concert

Apr 9, 2018

It seemed only fitting that when Rhye performed the band's Tiny Desk Concert that it be at night, illuminated by flickering light. The music Mike Milosh sings and writes conjures the evening and a swaying, romantic vibe.

The Follow-Up

Apr 9, 2018

He walked into the restaurant with the pronounced limp of an old warrior, which he attributed to a bad back, and mentioned a history of self–medication with alcohol. A friend had given him a blister pack of steroids and a prescriptive anti-inflammatory that he examined as he slid into a booth at Threadgill's in south Austin, Texas. The thick head of hair had turned gray and the sloe-eyes drooped a little more. But that infectious smile remained, same as ever.

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

Kali Uchis has been practicing for her debut release since she was 18 years old. Shut in her room in suburban Virginia, Kali was making mixtapes and dreaming up treatments for imaginary music videos. The Colombian-born singer's major label debut Isolation, out now, is a tribute to overcoming heartache and being your own hero and an appreciation for the musical inspirations that have brought her to this moment.

Fresh Air Weekend highlights some of the best interviews and reviews from past weeks, and new program elements specially paced for weekends. Our weekend show emphasizes interviews with writers, filmmakers, actors and musicians, and often includes excerpts from live in-studio concerts. This week:

When Johnny Cash died almost 15 years ago, he left behind a treasure trove of unpublished poems and handwritten letters. The new album Johnny Cash: Forever Words, out now, immortalizes those words in music.

Some say the glass of 2018 is on-quarter empty; others say the glass is three-quarters full. We say, "Wow, we've had some incredible artists perform in 2018 on World Cafe and it's only April!" So cheers to them!

Nicholas Payton On Piano Jazz

Apr 6, 2018

Trumpeter Nicholas Payton has been hailed as one of the greatest musicians of his generation. A native of New Orleans, Payton learned the art of improvisation from Wynton Marsalis and as a teen performed with the late trumpet master Clark Terry.

Cecil Taylor, whose stunning and bravely unorthodox piano language made him one of the most important postwar American avant-gardists in any artistic medium, leaves more than a legacy of musical provocation after his death yesterday evening.

Jonathan Wilson is an incredibly talented and in-demand producer. He's worked with loads of folks, including Father John Misty, Dawes, Conor Oberst and Karen Elson — and that just scratches the surface.

Cecil Taylor encompasses a never-ending range of sound and emotion. On his way to the Piano Jazz studio in 1994, the avant-garde jazz pianist and his cab driver discovered that they went to the same high school, opening up a whirlwind of small worlds, and inspiring the improvised piece that opens this episode.

Sacha Jenkins was just a nine-year-old kid coming of age in Queens, New York when Blondie's "Rapture" broke big in 1981. An early harbinger of hip-hop's crossover appeal, it became the first song featuring rap vocals to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Today, rap regularly owns the top 10 and Jenkins, an O.G. even among the original generation of hip-hop journalists, has been documenting the culture from the inside out since its golden era.

When Carla Reyna was starting out in Monterrey's rough-and-tumble world of underground hip-hop, she stuck out far more than she fit in. Barely 5'6", she was a diminutive, light-skinned and queer teenager plunging into a bawdy and heavily masculine scene. Still, she often had more bluster than emcees twice her size — so much, in fact, that after she performed the first song she ever wrote, a girl approached her, practically entranced. "Why did you only do one song?" she asked. Reyna explained it was the only one she had, and the girl instructed her: "Make more!"

Bettye LaVette On Mountain Stage

Apr 6, 2018

Bettye LaVette has made four appearances on Mountain Stage since her re-emergence in popular music in 2003. She first recorded as a teenager during the birth of soul music in the 1960s, touring and performing alongside Otis Redding and The James Brown Revue.

For our final lullaby recording during South by Southwest 2018, we meet the London-based singer Nilüfer Yanya for her performance in the memory-filled world of Uncommon Objects. It's a shop in Austin, Texas dedicated to sentimental curiosities of a world gone by. With that in mind, the relatively new musician with a bright future tackles a tune about something old and familiar: fond memories overwhelmed by the pain of love gone wrong.

There is no one universe for Ben LaMar Gay, he just sonic booms from one sound to another. His solo debut, Downtown Castles Can Never Block the Sun, is really a patch-work of seven albums, recorded over seven years but never released. It moves from fuzz-caked weirdo-psych to mutant synth-funk to giddy electronics to progressive jazz at a seamless, whiplash-free warp speed.

For a lot of people, when they hear "fetch" and "Is butter a carb?" one thing comes to mind: Mean Girls. The 2004 movie was so influential that screenwriter Tina Fey and producer Lorne Michaels figured, why not a musical? Fourteen years later, it's opening on Broadway.

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton chats with NPR Music's Lars Gotrich, Tom Huizenga, Marissa Lorusso, Sidney Madden and Ann Powers about some of the best new albums dropping on Apr. 6, from the scorching punk of Norway's Dark Times to the mesmerizing cello drones of Clarice Jensen, rap phenom Cardi B, dance pop singer Kylie Minogue's country turn and much more.

Featured Albums

  • Dark Times: Tell Me What I Need
  • Christina Vantzou: No. 4
  • Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy

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