Music

Music

After months of well-sourced rumors, the streaming service Napster (formerly known as Rhapsody) and another source have confirmed to NPR that Prince's records under Warner Bros. — which include the epochal classics 1999, Purple Rain, Dirty Mind, and Sign o' the Times — will be available to stream this Sunday, the day of the 59th Grammy Awards.

As the company wrote: "The rumors are true ... music fans rejoice!"

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Bless the salon, for it is a holy place of renewal and tiny dogs. For "We Should Be Friends" off last year's excellent The Weight Of These Wings, Miranda Lambert hits up Wanda's House of Beauty to get her hair done and, perhaps in a nod to Legally Blonde, give her some life.

All manner of differences can seem like unbridgeable chasms in a social and political climate like this one, but East Texas singer-songwriter Sunny Sweeney happens to be quite practiced at bridging divides.

Combining their formal jazz training with their love of hip-hop, the members of the Canadian quartet BadBadNotGood have carved out a niche all their own. Fellow Toronto native Charlotte Day Wilson joined them in KCRW's studio for a performance of "In Your Eyes," a favorite from the band's latest release, IV.

Set List

  • "In Your Eyes"

Photo: Spencer C. Amonwatvorakul/KCRW.

Sean Rowe's voice, a room-rattling baritone, demands attention. The stories he tells with it are portraits that feel simple on the surface... they never are. Within "Gas Station Rose," Sean Rowe is on the road with a partner, they have each other, not much else. Even this little scene is filled with tension:

When the Los Angeles-based rock group Giant Drag released it's debut full-length, Hearts And Unicorns, in 2005, fans were immediately taken by frontwoman Annie Hardy's playful and fearless crush of the innocent into the profane. She intentionally subverted her image - pigtails with large, bashful eyes and an almost childlike voice - with brawny guitar noise and provocative songs like "You're Full of S*** (Check Out My Sweet Riffs)" and "YFLMD." (I'll let you look up that second one).

Our relationships with and access to music lie between rocks and hard places; the rocks that own it, the hard places that distribute it to us. Those relationships are constantly evolving, and to figure out what might come next, we've combed through the recent earnings statements of some of the largest record labels and tech companies to reveal how they're preparing for 2017 and beyond.

M.I.A. still does not want to be your pop icon, thank you very much. Over a hyper-cut sample of "Blue Moon" by The Marcels, she sings, "I'm not Rihanna / I'm not Madonna / I'm not Mariah, or Ariana."

"The greatest stories ask the biggest questions," budding animation artist Alex Sopp replied when I asked about the video she's created for "Sunset Boulevard," a song from First, the upcoming album by the new music sextet yMusic.

When Uncle Tupelo splintered into two bands back in 1994, both offshoots seemed primed for more or less equal success. After all, Uncle Tupelo had always balanced two distinct singing and songwriting voices, and both were held in similarly high esteem at the time.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Debuts

Feb 8, 2017

Listen to the sounds of musicians making their first appearances on Thistle & Shamrock. Artists featured on the show come from both sides of the Atlantic and include The Katie McNally Trio, Connla, Liza Mulholland and more.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Guster On Mountain Stage

Feb 8, 2017

Over the last 20 years, the Boston band Guster has grown from its bongos-and-acoustic-guitars, college-radio roots into a word-of-mouth sensation backed by infectious melodies and eclectic gusto. (That much is evident when the band's drummer exuberantly plays the trombone during this live performance of "Never Coming Down.")

As part of our celebration of Black History Month and Afro-Latino culture, we turn this week to how the influence of Africa has been interpreted in various Latin and Caribbean cultures. The music of West Africa, where a majority of those enslaved in the Americas came from, was diffused through both an indigenous and Spanish filter to become the distinct sounds and rhythms that we know today.

Drake has topped the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry's (IFPI) annual list of best-selling artists worldwide, earning the umbrella group's "Global Recording Artist of the Year" award, buoyed in large part by the success of his 2016 album Views.

David Bowie, who died on January 10, 2016 just two days after the release of Blackstar, came in second on the IFPI's list. Prince, the list's other "legacy" artist, was ninth. The list tabulates all forms of sales, physical and digital, as well as sales from the entire catalog of the artists named.

The band is back together. This Is Spinal Tap's three stars and director have united to sue the movie's owner for $400 million.

Ron Gallo On World Cafe

Feb 7, 2017

Ron Gallo, who fronts the garage-rock band RG3, is from Nashville — sort of. Gallo moved to Music City in 2014, shortly after his Philadelphia band, Toy Soldiers, ended an eight-year run. Attracted by the emerging rock scene in Nashville, he picked up and moved south.

February isn't exactly the best month, what with all the cold weather, limited daylight, copious awards shows, New England Patriots Super Bowl victories, and Valentine's Day. So you'd be forgiven for thinking, "The only thing that could truly articulate my pain is a band in which puppets sport eyeliner and sing a song called "I Am Sad And So Am I."

Everything about the long-running Rockabye Baby! music series sparks a smile. On its surface alone the project, which turns hits by Black Sabbath, Prince and other pop and rock artists into tinkling lullabies, is pure comedy, mining the gulf between Iron Maiden and a pacifier. But it's also notable for how fully realized and deftly orchestrated these cover songs are.

Japan's current psychedelic scene honors its roots – from the motorcycle guitar-rock of Les Rallizes Dénudés and High Rise to the still-running and unpinnable Acid Mothers Temple – but also puts a premium on meditative transcendence.

Some of the most powerful pop songs have a tendency to feel deceptive. An ascending melody can cloak sorrow; the most danceable hooks can act as odes to heartbreak or loss. Behind Charly Bliss frontwoman Eva Grace Hendricks' saccharine singing are moments of real intimacy, though they're not nearly as sweet as she makes them sound.

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