We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the aluminum-siding pamphlets disguised as jury summons is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a blistering rebuttal of last week's column.
Queens Of The Stone Age is one of the best rock bands working today, with a diverse and unpredictable catalog dating back to the '90s. Southern California native Josh Homme and his talented collaborators recently treated a small studio audience in Santa Monica to a full-on assault of sweat-inducing guitar riffs and head-banging drums from their new hit album ...Like Clockwork.
It's one thing for an artist to talk about his failures — that's easy fodder for a good song — but art at its best incites positive change. "Sigh A While," this song from Boston's Kingsley Flood, is written to inspire. Kingsley Flood's Naseem Khuri says this tune is about the failures in all of us, and in particular about the patterns we can fall into. "I wrote the song about a friend who for years assured me he'd quit his job and change the world with his art," Khuri writes in an email. "We were driving around in his beat-up car one day and he was making the same promises.
Originally published on Mon January 27, 2014 2:41 pm
Jucifer is an odd bird among the droning doom crowd: It's likely to splinter speakers one minute, yet lull you into a false sense of security with a folksy pop song the next. But live, Jucifer is a total body experience — a non-stop, 45-minute HULK OUT of down-tuned distortion deeper than the Mariana Trench.
This week on All Songs Considered, Bob's so sure Robin will love a new song by the Australian rock band Pond that he lays down five dollars on the table. Then another challenge: Can Bob identify the collaborator on the new, mostly instrumental album by Arcade Fire violinist Sara Neufeld? Can you? Plus: Who made the right choice?
The 33-year-old frontman of Robert Randolph & The Family Band has strong roots in gospel music. As a kid, he grew up attending the House of God church in Orange, N.J. That's where he first played the "sacred steel" guitar, a driving force behind the band's soulful new album, Lickety Split.
In the 1920s, African-American Pentecostal churches began using the steel guitar in place of an organ. From there, it became an instrument that helped usher in a new gospel style.
Originally published on Thu August 8, 2013 5:38 am
Last Thursday Mark Arm was on the top of the Space Needle; two days later, he was riding around in a golf car full of trash. Truth in criticism: I never actually saw the Mudhoney singer in the vehicle to which his name was affixed (the sign read: "MR. ARM") scooting around the streets of Georgetown, the Seattle industrial neighborhood where Sub Pop Records held its Silver Jubilee mini-festival on Saturday. But I did see it hauling recyclables and getting stopped by numerous concertgoers snapping phone photos.
Originally published on Wed August 28, 2013 6:59 am
The next album from the Austin, Texas, band Okkervil River will tell the childhood tale of its lead singer and songwriter Will Sheff, a self-described awkward, nearsighted, asthmatic kid growing up the small town of Meriden, N.H. The music on The Silver Gymnasium, out on Sept. 3, is some of Okkervil River's best, and you can hear it all beginning Aug. 26 as part of our First Listen program. For now, here's a first taste: the premiere of the song "Down Down the Deep River."