Music

Music

Bring on the tequila for this one.

There's nothing all that novel about covering a fizzy pop song as if it were a slow, bluesy dirge — any more than it's novel to cover a ballad as if it were a speedball punk jam. Radical transformations aren't radical in and of themselves.

This is likely the quietest Tiny Desk Concert ever.

From the first second, The Stevens sets us up for a letdown. In "Chancer," the Melbourne band assures us it's going to be a joyous and heartbreaking ride, a haze of indie-pop bliss defined by its sloping guitars. The song flirts with optimism as it moves upward without ever reaching a landing, creating a tension that power-pop has always known to be true: Darkness is best served deceptively, through happy sounds and complicated sentiment.

Glen Hansard's career includes a brilliant quarter-century with his rock band The Frames, a fruitful foray into statelier folk-pop with The Swell Season and, most recently, a pair of elegant, deliberately paced solo albums.

The first time I saw Christopher Paul Stelling his face was red and his eyes were wide, singing as if he were about to burst apart, as if he had so much to tell us and too little time, as if his mind was racing faster than his tongue could keep up with. He's a singer with the spirit of Woody Guthrie both deep within and showing on his sleeve. Stelling has a new collection of songs he has titled Itinerant Arias, which he says "sounds a lot better than 'travelin' songs,'" but that's exactly what they are. Songs which have in common no single origin, or sense of place.

The owner of the Pulse Nightclub, the site of the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, has announced plans to turn it into a memorial and museum to commemorate the tragic event.

"This must and will be a healing initiative, one that I believe will inspire supporters who share our vision and understand the sacred responsibility to which we have been entrusted," Barbara Poma told reporters on Thursday at the Pulse nightclub site.

Sylvan Esso has finally released a follow-up to its hugely successful debut. What Now captures the anxiety and excitement the dynamic duo feels at moving forward and features one of its best songs yet, "Radio."

SET LIST

  • "Radio"

Photo by Brian Feinzimer/KCRW.

Ruby Amanfu is a treasured member of Nashville's creative community and a star on the rise. Born in Ghana, she moved with her family to Nashville when she was 3; her musical gifts emerged soon after.

Since I see a lot of live music, I'm often asked to recommend concerts worth shelling out money for. So, starting today and hopefully each week to come, I'm going to take some time to tell you about the inspired shows I've recently seen. I'll post my photographs from the concerts and tour links when available, to assist in steering you towards events you might not think to check out.

Conductor Gustavo Dudamel — one of the most famous Venezuelans in the world today and one of the world's most prominent classical musicians — issued an open letter today to the president and government in his native country.

Long reticent to address politics directly, he has published his comments in a letter titled "Levanto Mi Voz / I Raise My Voice," in both Spanish and English. (The full text is below, in both languages.)

Yesterday, former President Barack Obama and former first lady Michelle Obama unveiled ambitious architectural plans for the Obama Presidential Center, a three-building complex slated for completion in 2021, to be located in the Jackson Park neighborhood on Chicago's South Side.

Here at the World Cafe studios, we have a bunch of different microphones for artists to use when they come in to perform. The other day, our senior producer, Kimberly Junod, pulled out one that had been used a couple weeks ago — and it was covered in face paint, lipstick and glitter. She showed it to the rest of us and said, "Give you one guess who used this last."

One week ago around this time, thousands of people seeking a luxurious island reprieve were preparing for a trip to Exuma Island in the Bahamas to attend the Fyre Festival.

When the reunited LCD Soundsystem played five nights at Brooklyn Steel in early April, the band brought along two new songs, delighting a legion of dedicated followers who have been clamoring for new material. Well, now James Murphy and company will release those songs at midnight — "and I mean, literally, midnight," he writes in a lengthy post on Facebook (embedded below). "Wherever you are.

Put them together, and singer Yael Shoshana Cohen and multi-instrumentalist Gil Landau mount a charm offensive powerful enough to knock down some pretty sturdy defenses. Performing as Lola Marsh, the Israeli musicians distill their sound down to a small set of spare, ingratiating ingredients. In the case of "Wishing Girl," those building blocks are simple but potent: a whistled hook, Landau's briskly strummed ukulele and Cohen's voice, which dispenses sweetly plainspoken lines like, "You are my lonely star / And I'm, I'm your wishing girl."

We project ourselves into space, even if most of us will never rocket out of orbit in our lifetime.

With tensions rising over North Korea's nuclear program, you might expect panic in South Korea — air raid drills or schoolchildren climbing under their desks, Cold-War-style.

But I found an altogether different scene in the capital, Seoul, when I arrived last week: parade floats and pop music.

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.

Someone has made some surprisingly sweet lemonade out of the lemon that was Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton's email scandal.

The video mashes up soundbites from Clinton and FBI Director James Comey and pairs them with Auto-Tune to construct a really catchy pop song.

A warning before you press play: Because of the way the Streamable.com embed works, this video will loop until you tell it to stop ... which might be a while.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Singer-Songwriters

May 3, 2017

The talented songwriters featured in this week's show take us on a tour around the landscapes that inspire their music. Hear music by Battlefield Band, Bert Jansch, Áine Furey and more.

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

"Mom" is one of the most powerful words in any language, able to provoke profoundly emotional reactions from nearly everyone who hears it, from intense love to, well, the extreme opposite of that.

A second lawsuit against the Fyre Festival could be a warning for the growing industry of "grassroots" social media marketing. A putative class action suit filed yesterday in Los Angeles Superior Court on behalf of three festival attendees names the organizers of the festival as well as 100 unknown (Jane) "Does," the "influencers" that made up Fyre's marketing keystone.

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