Music

Music

Singer Alynda Segarra has tried on a lot of identities. She grew up in the Bronx in a Puerto Rican family, and her aunt and uncle raised her in what almost sounds like a time capsule.

Stephen Bruner is a bass player, singer and songwriter who's as well known for his own music as for his collaborations. But when he released his latest solo single as Thundercat few weeks ago, those who know his work with Kendrick Lamar were scratching their heads. Here was a fiery visionary collaborating with two icons of easygoing '70s pop: Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald.

For tens of millions in the Northeast, the name of the hour is "Stella" — as in Winter Storm Stella, the Weather Channel-branded nor'easter poised to bring heavy snowfall to a number of cities along the I-95 corridor. I'm among those who will soon be hunkering down (and later, shoveling out), but my first involuntary response is to start humming a familiar melody.

This story was updated on March 14 at 4:35 PM.

Last Friday afternoon, a controversy erupted about the Italian post-punk band Soviet Soviet, who were denied entrance to the United States on Wednesday and detained overnight before being deported back to Italy.

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The 1970s may be the baby-boomer generation's musical sweet spot, at least according to the principle that you'll always love the music you first heard when you were 17. But there is also a pretty good argument that a lot of musical innovation and stylistic coming-of-age happened in those 10 years.

That's why World Cafe has put together our first "That '70s Week." All the music we'll play on air this week comes from that golden decade, and we've dug into the archives for these sessions with artists whose work in the '70s still stands out.

Red Baraat's fusion of bhangra, go-go, hip-hop and jazz is driven by frontman Sunny Jain's percolating playing of the dhol, a double-sided drum which forms the rhythmic lattice of support for their boisterous horns and guitar. And though Red Baraat graced the Tiny Desk five years ago, we had to have Jain's band back to celebrate Holi, the Hindu festival of color, of good over evil, and the coming of spring.

Joni Sledge of the group Sister Sledge, best known for the iconic disco 1979 anthem We Are Family, has died at 60.

The group's publicist, Biff Warren, said Sledge was found at home in Arizona and they have yet to determine a cause of death. She had not been ill, he said.

The Shins released their first critically acclaimed album, Oh, Inverted World, way back in 2001 — and were catapulted into the public ear when a song from that album appeared as a plot line in the 2004 movie Garden State. The world has changed in the years since the group rose to be recognized as one of the biggest indie rock acts of the 21st century.

During his Blonded radio show on Apple's digital radio stream last night, Frank Ocean dropped his first new music since the release of Blonde last August with the gauzy, contemplative "Chanel." Also, "Chanel." And "Chanel." An hour of "Chanel."

The Velvet Underground and Nico, released 50 years ago tomorrow (there is actually some disagreement on the exact date), is the definitive way-ahead-of-its-time album. With a near-peerless collection of songs — nearly all written by frontman Lou Reed — and an iconic, banana-sticker cover designed by band benefactor Andy Warhol, this jarring and innovative collection was initially a cult success at best, with no hit singles and a "peak" of No. 171 on Billboard's albums chart in December 1967.

Japandroids, the two-piece Canadian rock duo known for its epic sound, just released its third album, Near to the Wild Heart of Life. Singer/guitarist Brian King heard that phrase years ago and traced its origin to a line in James Joyce's novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

This story was updated on March 12 at 12:01 PM.

Friday afternoon, the Italian trio Soviet Soviet posted a lengthy statement on Facebook explaining why it would not be keeping its U.S. tour dates this week and next: It had been deported.

Valerie June releases her new album, The Order Of Time, Friday. It's the follow-up to her 2013 breakout album, Pushin' Against A Stone, which was produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys. June was influenced by the church, family members and the music of Memphis, where she grew up and first began performing.

Today, Hurray for the Riff Raff unleashes The Navigator. Laura Marling unravels Semper Femina. Valerie June contemplates The Order Of Time.

While we patiently await the follow-up to 2014's brash and bubbly pop smash Sucker — "Boom Clap" is still bedazzled on our hearts — Charli XCX has released a mixtape ahead of her as-yet-untitled third album. Over 10 tracks, Number 1 Angel plays out like a pop diary of the London songwriter's past few years, indulging in the margins of slinky R&B, hip-hop and bizzaro electro-pop. But it's also just a really stellar group of songs, tossed out like she hasn't written more pop hits.

This year's winner of the Australian Music Prize marks an important milestone in Australia's musical history. The winning album — Reclaim Australia, by the hip-hop duo A.B. Original — is the first in the prize's 12 years to have been made by indigenous artists.

"Heathen," the new single from London band Colouring, is about believing. Specifically, it's about believing in love — or, more accurately, romanticism, following your heart even when the odds are stacked against you. But it's also about believing in each other, even when it feels like we've lost ourselves. Frontman Jack Kenworthy wrote it last fall in a state of Brexit-Trump shock, and says he felt paralyzed, powerless and frustrated by a lack of control.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of what many consider Elliott Smith's best album, Either/Or. To mark the occasion, Kill Rock Stars is releasing an expanded version of the late singer's record, with remastered versions of the original songs, live recordings and previously unreleased bonus tracks.

Few records this year, so far, are as wondrous, pointed and odd as Mary Ocher's The West Against The People. Produced with Faust's Hans Joachim Irmler, there is a dreamy motorik groove that guides some tracks — especially those with percussion duo Your Government — but the album reaches across synth-pop, psych-rock, folk and ambient music with an obsidian glaze.

Joey DeFrancesco On Piano Jazz

Mar 10, 2017

Joey DeFrancesco was only 20 years old when he was Marian McPartland's guest on Piano Jazz. Hailed as the new hero of the organ, his stint with Miles Davis brought the classically trained keyboardist national attention. He has since gone on to release more than 30 albums and has earned multiple Grammy nominations.

Camae Ayewa, who records under the name Moor Mother, doesn't waste time. The Philly-based artist and agitator stuffs every moment of her densely packed, combative songs with unease and piercing static — that she doesn't allow listeners a moment of peace or rest can only be part of the point.

Out of over 6,000 entries — more submissions than we've ever received — Tank And The Bangas won, unanimously, this year's Tiny Desk Contest. I fully expected their victory performance here at NPR headquarters in D.C. to be celebratory. I didn't know we'd all end up in tears.

David Bowie's website announced Thursday a limited-edition release of two rarities from the rock icon's vault: Cracked Actor, a three-LP live record of a Los Angeles show from 1974 mixed by longtime Bowie studio collaborator Tony Visconti, as well as a reissue of a small-pressing EP of Bowpromo from 1971, which contained alternate mixes of songs from Hunky Dory.

Earl Johnson II didn't grow up dreaming about becoming a famous singer: For a long time, he didn't even know he could sing. He discovered his talent almost by accident one night, at the recording studio he was working in as a producer.

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