Originally published on Fri December 27, 2013 9:08 am
Writer and critic Stephen Holden has covered everything from film to cabaret for The New York Times, as well as for TV programs such as 60 Minutes and 20/20. While he'd hoped to become a pop singer in his adolescence, Holden later embraced poetry and was published in The New Yorker.
Music remained a passion for Holden and became a key subject of his writing. He covered the singer-songwriter explosion of the 1970s, and his 1980 satirical novel Triple Platinum was based on his experiences as a journalist and executive with RCA.
Originally published on Fri February 22, 2013 3:39 pm
At some point, a long string of colorful adjectives doesn't accomplish much for any band. "Hypnogogic math-pop," "blackened uber-popadelica," "avant seapunk-rap" — it all gets a little silly. Metal, or at least the folks who describe it, often falls into this trap, present company included. Exhibit A: the second album from Richmond's Inter Arma. Sky Burial ingests several forms of metal, but the goal is demonstrable heft. Maybe you should just listen to its opening track first; it's called "The Survival Fires."
After a nine-year hiatus, the venerable rock band Camper Van Beethoven has returned with its eighth studio album, La Costa Perdida. Thematically, the record revolves around midlife nostalgia and the group's California roots.
I first saw Cat Martino at the best concert of my life. It was the summer of 2011 and Sufjan Stevens was performing at Celebrate Brooklyn. But within the spectacle -– a troupe of maybe a dozen performers on stage — was a singer and dancer named Cat Martino. I know that because a number of my friends at the show knew Cat and were screaming her name at the top of their lungs.
Originally published on Sat February 23, 2013 4:08 pm
Every year around this time, all four members of the All Songs Considered roundtable gang (Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Ann Powers and me) each dredge through more than 1,000 MP3s by bands playing the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. We base our coverage and festival schedules on the music we've researched in advance — and have found some of our favorite artists, like Kishi Bashi in 2012, as part of these blind pre-fest taste tests — and this year, we want to be sure we're considering yours.
Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 7:28 pm
Erin McKeown's new album, Manifestra, is a self-released, fan-funded vehicle for some of her personal and political folk-rock songs. She collaborated with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow for "Baghdad to the Bayou" — Maddow wrote the words, which McKeown then fashioned into a song — while "In God We Trust," "The Politician" and "The Jailer" find the singer speaking out about the death penalty, foreign policy and income inequality.
Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 7:24 pm
NPR Music will present and webcast a "First Listen Live" concert from Josh Ritter and the Royal City Band on Monday, March 4, beginning at 8 p.m. ET in the intimate New York City venue (Le) Poisson Rouge. Josh Ritter and his band will play most of his new album, The Beast in Its Tracks.
Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 1:48 pm
Paul Thorn is perhaps the "second most famous singer from Tupelo, Mississippi," as he likes to say (a man named Elvis is first). Thorn writes about his Southern upbringing on his autobiographical ninth album, Pimps & Preachers. On the album, he sings about lessons learned from his mentors, including his Pentecostal minister father and his uncle, who pursued more licentious means of employment.