Music

Music

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Music critic Milo Miles has a review of a new album by Mahalia Jackson called "Moving On Up A Little Higher." It contains 22 never-released tracks from the 1940s and '50s, when Jackson became the most famous gospel singer in the world. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THERE'S BEEN A GREAT CHANGE IN ME") MAHALIA JACKSON: (Singing) And there's a great change in me, great change in me. I am so happy. I am so free ...

The new album from the experimental rock band Negativland comes with a plastic bag containing 2 grams of Don Joyce's cremated remains. Joyce, a member of the group, died of heart failure in 2015. According to an official announcement on Boing Boing , the band's forthcoming album, The Chopping Channel , will ship with little bags of Joyce's ashes for as long as "supplies last." "Thank you for reading about all of our deaths over the past year and a half!" the band says in an official statement...

For as much as the election has dominated the news this year, the political cycle hasn't invaded the world of All Songs Considered . But this week we've got a remarkable cut by the band EL VY that's all about Donald Trump. "Are These My Jets?" is from 30 Days, 30 Songs , an online compilation album that features a new song by a new artist every day for the final thirty days leading up to the election. (For the record, NPR is not endorsing any candidate. We just like the song!) A couple of...

After much criticism around last year's round of '70s rockers and no women, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its nominees for the class of 2017 this morning, which include first-time nominees Tupac Shakur , Pearl Jam , Bad Brains , Joan Baez and Depeche Mode . Shakur, who died 20 years ago and has been the focus of many legacy pieces in recent months, was nominated in his first year of eligibility and would be the sixth hip-hop artist to be admitted to the hall. Like Shakur, Pearl Jam...

If you're tempted to think crunchy electric guitars and pop-punk choruses about heartbreak are the domain of emotional bros, the music of Lisa Prank is a convincing reminder that's not the case. Robin Edwards' one-woman pop-punk project juxtaposes catchy cuteness with vulnerable, relatable honesty and just enough tongue-in-cheek humor. Even the charming, cartoony album art for Adult Teen — Lisa Prank's full-length follow-up to 2014's Crush On The World — manages to combine girlishness and...

Today, Chuck Berry turns 90. And today, the man who helped define rock 'n' roll celebrates by announcing his first album in 38 years. The album is simply called CHUCK, and it features a hometown backing band that includes his children Charles Berry Jr. on guitar and Ingrid Berry on harmonica, along with his bassist for nearly 40 years, Jimmy Marsala. The album was recorded in Berry's hometown of St. Louis and will be out in 2017. Chuck Berry's sound owes much to T-Bone Walker 's electric...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: Good morning. I'm Renee Montagne. Last week, the Swedish Academy named Bob Dylan winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature. This week, they're still knock-knock-knocking on Dylan's door. The mercurial songwriter hasn't responded to the Academy's invitation to a December ceremony in his honor. And though he hasn't publicly acknowledged the award, he did close out his concert the day of the announcement with a Frank...

In 1963, Duke Ellington and his orchestra participated in a State Department "jazz diplomacy" tour of the Middle East. Inspired by the experience, Ellington and composer Billy Strayhorn wrote a collection of songs called The Far East Suite . Now, nearly 50 years later, the New York brass band Slavic Soul Party! has reinterpreted it — and the result is more than a novelty. The arrangement found on Slavic Soul Party! Plays Duke Ellington's Far East Suite is a match made in high-concept heaven ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FJrUnzLsmZk Even if you don't know his name, you know Vangelis. He won an Academy Award for his original score for Chariots Of Fire , a film remembered as much for its music as anything else. He went on to compose the original scores for Blade Runner and Carl Sagan's PBS series Cosmos . His music has often been described as "spacey," and his new album, Rosetta , uses his trademark synthesizers to tell a real-life story set in outer space. Rosetta is a concept...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. Our jazz critic Kevin Whitehead says five decades after Wadada Leo Smith began recording, the trumpeter and composer is having his moment with a Pulitzer nomination three years ago and a bounty of institutional support. Smith's Golden Quintet is both a jazz band and a chamber ensemble. Their new album is called "America's National Parks." Here's Kevin's review. (SOUNDBITE OF WADADA LEO SMITH...

The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book on the 1972 soul album Donny Hathaway Live. Best known for songs like "This Christmas" and classic duets with Roberta Flack, Hathaway was a strikingly virtuosic artist committed to exploring "music in its totality." In the decade between his 1970 breakout hit "The Ghetto" and his death at age 33 — an alleged suicide linked to paranoid schizophrenia — he recorded some of the most beautiful, heartfelt and funky music of the late twentieth...

"Bombs On The Beach" begins in a dystopic place — the song from Philadelphia's pre-eminent post-punkers Dark Blue kicks off with a descending bass melody. Someone snaps, slow and pointed, giving the track a distinctly depressive doo-wop quality. When singer John Sharkey III enters the mix, it gets under the skin, cold and heavy — a song that is so intimately and crucially joyless, it should come with a warning. The most distinguishing element of Dark Blue is Sharkey's baritone, somewhere...

In a season of relentless shouting, the best antidote might be singing. Mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato 's new album with conductor Maxim Emelyanychev and the ensemble Il Pomo d'Oro, In War & Peace: Harmony Through Music , uses Baroque arias to explore the pain and possibilities of these troubled times. A companion website invites anyone and everyone to answer the simple but loaded question, "In the midst of chaos, how do you find peace?" "I open my eyes and listen carefully," writes Adam , a...

This spring, The New York Times prefaced the onslaught of festival season by publishing an unusually transparent editorial memo . As music festivals are so plentiful and so often indistinguishable, they would no longer be covering the likes of Coachella and Lollapalooza by default. Instead, their attentions would turn to the smaller, stranger events, the ones that told a unique story. In the former East Berlin in the last week of September, 80-odd artists minted a new, nameless festival that...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Devendra Banhart can remember the exact moment he decided to become a songwriter. He was around 9 years old, and he performed an original song for his whole family. The tune, he says, was called "We're All Gonna Die." "Their reaction was, 'Never do that again,' " Banhart says. "They were horrified." Banhart says he'd grown up feeling like an outsider in his family — which made his debut performance an oddly validating experience. "They kind of paid attention at that moment, and that felt good...

The Beach Boys sounded like California in musical form: beach, waves and a perpetually sunny blue sky. But Brian Wilson , who co-founded the band with his brothers Carl and Dennis and their cousin Mike Love — and who wrote many of The Beach Boys' signature hits — struggled for years with mental illness. He's heard voices in his head and wrestled with the ghosts of the ways of his father, who encouraged his musical career but beat and abused him. While there's much to process from his past,...

After forays into pop and folk, Norah Jones has returned to jazz and the piano for her latest album, Day Breaks. Jones has a long history with the genre –- she says she became "mildly obsessed with it" as a teenager in Dallas, and she signed with the legendary Blue Note Records at just 21. For her latest project, Jones also connected with some true jazz giants, including saxophonist Wayne Shorter . Jones and Shorter played together about 10 years ago on a Joni Mitchell cover for a Herbie...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The hip-hop group Swet Shop Boys has only been together a few years, but its members have been individually well known for quite some time. Riz Ahmed, also known as Riz MC, is an actor with high profile appearances in HBO's mini-series The Night Of and big Hollywood productions like Nightcrawler and Jason Bourne . Himanshu Suri, who goes by Heems, made his name as one-third of the New York rap crew Das Racist . Their debut album togther, Cashmere , is produced entirely by a third member,...

Talia here with a "longtime listener, first-time caller" moment. I've admired David Dye from afar for years, so I was thrilled when he welcomed me to make my first on-air appearance as the new Contributing Host on World Cafe . We talked about my past work as a host at the CBC, my history as a professional head-banger and our shared love of small venues. David was even gracious enough to let me spin a couple tunes. Since I just moved from Toronto for this gig, I chose to share two of my...

RDGLDGRN: Tiny Desk Concert

Oct 14, 2016

How do you pronounce RDGLDGRN? Easy, it's just Red Gold Green. Clean and simple, no vowels, no fluff — just like the band's music. Listen and you'll hear a striking mix of rock, hip-hop, funk, go-go and international sounds, fused with energy and humor. RDGLDGRN is based in the D.C. suburb of Reston, Va. Local music fans know the band well, and have enjoyed watching it win fans across the country and around the world. A few years ago, I heard its first album ( Red, Gold, Green ) and fell in...

The first sound Leonard Cohen makes on his new album is a nanosecond's rush of labored air. It's not a wheeze, exactly, or a hiccup. But it's not a singer's note, either. The singing (such as it is) soon follows, and the 82-year-old's somber tone signals that matters of grave import are about to be discussed. He's making an inquiry into the peculiar strain of creeping soul distress, both personal and universal, that he's been diagnosing since at least 1992's The Future. We lack the precise...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST: We don't know who will win the presidency this year. We do know this big news. Bob Dylan won the Nobel Prize in literature. This week's announcement brought to mind Dylan's talk on this program back in 2004. STEVE INSKEEP, HOST: A part of that interview is fun to hear now because Dylan says that honors and accolades just get in his way. Let's listen. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE GROOM'S STILL WAITING AT THE ALTAR")...

It's tough to think of a major honor that hasn't been bestowed on Bob Dylan in his long career, but Thursday brought a new addition to his crowded awards shelf: the Nobel Prize for Literature. Not only is Dylan the first American to win the literary prize in a generation — the last being Toni Morrison in 1993 — he is the first modern songwriter to be so honored. (Bengali author and polymath Rabindranath Tagore, whose songs are cherished in India, won the same prize in 1913.) Dylan's name has...

The Nobel committee made a bit of a surprising announcement Thursday morning: Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for, according to the Swedish Academy, "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition." Dylan has written more than 900 pages of lyrics, but the Nobel Prize is primarily awarded to essayists, novelists and playwrights. Princeton University professor and historian Sean Wilentz says that Dylan fits right in with that crowd. Wilentz,...

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air . TERRY GROSS, HOST: This is FRESH AIR. During the 1980s, Australia was producing some very interesting bands. But so was New Zealand, where a label called Flying Nun seemed to have a monopoly on the best bands in the country. One of their big names was The Chills. And now there's a newly-released overview of their early years called "The Chills - Kaleidoscope World." Rock historian Ed Ward has their story. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROLLING...

How To Dress Well, a.k.a. Tom Krell, is now based in Los Angeles — but for his new album, Care , he traveled around the world and worked with a bunch of collaborators to craft his best set of songs yet. Krell performed the sexy track "Can't You Tell" live in KCRW's studios for Morning Becomes Eclectic . SET LIST "Can't You Tell" Photo: Carl Pocket/KCRW. Watch How To Dress Well's full Morning Becomes Eclectic session at KCRW.com . Copyright 2016 KCRW-FM. To see more, visit KCRW-FM .

It's easy to read too much into a hit song. Popular music is made that way: Its surface meanings are broad and inclusive, while its idiosyncrasies are vehement, upheld within a startling rhythm or a novel sample or a highly relatable voice. It's this mix of the familiar and the seemingly unique that allow for pop hits to reach millions of often very different people in ways that feel direct and personal. The two best-selling albums of 2016 so far — Drake 's Views and Adele 's 25 — exemplify...

Pages