Thao Nguyen, of the folk-rock group Thao & the Get Down Stay Down, has been on a musical journey since she started performing in her teens in Northern Virginia. Delicate yet fierce in her vocal delivery, she writes often about her social concerns — and it was a trip to a California women's prison that inspired much of her latest album, We the Common.
Ngyuen and her band are on the road for the first time in several years; she spoke with NPR's Jacki Lyden from a tour stop in Kansas City.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the fruit baskets welcoming us to our new office is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how to reconcile a person you like with musical tastes you don't.
Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 11:14 am
I first met Thao Nguyen in 2008, in the earliest days of the Tiny Desk Concert series. I was a big fan of her witty, catchy songs. After she finished playing the Tiny Desk, Thao said something that has endeared me to her forever. Walking toward the elevators on her way out of NPR, she said, "That was intimate and awkward ... a lot like my last boyfriend!"
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 3:22 pm
The first time I met Kurt Vile we played a show together in Philadelphia to less than 200 people. That was sometime in the fall of 2010. When I saw him just over a year later he was headlining the 1,500 capacity Webster Hall in New York City, and Smoke Ring For My Halo, his album released in early 2011, had turned me and almost everyone I knew from simply curious to full devotees.
Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 8:26 pm
You might be tempted to call World Cafe's Sense of Place: Nashville guest Moon Taxi a jam band — that is, if its instrumental excursions weren't so concise, carefully thought-out and frequently refined in the years it's spent touring.
The quintet formed at Belmont University in Nashville and released its debut, Melodica, in 2007. Moon Taxi's second studio album, Cabaret, came out last year. Here, the band performs an intricate live set and discusses what makes Nashville's independent music scene special.
Originally published on Thu April 11, 2013 8:27 pm
Tom Angelripper has been a part of the brash German thrash-metal game for more than 30 years now. Sodom's damning 1989 anti-war screed, Agent Orange, is a bona fide classic, but the impeccably named bassist and vocalist still has plenty of targets to hit and thundering bass riffs to deploy. Therein comes crashing "Stigmatized" from Sodom's 14th studio album, Epitome of Torture.
There was a "fire in the belly" feel when Brainstorm took the stage at TenOak in Austin, Texas, during the South by Southwest music festival this past March. In its best moments, the trio from Portland, Ore., has an edge that embodies both African highlife guitar and the sounds of late-'70s post-punk a la Gang of Four.
Originally published on Wed April 10, 2013 5:26 pm
Today's guest, Leagues, provides a perfect start to World Cafe's week-long visit to Nashville, because it perfectly encapsulates the change going on there. A new rock band, Leagues was formed by an amazing singer, Thad Cockrell, who'd been so disenchanted with his alt-country career that he was ready to leave the music business altogether.