NPR Music

For Saintseneca, fatalistic gloom blends seamlessly with a kind of playful sprightliness: Zac Little's songs often simmer in a sad swirl of death and esoterica, but his deadpan ruminations are buoyed by the sounds of exotic instruments, candy-colored pop hooks and many points in between.

Southern friendship is all about porches. The craftsman cottages of East Nashville were designed for afternoon sweet tea and guitar picking with the perfume of whatever's on the smoker (these days, it's as likely to be tofu as hog) wafting by. Bars like Mickey's on Gallatin Pike have great porches, too — a famous local might come in for a cold beer and leave hours later in a new super group.

Your Favorite New Artists Of 2018 (So Far)

18 hours ago

The NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest may be over this year — NPR Music was proud to award the honor this year to Naia Izumi — but Weekend Edition isn't done highlighting the impressive talent who entered this year's contest.

Welles has the look, the voice, the licks, the hooks and the attitude of a real rock star. His classic rock-meets-grunge debut  Red Trees and White Trashes  alternates between being big, chunky, bombastic and driving and also intimate, sensitive, quiet and reserved. There's no shortage of ballads and barn-burners.

Material Girls' glam-soaked, goth-smeared rock and roll struts and stumbles like a fish-netted pair of legs breaking in new heels. The punk ensemble from Atlanta released a promising EP last year via Henry Owings' venerable Chunklet label housing four songs dripping in danger and sweat, like a whiskey-swigging Nick Cave partying with Captain Beefheart.

On this week's New Music Friday, All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Ann Powers, Rodney Carmichael, and Stephen Thompson for a quick run through the best new releases for June 15. Highlights include Christina Aguilera's Liberation, a monument to self-empowerment with contributions from Kanye West and Anderson .Paak; the trippy, futuristic debut of pop producer SOPHIE; and a deeply emotional solo project from Linkin Park co-founder Mike Shinoda.

Featured Albums

As the saying goes, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." So it is for Natalie Prass on her new album, The Future and the Past.

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Peter Hook's first bass rig when he was a child was "no good," as he puts it. The low notes sounded terrible, so instead, he worked his way up the fretboard. Few musicians have more of a signature sound, or personality, than Peter Hook. He was one of the founding members of Joy Division, pioneers of the post-punk genre. When the band's lead singer, Ian Curtis, died on the eve of its first American tour, the remaining members didn't mourn.

Sometimes your dreams are bigger than originally imagined. After a successful crowdfunding effort, Cumulus was one day from pressing its debut album in 2013 when the band got an email from Death Cab For Cutie's Chris Walla. Walla not only wanted to work with the Seattle band, but also sign it to his label Trans- Records (also home to Now, Now).

The dreamy retro-rock sound of The Shacks, led by guitarist and songwriter Max Shrager and lead vocalist Shannon Wise, was a great fit at WGBH's Fraser Performance Studio.

In between performing 11 songs, the band reflected on the roots of the band's sound. "There's a certain way we think about our music that allows it to be really intimate, and that's an important part of who we are as a band," Shrager said. "We try to think of our music as an extension of our lives, and maybe that's a cliché, but I think it's something that's actually lost in the world these days."

Eight-year-old Yoyoka Soma's favorite drummer is John Bonham, so for her entry into the 2018 Hit Like A Girl drum contest, she covered Bonham's part on Led Zeppelin's "Good Times Bad Times."

The video, which features Soma playing along to the 1969 hit, earned her a spot in the international competition's final round. She didn't take home the gold, but she did win our hearts.

Danny Kirwan, the guitarist who joined Fleetwood Mac at age 18 and played on five of the band's albums, died Friday in London at age 68. His death was announced by Mick Fleetwood on the group's Facebook page; no cause was given.

Anthony Bourdain's Twitter bio simply reads "enthusiast" which may be why the news of his death by his own hand has hit many fans so bluntly today. He was a truth-telling enthusiast you could trust. He explored the world for us with open heart, eyes and certainly appetite. Who among us didn't want to join him at a meal or on an adventure?

Vivid images of hospitals, funerals and death are not uncommon in Dan Campbell's lyrics as of late. The frontman of the long-running Philadelphia punk six-piece The Wonder Years has always had a writerly sense of detail, even going back to the days of The Upsides when his biggest concerns were drowning his late-college feelings of alienation in Lucky Charms and soy milk.

Described by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys as the "greatest soul singer alive," Robert Finley joined us for a live session. His story is a quintessential American one of perseverance. He's loved music and performing his whole life, and now finally released his first album in his early 60s.

M. Ward surprise released the album What A Wonderful Industry today, taking on a subtler shade of music industry beef, writing about the heroes and villains he's encountered over 20 years.

Goat Yoga Helps Brent Cowles Be 'Okay Alone'

Jun 8, 2018

Brent Cowles is a fixture on the Colorado music scene. He's been drawing local attention since his days in the Americana band You Me & Apollo. Since leaving the group he founded while still in his teens, Cowles has been grinding out a solo career and will release his first full-length album, How To Be Okay Alone, on June 15th.

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