NPR Music

Modern Music was a small independent record shop located in the Meidaimae neighborhood of Tokyo, where from 1980 through its closure in 2014, a revolution against mainstream music was mounted. Its owner, Hideo Ikeezumi, who passed away earlier this year, made certain that Modern Music was well-stocked with releases that reflected his own panoramic tastes.

There's nothing quite like a compelling story song.

Anna St. Louis' fingerpicked patterns wander through John Fahey and Elizabeth Cotten fields, her voice soft and warm; tall grass in a long day's sun. Her debut solo release, First Songs, looks to '60s folk, but the L.A.-based singer-songwriter comes from Kansas City punk and the Philly art scene. Both her background and shifting locales are reminder that what we often call familiar — especially in regards to musical style — is almost always a collection of experiences. There's rarely a singular moment informing it all.

The last time most of us saw Beck, he was onstage at the Grammy awards accepting the Album of the Year honor for his 2014 work Morning Phase and almost being interrupted by Kanye West.

The Thistle And Shamrock: New Fall Sounds

Oct 20, 2017

New music is always in season, but autumn brings with it a special skew in our tastes. So for this episode of The Thistle and Shamrock, host Fiona Ritchie has collected another hour's worth to offer you, including The Breath, Robin Bullock, Ruth Keggin, and James Ritchie.

Growing up outside Philadelphia, Devon Gilfillian learned about the working musician's life from his father, a singer and percussionist in a beloved local party band. He found his own path as a singer-songwriter and moved to Nashville just a few years ago, in hopes of finding a community appreciative of his blend of social consciousness, rootsy melodies and soulful grooves. Like so many before him, Gilfillian found those peers while waiting tables in a popular local venue, where he also absorbed the musical lessons of the stars who stopped by on tour.

Alright. Open your arms and get ready to receive. Our guest today is Broken Social Scene.

The Canadian supergroup formed in 1999 out of a friendship between musicians Kevin Drew and Brendan Canning. The band's sound is big, so is its lineup, which can well to 15 people strong. You know the names: Feist, Emily Haines and James Shaw of Metric, Amy Millan and Evan Cranley of Stars. They all contributed to the new album. Feist even came up with the album title, Hug Of Thunder.

Italian composer Daniele Luppi's first noteworthy work in America has been heard millions of times over. The Los Angeles-based Luppi arranged Gnarls Barkley's ubiquitous "Crazy" in 2005. But it's fair to say Luppi's name first popped up on radars with his ambitious 2011 project with Danger Mouse, Rome, which painstakingly blended the widescreen orchestral landscapes of Ennio Morricone's evocative Spaghetti Western scores, with funky exploitation flick grooves — and the vocal talents of Jack White and Norah Jones.

UK rockers Wolf Alice are huge in their native country and are making waves stateside, too. They're young, hungry and ready to move rock forward with a sound that can't quite be pinned down. For this live session, they performed a special stripped-down version of their single "Don't Delete the Kisses."

The heart of "Capable" from The Wild Reeds is spelled out in these lyrics by Sharon Silva: "You're capable of so much more/Than these people give you credit for/And you just need to show it."

Red Death is a thrash band raised on hardcore — its metallic riffs not only smash a crusty d-beat but also shout a punk ethos.

Updated at 11:10 a.m. ET

Gord Downie, singer of The Tragically Hip, died of complications from brain cancer Tuesday night at the age of 53. His death was announced in a statement from his family.

The tarantella is a lively folk dance and musical style originating in southern Italy's Apulia region, the heel of the Italian geographic boot.

In this session, we welcome Deer Tick into our studio. This is a band that can go from in-your-face to introspective on a dime – and they do, on their new set of two full-length albums, Deer Tick Volume 1 and Volume 2. The former is folkier with just a little bit of a bite, while the band gets heavy and lets their punk influence rip on Volume 2. And although the music sounds different on both sides, the lyrics share the clever craft that's made Deer Tick beloved purveyors of both humor and heart.

MGMT, the psych-pop duo behind one of the decade's best earworms, is back with its first new music in four years. "Little Dark Age" is the title track to their 2018 album, a pulsing, synthesized meditation on the age of anxiety over a world coming apart.

Finding a river to slide down, to escape onto, is a subjective thing. One should float without friction — it's working when you don't have to think all that much. Sometimes, similarly minded people who prefer the same amount of siltgrit, jumping in and gliding before returning to shore, when the real world can't be ignored anymore.

Christmas carols needn't always be cheery and bright, and there's no shortage of seasonal irreverence and sadness.

J Roddy Walston & The Business were last on World Cafe in 2013 with the album Essential Tremors. A lot has changed since then.

After living in Cleveland, Tennessee and Baltimore, J. Roddy has settled in Richmond, Va., where he found a thriving music community, built a recording studio, and became a father. All of which affected the band's new album, Destroyers Of The Soft Life.

It's only sexy to be sick sometimes. Or more precisely, only some types of sickness are sexy. Passionate fevers. Tragic, romantic consumption. Artistic mania. Poetic depression. The spectrum of socially acceptable mental illnesses is about as wide as a pinky finger — paranoia and anxiety aren't even on the same hand.

In the close-knit world of English folk music, Leveret boasts an impressive pedigree. The trio's Andy Cutting is renowned for his mastery of the melodeon, a type of accordion with a push-pull mechanism for intonation that imbues it with a wheezy kick. The band's fiddler is Sam Sweeney, of the flamboyant nu-folk band Bellowhead, and its concertina player is Rob Harbron — both are deft and expressive musicians in their own right.

The audience for Hanson's first Tiny Desk concert could be cleanly sorted into two distinct camps: the curious and the committed.

Way back in February, Lo Moon visited the WFUV studios in New York City and performed an unreleased song called "Thorns." We've been sitting on this stunning five and a half minutes ever since, waiting for the day the band chose to release the single. Eight months later, today is that day.

The War on Drugs' A Deeper Understanding is epic. Ambitious. Huge. Case in point: the first single they released, "Thinking of a Place," clocked in at over 11 minutes. But make no mistake – this isn't the work of a noodley jam band. Every sound is deliberate, every dynamic is thoughtful, and the build is brilliant. That's thanks in large part to the way lead singer and songwriter Adam Granduciel works.

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