NPR Music

Josh Tillman, a.k.a. Father John Misty, stopped by our studio the day he released his latest album, Pure Comedy, to play a stripped-down set of songs. With his lyrics pushed to the forefront, Tillman's keen cultural observations were on full display. It was a deeply moving set, including our current favorite, "Ballad Of The Dying Man."

Set List

  • "Ballad Of The Dying Man"

Photo: Dustin Downing/KCRW.

You wanna talk about stories? Kristin Hersh has stories. You might know Hersh as the frontwoman for the innovative late '80s-early '90s alt-rock band Throwing Muses or the hard-rocking power trio 50 Foot Wave. She's also an author — her 2010 memoir Rat Girl was named No. 8 on Rolling Stone's "25 Greatest Rock Memoirs of All Time" list.

It seemed like a simple video editing trick, run the tape backwards and it will look like this guy is driving backward. Well, it's no trick. The more I watch this video, for JEFF the Brotherhood's song "Punishment," the more jaw-dropping it is to see Harpreet Pappu careening on the highways and unpaved side roads of Bathinda, Punjab in India at full speed — and backwards.

Legend has it that the band Pink Floyd once played so loudly at a show that the sheer volume had killed all the fish in a nearby pond.

Now there's a new species of shrimp, named after Pink Floyd, that can kill fish by making a loud noise. Synalpheus pinkfloydi rapidly opens then snaps closed its large claw, creating a sound that can reach up to 210 decibels — louder than a typical rock concert and loud enough to kill small fish nearby.

Feist's first album in six years, Pleasure, comes out in just a couple weeks. We've only heard "Century" and the title track from it, so far, and today we get a visual companion for the latter.

John Geils Jr., who played guitar in the J. Geils Band, was found dead in his Massachusetts home, according to the Groton (Mass.) Police Department. He was 71. The police department said in a statement that he likely died of natural causes.

American singer-songwriter and producer Matthew E. White and folky English artist Flo Morrissey teamed up for an album of covers called Gentlewoman, Ruby Man.

Written as an aside to having lost a slot opening for The King Khan & BBQ Show on the grounds that the band's music was "too depressing," WVWhite's "Drag Down" sets the pace for the Columbus, Ohio, quartet's second album, House Of The Spiritual Athletes. But something a little more involved is happening here: We're not only listening to a band hone in on its sound for the foreseeable future, but also hearing the manifestation of a two-generation indie-rock family tree.

When Mlny Parsonz rips into a phrase, you feel the wound. Over three albums, Royal Thunder's soulful hard-rock has very much been tied to a desperation to crawl out of darkness and find some kind of hope beyond. Over three albums, that drive has kept the Atlanta band hungry and humble. Its latest, Wick, is a sprawling account of a band still crawling.

The D.C. brewery Right Proper was like a cultural mullet during a recent visit: a posh baby shower in the front (complete with chocolate petit fours), a bunch of metal heads making beer in the back. Right Proper's head brewer, Nathan Zeender, was dumping a heaping spoonful of hop extract into a tank.

Woods hadn't planned to make any new music in 2017, happy to rest temporarily on the laurels of last year's excellent City Sun Eater In The River Of Light. Then the election happened, and the Brooklyn band found itself — like many around the country — bewildered about what to do next. So it did what it knows best: it made more music. The songs on the resulting album, Love Is Love, don't directly reference politics or offer slogans or screeds. But they're clearly about the aftermath of Nov.

Swedish singer-songwriter Jens Lekman's new record is called Life Will See You Now. It feels sort of like going to a tropical roller disco with your therapist — and it comes after a period of colossal frustration that led Lekman to dump an entire truckload of his records in a landfill. As he tells it: "I felt like ... I need to find my way back to finding how to take something bad and make something beautiful, how to pour manure into a espresso machine and have a cappuccino come out."

A couple summers ago, Sarah Kinlaw of the Brooklyn indie-rock band SOFTSPOT was on a boat off the coast of North Carolina with her father. A sudden thunderstorm swept in, disrupting the previously calm waters — and inspiring the song "Maritime Law," which appears on SOFTSPOT's new album, Clearing.

When Future Islands singer Samuel T. Herring performs, he mixes vein-bulging intensity with a curious kind of smoothness — the kind that, when it accompanies sweet dance moves, can launch a thousand GIFs in a single hip-sway.

Jack White has made countless contributions to rock 'n' roll: with The White Stripes, with The Raconteurs, with The Dead Weather, as a label owner and musical preservationist, as a solo artist.

In this session, we bring you a performance from Tame Impala's touring bassist, Cameron Avery. His debut solo record sounds nothing like what you're used to hearing from him with the band. Instead, picture Dean Martin swooping down to light a cigarette in the back alley behind some lover-laced boudoir, and you've sort of got the idea.

Cold War Kids' sixth album, LA Divine, pays tribute to Los Angeles and all its strange glory. The band took a more pop-forward approach to this release, which comes out Friday. "So Tied Up" is our current favorite.

SET LIST

  • "So Tied Up"

Photo: Brian Lowe/KCRW.

In this session, we're shining a spotlight on two elements that never seem to take center stage: backing musicians and music without words. But trust me, they deserve the limelight. Steelism is a Nashville duo made up of ace guitarist Jeremy Fetzer and pedal-steel player Spencer Cullum Jr.

The history of '80s D.C. hardcore is extremely well documented; its importance doesn't need to be boot-stomped into the ground anymore. The '90s, less so, as the scene and Dischord Records, in particular, moved onto more melodic and angular ventures (see: Jawbox, Fugazi, Lungfish). But there were still those who held the torch for fast and unruly hardcore, and few ran with it as maniacally as Battery.

Alex Napping is the name Alex Cohen's gave to her Austin-based guitar-pop band. On "Fault," Cohen explores her eating disorder in vivid blue and white, confronting her feelings of shame about the ailment.

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