NPR Music

Singer Kevin Morby is back with a followup to last year's much beloved full-length Singing Saw. The new album is called City Music and is due out June 16 on Dead Oceans. Morby has also shared the record's first single and lyric video, the moody and transfixing "Come To Me Now."

Less than a week after Chuck Berry's death at the age of 90, his family announced details Wednesday about the rock and roll pioneer's first album in 38 years — and gave us a taste of what it will sound like.

Timothy Showalter is the band called Strand of Oaks. Originally from Indiana, Showalter now lives in Philadelphia, where he's reimagined himself as a rocker after releasing a couple of quieter albums. This latest phase of his career started with his well-received 2014 album Heal; he recently released the follow-up, Hard Love.

To call what DakhaBrakha does "folk music" completely misses a world of inspiration and sound, both here on Earth and perhaps elsewhere. The mostly-acoustic, utterly unique Ukrainian band mixes traditions from its homeland, but goes wide too, with West African rhythms and Indian drones to create a wild, thrilling texture (especially live).

Chuck Berry Taught Me How To Be An American

Mar 21, 2017

I was an immigrant's kid growing up in the 1970s in the suburbs of Buffalo, New York. From an early age I learned that because I carried this weird name and my family ate, dressed and worshipped differently than most of my neighbors, being fluent in American popular culture connected me with others — especially the neighborhood boys who often ignored and sometimes threatened me. So I devoured everything I could find about baseball and watched an unhealthy amount of television.

It's spring, a time for renewal and flowers and sunshine and... sadness, if Football, etc. has anything to do with it. For nearly ten years, singer and guitarist Lindsay Minton has flown the flag for '90s-era emo, with all of that movement's signature heart-on-the-sleeve confessionals and a voice that knows how to carry a weight. As I wrote a couple years ago, Football, etc.

In embracing the excesses of rock 'n' roll, Bay Area band Thee Oh Sees has gained a reputation as one of the best live acts in the country. The group's show features two drummers, chainsaw-like guitars and vocals so visceral they almost border on the absurd. Oh, and strobe lights. A lot of strobe lights.

When Chuck Berry died last week, the music-loving world rose to acknowledge his status as, in Bob Dylan's words, the Shakespeare of rock and roll. The man was 90; people were ready. Jon Pareles, chief pop critic of The New York Times, and David Remnick, editor at The New Yorker, both immediately published lengthy obituaries. Musicians ranging from Bruce Springsteen to Questlove to Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones – Berry's famous protégé – rushed to pay tribute.

We stayed up late, damaged our ear sockets and gave into the ecstasy of live music at SXSW: Diet Cig, Lizzo, Moor Mother, Sleigh Bells, S U R V I V E, Anna Meredith, Weezer, The Revolution's Prince tribute — even Garth Brooks. Here are 50 photos from the festival shot by Adam Kissick, with a few by our own Bob Boilen.

Nina Diaz and Y La Bamba's Luz Elena Mendoza have never played together, but after NPR Music paired them in the courtyard of St. David's Episcopal Church for a late evening performance, we're beginning to wonder why not.

Over nearly two decades, Ireland's Bell X1 has mastered melodic indie pop that is bright, thoughtful and gracefully rough around the edges. It's one of the most played bands on Irish radio, it's sold out shows at home and abroad and its members have established families with kids. But to make their latest record, the members of Bell X1 had to pretend they were scrappy teenagers again.

The members of U2 are preparing a new tour to play some old songs — 30 years old, to be exact. Paul Hewson and David Evans, known to the world as Bono and The Edge, will be the first to tell you their band isn't normally fond of looking back.

The 1970s was an incredibly diverse decade for recorded music: from hippie folk at the start to disco, punk, the rise of reggae and the very first stirrings of hip-hop. At the beginning of the decade, Frank Sinatra had a song on the charts for 122 weeks. There was soft rock, metal and country. Album sales and progressive radio were huge.

All this is true. That's why it is so fascinating to look at the songs that ended up at the very top of Billboard's pop chart for each year of the decade — they certainly don't always represent all the change that was going on.

L.A. Salami sings and fingerpicks his acoustic guitar like an old truck winding through windswept blue highways. The British artist's debut album Dancing With Bad Grammar was one of Bob Boilen's top 10 albums of last year, saying it was a "hidden gem in 2016."

When PWR BTTM takes the stage, it doesn't take long to figure out what you're going to get. From the first glitter-smeared seconds of the set-opening "Silly," the band came to shred and swagger with infectious joy, complete with backbends and solos and spangly outfits — at least one of which wouldn't survive the band's set at Stubb's BBQ in Austin, Texas, recorded live for NPR Music Wednesday night.

On Tuesday, Feist's new album, Pleasure, was announced with a release date of April 28 — amusingly, to the surprise of Leslie Feist herself. Now we have the title track, her first new original song in six years.

NPR's Scott Simon spoke to James Cotton in 2013. Hear an encore of their conversation at the audio link.

The Shins visited our studio for one of the first full-band performances behind the new album Heartworms. Frontman James Mercer produced this album on his own — something he hasn't done since The Shins' 2001 debut album, Oh, Inverted World. "The Fear" sounds incredible live with a string section.

Set List

  • "The Fear"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

The resistance is real in the world of Amazon Video's original series The Man in The High Castle, based on the award-winning book by Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, the show imagines a history where Germany and Japan actually won World War II and, 17 years after the loss, the United States is split between Nazi Germany (the East Coast) and Imperial Japan (the West Coast). In the midst of it all, a resistance movement has been formed in a neutral zone to fight for freedom.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Valerie June's "Astral Plane" was already made to be a lullaby, a softly swaying, country-tinged soul song that scrapes the stratosphere. On the studio version from The Order Of Time, it's dipped in gauzy guitar and keys.

After missing two chances to control the compositions he co-authored while in The Beatles — once in 1969 when he and John Lennon were outbid and again to Michael Jackson, in a duplicitous move by the King of Pop, in the '80s — Paul McCartney is not taking any chances.

What's the best way to become the unchallenged expert on a particular genre of music? Invent it. Enter JD Ryznar, Hunter Stair, David B. Lyons and Steve Huey: coiners of the description "yacht rock," creators of a hilarious web series of the same name and now de facto captains of the genre.

Public radio hosts from around the country, along with thousands of other music lovers, descended on Austin, Texas, this week to stand in long lines and eat breakfast tacos. And when they're not complaining about the former or posting Instagrams of the latter, they attend an ungodly number of concerts in the hopes of stumbling upon the next big band. Each day this week, All Songs Considered and hosts from our partner stations will report back on the best thing they saw the day prior.

But that's just the beginning of our SXSW coverage. Here's what else we have in store:

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