NPR Music

Here's a story of how a sentiment, the kernel of a piece, can blossom when the right person comes along. The songwriter is Minneapolis-by-way-of-Wisconsin's J.E. Sunde, but the key transformer was Monica Martin, of the band Phox.

The Afghan Whigs embrace the sleaze and surreal in the first single from In Spades. "Demon In Profile" picks up where 2014's Do To The Beast left off, with smeared blue-eyed soul far more sinister than it lets on.

With Slowdive's live reunion, stellar new song and promise of more material, you could forgive guitarist Christian Savill if he set aside any other projects for the time being. But no, Slowdive's return actually seems to have spurred more activity — he and Sean Hewson's long-running project Monster Movie will release Keep The Voices Distant, its fifth album and its first with an expanded band, next month.

Hurray for the Riff Raff has always been a voice for the underdogs and the outsiders, and the band delivers that spirit in spades on a new, rousing album called The Navigator. It's based on a fictional character named Navita, whose journey mirrors the one taken by courageous band founder and songwriter Alynda Segarra.

An impresario and producer who helped launch the careers of many marquee-name musicians, comedians and actors — including Bob Dylan, Woody Allen and Bruce Lee — has died. Fred Weintraub was 88 years old.

His wife, Jackie, confirmed his death to NPR. He died at their home in Pacific Palisades, Calif. on March 5, due to complications related to Parkinson's disease.

Iron & Wine On Mountain Stage

Mar 8, 2017

Iron & Wine makes his debut on Mountain Stage, recorded during the show's recent 33rd anniversary celebration at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Sam Beam didn't become his critically-acclaimed alter ego Iron & Wine until his late 20s, at which point he switched his career as a cinema professor for a career as a cinematic musician.

Feral Ohms is a Bay Area power trio comprising Ethan Miller on guitar and vocals, bassist Josh Haynes and drummer Chris Johnson. Having been involved in some of the most primal psychedelic outings of recent decades as the frontman for Comets On Fire, Miller gleefully regresses to the point immediately before the release of that group's 2001 album, up until now the most unhinged performance of his musical career.

Guitarist Harvey Mandel was on the very short list to replace Mick Taylor in The Rolling Stones, but you've probably never heard of him — or even heard him play. Mandel grew up playing in Chicago blues clubs in the early '60s and made a breakthrough record with Charlie Musselwhite called Stand Back! Here Comes Charley Musselwhite's South Side Band.

Music was a solace for Chris Robinson long before he and his brother Rich formed The Black Crowes. "Being a little weirdo, outsider, dyslexic kid from the Deep South in the early '70s, to me music and art was an oasis away from everybody," he says. When the brothers dissolved their longtime band for good a few years ago, Chris formed the Chris Robinson Brotherhood with guitarist Neal Casal and others.

When Bob Boilen and I sat down to record this week's podcast, we were a little bleary-eyed after staying up late the night before to see the The Flaming Lips' show at the 9:30 Club here in Washington, D.C. But — between the band's confetti cannons, laser light show and the electric, rainbow-colored unicorn that frontman Wayne Coyne rode into the audience (I'm not making that up) — it was well worth the loss of sleep.

PWR BTTM is goofy as hell, like we could ever forget. The fab rock 'n' roll duo's "Answer My Text" is the latest single from their upcoming Pageant, a nervous flirtation wrought in emojis and a "funny joke from that TV show you said that you like."

It's been nearly six years since the Fleet Foxes released any new music. But Tuesday morning the group announced it's got a new album coming in the spring called Crack-Up. In making the announcement, frontman Robin Pecknold shared a lyric video for a nearly nine-minute song called "Third of May / Ōdaigahara."

One night in 1966, Michael Chapman ducked into a folk-music club in Cornwall, England to get out of the rain, and soon found himself onstage playing guitar.

Cameron Avery may have a day job as the bassist in Tame Impala, but bandmate Kevin Parker, kept encouraging him to make his own album. After relocating from Perth to Los Angeles, he made Ripe Dreams, Pipe Dreams, an album of romantic songs that's influenced by older favorites like Johnny Hartman and Sarah Vaughan but also nods to Nick Cave and Scott Walker. Producer Jonathan Wilson inspired Avery to explore his baritone voice more, and a sound combining new and old was born.

Jain On World Cafe

Mar 6, 2017

Jain's debut album, Zanaka, is an irresistible, eclectic pop record with a freshness to its songs. At 25 years old, the French singer has traveled and lived all over the world, including childhood stints in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and the Republic of the Congo. Along the way, she discovered African percussion and rhythms, which permeate the tracks on her new album and in this one-woman performance. Watch it in the video below and stream the complete session in the player above.

On its latest song and video, "Night Skiing," the instrumental rock group L.A. Takedown confirms that the guitar solo is alive and kicking.

Austrian-born U.K. percussionist Manu Delago specializes in the Hang, a cousin of the steel drum that produces soft, muted, subtly shimmering tones. The instrument provides a perfect counterpoint to the gentle production effects of Delago's new third album, Metromonk, on which a sense of haunted, worldly mystery never gets in the way of approachability and warmth.

My favorite rock band, alt-J, has a pleasantly surprising piece of new music this morning — "3WW" comes from the band's third album, Relaxer, which they announced this morning and will be out June 9 on Canvasback Music. Unlike some of their brasher music, this song has the feel of a West African tune, with a gentle plucked sound that reminds me of an ngoni or kora.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen to a sampler of the five discs in this release with Spotify or the full five albums with the Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

On May 5, the Louisville songwriter Joan Shelley will release her fifth album of poetic folk minimalism. This time, it's self-titled. "I'm all for adding only what is required, so in a way this was trying to get away with less," she tells NPR. "This particular collection of songs feels somehow central in relation to what I've done so far and what'll come next. It also didn't feel necessary to slap a title on it.

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.


"As of this writing, I am sixty-one years old in chronology," the novelist Madeleine L'Engle once mused. "But I am not an isolated, chronological numerical statistic. I am sixty-one, and I am also four, and twelve, and fifteen, and twenty-three, and thirty-one, and forty-five, and... and... and..."

The band Tennis has again taken to the high seas.

Shelby Earl's new album, The Man Who Made Himself A Name, features a song called "Strong Swimmer." She says it started out as a song about herself getting over a relationship — but became more about her stepmother, who had just suffered a brain injury.

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