NPR Music

After the 2016 election, how did you feel? What did you want to do? Mac McCaughan asked himself these questions, and pounded out the lyrics to 11 new Superchunk songs in a matter of months. The result? The band's most focused and aggressive albums in years, entitled What a Time to Be Alive.

On this week's New Music Friday, All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton runs through some of the best albums out on April 27 with NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael, Felix Contreras, Lars Gotrich, Marissa Lorusso, and Ann Powers. Featured albums include the potent and political rock of Speedy Ortiz, the ethereal sounds of Grouper, Janelle Monae's highly anticipated Dirty Computer, Post Malone and more.

Patience is tricky: there's power in being slow to anger until you're perceived as a pushover. Illuminati Hotties, the self-described "tenderpunk" project of L.A. producer-engineer Sarah Tudzin, recognizes the predicament. "Often I have wished that I was a little less patient and a little more aggressive about being heard," Tudzin tells NPR Music.

Doubt comes out from under the woodwork at the most inconvenient times. When you're Lindsey Jordan — the 19-year-old guitarist and songwriter whose second album as Snail Mail, Lush, comes out June 8 — that worry manifests as four burly hockey players.

With three solo albums to her credit, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Lera Lynn is returning with a new release that more than speaks to the power of collaboration. She's collaborated before on songwriting with T-Bone Burnett and Rosanne Cash, and on her new album, Plays Well With Others, Lynn has taken the collaboration to the nth degree.

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.


So many 1990s alt-rock hit-makers have reunited over the years, it's hard to keep track of who's coming back, who's never left, and who's already returned to the shadows. Most have attempted a comeback at least once — Jesus Jones released an album just last week — so it's rarely a surprise to encounter a press announcement from a reconstituted Deep Blue Something or Crash Test Dummies.

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.

The Thistle & Shamrock: From Vinyl To MP3

Apr 25, 2018

Hear a handpicked classic collection of recordings with Fiona Ritchie this week. She presents a timeless hour of music spanning the decades, from vinyl masterpieces to pioneering MP3s with artists including Liz Carroll, Gordon Duncan and Alan Stivell.

Harrison Smith is at the forefront of a new generation of young rock musicians who've never known anything other than limitless possibilities. Smith's project, Turtlenecked, has been steadily fulfilling that potential since 2015. Although he often performs as a drummer, Smith plays every instrument in the band and largely produces and writes his own material, which has grown leaps and bounds in just a few years.

In 2013, roots musician Ben Harper teamed up with legendary harmonica player Charlie Musselwhite for a blues record called Get Up! The album went on to win a Grammy for best blues album — not a bad way to start a partnership.

After months of searching, the fourth annual Tiny Desk Contest winner has been announced!

Emo has plenty of genre-wide classics, the kind of songs that, while never actually topping the charts, have become inescapable within that scene. And while it's a fairly crowded field, one listen to "Passion Fruit Tea" proves that Retirement Party deserve a place in the canon.

I think one of the best things you can say about an artist is that you hear a song and you know it's them. That is true in spades for the band Hop Along, thanks in large part to the unique voice of lead singer Frances Quinlan, both in the way it sounds and what she says with it.

If you haven't heard Bad Breeding's Divide, it is 26 minutes of grueling, noise-punctured punk that channels and couples the rage of Crass to the weirdness of Killing Joke and No Trend. Released in 2017, it was the second album in two years from the U.K. punk band.

Rhiannon Giddens isn't afraid to carry the weight of history in her music. The North Carolina singer-songwriter and banjoist is a founding member of the Grammy-winning group the Carolina Chocolate Drops which won both critical acclaim and loyal fans for their revival of the African-American string band tradition.

Ten years ago today — on April 22, 2008 — NPR Music published our first Tiny Desk concert. Laura Gibson was the inspiration, and the event that sparked the idea of concerts at my desk came from NPR Music's Stephen Thompson. He and I were at the SXSW Music Festival, at one of those lousy shows where the audience chatter was louder than the performer.

Juliana Hatfield was a darling of the '90s indie music scene. She played with Blake Babies and The Lemonheads and had a hit with the edgy pop song, "My Sister." Hatfield released a string of alternative albums since those days, full of distorted guitars and strong vocals.

On his fifteenth studio album, Moby reconciles his rage about the state of things with a zen-like acceptance of the apocalypse. The lush, haunting songs on this record paints a beautiful picture of a broken world, as indicated in the title: Everything Was Beautiful and Nothing Hurt.

SET LIST

  • "Falling Rain And Light"

Look, let's just puff-puff right past the 4/20 jokes, OK? There's no reason to toke up all of your time with silliness when you could be nodding your head (slowly) to Sleep's first album since Dopesmoker, considered by many to be the high-water mark of stoner-metal epics. (Its release date is something of a rabbit hole — if you're interested, here.)

The Record Company's "Life To Fix" takes off like a supersonic jet blowing wildly through the universe of rock. The first single from All of This Life breathes new life into a style of music that's been played many times before. The difference here is the song's rootsy and infectious guitar riff, with guitarist Chris Vos and the band slaying into the groove with inspiration.

When you hear John Moreland's sweet voice, it's hard to believe he spent years singing in punk, metal-core and hardcore bands. You can still hear that passion in his music, only now it's punctuated by his acoustic guitar.

A couple of years ago, Bernie Dalton was a strong, physically fit, 40-something-year-old surfer. Every morning, he would get up at 4 A.M. to watch the sunrise in Santa Cruz, Calif. Bernie wasn't a musician at the time, but he was passionate about music. His lifelong dream was to record an album.

Depending on who you are and how your heart is built, you might know this modus operandi well: it's easier to be nice to other people than to yourself. If that's an idea you can relate to, you'll find something in common with Erika Wennerstrom. She says each song on her new album Sweet Unknown is a mantra about being kinder to yourself.

Crank "Up The Street" to a volume that shakes the dust from your creaky bones. Made stiff from years of rock and roll neglect, you are now redeemed by the nasty howl and stomp of Rat the Magnificent. Hallelujah and hot damn.

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