NPR Music

Despite having visited the Tiny Desk three times, and traveling to the tunnels beneath Fort Adams State Park, Jeff Tweedy has brought only a fraction of his many musical permutations to NPR Music during our first 10 years.

Seth Glier On Mountain Stage

Dec 5, 2017

Seth Glier has an otherworldly voice, which explains why Mountain Stage guest host Michael Cerveris admits to lingering perhaps too long outside of Glier's dressing room, listening to him warming up.

Part of the fun of stepping into an old-time diner is getting swept away by love songs of decades past. Gems made in the 1940s like Lena Horne's "'Deed I Do" and Ella Fitzgerald's "I've Got A Feeling I'm Falling" capture the casual exaltation of swooning in a crush's footsteps. What makes them resonate is a combination of simplicity and sincerity: Having a crush is an all-consuming weightlessness that leaves you flushed, no matter how fortuitous it may be.

Luna On World Cafe

Dec 4, 2017

Around the time Luna announced it was breaking up back in 2004, lead singer Dean Wareham said, "This is what bands do." But you can bet any fan of Luna's dreamy, moody sound was secretly hoping they would undo it. And after about a decade, Luna did. (Or: undid.)

The Resilience Of Victoria Williams

Dec 2, 2017

This essay is one in a series celebrating deserving artists or albums not included on NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women.

Around the turn of the millennium, hardcore had to reckon with its weirdnessand the weirdness of — becoming a viable and commercial force. At The Drive-In played the Late Show with David Letterman, Thursday's "Understanding In A Car Crash" was in regular rotation on MTV2 and The Blood Brothers' absolutely manic ... Burn, Piano Island, Burn was produced, by nü-metal diviner Ross Robinson, for a major label.

Since Fleetwood Mac released its debut album nearly 50 years ago, there have been many incarnations, comings and goings, couplings and uncouplings. But here's a new combination — Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie have released a record together!

The Mountain Stage 34th Anniversary Show

Nov 29, 2017

Watch as Mountain Stage With Larry Groce celebrates 34 years of live performance radio with sets from Joe Henry, John K. Samson, Nellie McKay and The Mountain Goats.

Jade Bird On World Cafe

Nov 28, 2017

There is no way to know — at least not from the depth and maturity of her music — just how young Jade Bird was when she wrote the songs on her new EP. She tells us in this session that she just turned 20, and that many of her songs were written when she was 17 or 18! She may be young, but the London-based singer-songwriter tells us she draws inspiration from an older crowd: Neil Young, Bob Dylan, even Son House.

The Philly art-rock band Palm seems to delight in being collaboratively weird. Bandmates Kasra Kurt and Eve Alpert bury their lyrics in singsong melodies and fractured, jittery guitar parts — both of which appear in constant, if antagonistic, communication with each other. The frenetic songs are made slightly more surefooted by bassist Gerasimos Livitanos and drummer Hugo Stanley, but the rhythm section's confrontational energy often undermines its own attempts at stability.

Hailed as music's biggest night, the 60th Annual Grammy Awards will return to New York City, taking place at Madison Square Garden Jan. 28.

It's not Christmas until I hear Mariah Carey's "All I Want For Christmas Is You." Originally released in 1994, it's a gingerbread house of a pop song, built on a gospel music foundation and a throwback to Phil Spector's wall of sound, as a sleigh-bell rhythm and countermelodies rush across the frosted rooftop and Carey lands a thrilling G5 above middle C.

Dhani Harrison's new record, IN///PARALLEL, feels a bit like walking through a lucid dream. It's complex and artful, and at first listen, maybe a little dark. But as he explains, he uses the dark to inspire catharsis, not fear. Dhani also told me he writes lyrics with caution: "You have to be careful with — with the words you use in the daytime, I think, because the English language, I think, is probably just a big magic spell, and when you say things they can tend to manifest."

The rock band Big Thief recorded its second album, Capacity, at a friend's house in upstate New York last winter. Lead singer Adrianne Lenker, guitarist Buck Meek, bass player Max Oleartchik and drummer James Krivchenia devoted entire days to each song.

Over the past year, we've had some unbelievable artists walk through our studio doors and melt our musical minds. Laura Marling nailed a live vocal performance so perfect you might swear you're hearing a studio mix she'd worked on for weeks rather than a live one-off.

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.

Beck On World Cafe

Nov 22, 2017

According to Beck, listening to his new album Colors may feel like "jogging in a glass box while there is a blizzard outside and you are wearing a form-fitting body suit ... maybe there are some wolves trying to get in or something." Unpredictable and a little wacky? Yep, but that's Beck. Ever since his 1993 song "Loser" brought rap, sitar, steel guitar and a little Spanish together in what became a surprise hit, he's continued to surprise his fans.

You may have seen him standing on stage, signature headscarf resting low just above the eyebrows, sharing a microphone with The Boss as a member of The E Street Band; or portraying Silvio Dante on The Sopranos; or Frank "The Fixer" Tagliano in Lillyhammer.

Bela Fleck and Abigail Washburn's new album is called Echo In The Valley. Both artists have built lives on squeezing more sound, story and emotion out of the banjo than you may have thought possible — she in the clawhammer style of her hero Doc Watson, and he from the three-finger school of Earl Scruggs.

I'm so happy to share our latest session with David Crosby. He made me howl with laughter, he's got so much heart, and he was truly generous in sharing his stories. Crosby is here to talk about his new album, Sky Trails, which features some of his contemporary collaborators — Becca Stevens, Michelle Willis, Mai Agan, and Michael League of Snarky Puppy. But we covered a lot of ground on Crosby's formative cronies, too, including The Byrds, Crosby Stills & Nash, Miles Davis, Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell.

Willie Watson feels his way through America's musical history by sliding an old bottleneck against the strings of his acoustic guitar. He finds it in the grain of his own voice, cultivated over 20 years of singing old songs his own way. First as a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show and now in his own solo career, Watson has brought folk-based roots music alive for new listeners in the 21st century.

Pages