NPR Music

It's perhaps the greatest immutable truth: Nothing lasts forever. Despite the most valiant efforts to hold on, all things pass, from the highest highs to the lowest lows.

Dave Hause On World Cafe

Feb 28, 2017

Dave Hause comes from the place where punk and classic rock collide. On his new album, Bury Me In Philly, he's found the sweet spot between his hardcore background and his innate love of Led Zeppelin and the Stones.

In September 2012, a high-school rock band from Lititz, Pennsylvania, called The Districts took to the stage at World Cafe Live in Wilmington, Delaware, as part of a local battle of the bands competition.

The band took first place in the competition, and John Vettese, editor of WXPN's local music website The Key, described their set.

When you hear that a band is from Detroit, you might expect clever, loose and melodic pop. But Bonny Doon, built around the songwriting duo of Bill Lennox and Bobby Colombo, isn't descended either from The Stooges' hard rock or from Motown. Instead, the band boasts a mix of hazy pop gems that gather strength from Lennox's sharp lyrics. Bonny Doon released some demos as an EP in 2015 and has a self-titled debut LP coming next month. Hear two songs in the downloadable segment above.

For someone whose music evokes a nighttime Nick Drake drenched in blue, Leif Vollebekk has a surprisingly light sense of humor. It's on full display in this World Cafe session, and so are his warm bath of a voice, his fluid command of synths and guitar and his thoughtful poetry. Here, Vollebekk performs songs from his third full-length album, Twin Solitude, the follow-up to 2013's North Americana.

Iron & Wine, 'We Two Are A Moon' (Live)

Feb 27, 2017

Considering his past life as a professor of film, it would only make sense for singer-songwriter Sam Beam to produce such cinematic neo-folk music as Iron & Wine. That stripped-down, emotionally compelling work continues on his latest release, Love Letter For Fire, a collaborative record with the California-born, Manchester-dwelling artist Jesca Hoop. With "We Two Are A Moon," a cut from that release, Iron & Wine joined us live in Charleston, W.Va.

Jonathan Rado and Sam France were in eighth grade when they first met and began making music together. Their tastes were simple at first — straight-ahead rock songs banged out on drums and guitars in a garage. But a dramatic shift happened when they decided to take a less linear approach to recording their work.

"I got really into buying cheap, cheap instruments on eBay — lots of xylophones and melodicas and kind of useless junk — and that was kind of everywhere," Rado says. "We'd just kind of play for like 30 minutes, and then chop the best bits down to a three-minute song."

On Wednesday, as protesters near the Dakota Access Pipeline began to break down their shelters and leave the area, Brooklyn singer Holly Miranda released a song, a cover of an obscure late-'70s science-fictional folk song, that she'd been working on for two months in support of those leaving.

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.

Danish songwriter Agnes Obel's session might give you the shivers for more than one reason. Her latest album, Citizen Of Glass, was named for a pretty eerie concept. "I got the idea from the German term gläserner mensch, which is the term you use when an individual in a state has lost all his or her privacy," she says.

I Draw Slow On Mountain Stage

Feb 22, 2017

The Dublin roots band I Draw Slow makes its debut on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Ireland's answer to Americana, the five-piece string band (led by siblings Dave and Louise Holden) follows the same musical path as Gillian Welch and Alison Krauss in finding new, folky grooves in old-time Appalachian song.

The last Scottish monarch died more than 300 years ago, but if England's departure from the European Union goes through, a wary Scotland just might be in the business for a new king. And as luck would have it for scotophilic aesthetes, Alasdair Roberts appears up for the job.

Dirty Projectors frontman David Longstreth decided he couldn't wait any longer.

The Infamous Stringdusters' newest album, Laws Of Gravity, admirably demonstrates how these stellar bluegrass players are pushing the music forward.

Spoon's latest video is a surreal, black-and-white tale shrouded in mystery. Nearly everyone in this three-and-a-half minute, funk-inspired jam wears a creepy mask or some sort of ogre costume while riding bikes, dancing, chasing and intermittently accosting one another. It's anyone's guess what it's all about, but it's a curious and compelling watch.

Energetic and earnest, sweet and punchy — self-described "slop-pop" duo Diet Cig is nothing if not endearing. In "Tummy Ache," the first single from the band's upcoming debut Swear I'm Good At This, singer and guitarist Alex Luciano wields this undeniable charm while singing about the challenges of carving out her own space in a notoriously bro-heavy scene.

Note: The audio version of this interview touches on sensitive topics, including Steve Jones' experiences of drug addiction and sexual abuse.

A 1960s cult favorite is back: The Shaggs are going to be performing in June at Wilco's Solid Sound Festival in North Adams, Massachusetts.

"I don't want to be the kind / struck by fear, to run and hide / I'll do better next time."

The more I hear from Laura Marling's upcoming album, Semper Femina, the more I'm convinced, over a career of intimate and beautiful work, that it's the most inspired, beautiful and fully realized thing she's done. The latest cut she's sharing from the record is "Next Time," a perfectly rendered vignette that captures the moment when solitude can lead to enlightenment.

Timothy Showalter is a tough-looking guy with a beard, tattoos and a flat Midwestern accent, who's pretty open about taking drugs. He thinks a lot about where life is taking him.

"I read somewhere that the idea of joy, and to live a joyful life, is different than living a happy life," he tells NPR's Steve Inskeep. "Happiness is fleeting. Happiness is something that you're always going to reach for but you're never gonna quite get or be satisfied with."

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