NPR Music

British singer-songwriter Tracey Thorn writes music that chronicles themes in women's lives that aren't often addressed in pop lyrics. Take, for instance, the single "Babies," off her new solo album Record. The song is meant to be a humorous ode to birth control, but there's also a deeper feeling to it.

In 2011, Alejando Rose-Garcia burst onto the scene armed with a guitar and suitcase kick drum and released his first album as Shakey Graves. Seven years later, he's about to release his latest studio album, Can't Wake Up, out on May 4. It's a record that explores themes of death and dying, sleep and sleeplessness, and it has the most interesting sonic landscape to match the lyrical content.

Jade Bird is a whirlwind of talent, energy and spunk. Her raw and robust voice is a prominent feature on most of her songs. It's here, in this solo piano ballad "If I Die" where you can hear the 20-year-old's voice and musical talent shine.

SET LIST

  • "If I Die"

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.


From the beginning of his career as a recording artist, Ry Cooder has treated the music of the past as a resource, turning to old (and very, very old) songs for guidance, mentorship, life lessons, spiritual advice.

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.


For as long as humans have roamed the earth, forests have captivated a special slice of our collective human imagination. From hot, wet jungles to dry, snowy taigas, forests are sites of refuge, mystery and abundance.

To twist a meme normally reserved for Drake, get you a Rosali Middleman because she can do both. The Philly-based musician leads Long Hots, the chooglin' psych-rock trio featuring members of Spacin' and Hothead. Grab a tallboy; this is music that boogies your brain into heavy hypnosis.

From the sounds of blues guitarist and singer Lead Belly to recordings of Southwestern Woodhouse Toads, Smithsonian Folkways has been capturing the sounds of global history for the past 70 years. These recordings are among 60,000 treasured tracks the label has in its library — and it promises they'll never go out of print — from the labor songs of Woody Guthrie and children's songs of Ella Jenkins to New Orleans hot jazz, songs of the civil rights movement, the Honk Horn music of Ghana and so much more.

Sometimes at a concert, an artist's encore can feel more like a premeditated given than an earned celebration. But if you've ever seen the captivating Anderson East live (high jumps, sheer vocal prowess and all), you might agree that he earns every single encore he plays. And so, it feels just fine that East has called his latest album Encore.

Over the past 20 years, Souad Massi has sung provocative songs challenging authority and weaving stories in Arabic, French, and Kabyle, languages from her native Algeria. She's never been afraid to take risks through her music. "You want to know all my secrets?" Massi asks. The Algerian artist laughs and says she has only the best.

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.

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