NPR Music

The Thistle & Shamrock: At The Edge

Jan 10, 2018

This week we explore the evolving sounds of Celtic music inspired by jazz and classical music, with artists including Solas, Kila and Shooglenifty.

Today we have new music from Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats and an album announcement. The song is called "You Worry Me," and it'll be on the band's second record titled Tearing At The Seams.

Todd Snider On Mountain Stage

Jan 9, 2018

When Todd Snider makes this appearance on Mountain Stage, his 14th since 1995, the East Nashville-based songwriter has just released his latest album Eastside Bulldog.

"I haven't played anything off my new album," Snider quips towards the end of the set. "It's terrible. I should be ashamed but I'm not."

All this year, NPR Music and its partner stations will be following a group of outstanding new and emerging artists from local music scenes across the country for a series we're calling Slingshot. On this week's All Songs Considered, we talk to some of our partner stations about the artists they chose for this year's list. Some are hometown favorites, and others are rising stars from abroad.

In the fall of 2017, NPR Music and VuHaus' public radio network kicked off Slingshot, a collaboration among taste-making music radio stations to showcase and elevate outstanding new artists. The inaugural class included Big Thief, Jamila Woods and Lo Moon.

In the visceral music video for "Your Dog," the first single from Soccer Mommy's forthcoming album Clean, we find Sophie Allison glassy-eyed and numb in the moments after a violent outburst. Directed by Weird Life, the film functions as a bleakly humorous horror flick illustrating the sudden, heartbreaking ending of a relationship which had long since soured.

The last time bandleader Kim Deal, her sister Kelley Deal, bassist Josephine Wiggs and drummer Jim Macpherson got together to make a record, they recorded The Breeders' 1993 classic Last Splash, a wiry and infectious burst of sly invention and shambling joy. On March 2, at long last, that lineup returns with All Nerve, the first full-length Breeders album with any lineup since 2008.

Shirley Collins just doesn't sing old songs — she inhabits the experience within and transmutes them. She hears songs holistically, and out rings a voice that never overtakes, but rather lives with the melody. Collins innovated the folk music tradition, heard most strikingly in the 1964 album, Folk Roots, New Routes, and gave shape to bands like Pentangle and Fairport Convention.

The Secret Sisters (who, yes, are in fact sisters!) are Laura and Lydia Rogers. First signed to Universal Records in 2010, their debut was produced by Dave Cobb and the follow-up was produced in 2014 by T-Bone Burnett. Those are some heavy hitters in the music world: Dave Cobb has made albums with some of Nashville's best artists, including Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton, and T-Bone Burnett has worked with everyone from U2 to Alison Krauss and Robert Plant to Elvis Costello.

Amanda Shires On Mountain Stage

Jan 5, 2018

Amanda Shires makes her third appearance on Mountain Stage in this performance from the Clay Center in Charleston, W.Va., recorded in the fall of 2016. It came shortly after the release of her fifth record, My Piece Of Land, produced by Dave Cobb.

The night before St. Vincent came in to World Cafe, she played a show at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia. And when I say she played a show, she really played a show.

You may know Josh Ostrander as Mondo Cozmo, an overnight success that took 15 years to bubble up. Mondo Cozmo's first album, Plastic Soul, was released in 2017 after a string of radio singles including "Shine," which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative charts, and "Hold On To Me."

And we're back! Our first new mix of the new year includes gritty guitar rock from the band Bethlehem Steel, a sweetly seductive, pop earworm from singer Anna Burch, and an epic breakup song from Lucy Dacus.

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.

This special radio hour features Pete Seeger's music throughout his career, plus an interview during a visit to his home, where he shared his anecdotes, spirit and zest for life with Fiona Ritchie.

This episode originally aired the week of Dec. 30, 2010.

There's a danger, when an artist has as compelling a story as Margo Price has, that the personal will overshadow the musical. So let's just get one thing straight first: Margo Price writes really beautiful songs. And boy-oh-boy can she sing.

You can hear a sense of wandering, the wistful shuffle of no fixed address, in Bedouine's music. She was born Azniv Korkezian but chose the artist name Bedouine from the Arabic-speaking Bedouin people, who wander the Middle Eastern desert as nomads.

Images of Kentucky are often reduced to coal miners, bourbon, horse-racing and Loretta Lynn. This year, Oxford American magazine has dedicated its annual music issue entirely to Kentucky, and it explores soul jazz, punk rock, rap and more from the Bluegrass State.

Iron & Wine is one of our favorite singer-songwriters, and his live performances are always moving and impactful. Sam Beam's new album, Beast Epic, was recently nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Americana Album and our favorite cut is the single "Call It Dreaming."

SET LIST

  • "Call It Dreaming"

Photos: Steven Dewall/KCRW.

Join us for a warm blend of festive songs, carols, stories and season's greetings featuring Rhiannon Giddens with The Gathering, Maddy Prior, Little Windows and Cherish the Ladies.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

It's easy to take David Bazan's music for granted, or to turn away from it. For two decades, first as Pedro the Lion and then under his own name, he's been making songs that quietly pick apart doubts, miscommunications and personal failings in order to expose soft truths about human struggle. He's both singular and reliable, and within a narrow but potent vein of subject matter and style, he's an explorer.

Sara Watkins On Mountain Stage

Dec 26, 2017

Southern Californian Sara Watkins has made seven appearances on Mountain Stage, including two with Nickel Creek and three since she launched her solo career in 2009 with her self-titled debut.

Wrapping up a year of some incredible sessions, this week, World Cafe is digging into the archives for some of its best performances and interviews of 2017.

Ben Shirley's story is one of redemption. He'd been playing bass in bars, clubs and arenas in the Los Angeles area since he was 15 when he fell down a path of drugs and alcohol. Four bottles of vodka and $360 worth of heroin a day brought him down hard on Skid Row.

It was at the non-profit The Midnight Mission where Shirley turned his life around in 2011. Now, at 53, he's an undergrad in The San Francisco Conservatory of Music's program of Technology and Applied Composition. He debuted an original piece, "We Need Darkness to See the Stars," earlier this month.

So many of us have spent Christmas with Elvis' music, but Priscilla Presley actually spent Christmas with Elvis. Priscilla shares heartwarming memories of holidays with the King, from the first time they ever exchanged gifts to their tree-trimming traditions as a married couple living at Graceland, to how that changed when Priscilla gave birth to their daughter, Lisa Marie, and how Priscilla feels when she hears Elvis' music now.

Pere Ubu On Mountain Stage

Dec 21, 2017

The eccentric rock band Pere Ubu made an appearance on Mountain Stage in October of 1991. It returned, 26 years later, with a rejuvenated line-up and songs from a new album, 20 Years In A Montana Missile Silo.

Elbow released a stunning record this year. Throughout Little Fictions, frontman Guy Garvey shares the joy of new love and fatherhood, while the gorgeous track "All Disco" was inspired by a conversation he had with Black Francis of the Pixies.

SET LIST

  • "All Disco"

Photos: Steven Dewall/KCRW.

Big Thief, 'Mythological Beauty' (Live)

Dec 20, 2017

Big Thief's "Mythological Beauty" appears, on first listen, to be a calm folk-rock song. But, like Adrianne Lenker's other work, the lyrics tell a powerful story about family, pain and loss.

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