NPR Music

Pinegrove's Cardinal was a messy and charming debut that felt with exacting detail. There's a sense of restlessness in it, run through the twinkly pangs of emo-twang. Go to any live show, or just watch the band's Tiny Desk Concert, and the crowd's sing-alongs are more than just mouthing to their favorite songs — it's living them.

Guest DJ: Weaves

Nov 1, 2017

Andrew Combs On Mountain Stage

Nov 1, 2017

A Dallas native now based in Nashville, songwriter Andrew Combs released his debut All These Dreams in 2015. It drew comparisons to the likes of Harry Nilsson and Leonard Cohen, and as host Larry Groce mentions in his introduction: "He does not disappoint."

The Afghan Whigs' latest album, In Spades, explores memory and time, and lead singer Greg Dulli visited World Cafe to reflect on both. That included a conversation about losing his longtime collaborator and bandmate Dave Rosser, who died in June after recording the album.

Listen to the entire interview, as well as three songs performed live in our studio, in the player above.

Glen Hansard's seen it all: decades of cult fame with the Irish rock band The Frames, movie appearances in Once and The Commitments, and even an Academy Award for "Falling Slowly," the signature ballad he recorded with his Swell Season partner, Marketa Irglova.

Marisa Anderson doesn't just play guitar — she sinks into bends and lingers over melodies, knowing when to light a fire under her fingers and when to wind like a creek. In 2013, she caught my ear for the first time with a pair of records — the raw and dusty Mercury, and the functionally-titled Traditional And Public Domain Songs.

"Speedruns" are a weirdly enthralling piece of video game culture, wherein a gamer takes on titles, often older ones like Super Metroid or Sonic The Hedgehog, using every trick in the book to beat their chosen game as fast as possible.

When we last left Godflesh, the mecha-mutants of industrial metal had returned after more than a decade with 2014's devastatingly nasty A World Lit Only By Fire. It was one of those reunion albums that wasn't only better than it should've been, but a reclamation and reinvention for Justin Broadrick and G.C. Green.

Becca Mancari likes to take the long way around. The Nashville singer-songwriter was born in Staten Island, grew up in Pennsylvania, and developed her love of American roots music during her student days in Virginia. She's traveled the country and the world; some of the spaciousness in her hypnotic, subtle songs comes from lessons she learned while on a walkabout in India.

With his signature top hat and star sunglasses, Bootsy Collins is considered by many to be amongst the godfathers of funk.

Some of us are verbal processors, who feel like certain vexing issues just can't be solved until we've exhaustively enunciated every angle. The hope is that the act of explaining a problem aloud will draw out a perspective previously unseen; sometimes you just have to start a sentence to see where it will lead. On "Let Down," from the four-member Gingerlys, Jackie Mendoza and Colin O'Neill's call-and-response vocals feel like two sides of a conversation with the self, an attempt to sketch the contours of tangled relationship in search of a way out.

The music of The Lemon Twigs has a sound that channels decades long past.

Michael, 18, and Brian D'Addario, 20, the brothers who make up the band, have a look that matches: We're talking peak 1970s shag haircuts, oversized tinted aviator shades and high-waisted bell-bottom jeans.

Calling Fats Domino an architect of rock and roll almost sounds like faint praise. Indeed, the amiable country boy from the Lower Ninth Ward, with the help of bandleader impresario Dave Bartholomew and one of the world's truly legendary gangs of sidemen, dug the hole and laid the actual foundation.

The blues have traveled far and wide over the last century — exerting a vast cultural influence worldwide, yielding myriad offshoots, and generating fortunes for some of the biggest musical acts of our time. But it's also still the product of local conditions, and bound by hardscrabble local concerns.

On this episode of Jazz Night in America, we'll go to Clarksdale, Miss., to get a temperature reading at ground level, where struggling musicians are finally beginning to reap the benefits of a recent wave of blues tourism.

Grizzly Bear had only played a handful of shows behind its new album when the band arrived at Apogee Studio to tape this session for KCRW. Most of the band members now live here in Los Angeles, and seeing the group back together on stage after a notable hiatus was a real treat.

SET LIST

  • "Four Cypresses"

Photo: Dustin Downing/KCRW.

At the risk of hyperbole: London's La Vida Es Un Mus is one of the most exciting punk record labels going, possessing an unmistakable ear for innovative, dark sounds spanning continents, languages and style. There doesn't appear to be any method to when their releases become available, though its always an event.

My guest David Rawlings has a new album. Well, a new old album. It's called Poor David's Almanack, and in writing it, Rawlings set out to craft new folk songs that evoke old folk traditions.

Iron & Wine On World Cafe

Oct 27, 2017

Iron & Wine, the nom de plume of songwriter Sam Beam, returned to World Cafe for a solo set in front of a live audience. His latest abum, Beast Epic, was recorded at the Wilco Loft in Chicago and released on his original label Sub Pop.

Iron & Wine began his live set with the first song that Sub Pop ever released, a 7-inch single of "Call Your Boys." Hear it in the player above.

A singer, rapper, poet, author, speaker and all-around mogul, Dessa can be forgiven for waiting three-plus years (and counting) to follow 2014's excellent Parts of Speech.

There can be no more personal or generous a gift from an artist to their fans than to say: Here is the museum of my heart as I prepare to die. Please come in. This room smells like Chanel No 5. It's the scent of all the letters sent by my old flame. That room is an exact replica of my baby's nursery. It's where we performed our old "Bedtime" routine: "I'd get you to your crib, slowly lower you down. Then pull my hands away, as if from a bomb. Then I'd step away, one step at a time, the floors were full of sounds, all the creaks of time." That window looks out at "The Lake," Lake Ontario.

Half a minute into the first track of Big Thief's second album, Capacity, I thought of a lyric by Jenn Wasner from her solo project Flock of Dimes: "It is the quiet voice that says it best." The further I ventured into Capacity, the more that lyric became a mantra.

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.

We get a lot of music in the mail here at World Cafe and sometimes a song and a story hits me right in the gut. Kyle Vanes, of the band The Dales, wrote to tell us the story behind "Still the Love," a song inspired by finding, and losing, the love of his life Heather Marie Allman. She had stage 4 breast cancer when they met. Kyle and Heather were friends for a while before they fell in love and stayed together until she died in January of 2015.

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