NPR Music

Crank "Up The Street" to a volume that shakes the dust from your creaky bones. Made stiff from years of rock and roll neglect, you are now redeemed by the nasty howl and stomp of Rat the Magnificent. Hallelujah and hot damn.

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.

Fifty years ago, Johnny Cash performed at Folsom State Prison in Folsom, Calif. The January 1968 concert and live album it produced, At Folsom Prison, helped revitalize Cash's career, inspiring him to testify for prison reform and cementing his reputation as a voice for the downtrodden.

The Thistle & Shamrock: The Road Of Tears

Apr 18, 2018

Although the scenes of immigration may change, the tragedies of displaced people are replayed with each passing year. Fiona Ritchie's selections this week include traditional broadsheet ballads and music hall choruses from artists like Dolores Keane, Mick Moloney, and Battlefield Band.

One does not simply "start a band" in your garage or basement in the 21st century. Our buzzed-about guest today, Superorganism, prove that point, stretching the notion of a craigslist connection to completely new heights.

"You're still walking around the block," observes Hope Sandoval on Mazzy Star's newest, to which we all — despite the promising green sprigs of spring making their way out of the branches — sigh and think, "Yeah."

If you hate fun, now would be the time move on to another session. My guests on the show today are the members of Squirrel Nut Zippers.

When Joey Ramone sang, "I wanna be your boyfriend," The Ramones tapped into bubblegum pop's naïveté with a rosy-cheeked hiccup. When GRLwood's Rej Forester sings the line, at first with a little nod to Joey's Buddy Holly impression, she eventually screams it with all of the pent-up rage of someone who just wants a woman to dump her dude, but also is pretty damn tired of being ignored by society.

Chances are your life story can be told in a series of songs — a mix of the music you heard and loved at various stages in your life, from infancy through your teen years, on into adulthood and beyond. This is true all the way up to the final chapter of your life, after you've shuffled off this mortal coil. As your friends and family gather somewhere to say their goodbyes, you get one last chance to memorialize yourself with a final song. This is the song that defines who you were or how you want to be remembered.

Hell is real and L.A. punk band Hit Bargain has been there. It's in Ohio.

With My Morning Jacket on hiatus, frontman Jim James has moved away from his bedroom solo albums and assembled something more reminiscent of a great, '70s rock band. Uniform Distortion is his latest solo adventure and "Just a Fool" is the cowbell-rocking song we have for you today.

If this 10-minute-plus song is any indication, The Milk Carton Kids are about to release a truly epic album. The song we're premiering today, "One More For the Road," is a delicate tale of two lovers parting ways and the hope for one last embrace. It'll be one of twelve songs on the duo's fourth album, titled All The Things That I Did And All The Things That I Didn't Do.

Field Report's new album, Summertime Songs, was recorded before 2016's election, but frontman Chris Porterfield says he's still thought a lot between then and now about how his work fits into the current social and political atmosphere in the U.S. "In the lead-up to putting this record out, I struggled with whether the world needed another white man's record right now," he says.

If you're going to name your spindly sugarbomb "Hula Hoop," there better damn well be some kick-ass hula hooping, right? Media Jeweler has seen you, understands you and has got you.

Before the release of her latest LP, The Lookout, Laura Veirs revealed some stats about its creation, in the form of hand scribbled post-it notes shared on Instagram. Among those are the first word sung on the album ("scuttling"), the last word ("fire"), and the number of children who appear on the recordings (three).

After returning from tours with Joan as Police Woman and Okkervil River, Benjamin Lazar Davis had a rare bit of downtime over the holidays and two things he really wanted to do right away: record a new solo album and spend time with his parents, sisters and brother.

The Callout

Apr 13, 2018

A lot of communities today are taking a hard stand against sexual harassment and assault. Using social media shaming, ostracism, professional excommunication, whatever punishment is painful enough to shift the moral code by brute force. Through one incident in the Richmond, Va. hardcore music scene, we chronicle a social media callout and ask what pain can accomplish.

WARNING: This episode contains obscenities and descriptions of sex and violence.

Special thanks to the following musicians:

NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and Ann Powers join host Robin Hilton for a quick run-through some of the most essential new albums out on April 13, starting with the Korean surf-rock band Say Sue Me and their wistful and gritty album Where We Were Together.

Sister Rosetta Tharpe's electric gospel sound was crucial in paving the way for rock and roll, and the late singer and guitarist is finally getting her day at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland. She joins this a class of inductees that includes big-name rock bands like Bon Jovi, Dire Straits and The Cars.

The Thistle & Shamrock: New Writing

Apr 12, 2018

Join Fiona Ritchie as she features a wealth of brand new music, including festival commissions and soundtracks. Artists include Gillian Frame, Michael Rooney and The Macalla Orchestra, John Doyle, John McCusker, and Mike McGoldrick.

The dreamy, '80s influence of "Tinseltown Swimming in Blood" made the song an instant standout from Destroyer's twelfth album, ken. It was even better live, with frontman Dan Bejar (The New Pornographers) delivering a typically louche, but powerful, performance.

SET LIST

  • "Tinseltown Swimming in Blood"

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp 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 Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.

There's few people who enjoy telling a story as much as Kyle Craft, and boy, does he have plenty of inventory to keep you engaged. There was that one time he was stranded while working on an illegal pot farm. Then there was the moment he contemplated a different career path other than music — working in herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles, because he was really good at catching and identifying snakes as a kid. There's also the story about his good female friend who breaks men's hearts for fun.

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