NPR Music

Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop On World Cafe

May 12, 2016

Collaboration is nothing new to Sam Beam of Iron and Wine: He has recorded with Calexico and recently made an album of cover songs with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses. For Beam's new album with Jesca Hoop, Love Letter For Fire, he says he wanted to try it differently.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released.

Review: Mudcrutch, '2'

May 12, 2016

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

Seattle's Dust Moth scans metal: Thick riffs rumble in and out of heavy atmospheres, with sludgy guitar, melodic bass way out front, and muscular drumming that swings like a thumping heart. Its pedigree scans as metal, too, as the band features guitarist Ryan Frederiksen (These Arms Are Snakes, Narrows) and Giza's rhythm section (bassist Steve Becker and drummer Justin Rodda).

Santana On World Cafe

May 10, 2016

Carlos Santana has just returned with a new album featuring his original band, which split up in 1972 — including guitarist Neal Schon and keyboardist Gregg Rollie (both of whom left to form Journey), Michael Shrieve on drums, and Michael Carabello on percussion.

In this episode of World Cafe, Carlos Santana tells the story of how the group's new album, Santana IV, came together. He also discusses the new instrumental "Fillmore East," which was influenced by the legendary music venue.

There are rhythms that guide us. The syncopated funk of go-go music internally recognizes the everyday juggle of life by bouncing different parts of the body in staggered time. The motorik rhythm — a 4/4 tempo with an accent on each beat — is linear in its drive, but pulsing with tension. For its part, the feel John Fogerty dubbed chooglin' has always been tied to both an undulating rock 'n' roll rhythm and a philosophy of keeping life free and easy.

Overcoats On Mountain Stage

May 10, 2016

Overcoats' members perform on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. Based in New York City, Hana Elion and JJ Mitchell play folk-inspired electro-soul, a sound they describe as "sort of Chet Faker meets Simon & Garfunkel." Their songs draw strength from vulnerability, finding uplifting beauty in simple, honest songwriting.

Stephen Steinbrink's unfussy imagery stays detached from meaning. That's part of what makes his seven albums worth your time: In their lushly arranged pop songs, the listener can tie and untie Steinbrink's vivid and unrelated images into something meaningful — or not. Even his new album's title, Anagrams, suggests engagement through emotional and lyrical rearrangement.

Musician Lera Lynn On The Joy Of Creepy

May 7, 2016

If you watched the second season of True Detective on HBO, you might recognize Lera Lynn — and her voice. She played a melancholy barroom singer; she also contributed some original tunes to the program.

It really started nearly two weeks ago when Beyoncé surprise-released her monstrously good record, Lemonade, via an album-length video shown on HBO. Drake followed a few days later when he unloaded 20 new songs on fans with the epic album Views.

In North Carolina, Musicians Face Off Against HB2

May 6, 2016

On a recent Monday night in Carrboro, N.C., local music venue Cat's Cradle is packed. The room has the makings of most clubs: a stage, a soundboard, a bar and a merch stand, but taped above the gender plaques on the bathroom doors are signs that read, in uppercase, rainbow-colored letters, "We are an inclusive venue. No proof required." Signs like these can be found by bathrooms or in storefronts of local businesses across the region.

Grant-Lee Phillips On World Cafe

May 6, 2016

Grant-Lee Phillips has been a Californian practically his whole life. But in 2013, 20 years after World Cafe first met him and his band Grant Lee Buffalo, Phillips moved his family to Nashville. His new album, The Narrows, reflects the move. With songs like "Cry Cry," Phillips tells the story of his Native American ancestors, who were from that region of the country.

"Sometimes we like each other / and sometimes we just wish we were with another," sings Hannah Mohan on the title track from And The Kids' upcoming album, Friends Share Lovers. "It's okay because / friends share lovers," she later adds. As the title attests, both song and album zero in on what happens when a tight-knit group gets maybe too close.

Experimental pop band Animal Collective recently recorded a rare radio session for us at the Village while in Los Angeles for two sold-out shows. Panda Bear, Avey Tare and Geologist — the multi-instrumentalists behind the band — brought us a collection of songs from their new album, Painting With, including "Golden Gal."

SET LIST

  • "Golden Gal"

Radiohead's social media accounts disappeared over the weekend, which — because we know Radiohead — got us all excited about the possibility of a new album. That tease got extended even further earlier this week when the band released "Burn The Witch," the first song likely from the group's upcoming, ninth album.

Bob Weir had good reason for vehemently roaring, "If I had my way I would tear this old building down," when the Grateful Dead played the Omaha Civic Auditorium on July 5, 1978; the chorus of the galvanic "Samson And Delilah" might have expressed how he and the rest of the band were feeling when they began performing that night at the 11,000-capacity venue for a crowd that reportedly didn't exceed three figures.

Esmé Patterson is one of several young women — others include Frances Quinlan of Hop Along, Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield, and Julien Baker — making music that could be called synapse-rock.

Ben Harper recorded with the Innocent Criminals from 1997 through his 2007 album, Lifeline. Since then, he's worked solo and with Relentless7 — until now. The Innocent Criminals join Harper on his new album, Call It What It Is.

The Canadian band Grindmother last week released its debut album, Age of Destruction. The group gets its name in part from the style of music it plays, known for short songs with blistering tempos and heavy distortion.

Two-time Grammy winner Jason Isbell opens his sold-out show at House Of Blues Boston with a searing version of his blues-rock song "Palmetto Rose." With lyrical references to the "Iodine State," "Sullivan's Island" and "bull**** stories 'bout the Civil War," Isbell plants listeners square on the sidewalks of Charleston, South Carolina, where street vendors hawk roses to tourists.

Winterpills On World Cafe

May 3, 2016

Two distinct strains of music might come to mind when one thinks of the western Massachusetts hamlet of Northampton and the surrounding area. One is the singer-songwriter scene centered around the venue The Iron Horse and the Signature Sounds label. The other is the loud rock scene conjured by J Mascis and Dinosaur Jr.

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