NPR Music

Lucinda Williams On World Cafe

Apr 14, 2016

Singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams' new album, The Ghosts Of Highway 20, is her second double album in a row — she's most certainly been prolific in recent years. The titular stretch of highway passes through resonant places in Williams' life and provides perfect context for songs about the people and events she's encountered along the way.

For the past three years, the Robotic Empire label has released album-length tributes to Nirvana for Record Store Day: In Utero, In Tribute, In Entirety and Whatever Nevermind.

Formed in the fringes of early '90s Los Angeles indie rock, The Summer Hits crafted pop that lingered around the orbits of twee, shoegaze and ramshackle teenage garage rock. What set the band apart was its approach — it caked on elements of those sounds to extremes, noisy and pretty all at once, and played with a grit that made the master tapes buckle.

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.

One of the most iconic songs of the civil rights movement is now the subject of a lawsuit.

Shearwater On World Cafe

Apr 13, 2016

Jet Plane And Oxbow, released earlier this year, is Austin rock band Shearwater's ninth album. In this session, lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Meiburg says Shearwater made a conscious effort to make sure each song on the record made you want to see and hear it performed live, adding that the band pulled many sonic choices straight out of the '80s.

In the player above, hear Shearwater perform three songs from Jet Plane And Oxbow, recorded live in the World Cafe studio.

Three silhouettes stretch across the flat earth, facing each other at a tense distance. Heat squiggles through the air like baby snakes dancing in the sand. The one facing west is long and cracked like old leather, his face determined but his eyes wet with worry. In a rush to claim his bounty, he's replenished his bullet belt, but has left his gun in the room where his antenna'd lover lies. He is thinking about last night, knowing it was likely his last.

William Bell is Back!

Apr 13, 2016
William Bell
Artist

William Bell came on the scene with his debut single in 1961, "You Don't Miss Your Water."  At 76, he's about to release his newest effort called "This Is Where I Live."

As founder of NPR Music's All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen talks to musicians for a living. For a while, he's asked many of them the same question: "What is the song that changed your life?"

Nada Surf On World Cafe

Apr 12, 2016

Last month, Nada Surf released a new full-length album, You Know Who You Are, after a four-year break. The New York band consists of Matthew Caws (guitar, vocals), Doug Gillard (guitar), Ira Elliot (drums) and Daniel Lorca (bass, backing vocals), who've been playing together for two decades.

Nada Surf has always had a knack for propulsive, guitar-driven rock, which you'll hear in this session as the band performs three songs from You Know Who You Are.

Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys make their first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.Va. A bluegrass-inspired band that keeps one foot in its native Michigan's Motown soul and the other in the polished twang of Music City, the group had no idea what lay before it when its members first began jamming at open mics.

There's reality, and then there's what we tell ourselves. Both can be terrifying and difficult, even disastrous. Chris Schlarb tackles an old friendship, misconceptions, grace and the passing of time in Psychic Temple's "Brother O."

A jury trial is now set for a lawsuit that says members of Led Zeppelin plagiarized a key element of the best-selling song "Stairway to Heaven." The estate of Randy Wolfe, the late guitarist of the band Spirit, initially filed the federal lawsuit two years ago.

How strange it must be to be born on February 29, only able to truly celebrate a birthday every four years. It's got to conjure some bittersweet feelings, as if missing out a little on a primary marker of the passage of time — not to mention a steady stream of jokes about turning, say, 20 years old, but only technically 5.

World Cafe Next: Margaret Glaspy

Apr 11, 2016

Margaret Glaspy, a singer-songwriter originally from California, is about to release her debut full-length, Emotions And Math. After high school, Glaspy received a scholarship to study at Berklee College of Music for one semester. Once that scholarship ran out, she hung around Boston for a while, soaking up master classes and workshops, before moving to New York City to refine her songwriting.

Daughter has become, since its first appearance on the KEXP airwaves in 2012, one of the most endearing bands ever to perform live in our studio. The group accrued more than two million views from just two sessions (and performed a third session at Cutting Room Studios). Earlier this year, the North London trio released Not To Disappear, its hotly anticipated second collection of spare, moody dream-pop. Here, Daughter performs the gorgeous "Doing The Right Thing," from that new album.

SET LIST

Yung's music is a space of duality: innocence and experience, beauty and pain, darkness and light. Frontman Mikkel Holm Silkjær embodies opposites, too: His music showcases both his maturity as a songwriter and his youth, as he relies on more than a decade of songwriting experience despite being only 21. Both of Silkjær's parents are musical; they put him behind a drum set at the age of 4 and introduced him to the local punk scene as a teen.

For the last five years, since the release of his album KMAG YOYO, Hayes Carll has been on a mini-hiatus. During that period, he decided it was time for a change creatively and wrestled with how that change would look and sound. It was a time of personal transitions, including the end of Carll's marriage and his departure from his record label.

For the last five years, since the release of his album KMAG YOYO, Hayes Carll has been on a mini-hiatus. During that period, he decided it was time for a change creatively and wrestled with how that change would look and sound. It was a time of personal transitions, including the end of Carll's marriage and his departure from his record label.

After five decades of music-making, Graham Nash's voice is hard to mistake: It's that light, airy tenor you hear in his work with The Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down joins World Cafe for a set recorded live from lead singer Thao Nguyen's home in the San Francisco Bay Area. The band recently released its fourth album, A Man Alive, which was produced by Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. Nguyen says the title alludes to her ongoing estrangement from her father.

Hear the full conversation and performance in the player above.

It's been more than a decade since Erin Tobey's last solo album, and if the name sounds somewhat familiar, she was part of the early- to mid-'00s Bloomington punk scene in bands like Abe Froman and Mt. Gigantic.

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.

Wilco On Mountain Stage

Apr 7, 2016

Wilco makes its third appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Since its formation as an alt-country-influenced descendant of Uncle Tupelo in the mid-'90s, the Chicago band has evolved into the de facto standard-bearer for experimental rock.

Iggy Pop recently teamed up with Queens Of The Stone Age frontman Josh Homme to reignite some of Pop's Berlin-era swagger for his new album, Post Pop Depression. For this special KCRW live session, the iconic punk rocker was in fine form, backed by an all-star band. Watch them perform "Sunday" here.

SET LIST

  • "Sunday"

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.

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