NPR Music

It's often a challenge to find enough inspiration to get out of bed in the morning, let alone try to craft any kind of lasting creative expression. So it's hard to fathom what it's like for guitarist Jeff Beck to go to the well for more than 50 years and still achieve something creative. But he's been able to accomplish just that on his new album, Loud Hailer.

Heron Oblivion On World Cafe

Jul 6, 2016

Heron Oblivion, which released its self-titled debut album in March, unites former members of loud psychedelic bands from the San Francisco Bay area (Comets On Fire, Sic Alps) with drummer and singer Meg Baird, who comes from an East Coast folk background.

Is there anything that says "summer" better than ice cream? Well, beer maybe. And hot dogs. And baseball and barbecue and beach parties. Okay, lots of things say "summer," but we're getting sidetracked. July is National Ice Cream Month so that's what we're interested in here: Ice cream ... and music.

Sometimes the best way to save yourself is to let go of the things that once seemed indispensable. That's what Okkervil River frontman Will Sheff had in mind when he wrote the stirring "Okkervil River R.I.P.," an elegy to his beloved band's past life.

In this concert video, filmed in March before a sold-out crowd at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C., the London band Savages is by turns tender and ferocious as it showcases tracks from its latest album, Adore Life. Savages' lead singer Jehnny Beth is a revelation: Even as she challenges the audience to match the group's energy from every corner of the stage — as well as catapulting herself onto the audience at one point — it's Beth's emotional, life-affirming lyrics that leave the strongest impression.

Elephant Revival On Mountain Stage

Jul 5, 2016

Elephant Revival makes its second appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Formed in Colorado a decade ago, Elephant Revival draws on influences including Celtic, Americana and folk music. And, for those who wonder, the group is named after a pair of zoo elephants who, upon being separated after 16 years, died the same day.

Darrell Scott On World Cafe

Jul 5, 2016

One of Nashville's most in-demand session musicians and songwriters, Darrell Scott has played a wide variety of instruments on countless sessions and recently toured with Robert Plant and Band of Joy. He's also written hit songs for the Dixie Chicks, Faith Hill and others — all while maintaining his own solo career.

On this week's All Songs Considered, we share new music from legendary producer and ambient pioneer, Daniel Lanois, and from the friends-for-life trio Nonkeen, whose new album comes in the aftermath of a "freak carousel accident." Also on the show is a shout-along emo track from Montclair, N.J.'s Pinegrove and a psych-pop track about never wanting to go outside from Morgan Delt, who recently signed with Sub Pop.

When Xenia Rubinos' father was suffering from Parkinson's disease, she flew to Florida every month to visit, pick up groceries, take him to appointments, and check in with his caregivers. It was an emotional time that inspired the song "Black Stars" from her album Black Terry Cat, in which she sings, "He's a million black stars / And he's gonna live a million years."

NPR listeners first met fiddle player Sara Watkins in Nickel Creek — the trio of prodigies that brought a youthful spirit to a bluegrass world that reveres its elders. Once she started making solo albums, however, she figured out what maturity sounds like for her.

The Head And The Heart recently stopped by KCRW to preview songs from its forthcoming album, Signs Of Light. The folk-rock collective has never sounded better. Its members worked on the song "All I Ever Knew" for years, and finally finished it in Nashville with the help of producer Jay Joyce. It's a great indication of what's to come from the new album, due out in September.

Set List

  • "All We Ever Knew"

Watch Caroline Smith Perform Live In The Studio

Jul 1, 2016

Marissa Nadler inhabits a macabre world full of slow-burning melancholy and laments painted in black and white. Hers is singer-songwriter folk music for a special kind of death-obsessed, romantic Goth.

Hinds On World Cafe

Jun 30, 2016

The Spanish band Hinds has cut a giddy swath across the U.S., proving once and for all that rock music is supposed to be fun. The four women from Madrid play a deceptively loose brand of garage rock that's captured on their international debut, Leave Me Alone, released this past January. In this session, find out about how they keep it lighthearted on the road and hear a high-energy set. Check out "Garden" in the video below.

Since the early 2000s, Orion Landau has been the in-house designer for Relapse Records, giving the metal label a distinct visual identity that spans album covers for the likes of High On Fire's Surrounded By Thieves, Rwake's Voices Of Omens, Jucifer's L'Autrichienne and practically

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.

Hayes Carll On World Cafe

Jun 29, 2016

Hayes Carll's new album Lovers And Leavers defies the expectations of those who might have seen him as a next-generation Jerry Jeff Walker, writing songs of drunken missteps and failed romance. In comparison with some of Carll's earlier work, Lovers And Leavers, produced by Joe Henry, is downright mature. Recent experiences in Carll's life — like divorce and raising his son — inform his new songs, which work as well live as they do with Henry's studio band.

The huggable power pop of Dogbreth's Second Home is the work of punks who write youthful, larger-than-life songs that still wrinkle at the edges. It's the second outing from a band — its members split between Phoenix and Seattle — that plays with doo-wop rhythms, jangly Britpop guitars and ramshackle Thin Lizzy twin-leads.

Coming in at just under two minutes, the snippy "Hoarder House" acts as a self-contained short story in just five lines.

I'm sorry babe

It's only June and this year is already jam-packed with remarkable new artists who've released some of 2016's most memorable music. These are artists who released their very first songs or first full-length albums so far this year.

Blood Orange Drops New Album, Video For 'Augustine'

Jun 28, 2016

Dev Hynes, the songwriter and producer behind Blood Orange, has released a brand new album called Freetown Sound alongside a video for the song "Augustine," which appears on the album. Both the album and video were dropped as a surprise last night, days before the artist originally planned to release his album.

Punk is not immune to dudes lecturing women about womanhood. Truth is, the road to hell is paved with good intentions and well, actuallys.

Do we even need July through December? For a year just reaching its midpoint, 2016 has already been the most. Heartbreaking, surprising, idiotic, ecstatic, life-giving, exhausting. With apologies to whatever happened in the first week of January, the wild mood swings of the last six months started for music lovers the weekend when David Bowie released his final masterpiece, Blackstar, and then disappeared into eternity two days later, leaving us all gasping.

The writing rooms of Nashville aren't always magical places. Though many top-notch creative minds meet in those Music Row offices to pen country hits, the marketplace demands that they produce highly average material for stars seeking to dominate the radios inside American SUVs. Every so often, though, a truly original voice emerges from within Nashville's workaday milieu. Brent Cobb is one.

World Cafe Next: Whitney

Jun 27, 2016

Fans of the Chicago band Smith Westerns might hear something they recognize in the music of Whitney, a new band led by Smith Westerns guitarist Max Kakacek and drummer Julien Ehrlich. The two say "Whitney" is actually the name of the persona they envisioned performing the music they wrote for their debut album, Light Upon The Lake.

Keyboardist and composer Bernie Worrell, who helped shape the sound of the band Parliament-Funkadelic and influenced countless artists across a wide range of genres, died Friday at 72.

Worrell announced earlier this year that he had been diagnosed with late-stage lung cancer.

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