NPR Music

This essay is one in a series celebrating deserving artists or albums not included on NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums By Women.

It's hard to think of an artist who's brought more joy to more people, across more generations — and in more ways — than Steve Martin. In the 1970s, he won the hearts of young children for his playful appearances with The Muppets while simultaneously charming legions of older fans with his subversive standup routines. Later, as an actor, he wrote and starred in some of the most memorable comedies (and a few dramas) of all time, while writing books, plays and even a Broadway musical.

Celebrate Fall With Mountain Stage (Live)

Sep 24, 2017

Watch live as Mountain Stage welcomes the arrival of fall with a diverse group of songwriters and musical styles, hosted by Larry Groce. You'll hear Semisonic frontman Dan Wilson as he revisits songs he co-wrote with the likes of Adele and Chris Stapleton.

It's always kind of a miracle when two people find each other and fall in love. And that's what happened to my guests, the duo known as Amadou & Mariam. But their story is even more miraculous. They're both from Mali; they both lost their eyesight as kids — Mariam was 5, and Amadou was 16. They met each other at the Bamako Institute for the Young Blind in the '70s, fell in love with each other's musicianship and went on to get married and become global Afropop sensations.

Shilpa Ray is nothing if not honest. Her new album, Door Girl, captures New York nightlife in all its sordid, sweaty chaos and supplies caustic commentary on life in the unfeeling city.

These days, David Crosby — one of the world's most recognizable rock stars — lives and works quietly in a ranch near Santa Barbara, Calif. with his three dogs—sometimes, he jokes, all named Fang.

Join host Fiona Ritchie and guests as they explore selections from the American Folklife Center's collection of about half a million sound recordings, including songs from Woody Guthrie, Bob Dylan and Carrie Grover.

Portland, Ore.'s The Decemberists and British singer-songwriter Olivia Chaney have teamed up to cover traditional English (and Irish and Scottish) folk songs under the name Offa Rex.

Review: Loney Dear, 'Loney Dear'

Sep 21, 2017

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.

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.

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.

In this special episode, we're having a listening party inspired by Turning the Tables, NPR Music's list of 150 Greatest Albums Made By Women. It was spearheaded by Ann Powers, our Nashville correspondent. She joins us — along with Alisa Ali from WFUV in New York City, Andrea Swensson from The Current in Minneapolis, and me, Talia Schlanger — to focus on a couple important records from that list that came out in the '90s.

Watch Lo Moon Play 'This Is It' In 360 Degrees

Sep 20, 2017

Lo Moon's carefully crafted dream-pop songs have made them one of Los Angeles' most exciting bands to watch. Get inside KCRW's studios with a virtual reality performance of the group's shimmering single, "This Is It."

Over the past couple of years, Big Thief has quickly gained a passionate and devoted fan base with a rare, quiet force.

Appearing to come out of nowhere last year with its critically hailed, and aptly titled debut, Masterpiece, the band has already taken a quantum leap on its fast (and also aptly titled) follow-up, Capacity. Indeed, Adrianne Lenker's solo performance and conversation at WFUV gave us the rare opportunity to get an intimate glimpse of the vulnerability she wields in powerful ways.

The Barr Brothers — siblings Brad and Andrew Barr, along with harpist Sarah Pagé – are set to release a new album, Queens Of The Breakers, via Secret City Records on Oct. 13.

Some people float through change; others aggressively swim. Still others find themselves deeply challenged to find ways to follow a current that can carry them to a safe shore. The Lone Bellow, the Brooklyn-born trio of Zach Williams, Kanene Donehy Pipkin and Brian Elmquist, negotiated many changes while making its third album, Walk into a Storm. Babies were born; a close friend of the band committed suicide. One member sought and found a way to deal with alcohol addiction.

When Leon Russell died last November, the 74-year-old star was recuperating from heart surgery and itching to get back out on the road. So it's no surprise that Russell — whose music fused soul, rock, gospel and country — left behind an impressive batch of songs that hadn't yet seen release. On Friday, 10 months after his death, On a Distant Shore continues a recorded legacy that hasn't dimmed.

Each August for the last 10 years, World Cafe has recorded bands playing the opening concert of the renowned Philadelphia Folk Festival, which celebrated its 56th edition this year.

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.

Live from the Americana Music Festival and Conference, WMOT — in collaboration with World Cafe, VuHaus and NPR Music — brings you a live webcast of the WMOT Roots Radio 89.5 Birthday Bash at the Yee-Haw Tent in downtown Nashville. Watch the live video webcast starting at 11:00 a.m. CST/noon EST on Saturday, Sept. 16 via VuHaus, above.

There is a fine line between sensitivity and melodrama.

Petal, the musical project of Kiley Lotz, doesn't reveal specifics in "Comfort" to determine where she stands, but she makes her disquietude known. Her soft falsetto recognizes that the dissolution of a relationship, the space in which something intimate becomes ill-defined and romance starts to waver, is an idiosyncratic experience every time, for every stranger, friend and loved one. It also happens to be why "Comfort" is so heartbreaking.

When MTV launched on Aug. 1, 1981, the very first music video played was "Video Killed The Radio Star" by The Buggles. The song's lyrical message mixes nostalgic sentiments with concerns about how technological advancements will impact the future of music consumption and the musical stars these advancements would create.

Snail Mail's sleepy songs have a way of waking you up. They rumble at a steady pace like a scrappy rock band playing to a small room, but then Lindsey Jordan, who just graduated from high school this past spring, drops a line like, "So if you look death right in the face, don't thank him / Because there's nothing and there won't ever be." You can feel the room nod in solidarity, and you could feel the NPR Music office do the same when Snail Mail performed "Slug."

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