NPR Music

Mention Erin Rae's name in Nashville indie music circles and you'll get a certain reaction: people's eyes light up, they sigh, and use words like "angelic" and "mesmerizing." Rae's gentle voice and subtle, deeply insightful songwriting have made her a standout among the city's folk and Americana artists for years.

We fell hard for "Echo," the slow burner on Black Rebel Motorcyle Club's new album Wrong Creatures. The LA trio kicked off their performance with the song, followed by a blistering rock set.

Photos By Steven Dewall

SET LIST

  • "Echo"

Patti Smith On Mountain Stage

Mar 29, 2018

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame member Patti Smith and her family returned to West Virginia in February 2018 to accept the posthumous induction of her husband Fred "Sonic" Smith into the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame. While he came to fame in Detroit, Fred Smith was born in Lincoln County, W.V. He was a guitarist with influential punk band MC5 and he would marry Patti Smith in 1980.

In person, folk musician Haley Heynderickx is shy and soft-spoken. She gets what she calls "sweaty impostor syndrome" when asked to talk about her music. But in performance, the Portland-based artist has the confidence to lay herself bare. Two years ago, she released a promising four-song collection called Fish Eyes that was so unguarded, it was almost uncomfortable to listen to.

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.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Harlaw

Mar 28, 2018

Fiona Ritchie invites you to travel back across six centuries with music historian John Purser. Fiddler Bonnie Rideout and her musical guests perform the ancient music commemorating the legendary events of the Battle of Harlaw in 1411.

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Lydia Loveless, Julie Byrne, Eva Salina, Sera Cahoone and Western Centuries are just a handful of the 19 musicians featured on the latest compilation

Mary Bragg and Becky Warren are nursing beers and comparing notes on their conscientiousness.

Wild Animals must have fans all over the world. No less than seven record labels spread across the U.S., Spain, Italy, Chile and Japan are co-releasing The Hoax; a lot of people really want you to hear the Madrid trio's new album, which recalls Superchunk's crunchy pop-punk and Bob Mould's triumphant, post-Hüsker Dü jangle with Sugar.

Nick Kivlen, Julia Cumming and Jacob Faber, also known as Sunflower Bean, kicked off the Public Radio Day Stage with a bunch of songs from the band's latest album Twentytwo in Blue. The young trio from New York showcased their many sides, including the introspective sweetness of the album's title track and the edgier, more playful tone of "Human For." Their command of the stage and musicianship continues to impress and their set was a clear highlight at the Austin Convention Center.

Jessica Lea Mayfield has a story to tell and definitely wants you to hear it. Her most recent album, Sorry Is Gone, is a deeply personal record. It's also very loud and distorted.

When an artist has a hit as huge as "Jessie's Girl," from 1981's Working Class Dog, they can become immortalized in pop culture memory and maybe even frozen in time. They can get flattened, too. But we all know that there's much more to a career artist than the big hit, and there's more to a person than what they do for a living.

Our South X Lullaby with Soccer Mommy took us away from the frenetic world of the South by Southwest music festival and into the past. We ventured to my favorite store in all of Austin, Texas: Uncommon Objects, a self-described "one-of-a-kind emporium of transcendent junk" or "your eccentric uncle's attic on steroids."

The first track I heard from the forthcoming Okkervil River record In The Rainbow Rain, out April 27, was "Famous Tracheotomies." It's a name-dropping song exploring the medical histories of various celebrities and it's a song that only Will Sheff could write.

Upon the release of his first album Upon This Rock in 1969, Larry Norman unwittingly created the billion-dollar industry of Christian rock. Author Gregory Alan Thornbury is sure that if Norman were alive today, the musician would have despaired at the state of the genre and evangelicalism.

There are a billion and a half bands from Brooklyn, but the group joining us today are poised to be breakout stars. This band has already been crowned by many as the hardest working band in New York. They're Sunflower Bean.

On their sophomore album Twentytwo in Blue, out today, the band incorporates its love of 70's British glam rock like T. Rex and Slade to the sound.

Although Kansas City quintet Hembree has been working in their hometown for a couple of years, their set at Stubb's was most likely the crowd's first introduction to the group, which swims in '80s textures and treated its 20-minute set like a speed date. With three vocalists and a percussionist across the front of the stage, they started fast and rolled through one energetic and percussive song after another, including their new single, "Had It All."

SET LIST

New Music Friday: March 23

Mar 23, 2018

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton talks with NPR Music's Lars Gotrich, Ann Powers and Stephen Thompson about the essential albums landing today, including Jack White's sprawling, completely bonkers Boarding House Reach; Americana from Courtney Marie Andrews; R&B singer Toni Braxton's first new solo album in nearly a decade; far-out Canadians Yamantaka Sonic Titan and more. Hear the discussion and songs with the play button at the top of the page or by subscribing to the All Songs Considered podcast.

Featured Albums:

My first experience attending SXSW was like running around the most generously stocked international grocery store with a bottomless cart and an unlimited budget. But for my musical ears.

Each of the artists in today's trio would make a wonderful guest on World Cafe by herself. Sara Watkins, Sarah Jarosz and Aoife O'Donovan each have stunning solo albums. Many recognize Sara Watkins name from Nickel Creek, the band she started with her brother and Chris Thile.

The first thing you notice about almost any song by The Shacks is that voice. Singer Shannon Wise wields a mesmerizing wisp, silky and lambent, like curls of smoke swirling into a moonlight sky.

Explaining "Miki Dora," the first song we heard from his fourth album as Amen Dunes, Damon McMahon wrote in January that the iconic surfer of the title served as "a true embodiment of the distorted male psyche" and "a reflection on all manifestations of mythical heroic maleness and its illusions." But listening to it, you could be forgiven for thinking the song is starry-eyed.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Singing The Land

Mar 21, 2018

In this program, Fiona Ritchie guides you to some very special landscapes. We feature music from Karine Polwart's award-winning theatrical event "Wind Resistance," originally presented in association with the Edinburgh International Festival. We'll also hear excerpts from fiddler Duncan Chisholm's "Sandwood," named for the finest and least accessible beach in Scotland.

The National Library of Congress has shared its latest batch of musical inductees to the National Recording Registry. The 25 works — a mix of singles, field recordings, albums and soundtracks — represent myriad genres and time periods, and bring the Registry's overall catalog up to 500 entries.

The idea behind our South X Lullaby series was to offer intimate moments with musicians as an antidote to the commotion and deluge that is the SXSW music festival. When we met Lucy Dacus for her Lullaby and found out she'd perform "Historians," a most somber song from her deeply personal and triumphant album Historian, it felt just right. It's a song of reflection, the story of two intertwined partners and the way they document one another's lives and preserve each other's memories.

Sarah Louise must have a sick sense of humor, or just perfectly inappropriate timing: The second day of spring has been welcomed with heavy snow on the East Coast, and I am grumpy about it. But dangit, her new song helping keep the soul toasty.

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