NPR Music

The World's Ugliest Dog competition is a lie, or at least misleadingly named. Foldover skin, permanently protruding tongues, untameable wiry hair — those dogs are adorable and anyone who says otherwise has no heart. Noise-rock, on the other hand, thrives on ugly. It is the parasitic, shape-shifting monster of music, and Couch Slut is here to explosively mutate into a creature from The Thing.

Big Hush's first two cassettes are full of quiet songs played loud. With members from Pygmy Lush and Flasher, the D.C.-based band features (appropriately) hushed vocals from all four members, cooing over a messy, punk-sick shoegaze. It can, from songs that read as intimately as notes passed between friends, make for quite the harmony-riddled racket.

"I'm terrified as usual. Absolutely terrified," Radiohead leader Thom Yorke told the BBC ahead of the band's headlining performance at Glastonbury on Friday night.

Yorke's nervousness translated into a typically transcendent concert with a recording that actually does it justice, too. (Live recordings always tend to be a little light on the low end, but let us abandon nitpicks).

Head here and start at 28:25 to hear the beginning of the band's set.

Let's Eat Grandma: Defying Commas And Expectations

Jun 26, 2017

There are sections of Highway 1 where the heart can leap out of your throat and into the Pacific Ocean, the California coastline so steep, the water so far and so blue, the beauty savage and mysterious. Walk long enough from the winding asphalt, into the woods, and this mystery endures, but thick and sky high, surrounded and enclosed. Seven years ago Fletcher Tucker moved here, to Big Sur, to make music as Bird By Snow and run his label Gnome Life Records. As Tucker fell more deeply into this environment — an "inhabitation," he calls it — he found songs instead of writing them.

Phoenix's sixth and latest album is called Ti Amo; in case you're rusty on your Italian, that means "I love you." And the record is filled with love. It also evokes Italian discos in the summertime — a surprisingly fun and lighthearted tone, given the tense times in which it emerged.

Rev. Sekou is a preacher, pastor and social activist with music in his blood. In this session Sekou is joined by the North Mississippi Allstars — whose members Luther and Cody Dickinson produced his new album, In Times Like These — for a performance recorded onstage at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

Ah, the feelgood aura of The Beach Boys. We know it so well we just sorta melt into it – drifting into the idyllic reveries of "In My Room" and "God Only Knows," hardly focusing when one of those hot-wired surfing songs erupts from the radio. It's like a direct circuit to the brain: Hear those harmonies and in 3-2-1, there comes the little dopamine squirt affirming all is right with the world.

Algiers new album The Underside Of Power is one of 2017's most ambitious and intense records. I love it — but sometimes I have to just have to hit pause. There's a fierceness both in subject and sound and source, including speeches from Fred Hampton of the Black Panthers, bold and dark lyrical imagery of death and rage, sounds of people weeping, drones, chimes and what at times feels like the entire history of rock, gospel and R&B wrapped into fifty-one minutes. There's a lot to unpack here.

Kansas City native Kevin Morby relocated to Los Angeles a few years ago, but his latest album, City Music, is a dedication to another former home: New York City. Morby has a voice and perspective well beyond his 29 years, and we thoroughly enjoyed his live session.

SET LIST

  • "Crybaby"

Photo: Davis Bell/Winter LaMaster Photography.

Lo Tom's debut is a serious rock 'n' roll record that doesn't take itself too seriously. "Nobody is in charge," the band claims. "The album is pink..." and features a chihuahua with sunglasses.

Back in 2001, not long after All Songs Considered started, Bob Boilen and I made what was one of the show's first-ever musical discoveries, a then-new band called The Be Good Tanyas. The trio of young women from Vancouver made incredibly infectious folk with the sweetest harmonies and a swoon-inducing surplus of innocent charm.

There are as many ways to celebrate summer as there are cover versions of George Gershwin's "Summertime." Maybe you're looking forward to hot fun in the summertime or slathering on sunscreen so you can soak up the sun.

Girlpool was formed by musicians Harmony Tividad and Cleo Tucker a few years ago after they met at a DIY space in Los Angeles. In 2015 Tividad and Tucker released their debut record, Before The World Was Big, as a duo — just two voices, two instruments (bass and guitar) and a whole lot of radical honesty.

(Sandy) Alex G has been making music since he was a teen — mostly in his Philadelphia bedroom. But he ventured downstairs in 2016 to contribute guitar stylings to Frank Ocean's albums Blonde and Endless. (Sandy) Alex G's latest album, Rocket, is his eighth, and we thought that was a mighty impressive output given that he's still in his early 20s. But he sees it a little differently, as he explains in this session. He also performs warm, heartfelt music with a homegrown touch.

Anita Pallenberg Was No Simple Muse

Jun 20, 2017

Arguably, no single rock musician has had a greater ripple effect on both men's and women's fashion than Keith Richards. Things that shouldn't have made sense — from Nudie suits and scarves as belts, to cheetah-prints and graphic striped trousers mixed with polka dots — always looked effortless on him. Unbeknownst to many at the time, it was Anita Pallenberg's closet from which Richard was pulling.

We follow Father's Day weekend with a mix of powerful new pop and rock from a lot of incredible women, including "Exhumed," a raging, cathartic song from Zola Jesus, and roaring doom metal from Chelsea Wolfe.

Journey Force

Jun 20, 2017

Michael Cerveris On Mountain Stage

Jun 20, 2017

Two-time Tony Award-winner and accomplished singer-songwriter Michael Cerveris returns to Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va. A native of Huntington, W.Va., Cerveris grew up in a very artistic family with a professional dancer for a mother and a professor of music and community-theater performer for a father.

Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle has always been more comfortable with machines than people. It's a dynamic he's well-documented, and even romanticized, in his work, with tales of misfit characters and their troubled relationships with everything from robots to appliances. Perhaps it's because mechanical friendships don't require much of an emotional investment — they're not built on a lot of open and earnest discussions.

It took a few songs for them to lock in. "We'd like to dedicate this entire set to the memory of John Spalding," guitarist and primary vocalist Doug Lorig said, referencing a Seattle guitarist who died of cancer in 2008 and played in punk bands like Ninety Pound Wuss and the wildly destructive Raft Of Dead Monkeys, all of whom shared members (at one point or another) with Roadside Monument.

After releasing two new songs, playing them on Saturday Night Live, and not being totally stoked on a set of vinyl reissues, LCD Soundsystem has annou

The new album from Tigers Jaw, spin, revels in quiet pleasures, even as its rich production pulls power from the band's open wounds. It's the major-label debut from a band that, at one point, made yelping and earnest pop-punk before finding its way to intricate, and melancholy, pop.

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