NPR Music

Sense Of Place North Carolina: Mount Moriah

Apr 18, 2016

World Cafe kicks off its "Sense Of Place" trip to North Carolina with a visit to Mount Moriah's practice space, which is also lead singer and songwriter Heather McEntire's home outside of Raleigh, N.C.

Right near the top of this performance, Benjamin Clementine looks toward the camera with an intense stare and sings, "Where I'm from, you see the rain / Before the rain even starts to rain." At that point, when I'm already hanging on every word, I feel like I'm witnessing an almost otherworldly presence — a visitor with wisdom to impart.

Chicago's Twin Peaks was formed in 2009 by lead vocalist and guitarist Cadien Lake James. With power chords and power-pop melodies, the band recorded its debut EP in James' basement and released its first full-length, Wild Onion, in 2014. Twin Peaks began while its members were still in high school, and the quartet built up a fervent local following playing house shows and becoming prominent in Chicago's DIY basement scene before graduating to small clubs.

Multi-instrumental musician, Andrew Bird is known for his precise composition, his impeccable instrumentation, his playful, ambiguous lyrics — and, yes, his whistling. But he says that on his latest record, Are You Serious, his personal life nudged him into a radical change of approach.

The Scandinavian duo My bubba started singing together after Bubba Tomasdottír answered an ad to rent a room in My Larsdotter's apartment.

Sturgill Simpson's 2014 album, Metamodern Sounds In Country Music, took a lot of people by surprise. While the song forms were firmly rooted in Nashville traditions, the stories he told and observations he made were more like something from a metaphysical self-help guide, with existential meditations on death and dying, religion and the never-ending search for a higher purpose.

The Lumineers On World Cafe

Apr 15, 2016

Fueled by the ubiquitous stomp-along "Ho Hey," The Lumineers' self-titled 2012 debut album went to No. 2, and "Ho Hey" itself sold more than two million copies. The Lumineers released a follow-up, Cleopatra, last week. In today's session, the band performs some of the new music on stage at World Cafe Live.

Hear The Soundtrack To 'International Pop'

Apr 15, 2016

Through May 15, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is housing "International Pop," an exhibit that showcases a global collection of pop art from 1956 to 1972. If you visit, you'll find well-known names like Warhol and Lichtenstein, but also many others from Argentina, Japan and elsewhere, including a large number of female artists.

There is music in nature. Irv Teibel recorded, manipulated and sold nature as functional art; John Cage meditated on it ("My composing is actually unnecessary. Music never stops. It is we who turn away."); Annea Lockwood sonically maps rivers around the world.

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

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.