NPR Music

On this week's +1 podcast, singer-songwriter Sharon Van Etten talks about how and why she made the surprising decision to take an acting role on the Netflix series The OA.

David Crosby's been inducted into in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice, with The Byrds and with Crosby, Stills and Nash. He has one of the most revered voices of our time — and at 75, even with his legendary lifestyle, it sounds as good as it ever has.

Danish singer Agnes Obel has made Berlin her home for the last decade. She recorded, produced and mixed the gorgeously intimate record Citizen Of Glass on her own in her adopted home. Her captivating voice is layered in incredibly interesting ways in this song, "Familiar."

SET LIST

  • "Familiar"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

There's still power in three chords played loud and fast. With a name like Career Suicide, you'd better believe that's true. Now 15 years into the band's existence, vocalist Martin Farkas, guitarist Jonah Falco (who also plays drums in F***** Up) and a revolving cast of musicians crank out '80s-inspired hardcore with the passion of teenagers discovering D.O.A. and Circle Jerks for the first time.

The three women in The Wild Reeds love a good crescendo. They have three powerful upfront voices in Sharon Silva, Kinsey Lee and Mackenzie Howe and they all write songs to honor and embrace their soaring voices. Since their Tiny Desk Concert a little more than a year ago, over a half of a million people have seen it on our YouTube Channel.

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 British folk-rock band The Levellers was DIY before anyone called it that. It formed in Brighton in 1988, when its members were still squatters, and built a career that, by 1994, had landed the band a gig on the main stage at Glastonbury and a U.S. contract with Elektra Records.

Shirley Collins has been a servant of folk songs — mostly from the U.K., some collected in her native Sussex — throughout her life. Born in 1935, she made some of the most important recordings in British folk and folk-rock through the '60s and '70s. She recorded on her own, with her sister Dolly and then with her second husband, Ashley Hutchings, in The Albion Dance Band.

Kinky Friedman On Mountain Stage

Jan 11, 2017

Political songwriter and musical provocateur Kinky Friedman returns to Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va.

Spend some time in Boston's indie rock circles, and the name Pile is bound to come up in awestruck tones. The acerbic, noisy rock band's four previous albums and ceaseless DIY tours have earned it local hero status among the leagues of die-hard fans who shout along to frontman Rick Maguire's every word. And Pile is well-known as an idol for its peers, too – just ask defunct Boston cult favorites Krill, who named an EP in the band's honor.

First Watch: Fawn, 'Good Earth'

Jan 11, 2017

Laura Marling's latest taste from what may be her best album so far is "Wild Fire," a beautiful, breezy reflection on the universal search for identity and purpose. It's an immediately arresting mix of spare, fluttering percussion and gospel harmonies with gently strummed acoustic guitars. Marling lets the song breathe and slowly open up. It feels like the dawn.

When Agalloch broke up last May, it came down to a classic struggle over direction between the band's founder and the musicians who'd made it such a creative and somewhat mystical force in black metal. Aesop Dekker, Don Anderson and Jason Walton have since formed Khôrada with Giant Squid's Aaron Gregory, and are currently working on their debut album. Pillorian, the new band from guitarist and vocalist John Haughm, features members of Maestrus and Uada, and has just released its first single.

NPR's YouTube channel, Skunk Bear, answers your science questions. This week, we picked one in honor of David Bowie.

World Cafe Next: New Year, New Music

Jan 9, 2017

Now that the new year's well under way, World Cafe hosts David Dye and Talia Schlanger share their most anticipated upcoming releases of 2017. Their picks include new music from Sampha, who served as the secret sauce on some of the best R&B tracks of the past year, and from instrumental geniuses Chris Thile and Brad Mehldau, who've melded minds for a double album that comes out later this month.

When Tyler Randall and Rob Keenan of Dawg Yawp were discovered by their manager and producer, fellow Cincinnati musician Rob Fetters, they were performing seated on the floor at their local creperie.

The Joshua Tree, the album that made U2 global megastars, turns 30 this year. To mark the milestone, the band will perform the seminal album in its entirety at several live performances scheduled throughout the year, including a headlining spot at Bonnaroo in June.

As the lead singer and songwriter in The Hold Steady — and, before that, Lifter PullerCraig Finn filled the air with a frenetic flood of words, singing vividly about antiheroes who seek escape and redemption in the form of drugs, religion, rock 'n' roll and many pursuits in between.

Smokey Hormel's great-grandfather George Hormel started the famous meat company bearing the family name. His grandfather invented Spam. But Hormel — and yes, Smokey is his real given name — says he was never much interested in the family business.

Robbie Robertson is a gifted storyteller who's best known as the guitarist and chief songwriter of The Band. His career started at age 16, when Arkansas R&B and rockabilly roadmaster Ronnie Hawkins drafted the Torontonian into his band, The Hawks.

Julien Baker never imagined her sad songs would be loved beyond a small circle of friends.

It was raining in New York on Nov. 9, 2016, and New Yorkers, tired as the rest of the country from a late night after a long election season, walked about in a fog of their own. The sky was still overcast when we met Angel Olsen at the Fordham University Church, an 1845 New York City landmark whose carillon is said to have inspired Edgar Allan Poe's poem "The Bells." There, wearing a green raincoat and accompanying herself on electric guitar, she sang "Give It Up," from her excellent 2016 release My Woman.

The brainchild of classically trained songwriter and bandleader Ellis Ludwig-Leone, San Fermin has evolved from an immaculate, studio-bound chamber-pop ensemble to a looser, livelier full-time operation.

The Shins are back with the group's first new album since 2012's Port Of Morrow. Heartworms is set to drop on March 10 on Aural Apothecary/Columbia Records. In making the announcement today, the band shared the joyfully infectious pop cut "Name For You" and a lyric video.

If Buddy Holly is somehow still capable of hearing the sounds emanating from this mortal plane, there's a good chance he's sporting a broad grin upon encountering "Tip My Heart." The title track from the debut album by Sally & George bears a Spartan sparkle not far removed from the kind that marked the late rock 'n' roll pioneer's venerated output.

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.

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