NPR Music

Live from the Americana Music Festival & Conference in Nashville, Tenn., WMOT — in collaboration with World Cafe, VuHaus and NPR Music — brings you some of the best musicians performing at the festival, including Tyler Childers, Lindi Ortega and Pony Bradshaw. The show will be broadcast live on WMOT 89.5, and video from the Yee-Haw Tent in downtown Nashville will be streaming online.

On the coattails of releasing his new album Bone on Bone, the Canadian troubadour Bruce Cockburn joins World Cafe for a performance and interview.

We were waiting anxiously for The War on Drugs' new album, A Deeper Understanding. Little did we know the band was hunkered down here in Los Angeles carefully crafting its return. When we finally got the band in studio, we were floored by the new material, including this incredible performance of "Holding On."

SET LIST

  • "Holding On"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

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.

Review: Metz, 'Strange Peace'

Sep 14, 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.

Bruce Cockburn On Mountain Stage

Sep 13, 2017

Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn makes his 14th appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va.

The event has now ended.

NPR Music critic Ann Powers will kick off NPR Music's coverage of the Americana Music Festival today, Wednesday, Sept. 13, with a performance chat exploring the eclectic sounds and legacies informing Americana music. The conversation will take place at 11:30 a.m. CST/12:30 p.m. EST at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum at the Ford Theatre.

Ride On World Cafe

Sep 12, 2017

Along with contemporaries like My Bloody Valentine and Slowdive, Oxford's Ride was seen as one of the definitive bands in 1990s shoegaze. The band had success in the '90s with a fervent fanbase and music that crept up the UK charts.

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.

After hearing the music of Jimi Hendrix as a kid, Selwyn Birchwood was drawn to the blues. Later, he was literally drawn to the blues' doorstep after one of Birchwood's high school friends in Florida introduced him to a neighbor: none other than bluesman Sonny Rhodes.

If you're looking for Chad Matheny — the Floridian singer-songwriter who performs as Emperor X — when he rolls through your town, a good place to start would be your local public transit hub.

You might remember the band Alvvays for its hooky song "Archie, Marry Me," the breakout single off its 2014 self-titled debut album. The strength of that song turned the unknown band from Toronto into instant indie darlings.

Alvvays didn't try to change its sound too much with its new, second album. As lead singer Molly Rankin and guitarist Alec O'Hanley told me in our chat, they kept the same spirit of jangly jams with dark lyrical undertones, filtered through a summer's haze.

At face value, Ravenna, Italy's Havah makes dark rock with a soul of stone, a melancholic coming-to-terms with the fight against historic evils, which rise and threaten once more. Ostensibly a concept album about resistance fighters — some barely in their teens — in the mountains and countryside around Ravenna, who fought back for their own survival against Nazis and brownshirts alike during WWII, Contravveleno's songs are based on the tales passed down from that generation onward.

Okovi, the latest full-length from Zola Jesus, is a monstrously tortured album, built with densely layered grief and pain. Nika Roza Danilova, who's been writing and recording as Zola Jesus since releasing her debut in 2009, bares her most vulnerable thoughts and feelings as she sings about serial killers, suicide, crushing depression and fear. At times, even Danilova admits the songs are hard to hear.

When I listened blindly to nearly a thousand songs while attempting to make my schedule of bands to see at this year's SXSW music festival, one of the few tracks that leapt to the top was "Arizona" by Frances Cone. I wasn't alone. NPR Music's Stephen Thompson also singled out this now Brooklyn-based band for the way it wraps its storytelling in a catchy, pop parcel.

There should be an industrywide rule that only acts of quality are allowed to name their project something wholly impossible to Google. Luckily for Sports — a Philadelphia-via-Gambier, Ohio twee-punk four-piece — it makes the cut.

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.

Tori Amos is the kind of artist you might describe as a seeker. Since she started recording in the 1990s, Amos has used her songs to ask big questions about the world she observes. Time has made her powers of observation more acute, and on her new album, Native Invader, Amos takes stock of the present moment.

Seminal singer-songwriters Billy Bragg and Joe Henry make their duet debut on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh, Pa.

In this episode, we remember Mícheál Ó Domhnaill, one of Ireland's most influential artists, with the music he recorded and produced over three decades. Host Fiona Ritchie features legendary Celtic music groups of which Domhnaill was a member — Skara Brae, The Bothy Band, Relativity and Nightnoise — along with other recordings featuring the guitarist, producer, composer and singer who contributed to over 100 albums.

If you made a list of the most influential guitarists of all time, you'd have to include David Gilmour towards the top of that list. The legendary guitarist and voice of Pink Floyd is our guest for this World Cafe session.

Every Boston band starts in a basement, but not every Boston band hopes to leave one. Bad History Month, a glum anti-folk act that formed there back in 2007, has never been concerned with fame. For starters, the band's music uses a combination of ribald jokes, effervescent self-deprecation and blunt existentialism focused on understanding oneself from the inside out in service of isolation — assuming the position of the middle school loner in the back of a classroom.

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