Music

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Song Premiere: Erin McKeown, 'The Jailer'

Nov 19, 2012

Erin McKeown's music is a bit hard to describe. It is music and lyrics with meaning so it makes me think, but it's also playful and so it makes me smile. I'll have another chance to hear it soon, since Erin has made a new record, called MANIFESTRA. The album, her seventh, was funded by her fan base via PledgeMusic and will be out on January 15. Today we premiere her song, "Jailer."

When the Northwestern grunge-rock scene suddenly gained national attention in the early 1990s, Soundgarden had already been around for years. But by 1997, both the band and the musical movement it had helped to define had atomized.

Willie Nelson: Road Rules And Deep Thoughts

Nov 18, 2012

At nearly 80, Willie Nelson remains impressively prolific: lots of songs, lots of kids and, fittingly, lots of autobiographies. The country singer's latest memoir is called Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die, after a song on his Heroes album, released earlier this year. Nelson says those seeking earth-shattering revelations about his life should look elsewhere; that wasn't his intention in writing the book.

This week three of the best pieces of music writing spoke to the conversations happening between musicians and the people heavily engaged with their work — Bowie reaching out to Scott Walker, Kendrick Lamar anticipating listeners' reactions to his songs and the cementing of hip-hop as the "lingua franca" of men's wear.


Kendrick Lamar And The Post-Hip-Hop Generation

Bill Charlap: The American Songbook, Handled With Care

Nov 17, 2012

It's no wonder that pianist Bill Charlap loves the music that has come to be called The Great American Songbook — the songs of great Tin Pan Alley composers such as Jerome Kern, George Gershwin and Irving Berlin. He grew up with it. Charlap was born and raised in New York, the son of Moose Charlap (a Broadway composer) and Sandy Stern, a self-described "popular singer with jazz overtones."

Vintage Trouble has enjoyed a pretty quick rise since forming just two years ago.

Doug Paisley On Mountain Stage

Nov 16, 2012

Canadian singer-songwriter Doug Paisley makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of Ohio University in Athens. Born in Toronto, Paisley makes music steeped in North American history and tradition. He spent 10 years on the road playing and singing in a Stanley Brothers tribute band, as well as working with another project called Live Country Music.

Father John Misty On World Cafe

Nov 16, 2012

Father John Misty is a character — literally. A persona invented by singer-songwriter Josh Tillman, Father John Misty is there to showcase Tillman's rock-friendly side. In 2008, Tillman joined the Seattle folk-rock band Fleet Foxes as its drummer. After leaving the band at the beginning of the year, he loaded his van and hit the road.

Jesse & Joy, Juanes Win Big At Latin Grammys

Nov 16, 2012

Click the audio link to hear Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras and Jasmine Garsd discuss the Latin Grammy Awards with Tell Me More's Michel Martin.

Tweets like these will make more sense in a second:

Harmonic. Phil Harmonic.

Nov 16, 2012

Got an idea for a classical cartoon, or a reaction to this one? Leave your thoughts in the comments section.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist working with sculpture, drawing, photography and performance. You can see more of his work at Artworld Salon and on his own site.

  • Minnesota Orchestra music director Osmo Vänskä has finally (and unusually for a conductor) spoken out about management's lockout of his players.

Patrick Watson In Concert

Nov 16, 2012

One of my favorite performers, Patrick Watson is dramatic but understated; deadly serious but unexpectedly candid and funny. And the music feels so warm, with melodies that haunt and enchant. The singer-pianist and his band put out a new record in 2012, Adventures in Your Own Backyard, and it's one of my favorites of the year.

During almost 30 years hosting The Thistle & Shamrock, I've been privileged to hear thousands of albums recorded on everything from vinyl to MP3. For my list of 100 Essential Celtic Songs, I hand-picked songs and instrumentals by passionate performers from across the decades who helped define the sound of my radio shows.

A Band Becomes Animation, With Amazing Results

Nov 16, 2012

Stop motion with live actors is nothing new in music videos. The Beatles did it nearly 50 years ago for the film A Hard Days Night. Peter Gabriel's 1986 "Sledgehammer" video is still mind-blowing. But few have done it as elegantly as Canadian rock duo The Zolas do for the band's mesmerizing, and amazing new video, "Knot In My Heart."

Every so often, people at an NPR station discover a song they can't get enough of. On those occasions, we ask them to share their obsession with the nation. Ben Famous is the music director at KCEP Power88 in Las Vegas. He spoke to Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep about a new cut from R&B heavyweight Avant. It's called "You and I," and it features Keke Wyatt. "The first time we played it," says Famous, "the phone lines lit up, and people were like, 'Who was that?' 'What was that?'"

Billy Childs Quartet On JazzSet

Nov 15, 2012

It's New Year's Eve at The Blue Whale, a "live jazz + art space" in the Little Tokyo section of downtown Los Angeles. Founded in 2009 by singer Joon Lee, this is a listening room. There's food at the bar, poetry (Rumi!) on the ceiling, and wall-to-wall people. The Blue Whale has been sold out for days, and the phone keeps ringing off the hook because everybody wants to be on the air, cheering for Billy Childs live on NPR's Toast of the Nation.

First Watch: Miguel, 'The Thrill (Live)'

Nov 15, 2012

The Lost Brothers On Mountain Stage

Nov 15, 2012

The Irish indie-folk duo The Lost Brothers makes its first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of Ohio University in Athens. Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland aren't actually brothers; they met nearly a decade ago, while they were both working with other bands in Liverpool. The two began writing songs together in their spare time, and liked the results so much that they decided to form a singing duo.

Titus Andronicus On World Cafe

Nov 15, 2012

The New Jersey band Titus Andronicus doesn't shy away from big ideas: It's named for Shakespeare's first tragedy, and its last record (2010's The Monitor) is a concept album drawing on the history of the Civil War. The group's big, shambling rock 'n' roll doesn't mess around with the everyday, opting instead for life-and-death urgency.

Dayna Stephens Quartet: Live At Berklee

Nov 15, 2012

The saxophonist Dayna Stephens, originally of the San Francisco Bay Area, has built up an impressive educational pedigree: Berkeley High, Berklee College of Music, the Thelonious Monk Institute's masters program. But he's really flourished by backing up greats like Kenny Barron and Idris Muhammad, and being a first-call player on both the East and West Coast. Blessed with a warm, enveloping tone, he's made two records as a bandleader, including this year's Today Is Tomorrow.

The Jazz Side Of Thrill Jockey Records

Nov 15, 2012

The Chicago-based record label Thrill Jockey, led by founder Bettina Richards, has been presenting music on its own terms since 1992. Like any great independent label, it's difficult to identify the core "sound" of its releases, but its fans can easily identify its curatorial spirit. This is by design. "The way I listen to music, there are no categorical limits," Richards says.

William Basinski has lived on both American coasts, but I know a Southern gentleman when I hear one. The ambient music composer, who grew up in Texas, is on vacation visiting the Celeste ranch of his partner James Elaine's family when I call him — "I just fed the horses apples," he mentions — and is just as sweet as I'd heard from colleagues. He pauses long between words, measuring each one because the weight of each word is just as important as its meaning.

Cuban Sounds: From Mambo To Pop, And Back Again

Nov 15, 2012

I saw Bruce Springsteen perform when I was 12. It was my first real concert, and I was there with my parents. (I have cool parents.) I remember it vividly — the giant screens surrounding the stage, the heady aroma of weed, that deep chant of "Bruuuuuce" that swelled through the stadium and kept going and going and going.

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