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A Beyoncé album release is now a communal experience. Who among us (and if you're here reading this, you're one of us) made it through this weekend without a conversation, typed or yelled, about her intent, her intonation, her read, her past, her bat, Serena, Tina, Etta, Warsan, Pipilotti, Zendaya? Whether you love her, hate her, or stay strong in your neutrality, our exchanges are kind of the point. This is what art makes us do. No doubt our opinions are in some places monetized and our vocalization of them surely buoys the price of Lemonade on up to $17.99.

From traditional tributes to contemporary songs of concern for our wild places, this week's music sings of the unspoiled landscapes we love and challenges us to sustain them. Hear songs from the wilderness by Nuala Kennedy, Karan Casey, Tony McManus and more.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Metropolis: 4/23/16

Apr 25, 2016
This Week's Playlist

  • Bob Moses, "Tearing Me Up" (Domino)
  • Classixx, "Grecian Summer" (Innovative Leisure)
  • Underworld, "Nylon Strung" (Ume)
  • Boys Noize, "Euphoria (feat. Remy Banks)" (Boysnoize)
  • Riton, "Rinse & Repeat (feat. Kah-Lo)" (Riton Time)
  • Justin Martin, "Hello Clouds (feat. Femme)" (Dirtybird)
  • Katy B, Four Tet & Floating Points, "Calm Down" (Rinse)
  • Talking Heads, "Once In A Lifetime [Leftside Wobble Dub]"

Freddie Mercury, the late frontman for the legendary band Queen, died almost 25 years ago. But he's still regarded as one of the best rock singers ever.

World Cafe Next: Karl Blau

Apr 25, 2016

Producer Tucker Martine was familiar with Pacific Northwest singer-songwriter Karl Blau through Blau's work on Laura Veirs' records; Martine is Veirs' husband and has produced her latest work. Martine had a vision of setting Blau's voice against lush, dreamy, string-drenched arrangements, and Introducing Karl Blau took shape.

The "monoculture" has supposedly been dead for at least a decade, but it ain't necessarily so. World-devouring pop music phenomena do still exist, but today that universe is made entirely of Beyoncé — a Michael Jackson/Madonna/Prince figure whom everyone who cares about popular culture is supposed to grapple with and have big thoughts about.

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds: Tiny Desk Concert

Apr 25, 2016

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds' punchy horn section, bluesy vocals and uniquely transformative harmonica solos instantly demand attention. Their obvious joy in playing music together is contagious, and they brought the party to Bob Boilen's desk in a big way.

John Metcalfe Feat. Rosie Doonan, 'Wrapped'

Apr 25, 2016

On Saturday night, Beyoncé shook the music world with an hourlong feature on HBO, and then a surprise album — Lemonade.

Beyoncé couldn't have produced a body of work this defiant, or blunt, two years ago. Lemonade has been made possible by the cultural, social and political upheaval we're in the midst of, triggered by the deaths of boys and fathers and women, who will never be forgotten.

If you came of age in the 1960s, chances are you think about rock 'n' roll as the music of youth, of rebellion, of fighting the establishment. But in Nigeria, which was in the middle of a civil war, rock was one of the ways in which people expressed their politics.

Beyoncé has surprised the world yet again.

In case you missed it, she dropped her sixth studio album during her HBO special "Lemonade." Ahead of the release, she had released this cryptic trailer with such lines as, "The past and the present merge to meet us here / Why can't you see me?"

Beyoncé Drops New Visual Album 'Lemonade'

Apr 24, 2016
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit NPR.

Something tells me that 300 or maybe even 3,000 years from now — if we still have breathable air and if we haven't relocated to Mars, and if super-intelligent robots haven't colonized us Matrix-style — we'll still be trying our best to dissect and parse out the überfunky, hyper-synaptic, wildly eccentric, crazy-magical boho black genius of Prince Rogers Nelson. The Minneapolis maestro died at age 57 on Thursday from causes that have yet to be clarified at this time.

This has been a tough year for celebrity deaths — and a sad week for fans of Prince, who died Thursday at age 57. But as flashes of purple filled my social media feeds from friends mourning Prince's death, I just felt numb — and like an outsider, watching a ritual I couldn't fully join.

Fort Worth Opera director Darren K. Woods was looking for a Fort Worth story to mark the company's 70th anniversary. Someone mentioned that they thought President Kennedy spent his last night in the city.

"And I went, 'Everybody would know that if that happened,'" he says. "So we Googled it and boy: There it was."

The Hackensaw Boys are back. The old-time string band has made its own brand of music since 1999, after getting together in Charlottesville, Va. — and though its lineup has changed and its sound mellowed, the group is still going strong. Members David Sickmen, Ferd Moyse and Brian Gorby joined NPR's Scott Simon to talk about the new album Charismo; hear their conversation at the audio link.

On April 21, a nation of music lovers waxed nostalgic about a time or place when Prince Rogers Nelson shook their world. And as the conversation around the country and around the world unfolded, we asked listeners to share their memories of Prince, his music and the impact he had on their lives. The stories poured in, and we collected some of the most affecting tales below.

Sense Of Place North Carolina: Mitch Easter

Apr 22, 2016

Mitch Easter has been a significant presence in the North Carolina music scene for decades — beginning in 1980, when he opened his Drive-In Studio in his parents' garage in Winston-Salem. Easter is best known for his band Let's Active and as a producer for the first R.E.M. albums in the early '80s.

I've seen a lot of brilliant live shows in my life, but none more life-changing or life-affirming than the one Sufjan Stevens gave in 2015 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. for his album Carrie & Lowell.

Shirlette Ammons is a multidisciplinary hip-hop artist from Durham, N.C., who specializes in making musical connections. Her latest album, Language Barrier, is a tour de force that includes contributions from many of the artists World Cafe spoke with during our Sense Of Place visit to North Carolina — including Heather McEntire from Mount Moriah, M.C.

One hundred years ago, a musician was born who took the world by storm, both with his violin and with his warmhearted humanity. Yehudi Menuhin was born April 22, 1916, in the Bronx to Russian immigrants. He began his career as an astounding child prodigy in velvet knee pants. But two men who knew him well — documentary filmmaker Bruno Monsaingeon and violinist Daniel Hope — maintain that as Menuhin grew older, he turned out to be far more than just another virtuoso.

The Code Switch team was sitting in our daily team meeting when our editor looked up from Twitter and broke the news that Prince was gone.

Julia Holter's music exists in tiny universes, colliding in torch songs and bits of cosmic cabaret that are as reverent as they are perverse. The most minute details and the plainest words suddenly form a grandiose spectacle.

The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival kicks off its 47th iteration today, April 22. To celebrate its patron saint, we take a listen back to a particularly fierce live version of Professor Longhair's take on "Mess Around."

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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