WUIS Xponential

WUIS Xponential

Percussionists back in Beethoven's day could be forgiven for feeling a little bored, waiting for the infrequent roll of the kettledrum or the occasional cymbal crash. But as orchestras grew bigger, percussionists got busier — even more so after World War I, when a new generation of composers began writing specifically for percussion.

Peter Wolf On Mountain Stage

Apr 13, 2015

Peter Wolf makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. Best known as the former singer of The J. Geils Band, Wolf has musical roots in R&B, soul and country. His appearance on the show was a last-minute unannounced surprise for the audience, as he was in Charleston that weekend with the rest of The J. Geils Band and fellow rock veteran Bob Seger.

Laura Marling On World Cafe

Apr 13, 2015

U.K. singer-songwriter Laura Marling has had a packed career since she released her 2008 debut album, Alas I Cannot Swim, while still a teenager. Each subsequent record has been a critically acclaimed worldwide hit; her fifth full-length, Short Movie, came out last month.

KEXP Presents: Ibeyi

Apr 13, 2015

With Ibeyi, every song is a blessing — sometimes literally. The Parisian-born twin sisters reach deep into their French-Cuban ancestry on their debut album, which blends Yoruban evocations with contemporary expressions of love and loss.

"Take it from somebody who knows." The opening words to Protomartyr's new single, "Blues Festival," are sung by frontman Joe Casey, but they could easily refer to the song's star guest vocalist, Kelley Deal of the Breeders. Deal has lived through a lot in the past 20-plus years, from opening for Nirvana in the early '90s to doing the whole "reunion" thing with her identical twin sister Kim, to releasing small-batch 7" singles by her most recent project, R. Ring.

His songs feel familiar; they're old friends before the first play is done. They'd fit nicely on a mix alongside Paul Simon or the McCartney side of The Beatles.

Review: Squarepusher, 'Damogen Furies'

Apr 12, 2015

Of all the fitful, fractious breakbeat expressionists who got their start in the U.K. in the late 1990s — see also: Aphex Twin, Autechre, μ-ziq — Squarepusher has proven the most wild and untamed. Unpredictability has always been integral to a genre that merges rave-minded electronic sounds with the strictures of so-called IDM (intelligent dance music), but Squarepusher is alone in his capacity to swerve between club bangers and, say, jazz-fusion suites or even an album made with nothing more than dexterous jams on solo electric bass.

Review: Built To Spill, 'Untethered Moon'

Apr 12, 2015

It's suspiciously easy to overlook the existential side of Boise, Idaho's Built To Spill, a seasoned but frequently rotating ensemble centered on avuncular frontman Doug Martsch.

Welcome To Los Santos is a collection of new songs created by hip-hop producers The Alchemist and Oh No and inspired by the 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto V — Los Santos being the fictional setting of the gangster-fantasy adventure.

San Fermin's 2013 debut brims over with ideas: The brainchild of one guy, classically trained Brooklyn composer and multi-instrumentalist Ellis Ludwig-Leone, it's a nearly hourlong feast of gorgeous chamber-pop storytelling.

In the six years I've lived in the region, I've developed a mantra: Southern freaks are the best freaks. For me, the word "freak" can be both positive and downright spiritual. It describes serious individualists who are tolerant of others whose own paths may diverge from their own; people whose ways of thinking connect to form an antidote to the deep conventionality that often surrounds them.

In the dissonant opening seconds of Speedy Ortiz's new album, Foil Deer, Sadie Dupuis lays out her mission statement concisely: "I've known you not so very long / but watch your back, because baby's so good with a blade." Throughout the record, the songwriter and guitarist repeatedly references that sort of vivid and violent imagery, as her forceful words match the band's scorching fury.

Anna Roberts-Gevalt and Elizabeth LaPrelle (a.k.a. Anna & Elizabeth) combine their love of storytelling, their beautiful voices and their interest in the visual arts to share Appalachian ballads and traditional music with a new generation of music lovers.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



Thirty years ago this month, the duo known as Wham! became the first pop group to rock Beijing.


A man stands in a small room, his whole body moving to the electronic beat he's creating. It's a typical room with a bookshelf, a lamp and dark curtains on the walls. But after a few minutes, something unexpected happens — the walls are lifted away to reveal a breathtaking view from the top of a cliff.

Jazz pianist and composer Myra Melford's latest album is a suite of music inspired by the Memory Of Fire trilogy — a three-volume history of the Americas by Uruguayan author Eduardo Galeano.

More simply, it's the recorded debut of what she calls a "killer band."

In an interview with NPR's Arun Rath, she explains the genesis of Snowy Egret — the name of both her new album and the group behind it.

And The Kids, "Devastation Celebration"

Apr 11, 2015

The video for And The Kids' "Devastation Celebration" opens with a black box warning, "No functioning instruments were harmed in the making of this video." You can imagine what happens next.

Since she was a teenager, saxophonist Hailey Niswanger has been drawing attention in the jazz world, and not just because she's a woman in bands most often populated by men. Niswanger's alto- and soprano-sax mastery is captivating. Now 25, she's just released her third album as a bandleader, PDX Soul, and is preparing to go on tour with fellow Portland, Ore., native Esperanza Spalding.

The Salón Los Angeles is the oldest dance hall in Mexico City. The classic 1930s ballroom is located in a working-class neighborhood near downtown, and every week, it sees dozens of well-dressed couples of all ages moving to an orchestra of saxophones, trumpets, trombones, clarinets and percussion instruments.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



The Mastersons On Mountain Stage

Apr 10, 2015

The Mastersons' members make their first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the West Virginia State Capitol grounds. The husband-and-wife team of Chris Masterson and Eleanor Whitmore were seasoned musicians in their own right before joining forces after a chance meeting at a Colorado festival.

José Feliciano On Song Travels

Apr 10, 2015

One of the great living guitarists, José Feliciano has received eight Grammy Awards and has been nominated 17 times. In 1996, he received Billboard magazine's Lifetime Achievement Award.

James Snyder writes songs as if he were in the room next door — hushed and vulnerable in his own space, but aware and perhaps even thrilled that someone might be listening. With Beach Slang, these uplifting confessionals become euphoric punk anthems about squeezing every second out of life. So it's telling and endearing that, when he played a solo acoustic set in the NPR Music offices, Snyder giggled with the nervous energy of a songwriter who's just been walked in on by a large group of strangers.

This week's guest Quizmaster is Pete Robertson, drummer for the English rock group The Vaccines. The band recently announced a new full-length, English Graffiti, due out May 26. It's their first ever recorded in the U.S.

Valentina Lisitsa is a pianist whose worldwide reputation was built on social media. She is now experiencing a major backlash due to what she's been writing on Twitter.

It came to a head with the cancellation of Lisitsa's scheduled performances Wednesday night and Thursday night with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, which announced earlier this week that she would not be appearing to play Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 with the ensemble and Finnish conductor Juka-Pekka Saraste. Both TSO management and Lisitsa have said she will still receive her full fee.

Latin Roots: Essential Boleros

Apr 9, 2015

To hear Beat Latino host Catalina Maria Johnson tell it, the bolero is everywhere — and not just in the Spanish-speaking world. The bolero, like so many Latin styles, originated in Cuba, but it's since spread around the world.

For her look at essential boleros, Johnson plays two songs you probably know, but may not know as boleros: the international standard "Besame Mucho" and the English-language ballad "What A Diff'rence A Day Makes" from Dinah Washington.