When NPR Music and WQXR present the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and May Festival Chorus' performance of R. Nathaniel Dett's The Ordering of Moses at Carnegie Hall Friday, there will be one significant difference from its first airing: it should be free of interruptions.
Only on occasion does it make sense to praise music as scary, and somehow many of those occasions coincide with Swans sending new sounds out into the world. Since 1982, when the band emerged from the same New York "no wave" scene as noise-rock acts like Sonic Youth, Swans' seething intensity has been a default mode. Every element of the Swans sound is alarming, brutal, dark and sublimely beautiful for all the rage that gets articulated — and the sense of release that gets promised, too.
Mirah wrote Changing Light, her fifth full-length solo album, in the years-long aftermath of a punishing breakup. Maybe it's the amount of time it took for the material to gestate, or maybe it's the thoughtfulness and patience gleaned from a nearly 20-year career, but Changing Light keeps looking at her ache from wise angles. Nervy and sonically inventive in spots, tender and graceful in others, it's a breakup record that eschews childish outbursts and pointless wallowing.
It's been four years since Agalloch released Marrow of the Spirit, a spectacular record that exposed the cultish metal band to a wider audience seeking something ritualistic and caustic in heavy music. For all of its lengthy and textured songs, Marrow kept things fairly linear — thrilling in its momentum, for sure, but onward and forward.
There are so many "whoa, stop" moments in the first three minutes of Sturgill Simpson's second album. A few selected quotes, which Simpson delivers in a stretched-out Waylon croon: "I've seen Jesus play with flames ... met the devil in Seattle ... met Buddha yet another time," "Don't waste your time on nursery rhymes and fairy tales of blood and wine," "Marijuana, LSD, psilocybin, DMT, they all changed the way I see," and "There's a gateway in our mind that leads somewhere out there beyond this plane / where reptile aliens made of light cut you open and pull out all your pain." Wait, what?
The product of an unlikely pairing of musicians, Sylvan Esso works in equally unlikely ways: Singer Amelia Meath first surfaced as a singer in the largely a cappella Vermont folk group Mountain Man, while Nick Sanborn plays bass in the versatile North Carolina psych-rock band Megafaun.
If you're just joining us, it's ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR West. I'm Arun Rath. What connects the films "Drugstore Cowboy," "Pet Cemetery," "Batman Forever" and "Frida?" You can skip Kevin Bacon and connect them all with just one name, composer Elliot Goldenthal.
So much of music is about longing, navigating life's unexpected moments with curiosity, searching for clarity and better understanding. All of this is pieced together beautifully on Ray Bonneville's new album, Easy Gone.
Crimson Tide, The Lion King, Inception, Gladiator — that's just a handful of the many movies that feature award-winning scores by Hans Zimmer. Lately, Zimmer has lent his ear to soundtracks written by a new generation of aspiring film composers.
When you consider that critics have been writing about him for over 60 years, it can seem as if there's nothing left to say about Sonny Rollins. But there is – because over the decades, the "Saxophone Colossus" has never stopped growing or adding to his sound.
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Kids in America can dream of becoming an opera singer and performing around the world. The odds are long, but talent, hard work, the right breaks - all of that could make it happen. But what if you grew up in Sri Lanka, off the coast of India?
As a member of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young our guest today, David Crosby, is one of folk-rock's superstars. He has made four solo albums, worked with his partner Graham Nash, produced Joni Mitchell, and formed a band with his son James Raymond.
He's had such a wild life, we're thankful that he is still with us — and turning out work as good and relevant as his fourth solo album, Croz.
The North Jersey-based band Real Estate returns to the Cafe today with its new album, Atlas, in tow. The disc is a further refinement of their '80s-influenced guitar pop.
You will not find a more unassuming band — they repeatedly say that they are just the boys from up the street that you knew in high school who happened to form a band. That may be true, but more mature themes of responsibilities and even nostalgia for the not-so-distant past have crept into Martin Courtney's writing — themes that were not part of the band's first two albums.
Even in music's melting pot, Young Fathers are an unlikely trio. Alloysious Massaquoi is originally from Liberia, Kayus Bankole has Nigerian parents, and producer Graham "G" Hastings hails from North Edinburgh, Scotland, where the three first met as teenagers in the early 2000s.
In a conversation with NPR's Audie Cornish, the members of the genre-mashing group say they connected instantly — even though, under the circumstances, they couldn't actually speak to one another:
Tony-winning actress and vocalist Christine Ebersole has been a stage and screen presence for more than 30 years. Her resume includes the musicals Grey Gardens,Oklahoma! and Camelot, as well as a role in the 1984 film Amadeus and an appearance on FX's American Horror Story: Coven.
Guitarist Howard Alden's superb solo and accompaniment skills have led to work with legends including Red Norvo, Woody Herman and his mentor, guitarist George Van Eps. On this episode of Piano Jazz, Alden demonstrates his harmonic and melodic mastery of the seven-string guitar with a glowing version of "Single Petal of a Rose."
Another month means another Recommended Dose from All Songs Considered. We listen to literally hundreds of new electronic music tracks each month, test the standouts on some very loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a 30-minute mix.
You can stream this month's mix here or on NPR Music's SoundCloud page. If you'd rather just hear each song individually, check out the playlist below.
Damon Fowler makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown.
Known as a master of the guitar in and around his hometown of Tampa, Fowler started wowing audiences with his musical exploits as a teenager. He began singing and writing his own music as the years passed, further expanding his repertoire. Fowler has released three albums for the Blind Pig label, including his latest, Sounds of Home.
This is FRESH AIR. I'm David Bianculli, in for Terry Gross. Drummer Billy Hart has recorded hundreds of records, backing, among many others, guitarist Wes Montgomery, pianists Shirley Horn and Herbie Hancock, saxophonists Stan Getz and Dave Liebman, and the co-op band The Cookers. Billy Hart sometimes records under his own name, too, especially now that he has a well-seasoned quartet. Jazz critic Kevin Whitehead reviews their latest.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the Pokemon games we purchased for our kids even though they're entirely indistinguishable from the other Pokemon games we've purchased for our kids is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what it means (and whether it's even possible) to sell out as a musician.
If you think my picks for these weekly puzzlers were hard, try guessing the ones selected by an actual drummer. Charlie Hall, who anchors the Philadelphia-based rock group The War On Drugs, is this week's guest quizmaster. He offers an eclectic, surprising and (for me anyway) challenging batch of fills and intros to identify. See how you do!
Ever since I moved to Mexico City, I've been overwhelmed by the amount of music at my fingertips. I'm not just talking about amazing concerts: So many artists from all over Latin America live here in Mexico, and I love being here to check in on their creative process.
We started the series Mi Casa Es Tu Casa with Fusion based on that concept; the idea of catching musicians in their most comfortable setting, and having them go beyond performances and into the DNA of their art.