WUIS Xponential

WUIS Xponential

Bob Boilen is back after several weeks for this week's episode of All Songs Considered, and at least part of this week's show is Robin coming to terms with Bob's new beard.

Deafheaven achieved a rare feat with 2013's Sunbather: The band became a legit metal crossover. Sunbather draws from black metal, but was also uplifting with its inventive guitar work and ecstatic sense of propulsion. The group has since moved from the Bay Area to L.A. and adopted a darker tone, as heard in "Brought To The Water," the lead track from New Bermuda.

This past Friday, Aug. 14, the record producer Bob Johnston died in hospice care near his home in Nashville, Tenn. He was 83 years old.

Ever since his breakthrough 2009 album, Toeachizown, Damon "Dam-Funk" Riddick has used his internet celebrity to celebrate the funk and R&B stars of his childhood. Whether it's through sharing vintage songs on his Twitter account, or producing albums with Steve Arrington and Snoop Dogg, Riddick is constantly paying respect to those who came before him.

Given the timing of Kacey Musgraves' appearance in the NPR offices — the Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage across America mere hours earlier — it was inevitable that the singer would trot out "Follow Your Arrow," the most anthemic go-your-own-way jam on Musgraves' 2013 debut album, Same Trailer Different Park.

The most exciting voice currently coming out of the Windy City might belong to BJ The Chicago Kid, one of R&B's most faithful contemporary singers. With "Church," the latest single from his forthcoming major label debut, In My Mind, BJ illustrates two sides of his faith: a devotion to the sanctity of church and religion, and a commitment to preserving the spirit of true rhythm & blues.

Straight Outta Compton, the provocative biopic on the late-'80s hip-hop group N.W.A, reportedly brought in more than $60 million last weekend. Among other things, it pays homage to a cultural reference made famous by its member Ice Cube in the 1995 film Friday -- one that later became shorthand to dismiss trolls on Twitter with the hashtag #ByeFelicia.

But writer Allison Davis didn't find the joke in Straight Outta Compton funny.

World Cafe Next: Martha Scanlan

Aug 17, 2015

This week's World Cafe: Next artist is a folksinger who has been living on a family ranch in Montana for the last five years. Her name is Martha Scanlan, and after releasing her first two albums, she embraced a rural lifestyle with no music on her mind. But music came anyway.

The Bird And The Bee On World Cafe

Aug 17, 2015

It's hard not to use the word "effervescent" when describing the jazzy pop music of The Bird And The Bee. The duo of singer Inara George and producer Greg Kurstin started working together in 2006, and since then Kurstin has worked with the likes of Sia and Lily Allen, while George has begun singing with The Living Sisters.

In recording All Around You, Seattle native Briana Marela sought the shores of Iceland and the touch of Sigur Ros producer Alex Somers, who helped her songs swirl breezily among themes of connection, longing and loneliness, while never abandoning a state of childlike wonder. After returning home, Marela stopped by the KEXP studio for a soaringly emotive performance.

SET LIST

  • "Surrender"

Pop music is often overlooked as a genre capable of bearing significant thematic weight. So when Zac Little of folk-rock band Saintseneca wanted to make a record about the nature of consciousness, he packaged it in the form of what he calls "easy to swallow pop song pills."

Generally, a "song of the summer" is commercially released in the springtime and develops a devoted Top 40 following as the temperature rises. Things work a little differently in the dance world, where connected DJs get their hands on — and spin — an irresistible tune, months before it becomes available to the public.

Jon Cleary's songwriting is pure New Orleans. The pianist and singer has absorbed every last bit of sound from the Mississippi delta. But here's the thing: Cleary was born and raised in England.

Syd tha Kyd, the lead vocalist of the neo-soul crew The Internet, got that nickname from a next-door neighbor growing up. That man is still her neighbor, because she still resides in the house she's lived in since she was 2.

The list of its faculty and students is a who's who of 20th-century music: Aaron Copland, Leonard Bernstein, John Adams, Augusta Read Thomas.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the mammoth box someone used to ship us a single bottle of beer is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This time around: thoughts on tall folks at concerts.

Mike Flanigin has been a working musician for two decades. His first gig was at a Holiday Inn in Dallas, Texas, followed by a stint in the house band at Antone's in Austin. And for eight years he made his Hammond B3 organ growl and purr for the crowds at the Continental Club Gallery.

Arturo O'Farrill On Song Travels

Aug 14, 2015

Grammy-winning bandleader, composer and pianist Arturo O'Farrill, son of the late Chico O'Farrill, has carried on his father's legacy as director of the Chico O'Farrill Afro Cuban Jazz Orchestra. He's also the founder and artistic director of the Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra, which has performed worldwide.

Columbia House (actually, the company that has owned Columbia House since 2012) filed for bankruptcy this week, which will mean a great deal to those who were music lovers in the 1980s and '90s, and probably close to nothing to listeners under the age of 30. Columbia House was a mail-order music warehouse, which used cheap (or free) LPs, then 8-tracks, then cassettes and CDs to rope customers into its full-price subscription service.

Like Brooklyn and Northeast Los Angeles, East Nashville is a bohemian stronghold with an army of newcomers threatening its foundation. I'm one of those newbies, and every day I marvel at the creativity and plain love shared by the musicians who live here. But I also understand that gentrification is pushing out both longtime residents and impoverished younger talents, and that a perfectly prepared smoked-beet salad served in a bistro by an indie-rock guitarist-turned-waiter with a waxed moustache is no substitute for the time and creative space that affordable living makes possible.

Restorations' LP3 was a gorgeous, vulnerable and big-hearted rock and roll record with three electric guitars dialed to the lump in your throat. A year since its release, these introspective anthems about self-doubt and uncertainty still ring true and take on a whole new power live.

In the late 1980s, Los Angeles hip-hop group N.W.A created a sensation and controversy with their music, which was labeled gangsta rap. Like the group's story, the making of their much-anticipated biopic, Straight Outta Compton, is filled with drama.

Latin Roots: Gina Chavez

Aug 13, 2015

World Cafe's Latin Roots segment today features a performance by bilingual Austin singer-songwriter Gina Chavez. Chavez's latest album, Up-Rooted, has been well-received in her hometown, where she won the Austin Music Award for Artist Of The Year, among other honors.

Langhorne Slim On World Cafe

Aug 13, 2015

Langhorne Slim, a.k.a. Pennsylvania-born singer-songwriter Sean Skolnick, returns to World Cafe to perform songs from his new album, The Spirit Moves. Slim released his debut album in 2008, back when he was a solo artist; nowadays, he performs with a full band called Langhorne Slim & The Law.

In this World Cafe session — recorded at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia — Slim talks about his new life in Nashville, making a record sober for the first time, and the endorsement deal he signed based on his trademark hat.

The inimitable harpist and singer/songwriter Joanna Newsom released new music this week, her first since 2010's Have One On Me. Every aspect of Newsom's work is precise and impeccable: her intricate harp work, her striking, delicate vocals and her sweeping lyrics. It's no wonder her records come out four to five years apart — a tapestry as rich as the one she weaves takes time.

While the dub album has long been en vogue in Jamaican reggae — and in the disco — it's seemingly disappeared from the modern music industry model. Not so in the mid-Nineties and the early Aughts, when a string of genre-unbound outliers — full-lengths such as Mad Professor v. Massive Attack's No Protection, Godflesh's Love and Hate In Dub, Easy Star All-Stars' Dub Side of the Moon, and Spacemonkeyz vs. Gorillaz's Laika Come Home, to name a few — featured studio sessions that paired mixing-board maestros with great song-cycles.

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