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The VuHaus Song Of The Day

May 17, 2016

Watch intimate live performance videos daily from America's leading public radio stations. Powered by VuHaus, the new Music Discovery platform.

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

What's most striking about Japanese Breakfast's first full-fledged album, Psychopomp, is how gracefully it treads over difficult territory. What started as singer and guitarist Michelle Zauner's side project — she took on the moniker to release solo work when not performing with Little Big League — eventually became an outlet for songs of grief and mourning in the aftermath of her mother's death. Sonically, Psychopomp is a far cry from the Philadelphia emo band's music, trading crunchy indie rock for haunting pop songs with swirling synthesizers.

Inspired by the colorful sticker, Trapper Keeper and lunchbox art from which Lisa Prank takes her punny name, Seattle singer Robin Edwards makes bubblegum pop-punk for lovesick, rainbow-colored unicorns. Built around an electric guitar and a drum machine, her songs are simple and catchy like the Ramones', but are recast for the intimate and imaginative space where these songs begin and expand.

Jane Little spent her long life making beautiful music, and she died this weekend doing just what she loved, onstage. Little played with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra for more than 71 years. She joined the symphony in 1945, when she was just 16.

World Cafe Next: Kyle Craft

May 16, 2016

As he was growing up in Shreveport, La., Kyle Craft's primary source of musical inspiration was a David Bowie greatest-hits compilation that he brought home from a big-box store. Years later, Craft tried outrunning the heartbreak of the end of a relationship and moved to Portland, Ore., where he made a series of home recordings that have become his debut album, Dolls Of Highland.

Those of us "of a certain age" have always been told to be true to ourselves, with the understanding that maturity will show us a better sense of our true selves. The hope is that we can move forward and look backward with both confidence and (hopefully) not a lot of regret.

But musicians of a certain age are often better off if they resist the tried-and-true and look for something new to stretch their sense of self. They rely on a body of work to inspire yet more growth; that way, their sound changes while still feeling familiar.

When critics talk about Yuja Wang, they continue to reach for superlatives.

Metropolis: 5/14/16

May 16, 2016
This Week's Playlist

  • Boys Noize, "Star Child (feat. Polica)" (Boys Noize)
  • Shift K3y, "The Underground" (Sony)
  • Wilkinson, "Flatline feat. Wretch 32 [Ivy Lab's 20 20 Mix]" (Ram/Virgin)
  • Tourist, "Run" (Monday)
  • Jonas Rathsman, "Cobalt" (Method White)
  • Offaiah, "Trouble" (White Label)
  • Booka Shade, "Line Of Fire (feat. Karin Park)" (Blaufeld)
  • Doja Cat, "No Police" (Mau)
  • Whoarei, "For Brown Eyes" (Timetable)

Chance the Rapper is determined.

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

The Danish String Quartet is one of the most widely acclaimed chamber groups at the moment — although, in the interest of full disclosure, we should tell you that one member of the quartet is actually Norwegian. The group has a new record called Adès/Nørgard/Abrahamsen that features a program of Danish and British music.

In the early 2000s, Mr. Lif — also known as Jeffrey Haynes — made a good living writing, performing and rapping with the other artists on the hip-hop label he helped define, Definitive Jux. And then, things changed suddenly: His tour bus crashed, he left his label and his home studio was flooded.

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

The Heavy On World Cafe

May 13, 2016

From the start, British band The Heavy, from Bath, England, has been successful in bringing a retro-soul sound to indie rock. The band's 2009 debut album contained "How You Like Me Now?", a song beloved by music supervisors and heard in shows like The Vampire Diaries, Entourage, and Community.

Tania Maria On Piano Jazz

May 13, 2016

Born in Brazil to a musical family, pianist and vocalist Tania Maria was leading her own group of professional musicians by the time she was 13. In the 1970s, she moved to Paris, where she found the international spotlight through her work in jazz festivals. In the 1980s, Maria moved to New York, where she recorded hit albums and worked with some of the most renowned jazz artists in the world.

On this 1994 episode of Piano Jazz, Maria performs her own composition "Carona," then solos in "Ta Tudo Certo."

Originally broadcast in the fall of 1994.

Congratulations, music lovers! We managed to get through an entire week without a major album dropping out of the blue. So if you're like us this means you've finally had a chance to catch your breath and dig into all the amazing stuff that has come out.

Airports are like petri dishes for humanity's worst traits. Most people are in various states of agitation over endless lines or invasive searches or some perceived slight. Everyone's exhausted. Everyone's on high alert.

The Shining was Stephen King's first hardback bestseller. Stanley Kubrick's film version was listed by no less than Martin Scorcese as one of the scariest horror films ever made. Now, the story is an opera — and its creators want it to be even more terrifying than the book or the movie.

Catherine Russell: Sunny Side Of The Street

May 12, 2016

Catherine Russell has been a backup singer with Steely Dan and David Bowie, but she's better known as an interpreter of blues and early jazz. At Jazz At Lincoln Center, Russell recently assembled a vocal trio (with Carolyn Leonhart and La Tanya Hall, her partners on tour with Steely Dan) to unearth a book of charts by arranger Sy Oliver.

There is new music from Gregory Alan Isakov, the South African-born, Philadelphia and Colorado troubadour. It's an album with the Colorado Symphony and his band. This song, "Liars" was written by Ron Scott and will be on Gregory's new album Gregory Alan Isakov with the Colorado Symphony.

Sam Beam & Jesca Hoop On World Cafe

May 12, 2016

Collaboration is nothing new to Sam Beam of Iron and Wine: He has recorded with Calexico and recently made an album of cover songs with Ben Bridwell of Band of Horses. For Beam's new album with Jesca Hoop, Love Letter For Fire, he says he wanted to try it differently.

The pioneering electronic band Underworld just released one of the best albums in its 30-year career with this year's Barbara Barbara We Face A Shining Future. The group stopped by KCRW for a session before heading to the desert for Coachella, taking us on an emotional roller coaster that veered from elation to beautiful sadness — particularly in this track, "Low Burn."

SET LIST

  • "Low Burn"

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released.

Review: Mudcrutch, '2'

May 12, 2016

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

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