WUIS Xponential

WUIS Xponential

First Listen: Faith No More, 'Sol Invictus'

May 10, 2015

From a music fan's point of view, was there any real need for Faith No More to get back together after nearly 20 years away? The band's cast of eclectic rock 'n' roll innovators had a good run, yielding six albums, several of which qualify as classics.

The Milk Carton Kids' Kenneth Pattengale and Joey Ryan craft soft, timeless ballads in close harmony — and, as such, recall the reverently beautiful likes of Simon & Garfunkel. But, while the duo's first three albums are gorgeous throughout, the studio can have a way of making music just a little too impeccable.

First Listen: Daniel Bachman, 'River'

May 10, 2015

Guitarist Daniel Bachman opens River with long, slow strums, as if he's summoning energy for a daunting journey. Beginning that way is common in fingerpicked acoustic guitar — what John Fahey, a pioneer of the form, called "American Primitive." But Bachman's patient notes seem to carry extra weight, suggesting that River could be the definitive work toward which he's been building throughout his short but prolific career.

First Listen: Holly Herndon, 'Platform'

May 10, 2015

Holly Herndon works in a post-human mode that's become customary in electronic music, yet remains abstract in realms beyond. Voices figure heavily in Platform, her follow-up to a breakthrough album in 2012, but they're spliced, diced, dissected — too processed, in any case, to suggest origins in a fleshy human being with dynamic feelings and moods.

When Kamasi Washington called his new album The Epic, he meant it.

His band has two drummers, two bass players, both piano and keyboards. There are three horns and two lead vocals. There's a 20-piece choir and a 32-piece string section.

Keith Jarrett hit a milestone this past week: The famed jazz pianist turned 70 years old, and he's decided to mark the occasion with two new releases. One offers his take on two important classical works; the other, Creation, documents how his creative process plays out in front of a host of live audiences.

When Lecrae gets into something, he goes all in. The hip-hop artist is a devout Christian, and his lyrics deal with issues of faith, family and social justice.

Lindsay Lou & The Flatbellys got their start in 2009 as a traditional bluegrass band in Lansing, Mich. Founding member Joshua Rilko describes the project as an "unofficial bluegrass thesis" to accompany his unofficial late-night studying of the genre.

These days, while still giving a nod to bluegrass and American traditional music, they boldly take their own songs in new directions. They recently stopped by Beehive Studios in Saranac Lake, N.Y., to record songs from their new album, Ionia — an album recorded live in four days in their dining room in Ionia, Mich.

Right before the 2014 release of the James Brown biopic Get On Up, producer J. Period and The Roots rapper Black Thought recorded an entire mixtape in one take. It functions like a documentary about the Godfather of Soul.

In a sly way, Prince has always been a political artist. Like Marcel Duchamp upending the art world with his readymades, he stormed the pop scene courting controversy, but always with a wink.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside a backup pallet of kennel-grade cat sedatives is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This week: thoughts on when music might stand between life and death.

Ann L. writes via email: "Can a song really save your life?"

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

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Russian rock - it's not just Pussy Riot.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

SIMON: A band called Pompeya has made its way into the international music scene with danceable grooves and funky baselines.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "OOOO")

This week Bob Boilen and I and a handful of other people from NPR Music got to see Sufjan Stevens in concert. It was a life-changing performance — one we'll all remember for many years.

Editor's note: In 2013, we wrote about a band named The Slants and the legal battle over its name. As the saga continues, we check back in on what it means to the band's members — and what it could mean for trademark law.

Dayna Kurtz On Mountain Stage

May 8, 2015

Dayna Kurtz makes her third appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va.

We met at a ping-pong party in Iceland. Brendan Angelides introduced himself as a musician and friend of Jónsi and Alex Somers, who were hosting the party. When I came home from the Iceland Airwaves music festival, I listened to the music Angelides makes under the name Eskmo, and was intrigued.

For some people, gospel music is all about the message — of faith and forbearance, sin and salvation. For the members of the mostly instrumental supergroup known as The Word, gospel is more about a feeling. The group's long-awaited second album, Soul Food, is a rousing, thoroughly modern take on gospel.

Latin Roots: Ana Tijoux

May 7, 2015

World Cafe features a special live edition of Latin Roots with a performance by the French-Chilean hip-hop artist Ana Tijoux. The set, which contains music from her latest album Vengo, was recorded at World Cafe Live in Philadelphia.

Hey Mavis On Mountain Stage

May 7, 2015

Hey Mavis makes its first visit to Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va. The Akron, Ohio, band's blend of string-band music, honky-tonk, folk and Americana has taken it from porch concerts in Cuyahoga Valley National Park to an appearance as a finalist in the Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest. Hey Mavis has played to sold-out audiences in Ohio and overflow crowds at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Festival.

Mother's Day is back again (it's this coming Sunday) to remind you to do something nice for your mom. But maybe you don't need a commercial holiday to think about your mother and all she's done (or hasn't done) for you. Maybe all it takes is a song. If so, we want to know what it is. What song reminds you of your mother every time you hear it? Tell us in the form below. We'll talk more about it and make a playlist of some of the picks in this week's Plus One podcast.

Sharon Van Etten could sing the instruction manual for a dishwasher and make it sound like lyrical poetry. Over the course of four full-lengths, her voice has only evolved and grown both bolder and more nuanced. Van Etten plays every word like an instrument, bending one note into the next with a woozy purr that's sometimes sensual, sometimes heartbreaking but always arresting.

Music streaming services like Spotify and Pandora continue to grow more popular with music fans — but not with musicians, who complain they used to earn more in royalties from CD sales and music downloads. Songwriters say they've been hit even harder, and the Department of Justice appears to be taking their complaints seriously: It's exploring big changes to the music publishing business for the first time since World War II.

If you look at the top songs on the Billboard charts, most of them were written by at least one professional songwriter. It's a real job.

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

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

Transcript

DAVID BIANCULLI, HOST:

Tuva Lodmark and Nella Daltrey, the pair of 22-year-old Swedes who together make up the minimalist-rock duo Pale Honey, have been making music together since elementary school. Their latest music is quite spare – they turn it up every now and then with some great distortion, but usually it's simple, propulsive synth lines paired with strummed guitar and an understated beat. They remind me of The xx with a slightly elevated pulse.

Singer Jeen O'Brien has been around for a while, making music with a number of artists. She and Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene are in a band together called Cookie Duster. Don't ask me what a cookie duster is — I have no idea.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Westward

May 6, 2015

On this week's episode of The Thistle & Shamrock, hear wild fiddle music and singing in the language of the Gael. Music from western places in Ireland and Scotland is the music of lonely, rugged mountainsides and sea-swept coastlines.

Click the audio link to hear music from Capercaillie, Flook, Niamh Parsons, Peatbog Faeries and more.

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