Old Man Luedecke makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of East Tennessee State University. A native of Nova Scotia, Chris Luedecke isn't actually old, but his music clearly draws from his remarkable ear for the music and melodies of years gone by.
Deer Tick visits the WXPN studio to perform songs from its fifth album, Negativity. Of all the material the band has released over the past seven years, this record contains some of lead singer John McCauley's most personal songwriting yet.
The Jazz Institute of Chicago and the city's Park District teamed up in December 2012 to present this free family concert with Dee Alexander. As we air it on JazzSet a year later,Alexander is just back from performing the show in Poland where, she writes, "everyone was on their feet."
Jennifer Holliday won fame by turning a Broadway show tune into an anthem. With her performance of "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" in the musical Dreamgirls, she became a star on Broadway. But Holliday's life and career offstage slipped out of control as she battled obesity and depression. After years out of the recording studio, Holliday is back with the album The Song is You. It's due out in January.
Originally published on Thu January 23, 2014 10:15 am
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Our friends in the public radio system are some of the most open-minded listeners we know. Each month, our Heavy Rotation series brings you free downloads of what our fellow programmers and producers are experiencing on repeat.
World Cafe revisits a 2002 studio session with Rusted Root as Sense of Place: Pittsburgh continues. The energetic, percussion-heavy band has become synonymous with the sound of the city. Formed in 1990, Rusted Root is a sextet featuring many instruments and styles; the group is known for blending acoustic rock with world music. Its percussion style is heavily influenced by the music of Africa, Latin America and Native America, while its lyrical content often touches on Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
World Cafe's day trip to Pittsburgh for Sense of Place kicks off with a session by the pop-rock trio Donora. Donora, made up of brother and sister Jake and Casey Hanner and bassist Jake Churton, is a second-generation band. The Hanner siblings are the offspring of Dave Hanner, from the country band Corbin/Hanner. As kids, they spent time in their father's studio, which influenced them to pursue music careers of their own; Casey sings and plays guitar and keyboards, while her brother plays drums. Eventually, their dad convinced them to perform together.
To find out about up-and-coming local bands for our Sense of Place stop in Pittsburgh, we went straight to one of the city's best-known sources: Cindy Howes, host of Morning Mix on NPR member station WYEP.
A close observer of Pittsburgh's music scene, Howes couldn't pick just five bands to feature on Wednesday's episode, so she gave us six. She also gives listeners insight into the wide variety of music playing at any given night in the clubs of Pittsburgh's East End.
Hear some of today's most innovative and inspirational Celtic music in recordings of its most ancient instrument. William Jackson, Wendy Stewart, Maire Brennan, Grainne Hambly, Savourna Stevenson and Alan Stivell all feature in an hour dedicated to small harps.
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For those drawn to doom and gloom, the most affecting music sometimes takes a while to reveal itself. In 2008, the happily named duo Have a Nice Life released Deathconsciousness, a messy yet fascinating double-album fixated on the darker side of life and endowed with a gauzy, shoegaze-drenched underbelly. As time went on, I'd continue to see Deathconsciousness pop up in RSS and Twitter feeds from those just discovering an album too weird and too bleak for its time — or any time, for that matter. I should know; I was one of them a few years ago.
Throughout this week, we at NPR Music are taking a look at the year in music with our friend Audie Cornish, host of All Things Considered. I joined her to bring a closer ear to two very impressive classical albums and an international rarity that's been brought back to life. (I also provided Audie with a primer on pronouncing my last name. I hope you all pay close attention.)
Drummer Chick Webb's 1930s orchestra terrorized competitors in band battles and sent dancers into orbit at Harlem's Savoy Ballroom. They could be similarly explosive on record, but only rarely. Early on, they did have some hot Edgar Sampson arrangements that Benny Goodman would soon turn into hits, like "Blue Lou" and "Don't Be That Way." But the Webb band also had an old-school crooner, Charles Linton, with pre-jazz-age enunciation.
Of Montreal was founded by singer Kevin Barnes back in 1996; ever since, the Athens, Ga., group has continued to explore new creative possibilities, as true artists do. The band recently returned to Morning Becomes Eclectic to showcase songs from its new album, including "Fugitive Air."
What do you have to do, as a song, to win our hearts? You have to sink in. You have to stop someone dead in her tracks. You need to cause that man to act a fool. Scrunch a nose, tense a shoulder, drop an ass.
At NPR Music, they're wrapping up the year the best way they know how, with their hotly contested list of their 50 favorite albums of 2013. Now, all this week, we'll get a peak of that list from our in-house experts, including NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson, whose beat is the ever amorphous indie pop, which - Stephen, what exactly is that these days?
STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: I have absolutely no idea. It used to mean accessible but unpopular.
Sarah Jarosz makes her first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of East Tennessee State University in Johnson City. Now 22 years old, Jarosz was signed to Sugar Hill Records when she was just 16. She shifted gears in 2009 to enter the New England Conservatory of Music, and graduated this year.
Those who love indie singer-songwriter Bill Callahan's music no doubt have their favorites among his solo albums, if not from records he previously made under the name Smog. Callahan's music has been remarkably consistent and deeply meaningful; as a writer, he's truly invested in making every word count. Callahan's latest album, Dream River, is a classic illustration of his artistry.
All it takes is two seconds of hearing "Round round get around / I get around" and you're there — in the sun, on the beach, in the '60s. The Beach Boys vaulted up the charts while branching out from surf music to psychedelia. This year the remaining band members released Made in California, a six-CD box set loaded with outtakes and other rarities. Critic Ed Ward examines the rise and long decline of a beloved group with a unique sound.
Originally published on Tue December 10, 2013 1:04 pm
If the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, sometimes two apples will land on similar turf. Brian Blade has been Wayne Shorter's drummer for several years and leads his own project called The Fellowship Band. His older brother Brady Blade is perhaps best known for his drumming with Emmylou Harris and is an all-around music industry mover and shaker.
Originally published on Fri January 17, 2014 10:19 am
These are the albums we loved the most this year. In what we've written about each one below, you can see what we felt should be rewarded, what shook us up and what sucked us in over the 12 months of 2013.
This week's pick for World Cafe: Next is Dott, a young quartet from Galway, Ireland. The music on the band's debut album, Swoon, calls upon the sounds of garage-pop, with chugging, jangly guitars out front and the vocals of Anna McCarthy on top.
Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott perform together on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of East Tennessee State University. Recognized as two of roots music's most respected singers, songwriters and instrumentalists, O'Brien and Scott took a break from their busy solo careers in 2000 to record their first album as a duo, titled Real Time.
This segment, from March 30, 2009, is part of our Vintage Cafe series, in which we revisit some of our best studio performances.
Wielding many instruments and a remarkable whistling ability, Andrew Bird has developed an offbeat marriage of classical and pop music over the course of his decade-long career. The musical polymath has never been one to limit his sound, incorporating traditional folk, swing, zydeco, rock, electronica and indie-pop into his work.
Originally published on Mon December 9, 2013 3:03 pm
This week's two-hour mix from Metropolis host Jason Bentley features a new song from Phantogram, music from London's Metronomy, a Photek remix of Bob Marley & The Wailers, back-to-back cuts from Kaskade and much more.
It was a guest of honor DJ Cheryl Waters had been anticipating for 20 years: The Waterboys, a band currently celebrating its 30th anniversary despite frontman Mike Scott's insistence that he's only 24. The long-running group is on tour supporting its seven-CD collection, Fisherman's Box, which was inspired by the 1988 album Fisherman's Blues; the record marked Scott's relocation from Scotland to Ireland, and resulted in the most successful release of The Waterboys' long career.
The Head and the Heart gives an enchanting performance, recorded in front of an enthusiastic audience at Philadelphia's World Cafe Live. The group's set features songs from its new record, Let's Be Still. The Seattle band recorded a successful, self-titled debut on its own in 2010; it was reissued the next year by Sub Pop during an indie-folk rampage led by Fleet Foxes, among others.