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Metropolis: 9/26/15

Sep 28, 2015

This Week's Playlist

  • Disclosure, "Magnets [feat. Lorde]" (Capitol)
  • Hermitude, "Ukiyo" (Elefant Traks)
  • Janet Jackson, "No Sleeep [Two Inch Punch Remix]" (Black Doll/BMG)
  • St. Germain, "Sittin' Here" (Blue Note)
  • St. Germain, "Real Blues [Atjazz Astro Remix]" (Blue Note)
  • Braxton, "21 Days" (Promo)
  • Florence & The Machine, "Queen Of Peace [Hot Chip Remix]" (Island)
  • Doe Paoro, "Nostalgia [RAC Remix]" (Anti/Epitaph)
Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Craig Finn is part of a quickly growing demographic group - aging indie rockers. He led the band Lifter Puller in the '90s and is still the front man of The Hold Steady. His breathless songs look at the indie rock scene with a romantic eye.

With a name like Pity Sex, it wouldn't be wrong to giggle a little. But there's far more power in the Ann Arbor-based band than its self-deprecating, kinda-emo moniker suggests. On its 2013 full-length debut, Feast Of Love, Pity Sex unfurled a windswept blur of hurts-so-good distortion and frayed riffs. Submerged in sludgy, stormy songs like "Drown Me Out" and "Keep" were themes of anguish, disintegrating relationships and the desire for second chances, alongside lovely and winsome pop melodies that could mend broken hearts.

Liz Vice didn't grow up with gospel music, and she never really thought of herself as a singer. Things change: The 32-year-old from Portland, Ore. has now released an album called There's A Light, whose songs and sound challenge many of the stereotypes about Christian music.

The British band The Selecter began singing about race, gender and politics in the late 1970s. They were part of a musical moment that came to be known as 2-tone, which combined elements of early Jamaican ska with the styles that were bubbling up in the UK at the time.

Here's a phrase you don't hear a lot in the US: "Pakistani pop music." In fact, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has a thriving music industry — and singer Zebunissa Bangash, or Zeb for short, is one of its stars.

There has been violence and threat to Pakistani culture since the country was founded 68 years ago, both for political and religious reasons. Zeb was never subjected to that scrutiny: She studied art history at college in the US before returning home to form a band with her cousin, Haniya. Their accessible pop songs found a devoted following.

Patty Griffin On World Cafe

Sep 25, 2015

Setting sun, wind and waves and hills — these are all elements of the lyrics on Patty Griffin's new album, Servant Of Love. She says those references come from noticing the spiritual interconnection between nature and humans, which she says makes it harder to be cynical.

Jay Leonhart On Song Travels

Sep 25, 2015

Bassist Jay Leonhart is a highly sought-after session musician, a trio leader and a one-man act. He got his start as a kid playing banjo and guitar with his brother in the '40s and '50s, and was inspired to take up the bass after hearing Ray Brown and the Oscar Peterson Trio.

On paper, the musical Hamilton sounds like a joke. But as NPR Music's Timmhotep Aku tells us in this week's +1 podcast, "Maybe you shouldn't judge things on face value."

The harrowing noise-punk trio Bambara smears discontent with the gloom of the Birthday Party, the spit of Swans and the lysergic mystery of Red Temple Spirits, but understands those are only points of departure. Dreamviolence, from 2013, was a promising if limited debut, mainly because its Bushwick basement recordings were cloaked in a muddy atmosphere.

As technology rules the sound of the day, it's good to be reminded how powerfully a single voice can transmit deep emotion. Joan Shelley made one of the most beautiful records of the year with just her voice and two guitars.

"I think songs can have different lives," said Rhiannon Giddens in the conversation that flowed throughout NPR Music's "Songs We Love: Americana Fest Edition" panel on September 16 at Nashville's historic RCA Victor Studio A. "Each song has its own way that it likes to be done, but it can be more than one way," the Carolina Chocolate Drops multi-instrumentalist and singer continued. "If you tap into it, you can feel it."

Over the past five years, the groups Natural Information Society and Bitchin Bajas have become staples of Chicago underground music, but from opposite ends. NIS leader Joshua Abrams has one foot in the city's improvisational jazz scene, a communal tradition that extends back 50 years to the heyday of the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians).

Two years ago, Sam Smith sent an email to his agent, the subject line of which simply read "007." That message was the beginning of his bid to write the theme song for the next James Bond film, a lifelong dream for the British singer that comes true today. To mark the release of "Writing's on the Wall," Smith's theme for the upcoming Spectre, Smith spent a few minutes with Morning Edition breaking down the track.

Joanna Newsom Enters The Realm Of Fantasy

Sep 24, 2015

Years ago, who would've predicted that Tyler, the Creator and A$AP Rocky—two Internet-borne yet ostensibly opposite rap stars—would be touring together?

The Thistle & Shamrock: The Long View

Sep 24, 2015

Fiona Ritchie picks a few favorite extended arrangements of traditional tunes, including classic recordings by Kevin Burke and Alan Stivell.

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

Master bass player Thundercat is a core part of the LA music scene — from his collaborations with Flying Lotus, Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Lamar to his own solo work. His new EP features his best track yet, "Them Changes," performed here with keyboardist Dennis Hamm and drummer Justin Brown.

Set List

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

Transcript

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Latin Roots: Celebrating Catalan Music

Sep 24, 2015

Writer Judy Cantor-Navas recently moved to Barcelona, Spain, an area dominated by Catalan culture. Ahead of Catalonia's parliamentary election Sunday, she shares some distinctively Catalan music with us.

Check out the extended Spotify playlist for more.

Youth Lagoon On World Cafe

Sep 24, 2015

Youth Lagoon is the work of indie-pop artist Trevor Powers, whose new album, Savage Hills Ballroom, is the third in a series showcasing his strong melodic sense as well as his experimental side. Powers says the death of a good friend at home in Boise, Idaho, led him to rethink how he dealt with emotional discomfort, which in turn helped him make better art. He spent two months with producer Ali Chant in Bristol, England to record Savage Hills Ballroom.

Wayne Shorter is a living legend — a saxophonist, composer and lifelong original thinker. He's never been afraid to be different, which is perhaps why he's accomplished so much. Among his accomplishments:

When a legendary band returns after a long hiatus the results are often cringe-worthy—or mixed, at best. To be fair, it's nearly impossible to recapture the kind of magic that makes legends to begin with. But that's not the case with a surprise new album from the Electric Light Orchestra.

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