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The Piave River flows into the Adriatic Sea, irrigating the vines of the Veneto wine region and sharing a bloody history with two battles during the Napoleonic Wars and WWI. Like that river, life and death are the ever-shifting currents that guide the Italian musician Marco Spigariol on his debut album, Requiescat In Plavem, recorded under the name Krano.

Ben Harper's work with his longtime backing band, The Innocent Criminals, dates back to 1993. Percussionist Leon Mobley, bassist Juan Nelson, drummer Oliver Charles, keyboard player Jason Yates and guitarist Michael Ward joined Harper in most of his musical endeavors until 2008, when the band went on hiatus. In 2015, The Innocent Criminals reunited for a run of shows at the Fillmore Auditorium in San Francisco — and discovered that Harper had been working on a slew of material for a new record.

Time was when every other drama about troubled youth came packaged with evil, inept or uncomprehending government functionaries itching to make matters worse. In Emmanuelle Bercot's sympathetic Standing Tall, one sorely lacking caseworker shows up briefly to rub salt in the prior wounds of a damaged youngster. He is quickly dispatched though, and from then on the film tags along with a team of dedicated workers trying to rescue the teenager from a rotten past, a lousy future, and his own hair-trigger temper. There's not a saint among them, but their devotion rarely flags.

Welcome to the April Fools' edition of the Dose – no pranks, just serious bizness. O.K., maybe not so serious – maybe Team Dose just takes it seriously, because we care.

Ane Brun recently turned 40, and she — like many of us who've reached that milestone — has been taking stock of her life. It's a life filled with music and success, but there have also been a few rough spots. Like the time we scheduled her to play a Tiny Desk concert in 2012 and she was forced to cancel an entire North American tour (with Peter Gabriel) due to a lupus flareup. Brun, a Norwegian native based in Sweden, was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease when she was 27.

So often, we celebrate a singer-songwriter's most personally revealing work as the loftiest of artistic achievements, an accessing of autobiographical authority, a consummate, confessional window to the soul.

Hip-hop music and culture informs most things, including works of art and creative expression that don't sound anything like an MC over a break beat. Though not everybody would file Dean Blunt's output as music that falls under the purview of Microphone Check, we are far too intrigued by his work to find out he would be in Los Angeles and not ask him to sit with us.

Editor's note on April 4, 2016: You may have figured this out already — this story was an April Fools' joke. It's not real. We hope you enjoyed it.

Sense Of Place Asheville: The Honeycutters

Mar 31, 2016

The Honeycutters, a long-running Americana band from Asheville, N.C., is coming into its own with a new album, On The Ropes. The group is centered on the voice and songs of Amanda Anne Platt, who has a way with a heartbreak tune.

Ibrahim Maalouf Plays Umm Kulthum

Mar 31, 2016

The trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf was born in Lebanon and grew up in France; like his father, he studied Western classical music, but also microtonal Arabic music using a custom-built instrument. His latest project in a career full of cross-pollinating ventures was inspired by the late Umm Kulthum, the Arab world's greatest vocalist.

You often don't think of opera at the famed Apollo Theater in Harlem. Tonight that changes: Charlie Parker's Yardbird gets its New York premiere there. It's an opera about the jazz saxophonist on the very stage where Parker played in his lifetime.

The opera's Swiss-born composer Daniel Schnyder is a jazz saxophone player himself, who is also classically trained. He wants to combine his two favorite kinds of music.

There's adventurous new music from Explosions in the Sky and you can hear a conversation with the band and some of the music on this week's +1 podcast. The Wilderness is the instrumental rock band's first album of non-soundtrack songs in five years, and the sound on this record stretches the already expansive sound of this instrumental guitar band from blissful and emotional to mind-bending and downright scary.

On Saturday, The Glands frontman Ross Shapiro died from an undisclosed illness at 52. We remember the musician with one of our favorite songs.

The Thistle & Shamrock: New Spring Sounds

Mar 31, 2016

The flow of music is never-ending, and a spring tide of new recordings is bound to yield a great bounty. In this episode of The Thistle & Shamrock, host Fiona Ritchie handpicks some of the best new sounds from rising artists, along with the latest from old favorites.

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

Robert DeLong started out playing in L.A. punk bands, but the singer, drummer, producer and remixer found success when he set out on his own as a one-man band. He recently brought his incredible set-up to KCRW's studio. Watch his wizardry in this medley of "Long Way Down" and "Global Concepts."

SET LIST

  • "Long Way Down/Global Concepts"

Watch Robert DeLong's full Morning Becomes Electric session at KCRW.com.

At first, it's an unlikely pairing. I think of Sam Amidon unadorned, his yearning voice perhaps paired with a guitar, banjo or fiddle. On the other hand, San Fermin, the project of Ellis Ludwig-Leone, is about the mighty power of great arrangements and orchestration. It took Sam's young son to pull the two sounds together for this song new collaboration, along with words taken from a poem called "Against Winter" by poet Charles Simic. Ellis Ludwig-Leone wrote to us, describing the simple beginnings of this new song:

In the mid-1980s, Schyl Perry toiled as mortgage broker in a Bay Area real estate market that was still a generation away from going stratospheric. His million dollar dreams were less concerned with amortization tables and more obsessed with analog synthesizers as Perry built a small studio in his North Oakland garage. In 1987, Perry unleashed what he hoped would be his magnum opus, Million Dollar Ecstacy [sic], an album that 's best described as an outsider boogie funk new wave disco fusion project. Or something like that.

Review: John Carpenter, 'Lost Themes II'

Mar 31, 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.


Gallant was not rushed to market. Gallant is the wise, lucky beneficiary of development and time. Or we are. Zebra, the EP that Christopher Gallant released in 2014, was adrift in a stylized haze; but on Ology, the 24 year-old singer's soulful voice is front and center, and his intent clear.

Craftspeople and artists look to Asheville, N.C., as a center of creativity and make up a big part of the area's identity. They've flocked to the city's River Arts District, which houses several art studios and has become a destination for visitors.

During World Cafe's Sense Of Place trip to Asheville, N.C., we spent a lot of time recording sessions at a beautiful set of studios downtown called Echo Mountain. There are two main rooms: the original studio, built in a chapel complete with stained glass; and the annex, which boasts an even larger room. Echo Mountain's client list is filled with local and national bands, and almost everyone we taped for Sense Of Place had recorded there before.

Just before he died in 2009, Joe Castro sat down with his son James to listen to some tapes. The reel-to-reels were full of Castro's own decades-old recordings, in which the jazz pianist jammed with his contemporaries.

"It was kind of like a shock," James says, "because right when we put the first tape on, it sounded like it was recorded yesterday."

Father and son went through more than 40 hours of tape. James says he was used to hearing his dad back up other musicians.

It's been a remarkable 12 months for James Alex, a year full of contradictions and firsts. The lead singer and songwriter for the band Beach Slang, Alex and his wife Rachel had their first child, Oliver, to start 2015. Then in October, the band released its debut album, The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us, which has meant nonstop touring.

A native son of the Boston area who came up playing the blues in Clarksdale, Miss., Eli Paperboy Reed possesses musical passions that run as deep as they do broad.

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