WUIS Xponential

WUIS Xponential

Young, soulful English singer Jessie Ware has a powerful voice, but it's used with grace. Her singing brings warmth to electronic music and swoon to her own pop, so it's no surprise that her visit to the Tiny Desk was filled with casual poise and spontaneity.

On April 5, 2014, David Lamb, one half of the Providence, R.I., duo Brown Bird, lost his year-long battle with leukemia. After being diagnosed in the spring of 2013, Lamb underwent a bone-marrow transplant in the fall, and during the months of treatment and recovery he continued to make music with his life and musical partner, MorganEve Swain, in their home studio.

Randy Newman On Mountain Stage

Apr 20, 2015

Mountain Stage dips into its 30-year live-music archive to revisit Randy Newman's first appearance on the show in May 1999. Newman is one of the nation's most decorated musicians; as host Larry Groce says in his introduction, "If you started with Stephen Foster to the present, Randy Newman would have to be included in the great songwriters of America. His songs express part of the American psyche that no other songwriter has expressed so well, or maybe not even at all."

World Cafe Next: Emil Friis

Apr 20, 2015

This week's World Cafe: Next artist is a Danish singer-songwriter named Emil Friis, who's just released a dark, vibe-driven album called Sand In Your Eyes. Friis originally wrote this music for a French gangster film that didn't pan out before it became his new album.

Friis aims for a combination of Ennio Morricone's dusty landscapes and Lee Hazlewood's vocals. Hear and download two of his songs here, or through the World Cafe podcast.

The Suffers On World Cafe

Apr 20, 2015

World Cafe's studio is rarely as crowded as it is during this session with the 10-piece Houston soul band The Suffers. An impeccably proficient group, it's got a tight rhythm section, airtight horn parts and a dynamic, energetic frontwoman in Kam Franklin.

This crazy, clever cover medley spans an entire musical universe, as it superimposes one of Duke Ellington's sacred works (1968's "Heaven") over Led Zeppelin's 1971 rock classic "Stairway To Heaven." Trombonist Chris Washburne and his mighty See You On The Other Side miniature big band have released an album of inspired Latin jazz instrumental covers; titled Low Ridin', it touches on '70s-era rock songs by the likes of Neil Young, The Doors, Lou Reed and Jimi Hendrix.

Jazz musician and composer Charles Lloyd has what you might call an "eclectic" resume.

The saxophonist has played with hundreds of jazz musicians — but also B.B. King, the Beach Boys, tabla master Zakir Hussain.

Tonight, Charles Lloyd will be inducted as a National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master. He's being honored, in part, for fusing jazz with musical styles from other places and times.

You can hear that on his new album, Wild Man Dance, which features two ancient instruments from Europe.

When David Lamb, half of the Rhode Island-based duo Brown Bird, succumbed to an aggressive relapse of leukemia in April 2014 after a year-long battle with the disease, the music world lost one of the most exciting, intriguing and original voices this reviewer had heard in years. Not only that, we lost a truly kind-hearted man who was deeply loved by friends, family and legions of fans who approach cult-like passion for Brown Bird's genre-defying music. Dave's passing was a surprise and a blow to all of us who followed his struggle with the disease online.

Review: Bill Fay, 'Who Is The Sender?'

Apr 19, 2015

Cult songwriter Bill Fay was never in a hurry to follow up his 1971 classic Time Of The Last Persecution, but he's been on a comparative tear since coming back with a decades-in-the-making album just two years ago. The title of that 2012 return, Life Is People, conveyed part of Fay's plain, uncomplicated humanist charm, and the new Who Is The Sender? signals his more questing cosmic aim.

Review: Paul De Jong, 'IF'

Apr 19, 2015

At the turn of the 21st century, computers began to audibly infiltrate musical realms far beyond the electronic and experimental spaces, cropping up in rock, indie-pop and more. One of the cagiest uses of the computer could be heard on The Books' winsome 2002 debut Thought For Food.

Review: Braids, 'Deep In The Iris'

Apr 19, 2015

There's placid grace to Deep In The Iris, the third and latest full-length by Braids, but don't let that fool you. Something's churning beneath the album's calm, cool surface. Unlike Flourish // Perish, the Montreal trio's icy, challenging record from 2013, Deep In The Iris represents a thaw: Throughout its nine songs, singer Raphaelle Standell-Preston and her cohorts Taylor Smith and Austin Tufts infuse skittering, Björk-like art-rock with melodic allure, confessional directness and quivering warmth.

Review: Mew, '+-'

Apr 19, 2015

"In your chrysalis I go," croons Jonas Bjerre, the elf-voiced frontman of Denmark's Mew, in the soaring song "Interview The Girls." It's one of the standout tracks on the group's sixth album, cryptically titled +-, and Bjerre's poetic verse is symbolic of the disc as a whole: Six years after Mew's last full-length, No More Stories..., the progressive-pop band has morphed again, this time into a more streamlined, potent, startlingly evolved version of itself.

Review: Jackson Scott, 'Sunshine Redux'

Apr 19, 2015

Jackson Scott is all of 22 — around the same age as those who initially carved out the paths of psychedelic music back in the late '60s. It's a good age to feel unbound by social mores, an expectation that can be stretched to the wild, mood-swinging environments Scott crafts on his second solo album, Sunshine Redux.

Here's a quotation about prison overcrowding: "All research and successful drug policies show that treatment should be increased and law enforcement decreased, while abolishing mandatory minimum sentences." That's not from some stodgy think tank. That's metal.

Noah Wall is an experimental musician in New York, and his latest album is maybe his boldest experiment yet.

"I usually make sort of very meticulously crafted music, and I think that's important because this project is so different from that," Wall tells NPR's Rachel Martin.

The album, Live At Guitar Center, is a series of recordings of nameless musicians — both newbies and old-timers — at the music equipment store Guitar Center.

In the music world, today is all about bricks and mortar. It's the annual Record Store Day, when music fans are urged to get out to support their local shop.

From new releases to vintage finds, people have been posting photos of beloved albums and record stores Saturday.

Music companies are putting out dozens of limited-edition releases for the occasion. One example: Johnny Marr doing a live version of his old band The Smiths' song "Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want."

With all the love that the band Alabama Shakes received for its debut album — including a Grammy nomination for Best New Artist — the easy thing would have been to make another album that sounded similar. But that's not what the group wanted.

"The safe thing isn't always the most interesting or exciting thing," lead singer and guitarist Brittany Howard says.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside bales of deep-discounted Easter candy is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on buskers, tipping and etiquette.

Holly R. writes via email: "How much of a tip is good for the street-side musician with a cup at his feet? What about for one playing in a bar?"

In his home in Lahore, Pakistan, Saleem Khan holds up his late father's violin. There are no strings, the wood is scratched and the bridge is missing.

"There was a time when people used to come to Lahore from all over the world to hear its musicians," the 65-year-old violinist says in the new documentary, Song of Lahore. "Now we can't even find someone to repair our violins."

Saturday is Record Store Day, when independent music retailers around the country host parking-lot concerts and sell limited-edition pressings of vinyl records, which have made a small but forceful comeback in an age dominated by digital listening habits. But if there's one problem with the vinyl resurgence, it might be this: The machines that press vinyl records are decades old, and no one's building new ones, so keeping up with increased demand is hard.

Caroline Rose On Mountain Stage

Apr 17, 2015

Caroline Rose makes her first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the historic Keith Albee Theater in Huntington, W.Va. With a sound that draws from folk, rockabilly, pop, rock and blues, the keen-eyed singer-songwriter describes her album I Will Not Be Afraid as "postcards I've picked up from along the road."

Record Store Day is that magical day each spring (this year it's Saturday, April 18) when geeks like us line up outside their favorite music shops to get their hands on a bunch of vinyl exclusives. These are the albums, EPs and singles bands and labels put out just to celebrate the day.

Ginny Mancini On Song Travels

Apr 17, 2015

Ginny Mancini performed with Mel Tormé and the Mel-Tones before marrying fellow musician, composer and conductor Henry Mancini, who died in 1994. He would have celebrated his 91st birthday on April 16. This week, Song Travels remembers Henry Mancini, as his wife shares stories of their life together, her career and Henry's remarkable contributions to American film, television and song.

It took seven years for Robotic Empire to finish its tribute to Nirvana's In Utero, featuring covers by Thursday, Jay Reatard, Ceremony and Thou. With a lineup like that, it's no wonder the vinyl sold out quickly on Record Store Day.

This week's guest Quizmaster is Jess Gowrie, drummer with the San Francisco-based band Happy Fangs. Earlier this year the group released its debut full-length, Capricorn, a collection of lean, raw and noisy guitar rock cuts anchored by Gowrie's bone-breaking beats. Given her love of power-hitters, some of the fills she selected for this week's Drum Fill Friday should come as no surprise. But there are at least a couple of unexpected picks here. As always, good luck, careful listeners!

Rosa Díaz is nothing if not passionate: Her performance behind Bob Boilen's desk practically burst with the kind of passion that made it feel almost confessional. Her sophisticated lyrics reflect deeply felt emotions in this performance with cellist Daniel de Jesus.

This is the kind of performance best experienced for yourself rather than having me trying to explain it all. Believe me, you'll get it too.

Set List

  • "Beware Of Men Who Don't Remember Their Dreams"
  • "Lloronsito"
  • "Daddy Said"

Demand Increases For Vinyl Records

Apr 17, 2015
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I'm David Greene, wishing you a happy Record Store Day.


BOB SEGER: (Singing) Just take those old records off the shelf.