Ann Powers http://wuis.org en East Nashville Rocks http://wuis.org/post/east-nashville-rocks How do you know you are in East Nashville? Follow the beards, a current joker might say. If you do, you'll find yourself in an area tucked in between Nashville's neat downtown and the city's eastern edge, separated from each by the twisting Cumberland River. To the west, tourists flock to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Ryman Auditorium — the "Mother Church of Country Music." The Opryland complex — the venerable stage and radio show's comfortably suburban home since 1974 — is to the east, where the city sprawls into malls, hotels and tourists attractions. Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:34:00 +0000 Ann Powers 30251 at http://wuis.org East Nashville Rocks First Watch: Maddie & Tae, 'Girl In A Country Song' http://wuis.org/post/first-watch-maddie-tae-girl-country-song It's starting to seem like even the bros are tired of bro country. The truck-loving Florida Georgia Line has switched up its game with the chart- dominant "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=42uphHWxmFU" target="_blank">Dirt</a>," a sensitive ballad about marriage and farming. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 12:52:00 +0000 Ann Powers 29925 at http://wuis.org First Watch: Maddie & Tae, 'Girl In A Country Song' First Listen: Jenny Lewis, 'The Voyager' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-jenny-lewis-voyager "Nostalgia has no place for the woman traveling alone," the great travel writer Mary Morris once wrote. "Our motion is forward, whether by train or daydream." She's describing a necessary ruthlessness: Women are so often defined by their attachments (family, romance, even the fetishes of style) that becoming light enough to move often requires behavior others might read as cruel or, at best, distanced. Mon, 21 Jul 2014 03:20:00 +0000 Ann Powers 29671 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Jenny Lewis, 'The Voyager' First Listen: Morrissey, 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-morrissey-world-peace-none-your-business The rhetorical essence of punk is the decision to say what others believe should not be said. Mon, 07 Jul 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 28719 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Morrissey, 'World Peace Is None Of Your Business' The Hits Of Yesterday And Today http://wuis.org/post/hits-yesterday-and-today <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=450p7goxZqg</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EFEmTsfFL5A</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=93ASUImTedo</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIh2xe4jnpk</p> Thu, 03 Jul 2014 12:33:00 +0000 Ann Powers 28517 at http://wuis.org The Hits Of Yesterday And Today He'll Be There For You http://wuis.org/post/hell-be-there-you <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkqVm5aiC28</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tlYcUqEPN58</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1oM3kQpXRo</p> Thu, 26 Jun 2014 15:57:00 +0000 Ann Powers 28074 at http://wuis.org He'll Be There For You First Listen: Jim Lauderdale, 'I'm A Song' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-jim-lauderdale-im-song I recently ran into <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/search/index.php?searchinput=Jim+Lauderdale">Jim Lauderdale</a> at a party in Nashville, and I couldn't tell if his shirt was made of silk or cotton. Covered in fiery little dragons that seemed to flit around inside its piped seams, it was a beauty. Lauderdale told me it was made of breathable material and that it came from London. Mon, 23 Jun 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 27794 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Jim Lauderdale, 'I'm A Song' A Gentle Buzz At The CMA Music Festival http://wuis.org/post/gentle-buzz-cma-music-festival American music festivals used to be mostly a summer thing, but in many ways they now frame the concert experience all year round. In these temporary hot spots for pleasure and cultural conversation, new artists emerge as sensations and established ones do special things with fans. Culture watchers note fashion trends and predict whose careers will rise and fall by observing what emerges from festivals' impromptu communities. Wed, 11 Jun 2014 19:19:00 +0000 Ann Powers 27026 at http://wuis.org A Gentle Buzz At The CMA Music Festival First Listen: Willie Nelson, 'Band Of Brothers' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-willie-nelson-band-brothers When <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15396875/willie-nelson">Willie Nelson</a> was a young hustler selling songs to <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15396529/patsy-cline">Patsy Cline</a>'s people, he probably never thought he'd become the crowd-anointed sage of country music. But that's what happened as the Redheaded Stranger went gray, turned smoking weed into a brand and a virtue, and produced a discography that added up to its own American Songbook. Fri, 06 Jun 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 26713 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Willie Nelson, 'Band Of Brothers' Miranda Lambert's 'Priscilla,' An Ode To 'Being Queen Of A King' http://wuis.org/post/miranda-lamberts-priscilla-ode-being-queen-king Pop stars are the ideal companions of their fans' daydreams, speaking their most romantic hopes and defiant declarations through the songs on the Top 40. Miranda Lambert, however, is the kind of friend who's not going to take anybody's bull. Mon, 02 Jun 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 26407 at http://wuis.org Miranda Lambert's 'Priscilla,' An Ode To 'Being Queen Of A King' First Listen: Jose James, 'While You Were Sleeping' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-jose-james-while-you-were-sleeping When the spirit of <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15446165/nirvana">Nirvana</a> surfaces in a song, the artist paying tribute almost always shares style points with that treasured band. The hair is shaggy, the clothes a little ragged; the lineage unfolds, relatively neatly, from punk to the present. Mon, 02 Jun 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 26396 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Jose James, 'While You Were Sleeping' First Listen: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, 'Dereconstructed' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-lee-bains-iii-glory-fires-dereconstructed In north central Alabama, punk rockers often know as much about football as they do mosh pits. A guy with an arm-sleeve tattoo will open the door for a woman and call her "ma'am." Self-identifying as a blue dot in a red state doesn't preclude Sunday brunch with relatives whose own cars boast confederate-flag stickers. Mon, 19 May 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 25403 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires, 'Dereconstructed' Why Tori Amos Connects http://wuis.org/post/why-tori-amos-connects When I spent time on tour with <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15182176/tori-amos" target="_blank">Tori Amos</a> a decade ago, collaborating with her <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Tori-Amos-Piece/dp/076791676X" target="_blank">on a book</a>, I'd see her invoke <a href="http://www.umich.edu/~umfandsf/symbolismproject/symbolism.html/F/fourelem.html" target="_blank">the four elements</a> many nights before her band would take the stage. Tue, 13 May 2014 15:39:00 +0000 Ann Powers 25013 at http://wuis.org Why Tori Amos Connects Song Premiere: Naomi Shelton And The Gospel Queens, 'Sinner' http://wuis.org/post/song-premiere-naomi-shelton-and-gospel-queens-sinner In 1963, Alabama was culturally closer to Brooklyn than it is now. The Great Migration of African-Americans out of the South created enclaves in cities all over the country, and the Civil Rights movement trained the eyes of the North on cities like Birmingham. Alabama native Naomi Shelton came to Brooklyn that year with the gospel in her heart and soul music turning her head. She found a place to sing, a bar on Flatbush Avenue, and a musical partner in keyboardist Cliff Driver. Tue, 13 May 2014 15:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 25008 at http://wuis.org Song Premiere: Naomi Shelton And The Gospel Queens, 'Sinner' Is It Worth It To Work It? http://wuis.org/post/it-worth-it-work-it <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_zR6ROjoOX0</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0CazRHB0so</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pWo7SC-tG4U</p> Thu, 08 May 2014 18:42:00 +0000 Ann Powers 24684 at http://wuis.org Is It Worth It To Work It? God, Drugs And Lizard Aliens: Yep, It's Country Music http://wuis.org/post/god-drugs-and-lizard-aliens-yep-its-country-music <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWx6csgGkg4</p> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:07:00 +0000 Ann Powers 23202 at http://wuis.org God, Drugs And Lizard Aliens: Yep, It's Country Music Why We Fight About Pop Music http://wuis.org/post/why-we-fight-about-pop-music In 2007, the Canadian music critic Carl Wilson published a book-length experiment in extreme aesthetic sport: a sincere and shockingly comprehensive study of music he had already decided he hated. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:41:00 +0000 Ann Powers 23056 at http://wuis.org Why We Fight About Pop Music Make Peace With Pop: 6 Songs That Prove Pop Gets Along With Everyone http://wuis.org/post/make-peace-pop-six-songs-prove-pop-gets-along-everyone <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShSDMPlX8No</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou5T1SeGhOo</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBr5FPIL8UU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtATrfNQJLU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzoazPPC7b8</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36mCEZzzQ3o</p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 21:16:00 +0000 Ann Powers 22352 at http://wuis.org First Listen: EMA, 'The Future's Void' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-ema-futures-void Erika M. Anderson appreciates the flickering quality of meaning. She likes the sparks that fly off sounds, igniting constructive confusion: the buzz that makes an old synth sound like a guitar, or the way an acoustic beat can crash into an electronic one to make a whole nervous system of rhythm. She's also into wordplay, starting with the name of her ongoing project EMA — an acronym that could stand for a government agency but, read another way, is a feminine name. Then there's the title of her second album, <em>The Future's Void</em>, with its odd, homonym-like instability. Mon, 31 Mar 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 21953 at http://wuis.org First Listen: EMA, 'The Future's Void' First Listen: Nickel Creek, 'A Dotted Line' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-nickel-creek-dotted-line "I think we're more grown-up now, to use an extremely childlike term," the violinist Sara Watkins recently <a href="http://www.independent.com/news/2014/mar/19/sara-watkinss-fresh-starts/">told a reporter</a> who asked what had changed in the eight years since Nickel Creek — the trio of Watkins, guitarist Sean Watkins (her brother) and mandolinist Chris Thile — released a studio album. Watkins' words astutely acknowledged the expectations leveled at the former child prodigies, who wowed bluegrass and country fans with three precocious albums in the early 2000s. Mon, 24 Mar 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 21477 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Nickel Creek, 'A Dotted Line' Lady Gaga At SXSW: 'Don't Sell Out. Sell In.' http://wuis.org/post/lady-gaga-sxsw-dont-sell-out-sell <em>On Friday, March 14, Lady Gaga gave the keynote at SXSW 2014, a long interview conducted by John Norris that covered her career in pop, from her roots in the rock clubs of downtown New York to her decision to partner with a corporate sponsor for the concert she performed at Stubb's the night before. Sat, 15 Mar 2014 15:48:00 +0000 Ann Powers 20933 at http://wuis.org Lady Gaga At SXSW: 'Don't Sell Out. Sell In.' The Guide To Making SXSW Fun (For Everybody) http://wuis.org/post/guide-making-sxsw-fun-everybody The last thing anyone would say about South By Southwest is that it's an avenue for self-improvement. The annual mega gathering, which began last week for film and interactive-technology mavens and turns into a music conference and festival tomorrow, fulfills many needs for the culture nerd. Communal bonding? Yes – somewhere around 100,000 people will wander the Austin streets looking to high-five each other during this time. Fun? For sure. Mon, 10 Mar 2014 15:56:00 +0000 Ann Powers 20530 at http://wuis.org The Guide To Making SXSW Fun (For Everybody) Listening In Reel Life: The Pop Music Inside The Oscar Nominees http://wuis.org/post/listening-reel-life-pop-music-inside-oscar-nominees The most romantic scene from any of this year's Oscar-nominated films begins with a deliciously idiosyncratic pickup line. At a swinger's pool party in 1978, a flabby yet still somehow alluring Christian Bale gently grabs the arm of Sydney Prosser, played by Amy Adams at her most wide-eyed and guileful. "Is that <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15396582/duke-ellington" target="_blank">Duke Ellington</a> on your bracelet?" he murmurs. Sat, 01 Mar 2014 13:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 19988 at http://wuis.org Listening In Reel Life: The Pop Music Inside The Oscar Nominees Hearing Devotion In Pop's Details http://wuis.org/post/hearing-devotion-pops-details <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktvTqknDobU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT_nvWreIhg</p> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 08:39:00 +0000 Ann Powers 19403 at http://wuis.org Hearing Devotion In Pop's Details First Listen: St. Paul And The Broken Bones, 'Half The City' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-st-paul-and-broken-bones-half-city About a year ago, I saw St. Paul and the Broken Bones perform at a tiny club in Tuscaloosa, Ala., called the Green Bar. The Birmingham band's six members squeezed onto the stage, looking like ragtag school kids. Singer Paul Janeway, nerd-tastic in spectacles and a Sunday suit, unfurled a handkerchief. He started to croon, then shout and wail.<p>The two horn players rang the blues; the rhythm section slipped into a hot pocket; the guitarist pulled out some nimble riffs. Janeway kept hitting notes that I'd only heard before from soulful elders like Bobby Bland. Mon, 10 Feb 2014 04:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 18651 at http://wuis.org First Listen: St. Paul And The Broken Bones, 'Half The City' First Listen: Robert Ellis, 'The Lights From The Chemical Plant' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-robert-ellis-lights-chemical-plant The quality of mystery is undervalued in music these days. It's often mimicked via indecipherable lyrics, mumbled vocals or spooky sound effects, but that's not the real stuff. Rarely does anyone touch upon that delicate, open-ended state of unknowing that can descend on any given day, whether you're locked in a lover's embrace or just sitting in front of the television.<p>Robert Ellis is pursuing that kind of mystery. Mon, 27 Jan 2014 04:02:00 +0000 Ann Powers 17709 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Robert Ellis, 'The Lights From The Chemical Plant' Hurray For The Riff Raff's New Political Folk http://wuis.org/post/hurray-riff-raffs-new-political-folk How many choruses does it take to turn a party song into an engine causing social change? Is it possible to honor American cultural traditions while dismantling the traps and habits that make them restrictive? Every so often a new voice engages these basic questions in subtle, exciting new ways. Thu, 23 Jan 2014 15:57:00 +0000 Ann Powers 17475 at http://wuis.org Hurray For The Riff Raff's New Political Folk First Listen: Laura Cantrell, 'No Way There From Here' http://wuis.org/post/first-listen-laura-cantrell-no-way-there-here "I'm under city lights, and it's all right," <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/14957622/laura-cantrell">Laura Cantrell</a> sings in one of the 12 deceptively lovely songs on <em>No Way There From Here</em> — her first album, besides a 2011 <a href="http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=kitty+wells">Kitty Wells</a> tribute, in nine years. The line is about a love that thrives in spite of occasional separation; its story is typical of Cantrell's wry, wise viewpoint on feminine maturity. But it also says something about this Queens-based lover of vintage Nashville sounds. Mon, 20 Jan 2014 04:02:00 +0000 Ann Powers 17275 at http://wuis.org First Listen: Laura Cantrell, 'No Way There From Here' The Knife On 'Shaking' Expectations http://wuis.org/post/knife-shaking-expectations <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W10F0ezCTIQ</p> Wed, 01 Jan 2014 18:06:00 +0000 Ann Powers & Jacob Ganz 16101 at http://wuis.org The Knife On 'Shaking' Expectations '12 Years A Slave' Is This Year's Best Film About Music http://wuis.org/post/12-years-slave-years-best-film-about-music <em>12 Years a Slave </em>is the most compelling film about music to be released this year, maybe this century. It's so many other things, too, as others have noted: a corrective to the weird cocktail of piety and cartoonishness that Hollywood usually supplies when depicting slavery; a gorgeous art film and an actor's hellish paradise; a cultural highlight of the Obama administration. Wed, 13 Nov 2013 19:36:00 +0000 Ann Powers 12951 at http://wuis.org '12 Years A Slave' Is This Year's Best Film About Music