Stephen Thompson http://ktep.org en Song Premiere: Horse Feathers, 'Violently Wild' http://ktep.org/post/song-premiere-horse-feathers-violently-wild Describing <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15328271/horse-feathers">Horse Feathers</a> almost inevitably diminishes the band's music: "Let's see, the lead singer has a beard and a soft voice, and he plays the acoustic guitar, and there's a string section. Oh, and they're from Portland, of course." All those identifying details hold true, and yet Horse Feathers' music never feels slight or ineffectual. Mon, 28 Jul 2014 12:03:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 45541 at http://ktep.org Song Premiere: Horse Feathers, 'Violently Wild' NPR Music Returns For 2014's Newport Folk Festival http://ktep.org/post/npr-music-returns-2014s-newport-folk-festival The Newport Folk Festival has been around for more than half a century now — this is its 55th year, to be exact — and the event now routinely sells out months before its lineup is even announced. And why shouldn't it? Fri, 18 Jul 2014 11:03:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 44949 at http://ktep.org NPR Music Returns For 2014's Newport Folk Festival The Good Listener: Has The Term 'Indie Rock' Lost All Meaning? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-has-term-indie-rock-lost-all-meaning We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the flyers that either wildly underestimate or wildly overestimate our credit-worthiness is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what constitutes "indie rock" in 2014.<p><strong><em>Antfitgodd writes via Facebook: "The term 'indie' has been subsumed by major labels, whose acts often try to mimic indie-rock sensibilities — which changes what it means to play music that is not bland Top 40 drivel. Sat, 12 Jul 2014 16:03:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 44565 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: Has The Term 'Indie Rock' Lost All Meaning? The Good Listener: On Recommending Songs With Profanity http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-recommending-songs-profanity We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside our neighbors' mis-delivered subscription copies of unnerving magazines is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on sharing music that might inadvertently expose someone else's kids to foul language.<p><em><strong>Ken writes via Facebook: "I make an annual sampler of my favorite songs each year and give the playlist to my friends, in the hope that everyone will find at least one new artist they like. Fri, 04 Jul 2014 15:03:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 44036 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: On Recommending Songs With Profanity The Good Listener: When Should A 'Washed-Up' Band Pack It In? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-when-should-washed-band-pack-it We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside <a href="http://www.amazon.com/Copycat-Litter-Other-David-Yow/dp/1617752703">a $23.95 book of cat cartoons</a> by The Jesus Lizard's David Yow is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on when and whether once-successful musicians should give up.<p><strong><em>Dan writes via email: "I read somewhere that there's a '<a href="http://www.metalsludge.tv/?p=42068">Bang Your Head Tour</a>' with Quiet Riot and a bunch of other hair-metal bands from the '80s. Fri, 27 Jun 2014 16:03:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 43576 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: When Should A 'Washed-Up' Band Pack It In? The Good Listener: What Makes A Summer Song? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-what-makes-summer-song We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside that one CD which appears to have been pulverized by a steamroller is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what transforms a mere hit single into the agreed-upon song of the summer.<p><strong><em>Kemper writes via Facebook: "When do we know what the song of summer will be? Have we already heard this year's song? If not, when do we typically start to hear it? Why do the other seasons lack their own song?"</em></strong><p>To answer your last question first, summer is a season of simplicity. Sat, 21 Jun 2014 09:20:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 43139 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: What Makes A Summer Song? Song Premiere: Sinead O'Connor, 'Take Me To Church' http://ktep.org/post/song-premiere-sinead-oconnor-take-me-church <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15773342/sinead-o-connor">Sinead O'Connor</a>'s nearly 30-year career forms a portrait of an artist in conflict; a brilliant singer who remains musically, politically and personally uncompromising after forays into folk, pop, standards, reggae and points beyond. By definition, her catalog is erratic, but it's consistently bold and surprising.<p>On August 12, O'Connor will release a new album of original material titled <em>I'm Not Bossy, I'm the Boss</em>. Mon, 16 Jun 2014 13:03:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 42778 at http://ktep.org Song Premiere: Sinead O'Connor, 'Take Me To Church' The Good Listener: When We Call Songs 'Filler,' What Does That Mean? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-when-we-call-songs-filler-what-does-mean We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the large wooden crates housing our new summer interns is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what makes some albums seem padded and inconsistent.<p><strong><em>Miggy Pascual writes via email: "On a recent </em>Pop Culture Happy Hour<em> podcast, you described Daft Punk's </em>Random Access Memories<em> as having 'a ton of filler.' I cringed at that moment, mostly because of the word 'filler.' ... What defines or constitutes filler? Fri, 13 Jun 2014 16:09:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 42623 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: When We Call Songs 'Filler,' What Does That Mean? The Good Listener: What Makes A Hit Song Overplayed? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-what-makes-hit-song-overplayed We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside Bob Boilen's 64-ounce tub of Kirkland-brand gong polish is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what separates a mere hit from an invasive irritant.<p><strong><em>Chris Kiraly writes via Facebook: "When (if ever) does a song earn the distinction of being 'overplayed'?"</em></strong><p>Chris posed this question a few months ago, before Pharrell's "<a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y6Sxv-sUYtM">Happy</a>" crossed this invisible but obvious line (for me, it happened sometime around the 7 Fri, 06 Jun 2014 17:39:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 42196 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: What Makes A Hit Song Overplayed? Pop Culture Happy Hour: Recycling Franchises And Judging Books By Their Covers http://ktep.org/post/pop-culture-happy-hour-recycling-franchises-and-judging-books-their-covers With Glen Weldon tweeting from the various paradises of Barcelona, this week's <em>Pop Culture Happy Hour</em> calls on the services of two familiar <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/codeswitch/">Code Switch</a> pals — Kat Chow and Gene Demby — to discuss the eternal recycling of unlikely pop-culture franchises. Fri, 30 May 2014 15:03:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 41715 at http://ktep.org Pop Culture Happy Hour: Recycling Franchises And Judging Books By Their Covers The Good Listener: When's The Right Time To Delete Your Music? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-whens-right-time-delete-your-music We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the six-pack of <a href="http://www.mmmhops.com/">Hanson-branded beer</a> that cost $25 to ship is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on disposing of music in a digital age.<p><strong><em>Tami Anderson writes via Facebook: "How long do you keep songs in your collection when you rarely/never seem to listen to them?"</em></strong><p>First of all, I can more than relate to the problem you're touching on here: I haven't been able to part with literally thousands of CDs that I will <em>never</em> Fri, 23 May 2014 17:19:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 41276 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: When's The Right Time To Delete Your Music? The Good Listener: When Should I Keep Criticism To Myself? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-when-should-i-keep-criticism-myself We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the bag of caramel-filled chocolates we're neglecting to share with our colleagues is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on when hardcore fans hate their favorite artist's new project.<p><strong><em>William F. writes via Facebook: "What do you do if you're a diehard fan of a musician and his new release turns out to be... not very good? How do you deal with the other fans who are falling all over themselves to outdo one another in praising the artist? Fri, 16 May 2014 15:03:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 40778 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: When Should I Keep Criticism To Myself? The Good Listener: Can I Ruin My Wedding By Playing The Wrong Song? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-can-i-ruin-my-wedding-playing-wrong-song <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wRP6egIEABk</p> Fri, 09 May 2014 13:19:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 40307 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: Can I Ruin My Wedding By Playing The Wrong Song? The Good Listener: Is It Fair To Call A Band A Sellout? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-it-fair-call-band-sellout We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the Pokemon games we purchased for our kids even though they're entirely indistinguishable from the other Pokemon games we've purchased for our kids is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what it means (and whether it's even possible) to sell out as a musician.<p><strong><em>Kendra Williams writes via Facebook: Are we as music listeners too harsh when we refer to bands/artists as "sellouts"? Fri, 02 May 2014 14:48:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 39861 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: Is It Fair To Call A Band A Sellout? Song Premiere: Banks, 'Goddess' http://ktep.org/post/song-premiere-banks-goddess At SXSW this year, I found myself wondering whether Banks was even a real person: Every time I tried to catch one of her shows, the venue was filled to capacity, with no hope of ingress. My curiosity had been piqued by a string of intriguing singles and remixes, each of which showcased a nifty juxtaposition of coolly expressive vocals and forbidding but beautiful electronics. But I left empty-handed, forced to file her name away for later exploration.<p>On Sept. Mon, 28 Apr 2014 19:08:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 39584 at http://ktep.org Song Premiere: Banks, 'Goddess' The Good Listener: Is It OK To Bootleg Concerts? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-it-ok-bootleg-concerts We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the two quart-size tubs of barbecue sauce is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on recording and trading live shows for our private enjoyment.<p><strong><em>Wesley Warren writes via Facebook: I have a question about trading (not buying or selling) audio recordings of concerts — sometimes from a handheld mic, sometimes directly from the soundboard. Is it good for music and/or bands, or does it detract from sales? Is it ethical? Fri, 25 Apr 2014 18:07:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 39424 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: Is It OK To Bootleg Concerts? The Good Listener: Does The World Still Need Cassettes? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-does-world-still-need-cassettes We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the postage-paid crates we'll use to ship home the spring interns is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on cassette tapes and their utility in 2014.<p><em><strong>Jennifer Spuehler writes via Facebook: "Will there be a place for cassette tapes in the future? Thu, 17 Apr 2014 19:39:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 38869 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: How Do I Appear Knowledgeable Without Acting Like A Jerk? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-how-do-i-appear-knowledgeable-without-acting-jerk We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the fliers for yard-cleaning services that know a big job when they see one are a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on ways to drop musical knowledge without seeming obnoxious.<p><em><strong>Mvelase Peppetta writes via Facebook: "How do you point out to the children that this 'great' piece of music they're loving right now is actually a cover of something else (most times better) without sounding like an old know-it-all fuddy-duddy? I even failed to do it in that one sentence."</strong></em><p>Ha! Thu, 10 Apr 2014 21:25:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 38440 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: How Do I Appear Knowledgeable Without Acting Like A Jerk? The Good Listener: What Makes An Anthem? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-what-makes-anthem <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT_nvWreIhg</p> Thu, 03 Apr 2014 19:19:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 37968 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: What Makes An Anthem? The Good Listener: Am I Too Old For Music Festivals? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-am-i-too-old-music-festivals We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the hundreds of water bottles we were supposed to give away at SXSW is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on when a person can rightly be considered too old to attend music festivals.<p><strong><em>Erin Briskie writes via email: "I just caught myself Googling 'how old is too old to go to music festivals.' We all know the answer is 'never too old,' but is there an age range where you start feeling like the not-so-wise, probably-should-have-consumed-more-water godfather of the festival circuit? Thu, 27 Mar 2014 18:16:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 37505 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: Am I Too Old For Music Festivals? The Good Listener: For Bands And Fans, The No-Fault Divorce http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-bands-and-fans-no-fault-divorce We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15333650/beck">Beck</a> single that keeps tricking us into thinking it's the new Beck album are a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on when superfans sever their allegiances.<p><em><strong>Kirsten Elbourne Mathieson writes via Facebook: "How do I deal with the guilt of having virtually abandoned some of my once-favorite artists — who continue to release albums — for cooler current ones? Fri, 21 Feb 2014 19:23:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 35265 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: For Bands And Fans, The No-Fault Divorce The Good Listener: How Do You Make A Platonic Mixtape? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-how-do-you-make-platonic-mixtape We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the Fun-Dip valentine cards we ordered strictly for the Fun-Dip is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, just in time for Valentine's Day, thoughts on platonic mixtapes.<p><strong><em>Stephanie Marten-Ellis writes via Facebook: "How do you share good music with someone without giving the impression that you're 'trying to say something'? You just like the song and want someone to know about it! Fri, 14 Feb 2014 15:57:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 34819 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: How Do You Make A Platonic Mixtape? The Good Listener: What's The Perfect Soundtrack To Teenage Flirtation? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-whats-perfect-soundtrack-teenage-flirtation We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/monkeysee/2014/01/17/263470185/you-can-now-send-someone-you-temporarily-like-a-bachelor-bouquet">Bachelor Bouquets</a> we ordered ourselves in order to appear loved is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on music to play at a dance for nervous, flirtatious teenagers.<p><em><strong>Nanna writes via Facebook: "This Valentine's Day, I will attend a formal thrown for freshman and sophomore college students in the Netherlands — they are giving us, the lecturers, fre Fri, 07 Feb 2014 20:22:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 34378 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: What's The Perfect Soundtrack To Teenage Flirtation? Playing SXSW 2014? Send Us Your Songs http://ktep.org/post/playing-sxsw-2014-send-us-your-songs Every year around this time, the <em>All Songs Considered</em> team begins the process of listening to nearly 2,000 MP3s by bands playing the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. We acquire them from any number of sources, as bands willing to circulate their songs for consideration make them available online. But every year, we wind up missing something. Thu, 06 Feb 2014 21:13:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 34291 at http://ktep.org Playing SXSW 2014? Send Us Your Songs The Good Listener: Leave 'We Built This City' Alone! http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-leave-we-built-city-alone <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K1b8AhIsSYQ</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NTDHjVKQyo</p> Fri, 31 Jan 2014 15:46:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 33894 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: Leave 'We Built This City' Alone! The Good Listener: How Can I Conquer A Musical Blind Spot? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-how-can-i-conquer-musical-blind-spot <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s6EvO_dExO4</p> Fri, 24 Jan 2014 17:44:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 33437 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: How Can I Conquer A Musical Blind Spot? The Good Listener: How Do You Know If You'll Love A Song Forever? http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-how-do-you-know-if-youll-love-song-forever <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fWNaR-rxAic</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s8LIRtPnuA8</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg00YEETFzg</p> Thu, 16 Jan 2014 19:13:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 32925 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: How Do You Know If You'll Love A Song Forever? The Good Listener: When Good Musicians Do Bad Things http://ktep.org/post/good-listener-when-good-musicians-do-bad-things We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid a deluxe version of the Ashley Monroe record in which "deluxe" means "packed in a 10-pound wooden crate" is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how and whether to enjoy music by folks whose real-life actions offend us.<p><em><strong>Patrick writes via email: "Your <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/allsongs/2013/11/21/246465573/the-good-listener-can-you-meet-your-favorite-band-without-it-getting-awkward">recent column</a> got me thinking about something that happened to me over the summer, when I had the cha Thu, 09 Jan 2014 19:45:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 32460 at http://ktep.org The Good Listener: When Good Musicians Do Bad Things Stephen Thompson's Top 10 Albums Of 2013 http://ktep.org/post/stephen-thompsons-top-10-albums-2013 <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ8xqyoZXCc</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=unNa-9qGkfI</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ld81Y6Em3NM</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6yfFWvoygY</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fO2gm29rI7E</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f4dZbJHT7_4</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NY8SPy_qB2M</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1L5zJ2afLs</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3J7DbO56QOI</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bFnA-8H-5lo</p> Mon, 16 Dec 2013 12:03:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 30983 at http://ktep.org Stephen Thompson's Top 10 Albums Of 2013 Indie-Pop Albums That Make The Cut Are More Than Mere Collections http://ktep.org/post/indie-pop-albums-make-cut-are-more-mere-collections Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>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?<p>STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: I have absolutely no idea. It used to mean accessible but unpopular.<p>CORNISH: OK. Tue, 10 Dec 2013 23:55:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 30643 at http://ktep.org