After five decades of singing, Linda Thompson is still one of the best voices in folk music. Her tone is alluring, sometimes mournful, and always passionate. Her story is unlike anyone else's, beginning in England during the 1960s, and continuing with her marriage to Richard Thompson, when she recorded my favorite British folk albums ever, including 1975's Pour Down Like Silver.
Originally published on Fri October 11, 2013 1:54 pm
There's something blurrily manic about cable television at 3 in the morning. Ren & Stimpy reruns feel oddly prescient next to personal-hygiene infomercials, while the swimsuit models on Baywatch and horror B-movies start to bleed together. (Not that I spent four months after college graduation in that "OMG I don't know what to do with my life" catatonic state, flipping channels and making runs to Krystal's.) The production team behind Roomrunner's video for the oddly hooky thrasher "Wojtek" has been there, and makes our all channel-surfing nightmares come true.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the packages our kids discard in disgust for not including the new Pokemon 3DS games is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, tips on inter-generational bonding over music.
Jake Ibey writes via Facebook: "How do you introduce new music to a parent (mid-50s) who is stuck in late-'70s rock mode?"
Five years ago, a listener looking for a lonesome song anywhere near Arkansas might have heard a voice she still can't forget. Christopher Denny was 23 when he released Age Old Hunger, introducing the world to a high Southern warble that doesn't defy gravity so much as play with the tension that force creates – an androgynous, time-jumping instrument. Denny was learning to control his singing then, a process he says is more about instinct than craft. "I have to say...
Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 8:43 am
Hear Volcano Choir Talk About The Band's Live Performances
Volcano Choir got its start in 2005 when Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and members of the band Collections Of Colonies Of Bees decided to make mysterious, multi-layered, adventurous music together. Their first album, 2009's Unmap, was dreamy, frequently abstract, and simply gorgeous.
Originally published on Wed October 9, 2013 8:37 am
There's a moment in this rousing tune by the Brooklyn-based band Rubblebucket I think we can all connect with: singer Kalmia Traver screams "15 missed calls / can you blame me? / Charlie tell me, do you love me?" It's that exasperation, that moment in a relationship when one person finds themselves caring a whole lot more than the other, that makes this a fabulous pop song. I also love how much life this lyric video has; the color and style feel fresh and so perfect for the blasting horns and funk of the music.
Originally published on Tue October 8, 2013 12:04 pm
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It's been a dreary, rainy week in D.C. On this episode of All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton are a little stir crazy after being stuck inside during the storms. But, with thunder rolling in the background, Robin kicks things off with an ethereal cut from the Berlin-based trip-hop artist Perera Elsewhere that perfectly captures the mood.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the flyers urging us to replace our nonexistent maid service is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a pair of queries about the importance of loving the right music.
Jennifer Yousfi writes via Facebook: "I have horrible taste in music. How do I fix this?"
Musicians have a long history of turning tragedy into art. From Neil Young's stirring indictment against the shooting of Kent State students in the 1970 song "Ohio," to the countless tributes and musical memorials to 9-11, artists often feel a need to make sense of the senseless and offer comfort through song.
Somehow this young Dutch musician has managed to capture an aesthetic that happened 20 years before he was born. Jacco Gardner makes music in the spirit of early 1960s baroque pop bands, such as The Left Banke (a group that featured a harpsichord) or late '60s Kinks, and certainly The Zombies from their Odessey and Oracle period. Gardner channels these sounds on a new song and trippy video called "The End Of August."
Originally published on Tue October 1, 2013 12:47 pm
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On this edition of All Songs Considered, host Bob Boilen has a confession: everything in the world is actually a dream in his mind. (Just listen to the podcast, it will make sense.) If that's true, co-host Robin Hilton is grateful that Bob has at least imagined some great new music. You'll hear some of it on this edition of the program, including rapper Danny Brown, Swedish electronic duo Jonsson & Alter, and the beautiful voice of singer Tom Brosseau.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the online pharmacy's monthly supply of the pills that allow us to trudge productively through this waking life is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, an ethical query about online streaming services.
Andrea Sauceda writes via Facebook: "Does using Spotify (and/or other streaming services) make you a bad person?"
Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 11:26 am
"What has Wooden Wand been up to lately?" It was a simple question that turned into an epic email thread with a friend a year ago; the kind where you find yourself a sudden apologist for a sprawling, decade-long discography. There was the noise jam-band phase, the bedroom acoustic recordings mistaken for "freak folk," the major-label "flop" that had more to do with the crumbling remains of the label than the artist...
Originally published on Fri September 20, 2013 10:10 am
I won't lie to you. I love anthropomorphizing dogs. Maybe it's because I like dogs more than people, but need to believe they're somewhat human in order to sustain the kind of long conversations about life and music I have with my own yellow lab, Cornflake (not her real name), without feeling insane.
All of which is to say that when I saw this new video for the song "Boomerang" by Los Angeles singer Lucy Schwartz, I immediately fell in love.
Originally published on Sat September 21, 2013 7:24 am
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the gigantic packets of 401(k) information we chuck directly into the fireplace is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a request from a reader who seeks cheerful music for the mopey, beardy indie-rock soul.
There's a new album coming from the band Midlake. The album, Antiphon, isn't out until later this fall, but fans of these modern day creators of classic and progressive rock can get a glimpse of the band's new sound right now with a new song called "Provider."
Lots of bands play bright, winsome folk-pop, but only one has the bold, sure drumming of The Dodos' Logan Kroeber; he infuses the duo's prettily propulsive songs with momentum and force. Four albums into The Dodos' career, the group is still making terrific records like the new Carrier — a tremendous sleeper for those who've been seeking a Blind Pilot-style left-field gem in 2013.
Originally published on Mon November 17, 2014 8:31 am
The members of CCR Headcleaner must be some kind of gutter mutants, spawned from the spores of an alternate-universe San Francisco psych scene that's less pop and more bong-ripped hedonism. But if the Geneva Jacuzzi-directed video for the sludgy "Steal the Light" is any indication, then maybe the band's destructively diverse debut, Lace the Earth With Arms Wide Open: 2013, was just formed out of bedroom burnouts.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 5:05 pm
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On this edition of All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton share a brand new song from Beck. The new cut, called "Gimme," is the third single he's released since June and by far the strangest (i.e., best) of the bunch. None of the songs will be on the new full-length record Beck hopes to release before the end of the year.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 6:41 am
As summer winds down and cool breezes fill the evenings here on much of the east coast, summer never ends in the music of Best Coast. "I Don't Know How" is the new single from the L.A.-based duo, featuring Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno. The song is the last cut from their seven-song EP called Fade Away due out October 22.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and along with the quilt my kind sister couldn't possibly have made me herself came a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a request for ideas on music awards that double as useful buyer's guides.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 6:56 am
The inventor and engineer Rube Goldberg was known for designing elaborate machines that performed simple tasks, usually in a string of successive events, each one triggering the next. His work has been the inspiration for a lot of fantastic art and music videos (think of OK Go's "This Too Shall Pass," or A-Trak's "Tuna Melt").