Originally published on Tue February 11, 2014 6:55 pm
Next week, Solange Knowles (sister of Beyonce), will release a brand new EP called True, and you can hear "Lovers in The Parking Lot," a lovely, very satisfying song from it, now. Alongside the other songs she's released from this project, "Lovers" has a matter of fact, gentle-voiced femininity.
The halls of music history are littered with bands that should have made it big, but never did. Maybe they put out a couple of amazing records and you feel like you're the only person on the planet who appreciated them. Or maybe they're still trying, and you're holding out hope, along with the band, that that big break will finally come.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 10:51 am
I first saw this guitar and drums duo last month, in their home town of Asheville, N.C. during Moogfest. The festival is often thought of as just an electronic music festival and it does skew in that direction, but it primarily celebrates the creative souls in music and in doing so honors the spirit of electronic music pioneer Robert Moog. The sonic palette of guitarist Shane Perlowin and drummer Ryan Oslance certainly fits that description.
Originally published on Mon November 19, 2012 1:14 pm
Erin McKeown's music is a bit hard to describe. It is music and lyrics with meaning so it makes me think, but it's also playful and so it makes me smile. I'll have another chance to hear it soon, since Erin has made a new record, called MANIFESTRA. The album, her seventh, was funded by her fan base via PledgeMusic and will be out on January 15. Today we premiere her song, "Jailer."
Originally published on Fri November 16, 2012 10:42 am
Stop motion with live actors is nothing new in music videos. The Beatles did it nearly 50 years ago for the film A Hard Days Night. Peter Gabriel's 1986 "Sledgehammer" video is still mind-blowing. But few have done it as elegantly as Canadian rock duo The Zolas do for the band's mesmerizing, and amazing new video, "Knot In My Heart."
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 11:01 am
This is a languid gem of a song paired with very disturbing video. The music, "Even If We Try," is by Night Beds, the project of Winston Yellen. Yellen is a Colorado Springs musician now making his home in Nashville. In fact the songs on the debut album from Night Beds, Country Sleep, were written and partially recorded in Tennessee at the former Sycamore Homestead in Tennessee of Johnny Cash.
Endless love is not always a good thing,, as some of pop's best kinda creepy songs attest. "You'll find some things you can't leave behind," roars Gary Nichols, leading the harmony rush in "I'll Be There," the aggressively haunting song from daring bluegrass outfit The SteelDrivers.
Ra Ra Riot has experienced constant change in its six-year existence, from commercial success and an aborted label deal to the 2007 death of drummer John Pike. But the band's sound has never shifted as radically as it does on its new album, Beta Love, which comes out Jan. 22. With the departure of cellist Alexandra Lawn — there's that constant change again — Ra Ra Riot shifts gears once more, dialing down the string arrangements in favor of a more synth-driven sound.
Originally published on Thu November 15, 2012 8:21 am
I've seen thousands of concerts over the years but none of them, since 1978, have been in an arena. I never had that eureka moment, I just stopped going. That means for 34 years, I've passed on major, monster acts. No McCartney, no Springsteen, no U2 and no Led Zeppelin (that one hurts the most).
Originally published on Mon November 12, 2012 10:03 am
Who says a rock 'n' roll queen can't do country? Not Wanda Jackson. Best known as a rockabilly pioneer and original FOE (Friend of Elvis — she toured with him in 1955), the 75-year-old Oklahoma native has always had a thing for twang, too. Rock fans who've recently discovered Jackson know her for ravers like 1960's "Let's Have a Party. Last year, the Jack White-produced The Party Ain't Over caught that fiery spirit and ran with it.
Originally published on Fri November 9, 2012 7:40 am
There's a special place in my heart for sad bastards who howl through crushingly loud amp stacks. Dinosaur Jr, Hüsker Dü and Warning, for example, all offer opportunities to stare weepily out the window while subtly banging your head. But not enough heavy bands seeking the musical equivalent of failure-through-distortion follow the hung-head example of the Athens, Ga., trio Harvey Milk.
From the opening chugging guitar sound, this song could only be The Rolling Stones. For the first time in seven years, Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Charlie Watts and Ronnie Wood got together to record two new songs, and you can hear "One More Shot," which was recorded in Paris with Don Was producing, right here.
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 12:11 pm
I saw forty shows during the CMJ Music Marathon this year, and the one by the Brooklyn-based band People Get Ready was by far the most creative. Part of what I love about the band is the way its members think outside the box ... way outside the box. For brevity, I'll describe People Get Ready, led by guitarist, dancer and choreographer Steven Reker, as an indie-rock-performing-art-dance troupe. This is magical musical theater.
Originally published on Wed November 7, 2012 10:00 am
I first found the music of Gashcat buried among 2,000 other songs in a playlist NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson put together to help us prepare for South By Southwest earlier this year. I assumed I wouldn't like them and only listened because I thought the name was ridiculous. Gashcat. What does that even mean?
Originally published on Tue December 18, 2012 12:12 pm
Ben Sollee is not only an unconventional cellist, but also an unconventional human being. Recently, he took his cello, walked up the long steps of the Lincoln Memorial on the mall in D.C. (along with the Mason Jar Music film crew) and began to perform. It's not legal to do that, but like I said, Ben Sollee — the guy who bikes his cello across the country — is not a follower. The following video captures the moments in the shadow of Lincoln amid a throng of tourists.
Here's a puzzle: You're a not particularly well-known rapper with a couple of albums under your belt, trying to introduce yourself to a wider audience. You've got a song with a harp sample and lyrics with a wide range of references that include Afrika Bambaataa, Cash Money Records, Rammellzee, Burt Bacharach, the Brill Building, Zola Jesus, Human League, outrageously expensive high-fashion brands like Prada and Balenciaga and low-budget but prolific art collectors Herbert and Dorothy Vogel.
Originally published on Mon November 5, 2012 7:03 am
Alt-J is a quirky band that, over the past few months, has found its way to the top of my listening pile and is now my favorite album of the year. I'm not alone. Yesterday Alt-J's album, An Awesome Wave, won the Mercury Prize. This choice prize for bands in Great Britain is selected by music journalists and other music business folks and often goes to underdogs. This year is no exception.
Originally published on Fri November 2, 2012 6:32 pm
Pere Ubu made some of the darkest and most creative music of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Thirty five years after its release, The Modern Dance would easily make my top 10 of all time. We hear the word "industrial" bandied about to describe music — The Modern Dance exemplified that genre.