Music News

The Record
3:52 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

Scott Asheton, Drummer For The Stooges, Dies At 64

The Stooges (L-R Dave Alexander, Iggy Pop in front, Scott Asheton in back and Ron Asheton) in the studio in 1970, during the making of their second album, Fun House.
Ed Caraeff Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 8:43 am

Drummer Scott Asheton, a founding member of the pioneering punk band The Stooges died on Saturday at the age of 64 following an unspecified illness.

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Code Switch
2:30 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

What Do Jay Z And Shakespeare Have In Common? Swagger

Jay-Z performs during his Magna Carter world tour this past January.
Owen Sweeney AP

"No one on the corner has swagga like us," sang rapper M.I.A. in her global hit "Paper Planes." The song was later sampled by T.I. and Jay Z in their hit song "Swagga Like Us." A few years before that, it was Jay-Z who declared "I guess I got my swagger back" on his 2001 album The Blueprint.

The word swagger should be a familiar term to anyone who has listened to popular hip-hop songs in recent years; a recent search on Rap Genius turned up more than a thousand songs that used the word in the lyrics.

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All Songs Considered
12:44 pm
Mon March 17, 2014

SXSW 2014 In Pictures

Against Me!'s Laura Jane Grace breaks into a smile during her band's set at the Spin day party at Stubb's.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 8:26 am

South by Southwest 2014 is a wrap, and it's hard to quite comprehend how much was packed into its five days. Which is why we've put together a handy guide to a small sampling of the massive quantity of music we consumed in Austin last week.

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The Record
8:38 am
Mon March 17, 2014

How Sweet It Is To Be Loved By You: The BeyHive

Kevin Mazur WireImage for Parkwood Entertainment

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 11:46 am

Now that she is back on the road, now that the Internet is again awash in pictures of her sweating on stage in Glasgow, running through sold-out crowds in London in costume, it seems as good a time as any to talk about what for many young women was the most important big live show of the past two years — Beyoncé's "The Mrs.

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All Songs Considered
9:41 am
Sun March 16, 2014

NPR Music At SXSW 2014: Saturday

Kishi Bashi performs at The Dirty Dog in Austin, Texas during the 2014 South by Southwest Music festival.
Bob Boilen NPR

Saturday at SXSW, things go over the edge. Language fails. The mind shimmies free from its moorings. Maybe it's the fatigue. Maybe it's the crowds. You could argue that the constant waves of sound that rattle eardrums over five days in Austin jars something loose inside a person's brain.

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All Songs Considered
2:15 pm
Sat March 15, 2014

SXSW 2014: Everything Is Better In Slow Motion

Future Islands, frozen in time (or at least slowed wayyy down).
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 4:03 pm

With hundreds upon hundreds of bands and tens of thousands of music lovers descending upon Austin for just five days, South by Southwest moves pretty fast. So we slowed it down for you. Because they're awfully considerate, NPR Music's video team — led by Mito Habe-Evans — picked out some of the fastest moments at SXSW 2014 and made them go real slow.

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The Record
9:39 am
Sat March 15, 2014

Lady Gaga At SXSW: 'Don't Sell Out. Sell In.'

Lady Gaga donned luxurious plastic bags for her SXSW Keynote on Friday.
Michael Buckner Getty

Originally published on Sat March 15, 2014 10:20 am

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. (You can see the complete video of the interview on this page.)

NPR Music's Ann Powers was in Austin for the keynote, and she filed this report.

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All Songs Considered
8:59 am
Sat March 15, 2014

NPR Music At SXSW 2014: Friday

With a Bjork-like voice and a heart-breaking vibe out of The Sundays, Kristal and Jonny Boy's set at Cedar Street Courtyard was enthralling performance art.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Tue March 18, 2014 11:50 am

Friday was a return to full throttle music consumption for NPR Music's team at SXSW, with few obligations other than seeing as many bands as possible. We saw old favorites and new obsessions, tried to squeeze through the crowds on Austin's streets, watched Lady Gaga navigate questions about her career — and reasons behind the corporate sponsorship of her SXSW show — in this year's keynote address and dragged a bunch of bands into the back yard of a local boutique to perform short sets (keep your eye out for these).

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Music News
2:06 pm
Fri March 14, 2014

Israel's Orthodox Ravers Are On A Holy Mission To Dance

A group of Na Nachs goof off before a wedding performance in Tel Aviv.
Marlon Bishop for NPR

Originally published on Fri March 14, 2014 4:33 pm

Natan Gabbay takes a gulp of clear liquor and warms up on his shofar, the ram's horn trumpet that is sacred in Judaism. He's a member of a whimsical Orthodox sect known as Na Nach. Tonight, about a dozen Na Nachs have been hired as an entertainment act for a fancy wedding outside Tel Aviv. It's a surprise — the guests have no idea what's in store for them.

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All Songs Considered
8:33 am
Fri March 14, 2014

NPR Music At SXSW 2014: Thursday

Skrillex skipped the main room at Empire and went straight to the DJ booth, with fans watching from building tops.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Thu March 20, 2014 9:12 am

NPR Music's team in Austin woke up on Thursday, like many around the country did, looking for news about the accident that killed two people and injured 23 more at SXSW on Wednesday night. "It was hard to sort of walk out the door today and know that today was going to be another day at SXSW," Bob Boilen said at the end of what he called a long, very emotional day.

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All Songs Considered
7:26 am
Thu March 13, 2014

NPR Music At SXSW 2014: Wednesday

Damon Albarn performs at NPR Music's SXSW showcase at Stubb's BBQ in Austin, Texas.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 7:33 am

For most of Wednesday, our team in Austin, Texas, had their eyes on the stage at Stubb's BBQ, where we presented our SXSW showcase featuring sets by Damon Albarn, St. Vincent, Kelis, Eagulls and Perfect Pussy. But near the end of the night, we started hearing news of a terrible accident involving dozens of people outside another venue.

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All Songs Considered
10:44 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Hear Neil Young Explain His Pono Music Player At SXSW

Neil Young speaks about Pono, his new high-quality digital audio system, at SXSW.
Bob Boilen NPR

Originally published on Thu March 13, 2014 6:46 am

Neil Young wants to start a revolution against the MP3, against the CD, poorly made vinyl and poor audio quality in general. He wants people to hear the music the way it was made.

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All Songs Considered
8:13 am
Wed March 12, 2014

NPR Music At SXSW 2014: Tuesday

Who brings a confetti cannon to a fun fight? Calliope Musicals does.
Adam Kissick for NPR

Originally published on Mon March 17, 2014 7:33 am

The first day at SXSW is about getting your bearings. Shaking off the jet lag, figuring out what you forgot to pack, remembering how long the lines can be and how the overwhelming crowds can sometimes part for a moment to give you a perfect look at a band you fall in love with on the spot.

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Business
3:10 am
Wed March 12, 2014

Kickstarter Campaign Begins For Neil Young's Music Player

Visually, the Pono player is a relic, but what matters is how it sounds — better than any consumer device for listening to digital audio, according to founder Neil Young.
PonoMusic

Originally published on Wed March 19, 2014 8:16 am

Amid the thousands promoting new music at this week's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas, one artist took to the stage Tuesday to promote a new way to hear it. Before a crowd at the Austin Convention Center, Neil Young launched a Kickstarter campaign to support his long-planned high fidelity music player and online store, Pono.

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Deceptive Cadence
11:55 am
Mon March 10, 2014

Gerard Mortier, A Polarizing Impresario Who Transformed Opera

Belgian opera impresario Gerard Mortier in Germany in 2003. He died Saturday at age 70.
Volker Hartmann AFP/Getty Images

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The Record
9:56 am
Mon March 10, 2014

The Guide To Making SXSW Fun (For Everybody)

Anything can happen in Austin. Be prepared.
Adam Kissick for NPR

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.

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Music News
6:40 am
Sun March 9, 2014

After A Bitter Struggle, DSO Brings 'Joy' To The People Again

Like many regional orchestras, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra has struggled financially. But after a lot of work, it's set itself on solid footing and become a bright spot in a struggling city.
Courtesy DSO

Originally published on Mon March 10, 2014 7:55 am

Detroit's Orchestra Hall is one of the best symphony concert halls in the country. The acoustics are top-notch. The theater itself is grand. Important music is made there by some of the country's most talented classical musicians.

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Music News
5:59 am
Sun March 9, 2014

John Denver's 'Country Roads,' Now Official In West Virginia

Originally published on Sun March 9, 2014 10:00 am

Transcript

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "TAKE ME HOME, COUNTRY ROADS")

JOHN DENVER: (Singing) Almost heaven, West Virginia, Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River...

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

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Music News
5:53 am
Sat March 8, 2014

Coming Up: Detroit Symphony Returns From The Brink

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 9:31 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Just a few years ago, Detroit Symphony Orchestra was in bad shape. An auditor predicted they'd be shuttered in months.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: His famous line was we had no business being in business.

SIMON: Tomorrow on WEEKEND EDITION, how after a financial crisis, a bitter contract dispute, and a musicians' strike, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra still plays on. This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Deceptive Cadence
5:53 am
Sat March 8, 2014

A Kid Named Carl Stirs Up The Bach Musical Dynasty

Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, captured around 1733, in a portrait by one of his relatives, Gottlieb Friedrich Bach.
Wikimedia Commons

Originally published on Sat March 8, 2014 9:31 am

When it comes to musical dynasties, it's tough to top the Bach family. From town fiddlers to court composers, the Bachs dominated German music for seven generations. Today, Johann Sebastian towers above all his relatives, but there's another important Bach we shouldn't forget — especially today, on the 300th anniversary of his birth.

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The Record
1:41 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Gazelle Amber Valentine: 'Gender Is Not A Genre'

Gazelle Amber Valentine (left) and Edgar Livengood of Jucifer.
F. Mullin Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue July 1, 2014 7:26 am

The two vagabonds behind distorted doom unit Jucifer have been peddling their decimating decibels across the globe since 1993. Famed for their towering wall of amplifiers and incendiary live performances, guitarist and vocalist Gazelle Amber Valentine and her partner in music and in life, drummer Edgar Livengood, are always on the move. The married couple live in an RV with a scattering of dogs and musical equipment and transverse the country 24/7.

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Shots - Health News
12:55 pm
Thu March 6, 2014

Strange But True: Music Doesn't Make Some People Happy

Is there anyone who can resist dancing when Pharrell Williams sings "Happy"? Yes, if you're one of the rare few with specific musical anhedonia.
Kevin Winter Getty Images

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 10:08 am

Surely listening to Pharrell Williams' Oscar nominee "Happy" makes you bounce with joy. Nirvana still makes you want to wail. And old Beatles songs make you feel like everything's going to be all right. But maybe you don't feel anything at all.

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The Salt
8:14 am
Thu March 6, 2014

Moo-d Music: Do Cows Really Prefer Slow Jams?

The Ingenues, an all-girl band and vaudeville act, serenade the cows in the University of Wisconsin, Madison's dairy barn in 1930. The show was apparently part of an experiment to see whether the soothing strains of music boosted the cows' milk production.
Angus B. McVicar/Wisconsin Historical Society

Originally published on Fri March 7, 2014 1:46 pm

When it's time to buckle down and focus, plenty of office workers will put on headphones to help them drown out distractions and be more productive. But can music also help dairy cows get down to business?

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A Blog Supreme
12:01 pm
Wed March 5, 2014

Possessed By Joy: A North American Drummer In Cuba

Eleggua shrines in Matanzas, Cuba.
Harris Eisenstadt for NPR

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 5:06 pm

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The Record
2:42 pm
Tue March 4, 2014

In Rio, A Universe Of Samba

Sitting around what looks like a conference table with a small group of musicians, guitarist Moacyr Luz (center) leads his samba group.
Courtesy of QK

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 4:31 pm

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Deceptive Cadence
10:38 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Robert Ashley, Opera's Misunderstood Innovator, Dies At 83

Robert Ashley's operas for television redefined the genre.
Joanne Savio Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu March 6, 2014 5:50 pm

Robert Ashley, a restlessly innovative American composer, died at his home in New York March 3 from complications of cirrhosis of the liver. NPR confirmed the composer's death through his wife and manager Mimi Johnson. Ashley was 83.

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Code Switch
8:56 am
Tue March 4, 2014

Where Did All The Female Rappers Go?

Nicki Minaj's commercial success over the last decade has stood as an exception to the unwritten rule that women rappers no longer have a place among elite artists.
Mike Coppola Getty Images

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 2:40 pm

This piece comes to us from Erik Nielson, an assistant professor at the University of Richmond. He teaches classes on hip-hop culture and African American literature.

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Music News
5:20 am
Sun March 2, 2014

ABBA's 1970s Costumes Decidedly Worth The Tax Break

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 8:34 am

Transcript

JACKI LYDEN, HOST:

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The Record
6:03 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Listening In Reel Life: The Pop Music Inside The Oscar Nominees

Beautiful Music Together: Joaquin Phoenix takes a walk on the beach with his girlfriend the Operating System in the Oscar-nominated film Her.
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Originally published on Sat March 1, 2014 7:54 am

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 Duke Ellington on your bracelet?" he murmurs.

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Sports
5:59 am
Sat March 1, 2014

Teen Pop Idol Attracts Extra Fans To UK Soccer Match

Originally published on Tue March 4, 2014 8:35 am

Transcript

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

This week, one-fifth of the biggest boy band in the world made up one-eleventh of an English professional soccer team. In a charity game, the One Direction singer Louis Tomlinson turned out to play for his hometown club, the reserve team of Doncaster Rovers.

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