NPR Music

Though useful, the blog-era identifier "RIYL" can feel reductive: Consider the case of Restorations. Over the course of its catalog, it's become evident that Restorations' output is more than the sum its parts, with cathartic choruses, gratuitous guitars and honest admissions of anxiety declared at decibels that reach the rafters.

Kathy Mattea has been successfully making music for a long time. Her first gold album came out in 1987. She won her first Grammy in 1990. For a while, she was putting out albums every year or two. But Mattea's latest LP, Pretty Bird, out now, is the country artist's first release in six years — and it almost didn't come out at all.

Join Fiona Ritchie for a chance to explore highlights from the past decade of radio shows, with great musicians and other individuals involved in the traditional arts. This week, we feature music and interviews with John Doyle and Cathie Ryan.

The sound of Low has changed a lot since husband and wife Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker started the band in 1993. But its harmonies remain central to the band's music.

"As soon as we'd sing, and you would sing harmony, I thought, 'Wow this is beautiful,'" Sparhawk says.

The Americana Music Association's 19th annual AmericanaFest in Nashville came to a close after six days of music showcases featuring over 225 performers, various panels including the keynote interview with k.d. lang, dozens of off-campus events and parties and the 17th annual Americana Music Honors and Awards ceremony.

The Philadelphia Folk Festival just celebrated it's 57th go round of concerts workshops, camping and folkie camaraderie on The Old Poole Farm outside of Philadelphia this past August. Each year, the Main Stage is open from Friday night thru Sunday, but World Cafe has been kicking things off with a special campers only show on Thursday nights for 11 years, since 2007 when we presented David Bromberg along with the Angel Band.

Denver band Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats played a scorching set of funky soul songs as part of our Apogee Sessions series, including the track, "I'll Be Damned." It's an older song they recorded with producer Richard Swift for the deluxe edition of its latest record Tearing at the Seams. This was only the band's third time playing the song live and it was a hit!

The Thistle And Shamrock: The Long View

Sep 14, 2018

If you've been listening to Thistle for some years, perhaps you'll remember two unforgettable extended medleys of tunes; one from Breton harper and multi-instrumentalist Alan Stivell and the other from Irish fiddler Kevin Burke. You'll be delighted to make their re-acquaintance this week.

Sponsored by the Americana Music Association, the 19th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference features a broad range of music showcases from diverse musicians in alt-country, roots-rock, bluegrass, R&B, blues and folk as well as dozens of day time industry panels.

This week's run through the essential albums out Sep. 14 includes the first new music from Jump Little Children in 14 years, rapper Noname's incredible follow-up to her 2016 mixtape Telefone, one of the darkest and most distorted albums ever from the band Low, a bit of melancholy and hope from country singer Carrie Underwood and much more.

Featured Albums:

  1. Jump Little Children: SPARROW
    Featured Song: "Hand On My Heartache"
  2. Low: Double Negative
    Featured Song: "Quorum"

Alejandro Escovedo has carved out a very special place for himself in the music world. He established unimpeachable punk cred when his 1970's punk band The Nuns opened for the Sex Pistols at its infamous last stand at San Francisco's Winterland Ballroom.

"Who are you and why are you calling me?" According to Dawn Landes, that's what Country Music Hall of Famer Fred Foster said when she rang him up out of the blue and asked Foster to produce her new album. Foster founded Monument Records, he signed Dolly Parton and he produced most of Roy Orbison's hits in the 1960s. These days, he's in his late eighties and mostly retired.

Sponsored by the Americana Music Association, the 19th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference features a broad range of music showcases from diverse musicians in alt-country, roots-rock, bluegrass, R&B, blues and folk as well as dozens of day time industry panels.

It was Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit's night to shine at the annual Americana Honors and Awards show Wednesday night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.

Isbell and his band walked away with three of the night's biggest awards: Album of the Year for The Nashville Sound, Song of the Year for "If We Were Vampires," and Duo/Group of the Year.

John Prine was named Artist of the Year, while Tyler Childers won the always competitive Emerging Artist of the Year category.

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Metric's Emily Haines rarely sticks with one sound for long, whether she's wallowing in the radiant miserablism of her solo records or revving up effervescent synth-pop floor-fillers on her band's 2015 album Pagans in Vegas. On the new Art of Doubt, Metric takes another welcome hard turn — this time back into spiky, guitar-driven rock and roll.

Black Tambourine, Velocity Girl, Lilys, Lorelei, Stereolab — these are just a few of the artists who released 7-inch singles on Slumberland Records in the late '80s and early '90s. That's a helluva run for any label, but also remarkably prescient, considering the simultaneously softer and stranger indie pop that would follow.

Guitarist Marc Ribot has an unpredictable and far-reaching catalog that's taken him through rock, jazz and many avant-garde variations thereon. Now, he's releasing a pointedly titled set of protest music — Songs of Resistance 1942-2018 — that calls on a group of guests as versatile and iconoclastic as he is.

It's not like Brody Dalle hasn't put her gritty-pretty voice to snarling use, but it's been almost a decade since her band Spinnerette's last release, and four since Diploid Love, her underrated solo effort. But now The Distillers, the L.A. punk band that gave Dalle's velvet scowl a platform to howl, is back onstage and making good on new material, after officially breaking up in 2006.

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