NPR Music

One of art's greatest qualities is its ability to give voice to the voiceless. When rendered in song, little-heard stories can find broad audiences, bridging gaps and building connection between disparate communities and lines of thought. The phrase "now more than ever" is wildly overused these days, but songs of this nature have taken on a heightened significance as divides across class, race, gender and party lines have grown wider and deeper since the 2016 presidential election.

Look: Big, dumb riffs are harder than you think. Palm-muted chugs and sidewinder pull-offs can rate on a scale of Honda Accord (safe, reliable, standard) to El Camino (muscular, mean, wild) depending on the driver who's stomping on the sonic gas pedal. Hair Puller was founded on this premise, and its 101 MPH sludge will pulverize your headbanging skull.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Live From Ireland

19 hours ago

Host Fiona Ritchie is feeling a little nostalgic and a lot Irish this week, delving into her radio archive to relive some of the great sets of Irish music she's aired on Thistle through the years.

Four years ago, Jocie Adams of The Low Anthem, stepped aside from the Rhode Island band she was a member of to begin the next evolution in her musical career as lead singer for Arc Iris. This Friday, Arc Iris will release its third album, Icon Of Ego, via Ba Da Bing Records.

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its 2019 nominees on Tuesday, and in what has become an annual tradition, the list came with the Hall's usual heap of opacity and a dash of acrimony.

One nominee has already been inducted, two are receiving their fifth nominations, and one previously said it would decline the honor before changing its, ahem, tune on Tuesday morning.

My No. 1 album for 2017 was Big Thief's Capacity. In 2016 their album Masterpiece was in my top five. So when I heard that Adrianne Lenker, Big Thief's singer and songwriter, had a new solo record, I was all ears.

The word "first" comes up a lot when talking about the latest album from Cat Power. It's the singer's first in six years, her first since giving birth to a son (notice his forehead peeking out on the album cover) and her first since leaving Matador, her longtime record label. But one thing is not new: As is often the case with Cat Power's music, this collection is spare and emotional.

More often than not, when you hear songs that ring out with the urgency and complexity of being in a relationship at a difficult time, you're hearing just one side of the story; what passion and loss and doubt and loneliness and lust feels like from just the side of the person making the music.

We all have distractions in our lives that keep us from working, studying, concentrating or otherwise attempting to unlock something in our own brains. It could be roommates, or coworkers, or the 24/7 rage-spigot of the Internet, or something else entirely, but we all have outside forces we need to drown out without merely adding more chaos to the mix. This two-hour playlist is engineered to help.

With Robin Hilton out for one more week, NPR Music's Ann Powers and Lars Gotrich join me for a whirlwind tour of a busy release day. We've got the first album in five years by the spiky pop-rock band Swearin' (featuring the great and good Allison Crutchfield); the gorgeous first album in six years by Chan Marshall, a.k.a.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

Editor's note: The following story contains some frank discussion of suicide.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Cathy Jordan

Oct 4, 2018

Join Fiona Ritchie as she chats to singer-songwriter Cathy Jordan about her musical life globetrotting with the popular band Dervish. Cathy performs some well-loved songs with an intimate audience at The Swannanoa Gathering's Traditional Song Week.

Croz is back, again. Singer-songwriter David Crosby releases his seventh solo album, Here If You Listen later this month on Oct. 26. It's his fourth solo album in five years and continues an active, prolific creative streak for the legendary Rock & Roll Hall of Famer.

Geoff Emerick, an audio engineer best known for his work with The Beatles, died Tuesday at his home near Laurel Canyon, Calif., due to complications related to his pacemaker. Emerick's manager, William Zabaleta, confirmed his death to NPR. He was 72.

Emerick had been in the hospital two weeks prior after experiencing trouble walking, but was ruled to have been dehydrated.

One Song Considered: Julia Jacklin's 'Body'

Oct 3, 2018

Aaron Lee Tasjan has a way with words and on his latest album, Karma For Cheap, he walks a fine line between timelessness and a record very much of this moment. For instance, one of his new songs is called "The Truth Is So Hard To Believe." It's easy to think about post-truths and fake news with a title like that as a chorus, but to Tasjan, the song is about something a little more personal.

Distance begets clarity; that's as true for punks as it is for the general populace.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

Buffy Sainte-Marie, native Canadian singer-songwriter, social activist and member of the Cree First Nation, is now in her 70s and has co-authored the first and only authorized biography that tells her story — a story of a woman whose career has stretched from the coffeehouses of Toronto and Greenwich Village in the early 1960s to concert halls around the world. Buffy Sainte-Marie: The Authorized Biography is co-authored with Andrea Warner.

The story of how Tanya Blount and Michael Trotter met, wooed, married and became The War and Treaty says so much about our present moment. She began her music career as a teenage R&B ingenue, navigating the ups and downs of the music industry with resilience and sharp wits. He discovered his musical gifts as a soldier in Iraq and became a kind of spiritual advocate for fallen soldiers, composing songs about them for their memorial services.

A few songs into her sun-drenched Saturday Newport Folk set, Phoebe Bridgers paused and proclaimed, "I am a puddle of sweat." It was a one-liner that primed those huddled at the Harbor Stage for the 2018 Slingshot artist's catalog: details delivered with specificity and a subtle sense of humor.

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