NPR Music

Harmonicist Frédéric Yonnet has played with Stevie Wonder, Erykah Badu, John Mayer, Ed Sheeran ... even Prince. But his biggest fan and supporter is Dave Chappelle, who worked with the Normandy native on Dave Chappelle's Juke Joint, a series of intimate parties featuring Yonnet, his Band With No Name, and an all-star cast of unannounced special guests.

Catalonia, a culturally distinct and politically embattled region of northeast Spain, has held on to its distinct culture through centuries as it has struggled to redefine its relationship with the rest of the country.

A couple years ago, The Record Company released its debut album and earned a a Grammy nomination, a few hits, sold-out headlining shows, late night TV appearances — you get the idea — all off the strength of that one record made in bass player Alex Stiff's living room in LA. This is a surprisingly sharp trajectory if you know anything about how the music business works. But it's not surprising if you know how the band itself works.

Elvis Costello has canceled his remaining European tour dates through July 16 to recover from surgery of an "aggressive cancerous malignancy," according to a statement on his website.

The Stray Birds On Mountain Stage

Jul 5, 2018

Last year, The Stray Birds made their third visit to Mountain Stage, bringing us songs from their 2016 album Magic Fire. The record was produced by Larry Campbell, who is known for being a multi-instrumentalist as well as a three-time Grammy-winning producer. The album showcases not only their instrumental talents but their poetic and melodious songwriting abilities as well.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify or Apple Music playlist at the bottom of the page.

Over the years, some bands who've released recording debuts have launched their careers with a single from the album that, in many cases, was the first song on the first side of their record. In the business, these songs are called "lead-off tracks," denoting the first in a series of songs on an album.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Dear Jean

Jul 4, 2018

Artists celebrate Jean Ritchie (1922-2015) by singing the songs she taught them and by passing along their wisdom. Host Fiona Ritchie explores the reach of Jean's songs and presents music from a commemorative CD featuring Robin and Linda Williams, Peggy Seeger, Kathy Mattea, John McCutcheon and many more artists who were proud to call "The Mother of Folk" their friend.

Musicians visiting Austin are often asked to play in some pretty unusual places. Like, for instance, the unfinished hallway of a KUTX staff member's East Austin home. But for Brent Cowles, the spartan setting provided the perfect opportunity to strip his 2017 single "Cold Times" down to the bare essentials and let his powerful vocals take center stage.

The 7-inch sat in my college dorm room, unplayed but displayed — a bright pink foldover cover with red lettering and a crude drawing of two dashing men. There wasn't a way to hear the songs outside of a turntable (at the time, still sitting in my parents' living room), no digital copy available. When you mail-ordered a record, you listened to the record, not the MP3s from a download card.

Richard Swift, a highly regarded producer and solo artist, died early Tuesday morning in Washington state. His death was confirmed by a manager, Adam Katz, but no cause of death was given. He was 41 years old.

A crowdfunding campaign was created last month on Swift's behalf to help pay for treatment of a "life-threatening condition," the details of which were not shared.

There's an intimacy in the way Ray LaMontagne records and performs music that makes you feel like you're peeking through a curtain and listening in on a private moment. And in some ways, you truly are.

Ray is an artist I think of the purest sort. He's in it for the expression, not the attention. That's one of the things that I love about Ray and have loved since his 2004 debut Trouble. And it's the same quality that makes this career path challenging for him.

Shemekia Copeland On Mountain Stage

Jul 3, 2018

As Larry Groce mentions in his introduction, the daughter of Blues Music Hall of Fame member Johnny Copeland is anything but predictable. Her albums have been produced by the likes of Dr. John and Steve Cropper. For 2015's Outskirts of Love, Oliver Wood of The Wood Brothers manned the board.

Michigan band Greta Van Fleet absolutely blitzed through its live session for KCRW's Morning Becomes Eclectic. The band's brand of classic rock and roll will get you out of your seat. Crank it up for "Safari Song."

The first hint of otherness comes from the voices.

They are five in all, each ragged and weary in his own way, each contributing to "Tears of Rage" on his own timetable, when stirred by some spirit. Sounding less like a polished choir than a wandering militia, they appear displaced, out of time. The voices have no discernable connection to the moment the record arrived in 1968. They might as well be selling elixirs from the back of a horse-drawn rig, moving at the slow, deliberate pace of backroads rural America in the days before [farm-to-table] artisan shallots.

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For over 50 years, Paul Simon has shared his amazing talents with us: first, as a part of Simon & Garfunkel, one of the most important musical duos, and later as a solo artist. Few musicians have had as a critically-acclaimed and beloved career as Simon. He's won 16 Grammys, three of those for album of the year.

In the midst of the country's turbulence in 1968, five musicians later named simply The Band hunkered down in a salmon-colored house in upstate New York to craft Music From Big Pink, an album that brought the rural folk Americana sound to popular music and to the classic album canon.

It's an exciting week for new music. All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton talks to NPR's Rodney Carmichael, Ann Powers, Stephen Thompson and Tom Huizenga, along with WBGO's Nate Chinen about the best releases for June 29. This includes Drake's highly-anticipated double album, Scorpion, Florence and the Machine's tentative turn toward optimism with High as Hope, previously unheard and unreleased music from jazz legend John Coltrane and much more.

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In the video for "Hunger," Florence + The Machine's first single from the new High As Hope, vibrant flower buds and moss bloom atop the stony surface of an old statue: What was once cold and revered, only marveled at from a distance, becomes a lush promise of renewal.

When Beezewax first formed in 1995, its early records recalled the muscular yet melodic riffage of Hüsker Dü and Buffalo Tom — fuzzy guitar chords, fuzzier emotions, hearts on sleeve. What set the band apart, especially on 1998's South of Boredom, was a sweetness possibly gleaned from its Norwegian indie-pop locale.

Summertime usually stirs up the urge to leave work behind and hop in the car, top down and windows open, to speed through the desert, mountains and along the coast.

The first official music video for Creedence Clearwater Revival's 1969 hit "Fortunate Son" is, appropriately, exactly that — taking you down the Pacific coast and across the South. It's an idyllic picture of the pool halls, river rope swings, vintage cars and beguilingly worn-out cities of the U.S. — and a representation, however stylized, of the Americans who aren't in the top one percent.

Florence Welch is no stranger to making music out of life's emotive messes. As the lead vocalist of Florence + The Machine, the British-born indie pop star was introduced to the world stage back in 2008 thanks to "Dog Days Are Over," a primal and joyous romp about sudden, in-the-moment bliss. But her latest album High as Hope, out June 29, pulls from her adolescence. The album gathers up a collection of Welch's intimate teenage memories — both the brave and the embarrassing.

Fans Of '90s Indie Rock Need To Hear Hello June

Jun 28, 2018

If you're not familiar with West Virginia indie rock band Hello June yet, correct that by pressing play on the video to its latest single, "Mars."

Brent Cowles joined program director and on-air personality Benji McPhail at The Colorado Sound to play some of his favorite tunes. Cowles spoke highly of the artists that not only inspire his sound but bring authenticity and grittiness to western rock and roll.


Blake Mills, "Hey Lover"

For every sticky summer fling, there's even more stabbing heart pangs. Longer nights and shorter homemade jorts sightings mark the official kickoff of uncuffing season; add to that the typical diet of rejection and letdowns in the cruel snowglobe of modern dating, and you got some pretty convincing reasons to pop a bottle.

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