NPR Music

A great power-pop song has one foot in happy-go-lucky hooks and another stomping a triumphant riff. That's a space occupied by The Toms' pop ballast, Shoes' handsome two-day scruff and Buzzcocks' sunniest kiss-offs. Spend just two minutes with Saturday Night's "Curse or Blessing," and it's immediately clear these 20-somethings live in power-pop's in-between, where the sugar is just as important as the grit.

In this session, we hear the story of how two brothers went from singing in the pubs of an old steel town four hours North of London called Scunthorpe to recording at Rick Rubin's Shangri La Studios in Malibu, Calif.

On Monday, June 18, rapper XXXTentacion was shot and killed in Florida. The fallout from his death has been complicated given the rapper's dark past. In 2016, he was charged with aggravated assault and battery and false imprisonment of a pregnant victim.

Your Favorite Summer Jams

Jun 22, 2018

Earlier this week, we asked you for your favorite summer jams — the feel-good music that'll carry you through unrelenting news cycles, flat LaCroix, and incessant reminders from your mom ("HAVE YOU PUT ON SUNSCREEN YET?"). We loved your choices, from the sultry Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa song "One Kiss" to Korean boy band BTS's "Fake Love." More importantly, we appreciated your enthusiasm: "It bangs" was a common comment, along with "It slaps" and "IT BUMPS IN THE WHIP." (We may have learned some new terms).

For an emerging artist putting out a debut album, recording a session for this show, which airs across the country, could be a nerve-racking experience. Especially if your album features a full electric band, you planned to play with them for the session and on the day, one of the members gets sick and you had to go it alone in front of a live audience. That could be extra nerve-racking.

Marcia Ball On Piano Jazz

Jun 22, 2018

Pianist, vocalist and songwriter Marcia Ball brings together Texas blues with Louisiana flavors, melding boogie-woogie, zydeco and Swamp Rock. Influenced by artists of the region, such as Janis Joplin, Ball first came to the blues as a child by listening to Etta James and learned the piano through a mix of formal and informal lessons.

On this week's episode of New Music Friday, All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton chats with NPR Music's Ann Powers and Rodney Carmichael, along with jazz critic Nate Chinen from WBGO about the most exciting new releases for June 22. Albums include the intense, industrial rock of Nine Inch Nails, the new joint project of Lecrae & Zaytoven and the wildly ambitious, shape-shifting jazz of Kamasi Washington.

Featured Albums

  1. Nine Inch Nails: Bad Witch
    Featured Song: "Ahead Of Ourselves"

Spinal Tap made its mark as one of England's loudest bands, releasing slightly above average records like Shark Sandwich. Now, Derek Smalls, the band's legendary bassist, is making waves of his on his own with a new reflective solo record in the vain of David Bowie's Blackstar and Leonard Cohen's You Want It Darker.

Liz Cooper & The Stampede's new video for "Hey Man," premiered on XPN, is a kind of mini episode of The Twilight Zone that plays as a rock and roll video. The song, from Liz's forthcoming album Window Flowers was recorded at Welcome to 1979 studio in Nashville and showcases the rockier side of Cooper's rock and roots musical equation.

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.

THIS CONCERT IS NOW OVER. VIDEO ARCHIVE COMING SOON.

Join us for a special live broadcast on WMOT and VuHaus webcast this Friday evening, June 22 as WMOT and World Cafe present a special record release concert featuring Lera Lynn.

Two days after his 76th birthday, Paul McCartney released two new songs, which he calls a taste of Egypt Station, a new studio album set for release September 7.

"I Don't Know" is a doleful ballad, while "Come On To Me" is fiery, foot-stomping rock song — hear them both below.

Bettye LaVette's voice illuminates the definition of a true soul singer. It pierces through the physical and awakens the listener's emotional core. A soul singer's voice is only amplified through experience, and as Bettye told me when we spoke, "I've got so much stuff to cry about, and so much stuff to holler about, and so much stuff to laugh about."

It's in the name: returning a place to its proper condition. It's in the logo: a house tipped on an angle, in need of repair. Restorations, now 10 years running, is named for more than just architectural stability. It's emotional renewal for the members themselves and for anyone listening. The band's self-reflective, true colors are just as loud and bold as the layers of guitars galloping through each song.

The Colorado Sound asked Brent Cowles to help us celebrate the station's first birthday. Cowles happily agreed and brought an all-star band to the party. Cowles had the crowd in the palm of his hand keeping everyone moving with mostly up-tempo numbers, but when Cowles decided to slow things down, you could have heard a pin drop. A silence fell over the crowd as they became mesmerized with the gorgeous harmonies and passionate lyrics of "9th and Lafayette."

It was Take Our Daughters And Sons To Work Day when this somewhat loud and sometimes frenetic band came to play at my desk. I couldn't help but wonder if The Messthetics would inspire some eight-year old child in the office to one day become a musician, one who'd go on tell the tale of seeing these D.C. legends at an office when they were a kid.

For Saintseneca, fatalistic gloom blends seamlessly with a kind of playful sprightliness: Zac Little's songs often simmer in a sad swirl of death and esoterica, but his deadpan ruminations are buoyed by the sounds of exotic instruments, candy-colored pop hooks and many points in between.

Southern friendship is all about porches. The craftsman cottages of East Nashville were designed for afternoon sweet tea and guitar picking with the perfume of whatever's on the smoker (these days, it's as likely to be tofu as hog) wafting by. Bars like Mickey's on Gallatin Pike have great porches, too — a famous local might come in for a cold beer and leave hours later in a new super group.

The NPR Music Tiny Desk Contest may be over this year — NPR Music was proud to award the honor this year to Naia Izumi — but Weekend Edition isn't done highlighting the impressive talent who entered this year's contest.

Welles has the look, the voice, the licks, the hooks and the attitude of a real rock star. His classic rock-meets-grunge debut  Red Trees and White Trashes  alternates between being big, chunky, bombastic and driving and also intimate, sensitive, quiet and reserved. There's no shortage of ballads and barn-burners.

Material Girls' glam-soaked, goth-smeared rock and roll struts and stumbles like a fish-netted pair of legs breaking in new heels. The punk ensemble from Atlanta released a promising EP last year via Henry Owings' venerable Chunklet label housing four songs dripping in danger and sweat, like a whiskey-swigging Nick Cave partying with Captain Beefheart.

On this week's New Music Friday, All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Ann Powers, Rodney Carmichael, and Stephen Thompson for a quick run through the best new releases for June 15. Highlights include Christina Aguilera's Liberation, a monument to self-empowerment with contributions from Kanye West and Anderson .Paak; the trippy, futuristic debut of pop producer SOPHIE; and a deeply emotional solo project from Linkin Park co-founder Mike Shinoda.

Featured Albums

As the saying goes, "You catch more flies with honey than vinegar." So it is for Natalie Prass on her new album, The Future and the Past.

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