NPR Music

North Texas is steeped in music history. In the 1920s and '30s, Dallas' Deep Ellum neighborhood was renowned for its blues scene, with artists such as Blind Lemon Jefferson, Lead Belly, Bessie Smith and Robert Johnson treating the neighborhood as their musical playground.

Rolling Stone wrote that the voice of The Who's Roger Daltrey was one of the most powerful instruments in rock. But when first it started in the 1960s, Daltrey's band was covering American soul songs. At the age of 74, the British rocker is returning to that music for his new solo album, As Long as I Have You.

M. Ward On Mountain Stage

Jun 4, 2018

As a producer, collaborator and songwriter, Portland, Ore.'s M. Ward has a prolific output, to put it lightly: eight studio albums of his own; six She & Him albums with Zooey Deschanel; 2009's Monsters of Folk project; and Mavis Staples' 2016 album, Livin' on a High Note. He has recently carved out time to play his own live concerts, including his first-ever appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded in April 2018.

In celebration of her new album, Tell Me How You Really Feel, Courtney Barnett performed an intimate set for KCRW. "Charity" is an album highlight and will surely be a live staple and crowd favorite in the months to come.

SET LIST

  • "Charity"

Anyone who says you should never meet your heroes because they will disappoint you has never met John Prine. He is everything you love about his songs. He's warm, funny and wise — although you get the sense he's not trying to be. He cares about people and their smallest details and, as his lyrics might suggest, he'll find a way to work pork chops into the conversation.

Meeting Charley Crockett through his music, you get the sense he's the kind of guy who, in person, would shake your hand, look you straight in the eye and remember your name. Charley was raised in South Texas by a single mom whose unshakable sense of ambition and perseverance rubbed off.

Whether it's your first or 50th time on the road, being on tour is a roller coaster. Phoebe Bridgers, a 2018 Slingshot artist, is not new to this wild ride — nor will she be hanging up her guitar any time soon. Her headlining tour, playfully named "The Farewell Tour" in support of her debut album Stranger In the Alps, has continued non-stop since its release in 2017.

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton talks with NPR Music's Ann Powers and Stephen Thompson about the best new albums out on June 1, including the remarkable new Neko Case record Hell-On and an emotional and revealing new album from Father John Misty. Complete list below.

Featured Albums

  • Neko Case, Hell-On
    • Featured Track: "Last Lion of Albion"

  • Father John Misty, God's Favorite Customer

Rock's not dead. They say this every few years — or months, or days — but really, the state of rock is quite strong.

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.

Belly On World Cafe

May 30, 2018

In 1995, Bill Watterson, the author of the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, decided to end it even though it seemed like the comic was in its prime. Since then, Bill has said, "It's better to leave the party early." Belly, our guest in this session did the very same thing. The band had explosive success with the debut album Star in 1993 and was all over MTV with the hit song "Feed the Tree." Belly released the follow-up King in 1995, grabbing the cover of Rolling Stone in the spring of that year.

The Thistle & Shamrock: More New Sounds

May 30, 2018

This week there are rising names to discover and exciting new sounds from Cathy Jordan's Americana trio The Unwanted and Welsh band Calan.

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Love and loss often inspire creativity. Aisha Burns' second solo album Argonauta is about the places where grief meets hope. What makes this album distinct is that it was written in response to a great loss in Aisha Burns' life — her mother's death — which occurred alongside the beginning of a great romance.

Who do you still know from eighth grade? And what's your relationship? Do you check in on Facebook to see how many kids, pets and houses they have? Or have you built an entire career together and made it work for decades, like the co-frontmen of the band Dr. Dog?

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael, Stefanie Fernández, Lars Gotrich, Stephen Thompson and World Cafe host Talia Schlanger for a quick run through the best new albums out on May 25. That includes the highly anticipated (and instant classic) Daytona from rapper Pusha-T, reggaetón hit maker J Balvin, raw and ragged rock from Thunderpussy, effervescent synth-pop from CHVRCHES and more.

Featured Albums

  • Thunderpussy, Thunderpussy

A couple nights before Donovan Woods came in to World Cafe I went to see his show in Philadelphia and I was standing next to a guy who had never heard of Woods before. Once the applause died down after the first song, the man said to himself, "Wow."

It was almost funny but also not surprising. I've seen this happen a bunch of times when I'm with somebody who hears Donovan's music for the first time. And I'm hoping that's what'll happen today on this show.

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.

Here's a hypothetical: Would you drop out of a prestigious school to pursue a music career? What if there was a huge buzz around your high school bedroom recordings — lush atmospheric pop with some of the most incisive lyrics about love and loss — that you never expected anyone to hear, but when people did hear it, they loved it?

San Francisco-based Pllush makes hazy dream-pop that pairs emotionally wrought lyrics with maxed-out shoegaze guitars. The band has developed a dense, harmony-rich sound over the course of several releases — all, up until now, under the name Plush. For the release of Stranger to the Pain, its forthcoming album, the band has added the second l to its name, honed its pop melodies and sharpened its guitar-heavy sound.

All Bets Are On Jade Bird

May 21, 2018

The first thing you notice about George Ezra, besides his incredible voice, is his demeanor. He's warm, friendly and engaging to talk to. There's a similar charm in his songwriting. Ezra pulls you in as a storyteller. You want to root for him. His 2014 debut LP includes the breakout smashes "Budapest" and "Blame It on Me," which showcase his voice and charm in spades.

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