NPR Music

White Denim On World Cafe

Jun 10, 2016

White Denim's new album, Stiff, takes the Austin band back to the frenetic guitar-rock sound of its earlier days. World Cafe last caught up with the band after it released its 2013 album Corsicana Lemonade, which was partially recorded with producer Jeff Tweedy in Wilco's studio space in Chicago.

For a particular sect of people, notice of a new Dinosaur Jr. record means a misty pang in the chest or throat. Where — or who, or what — were we when we loved them last? This sort of reflex wistfulness seems to be the general response toward new albums by bands mythologized in the early '90s, but Dinosaur Jr.'s spell is uniquely strong.

You'd figure Paul McCartney, the most well-known songwriter on planet Earth, would, by now, have confidence in his ability to write a song. But as he tells us in this week's All Songs +1 podcast, "You never get it down. I don't know how to do this. You'd think I do, but it's not one of these things you ever really know how to do."

Ben Bridwell and the Band Of Horses crew were in high spirits and feeling loose during a special recent acoustic session they played for KCRW. Smiles, hoots and hollers abounded as they rolled out new songs like this one, titled "Throw My Mess."

SET LIST

  • "Throw My Mess"

Watch Band Of Horses' full Morning Becomes Eclectic performance at KCRW.com.

In this age of peer-policed hyperproductivity, the practice of pausing and thinking is fetishized but rarely truly supported. Reflection has become yet another goal achieved through an app: something to show off on our socials within an anxiously curated stream of fresh plans, ideas and accomplishments. This is true for musicians just as it is for mommy bloggers and tech entrepreneurs. Time spent outside the spotlight, it's assumed, isn't quiet time, but another occasion for overwork.

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

Review: Mogwai, 'Atomic'

Jun 9, 2016

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

Animal Collective On World Cafe

Jun 8, 2016

Animal Collective returns to World Cafe after a four-year absence since its last studio album, Centipede Hz. In an effort to approach its newest record, Painting With, a bit differently, the three-piece version of Animal Collective (Panda Bear, Avey Tare and Geologist) flipped its typical script and recorded the album before ever performing the songs in concert. In this session, hear the band discuss its process and perform live.

Get your hanky out. The latest song and video from Rochester-based Maybird is a real tear-jerker. Made entirely of old home movie clips, the video for "Looking Back" shows band members and brothers Adam and Josh Netsky from their earliest childhood moments, as they grow up with their older brother, Aaron, aging from scene to scene. At first they're toddlers, playing in freshly mown grass, making a snowman with their father and dancing freely together. By the end they're long-haired, skateboarding teenagers on the brink of adulthood.

Eric Bachmann On World Cafe

Jun 7, 2016

Eric Bachmann was the founder of the beloved North Carolina band Archers of Loaf in the 1990s, and he later led Crooked Fingers. He hasn't released a solo record in 10 years, but he says his new, self-titled album is his most personal one yet. A romantic prone to cynicism and a Southerner who often finds himself at odds with prevailing North Carolina politics, Bachmann channels his experience into the songs in this session.

On this week's All Songs Considered, we play songs about facing fears, being true to yourself and not worrying about what everyone else thinks, plus a new song from Angel Olsen and a conversation with her about her surprising new sound.

Robin Hilton opens with an introspective pop gem from the Portland, Ore. band Ages And Ages inspired by the ephemeral nature of nearly everything. Bob Boilen follows with a sonic adventure from the Asheville, N.C. folk group River Whyless.

World Cafe Next: Oliver John-Rodgers

Jun 6, 2016

Raised in Virginia but now living and working in Music City, Oliver John-Rodgers is a great example of the new Nashville — an artist that doesn't fit any one mold. The music on his stylistically diverse new album, Nashville Demos, ranges from grunge to alt-country. What resonates most, though, is that John-Rodgers doesn't take himself too seriously and exhibits a wicked wit. Hear two songs from Nashville Demos in this segment.

Sometimes, you just have to go for it — that dream, that hope, that wish. And, in 2015, that's exactly what Maya de Vitry, one-quarter of The Stray Birds, did.

Gregory Alan Isakov's three studio albums have been spare and intimate: His voice, his guitar, sometimes a banjo, a piano, a fiddle, some drums. With his latest LP, Isakov wanted to build his songs bigger — so he gave them to a symphony. The Colorado Symphony, to be exact.

What's In Your Tiny Desk?

Jun 4, 2016

Bob Boilen had never heard anything quite like The Beatles' "A Day In The Life" when it first came out. As Boilen relates in his book "Your Song Changed My Life," he listened to parts of that song every day for years, and it inspired him to seek a life in music. In the late 70s he worked at record stores and began writing music, ultimately forming a New Wave band called Tiny Desk Unit.

Paul Simon On World Cafe

Jun 3, 2016

Paul Simon releases his 13th solo album, Stranger To Stranger, today. In making the album, he did some things old-school — like luring his longtime engineer, Roy Halee, back behind the desk. But, as he always does, he worked hard to find new sounds. A wealth of percussive sound drives Simon's new material, which incorporates Harry Partch's avant-garde instrumentation, tracks from the Italian electronic artist Clap Clap and field recordings.

Sean Lennon's latest collaboration is with Primus bassist and lead singer Les Claypool. They're calling themselves the Claypool Lennon Delirium, and their new album is a collection of trippy, psychedelic space jams called The Monolith Of Phobos (a reference to a large rock discovered on Phobos, a moon orbiting Mars).

If one were to process the entirety of New York City mainstay Samara Lubelski's musical output, which has officially crossed the three-decade mark, the expectation of a record like The Gilded Raid would likely appear.

The Beach Boys' 1966 album Pet Sounds marked a change in music that was barely noticed at the time. It began a revolution in rock as it transformed from simple entertainment to art. That change was even more dramatic because this introspective music came from a band famous for singing about surf, girls and cars; suddenly, they were singing songs like "I Just Wasn't Made For These Times."

Car Seat Headrest On World Cafe

Jun 2, 2016

It's only June, but there are critics who have already named Car Seat Headrest's Teens Of Denial their top album of 2016. After recording 11 self-released albums in his bedroom and car (hence his band's name), songwriter Will Toledo has released his first studio album of new songs for Matador Records. It's a deep, personal, honest, sarcastic and relatable look at his post-college life — if Toledo doesn't watch out, he is going to be called the voice of a generation.

The Kills' Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince never fail to amaze with their live performances. The two play with musical tension in throbbing, riff-heavy rock songs — and this one, "Doing It To Death," is a perfect example.

SET LIST

  • "Doing It To Death"

Watch The Kills' full Morning Becomes Eclectic set at KCRW.com.

The first few seconds of Field Mouse's upcoming album, Episodic, might fool you. The opening track, "The Mirror," begins with gentle, atmospheric guitar strums and a building drumbeat; then, suddenly, it explodes into a melodic, scuzzy rock song with skittering guitars and a demanding rhythm. "What a way to say 'f*** off,'" sings Rachel Browne. What a way to kick off an album.

Parker Millsap On World Cafe

Jun 1, 2016

Parker Millsap grew up in the small town of Purcell, Okla., where he began singing in the Pentecostal church his parents attended. In 2014, he released his self-titled debut, which was full of songs and characters from his youth and earned him an Americana Emerging Artist of the Year nomination.

For some, summer means swimming pools and drinks with tiny umbrellas. For others, summer means tallboys and sweaty bodies engaged in what can only be called a crusty display of full-contact Bacchanalia. "Dispatch" is the meanest and bloodiest VHÖL track to date, from a metal band that normally liquefies thrash into T-1000 badassery.

It's been nearly five years since the charming Portland folk-pop band Blind Pilot released its second and most recent album, We Are The Tide, and that record's roiling title track has only recently begun popping up in beer commercials. Given that the band used to tour up and down the West Coast via bicycle, it should come as no surprise that Blind Pilot is accustomed to taking its time.

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

I was 12 years old when my older brother came home from college with a couple of Luna CDs, and they became my first favorite band. Ever since, Luna's bittersweet tunes have become the soundtrack for all of our reunions. Recently, the band announced its own reunion — including performing shows again and releasing a box set of vinyl reissues. For most people, that won't mean too much; the '90s rock group has long been, as Rolling Stone magazine put it, "the best band you've never heard of." But for me, it felt like another homecoming.

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