music

Entertainment
9:19 am
Wed October 30, 2013

Beneath The Wig: Bach Examined In New Book

A new book from John Eliot Gardiner attempts to unveil the personal side of one of history's preeminent composers.
Credit courtesy of William H. Scheide, Princeton, N.J.

Johan Sebastian Bach's music has enjoyed considerable longevity as a cornerstone of the musical zeitgeist, but his personal life is, for the most part, the stuff of speculation.  The composer's little known personality—his emotions, flaws, and triumphs—may be about to become significantly clearer, however, with the publication of Bach: Music in The Castle of Heaven.  Written by John Eliot Gardiner—himself a renowned composer—the book attempts to unravel a man "filled with contradictions".

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Entertainment
4:04 am
Mon October 28, 2013

First Listen: Cut Copy, Kronos Quartet and More

Cut Copy's new album, Free Your Mind, comes out Nov. 5.
Credit Cut Copy

The fine folks over at NPR Music headquarters have rolled out a fresh batch of First Listen streams; head here to hear new music from indie dance mainstays Cut Copy, experimental string outfit Kronos Quartet and more.

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Entertainment
3:56 am
Mon October 28, 2013

Katy Perry's Career 180

Katy Perry made a major career transition, from aspiring Christian singer to explosive pop star.
Credit Cass Bird/Courtesy of the artist

Katy Perry has a unique perspective with regards to pop music.  You most likely know her as the sultry star responsible for hits like "I Kissed A Girl", but chances are you might not be aware that Perry is currently in phase two of her career.  Her first stab at the music game was under the name Katy Hudson, singing sterilized Christian pop; it was a move that failed to garner the audiences Perry was hoping for, and she has since moved to greener, more secular pastures.

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Entertainment
12:35 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

Do Surprise Album Releases Work For Everyone?

Amaechi Uzoigwe at the A2IM Awards in New York City last June.
Credit Brad Barket/Getty Images

What's the value of hype? As part of NPR's The Record, Eric Ducker examines the pros and cons of the spontaneous album release, on the heels of records like Four Tet's Beautiful Rewind and Kanye West's polarizing Yeezus.

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Entertainment
3:11 pm
Wed October 16, 2013

Ryley Walker Brings Acoustic Swagger

Guitarist/singer Ryley Walker.
Credit Michael Vallera/Courtesy of the artist

Guitarist/songwriter Ryley Walker offers music that "swings and sways", an alluring hybrid of blues, folk and psychedelia.  Check out "The West Wind" now, courtesy of All Songs Considered. 

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Entertainment
11:05 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Rubblebucket Gets Funky

With their new video for "Save Charlie", Brooklyn indie pop outfit Rubblebucket serves up a technicolor slice of languid funk, complete with neon outlines and shimmering on-screen lyrics.  For more info, head over to All Songs Considered.

Entertainment
10:58 am
Wed October 9, 2013

Chilean Saxophonist Melissa Aldana Cracks the American Scene

Melissa Aldana, 24, took after her father in pursuing jazz saxophone.
Credit Jimmy Katz/Courtesy of the artist

24-year-old Melissa Aldana, the winner of last month's Thelonious Monk International Jazz Saxophone Competition, has been gaining quite a bit of buzz as a result of her talents.  Citing artists like Sonny Rollins as key inspirations, Aldana talks with A Blog Supreme about her experiences as a globe-trotting jazz afficionado. 

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Entertainment
4:56 pm
Sat October 5, 2013

Deltron 3030 Brings More Interstellar Madness

Deltron 3030 has reconvened, more than a decade after its self-titled debut, for the new album Event II. Left to right: Kid Koala, Del the Funky Homosapien, Dan "The Automator" Nakamura.
Credit Michael Donovan/Courtesy of the artist

Thirteen years after the release of the much-celebrated concept album Deltron 3030, rapper Del Tha Funkee Homosapien has returned with producer Dan The Automator and turntablist Kid Koala for Event II, another dystopian sci-fi epic packed with nimble wordplay and head-nodding beats.  Listen now at NPR music.

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Entertainment
4:51 pm
Sat October 5, 2013

Is Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" A Real Hit?

Katy Perry (left) and Miley Cyrus at the Pre-Grammy Gala in February.
Credit Lester Cohen/WireImage

It's the number one single on the Billboard Hot 100 with a raunchy video to match, but is Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" a genuine hit?  After the flash-in-the-pan popularity of songs like Bauuer's "Harlem Shake", NPR's Chris Molanphy wonders about the lasting impact of Cyrus' sound. 

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Entertainment
8:58 pm
Sun September 29, 2013

Nostalgia 2.0: 90's Rap Release Dates

On September 28, 1993, three very different albums, Souls of Mischief's 93 'Til Infinity, Spice 1's 187 He Wrote and KRS-One's Return of the Boom Bap.
Credit Jive Records

More 90's nostalgia! Evan Auerbach delivers this piece for NPR's The Record, celebrating a number of dates from the 1990's that marked the release of classic hip-hop records.  A random highlight: April 17, 1990, which offered the release of A Tribe Called Quest's seminal People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

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Entertainment
1:06 pm
Sat September 28, 2013

'If It Swings': An Asian-American Jazzman's Pioneering Career

The Paul Togawa Quartet at the El Sereno Club in Los Angeles in the late 1950s. Left to right: Gabe Baltazar, Paul Togawa, Dick Johnston, Buddy Woodson.
Credit Gabe Baltazar

83-year-old saxophonist/clarinetist Gabe Baltazar was recently profiled as part of NPR's Weekend Edition series, offering an in-depth look at one of the foremost Asian-Americans in jazz music.  The piece examines a career that spanned the U.S., and boasted appearances alongside the likes of Dizzy Gillespie, Cannonball Adderly and Wes Montgomery. 

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Entertainment
12:57 pm
Sat September 28, 2013

Drake's Hip-Hop Emotionality

Hip-hop musician Drake at a recent taping of 106 & Park.
Credit Bennett Raglin/BET/Getty Images for BET

Rap superstar Drake, fresh on the heels of his third studio album, Nothing Was The Same, has been garnering quite a bit of attention recently.  NPR's Jason King takes a look at what makes the Toronto sensation so engaging, from his uniquely emotional appeal to an evident talent for verbal calisthenics.  

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Entertainment
10:27 am
Sun September 22, 2013

Marley Marl Talks Hip-Hop, Sampling, The Bridge Wars

New York DJ Marley Marl's In Control Vol. 1 was released in 1988.
Credit Cold Chillin' Records

Widely considered a seminal figure in the hip-hop moment for his invention of the process known as sampling, New York DJ Marley Marl speaks with Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Frannie Kelley for NPR's Microphone Check series.  Marl describes his memories of  discovering sampling—the act of utilizing sounds recorded from other records—as well as his love for synth-pop pioneer Giorgio Moroder and working with LL Cool J. 

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Entertainment
10:10 am
Sun September 22, 2013

Jessye Norman's Jazz Favorites

Opera star Jessye Norman picks her favorite jazz singers for WBGO.
Credit Carol Friedman

In a conversation aired on WBGO, opera singer Jessye Norman shares songs from five of her favorite jazz singers, including the likes of Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald.  

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Entertainment
9:51 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Tiny Desk Concert: Arturo O'Farrill

The latest in NPR's Tiny Desk concert series comes from jazz musician Arturo O'Farrill, who performs three songs with a stripped-down, eight-man version of his Afro Latin Jazz Orchestra.  A multi-talented performer born of a musical family, the sounds O'Farrill offers are "as fluent in Afro-Cuban rhythms as they are in the deep grooves and advanced harmonics of bebop."

Entertainment
9:42 am
Wed September 18, 2013

Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic Share Memories of Nirvana

Nirvana in 1993 (from left): Kurt Cobain, Krist Novoselic, Dave Grohl.
Credit Anton Corbijn

Nirvana's seminal grunge record In Utero marks 20 years of existence this year; in celebration of the album's memory and the memory of lead singer Kurt Cobain, Nirvana founders Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic talk with All Songs Considered about the making of the album.  Hit the link for an in-depth look at the history behind the definitive grunge album, and listen to some unreleased out-takes from In Utero.

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Entertainment
10:15 am
Fri September 13, 2013

90's Musicians We Miss

90's hip-hop duo P.M. Dawn
Credit Mick Hutson/Redferns

Having been born at the decade's inception, I harbor a soft spot for the music of the 1990's.  So does NPR's Ann Powers, apparently, as she picks six pre-millenial artists worthy of nostalgia.  From Janet Jackson to Elastica, the piece should stir some memories of neon-clad mid-90's vibes for anyone fortunate enough to have experienced the decade.  

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Entertainment
10:07 am
Fri September 13, 2013

Who Owns "Funkytown"?

Disco group Lipps, Inc. were responsible for the 1980 hit "Funkytown".
Credit Michael Ochs Archives

Reporting for NPR's All Songs Considered, Joel Rose examines the turbulent history of Lipps, Inc.'s disco hit "Funkytown", an iconic track that has spawned a decades-long legal battle over the ownership of the piece.  Rose delves into the complicated waters of copyright law, highlighting the age-old conflict of band versus major label.  

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Entertainment
9:42 am
Tue September 10, 2013

Thurston Moore + Ariel Pink + A Moving Train

Billed as part of Doug Aitken's "art project-journey-collaboration" series Station To Station, Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore plays with Ariel Pink and drummer John Moloney on a moving train, offering a meandering jam session whilst winding through the Great Allegheny Passage.  Learn more about the project over at All Songs Considered.

Entertainment
9:21 am
Tue September 10, 2013

The Bad Plus' Dave King Talks Odd Jobs

Bad Plus drummer Dave King describes his storied job history.
Credit the artist

The Bad Plus—with their careening piano rhythms and rollicking covers of pop songs like "Tom Sawyer"—have long been a bastion for the weirder side of jazz.  Drummer Dave King talks job history with A Blog Supreme, describing his experiences as a paper boy, janitor, delivery driver, and ultimately as drummer for one of jazz's boldest outfits.

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Entertainment
9:15 am
Tue September 10, 2013

The Mix: Britpop At 20

Members of the British band Suede in 1993.
Credit Steve Jennings/Corbis

It seems to be a landmark year for music genres; hip-hop recently celebrated 40 years of existence, and now Britpop has reached 20 years of age.  NPR's Otis Hart explores the history of the 90's-born UK Britpop scene, a "nebulous black hole of a genre".

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Entertainment
10:59 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Where Have All The Symphonies Gone?

Composer/clarinetist Derek Bermel investigates a curious dearth of freshly-composed symphonies.
Credit Derek Bermel

Writing for NPR Music's Deceptive Cadence blog, composer/clarinetist Derek Bermel examines a puzzling phenomenon in classical music: why does no one seem to be composing new symphonies?  Bermel talks to a handful of modern artists about why the label of "symphony" has become anathema to contemporary composers, and examines the complicated standing of the time-tested musical form that is the symphony. 

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Entertainment
9:29 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Tiny Desk Concert: Baths

The technicolor electronics of Baths' music can fit many molds, as evidenced by an excellent new session for NPR's Tiny Desk concert series.  Baths—created and helmed by Will Wiesenfeld—performs three tracks from Obsidian, his latest album for Anticon records.  

Entertainment
9:17 am
Thu September 5, 2013

Trent Reznor: 'I'm Not The Same Person I Was 20 Years Ago'

Nine Inch Nails lead singer Trent Reznor talks with NPR music.
Credit Baldur Bragason

On the heels of Hesitation Marks, the latest album from Nine Inch Nails, front-man Trent Reznor talks with NPR Music, discussing the personal trials and decades of experience that fed into the creation of the new record.  

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Entertainment
10:44 am
Tue September 3, 2013

John Zorn's Challenges and Opportunities

Composer John Zorn talks with NPR's Fresh Air.
Credit Scott Irvine

Multi-talented saxophonist/composer John Zorn makes music that can be pretty hard to define, running the gamut from jagged noise rock to unhinged experimental jazz.  Zorn recently spoke with NPR's Fresh Air; you can find the interview here.

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Entertainment
1:01 pm
Mon September 2, 2013

Tiny Desk Concert: Steve Gunn

The latest in NPR's Tiny Desk concert series brings quasi-folk specialist Steve Gunn into the studio to perform two songs from his latest record, Time Off.  

Entertainment
12:56 pm
Mon September 2, 2013

First Listen: The Weeknd, Willis Earl Beal and More

Check out new releases from a range of artists including The Weeknd
Credit La Mar C. Taylor

The newest in NPR's series of First Listen advance album streams brings new sounds from left-field r'n'b outfit The Weeknd, alongside offerings from homespun folk/soul singer Willis Earl Beal and indie dance group Factory Floor. Rounded out with upcoming releases from acts like Okkervil River and The Julie Ruin, you'll find an impressive range of styles to choose from; listen here.  

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Entertainment
11:02 am
Sun September 1, 2013

Jazz With A Jamaican Accent

Monty Alexander (left) and Ernest Ranglin
Credit Peter Dean Rickards

For A Blog Supreme's jazz series, NPR's Matt Fleeger takes a look at the jazz of Jamaica, and how the island nation has fostered a thriving musical community. Fleeger offers five cuts to summarize the various flavors of Jamaican jazz; listen here

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Entertainment
2:59 pm
Tue August 27, 2013

New Music: TV On The Radio, Pelican, Lucius and More

All Songs Considered profiles new music from TV On The Radio, Jackson And His Computerband, Lucius, Luray, and Rokia Traore
Credit The Artists

NPR's All Songs Considered takes a look at exciting new music for Fall 2013, with new releases from TV On The Radio, Jackson and His Computerband, and more. 

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Entertainment
10:00 pm
Mon August 26, 2013

Franz Ferdinand On Structure

Glasgow rock group Franz Ferdinand prepares their newest album, nine years after the band's much-lauded debut.
Credit Franz Ferdinand

Nine years after their celebrated debut, left-field Glasgow rock outfit Franz Ferdinand are readying a new album, titled Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action.  Frontman Alex Kopranos talks with NPR's Jacki Lyden about the ideas and inspiration behind the new record.

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