One of my favorite songs from one of my favorite bands - pared down to a single microphone. Video courtesy of KEXP.

You've Heard Aloe Blacc. But Do You Know His Name?

Mar 11, 2014
Reid Rolls/Courtesy of the artist

If you're at all like me, you've probably had "I Need A Dollar" stuck in your head on more than one occasion.  It's a superb bit of neo soul with an absolute earworm of a chorus, but herein lies the rub; can you name the singer?  Aloe Blacc has been quietly releasing quality music for a few years now, from his own solo work to a recent uncredited turn as lead vocalist on Avici's smash hit "Wake Me Up", but for some reason the talented singer has remained mostly unknown.

Tiny Desk Concert: Brass Bed

Mar 4, 2014

For the latest in NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series, Louisiana's Brass Bed braves a recent stretch of bad luck—including a sick lead singer, family deaths and stolen equipment—to deliver a stellar set, with four songs from the group's latest record, The Secret Will Keep You

Did you hear this story on Snap Judgment last weekend? After September 11, 2001 - Ariana Delawari and her father decided to move back "home" to Afghanistan. While her father fights for peace through business, Ariana uses the only weapon she knows how to use: music. Such a powerful story. Settle in, listen, enjoy.

Patrice Jackson

Each year, the gang at NPR Music hand-picks 100 of the best musical discoveries from more than 2,000 bands/musicians featured at SXSW (yep - 2,000+ BANDS!). Swing by NPR Music to download all six hours of music or select individual songs (you can also stream as a continuous mix). SXSW kicks off this Friday, March 7.

I was browsing the vinyl stacks at Raunch Records in the late eighties and picked up a SLUG 'zine' on my way out. 25 years later, I still grab the latest edition of SLUG as I leave my neighborhood coffee shop. Congratulations to Angela Brown and the dedicated group of SLUG contributors on 25 years of music, reviews, interviews and all-around hooliganism.

Angela H. Brown

Adam Tye’s love affair with music began 14 years ago, when he set foot inside Salt Lake City’s all-ages music venue, Kilby Court. “A friend took me to [see] Form of Rocket and that blew my mind,” says Adam.  “That was the first local band I found that became a must-see every time they played.”

Rolling it back to the archives

Feb 21, 2014
Courtesy of the artist

A heart-clutching, hand-clapping, foot-stomping good time: Macklemore & Ryan Lewis tear it up during this 2012 live session for NPR Music's Tiny Desk Concert series.

First Listen: Beck, Morning Phase

Feb 21, 2014
Autumn De Wilde

Buzz abounds over Beck's new album, Morning Phase. The album will be released next week, but NPR Music has posted tracks from the entire album. Check it out. A few of my favorites: "Wave," "Don't Let it Go" and "Country Down." Not as upbeat as some of his other albums, but gorgeous nonetheless.

Guest DJ Project: B.J. Novak

Feb 19, 2014

You might remember him as Ryan the intern from NBC's The Office, or maybe you heard his short story featured on This American Life. Check out B.J. Novak's incarnation as DJ on KCRW's Guest DJ Project, as he spins a mix of comedy-infused songs.

Happy birthday, phonograph machine!

Feb 19, 2014
stock image

Today in 1878, Thomas Edison got the go-ahead to patent the phonograph machine, also known as the turntable or record player. 136 years later, our heads are still spinning. Cheers to all things vinyl!

Remembering Devo

Feb 18, 2014
Gerald Casale/Devo

The guitarist for Devo, Bob Casale, passed away yesterday. To the Best of our Knowledge remembers him by looking back at their 2010 interview with his brother and bandmate, Gerald Casale.

You can't always get what you want...

Feb 18, 2014

Ever try to use music by The Rolling Stones to look cool in front of a classroom of sixth graders? I heard this piece featuring comedian Tig Notaro on This American Life over the weekend and I'm still cracking up...

5 Jazz Songs for 2014

Feb 17, 2014
Ingrid Hertfelder/Courtesy of the artist

We're not even two full months into 2014, but the state of jazz for the coming year is looking promising.  Following new offerings from mainstays like Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau, NPR's A Blog Supreme has compiled five tracks from exciting new jazz releases, including the likes of James Brandon Lewis and Zara McFarlane.

Happy Birthday, Daddy-O!

Feb 13, 2014

The Mayor of Jazz City celebrated his birthday this week. Kick up your heels, pour something bubbly and toast the man who brings you jazz music every night on 90.1. We love you, Steve!

The Moth & The Flame, "Winsome"

Feb 13, 2014

This just in from All Songs Considered's Bob Boilen: The Moth & The Flame (formerly based in Provo, Utah) have just released a new video for "Winsome," as featured on their 2013 EP, &.  The Moth & The Flame were interviewed on KUER's RadioWest back in 2012, and later composed the show's theme music.

Download: 10 Love Songs On Heavy Rotation

Feb 13, 2014
the artist

With Valentine's Day coming up tomorrow, it's time for a special installment of NPR's Heavy Rotation series, complete with 10 tracks—all available to download for free—that should do well to set the mood for your day of romance.  Contents include the newest collaboration from LA electronic experimentalist Shlohmo and sensual R&B star Jeremih, alongside the like of The Juan Maclean and Jhené Aiko.  You can grab the whole playlist right here.  

Greetings: Autobiography of a Cratedigger

Feb 12, 2014
Robert Nelson Smile Jamaica Ark-Ives

Greetings! My name is Robert Nelson. As an introduction to KUER Music, I can imagine I was asked to participate because of my legacy of 25+ years of radio programming on Salt Lake City’s local community station KRCL 90.9FM - Your Station that Rules the Nation. (KUER’s head-man John Greene “hired” me when he managed KRCL).

10 radiators hissing = A Pastoral Symphony

Feb 12, 2014

"That's a radiator in my apartment. It's like I'm living at a dry cleaner's." If winter's got you down, you'll want to check out this story. Writer Henry Alford finds inspiration from his radiators - along with the radiators of his friends and neighbors - and creates a musical composition of the hissing and banging (10 total radiators). Classical music critic Fred Plotkin reviews the piece. Produced by Studio 360's Pejk Malinovski.

The worst songs of all time?

Feb 12, 2014

Disclaimer: Listening to this story might result in "We Built This City" playing in your head over and over all day long, and well into the night, seeping into your dreams...

All Songs Considered's Bob Boilen and NPR Music's Stephen Thompson  talk with musician/Portlandia actor Carrie Brownstein about horrible music.

Your brain on music

Feb 11, 2014

"In the same way that a drug-induced dopamine surge leaves you craving more, music becomes addictive — the dopamine tells your body it was rewarded and creates a desire to seek out more."

Valentine's Day: What's your song?

Feb 11, 2014

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton explores the love songs that inspired a "long line of sentimental types" in his family. "But of all the things we find evocative — a handwritten letter, a cork from a particular bottle of wine or an old photo — few if any resonate with the past quite like a song." The love songs that resonate with me change with the seasons. As spring approaches, and I think about all that's soon to be in bloom, this one comes to mind.

Neil Young has long been a staple in my own musical collection, and it would be appropriate to name Young as one of the first artists that really launched me into my passion for music. I was introduced to Neil Young at a young age, and I quickly took note of the intimacy and productivity of Young as an artist.

Tiny Desk Concert: Pixies

Feb 3, 2014

It's been a long time since 1989's stellar Doolittle​, and the Pixies have changed quite a bit as a band.  Still, the remaining members carry the name with gusto, as evidenced by their recent performance at NPR's Tiny Desk.  

Reed Hutchinson/UCLA

82-year-old jazz guitar legend Kenny Burrell is a rare musician for his generation, acquiring his bachelor's degree in music theory and composition. "When I was at Wayne State University in the '50s, it was a problem studying jazz, even talking about it in some cases," he says. "So I decided if I had a chance, I would teach jazz." Sean J. O'Connell of NPR Jazz talks with Burrell about his career in music and academia.

Sara Kerens/Courtesy of the artist

Detroit rapper Danny Brown is nigh impossible to summarize; whether it be his penchant for rapping about club drugs, his (rather unexpected) appearance in Bob Dylan's "Like A Rolling Stone" video, or Brown's surprising ability to wring real and disturbing pathos from tales of street life, the gap-toothed MC has always shown a knack for shape-shifting.

Dave Brubeck: The Macklemore of 1954?

Jan 30, 2014

For all the Twitter buzz, the Macklemore/Kendrick Lamar Grammy debacle seems like a story that could only be from 2014; this is isn't exactly the case, however, as the events draw striking parallels to 1954, when jazz musician Dave Brubeck made the cover of Time magazine.  It was a distinction that many—including Brubeck—believed should have gone to Duke Ellington, and it mirrors the uncomfortable position in which Macklemore finds himself today.

Pete Seeger: America's Tuning Fork

Jan 28, 2014

President Obama pays tribute to folk singer and activist Pete Seeger, who has died following a short illness at the age of 94. "Over the years, Pete used his voice - and his hammer - to strike blows for worker's rights and civil rights; world peace and environmental conservation. And he always invited us to sing along."

Ice Music Festival

Jan 27, 2014

I stumbled across a post about Norway's Ice Music Festival on Studio 360's Facebook page. The festival celebrates music and nature, using naturally harvested ice and snow - and features the world's first ice music orchestra. Scroll through the images...check out the cello made of ice!

With Guitars Like Machetes: Son Jarocho

Jan 24, 2014
Alec Dempster/NPR Music

Alt.Latino explores the Mexican music style known as Son Jarocho, heavily influenced by the African slave trade to the port city of Veracruz. Musician Fredi Vega describes his grandfather's guitar style, "His guitar strums, they sound like his machete whacks."