KUER Music

Katy Perry's Career 180

Oct 28, 2013
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.

Do Surprise Album Releases Work For Everyone?

Oct 21, 2013
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.

Ryley Walker Brings Acoustic Swagger

Oct 16, 2013
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. 

Rubblebucket Gets Funky

Oct 9, 2013

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.

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. 

Deltron 3030 Brings More Interstellar Madness

Oct 5, 2013
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.

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

Oct 5, 2013
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. 

Nostalgia 2.0: 90's Rap Release Dates

Sep 29, 2013
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.

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. 

Drake's Hip-Hop Emotionality

Sep 28, 2013
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.  

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. 

Jessye Norman's Jazz Favorites

Sep 22, 2013
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.  

Tiny Desk Concert: Arturo O'Farrill

Sep 18, 2013

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."

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.

90's Musicians We Miss

Sep 13, 2013
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.  

Who Owns "Funkytown"?

Sep 13, 2013
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.  

Thurston Moore + Ariel Pink + A Moving Train

Sep 10, 2013

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.

The Bad Plus' Dave King Talks Odd Jobs

Sep 10, 2013
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.

The Mix: Britpop At 20

Sep 10, 2013
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".

Where Have All The Symphonies Gone?

Sep 5, 2013
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. 

Tiny Desk Concert: Baths

Sep 5, 2013

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.  

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.  

John Zorn's Challenges and Opportunities

Sep 3, 2013
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.

Tiny Desk Concert: Steve Gunn

Sep 2, 2013

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.  

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.  

Jazz With A Jamaican Accent

Sep 1, 2013
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

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. 

Franz Ferdinand On Structure

Aug 26, 2013
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.

First Listen: King Krule

Aug 21, 2013
Jamie-James Medina

Archy Marshall's work as King Krule is instantly recognizable.  The reason for this is Marshall's voice, a deep-throated mumble that alternates between growls and slurs but always manages to remain both enthralling and surprisingly emotive.  At points, Marshall sounds more like he's chewing his words than singing them. Talented beyond his years - he began his career in music in 2010, at 16 years old - Six Feet Beneath The Moon is a powerful, confusing record that draws on jazz, punk hip-hop and blues in a dizzying variety of speeds and colors.

Goodie Mob Talks Hip-Hop Maturity

Aug 21, 2013
The Chamber Group

As part of NPR's Microphone Check music interview series, Atlanta hip-hop foursome Goodie Mob discuss the ideas behind their newest albumAge Against The Machine.  While front-man Cee-Lo Green has recently been making a name for himself with chart-topping hits, Goodie Mob's members say that Age Against The Machine comes from a more mature place, offering a take on hip-hop from the perspective of "elder statesmen."