NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  For WUNC's music programs,  Back Porch Music.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Best Of The Best

6 hours ago

From The Chieftains' vintage collection The Very Best Of The Claddagh Years to Dusk Till Dawn, which telescopes the long and successful career of Capercaillie, we explore some of Celtic-roots music's finest "best of" compilations.

Dominated by drive and momentum, heavy on percussion and bass, go-go music is all about the beat. Live, "songs" can continue on for half an hour, as the percussion continues to simmer and punctuate between and across different pieces. "That's why we call it go-go, because it goes on and goes on and goes on," as guitarist Andre Johnson put it in a documentary film.

The pairing of Tuxedo is a natural feel in person, but highly unlikely on paper. Seattle-based producer Jake One has a who's-who client list, from Rick Ross to 21 Savage — while DJ, singer-songwriter and producer Mayer Hawthorne is a renaissance soul man from Ann Arbor, Michigan. They stealthily debuted three tracks on SoundCloud in 2013 with only a black square stamped "Tuxedo" as the cover art, leaving fans wondering where this new funk was coming from.

For just 15 minutes on a glorious spring day in Washington, D.C. — the town that birthed "emocore" three decades ago — National Public Radio became National Puppet Radio. Rarely has a news organization had this much fun.

Jay Som is the project of 23-year-old Melina Duterte, who has been creating music for the past 10 years or so on a multitude of instruments, from guitar to trumpet. Though she played every instrument on her newest record Everybody Works, her touring band here at the Tiny Desk gave a rougher edge to some of the more premeditated sounds on her wonderful album.

Of the three songs they chose to bring to the Tiny Desk, one was a personal favorite from Everybody Works: "The Bus Song," which is a perfect swirl of stream-of-consciousness:

The world has had the better part of a week now, and through a bloated holiday weekend, to digest Jay-Z's latest album, 4:44. With 10 songs spread over 36 minutes, the album wields brevity without sacrificing breadth. Its sound, crafted wholly by producer No I.D., is surprisingly cloudy and narcotic, while Shawn Carter's lyrics are reflective and bent steadfastly toward honesty.

Chance The Rapper knew he wanted to try a different approach for his Tiny Desk performance, so he decided to do something he said he hadn't done in a long time. He wrote a poem. More specifically, he wrote a poem in the short time it took him to ride from his hotel in Washington, D.C. to the NPR Music offices. Calling it "The Other Side," Chance debuted it in the middle of his remarkable set, reading from his notes written out in black marker on sheets of typing paper.

The artist Helado Negro (Roberto Lange) made a very big impression on me when I first experienced him almost eight years ago. It was a sound I had never quite heard, and I was immediately drawn in; there were layers of synths, percussion that percolated rather than pulsed, vocals that epitomized the world ethereal and lyrics in Spanish and English that floated amidst the music like wisps of smoke.

Gary DeCarlo, the voice behind the late-'60s hit "Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye," died Wednesday in Branford, Conn. He was 75 years old, and had been battling metastatic cancer.

DeCarlo was the co-writer and singer of that now-indelible tune, which spent 16 weeks on the Hot 100 singles chart in 1969.

Let's Eat Grandma: Defying Commas And Expectations

Jun 26, 2017

Yes, Ravi Coltrane is the son of the John Coltrane, one of the most famous and important jazz saxophonists and composers of all time. He's also the son of multi-instrumentalist, composer and spiritual leader Alice Coltrane Turiyasangitananda. (In fact, all members of the band here are performing artists in their own right and come from artistically rich families; drummer E.J.

A week after opening to a tepid critical response and accusations of historical inaccuracies from actress Jada Pinkett Smith — as well as a misinterpreted Internet joke that had many searching in vain for the appearance of an iPhone in the film — the Tupac Shakur biopic All

This post was updated on Sunday, June 25 at 3:50 PM.

Holly Macve's voice seems to hover from era to era, coming to rest somewhere between the lonesome twang of Patsy Cline and the moodily modern slur of Lana Del Rey. Macve's songs lope and shimmer at a lazy pace, but they never lack drama, even as she holds herself motionless.

Prodigy And The America That Raised Him

Jun 23, 2017

"I wanna go home not sing this song
but I'm forced to perform speech napalm"

—PRODIGY, "Genesis"

Earlier this month, the New York Philharmonic's outgoing music director Alan Gilbert said goodbye to his orchestra in a series of concerts. Today, he is saying hello to a brand new job in Hamburg, Germany.

The new album from Tigers Jaw, spin, revels in quiet pleasures, even as its rich production pulls power from the band's open wounds. It's the major-label debut from a band that, at one point, made yelping and earnest pop-punk before finding its way to intricate, and melancholy, pop.

A Band Apart

Jun 19, 2017

The music of Penguin Cafe is like no other. Its origins date back to the early '70s, within fever dreams Simon Jeffes had that were brought on by food poisoning. In those dreams he imagined a dispassionate world "where everyone lived in big concrete blocks and spent their lives looking into screens. In one room, there was a couple making love lovelessly. In another there was a musician sat at a vast array of equipment, but with headphones on, so there was no actual music in the room." Eerily accurate.

"[Bob] Seger's absence from digital services, combined with the gradual disappearance of even physical copies of half his catalog, suggest a rare level of indifference to his legacy," Tim Quirk wrote for NPR Music in late March in his feature, "Where Have All The Bob Seger Albums Gone?"

The Thistle & Shamrock: New For Summer

Jun 14, 2017

Tune into the great new sounds that are kicking off this year's music-festival season on both sides of the Atlantic. In this show, you'll hear new music from Beoga, Galen Fraser, Moya Brennan and more.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Last month, PWR BTTM's Ben Hopkins was accused of sexual assault. Following widespread reporting of those allegations, the two-piece band, whose other member is Liv Bruce, was dropped from its record labels, Father/Daughter and Polyvinyl. Today, the group is publicly detailing its efforts to gain control of its music.

The music of Perfume Genius can be intense, shuddering with a breathtaking fragility — but also shimmying with self-assured defiance. The songs, much like Hadreas himself, are strong, but not hard. As he worked his way through two new tracks ("Valley," "Slip Away") and one older ("Normal Song"), there were moments that were both beautiful and unnerving, in no small part because the songs are so deeply personal.

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