NPR Music & Concerts

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

The Thistle & Shamrock: New For Summer

Aug 26, 2015

Just in time for the end of the music-festival season, tune into great new sounds from both sides of the Atlantic, including music by Danú, Laura MacKenzie, Stuart Mason and more.

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Mother and son by chance, bandmates by choice: That's Madisen Ward And The Mama Bear. Madisen and Ruth Ward performed together for several years around their native Kansas City before bringing their organic, homespun charm to a national audience with the release of Skeleton Crew, their debut album, earlier this year.

Leon Bridges, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2015

Aug 26, 2015

Leon Bridges took the stage at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival with a great deal of attendant buzz. Drawing favorable comparisons to Sam Cooke from many corners, he'd released his chart-topping debut, Coming Home, just a month earlier. But the 26-year-old soul singer from Fort Worth, Texas, took it all in stride, delivering a set that lived up to its promise.

Brandi Carlile, Live In Concert: Newport Folk 2015

Aug 26, 2015

Brandi Carlile's songs are emotional and heartfelt, yet they never feel mawkish, thanks to her thundering voice and lyrics that describe complicated relationships with simple, powerful elegance. During her Saturday-afternoon set at the 2015 Newport Folk Festival, the folk-rock powerhouse performed music from her album The Firewatcher's Daughter, released earlier this year.

It can take years for a musician to discover his or her voice. But in the meantime, they find themselves by discovering the music of other artists. With a wide-ranging catalog spanning 30 years, Yo La Tengo is its own band, but the trio has become just as noted for its huge repertoire of cover songs.

Caroline Rose plays music as if she's just met her new best friend: It's fresh, fun and performed with contagious enthusiasm. The title of the first song she played at the Tiny Desk — "Yip Yip Yow" — hints at the fun to come in this brief, blazing set.

Lots of magazines do big lists, but few rely on them as heavily as Rolling Stone does. The magazine cranks out a list for just about every aspect of popular music. All promise authoritative, canonical overviews of various elements of the art; at their best, these offer context and critical insight, helping readers fill gaps in their knowledge.

Billboard magazine used to be known as "the bible of the music business," a trade publication trusted for its straightforward analysis of industry trends. But an anonymous questionnaire that leaked online last Thursday has some readers questioning Billboard's journalistic skills and integrity.

Most of the bands that play the Tiny Desk strip down their sound to accommodate the limited space and unconventional acoustics of an office. But Son Lux chose to do the exact opposite. Normally a trio of guitar, drums and keys based out of New York, the band blew up its sound for this performance, adding off-duty, civilian horn players from the United States Marine Band.