NPR Music & Concerts

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

Trevor Powers, the songwriter and frontman of Youth Lagoon, has never attempted to hide his navel-gazing anxieties. On his 2011 debut (The Year Of Hibernation) and its 2013 followup (Wondrous Bughouse), Powers documents a lifetime of existential crises with swirling questions about spirituality, mortality and his own mental state. Powers has also looked the part, appearing in photos and on stage wearing oversize pop-bottle glasses, with slumped shoulders and a mop of disheveled hair.

Sam Phillips, founder of the label Sun Records, didn't care much about making flawless recordings.

Review: Adele, '25'

Nov 23, 2015

As anyone who's seen her in concert can attest, Adele Adkins is one of the most self-aware pop acts ever. Nearly every time she sings, the 27-year-old Londoner accesses the kind of acutely tangible pain that sometimes claims the lives of superstars who attain her astronomical level of success. Yet when Adkins delivers stage banter between those tortured tunes, so much cocky Cockney charm tumbles out that she hardly seems like the same tormented gal.

Great singers aren't easy to come by, so finding three in one band is something special. The Wild Reeds' music shines when Sharon Silva, Kinsey Lee and Mackenzie Howe harmonize, but each also takes a leading role — and that's the power of the L.A. band, whose songs are clear and memorable, potent and sometimes delicate.

The Thistle & Shamrock: The Carrying Stream

Nov 19, 2015

It once took centuries for a ballad like "Barbara Allen" to work its way through the British Isles and across the Atlantic. Now, music flows freely back and forth as artists on both sides of the ocean explore and fuse flavors from Celtic, Appalachian and old-time music.

This week, hear from musicians who exemplify this exchange, including Dolly Parton, John Doyle, Jean Ritchie and Anaïs Mitchell.

Nathaniel Rateliff and his band The Night Sweats are on fire, with concerts that get feet moving and bodies swaying, fueled by rhythm and booze.

Twenty-five years ago, the first album by A Tribe Called Quest hit record stores — and as soon as it dropped, it stood out. Even the title, People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, felt like an iconoclast's mission statement.

Rahim AlHaj: Tiny Desk Concert

Nov 13, 2015

Ancestor to the lute and the guitar, the oud ‎is an ancient stringed instrument commonly played throughout the Middle East, North Africa and countries like Greece and Turkey. The oud has charmed audiences for more than 5,000 years, and the tradition continues with this reverent performance by one of the world's best players, Rahim AlHaj.