NPR Music & Concerts

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

From traditional tributes to contemporary songs of concern for our wild places, this week's music sings of the unspoiled landscapes we love and challenges us to sustain them. Hear songs from the wilderness by Nuala Kennedy, Karan Casey, Tony McManus and more.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds: Tiny Desk Concert

Apr 25, 2016

Sister Sparrow & The Dirty Birds' punchy horn section, bluesy vocals and uniquely transformative harmonica solos instantly demand attention. Their obvious joy in playing music together is contagious, and they brought the party to Bob Boilen's desk in a big way.

Something tells me that 300 or maybe even 3,000 years from now — if we still have breathable air and if we haven't relocated to Mars, and if super-intelligent robots haven't colonized us Matrix-style — we'll still be trying our best to dissect and parse out the überfunky, hyper-synaptic, wildly eccentric, crazy-magical boho black genius of Prince Rogers Nelson. The Minneapolis maestro died at age 57 on Thursday from causes that have yet to be clarified at this time.

Julia Holter's music exists in tiny universes, colliding in torch songs and bits of cosmic cabaret that are as reverent as they are perverse. The most minute details and the plainest words suddenly form a grandiose spectacle.

Somewhere in the back of my closet is a torn photograph from a party in Seattle in 1982. Dig if you will the picture: It's me, in a second-hand chiffon dress that (though the photo is black and white) I'm sure is violet. My hair is a two-toned mass of strawberries and cream, my neck's draped in my mom's big costume pearls; a bracelet of pretend diamonds dangles from my wrist. This is an ordinary look for a college girl with a nightlife obsession in 1982. I'm gazing into a mirror; behind me is my friend Pete, holding the camera, laughing his head off.

Right near the top of this performance, Benjamin Clementine looks toward the camera with an intense stare and sings, "Where I'm from, you see the rain / Before the rain even starts to rain." At that point, when I'm already hanging on every word, I feel like I'm witnessing an almost otherworldly presence — a visitor with wisdom to impart.

Seratones singer-guitarist A.J. Haynes takes gospel into the garage, and what comes out is fiery rock 'n' roll. The Shreveport, La., band is a joy to see and hear, and this Tiny Desk concert provides a fiery peek at what you'll soon hear on the group's debut album, Get Gone.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Archie Fisher

Apr 13, 2016

Revisit host Fiona Ritchie's time with legendary singer, songwriter, guitarist, producer and broadcaster Archie Fisher. This episode of The Thistle & Shamrock features music from across the decades of Fisher's remarkable career in the transatlantic folk scene.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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