NPR Music & Concerts

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

On last year's Abyss, Chelsea Wolfe explicitly rendered the metallic tendencies that have always existed just below the surface of her music. Wolfe's soulful howl found its bite in gigantic riffs and devastating volume that suited some of her most significant songwriting yet. But at the Tiny Desk, Wolfe took her songs back to their primal form with just her voice, a muffled electric guitar and a loop pedal.

The Thistle & Shamrock: From Vinyl To MP3

Feb 10, 2016

Music collections have migrated from record shelves to hard drives and beyond, but great performances endure regardless of the storage media. Enjoy an hour of Celtic masterpieces from across a quarter of a century, including music by Máire Brennan, Robin Bullock, Dougie MacLean and more.

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In January 1997, the poet Miller Williams stood on the steps of the Capitol at President Bill Clinton's second inauguration and read a poem he'd written about our country:

We have memorized America,

how it was born and who we have been and where.

In ceremonies and silence we say the words,

telling the stories, singing the old songs.

We like the places they take us. Mostly we do.

For a singer who's sought privacy in the parking lot of a Target so he could record vocals in the backseat of his car, Will Toledo hasn't been shy about sharing his work. By age 23, he'd already released a dozen albums. Toledo, who records under the name Car Seat Headrest, is prolific but never conventional.

All that is solid melts in the presence of funk. Maurice White — the prolific songwriter, singer, producer, arranger, bandleader, organizer and conceptualist at the helm of multi-platinum act Earth, Wind & Fire who transitioned on Thursday at 74 after a 25-year struggle with Parkinson's Disease — gifted us with years of optimistic, exuberant music that could instantly evaporate your frown into thin air.

Morris Robinson has the kind of bass voice that reverberates so strongly, you feel it in your concert seat. Listening to it, you assume he's been singing all of his life. And he has — but not opera.

When some Western musicians picture life in India, they seem to think you can't turn a corner without someone blasting you in the face with brightly colored powder.

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