NPR Music & Concerts

Music features, reviews and "first listens" from NPR.  Find more music at WUNC's  Back Porch Music.

Lady Sings The Bros

Aug 24, 2016

Take a look at a picture of The Chainsmokers and you'll see everything many people hate about mainstream electronic dance music. Drew Taggart and Alex Pall, the two DJ/producers who go by that name, are two white guys with David Beckham haircuts and perfectly coiffed five o'clock shadows who stick their tongues out while posing in front of the partying throngs their big beats entertain.

Over the weekend we asked Ann Powers and Jason King to wrestle with Frank Ocean's long-awaited follow-up to 2012's Channel Orange. They did so across many time zones and man hours; what emerged is a conversation that stays fair-minded and grounded and ends in questioning both the artist and his audience.

When you stop to think about it, there really is no one like Barbra Streisand. There's Barbra the young Broadway legend, the movie star, the glass-ceiling-smashing movie director, the recording artist and now the venerated elder stateswoman of the showstopper.

Thursday night, singer Frank Ocean released a long-awaited new work: Endless, available exclusively — at least for now — as a 45-minute film on Apple Music.

This is Ocean's first studio project since his Channel Orange was released in 2012, the musician's breakout year as a solo artist after his days as a member of the Odd Future collective and, prior to that, as a songwriter for artists like Justin Bieber, John Legend and Brandy.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Combos

Aug 10, 2016

Revel in the joyous sounds of multi-instrument lineups that challenge conventional assumptions about "what goes with what." This week's show features music from We Banjo 3, Michael McGoldrick, Luka Bloom and more.

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

She'd made a brief but memorable cameo in Kris Kristofferson's surprise set earlier in the afternoon, joining the veteran songwriter to perform "Me And Bobby McGee" in one of the Newport Folk Festival's many moments of serendipity. But now, it was Margo Price's turn in the spotlight.

This summer marks my 25th and final season as music director of the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music in Santa Cruz, Calif. What an amazing adventure this has been, working with living composers and being at the center of so many new creations.

There have always been many fronts on which the battle to crown the song of the summer is fought. The biggest song on pop radio isn't always the song that sells the most. The lyric that lends itself to the season can sometimes be overwhelmed by a hook that sounds best coming out of a car window.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Hot Picks

Aug 3, 2016

Some music is a perfect match for the hot days, warm evenings and cool sea breezes of summertime. Enjoy an eclectic hour of summer sounds, including music by Pierre Bensusan, Maddy Prior, Old Blind Dogs and more.

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

Julien Baker's music speaks to all of your nagging insecurities, the daily worries that nibble away at your well-being even as you try to suppress them. The title of her debut album, Sprained Ankle, hints at that sensibility: An ankle sprain might be a pretty mundane injury, but it's certainly going to keep you off your feet for a while — especially if, as she sings in the title song, you're a marathon runner.

If you were among those who ate up the fierce blues-rock track "Don't Hurt Yourself" from Beyoncé's Lemonade, then you know Ruby Amanfu's voice.

Elvis Costello might be best known for early-career songs like "Alison" and "Every Day I Write The Book" — literary pop masterpieces he wrote and recorded either solo or with his longtime band, The Attractions. But in more recent years, Costello has become a serial collaborator.

Growing up in South Carolina, soul singer Sharon Jones knew from the first time she sang in her church's Christmas play that she would be a musician.

"I was, like, maybe 8, 9 years old ... and I got to sing 'Silent Night,'" she tells Fresh Air host Terry Gross. Jones remembers audience members taking note of her performance. "Right then and there," she says, "I knew that I was going to be a singer. God had blessed me with a gift."

The Thistle & Shamrock: Clear Sounds

Jul 27, 2016

Enjoy the pure beauty of the unaccompanied voice, whether solo or layered, along with virtuoso solo instrumentalists on this episode of The Thistle & Shamrock.

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

Louisville, Ky., singer, songwriter and guitarist Joan Shelley crafts lovely, sun-washed folk songs that she performs with gentle intensity. Her voice has the ineffable quality of being at once familiar and entirely fresh.

Three of the four members of the Asheville band River Whyless met while attending Appalachian State University in nearby Boone, N.C., and their long-lived friendship shows in their band's music. The folk-pop band builds mountains out of sensitive harmony lines and adorns its open-road sound with Halli Anderson's yearning fiddle.

There was barely a cloud in the sky all weekend at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival this past weekend. But the uninterrupted stretch of three gloriously sunny days wasn't the only stroke of good fortune festivalgoers encountered. Each day at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I., was filled with surprise guests and moments of serendipity.

It's been about a month since Amjad Sabri's voice was silenced. He was shot dead in his home city of Karachi by two men on a motorcycle, and his millions of fans are still in shock and anger.

Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats have had quite the year since they played the 2015 Newport Folk Festival last July.

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