Music

In the five years since the group reactivated, Witch Mountain's ascent has been swift and monumental. In 2011, the Portland doom-metal band was rejuvenated after a decade of dormancy by Uta Plotkin, a raw yet multifaceted singer. Three stellar albums followed before Plotkin left the band to pursue other projects, with bassist Charles Thomas exiting soon thereafter.

First Listen: Eluvium, 'False Readings On'

9 hours ago

Few artists have had as fecund a post-millennium stretch as Portland, Ore., musician Matthew Cooper. He released nine Eluvium albums in 11 years, with each successive release performing the neat trick of sounding both more expansive and more distilled than the one before it. It was a remarkable run, capped by two mammoth 7xLP box sets, Life Through Bombardment -- so thorough a retrospective of his work up to that point that it might have provided the bookends for the Eluvium project.

For the Portland, Ore., band Y La Bamba, creativity and talent have combined and crystalized to form a unique sound. That sound is the sum of many individual musical experiences and influences, but it also reflects a shared vision. Most importantly, on the new Ojos Del Sol, it sounds as if the group is having a blast playing music.

First Listen: James Vincent McMorrow, 'We Move'

9 hours ago

The strain of 21st-century neo-soul that helped close the gap between the likes of Bon Iver and Kanye West has a formidable new ambassador in James Vincent McMorrow. A dewy Irishman with a falsetto-flecked voice and a past haunted with songs played on acoustic guitars, McMorrow gives himself an impressive makeover on an album propelled by the encouraging calculus of post-genre collaboration.

Not to open on a down note, but the arrival of The Frightnrs' debut album, Nothing More To Say, is a bittersweet affair. The group's lead singer, Dan Klein, died from ALS earlier this summer, and much of the album was recorded after he was diagnosed last fall. His piercing, wailing tone feels all the more plaintive as a result, but even if Nothing More To Say marks a career cruelly curtailed, the album's release also represents a dream fulfilled.

Los Angeles musician Gabriel Reyes-Whittaker had a problem: A few years ago, he was asked to tackle the weighty subject of Latin American modernism in sound. His response was to invent a new persona, and to restrict himself to a spare and specific set of tools. Under the new name Frankie Reyes, he set off to record a dozen instrumental versions of Spanish-language ballads and waltzes from the 1930s through the '60s, using only a vintage analog synthesizer.

NPR's Kelly McEvers talks with professor Christian Herbst, who was part of the team that released a study that explores the science behind Freddie Mercury's amazing voice. This story originally aired on April 25, 2016 on All Things Considered.

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