Music

First Listen
10:05 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Review: The Tallest Man On Earth, 'Dark Bird Is Home'

The Tallest Man On Earth's new album, A Dark Bird Is Home, comes out May 12.
Cameron Wittig Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 2:12 pm

The Tallest Man on Earth takes folk music as a convention that can be dependable and urgent at once. There is very little to distinguish him from any number of folk devotees with yearning voices and acoustic guitars, but he — a less than especially tall songwriter from Sweden named Kristian Matsson — has a way of upending expectations and rendering familiarity moot.

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First Listen
9:19 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Review: Mac McCaughan, 'Non-Believers'

Mac McCaughan's new album, Non-Believers, comes out May 4.
Lissa Gotwals Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:01 pm

Indie rock was conceived to be nondescript, but few indie legends come as dressed down as Mac McCaughan. For 25 years, the Superchunk frontman and Merge Records co-founder has quietly made some of the loudest pop in history, meanwhile keeping his profile inversely proportional to his influence on the indie world at large.

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First Listen
9:09 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Review: Metz, 'II'

Metz's new album, II, comes out May 4.
David Waldman Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 1:59 pm

Raw, belligerent, dissonant and powerful: That's just the tip of the noise-rock iceberg when it comes to Metz's self-titled debut from 2012. Released by Sub Pop, Metz helped inject a fresh dose of fierce punk spirit into the record label that brought the world Nirvana, but has lately focused more on tuneful indie rock. But with that kind of expectation in place, what room does that leave for growth?

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First Listen
9:04 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Review: Torres, 'Sprinter'

Torres's new album, Sprinter, comes out May 4.
Shawn Brackbill Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 1:57 pm

"Confessional" is a term often tossed around in discussions of singer-songwriters, but it's also one of the most misunderstood. In a recent interview, Mackenzie Scott, who makes music under the name Torres, called it "a four-letter word," common and pejorative, and overapplied to women in particular.

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First Listen
9:03 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Review: Kamasi Washington, 'The Epic'

Kamashi Washington's new album, The Epic, comes out May 5.
Mike Park Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 2:00 pm

The word "epic" sits cheerily amid the most overused hyperbole of our age. Teenage bros proclaim their recent "pretty epic" mild successes; sports commentators call anything which ends dramatically an "epic game"; the Internet-literate are quick to point out an "epic FAIL." But what else do you call a three-CD, nearly three-hour album anchored by a 10-piece jazz band, featuring a 32-piece orchestra and 20-member choir, and driven by the daydream of an imaginary martial arts grandmaster?

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Music
4:17 pm
Sun April 26, 2015

Kirk Franklin On 'Trap Gospel' And Taking Heat From The Church

"I am very, very good friends with Erica, and she has a great heart for God, she has a great heart for ministry, and I just believe that the heart always wins," says Kirk Franklin of Erica Campbell.
Darnel Williams Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 8:11 am

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The Record
11:21 am
Sun April 26, 2015

'It Crackles With Life': Beauty Pill Returns

"It feels alive and it feels electric and it feels like it has color," Chad Clark says of Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are.
Jon Pack Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 15, 2015 10:33 am

Beauty Pill's The Unsustainable Lifestyle was a promising debut album, an immediately accessible patchwork of the band's hometown, Washington, D.C. In 2004, the record left fans wondering what would happen next, but they would have to wait 11 years. That's because bandleader Chad Clark's heart tried to kill him.

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Music Interviews
6:07 am
Sat April 25, 2015

Colleen: For The First Time, A Hypnotic Composer Sings

For more than 10 years, the French musician Colleen was strictly instrumental. For her new album, Captain of None, she added her voice.
Iker Spozio Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Sat April 25, 2015 10:36 am

The French musician Cécile Schott's music sounds a little bit like someone dropped a baroque string instrument into a swimming pool.

Recording under the name Colleen since 2001, she's made music that is purely instrumental and focused on one string instrument in particular: the viola de gamba. But on Captain of None, she's added lyrics for the first time.

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Deceptive Cadence
6:07 am
Sat April 25, 2015

Roomful Of Teeth: A Vocal Group That's 'A Band, Not A Choir'

Roomful of Teeth's new album is Render, out April 28.
Bonica Ayala Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue April 28, 2015 12:16 pm

The vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth consists of eight classically trained singers incorporating Tuvan throat singing, Appalachian yodeling, operatic trills, rhythmic exhalations and whispered speech into music written by some of the most exciting young composers of the 21st century.

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The Record
12:18 pm
Fri April 24, 2015

Waka Flocka Flame Is Hiring

Waka Flocka Flame reading resumes at Webster Hall in New York City April 20.
Polina Yamshchikov for NPR

Originally published on Fri April 24, 2015 10:27 pm

They say you can't overestimate the power of a good handshake. If that's the case, my job interview with Waka Flocka Flame was doomed from the start.

I went in for the sort of greeting I'm familiar with -– a clasp that pivots up into a grip and pulls in for a hug — but it unexpectedly continued. He raised our wrists to shoulder level, pointed his fingers out, locked them with mine ... but by that point I was long since lost. He looked at me and smiled sympathetically. First impressions, I thought, resigned, are everything.

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