NPR Music

Guest DJ: boygenius

13 hours ago

Ten years ago, my guest introduced himself to me as a lanky, biracial kid from suburban Chicago who graduated from Harvard with a Kenyan diplomat for a dad. Nope, I wasn't interviewing Barack Obama. It was Tom Morello. If he had dropped Neo-Marxist into his introduction, the jig would have been up.

This week's list of essential new albums includes one of the year's most anticipated releases – Anderson .Paak's Oxnard, plus Mariah Carey's Caution, a lost Glen Campbell record he made for Elvis, a career-spanning retrospective on the late singer Chris Cornell (Soundgarden, Audioslave), The Good, The Bad And The Queen's first new album in more than a decade and more. All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael, Lars Gotrich and Stephen Thompson as they run through the best releases out on Nov. 16.

Amy Helm On Mountain Stage

Nov 15, 2018

This Too Shall Light is the second solo album from Amy Helm, who stepped out of her home base comfort zone of Woodstock, N.Y. to record in Los Angeles with Grammy-winning producer Joe Henry.

After four records as a member of the roots-music collaborative Ollabelle, who made three appearances on Mountain Stage, Helm returns for the second time with her own band.

A new video for "Never In My Arms, Always In My Heart" by nostalgic rockers The Lemon Twigs — fronted by brothers Michael and Brian D'Addario — brings a sad Long Island bar story to life.

The ceilings are low. Other than a handwritten sign taped above the mixing board that says "Try," the walls are blank. There's a violin that only has one string lying under the desk, and a bunch of pieces of a drum kit in a corner next to some keys. We're in the basement studio in Edinburgh, Scotland where Young Fathers made its Scottish Album of the Year Award-winning record Cocoa Sugar.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Islanders

Nov 14, 2018

From far Northerly Shetland to the Hebrides of the West, you'll be immersed in the music of the islands this week. Fiona Ritchie is your guide for an hour of music as fresh as a salt sea breeze, as highly charged as waves tumbling upon deserted beaches and as majestic as mountain wilderness on rocky shorelines.

This story is part of American Anthem, a yearlong series on songs that rouse, unite, celebrate and call to action. Find more at NPR.org/Anthem.

In the self-care era, the pursuit of happiness ironically seems to be more elusive than ever. Is the secret to fulfillment landing your dream job? Face masks? More cowbell? The answer, according to And The Kids, is actually quite simple: "Life is a bastard, life wants to kill you, don't get old."

Fifty years ago, just before the holidays in 1968, The Beatles put out not just a new album, but a double album, something relatively unheard of at the time.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Bandcamp playlist at the bottom of the page.


Portrayal of Guilt exists in the extremes of hardcore, noise, grindcore, death metal, powerviolence and turn-of-the-century screamo — subgenres of heavy music that typically scream through the pain. On its debut album, the Austin band doesn't just want you to scream, but also to Let Pain Be Your Guide.

"I wouldn't have pursued music but for trouble," Joni Mitchell once said. Mitchell was referring to real problems — her childhood time spent bedridden with polio and the life-shaping loss she experienced after giving her daughter up for adoption in 1965. Those events solidified the drive that pushed Mitchell forward from small-potatoes rural Canada toward the American meccas where she would prove to be the magnet shifting the needle of pop. But trouble, in all its manifestations, is also Mitchell's muse.

One of the most anticipated showcases at the Americana Music Association's AmericanaFest in Nashville in September was from Los Angeles-based singer-songwriter Sam Morrow. Like many of the artists at the festival, Morrow played multiple shows — six in four days with his band of roots-rockers.

This week's best new albums includes emo-rapper Lil Peep's posthumous follow-up to Come Over When You're Sober, 50th-anniversary editions of Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland and The Beatles "White Album," a labor of love from the late soul singer Charles Bradley, rock with a wink from Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers, the music of Hanson set to strings and more.

Featured Albums:

  1. Laura Jane Grace & The Devouring Mothers: Bought to Rot
    Featured Song: "Born in Black"

The Thistle & Shamrock: Belonging

Nov 8, 2018

In Mairi Campbell's "Pulse" and Kathryn Tickell's "Northumbrian Voices," each artist has created music that brings her home. Fiona Ritchie features excerpts from these two works and by other artists who travel homeward in songs and instrumentals, including Cathy Jordan and Battlefield Band.

Here at the World Cafe, we've had hours of conversations about what some of the greatest years in music are. So far, we've presented the case for 1967, for 1978 and 1988.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify and Apple playlists at the bottom of the page.


In metal, lineage can be everything. These musicians are lifers — sworn to the riff, defenders of the faith. It's what keeps metal alive. But when the bloodlines cross streams, the lineage doesn't get broken so much as emboldened. Azusa contains decades of experience, but Heavy Yoke reaches across the metal spectrum for a debut album wrapped in rapturously beautiful discord.

"I've made music under many brand names. It was a dumb idea," David Bazan jokes during his performance at the Tiny Desk, in his own particularly reflective and self-deprecating way.

If you've been to New Orleans, you know how easy it is to strike up a conversation with a stranger on the street. It just happens! It's also how the band The Revivalists was founded.


"Good Friends," here's "The Arrangement."

Joni Mitchell, a "Woman of Heart and Mind," turns 75 today. She's "A Lucky Girl."

For nearly a decade, Arctic Flowers' members have mined the identifiably gloomy sound attached to Siouxsie Sioux and Joy Division. But with each record, the Portland band has carved out its own identity through Stan Wright's whiplash riffs and Alex Carroccio's forceful howl. Straight to the Hunter, the band's third full-length album, once again expands and refocuses a punk sound that's made for dark corners.

When she recently accepted the Spirit of Americana Free Speech Award, Rosanne Cash called artists and musicians "the premier service industry for the heart and soul." Throughout Cash's discography and especially on her new album, it's clear Cash takes that service seriously.

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