NPR Music

Meg Myers put out one of 2018's most intense and cathartic albums. Take Me to the Disco raged and threw sonic punches at anyone who'd ever attempted to use or abuse her, from former record executives to past lovers. Dressed in a sparkling blue leotard, Myers re-creates that fire and ferocity behind the Tiny Desk, replacing her album's roaring electric guitars and electronics with a pulsing string quartet, piano and brushed drums.

Just when it seems the shadow of The Beatles can't get any longer and everything in rock has been done before, along come Sean Lennon and Les Claypool, asking the musical question: What if, instead of ducking The Beatles, you embraced the band's tricks — the galumphing marches, the sun-dazed harmonies — and then made them a little weird?

Panic attacks are no joke. Rick Maguire, lead songwriter for Pile, learned this recently. While preparing to move and getting ready to write Pile's new record, Green and Gray, Maguire tried to go to bed one night and instead found himself "in the pitch black, in a way looking at myself and my position to the rest of the world, physically, psychologically and spiritually, and feeling this overwhelming anxiety," he tells NPR Music. He was, in other words, having a panic attack.

Every month, NPR member stations in our public radio network let us know what's been on repeat in their worlds to meet your music discovery and streaming needs.

You can expect an epic piano anthem from Florence + The Machine, Kehlani's sassy new dance-floor bop and an acoustic drive-by ballad by Oshima Brothers in this month's playlist. Below are some newfound favorites, all written from the voices of public radio stations across the country.

Son of a Dublin blues drummer and a visual artist, Andrew Hozier-Byrne was launched into international stardom in his early 20s with the 2013 hit "Take Me To Church." What followed was a self-titled debut album, sold out world tours, a Grammy nomination and an ever-growing fan base.

On his latest album, Gold In a Brass Age, David Gray's voice still sounds as glorious, distinct and beautiful as it did when he broke through the mainstream with 1998's White Ladder. But the sounds surrounding Gray's voice, both natural and digital, have grown like ivy winding over bricks, adding depth and color to his songs in new ways.

Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks juggle the chaotic life of raising a family while also fronting the Grammy Award-winning Tedeschi Trucks Band. The band's latest album, Signs, released on Feb. 15, explores that balancing act while also transforming grief and confusion into art.

Our sprint through this week's best new albums includes Grey Area from the UK rapper Little Simz, Weezer's self-titled "Black Album," the foot-stompers of Hozier, country crooner Dee White and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson, Sidney Madden and Jewly Hight as they share their picks for the best albums out on March 1.

Featured Albums:

  • Little Simz: Grey Area
    Featured Song: "Offence"
  • Hand Habits: Placeholder
    Featured Song: "Can't Calm Down"

Calan On Mountain Stage

Feb 28, 2019

Capturing the vibrant spirit of traditional Celtic folk music, the young Welsh quintet Calan is already a staple on the festival circuit across the pond. Calan remains the only Welsh band to have won the "International Folk Band Award" at the Inter Celtic Festival and was named "Best Group" at Festival Interceltique de Lorient.

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In 2010-2011, the Manchester, England rock band WU LYF (World Unite!

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

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

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

Cattle raids, battles, betrayals and family loyalties are all commemorated in the ballads of the borderlands between Scotland and England, sometimes referred to as "the debatable lands."

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

A small moment of anger pushed Grammy-winning artist Gary Clark Jr. to create the unapologetic, seething song "This Land."

Our picks for the best albums out this week include an epic treatise on Americanism from Gary Clark Jr., the delicate and beautiful sounds of Julia Jacklin, Atlanta rapper Gunna, a gorgeous study in the healing powers of restraint from Lowland Hum, and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael and Stephen Thompson as they share their top picks for Feb. 22.

Featured Albums

  • Gary Clark Jr., This Land
    Featured Song: "Gotta Get Into Something"

Kenny White On Mountain Stage

Feb 21, 2019

As guest host Kathy Mattea notes in her introduction of New York-based songwriter Kenny White, he is a "musician's musician." A pianist, producer, composer, arranger and renowned commercial music producer, White has played with Jonathan Edwards, Tom Jones and Judy Collins, among others. As a producer he worked on Shawn Colvin's single "I Don't Know Why" and helmed four solo CDs by Peter Wolf.

We're thrilled to have Gary Clark Jr. on World Cafe today. Gary is a guitar prodigy from Austin who showed so much promise that the mayor held a ceremony to declare "Gary Clark Jr. Day" when he was still in high school.

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

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


Meg Duffy's music seems to exist in miniature, but it's not for brevity or lack of complexity. Just the opposite, in fact: Recording as Hand Habits, Duffy pays scrupulous attention to detail in songs that function like intricate dioramas.

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

The Thistle & Shamrock: Love Songs

Feb 20, 2019

This week, Fiona Ritchie shares not only some of Robert Burns' traditional love verses, but also music featuring the love of land, whisky, and homeland, with Maura O'Connell, Shooglenifty, and Moya Brennan.

After eight years of playing cello and singing with The Lumineers, Neyla Pekarek left the band this past fall. In January, she struck out on her own with a solo album called Rattlesnake. It's a concept album based on the true story of Colorado's Rattlesnake Kate, who rescued herself and her 3-year-old adopted son from an attack by killing more than 140 snakes in 1925.

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.


It was February 1967, and 18-year-old Marine Pfc. Bill Ehrhart was days away from leaving for Vietnam. He had just enjoyed his last weekend off base, and his friends had offered to drive him back to Camp Pendleton, Calif., before sunrise.

"It was goodbye civilian world, next stop Vietnam," says Ehrhart, now a writer and poet.

We're being treated to a special kind performance from a tight-knit group of friends.

On this week's All Songs Considered we premiere new music from Aldous Harding. The artist from New Zealand made my number two album from 2017 (Party) and her latest song, "The Barrel," indicates that she'll be another year-end favorite of mine in 2019.

A decade ago, J.S. Ondara was just a kid from Nairobi, Kenya, obsessed with American artists like Nirvana, Neil Young and Bob Dylan before he could even understand their lyrics.

Scott Mulvahill has been trying to win the Tiny Desk Contest for each of its four years. He's always been one of our favorites, though he's never been our winner. The double bassist entered his song, "Begin Againers" in 2016 and though it wasn't the winning entry, we all loved it so much, I invited him to my desk to perform his extraordinary song. He opened the Tiny Desk with it, only this time he was joined by bandmates Jesse Isley and Josh Shilling who shared vocal harmonies.

A brickbat is something to wield: a rock, or a biting remark. It's also the name of the debut album by the British band Piroshka. Led by Miki Berenyi of British shoegazers Lush, the band comprises musicians from a handful of acts that made their mark in the 1990s British indie-pop scene, including Berenyi's partner K.J. McKillop of Moose, Elastica's Justin Welch and Modern English's Mick Conroy.

What is the blues? To some, it's a feeling; to others, a beer-selling brand. Adia Victoria captures the spirits of the blues in a simple phrase: black genius.

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