NPR Music Essentials
1:05 pm
Mon June 18, 2012

Heavy Rotation: 5 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing

Lianne La Havas
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Thu November 29, 2012 6:19 pm

There's no clear formula for why a new song catches fire at one of our partner radio stations. Sometimes it's a hook you can't get out of your head, and sometimes it's a tune's ability to distill a station's overall vibe into three sublime minutes.

We asked five stations to select a song currently blowing up on their airwaves and tell us why. For a limited time, you can download their answers — the results include new music from the smart Canadian pop band Metric, U.K. singer Lianne La Havas, folk newbie John Fullbright, funk collective Brownout and British pop group alt-J.

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Deceptive Cadence
2:03 am
Fri June 15, 2012

Tracing The Trail Of Musical Fathers

Fathers have played an important role in shaping musical history.
Matthew Scherf

Originally published on Fri June 15, 2012 10:56 am

With Father's Day coming up this weekend, Morning Edition music commentator Miles Hoffman has been thinking about a few musical dads and their children.

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The Record
2:48 am
Thu June 14, 2012

My American Dream Sounds Like Prince

Prince performing at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood, Calif., in 1985.
Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Fri June 22, 2012 3:00 pm

I was born in 1970, sprung from one of the most aspirational generations America has ever produced: The Hip-Hop Nation. With decades of rap music anthems dedicated to our fantastical transition from poverty to prosperity, we rarely celebrate our wealth without looking back on our meager beginnings. The American Dream, for us, always represents the possibility of success and affluence on our own terms — with a watchful eye toward our hardscrabble origins.

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Shots - Health Blog
2:55 pm
Wed June 13, 2012

Putting Fear In Your Ears: What Makes Music Sound Scary

Susan Backlinie swims as the great white shark rises toward her in publicity art for the 1975 film Jaws.
Universal/Michael Ochs Archives Getty Images

Originally published on Wed June 13, 2012 3:24 pm

DUH-duh ... DUH-duh ... DUH-duh!

Like those ominous bars of music signaling the approaching shark in Jaws, some of the most recognizable film scores were designed to terrify us.

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All Songs Considered Blog
5:26 pm
Tue June 12, 2012

Vote For The Year's Best Music (So Far)


Originally published on Thu June 14, 2012 1:06 pm

Around this time each year I begin to marvel at how we've already reached the halfway point. I haven't even taken down my Christmas lights yet and already everyone's reflecting on all the great music we've had so far.

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Music Interviews
12:03 pm
Sun June 10, 2012

Fiona Apple: 'I Don't Really Have A Plan'

Known for brevity's sake as The Idler Wheel..., Fiona Apple's new album is her first in seven years.
Dan Monick

Originally published on Tue June 12, 2012 7:43 pm

It's been seven years since Fiona Apple has released a new album. The singer-songwriter, who broke out in 1996 with Tidal, says the delay is a quirk of her creative process.

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Author Interviews
2:03 am
Sat June 9, 2012

How 'The Queen Of British Ska' Wrestled With Race

Originally published on Sun June 10, 2012 7:44 am

The British ska-revival band The Selecter formed in the late 1970s, playing what can be described as rock fused with calypso and American jazz.

Much of what set the band apart was its charismatic lead singer, Pauline Black. As one of few women in a musical movement dominated by men, she was called "The Queen of British Ska."

That experience is one of many recounted in her new memoir, Black by Design, which has just been released in the U.S.

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Dick and Jane
2:27 pm
Fri June 8, 2012

Dick and Jane Song of the Week: "Soar Like a Bird"

I spread my wings to fly, but all they do is die. My brother already soars, yet I’m behind closed doors.I look up into the sky. Everything seems so high.

But if you don’t quit. It’s your goal you’ll get. But if you don’t quit

Just like a baby bird who’s falling, your life it might be stalling. The bird will soon succeed. Just follow its lead. But if you don’t quit.

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The Fresh Air Interview
10:59 am
Wed June 6, 2012

Neil Young: The Fresh Air Interview

Neil Young.
Danny Clinch

Originally published on Fri June 8, 2012 11:08 am

Neil Young and Crazy Horse's latest project — their first together in nine years — is an album featuring American folk songs and the tunes many of us learned as children, performed with grit, wit and a whole lot of electric guitar.

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Music Interviews
5:05 pm
Sat June 2, 2012

The Beach Boys: The Harmony Is Endless After All

The Beach Boys' new album — the first collaboration in decades between founding members Brian Wilson (third from left) and Mike Love (second from right) — is called That's Why God Made the Radio.
Guy Webster Courtesy of the artist

The Beach Boys are in harmony again. The group is recording and performing together, after years of disputes and estrangement.

Brian Wilson and Mike Love tell Guy Raz, host of weekends on All Things Considered, that they're not surprised at the reunion.

"We've had 50 years' practice," Wilson says, "not just in music but in being guys."

Love says once they got back in the studio and started writing again, it felt like they had never left.

"It was nuts," Wilson says. "It was a nutbuster."

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1:04 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

CD Review: The Dave Brubeck Quartet "Their Last Time Out" 1967

LP cover art - Neil Fujita
Columbia Records (CK-40585)


Music now has some what alienated listeners due to what has seemed to me like random popularity spikes in genres of music. In my age group, I tend to hear a lot of Indie Rock, Hip-Hop, and Electronic music.

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All Songs Considered Blog
1:40 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

You've Never Heard Simon And Garfunkel's 'Bookends'?!

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon May 14, 2012 1:42 pm

Note: This is a recurring series in which we ask our unimaginably young interns to review classic albums they've never heard before. Until very recently, Jenna Strucko was an intern for NPR Music.

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World Cafe
5:31 pm
Thu May 10, 2012

Polica On World Cafe

Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon July 30, 2012 4:33 pm

Despite the slow, twisting, synth-looping style of Polica, the group's album came together in only a few recording sessions. Recovering from the breakup of her folk rock band Roma di Luna and the breakup of her marriage to one of her bandmates, Channy Leaneagh turned to friend and collaborator Ryan Olson, founder of Gayngs. The two worked together on Gayngs' album Relayted in 2010 and they were interested in working together again.

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Dick and Jane
12:00 am
Fri May 4, 2012

Dick and Jane Project Song of the Week: "Bumper Cars"


A beautiful sunny day started out like any other. Driving down the street in his rusty old clunker, “Can I make it there?” he wondered. The big promotion was his for the taking. He could finally see to the top. This is the day when he needed to get there the most. You can’t give up.Your can’t give in. If you’re meant to be on the road that you’re on, then you’re bound to win. No, you can’t give up. You can’t give in. Take your time. Slow down. See life through to the end.

Well she sits and she thinks, “I’m so glad I’m on this road, I have no idea where I’m going but I have room to be bold.” And sweeping by all of the slow ones, the busses and the tractors. All that’s left is the open road. And all she can do is go faster.

Oh, that last left turn was a time to forget. But you’ll always remember and always regret. Never before has something bad been so good. Both cars in pieces and as you stand to the side, it could have been worse. You’re still living life.

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Dick and Jane
12:00 am
Fri April 27, 2012

Dick and Jane Song of the Week: "Heartbroken"


lyrics by Angelique & Nakita / music by The Town Monster

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The Record
8:00 am
Sat April 14, 2012

Indian Record Label Hits The Road To Save Traditional Music

Sakar Khan with his kamancha in his home in Hamira, Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. He's passed his favorite kamancha — the one he got from his father — to his son, Darra. But this one plays just fine, if he's the guy playing it.
Michael Sullivan NPR

Originally published on Sat April 14, 2012 4:24 pm

The number of major record labels is down to three. But that's not necessarily a bad thing when it comes to promoting music that's out of the mainstream. A label called Amarrass Records, founded in the Indian state of Rajasthan, is dedicated to exposing and preserving indigenous folk music before it disappears.

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The Record
4:30 pm
Mon April 9, 2012

How To Succeed In The Music Business (By Trying Really, Really Hard)

Raka Dun (left) and Raka Rich of the Oakland, Calif., duo Los Rakas.
Laura Sydell via Instagram NPR

Originally published on Wed April 11, 2012 2:43 pm

It's never been easy to make a living as a musician. But there was always a dream: to become a star on the strength of your talent and your music. The Internet is a rude sandman, however, and today that dream is a lot more convoluted.

No longer can a would-be rock star follow the once-accepted checklist: (1) sign with a big label, (2) get a hit, (3) buy mansions and cars. The number of ways a musician can make money is now varied. The question, for many musicians still trying to make a go of it in the industry, is whether those many sources can add up to something sustainable.

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World Cafe
3:30 pm
Mon March 26, 2012

Archie Powell And The Exports On 'World Cafe: Next'

Archie Powell and the Exports.
Carolina M. Rodriguez

Originally published on Mon March 26, 2012 4:32 pm

With simple melodies and sardonic lyrics, Archie Powell and the Exports' new album, Great Ideas in Action, may well be the soundtrack to this summer. The group released its first EP (Loose Change) in 2009, and its debut album, Skip Work, followed a year later. Skip Work was praised for its addictive hooks, lyrical wit and sophistication. Buried beneath catchy, raucous rock 'n' roll, the album's emotional content reflected the nervous energy and anxiety that the band members say they felt graduating college.

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8:45 am
Mon March 19, 2012

Sugar + The Hi-lows: Live from Studio A REPLAY

Sugar + The Hi-lows played live from Studio A on October 10th, 2012. They played their songs "Two Day High", "Snow Angel", and "Skip The Line"! Check out the performance and interview, and enjoy! 

Do you like what you hear? Let us know what you think about our online Live from Studio A REPLAY series!    

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11:02 am
Sun March 18, 2012

Jared Mahone: Live from Studio A REPLAY

Jared Mahone performed live from Studio A on November 27th, 2012! Check out his amazing performances of "California", "From Joe To Betsy", and "Come Find You". Enjoy!

Do you like what you hear? Let us know what you think about our online Live from Studio A REPLAY series!  

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