Stephen Thompson http://wcbe.org en First Listen: Phox, 'Phox' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-phox-phox The word "charisma" is often used to imply a certain kind of attention-grabbing showiness, or even neediness. Mon, 16 Jun 2014 21:35:47 +0000 Stephen Thompson 57859 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: Phox, 'Phox' First Listen: The Antlers, 'Familiars' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-antlers-familiars The 2009 album <em>Hospice</em> sparked a major breakthrough for <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/100863291/the-antlers">The Antlers</a>, but it's not the sort of success a band would want to duplicate, even if it could. As the title suggests, <em>Hospice</em> was built around a dark unifying theme — an examination of the events surrounding the slow death of singer Peter Silberman's friend — so the record comes by its desolate, life-and-death intensity honestly. Mon, 09 Jun 2014 21:51:54 +0000 Stephen Thompson 57454 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: The Antlers, 'Familiars' First Listen: First Aid Kit, 'Stay Gold' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-first-aid-kit-stay-gold Swedish sisters Klara and Johanna Söderberg first made their names with feather-light chamber-folk confections that echoed the soaring sweetness of Fleet Foxes. A cover of that band's "Tiger Mountain Peasant Song" even helped launch the then-teenagers to <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HMrqBldlqzA">YouTube fame</a> back in 2008. Mon, 02 Jun 2014 20:55:50 +0000 Stephen Thompson 57100 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: First Aid Kit, 'Stay Gold' First Listen: Nikki Lane, 'All Or Nothin" http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-nikki-lane-all-or-nothin Many young singers are stalked by an ill-fitting, virtually unshakable descriptor, whether it's a limiting and vaguely dismissive adjective ("quirky," for example) or a limiting and vaguely dismissive noun ("songstress," to pick one that should be banished from the language and buried under 10,000 pounds of rock salt). Tue, 29 Apr 2014 20:40:13 +0000 Stephen Thompson 55185 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: Nikki Lane, 'All Or Nothin" The Austin 100: A SXSW 2014 Mix http://wcbe.org/post/austin-100-sxsw-2014-mix Every year, more than 2,000 acts swarm to SXSW — and every year, NPR Music painstakingly handpicks 100 of the music festival's best discoveries for a downloadable six-hour sampler. Tue, 04 Mar 2014 23:01:24 +0000 Stephen Thompson 52122 at http://wcbe.org The Austin 100: A SXSW 2014 Mix First Listen: 'Sweetheart 2014' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-sweetheart-2014 Compiled by Starbucks every few years, the <em>Sweetheart</em> compilations adhere to a simple concept in which well-liked contemporary artists cover well-liked classic love songs just in time for Valentine's Day. But, more importantly, the collections revolve around a refreshing and consistent mindset: There are no arch piss-takes, no goofs, no skirting sincerity with a wink and a sneer. Thu, 30 Jan 2014 15:35:55 +0000 Stephen Thompson 50313 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: 'Sweetheart 2014' First Listen: Damien Jurado, 'Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-damien-jurado-brothers-and-sisters-eternal-son It's a testament to singer-songwriter <a href="http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=damien+jurado">Damien Jurado</a>'s versatility that he's made nearly a dozen albums of largely inward-looking folk and rock music, and yet has never made two records that sound the same. Tue, 07 Jan 2014 23:25:02 +0000 Stephen Thompson 49212 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: Damien Jurado, 'Brothers And Sisters Of The Eternal Son' First Listen: Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, 'Give The People What They Want' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-sharon-jones-and-dap-kings-give-people-what-they-want For veteran soul singer <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15325312/sharon-jones">Sharon Jones</a>, 2013 was a year of frustration, fear and false starts: She'd just announced the summer release of her fifth album, <em>Give the People What They Want</em>, when she was diagnosed with cancer and had to put her career on hold. Tours were canceled, while the finished record had to be shelved until she'd recovered to where she was in a position to promote it. Tue, 07 Jan 2014 22:52:51 +0000 Stephen Thompson 49205 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: Sharon Jones And The Dap-Kings, 'Give The People What They Want' Indie-Pop Albums That Make The Cut Are More Than Mere Collections http://wcbe.org/post/indie-pop-albums-make-cut-are-more-mere-collections Transcript <p>AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: <p>At NPR Music, they're wrapping up the year the best way they know how, with their hotly contested list of their 50 favorite albums of 2013. Now, all this week, we'll get a peak of that list from our in-house experts, including NPR Music writer and editor Stephen Thompson, whose beat is the ever amorphous indie pop, which - Stephen, what exactly is that these days?<p>STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: I have absolutely no idea. It used to mean accessible but unpopular.<p>CORNISH: OK. Tue, 10 Dec 2013 21:29:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 47871 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: Sebadoh, 'Defend Yourself' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-sebadoh-defend-yourself Lou Barlow<a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=92513808"></a> has been reuniting with old bandmates left and right in the last decade or so, even as his personal life has broken apart. In 2005, the rock veteran rejoined <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/14963581/dinosaur-jr">Dinosaur Jr.</a>, having long since moved past the acrimony surrounding his departure, and he's now back with <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/92513805/sebadoh">Sebadoh</a> for the first time since the turn of the century. Wed, 11 Sep 2013 02:33:16 +0000 Stephen Thompson 42875 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: Sebadoh, 'Defend Yourself' First Listen: Okkervil River, 'The Silver Gymnasium' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-okkervil-river-silver-gymnasium It's human nature to romanticize a specific time and place in the past — a moment when <a href="http://www.theonion.com/articles/account-manager-fondly-remembers-day-in-college-wh,335/">everything felt just right</a>, or opportunities were laid out like a banquet. For <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/14857887/okkervil-river">Okkervil River</a>'s Will Sheff, it's been impossible to let go of Meriden, N.H., circa 1986: That tiny town is where he spent his childhood (he turned 10 that summer) and where his parents taught at an area boarding school. Sun, 01 Sep 2013 15:23:23 +0000 Stephen Thompson 42347 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: Okkervil River, 'The Silver Gymnasium' 5 New Faces Of Folk, At The 2013 Newport Folk Festival http://wcbe.org/post/5-new-faces-folk-2013-newport-folk-festival The <a href="http://www.npr.org/event/music/155839092/newport-folk-festival">Newport Folk Festival</a>'s history is dotted with historic moments involving musical icons — Bob Dylan plugging in jumps immediately to mind. But, while organizers still take care to stack each festival with huge names and star veterans, the margins are smartly and lovingly curated, too. The 2013 Newport Folk Festival is no different, with an impressive slate of boundary-pushers and genre-eschewers. Here are five of the newest and most promising faces, with a downloadable song from each. Fri, 26 Jul 2013 12:57:45 +0000 Stephen Thompson 40103 at http://wcbe.org 5 New Faces Of Folk, At The 2013 Newport Folk Festival The Good Listener: When Is It OK To Hold Seats At A Festival? http://wcbe.org/post/good-listener-when-it-ok-hold-seats-festival We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the flyers from reputable debt-consolidation companies is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a vexing piece of concert-going etiquette.<p><strong><em>Dorise Gruber writes: "What is good festival etiquette for seat-holding? I just returned from Solid Sound Festival (the <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/15164119/wilco">Wilco</a>-curated festival in Western Massachusetts), and the shows were fantastic. Fri, 28 Jun 2013 02:05:54 +0000 Stephen Thompson 38366 at http://wcbe.org The Good Listener: When Is It OK To Hold Seats At A Festival? The Good Listener: How Do You Pick The Songs For Your Wedding? http://wcbe.org/post/good-listener-how-do-you-pick-songs-your-wedding <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vCadcBR95oU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cpPSBzGEklE</p> Fri, 21 Jun 2013 15:09:47 +0000 Stephen Thompson 38006 at http://wcbe.org The Good Listener: How Do You Pick The Songs For Your Wedding? The Good Listener: What's More Important, Lyrics Or Music? http://wcbe.org/post/good-listener-whats-more-important-lyrics-or-music <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wty8UYT6PGw</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=et_lDyRymrw</p> Fri, 31 May 2013 15:38:59 +0000 Stephen Thompson 36713 at http://wcbe.org The Good Listener: What's More Important, Lyrics Or Music? First Listen: G&D, 'The Lighthouse' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-gd-lighthouse <em>Audio for this feature is no longer available.</em><p><a href="http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=georgia+anne+muldrow&dateId=0&programId=0">Georgia Anne Muldrow</a> and <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5348104">Dudley Perkins</a> (a.k.a. Declaime) have worked together and separately for years now, trafficking in funk, soul, hip-hop, jazz, psychedelic space-rock, spoken-word poetry, protest music and more. Mon, 13 May 2013 16:18:37 +0000 Stephen Thompson 35521 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: G&D, 'The Lighthouse' We Get Mail: How Can A Vinyl Lover Start Over From Scratch? http://wcbe.org/post/we-get-mail-how-can-vinyl-lover-start-over-scratch We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the ironic promotional cassingles is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how a regretful fan of vinyl records can re-create her discarded collection.<p><strong>Kirsten Elbourne Mathieson writes: "I'm big-time regretting getting rid of all of my record albums years ago. Any advice for someone starting from scratch with vinyl after all these years? Fri, 10 May 2013 13:37:09 +0000 Stephen Thompson 35382 at http://wcbe.org We Get Mail: How Can A Vinyl Lover Start Over From Scratch? Jittery Jams: 10 Songs For Coffee Lovers http://wcbe.org/post/jittery-jams-10-songs-coffee-lovers <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sb5qqoQgPlk</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVGXcjM9SOQ</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUx5z9O2ZGk</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WfQN_M1pQc</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZk2LYsBIi8</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KRxS7Q64xUQ</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFURd_EOIuU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4nzMS_YrgFk</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qk_wVO7NBMQ</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6oqXVx3sBOk</p> Thu, 25 Apr 2013 01:52:00 +0000 Stephen Thompson 34501 at http://wcbe.org Jittery Jams: 10 Songs For Coffee Lovers First Listen: Mother Falcon, 'You Knew' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-mother-falcon-you-knew <em>Audio for this feature is no longer available.</em><p>A super-sized chamber-rock collective from Austin, Texas, Mother Falcon constructs sweepingly majestic rock out of a nine-piece string section, multiple horns, a bassoon, a glockenspiel and a diverse assortment of voices that sing and shout to the rafters. The band makes the most of those many moving parts — its songs shimmer and boom with infectious joy — but Mother Falcon doesn't skimp on the songwriting, either. Mon, 15 Apr 2013 03:51:51 +0000 Stephen Thompson 33951 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: Mother Falcon, 'You Knew' First Listen: Steve Martin And Edie Brickell, 'Love Has Come For You' http://wcbe.org/post/first-listen-steve-martin-and-edie-brickell-love-has-come-you <em>Audio for this feature is no longer available.</em><p>For all his wry self-deprecation, <a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=120750048">Steve Martin</a> has never been a musical tourist: The actor, comedian and author has been passionate about the banjo for decades, and trotted it out on stage at every opportunity in the years leading up to his decorated recording career. Mon, 15 Apr 2013 03:42:28 +0000 Stephen Thompson 33950 at http://wcbe.org First Listen: Steve Martin And Edie Brickell, 'Love Has Come For You'