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Instagram might have one believe that family life with young children involves vegetables carved to look like rocket ships in gluten-free lunchboxes, or that new mothers can prance around fields with newborn babies in pristine white linen dresses that are never covered in grass-stains or baby spit.

In 1986, Bruce Hornsby became famous for his single "The Way It Is." But since then, he has embraced the constant evolution of his musical style throughout his career, experimenting with jazz, classical and even country. Never the same kind of musician, Hornsby has jammed on the accordion with the Grateful Dead and composed movie soundtracks for Spike Lee.

It sort of stood to reason that after winning multiple Grammys this decade — including one for Album of the Year — Beck would retire to the cushy corners of modern alt-rock. As a testament to that, he even collaborated with Cage the Elephant earlier this year. But Beck, ever the disruptor of standards, took a pivot into left-field. He's announced a new album, Hyperspace, as well as a new single, "Saw Lightning" today. It's due out, according to a press release, "at an as yet undetermined point in the space time continuum."

We have less than two weeks left in this year's Tiny Desk Contest entry period, and we're seeing more and more entries (and desks) we love each day. So just as we've done for the last two weeks, we've rounded up a few of our favorites from the Contest so far.

We hope these songs inspire you to send us a song of your own if you haven't already — you've got until Sunday, April 14!


Quinn Christopherson, "Erase Me"

These days, a six-year gap between albums practically qualifies as a hiatus. In the case of Vampire Weekend, it's been enough time to experience a 2014 Grammy win, a significant departure (Rostam Batmanglij left in 2016), a major-label deal, years of touring and a long, deliberately paced lead-up to Father of the Bride, out May 3.

Karl Denson has one of the coolest side gigs in the world. In 2015, he took over for Bobby Keys as the saxophonist for The Rolling Stones. In his day job however, he's the leader of Karl Denson's Tiny Universe, a fusion of funk, jazz, soul, and rock.

Roger Charlery, best known as Ranking Roger, singer of the widely influential U.K. group The Beat — known as The English Beat in the U.S. — died Tuesday afternoon, at 56. The singer was diagnosed with brain tumors and lung cancer last year. His death was announced on the website of The Beat, and confirmed to NPR by the group's manager, Tarquin Gotch.

"I'm feeling things! This is awesome!" Emily King describes the moment she stood outside with tears in her eyes, and sang aloud the lyrics to the first song she wrote for her new album. That song is called "Remind Me" and it captures the renewed inspiration King found after packing up her New York City life, learning to drive and moving to a small town in the Catskills.

For the NPR Music team, the Tiny Desk Contest is an annual opportunity to learn about undiscovered artists we might not otherwise hear. We hear from artists in every imaginable genre from all across the country. We're still accepting entries for a few more weeks — until April 14 at 11:59 p.m. ET — but we've already started to see entries we love. Here are a few that caught our attention this week.


Four Play Clarinet, "Soulful"

No ticket required! Nashville's WMOT Roots Radio is once again headed to Austin for SXSW 2019, presenting you with five straight days of live music.

 Got a song you want the world to hear? The 2019 Tiny Desk Contest is now open! If you're an unsigned musician, you could win a chance to play the Tiny Desk at NPR headquarters and tour the country with NPR Music!

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?

Here's some of the most uplifting music I've heard in a long while. Ahmed Gallab, best known as Sinkane, has new music we're proud to premiere. The song is called "Everybody" which will be the lead-off track to his next record, Dépaysé.

There is no denying the impact Roma has had on the movie going public on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border. The story of a young indigenous woman and her life as a live-in care taker for a middle class Mexican family in the mid-1970's is one of those rare instances that has crossed demographic lines and has people raving about from all quarters.

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.

Mavis Staples is one of America's defining voices of freedom and peace.

Her family's gospel group, The Staples Singers, led by her father Roebuck "Pops" Staples, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King and wrote songs like "Freedom Highway" and "Why Am I Treated So Bad" that provided part of the soundtrack of America's civil rights movement.

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.

Back in 1967, Bobbie Gentry sang a haunting ode to young love and sad endings in the deep South called "Ode to Billie Joe." That song, about a mysterious occurrence on the Tallahatchie Bridge, was the No. 1 song in America for several weeks. A year later, Gentry released a country-rock opera, The Delta Sweete. It hardly sold at all — but has since become a favorite of collectors and musicians.

On Sunday night, the 61st Grammy Awards telecast did its best to balance several requirements — making amends to an entire gender, widening its palette of winners and honorees, and doing its best to award those who are affecting the mainstream now, not five years ago. Within the narrow lens of prime-time awards shows, it seemed to make some progress on each count, without drifting too far from its comfort zone.

Candi Staton released her 30th studio album, Unstoppable, in August 2018. True to the album's name, the four-time Grammy nominee and Christian Music Hall of Famer has shown that her life will slow down at nothing.

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According to Greek mythology, the cunning King Sisyphus of Ephyra received the ultimate punishment at the end of his days: damnation and an eternity spent pushing a rock up a mountain

The early '70s was a watershed era for Marvin Gaye; What's Going On produced three chart-topping singles and became one of the most powerful and revered concept albums of all time, taking a reluctant Motown beyond producing hits; in 1972, Gaye recorded and released the film soundtrack, Trouble Man; between 1971 and 1973 he recorded tracks for what would become the iconic album Diana and Marvin, released in 1973; just two months earlier, he had released the legendary Let's Get It On.

Betty Carter, the adroit and unsurpassable jazz singer, was 61 when she took the stage at Aaron Davis Hall in New York for The Music Never Stops on March 29, 1992. Presented by Jazz at Lincoln Center, a newly formed organization at the time, it was a concert of grand, unabashed ambition, celebrating Carter's magnificent prowess in the context of a specially assembled big band with strings, as well as three all-star rhythm sections.

Welcome to a brand-new season of New Music Friday! After a few quiet weeks, the flood gates are opening and we've got a whole bunch of essential albums dropping on Jan. 18 to tell you about. This includes the smart, sparkling pop of singer Maggie Rogers, swooning love songs from James Blake, deep introspection from Pedro The Lion's first new album in 15 years, pure joy from Toro y Moi and much more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson for this quick sprint through the essential releases for Jan. 18, the first busy drop date for the new year.

So far, Maggie Rogers has spent a healthy dose of her professional career as an online sensation. That may not sound strange given the Internet age, but in Rogers' case, it was entirely accidental.

Slingshot: 20 Artists To Watch In 2019

Jan 17, 2019

A new year calls for new discoveries, and 2019 is no different. As part of NPR Slingshot, member stations have chosen a select group of artists who are making this a promising year in music.

Packed with discoveries, our 2019 Artists To Watch list is more than just an unpredictable mix of jazz montages, complex grunge solos and unifying anthems. It's a diverse celebration of artists who've been here all along, but are only now getting to be heard.


Mike Farris is unflinchingly optimistic. You can read it on his Twitter, hear it in his music and feel it in conversation when you talk with him. He can even have a laugh about the name of the band he played in during his 20s while signed to Atlantic Records, The Screamin' Cheetah Wheelies.

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There's a sense of voraciousness in Sasami Ashworth's musical resumé.

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