In pop-music circles, Suzanne Vega is known almost entirely for two songs from the late 1980s: the child-abuse ballad "Luka" and a song that launched literally dozens of dance remixes, "Tom's Diner." But Vega has been making vital, inventive music the entire time — much of it folk-based, though her sound has taken many smart detours along the way — and is about to put out her first album of original material in seven years, Tales From the Realm of the Queen of Pentacles.
Originally published on Fri July 11, 2014 12:35 pm
"I'll Take You There" is a 24/7 R&B and soul channel from NPR Music. Curated and hosted by Jason King of the Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music at New York University, the playlist runs the gamut from the genre's origins in the 1940s to today's slow jam stunners. You can follow the program on Twitter at @NPRandB and Jason King's personal Twitter account at @jasonkingsays.
This week's two-hour mix by Metropolis host Jason Bentley kicks off with a Mount Kimbie remix of the new single by Kelis, and includes new music from the tremendous singer Roisin Murphy, who appears in Freeform Five's "Leviathan."
Eric Church is working on a level that few other country artists of his generation can touch. Now, one of the things I mean by that is that Church is willing to take big chances such as "The Outsiders," the title track from his fourth album, and clearly a manifesto he's proud of.
Despite being one of Brazil's most successful singers, with seven Latin Grammys to her name, it took Maria Rita years to realize that music was her calling. "I just rebelled against that whole idea of doing something that people wanted me to do," Rita tells Michel Martin, host of NPR's Tell Me More.
We were already excited to have legendary musician John Doe of the pioneering punk band X join us in the KEXP studio, so you can imagine our surprise when he walked in with the also-legendary Mike McCready of Pearl Jam. Doe's musical partner, Exene Cervenka, caught a cold during the Seattle stop for the band's cleverly named "X-Mas 2013″ tour, so Doe called on his old tourmate from 1999.
When you listen to "North Street," a just-released song by the band Death, it's hard to believe it's more than 30 years old. The cut, with its urgent beat and relentlessly propulsive guitars, is part punk and part avant-garde rock. Death originally recorded the track in 1980, but it never saw the light of day — until now.
Originally published on Tue February 18, 2014 2:11 pm
On Alt.Latino, the show I co-host with Felix Contreras, we talk a lot about crossing over: who goes from the Latin world into the U.S. "mainstream," and under what cultural terms and conditions. For those of us who live and breathe Latin music, it can be frustrating that in U.S. pop culture, Latin music is often associated with Shakira and Ricky Martin. Don't get me wrong: I'm a sucker for Latin pop, especially back when Shakira was headbanging. But what irks us a bit is that so much of what makes it from Latin America onto the U.S. pop-culture radar lacks teeth; it has no edge.
About a year ago, I saw St. Paul and the Broken Bones perform at a tiny club in Tuscaloosa, Ala., called the Green Bar. The Birmingham band's six members squeezed onto the stage, looking like ragtag school kids. Singer Paul Janeway, nerd-tastic in spectacles and a Sunday suit, unfurled a handkerchief. He started to croon, then shout and wail.