Originally published on Thu September 26, 2013 1:26 pm
"What has Wooden Wand been up to lately?" It was a simple question that turned into an epic email thread with a friend a year ago; the kind where you find yourself a sudden apologist for a sprawling, decade-long discography. There was the noise jam-band phase, the bedroom acoustic recordings mistaken for "freak folk," the major-label "flop" that had more to do with the crumbling remains of the label than the artist...
Alan Jackson has achieved huge success in country music, but he's not above trashing his own industry. The platinum-selling star once voiced his frustration with the narrow range of country music that receives radio play by writing a spot-on parody — "Three Minute Positive Not Too Country Up-Tempo Love Song" — that hit all the mainstream marks on the nose.
When war broke out in the West African nation of Mali last year, one of the targets was that country's ancient music tradition. As Islamist rebels occupied northern Mali, they banned music and shut down clubs and record shops.
Originally published on Fri June 20, 2014 10:10 am
After releasing his latest album, last year's Spirit Fiction, saxophonist Ravi Coltrane put his decade-old quartet on hiatus, and has now assembled a new group. Had John Coltrane lived to see his son grow up, he might have told Ravi about how his own "classic quartet" broke up; he'd begun to incorporate new voices (including Ravi's mother Alice Coltrane) by the time his new band recorded live at the Village Vanguard in 1966.
Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 2:31 pm
Raise your hand if you ever cut school to go buy a brand new album the day it came out. Raise your hand if you went to Tower Records, or The Wiz, and you did this in the 1990s. Raise your hand if you remember impatiently waiting for the doors to open, racing to the front of the register line and hoping to make it back to school before lunch — becoming the first to brag about owning the latest EPMD release or Illmatic.
Originally published on Wed September 25, 2013 2:52 pm
Loud music can lead to hearing loss. But it's not just rock musicians and their fans who are at risk.
In classical orchestras, horn players are particularly vulnerable to hearing damage from the tunes they and their colleagues play.
Some studies have found that horn players are blasted with some of the loudest sounds in the orchestra. The levels are so high that many countries' occupational health regulations would limit exposure like that to a half-hour a day, some studies have found.
How do you make a piano sing? Italian-born pianist Antonio Pompa-Baldi tackles the question on his new album, The Rascal and the Sparrow, a tribute to Francis Poulenc and Edith Piaf, two titans of French song who each died 50 years ago. Pompa-Baldi shared his thoughts on the project in this email chat with NPR Music's Tom Huizenga.
Originally published on Tue October 15, 2013 11:38 am
Geoff Barrow of the revered English band Portishead recently maligned the fast-rising Los Angeles sister act HAIM with a snippy tweet: Hiam [sic] sound like Shania Twain ... When did that become a good thing? To which this critic replies: Who said it isn't?