Based in Lancaster County, Penn., The Stray Birds is one of the most promising bands on the folk music circuit these days. With three-part harmonies which fall somewhere in the sonic spectrum between Gillian Welch and Crooked Still, their songs are at once resonant and emotional, dreamy and sad.
Missy Mazzoli, a 32-year-old composer from Brooklyn, says she never wanted to write an opera until she read the journals of Isabelle Eberhardt, a Swiss adventurer from the turn of the 20th century. Oddly enough, Mazzoli first learned about Eberhardt while listening to NPR. Years later, she stumbled upon the explorer's journals in a bookstore.
Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 1:50 pm
Three albums into a thriving career, Ben Folds Five abruptly announced it was over in 2000. Luckily for fans, Folds got the band back together 11 years later and even released a new album, The Sound of the Life of the Mind, this September.
The album is classic Ben Folds Five — at times irreverent, cerebral, quirky, wistful and playful. The Sound of the Life of the Mind peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 and the video for the first single, "Do It Anyway," features Anna Kendrick, Rob Corddry and the cast of Fraggle Rock.
Baby Jane Hudson is now 50 years old — or at least the strange and brilliant movie in which she's the main character is, just released as a beautifully remastered Blu-ray. Robert Aldrich's grotesque gothic tragedy is a cross between Gypsy, with its antithetical show-biz kid sisters, and Sunset Boulevard, with its decayed Hollywood glamour.
Originally published on Sun December 2, 2012 12:01 pm
On this Piano Jazz session from 2004, Tony Bennett brings his effortlessly swinging singing to an impeccable set of tunes from the Great American Songbook, including music from Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Van Heusen, Ted Koehler, Alec Wilder and more.
Originally published on Fri November 30, 2012 9:48 pm
Logan Venderlic makes his first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown. A native of the small West Virginia town called Saint Marys, Venderlic's first collection of tunes prompted Yahoo Music to name him one of the top artists during the first half of 2012.
Originally published on Mon November 26, 2012 9:23 am
We at NPR Music spend most of our days listening to music, thinking about music, writing about it, arguing with each other over it, calling the people who made it to ask them about their work, enthusing over songs, griping about albums. Our thirst for the new and the intriguing and the great is insatiable. And every year at about this time try to we sum up a fruitful year of listening in our best-of-the-year bonanza.