Albums made by collections of professional studio players once had a bad reputation with the traditional rock audience. Such works were supposedly arid and chilly — more like the results of a board meeting than the recorded adventure of an organic group of fabulous friends. Some music fans may still feel that way, but they are few. Nowadays, a tight-knit gaggle of session musicians like the Analog Players Society gets points from traditionalists simply because the music is made by flesh and blood.
Originally published on Tue September 25, 2012 10:25 am
Today, Sept. 25, 2012, would have marked the 80th birthday of Glenn Gould, and Oct. 4 is the 30th anniversary of his death. One can only wonder what Gould might have done had he lived a full life — he had many plans and spoke of them with customary enthusiasm — but I have no doubt that he would have loved the internet above all.
Originally published on Wed October 17, 2012 12:01 pm
Germany's Oktoberfest — that annual celebration of all things lager — kicked off on Sept. 22 in Munich, the festival's birthplace. In honor of the 200-year tradition, NPR Music and opbmusic.org in Portland (America's microbrew capital) team up to present a limited-time music channel devoted entirely to songs about beer.
By now, everyone's heard of Kickstarter, the website that lets people with an idea or project ask other people to contribute toward realizing it. It's called crowd funding, and this summer's big success story was musician Amanda Palmer. She raised more than $1 million to produce her new album. But crowd funding doesn't work for every musician every time.
Cecilia Bartoli has a passion for musical archaeology: "I am the Indiana Jones of classical," she says jokingly to All Things Considered host Robert Siegel.
Bartoli rummages through music history to uncover forgotten opera composers deserving of her detailed and dramatic performances. Her new album, Mission, introduces her most recent "find," the late-17th-century Italian Agostino Steffani.
Lightning Love is an indie-pop trio from Ypsilanti, Mich. The band is led by quirky pop singer Leah Diehl, who originally started Lightning Love as a solo project, recording demos in her basement. As she gained attention online, Diehl was asked to play some shows in the Midwest, so to round out her live sound, Diehl teamed up with her friend Ben Collins and her brother Aaron Diehl, who play guitar and drums, respectively.
Singer-songwriter Dar Williams makes her seventh appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Charleston, W.V. A veteran of the New England folk scene, Williams emerged nationally in the mid-1990s, winning fans (including folk heavyweights like Joan Baez) with her idiosyncratic songwriting, acerbic wit and lovely soprano voice.
At NPR Music, we get stacks of CDs in the mail, as well as countless links to music streams, from bands trying to stand out and get some attention. It's safe to say that we all share similar previewing procedures: At some point, we just sit and listen.
What are we listening for? I can't speak for the others, but I'm constantly in search of music I haven't heard, but which sounds as if it's been in my life forever.
Last year, after the Atlanta rock band Black Lips released the album Arabia Mountain, its members planned a trip to tour the Middle East, but the wave of Arab Spring protests forced them to change plans. Yet even with simmering anti-Americanism persisting throughout the region, singer-guitarist Ian St. Pe was determined to see this through. Cairo, where I spoke with them on Friday, was the band's second stop.
Originally published on Mon September 24, 2012 5:29 pm
All Tomorrow's Parties is an extra special music festival. Oddly, it's not just about the music. It's about film, comedy, lecture/conversation and new friendships all bound together by everyone's love for eclectic and passionate music. This year, following a move from Asbury Park (which followed a move from its original Catskill mountain hotel home) to a giant pier on southern tip of Manhattan, it felt more like a convention than a camp. Gone was the coziness of hotel lobbies where artists and participants co-mingled at all hours.