Tag Archives: NPR Music

Jake Bugg

Jake Bugg

How’s about another Joe’s Pick? Yeah? Yeah!

It’s been a little more than two months since we first checked in with what my father-in-law has been listening to, and I couldn’t be more excited to bring you round 2.

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Matt Ulery

Matt Ulery

Y’all mind if I poach NPR Music’s 50 Favorite Albums Of 2012 just a little bit more? No? You guys are the best.

I had the chance to take bassist and composer Matt Ulery’s album By A Little Light for a spin yesterday and have fallen more than a little in love with it, and not just because it features eighth blackbird, the sextet that’s held an Ensemble-in-Residence position at the University of Richmond since 2003 and probably holds the record for mentions on Artsline, WCVE’s daily arts and cultural calendar.

For me, the work’s most remarkable quality, aside from its outright beauty, is the way it allows for originality and brightness to flow through one another.

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Astro

Astro

I have yet to start this year’s top albums post. Is it because I’m a procrastinator? Yes. Well, yes and no.

I haven’t started yet, in part at least, because I’m still finding out about amazing albums that were released in 2012. In fact, I’m convinced that mid-December is the most wonderful time of the year to be a music lover. Year-end lists are worth their weight in gold when it comes to discovering new bands, and I’ve found one list to be particularly Fort Knox-ish: NPR’s Music Top 50 Albums of 2012. While so many lists simply confirm what you already knew — either about the site that posted them or about the quality of the albums that everyone knows everyone loves — NPR’s stands out by virtue of its breadth, with lots of great classical and international releases I had no idea existed. Particularly strong are the Spanish-language contributions, and Chilean group Astro is proving to be a clear favorite. Clear and distracting.

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Holger

Ilhabela

Does everyone here have a Soundcloud account? If not, might I humbly suggest that you sign up?

Not only is the service great for bloggers who want to embed songs in blog posts like this one, with a visually appealing, waveform-revealing player that’s strangely fun to watch, Soundcloud lets users follow bands, so you can find out the moment they upload new tracks. You have your own personal dashboard with the latest “incoming” tracks, and that’s how I found out that… wait for it

Holger is back!

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Philip Glass

I love this video. I love it to death. I want to wad it up and carry it around in my pocket. OK, well I guess I technically already am carrying it around in my pocket, but you get the idea. This is going to sound crazy, but I’m convinced that this video of a “flash choir” performing “The New Rule” from Philip Glass’ opera Monsters of Grace has got to be one of the hippest unhip things I’ve ever seen.

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Yellow Ostrich

Strange Land

On June 16, this post about music ownership in the digital age, penned by an NPR Music intern, landed on the All Songs Considered blog with an echoing electronic thud. Emily White’s post spawned a whole mess of reactions, ranging from the self-righteous to the self-deprecating, and after a week of surprisingly reasoned Internet debate (I didn’t see anyone compare anyone else to Hitler, so that’s good!), it seems to be dying down a bit. So what’s left? Have any decisions been made? Have we figured out how artists are going make money from their music? Sadly, the answers to those last two questions are probably “No” and “No.” But I’m a little more hopeful about that first question. The optimist in me wants to believe there is something very real and very productive left behind by the frenzy that White’s piece whipped up — a lingering residue of awareness. Awareness and maybe a little well-intentioned guilt.

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Dr. John

Locked Down

The role of the record producer has always been somewhat mysterious to me. I mean, I think I have a pretty good idea of what they do — recruit backing musicians; oversee tracking, mixing and mastering; provide general creative direction, yadda, yadda, yadda — but when I was younger, I pictured the producer as a suit-wearing, arms-crossing grump who hung out in the control room, called people “baby” and yelled things like “You tell that sonofabitch that I’ll rip his head off and shit down his throat!” into a Zack Morris cell phone. Crazy, right? And I realize now that the linchpin that held this warped mental image together was the assumption that the producer was older, wiser and more powerful than the musicians.

Two recent albums have helped sweep away the few remaining shards of this ridiculous image, in large part because their producers are a whole generation younger than the artists they’re advising, and because the artists are already legends in the recording industry. The first of the albums was Mavis Staples’ You Are Not Alone, on which Jeff Tweedy of Wilco — 28 years her junior — has the producer’s credit (he wrote a few songs and played some guitar as well). In a way, it felt like he was curating as much as he was producing and participating, given Staples’ place in the soul canon and the reverence that Tweedy showed in all the interviews that accompanied the album’s release. The whole project had a wonderfully positive feeling to it, and the album itself is fantastic (I wrote a short post about it last May).

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