Music

Sturgill Simpson's appearance on the season premiere of Saturday Night Live this weekend was his chance to show a national television audience why he's up for a Grammy Award against Adele, Beyoncé, Drake and Justin Bieber — and the man did not blow it.

By now you should be pretty excited about the upcoming Grandaddy album, the group's first in more than a decade. Back in October, when the band announced it'd be releasing the long-awaited full-length Last Place, it shared the track "Way We Won't," a song so true to Grandaddy's sound it could have easily come from any of the group's earliest albums.

The 2017 Tiny Desk Contest is now open! Starting today, I'll be watching your videos in search of the next great undiscovered artist to play at the Tiny Desk. And I won't be doing it alone. Our team of judges includes these fantastic musicians:

Country music luminary Jessi Colter has only released one album since the 2002 passing of her husband, Waylon Jennings, the Don Was-produced Out of the Ashes, which came out in 2006. Now a second one is due.

The three women in The Wild Reeds love a good crescendo. They have three powerful upfront voices in Sharon Silva, Kinsey Lee and Mackenzie Howe and they all write songs to honor and embrace their soaring voices. Since their Tiny Desk Concert a little more than a year ago, over a half of a million people have seen it on our YouTube Channel.

This year's Winter Jazzfest, which took place last week in New York City, presented an explicit theme of "Celebrating Social Justice." Conceptually and musically, Winter Jazzfest pushes the genre forward; after taking in as many of the 130-plus acts across many stages in Manhattan and Brooklyn as they could, our team reported back with some of the festival's highlights.


"Stories like forests are subject to seasons."

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

When Agalloch broke up last May, it came down to a classic struggle over direction between the band's founder and the musicians who'd made it such a creative and somewhat mystical force in black metal. Aesop Dekker, Don Anderson and Jason Walton have since formed Khôrada with Giant Squid's Aaron Gregory, and are currently working on their debut album. Pillorian, the new band from guitarist and vocalist John Haughm, features members of Maestrus and Uada, and has just released its first single.

The latest single from Bonobo's upcoming album, Migration, is a brooding, four-on-the-floor dance thumper featuring vocals from Nick Murphy (formerly known as Chet Faker). At first, "No Reason" seems to drift into focus from another dimension, glittering with Murphy's delicate falsetto over gently arpeggiated synths. But the mood makes a subtle shift toward something darker and edgier once the beat kicks in.

NPR's YouTube channel, Skunk Bear, answers your science questions. This week, we picked one in honor of David Bowie.

The world music festival globalFEST, held every year in New York, is regarded as a snapshot of rising acts in international music. It's also quite a scene: Music industry professionals make up a large portion of the crowd, and they're all there to scope out which acts from Africa, Asia, South America, Europe and beyond might just be hot in the next couple of years.

The Joshua Tree, the album that made U2 global megastars, turns 30 this year. To mark the milestone, the band will perform the seminal album in its entirety at several live performances scheduled throughout the year, including a headlining spot at Bonnaroo in June.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LOURDES GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

Smokey Hormel's great-grandfather George Hormel started the famous meat company bearing the family name. His grandfather invented Spam. But Hormel — and yes, Smokey is his real given name — says he was never much interested in the family business.

Classical composers have long had their patrons: Beethoven had Archduke Rudolph, John Cage had Betty Freeman. For contemporary opera composers, there's Beth Morrison. She and her production company have commissioned new works from some of the most innovative emerging composers today.

Georges Prêtre, the French conductor with a seven-decade career that included close associations with Maria Callas and many of the world's top orchestras, died Wednesday in France at age 92.

The Shins are back with the group's first new album since 2012's Port Of Morrow. Heartworms is set to drop on March 10 on Aural Apothecary/Columbia Records. In making the announcement today, the band shared the joyfully infectious pop cut "Name For You" and a lyric video.

Swedish pop artist Jens Lekman is back with his first new album in nearly five years. The singer, known for his darkly comical storytelling, says he'll release the calypso- and disco-inspired Life Will See You Now later this year. In making the announcement he shared the album's first single, "What's That Perfume That You Wear?," a playful, up-tempo tale about lost love and the ways a certain smell can spark a rush of memories.

Brian Eno's new ambient work, Reflection, is just that: 54 minutes of what sounds like plinking chimes, rippling vibraphone and deep synth tones mirroring a parallel world. Released on Jan.

John Grant is not your run-of-the-mill singer-songwriter. He's a superstar overseas, but he's relatively unknown in the U.S., where he was born. He lives in Iceland and speaks four languages. He's openly gay. And he's HIV positive, as well as a recovering alcoholic and drug addict.

Ben Johnston doesn't follow the rules of music. Sure, he's got degrees from two colleges and a conservatory. But from an early age, Johnston heard music differently. When he was growing up in Georgia, he questioned the standard scales he was taught in school. "I played by ear and I invented my own chords," he says.

In the last week of 2016, Songs We Love is featuring just a few of the songs that, for whatever reason, never got their due this year.

The clarinet and guitar are common enough instruments, but you've probably never heard them sound quite like this. In the hands of guitarist Golfam Khayam and clarinetist Mona Matbou Riahi, the instruments breathe together in music that borrows melody and improvisation from their Iranian homeland and classical structures from the West.

George Michael: A Father Figure For Political Pop

Dec 27, 2016

Sunday, January 1, 2017 @ 11 a.m. on 91.3 & 92.7
New Year's Day From Vienna 2017

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JINGLE BELLS")

FRANK SINATRA: (Singing) Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way. Oh, what fun it is to ride in a one-horse open sleigh.

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

"What did you get from Santa, honey?"

We dropped a classic today (what)
We did a tablet of acid today
Lit joints with the matches and ashes away
SKRRRT! We dash away
Donner and Dixon, the pistol is wrapped on the way

One of the most celebrated of all Christmas traditions comes to HQR News and Classical HQR on Christmas Eve, Saturday at 10 am: The annual Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols, live from King's College in Cambridge, England. Please join us for this joyous celebration, heard on both stations at 10 am, and repeated on Classical HQR at 5 pm.

Pages