Music

OK Go's latest (and astonishing) video, for the song "The One Moment," took only 4.2 seconds to film. But the whole thing — a series of rapid-fire explosions — was slowed down to fill the four-plus minutes it takes the band to sing the song. Remarkably, like OK Go's previous videos, the group manages to sync the whole thing using... I don't know, math?

A Queen Among Kings

Nov 21, 2016

The first time I ever saw Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings perform was circa 2002 at the Elbo Room, a tiny venue in San Francisco's Mission District. If you've ever been there, you know the Elbo Room doesn't need many bodies to pack the floor, and with the Dap-Kings crowding the diminutive stage, the full intensity of their act filled the space from practically the first note. I was already familiar with the group through its early records, but hadn't fully appreciated how much power Jones could pack into her stout, 5-foot frame as she sang, sweated, stamped, strutted, slayed.

Think about the classic Disney animated movies, and you may just start humming a song. Director Ron Clements says the pairing of music and film goes back to Disney's early animated films, projects like Steamboat Willie and Silly Symphonies.

Classical music observers say we're living in a golden age of string quartets. It's hard to disagree when you hear the vibrant young players in New York's Attacca Quartet.

In a society increasingly filled with self-delusion, there are still times when the roles individuals see themselves playing can unlock astonishing insights about who they are.

Mose Allison had a sharp eye for the way the world works, and doesn't. The pianist, singer and composer's acerbic lyrics, syncopated piano playing and distinctive southern drawl were beloved by jazz fans — and by the British rockers who covered his songs, from The Who to The Clash to Van Morrison.

In the summer of '65, Leonard Cohen, the great poet-singer who died last week, spent many happy hours in a warehouse by the St Lawrence River in his hometown, Montreal. As he watched the boats go by, his friend, a young bohemian dancer named Suzanne Verdal, whose warehouse it was, served him tea and oranges that came all the way from China.

Brian Eno is back with another ambient record. Called Reflection, it's due out Jan. 1 on Warp Records and consists of a single, 54-minute track. While Eno isn't sharing any samples of Reflection for now, he says it's similar to his 1985 album Thursday Afternoon, a moody, meditative record that was one 60-minute track.

In a prepared statement, Eno describes Reflector as a "generative" work because the sounds "make themselves."

Ty Segall's next album, which will be self-titled, is due out Jan. 27, 2017, on Drag City. It comes just over a year after Segall released his previous full-length, Emotional Mugger.

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Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Leon Russell has died in Nashville at the age of 74. His wife, Jan, said through an intermediary that the legendary musician and songwriter had died Sunday in his sleep in Nashville.

Music in Exile is a recording project that collects songs and stories from people displaced by humanitarian crisis. Alex Ebsary, a member of the Music in Exile team, explains that its mandate is straightforward: "What we do is go around, either to refugee camps or to places that we know there will be refugees or internally displaced Iraqis, and try to find musicians," he says. "They can be anyone, from somebody who knows how to sing a few songs to professionals."

A year ago today, terrorists attacked six locations in Paris, killing 130 people. Most of them were shot during a rock concert at a venue called the Bataclan. The attacks led to heightened security throughout Europe, and they've also led to some changes in how rock bands tour.

The xx is back with new music, and it feels like this wonderfully languid band may have just received a shot of adrenaline.

Note: NPR's First Listen audio comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page.

How Shirley Collins Got Her Voice Back

Nov 5, 2016

In a surprising press release NBC announced Friday that Dave Chappelle will host Saturday Night Live on Nov. 12 with musical guest A Tribe Called Quest. This will be the first episode after the presidential election, and an SNL debut for both Chappelle and A Tribe Called Quest.

Joyce DiDonato is one of the most acclaimed opera singers of her generation; this year, she won the Grammy for Best Classical Vocal Solo. Her latest album, In War and Peace: Harmony Through Music, is a collection of baroque arias from the 17th and 18th centuries divided into two sections — one addressing war, the other, peace.

More than a year ago, the world first heard the official cast recording of the most successful Broadway musical in recent memory. The album would ultimately go double-platinum and top Billboard's rap chart, owing in part to fired-up fans hitting repeat, memorizing lyrics and absorbing the show's richly textured world.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the CMA Awards, show producers worked a truly impressive number of performers into the Nov. 2 telecast, utilizing everything from moving medleys to photo montages and mentions of legends seated in the audience.

The Italian pianist and composer Ludovico Einaudi brought in a full band for a stunning live performance. He has a giant global following — and for good reason, as demonstrated by this rendition of his piece "Petricor."

SET LIST

  • "Petricor"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW. Watch Ludovico Einaudi's full Morning Becomes Eclectic set at KCRW.com.

When Maggie Rogers brought Pharrell to tears with her electro-pop earworm "Alaska" last summer, fans of the viral hit quickly scoured the web for more music from the young musician, but came up mostly empty handed.

Calling themselves "an accidental brass quartet," the members of The Westerlies, like the prevailing winds, blew east to New York from their hometown of Seattle, where they were childhood friends.

HBO's new Westworld series is only five episodes deep, but the sci-fi western has already established itself as a reliable source for musical easter eggs. Nearly every episode has featured a player piano in the background clinking out versions of popular rock songs. The slightly out-of-tune instrumentals end up sounding like something Scott Joplin might have played.

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