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The Musical Universe

 

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael, Stefanie Fernández, Lars Gotrich, Stephen Thompson and World Cafe host Talia Schlanger for a quick run through the best new albums out on May 25. That includes the highly anticipated (and instant classic) Daytona from rapper Pusha-T, reggaetón hit maker J Balvin, raw and ragged rock from Thunderpussy, effervescent synth-pop from CHVRCHES and more.

Featured Albums

  • Thunderpussy, Thunderpussy

A couple nights before Donovan Woods came in to World Cafe I went to see his show in Philadelphia and I was standing next to a guy who had never heard of Woods before. Once the applause died down after the first song, the man said to himself, "Wow."

It was almost funny but also not surprising. I've seen this happen a bunch of times when I'm with somebody who hears Donovan's music for the first time. And I'm hoping that's what'll happen today on this show.

For two glorious weeks this month, the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. exploded with the vibrant sound, color and culture of the historic festival Artes de Cuba: From the Island to the World.

Maggie Rogers Returns With New Song, 'Fallingwater'

22 hours ago

The penumbra is the shadow beyond the shadow, its light only partially blocked by an object. Think of an eclipse, but only being able to experience the edge of it. Tsembla's "Penumbra" achieves a similar effect, its sound sources familiar, but obscured by some very chill electronic rhythms.

In the history of world domination schemes, there hasn't been a conqueror that took over the Earth in Spanish since Christopher Columbus. J Balvin is ready to reclaim the music world for his people.

There are billions of voices in the world, so it's a stretch to call any one of them "peerless." But through seven albums — not to mention a huge catalog of guest appearances, a record with k.d.

In 2015, Natalie Prass plumbed the depths of romantic heartbreak in grand fashion on her self-titled debut LP. Rife with lush string arrangements and nimble feats of vocal athleticism, it remains one of the rare albums truly deserving of the overused descriptor "cinematic." On her sophomore release The Future and The Past (out June 1 on ATO Records), the heartbreak is still there in spades, but the narrative — as well as the music itself — is somehow grander yet.

Categorizing an artist as a gospel singer conditions us to hear them a certain way. Though we're generations removed from when the ecstatic exertion and spiritualized showmanship of charismatic black church music profoundly influenced rhythm and blues, rock and roll and soul, we often still idealize the old sounds. That's especially true of roots-revering audiences, who expect performances that hold nothing back from contemporary, church-bred black singers and earnest white emulators alike.

The Thistle & Shamrock: A Gentle Revolution

May 23, 2018

After fading into obscurity, the Celtic harp made a steady resurgence beginning in the 1970s. We present an hour of inspirational sounds from harpers William Jackson, Wendy Stewart, Moya Brennan and Alan Stivell, the latter having been credited with sowing the seeds of this gentle revolution.

As people continue to feed more and more of their interior selves — our likes, dislikes, wants, needs, social cartographies — into digital networks that harvest and parse that information into profiles used to make money, a new frontier of monitoring that hones in on our physical features is ascendant.

Here's a hypothetical: Would you drop out of a prestigious school to pursue a music career? What if there was a huge buzz around your high school bedroom recordings — lush atmospheric pop with some of the most incisive lyrics about love and loss — that you never expected anyone to hear, but when people did hear it, they loved it?

Björk doesn't so much perform on a stage — she inhabits a space.

Colombian pop star Juanes and Chilean singer Mon Laferte recently wrapped up a sold-out tour of the United States, which (lucky for us) included a stop at the Tiny Desk.

Sony announced late Monday that it plans to acquire most of EMI Music Publishing, a deal that would give what is already the world's largest music publishing company control of more than 2.3 million compositions.

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TERRY GROSS, HOST:

The only antidote for the hell-in-a-handbasket blues is the stankiest of funks, and no one makes it stankier than George Clinton. The good doctor is here to prescribe Medicaid Fraud Dogg, the first album in 38 years from Parliament, the P-Funk empire's more soulful outfit.

Monsieur Periné has followed up its highly acclaimed sophomore album Caja de Música — which garnered the Bogota-based band a Latin Grammy for best new artist in 2015 as well as a 2016 Grammy nomination for best Latin rock, urban, or alternative album — with Encanto Tropical, a vision of tropical musical reveries.

Updated on Tuesday, Mar. 22 at 3:29 p.m. ET.

San Francisco-based Pllush makes hazy dream-pop that pairs emotionally wrought lyrics with maxed-out shoegaze guitars. The band has developed a dense, harmony-rich sound over the course of several releases — all, up until now, under the name Plush. For the release of Stranger to the Pain, its forthcoming album, the band has added the second l to its name, honed its pop melodies and sharpened its guitar-heavy sound.

A California startup that sought to revolutionize audio headphones, promising personalized devices that would produce sound "indistinguishable from reality," has found that raising interest among investors was easier than delivering the goods.

Ossic raised more than $3.2 million in crowdfunding for its Ossic X, which it touted as the "first 3D audio headphones calibrated to you."

Reggie Lucas, who entered his 20s as a guitarist in Miles Davis' touring band and would later help shape the multi-platinum debut of Madonna, died in the early hours of May 19 at the age of 65. The cause was advanced heart failure, his daughter, Lisa Lucas, confirmed to NPR.

Hurricane Maria made landfall in Puerto Rico in September 2017. Almost nine months later, some citizens remain without power or water, and a larger portion of the population still feels traumatized and abandoned.

Singer Meg Myers' exasperation with her former record label birthed the song "Numb." She wrote me to say that the song "is about how I was feeling when my (former) record company was looking for something out of me that just didn't feel right for many reasons. I was frustrated and it came through in this song."

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