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The Musical Universe

 

On this week's episode, we feature your favorite Celtic artists including Nightnoise, Ossian, Liz Carroll and Moving Hearts, as they create musical impressions and notions of springtime.

Four years ago, Eels founder Mark Oliver Everett decided to take a break. After 25 years of making music, he says, "I got to the point where if you do any one thing too much in your life, it catches up to you and makes it clear that you need to do something else."

Sabrina Claudio is coyly shaping up to be one of R&B's newest leaders. The rising talent who released two impressive projects in 2017, About Time and Confidently Lost, and is back to build upon her short but consistent discography.

One of the keepers of modern-day psychedelic music doles out distinct styles to no fewer than five projects: There's the cavernous rawk of Comets on Fire (forever on hiatus), the Summer of Love re-imagined as Heron Oblivion, the punk-scuzz of Feral Ohms and the Beat poet solo guitar-noise of

Following its successful public listing yesterday, the music streaming service Spotify is now worth around $25 billion, making it the largest music company in the world — but when Spotify first débuted, back in 2008, it was reasonable to think it would fail.

The fruit borne from Cate Le Bon and White Fence's Tim Presley in the last few years have been strange and delightful hybrids — like little pluots of avant-pop and post-punk. Hermits on Holiday, their 2015 debut album together as Drinks, directly influenced Le Bon's 2016 album Crab Day and takes an adventurous left-turn that has nooks and crannies I'm still discovering.

Watch Nikki Lane Perform 'Right Time' At SXSW

Apr 4, 2018

Nikki Lane always commands a stage. Whether in the middle of the Austin Convention Center, in a dive bar 45 minutes out of town, or at Stagecoach Music Festival, she gives it her all every single time.

On Let's Make Love, Brazilian Girls' first record in a decade, "Karaköy" stands out for its timelessness and simplicity. It's a walk-skip along the ancient streets of its namesake neighborhood in Istanbul, with Sabina Sciubba's rich, gymnastic and apparently effortless voice left, right and center stage. When its chorus arrives, soft-washed trumpets in tow, Sciubba's volume rises to overpower them.

Fleetwood Mac's classic work has gotten a chart push from a piece of Internet virality centered around a clip of the Alcorn State University dance line, the Golden Girls.

The last time Dan Auerbach came to the Tiny Desk he brought a mariachi band (we supplied confetti cannons). That was our 500th performance at the Tiny Desk, with Dan playing alongside his band The Arcs.

Vocalist Eleanor Dubinsky is slowly, but steadily, building a body of work that consists of elegant and thoughtful songwriting that slides easily between genres and geography through top-notch musicianship, all in service to a voice that stopped me in my tracks when I first heard it. Her new album, Soft Spot Of My Heart, is her strongest work yet.

The world's most popular music streaming service, Spotify, went public today. Shares were expected to start trading around $130 each, but ranges for the opening price went as high as $169, and at the time of this writing its stocks were trading at $155, making the company worth about $27.4 billion. (You could safely expect these figures to fluctuate widely over the coming hours, days, weeks and months.)

Many artists wait for the day they can stop working as servers and make a full-time living as musicians. Today's guest, Nathaniel Rateliff, is a platinum-selling artist whose generosity onstage makes the music business seem like the service industry. Nathaniel pushes his vocal cords to their very brink, rips open his rib cage to share his heart and leads his seven bandmates with absolute passion – all in service of making sure his audience has a good time and feels something.

There is a ceiling-gazing quality to Juliana Daugherty's songs — that's not an attempt at coining a new, fake genre, but a functional image. Light is the singer's first solo album after playing around the Charlottesville, Va. folk scene. Having spent a little time with Light, I just want to curl up in a circle of pillows and stare upwards at eggshell paint that could so easily be cracked by the quiet and contemplative poetry Daugherty sings with gentle, but aching lilt.

Since Meek Mill returned to prison last fall over violations of his probation stemming from a 2007 firearm and drug arrest, members of the Philadelphia rapper's legal team have repeatedly impugned the credibility of Meek's presiding judge, Philadelphia Judge Genece Brinkley.

Since the early aughts, The Decemberists have been making a unique blend of lyrically dense indie-folk rock. But on the band's latest record, I'll Be Your Girl, the members deliberately switched up their sound, notably in their word economy and use of keyboards — Depeche Mode keyboards!

"This is me coming back full circle in my life," Dee Dee Bridgewater told NPR right before this Tiny Desk performance. Ever since her teenage years, she's wanted to make her latest album, Memphis... Yes, I'm Ready. Now, a gorgeous 67 years young, Bridgewater is connecting openly with her roots, her birthplace and the town she's loved all her life.

You know the kinds of teens and 20-somethings who listened to PJ Harvey and Sleater-Kinney and wore Mary-Jane Doc Martens with socks? The cool ones in those art films you saw in high school?

There is a fundamental audacity to Jesus Christ Superstar, which was staged as a live "concert" performance on NBC on Sunday night. First released as a concept album in 1970, the work by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice not only imagines a very human story behind the final days in the life of Jesus, but it focuses on that story even when it involves ugliness, vanity, and conflict. It posits that Jesus felt not only frustration, but even resentment and ambivalence — not only about his faith, but about his own followers. On the one hand, it's kind of an obvious choice for Easter.

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

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

Kacey Musgraves has long been known for her classic country confessional style combined with a pop sensibility.

For decades, DownBeat magazine has been entertaining jazz fans with their monthly feature called "Blindfold Test," in which they play recordings for a guest musicians and have them offer impressions without any information about who is playing. That's what we did with guest host Korva Coleman; eight tracks to choose from, four selected.

Editor's note on April 2, 2018: You may have figured this out already — this story was an April Fools' joke. It's not real. We hope you enjoyed it.

"Not all pianists are created in equal temperament," Robin Olson told a small but enthusiastic audience behind NPR Music's storied Tiny Desk. The pianist, hailed as an "avant-garde gewandhaus" by Berlin's Staubzeitung, is as celebrated for his cryptic maxims as he is for his inscrutable music.

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