91.5 KRCC MUSIC NEWLETTER

I've just finished Mikel Jollett's memoir, Hollywood Park, and it's extraordinary. Mikel is best known as the front person in the band The Airborne Toxic Event, but his journey to his current life is both stunning and sad. The book opens with him as a child raised in a cult known as Synanon.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

As cities and states slowly reopen, the live music industry remains mostly dormant. That’s the case in Washington, D.C., where gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited and the spread of COVID-19 is still a major concern.

Many music venues are hoping the government will offer support, but in the meantime, they are considering other ways to survive.

WAMU’s Mikaela Lefrak reports.

Twenty years ago, life was hard for a rock fan. On the radio, corporate pop and slick R&B reigned. Justin, Britney and Christina were rising, straight from Mickey Mouse Club finishing school, trained to give red carpet quotes to Carson Daly on TRL. Grunge had been reduced to a lifestyle concept, used to sell Smashing Pumpkins t-shirts and cheap flannels at Hot Topics in malls across America. Spin magazine had Mark McGrath and Matchbox 20 on the cover. Pitchfork barely existed, still just some online thing a dude from Chicago ran out of his bedroom.

The sister band HAIM is synonymous with the sound of Los Angeles — sunny, airy and wistful. After a two-month delay due to the coronavirus, sisters Este, Danielle and Alana finally get to share their third record, Women in Music Pt. III, with their fans. NPR's Scott Detrow spoke to the Haim sisters about creating a record that's a little less sun and a little bit more shade as they explore some of the darker challenges that each sister has faced lately. Listen in the audio player above.

Dirty Projectors: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Jul 6, 2020

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

On July 4, 1970, the countdown started. Originally hosted by Casey Kasem, American Top 40 played "the best selling and most-played songs from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Canada to Mexico," as he stated on the first program broadcast 50 years ago as of tomorrow.

On any given week, American Top 40 could feature a ballad, next to a country song, next to a funk song, next to a rock song. The show became a national obsession but 50 years ago, it was considered a risky idea.

All around the country, NPR member stations are not only a vital source of news but music, arts and culture, too. We are grateful that music stations never stopped providing their unique blend of programming for listeners during this ongoing pandemic. They also provided critical support for their local music economies.

We usually ask our stations to pick songs that are in heavy rotation on their broadcast logs for this series. But given that we're halfway through 2020, we wanted to know our station's favorite songs of the year so far.

Updated at 9:45 a.m. on Friday, July 3.

Sufjan Stevens has announced a new album, The Ascension, out September 25.

Songs don't necessarily mean something different now than they did before this roller coaster of a year started clicking down its one-way track, but you'll forgive us if we act like they do. Perhaps it's just that our needs over the first six months of 2020 have been more intense, but the songs to which we've turned have met them. These rallying cries, these tiny vacations, these serotonin infusions, these distillations of pain and strength and comfort, confirm the power and flexibility of this form.

Sudan Archives is a truly singular artist, inspired by Irish and African music, especially Sudanese music. The first time I saw her was in a crowd of people at Cheer Up Charlies during SXSW in March of 2018. The show was wild and wonderful: effects pedals transformed her violin into a full-on band, with electronic beats keeping it all moving.

New Orleans music history is played out by an ensemble cast, as colorful, diverse and dynamic as a Sunday-afternoon second line. No single lineage can quite unlock the ongoing magic that remains far more than the sum of its parts. But one essential thread, which began before rock and roll and stretched past the birth of hip-hop, is the legacy of queer performers and tastemakers — from Bobby Marchan to James Booker to Big Freedia — who steered the sounds and the scenes.

Our Daily Breather was a daily series where we asked writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic, which concluded on June 12, 2020. Here, we've collected some of the music recommendations that artists have shared with us throughout the series.


Angelica Garcia Finds Sanctuary In Ranchera Music

Phoebe Bridgers is the first to admit that she's not reinventing herself on her new album. "There's nothing avant-garde about it," she says of Punisher, her second solo record and fourth major musical project in the last three years. Even so, there's a quiet, assertive power to Punisher.

Love In Abundance: A Guide To Women's Music

Jun 17, 2020

If the first time you ever heard the phrase "women's music" was during the episode of the Amazon Original show Transparent in which the main character, a transgender woman, attends a music festival and finds herself enmeshed in a debate about gender and the right to inclusion, you know something about one aspect of a larger story. Women's music is its own genre, with a history that goes back more than 50 years.

Now, About The Bad Name I Gave My Band

Jun 17, 2020

What kind of a*****e would name his band Drive-By Truckers? A valid question, if you ask me. I'm the person responsible for it.

Queer As Punk: A Guide To LGBTQIA+ Punk

Jun 15, 2020

Punk rock has 101 origin stories, and most of them are true. After all, punk rock springs from a myriad of local scenes, and is as much about the music as it is about the venues where it is performed, the audiences and listeners who participate in its performance, clothes and style, politics and approaches to the world.

Days after George Floyd was killed by police, my 25-year-old son woke up on the verge of tears. "It is difficult to find the right words to express the degree of anger, helplessness and pain I feel towards the constant state-sanctioned terrorism toward black people in America," he wrote. In response, he curated a mix — "Fighting the Anger" — to help him work through his feelings and shared it for anyone who needed the energy.

Updated at 4:00 p.m. ET

On Wednesday morning, the Recording Academy, which gives out the Grammy Awards, announced a few changes to the prizes — and to the way it structures its voting process. On social media, critics and fans immediately took up debating the most obvious shifts.

Since its inception in 2014, the Tiny Desk Contest has introduced us to so many talented up-and-coming artists.

As technology evolves, so does protest. Awareness of George Floyd's killing at the hands of Minneapolis police officers could only inspire an international grassroots movement because a teenager, Darnella Frazier, decided to record his arrest using her phone and post it to social media. Activists are organizing marches and rallies on Twitter and Instagram, even as they warn participants to be careful of surveillance on those platforms.

A day after the music industry blacked itself out en masse, Warner Music Group, one of the world's three major record labels, announced today that it is back to business in a big way. But not as usual. As of today, the conglomerate will be a publicly traded company.

Amidst widespread protests against the very systems that Killer Mike and El-P rap about tearing down, Run the Jewels released its fourth album, RTJ4, by surprise at 12 p.m. ET Wednesday, June 3. The album is available on streaming services and as a free download on the group's website.

 

The band Perfume Genius is out with a new album called “Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.”

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Don Bryant

Where: Memphis, Tenn.

Recommendation: Picking up an instrument and playing your favorite songs

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.


"We're not doing my original songs," Rhiannon Giddens says, before she and her partner, Francesco Turrisi, launch into an old spiritual, "'cause with these kinds of emotions, the old songs say it best."

Today we're sharing an incredible story that Mikel Jollett, the lead singer of The Airborne Toxic Event, has chronicled both in the written word and in song. Jollett had a pretty dramatic childhood: He was born into a cult called Synanon and had to go on the run with biological mother.

The Tiny Desk is working from home for the foreseeable future. Introducing NPR Music's Tiny Desk (home) concerts, bringing you performances from across the country and the world. It's the same spirit — stripped-down sets, an intimate setting — just a different space.

When Jason Molina died in 2013, the 39-year-old singer-songwriter left behind a mountain of works: wrenching solo albums, released under his own name and as Songs: Ohia, as well as louder electric recordings with his band Magnolia Electric Co. In 2007, Molina had amassed such a backlog of unreleased songs that he by

Our Daily Breather is a series where we ask writers and artists to recommend one thing that's helping them get through the days of isolation during the coronavirus pandemic.

Who: Phoebe Bridgers

Where: Los Angeles, Calif.

Recommendation: Sending the text or making the call that you've been putting off

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