Indie 102.3

Beyoncé's highly anticipated new project, Black Is King has arrived (on Disney+). Deemed "a celebratory memoir for the world on the Black experience" in a press release, Black Is King includes a cast of notable and familiar faces, such Lupita Nyong'o, Kelly Rowland, Pharrell Williams and JAY-Z, and moves across the world — New York, Los Angeles, South Africa, West Africa, London and Belgium — to capture the performances of actors and dancers as they appear in varied tableaus.

Around the country, many communities are struggling with the effects of the pandemic, economic uncertainty and civil unrest. But despite the tremendous challenges, there are still steady broadcasts coming out of our treasured public radio music stations. Since March, they haven't missed a beat. With some DJs working from home and others having to go to work at their stations, they provide a much needed resource: a respite from the news, a friendly voice that fills a room, the sound of hope that one day this stressful time will be behind us and of course, music.

It's called The Go-Go's.

That's it. Just The Go-Go's. The new Showtime documentary about the first all-woman group to write their own songs, play their own instruments and snag a #1 hit doesn't come with a subtitle. That's notable because subtitles, in documentaries, often serve as thesis statements, organizing principles, saying, here is the throughline, the thematic infrastructure, of this film.

For Tiny Desk Playlists, we ask musicians, creators and folks we admire to choose the Tiny Desk concerts they've come to love. For this edition, All Things Considered Host Ari Shapiro picks his five favorite performances.

Taylor Swift was supposed to spend this summer touring songs from Lover, the album she put out last August. Instead, like many of us, she wound up cooped up at home. The isolation seems to have sparked her creativity, leading her to write and record an entirely new record in collaboration with producers Jack Antonoff and The National's Aaron Dessner.

Valida Carroll, a DJ at KCRW in Santa Monica California, shares her four picks of the moment from a funny Chromeo release to a powerful Sam Cooke rendition by Marieme, and more.

Music From The Segment

Marieme, “A Change Is Gonna Come”

Each year, the Tiny Desk Contest receives entries from all 50 states — and that's thanks in part to help from our friends at NPR Member stations. This year, the Contest introduced us to so many new artists and brought us new songs from previous entrants we love. Today, we're sharing some great entries chosen by Member stations across the country.

Lenny Kravitz: Tiny Desk (Home) Concert

Jul 20, 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.

Leenalchi's first album is about a turtle.

The day Margo Price walked into the studio to start recording her new album, That's How Rumors Get Started, she had butterflies in her stomach, a mixture of excitement, trepidation — and morning sickness.

"I definitely was not expecting to be pregnant," she says. "I had planned to go into the studio regardless of what was happening in my personal life."

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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

Andrew Watt is one of pop music's hottest hired guns. The 29-year-old has written and produced for megastars including Post Malone, Cardi B, Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez. His calling card is blending of-the-moment pop with a rock aesthetic. Last month, shortly after recovering from COVID-19, he played guitar while Miley Cyrus covered Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" on Saturday Night Live.

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