October 14, 2009
Emerson Brown, NPR
FROM INDIE, JAZZ AND FOLK ARTISTS
AS PART OF "EXCLUSIVE FIRST LISTEN" SERIES
ENTIRE ALBUMS FROM THE SWELL SEASON,
MIGUEL ZENON AND BENJAMIN GIBBARD & JAY FARRAR
ALL AVAILABLE NOW AT NPR.ORG/MUSIC
Together as The Swell Season, Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova have produced another album full of understated drama with Strict Joy, available at NPR Music from October 13 to 27. The duo is best known for the award-winning soundtrack to Once, the hit indie movie in which they also co-starred. Strict Joy draws on musical and lyrical themes that will be pleasantly familiar to fans of the first album. Hansard's vocals are again showcased on haunting tracks that contrast gentle melodies with frank lyrics about relationships and hurt. The delicate piano by Irglova makes the painful emotion they conjure seem beautiful on an album that's both personal and universal. Hear the entire album here:
Alto saxophonist and composer Miguel Zenon's new album, Esta Plena, is available from October 13 to 20 at NPR Music. The highly acclaimed Zenon is a past winner of a Guggenheim grant, a founding member of the SFJazz Collective and a 2008 recipient of the MacArthur Foundation's "Genius Grant." Zenon has also toured and taught music in West Africa as a Kennedy Center Ambassador. On Esta Plena, he leads a quartet in spirited jazz infused with the playful sounds of his native Puerto Rico. The full album can be heard here:
Benjamin Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and Son Volt's Jay Farrar joined forces to create One Fast Move Or I'm Gone: Kerouac's Big Sur. The two met while recording songs for a documentary about Kerouac's life, and were inspired to continue their collaboration with a full album. Gibbard's well-known indie-pop style mixes with Farrar's flair for nontraditional country sounds on this collection of original songs based on Kerouac's 1962 novel, Big Sur. One Fast Move Or I'm Gone is being released this fall to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Kerouac's death, and will be available at NPR Music from October 14 to 20. Hear their collaboration here:
Complete track listings and album information are available at NPR Music, where there are also extensive archives of concerts, interviews and reviews with artists of all genres. NPR Music introduced its "Exclusive First Listen" series last year with Bob Dylan's 2-CD set Tell Tale Signs. The series is now one of the site's most popular features, and has offered pre-release streams of albums from artists such as Wilco, Bjork, Bill Frisell and the Dead Weather. Other albums currently available in the series include The Flaming Lips' Embryonic, Rosanne Cash's The List, and Nellie McKay's Normal as Blueberry Pie: A Tribute to Doris Day.
The "Exclusive First Listen" series is one feature of NPR Music, a free, multimedia music discovery Web site at www.npr.org/music. The site offers content from NPR and 12 NPR Member public radio stations, including live performances, studio sessions, first listens to new albums, interviews, reviews and blogs. The site's continuously expanding sections are dedicated to rock/pop/folk, classical, jazz/blues, world and urban music. NPR Music culls from NPR's and the stations' extensive music archives to present thousands of features; more than 250 new features are added to the site every month.