February 19, 2014 Ann Powers says that for the music lover searching for an immersive streaming service, newcomer Beats Music comes close to offering the complete package.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones' new album, Half the City, comes out Feb. 18.
David McClister/Courtesy of the artist
February 9, 2014 The band's music doesn't just mimic the soul sounds its members love; it regenerates the tradition. Half the City is the first major recorded statement from a band already growing into greatness.
Eric Church's new album, The Outsiders, comes out Feb. 11.
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February 2, 2014 As fun as his bold declarations can be, the country star's depth comes from his ruminative side; his decade-long slow rise has made him as flexible as he is determined. The greatest thing about The Outsiders is its range, both in sound and in the stories Church tells.
Kendrick Lamar and Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons onstage during the 56th Grammy Awards.
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
January 27, 2014 On the Grammy stage, winners and performers had to deal with the sometimes-uncomfortable will of the show's mainstream tastes. Questions of appropriation and access dogged the show, but a few times, meaningful alliance shone through.
Robert Ellis' new album, The Lights From the Chemical Plant, comes out Feb.11.
Courtesy of the artist
January 26, 2014 Ellis eludes categorization within either mainstream country or Americana music by going the route of both formats' greatest maverick craftsmen.
Hurray For The Riff Raff's Alynda Lee Segarra.
Joshua Shoemaker/Courtesy of the artist
January 23, 2014 The New Orleans-based bandleader Alynda Lee Segarra talks about the wide range of political and musical inspirations — from her Puerto Rican background to the Occupy movement and women's rights in India — behind her band's new album, Small Town Heroes.
Laura Cantrell's new album, No Way There From Here, comes out Jan. 28.
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January 19, 2014 Cantrell, who was born in Tennessee, is one of the stylists who defined Americana music as we now know it when she first emerged in 2000. But she's an urbanite, too, interested in expressing how the simple life gets thornier when your country dreams must adapt to the possibilities and problems of life in a metropolis.
Bruce Springsteen performing in November at Madison Square Garden.
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January 15, 2014 In a one-hour-plus interview with NPR Music's Ann Powers, The Boss talks about his latest album, says the current version of the E Street Band is "the best it's ever been" and shares lessons he learned from his musical heroes as well as playlists full of new music.
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Rosanne Cash's The River & The Thread comes out Jan. 14.
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January 5, 2014 Each song on Cash's new album is rooted in the Southern soil connecting her family's old homestead in Arkansas to its ancestral Virginia homeland, expanding to survey its artistic roots in Alabama and Tennessee. Some narratives are fictional, while others mine family lore.
Karin Dreijer Andersson and Olof Dreijer from Swedish electronic music duo The Knife perform live on stage at Lowlands festival in Biddinghuizen, Netherlands in August.
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January 1, 2014 In a rare audio interview, the Swedish electronic duo reveals how its latest album, Shaking The Habitual, is an extension of the philosophy that "everything is politicized."
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Bard Ylvisaker (L) and Vegard Ylvisaker of Ylvis perform "The Fox (What Does The Fox Say?)" in September.
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December 23, 2013 At the end of a year in which pop songs were a constant, provocative part of the national conversation, NPR Music critic Ann Powers sifts through the 100 most popular songs of the year to highlight 10 pure pop pleasures worth remembering.
December 16, 2013 The year in music included so many outstanding songs and albums by women that it's easy to come up with an all-female top 10.
Lorde performs in Sydney, Australia, in October.
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December 5, 2013 The story of 2013's wild-haired teenage pop phenomenon has more than a few parallels with the 1991 emergence of grunge kingpins Nirvana, but recast for the millennial age.
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Jake Bugg's new album, Shangri La, comes out Nov. 19.
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November 14, 2013 The 19-year-old Bugg is both a rebel and a natural-born hitmaker, expressing anger, hope and the desire for change within melodies that sound totally right for the radio.
Chiwetel Ejiofor as Solomon Northup in 12 Years a Slave.
Courtesy of Fox Searchlight
November 13, 2013 Director Steve McQueen semi-submerged a narrative that roots out the way music has fed both racism and the fight against it, from the time in which his hero Solomon Northup lived to the present.
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