In an age of digital files, does handpicking and handing someone a music mix still matter?
Leah Tihia/via Flickr
January 31, 2013 In an age of digital files, does handpicking and handing someone a music mix still matter? Also, advice for a Mumford & Sons fan looking to branch out with some like-minded bands.
Of Montreal performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Dec. 14, 2012.
January 28, 2013 Frontman Kevin Barnes has been working on quiet material, and decided to try it out in the intimate confines of the NPR Music offices. The result is a rarely heard side of a band for whom theatricality has long been a means of expression rather than an end unto itself.
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Jim James' Regions of Light and Sound of God comes out Feb. 5.
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January 27, 2013 On his first full-length solo album, My Morning Jacket's singer makes the sound of a lost soul in search of something bigger than himself. James has always liked to let his voice echo into the void, but here, his attention seems to face inward instead of heavenward.
Thao & The Get Down Stay Down's new album, We the Common, comes out Feb. 5.
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January 27, 2013 Quirky but cutting, playful but forceful, controlled but ragged, Thao Nguyen infuses her songs with electricity and mischievous boldness. Her third album is full of tense, clattering folk-rock.
Richard Thompson's Electric comes out Feb. 5.
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January 27, 2013 The title of Thompson's 21st solo album promises a change of pace while doubling as a mission statement. And, sure enough, the record finds the great guitarist, singer and songwriter plugging in and indulging his rock 'n' roll side, complete with occasional solos that qualify as workouts.
January 24, 2013 What's the best way to listen to music without letting it seep harmlessly into the ether? Plus, tips for selecting music that will complement but not overwhelm a small dinner party.
Buke and Gase's new album, General Dome, comes out Jan. 29.
Grant Cornett/Courtesy of the artist
January 20, 2013 Arone Dyer and Aron Sanchez maneuver their homemade instruments through songs that rumble and clamor and grind with unmistakable electricity. For the duo, strange instrumentation is merely a means to a raucous, hypnotic, alluring end.
Blaudzun's U.S. debut, Heavy Flowers, comes out Jan. 29.
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January 20, 2013 Pretty and eccentric, ornate but never cluttered, Blaudzun's songs alternately boom and swoon, even when they bypass strings in favor of a warm, simple sound. Dutch singer-songwriter Johannes Sigmond, who records as Blaudzun, has a voice ideally suited for grandiosity.
Unknown Mortal Orchestra's new album, II, comes out Feb. 5.
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January 20, 2013 The band's sound shape-shifts frequently through the worlds of brittle indie-pop, Nuggets-era retro psych-rock, vintage soul and something more alien. II traffics in, and thrives on, its air of strangeness and unknowability, but that makes its moments of shimmery warmth that much sweeter.
January 16, 2013 What do you do with a classic album when everyone on earth seems to love it except you? Plus, tips on how to answer that most vexing of questions, "What music do you like?"
Black Prairie performs a Tiny Desk Concert on Nov. 9, 2012.
January 14, 2013 With three members of The Decemberists, the band lends a snappy, lilting quality to songs of alienation. Hear Black Prairie perform richly layered versions of songs from last year's A Tear in the Eye Is a Wound in the Heart.
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Widowspeak's new album, Almanac, comes out Jan. 22.
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January 13, 2013 Widowspeak is a fount of familiar sounds, from early-'90s shoegazer rock to twangily portentous Western soundtracks to the languidly soft pop of Mazzy Star's Hope Sandoval. But the music possesses a dreamy pop sound of its own.
Aaron Neville's My True Story comes out on Jan. 22.
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January 13, 2013 An album of doo-wop covers, My True Story is painstakingly engineered to transcend trends. It's not trying to make its source material sound contemporary so much as dislodge it from its time capsule and free it to drift across eras.
How do you pick a song for a father and daughter's wedding dance without spiraling into sappiness?
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January 10, 2013 Tips on a sap-free wedding dance, and ways to balance current favorites with the music of our youth.
The Lone Bellow's self-titled debut comes out Jan. 22.
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January 6, 2013 The band's music has commercial cachet to spare, as the roots-pop rumble of Mumford & Sons mixes agreeably with the more emotionally resonant folk-rock belting of The Swell Season or The Civil Wars.
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