April 30, 2012 The New York band Hospitality makes music that's unmistakably friendly and welcoming — it's hug-and-a-handshake pop that lives up to its name by jangling and chiming comfortably. The group doesn't overwhelm so much as it wears listeners down with a subtle charm offensive.
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Sara Watkins' new album, Sun Midnight Sun, comes out May 8.
Aaron Redfield/Courtesy of the artist
April 29, 2012 As accessible and comfortably sweet-voiced as Watkins' music is, the former Nickel Creek member is smart enough to spike it with surprises — the swooping strings in "The Ward Accord" or the churning, slow-burning electric-guitar grind in "When It Pleases You."
April 26, 2012 NPR's Stephen Thompson explains why, for a football fan, the endless spectacle of the NFL Draft is one of the greatest weekends of the year.
Santigold's new album, Master Of My Make-Believe, comes out May 1.
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April 22, 2012 The album, out May 1, has its playfully bouncy moments, but its overall tone is one of severity, even solemnity. It's as if pop music caught up with Santigold's sound, and she tacked left to avoid the glare.
Damon Albarn's new album, Dr Dee, comes out May 8.
Courtesy of the artist
April 22, 2012 The Blur and Gorillaz singer has recorded a willfully obscure folk opera, full of baroque flourishes, spoken asides, unsettling rhythm tracks, guest vocalists and hairpin turns that lead down unpredictable cul de sacs.
The Soweto Gospel Choir performs a Tiny Desk Concert on February 14, 2011.
April 16, 2012 Singing in a number of South African languages, as well as English, Soweto Gospel Choir fuses the praise music of many Christian cultures, with nods to traditional African songs of celebration — complete with occasional clicks and bird songs.
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Norah Jones' new album, Little Broken Hearts, comes out May 1.
Frank Ockenfels/Courtesy of the artist
April 15, 2012 Ten years after her debut, Jones is ideally positioned for the subtle sonic makeover she undergoes on Little Broken Hearts, which she recorded with producer Danger Mouse.
Sarah Jaffe's new album, The Body Wins, comes out April 24.
Dylan Hollingsworth/Courtesy of the artist
April 15, 2012 Produced by John Congleton, The Body Wins busies up Jaffe's sound to a remarkable degree — and, more importantly, retains her cool ability to shape-shift from warm vulnerability to icy distance and back again as it suits her.
April 11, 2012 Those seeking silence at SXSW usually have to reserve time in a sensory-deprivation chamber or a hotel bathroom, but The Magnetic Fields' hold on a crowd is powerful enough to yield that rare sound.
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April 11, 2012 The Fiona Apple on stage at Stubb's for NPR Music's showcase at the SXSW music festival was more commanding than enigmatic, conveying vulnerability in her vibrato but otherwise full of confidence.
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Spiritualized's new album, Sweet Heart Sweet Light, comes out April 17.
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April 8, 2012 Spiritualized's seventh album reaches reverently for something bigger than itself — something divine, of course, but also shot through with the gut-level, ground-level hope inherent in humankind.
Horse Feathers' new album, Cynic's New Year, comes out April 17.
John Clark/Courtesy of the artist
April 8, 2012 On the band's fourth album, the tension between gorgeousness and grief gets a single line to sum it all up: "Beauty and loss, they are one and the same."
April 5, 2012 Edwards isn't a flashy singer-songwriter, but her music sticks: Easygoing and accessible, it burrows in deep and then stays put. In the NPR Music offices, she sings four sweet, warm, relatable songs that soothe as they nourish.
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Just think of all the memories being made. Jim Simandl writes over email, "The theme song of our prom was 'On the Wings of Love' by Jeffrey Osborne; hence the winged paper doves on the backdrop."
Courtesy of Jim Simandl
April 4, 2012 Prom is eternal, and music helps tell the story, whether you dressed up or spent the night at home.
Alabama Shakes' first full-length album, Boys and Girls, comes out April 10.
Autumn de Wilde/Courtesy of the artist
April 1, 2012 The band's blues-rock errs on the side of saving its breath and making big songs on a small scale. On Boys and Girls, out April 10, Alabama Shakes' members find a way to fuse the impeccable professionalism of soul veterans to the youthful, raging fire they set on stage.
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