September 26, 2006 Sera Cahoone has played drums for Band of Horses and Carissa's Wierd (sic), two groups whose music can be majestically beautiful, wrenchingly powerful or both. None of their output, however, provides reason to expect Cahoone's solo work to drift into territory as soothing as her gorgeous, breezily hypnotic "Couch Song."
September 6, 2006 During a hiatus from The Frames, Glen Hansard recorded The Swell Season with Czech singer Marketa Irglova, and the result aches and swoons behind lovely arrangements. A longtime master of sublimely melodramatic sad-bastard music, Hansard finds words of hard-won hope and comfort on "Falling Slowly."
August 31, 2006 Often recalling the rustic delicacy of Iron and Wine — if it were soaked in strings and robbed of some of its stark clarity — Horse Feathers' music radiates homey intimacy, as Peter Broderick fleshes out Justin Ringle's voice and guitar with all manner of warmly unamplified instrumentation.
August 24, 2006 Musicians often chronicle the anguish, adjustments and small triumphs associated with a relationship's end. But few capture the emotional rawness and suffocating isolation quite as powerfully as Lisa Germano's "Too Much Space."
August 17, 2006 Adem's "Spirals" opens on a tiny scale before looking ever farther outward, drawing parallels between intertwined galaxies and people in love. In the process, the sweet ballad magnifies the way a small gesture of affection can reverberate with a force that's impossible to quantify.
August 9, 2006 "I lived low enough so the moon wouldn't waste its light on me," Jason Molina sings on "Get Out Get Out Get Out," ornamented by a plodding drum-machine beat and a few minimalist strums on an acoustic guitar. It's the singer at his bleakly hypnotic best.
August 3, 2006 Shedding the prickly remoteness that has made him an acquired taste, Eric Bachmann crafts a collection that pairs his gruff, world-weary lyrics with a newfound approachability. That's not to suggest, however, that Bachmann has lost his gift for grimness.
July 31, 2006 For NPR.org's Stephen Thompson, the 25th birthday of MTV brings up memories of his own appearance on the network, co-hosting an episode of Alternative Nation with Kennedy in 1993. The details of what transpired during those moments can only be known by Thompson and a few close friends, who are still laughing.
July 13, 2006 A vivid and unnerving ode to vampirism, Chad VanGaalen's "Red Hot Drops" does an exceptional job capturing its subject's sinister allure — the surrender and ease of "draining with no pain" — before rupturing into a rare moment of oddly funky release.
July 5, 2006 By the time he turned 20, Micah P. Hinson had stared down drug problems, jail time, homelessness and financial ruin. His background goes a long way toward explaining the depth of the appreciation he conveys on his warm and wonderful "The Day the Volume Won."
June 27, 2006 Grant-Lee Phillips' nineteeneighties would seem to be an odd creative detour — the set finds him covering '80s alt-rock classics by the likes of R.E.M., the Cure and the Pixies — but it's surprising how smoothly its tributes fit into his homespun, heartfelt catalog.
June 20, 2006 When NPR.org launched its Song of the Day feature in March, we opted to keep the column as current as possible, sticking primarily to material with some sort of news peg: Each choice is new, or it's just been re-issued, or the artist recording it has just done something newsworthy, such as shuffle off this mortal coil. But that also meant excluding a few brilliant songs from 2005, so here's a quick round of catch-up...
June 13, 2006 In a career spanning more than 25 years, pop-music parodist "Weird Al" Yankovic hasn't exactly ranked among the music business' fiercest iconoclasts: He doesn't release his song parodies without the consent of the artists being parodied, and he's rarely used the Internet as more than a tool to promote his projects and connect with his fans. But a music label's efforts to block a (relatively tame) parody of James Blunt's ubiquitous hit "You're Beautiful" has Yankovic fighting back publicly, and using his Web site as a tool to do so...
June 9, 2006 As a fiercely independent and idiosyncratic singer/songwriter who plays the piano, Regina Spektor draws easy comparisons to Tori Amos. But her work feels less remote and more versatile, thanks to a singular songwriting voice that spans genres and personas with grace and apparent ease.
June 6, 2006 As expectant parents do their best to avoid -- or, in a few cases, guarantee -- a 6/6/06 birthday for their children, many musicians have opted to release new CDs on the big day. The date, which only occurs once a century, seemed like a natural for the overtly Satan-friendly likes of Deicide and Slayer. But both responded with afterthoughts: an EP for Slayer (released exclusively through Hot Topic, no less!), and two new iTunes-only tracks for Deicide, whose entire career should have been building to this moment.
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