Leon Bridges grew up listening to Usher, but his music suggests influences a generation removed. The Texas singer pairs irresistible pop charm with tightly-executed song structures. But his throwback act is no mere nostalgia trip. In fact, Bridges explains in our interview that he never intended to write soul music. He grew up a voracious and diligent listener, drawing as much from the neo-soul of Ginuwine as from the guitar work of Crosby, Still & Nash. Singers overshadowed by the likes of Sam Cooke — Arthur Alexander, Roy C. — were central to his musical education. It was only after he had written many of his best songs that friends noted echoes of the past.
Hear Jason Isbell perform at the Newport Folk Festival 2015 Jason Isbell, lead vocals & guitar Sadler Vaden, guitar Jimbo Hart, bass Derry DeBorja, keyboards Chad Gamble, drums Set List: 1. Palmetto Rose 2. Stockholm 3. Something More Than Free 4. 24 Frames 5. Codeine 6. The Life You Chose 7. Speed Trap Town 8. Cover Me Up 9. Children of Children 10. Alabama Pines 11. Different Days 12. Super 8
New Music From Wilco, Night Beds, Lianne La Havas, More
We kick off this week's All Songs Considered with new music from Wilco. The band surprised fans by dropping a new album out of the blue late last week. It's called ... wait for it ... Star Wars, and Wilco is letting everyone download it for free from the group's website (for a month). But don't let the playful name fool you. Star Wars is one of Wilco's trippiest, most inventive and surprising releases in 20 years of making music.
Before We Forgot How to Dream is one of my favorite albums of 2015. It's by an artist you may not yet know, but I'm hoping you'll fall in love with her. Her name is Bridie Monds-Watson, better known as SOAK. Today SOAK plays dj on All Songs Considered playing music by Pink Floyd, Crazy Frog, R.E.M. and Bon Iver. And of course we'll play her thoughtful songs.
This retrospective charts the birth of grunge, the commercial rise of hip-hop, a batch of gutsy female songwriters and a few goofy one-hit wonders we'd mostly forgotten about. This episode is also Ann Powers' debut as a member of NPR Music, and she and Stephen Thompson join Bob and Robin to take a look back at the decade of flannel and spice.
All Songs +1: Beach House Talks About Their New Song
There's a new album coming from Beach House, the dreamy Baltimore-based duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. That album, called Depression Cherry, comes out on Sub Pop on Aug. 28. Today we get to hear a first song from the album, called "Sparks," and Bob Boilen interviewed Beach House about it.
This week marks the mid-point of 2015, and the All Songs Considered team is ready to take stock. On this week's show, we share our favorite music from debut albums released in the first half of this year. It's only June, but we picked the music we're already eyeing for our year-end lists in December.
Melbourne guitarist and singer Courtney Barnett has been an NPR Music favorite since I caught three of her performances at New York's CMJ Music Festival in 2013. Her blend of witty lyricism and deadpan delivery made for two excellent EPs, and this year a full-length that will surely end up at the very top of my year-end list, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. Barnett just wrapped up a sold-out tour in support of the album, and I invited her to stop by between D.C. shows to act as our Guest DJ for this week's episode of All Songs Considered. I saw both of Barnett's shows at the 9:30 Club, and the crowds were full of younger fans, but also many of their parents. It's clear from the music she picked to play on our show that her musical sensibility, like her sound, spans decades. The influential artists Courtney Barnett discovered as a kid — Australian folk and rock bands, Wilco, Talking Heads — came to her through family and friends young and old, in school and at shows. Words are often at heart of those songs. It's no surprise for someone who writes such amazing, conversational lyrics, but Barnett is huge fun to talk to, and she was excited to talk about the music that the loves, not just the music she makes.