January 5, 2009
Anna Christopher, NPR



Bob Boilen Hosts Live Chat
and Listening Party for Each Album

January 5, 2009; Washington, D.C. – NPR Music – www.NPR.org/music – is offering exclusive previews of three new albums in January: Andrew Bird’s Noble Beast; Hold Time from M. Ward; and Animal Collective’s Merriweather Post Pavilion. The pre-release streams are part of NPR Music’s expanding “Exclusive First Listen” series, which offers free, live streaming of select albums ahead of their release dates. The entire series is available at: www.NPR.org/firstlisten

NPR Music will feature a live Web chat and listening party for each “Exclusive First Listen,” hosted by All Songs Considered’s Bob Boilen. During the hour-long chat, Boilen – joined by the artist, when possible – will guide listeners through the album and invite discussion. The first chat, for Andrew Bird’s Noble Beast, will happen on January 8 at 1:00PM (ET).

Bird’s Noble Beast, the multi-instrumentalist’s fifth solo album, is available now at NPR Music, and will remain on the site through its January 20 release from Fat Possum. Noble Beast is a brilliant follow-up to 2007’s Armchair Apocrypha. Hear Bird in a May 2007 live performance from NPR Music’ Live in Concert series: www.NPR.org/allsongs

Hold Time is the sixth solo album from modern-day troubadour M. Ward, who has most recently teamed with actress Zooey Deschanel to form the folksy duo She & Him. Deschanel contributes to Hold Time, as do Lucinda Williams and Jason Lytle of Grandaddy. The album will be available at NPR Music beginning January 12 at 11:59PM (ET), until its release on February 17.

This fall, Animal Collective invited a small number of fans and media to preview Merriweather Post Pavilion, named after a venue near their home in Baltimore, MD. The psychedelic record is the eighth studio album from the group, whose members include Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Deakin (Josh Dibb) and Geologist (Brian Weitz). NPR Music has an early listen to the full album beginning January 19 at 11:59PM (ET), before it’s officially released by Domino Records.

Complete track listings and album information are available at NPR Music, where there are also extensive archives of concerts, interviews and reviews of Andrew Bird, M. Ward and Animal Collective. NPR Music introduced its “First Listen” series in September when the site offered its first pre-release album stream: Bob Dylan’s 2-CD set Tell Tale Signs, followed by Neil Young’s Sugar Mountain and Paul McCartney’s project The Fireman. The impact was tremendous, with hundreds of thousands of webcasts of the albums and individual songs.

NPR Music, marking its one year anniversary, features content from NPR and 12 NPR Member public radio stations, and original-to-NPR Music features such as live performances, studio sessions, music lists, interviews, reviews and blogs. “Exclusive First Listen” joins NPR Music’s continuously expanding sections dedicated to rock/pop/folk, classical, jazz/blues, world and urban music. The site culls from NPR’s and the stations’ extensive music archives to present thousands of features; more than 240 new features are added to the site every month.