Music

This is the story of a hoax that almost was. Its motivating force was a hunger for fame, or infamy, or whispered legend in a particularly American sort of way. It begins on a beach somewhere in south Florida.

It's been about 10 years since Irish singer-songwriter Fionn Regan made his U.S. debut with The End Of History, a Mercury Prize-nominated collection of soft-spoken acoustic folk-pop songs in the tradition of Damien Rice and Nick Drake.

Two years ago, René Pérez Joglar took a chance.

For over a decade, the 39-year-old had been the voice of Calle 13, a Puerto Rican hip-hop crew that had grown to massive visibility. The two core members — producer Eduardo Cabra, known as Visitante, and Joglar, who rapped as Residente — had earned the group three Grammys and two dozen Latin Grammys, and were considered one of the biggest Latin acts in the world. And then, Joglar decided he was done.

One of West Africa's most charming bands is back — again. Almost a decade after the group's last album and nearly 50 years since its founding, Senegal's Orchestra Baobab is swaggering back onto international dance floors with its silk, sultry songs, layering Afro-Cuban sounds with local traditions and pop styles from across Senegal and elsewhere in West Africa.

You can only hear something for the first time once.

I don't mean to sound so obvious, but my first listen to ÌFÉ's debut album, IIII+IIII (pronounced Eji-Ogbe), was such an incredibly special moment that I wish I could repeat it over and over.

Bob Dylan is evidently not finished with his (grand, now exhaustive) inquiry into the Great American Songbook.

The 2016 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature, who was hailed by the Swedish Academy for "having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition," is releasing a three-disc mega-dose from the pre-rock era of that tradition on March 31.

First Listen: Rodney Crowell, 'Close Ties'

11 hours ago

Americana has had a banner few years, to put it mildly, and the roots of its current incarnation can be traced back to Rodney Crowell. The Texas-born songwriter has collaborated with everyone from Emmylou Harris to Waylon Jennings, all while maintaining a solo career that's netted him two Grammys and an induction into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.

As a musician, Aimee Mann has long indulged her bleaker side, dating all the way back to her mid-'80s debut as the lead singer of 'Til Tuesday. In the quarter-century since she launched her solo career, Mann has released nine solo albums — not counting her classic film work in 1999's Magnolia — and formed a duo called The Both with Ted Leo.

The great Beethoven specialist András Schiff says, "Whatever we do on the piano is a collection of illusions." If that's true, then Volker Bertelmann, the German pianist who goes by the single name Hauschka, is a master illusionist.

Musicians from all over the world are settling back at home, recovering from last week's South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Hundreds of musicians played throughout the week, for crowds big and small.

Leave it to Run the Jewels to find the connection between psychedelic drugs and systemic disorder. The new video for "Legend Has It," the first from the duo's third LP RTJ3, finds Killer Mike and El-P tripping on acid in a police lineup alongside a rotating cast of unusual suspects: a nun, an "innocent" little girl, a fireman, even a clown-faced police officer.

Jesca Hoop On World Cafe

20 hours ago

Rarely have we heard a more cogent description of the creative process of a true artist than from singer-songwriter Jesca Hoop. "A great artist is not someone who is fully confident, but someone who carries self doubt," she says. "And it's that doubt that carries you into your stronger ideas."

Phoebe Bridgers was one of our top discoveries going into SXSW, a quiet and powerful voice in the loud din of the festival. After she performed at Central Presbyterian Church, a favorite venue among our staff, Bridgers and percussionist Marshall Vore came to Bob Boilen's hotel room just before midnight to play the striking "Smoke Signals."

"We're gonna play a whole bunch of new songs for you," said Amelia Meath as she introduced her electro-pop duo Sylvan Esso, adding, "because we're tired of playing the old ones."

Singer Kevin Morby is back with a followup to last year's much beloved full-length Singing Saw. The new album is called City Music and is due out June 16 on Dead Oceans. Morby has also shared the record's first single and lyric video, the moody and transfixing "Come To Me Now."

The Thistle & Shamrock: Live From Ireland

Mar 22, 2017

Relive some great sets of Irish music, including years of performances presented by host Fiona Ritchie and featuring The Chieftains, Cherish the Ladies and more.

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