NPR Music

Singer Alessia Cara was never one for the party scene. When she expressed that sentiment in her song "Here," it instantly became a viral anti-party anthem. Cara's debut album is called Know-It-All, and it all started at a disappointing house party.

Ani Difranco has a line in her 2012 song, "If Yr Not," where she sings, "If you're not getting happier as you get older / Then you're [messing] up." Chicago alt-rock band Veruca Salt certainly didn't seem unhappy in their heyday in the mid- and late-'90s, but it's apparent within in ten seconds of the band's first album in nearly a decade, Ghost Notes, how much more fun they're having now.

Review: Stacy Barthe, 'BEcoming'

Jul 1, 2015

Stacy Barthe's debut album, BEcoming, is all about brutal, fearless honesty. Having already written songs for a string of modern R&B and pop stars, Barthe first began to break through as a headliner in 2013, as she surfaced on lists of artists to watch and, ultimately, the year's best music.

If they're lucky, talented and charismatic, young musical men in Nashville can find themselves playing a game of musical Let's Make A Deal. Behind Door No. 1 is a truck, a beer cooler and a lady in snug jeans; the challenge is to make anything out of these party-anthem ingredients that feels fresh and isn't insipid. Door No. 2 conceals the tools of traditionalism — a cowboy (or, currently, trucker) hat, an acoustic guitar and a solid but burdensome set of assumptions about what authentic storytelling can be. Behind Door No. 3? That's the hot spot for people who like to dance.

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 I interviewed Beach House about it.

Understanding the recorded work of most popular musicians — from rock to hip-hop, jazz to country — typically means perusing their albums and singles. There are exceptions, such as rappers' guest appearances: You don't really understand Busta Rhymes' importance if you don't take into account his verse on A Tribe Called Quest's "Scenario," for example.

The Grateful Dead's Fare Thee Well Tour concerts in California have wrapped up, and this weekend, the band moves on to Chicago for its final three shows. From its beginnings in San Francisco, and certainly since the 1970s, the Dead has inspired fans to join it — following the group became a lifestyle.

DMA's On World Cafe

Jul 1, 2015

The Australian trio DMA's experienced radio success with the first three singles its members released. On the heels of sold-out tours in Australia and a journey across the U.S., DMA's just released a self-titled EP, with a full-length debut due out next year. The band performs some of its new songs in this World Cafe session, including the hit "Delete."