The Leeds-based post-punk band Eagulls hit the stage at Stubb's BBQ in Austin, Texas, ready to deploy some serrated weaponry. From neatly attired singer George Mitchell's assured yelp to a guitar attack that's clean and direct, the group generated a stormy sound that roared and banged with sleekness and power, while hinting at the doomstruck beauty of forebears like Joy Division.
When a performer has an exceptional night, we sometimes say he or she "left it all on stage" — the "it" being effort, energy, passion, sweat. To close a concert with a raw throat and a rumpled appearance signifies full disclosure, proof that the person on stage has held absolutely nothing back. Diane Cluck's performances, at their best, take a near-opposite approach: unfolding melodies of winding complexity without the barest hint of strain or struggle.
I first discovered The Blind Boys of Alabama on the 2004 Ben Harper album, "There Will Be a Light". I am not a churchgoer but there is no resisting the way the music of The Blind Boys makes you feel. Inspired, moved–their music makes you want to do good things.
Hisham Aidi's new book is a sort of musical tour around the world. It's called Rebel Music: Race, Empire, and the New Muslim Youth Culture. From hip-hop in Brazilian favelas, to Pakistani punk rock, to Gnawa-reggae in North Africa, it's a look at young urban Muslims and the music they make and listen to.
Speaking with NPR's Rachel Martin, Aidi recalls meeting a French band called 3ème Oeil — "Third Eye" — at a music festival in the Bronx, the birthplace of hip-hop.
Let's say you're driving down the Pacific Coast Highway in California — top down, of course. What's the soundtrack you want to hear? The music of Tycho often seems engineered to fill that very role.
The group is the brainchild of producer Scott Hansen, who describes his three-piece band as an audio-visual project. On the new album Awake, the San Francisco-based artist has taken his passion for design and merged it with his interest in ambient music; click the audio link to hear his conversation with NPR's Rachel Martin.
Discovering Zara McFarlane's voice is like discovering something exquisite and lush and gorgeous.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
ZARA MCFARLANE: (Singing) There you are, though I cannot see your face. I feel you, your presence just entered this place...
LYDEN: Zara McFarlane's latest album is called "If You Knew Her." And she's at our London bureau to talk to us about her music and so that we can get to know here. Zara McFarlane, thank you so much for joining us.
Kevin Gates drove up in a matte black truck and sat down in the backyard of East Austin shop and coffee shop Friends & Neighbors the same week his song "Get Up On My Level" rang out all over the SXSW music festival. It was just days before his most-anticipated project (yet), By Any Means, was to be released and only a week after fellow Baton Rouge rapper (and early collaborator) Lil Boosie left prison.