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The Musical Universe

 

Fans of St. Vincent's 2017 album Masseduction are about to hear its songs in a new light, starting with a stripped-down version of "Savior." Swapping synths for piano, "Savior" now showcases Annie Clark's vocal range while tapping into the original's darker, more plaintive undercurrents.

Nicki Minaj Is The 21st Century's Insatiable Hip-Hop Monarch

Oct 3, 2018

How can you remake a film like Suspiria? Dario Argento's 1977 surrealist horror truly has no peer — its weirdness is alluring, a fever dream of vibrant color and supernatural violence.

One Song Considered: Julia Jacklin's 'Body'

Oct 3, 2018

A native of Rathcoole, Ireland (just outside Dublin), singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy began writing songs in his teens. The 2018 NPR Slingshot artist stopped by WGBH's Fraser Performance Studio on a blazing hot August afternoon to perform a powerfully intimate set featuring two songs on guitar and two on piano.

More than two years after Prince's death, his fans got their first album-length glimpse into the famed vault. Piano & a Microphone 1983 features nine songs Prince recorded solo on cassette in his home studio, spilling fascinating secrets about his approach to songwriting.

Orri Páll Dýrason, drummer for the popular Icelandic rock band Sigur Rós since 1999, has resigned from the group in the wake of allegations of rape made by a woman in Los Angeles named Meagan Boyd. In her accusation, made late last week via two Instagram posts that have since been deleted, Boyd alleges that the two met in January 2013 at a club where she worked at the time, and that he raped her at his apartment twice on the night they met.

A Star Is Born begins with Bradley Cooper, as successful country-rock singer Jackson Maine, doing his uninspired but high-octane brand of guitar work in front of a screaming audience of fans. When he's done, drunk and exhausted, he pours himself into a big black SUV, now alone with his nearly empty bottle, his flushed face, and his lungs that sound like they're filled with ash. He is in rough shape.

We were recently reminded of the enduring and powerful musical legacy of the Muscle Shoals sound by a new collection, Muscle Shoals: Small Town, Big Sound.

Aaron Lee Tasjan has a way with words and on his latest album, Karma For Cheap, he walks a fine line between timelessness and a record very much of this moment. For instance, one of his new songs is called "The Truth Is So Hard To Believe." It's easy to think about post-truths and fake news with a title like that as a chorus, but to Tasjan, the song is about something a little more personal.

The staccato piano hits like concentrated bursts of firework, ambient tones stretching out the drama with dialogue: "There are moments in a rock star's life that define who he is. Where there is darkness, there is no you." Yup, it's a trailer for music biopic, all right, but cut with scenes of surreal fantasy. Enter: Rocketman.

If last week felt a little more... exhausting than usual, you're not alone. And if you're already finding yourself in need of a palliative before lunchtime on a Monday, well, you've come to the right place.

Distance begets clarity; that's as true for punks as it is for the general populace.

Every Tiny Desk is special, but sometimes the stars align and we're treated to an artist just as he's coming into his own. Six months after releasing Care For Me — a sophomore studio LP on which Saba transforms his survivor's guilt into something equal parts traumatic and transcendent — the Chicago native paid a visit to Tiny Desk. His performance at NPR's Washington, D.C.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

In the days leading up to the November 2016 election, I taped an episode of Alt.Latino that was intended to be a musical healing session. For just about everyone in the country, the campaign season was rough ride and I had created a healing playlist for myself, which I then decided to share.

Updated at 3:45 p.m. ET

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

It's been quite the week. Many people have taken to social media to express not only their opinions of recent political news but also a sense of emotional exhaustion. Alt.Latino's Felix Contreras joins me now. Felix, welcome. And are you feeling exhausted?

What's the greater threat to Chinese society: "Sissies" or "straight-man cancer"?

Chinese social media has seen heated debate this month over what masculinity is supposed to look like.

It all started with the state-owned Chinese Central Television's annual back-to-school special, which aired on Sept. 1. The show prominently featured a popular boy band called New F4.

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Marty Balin, a co-founder, vocalist and songwriter for psychedelic mainstays Jefferson Airplane and Jefferson Starship, died Sept. 27 in Tampa, Fla., a statement from his family confirmed. No cause was given. He was 76.

In 1965, Balin was an aspiring folk singer and co-founder of San Francisco's The Matrix, a club that quickly became a petri dish for Jefferson Airplane — which began as the club's house band on Aug. 13, 1965 — as well as San Francisco's developing rock music scene writ large.

Jefferson Airplane's Marty Balin Dies At 76

Sep 29, 2018

Copyright 2018 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

SCOTT SIMON, HOST:

Jefferson Airplane flew high in the psychedelic '60s. The band played everywhere from Golden Gate Park in San Francisco to Woodstock, where the group performed "Volunteers."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "VOLUNTEERS")

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