It's been too long since we simply sat up and pointed out a few of the many new releases worth a set of ears. Luckily, the staff on weekends at All Things Considered thought the same. They invited me to sit down with host Jacki Lyden and play a few cuts for them.
Here's music from an elder statesman of piano, a trumpeter who understands creole music personally, a drummer who writes tunes with a payoff, and a singer in her early 20s with maturity and kick.
In January, English musician and record producer Colin Bass found himself in the midst of an extraordinary assignment. Bass had traveled, with microphones and recording equipment in tow, to the Sahara desert to meet up with a musical group called Etran Finatawa.
If you want to learn how to write a song — one that's built to last, with vivid characters and images that plant you squarely inside a scene — listen to Guy Clark.
Songwriters who revere Clark will tell you he crafts songs with the same precision and attention to detail he uses when he builds guitars. But Clark has a simpler, blunter explanation, as he told me with a glint in his eye when I visited him recently at his home in Nashville, Tenn.
In the 1980's, few bands bridged the gap between hardcore punk and what would become alternative rock quite like Minnesota's Hüsker Dü.
The personalities in the trio, however, were not as harmonious, and their partnership dissolved before the decade's end. Guitarist Bob Mould went on to a successful recording career. Bassist Greg Norton dropped out of music and became a chef. And that leaves ... drummer Grant Hart.