Archive For The “Music” Category

Jack White Shares New Music And Announces Third Solo Album

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Jack White Shares New Music And Announces Third Solo Album
Jack White

David James Swanson/Courtesy of the artist

I love singularity in music – that thing that happens when a song comes on and you know exactly who the artist is and know that only one person could have made that music. Jack White is that kind of artist. And despite his new song’s uncharacteristic opening, with a droning synth, the moment that urgent, boyish voice belts it, it’s clearly Jack White.

Connected By Love,” the new single from Jack White, shifts and evolves seemingly every four bars as it builds to its grand finale. Gospel, performed by the great McCrary Sisters of Nashville, is part of the build. Ann & Regina McCrary sing the song’s title as a refrain, setting up Jack’s passionate guitar. All of this gives way to an Otis Redding-like plea, only to be uplifted by an organ-driven chorus. All this happens in less than five minutes.

A new, and sometimes unsettling video for “Connected By Love,” is filmed by director Pasqual Gutierrez in Los Angeles and Nashville. It’s end-times, depicting a world on the verge of coming apart after some kind of celestial event. But this same, potentially devastating event, reminds everyone of the ties that bind.

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Directed by Pasqual Gutierrez YouTube

Nothing is casual in Jack White’s music. Everything is purposeful, everything is connected by a sonic vision. It’s a blend of old guitar blues that is simultaneously on the edge of rock’s horizon.

This latest 45″ is b/w (“backed with” as we used to say) a piercing, guitar-driven tune called “Respect Commander.” It’s a playful song with its fits and starts and drum sounds that seem to have video game ancestors. We don’t hear Jack sing until halfway through the instrumental.

To make it an event, Third Man is releasing a tri-color 7″ which will be available at the brick-and-mortar Third Man Records stores, for one day only, Saturday, January 13th, in Nashville and Detroit. And, according to a press release, you’ll never be able to buy the physical version online. You will be able to go to your local record shop and buy the plain old black vinyl later this week. There’s also digital version of the songs.

And I didn’t yet mention that Jack White has a third solo record coming called BOARDING HOUSE REACH, on Third Man/Columbia, but we don’t have a date yet.

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Practices Of Triple A Radio Stations Raise Questions

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Practices Of Triple A Radio Stations Raise Questions

Created as alternatives to the hit-making monoliths of commercial radio, AAA stations have pushed artists like Lorde into the mainstream. Now, the stations are facing pressure to pick tomorrow’s hits.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

A commercial radio format that started in the 1990s can still help launch a mainstream success. That format is called AAA – shorthand for adult album alternative. It has helped launch the careers of artists including Norah Jones, Adele and Arcade Fire. We’re going to hear now how the format’s unique ability to break stars is raising questions about where music discovery ends and promotion begins. Allyson McCabe begins her report with M. Ward, an artist who has benefited from AAA.

ALLYSON MCCABE, BYLINE: M. Ward’s music is a mix of several genres, including folk, country, blues and rock.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “CHINESE TRANSLATION”)

M WARD: (Singing) I sailed a wild, wild sea, climbed up the tall, tall mountain.

MCCABE: Ward says he discovered music through radio.

WARD: I grew up right outside of Los Angeles, and so we got every kind of station that you can imagine, all these different music genres.

MCCABE: Ward says he owes a lot of his success to AAA – a format that harkens back to the radio he grew up with. Trina Tombrink, who is now vice president of promotion and artist development at Sony’s RED music division, describes the early days of AAA this way.

TRINA TOMBRINK: A word that comes to mind is crunchy. A lot of people used to say it’s the Birkenstock format, the stoner format. It wasn’t as hit-oriented back then. You could actually get a record played that wasn’t necessarily your traditional radio hit.

MCCABE: Yet AAA helped break artists who went onto the mainstream, from Dave Matthews to The Black Keys to Lorde.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “ROYALS”)

LORDE: (Singing) And we’ll never be royals, royals. It don’t run in our blood.

MCCABE: “Royals” was already a hit in Lorde’s native New Zealand, but Tombrink used AAA to test market the song in the U.S.

TOMBRINK: There was always the plan that we would cross it to pop. And we also knew that there were at least two other songs on the album that were even more pop friendly.

MCCABE: “Royals” debuted on Billboard’s AAA chart within a week of its U.S. release. Less than a month later, the song crossed over to the Hot 100, eventually reaching number one. Radio consultant Paul Marszalek says this kind of leap can make a huge difference in an artist’s career.

PAUL MARSZALEK: The entire universe of the AAA audience is in the low millions. You start going to the top 40, and you’re now into tens of millions.

MCCABE: And yet because it’s positioned as a tastemaker, AAA gets a lot of attention from record labels, says Sony’s Tombrink.

TOMBRINK: There’s probably more music serviced to AAA than I would think any other format.

MCCABE: There are now more than 100 AAA stations nationwide, evenly split between commercial and noncommercial. Kevin Rutherford, a chart manager at Billboard, keeps an eye on what they’re playing and how often. He says he counts all plays equally, no matter the size of the market or the time of day.

KEVIN RUTHERFORD: So even if a song gets played once in Akron, gets played once in Los Angeles, it has the same weight – doesn’t matter whether it’s 3 a.m. or 3 p.m.

MARSZALEK: It can be a consensus by a lot of stations or it can be a couple of stations playing it really, really heavy. That’s where you sort of open the door to potential shenanigans.

MCCABE: Consultant Paul Marszalek says playing a song in the middle of the night to rack up spins that will push it up the chart is rare. But anyone with access to the monitoring data he sees can tell when a song is getting a boost.

MARSZALEK: What you can immediately see here is several stations that are not playing it any time that the sun is up. There is no audience or very little audience, a lot of overnight spins, not a great reputation, and now I know that I’ve got a record here that’s the equivalent of something that fell off the back of a truck.

MCCABE: Noncommercial stations are less likely to do that, says Jim McGuinn, program director at Minnesota Public Radio’s KCMP The Current.

JIM MCGUINN: The noncommercial stations are much more freewheeling, much more willing to take chances and play a wider variety of sounds and styles and dig a little deeper into albums and artists.

MCCABE: But they can’t afford to ignore the competition. NPR has just launched Slingshot, an effort among 18 noncommercial AAA stations to collectively raise the profile of artists they deem worthy of support. And everyone’s looking over their shoulders at which musicians are trending online. Mat Bates, program director at San Francisco’s commercial KFOG, says he has to pay attention to what’s popular.

MAT BATES: We aim to mirror the interests of our audience rather than dictate to them what they should be interested in.

MCCABE: Radio has always tread the line between new music discovery and label-driven promotion. But there are those who still cling to the idea that AAA should be more than an alternative top 40, like musician M. Ward.

WARD: My vision of music is wrapped up in those memories of you switched the dial and it becomes something else entirely.

MCCABE: For NPR News, I’m Allyson McCabe.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “RADIO CAMPAIGN”)

WARD: (Singing) And now I’m calling out your name on this radio campaign…

Copyright © 2018 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

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Eight New Artists To Watch In 2018, From 'Slingshot'

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Eight New Artists To Watch In 2018, From 'Slingshot'

Liz Brasher, Haley Heynderickx, Sidney Gish, Lawrence Rothman, Knox Fortune, Air Credits and Bedouine are part of the 2018 class of Slingshot.

Courtesy of the artists

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Courtesy of the artists

All this year, NPR Music and its member stations will be following a group of outstanding new and emerging artists from local music scenes across the globe for a series we’re calling Slingshot. On this week’s All Songs Considered, we talk to some of the music directors from our partner stations about the artists they chose for this year’s list. Some are hometown favorites, and others are rising stars from abroad.

WGBH‘s Stacy Buchanan talks about Sidney Gish, a student in Boston with a homemade sound and brand. Bruce Warren of WXPN chose Mt. Joy, a group that blends old-school classic rock with Americana. Silvia Rivera of Vocalo talks about Air Credits, whose hip-hop songs tell stories of a dystopian future. WMOT‘s Jessie Scott chose powerful vocalist Liz Brasher. Carmel Holt of WFUV shares why she chose Bedouine, an artist who reflects on love and solitude in her delicate songs. And KCRW‘s Jason Bentley talks about Lawrence Rothman, whose debut album explores several alter egos through ’80s power-pop.

Artists Featured On This Episode

Cover for Ed Buys Houses

01Presumably Dead Arm

3:34

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Sidney Gish

  • Song: Presumably Dead Arm

Sidney Gish is a singer-songwriter and full-time student with a wry sense of humor in Boston, Mass. where she’s been recording and releasing her own work since 2015. She dropped her first album, Ed Buys Houses, in December 2016.

Cover for I Need To Start A Garden

01Oom Sha La La

2:54

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Haley Heynderickx

  • Song: Oom Sha La La

Haley Heynderickx has been building an audience in her hometown of Portland, Ore. for several years. So far, she’s released two EPs: Fish Eyes (2016) and The Bug Collector (2017). This song is the title track to her debut album, I Need To Start A Garden, due out later this year.

Cover for Mt. Joy

01Silver Lining

3:19

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Mt. Joy

  • Song: Silver Lining

Philly-raised, Los Angeles-based Mt. Joy recently released an EP bringing together elements of old-school, classic rock and Americana. The band’s debut album is due out on Dualtone in March.

Cover for Omega Virus

01Safe Room

3:14

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Air Credits

  • Song: Safe Room

Air Credits is the futuristic hip-hop project of Chicago rapper ShowYouSuck and producer STV SLV (aka Steve Reidell) of The Hood Internet. The duo’s most recent mixtape, Omega Virus, imagines a dystopian, post-war future with a backstory for how we arrived there.

Cover for Body Of Mine (Single)

01Body Of Mine

2:51

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Liz Brasher

  • Song: Body Of Mine

Liz Brasher is from the Dominican Republic by way of North Carolina and Memphis. She blends blues, soul, gospel and R&B in music that digs down deep.

Cover for Bedouine

01Solitary Daughter

4:20

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Bedouine

  • Song: Solitary Daughter

Bedouine (aka Azniv Korkejian) began her life in Syria, then Saudi Arabia before her Armenian parents won a Green Card lottery and moved to the U.S. On her self-titled debut album, hints of Southern country music and the soft, rustic folk of ’70s-era Laurel Canyon fuse with her smooth, soothing voice.

Cover for The Book Of Law

01Wolves Still Cry

4:18

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Lawrence Rothman

  • Song: Wolves Still Cry

Lawrence Rothman is a Los Angeles-based artist who takes on several personas on the group’s debut album, The Book Of Law. The band combines meticulous production, interesting guests and creative affiliations with a knack for slick pop songwriting.

Cover for Paradise

01Lil Thing

3:26

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Knox Fortune

  • Song: Lil Thing

Knox Fortune is known mostly for his production skills. But he came out from behind the boards on the chorus of fellow Chicagoan Chance the Rapper‘s “All Night.” Here he steps in front of the mic for his latest solo album, Paradise, in catchy, breezy songs like “Lil Thing.”

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Songs We Love: Latin Bitman ft. Nora Norman, 'You'

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Songs We Love: Latin Bitman ft. Nora Norman, 'You'

Latin Bitman (José Antonio Bravo)

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Courtesy of the Artist

Love, loss, and the joys and tribulations of being human have long inspired songs. But for Chile’s Latin Bitman, the musical project of former Olympic surfer José Antonio Bravo, it’s the thrill of riding waves that brings his music to life – that intersection between seizing the moment and letting his instinct and intuition guide him through sonic soundscapes.

“Music is about feeling,” he said during a Skype interview from his home in Santiago. “It’s about being alive in the moment, and opening your eyes about life.”

After 11 albums, Latin Bitman now teams with Nora Norman, an emerging young R&B singer from Spain, to explore the connection between surfing and music even more in their new single, “You”.

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The inspired collaboration grooves to the feeling of balancing over both surging waves and surging emotions of conflicted love.

Nora Norman was a fitting choice. As I discovered at last year’s Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York, she surprisingly sings R&B in English with a voice that could have easily fit among the stable of 1960s Stax vocalists.

“I was just amazed by her voice,” recalls Bitman. Norman’s soulful singing captures the song’s essence: learning to stand in your own power against a forceful current that can unapologetically sweep you wherever it wants – and at your expense. Stir in some dembow (a pan-Carribean reggaeton roots beat), some dancehall, some DJing and an etheric beach vibe and you have an organic mix that reflects two very distinct palettes and creates a sound unique to their partnership.

“Cause you, yes just you

Yea, you do this crazy thing to me

Yea you, don’t want to, don’t want to admit it

That you mistreat me”

“You” is the first release from his upcoming album Homies slated for March. Bitman considers it his best album yet. It’s “less spontaneous and more mature,” he says, having taken the time to envision the outcome, massage each song’s feeling, and collaborate with various artists over four years.

It also marks a fuller transition from prolific DJ to composer/producer. The surfer from Arica never even imagined having a career in music, much less creating high-profile syncs that include popular American TV shows (Dexter, Weeds, Nikita, Nip Tuck and 90210), global music festivals, major ad campaigns (Coke, Verizon, etc.), remixes for prominent artists and now artistic collaborations. But one thing he’s learned is that, “whatever you’re passionate about, if you follow your instinct, it can be yours. Sooner or later you will get there,” whether standing above a surfboard or running a mixing board.

Latin Bitman will do a live launch of his new album ‘Homies’ at Lollapalooza Chile in mid-March.

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The Secret Sisters On World Cafe

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The Secret Sisters On World Cafe

The Secret Sisters

Abraham Rowe/Courtesy of the artist

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Abraham Rowe/Courtesy of the artist

  • “Carry Me”
  • “Tennessee River”
  • “You Don’t Own Me Anymore”

The Secret Sisters (who, yes, are in fact sisters!) are Laura and Lydia Rogers. First signed to Universal Records in 2010, their debut was produced by Dave Cobb and the follow-up was produced in 2014 by T-Bone Burnett. Those are some heavy hitters in the music world: Dave Cobb has made albums with some of Nashville’s best artists, including Sturgill Simpson, Jason Isbell and Chris Stapleton, and T-Bone Burnett has worked with everyone from U2 to Alison Krauss and Robert Plant to Elvis Costello.

With such an early push from such talented people, it was surprising to learn how the sisters’ story took a turn. It has been a rough few years for the Rogers since their second album — they got dropped from their label Universal in 2015, filed for bankruptcy and hit a major songwriting block.

However, on their recent album they teamed up with singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile after she fell in love with one of their songs. The new record is called You Don’t Own Me Anymore — it’s an allusion to experiences in the music industry, sure, but there are universal themes to distill as well. You’ll hear our chat right after their live performance of the song “Carry Me.” Listen now in the player above.

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From Demo To Debut, How A Song Brought Lo Moon Together

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From Demo To Debut, How A Song Brought Lo Moon Together

Crisanta Baker, Matt Lowell and Sam Stewart of Lo Moon.

Austin Sylvest/Courtesy of the artist

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Austin Sylvest/Courtesy of the artist

Long before Slingshot artists Lo Moon signed to Columbia Records, lead singer Matt Lowell was writing songs in his basement.

“I had moved back from Boston to New York,” Lowell says. “I was living at my sister’s place, I was working at this studio in Brooklyn that I helped build.”

He hadn’t yet met bass player and keyboardist Crisanta Baker, but he knew he wanted to start a band, and he had a demo of a song called “Loveless” to share.

“It was incredible,” Baker says. “The first time I heard it, I was, like, screaming. and everyone in the other room was like, ‘What is going on in there?’ The big fills came in, and I was just excited because it sounded like Phil Collins.”

Guitarist Sam Stewart heard that Lowell and Baker were looking for another band member. They got together to jam by converting Lowell’s backyard shed into a band living room and rehearsal space.

“I think in there, that’s where we learned how to feed off each other,” Lowell says. “We would get in there at 11 a.m. and not say a word to each other until 5 p.m.”

Lowell thinks a lot about what kind of feeling Lo Moon’s music creates. Practicing in his shed helped them hone in on their sound and style. By the time they went to the studio to record their debut album, due out early this year, they knew what they were looking for.

“The beautiful thing about that was, when we were making the record, we hadn’t put anything out,” Lowell says. “We had blinders on and we just trusted each other. … We didn’t really have another basis to go by, besides ‘this sounds like us.’ “

Lowell says he’ll never forget hearing the final, produced version of “Loveless” for the first time.

“It came through the speaker and I was like, ‘This song is probably three and a half, four years old, and I’ve just never heard it like this.’ ” he says. “I cried. I was just like, ‘This is unbelievable, I can’t believe we made this.’ “

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Lo Moon’s debut album is due out early this year on Columbia Records.NPR Music welcomes 20 new artists to Slingshot on Tuesday, Jan. 9.

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10 Interviews Celebrating Robert Siegel's Love For Classical Music

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10 Interviews Celebrating Robert Siegel's Love For Classical Music

Robert Siegel is retiring from NPR after 40 years. Over his tenure, he’s interviewed many classical musicians.

Stephen Voss/NPR

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Today our colleague Robert Siegel is retiring after four decades at NPR. He’s covered everything from peace movements in East and West Germany to the Republican revolution of the 104th Congress, the mentally ill homeless and the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan Province, China.

Over his 30-year tenure as host of All Things Considered, Robert has also chased one of his lifelong passions — classical music. He’s interviewed dozens of today’s most compelling musicians.

“I’m intrigued by classical performers,” Robert told me this week. “We don’t expect them to improvise or compose. They play pieces from a canon that have been performed and recorded many times before, but they are not imitative. They strive to bring a personal dimension to performance. The musicians whom I have had the chance to interview possess technical mastery, plus the gift to impart something personal to the performance. Yo-Yo Ma, Hélène Grimaud, Anne Akiko Meyers — they are so gifted, and so serious about their art, it is a gift to peek inside their brains for a few minutes.”

Robert says his love of classical music began as a kid, when he fell in love with Beethoven‘s ‘Emperor’ Piano Concerto.

“I must have been five years old,” he recalls. “My father had what must’ve been the first LP recording of the ‘Emperor.’ When I heard the start of the first movement, I could not stop marching around the living room. I think I scratched that record and damaged it badly from so much marching. It was several years before I made it to the second movement.”

But no matter who was across the microphone from Robert — Vladimir Putin or Renèe Fleming — it was fascinating to hear the master interviewer in action. He always nudged the best from his guest, always in control, even when pepper pots like harpsichordist Mahan Esfanhani threatened to turn the tables. On some of these stories I worked with Robert, formulating ideas and questions. I even joined him on the air a few times. (Now that’s intimidating!)

With an impressive spreadsheet of his classical music interviews in front of him, dating back some three decades, I asked Robert to pick a few favorites. A few of those — with some unforgettable quotes — follow below.

Gil Shaham (1996) “You would fungo the rosin?”

Hélène Grimaud (2006) “You’ve disappeared into the piano?”

Mahan Esfahani (2015) “Two skeletons copulating on a tin roof.”

Simone Dinnerstein (2011) “Is this what Bach had in mind?”

Stuart Canin (2015) “The rifleman who fiddled for Truman and Churchill.”

Anne-Sophie Mutter and Lambert Orkis (2006) “With Mozart, it’s crafting jewels.”

Andras Schiff (2009) “Beethoven is very much one of us, and the best of us.”

Oscar Paz Suaznabar (2015) “When you’re playing it, do you think about the bunny?”

JoAnn Faletta (2013) “The mythical title of The Great American Symphony.”

The People’s Republic of Beethoven (2016) “Music in Communist China.”

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Alt.Latino Album Chat: Making Movies Talks Protest Music

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Alt.Latino Album Chat: Making Movies Talks Protest Music

The members of Making Movies

Brian Slater/Courtesy of the Artist

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Brian Slater/Courtesy of the Artist

Sometimes albums speak for themselves and other times hearing from the artists themselves helps us appreciate the nuances of motivation and influence. The Kansas City based band Making Movies certainly makes music that stands on it’s own. Its 2017 album I Am Another You was a finely crafted collection of stories that reflected on the immigrant experience encased in a spectacular musical landscape.

You Are Another Me

But then last month the group released an EP called You Are Another Me. What’s up with that? The similar titles? The covers of groups like Los Tigres del Norte, Manu Chao and Tears For Fears?

We chased down the band’s lead vocalist and songwriter, Enrique Chi, to find out the story behind this intriguing new record. He was packing his bags to travel from Austin to L.A. to make music, so we had him record himself in his hotel room on his portable recording studio.

It’s never a bad thing to have a conversation with a creative mind. We think you’ll enjoy this one — the first of what we’re calling our Alt.Latino Album Chats — and others to follow this year.

The members of Making Movies

Brian Slater/Courtesy of the Artist

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Brian Slater/Courtesy of the Artist

You Are Another Me tracks

You Are Another Me

0:34

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  • Song: You Are Another Me (Intro)

Redemption Song

4:06

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    La Marcha

    2:37

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      A Paisano A Paisano

      4:08

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        Clandestino

        4:08

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          Everybody Wants To Rule The World

          5:13

          • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/575852443/575909932" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

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            Mondo Cozmo On World Cafe

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            Mondo Cozmo On World Cafe
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            VuHaus
            • “Shine”
            • “Hold On To Me”
            • “Higher”

            You may know Josh Ostrander as Mondo Cozmo, an overnight success that took 15 years to bubble up. Mondo Cozmo’s first album, Plastic Soul, was released in 2017 after a string of radio singles including “Shine,” which went to No. 1 on the Billboard Adult Alternative charts, and “Hold On To Me.”

            This success has propelled Mondo Cozmo into festival slots, headlining tours and a very different place in the world of rock ‘n’ roll than Ostrander was in just two years ago. In 2016, the Philadelphia-born musician was holed up in his spare bedroom making music while doing landscaping to make ends meet — this comes after major label deals with his bands, Laguardia and Eastern Conference Champions, going back to the early 2000s.

            In this session, we go back to hear some powerful live performances from the public radio’s NON-COMMvention in Philadelphia last year. Hear it in the player above.

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            Bruno Mars And Cardi B 'Finesse' The Remix With 'In Living Color'-Inspired Video

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            Bruno Mars And Cardi B 'Finesse' The Remix With 'In Living Color'-Inspired Video

            The retro Cross Colours fits. The New Jack Swing sound. The In Living Color video homage. Bruno Mars has proven time and again it’s his prerogative to do what he wants to do — especially when it comes to reigniting the charts with the sounds of ’90s funk and R&B.

            His “Finesse” remix, featuring Cardi B, is another guaranteed hit from his 2017 album 24K. Mars lifts a page straight out of New Jack Swing producer Teddy Riley’s sonic playbook and recasts the ’90s aesthetic stylized by such New Jack Swing-affiliated artists as Bobby Brown and Heavy D for the video. Hev, of course, penned and performed the classic theme song to the Keenan Ivory Wayans sketch comedy series In Living Color, which serves as inspiration for the look and theme of the video — all the way down to show’s resident dance crew, The Fly Girls. (You half expect Jenny from the Block, a former Fly Girl, to come out doing the Cabbage Patch.)

            But this is all Cardi’s show to steal. “I went from dollar bills, now we poppin’ rubber bands / Bruno, sang to me while I do my money dance,” she raps on the intro. Looks like the “Bodak Yellow” queen has finessed herself another one.

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