NPR Music

There comes a time in the life of most string quartets when, for better or worse, Beethoven must be confronted. For the acclaimed Belcea Quartet (named after its first violinist Corina Belcea), that time is now. The London-based group, founded at the Royal College of Music in 1994, is thoroughly steeped in Beethoven's 16 string quartets — pieces written throughout the early, middle and late stages of his career in an epic sweep of compositional mastery and imagination.

There's something strangely hypnotic and charming about "New Century," an immensely infectious bummer from Neighbors, which consists of a guy named Noah Stitelman and anyone else who happens to be around to help. For all of Stitelman's fretful miserablism — "I wanna lie down and hide in the dark 'til I don't have to figure it out," he sings early on — Neighbors' music is steeped in smoothly pleasing brightness. If anyone out there remembers the D.C.

Classical Crib Sheet: Top 5 Stories This Week

Oct 26, 2012

  • Uff da: Along with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra has also locked out its musicians, leaving the Twin Cities bereft for now. "Players at the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra did not vote on an offer from management, and the board of directors shut the doors and canceled concerts through Nov. 4 ... So for the first time since the SPCO launched in 1959, neither orchestra will be playing for at least the next two weeks."

I just saw Red Baraat play their new song, Shruggy Ji, at a brand new club in Washington, D.C. I don't think the incessant go-go rhythm fell on any deaf ears here in the birthplace of go-go. It certainly didn't for me, just blocks away from the record store where I worked, and where we'd blast go-go bands like Trouble Funk and Chuck Brown, back in the late '70s. For the Brooklyn nine-piece, this sound isn't a sharp right turn. Their mix of music already goes from Indian bhangra, (itself a mix of Punjabi music and western music) to New Orleans big band music.

Twin Shadow On World Cafe

Oct 25, 2012

Few artists channel the spirit of '80s new wave as infectiously as George Lewis Jr., better known by the stage name Twin Shadow. Lewis wears his '80s pop influences on his sleeve throughout his recent second album, Confess: The sleek synth-pop vibe of "Five Seconds" recalls Duran Duran, while "Run My Heart" evokes Bruce Springsteen power ballads and Lewis' breathy, straightforward vocals convey the swagger of Prince. Lewis' R&B leanings help give Twin Shadow's sound its own distinct, surprisingly modern identity.

Barbara Jean On Mountain Stage

Oct 25, 2012

Singer-songwriter Barbara Jean makes her first appearance on Mountain Stage, recorded live in Grand Marais, Minn., in partnership with the North House Folk School. A resident of Grand Marais, Barbara Jean has worked as the news director at WTIP North Shore Community Radio since 2006. She was also one of the first musicians Mountain Stage encountered when it first traveled to Grand Marais in 2011; she was playing a set at the beloved Gunflint Tavern.

It's been a while since pop-music writers have heaped praise on a blues guitarist as the next big thing. But that's what's happened with Gary Clark Jr., who's just put out his first full-length album on a major label. It's called Blak and Blu.

While the album is new, Clark is not. In fact, he might be the worst-kept, best secret in Austin, Texas. Clark, 28, spent his early teens playing blues clubs in the vibrant 6th Street music scene of downtown Austin, learning from — and impressing — blues legends along the way.

Lewis Nash Quintet, Kurt Elling On JazzSet

Oct 25, 2012

There are three stages at the Newport Jazz Festival. At least two are always running simultaneously. Given the surfeit of options, it's rare to hear a complete set. The question begins to nag: Should be we somewhere else? And away you go, leaving a work in progress to make sure you don't miss one getting underway.

But sometimes if you choose a spot on the lawn and stay put, the juxtaposition of two bands delivers a fine festival experience. Sunday morning, August 5, 2012, on the Quad Stage is such a time.

Lord Huron is a band for just about anyone: The rich harmonies are welcoming, the lyrics relatable and the live performances thrilling. The group started out as a solo project for singer Ben Schneider, but is now a full assortment of terrific musicians, all based in Los Angeles.

The insanely infectious, utterly charming Thao And The Get Down Stay Down is giving fans a taste of the band's forthcoming album with a new cut released today on the band's website. The song, "Holy Roller," is from We the Common, due out Feb. 5.

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