Popular Music

Nik Carman (right) records "Wagon Wheel" at Studio Anatomy, accompanied by his brother, Andrew, on guitar.

Interlochen Public Radio is your source for the arts from northern Michigan. Whether you're looking for new music from northern Michigan artists or NPR's First Listen, you'll find the stories here.

Three years ago, the Islamic State overran large swaths of Iraq and Syria, and soon declared a caliphate that straddled the border between the two countries. Today, the group's physical caliphate is declining — and the group is preparing its base of fighters for a future under siege.

One of the ways it is doing that is through its musical propaganda.

The Thistle & Shamrock: Dream Time

10 hours ago

Kick back with some soothing voices and free-spirited instrumentals in an episode featuring Dougie MacLean, Maire Brenan, Karen Matheson and Davy Spillane.

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You know how the old adage goes: "What Would Lou Reed Do?" OK, so nobody really says that — except for Kevin Morby, who says that mantra gave him the confidence to experiment more as he worked on his fourth album, City Music.

Sean Rowe On Mountain Stage

14 hours ago

Acclaimed acoustic rocker Sean Rowe returns to Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.Va.

Guitarist Dave Rosser, best known as a later-stage guitarist for both The Afghan Whigs and The Twilight Singers, died yesterday in New Orleans from cancer complications at 50 years old, his manager confirmed to NPR.

Rosser was also a busy sideman and studio presence in recent years, contributing to Tim Heidecker's semi-comedic 2016 album In Glendale, recent work from Mark Lanegan, including "Ode to Sad Disco," and The Internet's 2015 album Ego Death, including the song "Go With It."

Flesh World's story reads like something out of a cult comic book: two San Francisco musicians from seemingly different worlds bond over The Velvet Underground and The Jesus And Mary Chain, and start a cool band in the process.

For years the duo She Keeps Bees — songwriter, singer and guitarist Jessica Larrabee and drummer Andy LaPlant — has carved songs simultaneously asperous and velveted, pieces of minimalist rock 'n' roll driven by Larrabee's sensibility of volume and restraint, and bedrocked by a gifted, cashmere voice.

Cultural Appropriation Is, In Fact, Indefensible

18 hours ago

Last week, the New York Times published an op-ed titled "In Defense of Cultural Appropriation" in which writer Kenan Malik attempted to extol the virtues of artistic appropriation and chastise those who would stand in the way of necessary "cultural engagement." (No link, because you have Google and I'd rather not give that piece more traffic than it deserves.) What would have happened, he argues, had Elvis Presley not been able to swipe the sounds of black musicians?

The Norwegian songwriter and singer Siv Jakobsen seems to fill her tunes with a storm of lyrical tension, sung over a sea of instrumental calm — her new album, The Nordic Mellow, is not always as intense as the song we're premiering today, "Shallow Digger," would lead you to believe. (The high-powered arrangements here, in fact, remind me of Led Zeppelin's thunderous "Immigrant Song.")

We open on a beater driving across a washed-out Nevada, with an intro ripped right out of 1985. Echoing drums snap under a chugging bass line as Alex Cameron, dressed in all white, starts to sing about a wound deeper than the layers of synth that ramp up to the chorus — a relationship that you both cannot sustain and cannot leave.

Ani DiFranco's new album, her 20th, is called Binary. And, as is always the case with this artist, the music and the message are intertwined. The music on Binary is textured and ambitious — you can hear DiFranco's adopted home of New Orleans seeping through the floorboards. There are surprising guests, including Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.

The World's Ugliest Dog competition is a lie, or at least misleadingly named. Foldover skin, permanently protruding tongues, untameable wiry hair — those dogs are adorable and anyone who says otherwise has no heart. Noise-rock, on the other hand, thrives on ugly. It is the parasitic, shape-shifting monster of music, and Couch Slut is here to explosively mutate into a creature from The Thing.

Tim Westergren, the co-founder of Pandora who returned to the company's chief executive seat last year after the exit of Brian McAndrews, is leaving the company he started over 17 years ago, it was announced this morning. He will resign his position as chief executive and exit the company's board of directors.

Big Hush's first two cassettes are full of quiet songs played loud. With members from Pygmy Lush and Flasher, the D.C.-based band features (appropriately) hushed vocals from all four members, cooing over a messy, punk-sick shoegaze. It can, from songs that read as intimately as notes passed between friends, make for quite the harmony-riddled racket.

Lunice, the boundary-pushing hip-hop producer known for collaborations with Hudson Mohawke (with whom he produces as the duo TNGHT) and Azealia Banks, is finally gearing up to release his debut album, CCCLX, or 360 in Roman numerals. Out this September on LuckyMe, the project is some five years in the making and, as the title suggests, aims to be more than a one- or two-dimensional experience. Rather, it's an avant-garde mix of jolting, electronic hip-hop inspired by, and designed for, the stage.

Three days after releasing Big Fish Theory, his anticipated and very well-received second studio album, Vince Staples brought a dark and serrated album cut to his third appearance on The Tonight Show.

The BET Awards, like black America, is never a monolithic affair.

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