Ann Powers http://publicradioeast.org en God, Drugs And Lizard Aliens: Yep, It's Country Music http://publicradioeast.org/post/god-drugs-and-lizard-aliens-yep-its-country-music <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LWx6csgGkg4</p> Thu, 17 Apr 2014 16:07:00 +0000 Ann Powers 39148 at http://publicradioeast.org God, Drugs And Lizard Aliens: Yep, It's Country Music Why We Fight About Pop Music http://publicradioeast.org/post/why-we-fight-about-pop-music In 2007, the Canadian music critic Carl Wilson published a book-length experiment in extreme aesthetic sport: a sincere and shockingly comprehensive study of music he had already decided he hated. Tue, 15 Apr 2014 14:41:00 +0000 Ann Powers 38967 at http://publicradioeast.org Why We Fight About Pop Music First Listen: The Afghan Whigs, 'Do To The Beast' http://publicradioeast.org/post/first-listen-afghan-whigs-do-beast A lover's obsessiveness may charm at first, but it can soon turn frightening. For an artist, the relentless pursuit of one object — a sound, a memory dragged up and reshaped, a fantasy that makes the long hours of work feel intimate — feeds creativity or freezes it. Greg Dulli has been chasing the same seductive nightmare since he was 22, when his band <a href="http://www.npr.org/2012/11/02/164173529/afghan-whigs-on-world-cafe">The Afghan Whigs</a> formed. Next year, he'll turn 50. Mon, 07 Apr 2014 03:32:00 +0000 Ann Powers 38266 at http://publicradioeast.org First Listen: The Afghan Whigs, 'Do To The Beast' First Listen: Ben Watt, 'Hendra' http://publicradioeast.org/post/first-listen-ben-watt-hendra The stranger on the bus, the woman who gives you your change at the corner store; every human loves and hurts and finds a way to navigate through life's confusions. But most people don't share their inner lives with many others. It's a special gift when an artist tells the stories of plain people in an ordinary voice, leaving in the stops and starts, the seeming banality, and the unadorned insight that each of us experiences when things hit hard, or when the days and nights just go on.<p>Ben Watt is a master of detail and of quietude. Mon, 07 Apr 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 38265 at http://publicradioeast.org First Listen: Ben Watt, 'Hendra' Make Peace With Pop: 6 Songs That Prove Pop Gets Along With Everyone http://publicradioeast.org/post/make-peace-pop <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ShSDMPlX8No</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ou5T1SeGhOo</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DBr5FPIL8UU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gtATrfNQJLU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EzoazPPC7b8</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36mCEZzzQ3o</p> Fri, 04 Apr 2014 21:13:00 +0000 Ann Powers 38151 at http://publicradioeast.org First Listen: EMA, 'The Future's Void' http://publicradioeast.org/post/first-listen-ema-futures-void Erika M. Anderson appreciates the flickering quality of meaning. She likes the sparks that fly off sounds, igniting constructive confusion: the buzz that makes an old synth sound like a guitar, or the way an acoustic beat can crash into an electronic one to make a whole nervous system of rhythm. She's also into wordplay, starting with the name of her ongoing project EMA — an acronym that could stand for a government agency but, read another way, is a feminine name. Then there's the title of her second album, <em>The Future's Void</em>, with its odd, homonym-like instability. Mon, 31 Mar 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 37681 at http://publicradioeast.org First Listen: EMA, 'The Future's Void' First Listen: Nickel Creek, 'A Dotted Line' http://publicradioeast.org/post/first-listen-nickel-creek-dotted-line "I think we're more grown-up now, to use an extremely childlike term," the violinist Sara Watkins recently <a href="http://www.independent.com/news/2014/mar/19/sara-watkinss-fresh-starts/">told a reporter</a> who asked what had changed in the eight years since Nickel Creek — the trio of Watkins, guitarist Sean Watkins (her brother) and mandolinist Chris Thile — released a studio album. Watkins' words astutely acknowledged the expectations leveled at the former child prodigies, who wowed bluegrass and country fans with three precocious albums in the early 2000s. Mon, 24 Mar 2014 03:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 37141 at http://publicradioeast.org First Listen: Nickel Creek, 'A Dotted Line' Lady Gaga At SXSW: 'Don't Sell Out. Sell In.' http://publicradioeast.org/post/lady-gaga-sxsw-dont-sell-out-sell <em>On Friday, March 14, Lady Gaga gave the keynote at SXSW 2014, a long interview conducted by John Norris that covered her career in pop, from her roots in the rock clubs of downtown New York to her decision to partner with a corporate sponsor for the concert she performed at Stubb's the night before. Sat, 15 Mar 2014 15:45:00 +0000 Ann Powers 36523 at http://publicradioeast.org Lady Gaga At SXSW: 'Don't Sell Out. Sell In.' The Guide To Making SXSW Fun (For Everybody) http://publicradioeast.org/post/guide-making-sxsw-fun-everybody The last thing anyone would say about South By Southwest is that it's an avenue for self-improvement. The annual mega gathering, which began last week for film and interactive-technology mavens and turns into a music conference and festival tomorrow, fulfills many needs for the culture nerd. Communal bonding? Yes – somewhere around 100,000 people will wander the Austin streets looking to high-five each other during this time. Fun? For sure. Mon, 10 Mar 2014 15:56:00 +0000 Ann Powers 36076 at http://publicradioeast.org The Guide To Making SXSW Fun (For Everybody) Hearing Devotion In Pop's Details http://publicradioeast.org/post/hearing-devotion-pops-details <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ktvTqknDobU</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hT_nvWreIhg</p> Fri, 21 Feb 2014 08:39:00 +0000 Ann Powers 34816 at http://publicradioeast.org Hearing Devotion In Pop's Details First Listen: St. Paul And The Broken Bones, 'Half The City' http://publicradioeast.org/post/first-listen-st-paul-and-broken-bones-half-city About a year ago, I saw St. Paul and the Broken Bones perform at a tiny club in Tuscaloosa, Ala., called the Green Bar. The Birmingham band's six members squeezed onto the stage, looking like ragtag school kids. Singer Paul Janeway, nerd-tastic in spectacles and a Sunday suit, unfurled a handkerchief. He started to croon, then shout and wail.<p>The two horn players rang the blues; the rhythm section slipped into a hot pocket; the guitarist pulled out some nimble riffs. Janeway kept hitting notes that I'd only heard before from soulful elders like Bobby Bland. Mon, 10 Feb 2014 04:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 33952 at http://publicradioeast.org First Listen: St. Paul And The Broken Bones, 'Half The City' First Listen: Robert Ellis, 'The Lights From The Chemical Plant' http://publicradioeast.org/post/first-listen-robert-ellis-lights-chemical-plant The quality of mystery is undervalued in music these days. It's often mimicked via indecipherable lyrics, mumbled vocals or spooky sound effects, but that's not the real stuff. Rarely does anyone touch upon that delicate, open-ended state of unknowing that can descend on any given day, whether you're locked in a lover's embrace or just sitting in front of the television.<p>Robert Ellis is pursuing that kind of mystery. Mon, 27 Jan 2014 04:02:00 +0000 Ann Powers 32893 at http://publicradioeast.org First Listen: Robert Ellis, 'The Lights From The Chemical Plant' Hurray For The Riff Raff's New Political Folk http://publicradioeast.org/post/hurray-riff-raffs-new-political-folk How many choruses does it take to turn a party song into an engine causing social change? Is it possible to honor American cultural traditions while dismantling the traps and habits that make them restrictive? Every so often a new voice engages these basic questions in subtle, exciting new ways. Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:09:00 +0000 Ann Powers 32658 at http://publicradioeast.org Hurray For The Riff Raff's New Political Folk First Listen: Laura Cantrell, 'No Way There From Here' http://publicradioeast.org/post/first-listen-laura-cantrell-no-way-there-here "I'm under city lights, and it's all right," <a href="http://www.npr.org/artists/14957622/laura-cantrell">Laura Cantrell</a> sings in one of the 12 deceptively lovely songs on <em>No Way There From Here</em> — her first album, besides a 2011 <a href="http://www.npr.org/search/index.php?searchinput=kitty+wells">Kitty Wells</a> tribute, in nine years. The line is about a love that thrives in spite of occasional separation; its story is typical of Cantrell's wry, wise viewpoint on feminine maturity. But it also says something about this Queens-based lover of vintage Nashville sounds. Mon, 20 Jan 2014 04:02:00 +0000 Ann Powers 32405 at http://publicradioeast.org First Listen: Laura Cantrell, 'No Way There From Here' The Knife On 'Shaking' Expectations http://publicradioeast.org/post/knife-shaking-expectations <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W10F0ezCTIQ</p> Wed, 01 Jan 2014 18:06:00 +0000 Ann Powers & Jacob Ganz 31077 at http://publicradioeast.org The Knife On 'Shaking' Expectations '12 Years A Slave' Is This Year's Best Film About Music http://publicradioeast.org/post/12-years-slave-years-best-film-about-music <em>12 Years a Slave </em>is the most compelling film about music to be released this year, maybe this century. It's so many other things, too, as others have noted: a corrective to the weird cocktail of piety and cartoonishness that Hollywood usually supplies when depicting slavery; a gorgeous art film and an actor's hellish paradise; a cultural highlight of the Obama administration. Wed, 13 Nov 2013 19:13:00 +0000 Ann Powers 27656 at http://publicradioeast.org '12 Years A Slave' Is This Year's Best Film About Music Holding Music History In Your Hands: Why Archives Matter http://publicradioeast.org/post/holding-music-history-your-hands-why-archives-matter <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=as1rsZenwNc</p> Fri, 01 Nov 2013 12:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 26792 at http://publicradioeast.org Holding Music History In Your Hands: Why Archives Matter What Lou Reed Taught Me http://publicradioeast.org/post/what-lou-reed-taught-me <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkG9BKgDvNI</p><p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QYEC4TZsy-Y</p> Sun, 27 Oct 2013 19:36:00 +0000 Ann Powers 26399 at http://publicradioeast.org What Lou Reed Taught Me Song Premiere: Christopher Denny, My Morning Jacket's 'Bermuda Highway' http://publicradioeast.org/post/song-premiere-christopher-denny-my-morning-jackets-bermuda-highway Five years ago, a listener looking for a lonesome song anywhere near Arkansas might have heard a voice she still can't forget. Christopher Denny was 23 when he released <em><a href="http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=16258838">Age Old Hunger</a></em>, introducing the world to a high Southern warble that doesn't defy gravity so much as play with the tension that force creates – an androgynous, time-jumping instrument. Denny was learning to control his singing then, a process he says is more about instinct than craft. "I have to say... Thu, 10 Oct 2013 12:03:00 +0000 Ann Powers 25215 at http://publicradioeast.org Song Premiere: Christopher Denny, My Morning Jacket's 'Bermuda Highway' Drake And Pop Music's Good Girl Problem http://publicradioeast.org/post/drake-and-pop-musics-good-girl-problem <p>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ukCyt47eIkA</p> Wed, 18 Sep 2013 19:01:00 +0000 Ann Powers 23621 at http://publicradioeast.org Drake And Pop Music's Good Girl Problem