#XPN5050: 1973

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, David Dye is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1995.

Seriously. Look at how many incredible albums came out in 1973. We’re talking about some of the most classic of the classic rock albums of all time like Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon, Houses of the Holy by Led Zeppelin, Quadrophenia by The Who, Elton John’s Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Band On The Run by Paul McCartney and Wings, Lynyrd Skynyrd’s debut, Bruce Springsteen’s first and second albums, Steely Dan’s Countdown to Ecstasy and incredible albums by The Eagles, The Allman Brothers, Yes, Alice Cooper, Roxy Music, The Rolling Stones, Little Feat, and ZZ Top.

In 1973, R&B was on fire. Stevie Wonder released the ground breaking Innervisions, Marvin Gaye dropped Let’s Get it On, and Oakland’s Tower of Power gave us their seminal self-titled album. In other sounds, Herbie Hancock released the jazz funk classic Head Hunters, The Wailers released Catch A Fire, Tom Waits released his debut, Closing Time, and Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention blessed us with Over-Nite Sensation. Jazz fusion was in full effect: Mahavishnu Orchestra released Birds of Fire, and Mahavishnu drummer Billy Cobham debuted Stratus, a record that would serve as the musical blueprint for trip-hop when Massive Attack sampled it in 1991 on their song, “Safe From Harm.” Continue reading →


#XPN5050: 1995

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, David Dye is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1995.

Between Blur, Oasis, Pulp, and Elastical, the year 1995 saw the rise of Britpop in the alternative rock world, but that’s not all that was going on. Singer songwriters broke through in a big way, like Alanis Morissette and Joan Osborne on Jagged Little Pill and Relish. Heritage artists like Randy Newman, Paul Weller, and Annie Lennox made compelling new work, while hip-hop like Coolio and Shaggy ruled the charts.  Continue reading →


Brandi Carlile, Glen Hansard, Rufus Wainwright and more will appear on Joni Mitchell tribute album Joni 75

Joni Mitchell | photo by Jack Robinson | via Rolling Stone

Back in November, singer-songwriter icon Joni Mitchell celebrated her 75th birthday, and a tribute concert was held in her honor in Los Angeles. This March, a recording of that concert will be released, along with a documentary of the event hitting theaters.

Joni 75 features performances by a spectrum of artists, from Graham Nash (who performs “Our House,” a CSNY song written about his life with MItchell) to Norah Jones (who covers the title track to Court and Spark), Brandi Carlile (who duets with Kris Kristofferson on “A Case of You,” and sings “Down to You” from Court and Spark) and Rufus Wainwright (who sings “All I Want” from Blue, as well as that album’s title track). Continue reading →


Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah returns with collaborative album Ancestral Recall

Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah | photo courtesy of the artist

Jazz trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah just announced his new album, Ancestral Recall, which will be released on March 22 on Ropeadope Records. Adjuah is a critically-acclaimed jazz-fusion artist whose sound seeks to connect rather than separate jazz and non-jazz styles. His 2017 album, Emancipation Procrastination, is nominated for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album at this year’s GRAMMY Awards. Adujah says his new album “continues his mission to unify people via their musical and cultural voices by tearing down the sonic and social constructs that separate them.” The album will redefine genre lines and explore a new, expansive sound world that encompasses everything from West African and Carribbean rhythms to trap music and alt-rock. Continue reading →


Jamila Woods returns with “ZORA” from new album LEGACY! LEGACY!

Jamila Woods | photo by Bradley Murray | courtesy of the artist

Chicago singer-songwriter and #NPRSlingshot alum Jamila Woods returns this spring with LEGACY! LEGACY!, her sophomore album and followup to 2016’s acclaimed HEAVN. The album will be released via Jagjaguwar Records on May 10th, and finds Woods in a lyrically poetic place moreso then ever, as well as a collaborative one; the album features contributions from her fellow Chicagoan Saba, her prior tourmates in theMIND, as well as Nitty Scott, Nico Segal, and more.  Continue reading →


XPN’s Gotta Hear Songs of the Week: “Sisyphus” and “Bloodless” by Andrew Bird

Andrew Bird | photo by Amanda Demme | courtesy of the artist

Singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and whistler Andrew Bird releases his finest work yet, My Finest Work Yet, on March 22nd. With violin as is his primary instrument, his finest work yet is the followup to 2017’s Echolocations: River, the second in a series of records he made primarily using field recordings. Continue reading →


#XPN5050: 2010

For fifty weeks over the next year, we’re celebrating the music of a specific year every Saturday on WXPN. We’ll be choosing the years randomly; for this week’s #XPN5050, John Vettese is putting the musical spotlight on the year 2010.

The year 2010 was a year of high-highs, a year of records that swung for the fences and hit it more often than not. In the pop realm, it was a year of albums that found artists at the top of their game — Kanye West’s masterpiece, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, as well as Gorillaz’s Plastic Beach — and in some cases, just beginning their game with a bang (Janelle Monae’s funky fun ArchAndroid LP). It was also the year of bands previously known as “indie” — Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, The National — making that big leap into the manstream pool. And for some artists, they managed to do both things at once, as LCD Soundsystem did with their party rager This is Happening LP.
Continue reading →


Mitski’s new video for “A Pearl” disorients and delights


Mitski | still from video

Mitski‘s new music video for “A Pearl,” produced in collaboration with Spotify and Art Camp, is a swirling landscape in which the floor is literally pulled out from underneath you.

The video is made of over 1,400 individually painted frames that feature of a girl walking while the scene around her twists, turns, and flips upside down. It’s a dizzying experience as the figure runs through empty planes, a house coming to life, and even jumps off an unseen cliff into a choppy ocean. Continue reading →


Bridgers and Oberst’s Better Oblivion Community Center is familiar, yet fully and equitably intertwined

Better Oblivion Community Center | photo by Nik Freitas | courtesy of the artist

Frequent collaborators Phoebe Bridgers and Conor Oberst have worked together so often over the last few years that news of a full-length release from the duo shouldn’t surprise us — and yet it did. Maybe the two artists sensed that rolling out their new project, Better Oblivion Community Center, wouldn’t be a huge shocker if they did it the traditional way. According to a press release, the two songwriters “kept their plans under wraps for months as they wrote and recorded in Los Angeles in the summer and fall of 2018,” opting for some cryptic teaser brochures offering services like “chosen family therapy” and “free human empathy screenings.”

And before anyone could say the name of the new band three times fast, Better Oblivion Community Center was performing on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and their LP had appeared on streaming services. Continue reading →