#XPN5050: 2018

For fifty weeks this 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, Stephen Kallao is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1983.

Ready to feel nostalgic for…four months ago? This week on the #XPN5050, we revisit the music from 2018 that you loved at the time, and still love…because the time wasn’t all that long ago. Brandi Carlile, Kacey Musgraves, Janelle Monae, Hop Along, Lucy Dacus, Leon Bridges and more.

Mitski’s in the mix with “Nobody,” and Childish Gambino will appear with “This Is America.” We’ll also spotlight music that maybe you missed by The 1975, and The Interrupters…or music that you couldn’t possibly have missed, like Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s “Shallow.” Continue reading →


Charles Bradley’s posthumous single “Lonely as You Are” offers comfort in the face of mortality

Charles Bradley | photo by Giles Clement

Charles Bradley’s final wishes will be fulfilled with the release of the last songs he recorded. Bradley, who passed away following a battle with stomach cancer in 2017, wrote and recorded “Lonely as You Are” in New York shortly after his diagnosis, and the song was released posthumously today. A second track from the session, “Lucifer,” will be released next month. Continue reading →


Watch Sharon Van Etten cover Sinéad O’Connor’s “Black Boys On Mopeds” for SiriusXM

Sharon Van Etten | photo by Rachel Barrish for WXPN

Sharon Van Etten has been performing a cover of Sinéad O’Connor’s “Black Boys On Mopeds” on tour this year, and recently she stopped by SiriusXM to record a live acoustic version of the powerful song. “Black Boys On Mopeds,” from O’Connor’s 1989 album I Do Not Want What I Haven’t Got, was written in response to the 1983 death of Colin Roach, a 21-year old black man who was shot and killed inside a London police station. Though the death was ruled a suicide, the circumstances of the tragedy spurred protests that still feel painfully relevant in today’s world. Continue reading →


Bruce Springsteen is releasing a new album called Western Stars

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band | photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN |
Bruce Springsteen | photo by Joe Del Tufo for WXPN |

After a couple days of teasing the news on Twitter with prismic photos of Western landscapes, Bruce Springsteen has announced his 19th studio album will be called Western Stars, and it comes out June 14th on Columbia Records.

On one level, it appears The Boss is hopping on the super-prevalent cowboy trend in pop culture that runs from Kacey Musgraves to Lil Nas X to Orville Peck and Chris Stapleton; that title, the photo of a galloping stallion on the cover (see below), song titles like “Tuscon Train” and “Chasin’ Wild Horses.” Then again, wasn’t Bruce doing Americana like 40 years ago? So maybe it’s just the trends coming back around to him. Continue reading →


#XPN5050: 1983

For fifty weeks this 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, Robert Drake is putting the musical spotlight on the year 1983.

In the third year of the eighth decade of the twentieth century, the new wave of Talking Heads’ Speaking in Tongues walked arm in arm with the bookish college rock of R.E.M.’s Murmur. David Bowie demanded Let’s Dance, and The B-52s gave us plenty of fodder to do so with Whammy!. Donna Summer showed how she works hard for the money, Herbie Hancock blew minds with “Rockit,” and New Edition introduced themselves to us and “Candy Girl.” And let’s not forget War, the third studio album and commercial breakthrough from U2.  Continue reading →


Gary Clark Jr. brings family and blues-rock to the NPR Music Tiny Desk

Gary Clark Jr. | still from video

Blues-rock champion Gary Clark Jr. took on the NPR Tiny Desk stage this week with a dazzling, stripped back set. Behind the famous desk, Clark shared songs from his recent album, This Land, which reflect on the black experience in America after the 2016 election, as well as stories from his personal life. Clark chose to focus on the personal rather than the radical in this performance, but as NPR put it, “these songs still roared with the assurance and force of a showman at the top of his game.” Continue reading →


Aretha Franklin was awarded a posthumous Pulitzer Prize

Aretha Franklin’s Amazing Grace | still from film

When the Pulitzer Prize winners were announced yesterday, the legendary gospel / R&B / rock / soul force of nature Aretha Franklin received a posthumous Special Citation award.

Franklin passed away on August 16 of last year following a fight with pancreatic cancer. Prior to that, she spent more than a half century working in music: singing in the gospel circuit during her teenage years, becoming a pop star in the 60s, and continuing recording and performing for the rest of her life, from a late 90s collab with Lauryn Hill to her final U.S. tour in 2017. Continue reading →


XPN’s Gotta Hear Song of the Week: “Wedding Bell Blues” by Morrissey ft. Billie Joe Armstrong

Morrissey | Photo by Joe Del Tufo |

“Wedding Bell Blues” is a song written by Laura Nyro in 1966 and first recorded on her debut album of the same year, More Than A New Discovery. Three years after Nyro released the song, it was covered by the singing group The 5th Dimension, who had a number one hit with it.

Teaming up with Green Day’s Billy Joe Armstrong, Morrissey covers “Wedding Bell Blues” on his new collection of cover songs, California Son. Continue reading →