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Tom Moon

Tom Moon has been writing about pop, rock, jazz, blues, hip-hop and the music of the world since 1983.

He is the author of the New York Times bestseller 1000 Recordings To Hear Before You Die (Workman Publishing), and a contributor to other books including The Final Four of Everything.

A saxophonist whose professional credits include stints on cruise ships and several tours with the Maynard Ferguson orchestra, Moon served as music critic at the Philadelphia Inquirer from 1988 until 2004. His work has appeared in Rolling Stone, GQ, Blender, Spin, Vibe, Harp and other publications, and has won several awards, including two ASCAP-Deems Taylor Music Journalism awards. He has contributed to NPR's All Things Considered since 1996.

Every so often, you run across a collection that opens up an entirely new way to think about an artist. Jack White 's new, 26-track retrospective, which focuses on his unplugged, less raucous songs, does just that. The unreleased songs, album tracks and B-sides that make up Jack White Acoustic Recordings, 1998-2016 offer a fresh window onto the work of the creative, prolific rock musician. These short songs show White's delightfully scrambled take on American roots music. He starts out in...

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Note: NPR's audio for First Listens comes down after the album is released. However, you can still listen with the Spotify playlist at the bottom of the page . Record-making is typically not a spectator sport. Most of the time, what we hear from a recording artist is exactly what the artist intended to share, and no more. That "finished" product follows from a thousand individual decisions, each involving an embrace of risk, a willingness to experiment and, in the event of a crash, the wisdom...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript AUDIE CORNISH, HOST: Son Little's music can be a little tricky to classify. One writer called him Sam Cook in outer space. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "YOUR LOVE WILL BLOW ME AWAY") SON LITTLE: (Singing) Runaway, this afghan kush we're bubbling won't burn away. CORNISH: The singer, also known as Aaron Livingston, came up in R&B and hip-hop and has recorded with The Roots and RJD2. He says he makes American music. Tom Moon has been...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ARI SHAPIRO, HOST: Craig Finn is part of a quickly growing demographic group - aging indie rockers. He led the band Lifter Puller in the '90s and is still the front man of The Hold Steady. His breathless songs look at the indie rock scene with a romantic eye. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "I HOPE THIS WHOLE THING DIDN'T FRIGHTEN YOU") THE HOLD STEADY: (Singing) There's just these guys that I know. We go back pretty deep. And I hope...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript RACHEL MARTIN, HOST: When he started the Robert Glasper Experiment, the pianist was trying to blend hip-hop, jazz and R-and-B into a new sound. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "CHERISH THE DAY") ROBERT GLASPER EXPERIMENT: (Singing) Cherish the day. I won't go astray. I won't be afraid. You won't catch me running moving the way that I move. MARTIN: It was a surprise success. The Experiment's 2012 debut, "Black Radio," was awarded the...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4m_jSBbiplw For some people, gospel music is all about the message — of faith and forbearance, sin and salvation. For the members of the mostly instrumental supergroup known as The Word, gospel is more about a feeling. The group's long-awaited second album , Soul Food, is a rousing, thoroughly modern take on gospel. Robert Randolph , a leading practitioner of what's known as "sacred steel" guitar, was just beginning to perform outside of church when The Word...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-5OX7CO26c Brittany Howard sure can raise the roof. The singer possesses a furious streak, with startling rawness in her delivery. When I first caught Alabama Shakes live, the focus was all on her. The thing was, the band behind her sounded oddly flat: The musicians had clearly done their homework on Memphis soul, but they didn't take the music anyplace interesting. What a difference a couple years on the road can make. This time around, the musicians of...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST: Singer and cellist Dominique Pinto has moved around a lot in her 24 years. She's better known as Dom La Nena. She was born in Brazil, grew up in Paris and studied classical music as a teenager in Buenos Aires. She's also been touring the world since turning 18. Reviewer Tom Moon says that sense of perpetual motion informs her second album called "Soyo." TOM MOON, BYLINE: What happens if you travel a...

Dylan The Crooner

Feb 3, 2015

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6S7nTLeMdAk Bard. Voice of a generation. Bob Dylan has been called many things over the years. With his new album, Shadows in the Night, the 73-year-old aims for another title: crooner. The new LP features Dylan's versions of 10 songs from the Great American Songbook — all of them recorded at one time or another by Frank Sinatra — and it's a strange, moody, sometimes brilliant left turn for the artist. Dylan's voice isn't exactly cut out for torch singing. He's...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: Saxophonist Bobby Keys was still a teenager when he started playing with his fellow Texan Buddy Holly and pop star Bobby Vee. Later, he joined up with the Rolling Stones. And for more than 40 years, Bobby Keys' powerful sax was a key part of their sound. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "BROWN SUGAR") BLOCK: Bobby Keys died today at his home in Franklin, Tennessee. He was 70 years old. Our music critic Tom Moon...

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, BYLINE: A jazz singer for the hip-hop generation - that's how Jose James was described after he released his first album last year for the famed Blue Note record label. James has now released a follow-up. It's called, While You Were Sleeping. And reviewer Tom Moon says the 35-year-old shows phenomenal growth. (SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING") JOSE JAMES: (Singing) Shadows long upon my face. Shadows long upon my face. TOM MOON, BYLINE: Catch up with Jose...

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/. Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: The singer and songwriter Beck is considered one of the most innovative artists of his generation. This week, he released "Morning Phase," his first new album in six years. Critic Tom Moon says the new record returns back to the brooding pop of 2002's "Sea Change," which many consider his best work. TOM MOON: We hear it constantly. Everything in this on-demand culture seems to be moving fast and...

Transcript MELISSA BLOCK, HOST: Finally this hour, a new perspective on the enduring influence of The Beatles. It comes from another four-piece British rock band called Temples. The group is from the town of Kettering. Critics have been raving about them since last summer. Their debut album, "Sun Structures," has now been released here in the U.S. And hearing it might whisk you away to 1960s Liverpool. Here's our critic, Tom Moon. TOM MOON, BYLINE: If nothing else, Temples has impeccable...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0zP14N9ZQcE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kROre63J0Lw http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yAQhtkWB0RU It's the fall of 1970. Neil Young takes the stage at a small club in Washington, D.C. His career is heading in a new direction: His folk-rock group, Buffalo Springfield, has dissolved; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young is on the way out, and he's going solo. His new album, Live at the Cellar Door, is one of three recent live albums, all from about the same time period....

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nP3ctBs3510 The apparatus Joni Mitchell famously described as " the star-maker machinery behind the popular song " has been in overdrive lately, preparing the world for Lady Gaga 's new music. Since the summer, there's been a steadily rising crescendo of leaks and audacious tweets and pop-up performances in various countries. Last month, at a nightclub in London, the singer-songwriter scored extra media coverage by disrobing completely while singing a song...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5rgHYP0dD_4 When Tom Odell received the 2013 BRIT Critics' Choice Award in February, his career looked to be on the fast track. Previous winners of the award, which recognizes a promising newcomer, include the megastar Adele . Just weeks after the win, a critic at the music weekly NME gave Odell's album a rare zero-star review, describing him as a "poor misguided wannabe." So, who's right? This much is for sure: Tom Odell is a type — the somewhat fragile,...

Guitarist Pat Metheny is revered for his bright, accessible modern jazz. Saxophonist and composer John Zorn is associated with much knottier, often dissonant experiments. Metheny's new Tap: John Zorn's Book of Angels, Vol. 20 unites these two known opposites of instrumental music, and the result is often intensely visual. (If for some reason a Hollywood film director asks me to suggest music to accompany an exotic Orient Express railroad caper, I'll be ready.) Metheny has been making records...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GH8Jjz6PRYk These days, when a rock band is tagged as a next big thing, there's usually some high-concept gimmick involved. Dawes is different. Singer and guitarist Taylor Goldsmith writes straightforward verse-chorus-bridge songs that focus on the turmoil beneath the surface of relationships, romantic and otherwise. Some seem downright ordinary — until Goldsmith shifts perspective between verses or slips in a startlingly self-aware observation that makes you...

When singer Thom Yorke stepped away from his influential rock band Radiohead in 2006 to release The Eraser , many thought the quirky electronic project was a one-off. Not so, it turns out. Yorke and producer Nigel Godrich called on rock-star friends for a tour, and since then, the group has convened occasionally in the studio. Now known as Atoms For Peace , the band has a new album, entitled Amok . It presents Yorke in a dizzying new context. Inside the famously fevered head of Yorke, the...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zsvTfaAAVBg When he's leading his band My Morning Jacket , Jim James often comes across as a seeker — someone with at least passing curiosity about the metaphysical, if not the unknowable. On his first solo album, Regions of Light and Sound of God , his questioning goes a bit deeper. Throughout the record, James is the typical lost soul looking for anything genuine in a sea of artifice. His vulnerable melodies give off a sense of profound doubt, like in "Actress...

An expanded version of Fleetwood Mac 's 1977 album Rumours comes out this week, to mark the 35th anniversary of one of the top-selling albums of the '70s. The deluxe set includes demos, outtakes from the recording sessions, live recordings and a documentary DVD, along with a vinyl pressing of the original album. The original 11 songs of the pop-rock classic Rumours can be experienced easily in one sitting. Apparently, that's just not enough anymore. When the die-hards plunk down their $85 for...

After a slew of multidisc sets devoted to key points in the career of Miles Davis , you'd think Columbia Records would have unearthed every speck of consequential music by now. But not quite. This week, Columbia brings out Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 — a three-CD, one-DVD set devoted to the jazz maverick's "lost" quintet, his touring band from 1969. Playing hard, pivoting between moods and meters with whiplash-inducing quickness, these guys are breathing a brand of fire...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e-fA-gBCkj0 I became a Bruno Mars fan in about 60 seconds. It happened in the car, when "Grenade" — from his first album, Doo-Wops & Hooligans — came on the radio. One time through the refrain and I was hooked. With just this album and a string of cameo appearances from the Hawaii-born singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, Mars established himself as an elite pop talent. Like a lot of people, I was curious to see where this guy would go next. The answer,...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bemz-7fofcs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCbEOT4PTDc What explains the continued relevance of Neil Young ? It's not simply that he wrote great songs decades ago. Not just that fragile voice. One thing that's always set him apart is creative restlessness: Since the early 1970s, he's been a moving target, putting out earnest acoustic confessionals followed by quirky experiments followed by the visceral, savage rock that inspired Nirvana and many others. It's...

The spread of formal jazz education has created a new breed of global musician: one who uses improvisation, and other devices associated with jazz, to transform folk and traditional music. The Albanian singer Elina Duni is part of this rising class. Her latest release, Matane Malit ("Beyond the Mountain"), offers a transfixing balance of old and new. When Duni was growing up, the singer and composer says she didn't pay much attention to the folk music loved by her grandparents. She went to...

It's gotten to that point in the dog days of August where the air is stale and nothing seems to be moving. But sometimes all it takes to snap me out of a late-summer heat coma is the sound of a new and electrifying voice — like that of Lianne La Havas. The first thing that grabbed me about the 22-year-old British singer was a curious moment halfway through a song called "Lost & Found" on her debut record, Is Your Love Big Enough? The music is moving at a stately, confessional pace. She's...

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