Arts & Culture

Ways to Connect

The director John Woo, whose filmography contains an aggregate body count in the quadruple digits, has frequently observed that action movies and musicals are close cousins. He's right about that, and I offer into evidence Edgar Wright's intoxicating new chase flick Baby Driver as Exhibit A.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

The last film by documentary giant Albert Maysles gets a rare screening this week in New York. It's called In Transit, and it takes place entirely on the Empire Builder, a train that runs between Chicago and the Pacific Northwest over three days. Some passengers are heading toward new opportunities, while others are just trying to get away.

Tales from the American West are marked by heroism, romance and plenty of cruelty. Among those stories, the saga of the Donner Party stands alone — a band of pioneers set out in covered wagons for California, and eventually, stranded, snowbound and starving, resorted to cannibalism.

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.

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

DAVE DAVIES, HOST:

Three investigative journalists at CNN have resigned after the network retracted a story about a congressional inquiry into a link between a Russian investment fund and an American financier who is an adviser to President Trump.

Those departing are a past Pulitzer Prize winner, a finalist for the award and a senior editor who had been at CNN since 2001.

Venture capital is concentrated on the coasts. Most of the investment for new, high-tech businesses goes to Silicon Valley, New York or Boston. Steve Case wants to change that.

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.

If you've never heard of Alexander von Humboldt, a once world-renowned Prussian scientist who predicted man-made climate change in 1800 and was an adviser to President Thomas Jefferson, then a New Hampshire distillery is aiming to change that, one glass at a time.

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.

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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Over the past few months, we've been talking about how we find ourselves in such uncertain times. Some think it's because of the divisions among us.

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The Nordic speculative-fiction scene has become increasingly prominent in the past few years, with authors such Leena Krohn and Johanna Sinisalo, both from Finland, garnering fresh attention and translations in the United States. In Sweden, one of the most promising authors of science fiction and fantasy in recent years has been Karin Tidbeck.

Behind the scenes at major art museums, conservators are hard at work, keeping masterpieces looking their best. Their methods are meticulous — and sometimes surprising.

The painting conservation studio at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., is filled with priceless works sitting on row after row of tall wooden easels, or lying on big, white-topped worktables.

In Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Titus Andromedon is a show-stealing character. Tituss Burgess plays the mostly out-of-work actor who's black, gay and an endearing friend to the very naive Kimmy Schmidt.

Inside The Aspen Ideas Festival

Jun 26, 2017

Big, brave, innovative thinking is what the annual Aspen Ideas Festival encourages. This year, 1A joins the event in Aspen, Colorado, for conversations about current events, politics, law, economics and social trends with some of the world’s brightest minds.

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

The first book of the Harry Potter series went on sale in the U.K. 20 years ago today. It offers a convenient excuse to reacquaint yourself with a world before anyone on this side of the Atlantic had heard of muggles, horcruxes or pensieves, before tourists would crowd into London's Kings Cross railway station simply to peer wistfully at the space between Platforms Nine and Ten.

Here's the first story NPR ever aired about Harry Potter — a wonderful piece by the late Margot Adler, from All Things Considered in 1998.

Some gems, from that bygone era:

Copyright 2017 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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This is FRESH AIR.

(SOUNDBITE OF SEXMOB'S "HEAR YOU")

"I'm terrified as usual. Absolutely terrified," Radiohead leader Thom Yorke told the BBC ahead of the band's headlining performance at Glastonbury on Friday night.

Yorke's nervousness translated into a typically transcendent concert with a recording that actually does it justice, too. (Live recordings always tend to be a little light on the low end, but let us abandon nitpicks).

Head here and start at 28:25 to hear the beginning of the band's set.

Let's Eat Grandma: Defying Commas And Expectations

Jun 26, 2017

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