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

TERRY GROSS, HOST:

Surely, Oakhurst Dairy would have done well to heed the immortal words of the '80s hair band Cinderella: "Don't know what you got (till it's gone)."

The milk and cream company based in Portland, Maine, likely never appreciated the serial comma — also known as an Oxford comma — so much as it did Monday, when the lack of that little curved stroke cost the company an appeals court ruling that centered on overtime rules for drivers.

The Shins visited our studio for one of the first full-band performances behind the new album Heartworms. Frontman James Mercer produced this album on his own — something he hasn't done since The Shins' 2001 debut album, Oh, Inverted World. "The Fear" sounds incredible live with a string section.

Set List

  • "The Fear"

Photo: Larry Hirshowitz/KCRW.

If you had to rank Harriet Tubman and Kanye West in order of blackness, who would be first? Who's blacker, Malcolm X or Martin Luther King Jr.?

I've shed many of my physical books during my various moves, but one that I still have is Bill Walsh's Lapsing Into A Comma. Its subtitle: A Curmudgeon's Guide to the Many Things That Can Go Wrong In Print — and How to Avoid Them. I either loaned it to someone at some point or I intended to, because I wrote on the dedication page: "A book I read and loved, that it takes a grouchy writer to appreciate."

That comma should not be there, so that's embarrassing.

Updated at 6:55 p.m. ET

A post on McDonald's corporate Twitter account caused a stir Thursday morning, denigrating President Trump and calling for Barack Obama's return. The tweet was up for about 20 minutes only — but in that time, it was liked and retweeted more than 1,000 times.

"You are actually a disgusting excuse of a President and we would love to have @BarackObama back," said the tweet, which was briefly pinned to the top of the McDonald's page. It concluded, "also you have tiny hands."

Photo courtesy of John Harris

"Mr. Tuck And the 13 Heroes" is a new children's book about the first elementary school in Henry County to desegregate black and white students. In 1966, Fairview Elementary accepted thirteen students of color--an effort led by then principal, Brooks Tuck.

The author of the book is John Harris, whose father was friends with Mr. Tuck. We spoke with Harris along with the illustrator, his daughter Sophie Harris.

"Swimmer Among the Stars," the title story of Kanishk Tharoor's debut collection, tackles one of the trickiest subjects for fiction writers: using language to discuss language itself. In it, a team of ethnographers track down an elderly woman in a remote village who's believed to be the last living speaker of a soon-to-be-extinct language. As they record her speech, hoping to capture enough of it to reconstitute and preserve it for archeological posterity, things go sideways.

The resistance is real in the world of Amazon Video's original series The Man in The High Castle, based on the award-winning book by Philip K. Dick. Set in 1962, the show imagines a history where Germany and Japan actually won World War II and, 17 years after the loss, the United States is split between Nazi Germany (the East Coast) and Imperial Japan (the West Coast). In the midst of it all, a resistance movement has been formed in a neutral zone to fight for freedom.

Daymé Arocena must be an old soul. She's a bright, young singer with a surprisingly mature voice that's deep and dynamic. Her spirit is exuberant and her style is rich, steeped in Cuba's African rhythms and Santería culture and influenced by Whitney Houston, North American pop and jazz.

Amid truck horns and the distant sounds of Montell Jordan's "This Is How We Do It," the All Songs Considered team gathered outside of Stubb's BBQ to recount a day overflowing with new musical discoveries and old favorites. On Wednesday night, NPR Music hosted its annual showcase at Stubb's. That event at that place has become as ritual as tacos and crowded streets for this crowd, but the show still astonished them. Stephen Thompson fell for Sylvan Esso's new songs.

'Inexplicable Logic' Maps A Teen Boy's Complicated Mind

Mar 16, 2017

In the realm of young adult literature, the biggest tomes are usually fantasies, the kind that require several hundred years of history, culture, and politics to ground an intricate plot. The Inexplicable Logic of My Life has the word count of a book with worlds to build, but rather than using its pages to explore the confines of an imaginary land, it delves deeply into the complex inner world of one teenaged boy.

If you've ever spent an afternoon with "Under the Sea" or "A Whole New World" or "Be Our Guest" stuck in your head, you can thank composer Alan Menken.

Menken scored The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast and many other Disney classics. He says he prefers his songs "to be hum-able."

It was all too easy to paint the recent era of carousing country jams with a broad, dismissive brush. Reworking familiar tropes has always been central to country songwriting, so it wasn't merely the presence of repetition that rankled.

For more than a decade, singer-songwriter Sera Cahoone has specialized in a shy, introverted kind of folk music: She started her career at the back of the stage, playing drums for Carissa's Wierd and Band Of Horses, and the solo songs that followed reflected the gently unassuming nature of a singer who couldn't showboat in the spotlight if she tried.

Kelly Lee Owens' self-titled debut is a folk-pop album – kind of like how Arthur Russell, a longtime hero of the singer/songwriter/producer for whom she names the collection's wonderful second track, is a folk-pop artist. That is, completely and not all. Its melodies are effortless, romantic and repetitive; its atmosphere replete with pastoral open spaces and the kind of spiritual longing at the heart of human intimacy.

At the end of 2014, Geneviève Castrée and I were writing back and forth to each other about domestic life, baking bread, and the forthcoming records by both her own Ô Paon project (Fleuve) and and that of her husband Phil Elverum: Mount Eerie's Sauna.

The new movie Life, which opens March 24, is about astronauts who discover an alien life form and live to regret it. You could say exactly the same thing about Alien: Covenant, which was originally scheduled to open the following Friday — until someone realized that was a recipe for box-office disaster. Alien: Covenant will now open in early May, and that close call, crazy as it is, isn't uncommon in Hollywood.

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

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

Valerie June's "Astral Plane" was already made to be a lullaby, a softly swaying, country-tinged soul song that scrapes the stratosphere. On the studio version from The Order Of Time, it's dipped in gauzy guitar and keys.

After missing two chances to control the compositions he co-authored while in The Beatles — once in 1969 when he and John Lennon were outbid and again to Michael Jackson, in a duplicitous move by the King of Pop, in the '80s — Paul McCartney is not taking any chances.

The new film, Get Out, defies easy classification. Though it has funny moments, it's primarily a horror film, with racial anxiety at its center. Writer-director Jordan Peele tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross that he thinks of Get Out as a "social thriller."

What's the best way to become the unchallenged expert on a particular genre of music? Invent it. Enter JD Ryznar, Hunter Stair, David B. Lyons and Steve Huey: coiners of the description "yacht rock," creators of a hilarious web series of the same name and now de facto captains of the genre.

It's not hyperbole to suggest that Wolfgang Voigt's album POP, under the pseudonym GAS, is one of the greatest — if not the best — ambient albums of the past 20 years. Released in 2000, POP is a masterpiece of symphonic bliss that set a new standard for beatless electronic music.

Public radio hosts from around the country, along with thousands of other music lovers, descended on Austin, Texas, this week to stand in long lines and eat breakfast tacos. And when they're not complaining about the former or posting Instagrams of the latter, they attend an ungodly number of concerts in the hopes of stumbling upon the next big band. Each day this week, All Songs Considered and hosts from our partner stations will report back on the best thing they saw the day prior.

But that's just the beginning of our SXSW coverage. Here's what else we have in store:

The Thistle & Shamrock: ThistleRadio New

Mar 15, 2017

Hear some of the recently added tracks that have grown our playlist to more than 1,000 tracks on ThistleRadio, The Thistle & Shamrock's popular round-the-clock music channel. The list includes music by Goitse, Gerda Stevenson, Sharlene Wallace and Lilt, among others.

Culture Wars

Mar 15, 2017

Frank Turner On Mountain Stage

Mar 15, 2017

Hardcore troubadour Frank Turner makes his debut on Mountain Stage, recorded live on the campus of West Virginia University in Morgantown, W.Va. Crowned "the people's prince of punk poetry," Turner began as a member of post-hardcore bands Kneejerk and Million Dead before going solo and creating roaring anti-folk.

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