NPR deals - I use

One day I'll wise up and regularly check NPR's website for what's new and shaking in the "indie" music scene, but until that day I'll enjoy our relationship as : user.  NPR is the booty call to my musical needs. The dealer to my addiction. The salt to my pepper?  I use you, NPR.

Point is, it's always something I stumble on somewhat accidentally and catch myself saying, "OH RIGHT...NPR!"  For example,  yesterday I discovered a John Prine tribute record is in the works to be released this June... "Broken Hearts & Dirty Windows: THe Songs of John Prine." On board, among others, are Conor Oberst, My Morning Jacket, The Avett Brothers & Justin Vernon of Bon Iver.  In my head, as I read  this, it went more like...CONOR OBERST! MY MORNING JACKET?! THE AVETT BROTHERs?! & JUSTIN VERNON of Bon Iver?!?  Seconds after, google didn't know what hit it...I immediately begin searching: "Jon Lovitz Gay Bee" (my friend Scott does a great impression, but all i could find was this montage of "I Just Wanna Be Loved, Is That So Wrong?" clips... as it turns out, Scotts impression is actually better than Lovitz, but still a classic skit...and if anyone can find the "if you were a gay bee" clip, please send it my way) After that search, however, I immediately went looking for any of the tracks from  the above artists for the John Prine record, and discovered Justin Vernon's was featured on...yep, you guessed it, NPR's Spring Music Preview. A veritable treasure trove of new music!

Now, let me make clear this is not my first trip to NPRs website. I've been there many times to listen to a record in full a week or two before it's official release. Something I would have NEVER done in the early days of my addiction. (DIGRESSION: In the beginning, I'd trek it to Manhattan on New Music Tuesdays after midnight to buy whatever new releases caught my eye/ear/nose. And I still believe there's nothing better than listening to new music, track by track, liner note by liner note, but hey, what can you do? Times change, and I'm a believer in change, especially when the jar is full and I can walk over to TD Bank for what usually amounts to around $48.35.) Every time I found myself on their wonderful site, basking in the glory of new tracks, I'd ask myself the same question...Are they really letting me listen to the whole thing? At what price? A 15 second commercial promoting how awesome they are? Sure, sure, I wanna get to the good stuff, but that's a small price to pay for an advance on an addiction. Consider your dealer/hooker sitting you down and chatting for 15 seconds before administering your brand of poison...Not that I promote such behavior, though it is funny to picture.

So here we are, swimming in NPR's Spring Music Preview. Tracks from bands like The National, Josh Ritter, Stars and a TON more, and even though  I won't dissect every track, or even half...I'll walk you through my head as I went straight to the artists I love, and how I got interested in a new band because the girl in the picture is hot.

- Justin Vernon's "Bruised Orange" from the John Prine album, is delivered beautifully, and only as Justin Vernon can. Breathtaking guitar and organ interlude, signature vocals & perfect in length, leaving you wanting to hear it again and again. It's refreshing to know there are artists with a "sound" out there. We can all sing the same songs, about the same topic at the same damn time and hopefully, the true artists will add their spin to it, effortlessly.  That's not only what Bon Iver brings to the table, but on this track, it's classic country done in his style.  I LOVE to hear artists doing classic, country songs. It never disappoints in showing a musician in their true light.

- NEW BLACK KEYS TRACK! "Tighten Up,"  from their new album "Brothers" out in May. I'm a proud fan of The Black Keys from year one (DIGRESSION: When i lived in California, we had a local record store plucked from the pages of "High Fidelity" and I can remember the day I walked in and heard something on the speakers, asked "what's this?" and was handed a copy of their first record "The Big Come Up"...instantly hooked. To this day, and for the rest to come, I'll smell surf wax and picture the Pacific Ocean at the end of the road ahead when I hear those songs. That record store, by the way, is M-Theory Music , now conveniently located in Mission Hills, SD...Stop by if you can, especially this week, Saturday being RECORD STORE DAY and all!) I've really enjoyed watching The Black Keys grow as a band, from their early, sparse production work, to the current sound they're making. It's straight up, Bad-Ass.

- NEW BAND/ATTRACTIVE SINGER - The Mynabirds - I'm a sucker for a female act soaked in "old style" and singing beautiful songs. Check out The Mynabirds here, and read the story. A good bio really goes a long way for an artist.  At first few listens, she brings to mind Cat Power & Jenny Lewis. I'm excited to hear the full length later this month...maybe on NPR? I promise, NPR, I'll call you just to talk, but for now...give me what I want.

FINALLY, on an unrelated note, although not entirely, as Norah Jones' latest record was one that I previewed on NPR... I'll leave you with her new music video for "Young Blood." Sigh. She takes no prisoners, :01 seconds in and you're back in love for every reason you loved her to begin with.