Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

Palm does not write music for passive listening. Out of jagged edges and complex, interlocking pieces, the Philadelphia quartet makes off-kilter art rock that demands — and rewards — your full attention. Guitarists and singers Eve Alpert and Kasra Kurt write deeply intertwined melodies that seem to bounce off each other with razor-sharp precision; Gerasimos Livitanos' twitchy, punctuated bass lines mesh with Hugo Stanley's hectic, forceful drumming. The overall effect of cohesion is transfixing.

The first thing you may notice about Great News, a comedy premiering Tuesday night on NBC, is its similarities to 30 Rock. Here, a news producer named Katie (Briga Heelan) has her work life disrupted when her boss (Adam Campbell) hires her loving but overbearing mom (the great Andrea Martin, late of SCTV and truckloads of comedy since then) as an intern at the station. And while the focus is news rather than late night, the frustrated goofball at the center of a constantly careening television production has a familiar tone.

For this week's show, Bob Boilen and I throw open the studio door to welcome a parade of guests from the NPR Music team, each sharing their favorite April releases. This includes Jake Witz, one of our fabulous Spring interns, who has some relatively restrained music from U.K. grime artist Mr. Mitch.

Nagging your kids to stick to a set bedtime each night may feel like a thankless task. But here's some justification that your efforts are setting your kids up for a healthier life: A new study finds that preschool-age children who didn't have a set sleep routine were more likely to be overweight by the time they became tweens.

Rap music has found an outlet in Kashmir, the border state between India and Pakistan.

The Muslim-dominated Kashmir Valley, tucked in the Himalayas, might not seem the most likely venue for this music. But Roushan Illahi, Kashmir's leading rapper, says the guns, soldiers and protracted conflict provide the "street reality" that hip-hop is meant to capture.

One hundred years ago Tuesday, in a working-poor neighborhood of Newport News, Va., a laundress and a shipyard worker had a baby girl. The father soon disappeared, and the mother and child moved north to New York. The mother died. The girl ran away and became one of the most important singers of the 20th century.

Ella Fitzgerald could sing anything: a silly novelty song, like her breakthrough hit, "A-Tisket, A-Tasket." A samba that scatted. A ballad, spooling out like satin.

For only the third time ever, the government released today a national report card examining the knowledge, understanding and abilities of U.S. eighth-graders in visual arts and music.

And in many ways, the numbers aren't great, with little progress shown in most categories since the last time the assessment was given in 2008. One bright spot: The achievement gap between Hispanic students and their white peers has narrowed. But Hispanics and African-Americans still lag far behind white and Asian eighth-graders.

Robert M. Pirsig, who inspired generations to road trip across America with his "novelistic autobigraphy," Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, died Monday at the age of 88.

His publisher William Morrow & Company said in a statement that Pirsig died at his home in South Berwick, Maine, "after a period of failing health."

In the 1950s, television producer Albert Freedman captivated audiences with his carefully crafted game show Twenty-One, which had been foundering before he helped turn it into the most popular program in the country.

Lillian Hellman's 1939 melodrama The Little Foxes has two great roles for actresses over the age of 40. Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon fill those roles in a new revival on Broadway ... but with one big twist: Linney and Nixon play both roles and switch off at different performances.

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