First Listen

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The premier guide for new and significant artists in rock, blues, and folk - including NPR-syndicated World Cafe ®

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24/7 Musical discovery. A unique mix of emerging and heritage blues, rock, world, folk, and alt-country artists.

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World Cafe Archives

Join Talia Schlanger as she navigates the World Cafe through performances and interviews with celebrated and emerging artists.

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Enjoy previews of select, upcoming albums, in their entirety on FIRST LISTEN.

First Listen Live: Neko Case, 'Hell-On'

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The ever-evolving artistic journey of Neko Case takes new turns and hits new heights with Hell-On, an album borne of life's curveballs and collaborations, triumphs and surprising influences.
Case set herself towards making her new record with the goal of getting outside of her comfort zone. That impulse brought her to a collaboration with Björn Yttling (of Peter Björn and John) in Stockholm. While working there on a new song called "Bad Luck," Case learned that her home in Vermont was on fire. It burned to the ground. All the living creatures survived, but all the stuff did not. It was a powerful start to mark a new chapter.
It's been five years since the last Neko Case release, with a New Pornographers album and the lauded case/lang/veirs project in between. Case drew inspiration from both, and brought her co-artists on board for Hell-On.
The new songs are lyrically rich, telling stories that walk a line between fables and true life. It's a forceful and confident performance from an artist who digs deep to explore history and myth, nature and fate — bringing forth songs to show us new ways of looking at the world and ourselves.
This live set kicks off with the classic "Man" — setting the stage with as strong a statement of intention as anything you can find in a song — before debuting a slew of new material. The crowd squeezed in, rapt, and listened to every word.

  • "Man"

  • "Last Lion of Albion"

  • "Hell-On"

  • "Halls of Sarah"

  • "Bad Luck"

  • "Curse of the I-5 Corridor"

  • "This Tornado Loves You"

  • "Gumball Blue"

  • "Dirty Diamond"

  • "Oracle of the Maritimes"

  • "Winnie"

  • "Hold On, Hold On"

  • "Loretta" (Nervous Eaters cover)

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Click each song title for individual tracks, the last track is the album in its entirety.

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