Less than a week before Christmas, holly-jolly holiday music abounds — and if you're not feeling holly or jolly, it can be a little hard to take. For NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and Morning Edition producer Travis Larchuk, the holidays often mean searching for alternatives: In Thompson's case, it means diversions into melancholy, while Larchuk often seeks something cutting or sarcastic or hyperrealistic to cut through the treacle.
Barrence Whitfield & The Savages reunited in 2011 after more than a decade apart; this year, the Boston band released a new album titled Dig Thy Savage Soul. The new record gives longtime fans the opportunity to relive fond memories of a group that packed clubs with sweaty souls back in the '80s.
Robbie Fulks appears on Mountain Stage, recorded live at the Culture Center Theater in Charleston, W.V. As one of the pioneers of the alt-country movement, Fulks broke through with songs that are witty, sophisticated and poignant, often at the same time.
Closing his set at 92Y Tribeca, drummer Henry Cole — leader of the 11-player Afrobeat Collective from New York and Puerto Rico — told the audience, "Big groups are going to come again!" This show, which features Cole's young collective and a top big band playing the Monterey Jazz Festival, is a vote for that proposition.