KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Robin Hilton

On this week's quick run through some of the best new albums out on April 20, All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton chats with NPR Music's Ann Powers and Stephen Thompson about the primal pop of Kimbra, dark and majestic songs from Exitmusic, Nashville veterans The Old Crow Medicine Show, the rock-and-soul of Shuggie Otis and more.

Chances are your life story can be told in a series of songs — a mix of the music you heard and loved at various stages in your life, from infancy through your teen years, on into adulthood and beyond. This is true all the way up to the final chapter of your life, after you've shuffled off this mortal coil. As your friends and family gather somewhere to say their goodbyes, you get one last chance to memorialize yourself with a final song. This is the song that defines who you were or how you want to be remembered.

NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and Ann Powers join host Robin Hilton for a quick run-through some of the most essential new albums out on April 13, starting with the Korean surf-rock band Say Sue Me and their wistful and gritty album Where We Were Together.

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton chats with NPR Music's Lars Gotrich, Tom Huizenga, Marissa Lorusso, Sidney Madden and Ann Powers about some of the best new albums dropping on Apr. 6, from the scorching punk of Norway's Dark Times to the mesmerizing cello drones of Clarice Jensen, rap phenom Cardi B, dance pop singer Kylie Minogue's country turn and much more.

Featured Albums

  • Dark Times: Tell Me What I Need
  • Christina Vantzou: No. 4
  • Cardi B: Invasion of Privacy

The latest video from Malian singer and guitarist Fatoumata Diawara, for the song "Nterini," opens with a simple but stark reminder: "In a world of seven billion people, one billion are migrants." The Pew Research Center puts the number at a quarter of a billion — a figure that's still shockingly high.

What's Your Swan Song?

Jan 30, 2018

If you've ever considered your own mortality and just how, exactly, you'll take your final bow, there's a good chance you've picked a song you want played at your funeral. From Frank Sinatra's "My Way" to Monty Python's "Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life" — or "Yakety Sax," the song my uncle chose to have played when his casket was wheeled out of the room – your final song, your swan song, can leave a lasting impression on those you leave behind. It's like a mission statement for the life you lived and how you want to be remembered.

Connie Lim, who writes and records as MILCK, makes music for anyone who feels out of place in the world. Hers are songs of empowerment and cathartic healing for the displaced and brokenhearted.

And we're back! Our first new mix of the new year includes gritty guitar rock from the band Bethlehem Steel, a sweetly seductive, pop earworm from singer Anna Burch, and an epic breakup song from Lucy Dacus.

Note: Voting in this poll has closed. We will post results on Monday Dec. 18.


NPR Music's Top 50 Albums and Top 100 Songs will be out this week. Our All Songs Considered Year-In-Review roundtable is now online.

You can also sign up for the All Songs Considered newsletter and we'll send you a note when all these lists go up.

10 Years Considered

Nov 20, 2017

There's been a world of change in the ten years since NPR Music first started in November 2007. Consider how, just about a decade ago, All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen was publishing a list of his favorite "CDs" of 2007. It almost feels quaint now.

The season of list-making, specifically (for us) lists about the year's best music, is rapidly descending. But before the craziness begins over who had the best album or song in 2017, we thought we'd look back at some of our previous top-ten lists to see if they even hold up. As you can imagine, some albums we once thought were great have since lost their luster, while others haven't aged a day.

In a career spanning three decades, Beck has remained one of music's most intriguing shapeshifters. From the warped folk of his earliest recordings to the chopped-up samples, hip-hop beats and lush orchestral arrangements of albums that followed, Beck has never lingered in one sonic world for long.

Weezer has never quite made the same album twice. Over 25 years of making music and nearly a dozen releases, guitar rock has remained the band's core sound. But the moods and narratives, the production and frontman Rivers Cuomo's singing style have all shifted so dramatically with each album that it's sometimes hard for some fans to make sense of it.

It'd been more than three years since Tune-Yards released new music, but the singer and multi-instrumentalist Merrill Garbus is back, now as a duo with Nate Brenner. Her new single is a sonic thrill ride called "Look At Your Hands," and it's from her just-announced album, I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life (out Jan. 19). Garbus says the new song is a meditation on the mess she feels the world is in and how various political and cultural -isms manifest themselves within her.

The best film scores walk a delicate line: They help propel the story, guide an audience's emotions and are also often a distinct character, with a role and voice as important as any actor's — but they also have to do all that without getting in the way, or drawing too much attention.

It's not unusual for film composers to make music out of organic sounds found in or related to the movie. Take Nathan Johnson's stunning Looper score which was built on a foundation of sampled clicks and pops that captured the film's steampunk creakiness. Or, more elementally, the typewriter rhythms Mark Mothersbaugh used for his Royal Tenenbaums score, emulating the film's anachronistic storytelling themes.

Sufjan Stevens is sharing a rare outtake he recorded while making his 2015 album Carrie & Lowell. The song, "Wallowa Lake Monster," is one of several previously unreleased tracks included in an upcoming collection of remixes, demos and alternate versions of songs from that period.

Pages