All Songs Considered

All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Fri May 22, 2015

Drum Fill Friday, With Sō Percussion

The members of Sō Percussion will bang on almost anything.
Janette Beckman

May is international drum month! To celebrate, we bring you a discussion in percussion with a group of guys who will bang on almost anything (including a cactus). The members of Sō Percussion are the guest quizmasters for this week's Drum Fill Friday.

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Fri May 22, 2015

All Songs +1: 'Epic' Jazz From Kamasi Washington

Kamasi Washington's appropriately-named new album, The Epic, is out now.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 8:37 am

Even if you don't know anything about jazz, it's quite possible you've heard the music of saxophonist Kamasi Washington: That's him on the latest albums by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. But that's only the very tip of his iceberg.

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All Songs Considered
10:03 am
Thu May 21, 2015

New Music: Patty Griffin Records Lost Karen Dalton Song

Remembering Mountains: Unheard Songs by Karen Dalton comes out May 26.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 22, 2015 7:24 am

Karen Dalton's career was built on covering the songs of others. Patty Griffin writes songs that others famously cover. Both artists are considered masters of their respective crafts by their peers, but neither is a household name. Each has a voice that sounds like it couldn't possibly be made by the person making it.

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All Songs Considered
7:54 am
Tue May 19, 2015

The Songs That Make Us Cry

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All Songs Considered
2:28 pm
Mon May 18, 2015

Song Premiere: DRINKS, 'Hermits on Holiday'

DRINKS is a collaboration between Cate Le Bon (right) and Tim Presley.
Cara Robbins Courtesy of artist

Cate Le Bon wrote some of my favorite words of 2013 on her album Mug Museum. White Fence is the swirly psych-like music of Tim Presley. Cate and Tim are friends — Cate played guitar on a tour with White Fence — and so now there's this: DRINKS.

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Sat May 16, 2015

The Good Listener: Can I Deflate The Beach Balls At Concerts?

One letter-writer's nightmare scenario.
Shaun Lowe iStockphoto.com

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the package shipped Next Day Air but addressed to the guy who moved out of our house eight years ago is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This week: deep thoughts on beach balls at concerts.

Margaret H.W. writes via email: "Why do music festivals seem to hand out beach balls to drunk, high 19-year-olds? If I would like to listen to music WITHOUT beach balls, what are my anti-beach-ball options? CAN I DEFLATE THE BEACH BALLS?

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All Songs Considered
11:29 am
Fri May 15, 2015

Drum Fill Friday, With Purple's Hanna Brewer

Purple's Hanna Brewer laying down the party-rock beats.
Roger Ho Courtesy of the artist

This week's Drum Fill Friday comes from Guest Quizmaster Hanna Brewer, drummer for the Texas party-rock group Purple. The group is known for its rowdy live shows and healthy sense of humor, and is currently on tour for its debut album, (409).

Brewer, who also sings for Purple, shared a range of her own influences for this week's puzzler, from hip-hop to reggae, rock and pop. I'd give it three drum sticks out of five for difficulty. As always, good luck, careful listeners!

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All Songs Considered
9:38 am
Fri May 15, 2015

All Songs +1: How Music Can Really Save Your Life

While they're not splitting open a person's chest and massaging their heart back to life, musicians and the songs they make may actually be saving lives.

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All Songs Considered
3:08 pm
Thu May 14, 2015

All Songs At 15: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah In A 2006 Concert

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in an early 2006 publicity photo.
Stephane De Sakutin AFP/Getty Images

When Clap Your Hands Say Yeah released its self-titled debut record in 2005, it became one of the first albums to break big because of the Internet. The band recorded and released it on its own, without any label support, and shared it on the group's website, where fans picked it up and quickly spread the word.

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All Songs Considered
12:07 pm
Wed May 13, 2015

Viking's Choice: Superheaven, 'Gushin' Blood'

"Gushin' Blood" still.
Courtesy of the artist

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All Songs Considered
12:43 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

Songs We Love: The Mynabirds, 'Semantics'

Laura Burhenn of The Mynabirds.
Bliss Braoudakis Courtesy of the artist

I've been a fan of Laura Burhenn since we met at NPR's studios with her band Georgie James eight years ago. Her pop wisdom and desire to push her limits have produced some great music, especially the past two Mynabirds records.

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All Songs Considered
12:41 pm
Tue May 12, 2015

All Songs Considered: From Perfect Pop Anthems To Saxophone Punk

Clockwise from upper left: Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin, The Mynabirds, Nate Ruess, Death And Vanilla
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 1:16 pm

On our show this week, bigger is better. We start with a pop anthem and feature a set of artists all leaning into or newly discovering their boldest, most attention-grabbing music yet. Some, as in the case of a frontman gone solo and a bilingual saxophone-heavy punk band, deliver precisely the momentous sounds we'd expect. Others used the pull of memory, a desperate four-month stretch of insomnia, or a single shared microphone and two minutes of trippy ambience to level up their sonic ambitions.

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All Songs Considered
6:03 am
Sat May 9, 2015

The Good Listener: Can A Song Really Save Your Life?

It's easy to imagine music standing between life and death.
Vladimir Vitek iStockphoto.com

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside a backup pallet of kennel-grade cat sedatives is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This week: thoughts on when music might stand between life and death.

Ann L. writes via email: "Can a song really save your life?"

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All Songs Considered
3:12 am
Sat May 9, 2015

What Song Makes You Cry Every Time?

Originally published on Sat May 9, 2015 10:35 am

This week Bob Boilen and I and a handful of other people from NPR Music got to see Sufjan Stevens in concert. It was a life-changing performance — one we'll all remember for many years.

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All Songs Considered
1:03 pm
Fri May 8, 2015

All Songs +1: Songs That Remind You Of Mom

The song that reminds host Bob Boilen the most of his mom is Shirley Temple singing "The Good Ship Lollipop."
The Kobal Collection

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 10:22 pm

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All Songs Considered
9:10 am
Thu May 7, 2015

What Song Reminds You Of Your Mom?

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 12:45 pm

Mother's Day is back again (it's this coming Sunday) to remind you to do something nice for your mom. But maybe you don't need a commercial holiday to think about your mother and all she's done (or hasn't done) for you. Maybe all it takes is a song. If so, we want to know what it is. What song reminds you of your mother every time you hear it? Tell us in the form below. We'll talk more about it and make a playlist of some of the picks in this week's Plus One podcast.

All Songs Considered
8:47 am
Thu May 7, 2015

Songs We Love: Sharon Van Etten, 'Just Like Blood'

Sharon Van Etten
Laura Crosta

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 12:19 pm

Sharon Van Etten could sing the instruction manual for a dishwasher and make it sound like lyrical poetry. Over the course of four full-lengths, her voice has only evolved and grown both bolder and more nuanced. Van Etten plays every word like an instrument, bending one note into the next with a woozy purr that's sometimes sensual, sometimes heartbreaking but always arresting.

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All Songs Considered
10:41 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Songs We Love: Pale Honey, 'Over Your Head'

Pale Honey's self-titled debut album is out now.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 12:20 pm

Tuva Lodmark and Nella Daltrey, the pair of 22-year-old Swedes who together make up the minimalist-rock duo Pale Honey, have been making music together since elementary school. Their latest music is quite spare – they turn it up every now and then with some great distortion, but usually it's simple, propulsive synth lines paired with strummed guitar and an understated beat. They remind me of The xx with a slightly elevated pulse.

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All Songs Considered
10:33 am
Wed May 6, 2015

Songs We Love: Jeen, 'Everywhere I Go'

Jeen O'Brien's debut solo album, Tourist, is out June 30th.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 12:20 pm

Singer Jeen O'Brien has been around for a while, making music with a number of artists. She and Brendan Canning of Broken Social Scene are in a band together called Cookie Duster. Don't ask me what a cookie duster is — I have no idea.

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All Songs Considered
12:37 pm
Tue May 5, 2015

All Songs: Nine Creative Musicians You Should Know

Clockwise from upper left: Django Django, Farao, Pale Honey, The Staves, Tony Allen
Courtesy of the artists

Originally published on Fri May 8, 2015 1:40 pm

This week on All Songs Considered, we grapple with the alchemy of creation — the myriad ways a musician gets from blank page and empty studio to a full sound and lyrics that ring true. We were inspired in part by a show Bob saw recently by Magnetic Fields front man Stephin Merritt, where he performed 26 songs, each based on a letter of the alphabet. (Merritt, whose projects are often governed by external limitations, claims that his best-known project, 1999's monumental triple album 69 Love Songs, took him only a year to write.)

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All Songs Considered
8:52 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Viking's Choice: Ancient Ocean, 'Beargrass Creek'

Ancient Ocean.
Laura Bartczak Courtesy of the artist

When you're underwater, blurred images and sounds have a way of coming into their own focus. It's disconcerting at first: The current moves in an unknown rhythm, and then it becomes your center. That's where J.R. Bohannon's music undulates gracefully as Ancient Ocean. From his first offering on vinyl, Blood Moon, the 14-minute "Beargrass Creek" gently rocks to and fro, seeking rhythmic harmony in synths and strings.

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All Songs Considered
7:41 am
Tue May 5, 2015

Son Lux's New Video Is Kinda Mind-Blowing

A still from The Made Shop's stop-motion video for "Change Is Everything" by Son Lux.
Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Tue May 5, 2015 8:34 am

It's hard to get your head around the amount of work it must have taken to make the new video for Son Lux's "Change Is Everything." Conceived and produced by The Made Shop, the whole thing was painstakingly pieced together entirely with a foam white board, a whole bunch of map pins and old-school stop motion animation.

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All Songs Considered
11:24 am
Mon May 4, 2015

Songs We Love: Farao, 'Hunter'

Farao
Ella Schultz Courtesy of the Artist

Originally published on Tue May 12, 2015 7:37 am

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All Songs Considered
1:36 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

All Songs +1: 'Baltimore'

When we asked listeners to tell us about a song they turned to this week — one that spoke in some way to weighty events unfolding around the world and how they felt — we weren't sure what we'd get. Would it be mostly songs of solace? Songs of grief, or anger?

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All Songs Considered
1:09 pm
Fri May 1, 2015

Drum Fill Friday, For May 1

Steve Gadd performs live in 1980.
Ed Perlstein Redferns/Getty Images

Last week's Drum Fill Friday was a tough one: I'd give it four out of five stars for difficulty. One thing that's nice about the tougher games is that they can turn you on to some great songs and bands you've never heard before. That said, I tamed this week's puzzler a bit — more like two out of five stars — so hopefully you'll be a little more familiar with the fills, while still feeling challenged. As always, good luck, careful listeners!

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All Songs Considered
12:10 pm
Thu April 30, 2015

All Songs At 15: Stephin Merritt Writes And Records A Song In Two Days

Stephin Merritt records a Project Song for NPR.
NPR

This past week we held a listening party in Denver, and one of the songs we played for the crowd was Stephin Merrit's "Book Of Love," from his album 69 Love Songs, by The Magnetic Fields. Our panelist, Amelia Mason, writer for WBUR's The ARTery, called it a perfect song, and many of us in the room agreed.

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All Songs Considered
11:10 am
Thu April 30, 2015

What Song Did You Turn To This Week?

Clockwise from upper left: A woman faces riot police in Baltimore (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images); A woman and child sit amid earthquake ruble in Nepal (Omar Havana/Getty Images); Demonstrators outside the supreme court (Drew Angerer/Getty)
Getty Images

All Songs is a music podcast, and we like to have fun. But music can speak to significant political, cultural and social events that can be challenging to process on their own. Songs can spark a protest or offer peace of mind, or just be close companions.

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All Songs Considered
11:03 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Viking's Choice: Weedeater, 'Bully'

Weedeater.
Scott Kinkade Courtesy of the artist

Guys, the sticky is not the only thing on Weedeater's mind. Truth is, these Southern sludge rabble-rousers have been through some hard times — health scares, a lost member — but that doesn't shake up their fifth album, Goliathan. At 1:47, "Bully" isn't technically Weedeater's shortest song (if you count intros and interludes), but is a squirrely sludge-punk bruiser with bassist Dixie Dave cackling like a supervillain.

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All Songs Considered
10:56 am
Tue April 28, 2015

Why We Like Falsetto, Why Melodies Matter And Other Musical Wonders

Top row: Audience members rate the music during our All Songs Considered listening party. Bottom row, left to right: Susan Rogers, Bob Boilen, Amelia Mason, James Reed, Stephen Thompson.
NPR

Originally published on Fri May 1, 2015 1:53 pm

Why do we like falsetto so much? Why is melody the single most important part of a song? And why does country music move (or repel) us? These are just a few of the questions that popped up during our All Songs Considered listening party in Boston last week.

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All Songs Considered
8:03 am
Mon April 27, 2015

Listen To A New Song By Mates Of State

Mates Of State's new EP, You're Going To Make It, comes out June 16.
Shervin Lainez Courtesy of the artist

Originally published on Mon April 27, 2015 9:24 am

Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel aren't the first married couple to write songs about the challenges and celebrations inherent to lifelong love, but few focus more intently on a sense of play. Still, there's nothing naive or unrealistic about their songs: When they sing, "Love loud / Don't lose loud" in 2008's "The Re-Arranger," they're taking care to package a sweet little two-word slogan with a subtle but potent reminder that loving loudly is a job of endless maintenance.

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