All Songs Considered

The way we listen to music evolves constantly. From wax cylinder recordings all the way through to today's streaming services, formats have come a long way. What's next? What does this unending metamorphosis say about the music industry? And what does any of this have to do with Robert De Niro?

Twenty years ago, emo was smack-dab in the middle of its defining years. The Midwestern U.S., in particular, gave us Braid, The Promise Ring, Christie Front Drive, Mineral and Rainer Maria. One of the region's lesser-known, but no less beloved, bands was Kansas City's Boys Life, with its decidedly more abrasive and messy (but also cinematically windswept) sound.

Andy Shauf is a gifted storyteller. Earlier this year the Saskatchewan-based singer-songwriter put out one of 2015's most breathtaking albums, called The Bearer Of Bad News — an appropriately titled collection of mostly grim tales about small town drug addicts, murderous lovers and other weary underachievers.

Pinkish Black swings moods like none other. Since 2010, the Fort Worth, Texas, duo has stuck to synths, drums and Daron Beck's Gothic croon without the urge to expand — but it evolves expansively anyway. Bottom Of The Morning, the band's third record, all but abandons Pinkish Black's previous metallic tendencies for the eerie heft of '70s Italian horror-movie soundtracks (think Goblin or Ennio Morricone on a sinister jazz kick).

On this week's All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen is getting excited for the CMJ Music Marathon in New York and Robin Hilton is just plain getting excited.

The musician and provocateur known as Peaches has just won a Polaris prize for the Best Canadian Album of the 2000s. Music fans selected her sexually charged debut release The Teaches Of Peaches in an online poll over albums by Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and Feist, among others.

Tomorrow, Oct. 9, would have been John Lennon's 75th birthday. So for this week's Throwback Thursday we're sharing a live webcast we did about The Beatles back in February of 2003. At the time, police in Amsterdam had just discovered a bunch of incredibly rare tapes that were stolen from The Beatles and had been missing for 30 years. So we had author Bruce Spizer in to talk about the newly recovered recordings. Bruce wrote The Beatles On Apple Records, and his conversation with host Bob Boilen dug deep into the Beatles' legacy and explained the history of the lost tapes.

This week on All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen and Robin share a few of their favorite things: choice tunes from cherished artists. We've got all the bases covered, from a devastating song about dementia from Daughter to an energetic anthem from Frank Turner on the power of positivity.

A songwriter better than you or I once wrote that "days grow short when you reach September" — forgetting to add that this is why you need more bangers for the seasonally expanding night-times. Enter Recommended Dose, whose monthly offering doesn't simply span multiple continents, but numerous rhythm sources, large and small, acoustic, analog and digital.

This month, our mix features the modern sounds of London and Stockholm, the classic traditions of Brooklyn and Detroit, as well as collaborations between Italy and Mali, between old North Jersey and nü Berlin.

Deep Thoughts With Tom Waits

Oct 3, 2015

There is an elaborate system of punishment and reward governing the courageous moles tunneling beneath Stonehenge. Or so said Tom Waits in a 1988 interview with journalist Chris Roberts from Rock's Backpages.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the assortment of coloring books for grownups is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This time around: thoughts for an engaged couple who can't decide on their first wedding dance.

This week's puzzler draws mostly on Top 40 hits and as such, should be pretty easy for some careful listeners. Then again, every time I say that people tank ... just like they get near-perfect scores whenever I think it's a particularly hard week. So what do I know?

I do know that Drum Fill Friday is going on a brief hiatus after this week for some technical maintenance work. But we hope to back in a few weeks.

A song titled "Nothing Without You" has a steep hill to climb toward independence. Before hearing a word, the artist has admitted to being hamstrung by addiction, and an inability to form a sense of self separate from the desideratum. It's a risky impression to make—especially if you're an up-and-coming, all-female band early in your career.

If there's a secret world inside the guitar, Tashi Dorji wants to find it. Raised in Bhutan and based in Asheville, N.C., for the last 15 years, Dorji plays solo guitar music that's at once frenetic and tranquil, as his fingers flick across and hammer down strings; tiny sparks ignite the next move.

Groove can be an ugly word in metal. But just because some bands haven't evolved beyond Pantera's (awesome) Cowboys From Hell, that doesn't mean the groove can't find nastier pastures. Twitching Tongues has been particularly adept at the moody mosh, where angst broods with Alice In Chains-inspired melodies, a sludgy Crowbar crunch and Colin Young's husky baritone.

Good luck getting these tunes out of your head.

I first became enchanted with Marian McLaughlin's music when she was searching for ways to mix her quirky classical guitar picking with her equally unusual voice. McLaughlin follows her muse for a sound that occasionally recalls Joanna Newsom or the psychedelic folk music of The Incredible String Band.

On paper, the musical Hamilton sounds like a joke. But as NPR Music's Timmhotep Aku tells us in this week's +1 podcast, "Maybe you shouldn't judge things on face value."

The harrowing noise-punk trio Bambara smears discontent with the gloom of the Birthday Party, the spit of Swans and the lysergic mystery of Red Temple Spirits, but understands those are only points of departure. Dreamviolence, from 2013, was a promising if limited debut, mainly because its Bushwick basement recordings were cloaked in a muddy atmosphere.

Joanna Newsom Enters The Realm Of Fantasy

Sep 24, 2015

When a legendary band returns after a long hiatus the results are often cringe-worthy—or mixed, at best. To be fair, it's nearly impossible to recapture the kind of magic that makes legends to begin with. But that's not the case with a surprise new album from the Electric Light Orchestra.

Welcome to the first day of fall — at least for us in the Northern Hemisphere. There's a noticeable chill in the air, the leaves are starting to shift color and perhaps you find yourself turning a little more inward in your mood and your musical tastes.

Composers and songwriters have plenty to say about the changing seasons. To mark the Autumnal Equinox, try this fall music quiz stocked with songs of wistful introspection. Score high and revel in autumn's golden glow. Score low and feel the sadness of earlier and earlier sunsets.

Ian Chang is a gigantically talented drummer. You may have seen him recently in a Tiny Desk performance with the band Son Lux, but he's also known for his work with the bands Landlady and Body Language.

On this week's +1 podcast, we go to Nashville where host Bob Boilen has been making new discoveries at the Americana Music Festival, and attended the Americana Music Awards ceremony. Boilen chats with co-host Robin Hilton about this year's three biggest winners: Lucinda Williams, Sturgill Simpson and Shakey Graves.

We're all gonna die...someday. And if there's mass extinction, what's left of humanity will face nature's wrath, stored in centuries of environmental abuse and neglect. With its second album Litany, Dead to a Dying World plays the soothsayer of the agricultural apocalypse, reaped in a searing and gorgeous vision of crust-punk, doom- and black-metal, with a viola's sorrowful folk melodies stringing it all together.