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All Songs Considered

If your mom's favorite telenovela met The Love Witch, the resulting TV movie would be La Luz's video for "Cicada." After 2015's Charles Burns-inspired Weirdo Shrine, "Cicada" is the first single off the L.A. band's upcoming album Floating Features, and builds on its noir foundations with a sunny edge.

You can hear the hum of the speaker, buzzing from a quiet bass line. You move closer to the riff; it beckons with mysterious portent like a smoking cauldron... and then the pot spills, the riff wobbling in distorted frequencies, a heavy hand on the organ and a voice singing a spooky fairytale. It's too late, you've met the "Three Sisters."

Over nearly 50 years of making albums, John Prine's been able to turn the sense that he's slightly underappreciated into a trademark. He's the secret favorite everybody can agree on, never quite in the middle of the conversation but always poking around in the corners for a modest truth that will linger after the noise dies down.

Romance isn't dead, it's just damn hard. We navigate gestures both small and grand like tributaries suddenly rushing into whitewater, and hope to hell that we come out the other side.

Angelina Torreano, the singer and guitarist for the Brooklyn-based Citris, had a particularly intense experience with one of the most old-fashioned romantic moves: a dude wrote her love poetry. And when the intensity wasn't reciprocated, things got weird, she writes an essay published with the song.

Feb. 7, 2018 marks the fifth anniversary of International Clash Day. What started off as a tribute to The Clash's catalog for a few hours in 2013 by KEXP's John Richards has grown into something of an international affair. San Francisco, Austin, Texas and Washington D.C.

Haley Heynderickx's songs have a way of sneaking up on you: They start out spare, animated by a lone voice or a subtly snaky guitar line, only to billow out into something strange, beautiful, bracingly intense or some combination thereof.

When Gaby Moreno's guitar failed her at the start of her set, she borrowed one from Justin Vernon of Bon Iver, with whom she was sharing the bill. But the guitar would barely matter — the Guatemalan singer's set was, justifiably, defined by the stunning range of her voice, which can move from righteously defiant to cracked and wounded in the span of a single note, from Spanish to English in the span of a set.

Giving Up sounds like a demolition derby crashed by a stolen school bus, a giddy smash of screw-eyed indie-pop and junk punk. Based out of Garner, Iowa, with members now spread out across the Midwest, Giving Up has been at this mix for over a decade now. Where its previous records touted lo-fi production and a wild abandon towards songwriting, Garner Cardinals gives the formula a bit of spit-polish, not only injecting some studio dynamics but also focusing the manic-pop into tuneful blasts.

Charles Baudelaire's "L'invitation au voyage" was originally published in Les Fleurs du mal in 1857, a book accused of being une outrage aux bonnes mœurs (roughly, "an insult to good manners" or "morality"). The poem is laden with a sensuousness that speaks beyond our temporal concerns, imagining love as a destination outside this world, perhaps an infinite one. And yeah, it's pretty hot.

Our friends at the World Cafe and XPN are stoked that the Eagles are headed to Super Bowl LII this weekend. In a show of hometown pride, they compiled a playlist of songs by and for the good people of Philadelphia, Penn., perhaps in the hope that the power of music would inspire a win for their boys on Sunday.

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.

Has anyone ever watched the Grammy's and concluded that the Recording Academy really nailed it? (No one has ever concluded they nailed it). So we begin this episode of All Songs Considered with a simple question: Why keep watching?! It's like being addicted to disappointment and outrage.

There's a line in "Culture National Anthem," the surprisingly chill closer on Migos' new album Culture II, that sums up how much has changed for the group in a year's time: "Believe me when I say we create our own sound," the trio's leader Quavo croons in a melodic wisp. "I know you see it now, what they be screaming 'bout."

Instrumental music speaks. Like a look from a lover or the clench of a fist, there is sometimes more (e)motion in the flick of a riff or the hum of an organ than words can supply. The Texas-based trio Khruangbin got its start digging on '60s and '70s Thai funk, gospel, R&B, surf, psychedelic rock and dub, creating chill instrumentals seemingly tailor-made for groove-seeking beatmakers and blissful dancers at outdoor festivals.

Every year around this time, many of us on the All Songs Considered team — including Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton and me — each dredge through nearly 2,000 MP3s by bands playing the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas, in search of great new discoveries. And every year, we wind up missing something. In pursuit of music by thousands of acts, hundreds slip past our radar altogether.

Few careers in contemporary music had the arc and the diversity that South Africa-born trumpeter/singer/composer Hugh Masekela did, before he succumbed to prostate cancer on Tuesday at the age of 79.

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