KTEP - El Paso, Texas

All Songs Considered

It's our first show with new music in 2016! After nearly two months of best-of's, holiday and Sweet 16 specials, we get back to doing what we do best and love most: playing great new music.

Eric Bachmann has reinvented himself several times in the last quarter-century: After breaking through in the '90s, with the jagged, sneering indie rock of Archers Of Loaf — and releasing an album of rock instrumentals as Barry Black — Bachmann took on the name Crooked Fingers, which he's used for solo works, experiments and full-band explorations.

Our fondness for a song is often connected to a string of memories — when a lyric or a melody made the world feel larger, more full of possibility for a moment. When the artists who made the music are no longer with us, it can feel like a piece of that moment is lost, too.

It's no surprise that the latest song from Violent Femmes, "Memory," feels like a classic. Frontman Gordon Gano actually wrote it a long time ago. "We even recorded it as a demo many years ago," he tells NPR Music via email. "And then it was forgotten about until digging into [our] archives, which led us to record it anew and release it."

What's your favorite memory of listening to a David Bowie song? We want to hear your story: In an audio recording, set the scene and tell us why that particular song matters to you in a minute or less. To get the ball rolling, here are two examples from our own staff: NPR editor Dana Farrington remembers her father singing Bowie's "Letter to Hermione" as a lullaby.

After seeing exactly 662 bands in each 2013 and 2014, my concert attendance plummeted in 2015. This past year I saw only 506 bands take the stage, but I have an excuse. I wrote a book.

Michigan singer-songwriter Chris Bathgate takes just enough time off between records that he needs to be reintroduced every time he resurfaces. His 2011 album Salt Year followed a four-year gap — watch him perform a few of its songs at the Tiny Desk — while its forthcoming follow-up, an EP called Old Factory, took nearly five.

Every year around this time we like to take a break from our usual musical discoveries and get together with old friends for what we call the All Songs Considered Holiday Spectacular, a seasonal special done in the tradition of old-time radio.

At the entrance of the endless abyss, a whale-serpent imprints the complete discography of Aluk Todolo's instrumental occult rock into your being. It's true! (It's not.) The process is terrifying at first, but as the squeals of cosmic guitar feedback and sinister rhythm section course through your veins and brain, you become one with the depths of vibration.

When I was first offered the job of producing All Songs Considered not long after it started in 2000, NPR couldn't guarantee me the show would be around for more than a year. After all, it was an experiment: an Internet-only, streaming music show in an era when most people were still on dial-up connections that couldn't handle much more on a page than text and photos.

When the grindcore band Agoraphobic Nosebleed officially hit the stage for the first time in its 20-year history, expectations were extremely high. "We want people's minds to be blown," vocalist Richard Johnson told me a few weeks before Maryland Deathfest in May, leaving fans to speculate about just how the hell they were going to pull this off. After all, ANb's extremely complex and chaotic noise was always designed for the studio.

Have you ever watched a Tiny Desk Concert and thought, "Hey, I want to do that!?" Well, now's your chance to play behind my desk here at NPR. That's right: We're bringing NPR Music's Tiny Desk Contest back for a second year.

Here's what you do.

On paper, Damien Jurado seems like just another sad guy with a guitar, but his discography is incredibly varied: Sure, he's cut his share of sad-guy acoustic ballads, but he's also wandered down an exciting assortment of detours, and his sound has only grown more expansive and searching with time.

Glenn Jones' music is remarkably intimate: It feels so close, you'd swear you could reach out and touch the airwaves vibrating between strings. After a decade in which Jones has flown solo on the guitar, his sixth album Fleeting illuminates textures in his thoughtful and complex compositions, which leap from the speakers more than ever before.

By his own admission, Cian Nugent is a restless guitarist: His instrumental compositions, both solo and with a band, sprawl and seek with a pastoral atmosphere. He's a storyteller who likes the room to let it all hang out. But on his third album, Night Fiction, Nugent embraces the singer-songwriter mode he teased with his Tiny Desk concert in 2014.

By the time Spoon released Gimme Fiction in 2005, the Austin, Texas rock group was already a decade into its career with more than a half-dozen releases. But none of the band's previous work felt as polished or as remarkably inspired. Gimme Fiction is at times brooding and cryptic. There's apocalyptic imagery, evangelical Christians, a pre-social media commentary on people who hide behind cameras, and at least one song inspired by Prince.

This essay first appeared in the 2010 book This Is NPR: The First Forty Years, a collection of writing by NPR staff and contributors.


I should have cared more, but I didn't. I should have cried, but I didn't.

He meant so much to me.

But the day John Lennon died, my life and his music were never more distant.

In this installment of The Martin Atkins Minute, the professor, producer and former Public Image Ltd. drummer wonders what it means to be a rock star in a world flipped on its head. It's a world where Dunkin' Donuts is selling chicken sandwiches, Burger King is peddling glazed donuts, friendship is measured by numbers on a Facebook page and the only thing you can count on is change.

As it stands right now, the current D.C. hardcore/punk scene doesn't dwell too much on its past. It's there, it exists, but few seek out the sonic lineage left by Dischord Records in the '80s and '90s, which has proved crucial to the area's revitalization. Two Inch Astronaut, however, has never been shy about picking up the torch. The D.C. post-hardcore band's youthful enthusiasm has become more steadied over the years, and with its forthcoming third album Personal Life — produced by none other than J.

This story has been set to unpublished due to the NPR API updating this story earlier and now the NPR API is unavailable. If the NPR API has deleted or changed the access level of this story it will be deleted when the API becomes available. If the API has updated this story, the updated version will be made available when the NRP API becomes reachable again. There is no action required on your part. For more information contact Digital Services Client Support

Pages