All Songs Considered

Another month means another Recommended Dose from All Songs Considered. We listen to hundreds of new electronic music tracks each month, test the standouts on loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a 30-minute mix.

You can stream this month's mix here or through NPR Music's SoundCloud account. If you'd rather just hear each song individually, check out the playlist below.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside a $23.95 book of cat cartoons by The Jesus Lizard's David Yow is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on when and whether once-successful musicians should give up.

This week's guest Quizmaster is Mike Kinsella, the drummer for the bands Owls, Joan Of Arc and Cap'n Jazz and a singer and guitarist in Owen and American Football. When I first took a stab at identifying the fills and intros he selected I was immediately reminded that sometimes this little game can turn me on to some pretty awesome music I hadn't heard before. Maybe that'll be true for you. Good luck, rock stars!

Claire Boucher, best known as Grimes, has a new song. It's the first new music we've heard from Grimes since she made a lot of noise with her album Visions in 2012. In a press release, she calls the new song, "Go," which features Michael Diamond, a 22-year-old L.A.

On this week's show, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton are joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson to recount their favorite music from the first six months of 2014. They spin the ferocious punk energy of Perfect Pussy, the magnetic vocals of Broken Twin, absurdly catchy electro-pop from Sylvan Esso and much more.

Pallbearer's Sorrow and Extinction was one of 2012's most heartbreaking metal records — equal parts Black Sabbath and Candlemass in its stately sad-bastard doom. But those masterful twin-lead guitars, the funeral-paced riffs, and Brett Campbell's gripping voice sometimes got buried in the mix.

Sylvan Esso, some of the brightest new makers of music this year, have just remixed "I'm With You," the leadoff track from Grouplove's 2013 album Spreading Rumors. What Sylvan Esso's electronic wiz Nick Sanborn has done to the song is transformative.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside that one CD which appears to have been pulverized by a steamroller is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what transforms a mere hit single into the agreed-upon song of the summer.

Kemper writes via Facebook: "When do we know what the song of summer will be? Have we already heard this year's song? If not, when do we typically start to hear it? Why do the other seasons lack their own song?"

This week we're back to a mix of classic rock and pop, with a few (relatively) recent loves of mine thrown in. As always, if you have a drum fill (or intro) you think should be included in this weekly puzzler, let us know in the comments section, or via Twitter @allsongs, #drumfillfriday.

Sole Of A Band, June 19

Jun 19, 2014

Baggy pants make different music than skinny jeans. Cowboy hats sound different than fedoras. T-shirt-and-jeans bands make a different noise than suit-and-tie bands. You can often look at a band's clothing and have a pretty good idea what it'll sound like.

In 2012, alt-J made its debut with An Awesome Wave, and every one of those 13 songs would slay me. Now the band has returned with another shifting and intrepid sonic adventure, "Hunger of the Pine," which will appear on alt-J's second album, This Is All Yours, out on Sept. 22.

On this week's All Songs Considered: Red-blooded rock-and-roll from Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, a dramatic and cinematic turn for singer Lana Del Rey, the off-kilter, genre-bending sounds of Adult Jazz and more.

Co-host Robin Hilton, riding high on a wave of caffeine and nostalgia, kicks off the show with "American Dream Plan B," a straight-ahead guitar-rock cut from the upcoming Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers album Hypnotic Eye.

As much as metal continues to expand outward, taking influences from within and outside its heavy foundations, adjective-happy genres like "blackened sludge-thrash" or "crusty stoner-doom" or what-have-you eventually inhabit their own mashed-together signifiers. It's where experimentation loses ground and has the potential to become streamlined. From Mortals' second album, Cursed to See the Future, "Epochryphal Gloom" dynamically digs into the gnarliest extremes of metal in eight minutes.

Sinead O'Connor's nearly 30-year career forms a portrait of an artist in conflict; a brilliant singer who remains musically, politically and personally uncompromising after forays into folk, pop, standards, reggae and points beyond. By definition, her catalog is erratic, but it's consistently bold and surprising.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the large wooden crates housing our new summer interns is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what makes some albums seem padded and inconsistent.

You don't always have to love the music to appreciate the talent behind it. Some of the artists featured in this week's puzzler are masters in genres I rarely reach for (fusion anyone?), but lord are they gifted musicians. I also think some of the fills in this batch are particularly challenging, but give a listen and see how you do. Safe drum fill-naming, heroes!

Dorthia Cottrell is one of the most haunting vocalists in metal right now, howling like Ozzy Osbourne in a wind tunnel. But either out of aesthetics or shyness, her voice has always been buried by the relentlessly heavy mix on her two excellent records singing for Windhand. Thankfully, some friends convinced her to serve as the focal point of a track from a fellow Richmond metal band.

On this week's All Songs Considered: New music from the pop giants in The New Pornographers, hip-hop and R&B singer Mapei, the riff-rock sax group Moon Hooch, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and more.

Can you hear the wedding bells? June has arrived. Theories vary on why this is the month for marriage. Old traditions like the timing of the harvest season (and pregnancies) might have had something to do with it, or more modern practicalities such as nicer weather and abundant fresh flowers. And then there's the name of the month itself, thought to be inspired by Juno, the Roman goddess of marriage.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside Bob Boilen's 64-ounce tub of Kirkland-brand gong polish is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what separates a mere hit from an invasive irritant.

Chris Kiraly writes via Facebook: "When (if ever) does a song earn the distinction of being 'overplayed'?"

Most of the time, I just pick songs with moments that get me air drumming, regardless of the genre or drummer — or the programmer behind the beats. But for this week's puzzler, I've selected works by undeniable legends in the business, from classic rock pioneers to jazz virtuosos. Good luck, heroes!

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Spoon's first album in four years is called They Want My Soul. It won't be released until Aug. 5, but frontman Britt Daniel and drummer Jim Eno recently joined All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton to play some of the record and share the stories behind it. You can hear the full interview using the link above, or read edited highlights below.

On this edition of All Songs Considered, we highlight music that reflects on the passage of time, with special premieres from Jenny Lewis, My Brightest Diamond, Elephant Stone and more.

In certain corners of the record-collecting world, few rock songs are revered as much as The Chills' "Pink Frost." The tune turns 30 this year, and to celebrate, the band has re-recorded it and included it as the B-side to its first single since 1995.

Recommended Dose: The Best Dance Tracks Of May

Jun 2, 2014

Another month means another Recommended Dose from All Songs Considered. We listen to literally hundreds of new electronic music tracks each month, test the standouts on some very loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a 30-minute mix.

You can stream this month's mix here or NPR Music's SoundCloud account. If you'd rather just hear each song individually, check out the playlist below.

Pop stars are the ideal companions of their fans' daydreams, speaking their most romantic hopes and defiant declarations through the songs on the Top 40. Miranda Lambert, however, is the kind of friend who's not going to take anybody's bull. As country's most lauded million-selling artist, beloved by everyday listeners and critics alike, Lambert has crafted a body of work grounded in the realism of muscle, flesh and heart.

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