All Songs Considered

Music is about connection. Sometimes that connection is a feeling, a theory or a technique, but mostly music connects time and provides a record of how we choose to interact with it.

On this week's All Songs Considered, Robin Hilton returns from vacation with "Back To The Shack," the fantastically hard-rocking first single from Weezer's upcoming Everything Will Be Alright In The End.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the letters informing us that we've won amazing prizes in contests we didn't enter is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on etiquette at outdoor concerts.

Karyl writes via email: "Is it OK to ask incessant loud talkers to stop talking or to talk softly at an outside concert?"

This week's puzzler comes courtesy Joe Easley, drummer for the D.C.-based rock group The Dismemberment Plan. It shouldn't be too hard for fans of the band to hear why he loves the fills and intros he selected from some of his favorite artists and songs.

The Dismemberment Plan is currently performing select shows for its latest album, and first in more than a decade, Uncanney Valley.

In Television's "Marquee Moon" from 1977, Tom Verlaine issues a shuffling call to action. First, he's "just waiting," then "hesitating" for "a kiss of death, the embrace of life" — life only comes to him. But then something shakes Verlaine in the third chorus as a defiant voice finally boasts, "I ain't waiting, uh-uh." That's where the music finds purpose, with the iconic riff suddenly becoming a staccato slash through the dark.

Guest DJ Ty Segall

Aug 19, 2014

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When people think of Toronto's music scene, the first name that comes to mind rhymes with "fake." But there's actually a bunch of great new folk acts operating in and around Canada's queen city, too. Jennifer Castle possesses one of the scene's prettiest voices, as you can hear in "Sailing Away," a highlight of her upcoming album, Pink City (due out Sept. 2).

As the end of summer nears, here's one more bouncy tune to carry you into fall. "Black Lemon," by Generationals, two former high school buddies Ted Joyner and Grant Widmer, mixes marimba-based jolliness and lyrics tinged with darkness. It looks at life's ties that bind and searches for ways to chill and not fight every battle.

Drum Fill Friday, With Guest Host Matt Wilson

Aug 15, 2014

Drummer and bandleader Matt Wilson is one of jazz's most sought-after players; he's recorded on over 250 albums, not including those of his own three current bands. He's one of the music's great optimists as well, whose energy and good humor (on or off the drum stool) serves him well as a teacher, public radio host or general ambassador. His latest recording, Gathering Call, came out early this year.

Viking's Choice: Accept, 'Final Journey'

Aug 13, 2014

Guest DJ Smokey Robinson

Aug 12, 2014

Stars' music has assumed many forms, from shimmery power-pop to full-throttle dance-floor fillers to doomy ballads about death and romantic dissolution. Throughout the Montreal band's seven-album history, the recurring thread has mostly been songs that reflect some sort of conflict, whether singers Amy Millan and Torquil Campbell are viewing breakups from every angle or musing on death itself.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the promotional Pop Rocks we're consuming as noisily as possible is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on what we should feel comfortable spending on T-shirts at live shows.

Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne and secret weapon Steven Drozd are back with another song from their side project Electric Würms. The polyrhythmic, prog-rock space jam "I Could Only See Clouds" is from the band's upcoming debut album Musik, Die Shwer Zu Twerk, which roughly translates to "Music That's Hard To Twerk To."

Coyne, who normally fronts Flaming Lips, plays bass with Electric Würms, while Drozd takes lead on vocals, guitars and keys. The Nashville-based psych-rock band Linear Downfall provides backup.

Sooner or later it had to happen — an all-classical Drum Fill Friday. This week's puzzler proves that the world of Beethoven, Stravinsky and Bartók can serve up beats as thunderous as any double drummer metal band.

On this week's All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson, who kicks off the show with a premiere from the folk-pop sibling duo Lily & Madeleine. "The Wolf Is Free," which will appear on the duo's second album, Fumes, highlights the sisters' subtle harmonies.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the Archer paraphernalia we bought at Comic-Con and shipped to ourselves is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on musicians' publicity photos.

The drum fills and intros for this week's puzzler have something in common. In addition to being selected by Spillway drummer Matt Sokol, they're all performed by open-handed drummers. This means they play the hi-hat cymbal with their left hand, while their right hand plays the snare. (Most drummers cross their right hand over their left to play the hi-hat). If you're up on your open-handed drummers (Matt Sokol is an open-handed drummer himself), this week's puzzler will be a breeze! If not, well ... you might find some of these to be pretty challenging. Good luck, fellow fillers!

Each month, we listen to hundreds of new electronic music tracks, test the standouts on loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a 30-minute mix. And we're particularly excited about what we heard during July — it was tough to narrow this list down to six songs.

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.

Just off the train from the Newport Folk Festival, Bob Boilen jumps at the chance to share a song by The Oh Hellos, his favorite discovery of the weekend. On "The Valley," the Texas band thunders and strums its way to a glorious sing-along chorus. Robin Hilton follows that with a premiere from Frazey Ford, whose soulful voice reinforces the celebratory mood of "September Fields."

Newport Folk 2014 In Photos

Jul 29, 2014

NPR Music photographer Adam Kissick was busier than a line chef at a Newport seafood stand last weekend at the town's world famous Folk Festival. Over three days, he shot more than 50 different bands — from Anais Mitchell to Valerie June — while constantly running back and forth between stages.

Describing Horse Feathers almost inevitably diminishes the band's music: "Let's see, the lead singer has a beard and a soft voice, and he plays the acoustic guitar, and there's a string section. Oh, and they're from Portland, of course." All those identifying details hold true, and yet Horse Feathers' music never feels slight or ineffectual.

This week's guest Quizmaster is Sam Fogarino, drummer for the band Interpol. The group is set to release its latest album, El Pintor, in September. It's Interpol's first new record since 2010's self-titled release. Can you identify the songs he selected from just a few seconds of drumming?

As always, if you know a fill (or intro) or drummer you'd love to see featured in this game, let us know in the comments section, or via Twitter @allsongs, #drumfillfriday. Good luck, careful listeners!

For a band that went into hiding for a decade, Witch Mountain sure has made up for lost time.

We kick off this week's episode of All Songs Considered with the sludgy, shoegaze-y sounds of Whirr, a band started by Nick Bassett, bassist for one of co-host Robin Hilton's favorite acts of 2014, Nothing. We follow up with a new track from The Bots, two young brothers from L.A. whose "All I Really Want" is a two-minute sugar rush of high-powered pop-punk.

If emo has cheerleaders, they're Keith and Cathy Latinen. Since 2007, the Michigan-based husband and wife have tirelessly run the Count Your Lucky Stars label during a time when the genre didn't have many vocal supporters. Many of its releases have inspired bands in the now-thriving young scene to take up the '90s Midwest emo sound and do what they will.

Viking's Choice: Sleep, 'The Clarity'

Jul 18, 2014

It's been 20 years since the stoner-metal caravan Sleep wrote Dopesmoker, a 63-minute track based on a single riff and dedicated to the mighty spliff. Unfortunately, it took three labels and a span of 16 years to release it as intended.

This week's puzzler for careful listeners has a little something for everyone, from jazz and classic rock, to punk and thrashing metal. It also features several fills listeners suggested from previous puzzlers. So, as always, if you know a fill (or intro) or drummer you'd love to see featured in this game, let us know in the comments section, or via Twitter @allsongs, #drumfillfriday. Good luck, heroes!

The Newport Folk Festival has been around for more than half a century now — this is its 55th year, to be exact — and the event now routinely sells out months before its lineup is even announced. And why shouldn't it?

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