Even in still moments, particles incite microscopic riots. Brooklyn-via-Boston composer and multi-instrumentalist Ashley Paul is used to making a huge racket, most regularly with her husband Eli Keszler. On her Line the Clouds, there's tension in patience as she navigates a singer-songwriter's reactions.
The brand new video for Phosphorescent's "Song For Zula," from the band's sixth album, Muchacho, forgoes a literal illustration of song's heartbroken story for something more allegorical. In a single slow-motion tracking shot, the camera approaches a distant figure dressed in rags, bashing at chains that hold her to the ground.
Originally published on Tue March 26, 2013 12:17 pm
I've been buying headphones for 30 years now, have owned more they I can possibly remember and still haven't found the perfect pair. I must chew through one or two sets a year in a never-ending, desperate (and futile) search to find the right acoustics, feel and functionality. I've tried in-ear buds, over-the-ear hooks, full-sized cans and wireless. Some sound great but fit horribly. Or the fit is perfect but the sound too tinny, or the controls don't quite work. The truth is, I hate headphones, especially because I hate being tethered to my stereo. It's like wearing a leash.
On this edition of All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton share some final discoveries from this year's South by Southwest music festival, including the British noise-rock group Savages and Valeska Steiner and Sonja Glass, the Swiss-German pop pair that records and performs as Boy.
This is the most exciting new Sigur Rós song I've heard in a long time, and I love the band's music. "Brennisteinn" (sulfur) is a remarkably aggressive piece of music for musicians who can sound so ethereal: Dreamy elements remain, but they provide an underpinning rather than driving the pulse of the song.
Some songwriters are so adept at capturing the mess and miracle of everyday emotion that their work resonates as exceptionally truthful. John Grant is one of those. In recent years, the 44-year-old former frontman for Colorado rock band the Czars has produced two exceptional collections of funny, brutal, nuanced songs — 2010's collaboration with the band Midlake, Queen of Denmark, and now Pale Green Ghosts, which will be released in the U.S. on May 14.
Originally published on Wed March 20, 2013 2:42 pm
The musicians in Paperhaus live in my hometown of Washington, D.C., so I've seen this dynamic band more than a few times. In fact, they put on some of the best house concerts in the city, over a hundred of them at their own venue, also called the Paperhaus, so I've seen them both in clubs and their intimate living room.
Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 11:34 am
As the 2013 South by Southwest festival was winding to a noisy end — sirens, car horns and even a helicopter passed could be heard on the streets of Austin, Texas — there were plenty of smaller, quieter moments worth singling out. On the festival's final night, the All Songs Considered gang gathered to talk about what they saw, heard and felt during their last few hours in Austin.
Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 4:44 pm
You can depend on Solange to be the best dressed anywhere — that pink suit! — but her commanding live presence at SXSW is a thing of wonder, even if her funky R&B can be quiet and unassuming. We also took in the crushing doom metal of Batillus, spazzed out to Metz, and got gloomy with Diamond Rings.
Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 11:32 am
"If you want to do something, just do it." Words of wisdom from Bob Boilen that sum up day four of South By Southwest for the All Songs Considered gang perfectly. Bob, along with Robin Hilton, Stephen Thompson and Ann Powers were joined by Mike Katzif and Will Butler, both former All Songs interns. Will's journey to Austin was inspired by Amanda Palmer's recent TED Talk.
Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 11:30 am
Hear The SXSW Day 3 Late Night Dispatch
The span of South by Southwest is so huge that sometimes the festival can be about the bands you miss as much as the ones you see. After the hectic Thursday on the streets, bars and venues of Austin, Texas, the All Songs Considered crew regrouped to recount the long walks, long lines, tough decisions, missed opportunities and happy accidents of day three.
Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 11:28 am
Hear The SXSW Day 2 Late Night Dispatch
For the All Songs Considered gang, the second day of the South By Southwest music festival was packed with familiar favorites and new discoveries. On the heels of NPR Music's SXSW Showcase at Stubb's, Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Stephen Thompson and Ann Powers once again huddled in their favorite Austin churchyard to discuss the standouts and surprises from the day.
Originally published on Sat March 16, 2013 7:55 am
Listen to Stephen Thompson's conversation with Audie Cornish on All Things Considered by clicking the audio link.
The South by Southwest music festival kicked off Tuesday with the first of five straight nights of music overload: The clubs, makeshift music venues and front porches of Austin, Texas, were overrun with little-known discoveries-in-waiting and big names alike, as well as tens of thousands of fans who have flocked to the city in search of epiphanies.
What do Best Coast, Boba Fett, Beach Fossils and street yogis have in common? They were among the many artists and fans who came for the first day of South by Southwest. See a gallery of photos by Adam Kissick here and follow us on Flickr for much, much more.
Originally published on Tue March 19, 2013 11:11 am
Hear The SXSW Day 1 Late Night Dispatch
The All Songs Considered gang has made their way to Austin, Texas for this year's South By Southwest music festival. The five day event, which showcases performances by over 1500 bands and artists, takes over the city, and this year officially starts one day earlier than in the past — Tuesday night.
Originally published on Mon March 11, 2013 3:07 pm
Hear The Discussion
It's that time of year again! All Songs Considered is headed on another musical trek to Austin for this year's South By Southwest festival. Before hitting the road we listened to songs from more than a thousand bands scheduled to play the festival, in search of some great new discoveries. On this edition of the show hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson and NPR Music critic Ann Powers come together to share some of what they found, and talk about the bands they're most excited to see.
There's a statement of intent in the sequence of an album's opening one-two punch. There's Harvey Milk's The Pleaser, a title reversal of set 'em up ("Down") and knock 'em down ("Get It Up & Get It On").
In a way, singer Julianna Barwick's ethereal voice and seemingly shapeless songs are a form of abstract art: colorful and curious, with lines that drift and flow in unexpected but beautiful directions. For her latest video, and a new song called "Offing," Barwick finds commonality in architect Philip Johnson's Glass House and a strange sculpture from artist Ken Price. Barwick performs alongside the sculpture for a live audience, filling the Glass House with layers of her sublime voice.
For a party-friendly metal-punk band like Kvelertak, "Spring fra Livet" sure is a curveball. The stomping, AC/DC-style intro? That's a party-starter. But 20 seconds in, there's a twangy, melodic riff that sounds like an Allman Brothers-indebted '90s alt-rock band, like Better Than Ezra or Toad the Wet Sprocket or maybe just the Empire Records soundtrack — if the Empire Records soundtrack were about to lay into a blast-beaten chorus. Respectfully, Kvelertak, just what is going on here?
Originally published on Wed March 6, 2013 11:03 am
Get some earplugs and a case of your favorite caffeinated beverage ready: The annual sensory-overload-joy-fest known as South by Southwest is almost here. Bob Boilen, Ann Powers, Stephen Thompson and I, along with a small army of other NPR Music peeps, will be there next week for the whole thing. Whether you'll be in Austin for the festival, or watching and listening on our website, we hope you'll join us for these events:
It begins with a heartbeat. Released in 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon was Pink Floyd's eighth studio album. It would become one of the best-selling albums of all time, and its iconic cover image still hangs in college dormitories everywhere.
After 10 years of gleefully dismantling genres and challenging audiences to submit to its avant-prog-jazz-drone-noise-whatever hypnosis, the New York City band Zs promptly dismantled itself last summer. Only founding member and saxophonist Sam Hillmer remains, joined now by guitarist Patrick Higgins and drummer Greg Fox (Guardian Alien, ex-Liturgy). So it's only fitting that Grain, the first taste of new Zs material, features unreleased leftovers of previous line-ups completely dismantled.
In "Escape Artist," the new video from Canadian pop duo The Zolas, the band plays around with audience expectations about race, culture and sexuality. As frontman Zach Gray sings about his mysterious alter ego, a group of kids kick around their neighborhood, playing basketball, chatting up girls and passing the hours. One of them clearly feels like an outsider.