All Songs Considered

Early in his career, on some forgotten talk show (perhaps it was David Letterman in 1990), Dwight Yoakam chatted with the host about his birthplace of Eastern Kentucky. Describing the earthen mounds that protected roadways from the elements, he used the word "berm." His interviewer was taken aback. Berm? That's a fancy word for a honky-tonk country singer, he said. Yoakam just laughed. He knew that only the precisely right word, not just "heap" or "ridge" or "barrier," would make his story sing.

Here's something I find remarkable: There are only three professionally made recordings of The Beatles playing live in concert. Sure, there are bootleg recordings that don't sound very good. And there's a single-microphone recording from the band's days performing in Hamburg in the early '60s, but that's it.

It's been 17 years since the Urbana, Ill., emo group American Football released its self-titled debut album. In the years since, fans have elevated the group and its sole release to legendary status, anxiously awaiting any kind of follow-up. Today, the members of American Football announced that the wait is over: They've got a new record coming Oct. 21 (it's also self-titled) and a beautifully wistful new song called "Ive Been So Lost For So Long."

Sharon Van Etten has released a new song she wrote in memory of the victims of the June shooting at Orlando's Pulse nightclub. "Not Myself" is a gorgeous, haunting elegy, with Van Etten's voice layered over simple piano and a droning synth. "It's too much to take," she sings. "It's too much at stake. I want you to be yourself around me."

When you stop to think about it, there really is no one like Barbra Streisand. There's Barbra the young Broadway legend, the movie star, the glass-ceiling-smashing movie director, the recording artist and now the venerated elder stateswoman of the showstopper.

There's always an air of introspection hanging above self-titled albums produced by musicians well into their careers. It's especially prominent when producers who've spent their entire creative lives hiding behind monikers, suddenly jump out. The moment can't help but scream "personal statement." In the case of Alan Abrahams, the Cape Town, South Africa-born electronic producer who for the better part of two decades has been successfully floating upward in the European dance music scene, under the names Portable and Bodycode, this moment may be especially salient.

Joey Vannucchi's music treasures a sort of troubled quietude. The California native writes and records as From Indian Lakes, ably tackling all of the instruments himself with an ear for warm, organic sound. Everything Feels Better Now, his third album, tracks in moody indie-rock songs that look to the terse internal monologues of Now, Now and the atmospheric pop of Mew.

The band San Fermin plays painstakingly orchestrated folk-rock, performed with two singers at the fore. The deep, dreamy male voice belongs to Allen Tate, who's about to put out his first solo record. But he's not straying too far from San Fermin: That group's mastermind and Tate's longtime friend, Ellis Ludwig-Leone, produced the forthcoming Sleepwalker.

I've missed Lisa Hannigan. Five years ago, the Irish singer-songwriter made an unforgettably beautiful record called Passenger. She came by to play a Tiny Desk concert that year, and then we had to wait for half a decade; it was tough, because I've missed her sad, delicate songs. It turns out the five-year gap wasn't her plan.

When Jerry Garcia died unexpectedly in August 1995, his Grateful Dead bandmate Bob Weir went right back out on the road to deal with the loss of his friend.

There's new music from The Tallest Man On Earth. Though the song, "Rivers" feels familiar, there's an immediacy here, as though singer Kristian Matsson quickly captured a passionate moment in time. The voice is rawer and homespun, with lovely horns and piano accompanying a tale about leaving.

The fabulously flamboyant duo PWR BTTM takes a melancholy turn on its latest single. The sweetly sentimental sounding "New Hampshire" ponders the end of everything, from a love affair to the birds in the sky and the burning sun. But it shrugs it all off as an inevitable evolution of any life. "Don't be sad," sings guitarist Ben Hopkins. "I've done my share of living."

It's been five years since a new Bon Iver record, but at the band's performance last night at Justin Vernon's very own Eaux Claires Music Festival it announced and performed a new record called 22, A Million. The music is cryptic, angular, adventurous and brilliant. There's hardly any hint of that acoustic guitar which was such a part of the sound on Bon Iver's debut album, For Emma, Forever Ago, now almost ten years old.

Florence and the Machine dropped an EP today with three new songs. The tracks, "Too Much Is Never Enough," "I Will Be" and a cover of Ben E. King's "Stand By Me," were recorded for the Final Fantasy XV video game.

Jack White is sharing a previously unreleased White Stripes song called "City Lights."

The song was originally written for the band's 2005 album Get Behind Me Satan. But it was forgotten until White revisited the album for a 2015 Record Store Day vinyl reissue.

If you've watched the Netflix series Stranger Things, you've likely noticed how the synth-heavy soundtrack is as full-on '80s as the clothes and cars. It's an icy, pulsing, oh-so-analog sound that Kyle Dixon and Michael Stein of the Austin band SURVIVE shrewdly re-created for the show, a supernatural thriller set in 1983.

Now, Dixon and Stein are sharing a new song they wrote for Stranger Things called "Kids."

This week, we've got a surprise: Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton both went on vacation and left the All Songs studio unlocked. Apparently neither one of them uses two-step verification, so it took only a very minor effort for a couple of highly skilled NPR Music team members, Daoud Tyler-Ameen and Saidah Blount, to hack into the elaborate system of tubes, funnels and hamster wheels that feed podcasts from our microphones into your earbuds for a very special takeover edition of All Songs Considered.

Let The Games Begin: A Playlist For Rio

Aug 5, 2016

A Moon Shaped Pool, Radiohead's ninth and quietest record, owes much of its sound to the band's visionary guitarist, violist, electronics wiz and arranger Jonny Greenwood. On this week's All Songs +1 podcast I talk with him about how A Moon Shaped Pool came to be.

On this week's episode of All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen and guest host Stephen Thompson play new music from Regina Spektor, experimental rap from Clipping, which features Daveed Diggs of Hamilton, and a great synth track from singer-songwriter Lowell.

What if you could see your favorite band in a living room, without all the background noise and cellphones you get at a live show? That's the question Rafe Offer, founder of Sofar Sounds, asked himself and a few friends after they'd seen a show where he couldn't even hear the band. Sofar Sounds operates around a simple idea: You gather together a few bands, a house in which they can perform, and an eager audience. However, the lineup isn't announced, which means the audience has no idea who's scheduled to perform until they arrive.

This month's Recommended Dose dance mix features the premiere of a new Hieroglyphic Being track, new music from renowned record labels like Lobster Theremin and PAN, and a remix of one of the 1990s' greatest house tracks.

There was barely a cloud in the sky all weekend at the 2016 Newport Folk Festival this past weekend. But the uninterrupted stretch of three gloriously sunny days wasn't the only stroke of good fortune festivalgoers encountered. Each day at Fort Adams State Park in Newport, R.I., was filled with surprise guests and moments of serendipity.

To put a spin on the Albert Ayler album title, metal is a healing force of the universe. Its riffs, wails and screams bring not only catharsis, but also metallic salvation. This is a prevailing theme throughout Spirit Adrift's Chained To Oblivion, which was written and recorded by Nate Garrett, a musician who splits his time between Arizona (Gatecreeper, ex-Take Over And Destroy) and Arkansas.