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All Songs Considered

Today's All Songs +1 podcast is a conversation with The Antlers' Peter Silberman on how hearing loss would eventually lead him to create his first solo album.

There are times when a beat can save your life, and others when it's the last thing you need. For the past three weeks or so, the sound of drum machines has mostly felt numbing — dissociative from the reality of the culture, and not in a good way. The music that has best soundtracked the current feeling of confusion and embattlement is mostly dark, ambient and atmospheric, though not without hope.

This week, all the songs I play ended up being about the ways people, particularly women, empower themselves in the face of difficult times. Singer Sam Phillips offers a feast of sound in less than two and a half minutes with "World On Sticks," a song about the indomitable human spirit.

Aretha Franklin performed "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Thanksgiving Day football game between the Detroit Lions and the Minnesota Vikings Thursday afternoon. And, as, the Queen of Soul usually does, she stole the show.

The first song the artist Cat Stevens released back in 1966 was titled, "I Love My Dog." He'd be the first to admit that it's a strange title, and subject, for someone nicknamed Cat. Now, 50 years later Yusuf / Cat Stevens has done a unique remake of this song; a direct-to-acetate recording at Jack White's renowned Third Man Records Blue Room. The single will also include Cat Stevens second U.K.

OK Go's latest (and astonishing) video, for the song "The One Moment," took only 4.2 seconds to film. But the whole thing — a series of rapid-fire explosions — was slowed down to fill the four-plus minutes it takes the band to sing the song. Remarkably, like OK Go's previous videos, the group manages to sync the whole thing using... I don't know, math?

Bob Boilen and I, along with the rest of the NPR Music team, have been prepping for our year-end coverage by listening to hundreds of songs and albums in one big shared playlist. Along the way, we've all discovered stuff we hadn't heard before — and even fallen in love with some of it.

Brian Eno is back with another ambient record. Called Reflection, it's due out Jan. 1 on Warp Records and consists of a single, 54-minute track. While Eno isn't sharing any samples of Reflection for now, he says it's similar to his 1985 album Thursday Afternoon, a moody, meditative record that was one 60-minute track.

In a prepared statement, Eno describes Reflector as a "generative" work because the sounds "make themselves."

Ty Segall's next album, which will be self-titled, is due out Jan. 27, 2017, on Drag City. It comes just over a year after Segall released his previous full-length, Emotional Mugger.

City Of Caterpillar was one of those bands that released one great album and then, like a mutant butterfly too beautiful and weird for this world, flew away. After a demo and a few split 7"s with pg. 99 and System 2600, the Richmond post-hardcore band released its self-titled debut album in 2002.

Shortly after his 82nd birthday, Leonard Cohen sat down with KCRW's Chris Douridas for an interview. The two talked about Cohen's health, the role of religion in his life, his 14th and final album, You Want It Darker, and much more.

The conversation took place at the Canadian Consulate in Los Angeles on Oct. 13 as part of a special listening session for You Want It Darker. It's the last interview Cohen gave before his death on November 7.

Last week Bob Boilen and I asked you to share your favorite memories of Pink Floyd and what the band's music has meant to you. It's one of those bands that stirs up powerful feelings.

On May 3, 1972 I saw the most amazing show of my life. It was a few years post-Woodstock, we'd lost Hendrix, Joplin, Morrison, and you could feel this special generational music, sounds that brought together a culture, going commercial. There were syrupy bands like America, "soft-rock" was a thing, and your mom and dad could actually like what you heard.

The xx is back with new music, and it feels like this wonderfully languid band may have just received a shot of adrenaline.

Lætitia Tamko's music exists in the spaces between memory and reality; in the spots where stories are misremembered and tangled up in our feelings. The Cameroon-born, New York-raised musician records as Vagabon, and her songs capture that ambiguity with somber clarity as Tamko's assured voice glows deeply and brightly like a new bulb.

The music Jaime Fennelly makes under the name Mind Over Mirrors creates a sense of everlasting wonder, driven by synthesizers and the Indian pedal harmonium. He finds the center of tones and timbres, then stretches them beyond their origins.

This week a gigantic Pink Floyd box set is released. What's remarkable about Pink Floyd Early Years 1965-1972 is that its 27 discs cover only the band's first seven years! All this week we'll think pink with some of the people who were there. On Friday — the day this collection is released — we'll talk with drummer Nick Mason about those early years. On Tuesday we talk to Roger Waters about his upcoming projects and politics.

Imagine being a singer — in this case, a singer of traditional British folk songs and murder ballads, songs of love, hate, revenge, redemption and tragedy. And as the singer of these songs, you get pretty well known in the circles of folk music in the 1960s and 1970s.

Now, imagine a broken heart robs you of your ability to sing. For 38 years, your voice — once beautiful — falls silent.

This is the story of the great Shirley Collins.

If you love Pink Floyd like Bob Boilen and I do, chances are you've got a story or two to tell about how the band's music has figured into your life. Maybe it's the first time you heard them, or a live show you saw, or an important friendship that formed over their music. Whatever your story is, we want to hear it.

More than a year ago, the world first heard the official cast recording of the most successful Broadway musical in recent memory. The album would ultimately go double-platinum and top Billboard's rap chart, owing in part to fired-up fans hitting repeat, memorizing lyrics and absorbing the show's richly textured world.

Patrick Jarenwattananon has been the backbone of our jazz coverage almost since NPR Music started in 2007. Patrick came to us as a 22-year-old intern and shortly after began covering legendary and rising jazz luminaries like a veteran journalist. His writing for A Blog Supreme captured the spirit of the jazz community and was a rich resource for thoughtful coverage on this living American musical culture.

When Maggie Rogers brought Pharrell to tears with her electro-pop earworm "Alaska" last summer, fans of the viral hit quickly scoured the web for more music from the young musician, but came up mostly empty handed.

I first saw Aurora in a small club in New York City three years ago. She was just 17 years old, but her performance was mesmerizing. Her frail, blonde figure mirrored her enchanting voice and words. The young singer from Norway put out a dramatic and beautiful record earlier this year called All My Demons Greeting Me as a Friend.

HBO's new Westworld series is only five episodes deep, but the sci-fi western has already established itself as a reliable source for musical easter eggs. Nearly every episode has featured a player piano in the background clinking out versions of popular rock songs. The slightly out-of-tune instrumentals end up sounding like something Scott Joplin might have played.

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