All Songs Considered

Myrkur's Amalie Bruun makes black metal that is at once savage and sylvan, capable of harrowing violence one moment and beauty the next. Last year's self-titled EP was full of unharnessed promise, but with members of Mayhem and producer Kristoffer "Garm" Rygg (whose mid-'90s work with Ulver no doubt informs Myrkur), the forthcoming M gives body to the Nordic folk song, choral arrangements and shoegaze that haunt Bruun's music.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the shipment of cat sedatives that have us pondering just how often we order shipments of cat sedatives is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This time around: thoughts on sedating children (not cats) via music.

Eagles drummer, singer-songwriter and producer Don Henley is back with his first solo album in 15 years.

Chvrches Tease New Album With 'Leave A Trace'

Jul 16, 2015

There is an unrequited yearning to Red River Dialect's music that's steadfastly pinned to hearts as they run every which way. That feeling is even written into the English band's album title, Tender Gold and Gentle Blue, descriptive colors that are warm and inviting but also vulnerable and given to telling hard truths.

Singer-songwriter Soren Bryce sounds like the type who has more ideas than there are minutes in a day. It's a particular kind of creative person: A novelist who wakes up with words ready to pour out, a painter who sketches compulsively on any available surface, a songwriter who rises in the middle of the night to capture a somnial melody. Bryce, who at 18 has taught herself six instruments and was classically trained on two others, seems to have the gene.

Twenty years after forming, Australian folk-rock trio The Waifs sound both comfortably loose and tighter than they've ever been. It's a best-of-both-worlds situation for the band, whose seventh studio album, Beautiful You, will be released later this year.

Chapel Hill's MAKE is all about the journey, man. The band thrives on heavy, atmospheric jams, inspired by the likes of Isis, Popul Vuh and Neil Young's Crazy Horse, all of which made MAKE's Scott Endres a perfect match as Horseback's guitarist on 2010's doom-and-gloom choogler Invisible Mountain.

Guest DJ: SOAK

Jul 14, 2015

In the best way possible, "KYBM" doesn't let its listeners get comfortable — which is apt for a song inspired by social justice activists who spend their time and resources combating complacency.

Singer and rapper Tunde Olaniran works for Planned Parenthood, and is an active supporter of the LGBT pride scene around Detroit and his home base of Flint, Mich. The non-musical side of his resumé hints at the hard and unpredictable work of taking on social issues, so it's no surprise that his music reveals a restless spirit and seemingly bottomless supply of energy.

Protomartyr's latest song, its best yet, is a fierce and unforgettable shredder. "Why Does It Shake?" — from the Detroit band's upcoming album, The Agent Intellect -- rumbles and roars with a gritty chug as frontman Joe Casey stares down his own mortality. "Sharp mind, eternal youth / I'll be the first to never die / Nice thought / And I'm never going to lose it."

Teri Gender Bender, founder and lead singer of garage punk outfit Le Butcherettes, has one of the best stares in showbiz. As demonstrated in her supremely memorable Tiny Desk Concert, Gender Bender (Teresa Suárez by birth) makes direct and unblinking eye contact with individual audience members and the camera, confronting and reversing the viewer/performer dynamic.

Punk is not typically where one turns for mature thoughts on self-care and ending relationships in a healthy manner. But Columbus, Ohio quartet All Dogs is not where one turns for typical punk. The band makes punk music, but calls its songs "loud pop songs," and that's exactly right, too. The vehicle is loud guitar, unpolished but affecting vocals and fuzzy garage drums, but the destination is upbeat, catchy anthems with lyrics that are destined to be memorized before the end of the song.

All Songs +1: The Best Opening Tracks

Jul 10, 2015

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This song couldn't have been released as anything other than a single. A full-length album would collapse under the plaintive, heartbreaking weight of Sara Rachele's "Rebecca," and picking songs to cushion it in a track list would be nearly impossible.

One of the most outstanding and challenging new bits of music I've heard this year comes from Makeunder, the project of Hamilton Ulmer, an Oakland-based musician with a penchant for exploration. "Great Headless Blank" was the inspired track we played on All Songs Considered back in April, now it's the title track to Makeunder's latest EP, which we are proudly premiering here, along with track-by-track thoughts from Hamilton Ulmer.

For the sake of argument and reduction, let's say there are three ways to approach the architecture of extreme metal as it mutates and cross-pollinates genres: those who build blocks, those who construct M.C. Escher-like puzzles, and those who throw spaghetti against the wall. All are valid in their deconstructions, none are set in stone, and the resulting innovations eventually become their own signifiers for younger bands. The members of Chicago's Immortal Bird, for their part, are metallic mutant builders who hint at staggering puzzles.

Thursdays this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a story about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email:allsongs@npr.org.

Sometimes an excellent song makes its writer work for it, and sometimes it pours out almost too fast to catch. The latter was the case for Spokane, Wash. singer Cami Bradley and Huntsville, Ala. singer/songwriter Whitney Dean, who met on a whim and, less than a year later, are making music that seems to contain decades of intimacy.

Punk has always been hospitable to filth. Blood, sweat, spit, vomit, beer and hair gel from a melting fauxhawk — all are crucial to the movement. Punk embraces the taboo, the base and the precious, forcing all three into conversation. But that's not to say individual punks are inherently interested in being disgusting. Then again, sometimes they are, and write a whole song about it.

**Language advisory: This track contains language that may be offensive to some**

King Los' long-awaited major-label debut, God Money War, dropped on June 23 while our collective attention was — and is — turned to American terrorists, burning churches, music streaming services, and much more widely hyped album releases from other hip-hop artists. From a publicity standpoint, it's an inopportune time to release an album, but in a way it's perfect timing for a record like Los' debut.

Earlier this week, All Songs Considered shared our favorite music from debut albums released in the first half of 2015. The NPR Music team also got together to make epic lists of albums and songs we already think might make our year-end lists in December.

Kashikura Takashi is a hell of a drummer. Fifteen years into the existence of toe, he's often been the focus of the instrumental Japanese post-rock band, and for good reason. Takashi is aerobic and musical all at once, capable of Questlove-level precision and soul one moment, and a cyclone of controlled chaos the next. But the thing that's always set toe apart from its technically minded peers is its ability to tell short, concise stories — ecstatic, noodly, complex pop songs that unfold in less than five minutes.

Thursdays this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a personal memory about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email: allsongs@npr.org.

There's a new album coming from Beach House, the dreamy Baltimore-based duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. That album, called Depression Cherry, comes out on Sub Pop on Aug. 28. Today we get to hear a first song from the album, called "Sparks," and I interviewed Beach House about it.

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