The members of CCR Headcleaner must be some kind of gutter mutants, spawned from the spores of an alternate-universe San Francisco psych scene that's less pop and more bong-ripped hedonism. But if the Geneva Jacuzzi-directed video for the sludgy "Steal the Light" is any indication, then maybe the band's destructively diverse debut, Lace the Earth With Arms Wide Open: 2013, was just formed out of bedroom burnouts.
On this edition of All Songs Considered, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton share a brand new song from Beck. The new cut, called "Gimme," is the third single he's released since June and by far the strangest (i.e., best) of the bunch. None of the songs will be on the new full-length record Beck hopes to release before the end of the year.
Originally published on Tue September 17, 2013 6:41 am
As summer winds down and cool breezes fill the evenings here on much of the east coast, summer never ends in the music of Best Coast. "I Don't Know How" is the new single from the L.A.-based duo, featuring Bethany Cosentino and Bobb Bruno. The song is the last cut from their seven-song EP called Fade Away due out October 22.
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and along with the quilt my kind sister couldn't possibly have made me herself came a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a request for ideas on music awards that double as useful buyer's guides.
Originally published on Wed September 11, 2013 6:56 am
The inventor and engineer Rube Goldberg was known for designing elaborate machines that performed simple tasks, usually in a string of successive events, each one triggering the next. His work has been the inspiration for a lot of fantastic art and music videos (think of OK Go's "This Too Shall Pass," or A-Trak's "Tuna Melt").
Originally published on Sat September 7, 2013 7:23 pm
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the helpful slips from FedEx reminding us that we have to be at home to receive their package even though most people work during the day, for pete's sake is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a request for ideas for how to play music in the office without irritating people.
They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh and John Linnell have just delivered an old-school video — think "early days of MTV" — and it's a pleasure to see. Over the course of 16 albums, the two Johns (first as a duo and later as bandleaders) have always kept humor at the core of their sound and general attitude. They continue the tradition with "You're On Fire," the first single from their 25-song, 45-minute album Nanobots.
Originally published on Fri August 30, 2013 4:39 pm
As this summer lopes towards its inevitable close, we're still hankering for one last dose of a day at the beach: bright, sunny, full of daytime languor and the tantalizing promise of a fabulous night. And what sates that desire perfectly is the totally charming tune "Ce Soir" ("Tonight"), from the New York-based group Banda Magda.
On her latest album, The Worse Things Get, The Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You, singer Neko Case lays her heart — and her healthy sense of humor — bare. It's a deeply personal record that, among other things, offers intimate, sometimes wry meditations on the recent loss of both of her parents and a grandmother. NPR Music's Stephen Thompson and I spoke with Neko Case about the music, and shared questions from listeners, in this interview that we originally webcast live on Aug. 29.
I suppose it would be natural, if you grew up relatively isolated in a Wisconsin forest, to find yourself fascinated by cities. And so it is for the 24-year-old Russian-American singer Nika Roza Danilova, best known as Zola Jesus. In the video for her song "Fall Back," from the new album Versions, we see Nika in two settings: the vast coldness of urban concrete and the nature of the forest. "Shooting in the forest was very important," Nika writes. "The forest is raw and naked, which is in line for my intent for Versions.
I grew up in a town of about 6,000 people in rural Kansas back in the '70s and '80s. I've never romanticized it much, though it was certainly a simpler time and, for better or worse, it's where I learned to make some sense of my life. The world you inhabit when you come of age in your teen years has a way of digging its claws in you. As the years pass, no matter how far you try to get away from it, it stays with you. The people, the places, the sounds and even the smells become a part of your DNA.
On this week's episode of All Songs Considered, co-host Bob Boilen basks in the glory of his return by making fellow co-host Robin Hilton enjoy the musings of a box that when opened plays affirming statements with Bob's name that was gifted to him by a secret admirer.
Originally published on Tue August 27, 2013 8:51 am
Few albums hold a place in the hearts and minds of its fans (myself included) quite like Pink Floyd's psychedelic masterpiece The Dark Side Of The Moon. In the four decades since its release, it remains, for many, an almost sacred work of art, endlessly dissected by legions of fans dying to to unravel its myriad mysteries. What are all those background voices really saying? What does its iconic prism cover art mean?
Originally published on Fri August 23, 2013 4:33 pm
We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the monthly bale of sunflower seeds we've decided to order from Amazon Prime via subscription is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, a request for advice on when and where it's courteous to wear headphones in public.
Brian Bowen writes via Facebook: "When is it OK to wear headphones in public — in transit, at work, during events large or small, standing in line at the post office, etc.?"
It takes a bit longer than a full minute before Berkeley, California-based artist Dan Casey's song "Empty City" builds to its gorgeous swirl of vocal harmonies, drum machines and hook-laden guitar riffs, but the sonic pay off is worth every second. At the heart of the song lies a unique mix of bright guitar lines intertwining with up-tempo electronic production that illustrates Casey's mastery at layering the sounds from his head.
Originally published on Tue August 20, 2013 6:42 pm
Windhand is one of those body-rattling bands whose decibels clobber the smoke-filled air. This is especially true in a live setting, in which masses of people are drawn to the riffs like moths. The Richmond stoner-metal band gets close to that desperately heavy live vibe on its second album, Soma, especially in "Orchard."
Did you want to hear how a song evolves? How a single spark of inspiration transforms into words and then melody and finally a fully produced complex production?
Jordon Gieger, known by the moniker Hospital Ships, has unveiled his journey as a songwriter for us. "Desolation Waltz" is a song Geiger began writing in Columbus, Ohio after "listening to a very fiery preacher on the radio, who would break into little melodies in the middle of his sermons. I decided to write songs a capella, in my car."
All Songs Considered co-host Robin Hilton has been feeling a little dazed and confused lately, so host Bob Boilen gives him a "sonic hug" with a new song from the Austin, Texas rock band The Octopus Project. Robin follows with a surprising cut from the first new Nine Inch Nails album in five years. NPR's Sami Yenigun brings a healthy dose of dance beats from Seven Davis Jr.
Doom is as doom does. No matter how many sub-sub genre tags you put on it — blackened, atmospheric, sludge, bedazzled (okay, I made that up, but what if) — all descend from Black Sabbath. But you knew that. Doom thrives on repetition, in both its riffs and its tributes. The Salt Lake City doom-metal band SubRosa isn't out to reinvent the stone wheel, but it does offer a unique perspective by looking back to America's melancholic folk roots for something darker and more soulful.
While the cat's away, the mice will play rock-and-roll! On this week's episode of All Songs Considered, with Bob Boilen on vacation (to hunt through the treasure trove of memorabilia in his basement), co-host Robin Hilton and NPR Music's Stephen Thompson attempt to fulfill their vision of a perfect bizarro world episode, with premieres from Cults, Minor Alps, Weed and more.
One question remains: Can Bob really resist the temptation of trying to ruin Stephen's vision of a Bob-less show? Hear the show to find out.
Originally published on Mon August 12, 2013 6:40 pm
Syracuse-based rock group Ra Ra Riot's latest album, Beta Love, is steeped heavily in science fiction and futurist theories, with tales of robots, lives stranded in space and, on the song "Binary Mind," the merging of computers and human brains. In a new video for the track, the band members' disembodied heads playfully float and bob in a kaleidoscopic, digital landscape.