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All Songs Considered

All Songs Considered's Robin Hilton takes a quick run through May 11's essential album releases with NPR Music's Felix Contreras, Jewly Hight, Tom Huizenga, Lyndsey McKenna and Stephen Thompson. Featured albums include the irresistible pop of Charlie Puth, classical pianist Simone Dinnerstein, early folk recordings from The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia, infectious guitar rock from Illuminati Hotties and more.

Some relationships in our lives are so vital, constant and ordinary that it seems nearly impossible for any expression of affection to do them justice. Thankfully, immortalizing everyday intimacy is a specialty of Lori McKenna.

Graduation season is upon us, which means a lot of young people are about to make one of the biggest transitions of their lives. We'd like to mark this transformative season by playing and talking about the songs that got you through high school or college.

Artist Christina Eve has synesthesia, a rare neurological condition that entwines the senses. In Christina Eve's case, she sees sounds. Last year she sent me a handful of her colorful paintings she made based on music she heard and the visions she had when she listened. I was so fascinated by the way she interprets songs with imagery that I asked her to document the process. You can watch her paint the music of Moses Sumney and Bleachers in the videos below and read her describe what her brain is like on music. – All Songs Considered's Bob Boilen

Liminal space can be both a beginning and a transition — it's the threshold that floats between worlds. When you just need to drift into nothingness from the aches of daily life, that unending quality makes for good ambient music, no?

The band's name — The Dreebs — sounds like urban-dwelling forest trolls, slipping in and out of sewers and city-sanctioned parks in packs.

Violinist and vocalist Adam Markiewicz, guitarist Jordan Bernstein and drummer Shannon Sigley have all played in the equally twisted PC Worship, and were all, at some point, part of a commune-like space called Le Wallet that's fostered many musicians in the New York scene. After a few records and digital releases, Forest of a Crew mutates The Dreebs into a strange and beautiful creature.

New phases are the unseen forces of life. In persons, in movements, they are the quietly unfolding moments and soul detritus that build momentum over time, only revealed as a crescent of new being. That's the poetry of a new moon, a solar body that exists, but is invisible to the unaided eye, and only rarely illuminated by an eclipse.

Back in 2016, Irish singer-songwriter Naomi Hamilton — a.k.a. Jealous of the Birds — was one of NPR Music's favorite SXSW discoveries. Her song "Goji Berry Sunset" demonstrated a remarkable gift for converting spare and common ingredients (voice, acoustic guitar, a bit of whistling) into a sound that's dense, gently hypnotic and utterly her own.

Do yourself a favor: don't Google "Wand" and "Pure Romance" while at work, unless your place of business happens to be an adult toy store. Your browser history will thank you either way.

Lucky for you, you don't need to search for the Los Angeles psych-rock band's video for "Pure Romance." We're premiering it right here.

Two recurring themes run throughout the albums we're featuring on this week's New Music Friday: artists who are pushing themselves out of their comfort zones, and lots of songs that reflect on the need to be better, do better and make the world a better place. This includes the buoyant, joyful pop of English singer Frank Turner, the inspired rock of Shakey Graves, soul singer Leon Bridges, the incredibly ambitious narratives of Damien Jurado and much more.

Featured Albums:

  1. Frank Turner: Be More Kind

Erin Rae makes quiet music for the mind swept into a torrent. It'd be easy to call her sound escapist, as her gentle voice offers a balm over softly strummed guitar and brushed percussion. But Rae also unearths uneasy revelations with hard wisdom, in particular in Putting On Airs, her new album.

To twist a meme normally reserved for Drake, get you a Rosali Middleman because she can do both. The Philly-based musician leads Long Hots, the chooglin' psych-rock trio featuring members of Spacin' and Hothead. Grab a tallboy; this is music that boogies your brain into heavy hypnosis.

From the sounds of blues guitarist and singer Lead Belly to recordings of Southwestern Woodhouse Toads, Smithsonian Folkways has been capturing the sounds of global history for the past 70 years. These recordings are among 60,000 treasured tracks the label has in its library — and it promises they'll never go out of print — from the labor songs of Woody Guthrie and children's songs of Ella Jenkins to New Orleans hot jazz, songs of the civil rights movement, the Honk Horn music of Ghana and so much more.

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