All Songs Considered

Note: Our poll has closed. Please check back on Tuesday, Dec. 15 for the results.


In the form below, write in the five new albums you loved the most in 2015, in order from one (your number one favorite) to five. We'll tally all the results and share the results in an All Songs podcast on Tuesday, Dec. 15.

We know it's tough to pick — the NPR Music gang has been hammering out our lists of albums and songs for the last few weeks — but hopefully we'll all discover a few new great albums when it's done.

In the early 2000s, Glassjaw was a square peg in a round hole — a dynamic post-hardcore band pitched to a mainstream audience caught somewhere between spiky-haired aggro-metal and swoop-haired screamo. Still, Glassjaw's New York hardcore bona fides were hard to dispute, Daryl Palumbo's nerve-wracking voice could shred and salve on a dime, and the band's melodic subversion and occasional Latin rhythms flew Faith No More's freak flag while also throwing down some grooves.

Our final monthly Recommended Dose mix of 2015 includes Afrobeat from Amsterdam, techno by a retired ballerina, disco by a soft-rock progeny, remixes by two American club masters, and vibey electro in the vein of Hieroglyphic Being.

10 Reasons To Visit Your Local Record Store On Friday

Nov 26, 2015

Record Store Day has become its own holiday for longtime music collectors. Nothing brings cheer to a connoisseur quite like unwrapping a rare find from an independent record store. It's fitting, then, that the people behind the institution are kicking off the holiday season with a special Black Friday event just for the vinyl lover in your life, full of exclusive releases and limited editions from some of music's most collectible artists, new and old.

In 2009, The Dry Spells released Too Soon For Flowers, a folky rock album that became an instant best friend. Then, as far as I could tell, they vanished. But now there's new music from this Bay Area ensemble, a song called "Heliotrope," and I feel like an old buddy came to town for the holidays.

I asked about the long absence and guitarist Adria Ott wrote this back:

Macklemore's latest effort with producer Ryan Lewis is "Kevin," a funk-flavored tirade against the ravages of addiction, with a particularly scathing indictment against overprescription of medication. The Seattle duo is joined by soul singer Leon Bridges for the hook. "Doctor please give me a dose of the American dream," Bridges implores. "Put down the pen and look in my eyes. We're in the waiting room and something ain't right."

Adele's 25 is finally here. The singer's long-awaited third album arrived today, but all week, anticipation has surged. We learned that 25 won't be available to stream on services like Spotify.

InTechnicolour works in that strain of stoner-metal that's less atmospheric and weed-fueled and more progressive — you know, for the kids who banged heads to Kyuss and nerded out on Rush. It's well-trod territory, with more than a decade of records looking to ISIS' Panopticon, Mastodon's Leviathan and Baroness' Red Album. On its debut EP, InTechnicolour's members don't so much reinvent the wheel as rebuild it.

In the wake of tragedy, grief guides us on an unknown path: Its corridors are dim and shallow, its destination uncertain. Even as the path widens with time, grief makes way for bittersweet memory, though it all still hurts something awful.

Bob Boilen Wrote A Book

Nov 18, 2015

I've spent the past few years talking with musicians about a song that altered the course of their life. Now those conversations are making up my first book, called Your Song Changed My Life: From Jimmy Page to St. Vincent, Smokey Robinson to Hozier, Thirty-Five Beloved Artists on Their Journey and the Music That Inspired It.

Music For Healing

Nov 17, 2015

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Shovels & Rope's new album of covers, Busted Jukebox Vol. I, took a village to create. The folk-rock duo of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent called in their talented friends and collaborators to tackle songs from Elvis Costello, Nine Inch Nails and Guns n' Roses, just to name a few. Each tune is imbued with Shovels & Rope's signature sound and the individual influence of the guests on each track.

Ask a Bruce Springsteen fan about the holy grails of his concerts and you're likely to hear about a 1980 Tempe, Ariz. show. Today NPR Music has video of Springsteen performing "The River" from that very concert. The brilliant performance — or at least much of it — was recorded using four cameras and a multitrack machine for audio. It's all been put together and is being released 35 years later as part of a new box set called The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.

Brian Burton has good taste. As Danger Mouse, he's won five Grammy Awards and worked with everyone from the Black Keys to Gorillaz to Adele. Now the musician, songwriter and producer is adding another impressive project to his resume: his own record label.

The cover art of Newcastle indie-rock quartet Lanterns on the Lake's new album, Beings, is at once soothing and unnerving. Warm, filtered light bathes an arid mountain-scape, and whimsical will-o-the-wisps bubble around the edges of the image. Yet, in the middle of the photograph, there sits an unadorned black heptagon, like a scorch mark. It's a striking image, perfectly paired to the music it illustrates.

This week's All Songs Considered is an emotional roller coaster. Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton start off mellow with the sweet, acoustic Many Rooms, only to pull the rug out from under it with a monstrously good tune from Grimes. Then we've got intricate Ethiopian accordion rhythms from Hailu Mergia, a piece full of anguish and beauty from the Manchester band Money and a thick, shoe-gazey song from Shmu to close out the whirlwind of frenzied feelings.

It took a little while to shake-off the sugar crash of Halloween, but we're finally ready to present our October edition of Recommended Dose. This month features Balearic house from Australia, eerie techno from a fashion-minded Russian, Colombian club workouts from Northern England, Detroit-infused funk from London, hard-hitting bass from a young Swede, and a potential anthem that's already earned a co-sign from Skrillex.

I'm happy to have new music from the harmonious and ethereal band Quilt. The Boston quartet's 2014 album, Held in Splendor, is a favorite of mine. Their third album, Plaza, is coming on Feb. 26, and this first new song "Eliot St.," is a pleasant extension of the band's sound.

There's a relentless antagonism to Total Abuse that is so, so satisfying. When it formed in 2006, the Texas band first looked to iconic '80s hardcore punk for its sound. But weirdness soon took hold, crawling into the dank headspace between the Swedish noise-rock band Brainbombs and Black Flag's most deranged output.

What is it like to sing songs almost 50 years after first writing and recording them? How does it feel to make your most creative work only to have it ignored? I wondered about these questions when I went and talked with Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, two of the original members of The Zombies. They were in town with all the surviving members of their original band to perform their long overlooked, now classic 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle in full alongside earlier hits like "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" and songs from their 2015 album Still Got The Hunger.

Martin Atkins, a drummer, producer and professor, weaves the terrifying tale of any musicians' personal horror in this spooky Halloween installment of The Martin Atkins Minute, an occasional series in our All Songs +1 podcast.

There's a reason why Sébastien Devaud (a.k.a Agoria) has remained among French techno's brightest and longest-burning lights: When Devaud finds himself at a creative crossroads, he chooses to do "something different, always challenging myself to try to make other beats, other sounds." It may be a cliché, but it's a worthy one — and it explains how the 39-year-old Lyon-born producer and DJ has made a two-decade career out of being more than a trusted interpreter of the future sounds of Detroit (the city's electronic music being his first love).

It was a moment of television magic. I heard a brand new song from my favorite band and saw them on film, walking around and riding horses. If the expression "my mind was blown" had been created, I'd have phoned up my friends and told them that. All I can remember saying to my friends after seeing The Beatles' "Penny Lane" film is, "That was boss!" And now that film is back and more beautiful than ever.

Verses are overrated. If your song has a chorus with a walloping right hook, why risk the wind-up? The New York noise-punk trio Cold Sweats spends very little time with a throbbing, Pixies-indebted bass line in "Hater Failure" before lunging into the festering cherry on top.

Listen to this conversation and you'll feel like you're sitting in an airport lounge eavesdropping on two smart, funny, mutually-admiring musicians.

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