All Songs Considered

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.

On our most recent episode of All Songs Considered I noted that Sharon Van Etten can be heard on a new ad for Corona beer, and that a number of my favorite musicians have sold their songs for commercials.

On this week's All Songs Considered, Robin starts the show with a question: What bands have you discovered and fallen in love with from commercials? His first pick, Chairlift, has come a long way since its 2008 ad for the Apple iPod Nano.

There's a lot of mediocrity to sort through when you hop from one club to another during a festival like the CMJ Music Marathon, five days during which bands flock to New York. So when I find stuff that stands out, that pushes the inevitable evolutionary boundaries of rock, I get really happy.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the checks for people who aren't us is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This time around: thoughts on music's odd and ever-changing relationship with Canada.

The way we listen to music evolves constantly. From wax cylinder recordings all the way through to today's streaming services, formats have come a long way. What's next? What does this unending metamorphosis say about the music industry? And what does any of this have to do with Robert De Niro?

Twenty years ago, emo was smack-dab in the middle of its defining years. The Midwestern U.S., in particular, gave us Braid, The Promise Ring, Christie Front Drive, Mineral and Rainer Maria. One of the region's lesser-known, but no less beloved, bands was Kansas City's Boys Life, with its decidedly more abrasive and messy (but also cinematically windswept) sound.

Andy Shauf is a gifted storyteller. Earlier this year the Saskatchewan-based singer-songwriter put out one of 2015's most breathtaking albums, called The Bearer Of Bad News — an appropriately titled collection of mostly grim tales about small town drug addicts, murderous lovers and other weary underachievers.

Pinkish Black swings moods like none other. Since 2010, the Fort Worth, Texas, duo has stuck to synths, drums and Daron Beck's Gothic croon without the urge to expand — but it evolves expansively anyway. Bottom Of The Morning, the band's third record, all but abandons Pinkish Black's previous metallic tendencies for the eerie heft of '70s Italian horror-movie soundtracks (think Goblin or Ennio Morricone on a sinister jazz kick).

On this week's All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen is getting excited for the CMJ Music Marathon in New York and Robin Hilton is just plain getting excited.

The musician and provocateur known as Peaches has just won a Polaris prize for the Best Canadian Album of the 2000s. Music fans selected her sexually charged debut release The Teaches Of Peaches in an online poll over albums by Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and Feist, among others.

Tomorrow, Oct. 9, would have been John Lennon's 75th birthday. So for this week's Throwback Thursday we're sharing a live webcast we did about The Beatles back in February of 2003. At the time, police in Amsterdam had just discovered a bunch of incredibly rare tapes that were stolen from The Beatles and had been missing for 30 years. So we had author Bruce Spizer in to talk about the newly recovered recordings. Bruce wrote The Beatles On Apple Records, and his conversation with host Bob Boilen dug deep into the Beatles' legacy and explained the history of the lost tapes.

This week on All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen and Robin share a few of their favorite things: choice tunes from cherished artists. We've got all the bases covered, from a devastating song about dementia from Daughter to an energetic anthem from Frank Turner on the power of positivity.

A songwriter better than you or I once wrote that "days grow short when you reach September" — forgetting to add that this is why you need more bangers for the seasonally expanding night-times. Enter Recommended Dose, whose monthly offering doesn't simply span multiple continents, but numerous rhythm sources, large and small, acoustic, analog and digital.

This month, our mix features the modern sounds of London and Stockholm, the classic traditions of Brooklyn and Detroit, as well as collaborations between Italy and Mali, between old North Jersey and nü Berlin.

Deep Thoughts With Tom Waits

Oct 3, 2015

There is an elaborate system of punishment and reward governing the courageous moles tunneling beneath Stonehenge. Or so said Tom Waits in a 1988 interview with journalist Chris Roberts from Rock's Backpages.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the assortment of coloring books for grownups is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This time around: thoughts for an engaged couple who can't decide on their first wedding dance.

This week's puzzler draws mostly on Top 40 hits and as such, should be pretty easy for some careful listeners. Then again, every time I say that people tank ... just like they get near-perfect scores whenever I think it's a particularly hard week. So what do I know?

I do know that Drum Fill Friday is going on a brief hiatus after this week for some technical maintenance work. But we hope to back in a few weeks.

A song titled "Nothing Without You" has a steep hill to climb toward independence. Before hearing a word, the artist has admitted to being hamstrung by addiction, and an inability to form a sense of self separate from the desideratum. It's a risky impression to make—especially if you're an up-and-coming, all-female band early in your career.

If there's a secret world inside the guitar, Tashi Dorji wants to find it. Raised in Bhutan and based in Asheville, N.C., for the last 15 years, Dorji plays solo guitar music that's at once frenetic and tranquil, as his fingers flick across and hammer down strings; tiny sparks ignite the next move.

Groove can be an ugly word in metal. But just because some bands haven't evolved beyond Pantera's (awesome) Cowboys From Hell, that doesn't mean the groove can't find nastier pastures. Twitching Tongues has been particularly adept at the moody mosh, where angst broods with Alice In Chains-inspired melodies, a sludgy Crowbar crunch and Colin Young's husky baritone.

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