All Songs Considered

The stars shine over Big Sur and the ocean has receded, but the night sky just begins to open up as cosmic waves beg for cosmic riders. With a gentle voice that glides on warm synths, California's Shay Roselip makes music for surfing the spaceways.

The darkness that pervades the music and characters of The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die tends to point inward, even as its subjects project outward upon the world around them.

On this week's All Songs, Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton share songs of power, protest and passion, including a cut from Shearwater's "angriest" record to date, the urgent rock of the Ukrainian band Phooey! and singer Kevin Morby's fervent if exasperated attempt to make sense of police violence.

It's been seven years since the release of Cobalt's Gin, a masterful metal album that's savage in its bleakness and made distinct by the warped, inventive work of multi-instrumentalist Erik Wunder. In the time since, Wunder has been busy with his fuzzy Americana act Man's Gin and touring in Jarboe's live band, but Cobalt is a pillar of American extreme metal — and deserving of more devastation.

In January, All Songs Considered co-host (and creator) Bob Boilen and I hosted a party at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. to celebrate the show's 16th birthday. Together, with a sold-out crowd, we took a walk down memory lane, sharing behind-the-scenes stories about All Songs, with live sets by some of the musicians who've been important to our history. Here's what everyone saw:

"These are just the strongest melodies and the strongest ideas that occurred to me over a three to four year period, distilled."

During the climactic final scene of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Brad Fiedel's moody, pummeling synth score turns tender as industrial sounds clang in the background. That melody is as seared into viewers' memory as the scene itself. So it's hard to shake that melody from the first half of Good Willsmith's "What Goes In The Ocean Goes In You," which is centered on a modal, minor key as synths whir to life around it.

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Every year around this time, many of us on the All Songs Considered team — including Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Ann Powers and me — each dredge through nearly 2,000 MP3s by bands playing the SXSW Music Festival in Austin, Texas. And every year, we wind up missing something. In pursuit of music by thousands of bands, hundreds slip past our radar altogether.

Three years ago, Save Ends released Warm Hearts, Cold Hands, an energetic and earnest pop-punk record with dueling guy/gal vocals; the sound was unapologetically in love with the turn-of-the-millennium emo of The Get Up Kids and The Anniversary. The Holliston, Mass., band returns in February with the Hugs Your Friends EP, which features a more tonally reflective sound.

Remember that "mindblowing psychedelia from Thailand" YouTube video from five years ago, with the pan-generational band (Khun Narin), a hodgepodge of percussion, and a dude wailing on an electric, double-necked stringed instrument called a phin? It's still a trip to watch. Now imagine those droning Thai folk melodies getting blasted through a motorik rhythm section and blown out by a saxophone — that's the cosmic modus operandi of Sunwatchers.

First things first: Bloodmist is a kind of a messed-up name for a band, but it perfectly describes the sonic terror therein. Jeremiah Cymerman (clarinet, electronics), Mario Diaz de Leon (guitar) and Kayo Dot's Toby Driver (bass) are three of New York City's most extreme practitioners of dark experimental music, originally brought together over a week-long residency at the Roulette in 2012. Sheen, the band's debut, hangs in the air like a malevolent spirit — yet it rarely strikes, only stares.

On Sunday, Jan. 17, globalFEST, one of America's premiere showcases of musical talent from around the world, once again took over the three stages at Manhattan's Webster Hall. The one-evening festival has few American rivals in the way it simultaneously expands and condenses musical perspectives. The performances here move naturally between those that are heady and thought-provoking and those that are rhythmically sumptuous and sweat-inducing.

Sometime between today and tomorrow, more than 67 million Americans in 19 states are facing blizzard or winter storm warnings. So we at the Tiny Desk had an idea.

What is the role of a white person in the struggle of black people fighting injustice? That's the question posed by Ben Haggerty, better known as Macklemore, as he puzzles out his own role as a white artist in love with hip-hop on a new song called "White Privilege II." Macklemore & Ryan Lewis released the song as a free download overnight via a website that also offers links to "supporting black led organizations," and already, conversation and controversy have begun.

Grindcore is about the economy of extreme music; about cramming as much metallic insanity into one minute as possible. It's been six years since the last album by Magrudergrind, a Brooklyn-via-D.C. trio that knows how to make the guitar-drums-vocals format sound something like fireworks exploding in an aluminum trash can.

It's our first show with new music in 2016! After nearly two months of best-of's, holiday and Sweet 16 specials, we get back to doing what we do best and love most: playing great new music.

Eric Bachmann has reinvented himself several times in the last quarter-century: After breaking through in the '90s, with the jagged, sneering indie rock of Archers Of Loaf — and releasing an album of rock instrumentals as Barry Black — Bachmann took on the name Crooked Fingers, which he's used for solo works, experiments and full-band explorations.

Our fondness for a song is often connected to a string of memories — when a lyric or a melody made the world feel larger, more full of possibility for a moment. When the artists who made the music are no longer with us, it can feel like a piece of that moment is lost, too.

It's no surprise that the latest song from Violent Femmes, "Memory," feels like a classic. Frontman Gordon Gano actually wrote it a long time ago. "We even recorded it as a demo many years ago," he tells NPR Music via email. "And then it was forgotten about until digging into [our] archives, which led us to record it anew and release it."

What's your favorite memory of listening to a David Bowie song? We want to hear your story: In an audio recording, set the scene and tell us why that particular song matters to you in a minute or less. To get the ball rolling, here are two examples from our own staff: NPR editor Dana Farrington remembers her father singing Bowie's "Letter to Hermione" as a lullaby.

After seeing exactly 662 bands in each 2013 and 2014, my concert attendance plummeted in 2015. This past year I saw only 506 bands take the stage, but I have an excuse. I wrote a book.

Michigan singer-songwriter Chris Bathgate takes just enough time off between records that he needs to be reintroduced every time he resurfaces. His 2011 album Salt Year followed a four-year gap — watch him perform a few of its songs at the Tiny Desk — while its forthcoming follow-up, an EP called Old Factory, took nearly five.

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