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All Songs Considered

Carnal implications abound on "Sex Mission," a new techno track from the Brooklyn-based musician Laurel Halo. There's the not-exactly-subtle title, and the EP from whence it comes is called Behind the Green Door (out May 21), a nod to a ground-breaking porn flick from the 1970s. The music itself throbs like an accelerating heartbeat. A looped grainy sample — "be still" — conjures up an imaginary lover who's about to show you a really good time.

Vermont folksinger Sam Amidon says he intentionally borrowed lines from older songs for his new mountain ballad "As I Roved Out." The result is an erratic narrative, played out brilliantly in an absorbing (and comical) new video about a

Exitmusic's Passages was one of 2012's darkest and most arresting ambient rock albums. Now, the band returns with an equally transfixing new video for one of the album's standout tracks, "White Noise."

We kick this week's show off with a lot of noise from filmmaker (and past guest DJ on All Songs Considered) Jim Jarmusch and his gloriously gritty side project called SQÜRL. The band, with Carter Logan and producer/engineer Shane Stoneback, originally formed to score the 2009 Jarmusch film The Limits Of Control. SQÜRL has a new, self-titled EP coming out this month and we've got a preview cut called "Pink Dust."

First Watch: Jeri-Jeri With Baaba Maal, 'Gawlo'

May 10, 2013

One of my favorite songs last year was a collaboration between a Sengalese drum collective and a German techno producer. The producer, Mark Ernestus traveled to the West African country to work with Jeri-Jeri, a group that plays a popular dance music called mbalax.

Sometimes all you need for a banging dance track is an unstoppable rhythm and a nuanced hook. Tweak the hook every couple bars, don't mess with the beat too much, and you've got a potential stomper on your hands.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the ironic promotional cassingles is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how a regretful fan of vinyl records can re-create her discarded collection.

Kirsten Elbourne Mathieson writes: "I'm big-time regretting getting rid of all of my record albums years ago. Any advice for someone starting from scratch with vinyl after all these years? What albums must be heard on vinyl rather than CD/digital?"

In the latest video from Seattle-based pop masters Telekinesis, for the song "Empathetic People," frontman Michael Benjamin Lerner ambles into an abandoned record-pressing factory and gets it running again. It's a curious glimpse into one of the last gasps of industry keeping music tethered to the physical world.

In the seven months since Gary Clark, Jr. released his major label debut, Blak and Blu, he's played for the President at the White House with Mick Jagger and blues legend B.B.

This week, All Songs Considered goes big with massive, heart-thumping new music from the gloriously exuberant, sprawling pop group The Polyphonic Spree, and the brilliantly experimental folk-rock band Akron Family. We also check out a gritty album from a Swedish group known as Goat, whose music is part prog-rock, part Afro-pop and undeniably awesome.

Sadie Dupuis: rock 'n' roll camp counselor, poet, songwriter, snack enthusiast. If you don't already want to be her best friend based on that description, Dupuis' solo-moniker-turned-band Speedy Ortiz captures the nonsensical wit of Stephen Malkmus, but is simultaneously ballsier and more self-deprecating.

If this song had just the tubular bells at the top and then that Motown guitar riff, I'd have been hooked and happy. But then, along comes Sharon Jones, the brilliant, powerful soul singer, and the song explodes. "Retreat!" is the perfect marriage of singer, song and band. A lot has happened to Sharon Jones and Bushwick's brilliant professors of soul, the Dap-Kings, in the three years since they last recorded. They played the Apollo, the Hollywood Bowl, Sydney Opera House and SXSW. And they've just gotten stronger and stronger.

A is for Alpine and it's also the name of Alpine's debut album. Alpine is a six-piece ensemble from Australia with an airy sound led by singers Phoebe Baker and Lou James. The group's album, A is for Alpine, has been out in their home since 2012, but it arrives in the U.S. on May 21.

The Handsome Family, the wife and husband duo of Rennie Sparks (vocals, bass and banjo) and Brett Sparks (vocals, guitar and keyboards), love telling stories, and they've been doing it in song for 20 years. A new album, Wilderness, is out May 14, and "Woodpecker," a song from the album, tells a fascinating tale about Mary Sweeney, who, in the 1890's, was known as the Wisconsin Window Smasher.

"'The World Is Changing' is groove with a message." That quote, a pretty good summary of the music of Femi Kuti in just nine words, comes from Juan Gélas, the creative director of a new video for Kuti's new song. Femi Kuti is a saxophonist, trumpeter, keyboard player and singer and songwriter. The son of legendary afrobeat musician Fela Kuti, he carries on the tradition of mixing Nigerian beats along with jazz and a healthy dose of politics. Juan Gélas says, "Femi Kuti continues to be a leading protest artist out of modern Africa and his voice talks to us all."

Chuck Johnson Plays A Raga That Rages

May 3, 2013

American Primitive music is flourishing right now. Electric and acoustic guitarists like William Tyler, Steve Gunn and Glenn Jones all have stellar releases out or on the way in 2013, and each digs different paths into this blues-based style.

Pete Lawrie Winfield makes music as Until The Ribbon Breaks, stark music with a good deep vibe; Massive Attack or James Blake would be good touchstones. Until The Ribbon Breaks doesn't have much music out yet, but "Pressure," a new song, has urgency. "'Pressure' was written at a time of upheaval and transition for me," Winfield writes. "I was sleeping at my studio and had no idea what I was going to do next.

First Watch: Kurt Vile, 'Never Run Away'

May 2, 2013

Kurt Vile is sometimes known as a shredder, which isn't exactly right. His guitar playing is accomplished, but it doesn't blow your hair back so much as wrap it gently in a worn, sun-bleached kerchief.

Deafheaven makes music that's both intensely personal and incredibly universal. Its excellent 2011 debut, Roads to Judah, was a blast-beaten, shoegaze-indebted metal record that felt perfectly of its moment. With the new Sunbather coming up so quickly, I wondered where primary members George Clarke (vocals) and Kerry McCoy (guitar) could take a band with such an immediate sound. Apparently, I needn't look further than the Internet.

He's 66 years old, has beaten his body beyond belief and Iggy Pop will still out-rock you. We kick this week's All Songs Considered off with a cut from his new record with The Stooges, Ready To Die. Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton chat about Iggy and the rest of this week's mix from different cities.

My dreams are never like Chris Kittrell's "Sea Of Dreams," but I wish they were. Watching this animation will be as close as I get. Chris Kittrell is a founding member of the band Baby Alpaca, the director of the video for the band's song, "Sea of Dreams," and the source of the video's concept — or at least his unconscious mind was.

"I got the idea from a dream I had," Chris Kittrell writes. "The whole scene was very Dada-rock. Stage set out to sea. Time and objects drifting by. Guitar riffing in the air. I love how nonsense and intuition can lead to invention."

Ever walked into a nearly pitch-black room after roasting on sun-beaten asphalt, only to sweat it out with a host of the moshing unwashed? No? But what if candles were involved — would that make it classier? Granted, there's an antelope skull mounted on the candelabra, and there's some skin-crawling metallic noise gurgling from the backs-turned band members onstage. Maybe that's just a Thursday night for Dragged Into Sunlight. But it was also last year's setup for the experimental U.K.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the solicitations disguised as tax refunds is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, what role parents can and should play in teaching their kids about classic albums.

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