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All Songs Considered

We're guided, derailed and thrown out by passion, and we keep crawling back because it's what we know. Ever since Mike Kinsella started Cap'n Jazz with his brother Tim at age 12, he's lived the musician's life with scattered rewards. But over the last three decades, he's seen how his Chicago bands like Joan Of Arc, American Football and Owls have shaped a thriving and evolving rock scene.

On this week's episode we've got one of the sunniest bands of all time, mesmerizing music from the Sahara and an elegy to growing old.

Co-host Robin Hilton gets things started with a sweetly sad song from Matt The Electrician, a pop-folk singer based in Austin who no longer has anything to do with his own hands, while host Bob Boilen follows with Esmé Patterson, a singer with roots in folk music and a new album that stretches into the world of gritty rock.

Summer is almost here and you need summer jams. There are always competitors for the title "songs of summer," but when you're sitting on a porch or hanging by a pool, there's no room for competition; you just want a steady string of tunes.

Looking for a musically sensitive, responsive bandmate? Maybe you should try out Shimon.

It's easy to forget that The Monkees' original run as a band lasted only from 1965 to 1971, a stretch that included a short-lived but much-loved sitcom and a string of bestselling albums. For later generations — especially the ones who came of age amid endlessly repurposed reruns on MTV and Nickelodeon in the late '80s — The Monkees' music has been reborn in reunion tours and on occasional albums, even as the group itself has dealt with internal strife and the 2012 death of Davy Jones.

Paul Simon has a new album coming out and it's wonderful. Titled Stranger To Stranger, it's his thirteenth solo release and he told me he it could be his last, at least for a while. For this week's +1 podcast, I sat with Paul Simon at NPR's New York bureau to talk about the new record, but more specifically to talk about a single song on the album, the puzzling and quirky opening cut, "The Werewolf."

This week's essential mix from All Songs Considered includes a surprising, electronic, mostly instrumental cut from The 1975 — a British group known more for its brash Top-40 pop and rock — an intimate home demo recording from My Morning Jacket and a spare, moody cover of Led Zeppelin's "Immigrant Song" by the Irish folk singer known as

RLYR's moniker is an upcapped, vowel-less tribute to Yes' 1974 album Relayer. You know, the one with the incredibly epic gatefold art by Roger Dean? While RLYR isn't quite a fantasy-themed fusion/prog-rock band, the members know a few things about heroic and heavy instrumental rock that storms the gates of delirium.

Inspired by the colorful sticker, Trapper Keeper and lunchbox art from which Lisa Prank takes her punny name, Seattle singer Robin Edwards makes bubblegum pop-punk for lovesick, rainbow-colored unicorns. Built around an electric guitar and a drum machine, her songs are simple and catchy like the Ramones', but are recast for the intimate and imaginative space where these songs begin and expand.

Congratulations, music lovers! We managed to get through an entire week without a major album dropping out of the blue. So if you're like us this means you've finally had a chance to catch your breath and dig into all the amazing stuff that has come out.

Nowhere to begin but with the brutal fact that we're still crying purple tears here in Rx Dose land, and this month's selections reflect that somewhat. We're not going to spend this short space rhapsodizing Prince Rogers Nelson's impact on electronic and dance music, especially when others have done the job more thoroughly for us, in both listicle and essay form.

Seattle's Dust Moth scans metal: Thick riffs rumble in and out of heavy atmospheres, with sludgy guitar, melodic bass way out front, and muscular drumming that swings like a thumping heart. Its pedigree scans as metal, too, as the band features guitarist Ryan Frederiksen (These Arms Are Snakes, Narrows) and Giza's rhythm section (bassist Steve Becker and drummer Justin Rodda).

It's hard to imagine an artist who works harder or cares more about what his fans think than Weezer frontman Rivers Cuomo. For the past 20-plus years he's been a tireless and meticulous songwriter who maintains incredibly detailed spreadsheets with hundreds of titles for songs that don't yet exist, and lyric fragments organized by word and syllable count. He obsessively studies the intricacies of other well-loved pop songs, cataloging every element, trying to understand why they work and how he can make his own songs better.

Stephen Steinbrink's unfussy imagery stays detached from meaning. That's part of what makes his seven albums worth your time: In their lushly arranged pop songs, the listener can tie and untie Steinbrink's vivid and unrelated images into something meaningful — or not. Even his new album's title, Anagrams, suggests engagement through emotional and lyrical rearrangement.

It really started nearly two weeks ago when Beyoncé surprise-released her monstrously good record, Lemonade, via an album-length video shown on HBO. Drake followed a few days later when he unloaded 20 new songs on fans with the epic album Views.

Radiohead's social media accounts disappeared over the weekend, which — because we know Radiohead — got us all excited about the possibility of a new album. That tease got extended even further earlier this week when the band released "Burn The Witch," the first song likely from the group's upcoming, ninth album.

Electronic musician Tim Hecker has been dismantling sounds, turning traditional song structures inside out and bending sonic worlds for nearly 20 years. For his latest album, Love Streams, he applies his unique vision to the human voice, making it the centerpiece of a deeply textured and profoundly warped collection of songs.

This Saturday, April 30, marks the fifth anniversary of International Jazz Day, a celebration organized by UNESCO to celebrate jazz across the globe. To do our part, we're highlighting some of our favorite jazz musicians to play behind Bob Boilen's desk. Rising stars, young virtuosos, NEA Jazz Masters and veteran ensembles alike have played in NPR's D.C. offices. Here are five standout jazz performances at the Tiny Desk.

Preservation Hall Jazz Band

After long forays into pop-punk and arty post-hardcore, Thrice returns after a hiatus with a sonically grandiose third act. The band's ninth album, To Be Everywhere Is To Be Nowhere, at times breaks with Thrice's angular moves and aims straight for the gut with more anthemic songs.

We've all been dealing with so much unhappiness over the last week that hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton wanted to kick of this week's All Songs Considered with some celebrations. Bob leads off with some great pick-me up music from Moon Hooch. Robin continues to explore his love of "shrug rock" with a hilarious new song from the band PUP.

On April 21, a nation of music lovers waxed nostalgic about a time or place when Prince Rogers Nelson shook their world. And as the conversation around the country and around the world unfolded, we asked listeners to share their memories of Prince, his music and the impact he had on their lives. The stories poured in, and we collected some of the most affecting tales below.

I've seen a lot of brilliant live shows in my life, but none more life-changing or life-affirming than the one Sufjan Stevens gave in 2015 at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C. for his album Carrie & Lowell.

Prince was one of those rare musicians who continued to connect with people decades after the start of his career. As NPR Music's Ann Powers tells All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, Prince had a unique vision of a perfect world, one that challenged gender and sexual norms, one where love was the only rule.

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