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All Songs Considered

Grimes surprised fans today with seven new videos, including four songs from her most recent album, Art Angels, and three tracks from her friend and collaborator HANA's self-titled EP. In a series of Tweets, Grimes says she, HANA and Grimes' brother Mac Boucher shot the videos guerrilla-style over a two-week period while traveling through Europe. "There was no crew, makeup, cameras, lights," Grimes says.

Do you ever want to hear another rock guitar solo again? That's where the fight began. Robin played a song with a lot of guitar wankery by the band Major Stars. He loved it and I frankly couldn't wait for it to end. It got me wondering: Is this sort of music even relevant in 2016?

Soul singer Charles Bradley is battling stomach cancer and has canceled several tour dates, according to a statement posted on his official Facebook page Tuesday.

The 67-year-old singer issued a statement saying he's determined to come back stronger:

"I'm getting the best medical care and we are all extremely optimistic. I will fight through this like I've fought through the many other obstacles in my life.

This past week I was at the 17th annual Americana Music Festival & Conference in Nashville, listening to and having conversations with musicians. One songwriter and singer I've admired from the world of Americana during this decade is John Paul White, whom you may know as a former member of the duo The Civil Wars.

For weeks, Bon Iver fans have been tantalized by cryptic imagery, pop-up murals and a symbol-heavy track list that would make any copy editor shudder. Now, the band's long-awaited third album, 22, A Million -- its first in five years — is finally available.

Solange announced her new album, A Seat At The Table, on Tuesday, calling it "a project on identity, empowerment, independence, grief and healing." Now the follow-up to 2012's excellent True EP is here, accompanied by a book, and featuring spots from Kelela, Q-Tip, Kelly Rowland, Lil Wayne, Dev Hynes, Sampha, Moses Sumney, The-Dream, BJ the Chicago Kid, Sean Nicholas Savage and Tweet.

Kate Bush has toured only once in the last 35 years. Fortunately, that string of live performances, at the Hammersmith Apollo in London in 2014, was recorded and will soon be available for everyone to hear. Concord Records will release Before The Dawn, a three-disc set of the recordings, on Dec. 2. Bush produced the set herself, with no additional recording or overdubs.

Brownout Presents Brown Sabbath was one of the coolest records to come out in 2014, with Ozzy-era Black Sabbath songs recast as heavy Latin-funk jams. But it's not just some joke made after a night of tequila.

Named for a Drive Like Jehu song, Super Unison came out fully formed with a furious eight minutes of hip-shaking punk released last year. Featuring vocalist and bassist Meghan O'Neil Pennie (ex-Punch), drummer Justin Renniger (ex-Snowing) and guitarist Kevin DeFranco, Super Unison proves that melody can still leave a nasty bruise.

When Conor Oberst started releasing music more than 20 years ago, first as a solo artist and later as Bright Eyes, he was just a teenager from Nebraska. Everyone marveled at how a kid could write and record at such a breathlessly prolific pace, producing inspired, sonically adventurous songs with a wisdom and world view beyond his years. Now just in his mid-30s, he's already a veteran, with dozens of albums and EPs behind him.

While Bob was gallivanting about Nashville last week for AmericanaFest, I was hiding under a pile of covers fighting a case of Hand-Foot-And-Mouth disease (it's as Medieval as it sounds). But show business never sleeps, which means Bob made it back home, I recovered and we're back in the studio this week to geek out over our favorite new music.

A new David Bowie box set released late last week includes a complete (and remastered) version of his long-lost album, The Gouster. Bowie originally recorded the album in 1974, but eventually shelved the project. Reworked versions of "Somebody Up There Likes Me" and "Can You Hear Me" wound up on 1975's Young Americans. Other tracks, like "It's Gonna Be Me" and "John, I'm Only Dancing (Again)," trickled out in various forms in the years that followed. But this is the first time Gouster's full track list is available to hear as it was originally intended.

The political endorsement song is a strange beast. It's something more than just a campaign anthem — the kind of track that pumps up rally audiences before a candidate's entrance onstage. Instead, this kind of tune is an odd hybrid: part commercial jingle, part aspirational anthem and, with nearly no exceptions, a soon-forgotten novelty. (One outlier: the sturdy Whig song "Tippecanoe and Tyler Too" from the 1840 presidential campaign, which was most recently resurrected by They Might Be Giants in 2004.)

Dirty Projectors' early career opened a virtual fire hydrant of ideas: albums overstuffed with sound and chaos, reined in by real artistry, released in rapid succession. But as bandleader David Longstreth honed his vision, the hydrant's flow has given way to a trickle. It's been more than four years since the last new Dirty Projectors album, Swing Lo Magellan, and Longstreth himself has stayed largely out of the public eye.

In the music of Alcest, beauty reigns above all. Even in the French band's early days playing gauzy black-metal, attention was paid to the curves of song and sound. From 2014, Shelter departed completely from Alcest's metallic roots for shoegaze, a conscious move on mastermind Neige's part that, while pretty, was airy in its noticeable lack of heft.

They came, they measured, they built and they plotted. But first, they had to borrow a few things from the NPR office.

Blue Man Group designed new instruments and a small-scale show solely for a one-time performance at the Tiny Desk. Celebrate the group's 25th anniversary with this musical and comical adventure, which you can watch this Monday, Sept. 26, at npr.org/tinydesk.

For the past 25 years I've had this notion that on every successive Leonard Cohen record his voice would get deeper and deeper until one day he'd put out an album so subsonic that you'd just feel it, not hear it. Well, we're close. On this day, Leonard Cohen's 82nd birthday, he's given us a gift: It's dark, it's beautiful and it's deep. "You Want It Darker" is the title track to his soon-to-be-released album, his 14th studio album in his 49-year recording career. The album of nine songs, out Oct. 21, is produced by his son, musician Adam Cohen.

The Americana Music in Nashville is never quite what I think it will be. This week's All Songs starts with Yola Carter, a British singer of mixed race. Next is the white Australian C.W. Stoneking, sounding like blues legend Willie Dixon. The third song on the show is by Marlon Willams, a soulful young New Zealand singer. The common thread as we explore the newest and most promising voices at AmericanaFest is a love of folk, country, roots music, but how that gets interpreted varies, and that's where the fun is.

Classic Dose: Larry Heard

Sep 16, 2016

It's been 30 years since a handful of singles from the Southside of Chicago — handed out to and played by Frankie Knuckles and Ron Hardy, two local DJs then helping define the sound that came to be known as "house" — transformed dance music all around the world. The tracks came from Larry Heard, a twenty-something musician who worked at the Social Security Administration by day, and drummed in cover bands (art-rock, reggae, jazz fusion) by night; but it was only when Heard decided to invest in a synthesizer and drum machine that he unwittingly changed the nature of club music forever.

Advisory: This interview contains profanity.

On this week's All Songs +1 podcast, I'm taking the host chair usually occupied by Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton for a conversation with Danny Brown about the Detroit rapper's upcoming album, Atrocity Exhibition, his admiration for contemporaries like ScHoolBoy Q and what Brown calls his all-time favorite rap song, Nas' "The World Is Yours." In our talk, Brown also explains how he hooked up with South African singer/producer Petite Noir for the new song we're premiering in the podcast, "Rolling Stone."

Justin Trosper's creative arc is as jagged as it is long. Through the '90s, his band Unwound brought an extraordinary catalog of noisy, desperate music to life. When Trosper returned with Survival Knife in 2014, it was a thoughtful and loud exercise in "regular" rock 'n' roll that was anything but. His music is a study in unconventional rock that, at its edges, makes its own conventions.

There is a magical new film by Bill Morrison, who has has garnered love and accolades for his films that use archival footage to tell new stories.

His work has been shown around the world, recently as part of a mid-career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Along with his use of found footage, Bill Morrison often teams up with modern composers. He's made films using music by Philip Glass, Harry Partch, Vijay Iyer and Bill Frisell which gives you an idea of his reach into both the world of classical, avant-garde and jazz.

The gang's finally back together! And by gang we mean hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton, who find themselves in the studio together for the first time in a month. With the summer break finally over, the two return with this week's essential mix, from both veteran artists and new discoveries.

There's a new album from Phish coming on Oct. 7, the band's 13th, titled Big Boat, and this news is always met with some conflicted opinions from fans. Throughout an impressive career that now spans 30 years (including a couple hiatuses -> breakups -> reunions along the way), Phish is still known best for its epic live performances rather than its albums. For at least a portion of the diehard concert-collecting fanbase, new songs are more of a refined framework for the lengthy improvisations to come.

There's a new film about Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds directed by Andrew Dominik called One More Time With Feeling. The setting of the film is a recording studio for a performance of songs from Skeleton Tree, the band's 16th studio album. But the backdrop to the film is tragic. In the summer of 2015, Nick Cave's 15-year-old son Arthur fell from a cliff while hallucinating on LSD. The film was made about five months later. Cave has not spoken at any length about his son, and this film is, in a way, his statement and thoughts on Arthur's death.

Crying exists in the ridiculous. The band's first two EPs took bright-eyed pop-punk and Thin Lizzy hooks and amplified it with the 8-bit, in-the-red cuteness of chiptune music.

It was way below freezing outside, a couple weeks before the holidays — the kind of cold that requires layers of long sleeves and flannel beneath your jacket. But in the basement of Songbyrd Music House in Washington, D.C., a swirling mass of hardcore kids leapt through the air, sweat flopping off heavy cotton since they had nowhere to stash their Bane and Judge hoodies. Heads narrowly avoided metal poles in a underworld dance of thrown elbows and knee-pumping swarm. Welcome to the gleeful insanity of a Turnstile show.

Taylor Ross knows his way around a melody. More specifically, he knows how to peep into melody's third eye, hug the fruit-striped void and send it sideways down the yellow brick road.

Regina Spektor is back with another preview of her upcoming album, Remember Us To Life. Her latest song is a gorgeous, soaring ode to love and heartache called "Black And White."

After a ten-year break, Grandaddy is back. The Modesto, Calif. band has signed with Danger Mouse's 30th Century Records and released two new songs, "Way We Won't" and "Clear Your History." The group has also officially announced a new full-length album coming sometime next year. It's the first new music from Grandaddy since 2006's Just Like The Fambly Cat. From the sound of the new songs, the band has lost nothing in the years since.

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