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All Songs Considered

Villagers is the music of Conor O'Brien, a 2010 Mercury Prize finalist for his debut album, Becoming a Jackal. Now there's new music from Villagers, from a record called {Awayland}. That music comes out first in Europe on Jan. 14 — here in the U.S., we'll have to wait until April 9. We have this new song and video from Villagers, for the song "Nothing Arrived."

Conor O'Brien writes:

After seeing The Rolling Stones in concert over the weekend, I can confidently say the short answer is "no."

We need to be thinking about age and rock music in a different way. When I was in my 20s, my generation thought 30 was too old for a rocker. Now, in 2012, the brilliant futurist Ray Kurzweil is wondering who the first person to be 150 will be. He told a crowd at the 6th and I Synagogue in Washington, D.C., that he thinks that person is alive today.

Discussion: The Year In Music, 2012

Dec 5, 2012

Every year for the past decade, The Polyphonic Spree has celebrated the holidays with a special "extravaganza" in Dallas, featuring dancing, DJs and, of course, the band performing seasonal songs. This year, The Polyphonic Spree celebrates the 10th anniversary of that extravaganza with a live tour of the show, as well as a new CD called Holidaydream. The group also has this beautiful new video for one of the album's standout tracks: John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)."

Kishi Bashi, my favorite new artist of the year, now has a holiday song. It's such a great way to bring us back around to a musician I first discovered while sifting through 1,300 songs for the South by Southwest music festival back at the beginning of the year. We all ended up falling in love with his music.

Hold on to your seat. You're about to be hit with a bounty of year-end lists: NPR Music's favorite songs, artists, albums, discoveries and more of 2012.

The Cleveland-based experimental rock duo Mr. Gnome was one of our favorite discoveries from South by Southwest earlier this year, and now the band is back on our radar with an amazing new video. "House of Circles," from Mr. Gnome's recent album Madness in Miniature, is an epic, wildly imaginative story about a band of rebel fighters who attempt to save the world from the evil Queen Machine.

The Albums We Missed This Year

Nov 27, 2012

Old Music Tuesday: Le Tigre

Nov 27, 2012

Twelve years ago this month, I was handed a sensitive document and charged with making sure it found its way into the right hands.

Next week, Solange Knowles (sister of Beyonce), will release a brand new EP called True, and you can hear "Lovers in The Parking Lot," a lovely, very satisfying song from it, now. Alongside the other songs she's released from this project, "Lovers" has a matter of fact, gentle-voiced femininity.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and tucked into the piles of new CDs is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. In this holiday-shortened week of over-indulgence, we answer questions about too much music and not enough time.

Bands That Should Be Bigger

Nov 20, 2012

The halls of music history are littered with bands that should have made it big, but never did. Maybe they put out a couple of amazing records and you feel like you're the only person on the planet who appreciated them. Or maybe they're still trying, and you're holding out hope, along with the band, that that big break will finally come.

I first saw this guitar and drums duo last month, in their home town of Asheville, N.C. during Moogfest. The festival is often thought of as just an electronic music festival and it does skew in that direction, but it primarily celebrates the creative souls in music and in doing so honors the spirit of electronic music pioneer Robert Moog. The sonic palette of guitarist Shane Perlowin and drummer Ryan Oslance certainly fits that description.

Got a question you'd like the All Songs gang to consider? Leave it in the comments below or drop us an email: allsongs@npr.org.

Is music part of your Thanksgiving holiday? Will you be battling dad for control of the family speakers? Or is it a war between the siblings?

Erin McKeown's music is a bit hard to describe. It is music and lyrics with meaning so it makes me think, but it's also playful and so it makes me smile. I'll have another chance to hear it soon, since Erin has made a new record, called MANIFESTRA. The album, her seventh, was funded by her fan base via PledgeMusic and will be out on January 15. Today we premiere her song, "Jailer."

Stop motion with live actors is nothing new in music videos. The Beatles did it nearly 50 years ago for the film A Hard Days Night. Peter Gabriel's 1986 "Sledgehammer" video is still mind-blowing. But few have done it as elegantly as Canadian rock duo The Zolas do for the band's mesmerizing, and amazing new video, "Knot In My Heart."

First Watch: Miguel, 'The Thrill (Live)'

Nov 15, 2012

This is a languid gem of a song paired with very disturbing video. The music, "Even If We Try," is by Night Beds, the project of Winston Yellen. Yellen is a Colorado Springs musician now making his home in Nashville. In fact the songs on the debut album from Night Beds, Country Sleep, were written and partially recorded in Tennessee at the former Sycamore Homestead in Tennessee of Johnny Cash.

Bob Boilen has had a ban on seeing arena rock shows for more than 30 years, but it may ending. He recently saw The Who at a mega-dome concert, performing one of Bob's favorite albums in its entirety. On this edition of All Songs Considered, hear a cut from that record and why Bob loves it so much.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the press releases and urgent pleas from deposed Nigerian dictators is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, as discussed this week, our interactions with those around us.

Joanna Groom asks: "How do you maintain your dignity as a music snob without alienating others?"

Song Premiere: The SteelDrivers, 'I'll Be There'

Nov 13, 2012

Endless love is not always a good thing,, as some of pop's best kinda creepy songs attest. "You'll find some things you can't leave behind," roars Gary Nichols, leading the harmony rush in "I'll Be There," the aggressively haunting song from daring bluegrass outfit The SteelDrivers.

Which thing is true?

Ra Ra Riot has experienced constant change in its six-year existence, from commercial success and an aborted label deal to the 2007 death of drummer John Pike. But the band's sound has never shifted as radically as it does on its new album, Beta Love, which comes out Jan. 22. With the departure of cellist Alexandra Lawn — there's that constant change again — Ra Ra Riot shifts gears once more, dialing down the string arrangements in favor of a more synth-driven sound.

I've seen thousands of concerts over the years but none of them, since 1978, have been in an arena. I never had that eureka moment, I just stopped going. That means for 34 years, I've passed on major, monster acts. No McCartney, no Springsteen, no U2 and no Led Zeppelin (that one hurts the most).

Who says a rock 'n' roll queen can't do country? Not Wanda Jackson. Best known as a rockabilly pioneer and original FOE (Friend of Elvis — she toured with him in 1955), the 75-year-old Oklahoma native has always had a thing for twang, too. Rock fans who've recently discovered Jackson know her for ravers like 1960's "Let's Have a Party. Last year, the Jack White-produced The Party Ain't Over caught that fiery spirit and ran with it.

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