All Songs Considered

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the pulverized shards of an Eli "Paperboy" Reed LP is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on how aging might affect your concert attendance.

Michaela writes via email: "I'm growing increasingly conscious of being among the oldest attendees at concerts lately. Is there a specific age at which I should stop going to indie-rock shows and just stay at home in my rocker?"

No special theme to this week's Drum Fill Friday, unless you count "awesome" as a theme. I've got a little bit of metal, a little bit of R&B, some disco and '90s rock and roll wrapped up in this baby.

In the noise-improv trio Borbetomagus, Jim Sauter hooks bells with Don Dietrich to obliterate any notion you have of the saxophone (sorry, birthday boy Adolphe Sax). In Oneida and Man Forever, Kid Millions is a psychedelic shaman of the drums. In "Game Jump," Sauter issues a brief warning that sounds something like a zombie-infested cruise ship bellowing its final notes before it plummets into a blood-freezing ocean. Then it's on.

In November 1814, Col. Andrew Jackson marched on Pensacola, taking the Florida city away from Britain and Spain, while the Congress of Vienna was busy drawing new boundaries after the Napoleonic Wars. And 200 years ago today, in a little 10th-century town south of Brussels, Adolphe Sax was born.

Sax learned instrument-building from his father and soon was inventing new instruments of his own, including the one that bears his name. He patented the saxophone in 1846.

It's been more than a decade, now, since José González first burrowed into our hearts with his inspired and deeply moving cover of The Knife song "Heartbeats." (Remember that bouncing ball video?) That track appeared on the Swedish singer-songwriter's 2003 debut album Veneer, a collection of sometimes moody acoustic songs that swelled and swooned with surprising momentum.

Each month, we listen to hundreds of new electronic music tracks, test the standouts on loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a 30-minute mix.

October's selections are a bit darker and more aggressive than normal. Maybe it was the days leading up to Halloween, or maybe it was the rage-inducing onslaught of pumpkin spice. Either way, it made for an uptempo mix featuring new music from Chicago house auteur Hieroglyphic Being and the Livity Sound crew, some nuanced jamming from a trio of New York producers, and downright scary tracks from Paula Temple and Cut Hands.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the bales of fan letters for HMSTR is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, tips for new parents who can't wait to share their favorite songs with their kids.

This week's Drum Fill Friday comes courtesy Otis Brown III, a young jazz drummer and composer who's best known for his work with Joe Lovano, but who recently released his own debut solo album, The Thought Of You. Brown's selected a number of intros and fills from some of his favorite vintage jazz tracks, along with some funk, soul and R&B classics, showcasing some of the greatest drummers of all time. Good luck, careful listeners!

"Born To Ruin" contains one more letter than Bruce Springsteen's ode to the "runaway American dream." Whether or not the pun is intentional, Damian Master has been steadily ratcheting up the drama in his own riffs, hooks and production over three years of cassette releases under various guises (This Station Of Life, Aksumite, All Wave, the list goes on). But his solo project, A Pregnant Light, continues to be unbound by the metal elsewhere in his catalog.

When it came out in February, I told friends that the Angel Olsen album Burn Your Fire For No Witness was my favorite of the year so far. Now, here in late October, my love for that record has only grown deeper. The songs are sullen at times, on fire at others. All are memorable. It's one of those perfect records.

Where would Halloween be without ghosts — those wispy spirits either friendly or fiendish in disposition? They've haunted our consciousness for ages, thanks to appearances in visual art, literature, film and music. And now they've overrun this puzzler. From country and classical to rock and jazz, ghosts glide through these songs. Some are nice, others nefarious. Score high and allow yourself to be treated today. Score low and consider yourself tricked.

On this week's All Songs Considered, Robin Hilton shares the first single from Belle & Sebastian's upcoming album, Girls In Peacetime Want To Dance, out Jan. 20. If they're looking for it, "The Party Line" would give those girls what they want — it's a surprisingly bouncy song from the veteran Scottish band.

You have to wonder what synapse fired in comedian David Rees' brain when he heard Taylor Swift's "I Knew You Were Trouble" and thought, "You know what this needs?

Every fall, hundreds of bands migrate to New York City for the annual CMJ Music Marathon. Many of these groups are playing their first shows in NYC and for a lot of the audience — music journalists, college dj's and fans alike — it's their first taste of these young upstarts. My previous CMJ discoveries include such favorites as Courtney Barnett, Public Service Broadcasting, Foxygen, The Blow, Zola Jesus, Caveman ... the list is long.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the fake blood we ordered for our son's Andrew W.K. costume is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on Halloween music.

Drummer Janet Weiss is a force. For the past 20 years, her distinctive punch, precision and signature head swing while at the kit has been a fierce anchor for the bands Quasi, Wild-Flag, Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks and most prominently Sleater-Kinney. Now that Sleater-Kinney is back together, following an eight-year hiatus, it seems like the perfect time to share some of Weiss' favorite fills (and a few intros) for this week's Drum Fill Friday.

Robin Bacior's honeyed but vibrant voice hits gently, bestowing the listener with comfort and calm. The Portland singer-songwriter knows exactly what kind of arrangements suit her best: In "If It Does," from her forthcoming album Water Dreams, that gorgeous voice is laid atop a spare but shimmering bed of piano — and paired perfectly with Dan Bindschedler's cello.

This is subtle, nuanced music: Like the rest of Bacior's work, "If It Does" doesn't grab you audaciously. But it doesn't let go, either.

Here's Bacior, writing about "If It Does":

Growing up sucks. Growing up is awesome. You trade in the insecurities of one age for another, and yet somehow become wiser in the process — or at least that's the idea. After just a couple of solid EPs, that seems to be the crossroads where the Brooklyn band Chumped stands right now. "Name That Thing" comes from a debut album with an appropriate title: Teenage Retirement.

The band Sleater-Kinney (Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss) is back together, and we're all pretty excited at All Songs Considered! After an eight-year hiatus, and nearly ten years since releasing their last album, Carrie and company have announced a new, upcoming record and a brand new song called "Bury Our Friends." The album, No Cities To Love, is due out Jan. 20.

If you're like most people, the first time you hear a song might well be through laptop speakers. But if you're listening to an instrumental rock band as mammoth as Black Clouds, those tinny sound holes become pathetic little slaps to the face. The bass frequencies and thundering drums of "And Then I Dove" are meant to vibrate through the chest, while the Washington, D.C. band's heavy melodies are tastefully driven through what's surely a spaceship-console-worthy rack of effects pedals.

Viking's Choice: Wildhoney, 'Fall In'

Oct 21, 2014

What happened to your brain the first time you heard the way My Bloody Valentine's seismic guitar crunch seemed to bend space? Did you bend with it? The first 10 seconds of Wildhoney's "Fall In" know that moment, wash it in a mess of crashing cymbals, and pull back the gauzy covers for a dreamy pop song that feels like the day between summer and autumn. It's bright and carefree, full of purpose and light, as Lauren Shusterich coos and leads us into the swirling foliage.

Sleater-Kinney is back together, has a new album coming out Jan. 20 via Sub Pop records, and will go on tour early next year. The album is called No Cities to Love, and you can listen to the first single, "Bury Our Friends," right here.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the shoes our kids outgrew in the time it took to have them shipped is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on remedial music fandom.

One thing that really struck me while putting together this week's batch of drum fills is how different they sound. I don't mean the timing or fill patterns themselves. I mean the timbre of the drums and the way they were recorded. You've got the super tight kits that pop with no ambient trails, the roomy kits that sound like they were captured with a single microphone twenty feet away, a brushed kit that rumbles and rattles. I love it! And all of the chosen kits and recording choices have a massive effect on how we ultimately feel about the song.

Next week, the CMJ Music Marathon will fill New York City with even more great music than normal. Every fall, the festival brings hundreds of bands to the city's many venues, and NPR Music will be there again this year. On Oct. 22 at (Le) Poisson Rouge, we will present a free concert featuring a multi-genre lineup of rising stars, and we'd love to see your smiling faces there.

New Mix: Röyksopp, Hozier, Deerhoof, More

Oct 14, 2014

Host Bob Boilen kicks off this week's show with a buzzing song from Toronto-based The Rural Alberta Advantage's new album, Mended With Gold. Inspired by the track's killer percussion, Robin Hilton shares the neurotic, upbeat "Paradise Girls" from Deerhoof's upcoming album La Isla Bonita, out Nov. 3.

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