All Songs Considered

What you're about to hear is the final song of a band's career. Chicago indie-rock act Geronimo!

Maybe it goes without saying, but if you're a musician and have time to kill on the road, you're going to hit up a record store in town. In Austin, Texas, there are many, many options to throw down cash for vinyl, and for Waxahatchee's Katie Crutchfield, her favorite record store is End of an Ear.

NPR Music At SXSW: Friday

Mar 21, 2015

The rain arrived in Austin on Friday, but it didn't wash away the weirdness. One-legged kung-fu dance moves, fog machines that sent off fire alarms that blow out electronic instruments and all sorts of other challenges couldn't stop the music, though, and our team at SXSW has sent back proof: photos, recommendations and a video of Laura Marling playing a song from her new album, Short Movie, at 2 a.m. outside a church.

Here are some of the best things we heard at SXSW on Friday.

Day 4 Picks

Laura Marling

"I've been coming here for so long," Jack Antonoff says of SXSW while waiting for a breakfast table at the Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. "The first time I came, in 2003, I had one show at a sushi place that like nine friends came to. Which I thought was the coolest thing because I was like, 'I'm at South by Southwest!'"

NPR Music At SXSW 2015: Thursday

Mar 20, 2015

Some days at South by Southwest, everything goes right. You see the bands you want to see, every one of them puts on an amazing show and the heavens open and angels give you shoulder rubs. NPR Music's Robin Hilton had a day like that on Thursday, with epiphany after epiphany. Things went well on Day 3 for the rest of NPR Music's team in Austin, too.

NPR Music At SXSW 2015: Wednesday

Mar 19, 2015

Within the first minute, "War is a Romance" gives you everything you need to know if you're going to be onboard with Wild Throne: a deranged hardcore twang a la Converge, a galloping Motörhead riff, fusion-y Mars Volta-style guitar acrobatics — oh, and a whistle. And then there's Josh Holland's voice yelping and squealing and scaling burning buildings with insane octave jumps.

NPR Music At SXSW 2015: Tuesday

Mar 18, 2015

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We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside laminates containing SXSW's most coveted VIP party passes, all of which are set to arrive the day after we leave for Austin, is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on SXSW envy.

I don't have any special tricks or themes to this week's Drum Fill Friday. (Well, I may have slipped one little trick in here. See if you can catch it.) But there should be a little bit in here for everybody, from funk and soul to vintage Top 40 pop and rock. If I star-rated these for difficulty, I'd give this one a two out of five. So see how you do, and good luck, careful listeners!

Every Thursday this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a story about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email:

Last year, as an April Fools' Day joke, the label Bloodshot Records announced that it had brought together 21 affiliated artists for a roughed-up roots take on the music of Prince, to be pressed as a "purple swirl colored double vinyl LP" set.

On this week's All Songs Considered, we look at one of life's immutable truths: Nothing's ever easy! Or, at least some things are way harder than they need to be. That's part of the message in the new kiss-off song that opens our show, "Hot Scary Summer," from the upcoming Villagers album Darling Arithmetic.

With just an electric guitar and bass, Girlpool inhabits an entire ecosystem in the space of a bedroom. The single-note melodies are simple and quiet; their instruments are cheap, yet full of character. "Ideal World" comes from the duo's debut album, Before The World Was Big.

Hardly anyone had heard of Bon Iver when we booked him to play our South By Southwest day party in March 2008. It was a magical time. Jagjaguwar had just released Bon Iver's breathlessly beautiful album For Emma, Forever Ago, the one Justin Vernon had famously recorded in a remote log cabin in the woods, where he'd holed up to exorcise some inner demons. He's adored now, but for many people in the audience, it was the first they'd heard of the record or of Bon Iver.

This week on All Songs Considered, we get heavy — heavy lyrics, heavy themes — as hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton explore the meaning of life, even breaking it down to the atomic level, with existential music from English folk singer Bill Fay, Björk and more.

In last week's Drum Fill Friday I included one of my favorite drummers, Steve Jordan. (I won't say which song he was on in case you haven't taken the quiz yet.) I was first introduced to Jordan through his work with The Blues Brothers in the late '70s and early '80s, but his list of album credits is much longer.

Bosse-de-Nage's III was one of 2012's most exhilarating black-metal albums, with movement that lunged from ponderous post-rock to searing screamo mania without inhibition, even if it paradoxically came from an anxious state of mind. The Bay Area band's fourth full-length album (and first that isn't self-titled), All Fours, continues on that path, but somehow sounds darker and more vicious in its attack. Listen to the explosive "A Subtle Change."

It may be freezing on the east coast, but on All Songs Considered this week, we've got the hottest tracks to keep you out of the cold.

At the top, North Dakota songwriter Tom Brosseau tells a heartbreaking story about a boy abandoned by his mother. Patrick Watson returns with a vast and beautiful sound that explores the distinction between humanity and technology.

I don't know what it's like where you live, but here in D.C. (as well as the rest of the eastern seaboard in general) we've had enough of winter. It's been downright arctic with subzero temperatures, record snowfall and no apparent end in sight. All of which is to say that this week's Drum Fill Friday comes to you from the confines of my super secret Robin Cave, where I've holed up with my stuffed animals and an iPod to play sweet drum fill jams and drown out the howling winter winds. Stay warm, and good luck, careful listeners.

Every Thursday this year we're celebrating All Songs Considered's 15th birthday with personal memories and highlights from the show's decade and a half online and on the air. If you have a story about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email:

There was a time in '90s hardcore when slam-dancing riffs gave way to melody and tempos that swayed like a ship at sea, confusing pit rituals in the process. Quicksand's Manic Compression and Jawbox's For Your Own Special Sweetheart are just a couple examples of this evolution, and it's somewhere in that sound that we find the Bay Area band Never Young.

This week on All Songs Considered we reflect on age and time, how we make sense of the world as we all grow older, and how it all ties in to the artist who opens this week's show: Sufjan Stevens. Stevens has been busy with numerous projects since releasing his insane masterpiece, The Age Of Adz, in 2010. But he's back with his first official studio album since then, the lovely and intimate Carrie & Lowell. We've got the first single from the album, "No Shade In The Shadow Of The Cross."

In the land grab that was the early '90s Seattle grunge scene, TAD was the hard rock band caught up in the groundswell. And how could you miss them? Bummer melodies cloaked in giant riffs, a juvenile sense of humor (see: God's Balls, 8-Way Santa) and the larger-than-life frontman Tad Doyle. More than most of their peers, the band made records that hold up even if major labels dropped them left and right. Six years in the making, Doyle returns triumphant with Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and one of the most satisfying and heaviest doom metal records in years.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the boxes of chocolate we bought ourselves to eat alone in the dark on Valentine's Day is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on the collision of concert etiquette and first-date etiquette.