All Songs Considered

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.

November's selections include our favorite track from Theo Parrish's upcoming American Intelligence album, a solo cut from Hercules And Love Affair's Kim Ann Foxman, and four more exceptional tunes worthy of your time.

In the new, comprehensive boxed set Lead Belly: The Smithsonian Folkways Collection, to be released in Feb. 24, 2015, the Smithsonian archivist Jeff Place reminds readers of the huge historical chunk of American music that the legendary singer and songwriter carried forward via his 12-string Stella guitar. "Lead Belly is often spoken of as the 'discovery' of folklorists, but in many ways he was a walking and singing collector of American folk songs in his own right," Place writes.

You might want to sit down for this one. The song is "Bored In The USA" and it's the first single from Father John Misty's upcoming album I Love You, Honeybear.

A biting spin on Bruce Springsteen's "Born In The U.S.A.," "Bored In The USA" is a scathing takedown of the mindless materialism and overmedicated emptiness that has come to define the lives of far too many Americans.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the Pokemon products whose arrival signals our kids' descent into video-game-induced catatonia is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on whether superior technique can detract from music's quality.

This week's Drum Fill Friday has something from the '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s and today! (I hope you read that in the deepest, most resonate radio voice possible).

As always, if you have a drummer or a fill you'd like to see featured in these weekly puzzlers, let us know in the comments section or via Twitter @allsongs, #drumfillfriday. Good luck, careful listeners!

How's this for an opening line? "Gross. They say I ate you in the womb, that Mom had no room." After eight years of other projects, members joining Repulsion on tour, and vocalist/guitarist Marissa Martinez-Hoadley's sex-reassignment process, Cretin has crawled back out of its delightfully gore-obsessed grindcore hole for Stranger and the pit-baiting song "Ghost Of Teeth And Hair."

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the Kung Fu Panda DVD to replace the one we wore out is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, thoughts on a playlist for the whole family.

Joe writes via email: "Thanksgiving will be at my family's place this year, and I'm having fun with the meal-planning. All the stress, though, is built around how my relatives and I get along. We love each other, but ... you know how families are with politics and different tastes and all that.

This week's guest Quizmaster is Brandon Barnes, drummer for the Chicago-based punk band Rise Against. Known for packing a punch at the kit, Barnes actually got his start in jazz and was influenced early on by drummers such as Elvin Jones and Tony Williams. So some of Barnes' picks for Drum Fill Friday are from drummers who often weave elements of jazz into their otherwise heavy rock beats. Give a listen and see what you think. And as always, good luck, careful listeners.

Guest DJ Dave Grohl

Nov 11, 2014

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.

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