All Songs Considered

Friday at 6:30

All Songs Considered is NPR's guide to discovering new music below the radar. Every week, host Bob Boilen and producer Robin Hilton go through hundreds of new CDs to find sneak previews of music that's worth getting excited about, whether it's the latest Swedish pop band, a hip hop artist going ambient, or a singer-songwriter with a twisted new take on love. Sometimes, artists or critics stop by All Songs Considered with their top picks. It's the perfect show for listeners who love to stay current, but can't always wade through a myriad of sources.

All Songs Considered

Earlier this week, All Songs Considered shared our favorite music from debut albums released in the first half of 2015. The NPR Music team also got together to make epic lists of albums and songs we already think might make our year-end lists in December.

Kashikura Takashi is a hell of a drummer. Fifteen years into the existence of toe, he's often been the focus of the instrumental Japanese post-rock band, and for good reason. Takashi is aerobic and musical all at once, capable of Questlove-level precision and soul one moment, and a cyclone of controlled chaos the next. But the thing that's always set toe apart from its technically minded peers is its ability to tell short, concise stories — ecstatic, noodly, complex pop songs that unfold in less than five minutes.

Thursdays 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 personal memory about the show you'd like to share, drop us an email: allsongs@npr.org.

There's a new album coming from Beach House, the dreamy Baltimore-based duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. That album, called Depression Cherry, comes out on Sub Pop on Aug. 28. Today we get to hear a first song from the album, called "Sparks," and I interviewed Beach House about it.

This week marks the mid-point of 2015, and the All Songs Considered team is ready to take stock. On this week's show, we share our favorite music from debut albums released in the first half of this year. It's only June, but we picked the music we're already eyeing for our year-end lists in December.

Your first impulse on hearing "Fight Song," the latest single from Minneapolis trio Bad Bad Hats, might be to lean in. Lead singer Kerry Alexander's bright, lively lines swim over catchy acoustic guitar and velvety keyboard. Impeccable production by Brett Bullion (Bon Iver, Poliça) is programmed to fire all neural pathways associated with carefree indie rock fun. But beware: These lyrics will bite.

The collective excitement surrounding a major album release is infectious, but the satisfaction of turning friends on to a great new album by an unknown artist is true joy. That's why, for next week's All Songs Considered, we will play songs from our favorite debut albums of 2015 (so far).

We also want to give you a chance to share your own discoveries.

Using the form below, tell us your favorite song by an artist you've discovered this year. We'll compile and share a playlist of your picks in the coming weeks.

Thursdays 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: allsongs@npr.org.

Donnie Fritts knows what it's like to be held in the silver shimmer of celluloid, and he's had years of experience playing wingman to a heartthrob. That's why "Errol Flynn," a song written by the cabaret raconteur Amanda McBroom for her actor father, David Bruce, works perfectly as the lead single from Oh My Goodness, Fritts' new album. Contemplating the tattered poster she's tacked to her wall of her dad standing with the song's titular leading man, McBroom ponders fame and mortality and cautions listeners to treasure personal connections over Hollywood fantasies.

In the middle of a bunch of stage-dive-provoking hardcore acts at Damaged City Festival in May, one punk band set up in a straight line at the edge of the stage. It wasn't meant to keep the leaping kids at bay, so much as an equalizer that seemed to say, "Take 20 minutes and watch." Nervosas had a commanding presence, but also complex, melodic musicality. It was the kind of performance that sent several people — myself included — running to buy 2013's self-titled debut.

Adult Mom's Steph Knipe says "Told Ya So" is a "happy queer" song, as "it's a song that acts as a space of self-validation." Adult Mom's music deals deeply and thoughtfully with queerness and identity, a directive made even more impressive by the upbeat, electronic-tinged folk pop the band — which is Knipe solo on recordings and a quartet live — uses to achieve it.

There's something particularly delicious about fightin' words sung sugar sweet. Fairground Saints, a newly formed Los Angeles trio, strikes the balance delectably on their latest song, "Turn This Car Around," an argument between lovers sung in call-and-response, then meeting in high folk-pop harmony.

Los Angeles trio Superhumanoids have only been together since 2010, but their latest single, "Anxious In Venice," sounds like they've matured 20 years since their last release, 2013's Exhibitionists. Playful, '80s-referencing synth lines have given way to darker, seething electronics built from the band's realization that their sound hadn't been reaching audiences as they wanted.

**NOTE: This song contains profanity**

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the mail-order grapefruits that have us pondering the nature of the mail-order-grapefruit business is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This time around: thoughts on pop music's staying power.

Steven F. writes via Facebook: "Which current music stars will be remembered 20 or 50 years from now, which will be forgotten, and why?"

There are so many quick-twitch responses to this question — and virtually all of them are, at least on some level, wrong.

Thursdays 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: allsongs@npr.org.

On this week's episode of All Songs Considered, we've got an album announcement from a new band featuring Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and song premieres from Widowspeak and Joan Shelley.

There was a moment, listening to Gardens & Villa's new song "Fixations," that I was transported back to 1974 and hearing Brian Eno's "Third Uncle" from that brilliant album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy). It's all in the way Chris Lynch and Adam Rasmussen blend buzzy synths, guitars and vocals to make one sonic signature.

For our +1 mini-podcast this week, Bob is joined in the studio by NPR Music's Jacob Ganz to talk about how we connect to songs we love in the age of streaming. The conversation highlights what we'll miss most about physical forms of music and what we hope the future takes into account.

Ben Folds music has taken another turn, firmly embracing strings and chamber music yet still maintaining a passion for his love of pop. So There, his next album, will consist of eight chamber pop songs with the very talented yMusic Ensemble and one piano concerto performed with the Nashville Symphony. Today we premiere a little pocket symphony of sorts, a bit of pop perfection called "Capable of Anything."

False makes bracing black metal that, just when it seems like the band won't release its claws from your throat, suddenly drops you into the void. That's the sensation felt halfway through "Entropy," a 15-minute torrent of terror that knows its Scandinavian forbears — complete with dramatic, Emperor-inspired keyboards — but chugs and spits like punk. It's here that the feral transforms into the graceful, as a piano accents two guitars noodling on a forlorn melody that desperately climbs its way out of the chasm.

Bert Jansch's approach to a traditional folk song is on full display in this recording of "Blackwaterside," made during a show at London's 12 Bar and originally released in 1995. It's an approach the Scottish singer-guitarist developed in the early 1960s; one that was more about evoking the mood and feel of a song than a slavish devotion to historical interpretation.

The amps on All Songs Considered this week never dip lower than 11. Bob is joined in the studio by a sleep-deprived Katie Presley, who just moved across the country in a packed truck and has the road trip anthem to prove it, along with NPR Music's Lars Gotrich, who brings us a brooding, multihyphenate premiere and a small explosion of rocket-fueled punk. Bob has the return of a beloved songwriter we've missed for several years, and a perfectly-named debut.

In just under three minutes, "Eclipses" will leave you breathless. It's as if the nine years since The Velvet Teen's last album, Cum Laude!, were packed into a single power-pop song that forgoes the formality of a chorus. Barely able to contain his heartbreak, Judah Nagler's verses bleed into one another as he sings "Your voice answers / But you are gone." "Eclipses" is layers of euphoric riffs upon sky-busting synth strings as Casey Dietz's drums expertly thunder and crash around it all.

Sharon Van Etten's 2014 album, Are We There, was one of the more focused, devastating recordings of the year, an unflinching set of songs that trace the contours of a doomed relationship. The album doesn't spare either party — Van Etten is as critical of her own decisions as she is damning of her lover's minor cruelties and missteps. It's an uncut catharsis machine, and listening to it can wring you out.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the weekly magazine that seems to show up at least four times per week is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This time around: thoughts on the playlists at amusement parks.

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