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

Music For Healing

Nov 17, 2015

Music can provide a space for healing, feeling and thought. Following the terrorist attacks in Paris, including at a show in that city's Bataclan concert hall, we were compelled to play music with a meditative tone, songs that allow space and time for reflection. A tune Bob Boilen found himself playing all weekend was by Hiya Wal Âalam, a band featuring members from Tunisia, Palestine and Sweden. It's culture-blending music and perfectly pensive.

Shovels & Rope's new album of covers, Busted Jukebox Vol. I, took a village to create. The folk-rock duo of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent called in their talented friends and collaborators to tackle songs from Elvis Costello, Nine Inch Nails and Guns n' Roses, just to name a few. Each tune is imbued with Shovels & Rope's signature sound and the individual influence of the guests on each track.

Ask a Bruce Springsteen fan about the holy grails of his concerts and you're likely to hear about a 1980 Tempe, Ariz. show. Today NPR Music has video of Springsteen performing "The River" from that very concert. The brilliant performance — or at least much of it — was recorded using four cameras and a multitrack machine for audio. It's all been put together and is being released 35 years later as part of a new box set called The Ties That Bind: The River Collection.

Brian Burton has good taste. As Danger Mouse, he's won five Grammy Awards and worked with everyone from the Black Keys to Gorillaz to Adele. Now the musician, songwriter and producer is adding another impressive project to his resume: his own record label.

The cover art of Newcastle indie-rock quartet Lanterns on the Lake's new album, Beings, is at once soothing and unnerving. Warm, filtered light bathes an arid mountain-scape, and whimsical will-o-the-wisps bubble around the edges of the image. Yet, in the middle of the photograph, there sits an unadorned black heptagon, like a scorch mark. It's a striking image, perfectly paired to the music it illustrates.

This week's All Songs Considered is an emotional roller coaster. Hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton start off mellow with the sweet, acoustic Many Rooms, only to pull the rug out from under it with a monstrously good tune from Grimes. Then we've got intricate Ethiopian accordion rhythms from Hailu Mergia, a piece full of anguish and beauty from the Manchester band Money and a thick, shoe-gazey song from Shmu to close out the whirlwind of frenzied feelings.

It took a little while to shake-off the sugar crash of Halloween, but we're finally ready to present our October edition of Recommended Dose. This month features Balearic house from Australia, eerie techno from a fashion-minded Russian, Colombian club workouts from Northern England, Detroit-infused funk from London, hard-hitting bass from a young Swede, and a potential anthem that's already earned a co-sign from Skrillex.

I'm happy to have new music from the harmonious and ethereal band Quilt. The Boston quartet's 2014 album, Held in Splendor, is a favorite of mine. Their third album, Plaza, is coming on Feb. 26, and this first new song "Eliot St.," is a pleasant extension of the band's sound.

There's a relentless antagonism to Total Abuse that is so, so satisfying. When it formed in 2006, the Texas band first looked to iconic '80s hardcore punk for its sound. But weirdness soon took hold, crawling into the dank headspace between the Swedish noise-rock band Brainbombs and Black Flag's most deranged output.

What is it like to sing songs almost 50 years after first writing and recording them? How does it feel to make your most creative work only to have it ignored? I wondered about these questions when I went and talked with Rod Argent and Colin Blunstone, two of the original members of The Zombies. They were in town with all the surviving members of their original band to perform their long overlooked, now classic 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle in full alongside earlier hits like "She's Not There" and "Tell Her No" and songs from their 2015 album Still Got The Hunger.

Martin Atkins, a drummer, producer and professor, weaves the terrifying tale of any musicians' personal horror in this spooky Halloween installment of The Martin Atkins Minute, an occasional series in our All Songs +1 podcast.

There's a reason why Sébastien Devaud (a.k.a Agoria) has remained among French techno's brightest and longest-burning lights: When Devaud finds himself at a creative crossroads, he chooses to do "something different, always challenging myself to try to make other beats, other sounds." It may be a cliché, but it's a worthy one — and it explains how the 39-year-old Lyon-born producer and DJ has made a two-decade career out of being more than a trusted interpreter of the future sounds of Detroit (the city's electronic music being his first love).

It was a moment of television magic. I heard a brand new song from my favorite band and saw them on film, walking around and riding horses. If the expression "my mind was blown" had been created, I'd have phoned up my friends and told them that. All I can remember saying to my friends after seeing The Beatles' "Penny Lane" film is, "That was boss!" And now that film is back and more beautiful than ever.

Verses are overrated. If your song has a chorus with a walloping right hook, why risk the wind-up? The New York noise-punk trio Cold Sweats spends very little time with a throbbing, Pixies-indebted bass line in "Hater Failure" before lunging into the festering cherry on top.

Listen to this conversation and you'll feel like you're sitting in an airport lounge eavesdropping on two smart, funny, mutually-admiring musicians.

On our most recent episode of All Songs Considered I noted that Sharon Van Etten can be heard on a new ad for Corona beer, and that a number of my favorite musicians have sold their songs for commercials.

On this week's All Songs Considered, Robin starts the show with a question: What bands have you discovered and fallen in love with from commercials? His first pick, Chairlift, has come a long way since its 2008 ad for the Apple iPod Nano.

There's a lot of mediocrity to sort through when you hop from one club to another during a festival like the CMJ Music Marathon, five days during which bands flock to New York. So when I find stuff that stands out, that pushes the inevitable evolutionary boundaries of rock, I get really happy.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and alongside the checks for people who aren't us is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. This time around: thoughts on music's odd and ever-changing relationship with Canada.

Twenty years ago, emo was smack-dab in the middle of its defining years. The Midwestern U.S., in particular, gave us Braid, The Promise Ring, Christie Front Drive, Mineral and Rainer Maria. One of the region's lesser-known, but no less beloved, bands was Kansas City's Boys Life, with its decidedly more abrasive and messy (but also cinematically windswept) sound.

The way we listen to music evolves constantly. From wax cylinder recordings all the way through to today's streaming services, formats have come a long way. What's next? What does this unending metamorphosis say about the music industry? And what does any of this have to do with Robert De Niro?

Andy Shauf is a gifted storyteller. Earlier this year the Saskatchewan-based singer-songwriter put out one of 2015's most breathtaking albums, called The Bearer Of Bad News — an appropriately titled collection of mostly grim tales about small town drug addicts, murderous lovers and other weary underachievers.

Pinkish Black swings moods like none other. Since 2010, the Fort Worth, Texas, duo has stuck to synths, drums and Daron Beck's Gothic croon without the urge to expand — but it evolves expansively anyway. Bottom Of The Morning, the band's third record, all but abandons Pinkish Black's previous metallic tendencies for the eerie heft of '70s Italian horror-movie soundtracks (think Goblin or Ennio Morricone on a sinister jazz kick).

On this week's All Songs Considered, Bob Boilen is getting excited for the CMJ Music Marathon in New York and Robin Hilton is just plain getting excited.

The musician and provocateur known as Peaches has just won a Polaris prize for the Best Canadian Album of the 2000s. Music fans selected her sexually charged debut release The Teaches Of Peaches in an online poll over albums by Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene and Feist, among others.