Heavy Rotation: 5 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing

Download Music By Miranda Dodson, The Milk Carton Kids, Cayucas And More

Miranda Dodson's moving song "Try Again" was inspired by her multiple miscarriages. i i

hide captionMiranda Dodson's moving song "Try Again" was inspired by her multiple miscarriages.

Courtesy of the artist
Miranda Dodson's moving song "Try Again" was inspired by her multiple miscarriages.

Miranda Dodson's moving song "Try Again" was inspired by her multiple miscarriages.

Courtesy of the artist

Every so often, we ask a panel of public radio's music experts to share their favorite new songs. This week, we feature picks from KCRW's Anne Litt, WNYC's Soundcheck host John Schaefer, FolkAlley.com's Kim Ruehl, KUTX's David Brown and our own Frannie Kelley, one of the hosts of NPR Music Radio's Microphone Check.

The music ranges from a wrenching confessional to unapologetic braggadocio, with a little mbira thrown in. If you like what you hear, go ahead and download them. They're yours to keep.

Heavy Rotation: 5 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing

Miranda Dodson.

Miranda Dodson, "Try Again"

  • Album: Love Is Real Try Again
  • Song: Try Again

Austin singer-songwriter Miranda Dodson didn't set out to write one of those songs that "sounds like one thing but means another"; it just happened that way. On first listen, the haunting, soul-searching "Try Again" appears to tell the story of a relationship gone wrong, but the heartbreak Dodson sings about is, in fact, her real struggle to bear a child. Following a miscarriage, Dodson found herself saddled with a sense of shame. During an interview with KUTX, she told me, "I thought, 'Something's wrong with me.' That's because no one talks about this." Dodson turned to her songwriting as a kind of therapy, but when she was done, she decided to go public — with both the song and her story — in the hope that others might find it therapeutic. What the song leaves out is the real-world ending: Her son just celebrated his first birthday. On second thought, "Try Again" is just what it sounds like: a love song. — David Brown, host of KUTX's Texas Music Matters

Download "Try Again" (Right-click and "Save As")

 
Cayucas' Zach Yudin.

Cayucas, "High School Lover"

  • Album: Bigfoot
  • Song: High School Lover

Cayucas embodies the sound I grew to love living on the West Coast; the combination of the sand, the '60s, surfing, the weather and the legendary musicians who came before. Named after a sleepy seaside California town, Cayucas makes dreamy yet energetic pop with outstanding song craft. "High School Lover" is the perfect pop concoction for fantastic and frantic young love, not to mention the perfect angst-y Valentine's Day jam (check out the video!). One listen to the words — about a girl who used to write love letters to lead singer Zach Yudin — and the connection is instantaneous, complete with a propulsive drumbeat to drive this snappy track straight into your heart. I'll play this song, complete with gymnasium-style cheering, all spring and appropriately into the summer. — Anne Litt, KCRW.

Download "High School Lover" (Right-click and "Save As")

 
Chance the Rapper.

Chance The Rapper, "Juice"

  • Album: Juice
  • Song: Juice

In the late '60s, John Lennon wrote a song called "I'm Just a Child of Nature," inspired by famed Beatles guru Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. In 1971, Lennon changed the words and included the song on Imagine, calling it "Jealous Guy." It's stringy and insinuating and, in its new iteration, an apology. A few months later, Donny Hathaway covered the song and changed it again — his piano-heavy version from Donny Hathaway Live sits back in the cut, saucy and guilty. That's the track that "Juice" — a song by Chicago's Chance the Rapper — takes a big bite out of. The loose sample shades his brassy, goosed flow with vulnerability while baring his unapologetic arrogance. "Juice" is a song about standing on the brink, toiling away at something that depends on other people's acceptance, talking big for the time being. "I ain't afraid of the booth," he says, standing on the shoulders of giants. — Frannie Kelley, NPR Music's Microphone Check

Download "Juice" (Right-click and "Save As")

 
Katie Mullins.

Katie Mullins, "Spring"

  • Album: Wedding
  • Song: Spring

Katie Mullins is a singer-songwriter — just not in the way you might think. Admit it: You're picturing Woman with Guitar, right? Well, the closest Mullins gets to that is the baritone ukulele (which is pretty close, actually), but several songs on her latest album, Wedding, feature her singing and accompanying herself on the mbira, a thumb piano from Zimbabwe. "Spring" features her clear, ringing voice, both in the melody and in a glowing overdubbed chorus; percussion and eventually cello flesh out the sound. The mbira's gently insistent, almost minimalist fragments and Mullins' poetic vocals are a mixed marriage for sure, but then, the title of the album refers not to matrimony, but to the blending of dissimilar or even opposite ideas. — John Schaefer, host of WNYC's Soundcheck

Download "Spring" (Right-click and "Save As")

 

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