Heavy Rotation: 10 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing

Download New Music From Habib Koite, Bob Mould, John Fullbright And More

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  • Habib Koite, 'L.A.'

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    Song
    L.A.
    Album
    Soo
    Artist
    Habib Koite
    Label
    Contrejour
    Released
    2014

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    Habib Koite. i i
    Dirk Leunis/Courtesy of the artist
    Habib Koite.
    Dirk Leunis/Courtesy of the artist

    For his latest album, Soo, Malian singer-songwriter and guitarist Habib Koite let go of his standard rhythm guitar and replaced it with the banjo, one of the few times I've heard a contemporary African pop artist use what's essentially an African instrument. "L.A." is particularly great; I like the way Koite's banjo player uses the instrument at times as rhythm guitar, at times for the melody. The lyrics are funny for those who understand Bambara, the popular language of the Malian people — they poke fun at Koite and American blues artist Eric Bibb's tour in the U.S., and compare various landscapes of California to those of Mali. --Emmanuel Nado, KALW's Africa Mix

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  • John Fullbright, 'Happy'

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    Song
    Happy
    Album
    Songs
    Artist
    John Fullbright
    Label
    Blue Dirt
    Released
    2014

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    John Fullbright. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    John Fullbright.
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    The Oklahoma singer-songwriter has album No. 2, titled Songs, coming May 27. "Happy" opens the disc and sets the tone. Before the band kicks in, he delivers a line worthy of one of his heroes, John Prine: "Every time I try to write a song, it always seems to start where we left off." There's no artifice here, and no new ground — just a songwriter trying to connect with his emotions and doing so in an elegant, restrained, refined manner. --David Dye, World Cafe

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  • Alfredo Rodriguez, 'El Güije' (feat. Esperanza Spalding & Pedrito Martinez)

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    Song
    El Güije
    Album
    The Invasion Parade
    Artist
    Alfredo Rodriguez
    Label
    Mack Avenue
    Released
    2014

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    Alfredo Rodriguez. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Alfredo Rodriguez.
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    Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriquez's "El Güije" starts with a low, echoed rumble signaling the arrival of that tiny, bold, mythical troll Guije as if he were emerging from the halls of a Cuban dance club. As bassist Esperanza Spalding breezes along, percussion and piano spring up; she soars and sneaks down low, building and then hiding. Along the way, "El Güije" tells a delightful story, with a sweet melody that stays with you. --Alisa Clancy, KCSM

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  • IAMSU!, 'Back On Your Mind'

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    Back On Your Mind
    Album
    Sincerely Yours
    Artist
    IAMSU!
    Label
    Heart Break Gang
    Released
    2014

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    IAMSU! i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    IAMSU!
    Courtesy of the artist

    IAMSU! (who, like me, is a Youth Radio alum) runs rampant in this jam alongside Skipper and Kool John, with the aid of production syndicate The Invasion Beats. It's a great introduction for those who aren't aware of the crew's 24-hour party music. "Back on Your Mind" is all about the basslines: The bouncy, old-school rhythm recalls vintage Bootsy Collins. Lyrically, the song takes a highly stylized snapshot of ambitious, talented, ultra-normal kids as they throw parties, mess with girls and save to buy a car. Middle-class swag rap? I can relate to that. --Brandon McFarland, AllDayPlay.fm

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  • Movement, 'Ivory'

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    Song
    Ivory
    Album
    Movement
    Artist
    Movement
    Label
    Modular
    Released
    2014

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    Movement. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Movement.
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    Australia's Movement has been on my Making Time RADio playlists for more than a year now. It started with the band's first single "Us," a slo-mo chugger with elements of house and disco and a smooth R&B vocal. Movement continues to breathe new life into indie R&B with the more upbeat "Ivory." I've been starting a lot of my DJ sets with this one, and it always gets the dance floor moving. --Dave P., WXPN's Making Time RADio

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  • Saintseneca, 'Happy Alone'

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    Song
    Happy Alone
    Album
    Dark Arc
    Artist
    Saintseneca
    Label
    Anti- Records
    Released
    2014

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    Saintseneca's new album, Dark Arc, comes out April 1 i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Saintseneca's new album, Dark Arc, comes out April 1
    Courtesy of the artist

    Songs embracing happiness are all the rage right about now, but Saintseneca's "Happy Alone" hits a unique nerve by marrying somber reality and authentic joy. It's a song that fills a room with mellow, measured and ultimately elated moments, with lines meant for memorization and singing along. By writing a song that depicts solitude as righteous, the Ohio folk-pop band has built a post-breakup ballad that even the happily coupled can enjoy. --Jessi Whitten, Colorado Public Radio's OpenAir

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  • Bob Mould, 'I Don't Know You Anymore'

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    Song
    I Don't Know You Anymore
    Album
    Beauty & Ruin
    Artist
    Bob Mould
    Label
    Merge
    Released
    2014

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    Bob Mould. i i
    Jay Blakesberg/Courtesy of the artist
    Bob Mould.
    Jay Blakesberg/Courtesy of the artist

    On his forthcoming album Beauty & Ruin, Bob Mould returns to the helm of his power trio with Jason Narducy (bass/vocals) and Jon Wurster (drums). There's no faulting the former Hüsker Dü and Sugar frontman for having explored different sounds in his career, but when he comes back to his sweet spot — as he does in "I Don't Know You Anymore" — few are better at making smart, hooky rock. The title stands in complete contrast to the joy of blasting the song full volume, and getting the feeling that Mould knows himself better than ever. --Sarah Wardrop, WFUV

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  • Thomas Dybdahl, 'This Love Is Here To Stay'

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    Song
    This Love is Here To Stay
    Album
    What's Left Is Forever
    Artist
    Thomas Dybdahl
    Label
    Virgin EMI
    Released
    2013

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    Thomas Dybdahl. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Thomas Dybdahl.
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    When I first heard "This Love Is Here To Stay," I didn't even recognize it as Norwegian singer Thomas Dybdahl. As always, his soulful vocals evoke Jeff Buckley, yet the sound is distinctly 1970s West Coast. It's seductive with quiet strength and a ghostly quality, especially when you take into account the darker side of the lyrics. --Anne Litt, KCRW

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  • Greymatter, 'Mission Creep'

    Greymatter. i i
    Kev Luckhurst/Courtesy of the artist
    Greymatter.
    Kev Luckhurst/Courtesy of the artist

    U.K. producer Greymatter is getting ready to release his second album, Visions, on the house label WOLF Music. But to promote the record earlier this month, he handed Mixmag a cut that doesn't appear anywhere on Visions. It's "Mission Creep," a track with a deliciously baited hook: It opens with a horn squawk — report to the dance floor, please — and goes right for those house chords, layering on confection upon confection. But it's a trick — or perhaps just dessert before dinner. Greymatter has other dimensions to explore. After the initial blast of confetti, he's off sticking his nose into stranger territory, and bringing us along as the Dr. Watson to his Sherlock. It's a bait-and-switch, yes, but one that's too likeable to declare deceptive. --Ally Schweitzer, WAMU's Bandwidth

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  • Protomartyr, 'Come & See'

    Protomartyr. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Protomartyr.
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    Protomartyr is absolutely ruthless. The Detroit band cuts away every unnecessary note, sound and gesture until what's left is a skeleton. "Come & See" contains just a handful of essential elements: a reverberating wash of guitar, spider-walking bass, sparse drums. When it all crashes down on singer Joe Casey, it feels like the end of something. He sings/talks about a city near ruin, but he's matter-of-fact about it. "Are you ready to be capitalized, in this town, in this hole?" When you've got a story to tell, there's no reason to oversell it. Casey holds back just enough that, after each play, "Come & See" raises more questions than it answers. --Greg Kot, Sound Opinions

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Heavy Rotation is a monthly sampler of public radio hosts' favorite songs. Check out past editions here.

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What's Left Is Forever

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Album
What's Left Is Forever
Artist
Thomas Dybdahl
Label
Virgin EMI
Released
2013

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Beauty & Ruin

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Album
Beauty & Ruin
Artist
Bob Mould
Label
Merge
Released
2014

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Dark Arc

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Album
Dark Arc
Artist
Saintseneca
Label
Anti- Records
Released
2014

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Movement

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Album
Movement
Artist
Movement
Label
Modular
Released
2014

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Sincerely Yours

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Album
Sincerely Yours
Artist
IAMSU!
Label
Heart Break Gang
Released
2014

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Invasion Parade

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Album
Invasion Parade
Artist
Alfredo Rodriguez
Label
Mack Avenue
Released
2014

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Songs

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Album
Songs
Artist
John Fullbright
Label
Blue Dirt
Released
2014

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Soo

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Album
Soo
Artist
Habib Koite
Label
Contrejour
Released
2014

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