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

Download New Music From Merchandise, Reigning Sound And More

Download The Songs

  • Liam Bailey, 'Stun Me'

    Stun Me

    3 min 41 sec

    Purchase Featured Music

    Song
    Stun Me
    Album
    Definitely NOW
    Artist
    Liam Bailey
    Label
    Flying Buddha
    Released
    2014

    Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

     
    Liam Bailey. i i
    Shane McCauley/Courtesy of the artist
    Liam Bailey.
    Shane McCauley/Courtesy of the artist

    I first heard U.K. artist Liam Bailey, on a 7" called "When Will They Learn," back in 2012. With that one song and its soulful, dubby sound, I was hooked. Since then, I've waited eagerly for a full-length. Definitely Now runs through vintage soul, rock, blues and R&B, with a few psychedelic moments thrown in along the way. The centerpiece of the album, though, and the reason I fell for Liam Bailey, is his voice. His longing melds into pure heartbreak in the chilling "Stun Me," wherein the sweeps in his voice take me to a grittier Roy Orbison. —Anne Litt, KCRW

    Download "Stun Me"

  • Merchandise, 'Little Killer'

    Little Killer

    3 min 5 sec

    Purchase Featured Music

    Song
    Little Killer
    Album
    After The End
    Artist
    Merchandise
    Label
    4AD
    Released
    2014

    Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

     
    Merchandise. i i
    Timothy Saccenti/Courtesy of the artist
    Merchandise.
    Timothy Saccenti/Courtesy of the artist

    After the End, the latest album by the Tampa band Merchandise, has been one of my most anticipated new releases of 2014. All year long, the label has been trickling out singles from After the End, and each one, including "Little Killer," has quickly become my new favorite. Despite roots in the underground punk scene, Merchandise polishes its sound into pristine new pop territory on the new record, combining '80s-influenced guitar with the moody crooning of Carson Cox. I can't wait to hear what the band explores next. —Cheryl Waters, KEXP

    Download "Little Killer"

  • Nick Hakim, 'I Don't Know'

    I Don't Know

    5 min 0 sec

    Purchase Featured Music

    Song
    I Don't Know
    Album
    Where Will We Go, Pt. 2
    Artist
    Nick Hakim
    Label
    Earseed
    Released
    2014

    Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

     
    Nick Hakim. i i
    William Hacker/Courtesy of the artist
    Nick Hakim.
    William Hacker/Courtesy of the artist

    Brooklyn singer-songwriter Nick Hakim makes soulful music that feels lovingly dreamy and hopelessly bleary at once. "I Don't Know," from his upcoming EP Where Will We Go Pt. 2, is a tear-stained, whiskey-soaked tale of love found and lost. As Hakim repeats a few choice words — "Where did you go? Where will we go?" — his layered vocals swim across each other and send shivers down your spine. Hakim uses the song to recall the best (and worst) feelings of love; feelings best explained by the blues. —Kiana Fitzgerald, NPR R&B

    Download "I Don't Know"

  • Laura Jean, 'Don't Marry The One You Love'

    Purchase Featured Music

    Song
    Don't Marry the One You Love
    Album
    Laura Jean
    Artist
    Laura Jean
    Label
    Chapter Music
    Released
    2014

    Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

     
    Laura Jean. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Laura Jean.
    Courtesy of the artist

    There's something to be said for a loveless marriage, and Melbourne folk-pop singer-songwriter Laura Jean makes a strong case for it in the second single from her new self-titled album. Isn't marrying for love a little impractical? "Don't marry the one you love / You'll turn into a doormat," she deadpans. Laura Jean builds her argument in a sweet but straightforward, subtly acerbic way, with moral support from an accordion and Norwegian vocalist Jenny Hval. The song verges on too-adorable in spots, but it's tough to peg Laura Jean as a softie after hearing her kicker: "I married the one I love, and sometimes I regret it." —Ally Schweitzer, WAMU's bandwidth.fm

    Download "Don't Marry The One You Love"

  • Reigning Sound, 'North Cackalacky Girl'

    North Cackalacky Girl

    2 min 48 sec

    Purchase Featured Music

    Song
    North Cackalacky Girl
    Album
    Shattered
    Artist
    Reigning Sound
    Label
    Merge
    Released
    2014

    Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

     
    Reigning Sound. i i
    Kyle Dean Reinford/Courtesy of the artist
    Reigning Sound.
    Kyle Dean Reinford/Courtesy of the artist

    "North Cackalacky" is slang for Greg Cartwright's relatively new home base in North Carolina, where he moved a decade ago after growing up and flourishing in Memphis as the leader of several roots, punk and garage bands — notably the Oblivians and Reigning Sound. With the latter, he explores the more soulful side of his heritage, and "North Cackalacky Girl" holds its swagger even as Cartwright pleads for something more than a one-night stand. Love the way he rides that organ riff and the concise tangle of guitars as the song winds up. —Greg Kot, Sound Opinions

    Download "North Cackalacky Girl"

  • The Barr Brothers, 'Half Crazy'

    Half Crazy

    4 min 53 sec

    Purchase Featured Music

    Song
    Half Crazy
    Album
    Sleeping Operator
    Artist
    The Barr Brothers
    Label
    Secret City
    Released
    2014

    Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

     
    Barr Brothers. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Barr Brothers.
    Courtesy of the artist

    When guitarist Brad Barr and drummer Andrew Barr lived in the U.S., they recorded as The Slip, a clean and precise rock band. When The Barr Brothers relocated to Montreal, they stripped their music down to a raw and bluesy core and added a hard-to-figure third element, Sarah Page on harp. Their 2011 debut was vibey and improvisational. Now comes the new Sleeping Operator and the song "Half Crazy," which keeps all the ringing slide guitars and percussion intact — but now Page's harp sounds more like a kora. Elemental, raw and mesmerizing. —David Dye, World Cafe

    Download "Half Crazy"

  • Field Report, 'Home (Leave The Lights On)'

    Purchase Featured Music

    Song
    Home (Leave the Lights On)
    Album
    Marigolden
    Artist
    Field Report
    Label
    Partisan
    Released
    2014

    Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

     
    Field Report. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Field Report.
    Courtesy of the artist

    Field Report's self-titled 2012 debut only hinted at the genius of frontman Chris Porterfield. With Marigolden, he's written one of the warmest, most smartly crafted albums of the year. It's the type of record that warrants further study, and "Home (Leave The Lights On)" is a great place to start. Smart, catchy and fascinating, it's a huge leap forward. —Russ Borris, WFUV

    Download "Home (Leave The Lights On)"

  • Israel Nash, 'Rain Plans'

    Rain Plans

    7 min 19 sec

    Purchase Featured Music

    Song
    Rain Plans
    Album
    Rain Plans
    Artist
    Israel Nash
    Label
    Loose
    Released
    2014

    Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

     
    Israel Nash. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Israel Nash.
    Courtesy of the artist

    It has holy connotations in Austin, but the phrase "outlaw country" was invented by a Nashville record executive. "Cosmic country" is a bigger lasso that ropes in a wide range of stylistic savants: Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson, even Canadian Neil Young, all with their boots on the ground but their gaze turned skyward. From Missouri to New York and now Dripping Springs, Texas, Israel Nash has chased this particular stardust, and he's finally found it with his third album. In "Rain Plans," the guitars crackle and burn, the harmonies moan with sadness, and Eric Swanson spins gold with his pedal steel. The song looks both inward and outward — widescreen Americana at its finest. —Art Levy, KUTX

    Download "Rain Plans"

  • Hippo Campus, 'Little Grace'

    Little Grace

    3 min 7 sec
     
    Hippo Campus. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    Hippo Campus.
    Courtesy of the artist

    It's rare for a new band to emerge with such a fully formed sound. But that's what makes Hippo Campus, a band of recent high-school graduates from St. Paul, Minn., so intriguing. With barely any recorded music out ("Little Grace" is the only single available from its forthcoming EP), the group is already accumulating fans in the Twin Cities on the strength of high-energy shows and set lists full of glistening, jittery, deceptively complex rock songs. —Andrea Swensson, The Current

    Download "Little Grace"

  • The DangerFeel Newbies, 'Always With Me'

    Always With Me

    3 min 31 sec
     
    The DangerFeel Newbies. i i
    Courtesy of the artist
    The DangerFeel Newbies.
    Courtesy of the artist

    The DangerFeel Newbies' DJ Mark Angel, Darren "DJ" Wagner (on keyboards) and DJ Jamal Ahmad all specialize in fusing electro-soul, jazz, blues and funk. The Atlanta trio's name is inspired by Dangerfield Newby, who was the only African-American in the John Brown party, so it's clear that the group strives to make music that's as relevant as it is rhythmic. In "Always With Me," the collective pays homage to urban romance while crafting a laid-back progressive R&B summer jam, complete with vocal cameos from J. Piccola and Mashonda Faust. —Chris Campbell, WDET's The Progressive Underground

    Download "Always With Me"

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

Purchase Featured Music

Definitely NOW

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Definitely NOW
Artist
Liam Bailey
Label
Flying Buddha
Released
2014

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Rain Plans

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Rain Plans
Artist
Israel Nash
Label
Loose
Released
2014

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

After The End

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
After The End
Artist
Merchandise
Label
4AD
Released
2014

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Where Will We Go, Pt. 2

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Where Will We Go, Pt. 2
Artist
Nick Hakim
Label
Earseed
Released
2014

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Marigolden

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Marigolden
Artist
Field Report
Label
Partisan
Released
2014

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Laura Jean

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Laura Jean
Artist
Laura Jean
Label
Chapter Music
Released
2014

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Shattered

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Shattered
Artist
Reigning Sound
Label
Merge
Released
2014

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Sleeping Operator

Purchase Music

Purchase Featured Music

Album
Sleeping Operator
Artist
The Barr Brothers
Label
Secret City
Released
2014

Your purchase helps support NPR Programming. How?

 

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.