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

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

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

Hear New Songs By Courtney Barnett, Matthew E. White, MDNGHT And More

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

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Hear The Songs

Aero Flynn. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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03Dk/Pi

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Aero Flynn, 'Dk/Pi'

  • from Aero Flynn

Eau Claire, Wis., is known for spawning Bon Iver's Justin Vernon. Now, here comes another reclusive, enigmatic creative force from the wooded north. Josh Scott was once the frontman of Amateur Love, a bar-band peer of Vernon's early-2000s project DeYarmond Edison, but Scott left music just as Vernon's star began to rise. Now, after a lengthy period of mental and physical turmoil, Scott's spark has been reignited by his new project Aero Flynn — and with it comes all the restlessness, agitation and manic energy you'd expect under the circumstances. "Dk/Pi" starts with an unassuming little twinkle. But then it sears, smokes and eventually explodes, revealing the full capabilities of Scott's wandering mind. It helps that his band maintains a tight grasp on his expansive creative vision. —Andrea Swensson, The Current

Cover for Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

Courtney Barnett, 'Pedestrian At Best'

  • from Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit

There's no denying Courtney Barnett has a way with a phrase. Whether she's describing an anaphylactic anxiety attack in matter-of-fact detail or issuing mundane observations directly from her hilarious, almost exasperated point of view, Barnett's half-sung, half-spoken words fly by at such a rapid clip that while you're still laughing at the previous line, you've missed two more and have to rewind to decode further. In "Pedestrian At Best," the first new song from Barnett's upcoming Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit, the Melbourne songwriter lets her mind wander completely off the chain. A glorious stream-of-consciousness diatribe to an ex, Barnett spits line after densely packed line about an existential crisis, running through a laundry list of specific grievances about a frayed love-hate relationship. "I must confess I've made a mess of what should be a small success, but I digress, at least I tried my very best, I guess," she muses over a heavy guitar riff. Barnett twists the knife further in a perfect kiss-off stinger: "I think you're a joke, but I don't find you funny." —Mike Katzif, WNYC's Soundcheck

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Song
Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Album
Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit
Artist
Courtney Barnett
Released
2015

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Cover for Don't Lose This

07The Lady's Letter

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    Song
    The Lady's Letter
    Album
    Don't Lose This
    Artist
    Pops Staples
    Label
    dBpm Records
    Released
    2015

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Pops Staples, 'The Lady's Letter'

  • from Don't Lose This

"The Lady's Letter," from Roebuck "Pops" Staples' final album Don't Lose This, is also the final recording by The Staple Singers, and thus has historic significance. But history is no crutch in this instance, as Staples — who died in 2000, shortly after this track was recorded — sounds as vital and timeless as ever. The track echoes the Staples' earliest recordings for the Vee-Jay label in Chicago with its stark production, thanks to Jeff Tweedy's clutter-free mix. Staples' distinctive, reverb-intensive guitar underpins his Mississippi drawl while daughters Mavis, Cleo and Yvonne offer call-and-response harmonies. Once you hear this, you'll want to explore the band's early discography in full. —Greg Kot, Sound Opinions

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Song
Don't Lose This
Album
Don't Lose This
Artist
Pops Staples
Label
dBpm Records
Released
2015

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The Amazing. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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02Picture You

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    Song
    Picture You
    Album
    Picture You
    Artist
    The Amazing
    Released
    1969

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The Amazing, 'Picture You'

  • from Picture You

You won't have to strain to hear echoes of early-'90s British shoegazers such as Ride and My Bloody Valentine on Picture You, the third album by Sweden's The Amazing. But the group is hardly derivative or overly retro, though you may also hear hints of mid-period Pink Floyd (in the moody keyboards) or early King Crimson (in the multi-part suites). To date, The Amazing has been best known in the U.S. as a side project for Reine Fiske, the guitarist for Dungen. But the strength of this collaboration lies in the interplay between him and co-bandleader Christoffer Gunrup, and the way those breathy vocals and slippery guitar lines combine to create a sustained, wintry, wonderful dreamscape. Tune in, turn it up, bliss out. —Jim DeRogatis, Sound Opinions

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Picture You
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Picture You
Artist
The Amazing

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01Rock & Roll Is Cold

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    Rock & Roll Is Cold
    Album
    Rock & Roll Is Cold
    Artist
    Matthew E. White
    Label
    Domino
    Released
    1969

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Matthew E. White, 'Rock & Roll Is Cold'

  • from Rock & Roll Is Cold

Matthew E. White comes equipped with a lesson in humility: If you think music can be dissected or conquered, "Rock & Roll Is Cold" serves up a reminder that the holy trinity of rock 'n' roll, R&B and gospel is meant to be revered and respected. In a soothing voice, White points to the arrogance of anyone asserting that they've figured it out — or, worse, tried to take credit for or ownership of a sound. On White's new album, Fresh Blood, he proves himself a master writer and arranger in his own right, but as he wisely notes, "Gospel licks are gifts." This is a guy who gets that we make the best art when we're in service to it. —Carmel Holt, WFUV

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Rock & Roll Is Cold
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Rock & Roll Is Cold
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Matthew E. White
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Domino

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04Indigo

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    Song
    Indigo
    Album
    Old Wave
    Artist
    Old Wave
    Released
    2015

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Old Wave, 'Indigo'

  • from Old Wave

Old Wave's self-titled debut is full of catchy, quirky tracks, but the real standout is "Indigo," which singer-songwriter Adam Brock describes as "an underwater love song with a bubbling groove." But "Indigo" isn't simple, and it certainly isn't conventional. Between the words and the song's official video, there are enough oddball nautical references to make Steve Zissou proud. It helps that the song's gorgeous three-part harmonies and unusual time signatures are there to keep listeners guessing. This is incredibly confident, well-crafted folk-pop. —Jerad Walker, opbmusic.org

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Old Wave
Album
Old Wave
Artist
Old Wave
Released
2015

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03Here We Go

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    Song
    Here We Go
    Album
    Medicine
    Artist
    Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
    Label
    Good Time Inc
    Released
    2015

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Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors, 'Here We Go'

  • from Medicine

Memphis–born, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Drew Holcomb is 10 years into his music career, with many albums under his belt, but he's got himself a career highlight in Medicine. With his band The Neighbors, Holcomb recorded this nicely crafted collection of tunes in nine days last summer. "Here We Go" explores universal themes of alienation — who hasn't, at some point, felt like a castaway on a private island of misfit toys? The song provides a useful reminder that we're all in the same boat, and that it's a good thing we've got people and music around to make it better. —Linda Fahey, Folk Alley

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Medicine
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Medicine
Artist
Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
Label
Good Time Inc
Released
2015

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01Into The Night

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MDNGHT, 'Into The Night'

  • from Into the Night

The Manchester band MDNGHT has spent the last few years remixing songs, playing live shows across the U.K., and refining a club-friendly sound that mixes house, funk and drum-and-bass. For fans of Years & Years and Disclosure, here's "Into The Night," one of the dance anthems of last summer. Don't be surprised to hear it break worldwide in 2015. —Huw Stephens, BBC Music

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Into The Night
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Into The Night
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MDNGHT
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2015

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02Again

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Faith Healer, 'Again'

  • from Cosmic Troubles

Faith Healer is the bedroom musical project of Edmonton native Jessica Jalbert and producer Renny Wilson. The pair's debut album Cosmic Troubles (due out in March) was made in Wilson's parents' basement over a series of Tuesdays, because that's the only day that both of Faith Healer's members had off from their day jobs at the same record store. Fittingly, the beautiful, slow-building "Again" feels like the sort of timeless indie-pop gem you might unearth at a used record shop. Is it 1965, 1995 or 2015? —Grant Lawrence, CBC Music

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02Cha Cha

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D.R.A.M., 'Cha Cha'

  • from #1EPICSUMMER

It's still winter, but D.R.A.M.'s "Cha Cha" hints at the carefree vibe of seasons to come. The song, with its bouncy Super Mario samples, could put a smile on anyone's face. The Hampton, Va., resident pours out his soul in this story of meeting and falling for a Dominican woman in a Latin bar, and simplifies their encounter to the words, "I like to cha cha." The hook alone is enough to make you want to jump up and down with your hands up. D.R.A.M. proves that a cool tropical song is enough to melt an icy heart. —Skyler Shruggs, Youth Radio

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

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