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

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

This month, WXPN loved Israel Nash's "LA Lately," from his new album Silver Season. Pooneh Ghana/Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Pooneh Ghana/Courtesy of the artist

This month, WXPN loved Israel Nash's "LA Lately," from his new album Silver Season.

Pooneh Ghana/Courtesy of the artist

Every month, we call on public radio hosts across the country and around the world to ask a simple question: What's the one new song you're spinning nonstop these days?

Among September's offerings are the latest from cosmic-country rock star Israel Nash, a moody folk collaboration for the dreamer in all of us, and the best song for sticking it to the haters since "Shake It Off." Hear all 10 picks below.

Hear The Songs

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04LA Lately

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    Song
    LA Lately
    Album
    Silver Season
    Artist
    Israel Nash
    Label
    Relativity Entertainment
    Released
    1969

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Israel Nash, 'LA Lately'

  • from Silver Season

Texas singer-songwriter and guitarist Israel Nash is a huge Neil Young fan, and he's not afraid to admit it. When Nash released his 2013 album Rain Plans, the Young and Crazy Horse comparisons abounded; Nash (no relation to Graham) and Young share not only certain vocal qualities, but also a similar flair for epic guitar rock.

Now, with a couple years of touring and live performances under his belt, Nash has found his own voice, and his new album Silver Season represents an ambitious evolution in his mix of Americana, psychedelia and cosmic country-rock. "LA Lately" demonstrates that if Rain Plans was a refreshing spring shower, Silver Season unleashes a flood of expansive rock.

Bruce Warren, WXPN

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Song
Silver Season
Album
Silver Season
Artist
Israel Nash
Label
Relativity Entertainment

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04Can't Have

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    Song
    Can't Have
    Album
    Lonely Roller
    Artist
    Steven A. Clark
    Label
    Secretly Canadian
    Released
    2015

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Steven A. Clark, 'Can't Have'

  • from Lonely Roller

How do you concoct a single as infectious as Steven A. Clark's "Can't Have"? How about a cup of Unknown Mortal Orchestra's glittery pop, a dollop of Frank Ocean's experimental R&B and a good bit of swagger from 808s & Heartbreak-era Kanye West? Mix those morsels together and you'll get a fantastic song that commands second and third helpings. The rest of the North Carolinian's debut album, The Lonely Roller, is just as catchy — further proof that Clark has made the perfect alt-R&B confection.

Joni Deutsch, WVPB's A Change Of Tune and Mountain Stage

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Song
Lonely Roller
Album
Lonely Roller
Artist
Steven A. Clark
Label
Secretly Canadian
Released
2015

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01Running Away

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    Song
    Running Away
    Album
    Running Away
    Artist
    The Royal Foundry
    Label
    Self-released
    Released
    2015

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The Royal Foundry, 'Running Away'

  • from Running Away

Each year, the CBC holds a national contest called Searchlight: The Hunt For Canada's Best New Artist — and each year, we find plenty of excellent artists who don't win. One of those bands from 2015's contest is Edmonton, Alberta's The Royal Foundry. The duo is husband and wife Jared and Bethany Salte, who'd had no aspirations to form a band when they met five years ago. But with both partners being musical, it happened naturally. Within the first year of their marriage, the Saltes have experienced success in the form of songwriting awards, radio play and national contests. They've created a huge sound for a duo: If Mumford & Sons ever held a super-jam with Arcade Fire, it might sound something like The Royal Foundry's new single, "Running Away" — except that would be about a dozen people, and The Royal Foundry is only two. And, yes, if you listen closely, the banjos are in there.

Grant Lawrence, CBC Music

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Song
Running Away
Album
Running Away
Artist
The Royal Foundry
Label
Self-released
Released
2015

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04Freedom! '15

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    Song
    Freedom! '15
    Album
    As If
    Artist
    !!!
    Label
    Warp
    Released
    2015

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!!!, 'Freedom! '15'

  • from As If

For nearly 20 years, the dance-punk band !!! has enjoyed the journey as much as the destination. No hook? No problem, the group seems to say; let the groove lure 'em in. !!!, pronounced chik chik chik, has never tried to claim originality, either: "Dear Can" was a love letter to krautrock, while "Me And Giuliani Down By The Schoolyard — A True Story" winked at Paul Simon. But "Freedom! '15" pays tribute to another !!! ancestor: house music. Singers Yolanda Harris Dancy and Taletha Manor bring oomph to Nic Offer's chilled-out vocals, and together they deliver a kiss-off line so cool it burns: "Now that you've got your freedom ... how's that working for you, baby?" Ouch. !!! may worship the groove, but that qualifies as a hook — a right hook, to be precise.

Ally Schweitzer, WAMU 88.5's Bandwidth

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Song
As If
Album
As If
Artist
!!!
Label
Warp
Released
2015

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06Shake It Out

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    Song
    Shake It Out
    Album
    Grace Love and the True Loves
    Artist
    Grace Love and the True Loves
    Label
    Self-released
    Released
    2015

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Grace Love & The True Loves, 'Shake It Out'

  • from Grace Love and the True Loves

In a perfect world, Grace Love & The True Loves' "Shake It Out" would be a crossover smash hit just like Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." It's the gritty yin to Swift's shiny yang: a new dance sensation that ought to rock the nation with its booty-busting groove, as well as a funky plea to release the negativity and be free. This new nine-piece soul outfit shook the Seattle scene with its dynamic live shows this summer. Grace Love & The True Loves' self-titled debut comes out Oct. 2, so the rest of the world is about to find out that it's time to get down to this sick beat.

Kevin Cole, KEXP

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Song
Grace Love and the True Loves
Album
Grace Love and the True Loves
Artist
Grace Love and the True Loves
Label
Self-released
Released
2015

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01Dreamer

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    Song
    Dreamer
    Album
    Bright Shadow
    Artist
    Ana Egge
    Label
    Parkingsong
    Released
    2015

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Ana Egge, 'Dreamer'

  • from Bright Shadow

"Dreamer," the opening track on North Dakota folksinger Ana Egge's seventh studio album Bright Shadow, demands attention in spite of its subtle, subdued nature. Members of the roots trio The Stray Birds are Egge's collaborators on Bright Shadow, and it's fairly obvious that they all harbor a mutual appreciation and musical understanding.

"Dreamer" opens with Charlie Muench's cool upright-bass line; then, Egge's unique voice slinks in alongside Oliver Craven's vocal harmony. It took me a few listens to convince myself that there isn't any acoustic guitar in the song — this could be straight-up cool jazz until Craven's dark fiddle playing removes all doubt that it's a moody folk tune. The words encourage the mystery and fearlessness felt during dream sequences to come alive in the waking life; it's a sentiment that coincides wonderfully with the dreamlike groove Egge and The Stray Birds create.

Cindy Howes, Folk Alley

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Song
Bright Shadow
Album
Bright Shadow
Artist
Ana Egge
Label
Parkingsong
Released
2015

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02Shrink

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    Song
    Shrink
    Album
    Waist Deep
    Artist
    Tallows
    Label
    Walk-In Records
    Released
    2015

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Tallows, 'Shrink'

  • from Waist Deep

Tallows' aptly titled second album, Waist Deep, is full of water wordplay, with phrases like "drowning in excuses" and "wash it all clean" weaving through the lyrics. Continuing with that theme, the Oklahoma City band played its album-release show a few weeks ago in an empty swimming pool at a historic Presbyterian church. Local crowds are partial to Tallows, too, as the band's lush, frenetic sounds have been triggering rousing singalongs and dancing masses at its live shows. Pulling from influences like Modest Mouse, American Football and Pinback, Tallows' songs blur the space between math rock and electronic rock. But if you're not ready to make a decision on Tallows just yet, that's okay. Jump in halfway — the water's fine.

Ryan LaCroix, KOSU's The Spy

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Song
Waist Deep
Album
Waist Deep
Artist
Tallows
Label
Walk-In Records
Released
2015

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01Real Thing

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Reginald Omas Mamode IV, 'Real Thing'

  • from All Together EP

For years, Reginald Omas Mamode IV has been an underrated producer, frequently flying under the radar. But with his new EP, All Together, Mamode is poised for a breakthrough. "Real Thing" beautifully blends atmospheric, head-nodding music with cool, mellow, breezy uplift, while Mamode's vamped refrain — "This is such a real thing" — is assured, seductive and soulful. If this single and the EP is any indication, Mamode is indeed the "real thing," crafting music that's as laid-back as it is jazzy and vibrant.

Chris Campbell, WDET's The Progressive Underground

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08Wild and Free

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    Song
    Wild and Free
    Album
    Ruckers Hill
    Artist
    Husky
    Label
    Nevado Music
    Released
    2015

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Husky, 'Wild And Free'

  • from Ruckers Hill

Although the Australian band Husky records and sometimes tours as a four-piece, the band only has two full-time members: Gideon Preiss and the group's namesake, Husky Gawenda. And that's enough. As Preiss and Gawenda recently demonstrated in a stripped-down session at opbmusic, Husky's rich folk-rock sound is, at its core, a delicate and complex interplay between the two musicians. "Wild And Free" could be just another folk song, but Gawenda's hushed vocals and plucked acoustic guitar are eventually joined by a thumping piano line from Preiss that leads the song into an unexpected and memorable wordless chorus.

Jerad Walker, opbmusic

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Song
Ruckers Hill
Album
Ruckers Hill
Artist
Husky
Label
Nevado Music
Released
2015

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Clean Cut Kid, 'Vitamin C'

  • from Vitamin C

The city of Liverpool is no stranger to creating hit bands, and that's where BBC Introducing, our venture to support unsigned and under-the-radar music in the U.K., first heard Clean Cut Kid. The group has been gigging for a while now, mixing irresistible melodies and intriguing lyrics, as you'll hear in Clean Cut Kid's debut single, "Vitamin C."

Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 1

YouTube

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Song
Vitamin C
Album
Vitamin C
Artist
Clean Cut Kid
Label
Polydor
Released
2015

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