Even if you don't know anything about jazz, it's quite possible you've heard the music of saxophonist Kamasi Washington: That's him on the latest albums by Kendrick Lamar and Flying Lotus. But that's only the very tip of his iceberg. His new album The Epic, just released on Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder label, is a 3-CD, nearly three-hour effort performed by a 10-piece band, strings and a choir. For this week's All Songs +1 podcast, Bob Boilen is joined by NPR Music producer Patrick Jarenwattananon, who works on the Jazz Night In America radio show and webcast series, to discuss the new album
What song makes you cry? It could be "Adagio for Strings," but it could also be "Highway to Hell." As you'll learn on this week's All Songs Considered, the music that gets us weeping can have as much, or more, to do with association than with composition. Last week we sent out a request for songs that make our listeners cry. After reading (and sniffling) through more than 7,000 responses, we've pulled ourselves together and are ready to share a few.
While they're not splitting open a person's chest and massaging their heart back to life, musicians and the songs they make may actually be saving lives. At least that's the consensus we gathered from the thousands of stories and comments we've gotten in the past week from listeners in response to two recent posts — one about songs that make you cry, and one from our Good Listener advice column that fielded the direct question, can a song really save your life? For this week's All Songs +1 podcast, we're joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson, who writes our advice column, The Good Listener, to help unravel the healing powers of music.
All Songs Considered: From Perfect Pop Anthems To Saxophone Punk
On our show this week, bigger is better. We start with a pop anthem and feature a set of artists all leaning into or newly discovering their boldest, most attention-grabbing music yet. Some, as in the case of a frontman gone solo and a bilingual saxophone-heavy punk band, deliver precisely the momentous sounds we'd expect. Others used the pull of memory, a desperate four-month stretch of insomnia, or a single shared microphone and two minutes of trippy ambience to level up their sonic ambitions. Maybe we were drawn to more epic sounds this week because it's Robin's last before he hunkers back down into the nest of infant-rearing, or maybe it's because summer is in the air — whatever the reason, turn your speakers to 11 and open the windows.
In honor of Mother's Day, we asked listeners to tell us about the songs that remind them of mom. We got thousands of stories and song suggestions, way more than we could ever publish here. So for this week's Plus One podcast we've also put together a list with some of the most-mentioned tracks and a few of the memories listeners shared about them. Host Bob Boilen also calls up his own mom to wish her a happy Mother's Day and talk about the music she loves.
This week on All Songs Considered, we grapple with the alchemy of creation — the myriad ways a musician gets from blank page and empty studio to a full sound and lyrics that ring true. The seven songs on the show (one is a collaboration between a drummer and a pair of remixers) follow on that theme: Each posits a means of making magic out of circumstance. For one group, the key was stripping away ambition and returning to a single voice. For others, sparse hometowns, the ghosts of previous albums and mysterious romantic entanglements provided the spark needed to reach forward into the dark and, as sung by Jeen on "Everywhere I Go," burn it bright.
When we asked listeners to tell us about a song they turned to this week — one that spoke in some way to weighty events unfolding around the world and how they felt — we weren't sure what we'd get. Would it be mostly songs of solace? Songs of grief, or anger? While there's plenty to reflect on, the number one thing on people's minds seems to be Baltimore. And the song people mentioned most was Randy Newman's appropriately titled song, "Baltimore," or more specifically, jazz singer Nina Simone's oddly beguiling version, recorded in 1978. For this week's Plus One Podcast we take a look at the song and why it resonates so powerfully nearly 40 years after Randy Newman first wrote it.
Why do we like falsetto so much? Why is melody the single most important part of a song? And why does country music move (or repel) us? These are just a few of the questions that popped up during our All Songs Considered listening party in Boston with the Berklee College of Music last week at the Red Room of Club 939.
Hear Brand New My Morning Jacket, Sharon Van Etten, Conor Oberst and more
On today's All Songs Considered, we're hitting you with several premieres, beginning a heavy cut from My Morning Jacket's latest studio album, The Waterfall. On "Believe (Nobody Knows)," front man Jim James seeks meaning and truth in an uncertain world, while hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton consider a life of possibilities.