All Songs +1: Beach House Talks About Their New Song
There's a new album coming from Beach House, the dreamy Baltimore-based duo of Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally. That album, called Depression Cherry, comes out on Sub Pop on Aug. 28. Today we get to hear a first song from the album, called "Sparks," and Bob Boilen interviewed Beach House about it.
This week marks the mid-point of 2015, and the All Songs Considered team is ready to take stock. On this week's show, we share our favorite music from debut albums released in the first half of this year. It's only June, but we picked the music we're already eyeing for our year-end lists in December.
Melbourne guitarist and singer Courtney Barnett has been an NPR Music favorite since I caught three of her performances at New York's CMJ Music Festival in 2013. Her blend of witty lyricism and deadpan delivery made for two excellent EPs, and this year a full-length that will surely end up at the very top of my year-end list, Sometimes I Sit And Think, And Sometimes I Just Sit. Barnett just wrapped up a sold-out tour in support of the album, and I invited her to stop by between D.C. shows to act as our Guest DJ for this week's episode of All Songs Considered. I saw both of Barnett's shows at the 9:30 Club, and the crowds were full of younger fans, but also many of their parents. It's clear from the music she picked to play on our show that her musical sensibility, like her sound, spans decades. The influential artists Courtney Barnett discovered as a kid — Australian folk and rock bands, Wilco, Talking Heads — came to her through family and friends young and old, in school and at shows. Words are often at heart of those songs. It's no surprise for someone who writes such amazing, conversational lyrics, but Barnett is huge fun to talk to, and she was excited to talk about the music that the loves, not just the music she makes.
London poet, playwright, and hip-hop artist Kate Tempest was Bob Boilen's favorite discovery from the SXSW festival this year. Her gripping performance style and obvious commitment to connecting deeply with her audience led Bob to her stunning 2014 record, Everybody Down, a searing but empathetic character study of three young Londoners. We asked Tempest to be our guest DJ on this week's episode of All Songs Considered to find out the story behind her stories. Unsurprisingly, the songs by other musicians that she chose to play point feature sharp, contemplative lyrics and artists who have never compromised their work in the name of popularity or commercial success. From a life-changing experience with the rapper RZA to the Dylan that woke her up to the power of words, the music Tempest talks about on our show is all about the ways music can break down walls to communicate directly with whoever's listening.
New Music from Dan Auerbach, Joan Shelley, Beauty Pill, More
On this week's episode of All Songs Considered, we've got an album announcement from a new band featuring Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and song premieres from Widowspeak and Joan Shelley. We've also got an incredible story, one that surrounds the latest release from D.C. band Beauty Pill. The album, Beauty Pill Describes Things As They Are, was made following bandleader Chad Clark's brush with death, but Clark doesn't just tell his own story on the album's songs. The song we play on the show, "Steven and Tiwonge," is a profound tale of two more real-life people that's every bit as urgent and meaningful as Clark's own struggle
Much has been written about the technology behind music streaming services, and about how much they cost (or don't) for listeners and make (or don't) for artists. But what about the actual, daily experience of listening in the age of the stream? For our show this week, Bob is joined in the studio by Jacob Ganz, who created Streaming At The Tipping Point, an NPR Music series about streaming services and how they're changing the way we find, consume, own and archive our music. The conversation takes on what we gain and lose when we have an unprecedented amount of music at our fingertips, but none of it is tangible. Both Bob and Jacob tell stories of physical album artwork leading to musical discovery (Bob's of Led Zeppelin, Jacob's of Portuguese artist Lô Borges), which leads to the question, how can a forward-looking digital service preserve the best parts of the past? We've got some ideas — Spotify can thank us later.
The amps on All Songs Considered this week never dip lower than 11. Bob is joined in the studio by a sleep-deprived Katie Presley, who just moved across the country in a packed truck and has the road trip anthem to prove it, along with NPR Music's Lars Gotrich, who brings us a brooding, multihyphenate premiere and a small explosion of rocket-fueled punk. Bob has the return of a beloved songwriter we've missed for several years, and a perfectly-named debut. These songs don't all have light subject matter — a terrifying bout of sleep paralysis informed one of this week's artists and another track grapples with identity and familial connectedness — but their energy never flags. It's shaping up to be a summer of music brewed at full strength.
On this week's All Songs Considered, Bob is joined in the studio by NPR Music's Katie Presley and Jacob Ganz and the crew sets its sights on discovery. None of the musicians featured in this episode have ever been played on All Songs before — we set out to find artists aiming for different musical targets than we're used to. We found a piercing look at anxiety in the face of romantic revelation, an R&B/dance hybrid that spans more genres than it does minutes, an unflappable retort to unforgivable behavior and a song that sounds like the soundtrack to an '80s prom ... for ghosts. Nobody else is doing what these six artists are doing, and we can't wait to see where each of them goes from here.
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.