NPR logo New Mix: Lana Del Rey, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Colin Stetson, Penguin Cafe, More

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New Mix: Lana Del Rey, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, Colin Stetson, Penguin Cafe, More

Clockwise from upper left: Lana Del Rey, The Penguin Cafe, Colin Stetson, Bonnie "Prince" Billy Courtesy of the artists hide caption

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On this week's show: Music to cleanse the brain! Over the long holiday weekend I made the grave mistake of joking with my five-year old about "Sailing," the '70s soft-rock hit by Christopher Cross. For no apparent reason my son randomly asked me: "How far is paradise?" To which I replied: "Not far... at least not for me... And if the wind is right we can sail away and find tranquility." And that was all it took —this insidious earworm was lodged firmly in my head for the rest of the (long) weekend.

Bob Boilen and I wash all that away this week, starting with a bonkers song by Japanese pop singer Shugo Tokumaru called "Lita-Ruta," from his playful new record Toss. Singer Lana Del Rey is back with a dreamy new ode to the glory of youth; folk artist Bonnie 'Prince' Billy, often accompanied by his friends, has a moody new solo acoustic song about the dangers of losing sight of love; and Bob revisits a band he often used to play between segments on All Things Considered called Penguin Cafe, formerly The Penguin Cafe Orchestra. (You might remember this go-to favorite from any number of films or commercials).

All that, plus British composer, brilliant singer and electronic musician Tom Adams and the creative arts collective of Jeremy Larson known as Violents, featuring the singer Monica Martin of Phox. We close with new music from the mind-blowing — and gigantic — saxophone of Colin Stetson. — Robin Hilton

Songs Featured On This Episode

Cover for Toss

02Lita-Ruta

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Shugo Tokumaru

  • Song: Lita-Ruta
  • from Toss

We begin our show on a wackadoodle note with a new track from Japanese avant-pop artist Shugo Tokumaru. For his sixth record, Tokumaru interweaves musical snippets from fellow musicians into an eclectic sonic stew. "Lita-Ruta" is a bright and twinkly creature that evolves ceaselessly, much like a Pokémon. Toss comes out in US April 28 via Polyvinyl.

Cover for The Imperfect Sea

02Cantorum

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    Song
    Cantorum
    Album
    The Imperfect Sea
    Artist
    Penguin Cafe
    Label
    Erased Tapes
    Released
    2017

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Penguin Cafe

  • Song: Cantorum
  • from The Imperfect Sea

In the early '70s, the late Simon Jeffes co-founded Penguin Cafe Orchestra, walking the line between folk, chamber music, and minimalism. Several years ago, Jeffes' son Arthur revived the ensemble, now called Penguin Cafe. We premiere a "Cantorum" from the group's forthcoming record The Imperfect Sea. The lofty and uplifting composition unfolds endlessly, marked by continuous moments of discovery. The Imperfect Sea comes out May 5 on Erased Tapes.

Buy Featured Music

Song
The Imperfect Sea
Album
The Imperfect Sea
Artist
Penguin Cafe
Label
Erased Tapes
Released
2017

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Cover for Silence

07Sparks

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Tom Adams

  • Song: Sparks
  • from Silence

The career of pianist Tom Adams was jumpstarted at a Nils Frahm performance when the composer invited an audience member on stage to perform. Adams dazzled the audience with his unique style. "Sparks" is a hypnotic piece of perfection from the artist's upcoming debut, Silence, showcasing Adams' tender precision and fluttering falsetto. The album comes out May 5 on Kowloon Records.

Cover for Love

Lana Del Rey

  • Song: Love
  • from Love

From her earliest singles, New York pop artist Lana Del Rey caught our attention with her breathy vocals and lavish compositions. Now with four studio records under her leopard-print belt, the femme fatale returns with the neatly titled "Love." This downtempo number marks a thematic shift for the artist, who seems to reflect back on her youth rather than speaking from within it.

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Song
Love
Album
Love
Artist
Lana Del Rey
Label
Polydor
Released
2017

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Cover for Awake and Pretty Much Sober

03How It Left

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    Song
    How It Left
    Album
    Awake and Pretty Much Sober
    Artist
    Violents & Monica Martin
    Label
    Erased Tapes
    Released
    2017

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Violents & Monica Martin

  • Song: How It Left
  • from Awake and Pretty Much Sober

"How It Left" resulted from a collaboration between singer Monica Martin of Phox and Violents, led by composer/producer Jeremy Larson. The project enabled Martin to jump into Larson's world, inhabiting a persona through song as if in a show directed by Larson. This lush siren song comes from the their upcoming album Awake And Pretty Much Sober, out April 28 on Partisan Records.

Buy Featured Music

Song
Awake and Pretty Much Sober
Album
Awake and Pretty Much Sober
Artist
Violents & Monica Martin
Label
Erased Tapes
Released
2017

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Cover for Southern Poverty Law Center Benefit EP

03Treasure Map

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Bonnie 'Prince' Billy

  • Song: Treasure Map
  • from Southern Poverty Law Center Benefit EP

With "Treasure Map," veteran singer-songwriter Bonnie 'Prince' Billy yearns for a simpler time, but just beneath the surface burns a mighty fire. He warns of the dangers of yielding to material desire and losing sight of our values. The track concludes chillingly: "Love 'til it hurts or it will all go away / Pleasure is the order of the day / then ordered up against a wall and fire away." "Treasure Map" is part of the Southern Poverty Law Center Benefit EP compilation, out May 5 from The End of All Music record store.

Cover for All This I Do For The Glory

04Spindrift

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    Song
    Spindrift
    Album
    All This I Do For Glory
    Artist
    Colin Stetson
    Label
    52Hz
    Released
    2017

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Colin Stetson

  • Song: Spindrift
  • from All This I Do For Glory

"Spindrift" is the first single from shaman Colin Stetson's fifth solo project. The coveted session musician has reinvented saxophone music, integrating circular breathing, overtones, percussive key presses, and singing directly into the mighty horn. With his newest track, the one man army crafts an immersive tonal soundscape that could tranquilize even the most savage of beasts. All This I Do For Glory is out April 28 on Stetson's own 52Hz via Kartel Music Group.

Buy Featured Music

Song
All This I Do For Glory
Album
All This I Do For Glory
Artist
Colin Stetson
Label
52Hz
Released
2017

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