Heavy Rotation, Stations Pick the Best Music of September : World Cafe NPR member stations share a mix of popular songs playing on their airwaves in September, including music from Clairo, Leon Bridges, The War on Drugs, and more.

Heavy Rotation: 9 Songs Public Radio Can't Stop Playing

Mikel Cee Karlsson/Courtesy of the artist
José González
Mikel Cee Karlsson/Courtesy of the artist

September's edition of Heavy Rotation, chosen by NPR member stations, features music from José González, The Linda Lindas', Leon Bridges and more.

All of this month's picks are available to stream on the Heavy Rotation Spotify and Apple Music playlists at the bottom of the page. As always, you can discover fantastic music programming happening across the country in real time by clicking the links to each station's website.


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Charley Crockett, "I Need Your Love"

Music has taken Charley Crockett from his Texas home, to busking on the streets of New Orleans and New York, and recently to the stage of the Ryman in Nashville to accept the Emerging Act of the Year Award at this year's Americana Honors & Awards. His newest release is Music City USA, Nashville being a town that once upon a time would have embraced him hardcore. Of course, "country ain't country" anymore, and Crockett still is. On the first single "I Need Your Love," he brings an R&B overlay–one can feel the juke joint sweat on a sultry night, dancing cheek to cheek. – Jessie Scott, WMOT


YouTube

Clairo, "Amoeba"

On "Amoeba," Clairo confronts her ego and losing herself in the music industry, taking time to acknowledge her insecurities while leaving a glimpse of growth. Beautifully written with collaborator-producer Jack Antonoff, the lush and playful instrumentation forms around her vocals, making the lyrics the main focus. "You haven't called your family twice, I can hope tonight goes differently," she sings, mocking her lifestyle. "But I show up to the party just to leave." After getting her start as a bedroom pop artist, Clairo's sophomore album Sling finds her even more at home in the studio, and the musician's lyrical evolution has solidified her as one of Gen Z's top artists to watch. - Alisha Sweeney, Colorado Public Radio, Indie 102.3


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Gego y Nony, "Reloj"

Gego y Nony are two brothers from the south side of Milwaukee who are making reggaeton music that competes with Bad Bunny, Ozuna, or anything you hear on Alt.Latino. They have such a definitive sound that it's incredible that this is the duo's first album, putting in the time and effort to make it perfect. "We go 110%. If it's not quality, we don't release it," Gego told us in an interview. This is the sound of 110%. - Justin Barney, Radio Milwaukee


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José González, "Swing"

We've been hooked on the beautiful voice of José González since way back when he was featured by the little known outfit Zero 7, who are also credited for discovering Sia, among others. Fast forward to his new album Local Valley, his first in over five years, where he's treating us to his unique vocal stylings in three different languages, Spanish, English and his native Swedish! I can honestly say I've been waiting for this album to drop for months, and specifically wanting to play "Swing." Beyond the great music, it's a vision of how perfectly imperfect life is and why we should appreciate all that we have. We're a product of our environment that should be cherished for all that it is. - Raul Campos, KCRW


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Leon Bridges, "Steam"

It's been amazing to watch Leon Bridges grow since his 2015 debut album Coming Home. His new record Gold-Diggers Sound, named for the hotel and studio in East Hollywood where it was recorded, finds Bridges exploring all aspects of modern R&B and putting his own unique spin on the genre. The groove that runs through "Steam" is reason enough to play it, but the chorus, which opens with the lyric "let yourself in," not only brings you in, it doesn't let go. Our listeners love Bridges and hearing the song on the radio solidifies his status as one of the newer core artists in our format. - Russ Borris, WFUV


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The Linda Lindas, "Oh!"

On teenage punk band The Linda Lindas' new song "Oh!," the quartet are on an upbeat, visceral rock and roll attack. For two minutes and 35 seconds, they come fast and furious out of the gate, rushing at you with a propulsive blast of driving rhythms, hard rock chords, and a catchy sing-along chorus. Featuring sisters Lucia and Mila de la Garza, their cousin Eloise Wong, and Bela Salazar, "Oh!" is a rock song that hearkens back to the '70s all girl group The Runaways, whose song "Cherry Bomb" was a hit in 1976. It's impossible to not embrace the energy of "Oh!," which will have you playing air guitar or drums in seconds. - Bruce Warren, WXPN


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The Marías, "Hush"

It's fitting that The Marías debut full-length is titled CINEMA. The L.A. band's leader and namesake, María Zardoya, first connected with producer and drummer Josh Conway in 2017 when the two began scoring movie scenes together. Now, they've used their soundtrack prowess to craft one of the year's most intriguing and ear-catching releases. Born in Puerto Rico and raised in Atlanta, Zardoya applies her bilingual background, singing in both Spanish and English across the record. The standout lead single, "Hush," is a brooding, synth-laden romp that conjures the tone of film noir. With its thumping bassline, alluring vocals, and moody overtones, it's no surprise that "Hush" recently hit No. 1 on Billboard's Adult Alternative Airplay chart. - Desire Moses, WNRN


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The War On Drugs, "I Don't Live Here Anymore"

After nearly four years away, The War On Drugs are back with "I Don't Live Here Anymore," the title track from their upcoming fifth record. It's the type of song that we in the radio world love because it is a total "radio song"–one you instinctively turn up every time you hear the glistening hint of its opening chords coming through your speakers. Frontman Adam Granduciel sings about moving on from one's past, while the band's signature wall of guitars, synths, and drums create an equally nostalgic vibe, adding up to something that wouldn't sound out of place in a John Hughes movie. Indie-pop duo Lucius joins the band on the track, lifting an already anthemic chorus to another level with their amazing harmonies. - Brian Burns, WUNC Music


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Tyler, the Creator, "Wusyaname"

Tyler, the Creator's excellent Call Me If You Get Lost pays homage to rap's mixtape golden era of the 2000s, when streaming and social media seemed thrilling and full of endless creative potential. True to the fast-and-loose spirit of that time, the album pairs Tyler's harder flows and gruff-voiced quips from DJ Drama with gentler, more soulful instrumentals. We arrive at a romantic oasis with "Wusyaname," where a sample of H-Town's 1994 baby-making R&B song "Back Seat (Wit No Sheets)" sweetens Tyler's pleas to a female love interest. With Ty Dolla $ign's soft crooning and a guest verse by YoungBoy Never Broke Again, the track shows a sincere side of the notoriously trollish lyricist. – Nastia Voynovskaya, KQED