It's Never Early To Think About 2013's Best Music Are people still talking about 2012? Bring on 2013! Here, NPR Music editor Stephen Thompson discusses forthcoming albums by Atoms for Peace, Aaron Neville, Kacey Musgraves and Rhye.

It's Never Early To Think About 2013's Best Music

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If you're just tuning in, this is WEEKENDS on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Jacki Lyden.

We'll wrap up today's show now with a look ahead to the world of music in 2013.


LYDEN: So you're listening to one of the most anticipated albums coming out in the early part of the New Year. It's an alternative super group featuring members of Radiohead and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. They're called Atoms for Peace. Stephen Thompson is one of our in-house music obsessors. He writes for the NPR Music website, and he appears on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. Stephen, welcome back.

STEPHEN THOMPSON, BYLINE: It's great to be here.

LYDEN: Introduce us to this mystery group. Who's in this supergroup?

THOMPSON: OK. Once you hear the voice, it becomes a little clear.


THOM YORKE: (Singing) It slipped my mind.

THOMPSON: The singer is Thom Yorke from Radiohead. And it kind of started out as a Thom Yorke solo project, and it's become a full band, Atoms for Peace. And it's Nigel Godrich, who is, you know, sort of the honorary extra member of Radiohead - he produces their records - Joey Waronker, who's a great drummer and Flea from Red Hot Chili Peppers.

And so, the thing with supergroups is supergroups are kind of a double-edged sword, because on one hand, they're sort of unburdened from any sort of expectation. They can do whatever they want. The problem with that is that they're unburdened for many expectations and can do whatever they want. So you really, you know, it can be indulgent, it can be an inherently minor recording. But, you know, Thom Yorke, you know, he's kind of free to do whatever he wants at this point in his career. And he still seems to me to be making vital music. And the first single from the record is "Default." The album is called "Amok," and it comes out February.


YORKE: (Singing) I laugh now but later is not so easy. I've got to stop. The will is strong but the flesh is weak. Guess that's it. I've made my bed I'll lie in it.

LYDEN: So that's Thom Yorke and Flea and the others. That's Atoms for Peace, and that comes out in February. So let's turn to another big name - I'm kind of really anticipating this one when I saw it coming up - Aaron Neville. And he's so associated as an (inaudible) with New Orleans that on his new album, he's trying a hand at a different tradition. Let's listen to a bit of that.


AARON NEVILLE: (Singing) (Unintelligible)

LYDEN: Wow, he came up north. That's what Philly sound to me.

THOMPSON: Yeah. This is Aaron Neville doo-wop record. It's sort of a tribute to the songs that he loved when he was a kid. This particular song is called "Ting A Ling," which was one of his favorite songs, recorded 60 years ago by a group called The Clovers. And, again, it's a little bit like I was saying about supergroups' covers albums. Covers albums can really come across like very lazy cash ins. But this, you can tell there's this enormous amount of passion put into it. He clearly loves and wants to embody this material.

The album is actually produced by not only Don Was but also Keith Richards, who plays guitar on it. And he's - and in interviews I've seen, Aaron Neville basically sort of says he wants to make a bunch of records like this. I think that he had been associated, I think, with a lot of somewhat mockish, adult contemporary music. And this is much more vital, much purer sound. And it's - the album is called "My True Story," and it's quite lovely.


NEVILLE: (Singing) Well, I'm young and I'm free. And it's a real fine way to be. Well, I'm young and I'm free. And it's a real fine way to be. Well, I'm young and I'm free and it's a real fine way to be. When you find a young thing just give her love to me.

LYDEN: Well, I'm trying to picture Keith Richards (unintelligible) that is fantastic. All right. That's Aaron Neville from his new album "My True Story," and it's coming out in about a month. We look forward to that. And I'm speaking with Stephen Thompson of NPR Music about some of the albums he's most looking forward to hearing in the New Year. He spent Christmas reviewing this for all of us.

So let's move on to an artist named Kacey Musgraves. Slate magazine recently said of her: I'm tempted to call her the future of country music or at least to hope that she is.


KACEY MUSGRAVES: (Singing) Sometimes good intentions don't come across so well. Get me analyzing everything that ain't worth thinking about.

LYDEN: So I was playing that in the office, and everyone said: Jacki, is that the track to "Nashville?"

THOMPSON: Right. What part of the thing that has helped Kacey Musgraves' breakout is - what a lot of people think as a future major star is that she's written this song called "Undermine" that has appeared in the TV show "Nashville." And people who love that show really soak up the music for it. One of the great things about that show is there's this wonderful country music that's played throughout it.


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) 'Cause it's all talk, talk, talk, talking in the wind. It only slows you down when you start listening.

THOMPSON: She's 24 years old. And I think what really jumps out about her is just how sort of smart and incisive her lyrics are. She's got a song that was a pretty big hit this past year called "Merry Go 'Round" that's this very kind of unblinking, unflinching look at small town life, you know, in ways that are not simply glorifying. And, you know, it's a very fresh young voice. And I know, like, most of the music people I know are just dying to hear what she does next.


MUSGRAVES: (Singing) Mary, Mary quite contrary. We're so bored until we're buried and just like dust we settle in this town. On this broken merry go 'round.

LYDEN: That's Kacey Musgraves with the song called "Merry Go 'Round." And her new record doesn't even have a title yet, I guess, but we'll look for it sometime in the spring, huh?

THOMPSON: Absolutely.

LYDEN: So finally, Stephen, you've got this luscious-sounding band called Rhye - no question why. Anyway, what can you tell me about them?

THOMPSON: OK. Rhye is a duo from L.A., and they've had a couple of songs kind of floating around in the ether, kind of on the wind for the last few months. Beautiful piano hooks, kind of horns and strings, very sexy. It was first pitched to me - my colleague Ann Powers said: Oh, you would like Rhye. They're like a male Sade.


RHYE: Oh, make love to me.

LYDEN: You know, I said something close to that. I said: Wow, this has such an 80s sound.

THOMPSON: Yeah. I mean, to me, it actually reminds me a little bit of groups like Spandau Ballet or something like that where there's a kind of a...

LYDEN: Kind of floaty.

THOMPSON:, floaty vibe but also with a warmth to it.


RHYE: (Singing) Ooh my love. Come home to me just for a while.

LYDEN: Kind of a perfect record song, you know? I don't know about in concert, but at home, I would listen to that a lot.

THOMPSON: Yeah. It's going to be very interesting. I'm definitely going to try to see Rhye in concert in 2013 just to see if they're able to capture that - like you said, that kind of studio vibe. You want to play it on your hi-fi.

LYDEN: You can report back and put it in your podcast.

THOMPSON: Absolutely.

LYDEN: So that's music from Rhye, and their debut album is "Woman." It's coming out in March. And, Stephen, we are so very happy to have had you here for the last weekend of 2012.

THOMPSON: It is my pleasure. Anytime.

LYDEN: Stephen Thompson writes for NPR Music. And he appears on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. You have to check that out. You can hear more of his picks today at Thanks again, and a very happy New Year, Stephen.

THOMPSON: Happy New Year to you too.


RHYE: (Singing) I don't want it this way. Why can't you stay? Don't run away. Don't slip away my dear. Don't run away.

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