The latest mix from All Songs Considered includes a sneak preview of Andrew Bird's highly anticipated new album Break It Yourself, the hypnotic harmonies of Julianna Barwick, sweet pop from Hospitality and a couple of albums picked solely for their cover art, from the bands Thee American Revolution and Artificial Lover.
This week on All Songs Considered: Bob Boilen drops a party-rap track direct from Canada, Robin Hilton explains what he loves so much about Thomas Patrick Maguire, the songwriter he recently named his favorite new artist, and a surprise guest busts up the proceedings with some good old-fashioned California punk.
Twelve bands, 17 different countries, three stages, one frenzied night: That's the promise of globalFEST, a yearly showcase for international musicians who come from around the world to New York's Webster Hal. There, they introduce themselves to American club bookers, festival programmers, band managers and, of course, music fans.
Was 2011 the year of the sneak attack? So many of big musical moments in the past 12 months seemed to appear out of nowhere. There was the unlikely return of the ukulele, which took a starring role in one of the year's most fascinating and talked-about releases, the tUnE-yArDs album w h o k i l l. Wilco and Bright Eyes, each coming off a run of albums that divided fans, dropped career-defining records — no less odd or experimental than their predecessors, but packed top to bottom with hummable songs.
As NPR Music begins year-end music list season, we normally save producer and Viking's Choice blogger Lars Gotrich's favorite furious blast beats, meditative drones, spiraling riffs and other such unclassifiable sounds for after Christmas. Not this time around. We wanted the noise and we wanted it now.
Sinners repent, for the end of the year is nigh. Starting soon, NPR Music will begin looking back on the best music of 2011 — but this week's All Songs sneaks a few new releases under the wire before all the counting down begins.