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All Songs Considered

Latin American singer-songwriter Juan Wauters exists somewhere at the cross-section of debonair and everyman, a phenomenon likely explained by his teenage migration from Uruguay to Queens in the early 2000s. After signing to Captured Tracks, Wauters quickly became a fixture of New York's DIY circuit, providing lead vocals and guitar for pop-punk project The Beets and releasing several solo albums, including 2014's Who Me? and 2015's N.A.P.: North American Poetry.

Welcome to a brand-new season of New Music Friday! After a few quiet weeks, the flood gates are opening and we've got a whole bunch of essential albums dropping on Jan. 18 to tell you about. This includes the smart, sparkling pop of singer Maggie Rogers, swooning love songs from James Blake, deep introspection from Pedro The Lion's first new album in 15 years, pure joy from Toro y Moi and much more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Stephen Thompson for this quick sprint through the essential releases for Jan. 18, the first busy drop date for the new year.

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Andrew Hozier-Byrne has a new album coming in March. His second album, called Wasteland, Baby!, is his first full-length record in four-and-a-half years.

It's been a minute since we got together to share some all-new music – not since our Nov. 6 show of last year, in fact.

It appears to be required by law that every indie-rock band of the '90s must reunite at some point. So we might as well see the return of a great one, right?

What Happens When You Ignore Your Better Judgment?

Jan 10, 2019

Lillie West knows that sometimes you have to look back to move forward. West, who records as Lala Lala on SubPop imprint Hardly Art, has, in her music, confronted the kind of trauma that can inspire self-destruction or, hopefully, self-reflection: a home invasion and subsequent paranoia; toxic relationships; battles with addiction; and the deaths of several close friends, to name a few.

James Blake is about to release his first album since 2016's The Colour in Anything, but the star singer and producer has kept a high profile in the intervening years. He's popped up all over the place, including in several collaborations with Kendrick Lamar, and released a single called "Don't Miss It" last summer.

There are songwriters and then there are storytellers, and Steve Earle is very much the latter. His songs, such as "The Devil's Right Hand," "Copperhead Road" and "Guitar Town," have been sung by Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Waylon Jennings, Vince Gill, Patty Loveless and many, many more.

Sleater-Kinney has confirmed it's releasing a new album sometime this year, produced by St. Vincent. Guitarist Carrie Brownstein tells NPR, "We always planned on getting back in the studio — it was just a matter of when. If there is an overarching principle to this album, it's that the tools on which we were relying proved inadequate.

Amidst the constant drumbeat of 2019's political talk, of raising walls and shutting out opposition — this year's globalFEST artists and organizers articulated a very clear vision, one that makes room for bracingly new voices. The one-night festival of global music, held each January in Manhattan, featured a remarkable lineup of musicians from around the world, including India, Cuba, Ukraine, Mozambique, and even New York City itself. Now in its sixteenth year, globalFEST was founded in a post-Sept.

I still prefer music recommendations from friends online or IRL, or stumbling across a punk band cooler than the one headlining the show, or buying a record simply because the artwork rules, or falling down the rabbit hole of random clicks on Bandcamp. Algorithms serve a function, but never satisfy the hunt, at least for me.

From standard-bearing singers and instrumentalists to genre innovators, from businesspeople who introduced new ways of listening and sharing to activists who made performance their platform, vital voices from all over the music map left us this year — some far too soon.

The music I loved most in 2018 was often filled with more graceful and subtle tones, like the works of Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds, German composer Niklas Paschburg and the mysteriously soulful serpentwithfeet. I loved songs with introspective stories.

This year, All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton decide to get away from it all with a holiday cruise to Bermuda. Along the way they meet a few special guests aboard the ship, including John Legend, Aloe Blacc, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, William Shatner, Lucius, Micky Dolenz of The Monkees and Rodney Crowell, who all try to share their own good cheer for the holidays. But nature inevitably runs its course and the gang finds itself stuck in the swirling vortex of the mystical Bermuda Triangle, desperate for some sort of passage back home.

I've been an audio engineer ever since I started recording my own songs on a Tascam 424 Portastudio. That was in 1990. Since then, I've mixed for theater, public radio and have produced the audio for over 400 Tiny Desk Concerts at NPR. Recording and mixing every genre of music at the Tiny Desk is a dream — from jazz to folk to hip-hop to whatever Superorganism is, I love capturing and mixing live music at Bob Boilen's desk.

You've donned the gay apparel and trolled the ancient Christmas Carol from Accounting, but the snow has turned to gray slush and whenever a mulled beverage is served, your uncle can't help but channel his inner Rob Thomas: "Man, it's a hot wine!" (The pun is solid, but the impression sounds more like Bill Murray's caterwauling howl in Scrooged.) You want to get in the spirit, but you're hardly dashing through the snow. What to do?

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What can stop the mutant psych of Sunwatchers? In the last two years alone, the Brooklyn band has released Sunwatchers and II, two live albums and 3 Characters, a double LP led by the truly impossible-to-pin-down guitarist and banjoist Eugene Chadbourne. Sunwatchers' sonic and sociopolitical fervor is palpable, as the band weaves a noise-induced trance given to ecstatic dance.

Ever wonder what albums your fellow NPR fans listen to? We asked, you voted and below are the results our year-end listener poll for 2018. The list mirrors the NPR Music Top 50 Albums more than I've noticed in previous years. Like that list, listeners put Janelle Monáe, Kacey Musgraves, Mitski and Lucy Dacus all in the top positions.

Year-end lists are a way to uncover hidden gems, not simply to validate tastes. I'm sure many lists you've looked at didn't have that one favorite you hold near and dear. This episode of All Songs is about our hidden gems, the ones that, in the give-and-take of making a representative staff list, got left off.

Maxine Funke writes songs for the quiet corners of your dreams and fears, where her whispers float upward like warm air. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar and an odd noise here or there, she evokes tenderhearted singer-songwriters like Sibylle Baier and Vashti Bunyan, but also the subtle and strange songs of fellow New Zealander Alastair Galbraith, with whom she performed in the short-lived $100 Band.

Note: Voting has closed for this poll. Check back on Thursday, Dec. 13 for the results.

What are your five favorite albums (or EPs) that came out in 2018? Using the form below, write in and rank the five releases you loved most this year. Your No. 1 favorite album/EP goes in the first space, your second-favorite in the second, and so on. We'll tally the votes and share the results here on Thursday, Dec. 13.

This story has been set to unpublished due to the NPR API updating this story earlier and now the NPR API is unavailable. If the NPR API has deleted or changed the access level of this story it will be deleted when the API becomes available. If the API has updated this story, the updated version will be made available when the NRP API becomes reachable again. There is no action required on your part. For more information contact Digital Services Client Support

It's our final New Music Friday for 2018 – barring any big surprises, December is a pretty slow release month – but we end with some phenomenal new albums, including The 1975's Brief Inquiry Into Online Relationships, singer Alessia Cara's affecting coming-of-age manifesto The Pains Of Growing, an exercise in minimalism from rapper Earl Sweatshirt and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined this week by NPR Music's Rodney Carmichael, Sidney Madden and Lyndsey McKenna as they do a quick look at the most essential new albums dropping on Nov. 30.

Balms' "Candle" unleashes an atmospheric bummer — the kind that billows ominously, only to reveal a dark scene once the shroud has dissipated. The San Francisco trio alternates chunky riffs and a plodding rhythm section with dreamy melodies, sudden screams and a voice that coos, "I want your soul." The forbidding effect is something like early Red House Painters' pretty moans set to the downcast punk seething of ...And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead.

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