KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Lars Gotrich

We are made of star-stuff. Carl Sagan was a poetic-ass dude, and, by many accounts, he was right. When a star dies, off shakes gas and dust like cosmic dandruff, sometimes creating new stars and planets. Some of that space dust becomes part of living organisms, like us.

Are y'all subscribed to the NPR Music newsletter? You get the week's music news, Tiny Desks and personal stories from behind the scenes. I work here and I can't even keep up with everything we do, so that Saturday morning reminder sets up my weekend listening and reading.

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Do we really have Post Malone to thank for a new Ozzy Osbourne album?

You suddenly find yourself in a white room with no windows or doors. What adjectives describe how you feel? It's a personality test deployed by friends and psychologists alike as a way to think about death or the afterlife, should you believe in it. For years, my answers have typically been the same (peace, stillness, understanding), but lately, "mystery" is my lead response. In that hypothetical space, I'm drawn not so much what's outside those walls, but the creation capable within.

Record labels can be generous, quiet friends. You trust their taste, argue (one-sidedly) about the stuff that sucks, spend hours with each other late at night without speaking, but sharing a language nonetheless. There are a handful of labels like this for me, where the disparate possibilities of music can align in unexpected geometries.

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We live! We die! We live again! There's something remarkably pointed about the War Boys' rallying cry from Mad Max: Fury Road.

When I first started in public radio 13 years ago, there weren't too many peers playing "challenging" music. Here was a 20-something who, up until moving to D.C., spent nights vibrating to Japanese noise and weekends attempting to decode large-format Xenakis scores in the University of Georgia library. NPR Music wasn't even a proper entity yet, and here I was already planning to dismantle notions of what constitutes "public radio music" with brash zealousness. (Hey, I was 23.)

On my daily commute, I toggle between podcasts and music I want to consider for Viking's Choice (or, if I need a self-motivating wake-me-up before hitting the office, the first two albums by Rage Against the Machine).

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

Ain't nothing minimal about minimalism. It's mind-expanding music within a limited frame, its attention to repetition and variation happens to be a sympathetic conductor for rock and pop music hypnosis.

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Arthur Russell was a mutant of disco, a starry-eyed singer-songwriter and a relentless explorer, first heard in downto

Kim Shattuck, the guitarist, singer and songwriter of The Muffs, The Pandoras and The Coolies died Wednesday after a two-year battle with ALS, as confirmed to NPR by Omnivore Recordings co-founder Cheryl Pawelski. She was 56.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

Arizona's Gatecreeper has helpfully titled its new album, Deserted, for every music critic on deadline.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

The fastest route to obsolescence is telling y'all that it was better in ye olde days. The truth is that while the mechanisms for music change — rapidly nowadays, it seems — the motivations for discovery don't. You dig because ya dig, you know?

There's a new, unreleased song from R.E.M. out today, with all proceeds going to Mercy Corps, an organization helping those in the Bahamas impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

Updated Sept. 17, 2019: This is weekly, updated playlist. So if you missed one, especially a themed playlist, just hit me up on Twitter and I'll hook it up.

On Saturday mornings, while roommates waited for coffee to drip or toast to burn, I'd take a cup of tea up to my room with a bowl of cereal, put on a record and open my email.

After trickling out singles for more than a year, singer Lana Del Rey has finally dropped her sixth full-length studio album with the oddly comical title, Norman F****** Rockwell. On this week's New Music Friday, we dig into this expansive mix of slow-burning ballads and sometimes strange but profound, odyssey-length adventures.

Note: This episode originally ran in July, 2018.


It all started with a tweet. (Doesn't it always?)

When Denzel Curry spits bars over a particularly decibel-shattering beat, there's a command of noise. The Miami rapper lives both inside and out of the mayhem ("Ricky," "Black Metal Terrorist"), but is just as comfortable revealing his soul ("Speedboat," "Clout Cobain") in productions and performances simultaneously hard and melodic. He's starting to come into his own as a rap chameleon, but lately he's been teasing another transformation as a shape-shifting rock frontperson.

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