KTEP - El Paso, Texas

Sidney Madden

You can stream this playlist on Spotify.

Letting a song take you away has become increasingly difficult. Using music to get through life often means multitasking while you listen; getting ready, commuting, working, studying, showering, practicing, cooking, eating, cleaning...

Letting your thoughts swim in its zenosyne to a curated soundtrack almost sounds like a luxury.

Where FOMO and self-care has become commercialized to justify ridiculous purchases (please don't look at my Amazon Prime history), these songs of catharsis are just what you need to disconnect. Whether you're scorned, scathed and in the midst of plotting or just peacefully seeking a reset, these artists know the feeling.

As always, check out the Heat Check playlist in its entirety on Spotify.


"I been gone for a minute, now I'm back with the jump off."

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Tyler, The Creator's fifth studio album, IGOR, arrived with little notice back in May.

You can stream this playlist via Spotify.

We recently got a new batch of bright-eyed, music-loving interns here at NPR Music. To get to know the new recruits, we asked them to share the first CD — I know, archaic -- they bought with their own money, to which one hip-hop-inclined cherub answered, "Kanye West's 808s & Heartbreak."

Playtime is over.

For me, the last four months of the year always signify a mental flip of the switch. I observe a moment of stillness to realign and take stock of the year's goals, then get a surge of motivating, creative energy to lock in and put those points on the board. Now is the time to kick things into high gear.

A lot of the albums out this week deal with self-discovery and deep reflection on the nature of being human. The members of MUNA look at aging and personal growth on their latest, Saves the World; Lower Dens weighs the madness of a country driven by competition; and the country super group The Highwomen releases its highly anticipated, self-titled album, one that celebrates the power of women while pushing back on the unwritten rules that have allowed men to dominate country radio for so long.

Listen to this playlist via Spotify.

We all love a good plot twist, right? Otherwise you end up in a feedback loop of verse-bridge-chorus monotony you've been spoon-fed for decades and convinced you "like."

In the words of our millennial patron saint, Frank Ocean, "Summer's not as long as it used to be."

Sleater-Kinney took a lot of chances on its latest album, The Center Won't Hold, upending its much beloved sound to experiment with strange sonics, dark textures and surprising forms. The result is one of the most adventurous, exciting – and best – albums the band has ever made. We open this week's New Music Friday with a look at how and why The Center Won't Hold works and what the recent departure of drummer Janet Weiss means for the band at this point in its quarter-century long career.

Settling into summer's swelter, this week's additions to Heat Check include re-surfaced favorites, lovesick tropes, a gut-punch of a wake-up call and, of course, a couple swerving, drink-spilling bops for good measure.

(NOTE: This week's episode was recorded before Bon Iver announced the digital release, three weeks ahead of schedule, of its lovely new album i,i.)

Heat Check

Aug 5, 2019

Lil Nas X has officially broken the record for the longest-running No. 1 single on Billboard's Hot 100 list thanks to his breakout hit "Old Town Road." Billboard announced on July 29 that the genre-jumping song has topped the chart for 17 straight weeks. But what's the significance of such a feat?

Since his first glimmers of internet notoriety, Chance the Rapper has been hailed as the kind of wunderkind to turn the music industry on its head. From the nasal-toned phenom who made good use of a lengthy school suspension for his 2012 debut mixtape, 10 Day, to the savvy verse maestro who kept the emphasis on his friendships with 2013's Acid Rap and the 2015 collaborative album Surf, the most endearing quality about Chance is that he's always done things his own way and on his own time.

Spoon is back — with a greatest hits album. Leading off this week's New Music Friday, Everything Hits At Once is a band-curated alternative to algorithm-manufactured playlists, with a stellar new track ("No Bullets Spent') thrown in.

Nearly 40 years into their career, The Flaming Lips remain remarkably ageless and endlessly creative. They return this week with another heady, psychedelic pop record inspired by a surreal art installation by frontman Wayne Coyne. On this week's New Music Friday, we climb inside the band's kaleidoscopic new record, The King's Mouth.

On this episode of All Songs Considered we've got a conversation with GoldLink about his latest album, Diaspora. (Hear the full interview with the play button at the top of the page).

It's been eight years since Ed Sheeran released his 2011, career-launching EP, No. 5 Collaborations Project. Now his No. 6 Collaborations Project has arrived and it's a features-heavy flex that shows the singer can pretty much work with anyone, from the country rock of Chris Stapleton to Eminem, 50 Cent and Skrillex. We give a listen on this week's New Music Friday along with K.R.I.T. IZ HERE, Mississippi rapper Big K.R.I.T.'s followup to his 2010 mixtape K.R.I.T.

Earlier this year, J. Cole sent out a bat signal... sort of. For Dreamville's third compilation album, Revenge of the Dreamers III, the maestro and platinum-selling-with-no-features wordsmith wanted all the features that Atlanta's Tree Sound Studios could hold. So, over the course of 10 days in January, Cole and his team sent out golden-ticket invitations to some of the most intriguing rappers, singers and producers in the hip-hop world.

After giving us a series of baffling ads in the London Tube and the back pages of the Dallas Observer, Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke finally released his third solo album, ANIMA, on Thursday — meaning you won't have to listen to "Not The News" on speakerphone anymore. On this week's New Music Friday, we dive into Yorke's vivid dreamscape and its accompanying film, as well as The Black Keys' electrifying Let's Rock (their first record in five years), Freddie Gibbs and Madlib's fresh collab Bandana and more.

The 20-year old Atlanta rapper Lil Nas X has been riding a major hype wave since his self-released single "Old Town Road" blew up the Internet and multiple music charts. (It's in its eleventh week on top of Billboard's Hot 100). Now he's on Columbia Records and his debut EP has finally dropped. Is he a one-hit wonder or does he have more surprises for his fans?

Nine months after his death, Mac Miller still hasn't left the mind of the rap world. Always an avid collaborator, Mac teamed up with Anderson .Paak's Free Nationals before his passing and now, fans get to hear it. "Time" marks the first posthumous release that has been sanctioned by the rapper's family.

Houston rapper Bushwick Bill, a founding member of the pioneering rap crew Geto Boys, died on Sunday evening in Colorado, his publicist, Dawn P., confirmed with NPR. A cause was not given pending a medical examination; the rapper was diagnosed earlier this year with pancreatic cancer. He was 52 years old.

The first time I saw Raveena live, the room at Washington, D.C.'s Songbyrd Music House was packed. Chatter from college-aged kids about gender politics and Instagram updates filled the venue before she got on stage, but for a Thursday night in the middle of summer, there weren't many drinks clinking. "The venues always tell me they never make money off the bar at my shows," the artist laughed backstage that night. "It's just a bunch of nice brown kids."

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