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All Songs Considered

Nothing is permanent — these meat sacks we call bodies, the weekly Viking's Choice playlist available on Spotify and Apple Music. Seriously, if you'd been sitting on last week's mix of metal, punk, drone and other misfit music for a late-night sesh, it's gone — like dust in the wind, dude.

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Lucy Dacus is conflicted about America.

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Alabama Shakes frontwoman Brittany Howard will release her first-ever solo album later this summer.

Most cities tend to have a voice, but few quite as loud or interesting as Seattle's. This is a city that gave us Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana and Pearl Jam but also the softer, more introspective sounds of Fleet Foxes, The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie.

Quinn Christopherson may be the winner of the 2019 Tiny Desk Contest, but this year's 6,000-plus entries included many outstanding performances.

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Hobo Johnson and The Lovemakers, the comical rap-rock group from Sacramento

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?

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The latest video from Sharon Van Etten finds the singer-songwriter wandering the streets of a strange and empty cit

Spoon has dropped its first new song since the 2017 album Hot Thoughts. "No Bullets Spent" is classic Spoon, with crisp guitars, spare beats and frontman Britt Daniel's cryptic observations, this time on youth and coming of age in a world plagued by gun violence and economic inequality. "You got an education," sings Daniel. "Don't know what you got 'til you're 22 / Got a mortgage hung around your neck." Repeatedly he pleas, "What we need now is an accident / No one to blame and no bullets spent."

For more than a decade, the Viking's Choice column has been a safe space (or a festering wound, depending on whom you ask) for metal, punk, drone and all sorts of "weird" and/or "loud" music on NPR. You've heard me on the All Songs Considered podcast, and gotten irregular doses of my sonic realms on this blog.

Your picks for the best new artists of 2019 (so far) include a lot of bands and musicians we've been following for a while – Maggie Rogers, Stella Donnelly, Nilüfer Yanya and Jade Bird have all been releasing music for several years – but they didn't drop an official full-length debut until this year.

Our curation game is strong at NPR Music, from All Songs Considered to Alt.Latino, to memorials that pay tribute to beloved musicians, to roséwave's sommelier-level summer bops.

It's been a crazy-packed week of surprise singles, with new tracks dropping from Charli XCX, Mac Miller's first posthumous verse (with Anderson .Paak's Free Nationals) and country singer Sturgill Simpson's "The Dead Don't Die," a song he wrote

It's a packed release week, starting with Western Stars, Bruce Springsteen's lush and loving ode to mid-'60s orchestral pop. The metal band Baroness ventures into prog-rock territory with its most ambitiously artful release to date, while British spoken word artist Kate Tempest takes listeners on a head-spinning journey into the heart of modern anxiety. All of those, plus the most joyful album to date from Bill Callahan, DMV rapper Goldink and more.

Radiohead has officially released 18 hours of demos and outtakes recorded between 1995 and 1998 during the band's OK Computer sessions, after the tapes were reportedly stolen and leaked online.

The artists who attract me the most are those who are on the rise — artists whose popularity is mostly a small, dedicated circle of fans but growing. That's certainly true of the Shreveport band Seratones. They're putting out their second album later this summer and, from the sound of this potent new title track "Power," it's clear they'll find a bigger fanbase.

The midyear point is a good time to pause and take stock of all the great new music that's come out, which usually includes releases from a whole bunch of new and emerging artists. We'd like to know who your favorite new band or musician is in 2019, so far. We'll define a "new artist" as someone who released their debut, full-length album in the first half of the year. (If they don't yet have a full-length, their first EP or single will do.)

Our shortlist for the best new albums out this week includes the roots-rock duo Ida Mae, a stirring gospel record from disco legend Gloria Gaynor, the ruminative rock of Palehound, an ode to the African diaspora from Santana, a collaboration between Stef Chura and Will Toledo of Car Seat Headrest and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Ann Powers, Felix Contreras, Marissa Lorusso and Stephen Thompson as they share their picks for the best releases of June 7.

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The days are getting longer, the temperatures are rising and you're willing to see yet another superhero movie just for the air conditioning. Maybe to you, this time of year signifies the start of music festival season. Maybe you're looking forward to your annual extended stay down the shore. Maybe you're preparing for a plethora of summer weddings — not always a bridesmaid, but always the life of the bachelorette party. Maybe you're looking forward to living your best life at your city's Pride parade. Or maybe you've finally concocted the perfect punch recipe for backyard barbecues.

Jessi Whitten of Colorado Public Radio's Open Air co-hosts this week's All Songs Considered and turns me on to the Psychedelic Porn Crumpets, the funnest band name of the year, with music all the way from Perth, Australia to match. All of Jessi's picks are laced with fun, including French Vanilla's new-wave, early-'80s sound, reminiscent of the British punk band X-Ray Spex. She also brings us music from Colorado by Kiltro, a band with one foot in Colorado and another in Chile.

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It's Sesame Street's 50th anniversary, which is giving the long-running children's TV show countless extra opportunities to interact with the pop-culture world at large.

Bon Iver is back with its first new recorded music in three years. The band this morning dropped two new songs with lyric videos. The first, "Hey, Ma," is a glittering remembrance of childhood and a mother's love. "Tall time to call your ma," sings Justin Vernon over faded home videos of his family. "I was tokin' on dope / I hoped it all won't go in a minute / With the past that you know."

Our list of the best new albums out this week includes Kishi Bashi's moving remembrance of Japanese internment camps during World War II, a sometimes surreal but lucid dream from R&B singer Raveena, stark solo piano pieces from the electronic artist Eluvium, veteran of the U.K. grime scene Skepta and more. Host Robin Hilton is joined by NPR Music's Tom Huizenga, Sidney Madden and Stephen Thompson as they share their picks for the best new albums out on May 31.

Featured Albums

Sufjan Stevens is celebrating Pride Month (which begins June 1) with the release of two new songs. The first, "Love Yourself" is based on a sketch Stevens originally wrote and recorded in 1996. "Love, can you love yourself," Stevens sings in a euphoric chorus. "Show me everything, every reason to believe in yourself."

In the summer of 1973, Carole King was at the peak of her popularity and influence. She had ushered in a new era of singer-songwriters that dominated popular music; Tapestry, which she'd dropped two years earlier, was still a top-selling album, well on its way to becoming one of the most-loved and best-selling albums of all time. King had also just released Fantasy, a thematic album recorded with a jazz-funk band, and embarked on her first-ever live concert performance outside of the United States.

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