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All Songs Considered

"A transatlantic collaboration between four friends. Two songs were written and recorded in Chicago and then sent to Vienna. There they were translated into a film score."

2013 Winter Music Preview

Dec 26, 2012

On this edition of the program, All Songs Considered hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton invite a gaggle of other NPR Music peeps on the show to share some of the records they're most looking forward to in 2013.

The world of acoustic music is about to get a new household name. The music of The Lone Bellow is born from tragedy and told with heart and simplicity. Zach Williams, a singer and songwriter for this Brooklyn-based group, is originally from Georgia, and his words began to flow following his wife's catastrophic horse riding accident that nearly left her paralyzed. Listen to The Lone Bellows' song "Two Sides of Lonely," from the band's forthcoming self-titled album.

We decided to go all out for this year's All Songs Considered holiday party. The guest list for this (trust us!) unforgettable night of music and tall tales included Kishi Bashi, Dan Deacon, Carrie Brownstein and Nellie McKay. We hosted the festivities at a secluded cabin we rented one weekend in a snowy woods.

I played trumpet in my high school band and wasn't very good. I held the thing down, sort of like a clarinet, and played out of the corner of my mouth. It sounded like I had a kazoo wedged in the tubing. But nobody else in my school was very good either, so I still managed to spend a lot of time at first chair.

Not every pioneer is a swashbuckler. Dido Armstrong, the hit-making British singer-songwriter, has a gentle voice that recalls backyard birdsong and a Jane Austen-like grasp of everyday heartache and perseverance.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the piles of new CDs and holiday cards from local merchants are many smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, ways to delve into unfamiliar genres.

We're a big family at NPR, with amazing member stations and listeners tuning in or clicking from all over the world. Last week, when All Songs Considered posted its annual poll inviting people to pick their favorite albums of 2012, thousands of votes poured in from those listeners with sometimes surprising results.

Villagers is the music of Conor O'Brien, a 2010 Mercury Prize finalist for his debut album, Becoming a Jackal. Now there's new music from Villagers, from a record called {Awayland}. That music comes out first in Europe on Jan. 14 — here in the U.S., we'll have to wait until April 9. We have this new song and video from Villagers, for the song "Nothing Arrived."

Conor O'Brien writes:

After seeing The Rolling Stones in concert over the weekend, I can confidently say the short answer is "no."

We need to be thinking about age and rock music in a different way. When I was in my 20s, my generation thought 30 was too old for a rocker. Now, in 2012, the brilliant futurist Ray Kurzweil is wondering who the first person to be 150 will be. He told a crowd at the 6th and I Synagogue in Washington, D.C., that he thinks that person is alive today.

Discussion: The Year In Music, 2012

Dec 5, 2012

This has been a phenomenal year for music. Veterans Neil Young and Crazy Horse released not one but two ambitious and ingenious albums. New artists such as Kishi Bashi and Alt-J appeared with exciting and unusual records.

Every year for the past decade, The Polyphonic Spree has celebrated the holidays with a special "extravaganza" in Dallas, featuring dancing, DJs and, of course, the band performing seasonal songs. This year, The Polyphonic Spree celebrates the 10th anniversary of that extravaganza with a live tour of the show, as well as a new CD called Holidaydream. The group also has this beautiful new video for one of the album's standout tracks: John Lennon's "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)."

Kishi Bashi, my favorite new artist of the year, now has a holiday song. It's such a great way to bring us back around to a musician I first discovered while sifting through 1,300 songs for the South by Southwest music festival back at the beginning of the year. We all ended up falling in love with his music.

Hold on to your seat. You're about to be hit with a bounty of year-end lists: NPR Music's favorite songs, artists, albums, discoveries and more of 2012.

The Cleveland-based experimental rock duo Mr. Gnome was one of our favorite discoveries from South by Southwest earlier this year, and now the band is back on our radar with an amazing new video. "House of Circles," from Mr. Gnome's recent album Madness in Miniature, is an epic, wildly imaginative story about a band of rebel fighters who attempt to save the world from the evil Queen Machine.

The Albums We Missed This Year

Nov 27, 2012

Old Music Tuesday: Le Tigre

Nov 27, 2012

Twelve years ago this month, I was handed a sensitive document and charged with making sure it found its way into the right hands.

Next week, Solange Knowles (sister of Beyonce), will release a brand new EP called True, and you can hear "Lovers in The Parking Lot," a lovely, very satisfying song from it, now. Alongside the other songs she's released from this project, "Lovers" has a matter of fact, gentle-voiced femininity.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and tucked into the piles of new CDs is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives. In this holiday-shortened week of over-indulgence, we answer questions about too much music and not enough time.

Bands That Should Be Bigger

Nov 20, 2012

The halls of music history are littered with bands that should have made it big, but never did. Maybe they put out a couple of amazing records and you feel like you're the only person on the planet who appreciated them. Or maybe they're still trying, and you're holding out hope, along with the band, that that big break will finally come.

I first saw this guitar and drums duo last month, in their home town of Asheville, N.C. during Moogfest. The festival is often thought of as just an electronic music festival and it does skew in that direction, but it primarily celebrates the creative souls in music and in doing so honors the spirit of electronic music pioneer Robert Moog. The sonic palette of guitarist Shane Perlowin and drummer Ryan Oslance certainly fits that description.

Got a question you'd like the All Songs gang to consider? Leave it in the comments below or drop us an email: allsongs@npr.org.

Is music part of your Thanksgiving holiday? Will you be battling dad for control of the family speakers? Or is it a war between the siblings?

Erin McKeown's music is a bit hard to describe. It is music and lyrics with meaning so it makes me think, but it's also playful and so it makes me smile. I'll have another chance to hear it soon, since Erin has made a new record, called MANIFESTRA. The album, her seventh, was funded by her fan base via PledgeMusic and will be out on January 15. Today we premiere her song, "Jailer."

Stop motion with live actors is nothing new in music videos. The Beatles did it nearly 50 years ago for the film A Hard Days Night. Peter Gabriel's 1986 "Sledgehammer" video is still mind-blowing. But few have done it as elegantly as Canadian rock duo The Zolas do for the band's mesmerizing, and amazing new video, "Knot In My Heart."

First Watch: Miguel, 'The Thrill (Live)'

Nov 15, 2012

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