KTEP - El Paso, Texas

All Songs Considered

James Hunter has spent his life learning how to tell soul's stories in fresh and personal ways. Born in 1962 in Essex, England and mentored early on by Van Morrison, he embarked on a career with many ups and downs before breaking through in America in his forties. Now the Grammy-nominated Hunter has made his first album in the States, where the music he loves was born.

Veteran producer Joe Boyd says he'd long resisted putting together some sort of tribute album for his late friend, the legendary folksinger Nick Drake. But he finally decided to make one when Boyd realized that the recordings could be captured in a live concert. "In my opinion, the only way to make a tribute record work is to get everyone together in the same place so there's a unity of sound and spirit," he tells us in an email.

Joy can blindside you in the smallest, most unexpected moments. That's what happened when I watched this new video from Delaware's Spinto Band, for the song "What I Love." As a miniature paper cut-out of a gymnast dances and tumbles across a colorful breakfast table, I found myself filled with pure bliss.

A spiky, upright piano and bouncing rhythms from The Spinto Band propel the tiny dancer through her routine. Suddenly, something as mundane as drinking coffee and eating cereal seem like cause for celebration.

We had this show all wrapped up last Friday. It was totally in the can! Then My Bloody Valentine dropped its highly anticipated new album over the weekend and threw our previously recorded show into total chaos! But hey, it was worth it. We (and all the other My Bloody Valentine fans out there) have been waiting more than 20 years for this! Hear a new cut from the album and tell us what you think in the comments section.

I love a deadline and every February I get one. Thanks to The Wire, a small New Hampshire magazine that started the tradition in 2006, I make an album every year. They call it the RPM Challenge, and the challenge is this: write and record an album in the time between the first and last days of February. To qualify as an album, it just needs to be 10 songs or 35 minutes of music.

When Jozef Van Wissem plays the lute, he doesn't sit. Instead, the New York-based Dutchman stands, looming over his low-hanging instrument like the "figure in black" character in "Black Sabbath" — that'd be the song "Black Sabbath," from the album Black Sabbath, by Black Sabbath — that scares the living bejeezus out of everyone.

The members of How To Destroy Angels, a collective featuring Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor, his wife and singer Mariqueen Maandig, art director Rob Sheridan and the brilliant composer Atticus Ross, have an unambiguously grim view of where civilization is headed. In a new video for the song "How Long," from the band's upcoming album Welcome Oblivion, man hunts man in (surprise) a terrifying, dystopian future.

On this week's episode, hosts Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton are back with their latest mix, including a hard-to-find track from Thom Yorke's latest project, Atoms For Peace. The song "What The Eyeballs Did," doesn't appear on the band's upcoming album, Amok. But if you do some digging on the group's website, you'll find a hidden link to download it.

Read A Transcript Of The Interview

The musicians who make up Atoms For Peace are an unusual bunch on the face of it, but when you hear their music, it all makes sense. The rhythm is so intense, and the way it mixes/clashes with all the electronic sounds is pretty thrilling.

Nearly a decade after releasing its deeply moving and profoundly beautiful album Rabbit Songs, the Brooklyn-based band Hem was on the verge of falling apart. "I actually believed that Hem might never make music together again as a band," songwriter and pianist Dan Messe tells us in an email. "Everything about who we were, where we lived, and how we related to each other seemed beyond repair."

It has happened over and over again in the past few years. Someone in their 20s tells me how much they love Fleetwood Mac, and in particular its monster-selling album Rumours. My reaction is always the same. Their reaction is invariably deep surprise. I could never stand that record.

Thao Nguyen of Thao & The Get Down Stay Down wants you to know she really doesn't care what critics say about her music. But in a comical new video to spoof her band's latest album, We The Common, the singer decides that one writer has gone too far.

Editor's Note: We got a ton of great suggestions from you for this 'Question Of The Week,' so we decided to put together playlists at Rdio and Spotify featuring some of your picks.

I saw this video and was mesmerized. The music is by Bonobo and the video by Cyriak. The song is called "Cirrus."

Adam Green (The Moldy Peaches) and singer Binki Shapiro (Little Joy) were both going through breakups when they wrote "Just To Make Me Feel Good," a deceptively breezy cut from the duo's debut, self-titled collection of late '60s folk-pop. In their new video for the song, Green and Shapiro wander the city streets, lamenting a lost love and all the little things each of them took for granted.

We get a lot of mail at NPR Music, and amid the reminders that interest rates have never been lower is a slew of smart questions about how music fits into our lives — and, this week, how our love of music competes with the gnat-like attention spans of modern humanity.

Mimi Epstein writes: "You have to listen to and critique a huge amount of new music. What do you do while listening? Is it background noise? Are you giving it your full attention? What's your recommended way to really listen?"

The NPR Music Team has been hard at work putting together plans for this year's South By Southwest music festival and conference, and we're happy to announce that Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds will kick off our showcase on the night of March 13 at Stubb's. The show will also mark the official beginning of the band's North American tour.

Song Premiere: Portal, 'The Back Wards'

Jan 18, 2013

I once made the mistake of listening to Portal with the lights off before bed. Other than the night following my near-victory at a fried-chicken-eating contest, I'd never had such messed-up dreams in my life.

Discoveries From globalFEST 2013

Jan 16, 2013

Every January for the past decade a dozen or more bands from around the world have gathered in New York City for globalFEST - one long, frenzied night of live music showcasing the diverse cultures, histories and numerous sonic branches of "World Music." This year's lineup included Zimbabwe legend Oliver Mtukudzi and his band The Black Spirits, Malian singer Fatoumata Diawara, Chicago's wildly exuberant marching band Mucca Pazza, and much, much more.

The music of Mystical Weapons, a duo formed by Sean Lennon and Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier, is entirely improvised — made up on the fly without any agenda or deeper meaning in mind. But in the hands of video director and animator Martha Colburn, the group's latest single, "Colony Collapse Disorder," takes on apocalyptic themes with swirling religious symbolism.

The Besnard Lakes have a new album coming out in April, and after hearing the song "People Of The Sticks," it's safe to say we're in for another soaringly gorgeous record from the Canadian rock group.

Pages