Otis Hart

Torres: South X Lullaby

Mar 23, 2015

In the final installment of our South X Lullaby series, rising songwriter Torres met us at 2:30 a.m. outside Central Presbyterian Church in Austin, where she had just blown away a large portion of our contingent in SXSW.

What you're about to hear is the final song of a band's career. Chicago indie-rock act Geronimo!

Flesh Lights' poppy garage punk is actually much more appropriate than the band's name would suggest (Google them at your own risk). Guitarist Max Vandever, drummer Elissa Ussery and bassist Jeremy Steen give The Ramones a power-pop makeover on this near-perfect encapsulation of life at the breaking point.

It's always a treat when members of dearly departed duo The Books release new material. Last year, it was Nick Zammuto and his Anchor LP; today, it's Paul de Jong, who's teasing is upcoming album IF with an entertaining retro-collage video for the song "Auction Block."

One of England's most ambitious young musicians right now is 24-year-old William Doyle, who records as East India Youth. His debut full-length, last year's Total Strife Forever, was essentially a bedroom production, but its humble origins didn't stop it from receiving a Mercury Prize nomination. Doyle imbued his expansive electronic environments with a sense of purpose and grandeur, often via his own voice.

Rabit, 'Straps'

Mar 6, 2015

After Kanye West's performance in London this week, grime seems poised to get some well-deserved attention in the U.S. The British street music, best epitomized by Dizzee Rascal's Boy In Da Corner, has its fans in America, no doubt, but no one of West's influence has ever embraced it to the extent that he's been rumored to on his next album So Help Me God.

Los Angeles songwriter Trevor Beld Jimenez writes radio hits for a bygone era. He and his band of merrymakers record as Tall Tales & The Silver Lining, a seven-strong collective who channel that Laurel Canyon soft-rock vibe from mid-1970s.

Föllakzoid, 'Electric'

Mar 4, 2015

When I first saw this video for the song "Electric" by Chilean psych band Föllakzoid, I couldn't look away for the full 12 minutes. For something to hold your undivided attention that long these days is a minor miracle, so let's figure out how directors Ion Rakhmatulina and Domingo Garcia-Huidobro did it.

Electronic music borrows from its live music brethren all the time, but how often do you see a rock band covering techno or house? Aside from The Dirtbombs' Party Store album of Detroit techno covers, I can't think of one off the top of my head. (Feel free to school me in the comments section.)

One of the best albums of 2014 that no one heard (read: that went unpublicized) was Jane Weaver's The Silver Globe. It's an epic kraut-pop opera of sorts, teeming with motorik rhythms and analogue synths. Weaver's lyrics indirectly examine what it means to succeed during our brief time on this planet, both as an artist and as a member of the human race.

Blur, one of the greatest rock bands of the 1990s, will release an album in 2015. It's called The Magic Whip, and it's due out April 28 in the U.S.

No sense in letting the feeding frenzy over Katy Perry's left shark dissipate without taking the opportunity to introduce a great song. "Shark," by Scottish oddball Jonnie Common, mixes the production values of alt-J with the droll humor of The Beta Band.

Twin sisters Miranda Anna and Elektra June Kilbey-Jansson, a.k.a. Say Lou Lou, have been bubbling under for more than a year since they first popped up on the BBC's Sound Of 2014 list. The duo makes maximalist synth-pop, along the lines of Tove Lo or IconaPop, and has demonstrated excellent taste in producers so far, including nu-disco favorites Lindstrøm and Tiger & Woods.

I can't think of a master musician more out of sync with contemporary culture than Alasdair Roberts. The Scottish singer and guitarist tills Albion's millennium of traditional songcraft to express ancient emotions — usually with just the aid of an acoustic guitar, but occasionally with ornate instrumentation like oboes or clarinets. When he's not giving voice to aural heirlooms, he's writing songs in a similar tradition; music that could be described as British folk, but that conjures an even earlier time than Anne Briggs or Fairport Convention ever did.

When I was a college radio music director in the early 2000s, there were few more important bands in my life than The Sea And Cake. I repped them hard back in the day, and that's because these Chicago renaissance men fit my (admittedly reductive) two criteria for greatness: a) sound like no one else, and b) keep it catchy. They nailed it on both accounts over the course of four albums for Thrill Jockey during the '90s, and are still doing their indie-jazz-kraut-pop thing to this day.

It's hard to believe that Andy Choi, the gigantic voice behind St. Lenox, was an award-winning teenage violinist. That was back in the mid-'90s, a time the New York songwriter romanticizes to charming effect throughout his debut album, Ten Songs About Memory And Hope.

Recommended Dose is usually a monthly mix of our favorite new dance tracks. We listen to hundreds of new electronic tunes each month, test the standouts on loud speakers and highlight the best of the best in a 30-minute mix. But we switched up the formula a bit for December: This month's mix features 32 of our favorite tracks from the last 12 months.

If you're over 16, you'll likely recognize the opening bars to "Lay-by" immediately. The chances are significantly slimmer that you've ever enjoyed them before. But Tennyson, a teenaged brother-sister duo from Edmonton, have taken a universal beacon of anxiety and turned it into a sedative worth hearing over and over again. (I'm not going to tip off what Tennyson sampled; that would ruin the epiphany.)

Cayetana, Live In Concert

Oct 28, 2014

The CMJ Music Marathon, which takes place in clubs across New York City each autumn, began as a way for college-radio programmers to discover new acts for their airwaves. It was in that spirit that NPR Music chose the Philly rock band Cayetana to kick off its recent CMJ show.

Augusta Koch, Allegra Anka and Kelly Olsen are already underground stars in the city of brotherly love, but their audience is poised to grow massively on the strength of Cayetana's stellar debut album, Nervous Like Me. And, as you'll see here, the band's got the whole "live" thing down pat.

Review: Grouper, 'Ruins'

Oct 24, 2014

Nothing is more intimate than the human voice, and few human voices are as intimate as the one belonging to Liz Harris. The Portland ambient artist known as Grouper has recorded more than 10 albums in the past 10 years, but most of her fans likely know her from her crowning achievement, 2008's incongruously titled Dragging a Dead Deer Up a Hill.