Lars Gotrich | WGLT

Lars Gotrich

When I first started in public radio 13 years ago, there weren't too many peers playing "challenging" music. Here was a 20-something who, up until moving to D.C., spent nights vibrating to Japanese noise and weekends attempting to decode large-format Xenakis scores in the University of Georgia library. NPR Music wasn't even a proper entity yet, and here I was already planning to dismantle notions of what constitutes "public radio music" with brash zealousness. (Hey, I was 23.)

On my daily commute, I toggle between podcasts and music I want to consider for Viking's Choice (or, if I need a self-motivating wake-me-up before hitting the office, the first two albums by Rage Against the Machine).

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

Ain't nothing minimal about minimalism. It's mind-expanding music within a limited frame, its attention to repetition and variation happens to be a sympathetic conductor for rock and pop music hypnosis.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

Arizona's Gatecreeper has helpfully titled its new album, Deserted, for every music critic on deadline.

Listen to this playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

The fastest route to obsolescence is telling y'all that it was better in ye olde days. The truth is that while the mechanisms for music change — rapidly nowadays, it seems — the motivations for discovery don't. You dig because ya dig, you know?

There's a new, unreleased song from R.E.M. out today, with all proceeds going to Mercy Corps, an organization helping those in the Bahamas impacted by Hurricane Dorian.

Updated Sept. 17, 2019: This is weekly, updated playlist. So if you missed one, especially a themed playlist, just hit me up on Twitter and I'll hook it up.

On Saturday mornings, while roommates waited for coffee to drip or toast to burn, I'd take a cup of tea up to my room with a bowl of cereal, put on a record and open my email.

After trickling out singles for more than a year, singer Lana Del Rey has finally dropped her sixth full-length studio album with the oddly comical title, Norman F****** Rockwell. On this week's New Music Friday, we dig into this expansive mix of slow-burning ballads and sometimes strange but profound, odyssey-length adventures.

Note: This episode originally ran in July, 2018.


It all started with a tweet. (Doesn't it always?)

When Kim Gordon dropped "Murdered Out" three years ago, her first single under her own name, she didn't ascribe it any significance. "It just kind of happened randomly," she told NPR at the time.

When Denzel Curry spits bars over a particularly decibel-shattering beat, there's a command of noise. The Miami rapper lives both inside and out of the mayhem ("Ricky," "Black Metal Terrorist"), but is just as comfortable revealing his soul ("Speedboat," "Clout Cobain") in productions and performances simultaneously hard and melodic. He's starting to come into his own as a rap chameleon, but lately he's been teasing another transformation as a shape-shifting rock frontperson.

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.

Miranda Lambert really knows how to announce a new single. For "It All Comes Out in the Wash" — a cute-as-hell country bop that reminds us that "hard times do eventually pass," as she put it in a press release — Lambert filmed her shirtless husband doing laundry. You know, as one does.

Stream: Spotify, Apple Music.

Updated July 23, 2019: This is weekly, updated playlist. So if you missed one, especially a themed playlist, just hit me up on Twitter and I'll hook it up.

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When you have a voice like Brittany Howard, just about anybody looks good singing along.

I always had WUOG on the radio back in the day — not just as a fan, but as one of the college station's music directors — to make sure there was a good variety of music in rotation. But when a DJ had to pee or take a smoke break, I knew: They'd play a long song — more specifically, Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Not that there's anything wrong with GY!BE, just that there's more to drawn-out music than apocalyptic post-rock.

Is there a Sean Paul of metal or drone that Jake Gyllenhaal can enthusiastically shout out? A musical hype-person who "makes every song better," but over blast beats or long, ponderous synths?

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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Look, some of us aren't caught up with Game of Thrones.

After much criticism around last year's round of '70s rockers and no women, the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame announced its nominees for the class of 2017 this morning, which include first-time nominees Tupac Shakur, Pearl Jam, Bad Brains, Joan Baez and Depeche Mode.