All Songs Considered | WGLT

All Songs Considered

Saturdays at 7 p.m.

All Songs Considered started in 2000. It was inspired and first featured music heard on NPR's daily news show All Things Considered. Bob Boilen directed that program and chose the music for 19 years.

All Songs Considered started as a multimedia program for the first few years with slides and music. It quickly developed as a weekly show with music from many genres and focusing on a burgeoning independent rock scene. That's still a primary focus of the show.

For the first 10 years, Bob Boilen was the host and many shows with guests. These days producer Robin Hilton co-hosts the show with Bob.

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When I can't wrap my head around a piece of music — be it a monstrous orchestral work, twisted death metal or skittering electronics — I reframe the abstract in terms of visual art or dance. What is the movement of the music? How would the sonic shapes translate to a canvas or to the jumping, stretching and gyrating contours of the human body?

Throughout the next few months, we'll be sharing some of the many 2020 Tiny Desk Contest entries that have caught our eyes and ears. You can enter the Contest until 11:59 p.m. ET on March 30. You can watch a playlist of all the entries we've featured on the blog on YouTube.

Elyse Weinberg, a late '60s singer-songwriter and guitarist once lost to time and later rediscovered by crate-diggers, died Feb. 20 in Ashland, Ore., after battling lung cancer. The news was confirmed to NPR through both her label, Numero Group, and close friend, Satya Alcorn. She was 74.

There's an unexpected jolt of energy that comes with getting caught up — whether you're ready for it or not. This week's selects run the gamut of what it means to get caught up — in the feeling of new love, in the pressure of perception, in the grips of temptation or in the cycle of the same old bulls***.

You know what it is. Stream this week's Heat Check playlist via Spotify and Apple Music.


In 2014, we created a music contest in hopes of discovering unknown artists we otherwise might not get to hear. Each year since, thousands of unsigned musicians from across the country have sent us videos of themselves performing their original songs in true NPR Music fashion: behind a desk. Our winner gets to play a Tiny Desk concert and then goes on a victory tour of sorts with NPR Music. We call it the Tiny Desk Contest.

What better way to spend a beautifully sunny, long weekend than indoors on a liquid diet watching movies in a fever-induced haze? (Mashed potatoes and gravy count as liquid, right?) Between comfort viewings of Bob's Burgers and King of the Hill, I caught up on my queue.

You ever been to a party and, for some reason, it's hard to get a handle on the vibe of the room? I'm not talking about the visual representation of who's there (or who's not), but more the collective energy surging through the space is just ... off.

It's taken me a few years, but through my vast research, I've concluded that eight times out of 1o, this amorphous feeling is a consequence of the DJ switching up their music selection too quickly. You can always spot a rookie DJ by an ill-timed switch up. You gotta be able to transition accordingly.

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Last week, we launched the sixth Tiny Desk Contest, our annual search for great, undiscovered musical talent.

It's not too late to make a musical resolution for 2020, right?

No, I'm not planning to spend any diaper money on rare 7-inches, or develop an unhealthy effects pedal habit. But I do need to get outside my musical comfort zone — and I want to get into calypso music.

Starting today, NPR Music is accepting entries to the 2020 Tiny Desk Contest. You can now submit your video via our website. We'll be accepting entries through March 30 at 11:59 p.m. ET.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • To be eligible, you must be at least 18 years of age and a resident of the United States. You can't currently have a record deal.

This is not a drill: Heat Check is back! After a short hiatus and some stellar, late-breaking 2019 releases, Heat Check has returned to recap you on the world of experimental R&B, hip-hop and everything in between.

Gonna keep it 100: I absolutely judge an album by its cover. Does it have a sick wizard? A most-pleasing font and color combination? An impossible and-or nightmarish fantasia?

When I scroll through Bandcamp, on the hunt for hidden corners of punk, metal and outer sounds, the first sense is always sight. Maybe a killer band name will catch my eye, or a trusted record label, but amid a bloated glut of music, image is queen.

YouTube

In the past year, we've had some pretty big names come perform at the Tiny Desk: Lizzo,

"There will never be another one like him. Peace to his family and all of his fans around the world. Listen to Sean play his drums and hear his heart sing," Cynic's Paul Masvidal wrote in remembrance of his bandmate Sean Reinert, who died last Friday at the age of 48.

Polvo imagined a language as thick and viscous as cheese grits. Here was an indie-rock band of Southerners, messing with alternate guitar tunings based on Indian and Middle Eastern drones, noodlin' on aberrant grooves that simultaneously repelled and sucked in ears attuned to a long-winded, surprisingly catchy weirdness.

New year, new choices. Call your friends, drink more water, watch movies with subtitles, and listen to more drone and hardcore. I can't help you with the first two, but I can recommend Ana Lily Amirpour's feminist vampire western A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night towards the third. (If you're fresh from my year-end All Songs Considered episode — hi there, by the way — I'm here every week with music of both extreme and soothing flavors.)

When we first started filming musicians playing behind the Tiny Desk in April 2008, the beauty was in the intimacy and simplicity of these concerts. Now into our 11th year, after more than 900 Tiny Desks, the other treasure I find in these concerts is the variety. I remember having the cast of Sesame Street here in May, with NPR parents and their children seated on the floor watching the Muppets.

Some of us keep our grits simple: butter, salt and pepper. Some add sugar, which is just chaos incarnate. Some keep it real Maryland with Old Bay and the internet goes mad. Viking's Choice, as ever, welcomes and encourages unexpected dashes of this and that to make the mix a little weirder, a little louder, a little homey-er.

These are my favorite albums of 2019. The flood of music and the variety of music in 2019 felt exhilarating, though also overwhelming. I couldn't keep it to my usual top ten, so I extended it to twenty.

Damn, y'all. This year has been long. (I have no scientific proof, but I'm pretty sure it's been longer than most.) Naturally, in a time when almost everything feels like it's spiraling out of control, music is the constant mirror to the chaos — both personal and prolific — just as much as an escape to solace.

As we take a bottle cap to the lava-spewing volcano that was 2019, we're about to make sense of all of the music that it contained — or at least the parts that hardened on our hearts like pyroclastic rocks. Be on the lookout for our year-end lists very soon, plus my annual Viking's Choice episode of All Songs Considered, which comes out Dec. 31.

It's list-making season or, as we like to say, time to shake out the calendar and look back at all the incredible new music we got in 2019. So we want to know: What were your favorite albums (or EPs) released this past year? Use the poll below to tell us. You can pick up to 5 releases. Don't rank your list and don't vote for the same release more than once. (Those votes won't be counted.) We'll share the results in an upcoming episode of All Songs Considered.

Absence helps the heart forget, the hard times get blotted with better ones; misrecollections become tall tales later canonized in the backs of bars. It ain't right, but as we soak up worry, euphoria and normal everyday B.S., the details can get squeezed out like crusty pulp from old grapes.

I used to be able to say that there wasn't a week where a Jack Rose tune wasn't winding through my head — his ramblin' ragas, sun-drenched drones and hiccuping blues guitar, picked with a big dang heart and even bigger hands.

"No Cap" is yet another phrase that has bubbled up from the hip-hop community to the top of the layman's lexicon. The term is basically synonymous with "no lie" and is applicable in a whole swath of situations, especially when, ironically, there is a lot of lying going on.

Music has a way of adding some glitter to lies – lies we tell ourselves, dreams out of reach, fantasies on replay. Balancing glitchy, pithy pop with raucous reggae, trap and R&B, this week's Heat Check picks capitalize on the fantasy, giving us a moment's escape from the ordinary.

It's the time of year for reflection and gratitude. It offers a moment to look back and take stock in where you've triumphed, faltered and learned along the way. Even if this year has felt inexplicably long or this decade has challenged and changed you in ways you couldn't imagine, new music discovery is something to always be thankful for — a taste-making process that's in your control and wholeheartedly your own.

We are made of star-stuff. Carl Sagan was a poetic-ass dude, and, by many accounts, he was right. When a star dies, off shakes gas and dust like cosmic dandruff, sometimes creating new stars and planets. Some of that space dust becomes part of living organisms, like us.

What are your favorite songs of the past decade? These are tracks released between 2010 and 2019. We know there were a lot, but we'd like to know what songs stand out the most to you — the ones you've gone back to again and again. Using the form below, tell us you favorite song or songs from the 2010s. You can pick up to five.

There's a certain unspoken euphoria in knowing exactly who you are. It's like a tiny party-of-one celebration when you check in with yourself, verifying that you're actually living your truth out loud. And yes, the practice of that check-in is always changing because your truth is subject to change. But the moving target is always worth the pursuit.

You can stream this playlist via Spotify or Apple Music.

Are y'all subscribed to the NPR Music newsletter? You get the week's music news, Tiny Desks and personal stories from behind the scenes. I work here and I can't even keep up with everything we do, so that Saturday morning reminder sets up my weekend listening and reading.

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