I admit, this post might be a little gimmicky but it comes from a place of a deep love. One of my favorite sources for new music – and a great podcast in general – is NPR's All Songs Considered. They recently did one of their quarterly new release previews, and I wanted to share the four releases I'm most looking forward to among those selections.
If you've never had the privilege of hearing Bob Boilen, Robin Hilton, Stephen Thompson, and Ann Powers have a roundtable discussion on new music they are excited about or acts in a big festival they are dying to see, I suggest you subscribe to All Songs Considered and make a habit of listening. The regular format is usually six picks by Bob & Robin, but the show includes Guest DJs, genre spotlights, and these group roundtables. All of it is great. I feel like I'm listening to friends of mine passionately share their latest obsession, both reminding of the familiar but also enlightening me about plenty I don't know. The website is also wonderful, featuring the podcast, as well as insightful blog posts, amazing videos of live shows and the incredible Tiny Desk series, and first listen previews of tons of new music in every genre.
The quarterly music previews are among my favorite All Songs shows. It's a great overview of big releases as well as plenty of things completely off my radar. The Fall 2012 is no exception and after hearing it, there's a lot I'm looking forward to. Here are the four songs that I dug most, in order they were played in the show. Please, though, check out the full show for a much wider range of great stuff coming out this season and to hear these songs in full.
First, as you might guess from the video above, Neil Young is reunited with Crazy Horse and it sounds so good. The legendary group will release Psychedelic Pill on October 30th and I just dig this sampling of "Walk Like a Giant." The full song is supposed to be 17 minutes. It sounds like it will be in the vein of personal favorites like "Down By The River" and "Cowgirl in the Sand," and that's always welcome.
I really only love one Death Cab For Cutie album, but it's pretty undeniable that Ben Gibbard knows how to write a catchy and clever indie-pop song. His first solo record Former Lives will come out October 16th. If it has more songs like "Bigger Than Love," which features the great Aimee Mann, I would strongly consider getting the album. It doesn't sound like it will based on the podcast, but this is nevertheless a cool matching of two distinct voices (surprised how much they sound alike) and has a surging energy and earworm hooks.
These picks are skewing towards rock and indie, which isn't representative of the show's variety, and continue to do so with the newly released this week Transcendental Youth by the always dependable Mountain Goats. Essentially the songwriting vehicle of the erudite John Darnielle, this prolific act seems to release a classic album yearly. "Harlem Roulette" suggests the streak will not be broken. John is a literary writer and you should check out his Pitchfork performance of this song to get a little back story, as well as witness a lovely solo performance in NYC. I just love his gift for interesting lines like "The loneliest people in the whole wide world are the ones you're never going to see again." Pick this one up from Merge Records.
Ok, I have one non-rock pick, and that's from The Preservation Hall Jazz Band. They just released an album called St. Peter and 57th of their 50th Anniversary concert at Carnegie Hall and the cut "Careless Love" is a languid and beautiful slink through an old standard. As tends to happen for these compilations, the band brings in a set of crack guest singers, and here we have Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs. It's an inspired pairing that surpasses my initial bewildered expectation. The PHJB is really a national treasure and absolutely worth your time and attention.
Plenty of other cuts stood out as interesting, including rappers The Coup, the long awaited return of Cody Chesnutt, the crazy electronic soundscapes of Flying Lotus, Martha Wainwright, and Ty Braxton remixing Philip Glass, and another straightforward but exhilarating rocker from Earlimart. Take a listen, subscribe to the podcast, and keep your ears open to all kinds of new music.